Revivals in History 5

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.

Wilmington, Delaware 1815
He heard their prayers; frustrated the calculated removal of Mr. Dodge, poured out his spirit among them; settled the church again in her glory, and crowded their house of worship with souls, who trembled at the word and cried for mercy. Mr. Dodge was soon so deeply impressed with this singular display of divine power, that he was constrained to alter his former arrangements about leaving the place… Every event seemed to augment the concern of multitudes…Their impressions were so great, that many were scarcely able to leave the house where weeping, and sighs and prayers abounded. Meetings were frequent. Preaching, singing, praying, and exhorting became very pleasant work. The children of God were refreshed, and engaged in the revival with increasing ardour…The Rev. Messrs. Blackburn and Patterson, of the Presbyterian denomination were greatly blessed in this place. The Spirit descended, and every cheek appeared bathed in tears, and many cried, What shall we do to be saved.

Revival is when the real and true God moves His people to desire Him and then gives Himself to them. The people of God are delivered from the world and seek Him with their hearts and their desires. Yes, God hears the prayers of His people, but He must put the desires for Himself in their hearts or they will never truly pray. For some reason fallen sinners tend to think that true revival is all about them, but real revival is always about God and His glory. Real revival is not primarily to save sinners, but it is always about the living and true God.

In the revival account above the author of it notes this very carefully. It was God who heard the prayers of the people (some, not all prayed). It was God who frustrated the plans of some to get rid of the minister. It was God who poured out His Spirit among the people. It was God who settled the church again in her glory. It was God who crowded the building with souls who trembled at the word and cried out for mercy. The minister was not amazed at the acts and works of the people; he was amazed at the display of divine power.

We must take these things to heart in our day. There will not be a true revival until people learn to seek the Lord for true repentance and true grace. Note that I did not say that there will not be a true revival until people repent as if it is in their own power to do so, but that there will not be a true revival until people learn to seek the Lord for true repentance and true grace. Revival is a work of God. Repentance is a work of God. Faith is a work of God. Love is a work of God. All of those things are spiritual things and beyond the power of the flesh to do them.

The preaching of the Gospel must begin again rather than have men preach what is being preached today. We have men preaching as if salvation is in the hands of men and they can simply pray a prayer or make a choice. We teach men that they can do this at any point as if they can save themselves apart from the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin and breaks the heart of men from pride and sin. It seems to be that today men are taught that God will give grace to the proud and all they have to do is say a prayer without being granted repentance. Jesus Christ Himself taught us that unless a man is turned and becomes like a child he will not enter the kingdom. Those who are greatest in the kingdom are those who are the most humble (Matthew 18:3-4).

The preaching of today, even if it is Reformed in name, seems to regard the depravity of man and the sovereignty of God as if they are things we need to hide from people. Instead, and with the strongest words possible, we must set out the depravity of man and the sovereignty of God. Men must be saved from their depravity and if we don’t set it before them they will always seek salvation in terms of their own pride and self. If we don’t set out the sovereignty of God in salvation, men will never truly understand the nature of grace alone.

Revival comes as a work of God and as a holy God He will do all for His own glory. The only Gospel that there is in all the universe is the Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ. Sinful men do not deserve to hear the Gospel and it is only grace that will save sinners. God is not under the slightest obligation to save sinners and only when men understand that will they understand free-grace. We live in a day when Pelagianism and Arminianism have been used to turn the Church from God to the things of self. The self has no power to turn to God and so we are utterly dependent upon Him to turn us if we are going to be turned. We must seek Him who has no obligation to turn us back to Himself and so we must seek from Him hearts that love His glory and so seek His glory in our prayers as we seek Him for true revival.

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