Lloyd-Jones on Revival
THE URGENT NEED FOR REVIVAL TODAY
‘Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever he seizes him, he throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to your disciples, that they should cast him out, but they could not.”‘ (Mark 9:17-18 NKJ)
I am calling your attention to these two verses, and to the second in particular, in order that we may consider together the great subject of revival, and of the need, the urgent need, of a revival in the Church of God at the present time. For I am persuaded that this is a very urgent matter.
In a sense, of course all preaching should promote revival and it is only as we, as Christian people, understand the doctrines of the Christian faith that we can ever hope truly to see the need of revival, and therefore to pray for it. But it does seem to me that there are certain considerations which call for a special and an unusually direct and explicit dealing with this subject at the present time.
The first of these considerations is the appalling need. But I have a subsidiary reason also for calling attention to this matter and that is that it happens to be the year 1959, a year in which many will be calling to mind and celebrating the great revival, the great religious awakening, the unusual outpouring and manifes- tation of the Spirit of God, that took place one hundred years ago in 1859. In that year there was a revival, first in the United States of America, and afterwards in Northern Ireland, in Wales and parts of Scotland, and even in certain parts of England, and this year there are many who will be calling this to mind and commemorating that great and signal movement of the Spirit of God. I believe it is right that we should participate in this, and understand why it is being done, and why the Church of God should be very concerned about it at this present juncture.
This is obviously a matter for the whole Church and not merely for certain of her leaders. The history of revivals brings that out very clearly, for God often acts in a most unusual manner and produces revival and promotes it and keeps it going, not necessarily through ministers but perhaps through people who may have regarded themselves as very humble and unimportant members of the Christian Church.
The Church is so constituted that every member matters, and matters in a very vital sense. So I also call attention to this whole subject, partly because I sense that there is a curious tendency today for members of the Christian Church to feel and to think that they themselves can do very little and so they tend to look to others to do all that is needed for them. This, of course, is something which is characteristic of the whole of life today. For instance, men and women no longer take exercise in sport as they used to. Instead, people tend to sit in crowds and just watch other people play. There was a time when people provided their own pleasure but now the radio and television provide their entertainment and pleasure for them. And I fear that the tendency is even manifesting itself in the Christian Church.
More and more we see evidence that people are just sitting back in crowds while one or two people are expected to be doing everything. Now that of course is a complete denial of the New Testament doctrine of the Church as the Body of Christ, where every single member has responsibility and has a function . . . and matters, and matters in a most vital sense. You can read the Apostle’s great expositions of that doctrine, for example in I Corinthians 12, where you find that he says that our less comely parts are as important as the more comely parts, that every part of the body is to function and is to be ready for the Master’s use, and always to be usable.
That is why I believe that this is a matter which really deserves the most urgent attention of every one of us. Indeed, I do not hesitate to go so far as to say that unless we as individual Christians are feeling a grave concern about the state of the Church and the world today then we are very poor Christians indeed. If we are people who come to the Christian Church merely in order to get some personal help, and no more, then we are the veriest babes in Christ. If we have grown at all, then we must have a concern about the situation, a concern about the state of society, a concern about the state of the Church and a concern about the armour of almighty God. It is, I repeat, a matter that should come home to every one of us.
So let us start considering this incident in Mark 9, and especially these two verses at the end of the account which constitute a kind of epilogue to the story. In the earlier verses we are told how our Lord had taken Peter and James and John and had gone up into ‘an high mountain apart’ with them. And on that Mount of Transfiguration they had witnessed the amazing event that took place there. But then they were coming down from the mountain, and they found a crowd of people surrounding the remaining disciples, with much argument and disputation. They could not understand what it was all about, when suddenly a man stepped forward and spoke, ‘In a sense,’ he said, ‘I am responsible for this. I have a son here . . . a poor boy who has been subject to fits, to attacks of convulsions from his childhood,’ (it does not matter what it was exactly) ‘and,’ he continued, ‘I brought this boy along in order that you might heal him. I came to your disciples and they could do nothing. They tried, but they failed.’
