What Revival Preaching Looks Like

volume 19, number 9, February 27, 2020

“. . . for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” -1 Thessalonians 1:5

My brethren, we are in dire times in our nation. We live in a wicked and perverse generation. The homosexual agenda had made remarkable and damning strides into the Southern Baptist Convention and the Presbyterian Church in America. The Marxist ideology of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Intersectionalism has come in like a flood and anyone who stands against it is generally shamed into silence by being labeled a racist. The true gospel unites believers while CRT divides them. Transgenderism is being applauded and foisted upon our young people. Thousands are dying annually from opioids. Teens are continually dying in our urban centers, being gunned down in drug related killings. There is corruption in government. Furthermore, crony capitalism, an abuse of the free market system, is cited by some progressives as the reason for moving toward a socialistic economic system which many of our young people seem increasingly to be embracing. This will not turn out well. See Venezuela for the most recent example. 

We have never had more Biblical teaching. Seminars, conferences, books, podcasts, seminaries, and Bible colleges abound, but we continue a downward trend into untold debauchery, perversion, lasciviousness, sexual promiscuity, and concupiscence. There seems to be no relief in sight. The church is exceedingly weak and ineffectual in turning our nation back to God. 

My brethren, the church is not getting the job done. We are like the ill-prepared Polish army in September, 1939 as they met the Nazi blitzkrieg of Panzer tank divisions with a cavalry on horseback. Utterly hopeless! 
But wait! There is hope and what is that hope? When Paul answered the Macedonian call to go over into Europe he immediately preached with great success in Philippi. He also experienced great persecution. And when he left Philippi he made his way to Thessalonica. He tells us that he spoke the word of God with boldness amidst great opposition. He came not pleasing men but God. The Thessalonian believers thankfully received the word from Paul, knowing that it was the very word of God (1 Thess.2:1-13). It is in this context that Paul reminds the Thessalonian believers his preaching did not merely come to them in word only. That is, something more was at work than a mere “information dump.” On the contrary, Paul says that His preaching came with power, and in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction. This power changes people, making obedient, fervent worshippers of the true and living God. This preaching has the anointing of the Spirit on it which brings conviction of sin, causing the people to humble themselves and seek earnestly after Christ, their only hope for this life and the next. This, my friends, is revival preaching. It cuts to the heart. It moves men to ask God, “Now what must I do?” It smites the conscience. It brings those under its influence to seek after Christ with all their hearts. It begins with weeping and contrition and ends with repenting and rejoicing. This, my friends, is the only remedy which will arrest our slide into Sodom and the perdition which will surely come upon individuals, families, and nations.

What does revival preaching look like? In 1860, as the Welsh revival was still in full swing, one of the preachers, a man named Thomas Edwards, said that the whole tenor of the preaching had changed during the revival. “This revival has made a great change in the style of preaching, and in the spirit of the preacher. It would appear that the object is, more than ever, to preach the substantial truths of the gospel, so earnestly, closely and personally, that the hearers may feel that the preacher’s aim is to save their souls, and that God, by His means, desires to bring them to Himself. The people are compelled to believe this. The preacher comes near them. . . It is not a fight at arm’s length, but the preacher advances immediately to the people, lays hold of them, and they feel that the sermon has entered into them, and that the preacher has taken possession of the throne of their hearts in the name of Jesus. The awakened minister is as much engaged in seeking to save souls out of the pulpit as in it. He exhorts, he presses the truth upon them, and prays with them.”[1] 

In other words revival preaching gives evidence of a hunger for the lost to be saved and for the saints to be sanctified. In revival preaching the preacher preaches with blood earnestness. The tone and delivery of such sermons is never casual, or conversational. Revival preaching is not a fireside chat. This kind of preaching is irresistible. The hearers do not fall asleep. Their minds do not wander. They put down their pens and stop taking notes. They realize this kind of preaching is not a lecture. Something much more profound is going on in the sermon. God is dealing with their souls and drawing them to the blessed Christ. Even young children are locked in on such preaching. They follow it. They understand it. Such preaching is simple, straightforward, bold, and authoritative. 

Another of the Welsh preachers, Evan Davies, had this to say, “When we look back some years previous to this gracious visitation, the churches were very deficient in spirituality. There was no relish for the plain heart-searching truths of the gospel. They wanted things new, strange, uttered in a refined style, when they would admire the ability of the man, but not the great things of God. And I fancied very often that there was too much tendency in the ministry to indulge this craving in the people.”[2]

Thomas Phillips also had this to say about the revival preaching of that time. “When the public ministry has been the means of conversion in the present movement, it has been of that character which the Holy Spirit ever delights, poured forth from a heart full of love to Christ. The revival has come just in time to arrest a growing tendency in some quarters to substitute the wisdom of man for the grace of God, the philosophy of the schools for the cross of Christ, well-prepared essays and elaborate composition for the good, old-fashioned, preaching of Christ and His cross.”[3] 

The present, paltry, pleasant but powerless preaching which pervades the western church will do nothing but make us even more at ease in Zion, deceiving us by declaring, “Peace, Peace,” but my friends there is no peace at this present time. Our churches and pastors have generally been compromised. We are allowing teaching and concepts into the pulpits of our evangelical and Reformed churches which were unthinkable even ten years ago. Where will this all lead? 

We must have revival, Spirit anointed, Holy Ghost preaching which releases the preacher from the security of his reputation or position or salary. When the Spirit comes upon such preaching then He will enlighten the preacher’s mind, giving him insight, Scriptural cross references, illustrations and applications “on the fly” in the midst of his preaching. The Spirit will enlarge his heart, giving him a much deeper love and compassion for his auditors. And the Spirit will loosen his tongue with unusual felicity of speech and divine eloquence. He will preach from the heart to the heart and God’s people will be revived to exalt Christ with great earnestness and unbelievers will be converted. 

Please pray for your preacher, asking God the Holy Spirit to descend upon him in the very act of his preaching.

1  Revival Comes to Wales, Eifion Evans, page 113
2  Ibid. page 114
3  Ibid. page 115

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