Eight Keys to Biblical Revival

Author: Lewis Drummond
Reviewed by: Kerry L. Skinner

Introduction and Prologue:

  • As 1860 was ushered in, the Fortune, Garrick, and Sadler Wells theaters of London opened their door for Sunday evangelistic services.
  • During the revival one million new members entered the ranks of the British churches.
  • But the question still surfaces: What actually takes place, in principle and in final results, during revival times? Perhaps even more important, what produces a great awakening?
  • James Burns in his classic work Revivals, Their Laws and leaders points us in the right direction
  • They hold that revival occurs among the people of God as they repent and spiritual vitality is restored. Then, they tell us, spiritual awakening sweeps the general community and many are converted. Of course, such a distinction can be properly made; however, most works on the phenomenon use the two terms interchangeably.
  • At the same time, it certainly is the case that God first awakens His own saints and restores and renews them before significant change occurs in the community.
  • Burns’ Principles of Spiritual Awakenings
  • The Principle of the Fullness of Time
  • The Principle of the Emergence of the Prophet
  • The Law of Progress in Spiritual Matters
  • Spirituality superceding materialism becomes paramount.
  • The Principle of Variety
  • The Principle of Recoil
  • The Principle of Theology
  • The Principle of Consistency
  • Packer’s Views

Chapter 1—The King is Dead…Long Live the King…In a Spiritual Awakening, God Reveals Himself as a Father, Therefore, “His People, Called by His Name” Must Respond

  • The preachers and pastors simply got lost in a maze of theological minutiae.
  • They saw them merely as institutions where one could be baptized, married, and buried. A contemporary quip points our that all the European State Church did for an apathetic people in christening babies, marrying, an burying people, was to “hatch , match, and dispatch” them.
  • Thousands were suddenly dazzled by the blinding light of God’s reviving presence. Lutherans, Calvinists, Zwinglians, Anglicans, Baptists, and Armenians began to cry, “Father, I want to know you truly and personally.”
  • God revealed himself as Father, awakening “His People.”
  • God’s own people being dramatically renewed when they grasp God as a Father, awakening “His people.”
  • To pinpoint the prime patriarch of the Puritan Revival is rather difficult. Nonetheless, many writers start with the sixteenth-century preacher-professor, William Perkins (1558-1603) of Warwickshire, England.
  • “a floodtide of godliness” swept over Europe.
  • But the movement, like all such movements, spent its force, and spiritual sterility once again set in. The inevitable recoil came.
  • Later, in America, the following interview took place between John and the Moravian bishop, Professor Spangenberg of Jena:

Spangenberg: “Do you know Jesus Christ?”
Wesley: “I know He is the Savior of the World.”
Spangenberg: “True, but do you know that he has saved you?”
Wesley: “I hope He has died to save me.”
Spangenberg (later): “I fear they were vain words.”

  • After Wesley’s so-called “failure” in Georgia, he returned to England only to pen in his journal, “I went to America to convert the heathen, but. oh, who will convert me?
  • George Whitefield, Wesley’s close friend, had been preaching with tremendous effect two years before the Wes leys were converted.
  • At the age of sixteen Josiah “began to seek the God of his father David” (2Chronciles 34:3). Why did this young man, encompassed by unbelievable circumstances, begin to seek the Lord? He certainly did not receive an inspiration from his predecessors Manasseh or Amon. His entire background and environment militated against any such seeking. Only the sovereign grace of God can explain it.
  • He gives revival when and through whom He pleases.
  • He always uses human instruments to accomplish His divine purpose.
  • It has at times even divided the church into rival factions.*

*This even occurred during the great Eighteenth-Century Revival. So-called “Calvinists” and “Armenians” battled over the issue, and it did damage to the awakening. It actually put Wesley and Whitefield, at least to an extent, in different camps.

