A young lifeguard frantically swims out to the last place he saw the thrashing hands disappear into the swell of the white cap wave. He had first been alerted of the drowning person and then heard her crying out, “Help! Help!” By time he reached the area he last seen her, her lifeless body was sinking slowly into the watery grave. Diving down, he spotted a faint blue emerge through the murky water. It was her swimming suit. He reached out, grabbing her limp arm, pulling her close, he kicked desperately with all his might for the surface. On the beach a crowd anxiously waited, some praying, some crying, others just staring in disbelief. The life guard immediately began CPR, with another volunteer jumping in to help with heart compressions. The seconds seem like hours as the faces of the concerned crowd revealed a lack of hope for life. Suddenly, a cough, and the lifeless body convulsed. Within a minute she’s sitting up, getting her bearings. She’s breathing; she’s been Revived!
Someone has said, “Revival is the inrush of the spirit into a body that threatens to become a corpse.” This is not only true physically, but also spiritually.
Along with scores of Christian leaders, it is my conviction that the church in the United States is drowning in a sea of self-effort, lacking the life-giving presence and power of God. She is in desperate need of Revival, the inrush of the Holy Spirit into the Body that threatens to become a corpse. The proof of my diagnosis is in the statistics. According to Lifeway Research and Exponential, 4,000 churches closed their doors in 2018 for the last time. Research also tells us that half of churches didn’t see one person come to faith in Christ last year. The result of this is that 70% of churches are plateaued or in decline and the 30% growth is largely due to people leaving one church to go to another. Only 2.2% of churches are experiencing growth via people coming to faith in Christ. These churches are on a downward spiral towards death; at best, they are ineffective in reaching their communities with the good news of Jesus.
Time doesn’t permit me to discuss in detail the cause, but let me simply say it’s due to sin, a lack of holiness, selfishness, and a drifting away from the church’s true mission to bring glory to God by daily living the Great Commandment and Commission by the power of the Holy Spirit!
In my opinion, we have put our hope in church growth programs, more “how to” books, more preaching and teaching on 5 ways to a more successful life, etc. All of this, as the statistics show, has done little in reaching our Nation for Christ. Rather, the signs tell us the church is drowning and desperately needs to be revived by Almighty God!
Here’s the good news! In Psalm 85:6, the Psalmist asked, “Will You not Yourself revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” The answer is YES! Throughout time, God has revived His people, and I believe He is eager to do it again. So, what must we do to experience Revival God’s Way? I believe this question has a twofold answer. First, any true believer can be revived in their relationship with the Lord if they honestly and forthrightly pray through the process I will share. Secondly, let me say, that while the Bible and revival history sheds light on this process, there is still the divine and sovereign will of God when it comes to the reviving of the church, as a whole, in a community, region, nation and the world. He alone chooses, for His purposes and glory.
Four areas we must deal with for revival to come:
- Sin – You must deal radically with sin, confessing and repenting. Confess means to agree with God about it. Repent means a change of mind about sin and a turning away from it to God (Psalm 51:1-4, 2 Chronicles 7:14, 1 John 1:9, Revelation 2:4-5).
- Self – You must die to the “self-life.” Self-life can be defined as living one’s life by fulfilling our cravings, desires and will over that of God’s, as revealed in His Word (Matthew 16:24-25, 2 Corinthians 5:15, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 4:22-23, I John 2:15-17).
- Surrender – A full surrender to the Holy Spirit, i.e. the Christ Life. This means we yield to Him as Lord and Ruler of our lives (Matthew 16:24-25, Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 5:17-18, Revelation 3:20).
- Salvation – Biblical Salvation in its simplest form means to be delivered — rescued from sin and its eternal consequences — into a relationship with God, through His Son Jesus. The Bible clearly teaches this salvation is due to the love and grace of God. We can’t earn it and we don’t deserve it. But through the life, death and resurrection of Christ, God freely offers it to us. We receive it by faith alone in the atoning work of Christ on the cross. This is why it’s called the gospel; it’s good news! In Revival God’s Way, salvation of sinners almost always proceeds the reviving of Christ’s church (Psalm 51:13, John 3:16-17, Acts 16:30-31, Romans 10:9-10, Ephesian 2:8-9, Titus 3:5, 1 John 5:11-13).
Are you drowning in sin, the self-life? Is your life more about surrendering to your will and ways than God’s? There is an old saying, “If He’s not Lord of all, He’s not Lord at all.” Is your church one of those described earlier? Go to God and let Him breathe His life and power back into your life and church. Revival God’s Way brings Him glory as His children deal with Sin, Self and Surrender, which moves God to bring Salvation to those still dead in their sin.
“For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isaiah 57:15).
Questions or comments? Join our discussion on Facebook!