Pastor Al, the late-night parson, answers again...
Posted: June 12, 2007
A good friend of mine once asked me how you can schedule a revival. He had a point. After all, should we expect God to meet us at OUR appointed time and place? It is almost as if we are telling God to show up on Wednesday night and expect that He will have revived us by Sunday night.
Sounds good in theory but I have yet to see it happen in reality. That is why revivals of old began with weeks of prayer and soul searching while God's people tarried on the Lord. Only when God began to pour out His Spirit upon them did they consider it a real revival.
The Biblical basis for a true revival is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
In this passage we find that true revival begins first and foremost with God's people. "If MY people..." Revival, then, is not waves of unsaved coming to Christ, it is God's people getting their hearts right.
True revival begins when God's people recognize that we are "called by HIS name". and not our own. In the New Testament the early believers were called by various names. In Acts 24:5 they were referred to as members "...of the sect of the Nazarenes" because Jesus, having been from Nazareth was known as a Nazarene. It was natural to refer to His followers then as Nazarenes as well. Likewise, they were called Galilaeans in Acts 2:7 for similar reasons.
It was not until Acts 11:26 that we find that "Öthe disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." After that first application of the name, Christian, we find it again in two more instances: "Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. (Acts 26:28)"; Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. (1 Peter 4:16)".
The name Christian literally means to be a follower of Christ; to be Christ-like. If we bear His name we ought to strive to bear His likeness. After all, Romans 8:29 says, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
To be a Christian you need to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that can only come when you realize that He, as God in the flesh, died on the cross in your place and shed His precious Blood to pay for your sin. You must realize that where the Bible says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23)", it means you personally. Because of your sin you are on your way to hell and will spend eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8 - "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.).
Fortunately, "...God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)" Therefore, by faith you have to "...confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)".
The next step to true revival comes when God's people "humble themselves". Notice Isaiah 57:15: "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Or, as James 4:10 puts it: "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."
To humility we need to add prayer. God enjoins us to "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Philippians 4:6)". We need to "Continue in prayer (Colossians 4:2)", and "Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)".
Along with prayer we need to earnestly seek God's face. David probably put it best in Psalms 63:1 when he said, "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;".
We also need to remember that "...without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)".
After seeking God's face in prayer and humility we need to turn from our wicked ways. Proverbs 28:13 says, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."
Our sinful ways prevent true revival by hindering our prayers, according to Isaiah 59:2 ("But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear."), and withholding God's hand, according to Jeremiah 5:25 ("Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.").
Like the prodigal son in Luke 15 we need to come to the realization that we have turned our back on our Lord and say, "I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, (Luke 15:18)".
Remember, 1 John 1:8-10 may have application to the unsaved but it was written to believers: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."
True revival begins when we, as God's people, realizing that we are called by His name, begin to humble ourselves before God and pray, seeking His face while turning from our sinful ways. The next step is up to God. It is God who said in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that if we do these things He "...will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
You can see, then, that true revival really does begin with God's people. We may set aside a time for a spring or fall revival, schedule an evangelist to preach for us, and send out invitations far and wide, but we cannot expect God to pour out His Spirit on us if we are not willing to do what He says in preparation. Make sure of your salvation, remember whose name you bear, humble yourself before God, pray, seek His face, and turn back to Him. Then, and only them, can we expect to experience true revival.