Our Lord, you remember, put a few questions to the man, and elicited certain information and then quite simply proceeded to exorcise the devil out of this boy and the boy was healed and restored in a moment. Having done that, our Lord went into the house and the disciples went with him. And when they got into the house, the disciples turned to our Lord, and said, ‘Why could not we cast him out?’ It is very easy to understand their feelings. They had tried their utmost, but they had failed. They had succeeded in many other cases. Here they had failed altogether. And yet in a moment and with extreme ease our Lord just spoke a word and the boy was healed. ‘Why could not we cast him out?’ they said and our Lord answered and said, ‘This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting.’
Now I want to take this story and use it as a very perfect representation of the present position. Here in this boy, I see the modern world, and in the disciples I see the Church of God . . . almost at this present hour. Is it not obvious to all of us, that the Church is patently failing . . . that she does not count even as much as she did in the memory of many of us today? Certainly she does not count as she did seventy, eighty or a hundred years ago. The whole situation speaks eloquently to that. And here is the Church, certainly trying, like the disciples doing her utmost, perhaps in a sense more active than she has ever been and yet obviously failing to deal with the situation.
And so we can understand the feelings of the disciples only too easily, conscious of failure, aware of certain things that have happened which indicate that there is a possibility of success, and yet not achieving success. And the question therefore that we ask, or certainly should ask, and ask urgently, is ‘Why cannot we cast him out? What is the matter? What is the cause of the failure? What is the explanation of the situation which confronts us?’
Here in this story, our Lord seems to me to be dealing with that very question. And the principles that he laid down on that occasion are as vital and as important today as they were when he uttered them on that famous occasion. Fortunately for us, they divide themselves up very simply into three main headings. Why could not we cast him out? The first answer is ‘this kind’. There we have a significant statement. Why could not we cast him out? Oh,’ says our Lord, ‘this kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting.’ He is telling them, in other words, that the first thing they have to learn is to differentiate between case and case. Clearly what was at the back of the disciples’ question was this: our Lord had sent them out to preach and to cast out devils, and they had gone out, and they had preached and had cast out many devils. Indeed, we read in Luke 10 that on one occasion they had been so successful and had come back with so much elation, that they were very guilty of pride.
Our Lord had to rebuke them, saying, ‘Rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven’ (Luke 10.20). They were full of jubilation . . . of excitement. They said that the very devils had been made subject to them, and they had seen Satan, as it were, fall before them.
So on this occasion, when this man brought his boy to them, they approached the problem with great confidence and assurance. They had no doubt that they were going to succeed. And yet in spite of all their efforts the boy was no better at all, he was as desperate as he was when the father first brought him to them. So naturally they were in trouble and our Lord helped them just at that point. He said, ‘this kind’: there is a difference between ‘this kind’ and the kind with which you have been dealing hitherto, and with which you have been so successful.
This is a principle that one cannot but notice in reading through the New Testament. In an ultimate sense of course the problem is always the same. This, like the others, was a case of devil possession. Ah yes but there is a difference, as it were, between devil and devil. In that evil kingdom there are gradations . . . there is a kind of hierarchy. You remember how the Apostle Paul puts it in Ephesians 6: ‘For we wrestle not against flesh and blood . . .’ – against what then? ‘. . . principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’
There is a gradation, and at the head of all is Satan himself, ‘prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience’ (Eph. 2.2). There he is, with all his mighty power. But under him are these various other spirits and powers and forces, which vary much in strength and power. Therefore, the disciples could very easily deal with the lesser ones and master them, and exorcise them. But here, says our Lord, is a spirit of greater power. He is not like those other feebler spirits that you have been able to master. This kind is altogether different, and therefore constitutes a much greater problem.
It is important for us to grasp this self-same principle, for it is still as true today as it was then.
