Revivals: When Needed?


By Vernon E. Hurles - Religion Columnist



“Revivals”, “Awakenings”, “Evangelistic Crusades”, “Camp Meetings”, ”Deeper Life Crusades”, “Hour of Decision” etc. All are references to spiritual activity within our churches and communities in days gone by.

WHEN IS A REVIVAL NEEDED?

It is imperative that our world have a spiritual awakening and the Church a dynamic spiritual renewal.

The renewal of the Church must precede the spiritual awakening of our communities. Every great spiritual outpouring in history has begun in the Church, among God’s people.

Permit me to give one example from the great spiritual awakening of 1740.

In the latter half of the 17th century and the early part of the eighteenth century, conditions were so corrupt and degenerate that even politicians were alarmed.

In 1670, a bill was passed by the legislature authorizing a commission to investigate and report on two items:

1. What are the evils that has provoked the Lord to bring His judgments on New England?

2. What can be done that these evils may be changed?

After a period of careful investigation, the legislative commission reported having found 13 evils existing.

If you did not know that this survey was made in the latter part of the 17th century you would be sure that the evils listed were referring to our day:

1. Decay in godliness on the part of professing Christians.

2. Pride and extravagance in dress.

3. Neglect of baptism and church fellowship.

4. Profanity and irreverent behavior in the sanctuary.

5. Absence of Sabbath observance.

6. Lack of family government and family worship.

7. Backbiting, censures, reviling, litigations between church members.

8. Intemperance, tavern haunting, adultery, lustful dress and behavior, mixed dancing, gaming, idleness.

9. Dishonesty.

10. Covetousness and love of the world.

11. Opposition to reform and leniency toward sin.

12. A want of public spirit supporting schools, etc.

13. A general unfruitfulness under the means of grace and a refusal to repent.

Think of it! Evils discovered by a commission of politicians! They knew something unusual and drastic must be done or their civilization was doomed. Conditions must change. Evils must be eliminated.

So this legislative commissions made eight recommendations:

1. That the chief persons in church and state set a godly example. (In other words, let the needed change begin at the top—-with the president, senators, representatives, governors, legislators, sheriffs, mayors, city councilmen, and with bishops, general superintendents, editors, pastors, Sunday school teachers, and church officers and members.)

2. Let none be admitted to the church, who has not made a full confession of saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. (This alone would be quite an innovation for the average church today.)

3. Let the discipline in the church be enforced.

4. Let the churches renew their covenants with God.

5. Let the sins of the times be engaged against.

6. Let the churches promote holiness and a closer walk with God.

7. Support Harvard College. (Harvard, in that century was a vital, Christian institution preparing young ministers).

8. Cry mightily unto God that he be pleased to rain down righteousness.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Jonathan Edwards, the tenants, and George Whitfield began to preach with fearlessness and power. Tens of thousands were converted to Christ and the Great Awakening, swept New England and the eastern seaboard.

Churches were crowded, schoolhouses packed. Whitefield preached to as many as 30,000 in open fields. At Yale he warned of the dreadful ill-consequences of an unconverted ministry. A tremendous, soul-transforming revival swept the church and a nationwide awakening changed the lives of thousands.

It happened in the 18th century. It has happened in other places throughout the world, It can happen now in our churches, in our city. May the prayer of David for Israel rise from our hearts in a concert of passionate prayer for a personal revival.

“Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee:” Psalm 85:6

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By Vernon E. Hurles

Religion Columnist

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