No Detour Around Repentance
By A. E. Reinschmidt
Revival is for those who are backslidden in some way. Some are saying that our backslidden condition makes revival unlikely, even impossible today. This is like saying that we shouldn't look for rain anymore because the ground is so dry and hard! Surely the ground is dry and hard--everywhere. But the Lord says in the face of all this dryness and desolation, "I will pour water on him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground" (Isa. 44:3).
Though sin abounds on every hand, grace does much more abound (Rom. 5:20). Some of us must get revived ourselves, and then take revival to the multitudes of backsliders.
The Way of Revival Is Not Hidden
The way of revival is open to all who will look for it in the right place. It is in the Bible. Wherever you see a man who is having real revival, you will find that the reason for it mainly is that that man has humbled himself (2 Chron. 7:14), and is preaching mostly on repentance. This is no "secret." Nothing in the Bible stands out more clearly.
There is nothing in the Bible that people--church members included--dislike so much as repentance and humility. But there is no other way. To the unbelieving, the message of Christ is "Repent ye, and believe the Gospel" (Mark 1:15). To the backslidden believers, the message is the same. What is needed for anyone to have revival now is "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21).
To many--unbelievers and believers both--repentance is a bitter dose. It is the great stumbling block that is keeping many from the blessing of revival, when it is meant to be the great stepping stone into revival.
In their effort to evade repentance, some offer the absurd excuse that "repentance is only for the Jews!" They seem to look upon repentance as a sort of punishment for sin, and only for the worst of sinners. Repentance, however, is the way--the only way--for both Jews and Gentiles to come to God.
But for this provision, which cost God all He had, we should all be damned. "Him [Jesus] hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5:31). And what about the Gentiles? "Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18). "Testifying both to Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30).
To the backslidden in the churches, Jesus sounds a seven-fold call to "repent" (Revelation, chapters two and three). Repentance is a "must" for all. It is written, "Except ye repent, ye shall all...perish" (Luke 13:3,5).
If our pride is not abased, it will damn us. Repentance is the only antidote for pride. So long as one refuses to repent, his pride rules him and he has no access to God. Pride is the original sin, and humility the original righteousness!
How near is revival? No nearer than the great wave of repentance which our fallen state demands. There is no detour around repentance! Repentance is not an occasional act, merely. It is a way of life.
Of "repentance toward God" there is little enough. Of repentance toward our brethren there is almost none. Some of us would rather lose our souls than "lose face" by confessing ourselves in the wrong to one another. It is here, in the realm of human relationships, that the greatest hindrance to revival exists. The test of a man's humility, or repentant spirit, is his ability to ask his brother's pardon.
"Thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent" (Rev. 2:5). "Thy candlestick" signifies your light. We take this to mean that if we do not repent, we shall lose the light of conviction which the Spirit is shining into our hearts to lead us to repentance.
Jesus also said, "Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while the light is with you, lest darkness come upon you" (John 12:35). Light, when it is refused, after a while turns to darkness. And "if the light that is in thee be [become] darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matt. 6:23).
Again, revival is for all backsliders, and repentance is the price which everyone must pay. It is "the way of the cross." The way of revival is simple, but it is not cheap.
We Must Meet God's Terms
Revival is always possible if we will meet God's terms, no matter how wretched our spiritual state.
"If I shut up heaven, that there be no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people; 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" (2 Chron. 7:13-14). This is the greatest statement of God's revival technique to be found in the Bible. It is the revival classic.
Anyone who will take the above four steps, in the order they are mentioned, will find forgiveness and healing. Repentance--self-humbling--is the first step. If one will take this step, he shall be able to take the others. But most of us put the chief emphasis on the second step--prayer--which is impossible unless one shall repent first.
Prayer and fasting are urged by some as being sufficient to bring revival. But neither of these is possible apart from true repentance; repentance that includes confession and restitution. There is a host of sins against "the brethren," which must be confessed and put away. Whatever separates us from each other, separates us from the Lord. Whoever cheats on the first step will miss them all and will cheat himself out of revival!