Date: May 30, 2010
Bible Text: Isaiah 57:13-15 | Roger Voegtlin
Series: Transcribed Sermons
This evening I’d like to preach on the elements of Old Testament revival. If you would, please turn in your Bibles to Isaiah 57. I want to give you some elements of revival along with some thoughts that I have on the subject. I’ll begin reading in verse 13. Our text is verse 15, and again as normal, keep your finger there in our text passage as we look around. “When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them: but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain…”
As we read the Bible we should apply it to ourselves, and the idea here is to put our trust in Him. Isn’t that hard? It is hard. We want to put our trust in U.S. Steel or Bethlehem Steel, and look where they are now. Put your trust in Him. “…And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people. For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit…” He lives with whom? The person who has a contrite and a humble spirit. I think that limits God tremendously today. “…to revive the spirit of the humble…” Revive the spirit of whom? The humble. That limits Him even more so, just about down to nothing in America today. “…and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Do you want to be revived? You’ve got to be humble. You’ve got to be contrite. And I honestly do not believe that most people even comprehend how much they need revival. I’ll just say again as your pastor, if you are not revived you are going to be destroyed. If you’re not revived, you will destroy yourself. You’ll self-implode. It will be over. We must have revival. It’s not just that we want revival; you and I personally must have revival.
The word “revival” in the Old Testament means to rejuvenate or to make alive again. I’ve given you Finney’s definition of revival because I think it’s the finest I’ve ever read. I certainly could not do better myself. He says, “Revival is nothing less than a new beginning of obedience to God...” Now let’s stop. Can you apply it to yourself? What does a “new beginning of obedience to God” mean to you? That’s what we need to do when we hear preaching. “Revival is nothing less than a new beginning of obedience to God.” New beginning. Not, “I’m doing okay.” Are you having revival? Are you revived? Then we need it, don’t we? “…a new beginning of obedience to God. Just as in the case of the converted sinner, the first step is a deep repentance, a breaking down of the heart, a getting down in the dust before God with a deep humility and a forsaking of sin.”
We know that a sinner needs repentance, and we fight over the doctrine that a sinner needs to repent to be saved. Well, Finney’s absolutely correct here when he points out a Christian must be repentant in order to be revived. But our problem—and it’s been the problem ever since I’ve been in the ministry and I’m sure well before that, but it’s getting worse, and worse, and worse—is that we don’t want to humble ourselves before anybody. We don’t want to humble ourselves even before God. We are a prideful, stiff-necked people.
I want to, first of all, look at some elements of revival—what makes revival. Most revivals are preceded by deep spiritual decline and despair. Everything seems hopeless. It looks as though the churches are falling apart, going out of business. In the Old Testament, we see this spiritual decay in Hezekiah’s day when they were giving their children as burnt sacrifices. Today, we murder them in abortion. In Elijah’s day, we see a people who could not choose between Baal and God. In the so-called “modern era” of revival, George Whitefield’s day in the early 1700’s, England was in such terrible moral shape that being an atheist was a fashionable trend. Today, our universities are full of atheists. Our leadership is full of atheists. Skid row is full of atheists. All up and down our society.
In Whitefield’s day, immorality and drunkenness were common in all classes of society. Again, forgive me for repeating myself, but I just took it for granted when I started studying the idea of revival that people grew to that place, they got better and better, and God brought revival. That’s not the way it works. In London, every sixth house was a gin shop, and the people were made such fools by the stuff that they were unable to work productively. Poverty and crime were widespread. Travelers were beaten and terrorized for no other reason than the pleasure derived from inflicting the suffering. Publishing and the theater were vulgar.
Doesn’t this describe us? Religion was cold, and they followed the theory of deism, that God created man but just let him go and had no interest in man. Pastors were so busy with the social life that they didn’t have time for salvation and winning souls. Does this remind you of America today? Things are so bad today that I cannot comprehend that God would send revival to America. But praise God, it’s not what I think. You see, this is the type of condition in which God has created revival. In America today, we are in a state to be revived.
Second, every revival began in the heart of one of God’s servants. He, in turn, spread revival to the drowsy Christians around him. It could be a widow. It could be an old man who just has more time to really pray. The older I get, the more I want to be with God, and I’m not talking about heaven. I’m saying I want to walk with God. If we have any seriousness at all, the older we get, the more we want to be right with God. It might be some person living by himself, lonely, and he only has God. He turns to God, and God gives him revival. It could even be a serious college student. It could be anybody—anyone who decides to really mean business—God could choose to bring revival.
