The Revival We Need
How is the Church to be lifted up to the abundant life in Christ, which will fit her for the work that God is putting before her? Nothing will help but a revival, nothing less than a tremendous spiritual revival. Great tides of spiritual energy must be put into motion if this work is to be accomplished. Now there may be great differences in what we understand by revival. Many will think of the work of evangelists like Moody and Torrey. We need a different and mightier revival than those were. In them the chief object was the conversion of sinners, and incidentally, the quickening of believers. But the revival that we need calls for a deeper and more entire upheaval of the Church. The great defect of those revivals was that the converts were received into a Church that was not living on the high level of consecration and holiness, and speedily sank down to the average standard of ordinary religious life. Even the believers who had been roused by it, also gradually returned to their former life of clouded fellowship and lack of power to testify for Christ.
The revival we need is a revival of holiness, in which the consecration of the whole being is to the service of Christ, and that for the whole life shall be counted possible. And for this there will be needed a new style of preaching in which the promises of God to dwell in His people, and to sanctify them for Himself, will take a place which they do not now have. When our Lord Jesus gave the promise of the Holy Spirit, He spoke of the New Covenant blessing that would be experienced—God dwelling in His people. “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him.” So Paul also writes: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith... that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.” With the Reformation, the great truth of justification by faith was restored to its place. But the other great truth of sanctification has never yet taken its place in the preaching and practice of the Church which God’s Word claims for it. It is for this that we need a revival, that the Holy Spirit may so take possession of us that the Father and the Son can live in us, and that the fellowship with Them, and devotion to Their will and service shall be our chief joy. This will be in very deed a holiness revival.
The Moravian community (at Herrnhut) owed its birth to a holiness revival. There were gathered together a number of Bohemian refugees, and along with them a number of Christians of different sects. It was not long before disputes arose, and Herrnhut became a scene of contention and divisions. Zinzendorf felt this so deeply that he went down to live among them. In the power of God’s Spirit he succeeded in restoring order and in binding them together in the power and devotion of Jesus Christ and of love to each other. More than once they had remarkable manifestations of the presence of the Spirit, and their whole life became one of worship and praise. After they had for a couple of years been having their nightly fellowship meetings, they were lead to the consecration of the whole body to the service of Christ’s kingdom. It was in this holiness revival that the Moravian missionary idea was born. When John Wesley visited them he wrote: “God has given me the desire of my heart. I am with a church whose conversation is in heaven, in whom is the mind that was in Christ, and who so walk as He walked. Here I continually met what I sought for—living proofs of the power of faith, persons saved from inward as well as outward sin, by the love of God shed abroad in their hearts. I was extremely comforted and strengthened by the conversation of this lovely people.”
A holiness revival! What was the great evangelistic revival in England through Whitefield and Wesley but this? They had together at Oxford been members of the “Holy Club”. With their whole heart they had sought deliverance from the guilt of sin, but also from the power of sin. When their eyes were opened to see how faith can claim the whole Christ in all fullness, they found the key to the preaching which was so mightily effectual for the salvation of men. What John Wesley did for the Methodism, General Booth, and his disciple, did for the Salvation Army. Looking at the material on which he had to work, it was amazing how, with his teaching of the clean heart and full salvation, he was able to inspire tens of thousands with a true devotion to Christ and the lost. There may be great differences of doctrine, but no one can be blind to the seal God has set upon the intense desire to preach a full salvation and an entire consecration.
A revival of holiness is what we need. Such preaching of the claim that Christ has on us, shall lead us to live entirely for Him and His kingdom; such an attachment of love to Him as shall make His fellowship our highest joy; such faith in His freeing us from the dominion of sin as shall enable us to obey His commandments; such yielding to the Holy Spirit as to be led by Him in all our daily walk—these will be some of the elements of the revival of true holiness for which the Church must learn to seek as for the pearl of great price.
And how is it to be found? It will cost much prayer. It will cost more than that - much sacrifice of self and of the world. It will need a surrender to Christ Jesus to follow Him as closely as God is able to lead us. We must learn to look upon a life like Christ’s, having the very same mind that was in Him, as the supreme object of daily life. It is only when a prayer such as Robert Murray McCheyne’s becomes ours, “Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be”, and begins to be offered by an increasing number of ministers and believers, that the promise of the New Covenant will become a matter of experience.
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