Searching Questions That Stir Up An Awakened Heart
By Joshua Bradley
[This article is taken from the book, Accounts of Religious Revivals from 1815 to 1818, by Joshua Bradley, published in 1819, reprinted in 1980 by Richard Owen Roberts, Publishers.]
Have you hungered after a spiritual awakening in your life? Then the following questions should stir your heart with a new sense of earnestness for the great power of God to set you ablaze.
1. Have you ever seen yourself by practice and inclination to be a lost sinner? Have you seen that your own will and heart is the fountain of your sin, that in the natural, there is no good thing in you? Has a picture of this led you to realize you cannot help yourself and that you must be altogether indebted to Christ for your salvation, and to the Holy Spirit for the strength and motivation to correctly perform your Christian duties?
2. On what have you based your acceptance with the Lord? Is it based on your reformed lifestyle, on your sorrow for your sins, on your prayers, on your tears, or on your obedience and Christian observances? Or has it been on Christ alone, as your all in all?
3. As far as you can tell, do you hate and desire to be delivered from all sin, without the exception for a favorite lust? Do you pray continually to be delivered from all sin? Do you watch against it, and against temptation? Do you get victory over it? Have you truly repented of it so as to have your soul really set against it?
4. Have you counted the cost of following Christ, or of being truly one of His disciples? Have you realized that following Christ will cut you off from vain amusements, from the indulgence of your lusts, and from conformity to this evil world? Do you know that following Christ will expose you to ridicule and contempt and possibly more serious persecution? In view of all of these things, are you willing to take up your cross, and follow Christ wherever He leads you? Is it your lifestyle to cleave to Christ in reliance on His grace and put His cause and people in the forefront of your life?
5. Do you love being surrendered to the Lord? Do you love righteousness? Do you love a Holy God, and because He is holy, do you earnestly desire to be conformed more and more to His law of liberty and love? Do you seek and find those times of communion with your God and Savior?
6. Are you resolved, in God’s strength, to conscientiously fulfill your whole duty to God, your neighbor and yourself? Do you exercise your daily duties as part of your devotion to the Lord?
7. Do you conscientiously make secret prayer a daily part of your life? Do you sometimes feel deadened in your prayer life? Do you, at other times, sense a great delight in it? Do you have a set time, place and vision for this type of duty? Do you sense a fervent spirit of prayer for all of the great needs that surround you?
8. Do you daily read the Word of God in a focused manner? Do you love to read the Bible? Do you realize the sweetness of its promises and the warnings of its rebukes? Do you find the Scriptures relevant to your needs, challenges, and weaknesses? Do you make the Word ofGod the source of your counsel and do you endeavor to have your heart and life conformed to its doctrines and injunctions?
9. Does the glory of God ever seem to you as the first, greatest, and highest objective in your life? Do you desire to promote the glory of God in your family and community?
10. Do you sense the importance to shine the love of God into your world by a holy, exemplary, amiable walk and conversation?
11. Do you fear bringing reproach onthe cause of Christ? Does this prospect seem extremely dreadful? Are you watchful about backsliding, growing cold, and returning to a condition of carelessness?
12. Do you desire to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ more and more? Are you willing to sit at His feet, as a little child, and submit your ideas and understanding to His teaching, inviting His Spirit to guide you into all truth and save you from fatal errors? Furthermore, are you willing to receive the truth and be transformed more and more into His likeness?
Remember that these questions are intended to point your attention to subjects of the most important kind. Do not simply content yourself with a casual glance at them. Read and think deeply about your condition as a Christian. Examine yourself closely on each question, and let your heart be lifted up to God. You probably cannot go over all of these questions at one time. Divide them up and take one part at a time. But try to go over all the questions within a week, and do this on a consistent basis.
When you find yourself doubtful or deficient in any point, do not let it discourage you, but write it down and turn your attention to that issue during the next possible season of prayer and worship. Labor and pray over that issue until you have been enabled to see the answer clearly. If you pursue this kind of course, you will be able to deal with many trials and temptations that will come your way.
Remember that secret prayer, reading the Word of God, meditation, and self-examination are the great measures of preserving an awakened heart in the midst of a perverse generation. In direct proportion as you are faithful in these expressions of devotion to the Lord so will be your inner peace, and the strength of your spiritual constitution. Think often of the character of Enoch, and live to walk with God.
Do not think that since you possess a great victory and joy in your present gracious condition that you will be released from the need of maintaining a constant vigilance in the time to come. Nor will you be relieved from the need to have repeated searchings and examinations of your heart to the end of life.
Many great writers have given us insight into the victorious heart of an obedient Christian. But after all has been written and preached it all comes down to this – you must discern what the prevailing characteristic of your heart is – whether on the whole you are increasing in submission and grace or not? If you are, you may be comforted with the joy of the Lord; if not, you have cause to be alarmed.
It is of great importance to warn you not to imagine that the fruits of true Christianity are to be confined to our closets, or to the church, even though you have great comfort and freedom there.
True Christianity reaches every area of life. It alters and sweetens our personality. It improves our manners. It goes into every duty, relationship, and situation in life. If you have surrendered your life to the Lordship of Christ, you will have a better spirit; you will be better servants, better students, better friends, better citizens of our country. You will be more exemplary in the discharge of every duty.
And if your faith in Christ does not allow the grace of God to produce these effects, although you may talk of inward peace and even deep spiritual experiences, you have great reason to fear that your whole view of salvation is an illusion, and that the root of Christ is not in you. Here is what Jesus said: “This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples” (John 15:8).
Be careful to avoid a depressed temperament. Be cheerful and cherish the joy of the Lord. Be habitually cheerful; but avoid levity. Be very humble, but not timid. Do not be talkative around everyone. Be a listener, especially with experienced Christians. Endeavor in every way to forward the message of Jesus among your friends and relatives. Win them to the Lordship of Christ by your amiable personality and excellent example. Flee youthful lusts. Resist the carnal excitements of your world. Guard against self-gratification; it will extinguish spiritual hunger.
Do not be discouraged by the ridicule and reproach of the world and Satan. Your Savior bore much of these for you. Think about His sacrifice for you and be ashamed of nothing, except of being ashamed of Him. Trust in His protection. Live to His praise, and you will dwell eternally in His glorious presence.
– Reprinted from Road to Revival. Used by permission.