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Section 7. Living The Faith... The Biblical Christian

 

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Why The Fire Hasn’t Fallen

by Carol Brooks.

Also See The Message of The Bible
Christianity has an unparalleled gift to much to offer the world but how many really understand the full extent of God's offer to man. And no, it isn't some pie in the sky 'heaven' somewhere out there.

Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at Your presence-- (Isaiah 64:1 NASB)


ON THIS PAGE

Introduction
Popular but Erroneous Ideas of What Constitutes Revival.

What Exactly is Revival?
Because it is impossible to 'revive' something that is dead, revival does not mean the conversion of non-believers

An Example of Revival
Asbury College

Is Revival of God?
Charles Finney and Rick Warren had one thing in common - they both believe revival can be manufactured by man.

What The Fire of God Means
God is a God of fire - in both Testaments

Why Do We Need Revival?
because Christianity is not alive and well in spite of loud declarations to the contrary
Shallow, Abbreviated and Highly Inaccurate Salvation Messages
Substituting Activity For The Holy Spirit

Praying For Revival - Examining 2 Chronicles 7:14-15
Two pre-conditions to Revival - Humble Ourselves and Pray and Seek His Face;.

The Fire Hasn't Fallen For Two Main Reasons
 We, Like The Laodiceans, Don't Think We Need It and Consequently Don't Pray For It
We Aren't Willing To Pay The Price To Get It.

End-time Apostasy or End Time Revival?


 

Introduction - Popular Ideas of What Constitutes Revival.
After anointing/anointed, revival has to be the most misunderstood and misused word in the Christian arena.

In all too many cases the phrase "revival meeting" is applied to a special series of planned church services (usually widely advertised and promoted well in advance) that have at their core a strong evangelistic emphasis.

    These services have a special emphasis placed on leading people, who do not yet have a relationship with Him, to Christ. The church members often help out by doing such things as singing in the "revival choir," bringing their friends to "pack a pew night," or serving pizza to teenagers before the service on "youth night." [01]

    (Can we please call these services what they are - evangelistic campaigns)

Revival is also a rather popular buzzword used for a wide variety of 'Christian' endeavors that usually have little or nothing in common with Biblical precepts. For example, far from recognizing Rick Warren's "purpose-driven" philosophy (See The Purpose Driven Life)  as the drivel it is, his supporters claim it is directly responsible for a growing spiritual revival in this country. Even worse, was all the hype that surrounded The Passion of the Christ movie when it was claimed that the large sales of movie related paraphernalia indicated a coming revival. The movie did not create a dramatic rise in evangelism, church attendance, and spiritual growth that some church leaders (As I understand it,  Ed Young, Greg Laurie, and Lee Strobel among others) predicted. Instead it fizzled out like a damp squib - the only dramatic rise probably being in Mel Gibson's bank account. 

However, what really takes the proverbial cake are the numerous supposed 'revivals' that have been marked by outlandish and obscenely bizarre behavior - people yelling, jerking, twitching, falling on the floor, making animal noises and babbling incoherent, unintelligible, repetitive words or phrases. The tragedy is that far from being genuine revivals, these displays have shown the participants to be controlled not by the Spirit of God, but a very different spirit warned about in the New Testament. These appalling freak exhibitions have also brought the name of our Lord and His church into disrepute.


What Exactly is Revival?

Webster's Dictionary defines the word revival as 'to restore from a depressed, inactive, or unused state'. The word itself comes from the Latin revivere "to live again" (re- "again" + vivere- "to live") [02]      

Because it is impossible to 'revive' something that is dead, revival does not mean the conversion of non-believers, but a spiritual re-awakening of believers who have, for one reason or another, lost their initial spiritual fervour and become mechanical in their approach to Christianity. If sin and/or neglect have weakened a person's connection to God, it is very likely that their spiritual life has deteriorated into the lifeless formality of ritualistic religious observance, and their church commands more loyalty than does their Savior.

Often triggered by the preaching or reading of God's Word, revivals are, in a sense, a repetition of the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit comes down upon a number of people together and brings about that which cannot be explained by human effort. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said,

    ...a revival is "a miracle. It is the hand of the Lord, and it is mighty. It can only be explained as the direct action and intervention of God. Men can produce evangelistic campaigns, but they cannot and never have produced a revival. A revival, by definition, is the mighty act of God and it is a sovereign act of God... Not only can men not produce a revival, they cannot even explain it, and that again is most important. If you can explain what is happening in a church, apart from this sovereign act of God, it is not revival."

