«In that day there shall be a fountain opened… for sin and for uncleanness. And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that 1 will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered.»
REVIVAL — THE NEED OF THE HOUR
by Rev. F.B. MEYER, B.A., D.D.
It is no exaggeration to say that the one clamant need of the present hour is a General Revival of the Spirit of true religion. What the Methodist Revival did for the Church of the 18th century is urgently required by the Church of Today. Religion needs to be lifted from the merely intellectual level into the realm of the Spirit. The Breath of God must once more vitalise the Valley of Dry Bones. Never did parched lands more eagerly sigh for showers, than the Churches, however unconsciously, for another Pentecost.
The Author of the following pages has a claim to be heard in this matter. As the closing paragraphs tell, he has been led into a personal experience of profound significance and interest, and the conditions of Revival, which Pastor Fetler stresses, have already realised what we seek for universally. Even those who may question this or that item, must admit the fine sanity of the general statement that the Church has to humble herself before God, remove all that might grieve or obstruct the Divine Spirit, and at all costs remove from herself all that is foreign to the Purity, Spirituality, Gentleness and Love, which are the characteristics of the Christ-Ideal.
It will not suffice to read this brochure. It would be wiser and more likely to attain the desired result, if it could be read and considered, in paragraphs, by groups of those who yearn for another Pentecost. Then this little cloud, no bigger than a man’s hand, might lead to a heaven dense with rain-clouds.
by Mrs. J.M. PAYNTER (of Guildford)
For some time I have watched with peculiar interest the distant spot where the writer of this treatise has been working and where for many years the «Fire» has fallen, for which we in this favoured country have so longed and prayed, but hitherto prayed in vain.
The Church of Christ is full of saints yearning and praying for a mighty outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit, but He still lingers on His way — it has not come. There are indeed, here and there, places where a gracious shower of the Holy Spirit’s Power enkindles our hopes and increases our desires. But the clouds return after the rain and we are still in a dry and thirsty land. Here, we are given two Laws as conditions of Revival, which we shall do well to ponder and take to heart.
Have we so truly consecrated ourselves to the service of God as not only to give up all known sin but even the many hindrances and doubtful things which may still cling to us?
With regard to the second Law, the grief and turmoil into which our Church controversies have plunged us in this country, is a warning signal! And provided we stand firm and true to the Word of God it may prove a blessing in arousing us from our apathy to a sense of danger and helplessness from which God alone can deliver us.
May the Lord bless this booklet to open the eyes of the leaders of our Churches, who have so woefully led us astray.
I hope it may be widely circulated and read by clergy and ministers and persons of every rank in life, for it is most important that the truths it contains should be made plain, and brought before the different sections of Christian communities everywhere.
«Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding?
I hearkened and heard, but they spoke not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done?'»
«For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.»
DAYS OF APOSTASY
Those were terrible days of apostasy in which the prophet Jeremiah lived. Backsliding was the atmosphere of religion. The people are described as having «a revolting and a rebellious heart.» Yet they were trusting in «lying words» of their religious leaders, saying «The temple of the Lord. The temple of the Lord, are these.» They were still proud of Abraham being their father; in their spiritual dullness they were relying upon the ceremonial cult as a sort of mascot for good luck, a guarantee of their preservation as the chosen people. But it was in those days that God through His prophet accuses them of having made the house, «which is called by My name,» «a den of robbers.» At the same time their rabbis or teachers were displaying their learning, while the priests, blind to the grave situation and the impending perils, were endeavouring to heal «the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.» And, testifies the prophet with reference to the scholars of that day, «They have rejected the word of the Lord; and WHAT WISDOM IS IN THEM?»
There is no darker description of religious apostasy in the whole of the Bible than in the first ten chapters of the book of Jeremiah, the strong man who could not restrain his tears. And his passionate yearning for a spiritual revival is expressed in the words: «Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?»
For those who have eyes to see, the present-day spiritual state in many places is not unlike the one described above, though in modern setting. There are such who understand it, and who deeply suffer in their souls about it. «Go through the midst of the city, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.» There are others in our midst, who are surprised, and even annoyed at our sighing, and who continue to say, «Peace, peace.» But there is no peace, for true peace can be only where there is true righteousness, and righteousness comes with justification, and justification comes with the forgiveness of sins through faith in the shed-blood of the Lamb of God, the God-man Christ Jesus.
This saving faith is the gift of God, and does not come except combined with childlike trust in the Giver, and in the whole of His revelation as expressed in both the Old and the New Testaments; and, furthermore, this saving faith is preceded by genuine repentance towards God, (Acts 20:21). This repentance, however, must consist of breaking with every known sin, of abhorring and giving up the whole of the «Old Life,» and it results in all things becoming new: in Regeneration, and Walking in Newness of Life. Such is, in a nutshell, the Philosophy of a Revival, the outcome of which is genuine New Testament Christianity. Whatever comes short of it is not true Christianity; at best, some of it may be the discipleship of John.
«We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold — trouble!»
«The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.»
«For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt; … astonishment hath taken hold of me.»
«Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of My people recovered?»
IS THERE NO BALM IN GILEAD?
Most assuredly there is. The Word of the Cross has lost none of its power. The «mantle of Elijah» still produces miracles. Ours is a «supernatural religion.»
