Revive Our Hearts Podcast

When the Church Comes Back to Life

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth gives you a picture of what revival could look like.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: When God moves among His people in true revival, things happen that you could not script, you could not plan and could not happen any other way.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Wednesday, July 18, 2018.

Nancy has been teaching a series called "The True Woman Manifesto: Declarations, Part 2." It’s one part in a multi-part series working through the Manifesto. You can read the document and add your name at ReviveOurHearts.com. Nancy’s back today to help us understand the importance of revival.

Nancy: As we come to the last statement in the True Woman Manifesto (we’ve spent many months walking through this Manifesto), this statement challenges us to have nothing less than a God-sized vision. Here’s what the Manifesto says,

We will pray [as true women of God] for a movement of revival and reformation among God’s people that will result in the advancement of the kingdom and gospel of Christ among all nations.

We will pray for a movement of revival and reformation.

Now most of us in this room, most of us in this era, have never seen much less experienced a true revival. So we have very little concept of what revival really is. I find that many people today—maybe most—have a lot of misconceptions about what revival is. I’m also discovering that with a lot of younger women, and men for that matter, there’s a disconnect when it comes to the whole concept of revival.

As one was sharing with me recently, somebody who really loves the Lord, but said, “This concept—I don’t understand it. It doesn’t seem to intersect with reality.” And for so many who have never tasted of true revival, there’s very little concept of it and therefore not a huge hunger for it. That is the heart of this ministry. Revive our hearts! We’re believing God, not only to revive our hearts individually, but to move in a supernatural way collectively on the hearts of His people throughout this country and around the world to quicken and awaken and renew and revive our hearts so that the fame of Jesus’ name can spread throughout this world.

Now I have a heart for revival. This ministry does and there is no way to capture in twenty-five minutes the essence of revival. That’s the challenge of this True Woman Manifesto series, taking these grand topics and giving just one session each to them. But I think I can at least whet your appetite and get you interested in knowing more. We’ll have some links available, some resources, things you can read, videos you can watch, messages you can listen to that will help you grow in your burden for revival.

The term revival itself is used in a lot of different ways. I was at the hairdresser the other day and I saw this sign, and I got them to let me have it. It says, “Revive your color in just minutes . . . ask your stylist how.” That’s one use of the word revive.

A friend said to me recently, “Before I knew you, I thought of revival as old-time tent meetings and emotionalism.” That’s another concept that many people have of revival.

Let me give you a few descriptive words or terms to try to capture a bit of what true spiritual revival is all about. Brian Edwards in his wonderful book on revival says, “Revival is a people saturated with God.” People saturated with God. You squeeze them and what comes out is God. “An outpouring of the Spirit.” Perhaps you’ve heard that term. “A divine visitation.”

Richard Owen Roberts is a writer, an author, a preacher and historian on revival. I remember years ago hearing him define revival as "an extraordinary moving of God’s Spirit in the hearts of His people that produces extraordinary results."

Revival is something supernatural. It’s not in the realm of the ordinary. A lot of good things go on in our churches in the ordinary course of things. But a season of revival is a season where God is doing an extraordinary work in the hearts of His people that produces extraordinary results that can’t be explained apart from God. They’re not the result of human effort.

We can pack a stadium today for a conference. That doesn’t mean we’ve had revival. That’s something that human promotion and marketing can do.

But when God comes and grips the hearts of the people in that stadium or in that little church, wherever it is, and they are filled with God, saturated with God, there are extraordinary results, some of which we’ll talk about in a few moments. We can call that revival.

One author has said simply, “Revival is God.” It’s God at work. God pouring out His Spirit, and God doing what only God can do among His people. The very word revive means "to bring back to life." It assumes that there has been a decline in the spiritual life of the people of God.

