by Lloyd L. Streeter
We should not necessarily expect to see a great nationwide or worldwide revival before Christ’s return. Such a revival would be possible if people everywhere would seek God, but they will not do so. The Bible tells us about conditions that will prevail on the earth in the last days: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves. . . . evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” ( II Tim. 3:1-2, 13).
Jesus asked, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). The present age is one of apostasy, and God will not send universal revival to an apostate people.
There will be a great worldwide revival in the future. During the great tribulation, multitudes from every tribe, tongue, and nation will be converted; however, that revival will occur after Jesus comes back for His true church (cf. Rev. 7:9-17).
This means that we should not necessarily expect a nationwide or worldwide revival in our day, but we certainly can (and should!) expect personal revival and local church revival.
Four problems among Christians make personal revival a must.
1. The problem of spiritual indigestion. There has been ample preaching and teaching of the Word of God in Bible-believing churches, but there has not been an ample reception of biblical truths. Many Christians hear the Word with their ears, but they are not living the Word. They are surrounded by Bible truths, but they are not giving out God’s Word.
One preacher said that some Christians reminded him of cows that eat and then lie down and do nothing but chew their cuds. Some Christians feed upon the Word and even ruminate, ponder, dissect, and go over and over it. That is good as far as it goes.
At a certain zoo, there is a hippopotamus that eats eighteen out of every twenty-four hours. He seems to live to eat, devouring tons of foliage every year. He must eat at every moment when he is not asleep. I often have wondered whether he gets indigestion. He eats, but he never works. He illustrates one of the problems in the church.
Spiritual indigestion is a symptom showing that Christians need revival.
2. The problem of spiritual indecision. Some Christians have no trouble deciding about other things but cannot seem to make up their minds about spiritual matters. Some professing believers can make decisions about recreation, vacations, styles, associations, business, and almost everything else. They are most emphatic, resolute, and adamant in their views. They know what they want, where they want it, and when they want it; but the same individuals have trouble deciding to obey God in all things. They are hesitant to get involved in service for Christ. They are reluctant to commit themselves to be faithful in attending church services, in supporting the Lord’s work financially, and in maintaining regular personal devotions.
Indecision leads to inactivity. Many times we are indecisive because we subconsciously desire to be inactive. Indecision can be an escape mechanism to avoid coming to grips with an issue. The real problem is in the heart. Often people will say, “I know I should serve God, but I can’t seem to get around to it.” They reason that their failure to decide to do right somehow alleviates them of their biblical responsibilities. The truth, however, is that making no decision actually is a decision. The person has decided not to decide! The fact that many Christians are afflicted with spiritual indecision indicates a widespread need for personal revival.
3. The problem of spiritual indifference. Jesus said, “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24:12). There is a pallor and a spiritual coldness that can creep into the lives of believers and into the lives of Bible-believing churches. Many who attend church simply are going through the motions of being Christians. Each week they engage in religious practices and exercises; but they have no real concern, no real warmth, no real joy, and no real enthusiasm for the things of the Lord.
Many Bible-believing churches today are cold! As a whole, the people in them are indifferent to the things that will mean most in eternity. Very little praying takes place in these churches for the salvation of the lost and for the needs of other believers. Their members hurt one another through gossip, hatefulness, and meanness. The members act this way because they are spiritually cold and indifferent; they just do not care.
The members of a church usually follow their pastor. When a church is spiritually cold, usually it is because the pastor is spiritually cold. Yes, church members tend to take on the personality and spiritual characteristics of their pastor. If the pastor is warm, loving, concerned, friendly, prayerful, and dedicated, the people of the church will tend to have those characteristics. May God help us to not be cold!
Spiritual indifference among Bible believers is symptomatic of the fact that they need a personal revival.
4. The problem of spiritual indulgence. Many indulge themselves but ignore God! Some church members have had things soft and easy for so long that they have allowed the world’s attitude to invade the church. The world’s attitude is that one always must have things easy. In everything that some people do, they want to know, “What’s in it for me?”
Some professing Christians are so indulgent that they do not want anything to do with the Lord’s work unless they get some attention, some prominence, or some recognition. Like the people of the world, they want their fair share; and if they do not get it, they will not cooperate.
Many Christians today are extremely soft. They are in sharp contrast to those Christians who lived during persecutions and inquisitions of old and who faced hard times. Christians behind the iron curtain today have it hard. By way of comparison, how much love for Christ do some of us show?
