WHAT KIND OF REVIVAL DO WE NEED?
It does not take a prophet or a wise man to realize that everything in America that is dear to us, all our freedom, our democracy that is ours to enjoy, the great and wonderful opportunities that this great nation affords, the manifold blessings that have come from God, and all our religious freedoms are the result of people taking God seriously. We all enjoy these blessings today because our forefathers settled this country looking for a place to worship God. They wrote it on the currency of our nation. They wrote it in the Constitution. It is written in letters large and clear on the pages of our history – IN GOD WE TRUST. But I say to you, and mark well my words, though I do not claim to be a prophet nor the son of a prophet, unless we have a great sweeping revival that will turn our churches and our nation back to God, we are going to live to see the judgment of God in our churches, in our homes and in our nation. We have got to have revival. The question is, What kind of revival do we need? That is what I want to talk to you about. “What kind of revival do we need”?
First, we need a revival that is prayed down. Oh, how we as the people of God, need to come again to mighty intercessory prayer. Not just the ordinary kind of praying most of us do all the time, but praying that will not be denied. Praying that will not let go until the fire from heaven falls. When we pray we need to begin with ourselves. We need to do some honest confessing of our sins. We need to fall on our knees before God and do some real soul searching. We need to open up our hearts and minds and let God turn on the search light. I’m not talking about God’s condemnation, but rather I’m talking about God’s conviction. Condemnation is like a room with no light and it is our responsibility to put all the furniture in the right place. How frustrating and hopeless that would be. But conviction is God turning on the light. This is the beginning of real revival. I believe today is the day for revival. The condition is right. The time is right. The task is right. The challenge is right. God’s people need to fall on their faces in soul searching, agonizing, and heartbroken prayer. If it is not done today it will never be done. What in the world will it take for us to admit that we need revival in our churches? We have got to have revival. Real revivals are prayed down. But real revivals are also preached up. There never has been a great revival that was not born in prayer. Just as truly, there has never been, and I don’t believe there ever will be, a great sweeping revival without mighty red hot passionate preaching of the whole council of God. The Apostle Paul said, “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” 1 Cor. 1:21. I believe this is still God’s plan. For God has never changed. A revival must be preached up. Please don’t misunderstand me. I believe in all the other soul winning programs those agencies of the church and our wonderful conventions have their place, but please listen to me now, nothing can ever take the place of revival preaching. I believe in teaching and all preaching should have some teaching in it, but teaching can never take the place of revival preaching. People need to old fashion preaching of God’s grace, of the atonement, of God’s broken hearted love for lost mankind. People need to hear about the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ. We need real revival preaching as we have never needed it before. Someone may ask, “Well, what is the difference? What is revival preaching?” All I can tell you is, you will probably know it when you hear it. And I believe the Holy Spirit will confirm it. God’s command is still the same. “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show My people’s transgressions.” Isa 58: 1. We need to lay the ax to the root of the tree. As John the Baptist, we need to warn the people to flee from the wrath to come. (Luke 3:7) Yes, yes, a hundred times yes, we need to preach the love of God, the grace of God, the long suffering of God, and the mercy of God toward a suffering sin cursed world. Yes, we need to remember that God is love. That God is mercy. That God is grace. That God is long-suffering. And that He is all these things in Jesus Christ. But outside Jesus Christ our God is still a consuming fire. He is still a God of wrath. He is a God with eyes of flaming fire glaring at the sins of ungodly people. He is a God of judgment. He is a God of holiness. He is a God of justice. Since God is perfect in holiness He cannot wink at sin. Since God is perfect in justice he cannot forgive sin apart from the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is but one place in the entire universe on which God can take His stand and forgive sin, and still maintain His holiness and His justice, and that is at the cross of Jesus Christ. People need to know that God will punish all sin. People need to be told of the total depravity of the human heart, and the utter hopelessness of a person apart from being born again by the Holy Spirit of God. All of our churches, along with the world, need to be warned of the consequences of sin. They need to have it thundered in their ears that there is judgment coming for those who sin. The church needs to be aware that all sin will bring judgment, retribution, heartache