I received a letter not too long ago from a group of women who were expressing concern about the spiritual condition of many of the believers in their city, which is right in the buckle of the Bible belt. Here’s how they described it. They said,

There’s a church on just about every corner. Most everyone attends church and would say they are saved, but continue to live like the world. People have a false sense of security that they are following God because the go to church. They believe a "social" gospel, rather than the "true" gospel of giving up your life, dying to self, taking up your cross and following Jesus wholeheartedly.

It’s rare to find a preacher who teaches repentance for forgiveness of sin or reminds people of God’s warnings and judgments for sin. People are used to "feel good" messages that make them secure in their sin instead of teaching that they cannot love God and the world. There’s no fear of God. Most are spiritually asleep—unaware of their true spiritual condition. We need a GREAT AWAKENING!

Here’s an email I received from a new believer who lives in another country who does not know any other Christians in her country who flew to the United States to attend a Revive Our Hearts conference. Here’s what she said. Now this is really honest. This may pinch a bit but we need to hear it. She said,

I realize this is from the perspective of one of those "annoying newborns" (you know, all enthusiasm and no knowledge). But one of the things I was so looking forward to was actually meeting other believers. As I interacted with some and observed, I was so discouraged and disappointed to see that the gospel or even the privilege of prayer is actually kind of boring to them. Not everyone, but many.

Perhaps it is because of the spiritual smorgasbord that America enjoys—churches, conventions, blogs, retreats, 24-hour radio, countless resources, books, relative freedom, etc. Maybe when one constantly feeds at the smorgasbord, the food becomes tasteless. I don’t know, but if that’s what spiritual maturity looks like [says this new believer], I don’t want it. I doubt that their faith is very contagious. Who’s really going to be attracted to such a boring God?

Now I said, “Ouch!” to myself as I read that. But I think it’s true. It’s certainly true in many cases. We need revival. Would you agree? We need God to bring back to life, to quicken our hearts, to restore us to first love, fresh life, a move of God’s Spirit that will make Christ real in us and through us to others.

I want to take just a few moments to highlight some of the marks of genuine revival and ask you just to imagine if some of these kinds of things were to take place in our day. Someone said to me recently when we were talking about this session, could you give more modern illustrations? We want to know that God is doing this kind of thing today.

It’s a good question. The problem is, it’s not easy to find modern illustrations. There are some other countries and other parts of the world where God is moving in some amazing ways. But many of the illustrations that we’re most familiar with took place in past eras. I think that’s what prompted the writer of Psalm 85 to say, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (v. 6). Lord, we need revival again.

One of the marks of genuine revival, and revivals in different times of history, different awakenings have different characteristics, but there are some things you will find are always the same. One of those is an extraordinary, unmistakable sense of God’s presence. What the Puritans used to call the manifest presence of God. It's very hard to define but when it’s there, you know it.

Let me read to you a couple quotes. Duncan Campbell was an instrument that God used in the Lewis Revival on the Island of Lewis just off the coast of the outer Hebrides in Scotland in the late 1940s. He said,

So tremendous has been the sense of an awareness of God, that I have known men out in the fields, so overcome that they were prostrate upon the ground. [A sense of God’s presence.] Because of the overwhelming sense of the presence of God [during that revival], churches were crowded through the day right up through the night to five and six o’clock in the morning.

You couldn’t get the people to go home. They just wanted to be in the presence of God.

Here’s another mark of revival: an urgency and intensity about spiritual matters. This flows out of the presence of God. When God is there all of a sudden people can’t trivialize spiritual matters.

I’m just amazed at some of the conversations we have before and after and sometimes during church services, not to speak of what’s going on in our own minds. Trivialities, banalities, things that have nothing to do with serious or eternal matters. In times of revival there’s an urgency, there’s an intensity about spiritual matters.

Brian Edwards in his book on revival says,

In revival, the minds of people are concentrated upon things of eternity and there is an awareness that nothing matters so much as getting right with God.

Imagine that in our day.

Going back to the Lewis revival in 1949, Duncan Campbell said,

Within a matter of days the whole neighbourhood was powerfully awakened to eternal realities. Work was largely set aside as people became concerned about their own salvation, or the salvation of friends and neighbours. In homes, barns, and loom-sheds, by the roadside or the peatsack, men could be found calling upon God.