Whatever the cause of their stagnation, the fire is stirred under lukewarm believers, and many backsliders renewed. This because during revival people sense the presence of God so powerfully that they immediately begin to have an awareness of spiritual things as they never have before. All of a sudden words and concepts that they may have heard or thought of a thousand times before become real and personal.

    "They begin not only to see these things clearly but to feel their power. First and foremost, the glory and the holiness of God. Have you ever noticed, as you read your Bibles, the effect on these people as they suddenly realized the presence of God? Like Job, they put their hands on their mouths or like Isaiah they say, "Woe is unto me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips." They have just had a realization of the holiness and of the majesty and the glory of God. That always happens in a revival

Because revival brings a clear view of the love and compassion of God who died for them, it stirs in people conviction and heartfelt repentance, a deep desire for the things of God, renewed humble gratitude to Christ whom they now seek to know, and a change in character and lifestyle combined with a strong desire for the coming kingdom (See The Message of The Bible) and much less taste for this one. [Martyn-Lloyd Jones. What is Revival? http://www.pentecostalpioneers.org/whatisrevivaljones.html]

However, the acid test of a genuine revival is whether it produces lasting changes in people's lives


True vs. False Revival
If, as they should be, all revivals are judged by the description above, then much of what we, in this modern world, call "revival" -  isn't.

'Revival' has become nothing more than a convenient phrase used for any pragmatic Church program such as a planned evangelical meeting scheduled for two weeks in April or a man made course that someone takes.

Any so-called manifestations of 'Holy Spirit' power with little or no evidence of holiness or renewed spiritual vigor is not revival but nothing more than, as I have heard it amusingly but accurately phrased, 'getting your whoop-de-doos down at the altar'.

What we can never forget is that genuine revivals always brings repentance and change, as it did when the priests brought Josiah, the boy king of Judah, a copy of the Word of God that they had found while doing repairs to the Temple.

    10 Moreover, Shaphan the scribe told the king saying, "Hilkiah the priest has given me a book." And Shaphan read it in the presence of the king. 11 When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes. 12 Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Achbor the son of Micaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king's servant saying, 13 "Go, inquire of the Lord for me and the people and all Judah concerning the words of this book that has been found, for great is the wrath of the Lord that burns against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us." (2 Kings 22:10-13 NASB)

Josiah tore his clothes in a traditional expression of horror and grief, because he realized that the kingdom of Judah had forsaken God and now well deserved judgment from Him. His strong conviction of their sin led the prophetess Huldah to tell him

    because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you," declares the Lord. "Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring on this place."

On the other hand, any preaching on sin or repentance goes over like a lead balloon at some false revival meetings that promote signs and wonders (in place of repentance and salvation), exhibit manifestations which are not of the Holy Spirit (in place of genuine works of the Spirit as described in the New Testament) See Tongues in in The Gospels and Acts and have a misguided emphasis upon the Holy Spirit (in place of Jesus Christ). As the Savior said

    "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,  (John 15:26 NASB)


    An Example of Revival
    Due to the outlandish and unbiblical behavior of certain groups I was (and still am) very wary of phenomena' that is attributed to the Holy Spirit but, more often than not, has nothing to do with God.

    However, in 2002, I came across a book about the 1970 revival at Asbury, an inter-denominational Christian college in Wilmore, Kentucky. Interestingly, it was a book I had bought sometime earlier but, for some reason, had left it gathering dust for a very long time. Intrigued, I read the entire book from cover to cover in one night.

    Not quite convinced that this was a genuine work of the Spirit, I was beginning to put the story behind me when about three or four days later my husband and I went to the library to look for a video I knew to be on the bottom shelf of a particular aisle. As I pulled it from the shelf and straightened up I found my nose six inches away from another tape on a higher shelf. You guessed it - The Asbury revival!  Although I might have been making more of the incident than mere coincidence deserves, I took it home and watched it.

