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What Will Bring Revival in America?

by Jonathan Duttweiler

Much is being written and preached today concerning Revival. From every corner we hear America must have Revival or it will die (never realizing that she is dead already, thereby necessitating Revival!). Others proclaim that Revival is already here, that we are, at least in some places, experiencing great Revival. A disinterested observer might agree that there is fervor, there is excitement, there is Church growth, there are even wonderful outpourings of Gods Spirit. However, is there enough evidence to convince one that true Revival is happening here in America? If history can afford us any lessons, particularly histories of Revivals past, America has a long way yet to go before Revival is truly here!

The great Revivals of the past shook nations. They were not just meetings to stir up the faithful or to record notches on an evangelists gun, but shakings of the very foundations that Church and society rested upon! The Great Awakening of 1735, the first great Revival on American soil, laid the Christian foundation of this nation. The great preaching of Edwards, Tennet, Whitfield and others, helped shape the course of America for a hundred years. It has been said that the Wesleyan Revival, taking place in England during this same period, saved the British Empire from the same type of bloody revolution which befell France.

During the Revivals in the years from 1799 to 1803, epitomized by the Cain Ridge Revival, it is estimated that the Methodists gained 2000 members per year and that the Baptist added 10,000 members. The Western Conference of the Methodist Church had a membership of 2700 before the Revivals and over 12,000 after. All this in what was then the frontier of America; Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee (although Revivals shook the New England area as well).

Can we compare the so-called Revivals of our day to those of the Second Great Awakening? Have we preachers comparable to Lyman Beecher or Charles Finney? When was the last time all the bars in a city were put out of business because the town was converted? Which of our modern Revivals put a dent in TV ratings, or caused attendance at sporting events to drop because the conviction of sin was so great upon the people they sought out the preacher to get saved? How many of the converts from these Revivals persevere? When great evangelistic crusades are held in our cities, not only is the general population unaffected, but our Churches barely notice the difference! The Revivals which occurred around Rochester, NY, in the early 1830s resulted in between 50,000 to 100,000 conversions in a little over one year! From 1830 to 1835 reports stated that 200,000 souls were saved in this area. Of those people converted under the ministry of Charles Finney, it is said that above 80% were stable Church members 10 years later. Can we claim such success?

Real Revival is taking place, but not in America. It is occuring in Korea, where the Church has grown from less than a million 25 years ago, to over 12 million today. And in Africa, where the Church is growing so fast that Muslims attack preachers and disrupt meetings to try to stop its progress. It is taking place in Central and South America, in China and Malaysia, but in America? No! We are so smug in our presumed spiritual superiority, so at ease in our comfortable buildings, so fat in our land of plenty (even in a recession), we have no need of God. Oh, when we are desperate enough we may throw a few crumbs His way. When the doctors cant help us, we may cry out to Him. When we feel we might not quite be as good as we ought, we might respond to an invitation and let the preacher massage our conscience by telling us that now we have accepted Jesus were alright. But surrender to God? Devote our whole lives, hearts, minds, souls and strength, to His cause? Never! We might have to leave our Cadillacs and six bedroom houses!

There is no real Revival in America because Americans are not convinced they really need God. We do so many things on our own, are able to accomplish so much through hard work, that really, God is just an afterthought, an addendum, an insurance policy. Will America fall? She has already fallen and she cannot get up! America is spiritually paralyzed but too spiritually blind to realize it. All our preaching, all our crusades, all our TV and radio, have produced a spiritually obese Church content to be merily on its way to heaven while the rest of the world is on its way to hell!

Can anything be done? Can America be saved? It can, but only if we begin to pay more than lip service to God and His Word. 2 Chronicles 7:14 states 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. We have heard it preached, we have perhaps preached it ourselves, but we must believe it and obey it if we are to see God move in our land. Our leaders must obey the admonition of Joel, who declares, Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people. (Joel 2:17) In Habakkuk 3:2 the prophet prays, O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. This must become the Church's heart cry!

Elisha exclaimed, Where is the God of Elijah? But God is now crying out, Where are the Elijahs of God? America can have Revival if the Church recognizes the need and does what it takes to bring it about. What can we do, how can we bring Revival to this land?

We must first understand just what Revival is. Many in the Church, especially in the Bible belt where I live, think of Revival as simply a series of special evangelistic meetings. For these, Revival is synonymous with Revival meetings. But this is not what is meant by the term Revival, either historically or biblically. O LORD, revive thy work ..., Habakkuk prays. Revival in the biblical and historical sense, is a work of Gods Spirit whereby the love and zeal of Chrisitans are renewed and rekindled leading to the conversion of sinners and the transformation of society.

That Revivals are the work of God does not mean that they are spontaneous miracles, mysteriously beginning and ending according to some hidden plan of God. Charles Finney, in his Lectures on Revival, states Revivals, rather than being miracles, arise from the right use of God-given means... Revival as naturally and certainly results from its occasion as a crop does from its cause.