An urgency, an intensity. They couldn’t wait until they got to church. In their workplaces, in their homes, by the roadside they were calling out to God.

God moved in an extraordinary way on Asbury College in 1970. Robert Coleman has written a book on the revival called One Divine Moment. He said,

The presence of the Lord was so real that all other interests seemed unimportant. The bells sounded for class to begin but went unheeded. Radio, TV, parties, ballgames, and other activities did not hold any appeal. People paid no attention to the clock. They forgot about food. They sat for hours in the sanctuary, basking in the presence of God.

We love entertainment, we love our movies, but sadly, so many of us are bored with the preaching of the Word, with prayer, with conversation about spiritual matters.

Imagine if God's Spirit were to move supernaturally in such a way the people, even people who have been more secular in their mindset and interests, all they want to talk about is Christ, God, the gospel, what God is doing in their lives—an urgency and intensity about spiritual matters.

Now, you can't live at that pitch of revival all the time, but we could live where spiritual things matter a whole lot more than they do to many of us today.

***13:27So as we pray for revival, we’re calling for God to give us a greater intensity about eternity and things that matter. In times of revival, here’s another mark, there’s an intense conviction of sin in the presence of a holy God. I’ve read many, many, many accounts of people just so intensely convicted. They had been hiding. They had been running from God. They had been pretending. They had been frauds. They had been faking. And in the season of revival, that stuff will get flushed to the surface and they had to get honest with God. They had to confess.

In the Shantung Revival early in the 1900s in China, the preachers it was said could not finish their sermons before people would begin crying out in agony because of their sins. Now you may be thinking, “Who wants this?” I mean all this urgency, intensity, confessing sin, conviction of sin. That doesn’t sound very happy. The problem today is people are trying to be happy with their games and their food and their fun and their toys and their friendships without ever having experienced real life in Christ.

So it’s like they’re living on cotton candy. It’s not substantive. It’s not real. It’s not deep. But when God brings to the surface those things that need to be dealt with, those sins are brought to the light, then there can be freedom and joy. Isn’t that what Psalm 85, verse 6, says? “Will you not revive us again, that your people may [what?] rejoice in you.” That’s when joy comes. First the cross, then the resurrection.

In the Scottish Revival in 1850, it was said that,

So great was the conviction of sin that many businesses had to close down so that people could get right with God!

I mean, when God moves among His people in true revival, things happen that you could not script, you could not plan, and could not happen any other way.

Some of you are living in a situation with a mate or prodigal son or daughter where you know there’s unconfessed sin. They’ve made a profession of faith but their life is just telling the opposite of that, and you’ve prayed. Can you imagine if those around you that you know and love were to come under intense conviction and say, “I have to get right with God, whatever it costs me”?

I interviewed a couple not too long ago who, in the wake of a revival in his region, God convicted this man. He knew it, but he came clean. He got honest. He was a fugitive from the law and had been for years. He went back from his home in Illinois, back to Canada where he was from, turned himself in to the law and ultimately went to prison for a number of years about something that would never have been found out had he not confessed it. But he said, “I would rather be right with God and be in this prison than be out of this prison and be in bondage in my heart.”

When I interviewed that man, he had cancer. He has since gone to be with the Lord. But what a beautiful, powerful testimony he had about that point of conviction when God said, “You have got to get this right. You cannot keep going like this.” The latter years of his life were so full, so rich, so blessed because of the presence of God in revival.

In revival, we see:

  • reconciliation of relationships
  • clearing of consciences
  • making right the wrongs of the past

People who couldn’t stand each other, who have had breaches, walls, barriers between them. In times of revival those walls come down.

  • marriages restored
  • parent-child relationships restored
  • people humbling themselves, going and seeking forgiveness
  • people confessing not only to God but to each other (This is how I’ve sinned against you.)