  • First, Josiah purged Judah and Jerusalem of its idols, its “high places, Asherah poles, carved idols and cast images” (2 Chronicles 34:3). Then, after purification from the pollution of idols, he launched a drive to involve all the people in repairing the Jerusalem temple. True worship of the Father was restored. In any age, idols must go, and genuine worship of the Father must be instituted.
  • Josiah also burned the dead bones of the false priests on their altars. By means of this action, Josiah apparently unwittingly fulfilled the prophecy of the man of God from Judah who had pronounced judgment against wicked Jeroboam for his idolatrous altar: “And the man cried against the altar by the word of the Lord, and said, ‘O altar, altar,’ thus says the Lord:’ Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and he shall sacrifice upon you the priests of the high places who burn incense upon you, and men’s bones shall be burned upon you’” (1Kings 13:2). That was shortly after 931 B.C. Its fulfillment occurred some three hundred years later in 628 B.C. Yet, in this magnificent prophecy are included the name of the king, his act of discovering the bones of these desecrates, and the rebuke for this golden calf installation in the northern kingdom by a Davidic king.
  • The Holy Spirit, the Author of revival, is sensitive and readily grieved by sin, especially in the lives of believers. God invariable breaks the hearts of His people over their personal sin and waywardness.
  • But when I stretched my hand out to Mrs. Culpepper’s head, I had to bring it back.
  • “What kind a missionaries are we?” I asked. We had gone through a week of heart searching, humbling ourselves before each other and before the Lord, in order that we might be altogether right with him, so that he could hear our prayers and heal the physical eye of one of our own number. Yet we had never gone to this much self negation for preparation to pray for the opening of the spiritual eyes of the Chinese to whom we had been sent. Our mountaintop of ecstasy suddenly became a valley of humiliation. We all went to our knees in contrite confession for having been so careless as to have gone along supposing that we were right with the Lord, while holding all kinds of attitudes that could have kept the Lord’s living water from flowing through, out to the Chinese.

Within a few weeks we were able to return to our various posts pf work. Everyone went back to teaching and preaching the tragedy of sin in the life and heart of a Christian.

