Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Revival and Surrender

Dr. Henry Blackaby: I’ve always felt that every encounter with God is a moment of judgment.

Leslie Basham: Here’s Dr. Henry Blackaby. 

Dr. Blackaby: Because the moment God encounters you, you either say yes or no.  But it’s a moment of judgment, and nothing is the same.  It either moves you into the will of God and the excitement of His presence because you said yes, or it moves away from the withdrawal of the activity and the presence and blessing of God because you said no.   

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, September 24.

Prayer for revival has been a priority for us in the month of September here at Revive Our Hearts. The National Religious Broadcasters has called ministries like ours to a 40-day emphasis on prayer, and we’re eager to participate.

As a part of that emphasis, we’re hearing from Dr. Henry Blackaby. Yesterday he explained how important repentance is for churches and individuals.  He’s seen the effect of repentance by studying revivals of the past.  As Nancy picks up her conversation with Dr. Blackaby, they’ll explore why studying revivals in history is so worthwhile. 

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I think if we want to have a vision of what it is that God wants to do in our day, we need to look back and see what God has done in the past.   

I think of that verse in Isaiah 64 that says God meets with those who are eager to do righteousness, and who remember Him in His ways (see verse 5). I know that you have loved the study of the past movings of God’s Spirit. 

You’ve traveled in Wales and England and Scotland and Ireland, and walked in some of the very places that have experienced the presence of God in the past.  How has that given you a sense of what God wants to do in our day? 

Dr. Blackaby: Well, there is a Scripture in the first part of Psalm 111 that has impacted how I approach those times which says: “God has commanded that his mighty deeds are to be remembered, studied by all those who have pleasure in them” (verse 4, paraphrased). 

So I have gone and studied what has happened.  Ron Owens and I have led four revival heritage tours, and we’ve stopped at some of the places. We’ve had someone like Brian Edwards who would be with us to tell us the story of what happened there, and some of what the people did. We would worship. We would repent, and we would let God convict us of why in America does such a thing not happen with us.   

The last time, which was last June and July, I asked. "What is it in the preaching that caused thousands—30,000 in Belfast . . .

Nancy: We’re talking the 1800s, the early 1900s.

Dr. Blackaby: We’re talking about the middle of the 1800s.

Nancy: So 30,000 was a crowd.

Dr. Blackaby: Yes, and they didn’t have the transportation or the facilities like we do, especially in the great movement in 1858 and ’59. In the ’59 revival in Ireland, 100,000 people came to know the Lord in that first year, and in Wales, 100,000 in six months.

Nancy: And these weren’t people just making a profession of faith and then falling off.  

Dr. Blackaby: Matter of fact, those who were profoundly saved during those great awakenings had a greater track record of staying true to the Lord to the end of their lives.

But I was asking, "What is it in the preaching that caused thousands to gather and then fall on their faces, even if it was raining, in the mud all night long and sometimes through the next day?"  The universal witness was that they came under an awful terrifying sense of the reality of eternity.  

They suddenly realized that Hell was real; eternity was real, and they weren’t ready, and they had no assurance they were ready. So the testimonies are that they would cry unto God all night. Pastors were worn out trying to lead people to full assurance that God had forgiven them of their sin, but by the thousands they were crying out to God.

Nancy: Under intense conviction.

Dr. Blackaby: There was deep conviction that they were not right and their sin would condemn them and eternity was only a breath away. But that sense of eternity, that it was long, it was real, it was permanent, and they could face it at any moment, and they were not ready. Their sin had never been forgiven, but they didn’t know what they ought to do. 

Nancy: Was that because of the preaching on eternity?  What gripped the people with that sense? 

Dr. Blackaby: Well, they put God’s great salvation in the context of eternity.  It’s like: Why did Jesus weep over Jerusalem?  I think one of the reasons is He knew what eternity was like.  He knew how real eternity was.  He knew how real Heaven and Hell was. 

Nancy: You can’t talk about eternity without talking about eternal judgment.   

Dr. Blackaby: Exactly, and He knew that and that everyone would stand before God and give an account for deeds done in the body whether they were good or bad—that’s what Paul says. So they were deeply concerned to make certain that they were right with God.   

So I asked the group on the tour of almost a little less than 50, when was the last time they had heard a message on Hell?  And not one could remember.

I got back on a Saturday, preached three services on Sunday, and asked the pastoral staff, the deacons, Sunday school leaders, members, “When was the last time they had heard a message on Hell?” Not one could remember, and one who finally spoke up said, “Well, about 40 years ago I remember hearing a message on Hell.”