I. The first thing, therefore, that we must consider is this whole problem of diagnosis. ‘This kind’.<br.
The problem with the disciples was that they had rushed into an attempted treatment before they had understood the nature of the problem. And here is the lesson that the Church so badly needs to learn at this present time. We are all such activists; we are all so busy. We are practical people, we say. We are not interested in doctrine and we must be doing something, so we rush off to our activities. And perhaps that is the main cause of our failure. We have not stopped to consider ‘this kind’. We may not be as aware as we should be of the real essence of the problem which is confronting us. But it is a universal rule and principle that it is sheer madness and waste of energy to attempt any kind of treatment until we have first established an accurate diagnosis.
Of course, it is a great relief to be doing things. I am always reminded of the people who during the last war used to confess that what they really could not stand was just to be sitting in an air raid shelter. They felt that the strain was intolerable and they were going mad! But if they could only get up and walk about somewhere, or if they had something to do, they all immediately felt better. It is a great relief to have something to do. But it is not always very intelligent just to be doing something. There is this danger of rushing into activity before we fully realise the nature of the problem by which we are confronted.
So, as we look at the expression, ‘this kind’, I wonder whether as Christian people we are aware of the real depth of the problem which confronts us, in a spiritual sense, at this present time. I ask that question because it seems to me to be so clear, from the activities of many, that they have not even begun to understand it. They are carrying on with certain methods which were once successful, and they pin their faith to them, and they do not realise that they are not only not successful, but that they cannot be because of the nature of the problem that is confronting them.
It is not enough that we should be aware of some general kind of need, because that is always there. When this man brought his boy to the disciples, there was an obvious need, but that had been true in the other cases in which they had been successful. The need is common to all, so that the mere fact that we are aware of it says nothing. The problem for us is the precise nature of this need, what is its exact character? And it is there that we have to think and to realise that we need a little subtlety and understanding in our approach, in order to make our diagnosis.
Let me give you an illustration to explain what I mean. Imagine that you are walking along a country road, and as you walk along you suddenly see a man lying on the side of the road. He does not make any move when you come along, so obviously he has not heard you, and you come to the conclusion that this man is in a state of unconsciousness. Very well – so far so good – everybody is agreed about that. Yes, but the really important question is why that man is lying in that state of unconsciousness. Because there are many possible reasons for this. One reason may be that the man has been taking a very long walk, and he has suddenly felt so tired that he cannot proceed any further. So he had just taken a rest and fallen asleep, and he is sleeping so soundly that he did not hear you as you walked along.
But there are other possible explanations. The man may be in that condition because he has suddenly become ill. He may have had a haemorrhage into his brain which has rendered him unconscious. Or, again, he may be in that unconscious condition because he has been taking some drug. He may have taken too much alcohol or some other drug. He is poisoned. I need not go into any other possibilities.
My point is that if you want to help this man it is not enough just to say that he is unconscious. You must discover exactly the cause of his unconsciousness. Even if it is the case that the man is just asleep, well, it may be raining and he may be in danger of getting wet and getting a chill. And so, if you want to help him all you have to do is to shake him and to shout at him and he will wake up. And when you tell him that he is endangering his health by lying there and sleeping in the rain he will be grateful to you and you will have solved the problem without doing anything further. But if the man has a drug in his system, if he is under the influence of some poison, then your shouting and your shaking will not help him. If this is true, then the situation is more serious, and if you really are going to do anything of value to help the man, you must take measures which will get rid of the poison in his system, and administer certain antidotes, and proceed to deal with him according to the particular necessity. Or if he is suffering from some disease then again, the treatment will be quite different.
