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
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
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
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
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
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
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:
- Coldness of heart. We have no zeal for God, no
passion for His will. Psalms 69:9 For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me
up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.
- Sin in the Camp. The Church winks at sin. Oh, not the
gross sins, but rather those that are respectable. Pride, envy, covetousness,
strife and divisiveness, lasciviousness; these are the sins that are not so
easily seen, yet spread like cancer destroying the Churchs power, purity and
- Division and strife. In America you must be number
one or nothing, and to be number one in ministry means to have the most the
most members, the most TV or radio time, the most money, the most cars, the
most books. And any who have more than we are not our helpers, our partners in
the Lords work, but our competition. Much division and strife in the American
Church stems out of this spirit of competition more than anything else.
- Prayerlessness. Has there ever been a time when
prayer was needed more yet exercised less? Perhaps the greatest sin of our age
is the Churchs prayerlessness, and make no mistake it is sin! In Luke
18:1, Jesus stated ...that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Men
ought. Not I wish men to or perhaps it would be good, but men ought
always to pray! If we ought, than to not do it must be sin! The Church
today does not pray and so cannot have Revival.
- Emphasis on wrong doctrine and wrong emphasis on
right doctrine. There are doctrines which are wrong and then there are
doctrines which may be biblically true, but men have put the wrong emphasis on
them and so produced great harm to the cause of Christ!
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
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
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.
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
- The total and voluntary moral depravity of unregenerated
man. The sinner must be made to see that apart from submission to, and faith
in, the Lord Jesus Christ, nothing he does is acceptable or
pleasing in the sight of God! The sinner must be thoroughly disavowed of the
modern notion that he may decide for himself what is morally right and
acceptable and the Law of God must be held up as the only acceptable
standard to God.
- The sinfulness of sin, not simply the positive
aspects of the Gospel. The fact is that people dont realize how
abominable their actions are before God. They have no concept at
all of His unequivocal hatred of sin nor do they comprehend the awful
judgement which their sin demands. We must declare that sinners are
not poor miserable creatures to be pitied, but monstrous
criminals rebelling against the government of God!
- The reality of hell! The Church no longer believes in hell.
If it did it could not tolerate the condition that most around them are in. It
could not tolerate the millions who die daily lost for eternity. Hell is
real, Jesus preached it and so must the Church today if we are to see
- The necessity of a radical change of heart, through the
truth revealed to the heart by the agency of the Holy Spirit. Peter preached
in Acts 3, that you repent, and be converted... The new birth is not something
God deposits in us, but a fundamental change in the ultimate purpose of
our lives to cease serving self and serve God and do His will! The life that
is not transformed by the Gospel has been untouched by it!
- The divinity and humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ and His
vicarious atonement, equal to the wants of all mankind. Preach the offense of
the Cross, Christ crucified as the only way to God, sufficient for the
salvation of all humanity!
- The divinity, agency and gift of the Holy Spirit as a real
presence in the lives of people that they might be converted, live a life of
holiness before the Lord and demonstrate the power of God to a lost world.
- Repentance mans ability and responsibility to turn from his
sin to God! The sinner must understand that any delay, any putting off
from turning away from all known sin toward God has its origin
and foundation in his will alone, and not in any presumed
inability. It is not that the sinner cannot turn from sin, but that he
- Faith absolute and unconditional surrender to, and trust in,
the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Faith is not an acceptance of, or intellectual
belief in, some truth or postulation, but rather the committment of ones self
to that truth. Saving faith in Jesus Christ is nothing less then committal of
ones whole self to His care and rule.
- Justification by faith, as taught in scriptures. Finney
preached against the theological fiction of imputation as injurious to
Christian experience and an affront to mans intelligence. Justification by
faith is not the means whereby the righteousness of Christ, His perfect
obedience, is imputed to unrighteous men, but rather the means by which
men, having turned from their sin, might actually become righteous
experientially, enabling God to treat them as righteous, rather than as guilty
sinners justly deserving His condemnation.
- Sanctification by faith the necessity of holiness in
this life! God calls us to a life of entire obedience. To see Revival
we must strive to raise our experience up to Gods standard, rather than bring
His standard down to our experience!
- Persistence in holiness as a condition of salvation. The
believer must persevere in faith if he is to finally be saved. But when the
righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and
doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he
live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his
trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them
shall he die. Ezekiel 18:24. ...but he that endureth to the end shall be
saved. Matthew 10:22
Doctrines which must be avoided:
- Predestination: God has elected from all eternity those
who will be saved and, consequently, those who will be damned. The
predestination of the bible is of the way and conditions of salvation,
not of the individuals who will be saved. This doctrine taken to its
logical conclusion results in fatalism and apathy on the part of Gods people.
If God has already determined who shall be saved, and nothing can thwart His
will, what difference can the actions of men truly make?
- Inability: man cannot turn to God, but must wait upon God
to turn (change) him. Has any sinner ever objected to such a
doctrine? What absolves the sinner of responsibility any more than this
doctrine does? If man is unable to repent then God must be unjust in
requiring him to repent in order to be saved.
- Man is born sinful: every child is conceived in iniquity
and enters this world guilty before God. Guilty because of Adams sin which is
imputed to him, guilty because of the sin nature he is born with and
ultimately guilty because of the sin he himself commits. If this doctrine
is true, every human being is under triple condemnation, even though he
never consciously gave Adam power of attorney, never asked to be
brought into this world of sin and never could do anything but sin due
to the nature he was born with. This is hailed as Gods justice? May it
never be! No! Man is born innocent and he becomes a sinner because, in
his rebellion, he has refused to love God with all his heart according to the
light he has and he has selfishly sought his own happiness to the detriment of
every other creature in the universe!
- Salvation apart from consecration: you can be saved
without making Jesus Lord. No amount of complaints about Lordship
salvation can alter the fact that the Word of God declares That if you confess
with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him
from the dead, you shall be saved. (Romans 10:9 NASV) The word saviour occurs
37 times in scripture, the word lord occurs 6748 times. Which do you think God
considers more important?
- Holiness is optional: holiness is a higher calling for a
chosen few, but is not necessary for the majority of Christians. The
mediocrity of the majority of Christian experience may be traced to this
fundamental error believed by so many. Holiness is not optional, but rather
the very purpose for which Christ died and seeks to bring us to repentance.
Paul writes, Follow...holiness, without which no man shall see the
- Once saved always saved: eternal security requires no
perseverance in faith or continuance in holiness on the part of the believer,
it is predicated solely on Gods election not mans response. No doctrine
ever preached has been so calculated by the enemy as to inure mens souls to
the truth of Gods Word or harden their hearts to the convicting power of the
Holy Spirit. The man who believes his destiny secure and his fire insurance
paid up may safely scoff at all calls for repentance and righteous living to
his own eternal sorrow.
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.