As there are strict natural laws to be observed before a natural phenomenon can take place, so there are equally definite spiritual laws which must be observed for a Revival to be effected. Let the ministers and the churches learn these laws, and adopt them, and there will be no lack of spiritual quickening in the land. These laws are not arbitrary or nebulous. They have their origin in the very nature of God. They are clearly defined in the Holy Scriptures. Everybody, who desires, can find them out for himself. «Search the Scriptures, for in them ye … have … life.»
But these laws for spiritual revival are like every other law. In every law of nature, or chemistry, or physics, there is a formula which must be observed. Omit one of the factors, and you will miss the result. No commonsense person will expect the result of any natural phenomenon unless he strictly adheres to the order and number of the necessary factors. It is, therefore, a matter for great surprise, that in the question of religious revivals many even are not aware that there are any laws for revivals; while others, who are a little more initiated, are of the opinion that it does not matter how one goes about revivals. There are such who always pray for the «fire,» but it never comes. They wait for years, but never a response. Perhaps some of them are distant relatives of the prophets of Baal on Carmel, whose god was «in a journey, or asleep.» But the fact is that the true living God answers His true servants by fire.
There are still others who would want to bargain a bit with God as to the conditions for obtaining a revival. They would fain have it, but a little cheaper. They are not prepared to meet all the conditions. One might wonder why these same people, educated and wise, would not adopt the same method with one of God’s servants — Nature. They might try and produce in their laboratories water from oxygen alone, omitting hydrogen. Another one might attempt to «listen in» on the radio without adjusting to the necessary wave-length. Everybody knows that it would be useless to endeavour to induce Nature to come down to their modified wishes. If they are to avail themselves of any of the wonders or blessings of Nature, they have to submit in perfect obedience to the laws and to the character of Nature. And this is exactly what a human being has to learn about Revivals, and, as a matter of fact, with respect to any blessing of God. «We are witnesses of these things; and … the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.» (Acts 5:32)
«Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not … Behold. 1 will bring … health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.»
GOD IS ALWAYS WILLING TO PRODUCE REVIVALS
If God were not willing to do that, He would he different in His nature from what He has revealed Himself in the Bible. The God Who does not want the death of the wicked, certainly wants his salvation.
Some people imagine that a revival is something so uncertain, that no one knows when it comes and no one can say when it goes. They think that it is a special act of God, now and again, perhaps once in fifty years or so. I cannot conceive of the God of die Bible acting like that. The difficulty here, in the minds of some, arises from the fact, that most people have a quite erroneous conception as to what a revival really is. They think that it is something «extra» to normal Christianity; just as so many others hold, that to be fully surrendered to the Lord and to be filled with the Holy Spirit, or, as some would express it, to be crucified with the Lord and to be risen with Him in the resurrection life, involves, as they would term it, a deeper or higher Christian life. That would suggest that there can be a normal Christian life apart from this full surrender and being filled with the Spirit, and this erroneous conception is responsible for the fact that there is not in the land a more general rise of the level of Christian experience. But, if we compare our opinions with the Scriptures, we shall find, that to be crucified with the Lord and risen with Him, to be fully surrendered and filled with the Holy Spirit is, as the Scriptures would acknowledge, the only normal Christian experience. To begin with, Christ Himself denies that one can be His true disciple, unless one is ready to forsake all that he hath, and to bear his cross with Christ to Calvary, to be crucified there with the Lord. (Luke 14:27,33)
In the same way, how surprised is the Apostle Paul, when in Ephesus he finds certain disciples who had repented of their past sins, and so had been baptized, but had not repented of their SIN, the Old Adam, and had not yielded it to be crucified and buried in the death of Christ. Nor, evidently, were they enjoying the victories of the Resurrection life.
Whatever, then, fails to comply with these basic principles falls below the normal Christian experience. It is not health, it is sickness. Such people are not fit for work, but for the hospital. «Tarry … until ye be endued with power from on high.» An unrevived church is living below the normal state of spiritual health. The revived church is the healthy church. Since, in every true revival, souls are being born again, the truly revived church will be a soul-winning church. And, vice versa, every soul-winning church is a revived church.
There is no parent who would be satisfied or happy about his children being sick. It would indeed be startling to enquire of a father as to the state of the health of his children, and to receive a reply: «Oh, never mind, my children are well one week during the year, but for fifty-one weeks they are sick in bed, but — that’s alright. Next year they will be up again for one week.» Such a father, probably, may be more fit for a madhouse, than to be in charge of a family of children. And yet, that is exactly how many imagine God to act. They charge the blame for an absence of revivals upon their Heavenly Father, as if God were satisfied to have His Church unrevived for fifty years or so, then send a gracious visitation, and then again forget all about it for another fifty years. I am putting it so strongly to show the absolute impossibility of imagining God could act in such a way; and that He cannot be made responsible for the absence or scarcity of revivals. But the blame must be sought in altogether different quarters. The coming or passing of revivals is conditional upon certain attitudes of the Christians themselves; and this, once clearly defined and understood, may cause tremendous spiritual changes in many lives and in numerous places all over the world. «Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.» Revive Thy work, O Lord!
«Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.»
«Oh patient eyes that watch the goal,
Oh Saviour of the sinner’s soul,
Oh Ploughman, drive the coulter deep
And wake my slumbering soul from sleep.»