and the wrath of God, and that a soul has no hope that is separated from God. Oh how we need to lift up our voices and let these dying people know there is hope in Jesus Christ. The church needs to be brought face to face with the stark reality and the awful fact of sin. Sin is a deep seated, loathsome disease that is eating the heart out of many good people. Sin will curse, damn, wreck and ruin the lives of those who play with it. It would be better to play with a diamond backed rattle snake than to play with sin. Sin will steal that beautiful smile from the sweetest young girl and make a prodigal of the finest young man. Yes, sin will find its way into a minister’s home, a deacon’s home, a Sunday school teacher’s home. Any fine Christian’s home. It will make its slimy way into your home and wreck it. It will kill your dreams and destroy your hopes. Sin will produce fear, doubt, and unfaithfulness in your life. Sin will cheat a minister of his calling and ruin the calling of a deacon. Sin will destroy that beautiful relationship you once had with the Lord. Yes, revival, real revival, must be preached up. God’s anointed preacher must stand up in God’s sacred pulpit, behind the Cross of Christ and declare the whole council of God. This is revival preaching. If there has ever been any question in your mind about the lostness of mankind and about the doom of a sinner and what an awful, awful thing it is for a soul to perish go back with me only two thousand years ago to a hill outside of the city of Jerusalem. There are three crosses raised on Golgotha’s brow. Tell me, if you will, who is the one on the middle cross. Do you tell me that you believe He is the very Son of God Himself? Do you tell me you believe that He is God incarnated in human flesh? Do you tell me you believe that He is the One that in the beginning said, “Let there be.” And worlds, solar systems, and universes sprang into existence at the very word of His power? Do you believe all that? Then please listen to me my friends. Sheer human logic forces us to three conclusions. First, if He is God’s only begotten Son, and He is dying for the sins of the world, as He said He was, then we must conclude that sin must be an awful, awful thing in the sight of a holy God to require a remedy like dying on a cruel cross. The second conclusion, if He is the Son of God dying there on the cross, and God is willing to pay a price like that to redeem souls from sin and hell, we must admit, by every law of logic on earth, and by every law of reason that it is an awful, awful thing for a soul to be lost without Christ. There is a third conclusion. When we once admit that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, dying on the cross for our sins, we must admit that there was no other way for mankind to be saved. Had there been any other way it would have been easy for God to have chosen that way than the one He chose. God sent his only begotten Son to die on a cross, with His face covered with the spittle of wicked men, buffeted and bruised and bloodshot with shame and disgrace to save you and me from our sin. They nailed His hands and feet to the cross. Put a crown of thorns on His head. Drove a spear into His side, while wicked men mocked and cheered and hissed while heaping upon Him their epitaphs of shame and ridicule. If we could be saved by being good, how much easier it would have been for God to have said, “Just behave yourself.” Just behave yourself and everything will be all right. The cross of Christ means there is no other way. We must hold up Jesus as God’s one and only, and all sufficient remedy for sin.
Not only do we need a prayed down revival, and a preached up revival, but we also need a powered in revival. Every day that I live and try to preach as I look back on my poor ministry I am made to realize more and more that much of it has been so shallow and so superficial. If our preaching is not empowered by the Holy Spirit our words are empty and powerless. We may use beautiful quotations from the literature of the world. We may memorize beautiful poems and lead people into ecstasies with our eloquence and give the impression that we are intellectual and educated, but I tell you we cannot convict a sinner with Emerson. We cannot convict a sinner with Longfellow, Edgar Guest or Shakespeare, or anyone else. We must unleash the sword of the Holy Spirit. Fill our messages with the Word of God and lean upon the Advocate, the Paraclete, and the One who is called alongside to help us. More and more every day my poor heart hungers for that kind of power of the Holy Spirit. I tell you the truth before God, I lie not, the Holy Spirit being my witness, every night I say to God, “Lord God I would rather die right here tonight, than preach another sermon without the power of the Holy Spirit.” Without that power I am as sounding brass and a clanging cymbal. But, oh when God, fills the vessel, it may be perishable, it may be imperfect, and all of us are, but when He fills it, it will bear the water of life to thirsty souls. When God empowers the instrument and speaks through it and cloths this weak mortal flesh with Himself, His invincible power will be seen, or rather perhaps I should say, when He clothes Himself with us, power invincible flows through us. God’s explanation of Gideon’s