There, I think, we see in a picture the importance of establishing a clear diagnosis. Oh yes, everybody is aware that there is a need, but the question is what is the need? This is the thing which demands our most urgent attention at this present time, and it seems to me that until the Christian Church, . . . Until Christian people as individuals in the Church, are aware of the nature of the problem, we cannot begin to deal with it as we should. And here I see a very great difference between today and two hundred years ago, or indeed even one hundred years ago. The difficulty in those earlier times was that men and women were in a state of apathy. They were more or less asleep. Going back, certainly two hundred years, there was no general denial of Christian truth. It was just that people did not trouble to practise it. They more or less assumed it. And in a sense, all you had to do then was to awaken them and to rouse them, and to disturb them out of their lethargy. That was also the position a hundred years ago and at the end of the Victorian era. All you needed at that time was an occasional campaign just to rouse people and to awaken them. And that seemed to be sufficient.
But the question is whether that is still the position. Are we right if we diagnose that to be the state of affairs at the present time? What is ‘this kind’? What is the problem that is confronting us? I feel increasingly that as we examine this truly, we shall see that the kind of problem facing us is altogether deeper and more desperate than that which has confronted the Christian Church for many a long century.
For the problem for us is not apathy, it is not a mere lack of concern and lack of interest. It is something much more profound. It seems to me to be a complete unawareness, even a denial of the spiritual altogether. It is not just apathy, it is not that people really have at the back of their minds what is right and true, but are not doing anything about it. No, the whole notion of the spiritual has gone. The very belief in God has virtually gone.
We need not at this point seek the causes of this, but the fact is that because of some supposed scientific knowledge, the average man today thinks that all this belief about God and religion and salvation, and all that belongs to the realm of the Church, is something that should be entirely dismissed and forgotten. He believes that it has been an incubus on human nature all through the centuries, that it has been something that has been preventing the development and the forward march of the human race, and that it should be got rid of. The modern man is impatient with it all. He dislikes it and he dismisses it in toto.
Now surely, this is something which we should recognise. It is very difficult for us, because we are Christian people, and because we are interested in these things, to realise the mentality and the attitude of those who do not belong to the Christian Church, but that I would suggest to you is what they are thinking. Not only that, . . . the authority of the Bible is no longer recognised. In past times people did recognise the Bible to be the Word of God. They did not practise it or listen to it, but if you asked them what they thought of it, they would admit that, yes it was the good old book, God’s book, and, yes, they felt that they were sinners. But that is no longer the case. It is regarded as an ordinary book, to be treated like any other book. It is just literature, which is to be criticised, analysed and subjected to our knowledge, historical, scientific and everything else, just a book amongst books. No longer is it acknowledged as the divine, inspired Word of God.
Take the essential truths about our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. These are no longer believed as they once were. He is regarded as just a man amongst men, a great man, of course, but nothing more than that. His deity is denied, his virgin birth is denied and his atoning death is denied. He is just a social reformer, just a political agitator, merely someone who laid down certain ethical views with respect to life, which we would do well to practise.
Let me give you an illustration of this. A man like Bertrand Russell, for instance, has said that the Christian Church should be telling the nations and the governments what they ought to do, and not to do, about bombs, and yet he himself writes a book saying ‘Why I am not a Christian’. You see, that is the kind of thing we find today. All that is really of value to us about the Lord is denied, and he is reduced to the position of a mere human teacher or of some kind of great example. And then, over and above all that, we are confronted by the way in which people live. It is no longer merely a question of immorality. This has become an amoral or a non-moral society. The very category of morality is not recognised at all, and men and women are virtually in the position of saying ‘evil be thou my good’. Surely, we all see this if we read our newspapers with intelligent eyes. We find a defence, as it were, of immorality, a justification of it in terms of medicine, or a man’s constitution, or in terms of a denunciation of the taboos of the past. And things which should never be mentioned are even allowed to be presented on the stage, as long as they do not violate certain canons of decency.
