by Bill Nugent #19
Would it surprise you if I told you that the church doesn’t really want revival? Would you protest and say “what church would be so backslidden that it wouldn’t want revival?!” By church, I don’t mean the nominal church or a backslidden church. I mean the radical, born-again, Christ loving church that faithfully adheres to the doctrines of repentance, salvation and the second coming of Christ. The church doesn’t want revival and I will show you why.
First of all, revival is a lot of work for the people of God. A revival is an awakening in which vast numbers of people out in the world are convicted of their sins and are drawn to God by the power of the Holy Spirit. Think of the numbers of people swept into the church. Think of all the strangers, the unwashed multitudes of people fresh from the world and all of the newly minted born-again believers in Christ.
Are you willing to roll up your sleeves and rearrange your busy schedule and serve the new Christians born during the revival? Are you willing to teach a new believer’s class? Are you willing to disciple people one on one? Are you willing to lead people to Jesus out in the streets? Are you willing to be generous to new Christians in financial need? Are you willing to come out to the church every evening to minister on the prayer and healing lines? Are you willing to open your home? Are you willing to open your heart?
Ask any church member if they want revival to come to America and they gush forth an answer: “Of course I want revival, that’s a no brainer, everyone wants revival!” But I can show you that in many cases such great swelling words are not from the heart. The words are simply from the head, spoken out by guilty obligation. How do I know this? I know this because revival comes as a result of earnest prayer and our intercessory prayer meetings have few participants. Yes, even the IHOPs and JHOPs are understaffed and some have shut down.
I regret to say that there is a high degree of apathy and lukewarmness in the church. The Barna Group has documented this through their many research projects, including studies on prayer.
What is the heart of the typical church member really saying? The head says “I want revival in my city” but the heart secretly says “I’m already saved, my family is saved, I’ve got my fire insurance, I’m struggling with my job or business, I don’t have the time to deal with a vast inflow of new believers, I’ve read about how hard it was for the churches in Toronto and Pensacola, how hard they worked and how much they were persecuted. Let revival happen somewhere, elsewhere, not me, not now.”
It seems so counter-intuitive that church people would secretly not want revival. I could compare it to ancient Israel who rejected the Messiah when He came. Ancient Israel crucified Jesus and likewise, the contemporary church largely rejects the outpourings of the Holy Spirit. Much of the church doesn’t even recognize the Pentecostal revivals of 1906 and 1948 as real revivals. A large part of the church rejected the Toronto and Pensacola outpourings of the 1990s.
Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994) wrote the book titled: Why revival Tarries (1959, expanded edition: Bethany House Publishers 1979) in which he sets forth a compelling case for the real reason why we don’t see widespread revival. He wrote much about the prayerlessness of the church. I contend that the prayerlessness of the church is due to the fact that most of us secretly don’t really want revival. We must repent of the selfish desire to have Christ all to ourselves!
Here’s a quote from Leonard Ravenhill:
“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.”
We should have signs at the entrances to our intercessory prayer meetings that read:
“If you’re not willing to pray for revival, knowing that revival will oblige you to devote an immense amount of time, talent and treasure to the nurturing of new Christians and will take you out of your comfort zone, then don’t enter our prayer meeting. Go home and repent and then come back here.”
I exhort everyone reading these words, myself included, to prayerfully examine your heart and repent before God of any reluctance to pray for or participate in revival. Ask God to examine your heart.
The Bible says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). If any of us could see our heart in its present unsanctified state we’d be horrified and we would repent. When a believer first got born again his or her spirit was regenerated (Rom. 8:16, I John 3:9). The soul, however, is that aspect of the Christian that is “being renewed day by day” (II Cor. 4:16 NAS).
Some people think that Christians are “already there” or are “already perfect” and that no repentance is necessary. I agree that the Christian’s spirit is already sinlessly perfect but the soul certainly needs sanctification. The Bible clearly teaches that we must repent of soulish envy and strife (James 3:14-18). Soul and spirit are different from each other (Heb. 4:12). In the passage “whosoever will lose his life for my sake” (Luke 9:24), the word “life” is the Greek word “psuche” which means “soul.” Jesus commanded each disciple to “take up his cross daily” (Luke 9:23). We must repent of selfishness each and every day!
We’ve recently seen some encouraging signs of repentance. The Azuza Now gathering in Los Angeles on April 9, 2016 was an appeal to heaven for an outpouring of revival fire. The church certainly needs to build upon the momentum generated by this stadium event and we must also hold similar national and regional events. The IHOPS, JHOPS and ZHOPS need to be reinvigorated as do our church based intercessory prayer meetings.
There are many ways in which the church needs to prepare for revival. Each church needs to get a solid leadership team in place. All relationships, including marriage relationships, need to be made right. Make sure there’s no bitterness or unforgiveness anywhere. We’ve got to get the finances in order. We need to teach and prepare the people for the disruption that revival brings.
It’s hard work to pray for revival. It’s harder still to serve the new converts born during revival but through it all we learn to love. That’s the goal of our sanctification – learning to love!
The bottom line is that every Christian, from the man in the megachurch pulpit to the last Christian in the last pew in the smallest church in the land, must take time every day to repent of sin and earnestly pray for revival!
We serve Jesus Christ who came in fulfillment of over 300 Old Testament predictive prophecies. The prophecies foretold that He would suffer and die for our sins, taking the penalty of our sins upon Himself so that we can escape the damnation of hell. We must share Him with a lost and dying world. One way to do that is to passionately pray for revival so that “He, [the Holy Spirit] when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness and judgement (John 16:8 NAS). If we do this, there will be a great harvest of souls!
Steps to salvation:
Jesus said “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).
Prayer to receive salvation:
“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for us at the terrible cost of His suffering and death on our behalf I invite you to pray this simple prayer:
“Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
If you prayed this prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!