None have written as profusely on the subject nor have had as great success in the propagation of Revivals as Finney. Finney never failed to see Revival come as a result of following the principles he believed flowed from the Spirit of God as outlined in his Lectures on Revival.Finney states that Revival consists of conviction, repentance and reformation. Revival begins with Christians convicted of sin. A backslidden, cold-hearted Church cannot regain its zeal and begin to serve God without a deep soul searching of the Holy Spirit. Then there must be true repentance. Many believe and act as if simply feeling deeply sorry or remorseful over sin is sufficient. However, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 7:10, For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. Finney wrote that true repentance is a breaking the heart, getting down into the dust before God with deep humility, and forsaking sin. Only then can the Christians faith be renewed and reformed. Reformation involves a return to Godly living and work springing forth from a heart filled with love. A cold church is unconcerned about the world about, it exists only in a legalistic fog, asserting the truthfulness of Gods commands but denying the power thereof. A revived Church is renewed and refired so that its love for God and, consequently, lost souls, is rekindled to burn bright again. When the Church is thus revived, the power of the world and sin is broken over it and so the conversion and reformation of sinners follows. When the Church catches on fire, the world will come to watch it burn!

To experience true Revival, the Church will have to rediscover the principles that Finney followed to such great blessings from God! We in America will have to recognize that the Church is the hindrance! Sin in the Church prevents Revival from coming. Revival must begin with the leaders, a Church rises no higher than its leadership. The ministers of God must cry out as Joel proclaimed, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach. Revival takes aim at the Church not the world. It sweeps people out of the world, but it must start with the Church. If we have no Revival it is because the Church hinders it with:

Every doctrine that centers our attention on man rather than Jesus hinders Revival.

Every doctrine that makes man the center of Gods attention rather than God the center of mans devotion hinders Revival.

Every heart that is seeking or serving God for what He will do for them is a backslidden heart in need of Revival!

Next, the Church must begin to pray all Revival is birthed by prayer. Paul wrote of the Galatians whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you... Prayer is the communion with God by which the Church is impregnated with concern for lost souls; the avenue by which the Church travails for those souls. Prayer is the mid-wife of Revival and the nursemaid by which converts are stabilized and fixed! For Revival to come the Church must pray! Finney wrote in his Memoirs In regard to my own experience, I will say that unless I had the Spirit of prayer I could do nothing. If even for a day or an hour I lost the Spirit of grace and supplication, I found my self unable to preach with power and efficiency, or to win souls by personal conversation...I found myself having more or less power in preaching and in personal labor for souls just in proportion as I had the Spirit of prevailing prayer.

The Church must then Be filled with the Holy Spirit only anointed preaching which conveys the conviction of the Holy Spirit will bring Revival. Much passes these days for Spirit filled preaching which is only spirited preaching. The preacher has studied, he has prepared, but he has not prayed, he has not struggled in prayer until he knows that what he has is from God and that unless he brings it forth he shall burst! Charles Spurgeon wrote, Unction [anointing] is a thing which you cannot manufacture, and its counterfeits are worse than worthless. Yet it is, in itself, priceless, and beyond measure needful if you would edify believers and bring sinners to Christ.

To have Revival, the Churchs chief motive must be to please God. It is God, in Christ, Who has suffered and died in order that all men everywhere might be saved, He deserves souls. Love for souls is good, but love for God must be first!

If we are to have Revival ministers must deal directly with the people where they are dont preach to the Choir! Ministers of God must learn to deal with the people they have before them, not to some group of sinners unrelated to the congregation at hand.

The Church must preach the Word and leave out doctrines and traditions of men and denominations if we are to have real Revival. Many hold to the notion that doctrines are unimportant and that as long as we have fire and zeal and love for God we will see results. But hear this loud and clear, the truth matters! The truth is the Holy Spirits instrument to probe the hearts and minds of men and bring about conviction. Paul told Timothy that he must learn to rightly divide the word of truth. For there to be Revival, we must preach:

Doctrines which must be avoided:

To see Revival preachers must give direct invitations and demand immediate submission. Dont ever do anything to decrease the anxiety or discomfort of hearers. Their discomfort is a sign either of the Holy Spirits conviction or their stiffnecked, stubborn rebellion. Both must be pressed if Gods will is to be accomplished in their lives. Too many preachers want to soften up their message, make it more palatable and digestible. But God's Word is like a two-edged sword, it cuts, coming and going! Preach the Word and let God take care of binding the wounds, He is much better at it than we. Better to have the whole congregation mad at you and under conviction, than to soothe their ruffled feathers and lose their souls!

What will bring Revival in America? Nothing less then our whole hearted submission to His truth and the ways and means the Word presents in dealing with a cold Church, backslidden believers and hard hearted sinners! When Christians, and ministers of God in particular, begin to care more about what God thinks about them and their ministries than they do the people and world around them, then we will see Revival, real Revival, come to America.

1994 - 1996 Trumpet of Zion Revival Ministries International, Inc. All rights reserved. This document may be copied and distributed freely as long as it is unaltered.