  • Worship of the Father “in Spirit and in truth” finds its fulfillment in complete surrender to His will. That becomes a foundational principle in any spiritual awakening.
  • Evan Roberts, God’s key instrument in the Welsh Revival of 1904-1906, admonished believers to “obey the Spirit promptly.”
  • Revival moves forward on the dedication of yielded people, regardless of their role in the life of the church.
  • A spiritual awakening always soars on the wings of the Word.
  • In a word, Josiah deeply repented.
  • As the Scriptures were read the people trembled.
  • The revived life is a life of constant discovery of areas of one’s experience to be confessed and plunged under the blood of Christ and yielded up to the covenant-keeping Father God.
  • It is a return to the Word of God that rests at the heart of any revival; actually, that is what makes an awakening last.
  • Therefore, as God unveils himself as a loving, reviving Father, God’s people, those “called by His name,” must respond in committal, repentance, worship, and service. That response becomes the point of it all, for that is revival.
  • Moreover, we all tend to be such activists that we seem to believe we must always act before God will move. Consequently Christians are urged first and foremost to “humble themselves,” “pray,” “seek God’s face,” and “turn from their wicked ways.” Only then, the exhortation goes, will revival come.
  • We must never slip into the spiritual syndrome of seeing God as some “Great Computer in the Sky” whom we can program by certain human activity, even evangelical actions, then push the “readout key” and expect an awakening automatically to emerge.
  • “He restoreth my soul” (Psalm 23:2, KJV).
  • In a very real sense, when God’s people profoundly “humble themselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from their sins,” the spiritual awakening has in a significant sense already begun. Strictly speaking, the spiritual disciplines of 2 Chronicles 7:14 are not just the conditions for a true revival; actually, they are the revival itself.
  • It simply means the initial act in revival begins with God moving and enabling His people to do so.
  • Sovereignty does not preclude seeking.
  • The Rupert Revival
  • So the burdened believers banded together to pray once a week for revival. Their numbers were pitifully small-sometimes no more than two or three. Hardly any in the community felt real concern.
  • The climax of the awakening in little Rupert came as eight-four people were gloriously saved and added to the church. The revival subsequently spread to nearby communities.
  • It does not take many to kindle revival fires, it simply takes sincerity, tenacity, and humility in the light of God’s sovereignty and power to revive His people.
  • Looking at Israel’s Exodus from Egypt in the context and light of God’s sovereign election, four realities immediately stand out. First, the providence of a reviving God rests in His sovereign grace.
  • Secondly, look at the persecution permitted by a reviving God in election.
  • Thirdly, the God of election will preserve His people in reviving power.
  • It took God forty years to get Moses into a proper spiritual condition to be the deliverer of Israel. There were many rough edges that needed rounding off. Developing a true life of humility takes time, and often pain. The old self-life never gives up. But God must bring us to the end of ourselves before He can send reviving grace through us.
  • Finally, the sovereign plan of God in election always brings revival.
  • Spurgeon, in his eloquent style, said, “A genuine revival without joy in the Lord is as impossible as spring without flowers, or day dawn without light … let us abound in holy joy and make it our constant delight to joy in God.”
  • Finney argues that an awakening becomes essential when brotherly love wanes. He states, “When there are dissensions, and jealousies, and evil speakings … then there is a great need of revival.
  • Finney replies by declaring that a revival is just about to break when the “wickedness of the wicked grieves and humbles and distresses Christians,” that Victorian expression simply means, when we finally get sick and tired of the moral corruption, violence, and spiritual unconcern that abounds all around, God will do something for His distressed people.
  • Leonard Ravenhill put his finger on it in his book Sodom Had No Bible when he said, “The church is dying on its feel because it is not living on its knees.”
  • God’s people tend to become what their leaders are. They adopt their leaders’ views, system of values, styles of ministry, and sense of needs. A burdened pastor promotes a burdened congregation. A renewal-oriented leader develops a revival-oriented people. Ministers should ask themselves, “What truly matters in my ministry?”
  • The Holy Spirit laid His hands on a simple, uneducated shoe salesman and molded him into the great D. L. Moody; lifted up a drunken baseball player off a Chicago street and made him evangelist Billy Sunday; touched a lanky North Carolina farm boy and fashioned a Billy Graham who has preached the Gospel to more people face-to-face than anyone in the history of Christianity.
  • James Burns in Revival: Their Laws and Leaders states that one of the prime principles of a spiritual awakening is “the emergence of the prophet.”
  • C.E. Autrey, Revivals in the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1960).
  • The “prophets” God raises up for revival are people of purpose, action, wisdom, integrity, and zeal.
  • Confession and cleansing lie at the heart of a true awakening.
    * Never has there been a revival that did not erupt in honest, open, specific confession of sins-one’s own iniquities and those of society generally.
  • For example, how often we simply pray, “Lord, forgive me of all my sins!” This is not the way the Bible teaches a Christian should confess iniquities; hence, probable the reason so little assurance of forgiveness is found.
  • Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17). True praise and joy as the natural expression in knowing Christ and His forgiveness.
  • Revived, cleansed people are happy people. They truly have “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8, KJV). Burns states that an awakening “leaves in its wake numberless happy men and women whose faces are aglow with a new light.”