    A pleasant surprise! No so called 'holy' laughter, no hysterical shaking, dancing, or jerking. No one walked around the church clucking like a chicken and, from what we could tell, (it was obviously a 'home video'), no one was passed out on the floor under the influence of who knows what spirit. For that week, which is how long the revival lasted, God's presence was palpable. As His Spirit was poured out on those present, it had an overwhelmingly impressive effect on students and faculty alike as they kneeled together, quietly prayed together, wept and sang. Significantly, many people were moved to ask forgiveness from those they had wronged.

    A Firsthand Account of the Asbury College Revival of 1970 by Dennis Kinlaw
     

     

     

    My interest thoroughly aroused I began to read about some of the periodic outpouring of God's Spirit. The men who led these awakenings were ordinary men. They were intelligent, but certainly were no great statesmen nor leaders... they were neither rich, powerful, particularly eloquent, nor always right about everything. What they did have was a passion for the Lord Jesus. 

    However, I would like to insert a caveat and make clear that I have not read the details of every single revival in this country, much less others that took place on distant shores. There have been some events that greatly deceived people call a 'revival' however, the strange goings on cannot possibly be attributed to the Father. For example, no matter what you might have read or been told, Azusa street was anything but a move of God. See Tongues, Gift of What Spirit? - which is chapter five of a detailed article on tongues.


    Is Revival of God?
    Unfortunately, many seem to believe that revival can be 'manufactured' by man. For example, Charles Finney, sometimes called  the "father of modern revivalism", believed that "revival was not a miracle, but the right use of proper means". In other words, an engineered revival is possible. All we need to do is discover the process by which to "wake up the dormant moral powers, and roll back the tide of degradation and sin.” [03] It is then little wonder that even Rick Warren has been called the inventor of "perpetual revival" which, by the way, is a contradiction in terms.

    However, what happened that morning in the Asbury chapel wasn't man made. The students were required to attend chapel services three times a week, and that Tuesday morning, "Custer Reynolds, Asbury's academic dean and a Methodist layman, was in charge".

      Reynolds did not preach. Instead, he briefly gave his testimony, then issued an invitation for students to talk about their own Christian experiences. There was nothing particularly unusual about that. One student responded to his offer. Then another. Then another. "Then they started pouring to the altar,” Reynolds said. "it just broke." [04]

    In an extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit, the Father achieved the impossible in a short period of time taking His people to spiritual depths they probably had no idea was in them. And, as happened at Asbury, revival usually has far-reaching effects, well beyond the walls behind which it started. (All emphasis added)

      News of the revival spread in newspapers and on television. Strangers flocked to Wilmore to worship with the students. Asbury officials dismissed classes. By Thursday, a revival had broken out at the seminary, across the street from the college.

      Leaders of other institutions read of the service in publications as far-flung as The Indianapolis Star, the Chicago Tribune, The Seattle Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and heard of it by word of mouth. They invited Asbury students and faculty members to come and tell what was happening.

      Wherever the Asburyians traveled, revival followed. By the summer of 1970, the revival had reached more than 130 other colleges, seminaries and Bible schools, and scores of churches, according to published accounts. It spread from New York to California, and even to South America.

      When several Asbury students gave their testimonies at the Miridian Street Church of God in Anderson, Indiana, for instance, the church experienced a spontaneous revival that lasted 50 consecutive nights. According to old clippings from Indiana newspapers, the Anderson church soon became so packed that the services had to be moved to a school gymnasium. Up to 2,500 people a night flocked to the gym in hopes of being touched by God. [05]

    The Fire of God truly fell that day.


    What The Fire of God Means

    The fire of God simply means the clear, recognizable, unmistakable, palpable presence of God, and His power. We need to always keep in mind that far from being a gentle old man in the sky, God is a God of fire - in both Testaments. Also See The Wrath of God

    Sinai: In the Old Testament, God descended on Mt. Sinai "in fire". The smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently.  (Exodus 19:18 NASB) While none of us have probably ever seen a mountain quake, I am sure we all can, at least to some small degree, imagine what it must have been like and feel the terror of the people who witnessed it.

    Elijah single handedly confronted and challenged the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal by proposing that they and he should each prepare an ox but put no fire under it. The God who answered by fire, would be proven to be God.

