A Trump loss the next election is too terrible to imagine. But even if he wins, we will desperately need a true revival in America. Tragically, the church doesn’t know the difference between true and false revival.
Many of the things the church does today simply do not matter. They don’t point in the trajectory of revival. In fact they point in the opposite direction. Many things done by churches are impressive, even successful—I am saying they will not save America
We know the times are evil. But what can we do about it? That’s the number one question I am asked. My answer is, “We need to stop toying, speculating, and paying lip service to revival. We need to seize a true revival.”
The real culprit today is false revival. There is untold damage done when we take a good meeting and market it as revival. To characterize a good meeting as revival is like filling a bath tub with salt water, and calling it the Pacific Ocean.
I am not telling you that your ‘good meeting’ is not true revival—because history and our culture are both telling you it is not. History says revival overflows church walls and makes deep impacts on society, which is not happening. And when our culture swats away our church meetings and continues to careen into deeper wickedness—it is telling us we are not in revival.
There is one thing—above all others—that is stopping true revival: We don’t have a pure motive. We want it for all the wrong reasons. If revival is our ticket to getting church growth, emotional experiences, self-promotion, formulas, and wealth, our prayers are like nuclear waste to God.
The most well known verse on revival begins with a huge ‘IF’: 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
IF you truly yearn for the miracle that would stop America’s slide into oblivion—IF you wish for an act of the Holy Spirit so real and widespread that it impacts crime, injustice, addiction, and despair—then listen to this lesson from history:
In 1904, American leaders were enthralled by the revival that was then taking place in Wales. Hundreds of thousands were converted, and the morals of the nation were transformed. American church leaders wanted a revival like that here. But they tried to buy it.
These enterprising pastors and businessmen invested in massive campaigns. They were dismal failures. So much so, that the very concept of revival fell into disfavor.
Two years later, they realized their mistake. When widespread brokenness gripped the leaders, aided by a pure motive, they cried out and heaven heard them. One of the catalysts to this awakening was a man named James Burns.
James Burns wrote a powerful book entitled “Revivals, Their Laws and Leaders.” In 1909 he wrote, “To the church, a revival means humiliation, a bitter knowledge of unworthiness and an open and humiliating confession of sin on the part of her ministers and people. It is not the easy and glorious thing many think it to be, who imagine it fills pews and reinstates the church in power and authority.
“It comes to scorch before it heals; it comes to condemn ministers and people for their unfaithful witness, for their selfish living, for their neglect of the cross, and to call them to daily renunciation, to an evangelical poverty and to a deep and daily consecration. That is why a revival has ever been unpopular with large numbers within the church. Because it says nothing to them of power such as they have learned to love, or of ease, or of success; it accuses them of sin, it tells them they are dead, it calls them to awake, to renounce the world and to follow Christ.”
America, at last, had found a pure motive for revival. New York, Chicago, Los Angeles (at Azusa Street), and many other cities saw amazing things. Denver, Colorado, and Portland, Oregon, which are currently bastions of marijuana, atheism, and rampant liberalism, shut down businesses at noon so everyone could go and pray. Crime dropped to virtually nothing. Bars sat empty, and millions went to prayer everyday across America.
Until our knees buckle beneath the horror of our nation’s sin and the blasphemy of our cheap grace fades away, our request for revival will be denied.
But I still feel faith for the church in America to turn around. More importantly, God holds out great hope to us. Let me share two things that forever killed my doubts about revival. One was a scripture, Matthew 12:20: “A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, till He sends forth justice to victory.”
Jesus will not snuff out the least flicker of revival. When anyone asks for revival from a pure heart, God says, “Yes,” and begins the process. He takes you at your word.
The other thing that occurred was a revelation I received as I was standing at the beach and the gentle foam of the ocean lapped over my toes. The voice of the Lord said, “This gentle wave is the cousin of the tsunami.”
The smallest flame in the smallest church will not be quenched by Jesus. Given the proper opportunity, the Spirit of God will fan it into a raging fire of righteousness. The gentlest wave can grow into a tidal wave when anyone hosts within them the presence of God. But they must obey His step-by-step orders, and they must refuse to exploit what God is doing among them.
These two truths are resonating powerfully within me now. I want them to blow up in your spirit as well! Do you truly want revival? Then what are you waiting for?
You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)