FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 16, number 47, November 23
“If My people. . . turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” -2 Chronicles 7:14
One Last Thing Necessary for Revival
Today in the United States we observe the Day of Thanksgiving, a long tradition where Americans are encouraged to slow down and reflect back on how God has so richly blessed this nation. Today, however, Thanksgiving has largely devolved into a family day of turkey and dressing and watching football games, garnering up strength for the next day’s Black Friday shopping extravaganzas which opens up the Christmas season. To be sure, some stop long enough on this day truly to thank God for His blessings on our nation, but most merely give lip service to the tradition. But while God has richly blessed the United States we have long since moved away from our Christ-centered beginning and moved increasingly toward secularization; and in the last fifty years, have exponentially quickened our pace toward Sodom and Gomorrah.
My friends, we must experience revival or we will surely follow the lead of Western Europe into secularism, socialism, and Islamization. However, if we are to see revival today, not only must we humble ourselves, pray, and seek the face of God, but we must also turn from our wicked ways. Remember—God is not saying that our wicked, unregenerate culture must turn from her wicked ways. The emphasis is on the people of God—“If My people, who are called by My name . . . “
Evan Roberts, the leader of the Welsh revival of 1904, 1905 told the people that they must do four things to see revival. One, past sins must be confessed or the Spirit will not come. Two, anything doubtful (possibly displeasing to God) must be removed. Three, there must be a total surrender to God. And four, new converts must make a public confession of Christ as Lord and Savior. The consequent revival was copious and profound.
A revival fell in 1974 upon the Baptist Church in Oradea, Romania. Romania was perhaps the most oppressed of all the Eastern bloc countries and the church was mired in scandalous, godless behavior and lethargy. Pastor Livu Olah called for repentance and began preaching with great power. Within minutes after he began his sermons the people were weeping over their sin, heartbroken, ready to forsake their evil ways. This spread throughout the congregation and conversions began to multiply. By June, 1974 one hundred converts had been baptized. By the end of 1974, another two hundred and forty-nine were baptized, with one hundred and forty-nine coming in one service alone. A short time after this Pastor Joseph Tson saw eight hundred and fifty people call on the name of the Lord and be baptized in a four year period. He says that the presence of the Lord was remarkable, such a hunger for God, such conviction of sin.
Something similar happened in 1907 in Pyongyang, Korea. After ten years of ministry in the 1880’s by Presbyterian missionaries from America, there were only seventy-four Protestants in the entire country. By 1930 there were 415,000, and by 1955 there were 1,170,000. Today one in four South Koreans are Christians. How did this happen? It began with a men’s prayer meeting at Pyongyang when the Holy Spirit came upon the assembly, bringing a deep conviction of sin, resulting in a prolonged time of agony and repentance, causing them to make right the wrongs each had done to another. Those who had stolen goods returned them. Those who had held grudges confessed and sought reconciliation. The spirit of repentance, of turning from their wicked ways, spread throughout the church in Korea. Unbelievers in huge numbers began to be saved. And when persecution came at the hands of the Japanese, the American Presbyterian missionaries stayed with their Korean brethren, not fleeing to safety, and suffered death with them.
And what does it mean today for us to turn from our wicked ways? If we are to see revival then we must ask God to show us our own sin, to ransack our hearts and minds (Psalm 139:23-24). As God the Holy Spirit shows us our sin, then we must be quick to confess it to God and to others (James 5:16). Perhaps there is so much sin, packed deeply into our lives, that we are not even aware of it, not sensitive to it. We must ask the Holy Spirit to give us tender consciences and hearts, the humility to admit our sins to one another. How frightening! We all want to look good, to appear spiritual before our friends and peers. Some today flippantly confess their sins without any apparent desire to hate them and forsake them, but when the Spirit comes there is a holy hatred and grief over sin, an earnest desire to turn from it. Certainly wisdom ought to be used in having public confession where those of the opposite sex may be present. These are delicate matters in which the Elders of the church must carefully shepherd. Furthermore, this is not something that should be contrived or manipulated. All sin, any sin must come under the purview of the Holy Spirit, and when revealed, must be confessed, repented of, and forsaken.
May God so work in our churches, in our leadership, that He drives His people to humble themselves and to pray, to seek the face of God, and to forsake our wicked ways. James the apostle tells us that this is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God, to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep one’s self unstained by the world (James 1:27). If we seek Him then He will let us find Him, if we seek for Him with all our hearts (Jeremiah 29:13). He then promises to forgive us and to heal our land. These are the requirements for a return to the revival culture in the book of Acts and this alone will prevail in our modern world where we know so little gospel power. My friends, will you humble yourself before the mighty hand of God? Will you pray with an intolerable burden and divine desperation? Will you seek God’s face more than your necessary food? Will you search your heart, asking God to show you your sin and will you then hate it and forsake it? Will you ask God to give you a holy disdain for that which has distracted you for perhaps many years?