Revival? What is missing?

Guest editorial


Many Christians today are praying for revival, and that is good. But something else is needed.

Throughout history, revival occurred with the faithful preaching of righteousness, sin, and judgment. Elijah, faced with 450 prophets of Baal, challenged the people in black and white terms: ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him: but if Baal is God, follow him’ (1 Kings 18:21).

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The prophets to Israel and Judah detailed the people’s sins and called on them to repent.

John the Baptist called sin what it was—sin—and lost his head for it. He called the Pharisees and Sadducees a ‘generation of vipers’ (Matthew 3:7). It was hardly ‘seeker-sensitive’ preaching. Note that John was not an arrogant man; he was not worthy to untie the sandals of Jesus, he said (Luke 3:16), but he preached with authority.

When Paul came before governor Felix, who had the power over Paul’s immediate fate, Paul spoke boldly about ‘righteousness … and judgment to come,’ and Felix ‘trembled’ (Acts 24).

Central to all biblical preaching is sin and judgment. Why? Because the sinner needs to know he is in trouble before he is likely to have any interest in being saved. Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon was titled, ‘Sinners in the hands of an angry God.’ Wesley, Whitefield, Finney and Moody all emphasized that their listeners had broken God’s Law, were guilty before the Righteous Judge of heaven and earth, and deserving of His wrath. These great revivalists knew that the Good News of God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ would not make much sense unless people understood the ‘Bad News,’ the full impact of their lost condition in Adam, and would cry out to God for mercy.

In Finney’s day, over 90% of those counseled for salvation persevered. Today it is apparently less than 5%. Why?

In today’s evolutionized world, unlike the world of the revivalists, most no longer believe in Creation and the Fall, as recorded in Genesis. So there is no longer any basis for understanding the meaning of sin, namely rebellion against our Creator. So sin has been variously re-defined—loss of self-esteem, or left-over aggression from our animal ancestors. So, when evangelists try preaching about sin, instead of having people call to God for mercy, they get a confused, even hostile response.

So evangelists have tended to minimize talk of sin and judgment, offering instead happiness here and now, rather than rescue from eternal damnation.

If an air hostess offers you a parachute ‘because it will give you a more comfortable ride,’ you will soon take the parachute off because it is uncomfortable, and what’s more, the other passengers are laughing at you! However, if the hostess says, ‘Put on this parachute, this plane is going to crash soon and you will need this to save your life,’ you will not care that it is uncomfortable, or that others laugh, you will keep it on.

When Peter preached about sin and repentance to believing Jews (Acts 2), his audience already understood the vital foundational truths of Genesis—God made us, He owns us, we are all fallen in Adam, and have transgressed against His holy, perfect standard. When Paul also preached sin and repentance to the pagans in Athens (Acts 17), he had to first lay the logical foundation of creation for his message, so that it would make sense.

Today we are ploughing even harder ground than Paul was—not only do people not know about the vital Genesis background to the Gospel, they are actively taught a contradictory view.

So not only do we need to restore faithful preaching about sin and judgment, we need to understand how to defend and proclaim the truth of Genesis, in order that the Gospel message might make sense. This is what Creation magazine is all about. This is God’s world, He owns me and I am accountable to Him for how I live. He has given laws which I have flouted and I deserve punishment. I am a sinner in need of salvation. Thank you Lord Jesus, for taking the penalty for my sin that I might have eternal life!

Readers’ comments

Deb B.
I had a revelation in '91 and have written a book on how much Western philosophies influence the church - self-focused consumerism, performanc-ism and perfectionism fills the church. These come from materialism, capitalism and humanism. We've been trying to be better than other people at these things - not realising we are working against God's kingdom, power and glory. Our standards are no longer God's. We need to change the way we think (repent) and seek to live like Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit - giving, serving and honouring one another - loving each other.
Namwinga A. C.
Am so encouraged to read the article on Revival. I agree with you. Many Christians in our generation do not like to hear the Gospel. All they want is to be taught on how they can get rich. the whole message on prosperity.
Some have even left my church because I was preaching holiness.
Harry V.
Exellent article. Revival is actually the re living of Christians that once lived the true Christian life and faded. A spiritually dead person cannot revive, he must be born again. Finney said that revival is a new obedience to God’s Word. May we cherish the truth of Genesis!
Joyce G.
There can never be true revival, unless the church first must learn to repent from backsliding, while we sit and carry on our own merry way thinking everything is ok, the sinners will never know the conviction of the Holy Spirit on their life, for we go about with our own righteousness, we will not have His Righteousness, today I see even in my life, who has Seen God’s Power and Glory when I was a missionary in the Philippines, then came back here to Australia, to nothing, and backslid. Thanks be to God that He never Leaves us nor Forsakes us, but the first step is always to repent, and ask God to forgive us, He once told me we commit Adultery toward Him and Him only, when we make other things first before Him, I also believe we need to go for a cleansing in the waters again, and bury that dead man the flesh, that we allow to rise up. For me what ever it takes there is always that Joy that He gives me, to renew my strength, swallow that pride and admit that we have left our first Love some have not ever made Him their first love to start off with.
So for all of us we need to humble ourselves and first repent, Purify our Hearts before Him, not just clean but Purify, and renew a Right Spirit within us, take not thy Holy Spirit away from us, and return to us the Joy of our Salvation. Then only then can we teach transgressors thy ways and bring salvation unto to them. Go back to psalm 51, David always humbles Himself and realised the state he was in and repented when He did wrong, and all of us do wrong at times and need to come back to repentance, some have almost gone to slumber land and not even know they need to repent, this is new age teaching, that has lulled our senses some times.
So I agree with your article we all need to repent and come back to our first love, then we can once again talk and preach of His Goodness to us, His Loving kindness, Mercy and His Righteousness, His Love, His Mighty Grace, His Joy, once again come taste and see that the Lord is Good like Honey in the Rock. How lovely you are my Lord My God, thank you for rescuing me once again.
Robert M.
Very true, I have seen this so many times, often when I have preached about sin there seems to be no lasting conviction because dont seem to care or understand that you cant do as you please & get away with it
Leighton S.
Go to ‘Hell’s Best Kept Secret’ by Ray Comfort for further info. It makes sense because if we are not convicted of our sin under God’s Law and understand God’s punishment toward our conviction then we think we dont need a Saviour (even though we do). If we want to love others as Jesus did, we need to tell them the truth.
Krista S.
Amen! Amen!! Amen!!!
Wesley W.
What an awesome article! This expresses what I have been feeling about this “new” revival movement for some time now. The parachute analogy was spot on! We need to pray that the creation message becomes foundational again in today’s modern, apostate, “Laodicean” church. Maranatha!
Michael B.
I fully support you article on Revival however you failed to mention the active work of signs and wonders that are visible during a Revival. You have to actively reject a God that’s healing people, raising the dead and displaying his power and a call to repentance is being given. You can’t sit on the fence in this situation. I believe the church will move in this power again in future. We are witnessing the beginnings of a clear division into two world views, the biblical creation/resurrection view versus the humanist/evolution view. When the church moves in both power and knowledge (based on true science) many will choose Jesus.

In the name of Yeshua,
Catherine O.
Very true. A teenage girl sat next to me at the Christmas Eve service which is always full. As the minister spoke of God’s gift to us of Jesus, she turned to her friend and whispered “Who cares?” It has become popular recently to interview young Muslims about their faith. In contrast to many Christians they give a clear message that “God is their creator and he is just”.

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