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The Interceders Encourager No. 52

The Desperate Need For Revival

1. Revival is necessary for the health and survival of the Church

In 1929, Jonathan Goforth noted that church attendance in Britain at that time was not half of what it had been 25 years previously, i.e. before the 1904-6 revival. “There can be no alternative,” he wrote. “It is either Holy Ghost revival or apostasy.”

Since that time, we have seen those words come true. Because we have not experienced the Spirit of God being poured out on the churches of Britain, not only have the attendances declined to a mere fraction of what they were in 1929, we have seen the glory fading from the Church, as they have become less and less spiritual, and more and more worldly, leading to the apostasy that Goforth feared.

“Without the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit,” declared P.F. Bresee, “any church is  a failure. It may be a great machine, wheels within wheels, but it is without life and power. Such an organization bears the same relation to the Church of Christ that a dead body bears to a living one. A dead body has all the appearance of a man, but for all purposes for which man was created, it is a useless thing.

So with the church. It looks like the real thing, but for the purposes for which the church was called into being, it is utterly useless. It may amuse, it may entertain, it may instruct people, but to lift them out of their sins, and take their sins out of them, it is powerless to do. Only the power of God can transform the sham into the reality.”

But churches rarely admit that they can do nothing of their own accord, that they are entirely dependent upon God, even though Jesus said that without Him we can do nothing. They refuse to acknowledge that they do not have the conscious awareness of God in their midst. They will not wait and pray until they are endued with power from on high.They are afraid to face the consequences. They continue to do what they can and what they are used to doing without God; planning services and meetings, organizing coffee mornings, mothers and toddlers groups, fun activities for children and young people, charitable work for the under privileged, etc. Meanwhile, the nation continues to slide downhill morally at an alarming rate.

“Revival is not a luxury,” wrote Skevington Wood, “it is an absolute essential. Without the continuous infilling of the Holy Spirit, neither the individual believer, nor the Christian community can maintain life and effective witness in the world. Without God’s power being displayed, conversions are shallow or non existent, and the Church is defeated by the enemy, and becomes worldly.”

“Revival is necessary before anything else,” said Duncan Campbell, “because the Church cannot be the Church without it. Revival is the getting of men and women into a vital, saving and covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, and so supernaturally altered that holiness will characterize their whole being, body, soul and spirit; but all our evangelism today does not do this. Only the Spirit of God poured out in power can do it. That is why revival is necessary."

2.Revival is necessary to avert God’s judgment on the Church.

Stephen Olford, when speaking of Psalm 85: 4-6, said, “It is clear from these words that God must vent His righteous anger against an unrevived people. “Restore us, O God of our salvation,” wrote the psalmist, “and cause Your anger against us to cease. Will You be angry with us for ever? Will you prolong Your anger to all generations? Will You not revive us again, so that Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your mercy, O Lord, and grant us Your salvation.”

What a huge difference it would make if every church in Britain would face up to the reality of their situiation before a holy God, and start their services by saying those words in true sincerity, then waiting for God to answer.

Unless God comes in mercy in answer to our prayers, “the filth and bloodguiltiness of the churches can be swept away only by the Spirit of judgment and of burning,” (Jonathan Goforth)

3.Revival is necessary because without it, the world will get worse and worse.

Because today’s churches for the most part, are like the church in Sardis, which had a reputation of being alive, but was dead, there is no bold declaration of the truth to the world by a strong, holy and righteous church, so that society has gone from bad to worse, its moral standards have disintegrated, and iniquity abounds.

Over fifty years ago, in 1959, Martyn Lloyd Jones diagnosed that “the kind of problem facing us is altogether deeper and more desperate than anything that has confronted the Christian church for many a long century. For the problem facing us is not just apathy on the part of the population, it is not a mere lack of concern or a lack of interest, it is something far more profound. It is a complete unawareness, even a denial of the spiritual altogether, and a complete rejection of it.” The Bible is regarded as just an ordinary book, the Lord Jesus Christ is seen as just a man; a great man, perhaps, but no more. The people of this country have become so disbelieving in God, in the Bible, in Jesus Christ; so unconcerned about spiritual things; so immoral, with no moral standards, not even accepting that things are right or wrong; so selfish, so fixated on pleasure, on sport and on leisure, that something far greater than we have ever known in our lifetimes is needed to change the minds and hearts of people.

If that was true all those years ago, how much worse is the situation today, and how much more desperate we should feel about it? For, as Doctor Lloyd Jones explained, not only do we need to be aware of the need, but we also need to face up to the fact that, of ourselves we do not have the answer to it. We are confronted by something that is too deep for our methods to get rid of, or to deal with. We are impotent and helpless in the face of such a challenge. There is only one thing that can deal with the situation, and that is the power of God.

He also pointed out that we have got to become so aware of this , and to feel the hopelessness of the situation without the power of Almighty God, that we become desperate to see Him move in our midst. We need to cease to have confidence in ourselves, in our methods and organizations, and realize that only the power of Almighty God is great enough to break through all the devil’s defences. We must seek the power and pray for it. We must be so desperately concerned about it that we plead and yearn for it.