    All day long, the prophets leaped about the altar they had made, calling loudly  upon their god Baal to answer them. In what appeared to be a frenzy of supplication (or was it frustration), they even cut themselves until their blood flowed - with no effect. There was zero response from their 'god'. Of course the situation was not helped by Elijah who mocked that they should call louder as he must have been asleep, or on a journey.

    After they had given it their best shot, it was Elijah's turn. He began by repairing the ruined altar of the Lord with twelve stones (one for each tribe) and dug a trench around it. He then arranged the wood on the altar and laid the ox atop the wood. However, everyone present must have thought he was mad as a March hare when his next move was to so drench the sacrifice with water that it ran off the altar and filled the trench. This move probably also caused them no end of consternation because, after more than three years of drought, they were experiencing tremendous water shortages. But Elijah probably had no desire for someone to say that a stray spark caught the extremely dry wood and set it afire. However, when he prayed for the Lord to answer him,

      Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God." (1 Kings 18:38-39 NASB)

    Pentecost: In the New Testament, the first century church exploded into being on Pentecost with an an incredible display of God's power when He descended on those first-century believers with a sound like a mighty rushing wind, tongues of fire etc.

      When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4 NASB) +

    As a result, a few ordinary people were empowered and enabled to accomplish something that no human being could on his own - they went out and impacted the entire world with results that will last to the time of the coming kingdom.

    And God has not changed since Mt. Sinai, the time of Elijah, and the day of Pentecost. Revelation chapter one describes Him as having eyes like a flame of fire, a voice "like the sound of many waters", a face "like the sun shining in it's strength" with a sharp two-edged sword coming out of His mouth (Revelation 1:14-16). Hebrews says He is a "consuming fire" (12: 29) and that He has promised that once more He will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven. (Hebrews 12:27).

    In other words, He transcends time and culture and hasn't exactly 'mellowed' over time. See Is God 'Different' in the Old Testament and New Testament?


    Why Do We Need Revival?
    We need revival because Christianity is not alive and well in spite of loud declarations to the contrary. We need revival because too many of the Lord's children are starving while sitting with their feet under His table.

    We need revival because we in the modern church have 'forsaken our first love' (Revelation 2.4). We have, for the most part, walked away from anything even faintly resembling Biblical Christianity, and desperately need to find our way back.. As Tozer once wrote,

      "Current evangelicalism has laid the altar and divided the sacrifice into parts, but now seems satisfied to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel". (A.W. Tozer.. from 1 Kings 18).

    The really tragic part is that so many people do not recognize spiritual barrenness and think they are in great shape. The typical Christian today survives on a diet of Christian quotes, inspirational messages, daily doses of wisdom from Proverbs, and uplifting, but probably out of context Bible verses, conveniently delivered by e-mail. Throw in a 15-20 minute sermon every Sunday, and he is suffused with a warm glow of "spirituality" and basks in the fact that he has done what God expects of him.

    But the fact is that we cannot be called Christian at all

       When we lack true conviction of sin, and repentance and holiness are largely forgotten words.

       When we do not seem to fear God and are not obedient to His commands, but imagine that we can live our lives like the rest of the world and still be accepted, even welcomed, by Him.

       When we worry about what others think about us, but are little concerned about what God thinks about us.

       When we do not grieve over the way God is dishonored in both church and nation

       When we make little or no difference in the secular world around us. In fact, the thought that millions are being condemned to death on a daily basis doesn't seem to overly concern us.

       When we have to be entertained in church and the craving for something more exciting has led us straight down occult paths

       When our prayers are ineffectual and powerless empty words.

       When homosexuality is acceptable in many churches and divorce is widespread in most.

    We are apparently blind to the fact that because we are comfortable, complacent and lack passion (Jesus called it lukewarm) God has withdrawn His presence from us. In spite of some great programs, thousands of books, wonderful music, and forceful preaching, we are spiritually barren because the one thing we need above all else - the fire, the glory and presence of God is glaringly absent from our lives and our churches. 

    Yet, if asked to state our needs, our list would probably include more money, a bigger building, another youth program, more equipment, etc. etc. etc. We bear a striking resemblance to the prophets of Baal inasmuch as we are very sincere and very busy producing a lot of hustle and bustle and a lot of noise -  but the silence from Heaven is deafening.

