A Challenge To All Who Want Revival
By Don Lamb
During a time of sharing in a crusade with Ralph and Lou Sutera of the Canadian Revival Fellowship in Johnstown, New York in May (1987), I had the opportunity to witness some freshly revived Christians. As I sat and listened to these awakened Christians I was challenged by their testimonies of God’s motivating and cleansing power.
The Blessings of Personal Revival
A young father shared how he found such a fulfillment in living in victory over the flesh and selfishness that once controlled his life. He saw how he could dedicate each day to the Lord when he woke up and asked for God’s power to give him strength over the “old nature.”
Others shed tears of joy that reflected the peace God was spreading through their calmed souls. Christians were being reconciled with Christians. Husbands were being reconciled with wives. Parents were being restored to their children. Laymen were confessing bitterness toward their pastors and elders. These were visible effects of the personal revivals that were blossoming as fruits of the Sutera Twins Crusade.
I began to see in a new way, that the blessings of personal revivals are a very important part of the local church. The force of a changed life makes a great impact on any particular body of believers. How much more the impact of multiplied personal revivals! I realized that the burden God had put on our hearts for general revival and a broader move of the Holy Spirit could only be fulfilled in direct relation to personal revivals.
Challenges of Consistency
Maybe some reading this article have experienced the purity and brokenness of personal revival, but have not continued in that first love. There are some who assume they will always have a burden for a general awakening because they have experienced personal revival at one time in their lives. However, because you found Christ in a deep, personal relationship once in your life doesn’t guarantee that you won’t grow skeptical or hard if you stop longing for personal revival each day.
I sense God is giving a challenge to all who are seeking personal and general awakening. The challenge to those seeking general awakening is this: you cannot please God through seeking a general revival in the church without dying to your own fleshly desires and remaining in a personal awakening as a daily part of your Christian walk.
Second is a challenge to those who are experiencing personal revival: if your faith and vision stop short of praying in expectancy for God to visit your church and community, your personal revival will eventually stagnate and become self-orientated.
To help us understand this truth let us look at First Peter 2:11-12: “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against the soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.”
We see here a brief description of how a Christian is to live out personal revival. There are three commands given in this text which must be obeyed for a believer to experience continuous personal revival. The first two are “abstain from sinful desires” and “live such good lives among the pagans.”
The third command is implied in the last line of the passage of Scripture: “glorify God on the day He visits us.” If God is going to visit a people or generation, then He must be invited. The third command implies that all believers should pray without ceasing for God’s Spirit to visit us in Christ’s reviving power. These brief commands make it a requirement that Christians be a holy people, an active people, and a praying people.
No Room for Compromise
To disobey in any one of these areas will disrupt our spiritual growth and eventually bring our witness into jeopardy with the ungodly who surround us. There is no room for compromise in personal revival according to this passage. If we do compromise, the ungodly will have solid ground to accuse us of doing wrong.
A Christian must learn to walk free from indulging in the fleshly lusts of his generation. He also must live a visible witness of Christ’s changing power in front of the unsaved souls around him. Finally, a Christian must never be content only with personal revival and living a good life in front of the unsaved. He must believe God for a visitation of the Holy Spirit which will use the example and words of his own life to move the stubborn and selfish hearts of those who have not surrendered to Christ in his church and community.
A salesman for a Ford car dealership had better own a Ford-manufactured car, or there would be little to convince his customers that he really believes in his product. Just so, those who are longing for the general work of God in our churches and cities are given the responsibility to see it first come about in their own lives.
A personal revival is the condition to seeking general awakening. Many believers read about the great revivals of the past and get excited about praying for one to come to their church or town. But many of these Christians seeking revival don’t realize that the work must start with their own lives. God will only hear our prayers for His visitation to come to a community after we have allowed Him to visit our hearts. A person who is seeking for general revival should be doing so from a heart that knows the effects and purity of personal revival.
If we are trying to pray and labor for a broad spiritual awakening with some who have not experienced personal revival, we are going to have a difficult time sustaining any spiritual momentum. This explains why so many Christians grow weary in prayer and finally stop their support for spiritual awakening.
Pray for the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit!
If a rocket launches out into space and it fires its first and second stage in perfect execution, but through a malfunction the final and third stage doesn’t ignite, the rocket will not reach orbit and will eventually fall back to earth and be destroyed. We see First Peter 2:11-12, as a spiritual parallel to this illustration.
The first two areas of obedience in “abstaining from sinful desires” and “living good lives among the pagans” propel us toward general revival. But if we fail to move on to the third stage and pray expectantly for general revival, then our spiritual lives will begin to fall back.
Living a holy and Spirit-filled life that witnesses Christ’s changing power to the unsaved around us, gets the rocket through most of the atmosphere. But if we become complacent and don’t fire out in prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon hearts of those who refuse to bend to your pleadings for salvation, we will eventually become self-centered and lackadaisical in our personal revival. Personal revival is the start of God’s intentions for a Christian, but not the end.
Let us look into our lives and see how they line up with this passage of Scripture. There is no one exempt from the challenge it gives us. We must make Christ our personal Reviver, and we must live a godly life, seeking the Lord for His wider visitation. The end result is being in a position of expectancy where the Father can do “…immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations” (Eph. 3:20).
– From Prepare Ye The Way Newsletter, Inc., Elizabethtown, PA 17022.