Revivals in History 1

Amos 8:11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD. 12 “People will stagger from sea to sea And from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it.

Acworth N.H.
Nothing has appeared like a revival in this town until 1814…At the first communion after his consecration, sixteen offered themselves to the church. Immediately after this, instances of individual conviction made their appearance in different parts of the society and one and another were made to rejoice in God. A solemn and strict attention was paid to the word preached, and the good work progressed gradually until Sept 1816. In which time about sixty were added to the church. Every seat in the house of God was filled, not with drowsy inattentive hearers, but with awakened immortals, hanging on the lips of the speaker with almost breathless attention; looking, as if their everlasting all depended on the proper improvement of a single sermon…[speaking of the school there] They began to discover a greater relish of the scriptures. In searching for the answers to their questions, they felt an increasing desire to know more of the lively oracles of divine truth. Every vacant moment when relieved from their other school exercises, the bible was taken up.

When we think of how barren this nation and others are regarding true spirituality, there is no real hope unless God sends a true reformation and revival as opposed to one that is worked up by human feeling and excitement. While there have been reports of revival in places here and there in the modern day, it appears that those were more like wildfires than a true work of God. The living and true God that all must appear one day in the presence of is judging the professing Church by sending a great famine upon her. A famine for hearing the word is consistent with people filling buildings for religious services. A famine for hearing the word is consistent with great learning and great religious devotion. A famine for hearing the word is consistent with conservative views of the Bible. A famine for hearing the word is consistent with expositional teaching. A famine of hearing the word is consistent with strong view of historical theology and historical creeds. A famine of hearing the word is consistent with a lot of Bible study and even prayer.

What we must understand is that God sends this famine of the word but that does not stop the human heart from desiring religion and having a hunger that cannot be filled. The famine is not the absence of having Bibles and having professing churches, it is a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. Only the Spirit of the living God can give ears to hear what God is saying. It is not the case that the so-called free-will of man can make himself hear the words of the LORD, but God has to open the ears of man in order for him to hear. Man is completely and utterly dependent upon the Spirit for all true hearing of the words of the LORD. When men are proud and think that their own efforts and devices are enough, we will end up with endless conferences and much talk of the Bible, but there will be no power and the living God will not dwell among men.

One of the things that is demonstrative evidence that God is judging people is that He does not convict them of sin. That is to say, He is sending a famine of hearing His words. John 16 is quite clear that one of the works of the Spirit is to convict men of sin. When He is not doing that, He is not working in the souls of men. In Acworth, New Hampshire around 1814, there was an appearance of the first things of a true revival. What was it that happened? People began to be convicted of sin. When a thrice holy God begins to awaken sinners and draw them to Himself, He will convict men of sin. As long as men are unconcerned about sin and go on in open sin or in great religious devotion, the Lord is not at work and people are spiritually insensitive.

In older times when God worked among His people and the unconverted with power, men would speak and write about how men should seek conviction of sin. We must know that we can never convict ourselves of sin in the depths of the soul, but we can ask the Lord to convict us and work in us. A person that is not convinced of his helplessness in sin will not look to Christ alone for deliverance. A person that is not convinced of his utter inability will not look to the ability of Christ alone to bring him or her to Himself. As in the statement about revival above, it was only after people were convicted of sin did they come to the point of rejoicing in God. In our day of self-seeking and building self-esteem not only is God not working, we hardly know what it means. God has sent a great sleep upon us and we are slumbering away thinking that all is well. All is not well. We simply must have God come and awaken us. If not, all is lost. Let us seek the Lord to come, to convict, and to give us ears to hear.

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