A new love then that comes flowing between God’s people because there’s new love—first fresh love for Jesus—and that love affects their relationships with others.

In seasons of revival the church is:

  • motivated
  • mobilized 
  • empowered for service
  • empowered in evangelism
  • empowered in giving
  • empowered in missions
  • empowered in moral reform

Think about evangelism. Today we can talk about the news, weather, sports with total strangers, but a lot of us find it really hard to have the courage to talk about Jesus. Imagine if God just unloosed our tongues and we had the freedom because our hearts were so full you couldn’t stop talking about Jesus, sharing what He has done.

The Second Great Awakening sparked the anti-slavery movement, prison reform, the temperance movement, child labor laws, inner-city missions.

In the Welsh revival it was said that in two counties the illegitimate birth rate was reduced by 44% in the wake of the revival. The judges were given white gloves because there were no cases to try because crime stopped for a period of time.

Unthinkable things that God does to glorify Himself in the wake of revival. In the wake of revival, there’s an awakening among the lost as they are irresistibly drawn to Christ.

Does this create a hunger, thirst, a longing in your heart as it does in mine to see God do it again?

Habakkuk chapter 3, just the first three verses, "A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth. O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear" (verse 1).

Another translation says there, “Lord, I have heard of your fame. I stand in awe of your deeds” (verse 2, NIV). "In the midst of the years [in our day] revive it" (verse 2, ESV). "In the midst of the years [in our time] make it known; in wrath remember mercy” (verse 2, NASB). 

The prophet prays that God will display His power and His might and His pardon and His mercy, that His redemptive purposes will be fulfilled. And then he says, “God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran” (verse 3). This is the region south of Judah where God had performed many wonders as He led His people out of Egypt into the Promised Land, the place where Mount Sinai was located where God visited His people and revealed Himself to them in awesome majesty and power and glory.

So in his prayer, he said, “God came to these places.” I think those two words, “God came,” are a great two-word description of revival. God came. God came.

Wouldn’t you love it to be said at your church this next Sunday? God came. God was there. Wouldn’t you love it to be true in your home that somebody visited, and they said, “God is here. God has visited this place”?

Habakkuk goes on, “His splendor covered the heavens.” The Shekinah glory of God. “And the earth was full of his praise” (verse 3). That’s what we live for.

Listen, this whole thing of being true women, this is not for us. It’s not something we just concocted. It’s not just to put rules and regulations and lists on people’s lives. It’s not about that at all. It’s not even really just about being counter-cultural. It’s about the glory of God and the fame of His name being spread throughout the earth.

Habakkuk says in chapter 2, verse 14, “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” Is that what you want? If you’re a child of God, somewhere in your heart is that desire for the glory of God to be seen and known and felt and experienced. We can only just glimpse slightly what all that means or looks like or could mean in our day, but we can pray.

Lord, in our time, revive Your work. In our day, make it known. May You come. May Your splendor cover the heavens and may the earth be full of Your praise.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been painting a picture of what revival looks like. Today’s program on revival is part of a series on the True Woman Manifesto. The final point in that document describes the importance of revival. Nancy’s gone much more in-depth in several series on Revive Our Hearts, including the series "Seeking Him." If you’d like to learn more about revival, you can look up those archived broadcasts at ReviveOurHearts.com

We’ve been able to provide solid, biblical teaching for women over these years thanks to faithful listeners who appreciate the ministry and want to make sure they keep hearing it on their radio station. When you support us today with a donation of any amount, we’ll show our gratitude by sending the book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. This book provides practical application for how to adorn the gospel of Christ. You will be inspired and challenged to pursue community with other women through this study of Titus 2.

Ask for Adorned when you call with your donation of any size. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com. Today’s discussion on revival will continue tomorrow.

Did you know the United States fell into a very low condition morally right after the Revolutionary War? Find out what happened to change things. That’s next time on Revive Our Hearts. 

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is all about spreading the Name of Jesus throughout the earth. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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