Then, real revival is like a prairie fire. It spreads quickly. It’s like the mumps, it’s catching. But you can’t just produce it without God. You can’t work up revival. I can’t work up revival. By my preaching, I can’t work up revival. But if we prepare and till the soil, as it were, God can bring revival. Revival doesn’t come through charisma or personality. It does not come from dynamics or ability of some preacher. It comes from following God’s Word. It comes from Him. You see, we can depend on Him. We don’t have to worry about ourselves except to give ourselves to God. You are going to hear me say this until I’m no longer your pastor. I’m going to pound on it and pound on it. We must give ourselves to God. God could start revival through you. If we would only put our pride under.
Turn to II Chronicles 17. The next characteristic is that God’s Word is brought to prominence. Every revival in the Old Testament came from a strong renewal of the people’s faith in the Bible. Look at revival in Jehoshaphat’s day, in II Chronicles 17:3 and 4, “And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim; But sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.” You see? Just take the Bible and apply it to yourself. God was with him because he wasn’t like anybody else in Israel. God was with him because he wasn’t like most Christians in the year 2005. We compare ourselves to others, and the Bible talks about how foolish that is. Look at verse 9, “And they taught in Judah, and had the book of the law of the Lord with them, and went about throughout all the cities of Judah, and taught the people.” In all revivals, there was much made of God’s Word. The Bible was brought back to the place of real prominence. In almost every single case, when somebody falls into sin completely away from God, he has not had his devotions—and certainly did not have his family devotions. He wants to make excuses; he wants to say he is right with God. Listen to me, we not only need to have devotions, but they’ve got to be real. I think that’s why so many people stop having their devotions, because it becomes like a rosary or a prayer book or a textbook. It’s God’s Word. I beg of you, treat it like God’s Word. I have never been one who says you should read a certain number of chapters in the Bible. But I will beg of you, read the Bible! Apply it to yourself. Ask God to speak to you through it.
Ezra read the book of the law, and then there was revival. Elijah had a tremendous revival. But if we study the time period before the revival, we see that God got him alone at the brook Cherith. And as He dealt with him alone, over a long period of time, God made him what he ought to be and used him to bring revival. We need to pray. We need to pray for God to lead us. Yes, we need to pray for our missionaries, and I do every single day, sincerely. And yes, we need to pray for the sick, and pray for souls to be saved. All of that is important. But more so, pray, “God, deal with me.” You say that is selfish. No. If God doesn’t deal with you, your prayers for all the rest won’t mean too much. Pray, “God, show me my sin.” We don’t want that. We want to compare ourselves to others. We want to think we are pretty good.
It is so hard, and I’m speaking from experience, it is so hard to say, “God, put Your finger on the sin, and I will take care of it.” Until then, He’s not going to put His finger on the sin. Until then, we’ll just keep on playing charades. We’ll keep pretending. Some people are so shallow. They have been saved for a long time and they are thought of as good Christians, but it’s hard for them to tithe. I’m not trying to get you to give money. But there’s something wrong with a Christian who doesn’t love to give. For some people, it’s hard to make a visit. Something is wrong. Our hearts are not right. We’ll say, “Well, I’m going to start visiting.” No, it’s deeper than that. “Show me my sin. Guide me.” Take time alone with Him for guidance and fellowship. As a family, we need to teach our children and our teens with this Book. Whenever revival was seen, there was much to do about the Word of God and the proclamation of God’s Word.
Then, there was a return to genuine worship of God. Whether it was Jacob smashing the idols of his family, or Elijah exposing the impotency of Baal, in every revival the worship of God became a chief delight among God’s people. They just wanted to worship Him; and one of the missing arts, even among good churches, is worship. We should be consumed with that worship throughout our lives, but especially when we get into the Book and have our personal devotions. We should be worshipping God. When we come to church, we should be worshipping God. When someone prays, our minds should not be going all over the place; we should be praying with that person. And by the way, when you lead in prayer, you should not just be “yapping.” If you are going to yap, don’t get up here. Because we’re praying with you. When someone sings a special, we should not “amen” a performance, if we can understand the difference. But if God deals with our heart, it just should come out. “Amen.” When we sing as a congregation, we should be thinking about what we are singing. That’s one thing I don’t like about having to preach and being the head of the service all the time. I’m always thinking of announcements, etc. I love to get out there where you are and just sing and worship the Lord. When the preacher preaches, it should be in a way that honors Him.