Nancy: Why is that? Why are we not preaching on Hell today?

Dr. Blackaby: Because we feel it will not attract people.  We’re seeker-friendly, and to speak on Hell is to drive people away.  In our mind it drives people away.  I don’t think it will.   

Nancy: But actually, just the opposite happened in those revivals in Europe.

Dr. Blackaby: Exactly. Yes. Hundreds of thousands were saved when God’s people became serious about their relationship to God and the reality of eternity in their own life.  Then lost people, after seeing God’s people repent, came under conviction of their own sin and repented.   

So I’ve asked all over, and I have not yet found someone who could remember the last time they heard a message on Hell. In my growing up, it was normal to bring in that reality that without Jesus Christ and a saving experience of His grace, we’re headed for an eternity in Hell.   

But our generation is far more concerned about pleasing the world, and if you preached on Hell, you’ll drive people away. Then we don’t preach on repentance to God’s people because we might lose some of our favorite givers.   

We don’t talk about the sin of divorce because one of the deacon’s daughters is just divorcing.  We have reshaped God into the God we want Him to be, not the God who He really is.   

Now God is not going to respond to His people.  But nobody is helping God’s people to see where the standard is.  If you’re not walking by the standard God established, then you’re away from God. There’s no neutrality with God.   

I’ve always felt that every encounter with God is a moment of judgment.  Because the moment God encounters you, you either say yes or no.  But it’s a moment of judgment, and nothing is the same.  It either moves you into the will of God and the excitement of His presence because you said yes, or it moves you away from the withdrawal of the activity and the presence and blessing of God because you said no. But there is no neutrality when God encounters you. 

He mostly encounters you in His Word.  So if the Word is faithfully shared, it will bring incredible response.  You cannot be neutral. But if you don’t preach a word from the presence of God, nobody will respond.  They’ll just feel good.  So we have a pop psychology, or we preach to the lost, but God’s people do not sense you’re preaching to them. 

In the 23rd chapter of Jeremiah, God condemns the prophets who come saying they have a word from the Lord.  He said, "They have never stood in My presence.  So they’re telling My people you can do what you want and no evil will come to you" (see verses 16-22).   

Then he said, “If these prophets had stood in My presence and got a word from Me, they would have turned My people from their sin and returned them to Me” (verse 22, paraphrased). 

So I say at pastors' conferences, you can tell if you’ve had a word from God, not whether lost people are saved, but whether God’s people are repenting. If you’ve preached week after week after week, month after month, and none of your people have turned from their sin, you have not had a word from God. You have presented sermons, but not a word from God.

Now, I didn’t say that. God said that. Nobody can stand in the presence of God and get a word from God, and not turn His people away from their sin.   

Nancy: Dr. Blackaby, do you think a lot of the struggles and the situations in the church today and in believers’ lives goes back to having a flawed view of what God is like? 

Dr. Blackaby: We have a whole generation who’ve never been taught. I keep saying now, evangelism is a by-product of discipleship, but we have made discipleship a by-product of evangelism. I’d say biblically, God always begins with discipling or teaching.

If you look at the sequence in Jesus’ life, it says constantly He taught; He preached; and He healed, in that order. He always taught the truth, and then He pled with people to respond to the truth He was just teaching. Then He watched to see the life transformation that happens when someone responds to the truth.

I see that constantly. Our problem is, we preach without teaching, so the people are dying. You’ve got to be in the Scripture, and you’ve got to be teaching and hearing the truth of the Word of God.  Because it is the truth responded to that completely sets you free, and it’s done by the Son of God who is revealed in the truth.  And when He sets you free, you’re free indeed (see John 8:32).   

I would say to anyone listening, “When was the last time the fear of God came over the whole congregation?”   

Nancy: Do you think we need to see more of the judgment of God?   

Dr. Blackaby: Well, in the purest sense, if we see what that does, but most people would not be ready for it.  But it’s not that He can’t, and it’s not that we don’t have the Scripture that tells us that God is a God who is absolutely just and absolutely holy and will not tolerate sin. So there are a whole lot of people who think God is tolerating my sin, or I must not be sinning because He’s not judging me.  I say that’s not true.   

Given David’s sin against Bathsheba, God waited a whole year before Nathan came. And in that year, David never repented.  But the moment he was confronted, he did.  But if Nathan had not come, would David have repented or would he have thought God had overlooked his sin? 