    We are far off course that, short of a miracle, I have no idea we will ever find our way home again.

    But perhaps we should first ask how this sad situation came about. What happened? How did we change from a church that was alive, dynamic and bold, - undaunted by anything the Romans or Jews could throw at them, to one that has largely substituted human programs for God's power.

    Perhaps one can begin with the


    Shallow, Abbreviated and Highly Inaccurate Salvation Messages
    Much of our complacency can be attributed to the tragically faulty teachings that convey the impression that receiving salvation is a simple matter. In our make believe world of cheap and easy Christianity, false teachers and well meaning Christians alike have led very many people believe, that in order to be saved, all they have to do is believe and make what amounts to a one time profession of faith. The emphasis is on 'accepting' Christ as Savior rather than becoming His disciple obedient to His commands.

    In fact two common catch phrases, "accept Jesus as your personal Savior" and "invite Jesus into your heart" are so entrenched in evangelical Christianity that few stop to consider whether they are Biblical.

    They are not.

    They are shallow, incomplete and highly misleading messages that lead to equally shallow 'decisions' for Christ - made  all round the world on a daily basis without the slightest effect on society and, I have no doubt, very little effect on the person's eternal future.

    Is The Sinner's Prayer Effective? 

    Why NOT To Ask Jesus Into Your Heart
    a completely meaningless phrase that communicates nothing anyone can understand.

    If we were to take the time and trouble to examine the documented cases of conversion in the book of Acts, we would be hard pressed to find a single case where someone was instructed to even pray for their salvation. Yet, somehow we consider that if we can get someone to say a prayer and join the church we have done our job.

    The tragic upshot is that hundreds of thousands of people attend church every Sunday morning believing they are saved on the basis that they believe in God, have made a one time profession of faith, regularly attend church/read the Bible, and are generally 'good' people who haven't actually murdered anyone. 

    See Salvation Part I

    Salvation Part II Acknowledging Jesus Merely as Savior is Insufficient

    The million dollar question then becomes how many people packing the pews on Sunday aren't merely 'church members', but have been genuinely converted. How much of their religion consists of a formal adherence to ritual such as Bible study and Sunday services? How many are oblivious to how diluted their spiritual lives may have become? How many are consciously seeking the fire of God in their lives?

    The real tragedy is that our eyes have grown accustomed to the gloom, and we have quite unabashedly...


    Substituted Activity For The Holy Spirit
    Sadly, virtually all the churches I have visited over the last thirty years have been tremendously disappointing.

    Some (actually quite a few) were proponents of the many false, even demonic teachings that have infiltrated the church [See Section The Contemporary Church]. Others were doctrinally sound enough, but that was as far as it went. I met some very sincere people. I heard a lot of noise, listened to a fair bit of nice music (in some cases, not so nice music) and messages from the pulpit that were sometimes well-crafted, sometimes insightful, and sometimes just plain boring. Most were forgotten in a few hours.

    But isn't this par for the course?

    On the whole, most churches boast activities galore -  various conferences, committee meetings, Bible studies, evangelism teams, women's circles, men's breakfasts, choir practice, coffee mornings, softball leagues, picnics, yard sales, Christmas pageants. The list is endless. Is it any wonder that amid all our own hustle and bustle, we haven't heard a sound from heaven for a very long time.

    And don't get me wrong - none of these activities are wrong in themselves (except for the yoga classes that some churches foolishly offer, little realizing that ALL yoga, has its roots deeply embedded in Hinduism. See Yoga And Christianity .. Are They Compatible?). It's just that, all too often, it seems that this endless cycle of 'doing' very effectively covers up the fact that all too many churches are spiritually dead as a dodo - social clubs with God sprinkled in to legitimize the word 'church'.

    Why do I say that?

    Think about it for yourself. Do you imagine for one moment that if the Holy Spirit were taken out of the average church even 5% of the program would be the slightest bit affected?

      Will we continue in our dry, barren, lifeless attempt to do church without God, or will we change? Will we persist with church as usual, or will we repent... and meet God's condition for true revival and allow him to refresh and renew and revive us? Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, -- Acts 3:19. [06]


    Praying For Revival - Examining 2 Chronicles 7:14-15
    Because revivals are sovereign acts of grace of God Himself... they cannot be manufactured. They cannot be scheduled. They cannot be planned for.

