The Plan For Revival
By Harold Vaughan
“It is easier to speak about revival than to set about it.” – Horatius Bonar
“Whatever God did and was able to do at any time, God is able and willing to do again, within the framework of His will.” – A. W. Tozer
“Revival is never the end of the church’s problems, nor is it intended to be…but better the problems of life than of death!” – Derek Prime
It is true that we cannot work up a revival, but we can prepare the way of the Lord. In 1672 Solomon Stoddard, grandfather of Jonathan Edwards, became the pastor of the Congregational Church of Northampton. He was a highly effective and influential minister in his time. Some people referred to him as the dominant civil and religious figure in Western Massachusetts. Stoddard prepared, prayed, and preached for revival.
Under his leadership his congregation saw five “harvests” between 1679 and 1719. These harvests were periods of reviving when many, especially young people, were converted. While others were theorizing about theology, Stoddard actively pursued God’s reviving presence. Neighboring pastors did not believe that God could visit their churches, and they experienced no times of refreshing during their entire ministries. But Stoddard avoided the trap of fatalism, and his church experienced revival repeatedly!
The building blocks for revival are universal. Hungry-hearted saints can find ready-made guidelines for revival inside the Book.
We Can PRAY for Revival
James Stewart said, “If it took extraordinary prayer and fasting to cast one demon out of one person in Jesus’ day, can we expect it will take less to cast the devil out of the church in our day?” We now have the worst of sins in the best of churches. It will take something other than human effort and ingenuity to rectify the situation.
There has never been a revival anywhere on earth where there has not been a desperate church. Churches are dying on their feet because they are not living on their knees. Crisis times call for crisis measures.
“Need” is the key to fervent prayer in any dispensation. Someone put it this way, “Adversity has slain its thousands, but prosperity has slain its tens of thousands.” The only people who really pray are the people who need God, know they need God, and cannot make it without God. Many words are spoken in the name of prayer, but it is heartfelt petition that gets the attention of heaven. Wesley said, “Storm the throne of mercy and persevere therein, and heaven will come down.”
There are some things that simply will not happen unless somebody touches God in the place of prayer. When the disciples asked why they were powerless to deliver a demon-possessed child, Jesus responded, “...This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). Heaven takes note when you hunger more for God’s will than for food. We can plead with God for an outpouring of His Spirit.
“What is the secret of this revival?” said one in 1905 to Evan Roberts. He replied, “There is no secret. It is only ‘Ask and receive.’”
We Can REPENT for Revival
Before the days of electricity, flour for baking was ground in mills situated beside a stream of water. Large waterwheels harnessed the energy of the moving water and converted it into power. As water flowed into the pockets, the wheel would turn, which through a series of gears caused the grindstones to rotate. These stones then crushed the grain. If the water stopped flowing, the miller would not call his workers and attempt to turn the waterwheel by hand. Rather, he would go upstream to see what was blocking the flow of water. He would utilize his energy in removing the garbage and trash from the channel so the stream could flow unhindered into the pockets on the water wheel. In turn, the grindstones would be set in motion again and production would continue.
In the Christian life there are times when the “rivers of living water” stop flowing. When this occurs the answer is not “self-effort” – trying to do what God sent His Spirit to accomplish. When a child of God loses his way he must repent. The word “repent” means to change one’s mind. This turning of the mind leads to a change of heart which results in a change of life. When the Holy Spirit has been grieved, God’s child must remove the garbage (sin) that hinders these life-giving waters.
…Jesus said, “...If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). Here we learn that personal revival is not prayed down, it springs up! When the hindrances are removed, the Holy Spirit flows from within our innermost being. Our business is to unclog the channel so God’s Spirit can stream unhindered through us. In his message titled The Nature of a God-Sent Revival, Duncan Campbell relates from his own experience:
“Then one day…my young daughter came to me…thank God for her…a girlie of sixteen years of age – she came to me and said, ‘Daddy, I would like to see you in your study. I have been praying for you, Daddy. I want to speak to you.’ And she took me to my study, and she threw herself on my knees, as daughters sometimes do. She put her arms around my neck, and I can still see the tears streaming from her eyes, as she said, ‘Daddy, when you were a pilgrim in the Faith Mission, after the 1st World War, you saw revival in Scotland. You saw revival! Daddy, how is it that God is not using you in revival today? Tell me, Daddy, when did you last lead a soul to Christ?’