«The Everlasting Mercy»
CONDITIONS OF REVIVAL
A genuine spiritual revival is the natural result of the meeting and carrying out of definite conditions laid down in the Word of God, just as an electrician would go about his business, doing this, number one, that, number two, etc., and then-just turn on the switch, and the natural outcome will be Light. Thus, granted that the conditions of God’s revivals are definitely carried out, point by point, and with the accuracy of the strictest science, as prevails in an electrical lamp when it is switched on, — there will be Spiritual Light and Life in the house.
The first requisite for the working in our individual hearts, and in our communities, of the Holy Spirit, is that, wholeheartedly and sincerely, we assume the attitude of obedience towards God, and towards the whole of His Word. It is impossible to be converted on any other basis.
Let no one start to pray for Revival who cannot first honestly and sincerely face this fundamental condition. But — that having been met — he is on the road to «showers of blessing.»
«Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you.» (Rom. 6:16,17)
The very first act of obedience of any human being to God must consist in repentance and breaking with every known sin. That includes also doubtful things. «Whatsoever is not of faith, is sin.» That includes friendship of the world. «Friendship of the world is enmity with God.»
Breaking with sin means breaking with any «bad» habit, with any mode of life, or any practice, which dishonours the Lord. It means the ceasing to take pleasure in worldly friends and companions. «Evil communications corrupt good manners» (1. Cor. 15:33). It means parting with an unconverted sweetheart, an unbelieving business partner. «Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? … Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?» (2 Cor. 6:14,15).
Furthermore, obedience to God will mean separating from any Secret Societies or Fraternities, as not consistent with fellowship with the God of Separation and Light. «God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth» (1. John 1:5,6). «But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light» (Eph. 5:13). «Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you» (2 Cor. 6:17).
All this is of importance not only for the individual believer, but also for the whole of the church which is to enjoy the blessing of a genuine revival. The whole church or christian community must be ready not to tolerate things which are not tolerated by God.
It should also be specially emphasized, in this age of extreme laxity of morals, that obedience to God will call for chastity both in single lives as well as in family relationships. The spirit of unfaithfulness and divorce, whether actual or unmanifested, will be strictly judged and put to flight, and purity of spirit, soul and body will be fostered. The terrible sin of birth-control so loathed by God will be scrupulously avoided.
«I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God» (Rom. 12:1,2).
«Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them» (Eph. 5:11).
In a word, to sum up, there must not be a single conscious sin or doubtful thing in our lives, if we are to have God reigning in our hearts and His blessing resting upon our work. «If we walk in the light» — not as our minister, or our mother, or the best person we know, — but «as He is in the light»: this alone should be our true standard — «Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God» (Matt. 5:8).
«Hereby we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him, ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked» (1 John2:3-6). «Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight» (1. John 3:21,22).
The whole of the old life is to be surrendered to the Cross, so that the life of Christ also may be manifested in us. For the Holy Spirit responds in human lives only to the Cross of Christ. «For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection» (Rom. 6:5).
But Scriptural breaking with sin will mean much more than that. It will mean a complete change of your tastes, and views, and aims of life. Up to your conversion you went your own way; you chose your own companions; you decided upon your own aims of life. But now you «are bought with a price, ye are not your own» (1 Cor. 6:20,19). Before, you were your own master, but being so you «have gone astray» (Isa. 53:6). From now on, however, having «returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls,» you have voluntarily accepted your Saviour as your Master, and are looking to Him for orders for the rest of your life: «Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?» (Acts 9:6).
Thus, the second act of obedience is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and to joyfully listen to His bidding; «This is my beloved Son: hear Him» (Mark 9:7). «My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me» (John 10:27).
The proper understanding of this listening to the voice of the Master will now mean getting acquainted with the whole Word of God, and gladly submitting to it. A saved person will now do the will of the Lord, not in order to become saved, but because he or she is saved. The genuine gospel faith will be proved by a consistent Christian life. «Holiness unto the Lord» will now be your daily atmosphere, Divine love will be your animating principle, and having purified your heart by faith you will be «seeing God» (Matt. 5:8). God’s presence and blessing will appear in your personal life, and in your ministry. You will realise what it is in very deed to be «workers together with God.» «If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work» (2. Tim. 2:21).
«O God, Thou hast cast us off, Thou hast been displeased; o turn Thyself to us again.»
* * *
«If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.»
OBSTACLES TO REVIVAL
Alas, says someone, all that I have met, my surrender to the Lord is complete, and yet I do not see the results you speak about, neither in my church, nor in my surroundings.
Here, then, we come to, what is probably the most important part of our message, for to many this has been an unanswerable question. Many have become perplexed and disheartened. Many have come to doubt their own spiritual experience.
The first most important consideration, in connection with this difficulty, is the failure to understand that the scriptural laws for Revival, or, in other terms, for God’s victories, are exactly the same for individuals as for whole communities. If a believer meets God’s conditions personally, God’s promised blessing will be showered upon him individually. Remember Abraham, Joseph, Daniel! There was nothing in their faith, or in their lives to obstruct God blessing them individually. Only once Abraham failed to hold on to God’s promise, and practically for fourteen years-between the birth of Ishmael and Isaac — his fellowship with God was broken, and there were no altars reared to the name of the Lord. There was a break in the «revival atmosphere» in Abraham’s life all those years. But the atmosphere of fellowship with God returned to him, when he remembered God’s promise, and no more «staggered at the promise of God through unbelief» (Rom. 4:20).
