There seems to be a notion abroad that if we talk enough and pray enough, revival will set in like a stock market boom or a winning streak on a baseball club. We appear to be waiting for some sweet chariot to swing low and carry us into the Big Rock Candy Mountain of religious experience.
Well, it is a pretty good rule that if everyone is saying something it is not likely to be true; or, if it has truth at the bottom, it has been so distorted by wrong emphasis as to have the effect of error in its practical outworking. And such, I believe, is much of the revival talk we hear today.
My reason for doubt of the soundness of it is that we appear to conceive of revival as a kind of benign miracle, a feverish renaissance of religious activity which will come upon us, leaving us morally just as we are now, except that we will be a lot happier and there will be a great many more of us. Its a good talking point and it has an aura of superior godliness about it; but the trouble is that it is just not true.
Our mistake is that we want God to send revival on our terms. We want to get the power of God into our hands, to call it to us that it may work for us in promoting and furthering our kind of Christianity. We want still to be in charge, guiding the chariot through the religious sky in the direction we want it to go, shouting Glory to God, it is true, but modestly accepting a share of the glory for ourselves in a nice inoffensive sort of way. We are calling on God to send fire on our altars, completely ignoring the fact that they are our altars and not Gods. And like the prophets of Baal we are working ourselves into a frenzy as if we could by violence command the arm of the Almighty.
The whole error results from a confused notion of revival and a failure to recognise the moral laws that underlie the kingdom of God. God never moves whimsically; His ways are never impulsive or erratic. He never sends judgment unless there has been a violation of His laws, nor does He send blessing apart from obedience to those laws. So precise are His movements both in justice and in mercy that an intelligent observer, aware of the circumstances, could predict with complete accuracy any visitation of judgment or grace God might send to a nation, a church or an individual.
Of this we may be certain: We cannot continue to ignore Gods will as expressed in the Scriptures and expect to secure the aid of Gods Spirit. God has given us a complete blueprint for the Church and He requires that we adhere to it 100 percent. Message, morals and methods are there, and we are under strict obligation to be faithful to all three.
Today we have the strange phenomenon of a company of Christians solemnly protesting to heaven and earth the purity of their Bible creed, and at the same time following the unregenerate world in their methods and managing only with difficulty to keep their moral standards from sinking out of sight. Coldness, worldliness, pride, boasting, lying, misrepresenting, love of money, exhibitionism all these things are practiced by professedly orthodox Christians, not in secret but in plain sight and often as a necessary part of the whole religious show. It will take more than talk and prayer to bring revival. There must be a return to the Lord in practice before our prayers will be heard in heaven.
We dare not continue to trouble God´s way if we want Him to bless ours. Joshua sent his army up to conquer Ai, only to see them hurled back with bloody losses. He threw himself to the ground on his face before the Ark and complained to the Lord.
The LORD said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.” (Joshua 7:10-12)
If we are foolish enough to do it, we may spend our future vainly begging God to send revival, while we blindly overlook His requirements.
by A.W. Tozer