“Thank God for faithful daughters! And I tell you, dear people, that shook me. Oh, it shook me! I knew! I knew! Campbell, a convention speaker…Campbell, the evangelistic minister…in his study smashed and broken by a question from his daughter.
“Listen, I was booked to address the Keswick Convention that year. I went to the convention. Oh, the deceit of the human heart. I went to the convention and I had my address. And I was so thankful when it was over. The words kept ringing in my ears, ‘When did you last lead a soul to Christ? When did you last lead a soul to Christ?’
“Then God in His own wonderful way moved Dr. Tom Fitch to depart from the address that he had prepared and give his own personal testimony. Dr. Fitch gave his personal testimony and I went home resolved that unless God would do something for me and give me back what I lost, that I certainly would resign from the ministry. I was absolutely decided on that!
“So, in going home, I said to my wife and daughter, ‘I am going to my study and I want you to leave me alone. I am going to seek a meeting with God.’
“And I went to my study. I shut the door. I put the rug down on the floor in front of the fire and I lay on the rug. I cannot take time to tell you all that God said to me in that hour. I am thankful to say that He spoke to me the word of pardon, and the word of forgiveness, and the word of re-commission.
“I cried, ‘God, will You not give me again what You gave me on the battlefield?’ And listen, friends, God did it!
“My daughter came in at 2:00 in the morning. She lay down beside me and she said, ‘Daddy, whatever it costs, go through with God.’ And I said, ‘Sheena, I am going through whatever it may cost.’”
Duncan Campbell went through with God. He found what he had lost as he returned to the Lord. Getting thoroughly right with God may cost you a lot, but failure to come clean will cost you a lot more! The word “repent” has an invitation wrapped in it because the God who commands it gives you the ability to do it.
We Can BELIEVE for Revival
The problem in America is not a strong humanism, but a weak fundamentalism/evangelicalism. We are good at believing our beliefs, but we must start believing God!
Jesus responded to Martha, “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” (John 11:40). Natural men must see before they can believe, but revival-minded saints understand they must believe in order to see. Faith looks beyond what is to what can be. If you want to see revival, you must move beyond analyzing to anticipating.
Faith is the only doorway for God to enter the human heart. This is the only means by which men can relate to God. We cannot relate to God through our physical senses, so God has placed at our disposal a sixth sense – faith. The Bible is packed with faith-building promises:
“...All things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).
“…What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24).
Faith is believing what is not so that it might be so! As Jesus entered Capernaum He was met by a centurion who begged Him to come and heal his servant. Jesus consented to accompany him, but the centurion said, “Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.” Jesus marveled and said, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel” (Matt. 8:8-10). Here was a man of great faith who moved beyond the theoretical into active faith and received a miracle.
It seems a very rare thing to find men of God who are “in faith” for revival. Again, do not let the extremes and imbalances of some rob you of the boundless possibilities of grace. Would you not like to see things so great that only God could get the credit? “...According to your faith be it unto you” (Matt. 9:29).
We Can OBEY for Revival
God did a mighty work through Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians, and a tremendous missionary movement sprang out of this revival. This group was in deadly earnest concerning prayer and obedience. If the minister did not think the congregation had properly acted on the preceding message, he would preach the same message again the following service. If after two times he did not feel the group had sufficiently applied the message, he would preach it a third time!
The reasoning was that there was no use to move on to more truth until they had obeyed what they had already received. The Moravians were not interested in becoming educated beyond their obedience. They were “doers of the Word.” No wonder God poured out His Spirit on the Moravians. A fantastic missionary enterprise emerged from this group as they practiced obedience with a seriousness which is virtually unknown in our day.
The same could be said about the Welsh Revival. Four prominent features characterized this revival: confession of sin, prevailing prayer, a burden for souls, and obedience to the Holy Spirit. Evan Roberts would often exhort congregations, “Obey the Spirit! Obey the Spirit!” The fire of God fell in place after place as Christians followed the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Howard Spring said, “The kingdom of God is not going to be advanced by our churches becoming filled with men, but by men in our churches becoming filled with God.”
The plan for revival is not complicated. It is as simple as these scriptural admonitions: (1) pray, (2) repent, (3) believe, and (4) obey. This is a strategy that will bring renewal to your heart and all who will implement it.
Anything that God has done in the past, He can do again.
Taken from Revival in Our Time: Outside the Box – Inside the Book! by Harold Vaughan. Copyright © 2011 by Harold D. Vaughan. Used by permission of Christ Life Publications. www.christlifemin.org