But a believer may be right personally, and yet, when it comes to God’s blessing for a whole community, it will be found that his personal righteousness is not enough. There was nothing in the life of Joshua to prevent God blessing him. But there was in his camp an Achan, who had trespassed God’s command, and Joshua’s army was beaten before the men of Ai. The seventh chapter of the book of Joshua is the greatest lesson on Revivals in the whole of the Bible, both as to how to promote them as well as how to discover reason for their absence.
Later in the Bible we find in the history of Judah, that after the godly kings got rid of the idols in their own hearts, they also cut down the idols in the land. The converted priests not only preached about the need of cleansing the temple, but they actually went and did the cleansing.
God will not use a corrupt army to win holy victories. There was no need of many Achans in Joshua’s camp; one was enough to cause God to withdraw. God could easily have caused Achan to perish by some supernatural means, but the Scriptures teach us that this is not God’s way of dealing with sin in a community. God could have revealed to Joshua in a dream who the man was that had sinned, and Joshua could thus have been able by a short cut to mete out just judgment upon the guilty; but that is not God’s way of dealing with sin in a community.
What God wanted was for Joshua and the whole of the congregation of «saints» to manifest zeal in «eschewing evil» from their midst. The whole of the people of God had to rally and take part in finding the sinner and then removing him from the camp. There was more than simply the offence of Achan at stake; the congregation was to be a holy congregation, but there can be no true holiness without just indignation and a zealous putting away of sin. Moreover the word of Jehovah was to be revered and feared by the people. They had to realize that the Word of the Lord is given to be observed, and not to be broken. In this searching for the offender, the whole congregation was called upon to take sides either with God or with Achan, with righteousness or with sin. By the very act of getting rid of sin they proved to the whole world that they were the people of God. Show me any church which has ceased to exercise church discipline, and I will show you a church which has ceased to be a congregation of the righteous. «Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous» (Ps. 1:5).
The absence of this fundamental law of God’s revivals is, by the way, the greatest rebuke to Modernism, and the clearest proof that the modernist preachers are out of touch with God, on account of their flippant talk of sin, their denial of the Fall, and the consequent absence of God from their camp.
When, indeed, has any reader heard of a genuine revival in the power of the Holy Spirit in a Modernist Church? And why is the «modernist, evangelist» conspicuous by his absence from the field of soul-winning? In fact, there is no such thing in the Christian world, as a modernist evangelist. Soul-winning does not belong to their sphere of labour. They do not know what it is to gain victories in the name of the Lord. Against Satan they do not fight, for many of them have ceased to believe that the Devil exists; and how far some of them believe in a personal God, is also a question. «Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father» (1 John 2:22,23).
That Christ, in the New Testament, is as strict in demanding that His Church be holy, can be abundantly proved by many passages. The whole of the first Epistle of John is one compact argument against habitual sinning. Peter and James in their Epistles, and Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, and elsewhere, join in the same strain.
But read the letters of the Lord through John of Patmos to the Seven Churches. Note the warnings, the entreaty, the stern words of rebuke. What would the Lord be compelled to dictate to the Church of the twentieth century? The letter to the Church at Laodicea is meant for the Church of the present age. The last in order, and the last before His coming. The accusation is terrible, heart-breaking and astounding. The, Church of the last days is described by «the Faithful and True Witness» as being one with Christ outside the Church. The Lord has no place inside the modern church. The reason is, that luke-warmness — the spirit of compromise with the world and error — has become the atmosphere of the Church, an atmosphere which the Lord detests. Achans have multiplied themselves, and there is not enough of «explosive grace» in the Church to cause their departure. As one of the foremost evangelists of our day remarked to Mr. Dinwiddie, a chief authority on the American Indian, «Dinwiddie, the tragedy of the Church today is, that it is too soft to split. In times gone by men used to split over every little point of doctrine that came up; but now, the Church does not even split over the Deity of Jesus Christ and His atoning Blood.» Here a contemporary remarks that «Our forefathers were more masculine. For dangers far less threatening to the very life of the Church, 2000 ministers faced howling mobs in 1662. From the Restoration to the Revolution the penalties rose to £14,000,000 and 60,000 persons suffered fines, bonds, transportation, exile, or death in gaol. Such are the violent that take the Kingdom by storm. The unknown factor in the current situation is the extent to which, embedded in all groups, there is a people of God so charged with explosive grace as, once again, to ‘turn the world upside down.'»
But, whatever be the attitude of the Church, God and Achan will never live together. «Neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you» (Josh. 7:12). One of the chief reasons for the scarcity of genuine old-time revivals in the modern churches is the criminal neglect to preach against sin. The present-day Church, for the most part, is one where the sinner can feel himself pretty comfortable. And yet the stand, both of the individual, as well as of the whole church, on the question of sin, is a most vital one. In fact, everything else depends upon the stand of Christians against sin. No one can afford to be indifferent here. Indifference or compromise spells defeat everywhere.