Now, surely, it is time that we who are Christian people had a living understanding of the position which confronts us, that is, the state of society. Our terminology no longer means anything to the masses of the people. They are in a position of plenty, plenty of money, able to get everything they want, and they are unconcerned about spiritual things: no interest in the soul, no interest in the higher things of life, just eating and drinking and enjoying themselves. They have got what they want and all they are anxious to do is to hold on to it. There then, as I see it, is something of ‘this kind’ – the problem with which you and I are confronted. Now it is essential that we understand this because in the second place our Lord goes on to say that
II. ‘this kind can come forth by nothing but . . .’
There are certain things which are quite useless when they are applied to ‘this kind’. In other words what our Lord was saying to the disciples can be put like this. He said, in effect: ‘You have failed in this particular case because the power that you had and which was sufficient and adequate for the other cases, is inadequate and of no value here. It just leaves you utterly helpless and hopeless and it leaves the boy in his diseased and powerless condition.’ And surely this is the second step which we need to take at the present time. Is it not becoming obvious at last that so many of the things in which we have trusted and to which we have pinned our faith, are proving to be of no avail?
Now, do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that there is anything wrong in these things in and of themselves. The power that the disciples had was a good power, and it was able to do good work in casting out the feeble devils, but it was of no value in the case of that boy. That is the argument, so all the things that I am going to mention are quite all right as far as they go. I am not saying that they are wrong, what I am saying is that they are not enough, and until you and I come to see that . . . and until we see the greater need, we will just continue as we are in our utter ineffectiveness, in spite of all our efforts, organisings and endeavours.
What are some of these things that are proving to be useless? Let me just indicate some of them to you, because these are the things on which the Christian Church is still relying. These are the things to which Christian people are still pinning their faith.
A. Let me begin with apologetics – the belief that what we really have to do is to make the Christian faith acceptable to and commendable to the men and women of today. To this end books are written, lectures are delivered, and sermons are preached, in an attempt to produce and present the Christian faith in a philosophical manner to the modern man. And so you take the books which deal with the philosophy of religion . . . take the great works of past philosophers, the great Greek philosophers and others, and you say that Christianity fits into thi . . . that it is rational and so on, and so you show the utter reasonableness of the Christian faith. That is apologetics, presenting itself in the form of philosophy.
In particular, at the present time, we are interested in doing this in terms of science . . . reconciling science with religion. We argue that the people of today are scientifically minded, that they have this scientific outlook, and that, of course, they cannot believe the gospel and the Scriptures because they seem to them to dispute the scientific facts, especially as far as miracles and such things are concerned. The Church, therefore, argues that what is necessary is to reconcile science and religion, and so we clutch at any scientist who even remotely hints that in some vague way he believes in God.
What excitement there was when a recent Reith lecturer, a scientist, even seemed to indicate that he believed that after all there may be a God who may have created at the beginning. And we find this wonderful! You see the pathetic state we have got into, that we should become excited when a man like that . . . a great scientist though he may b . . . seems even to allow the possibility that there is a God and there is a Creator.
And we are so pleased about it, and we all mention it to one another, and say that this is marvellous! It shows, you see, that we are pinning our faith to this kind of thing. What we really ought to say is, ‘Does he really? How kind of him! How nice of him!’ And then perhaps we should pause for a moment and say, ‘Why has it taken him all these years to come even to that nebulous conclusion?’
But it is indicative of our whole attitude that we should clutch at these men, whoever they are, and however vague their statements. It shows that ultimately we really believe that the way to deal with the modern situation is through our apologetics. Ah, we want to show that, after all, the Bible does not deny science. Science is the authority and the Bible has got to be fitted in. And we think that by that kind of effort and endeavour we are going to deal with the present situation.
B. Then again it is done in terms of archaeology. Do not misunderstand me, archaeology is very valuable – thank God for everything that it produces which does confirm the biblical history – but if we are going to depend upon archaeology, well then, God help us all. There are different schools amongst the archaeologists and they have their different interpretations. But there seems to be this tendency to clutch at every straw, feeling that this is what is going to prove that the Bible is true.