We should not be looking for excuses and we should not be making excuses for sin, we should be searching for sin. That is our problem. I’m convinced we don’t want that sin exposed. We’ve covered it. We’ve spent our life covering it. We don’t want to uncover it. But I’ll tell you something, you are the only one who will uncover it. It’s the only way you will get revival. We should not be thinking of other needs. We should not be lifting man up. When you give testimonies, I like that you appreciate this ministry here; but don’t brag on me. I don’t want it. We want a worship service. It’s not a man. I don’t mean this in a false humility; I know I’m not that good of a preacher. That doesn’t bother me except that I want to be used of God. That’s my prayer. You pray for me that I am empowered by the Holy Spirit. That’s my goal. Not pretty sermons, but powerful sermons used of God. We don’t seem to have time to worship God today. But when revival comes, people will put God first in that area. It will be important to them.
Fifth, idols are destroyed. You know I’m not talking about the kind of idols that are in the Buddhist temples or the Catholic church. I’m talking about anything that comes before God. Anything that comes before revival. Anything that comes before your church, worship, prayer, or Bible reading. The idea is that anything that comes before real devotions is an idol. You say, “I’m in a rush; I have to get to work. I have to make money.” It’s an idol. Your idol is that thing that you put before soulwinning, that you put before church, that you put before being totally right with God. I see idols creep into your lives. Maybe your idol is your mate, your child. You put your mate or your child before God, and it might turn sour. Idols may be sports teams—how foolish! It may be hunting or fishing. I’m not saying that hunting and fishing are wrong; but if you put it before God in any way, shape, or form, it is an idol. It may be a business. You love your business, and you are more interested in your business than you are in God. It may be a job, or clothes, or politics. The devil wants anything to come before God. I’m saying nothing should interfere with God’s work. It’s not wrong to have things, but it’s wrong for things to have you. Anything is wrong if it comes between you and your Bible, your church, your communion with God. Tear down the idol.
Sixth, in all revivals, there was a deep conviction and a sense of sin. And this, I’m positively convinced, is the need. There was a real desire to separate themselves from sin and what caused that sin. Again, it’s hard. I think it’s like peeling an onion. It’s really hard to get to that place because we have covered up that sin. It might be something that nobody else in the world would call sin. Maybe even your Christian brother might not call it sin. But God calls it sin if you allow Him to put His finger on it. What I mean by peeling an onion, is that you make a decision, and then you make another decision, and then way down there you make another decision. Our problem is that we make a decision, and then we fall back. Maybe we make one or two decisions, and we fall back. The onion starts growing again, and the sin starts being covered up. You see, when there is revival there is no need for psychological maneuvering on the part of pastors. Today, people get mad if they think the preacher preached to them. I’ve always said, “Be glad, feel honored. There are hundreds of people here.” I pray that the Holy Spirit will convict hearts. And when there is revival, there is absolutely no need for psychological maneuvering on the part of the pastors. There is just an anxiety over sin—a hatred for sin. When a preacher is preaching like this, you are saying, “God, show me my sin.” In revival, people want their hearts to be broken, and God breaks them.
Today we seem to see our need to some extent, but we don’t want to hate the sin that is holding things back. Pride is not that bad to us. Pride will bring many people to hell, and pride will probably be the number one thing to keep Christians from being right with God. The love of money—everybody loves it. I was thinking about that today, and I told God that my retirement, every penny I have, is His if He wants it. We should trust God. If we don’t trust God, then money will put its hands around our throats and kill us. You will never have enough money to retire. The older people get, the more money they think they need. Money! It’s the root of all evil. Letting our children sin. You say, “They’ll stop before they go too haywire.” No, they won’t. That’s the sad thing. Allowing filth to be set before us. You say it is everywhere. I say again, men, I don’t care what anybody says, you don’t have to allow it to conquer you. You’ve got the Holy Spirit inside of you. And if He’s the same Holy Spirit who is inside of me, He can take care of it.