    Which doesn't however mean that there is nothing we can do. Although the when and how is strictly in God's hands, revival can be prayed for. In the classic verse we love to quote, but seem never to really pay attention to, God Himself told us what humble repentant prayer achieves.

      if my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. "Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. (2 Chronicles 7:14-15)

    We repeat the verse with all the sincerity we can muster, we have prayer and 'revival' meetings, we will even confess our 'national' wrongdoing, but how often do we notice that God's promise to hear His people has an indispensable prerequisite - If we humble ourselves, pray and seek the face of God, and turn from our wicked ways, then God will hear and forgive and heal.  

    In other words, revival always comes as a response. If heaven is to hear, someone has to first call. We have to examine and probe our ways and return to the Lord. We have to lift up our heart and hands toward God in heaven ((Lamentations 3:40-42). But, as the ancient prophet said, "There is no one who calls on Your name, who arouses himself to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us and have delivered us into the power of our iniquities. Isaiah 64:7 NASB)

    Leonard Ravenhill summed up the problem in a few short words "The question is not, where is the God of Elijah. The question is: Where are the Elijahs of God?"

    But to return to 2 Chronicles 7:14-15. The first precondition is to...

    Humble Ourselves
    The Hebrew word translated "humble" is kana which means to bend the knee and bring down into subjection. The word is often used in the context of a defeated army. For example,

      So Moab was subdued (Heb. kana) that day under the hand of Israel. And the land was undisturbed for eighty years.  (Judges 3:30 NASB)

      So Midian was subdued (Heb. kana) before the sons of Israel, and they did not lift up their heads anymore. And the land was undisturbed for forty years in the days of Gideon. (Judges 8:28 NASB)

    However, humbling ourselves may be an extremely uncomfortable business - thus very difficult for many Christians to do.

    When it comes to spiritual self-examination - the human instinct for self-preservation immediately kicks in. Over time, we tend to encase ourselves in insulated spiritual bubbles and may not even realize that this wall of defense is probably stopping us from honest spiritual self-examination. Taking a pin to the bubble, digging really deep and being completely honest with ourselves is very likely to be painful and humiliating because doing so is very likely to cause us to come face to face with our own reflection - and we may not like who we see.

    Men and women who think themselves to be good religious people might well find that the foundation on which they think they are standing is not as sound as they imagined it was. Because we have gradually slipped into a state of spiritual complacency, we fail to recognize the need for spiritual self-examination. As Paul said, test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! ...  (2 Corinthians 13:5 NASB)

    Moreover, this process inevitably necessitates us making significant changes in our lives, and how many of us want that?The problem is that continuing in our self satisfied state virtually guarantees that true revival will not occur. As one author wrote (All Emphasis Added)

      Most Christians will do just about anything (including wearing ourselves out in programs of going out and trying to drag "real sinners" into our revival services and praying all night at church for them) in order to avoid honest, serious spiritual self-examination, brokenness, confession and repentance. We are willing to get involved in all kinds of attendance promotional activities and really hard, time consuming work, because it keeps our consciences preoccupied and prevents us from having time to consider the reality of sin in our own lives and the possibility that it is we who need revival. Besides, concentrating on the evangelistic focus in revival meetings tends to give us a feeling of pride (albeit spiritual pride.) After all, nobody can say anything bad about anything we do in the name of evangelism, right? [07]

    The article went on to so rightly say

       ... once we have an accurate understanding of what true revival is and what God's requirements are for it, revival becomes much less appealing for most Christians than we had previously thought. Once we have a full appreciation for the fact that painful self-examination is the beginning point of real revival, it becomes obvious that only a few true believers are serious enough about their relationship with God to be willing to deal with the reality of God's process for genuine revival. Only a remnant of God's children care that much. [08]

    The second precondition to revival is to...

    Pray and Seek His Face
    Unfortunately, the prayer meeting  in the modern church is all but lost, buried under a sea of other programs, most nice, but completely irrelevant. There is no question that some churches do pray, some have a prayer ministry, and some have prayer meetings (all too often poorly planned and poorly attended).

    However, where is the church that devoted to seeking God's face.