marvelous power is, and I quote from the Bible, “But the Spirit of the Lord clothed Himself with Gideon.” I cannot tell you how deeply I feel the need of this kind of power as I face the task of an evangelist during these last days. I believe God’s power is for today. Some of us have been alibi’ing so much for our lack of power that we have just about rid the Holy Spirit out of the Bible. Don’t tell me that the Holy Spirit has gone out of business. Let’s quit alibi’ing. Let’s take God at His Word and seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit. For us to see revival, real revival, it is going to take broken hearts and a fresh empowering of the Holy Spirit. The kind of revival we need is an old fashioned, Holy Spirit, heaven sent revival from All mighty God that will break the stubborn hearts of God’s people. The kind of revival that will humble our proud spirits. That will bring us down in sack cloth and ashes, confessing our sins and crying out to God for mercy and cleansing. Then and only then will we be able to rise up in the power of His might to shape our community and our world for Christ. We have got to have revival. The kind that is prayed down, preached up, and the kind that is powered in. But lastly, and just as important, a revival must be prepared for. Revivals come from God, no question about that. A real heartfelt, church building, sin convicting, house cleaning, city shaking, soul saving, God honoring revival is a miracle of God’s grace and we cannot have it unless God gives it. And God won’t give it unless we are prepared for it. More revival crusades fail for lack of preparation than fail for lack of Bible preaching. A revival must be prayed down. A revival must be preached up. A revival must be powered in. But there is no substitute for preparation. A revival must be prepared for. God always gives a measure of revival based on what His people prepare for. If a thing happened in the New Testament it was prepared for. If a thing happened in the Old Testament it was prepared for. Every great revival that God has ever given was prepared for. Preparation for revival means you expect a revival. Priority must be put on preparation. My former classmate at Hardin Simmons University, Bill Cathy, while with the evangelism department of the Baptist General Convention of Texas wrote a book, A New Day in Church Revival. In this book, Bill said, “Most unsuccessful revival meetings are the result of the hail Mary approach to revival preparation. Let me explain – Roger Staubach, former quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys made famous the “Hail Mary” pass. In the playoff game with the Minnesota Vikings several years ago time had almost run out for Dallas. They were trailing in the ball game. There was time for one more desperation pass. In the huddle I think that something like this must have taken place. Roger Staubach said to the wide receiver, Drew Pierson, “You run as fast as you can and as far as you can toward the goal line. I’ll throw the ball as hard as I can and as far as I can. Let’s hope the two of you get together in the end zone.” They broke huddle, went to the line of scrimmage, and snapped the ball. The lineman dug in and blocked. Drew Pierson cut across the field and down the right side line heading toward the end zone running as fast and as hard as he could. Roger dropped back, cocked his arm and threw the ball as hard and as far as he could. Luckily Drew Pierson and the football got together at the goal line at about the same time. He miraculously caught the ball, scored and Dallas won. Roger Staubach called it his “Hail Mary” pass. He threw the ball up and prayed and hoped Drew would somehow catch it and makes a touchdown. Some churches prepare for revival about like that. They schedule a week on the calendar, list an evangelistic team, pray and hope that when the two get together they will have revival. Very seldom does the long bomb of that Hail Mary desperation pass work in football. So also the “Hail Mary” approach to revival preparation seldom works. God gives revival to those who prepare for it. It breaks my heart when I hear someone say we don’t want to do all those things to prepare for a revival, we just want to get out of the way and let God do it. That is about like a preacher saying I don’t want to do all that sermon preparation, I just want to get up and let God speak through me. It is like an astronaut saying I want to go to the moon but I don’t need to prepare. Just put me in the rocket and push the button. Planned involvement of the church membership is the key to good revival preparation. Jesus Christ Himself was always prepared and He was always organized. Did Jesus feed the 5,000 people in the wilderness with an unorganized mob, crowding around him, each one grabbing for himself, bread and fish? No! He organized his workers and had the crowd divided into orderly seated groups. In Mark 5:39-40 the Bible says, “And He commanded them to make all sit down by companies on the green grass. And they set down in ranks by hundreds and by fifties.” You have got to be organized and prepared to feed 5,000 people. When Jesus was preparing a preaching tour he sent the twelve out first, two by two, with authority and clear instructions. Then according to Luke 10:1 the Bible says, “After these things the Lord