Some of us can hardly discipline ourselves to faithfully attend the services of our church. When we do attend, we often complain about the length of the sermon! When we attend the services of our local church, do we want to be entertained, or do we want to be fed “the sincere milk of the word” (I Pet. 2:2)?
The spiritually indulgent say, “Please, let me be excused! Let a younger person do it. Let a talented person do it. I’m too old, too busy, and too tired.”
Church members need to stop indulging themselves to the point where they cannot serve God. The fact that some Bible believers are so spiritually indulgent means that they need a personal revival.
Each believer can have his own personal revival. Such a revival is not a complicated, out-of-reach, hard-to-understand thing. It can be realized. A personal revival simply means that the Holy Spirit has produced an awakening in a Christian with the result that he begins to do the things he should have been doing but has not been doing because of negligence.
The Bible says, “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” (II Chron. 7:14).
In the biblical context, of course, the above verse was not intended to be a direct formula and a promise for a national revival in our nation today; rather, the Lord was addressing Solomon concerning the nation of Israel. King Solomon, the son of David, lived about a millennium before the birth of Christ. On this occasion the temple was being dedicated.
However, there is an application of II Chronicles 7:14 that should be made to the individual believer. The unchanging principles of truth in God’s Word can be applied to every people in every age. Do you want to have a personal revival? If so, follow the principles of this verse.
Many blessings that God offers are conditional. In exhorting the Israelites to abandon their idols and turn to the Lord, Joshua said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Josh. 24:15). Speaking to Solomon, the Lord said, “If thou wilt walk before me, . . . then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, . . . But if ye turn away. . . . then will I pluck [you] up by the roots out of my land” (II Chron. 7:17-20).
The principle of conditional blessing and judgment may be seen in Abraham’s prayer for the righteous in Sodom (Gen. 18:23-33), in God’s withholding judgment from Nineveh (Jonah 3:10), and in God’s offer to unrepentant Judah to withhold judgment in exchange for repentance (Jer. 18:7-10).
If you want to have personal revival, you must act according to the principles and conditions that God has set forth in His Word. In II Chronicles 7:14, we find the conditions and results of revival. If you draw near to God, He will draw near to you (cf. Jas. 4:8). If you obey Him, He will bless you.
Notice that there are three revival principles in II Chronicles 7:14. First, you must humble yourself. We read elsewhere, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shallÂ lift you up” (Jas. 4:10). Self-sufficiency and pride are the enemies of revival. Pride often gets in the way of making rightful apologies! Haughtiness often prevents us from extending forgiveness to those who have wronged us!
D. L. Moody told the story of a petition that was being circulated in England for signatures. The petition concerned a very controversial matter and was presented to the House of Lords; however, one word was left out. Instead of reading, “We humbly beseech thee,” it simply read, “We beseech thee.” It was rejected because of the missing word. Yes, if we want to be heard in heaven, we first must humble ourselves. The Bible says “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (I Pet. 5:5).
The second revival principle found in II Chronicles 7:14 is that we must pray and seek God’s face. The Bible says, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: . . . whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (I John 5:14-15).
The words “pray, and seek my face” (II Chron. 7:14) indicate the need to be serious about prayer. We need to wait on God. The sad fact is that most of us are too busy to stop and be quiet and give God our undivided attention. We are reluctant to take the time to seek Him with all our hearts.
Our personal revival prayers should be filled with faith in God. We know He has been faithful in the past. We should trust Him to bless us today with His presence and power.
Our prayers for personal revival should be focused on our personal spiritual problems, sins, and needs. We must pray specifically.
Our personal revival praying must be fervent. Like Jacob, we must wrestle, saying, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me” (Gen. 32:26).
The third revival principle found in II Chronicles 7:14 is that we must turn from our wicked ways. The Bible exhorts believers, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). We are told what to do about our personal sins. We must accept the responsibility for our sins and turn from them.
I must ask myself. Do I really want to stop sinning against God? If I really do, then I must stop making excuses for my sins. I must be willing to turn away from all of them. I then can experience personal revival.
The believer does not have to wait for some sensational, spectacular experience in others. He does not have to concern himself first with national revival or even with local church revival. The Christian’s first priority should be to meet the the conditions for revival himself.
You can have personal revival! Get yours now!