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Do you pray for revival? Do you hope for revival? And by that, I mean expect it with faith not a mere wishing for it. You see, many Christians are not praying and seeking and hoping for revival. They are like the squirrel with its nuts, preparing for winter. They hunker down and seek the simple goal of not being destroyed by the world and the general godlessness and apostasy of our current age. A noble goal we must agree. It is good to be guarded. It is wise to prepare for oncoming attacks; that is just good sense. But if that is all that you do as a Christian, I would say you are missing a key element of New Testament Christianity. And yes, you guessed it, I am talking about hope and faith again.

As we look out at the ruins of a formerly Christian West, we can hardly be blamed if we wince. I mean, it's bad out there. We have growing totalitarianism in our governments, vividly demonstrated in the early 20's so far. We see shocking displays of perversion and debauchery in popular culture. And perhaps most disturbing of all we see the tech world feverishly trying to advance toward a future of transhumanism, merging mankind with A.I., trying their best to outdo all the 20th century dystopian novels. Yet even with all that horror and discouragement to consider, I would still encourage us to hope in God and to have faith that He can and dare I say will bring revival to this land.

Iian Murray in his book The Puritan Hope quotes John Wesley who in 1742 arrived at Newcastle and said these great words:

"I was surprised; so much drunkenness, cursing and swearing (even from the mouths of little children) do I never remember to have seen and heard before in so small a compass of time…"

You would think that his next words would be something along the lines of – "surely the end is nigh! come Lord Jesus!" But no, they are not his words. Instead, Wesley's conclusion was as follows:

"Surely this place is ripe for Him who 'came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Ripe! Wesley saw a depraved world and said, this looks just about ready for God to save it! I think it's ready now Lord!

When you look at the history of the church you discover that at many times the church has looked weak, the world has looked very dark, and yet God saw fit to bring revival and reformation time and time again. The two best examples of this are the Great Reformation of the 16th Century in Europe, and the Great Awakening of the 18thCentury in both England and America. Each time the world looked dark, and the church looked weak, and yet we look back now with wonder and joy at what God did.

But should we really be surprised? Isn't this what we profess to believe – that Jesus came to save the world? We believe that God is in the business of saving a people from every tribe, tongue and nation, and that in the end He will have the prize for which He died. As the song goes, though the wrong seem oft so strong God is the ruler yet. Or as G.K. Chesterton wrote so powerfully:

"Christendom has had a series of revolutions and in each one of them Christianity has died. Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave."

So, let me ask again, do you pray for revival? Do you hope, that is eagerly expect with faith, that God will revive us yet again? Luther could have despaired, but God poured out His Spirit and brought revival in the 16th Century. Whitefield, Wesley and Edwards could have despaired but instead they gathered a great harvest as God visited the western world with mercy in the 18th Century.

So what about you? What about us in the 21st Century? Is God done with us? Should we resign ourselves to decline and simply pray for protection and preservation? My answer is a firm no. I believe we need to pray for revival, and to labour on in hope and in faith, looking for God to do what only He can do – that is, to bring us back to life! 

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Wednesday, 24 April 2024