Leonard Ravenhill, also writing in 1959,looked back in sadness at the decline of the Church and its abdication of responsibility,saying,“Because the Church has failed to win the nations of the world, man has become the cruellest, the most ruthless species that ever walked the earth. A spiritual revival, therefore, is not just important to the Church and the world, it is imperative.”

Moreover, he also warned that, “if the Lord tarries, and there is no revival of pure Christianity, then the next span of years will be the worst that history has ever recorded.”

We have seen those words proved true, showing that the need for revival now is greater than ever. Unless God moves now in answer to our prayers, the future will be too terrible to contemplate.

4.Revival is necessary because of the rise of Islam in Britain

Since the time when the writers referred to above issued their warnings, we have seen a huge influx of Muslims into this country, and their numbers are increasing at a substantial rate due to their large families. They have spread their influence over many areas of the nation’s life, and, even though we may know some very friendly Muslims, their religion is still basically anti Christian, with the goal of subjecting all people to Islam.

The prophecies of Leviticus 27 and Deuteronomy 28 are being fulfilled in front of our eyes, though, instead of us being deported to other countries, anti Christian religions with their evil spirits have been brought into this country, and these, unless stopped, will bring the nation into subjection within ten to fifteen years, according to some forecasters. The political leaders have no answer to this. All they can do is to try and stop extreme terrorism.

The churches also have no answer to this. They have either buried their heads in the sand, never mentioning the subject, as if the threat of Islam did not exist, or have been deluded by the devil into thinking that the god of Islam is the same as the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ; or just complain about it, thinking that nothing can be done. But such a virulent anti Christian presence in this country is an affront to our God, the One and Only True and Living God, and we should be indignant about it, and jealous for His honour and reputation.

We who know that such a situation is an indication of God’s judgment on this land, and who also know that the only answer to it is the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, need to pray with great urgency and fervency for God to have mercy on this land, to pour out His Spirit so that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God is given His rightful place as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

5.Revival is necessary because without it, God is rejected and insulted.

As we look out on our land, and see the worldly churches, the rise of Islam and the breakdown in society, we can easily limit the need for revival and awakening to the state of the churches and the resulting moral declension in society, with all its obvious visible signs; but, above all these, the need for revival must always be seen in the character and the purposes of God Himself. Every day, people live in rebellion against the one true God. They are disrespectful of Him. They do not honour Him, but disdain Him and take His name in vain. They despise His Son and His people. They scorn and mock and ridicule His followers. They make other things their gods. Their minds and hearts are polluted with all kinds of selfishness and filthiness. Their Creator, their Provider, their Sustainer is treated with complete disdain, yet we accept or tolerate all this as if it is all right. We should be absolutely incensed at the terrible ingratitude and lack of respect shown to our God, and the way He is insulted and derided and pushed aside, as if He is of no account.

We should feel the same way as the psalmist who wrote: “Burning indignation has seized me because of the wickled who forsake Your law,” (Ps.119:53); or another psalmist who showed his hearfelt longing when he wrote, “My eyes shed streams of water because they do not keep Your law,” (Ps.119:136).

We should feel appalled at the sin of the people, and cry out to God to have mercy, just as Moses, Ezra, Jeremiah, Daniel and Amos did. We should feel like Amos, who when he was shown, in a vision form, the judgment of God falling on the land, cried out, “O Lord God, forgive, I beseech You. How can Jacob stand? He is so small,” (Amos 7:2 & 5)

The people didn’t turn back to God when Amos declared His word to them, so God had to carry out His punishment upon them, and say those terrible words, “I will never again pass by them.” (Amos 7:8)

So pray for God to have mercy on this land and raise up preachers like Amos; for His Spirit to be poured out, and for people to be woken up out of their spiritual sleep, be convicted and repent. Or it may well be too late and God will never again pass by us. What a terrible tragedy that would be. Let the awful reality of it break your heart, so that you understand how Amos felt, and plead with tears for God to work.

We know that only the power of God can break through into such people’s lives, and we also know that all the time we are not seeing God coming in power, He is being rejected and insulted more and more. So the need for revival and awakening is very urgent, and becomes more urgent the longer we do not see Him work in power.

Or to put it another way, God is wanting to work in power, but we are holding Him back. His one great desire is to see sinners brought back to Himself, rescued out of selfishness and sin, and transformed into holy and righteous believers, with whom He can have fellowship. His Son has paid the price of this redemption by His sinless life and death on the Cross. He has shown the answer for us in the pattern given for us on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem. He is wanting to pour out His Spirit in every place, to bring people to conviction of sin, to repentance and faith. So there is an urgency in the heart of God to do His work before the situation gets worse and becomes even more difficult to do.

So ask the Lord to convey that same sense of urgency to you. Think about the words of Oswald Smith, “Nothing less than a genuine revival in the body of Christ, resulting in a true awakening among the unsaved, will ever satisfy the heart of God.”

Make sure you are so in tune with God that you are not satisfied with anything less.