One of the great things about studying history is that God brings to our remembrance the mighty and wonderful things he has done in the past.
Did you know that a number of great revivals have swept across our nation over the years? Jonathan Edwards, pastor of a small frontier town in Massachusetts in the 1730s, witnessed a great work of God in which 300 believers were added to his church in six months. For 25 straight years at the beginning of the 1800s, revivals flared all across the nation. During the Civil War over 250,000 soldiers, Union and Confederate, made professions of faith.
However, studying history also reveals our shortcomings. Did you know that there's not been a great season of continual revival in America for over 100 years?
How can we explain that? It's simple. Just as in the days before Israel's exile, God's people in America have turned their back on their Creator. Oh sure, there's more churches today than at any point in our history. Yes, there are churches bursting at the seams with people. But, on the whole, churches in America have lost their way. They've forgotten their first love. They've grown old. They've grown cold. They're now dead.
What we need is a great revival--not amongst the lost but among those who claim to have been found.
William Sprague, a witness to the revivals of the Second Great Awakening, said that "the efficiency of the church depends greatly on its purity." He wasn't talking about the smooth operation of the church. He was talking about the church's ability to fulfill its God-given role, that of calling a lost and dying world to the Savior. He recognized that the church was sick, that it was cancerous, and that it was dying from the inside out.
The cause? Sin.
A church that harbors and tolerates sin of any kind is a church that no longer savors of the sweet smell of forgiveness. Instead, it reeks of spiritual death. Rather than living as their Lord lived, rather than living as the world should live, they live as the world lives. There's no longer a significant difference between the people of the church and the people of the world. Is it any wonder that our children and grandchildren see no use for the church? They see a Christianity that doesn't really matter. They see a Christianity that doesn't make a difference. And, they see no use for it.
Baptist preacher Vance Havner once said, "A revival is the church remembering, the church repenting, the church repeating."
We as a church must remember all that God has done for us and all that He has commanded us. We must repent of our individual and collective sins. We must return to our first love, sharing our faith, raising our voices in praise, and once again living lives worthy of a people called to bear His wonderful name.
We must look into our hearts, we must search our souls, and we must prepare our church. After all, the stakes are high. At risk is not just the reputation and future of our church. The reputation of Jesus Christ, His sacrifice, and His church are on the line.
Join me, even now, praying that God will work a miracle of awakening among us and bring great glory to Himself.
Peter Beck (Ph.D. Southern Seminary) is assistant professor of religion at Charleston Southern University in Charleston, South Carolina, and a former Senior Pastor. Dr. Beck also writes at his Website, Living to God.
5 Quotes about Revival
1. "Revival is to live again, to receive again a life which has almost expired, to rekindle into a flame the vital spark which was nearly extinguished.” - Charles Spurgeon (quoted in "What Is the Significance of Revival for Believers?" by Chris Swanson)
2. "Father God, We live in such an age where people wander aimlessly to find something to give them meaning and life. What they seek they do not find, because they are not finding it in the true source of life itself - You. Father, today we come together as true and sincere followers of You to kindly and ardently ask for a revival of souls in this age. Father, You say in Matthew 7 to come and ask You as our Father for what we desire. Lord, we desire for our friends, families, and neighbors to be open and to seek and find the truth of the authentic source of life - You. We invite Your Holy Spirit to pour out onto the people You have made. We invite You to perform miracles, wonders, and to speak to the people You crafted with Your hands. Father, You say in Psalm 139 that You crafted each and every person in the hidden place in the palm of Your hand, and so we pray that truth will be brought to Light in each and every person You have crafted. It is only by Your Spirit that truth can be truly known (John 15:26) and so we implore this day for such revival of spirits, of nations, and of hearts. In the Name of the Most High we pray, Amen." - reprinted from "A Powerful Prayer for Revival" by Cally Logan
3. "We too often merely pray for 'revivals,' forgetting that it is for us to "stir into flame" the gift of the Spirit which we have already received of God. It is ours from Him, but we let it lie dormant, as a slumbering ember merely." - W.L. Walker, "Revive" in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
4. "Many today are... hoping to see a wave of revival once again sweep through. But this will only occur when we shift our focus off our circumstances or even the state of our schools or nation and onto ourselves.God rarely does something through us that He first hasn’t done to us." - reprinted from "Do We Still Need Revival in Christianity?" by Jennifer Slattery
5. "I said that a revival is the result of the right use of the appropriate means. The means which God has enjoined for the production of a revival, doubtless have a natural tendency to produce a revival. Otherwise God would not have enjoined them. But means will not produce a revival, we all know, without the blessing of God." - "What a Revival of Religion is For" by Charles G. Finney
5 Bible Verses about Revival
1. "Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?" (Psalm 85:6)
2. "...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)
3. "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (Psalm 51:10)
4. "Restore us, LORD God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved." (Psalm 80:19)
5. "LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy." (Habakkuk 3:2)
(Reprinted from BibleStudyTools' "Bible Verses about Revival")
If you enjoyed this article about revival, check out Christianity.com's other articles on historic Christian revivals:
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