DO WE NEED A REVIVAL?

By Tommy Thornhill

When we invite people to attend our gospel meeting, some do not understand what is meant by a gospel meeting. I have found myself over the years having to explain that what we refer to as a gospel meeting is what many people in the denominational world think of as a revival. This has caused me to think that maybe in many places, instead of a gospel meeting, we ought to be having a revival. Think with me.

How would you answer the question in the title? Before answering maybe we ought to first understand what is meant by the term. Revive – 1. To restore or return to consciousness or life, to reanimate. 2. To raise from languor, depression, discouragement, to render or become active, operative or flourishing again. 3. To recover from a state of neglect or disuse; to restore; to re-establish.” Revival – a renewed interest in religion, after indifference and decline; a period of religious awakening. With these definitions, let’s look at it more closely.

Do I? Do we? Does the church need a revival? I use the word “church” to refer to the membership of a local congregation All of us, individually and collectively, constantly face a spirit of decline. Most congregations that I know is experiencing a great wave of indifference and neglect of spiritual things. We see the need of revival of “church attendance” of the members. Why such a great disparity of attendees between the Sunday morning services and the other services and during gospel meetings? We see the need of revival when we consider the number of members who are “out of duty” and no longer attend services. Why are they not coming? Has anyone bothered to find out? A need of revival can be seen in the fact so many young people leave home and fall away from the Lord. One of the reasons is a lack of grounding them in the faith. They also need reviving. Some congregations no longer hold gospel meetings because they say no one will come. They have given up trying to convert people. Yes, a lot of congregations need revival meetings. When the membership gets revived, then they will carry the gospel message to the lost. They will seek to save the lost, and keep the saved from being lost again. I read where a preacher said, “a church being revived is simply getting it back to normal” (the real reason for our existence, t.t.). He went on to say that “some have been subnormal for so long, that if we get back to normal people will think we are abnormal.”

Brethren, there is a great need for a renewed interest in true Christianity, to have a religious awakening? But this is not a new thing. Spiritual decline has always plagued God’s people. In his book, Revelation, John, speaking for the Lord, commanded five of the seven churches named in the book to “repent” (a word equivalent in meaning to “revive”) Rev.2:5, 16, 21; 3:3, 21. The word “revival” suggests restoring life to the dead, and that is the condition of a lot of present day congregations. Read the OT prophets as they sought to revive God’s people Ps.85:4-6; Hos.6:1-2; 14:4-7; Hab.3:2. The NT writers faced the same problem. They may have used different terms, but meant the same thing. “Awake you who sleep” Eph.5:14; 1.Thes.5:6-8; Heb.10:24 “Consider one another in order to stir up (Provoke) unto love and good works.”

 

We understand sleep as a period of time when one is unconscious or insensible while the body is at rest. In the text it is used figuratively to describe Christians who had become so unconscious and insensible in their spiritual responsibilities, so immobile and inactive in their lives, that they seemed to be unaware that they were in danger of losing their souls Mk.13:36; 1.Cor.11:30; 15:34; Rom.13:11-12. How awake are you? I am afraid in many places most members act like Christianity is a spectator sport where they sit and watch the few active members perform. A Baptist preacher, Vance Havner, said of his members, “We yell like Comanches at athletic events and sit like wooden Indians at worship. We meet on the Lord’s Day it looks as though we are mourning a defeat rather than celebrating a victory. Sunday morning dignity has taken the place of supernatural delight. We are more interested in being edified than sanctified. The saintly have given way to the sanctimonious. Churches begun in revival fires are sitting in the smoke.”

Too many Christians are like a thermometer which tells how things are, but does not change it. Christians know something is wrong (lack of growth, stagnation in the work, lagging, dragging, failing), but do nothing to change it. They see stagnation, lack of growth and join the group. They are content with a false security 1.Thes.5:1-6, esp.v.3; 1.Tim.4:2 (conscience seared). They are even undiscerning of the return of Christ. We need to be like a thermostat which can be adjusted to make corrections. Improve the situation by adjusting self. Be like Peter Lk.22:32. After you are strengthened help others. Be filled with the Spirit which comes through His word Eph.5:18b; 2.Pet.1:13. Be an example to others 1.Pet.2:11-12. Brethren, think of the song “Revive us again.”

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