  • “To forgive” in John’s terminology means to wipe out a debt. To be “cleansed” implies the blotting out of a stain. God will not only eradicate all debts, He will even blot out the stain of the memory that may drag one down into spiritual depression and guilt feelings.
  • A second principle immediately emerges at this point. What if some sins involve relationships with others as well as one’s relationship to God?
  • this is probable the real scriptural meaning of a public “rededication.” Sin precipitates the need for rededication; therefore, if one’s sins are open and reproachful, they should be confessed and made right with God and the church.
  • This openness should never be allowed to degenerate into a display of one’s sin before the whole world just for the sake of display.
  • The basic principle centers in the truth that sin should be confessed in the area of offense, and fellowship thereby restored.
  • Covenant commitment always follows as the natural outcome of cleansing.
  • Hezekiah then sacrificed the burnt offering
  • Now cleansed and consecrated, they began to sing the songs of the Lord. They sang and played “with the instruments of David” (2 Chronicles 29:26). It must have been a time of great rejoicing. That is always true of revival. Churches do not know real joy until the “joy of the Lord” comes mightily upon them.
  • That threefold response is typical of a spiritual awakening: scorn, a few seekers, and then those whom God profoundly touches.
  • The results of the awakening were astounding. Four significant spiritual steps were taken:
    1. Idols were destroyed (2 Chronicles 31:1)
    2. Public worship was restored.
    3. And perhaps most important of all, the people of God began to live holy lives (2 Chronicles 30: 15-20).
    4. National prosperity followed (2 Chronicles 32:37).
  • In a true awakening, God always reveals himself as holy.
  • God’s Holiness in Revival Highlights Human Iniquity
  • Initially, iniquity manifests itself in ingratitude. Hear the thankless, thoughtless Jews: “As for this Moses …” (Exodus 32:1).
  • Further, human iniquity reveals itself in irreverence. Hear the Jews: “As for this Moses …we do not know what has become of him” (Exodus 32:1, RSV).
  • Finally, in Israel’s case, it becomes clear that the holiness of a reviving God forces into bold relief the last resort of rebellion: idolatry and sensuality. “Make us gods” (Exodus 32:1).
  • Moving away from pure worship of the holy God is rebellion, no matter what we call it to justify the act.
  • If revival ever comes, it will be because someone prayed.
  • The Holiness of God in Revival Determines Human Intentions
  • First of all, if we mean business with God, we cannot condone any compromise with evil. No neutral ground can be found; it is either God or the devil.
  • Secondly, we cannot sidestep sheer, uncompromising obedience. Moses cried out: “Who is on the Lord’s side? (Exodus 32:26).
  • God often selects in grace those whom we, in our limited human wisdom, would never choose.
  • God in Revival Grace Often Calls the Most Unlikely Characters
  • Someone once asked Charles H. Spurgeon, “Do you really believe those who have never heard the Gospel are lost?” Spurgeon retorted, “Do you really believe those who say they believe the Gospel and never share it are saved?”
  • In revival, our Lord often seems to choose those who need His grace most, even a Jonah.
  • The grace of God is sufficient to fulfill His will even if we have a thousand weaknesses and sins. Remember, God uses any of us in spite of ourselves. In revival grace God has promised: he will strengthen us and forgive our sins.
  • God in Revival Grace Gives a Most Unlikely Commission
  • God in Revival Grace Displays Most Unlikely Compassion
  • Therefore, right in the belly of the fish, one of the most marvelous truths of the entire book shines forth. Right there Jonah discovered God’s primary paradox of grace: Life comes out of death.
  • Jonah’s personal revival led to a national revival. So often a spiritual awakening unfolds in that fashion; one person is revived and it suddenly becomes exceedingly contagious.
  • God is Revival Grace Demonstrates the Most Unlikely Consequences
  • When God’s people get rightly revived, the Holy Spirit can begin to spread His grace-work abroad. A revival simply must impact the lives of the lost if it is to be called a true awakening.
  • The Bible tells us, by implication what Jonah preached. First, he warned the people of God’s judgment (Jonah 3:4). Secondly, he preached repentance (Jonah 3:8). Thirdly, the prophet declared God’s compassion. “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 3:9).
  • True revival and the reception of God’s forgiving grace never comes without deep and thorough repentance.
  • Our Lord shows himself as power in all genuine rivals.
  • Revival is not something mysterious, mystical, even frightening or so “other worldly” that it appears unattainable. A true awakening is far removed from the attitude of an old brother who once prayed, ‘Lord, revive us, but don’t scare us to death when you do.”
  • The old cliché has it correct: Many of our churches are so scripturally subnormal that when they experience the biblically normal, they think it is abnormal and call it “revival.”
  • Acts 1-2 dramatically demonstrates six principles of moving into individual and corporate New Testament awakened church life.
  • The first principle can be expressed in the following: God Will Hear From Heaven When the church Acquires a Proper Evaluation of Priorities
  • Evangelism must be first in the church’s ministry priority list.
  • God Will Hear From Heaven When the church Acquires a Proper Passion
  • Their passion so captivated the masses that they became known as those who were “turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6, KJV).
  • the ultimate answer for lay involvement is revival, for in the final analysis the Spirit of God alone can kindle the flame for a lost world.
  • God Will Hear From Heaven When the church Acquires Proper Programs
  • Two principles dictate how church programs are to be structured.
  • First, good programs should center on felt needs.
  • Secondly, we must be certain we do God’s work correctly, that is, according to biblical patterns.
  • You must do God’s work God’s way to receive God’s blessings.
  • God Will Hear From Heaven When the Church Acquires Proper Power
  • Quiet witnessing in Holy Spirit power moves people as much as preaching that may cut them down.