C. And in the same way we clutch at well-known men. What excitement there was when the late Professor Joad wrote a book in which he acknowledged that the war had driven him to believe in evil and to believe in God! But, why all this excitement? It indicates our pathetic faith and belief in these methods which are nothing but apologetics. It was exactly the same way at the beginning of the eighteenth century, when people were pinning their faith on Bishop Butler and his great analogy of religion, and the Boyle lectures, and so on. These, they taught us, are the things that are going to show the truth of Christianity, but they did not do that. ‘This kind’ can come forth by nothing along that line.
D. Then let us come to methods. How tragic it is to see the way in which men are pinning their faith upon particular methods.
1.One of these is the excitement about new translations of the Bible. This is based on the belief that the man of today, who is not a Christian, is outside the Church because he cannot understand the Authorised Version. These technical terms, this Elizabethan language, justification, sanctification: this means nothing to the modern man. What he wants, you see, is a Bible in modern language, in modern slang, in the modern idiom, and then men will read it. Then they will say, ‘This is Christianity,’ and they will embrace it. And so we are having fresh translations, one after another. Everybody buys them because all we need is the Bible in modern up-to-date language. Is this not tragic? Is that what is keeping people from Christ? Do you think that people two hundred years ago knew anything more about justification and sanctification than they do today? Were those the common terms of a thousand years ago? Is that the difficulty? No, it is the heart of man, it is the evil that is in him. It is not a question of language, it is not a question of terminology, yet we pin our faith to this. Do not misunderstand me, there may be some value in modern translations, though nothing like as much as people think. You have got to go a long way to improve on this Authorised Version, and we need to be careful with the modern translations, they may mislead theologically. But, whatever their value, that is not going to solve the problem.
2. What else is there? Oh, the belief in the radio and the television. We must make use of these media, we say. Everybody is listening. Take the gospel to their homes. Give them these short snappy messages, that is the way to do it. So we pin our faith on it.
3. Then there is advertising. Big business succeeds because it advertises, so we must advertise the Church, and set up our publicity agencies in the Church. in this way we will tell the people what the Church is and what she is doing, in the belief that if we only tell them the truth they will jump at it and want it and take it, as they do the various commodities that are advertised in these ways. And people seem to believe this. They think that ‘this kind’ can come forth by such methods as this. What we need, they say, is new magazines, new literature, new tracts, and off we go and distribute all these. We write articles in a semi-popular form – now people will get the message, we say.
4. And then of course there is popular evangelism, in which all this is put to practice. Everything that can appeal to the modern man, the last word in presentation is used, in the belief that when it is done, and you do it with a modern technique, then you will get hold of the modern man. But I think that the time has now come to ask this simple question: what are the results? Is the modern problem being touched at all?
Of course these various methods, the apologetics and the others may indeed lead to individual conversions. We are all aware of that. Almost any method you like to employ will do that. Of course there are individual conversions, but my question is this – what of the situation, what of the bulk of men and women, what of the working classes of the country, are they being touched at all, are they being affected at all? Is anybody being affected, except those who are already in the Church or on the fringe of the Church?
What of the spiritual and religious condition of the country? What of the whole state of society? Is this being touched at all by all our activities? Well, my answer would be that it all seems to put us into the position of the disciples who had tried to cast the devil out of the boy, these men who had been so successful in many another case but who could not touch this case at all. And our Lord gives the explanation, ‘this kind’ can come forth by nothing like this. By what, then? ‘This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer, and fasting.’
You failed there, he said in effect to these disciples, because you did not have sufficient power. You were using the power that you have, and you were very confident in it. You did it with great assurance, you were masters of the occasion, you thought you were going to succeed at once, but you did not. It is time you paused for a moment and began to think. It was your ignorance of these gradations in power amongst evil spirits that led to your failure, and to your crestfallen condition at this moment. You have not sufficient power. I did what you could not do because I have power, because I am filled with the power that God gives me by the Holy Spirit, for he gives not the Spirit by measure unto me. You will never be able to deal with ‘this kind’ unless you have applied to God for the power which he alone can give you.
