The Impossibility Factor: Revivals are always impossible until they happen
Revival has never looked more impossible in America. The thing is that really doesn’t mean anything. Revivals are always impossible until they happen.
Revival struck London through John Wesley when it was impossible. One out every seven houses in London was a house of prostitution. More people were attending séances than church. Nearly 100,000 children lived like animals. The London times had not mentioned Christmas for decades…not even once.
Revival came anyway and England became the world’s missionary leader.
Revival struck Kentucky when it was unthinkable. This was the most lawless state in the union. There was no police. Every criminal on the run headed for Kentucky. Murder, rape, and alcoholism were pandemic. Revival flipped Kentucky so violently that it became the most zealously Christian state in America.
The early twentieth century was a far more skeptical era than today. The blush of Darwinism and Marxism was so feverish that it was a foregone conclusion that Christianity would go away altogether. Scientists declared the age of reason and solemnly assured us that religion would be gone by the 1920s.
Imagine in that atmosphere, if you were to have said in 1906, “a one eyed black man is going to rent a dingy horse livery on Azusa Street in downtown Los Angeles and start a movement that will engulf nearly 600 million people worldwide.” The men in white would have been sent for you.
As I said in a recent post: We have so many wrong ideas about millennials and we have so much ignorance about Azusa Street!
We hear preachers say “millennials” are too skeptical and cannot handle Bible doctrine. That is so wrong. Did you know that Darwin and Karl Marx were more popular at the time of the Azusa Street Revival than he is today? In fact, fundamentalism was organized at that time to stem the tide of atheism, Marxism, and a worldwide rejection of the Bible.
God’s remedy for the dark, disbelieving early 20th Century was to pour out His Spirit. And that is the answer for today!
The point is that revivals are impossible until they happen. Focus on the evil and you will feel despair. Concentrate on the inherent unstoppable nature of past revivals and you will seek revival correctly.
You should also know what the church was preaching in those darkest moments before awakenings began. Pulpits were filled with pessimists who instead of rebuking the despair joined in the chorus. They declared the day of revival to be over! Even that did not stop God.
How is it that revival can strike without warning in the most unpromising times and grow in the hardest soil? The answer is that when darkness is intense we tend look at the wrong indicators. It’s not that there are no warnings of revival it is simply that we do not know them when we see them because fear is so loud.
Look at today. Do you see any signs of revival? Most would say absolutely not. They would say all of the same things that people have said before every outpouring of God. The times are too evil.
That is the argument today. We legalized gay marriage, drugs and we toy with Islam. Our leaders are loons that are finding the best ways to drive us into extinction. Churches are closing and 1,000 ministers are leaving the ministry every month. You know the rest because you have heard a hundred times.
Atheists are boasting that the whole world in general is becoming secular and anti-supernatural. The facts are just the opposite. It is a very religious world, far more religious than it was 50 years ago.
Consider these statistics from sociologist Rodney Stark:
— 81 percent claim to belong to an organized religious faith, and most of the rest report engaging in religious activities such as prayer or making offerings to the gods in various “folk religion” temples.
— 74 percent say religion is an important part of their daily lives.
— 50 percent report they have attended a place of worship or religious service in the past seven days.
-In very few nations do as many as five percent claim to be atheists, and only in China, Vietnam, and South Korea do they exceed 20 percent.
-Furthermore, in every nook and cranny left by organized faiths, all manner of unconventional spiritual and mystical practices are booming. There are more occult healers than medical doctors in Russia, 38 percent of the French believe in astrology, 35 percent of the Swiss agree that “some fortune tellers really can foresee the future,” and nearly everyone in Japan is careful to have their new car blessed by a Shinto priest.
Another sign is the evil of people itself. For example, Saul of Tarsus was at the peak of his terrorism when he was violently converted. What no one but God knew was the growing desperation inside of this soon to be Paul the Apostle. Societies are often at their worst right before revival.
What we do not want to do is miss revival when it hits!
Dark times can absorb our faith in the power of God. Many believers find themselves in a condition that is truly worse than they ever imagined. Pangs of fear grip men of God who were once lions in the pulpit. We invent doctrines that fit our disappointment. We build ministries based on our lowered expectations.
You need a healthy respect for the power of dark times to rob us of faith. It has happened to the best of us.
500 people saw Jesus Christ ascend into the clouds. Think about that. In the face of such absolute proof that Jesus was the Son of God, how could they ever doubt?
As He ascended he told them to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Holy Spirit. Surely they would wait…right? Astonishingly, only 120 were still waiting in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost. How is it possible in the face of so great an assurance that they would falter and abandon their posts?
Their world was filled with sudden terror from a wicked king, oppression from religious leaders, and tyranny from the Roman occupiers. Their daily grind absorbed their zeal for the promises of God.
Do not be like the 380 people who missed one of the greatest moments in history. Here are two things that you need to confess and say to your spirit so that you will not leave the upper room.
- Either it was always true or it was never true. Times do not alter truth. A lack of money does not change God’s word about prosperity. Sickness does not nullify the fact of God’s healing power. The evil of men does not overrule the supremacy of Christ. If God promised you something, these dark times cannot stop their fulfillment.
- This will be like one of them. 1 Samuel 17: 4 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.”
It is easy to say that evil is more intense and sophisticated than ever before. Neither Saul, nor Israel had ever faced anything like Goliath before. David said that it did not matter; this new threat would have the same outcome as all of the old threats.
Jesus is telling us to wait for the power that is about to break out no matter what. Does revival look totally impossible to you? Don’t worry, they all look that way until they happen.