    Remember that a praying community - men and women who "with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer (Acts 1:14)" were the ones that experienced the fire of God on Pentecost.

    Preceding and throughout seasons of genuine revival, God frequently calls His people to fervent prayer. Coinciding, for example, with various awakenings at Yale, Williams, Harvard, and Middlebury colleges, numerous groups of students called their peers to join in protracted concerts of prayer. See Prayer and Intercession the preceded the Asbury revival. Footnote I.

    The "Prayer Revival" of 1857-1858 also known as The Businessmen's Revival started with one man who had the idea that businessmen might like to get away for a short period of prayer once a week while offices were closed at noon. To that end, he passed out handbills and placards. The first meeting began with six people. Twenty men came to his second meeting,  none of whom had the slightest clue that "it was the beginning of a great national revival which would sweep an estimated one million persons into the kingdom of God". In a short time the Fulton Street meeting boasted crowds of more than 3,000. You can read the account HERE.

    Let's face it. Seeking God and His power is not a priority in the modern church. After all, why do we need to seek God when we are wholly convinced that we have already arrived?

    Think, if you will, about how much time and effort goes into preparing for the Sunday service. The choir meets regularly to practice. The minister probably spends a good amount of time studying and preparing for his sermon, that few will pay very much attention to, much less take to heart or even remember. After doing church, we hang around for a while, drinking coffee and chatting with people we haven't seen since last week. Very many people will go out for breakfast afterwards.

    And all this for an assembly that has drifted so far from the original blueprint, that there is little resemblance between what takes place now, and what took place in the first century. In fact if one does an in-depth study of the New Testament, one cannot escape the conclusion that the modern church has little or no idea why it exists at all, or what it is meant to do. Much less how the meetings are supposed to be structured and who they are supposed to be led by. See The Church... Then and Now

    Yet, how often do we feel true repentance that causes us to truly deal with our own sins. How often do we seek His face? How often do we ask God to change us? (See Repentance, The Missing Message and True Holiness


    The Fire Hasn't Fallen For Two Main Reasons 

    1) We, Like The Laodiceans, Don't Think We Need It and Consequently Don't Pray For It.
    We want to pack our pews, double our offerings, put on another stage production. We want to hear sermons on encouragement, love, leadership and being the best you can be. Preaching on sin, repentance, and holiness, are all considered negative and damaging to our self-esteem. Just ask Robert Schuller. When asked by an interviewer whether he would be willing to address his congregation as a group as sinners. His response was

      "No I don't think I need to do that. ... My only concern is: I don't want to drive them farther away than they are! ... I do let people know how great their sins and miseries are. How do I do that? I don't do that by standing in a pulpit and telling them they're sinners. ... The way I do it is ask questions. Are you happy? Do you have problems, what are they? So then I come across as somebody who cares about them ... So the way I preach sin is by calling to attention what it does to them here and now, and their need for divine grace!" (11/92 radio interview with Robert Schuller)

    We have fund-raisers to build bigger buildings and more 'youth centers', but are blind to the fact that the glory and power of the Lord are conspicuous by their absence. As Tozer once said

      "..we just want more people. But more people for what? More people to come and repeat our dead services without feeling, without meaning, without wonder, without surprise? More people to join us in the bondage to the rote?" Why can't we see that our real need is for God Himself? See The Church Growth Movement

    Although the following quote is a prophecy of Israel's deliverance from Babylon we, apparently, do not see ourselves as the people upon whom the 'glory of the Lord has risen'?

      "Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. "For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. "Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:1-3 NASB)

     If we feel that we are what we ought to be, then we will remain what we are and will never be motivated to cry out to God to send His fire from heaven.

    2) We Aren't Willing To Pay The Price To Get It.
     This has become an 'instant society' - instant coffee, instant mashed potatoes and, we imagine, instant Christianity. Because we have figured out how to do almost anything faster and with least possible effort, we think revival should be equally quick and painless and on our timetable. As said by Del Fehsenfeld Jr.

      "We would like the positive results and benefits of revival - all at little or no cost. We want gain without pain. We want the joy of new life without the travail of labor pains. We want healing without surgery. We want joy without mourning. We want to enter into the power of the Resurrection, without first suffering the agony of the Cross. We want our schedules and programs and institutions to stay intact - we want a minimum of disruption or interference with our plans and traditions.

