Revival in Our Time
The quotation, “Revival in our time,” is being used frequently in certain circles, and we do well to take heed to its challenge. That the day of grace is fast drawing to a close is obvious to every sincere-minded Christian; consequently there is a need for a more aggressive evangelism.
There are three references to revival in the Scriptures to which we ought to pay attention. The first one is quite personal, “Thou wilt revive me” (Psa. 138:7). The second one is an earnest prayer, “Wilt Thou not revive us again?” (Psa. 85:5). The third one is a cry from the heart in a day of declension, “O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years” (Hab. 3:2).
In the first chapter of the Book of Acts the Lord Jesus said to His disciples, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (V. 8). In the last chapter of Luke’s Gospel they were told to tarry in Jerusalem until this experience became a reality, then in their testimony they were to reach out progressively in ever widening circles until they finally spread the good news to the ends of the earth. In the eighth chapter of the Book of Acts we read, “They that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word” (V. 4). Are we less responsible than they? Some today excuse themselves and say, “But I am not a preacher!” Perhaps not, but each may be a witness. Each can tell what God has done for his soul. Some, we grant, are not as brave as others; nevertheless, all can live Christ, give out literature, and copies of the Gospels, and thus introduce themselves as Christians, as witnesses for the Lord Jesus.
“Speak a little word for Jesus,
Testify or sing or pray;
And like bread upon the waters,
It will return to you someday.”
When we were first saved in our enthusiasm we sang, “All for Jesus, all my being’s ransomed powers.” Have we lost some of that early zeal? If so, let us sincerely pray, “Wilt Thou not revive us again?” Perhaps some of us have become worldly and are now enjoying in a measure the company and conversation of the unconverted. Let me here pass on a timely word, “He ordained in Joseph a testimony when he went through the land of Egypt:… where I heard a language, or speech of one that I knew not” (Psa. 81:5 R.V.). Egypt is a type of the world. Can we possibly understand its language? Can we engage in the worldly conversation of the unsaved and enjoy their jokes? If so, we might well question the genuineness of our conversion.
Paul was commissioned to be the Apostle to the Gentiles and as such he felt his responsibility and cried out, “Woe is me if I preach not the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16). Are we to be less concerned than he? A story recently was published about Bishop Azariah of one of the evangelical churches of India. When he was receiving candidates for membership, he always had them place their hands on their heads and repeat, “Woe is me, if I preach not the gospel.” What a dramatic reminder that each one received was a messenger of good news, a witness for the Lord! The Lord wants us to be go-getters, do it ourselves witnesses. In the parable of the Marriage Supper the Lord uses some strong terms: “go,” “compel,” “bring them in.” We might well take these commands to ourselves. The prayer of our hearts should indeed be, “Revive us again.”
According to 1 Peter 2:1-9, we are a company of royal priests to show forth the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvellous light. This is a duty, a responsibility, and a privilege.
Previous to a great gospel campaign in a large Canadian city, in prayer meetings the hymn “Revive Thy work, O Lord,” became a theme song. Yes, and more than a theme song, it became a plea for revival. The Lord certainly answered this prayer for souls were saved, backsliders were restored, and the hearts of His people were filled with joy.
“It is His great delight to bless us;
Oh. how He loves.”
Habakkuk the Prophet seemed to be quite apprehensive. He was conscious of a stirring of something unusual around him. According to chapter two of his Prophecy, he had been on the watch and had been waiting for a vision which seemed to tarry. He felt that he was on the eve of some extra-ordinary manifestation of God and was afraid: he trembled; his lips quivered; he felt his unworthiness, so resorted to the mercy seat and there betook himself to prayer, “O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known, in wrath remember mercy” (Heb. 3:12). Someone has said, “Revival is an excitement promoted by prayer.” We might add to this, quiet, determined, persistent, importunate prayer. The words of Jacob spoken long ago illustrate the attitude, “I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me.” It is pleading with God for souls, the Spirit Himself helping our infirmities and making intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered (Rom. 8:26).
Revival is a stirred up interest in the things of the Lord. That there are revivals among politicians we know. How much more should there be among Christians who have matters vastly superior and much more important than anything political!
Revivals are a pulling up of nature, the imposing of restraint upon the flesh, times of heart-searching. Are we ashamed with such an unpopular movement in the eyes of our neighbours? No matter how successful our endeavours, much more could be done for the Lord in our evangelistic efforts. Another has said that revival is like a landslide crashing down the mountain, something mightier than the tumbling down of a large rock; revival is a real stirring up. If conditions are stirred up by the Spirit of God, we may be sure that the devil the enemy of souls, will also be aroused. He will stir up carnal Christians to criticize; this will influence the timid ones, and although they may know that the work is good, they will not respond. Notwithstanding, we are sure that those who put their hearts into the work of the gospel will find them filled by the very joy of Heaven. No pleasure this side of Heaven can compare with that of seeing souls saved. May we seize every possible opportunity to reach and rescue the perishing.
A preacher invited to minister in a rural congregation saw a box on the table labelled, “For the Preacher.” It was there, of course, to defray his expenses. Into it he placed his offering. That evening when he was leaving, one of the deacons opened the box and found only the amount that the preacher himself had placed there that morning. On the way home, he complained bitterly to his little grandson who had gone with him. Finally the little lad said, “Grandpa, if you had put more into it, you would have gotten more out of it.” This is so true in Christian testimony; the more we put into our witnessing for Christ, the greater will be the results.
“Revive Thy work, O Lord!
Create soul-thirst for Thee:
And hungering for the Bread of Life
O may our spirits be!”