appointed seventy more also and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself would come.” First there were six committees, then thirty-five committees of two each. Jesus gave each committee a specified route to follow and careful instructions for their journey and their work. Preparation is not only right it is necessary. It is true that the twelve apostles, just by seating the people in orderly ranks of fifties and one hundreds did not satisfy their hunger. Organization and preparation could not take the place of food. However, the right kind of organization and preparation helps to get the food to the people who need it. It is certain that no revival can come without it being prayed down, preached up and powered in. No revival can come without the miracle working power of the Holy Spirit. Revivals come from God, but God wants us to set the stage for Him to work. God wants us to pay the price to get things ready for His blessings. The Bible says we are labors together with God. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead He first commanded the people take away the stone. (John 11:39). He would not call Lazarus until the others did what they could. He would not, I won’t say he couldn’t, but He would not call Lazarus back to life until others did what they could, and then when Jesus had raised him from the dead He told the people, “Loose him and let him go.” John 11:44 It is up to us to roll away the stone from the door of dead souls so they can hear the voice of the living God. It is up to us to take off the grave clothes of death and set people free in the liberty and freedom of Christ. God will not do for us what we can do for ourselves. We must remember we are laborers together with God. We must do our part and prepare for revival. In Luke 16:8 Jesus commends the unjust steward for thinking and acting shrewdly then Jesus said, “The children of the world are shrewder in their generation than the children of light.” Now, what does this mean? Jesus didn’t die to take away our mind – only our sins. It means we children of light should be as shrewd and wise in what we do for Christ as the world is shrewd in what they do. This is certainly true when it comes to preparing for revival. What kind of revival do we need? We need the kind of revival that is prayed down, preached up, powered in and certainly prepared for. We need to prepare for a revival that will restore to our people the old fashioned fear of God. And reverence for the Name of God. Such reverence that you will no longer hear the Name of God taken in vain upon the lips of men and women, even boys and girls. My heart trembles when I hear people, some in our churches, take the Name of God in vain. Everywhere you go your blood is made to run cold with the irreverence and the lightness with which people use the Name of God. Oh God, we need a revival that will restore reverence and the fear of God to our people. We need to prepare for a revival that will stop the flood tides of sin, lawlessness, ungodliness, and immorality that are literally killing our churches and sending the rest of the world to hell. We need to prepare for a revival that will restore the love of God to the hearts of His people. We need to prepare for a revival that will restore purity to the way we live our daily lives. We need to prepare for a revival that will restore a moral conscience to our people. We need to prepare for a revival that will put an end to the dead formalism in our churches and make us soul winning stations for God once again. We need to prepare for a revival that will set us on fire with the power of the Holy Spirit and will break the hearts of God’s people for a lost world. We need to prepare for a revival that will restore a sin consciousness to our people. We need to prepare for a revival that will cause those of us who call ourselves Christians to walk again with God and hold high the banner of righteousness and to seek again the old paths and walk in them, not only because they are old but because they are right. We need to prepare for a revival that will restore unto our people the sense of knowing right from wrong. The world, both saved and unsaved, has all but lost the ability to tell the difference between that which is right and that which is wrong. The word of God says, “Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil. That put darkness for light and light for darkness. That put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isa. 5:20) It is a sad day in the life of any people when they lose their sense of right and wrong. We are in a day when nobody thinks very much about sin. Sin has lost its sinfulness in the thoughts of nearly everyone. Even some church leaders have lost their sense of sin. How we need to come back to realize the awfulness of sin. Sin that nailed Jesus Christ to the cross must be exceeding dark and black and shameful in the sight of All-Mighty God. If it took a remedy like that to save this old world from sin then I tell you SIN is no small thing. We need a revival. We have got to have a revival or we perish. The kind of revival that is prayed down, preached up, powered in and of course prepared for. God always gives revival to those who are prepared to receive it.
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WHAT KIND OF REVIVAL DO WE NEED?