All the old revival preachers were known for their uncompromising stand against sin in every shape and form, and against worldliness in the churches. Jonathan Edwards, Charles G. Finney, Dwight L. Moody, and many others, were strong in their denunciation of sin. The old Puritans might have been faulty in some matters, but they were right in their doctrine of total depravity. But the chief thing about that sort of preaching is that the Holy Spirit honours it and puts His seal of approval upon it. In fact, that is the very first work He does when He comes to a human being. «When He (the Comforter) is come He will reprove the world of sin» (John. 16:8).
«Arise, O Lord, into Thy rest; Thou, and the ark of Thy strength. Let Thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let Thy saints shout for joy.»
«This is My rest for ever… I will abundantly bless … I will satisfy her poor … I will also clothe her priests with salvation; and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.»
RESULTS OF A HEAVEN-BORN REVIVAL
A genuine heaven-born revival will result in a general increase of holiness and righteousness in the lives of the people affected. That there are better morals and safer living in Great Britain today than two hundred years ago is not so much due to education and scientific enlightenment, as to the revivals of Knox and Bunyan, the Wesleys and Whitfield and many others. Keswick and similar Conventions alone have done more to spread righteousness than all the schools put together. Education without sanctification will not bring us very far. And even cleanliness is next to godliness.
To secure, then, revivals at large, sound mathematics might help us. One will chase a thousand, but two will put ten thousand to flight, (Deut. 32:30). And again, «If two of you shall agree» (Matt. 18:19).
There is a law of strength in unity, and it is applicable in the spiritual realm as well as in the natural. But this unity, in matters of revivals, must be based upon quality, and not on quantity. The same denominational flag alone will not do: it must be a flag of the same spiritual principles. There were thirty-two thousand who belonged to the same «Union» with Gideon. But thirty-one thousand and seven hundred of them did not meet the Lord’s conditions, and had to retire, or they would have spoiled the victory for the three hundred. When Achan was the cause of defeat, it would have been no use for Joshua to bring up fresh reinforcements. If Joshua had done that, the whole of his army had perished, and he with it. The victory was achieved not by addition, but by subtraction. This is the lesson that the present-day Church has to learn: the Lesson of Subtraction.
The question for the church of Jesus Christ, in practical application, would become very simple, if compared with some other cases on a different plane. The trouble often is that things which no one would even question — so evident are they — in the natural realm, become to many people questionable when applied, on the same principle, in the spiritual realm.
Let us look at an example or two. Here I have in a basket, let us say, twenty-five good and one or two bad apples. Every house-wife will know that if I leave all the apples together, in a few days the couple of bad apples will spoil the good ones. No wise person therefore would think of committing such a folly as to leave the bad apples together with the good. It would take a still more foolish person to suggest that I should exercise «charity» towards the bad apples, that after all they are not so bad, and that, if left together, the «good» apples might improve the bad ones!
The only way to save the good ones is to remove the bad ones. That is charity; everything else is folly.
Or, suppose, I want to build a ship. What would any wise man think of me if I were to pay no attention to the material for the work, whether good, strong timber, or rotten planks. Would it be «charity» to leave the rotten planks in the ship? Nay, it would be the biggest cruelty possible, for such a ship is bound to get a leak, and may sink with the whole of the crew; such a shipbuilder would be guilty of criminal neglect, and liable to be punished for the loss of property and lives.
Apply this to the regular church. There is much unfit material put into the Church by «the Builders.» Instead of using only «lively stones» (1. Peter 2:5), many of the churches are full of people who have never been born again. In the pulpits there are many preachers who have no idea of «old time religion», nor of a definite personal experience of being born of the Spirit. With some, even of the orthodox, their sound faith is a matter of head knowledge only, or the result of being brought up on sound doctrine. But sound Bible instruction is by no means regeneration, any more than good geographical knowledge about America makes one an American. «Ye must be born again» (John 3:7). «Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in Heaven. Many will say unto Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied (preached) in Thy name? And in Thy name cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity» (Matt. 7:21-23). «Now if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His» (Rom. 8:9).
From these passages it is clear, that one must be really born again, thus becoming a partaker of the divine nature (2. Pet. 1:4), and have residing in him the Spirit of Christ, in order to be reckoned by God a child of His, and a member of the body of Christ. For «by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body» (1. Cor. 12 : 13).
The First Epistle of John, this New Testament Classic of Regeneration, gives abundant proofs from which one can amply test himself or herself whether he or she has been really born again.
Such then are true Christians, and none else are. Of these alone must consist the membership of the visible Church of Christ, and through such alone the Holy Spirit can and will work in revival power. Christ, the Head, will work only through those who are members of His body. The sap of the vine can flow only through its branches.
There may be other people, not yet truly converted, not really born again. But all such must be outside the Church, so far as membership is concerned, not inside. For they, who are not as yet saved through living faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, are still of the «world.» What business then has the world in the Church? For it was the «world» which rejected and crucified Christ. Has then the Church let in the world to reject and crucify the Lord afresh? True, the ship must be in the sea, but the sea must not be in the ship. «They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world» (John 17:16), said the Lord about real disciples.
Who then has permitted these unconverted, unregenerate people to be reckoned as members of the Church of Christ? Has Christ, the Head of the Church, given this permission? If so, then He would contradict Himself, for most explicitly has He said, «Verily, verily, I say unto thee, EXCEPT a man be born again, he CANNOT see the kingdom of God» (John 3:3). So it is impossible, and utterly out of the question, that the filling of the churches with the unregenerate has the approval of the Lord.