You must become aware of your need, of your impotence, of your helplessness. You must realise that you are confronted by something that is too deep for your methods to get rid of, or to deal with, and you need something that can go down beneath that evil power, and shatter it . . . and there is only one thing that can do that, and that is the power of God.
And we too, must become aware of that, we have got to feel it until we become desperate. We must ask ourselves how we can succeed if we do not have this authority, this commission, this might and strength and power. We must become utterly and absolutely convinced of our need. We must cease to have so much confidence in ourselves, and in all our methods and organisations, and in all our slickness. We have got to realise that we must be filled with God’s Spirit.
And we must be equally certain that God can fill us with his Spirit. We have got to realise that however great ‘this kind’ is, the power of God is infinitely greater . . . that what we need is not more knowledge . . . more understanding . . . more apologetics . . . more reconciliation of philosophy and science and religion . . . and all modern techniques – no, we need a power that can enter into the souls of men and break them and smash them and humble them and then make them anew. And that is the power of the living God.
And we must be confident that God has this power as much today as he had one hundred years ago, and two hundred years ago, and so we must begin to seek the power and to pray for it. We must begin to plead and yearn for it. ‘This kind’ needs prayer.
Now, this is but the introduction to the theme that we are going to consider, but it leads me to ask this question: Are you really concerned about the present position? Are you desperately concerned about it? Are you praying about it? Do you ever pray for the power of God in the Church today? Or are you just content to read the weekly newspapers which tell us about all these various efforts and to say, ‘It is all right, the work is going on.’
‘This kind cometh not forth but by prayer and fasting.’ This word fasting is not in all the ancient manuscripts, but it implies not only literal, physical fasting, but concentration. The value of fasting is that it enables you to give your undivided attention to a subject. So what our Lord said to the disciples is this: you will never deal with this sort of problem until you have been praying, concentrating in prayer, waiting upon God, until he has filled you with the power. When you know you have got it, then you go out with authority. That is the way, and that is the only way. Surely no one should need to be convinced today that nothing short of a mighty outpouring of the Spirit of God is adequate to deal with our situation in this mid-twentieth century?
Are you really still trusting to these other things? Here is the vital question. Have you seen the desperate need of prayer, the prayer of the whole Church? I shall see no hope until individual members of the Church are praying for revival, perhaps meeting in one another’s homes, meeting in groups amongst friends, meeting together in churches, meeting anywhere you like, and praying with urgency and concentration for a shedding forth of the power of God, such as he shed forth one hundred and two hundred years ago . . . and in every other period of revival . . . and of re-awakening. There is no hope until we do. But the moment we do, hope enters.
Oh, when God manifests his power, it happens as it happened in the case of this poor boy. With apparent ease, in an effortless manner, the devil is exorcised, and the boy healed and restored to his father. When God arises, his enemies are scattered; that is the story of all the great revivals of history. But we shall not be interested in revival until we realise the need of ‘this kind’, the futility of all our own efforts and endeavours and the utter absolute need of prayer, and seeking the power of God alone.
A sermon delivered in 1959. Source: International Revival Network: www.openheaven.com. May be freely copied provided source and/or copyrights are included with the text.
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Today more than ever attention focusses on young people. Newspaper headlines of their activities feature everything from revolution to drugs, student sit-ins to the generation gap, hooliganism to hijacking. Not that the news media are unfair or disproportionate: in a year or two the average age in America will be twenty-four. Most of these young […]
On Doctrine and Practice July 16, 2019
A charge that is made repeatedly against historic Christianity is that its stress on doctrine makes it authoritarian, theoretical, and cold. The Christian religion is a practical affair; putting the faith in terms of truth to be believed alienates or repels many who would otherwise be sympathetic. As John Robinson puts it, ‘the effect of […]