The East African Revival

  • What perpetuated the revival for so long a period was epitomized in three key words that became the core of the movement: openness, brokenness, and challenge.
  • Openness: open and honest confession of one’s sins, realizing sin alone slays the spirit of revival. Brokenness: broken over sin and the loss of fellowship with God and others. Challenge: challenging fellow believers to a moment-by-moment walk with the Lord.
  • The way these principles worked out in the context of the awakening proved fascinating. As the believers met day by day they would challenge each other with the question, “Is your cup running over?”
  • The question for a people desiring revival invariably becomes: Are we “filled with the Spirit?” (Ephesians 5:18).
  • But often the key to revival rests in the preacher’s hand. It can be expressed as: God Will Hear From Heaven When the Church Acquires Proper Preaching
  • God Will Hear From Heaven When the Church Provides Proper Prayer
  • No Condition Contradicts God’s Reviving Love

Step one: No powerful, visionary preaching. In 1 Samuel 3:1 it states, “The word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision” (RSV).

Step Two: The beginning of defeat. The shout echoed throughout the land, “The Philistines are coming. To battle, O Israel.”
In 1 Samuel 4:2 we see the devastating results: “Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men of them on the battlefield.”

Step Three: Rationalization. The elders held a council meeting. They asked, “Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us today before the Philistines?” (1 Samuel 4:3, KJV).

Step Four: A real defeat. We read in 1 Samuel 4:10: “And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen” (KJV).

Step Five: The Ark of God was captured (1 Samuel 4:11). The Ark of the Covenant was lost. That really was the end. The Philistines had “captured God.” Little wonder when Eli’s daughter-in-law in the turmoil of it all gave an untimely birth and called the child “Ichabod”, the “glory has departed.”

  • Actually, they had lost God’s presence long before they lost the Ark.
  • God always reveals himself as love in a spiritual awakening and will “heal our land.”
  • in 1906, under the preaching-praying ministry of missionary Jonathan Goforth. One of the greatest revivals in the Far East occurred
  • Israel’s Three Steps to “Ebenezer”
  • Repentance. Samuel said, “If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines” (1 Samuel 7:13, KJV).
  • Prayer. First Samuel 7:708 states, “The children of Israel…were afraid of the Philistines. And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the Lord of God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines” (KJV).
  • Of the twelve Hebrew words used in the Old Testament that are translated “to pray” the one implied in our theme text actually means to “judge one’s self habitually.” Thus prayer in the biblical sense means consistent heart searching and continual repentance.

Understanding Who God Actually Is

  • God’s Attributes: A Basis for Prayer
  • before Revival comes, God first deals with sin. Therefore, all effective revival praying begins there.
  • If there is no cleansing, there will be not filling. If there is no confession, there will be no blessing. Revival waits on the “break up of unplowed ground” (Jeremiah 4:3).
  • Revival never ends in introspection and personal inward existential experience, although it surely begins there.
  • Let it be repeated over and over, any revival that does not result I fervent, effective, widespread evangelism has not accomplished what God desires.
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