You must be thoroughly dissatisfied with yourself. We don’t want that. We are so ready to defend ourselves. We are so used to wanting to look good and wanting people to think well of us. It is so hard for us to see our sin and get thoroughly dissatisfied. Is your family all that God wants it to be? Then be dissatisfied. I was never satisfied with my children. Never. Have you witnessed to everybody that you could? Are you a strong, integral part of this church? I’m not asking if you are a deacon or a Sunday School teacher. Are you a spiritual part of this church? If everybody in the church were like you, what kind of church would we have? Do you pray and read the Bible and get something from it? Do you worship Him as you should?
Many tonight are resting on their laurels of five, ten, or twenty years ago. There was a time when you got right with God, and you were clean. Remember how good that felt? You took the booze and dumped it down the drain. You took the cigarettes and crinkled them up and flushed them down the toilet. You were right with God, and you felt good about it. You can’t rest on something years old. We are sinners. There is sin that we need to flush down the toilet tonight. Did you know that satisfaction is stagnation? You say, “Preacher, aren’t you satisfied?” I’m not satisfied at all. I never have been. I’m not satisfied with myself as a husband. I wasn’t satisfied with myself as a father. I’m not satisfied as your pastor. God breaks my heart over the need. Satisfaction equals stagnation. I’m not saying you just say, “Okay, then I just won’t be satisfied.” It’s a heart condition. Let’s get back to hating sin. Let’s get back to fearing sin. During all revivals you read of people getting so under conviction that they could not sleep at night. They would have to go to an offended brother or sister and apologize. There was a deep, uncontrollable breaking. The failures of the past became so real that no amount of comfort would do anything. No rationalization would soften the pressure of guilt. When you see your sin, you have to get right no matter what. No matter what it costs, you’ve got to deal with it.
Seventh, in every revival there was compounded joy and gladness. All these points that we are talking about are found in Bible revivals and what we call modern revivals in New England, and Wales, and England. Turn to Nehemiah chapter 8. After Ezra read the book of the law, Nehemiah called for the people to stop mourning over their sin. We read this passage at Christmastime, applying it to Christmas. But in Nehemiah 8:10 we read, “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” There is nothing, nothing like a soul being cleaned and separated from his sin. There is nothing like being separated from guilt and the burden. When that soul is clean, and there is fellowship with a holy God, there is joy unspeakable and full of glory. You are happy. The joy of the Lord is our strength, the Bible says. When we see Him work in our lives, we rejoice. The Christian life is not all down, it’s rejoicing. It’s the sin that puts you down. Don’t you want revival?
The next characteristic of revival is great prosperity and productivity. I don’t think that I am taking this too far here, and I’m not preaching the health, wealth, and happiness message of the Pentecostals today. But from reading the Bible and from what we call modern revivals, you’ll see that the fortunes of the soil are often bound up in the conditions of the soul. Turn back to Haggai. Haggai asked the people if they noticed that when their spiritual temperature went down, so did the productivity of their fields. Haggai 1:5-6, “Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.” We have people here in this auditorium right now who were born and raised in Russia or Communist-bloc countries, and I think that they would agree with what I am saying. This truth came out of the Eastern Bloc countries in 1989 when the wall came down. We heard of times of starvation and the real need for food. You might say, “Well, they didn’t have productive fields.” You have to understand that some of those areas were the breadbasket of eastern Europe. They were the Iowa and Illinois, you might say, of the Red Bear. But as God was put out of their government, as God was put out of their schools and even their churches, their prosperity declined until they were asking for billions to survive. Do you remember that? It was not that many years ago. I was there in 1989 about the same time the wall came down. I got a piece of the wall. I took a sledgehammer to it. I saw their factories. They were the same factories that were built 60 years before, no modernization whatsoever. What am I getting at? They were poor; they were backward. I passed Bibles out to the Russian army in East Germany, and I was in their facilities. They were ragged. They were sad. You wanted to give them some food to eat. Their uniforms were dirty and shabby. I’m not saying they could not go to the moon. I’m not saying they didn’t have money to send a bomb over to us. But I’m saying as a whole, their country was in sad shape.