      "Revival involves a process - a process that requires plowing up the hardened, uncultivated ground of our hearts, before there can be planting of the seed, and ultimately, a harvest. The plowing is painful. But it cannot be circumvented. And it takes time. Yes, time is an unavoidable part of the price. Weekend 'revivals' may be easier to fit into our schedules, but they are unlikely to result in genuine revival." [09]

    See The Cost of Discipleship

    I wrote this piece in the hope that someone out there will see the truth of how much we need revival and will be motivated to pray for it, and possibly induce others to do the same.


    End Time Revival or End Time Apostasy
    But if revival falls at all, I suspect that it will be on small groups not the church as a whole. 

    I say this because, although the Bible speaks lot about end-time apostasy, what does it say, if anything, about end-time revival. See End Time Revival Or End Time Apostasy?

     

    End Note: Prayer and Intercession Before The Asbury Revival
    The following account is from the prayforrevival.org.uk website.

    In October 1969, J. Edwin Orr went to the campus of Asbury College to speak on the subject of revival. In one of the lectures he recounted the story of an earlier revival on the campus of the college. In the question and answer session which followed his address, a student enquired if the earlier revival had produced lasting results. The noted missionary and author E. Stanley Jones was sharing the podium with Orr during those days, and since Jones had been involved in a previous revival at the college, possibly brought about by his own prayers, Orr asked him to respond to the question.

    Inspired by what the missionary reported, one female student, whose name has not been preserved, who was deeply concerned about the state of things at the college, asked five other students to join her in seeking the Lord for another move of the Spirit among them. They covenanted to get up half an hour earlier every day, pray and read the Bible, write down what the Holy Spirit told them to do, then do what they had been instructed to do, and share their experience. They agreed to do this for the thirty days of November, meeting together once a week, to check that they were all keeping the covenant, and obeying the Holy Spirit. Other groups had also been meeting for prayer, asking God to bring about spiritual awakening.

    In December, all the students went back to their home churches. Then in January, after they had returned, it seems that the President of the college, Dennis Kinlaw, in what was termed the Great Experiment, suggested that the students should covenant together to discipline themselves in prayer and study of the Bible in a more serious way. The prayer group six decided that each one should ask another five students to join them in the same commitment for a further 30 days. They each did this, so there were 36 students praying, studying the word and obeying the Holy Spirit.

    During this second period, some of them gathered for half nights or whole nights of prayer, asking the Lord to come and visit them in power. Each time the meeting ended, they looked at each other and asked, "Do you think He will come today?" Their faith was obviously increasing all the time..

    The second part of the experiment ended on January 31st. On that day, the 36 stood on the platform at the front of the college chapel, called Hughes Auditorium, and shared what the experiment had done for them. They asked all the other students to join them in the experiment, and form further groups of six. They put slips of paper on each seat, so the students could respond.

    They met as usual for their night of prayer on the following Monday, February 2nd, and before they finished, at about 2.30 in the morning of the 3rd, God told them He was coming that day, so they finished and went to bed. And on that day, He came, when the college came together for its assembly.

    Students were required to attend chapel services three times a week. On that day, February 3, 1970, students and faculty members attended the college chapel for what they assumed would be one more routine meeting. [10]  [PLACE IN TEXT]

    It wasn't!


    End Notes
    [01] Derek Gentle. Revival: What it is and Who Needs it. http://www.baptiststart.com/print/revival_what_who.html
    [02] http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=revive
    [03] Charles G. Finney. Revival Lectures. Lecture I What A Revival Of Religion Is. http://www.whatsaiththescripture.com/Voice/Revival.Lectures.html
    [04] The Forerunner. A Revival Account Asbury 1970 By Editorial Staff. Published March 31, 2008
    [05] ibid.
    [06] Promoting Genuine Biblical Revival. SermonIndex.net. http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=article&aid=266
    [07] ibid.
    [08] ibid.
    [09] Fire From Heaven by Del Fehsenfeld Jr. http://img.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic_pdf.php?topic_id=11830&forum=40
    [10] The Asbury College Revival 1970.  http://www.prayforrevival.org.uk/encourager47.html

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