Well, God had a bigger agenda for David, and He knew his heart.  But the child had already been born when Nathan came.  So it was probably close to a year, and David had not repented.  Did God forget?  Not at all.   

Nathan’s announcement was interesting because the just judgment for David’s sin was that he should have been put to death according to the law.   

But Nathan announced, “David, God has heard your cry and you will not die” (see 2 Samuel 12:13).   

Nancy: So there was mercy right there. 

Dr. Blackaby: There was mercy, but he could have died.  God could have taken his life. 

Nancy: And he knew it. 

Dr. Blackaby: He knew it. And when you read Psalm 51, there’s never been a more contrite, broken spirit than David’s.   

Our problem is we somehow feel because God does not confront us in a radical way that God’s overlooking our sin.  He is exactly the same God you see from Genesis to Revelation.  But there’s no teaching on it because it’s not seeker-friendly.   

So if you start preaching on sin and repentance and brokenness, God’s people will get upset. I’ve heard from many a pastor who comes under conviction that he needs to preach about repenting. And God’s people—they fire him. 

Or he says, “I’ve had such a revolt on the part of my deacons, they don’t like my preaching.”  I counsel pastors all the time. Some stay, and God helps them to speak the truth in love, and the Spirit of God helps their congregation to repent and great good comes from it. But I think in our generation we’re trying to make God into the person we want Him to be, not the God He really is. Because of that, God is not honoring our activity because our hearts are far from Him. 

Nancy: When we reshape God into what we want Him to be, isn’t that the essence of idolatry? 

Dr. Blackaby: Idolatry.  Yes. 

Nancy: We think that Old Testament Jews had a problem with idols, but we don’t think of that as our problem.   

Dr. Blackaby: God says an idol is something you reshape into the image you want to worship. I think the evangelical community is practicing another form of idolatry in that we’re removing from anything that is said and done.  We’re putting in what we want to do. 

But He’s no longer the God of the Scriptures.  He is a God that we have fashioned.  I think the Enemy can cause us to be quite successful at that.   

Nancy: Dr. Blackaby, I hear from listeners, many of the women who listen to our program, and some of whom really have a heart and a passion to see the presence of God visit His people.

Dr. Blackaby: I know they do.

Nancy: Some of them are honestly crying out and saying, “We don’t hear this in our church. We don’t hear this kind of preaching.” They’re discouraged. They don’t know what to do. I’m saying to women, “You need to pray for your pastor. You need to lift him up. You need to support him.” But, honestly, many are feeling the frustration that the church in general seems to be going through the motions, playing games, but not serious about God.

You’ve been a pastor.

Dr. Blackaby: I have.

Nancy: How can we encourage the person sitting in the service who’s burdened, who’s concerned? What does that woman do? How can her life make any difference?

Dr. Blackaby: Her life can make a difference. When Hannah prayed, God brought one of the greatest prophets in all of Israel—He gave her a son.

Nancy: Yes, but she had to wait for that.

Dr. Blackaby: I tell all kinds of people, “When you pray, number one: Expect God to answer; and number two: Expect your life to be a part of the answer.” So don’t pray for your pastor and not tell him you’re praying.

Now, a lot of people are praying earnestly for their pastor but not telling him. I’d say, every time you see your pastor, say, “Pastor, I’m still earnestly praying, and God’s given me a great burdened heart for you and the staff.”

Nancy: Sometimes the answer will not come quickly. You mentioned Hannah. I think of all the years she had to wait with that unfulfilled longing while the nation was getting worse. The pastorate, if you will, the priesthood was getting worse, and she wasn’t seeing God answer her prayers.

I’m thinking about the Shantung Revival that I’ve heard you talk about where the missionaries prayed for four years, crying out to the Lord. You prayed in Canada with other pastors for two years before you saw the visitation of God that you’d longed for.

Dr. Blackaby: I think God’s people need once again to come back to a fresh encounter with God where they understand the nature of God and the ways of God. It never crosses my mind when I pray that God is not already in the process of answering. He doesn’t have to let me see, but it never crosses my mind that He’s not answering.

So I can continue whether it’s in my lifetime or not, but God will hear, and everything He says in the Scripture is that He responds to those who diligently seek Him.

Nancy: And He is at work.

Dr. Blackaby: He is at work whether He lets me see it or not. It’s like the Children of Israel in bondage in Egypt. They were crying unto God, and God then announced, “I have heard the cry of My people. I have seen the affliction, and I have come to deliver them.”