Whoever has done it, or is still doing it, is acting against the direct will of the Lord. The receiving into the churches of the unregenerate and making them believe that they are Christians when they are not, is a gross travesty of the rights of God, Who alone by His Spirit causes men and women to be born again, and thus fit for the Kingdom of Heaven.
To retain in the Church unconverted sinners is both unscriptural and unwise, and is the biggest obstacle to revival. The bad apples will always corrupt the good ones, and the sinners in the Church will soon turn a holy Church into a corrupt one. Think of the Roman Catholic and of the Greek Orthodox Churches. Consider the state of the Lutheran Church in Germany, which once was alive, but now is in most parts utterly dead. A little leaven has leavened the whole lump. How then can God work in Revival Spirit through a Church which itself is dead? «I will remove,» saith the Lord, not «reform». The Lord never reforms. Saul had no second chance. «If the salt has lost his savour … it is … to be cast out.» «For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person» (1. Cor. 5:12,13).
Joshua might have wasted all his energies in an effort to save the situation at Ai: he would not have succeeded so long as Achan was in the camp. He could have announced special prayer meetings all over the camp, and days of praying and fasting, but all that would have been of no avail so long as iniquity was not purged out. «If I regard (tolerate) iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me» (Ps. 66:18). Moreover, Joshua could have arranged preaching stations all over the camp and sent out the best teachers and evangelists, who could have expounded the Law of God, and the meaning of the two Tables of Commandments and of the Pentateuch, but all that would not have made the slightest difference in the question of conquering Ai. There would have followed defeat upon defeat, until their final and complete destruction, in spite of their preaching and fasting, and praying and singing of psalms.
There are times in the Church of God, when one has to cease preaching, and even praying or exhibiting the tables of Commandments: when one has indeed to grab at the golden calf, smash it and scatter it to the four winds. When from the Word of the Lord your duty is clear, it is out of place to pray as to what your duty should be. There is a time when, with Moses, one has to cry out, «Who is on the Lord’s side?» and when a definite separation of the godly from the ungodly must take place. One cannot compromise in moments like that.
The Church of Jesus Christ must consist, therefore, only of truly converted, regenerate people. All others have no right to be reckoned as members of the church, no right to partake of the Holy Communion, no right even to be counted as, or called, Christians. GOD does not call them thus, what right has man to improve upon God, or to correct the Almighty? «Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His» (Rom. 8:9).
To ensure a real visitation by the Spirit of God, there is only one of two ways: Either for the true believer in the Church to cleanse the temple, and to remove from Church membership all who do not manifest evidence of being born again, to call upon all backslidden believers to return to their first love, and then unitedly begin to pray and work for a revival, receiving into the Church only truly converted persons; or, if that is impossible, and the more so, if modernism is taught and tolerated in the church, to leave such a church in a Christlike-manner, and organize Sound Gospel Meetings elsewhere, on strict Bible Principles, shutting out sin and the world in every shape and form: then asking God to send a truly converted sound Gospel Minister, and together with him set out to win others to Christ.
That would be the beginning of a revival all over the country as has not been witnessed for many a day.
«Thou, o God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby Thou didst confirm Thine inheritance, when it was weary.»
«Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.»
DOES IT WORK?
The Fundamentals of Revival, as set forth in this book, may appear to some to be an interesting and desirable theoretical philosophy. But the great question is: Does it work? For the best of philosophy, and the finest of theories will be of no practical value, unless, when applied, they produce the results suggested. No medicine, however well recommended, will be worth its money, unless the patients will prove on themselves its benefit.
Some such thoughts probably were worrying the mind of Elisha after his earnest pleadings for a double portion of his master’s spirit, and after their sudden parting. Will it be true? Will it stand the test? «He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; and he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? And when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.» (2 Kings 2:13,14).
He had prayed, he had expectantly trusted, and it did work. God, Who had put the desire for spiritual blessing in his heart, also saw to its fulfilment. «He is not a disappointment.»
Thousands upon thousands of God’s servants have likewise taken God at His Word, implicitly trusted His promises, have wholeheartedly submitted to His conditions, and they have found with Elisha that «all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.» (2. Cor. 1:20).
Nearly a quarter of a century ago God began to teach me these things in connection with Revivals of Religion. If God, in His own great mercy and providence, had not brought me into personal touch with these truths, probably my poor life had oozed out in much barrenness in some church work, like thousands of others. I would have had to regret that at the theological colleges there was no «Chair on Revivals of Religion.» I still believe that that is one of the greatest lacks of practically every theological College and Seminary. For what indeed is, or should be, the one outstanding aim of a school of theology, if not to prepare soul-winners? If in a theological school I cannot learn the science of winning souls, all the other learning gained there will be of but little value to me. And in view of that, I believe the schools of theology are to be blamed to a great extent that there is not more soul-winning done from the Protestant pulpits all over the world. The theories of a Wellhausen and the speculations of a Haekel have never yet contributed anything to the ability of a minister to win souls to Christ; nay, on the contrary, such theories and such sort of learning have had the direct influence of how not to win souls. And as a result, the poor sheep have been scattered over the mountains of Uncertainties and in the wildernesses of Negations.