We go into WiseWay or Jewel, and we see the fruits and vegetables piled high. We see the meat department, the fish, and even the olive department. We see food stacked everywhere. In many areas of the Eastern Bloc they would stand in line for a loaf of bread. Don’t take those stores for granted, people. One of the most amazing things for people who come over from countries like that is to see the variety in the food that we have. But if we continue in sin, that principle will spread to America and the entire world. I believe we are on the verge of something like that. Communism laughed at God. The only reason Gorbachev came to America with his hand out was because the people were starving. The great Red Bear was on a starvation diet. What happened to their fertile soil? They turned on God the same way America is turning on God. Russia had a great Christian movement at one time. In fact, the first people with whom I was ever associated were Russian Christians. But God was put out of their schools like God has been put out of our schools. God was put out of their government like God is being put out of our government. We murder babies; they murdered babies. I think we are worse in this area now. Creeps and weirdos in the music and movie industry make millions. Queers have more rights than Christians. Seventy years of Communism raped the Eastern Bloc countries. Have you noticed our biggest allies today are the Eastern Bloc countries? I’m not talking about Russia; I’m talking about Poland, and so forth. Don’t take your refrigerator full of food for granted. I’m not trying to scare you; I’m just telling you what I believe.
Revival is a new obedience to the Word of God. Revival is when the love of sin is turned to a hate for sin. Revival is a burning zeal for God. Revival is a humility of mind and a cleansed heart. In revival, people get right with God, confessing their sin. If you come down to this altar and say, “God, I’m sorry for this,” and you draw a circle around it, it’s not going to get you anywhere. You have to come down and say, “God, I’m a sinner. Show me my sin. I want to confess it. I want to do away with it.” The person who is right with God has to be held back because he wants to give every red cent he has when maybe God doesn’t want him to. You are not going to get right with God putting a circle around one little sin and saying, “God, forgive me.” I suppose it’s a start, but it’s not going to get you revival.
Turn to James. In revival, a sovereign God is always revealed. He removes the opposition, and He takes the operation out of the hands of man and takes control Himself. That’s why we cannot work it up. We only can prepare the soil. We can just prepare our hearts, and then God comes in and He takes control. James 1:2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Understand, God has allowed this to come into your life for a purpose.
Turn to Acts 5:40, “And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.” I always mention this idea of people wanting to go through open doors. They think they are in God’s will, and they get beaten. Our problem is that we honestly think that if we’re right with God, everything will be rosy. Read your Bible. God works with us, and He works through these things. They beat them and let them go. “And they departed from the presence of the council,…” crying and sobbing? No, they were “…rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.” It’s been a long time ago, but when I went to jail, I read in the book of Acts. I started in chapter one and got to this pretty quick, and I was rejoicing. Rejoicing that in a small way I could stand for God. “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” We have a little problem come into our lives, and we’re just hurting. Somebody gets sick and says, “Oh, God, how could you do this to me? Oh, God, you’ve got to heal me.” What about, “Oh, God. I want to be right with you”? I believe God tries to wrest the control out of our hands. Sometimes, through real problems, God is trying to say, “Get your eyes off the stupid Bulls and Bears and Cubbies. Get your eyes off of IU or whoever it is, Illinois, now. Get your eyes off the television. Get your eyes off money. Get your eyes off your job.”
Now our text, Isaiah 57:15, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy;” When we get right with God, we see Him high and lifted up. We see him as a sovereign God. We know Isaiah 6:1-3, but I’ll read it, “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” Undone means coming apart at the seams. I’ve had my cuffs come undone sometimes. I’m sure you women have had a seam come undone at times. It is saying that you lose control of yourself. You become undone when you see a holy God. Your emotions are undone, and you don’t have to make yourself say amen—you just say amen. You can’t help but say amen. You want to go soulwinning; you make time to go soulwinning. You are undone. With your money, it’s just, “Here, God. Whatever You need, I want to give You.” It’s not, “My budget.” No, “It’s Your money, God.” We do not have the proper concept of a high and holy, lofty God. We’re playing church too much. We’ve been raised that way, playing church.
