The Repeated Request for Revival
“Wilt thou not revive us again?” —Psalm 85:6
Real revival is not a process. Real revival is the outcome or result of the freedom with which we permit the Holy Spirit to operate in and through our lives.
Perhaps designations and characterizations have sadly perplexed the issue and distorted the thinking, but what is sorely needed in our accelerated plunge downward is a solemn turning of our hearts Godward in humble submission to His holy will, thus permitting Him to manifest His presence and power in our midst. The present leanness of soul, carelessness of living and barrenness of service have had so gradual a development that the professing Church has not only not felt any cause for alarm, but has become confirmed in its indifference.
Before there can come a real awakening and a time of refreshing from out of His presence, there must of necessity be contrition of heart, even deep sorrow of soul for the prolonged indifference toward God, and the deep grief we have caused the Holy Spirit. We must be bent and broken sufficiently to feel the hurt which our coldness, stubbornness and impenitence have inflicted upon the heart of Christ.
We must endeavor to sense the deep longing of the Psalmist when he solemnly entreated the Lord, saying, “Wilt thou not revive us again?” At once, of course, we detected a concern. Spiritual conditions had dipped to a very low ebb. The godlessness of the atmosphere was becoming rather stifling, and his surging emotions found an outlet in a tearful supplication which betrayed a distressful soul, a desiring heart and a discerning mind. He knew the source of blessing. “Thou,” he said, almost breathlessly, somehow realizing that he must fall back upon God or upon nothing. Who else could help? Who else possessed the goodness, the grace, the greatness? “Thou!” his poor, weary heart was pleading. He was addressing the wonderful One, the waiting One—the One who had said, “I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people” (Isaiah 65:2).
The prayer was necessarily brief. Desperation never engages in lengthy supplications. “Lord, save me!” cried Peter as the waters began to swallow him. That was all, but it brought results. So it was with the Psalmist. The burden of his plea was in the one word “revive.” They needed revitalization for, while there was life, there was no manifestation. They sought restoration, for something was lost. They desired resolution, for purpose was gone. The word “us” spoke of God’s erring people. God’s disobedient children, God’s fruitless servants; and the significance of the word “again” inheres in the fact that it recalled a better day; it referred to former blessings; it requested another opportunity.
Real revival comes when there is a willing waiting upon God, a sincere confession of sin, a longing to be forgiven, a readiness to make restitution, a willingness to forgive others, an attempt to correct strained relationships, a voluntary abandonment to the Lord of all we are and have, a pronounced eagerness to know His Word and will, a determination to practise the Truth as He reveals it, and a private, personal life which is in complete harmony with the public testimony. With these simple, well-defined conditions met, let us observe what supports the possibility of genuine, Spirit-promoted revival.
God Wants To Revive His People
What father would delight in the sickliness of his child? What parent could rejoice in the waywardness and disobedience of his children? That the present need is pathetically and irrefutably great is apparent. The hour calls for a challenge of no small proportions. When the Apostle Peter spoke of “stirring up” the minds of the people by putting them in remembrance, he employed a term which meant “to awaken fully.” Many times in every age God’s people have been stirred but not awakened sufficiently to acknowledge their sins and to rally to the cause of Christ, but our Father wants, with affectionate longing, to infuse us with the abundant life.
God Wishes To Renew His Presence
He desires to refresh the hearts of His people and to inspire them with holiness. The flesh is capable of making a grandiose display before a decadent age, to elicit the applause of the crowds; but it does not change the heart from its wild propensities. It is the recognized presence of God that humbles the heart, strengthens the soul and encourages service. To Moses, Jehovah assuringly promised, “My presence shall go with thee.” The quick response of God’s servant, and a very natural one, was, in effect, “How else could we possibly go on?”
God will manifest His presence among His people when conditions permit Him to do so. The benediction had just been pronounced at the close of the evening meeting in a church in Pennsylvania—the close of an ordinary service—when someone in the congregation began singing, “I’ve wasted many precious years, now I’m coming home.” The sudden unannounced singing began before the people had attempted a departure. It gradually increased in volume and impressiveness until it seemed that an Unseen Hand was directing the congregation as a full-sized choir. A lady in the rear pew arose and walked resolutely to the front, only to be followed by others, all of whom knelt to sob out their hearts before the sympathetic and understanding Saviour. About half of the congregation departed, while those remaining, for the most part, knelt between the pews. When the evening had ended, more than thirty precious folk, with moistened eyes and shining countenances, were assured of a work of grace in their hearts. Joy was predominant among all who were there. When a discerning brother of Christian maturity was asked his reaction to this glorious occasion, he simply replied, “Anyone could readily see that the Holy Spirit was pleased over something, and the Lord sweetly manifested His presence.” These are the times of refreshing which He wishes us to experience.
God Wills To Reveal His Purity
“Launch out into the deep,” the master commanded Peter, when he had completed His message to the people on the shore. With long, strong, and steady strokes, the little craft was propelled through Gennesaret’s historic waters. Did Peter know where the depths were? Of course! Those waters were as familiar to this fisherman as his own homestead. But he was to find other depths—depths for which his heart had longed but which had never before become his blessed discovery. It was an experience which one gains, not by plying the seas, but by bending the knees.