Well, Moses didn’t see any difference. Nothing seemed to be changing.

Nancy: Even then, it got worse before it got better.

Dr. Blackaby: Yes. And he didn’t have to see the changes to believe that what God said was true.

But so often God’s people say, “Well, I prayed and nothing happened.” I’d say, “That is a spiritual impossibility for a sincere Christian to pray and nothing happen. What you’re saying is, ‘God didn’t let you see what He was doing in answer to your prayers,’ so you thought nothing was happening.”

Boy, it never crosses my mind that nothing’s happening when I pray, but I don’t demand that He has to show me so He can prove to me that He’s doing something.

Nancy: The danger is that we would give up having not seen the answer.

Dr. Blackaby: Because we’d have to disbelieve what God says in His Word about how He responds when His people pray. But He doesn’t say, “And I’ll let you immediately see all the evidence of My activity.” He just simply says, “I will hear; and I will respond.”

By the time God does something, He puts a lot more in place than would be in place if He answered it when we asked Him.

So I would encourage every woman to believe that one solitary woman who diligently seeks the Lord in prayer is making a profound difference whether God lets you see or not. He is at work, and He will be working.

I’ve encouraged many a person when they’re frustrated with their pastor, how to pray. I would say, “Pray, believing that God is far more concerned about the church than you are, and believe that He is far more concerned about your pastor and his family and his marriage than you are, and He may know some things that are taking place in his life that you know nothing about. That’s why He has put you to praying. He sees him on the edge of a moral disaster, so He puts you to praying.”

Nancy: Not criticizing, but praying, interceding.

Dr. Blackaby: Exactly. The faults that God lets us see in others is not for criticism but for intercession.

Nancy: Not just a pastor. Maybe a husband, a wayward son, or daughter.

Dr. Blackaby: Absolutely. And for your Sunday school teacher, for your work place. I would say one of the greatest honors God can ever bestow upon a person is to make them sensitive in their prayer life.

So if you begin to have a burden, in Philippians 2, Paul said you need to let the implication of your salvation work itself into the farthest corner of your life and do it with fear and trembling because it is God who is at work within you, causing you to want to do His will and then enabling you to do it.

So when I suddenly have a burden, it becomes a tremendous sense of trembling for me. God has set in motion in my life a partnership with Him in some area that He knew I needed to pray for. It’s not just me suddenly becoming aware of something. It’s the Spirit of God making me aware of something that’s on the heart of God, and therefore I can pray with great confidence that the God who put it there is the God who wants to do something because I pray. He will enable me and give me the grace to do it until He has accomplished His purpose.

So to have a heart for prayer for any matter is an incredible honor. It’s God-initiated and God-enabled, and you ought to be very, very honored of God that He would incorporate your life into the middle of His activity.

Nancy: Dr. Blackaby, I know you’ve been praying for years and years and calling others to pray for a true moving of God’s Spirit in our day. I’d like to just ask if you would pray now and lead us. I know many of our listeners may even be able to just stop whatever they’re doing right now and join their hearts with us. Would you just lead us as we cry out to the Lord and ask Him to revive us again, that He may be glorified in our day?

Dr. Blackaby: Father, there’s a trembling in our heart when we stand in the holiest place of the universe. So, Father, continue to work in our hearts to cry for revival. I sense You still want to bring it, and, Lord, we would pray that You would keep on touching our minds and hearts in the part that You have for us.

May there be no idle word when we speak with others or when we’re speaking Your Word. May nobody be caused to stumble, and we’ll be careful to acknowledge that You are the Author of it all, and it is for Your purposes and for Your name that You do it. It’s in Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Nancy: Amen.

Leslie: Isn’t it an incredible opportunity to pray along with Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Henry Blackaby? They’ve offered some important insights this week on the subject of revival.

If you want more of God in the areas of prayer, repentance, and worship, you’ll want to hear Nancy’s entire conversation with Dr. Blackaby on CD. We didn’t have time to air the complete interview. You’ll hear a substantially longer version when you order the series, We Need Revival: An Interview with Dr. Henry Blackaby.

It’s available by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.

Our focus on prayer will continue Monday. We’ll hear from a pastor whose daughter had rebelled and left home. His wife was suffering severe emotional stress from it. This pastor felt very dry, then saw the power of prayer. It’s an incredible story that will teach you to pray in new ways.

Please join us next week for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.