But, to refer once more to the «Chair of Revivals» in our Colleges. It would never do to appoint a modernist to such a Chair, nor any one who has no experimental knowledge of Revivals. For it stands to reason, that you cannot instruct others in what you do not know yourself. And to begin with, no one can give instruction about revivals in a church, who has never had a genuine revival first in his own soul. Democracy starts with Communities. Theocracy starts with the Individual. «If any man hear My voice … I will come in to him.»
No wiser measure could be adopted by any College or Bible Institute than to do all in their power to invite men, experienced in genuine Revival work, to give a series of lectures to the students on practical Revival work. And eventually this department of training, by men fitted for it, should become one of the main businesses of the School or College.
Suffering from the lack of such instruction, very likely I would have long ago suffered shipwreck in my ministry; or at best, would have eked out a miserable ministerial existence, as no doubt many are doing to-day. For even with the best of personalities, there is a difference between a lion in the cage and a lion in the open air. For a Revival is concurrent with the fullness of the Holy Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2. Cor. 3:17). But where true liberty is, there is power. Nobody fears the lion in the cage, but everybody fears the lion at liberty. The Church of Christ should be «terrible as an army with banners» (Song of Solomon 6:4).
The Lord had mercy upon me and met me in His own way. During my early morning hours with God and His Word, during my college years, He taught me lessons which I could not get in the classroom; I was fed on the hidden manna, which has been my sustenance ever since. Then some of these truths, as stated above, began to crystallize in my soul, one of them being the absolute necessity of a Revival as being the normal condition of the Church.
Another, the truth of a perennial revival, as the only state compatible with the Character and Nature of God.
And third, the strict observance of the condition of the elimination of the «Achan» from the Camp, in order to secure the benefits of the first two.
«Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.»
* * *
«The floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil. And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten … and ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and My people shall never be ashamed.»
A PERSONAL TESTIMONY
These three truths were at first only a very pleasant and acceptable doctrine with me, untried as yet on the field of soul-winning, except in my own personal experience. But there it did work. The change produced upon my own life was tremendous.
And then, tremblingly, having picked up this «mantle of Elijah,» I sallied forth from the College Class Room upon the wide field of humanity. «Where is the Lord God of Elijah?» And, let me with great awe and humility say, God was there. The prayers of the early morning hours God had heard. The principles as laid down in His Word He did honour. Souls were saved, many thousands of them. Wherever one went, God answered by «fire» in the hearts of men and women, and children.
It is not my objective here to tell the story of the past years; of the triumphs of the Gospel in St. Petersburg and Moscow and other places. My friend, Dr. McCaig, has admirably told that Story in his book, «THE WONDERS OF GRACE IN RUSSIA,» but it will be in keeping with the object of the present treatise to give but one illustration, the latest in order, of the truth laid down here, of the necessity of separation from the world and worldly people in order for God to work; in other words, the eliminating of the Achan, that is, the wilful sinner or opponent of God, from the camp.
THE GIDEONITES OF RIGA
It is now four years since I was led back in God’s providence to Riga, the city of my youth. The years of the war had thrown me over to America, and after the Peace Treaty of Versailles, three years had been spent in work among Russians in Warsaw and Berlin. Although I had come for but a visit to Riga, I was on the very first Sunday elected Pastor of a large church of some six hundred members. It had been once the liveliest soul-winning church in the country, but during the years of the war callousness and worldliness, especially among the young, had crept into the church. Now, it has been my experience with churches as a rule, that one can feel the pulse of the spirituality of a church by the attitude of the young people. Where the young people in the Choir, or in the Young People’s Society, etc., manifest an earnest and godly spirit, you can depend that the whole of the church is in a healthy spiritual state. But shallowness, levity, foolish jesting, unbridled and too free an attitude between young men and women, and a lack of proper reverence in the general behaviour of the young is a sure sign that the Church itself has lost, or is fast losing, its salt.
When such an attitude prevails, you can do nothing constructive unless the situation is radically changed; for, as already quoted above, «If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?» (Ps. 11:3). And here, in one sense, we may say, the young people are the foundation of the future church. We cannot get a building stronger than the material.
In order to win victories for the Lord, you must have soldiers. War is the most serious thing in existence. You can never have any kind of real revival with people who are «playing the church, playing the prayer meeting,» or looking upon the choir practice as a mutual amusement affair.
Until a minister can get the proper spiritual atmosphere among the young people, he may just as well give up any hope of a successful soul-winning ministry in the church. God does not work with Achans in the camp.
«Thou with strong prayer, and very much entreating
Wiliest be asked, and Thou wilt answer then:
Show the hid heart beneath creation beating,
Smile with kind eyes, and be a man with men.»
The absolutely erroneous idea of catering to the youthful lusts and tendencies of the young people in order to keep them in the church is as foolish as poisoning the food in the house in order to keep your children well. If we seek to retain the young people in our church rather than to retain them for the Lord, then we are not servants of the Lord, but servants of our church, and our own masters. According to the Word of God, people should be first added unto the Lord, then unto the Church (Acts 5:14). They «first gave their own selves to the Lord, and (then) unto us» (2. Cor. 8:5). But «they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts» (Gal. 5:24 ).