Of all the varied developments in Peter’s life, none was so fraught with tenderness and beauty as that which occurred in the little ship in midsea. A strong, sturdy weatherbeaten fisherman, in bent posture, is broken at the knees of Jesus. His bearded, upturned face is stamped with indescribable, gripping amazement. “Leave me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man,” the poor fisherman mumbles, his eyes suffused with tears.
This was the grandest moment in the life of the Apostle. It was the same Lord Jesus whose call he had obeyed; it was the very same One who had pushed out from the shore with him. There was neither conviction nor exclamation on his part then. But now, he has “launched out into the deep.” Now, he has witnessed something; sensed something; faced something which had never become apparent to his understanding before. What he had seen, what he had perceived, quickly revealed to him, by contrast, the sinfulness of his own heart. With Isaiah, he was saying, “I am a man of unclean lips….for mine eyes have seen the Lord of hosts.” It is only as we SEE Him, see Him as He is in all the perfections and purity of His character that the purging is desired and the live coal from off the altar is requested.
God Waits To Release His Power
Simultaneously with the renewal of the presence of the Lord to a believer’s cold and cluttered heart, and the revelation of His purity, comes the release of His power. It is resurrection power. It lifts one back to a higher plane, back to heaven’s tableland; back where fellowship is once again enjoyed freely with the Father and with the Son. The thoughts are elevated; the faith is strengthened; the heart becomes eager to do the will of God.
Revival is not a momentary emotional upsurge. It is an unforgettable dealing with Him whose irresistible voice, which will call forth the dead from their graves, has issued the sovereign command to rise to higher heights in our spiritual experiences. This is spiritual revival—a new display of the new life which was gained through faith in Christ as Saviour—an energy which transcends and outlasts all fleshly effort, making the conduct attractive, the ministry productive and the prayer-life effective.
The plea of the heart for revival grows out of the soil of self-dissatisfaction. Longing for it germinates at once when an honest appraisal of the life is made. None can satisfy the heart like Jesus. No other love is so warm and welcome, so true and tender. No other type of life is so exemplary or so commending as that which his under the control of the Holy Spirit. There is no other mental frame comparable to the assurance that we are operating wtihin His will. And, when one ray of Divine revelation is allowed to shine through the shadows of the backsliden condition, it at once becomes apparent that one is complete ONLY in Christ. All the supplemental things which had been accepted and applied are proved to be false and insufficient. Then, when the loneliness of being causes the heart to sink into the weird, indescribable emptiness of distance from Christ, even as anyone whose footing becomes insecure grasps for something solid, so the repentant one reaches out insistently for the Rock which is both our Foundation of security and our Fountain of blessing. This longing, being interpreted, is the same cry as of old, “Bring the Book!” (Nehemiah 8:1).
“The Word of God is quick and powerful.” If we apply it to our lives, does it not follow that it would evidence its life and manifest its power?
“O Lord….thy thoughts are very deep.” If we apply His thoughts to our lives, would not our shallowness and leanness give way to depth and enrichment?
“Thy testimonies are very sure.” If we apply His testimonies to our lives, would not there be more certainty in our experience?
“Thy testimonies are very fruitful.” If we assimilate His Word, would we not be more holy?
If we were as honest as the Psalmist and as conscientious, we, too, would confess, “Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.”
When the Holy Spirit manifested His presence on the day of Pentecost as a rushing wind, the place was filled with His presence and the people were filled with His power, so much so, that multitudes in Jerusalem were “amazed and marvelled.” The work of the Spirit always elicits awe and wonder, for His ministry is ever productive of God-honoring results.
When so many of the members of the body of Christ are out of joint, it is to be expected that the Church militant would limp and lag when the hour calls for an immediate and powerful offensive against a treacherous foe. The appalling characteristic at the moment is the prevailing lack of concern. And let us not point our finger condemningly at others, but rather judge ourselves that we be not judged. Are our eyes toward the Lord as the eyes of a maid turn toward the hand of her mistress? Do our souls pant for the living God as a deer pants for the waterbrooks?” Do we gird up the loins of our minds in earnest expectancy to hear his voice? Do we sit at His feet to learn of Him? Are we watchful in our waiting for God’s Son from heaven? Do we, with David, experience floods of tears because we fail to keep His Word? Are we pained, with Paul, as we witness the interminable march of men toward the awfulness of judicial darkness which awaits them? These are profound and sobering questions. If truthfulness is respected, many of us would experience difficulty in furnishing a favorable reply.
Do you ask, “Will God revive His people?” He asks, “Will My people who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray and seek my face?” That is to say, “Will my people be revived?” When we are sufficiently penitent to despise our sin, to disown it, and to depart from it, then will we answer our Father in heaven with David of old, “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” Then, will God hear from heaven; then will He bless His people; then will the people reverence and obey His Word. Then will the true meaning of revival be known.