Second, we see a sanctifying God residing in the second part of our text, “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit…” He resides in a sanctified and holy place. In the Old Testament there was the Holy of Holies. We just read the description. Their wings didn’t touch, but they came very close together. From what I understand, when the blood was put on the mercy seat, God would appear there as an extremely bright light, which was called the Shekinah glory of God. God’s presence would come into the Holy of Holies. Can you imagine that? God moves, we read, into a contrite heart. What does contrite mean? It means bruised to the place where it is almost bleeding. It’s not a professional heart. It’s not a legalistic heart. It’s a broken heart, one that is sensitive to sin, that has been sanctified and set apart from sin. Just think, that great and holy God comes down to a little tiny blue speck called Earth and then dwells in the hearts of men. Oh, and He wants to show His Shekinah glory through us if we would only be contrite. We’re just too proud. If we would only be broken; be sensitive.
Then the last part of our text verse, “…to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” There’s that word again—contrite. We have too big of an estimation of ourselves and what we can do on our own. But when we face death, we take a different view of life, don’t we? It’s amazing to me how quickly we forget, though. We have a terrible stumble, and we fall into sin, and we say, “I’m yours, God. I’m yours forever!” And we mean it, but it’s amazing how soon we forget. We mess up in rearing our children, and one of them really falls into sin, and we are so broken. We say, “All that matters is Your will, God.” But pretty soon money matters. We get sick and say, “I’m Yours, God.” And then we belong to a car, or a house, or a job. Isn’t it unbelievable? If we’re right with God, there will be a “coming clean.” There will be fresh, new life. Are you satisfied with yourself spiritually? If the Holy Spirit took control of our services, I think it would scare many of our congregation to death.
John Rice preached a sermon in 1963 called, “Turn or Burn.” He was talking about salvation, and he said, “No one can trust Christ for forgiveness without thus acknowledging his sinfulness and turning his heart from sin. There can be no faith without repentance.” By the way, I think there are a lot of people in our church who are not saved because they have never repented. I’m not talking about some fancy definition, but I’m saying there are so many in our movement who would just go out and get someone to pray a prayer. I think there are a lot of people “saved” as little kids who never repented and who never saw their sin and hated it. I’m not trying to get you to doubt your salvation, but I’m saying that if we never repented of our sin in the first place, we don’t know what it is to repent now. Be close to God. There can be no faith without repentance. No one can trust Christ for salvation who does not repent. It’s “turn or burn.” It’s repent or perish for every lost person in the world. There’s a tremendous need for repentance in salvation. When we tell people how to be saved, we better talk about sin. I’ve preached sermons directly about sin on Sunday mornings when we have had a lot of unsaved people here. I’ve preached sermons just on sin and had no one raise his hand indicating his need of salvation. People don’t want to see their sin. Christians don’t want to see their sin. Jesus said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” When was the last time you told God, “I hate my sin.” Put your finger on it.
Let me read Finney again. “Revival is nothing less than a new beginning of obedience to God. Just as in the case of the converted sinner, the first step is a deep repentance, a breaking down of the heart, a getting down in the dust before God with a deep humility, and a forsaking of sin.” Pride will stop revival. We tell ourselves, “I’m just this way.” Or, “I’m okay. I’ve taken care of this, and this, and this. I just don’t agree with him.” Give God a chance. You need to learn to blush, and as the Bible uses the illustration, get rid of the “whore’s forehead.” Let’s be sensitive about sin, and be humble toward it. Do you have sexual thoughts? Don’t say you can’t help it. Say you want them. That’s why you have them. I’m not saying the devil can’t throw things in your head. I know he can, but you don’t have to dwell on them. You only do if you want to. Are you stealing from God or from work? Are you a liar? Jealousy will stop revival. Tradition stops revival.
Students come to Bible college at 20 years old, and they’ll disagree with our style of soulwinning. Or, someone will get up here and preach and try to give a little enlightened view of a word from the King James Bible, a 400-year-old translation, and they’ll say, “He doesn’t believe in the King James Bible!” Do you understand what I’m saying? When Jonathan Edwards had revival, he didn’t even come into the pulpit for many weeks. What would some of you students do if you were in his church? You would be criticizing him, that’s what you would be doing. People seem to worry more about the approval of some preacher and his traditions than having God move in their lives.
One last verse, II Chronicles 7:14. We need to work to meet God’s conditions if we are going to see revival. God, in His sovereignty, sends revival, but He waits for us to meet the conditions. Are you hungry for revival? Most of us know II Chronicles 7:14 by heart. Think about it as we close. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” There it is again, “shall humble themselves.” You’ll not do it without humbling yourself. If you are sitting there with your jaw locked, you can’t be helped. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”