5 Reasons Why We Seldom See RevivalSeptember 5, 2013
“We don’t need more methods on file,” said Vance Havner, “we need more men on fire!” It’s true, the modern church has learned how to create a pretty effective religious experience; lights, visuals, sound, slides, screens, smoke, stage, mood, and atmosphere all play into the state-of-the-art modern worship service. The problem, however, is that in spite of all the wonderful, sensational, and extraordinary experiences we have, very seldom does the church have actual encounters with God.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, can duplicate, replicate, or authenticate the presence of God except for the presence of God. There are no substitutes. But substitutes are what we usually get. Like the money-changers in the temple, we happily sell people a worship experience that offers no transformation; all the while, the tables in our own hearts are being turned over by the Messiah who simply longs for our affection and attention.
It is evident; we need revival in our land. Well, allow me to restate that: we need revival in our churches. Let me try it one more time: we need revival in every pew. Wait, I think this works better: I need revival.
Most people reading this would agree with such a statement. We have heard it for generations, “We need revival! We need revival!” But have you ever wondered why we rarely see it? I am not contending that it doesn’t exist; neither do I promote revival as a lost cause. With fervent heart I believe God can still speak to dead, dry bones. But the key to revival is intention and repentance. If God’s people do not intend to seek God, turn from sin, and thirst for His presence, revival will only be read in the catalogues of history. Why do you suppose we seldom experience revival?
1. We Think We are Exempt from It
Everyone agrees that the world, the country, and even the church (especially those on the other side of the aisle) stand in need of revival. But most people think they are exempt. If revival will ever take place in our lives, we must learn to measure our holiness and its pursuit in light of Scripture. When we do that, we are forced to see our own shortcomings and indifference. Only then will we realize that we, even preachers and leaders, stand in need of a fresh touch, breath, and move from Glory.
2. We’ve Learned How to Live Without It
It was Leonard Ravenhill who said those very words, “The only reason why we don’t have revival is because we are willing to live without it.” We have gotten comfortable in these religiously ambiguous days. Don’t get me wrong; we do our time, we give our money, and we attend our programs. But those things have become surrogates for the awesome, incomparable power of God. We have ordered our lives without His touch; and for the most part, we are ok with that.
3. We Don’t Want to Change our Lifestyles
Genuine, glory-filled revival brings transformation, oftentimes radical transformation. And that bothers the typical member of Laodicea. We like our worldly affiliations. We love the mediocrity of spiritual involvement. The luke-warm water of indifference relieves the wounds that are inflicted by worldliness. If we were to have revival it may change our schedules, our affections, our pursuits, and the history content on our computers. Change is hard, therefore we accept status-quo spirituality, and die in the process.
4. We Don’t Understand It
Revival is more than posters, big-name preachers, scheduled meetings, and skilled musicians striking emotional chords in our hearts. Revival is often impromptu and almost always scathing. Revival is not the impartation of something new; it is the revitalization of something old. It is not jolly, cheerful, or full of glee. The result of revival may be those things, but the realization of revival is quite uncomfortable. It is God stirring the ashes of a fire that used to burn. It is the intense heat upon the cold terrain of the soul. It agitates the heart like the sifting of wheat. It is God shaking the droopy-eyed saint from the slumber of apathy. We have a hard time experiencing it, because we often fail to understand it. Revival is not for the world. It is not for left-winged politician, or the godless Hollywood actor. Revival is for the believer. It begins with repentance and concludes with reformation.
5. We Don’t Need It
You may be appalled to hear me make such a statement, but allow me to explain with a scriptural observation. Christ Himself said that many would say “Lord, Lord” but never know Him in the free pardon of sin. There have always been goats among the sheep, tares among the wheat, and wolves among the shepherds. If everyone who claims to be a Christian in this generation were truly converted, our world would be a very different place than what it is. I cannot say that a particular percentage of the church is actually lost; but with resolute conviction I do contend that not all of the church is saved –a vast majority is not. Is it possible therefore, that the greatest need in the church is not revival, but regeneration? We cannot expect lost people to demonstrate the characteristics of the righteous. Darkness cannot shine. We have colored the pepper white, and wondered why there is no flavor. The largest mission field in the world today is measured within the walls of our churches.
Charles Finney put it simply, “Revival is nothing less than a new beginning of obedience to God.” The world, the country, or the church may never see genuine, authentic revival; but revival never starts there. It always starts with a handful of believers who pursue obedience and holiness more than selfish and sinful desires. I personally contend that global revival is only a millennium aspiration; it is unlikely we will see such a widespread movement until Christ sits upon the throne in Jerusalem. But until then, we should pursue God privately, obey God purposely, and love God passionately. It only takes a solitary spark to ignite the flames of revival. So with intense passion, let’s burn for Jesus…you never know, it just might spread.