For this reason, anything introduced into the church for the benefit of the young people that is not conducive to true spirituality, will become a snare of the enemy, and will eventually stifle every bit of spiritual life in the church — whether it be billiards, or dances, or socials with worldly songs or anything like it. All those, things are an abomination to the Lord and should have no place in the house of God.
Upon arrival in the above city, my heart was set on soul-winning. Passing through one of the large suburbs of the city, with a highway, called the Great Moscow Street, leading all the way to a suburb full of Russians, Letts and Jews, and almost untouched with the Gospel, my heart went out to these people. There were drunkards to be seen and heard, staggering along the pavements of those streets; little children were there, dirty, neglected, forsaken by the regular churches, as was once poor little Jessica of «Jessica’s First Prayer» fame. For more than fifty years some evangelical churches had been working in the city, but this suburb had not been conquered. Respectable people were afraid to pass those streets in the evenings. The whole neighbourhood was famous for rowdyism and fighting. «The sunny-brothers» — called so on account, of their basking during the day time in the sun by the river side, for lack of any regular dwelling place, and sleeping under the bridges at night time, were a terror and a danger to passers-by. But such are the very people for whom the Gospel is the greatest boon. «Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.»
How then to reach these people? That they could be reached, and that they could be saved, there was no doubt in my heart. When sometimes men are inclined to complain of a hard ground for evangelism, one must realize that there is really no hard ground to God, with Whom nothing is impossible. The whole problem, really resolves itself into one thing: to secure the co-operation of the Holy Spirit, to be workers together with God.
I knew this work could not be accomplished in the usual way. It demanded people who would be willing to meet God’s conditions; men and women who would be willing to pay the price; believers, dead in earnest for Christ.
I remembered Gideon and his three hundred. It was not the quantity but the quality that mattered. «As soon as Zion travailed she brought forth her children» (Isa. 66:8).
So, one Sunday, I said from my pulpit in the large church something as follows: «Brothers and Sisters! God has deeply laid on my heart the evangelizing of the Moscow suburb, which in fifty years has scarcely been touched with the Gospel. This work needs men and women who are willing to pay the price. If the fire of God has fallen into your heart to come and work with me for the salvation of these souls, will those of you meet me on such and such an evening in my room for prayer?»
That was all. On the appointed evening six persons came. I was the seventh. I was not disappointed. I knew God’s methods are often different from those of men. Men want to go with the crowd. God walked with Enoch. Because of our failure to keep step with God we often miss His blessing. Great showers of rain, when they come in answer to prayer, often begin with a little cloud «out of the sea» like a man’s hand. And «who hath despised the day of small things?» (Zech. 4:10).
I was rather glad that we were not many; for now I knew we could be before God with one mind and heart. «If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven» (Matt. 18:19). «Two» unanimous believers is already a guarantee of success. Two spiritually-minded harmonious souls will accomplish more for the kingdom of God than two thousand members of a church who are not attuned to the melody of God’s will.
And thus we fell upon our knees before God and prayed. Every one of us prayed. Some of us with tears, and «with groanings which cannot be uttered» (Rom. 8:26). We knew something of the travailing of Zion. And when we rose from our knees we could be sure that the work had been already done. The victory was already accomplished before the battle was fought. «God hath spoken in His holiness: I will rejoice. I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth. Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of Mine head; Judah is My lawgiver; Moab is My washpot; over Edom will I cast out My shoe.» (Ps.60:6-8).
These seven were the beginning of the new work of grace in the Capital of the Republic of Latvia. There is no need to go into details, but it will suffice to say that what happened afterwards, developed on the strict lines of the fundamentals of revival as set forth in the beginning of this book. It has worked.
And what is the result? In four short years the largest mission work in the whole of the Republic has come into existence, reaching all the classes of the population, peasants and professors, the man in the street and the man in the high Government office. Beginning our meetings in a former cinema theatre, we had soon to rent the largest concert halls in the city, until the need of our own spacious building was necessary, which by this time has been finished, and was dedicated on the 7th of August 1927 for the winning of souls, under the name of die Salvation Temple. The Temple, as well as the adjoining «Mission House» is throbbing with joyful life and activity for the Lord. A revival Bible School with over fifty students has been established as one of the branches of the work, every student having become imbued with the spirit of revival and soul-winning. And wherever they go on Sundays and on other occasions to hold meetings, crowds of people gather, in rented theatres and in barns, or in the open. Everywhere there is revival in the air, because the atmosphere of a revival is the presence of God with His people.
He, whom Christ hath possessed, knoweth no more doubting:
For a mist and a blowing of winds and a mouthing of words he scorns —
Not the sinuous speech of schools he hears, but a knightly shouting,
And never comes darkness down but he greeteth a thousand morns.
He, whom Christ hath possessed, knoweth no more roaming:
All roads and the flowing of waves and the speediest flights he knows;
And wherever his feet are set, his soul is forever homing
And going, he comes; and coming, he heareth the call and goes.
He, whom Christ hath possessed, treads the impalpable marches:
From the dust of the day’s long road he leaps to a laughing star;
And the ruin of worlds that fall he views from eternal arches,
And rides God’s battle-field in a flashing and golden car.
A MAN MAY DIE AND LEAVE UPWARDS OF A MILLION WITHOUT TAKING ANY OF IT UPWARDS