What Is Revival? When God Shows Up!
Our homes need revival. Our churches need revival. This nation and the world need revival. But no military power can bring revival. No economic upturn brings revival. And no election can bring revival.
Revival is the sovereign work of Almighty God.
In Isaiah 64, God’s people had been carried into captivity, His work was in disrepair, and His people were dispirited, much like believers today. The Church has been carried into captivity by the world, the flesh and the devil. Christians are discouraged. Many have no hope for revival. They don’t even believe that revival is possible!
I want to tell you, revival is not only possible, it is inevitable when God’s people get right with God.
Why is there no revival? Listen carefully. Not because of liberalism in the churches, or disunity among God’s people, or because we’ve been worldly and compromised. Friend, if we get all of these matters changed, it still would not be revival. These aren’t the reasons for no revival. They are the result of no revival.
What is revival? Revival is when God comes down.
Oh, that you [Almighty God] would rend the heavens, that you would come down, that the mountains might shake at Your presence. (Isa. 64:1)
Revival is meeting with Almighty God. Most of us seek God to do something for our church, our family, our nation. But we’re seeking God’s hand and not His face. Our heart needs to yearn for God. We should be saying, “O God, will You come down?”
God loves to come down. He came down when the Lord Jesus stepped out of heaven to save us. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit came down and baptized the infant church with wonderful power. And Jesus is coming down again at His second coming. If you study the record of the church in modern history, you will find from time to time in place to place, God has come down.
I want God to come down upon the church. Many of us don’t believe this is possible. Don’t get the idea that America has to be changed before we can have revival. You, my friend, can have revival. You can have personal revival. You can have revival in your Sunday school class. You can have revival in your family. You can have revival whenever and wherever—you can be a one-person revival.
The Presence That Produces Revival: God Himself
When God comes down, things will happen.
Mountains will melt.
…that the mountains might flow down in thy presence. As when the melting fire burneth…. (v. 1-2a)
Mountains of pride, bigotry and indifference—obstacles to God’s work—will melt away. Nothing can stop the revival fire of Almighty God! Don’t insult God by saying there are too many mountains, too many obstacles. When He comes down, mountains will melt.
Sinners will shake.
…To make Your name known to Your adversaries…That the nations may tremble at Your presence!...You came down, the mountains shook at Your presence. (v. 2b-3)
When the lost see something they can’t explain, Holy Spirit conviction falls and sinners begin to shake.
If we have revival in America, late-night comedians will not make fun and mock the holy things of Almighty God. The lascivious will shake in the presence of God. The unsaved will cry out for mercy.
The Righteous will rejoice.
For since the beginning of the world, men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him. You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways. (v. 4-5a)
God wants to meet with you. God wants to come down. And when He does, church will not be a bore. God’s people will have joy unspeakable and full of glory. The righteous will rejoice. I long to see that. I want my children to see that. I want God to meet with His people so they’ll know this incredible joy.
So what stands in the way of this outpouring?
The Problems That Prevent Revival
We are corrupted by our sins.
But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (v. 6)
We dress in self-righteousness, come to church, and look around in haughtiness and pride. We try to cover ourselves with the very thing that defiles and condemns us. Our “righteousness” is a filthy rag in His sight.
…and we all do fade as a leaf… (v. 6)
When leaves begin to turn yellow and brown, they fade and fall. On the trees they’re looking good, but the wind comes and they’re on the ground! So often I’ve seen people dressed in the rags of self-righteousness, but let the wind blow, let them have some family problems, some financial reversal, some difficulty, and they’re blown away.
We are complacent in our sins.
And there is no one who calls on Your name, Who stirs himself up to take hold of You….. (v. 7)
Have you stirred yourself up to take hold of God, or are you simply a Sunday morning bench warmer, believing you’ve done God a favor by going? Is there a yearning, burning, longing for revival in your heart? If you get serious, God will send revival.
To the saints who’ve been chloroformed by the spirit of this age, Dr. R. A. Torrey said,
“I have a theory…that there is not a church, chapel, or mission on earth where you cannot have revival, provided there is a little nucleus of faithful people who will hold onto God until He comes down. First, let a few Christians—there need not be many—get thoroughly right with God themselves. This is the prime essential. If this is not done, the rest, I’m sorry to say, cannot be done, and it will come to nothing. Second, let them bind themselves together to pray for revival until God opens the heavens and comes down. Third, let them put themselves at the disposal of God to use them as He sees fit in winning others to Christ. That’s all. This is sure to bring revival in any church or community. I have given this prescription around the world. It has been taken by many churches and many communities, and in no instance has it ever failed, and it cannot fail.”
Get right with God. Band together and pray. Put yourself at God’s disposal. This is the message of Isaiah 64.
You say, “Well, that’s so simple.” That’s true. It’s simple. The problem is, the Church is complacent. There is none “who stirs himself up.”
Oh, friend, do what Dr. Torrey says and get right with God. If we don’t, one day we’ll wish we had.
We are consumed by our sins.
“…for You have hidden Your face from us and have consumed us because of our iniquities.” (v. 7)
Our sins are eating us alive. God turns His face away from us. We have no protection. We can sing “God Bless America,” but it’s hollow because God has taken down His hedge of protection.
How can we have revival? How do we seek God’s face? The prayer that precedes revival will…
Recognize God’s sovereignty
But now, O LORD, you are our Father; We are the clay, You our potter, and all we are the work of Your hand. (v. 8)
We must believe that God is God. Recognize the sovereignty of God. God doesn’t want “a place” in your life. God doesn’t want prominence in your life. He demands and deserves pre-eminence. “Lord, You are sovereign. I’m the clay. Mold me and make me after Thy will. You are King!”
Remember God’s mercy
Do not be furious, O Lord, nor remember iniquity forever; Indeed, please look—we all are Your people! (v. 9)
Pray, “O God, have mercy. Don’t keep your anger forever. Lord, we need You. We want You. We must have You.”
God wants to extend mercy. He had much rather forgive sin than punish sin. But God cannot put away our sin by forgiving it unless we put it away by forsaking it. The problem is, so often we’re not willing to repent. We want God’s mercy, but prayer without repentance is a religious farce, a smokescreen.
Respects God’s glory
In verses 10 through 12 Isaiah says, “O God, we remember the glory. We remember when You spoke to us from Your sacred temple. Our fathers have told us about it. What a glorious time it was! O God, we want Your glory again! O God, show Thy face, show Thy glory!”
This is revival: when God comes down. Maybe you haven’t been willing to stir yourself up. Maybe you are dressed in the rags of your self-righteousness, satisfied with where you are. Maybe you’re a dying leaf and don’t even know it
But if you will seek God, He is waiting, leaning over the battlements of heaven. We don’t have to persuade God to send revival, only permit Him to do so.
Do you really want to see revival?
In this message, Adrian Rogers shares five things about the Gospel of grace.