Summary: Life has a way of wearing us down but Jesus calls us to experience renewal and revival.
America’s Greatest Need (Billy Graham)
The most popular mega-preacher/evangelist of our time, Billy Graham, while being interviewed by a cultural magazine, was asked what he perceived to be America’s greatest need. His answer somewhat shocked the interviewer especially coming from a man who had seen stadiums filled with people to hear him preach, who had seen thousands upon thousands and maybe even millions of people come to faith in Jesus Christ through his preaching of the Gospel. His answer was that he perceived that America’s greatest need was for the Church of America to experience a revival. As I stand before you today as a pastor of one of the American Churches Mr. Graham spoke of I can attest that I agree with him. If our greatest need is revival then we must ask, “What is revival?”
What Is Revival?
The great preacher of yesteryear, Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “The word "revival" is as familiar in our mouths as a household word. We are constantly speaking about and praying for a "revival;" would it not be as well to know what we mean by it? Of the Samaritans our Lord said, "Ye worship ye know not what," let him not have to say to us, "Ye know not what ye ask." The word "revive" wears its meaning upon its forehead; it is from the Latin, and may be interpreted thus—to live again, to receive again a life which has almost expired; to rekindle into a flame the vital spark which was nearly extinguished.”
Revival, therefore, is not the planned services of man. Churches advertise that they are going to have revivals every year and few actually experience it. Revival is not about guest speakers, special music/musicians or a series of planned services. We can plan all the services we want but until the Holy Spirit shows up and the people of God return unto Him in passion then there is no revival. Revival happens when the Holy Spirit shows up in Church and those who have drifted in their walk with the Lord are brought back to that place of awe and reverence of the Lord manifested through the confession of sin and a rededication to His person and purposes in the world. When the Holy Spirit “rekindle[s] into flame the vital spark which [has] nearly extinguished” in us then revival has taken place.
Do I Need A Revival?
Does the Church need to experience a revival? I believe so. The church is no longer the center of our lives but a negotiable addendum to our plans and agendas. The church was designed to be the agency that conforms the culture around her but now the church is more concerned with being conformed by the culture rather than conforming the culture. Preaching, in many cases, has been reduced to a 15-minute “cute” message with three points and a poem whereby the preacher has twisted the Scriptures to make them mean what he wants them to mean because his people demand that his messages make them feel good about themselves rather than passionate and unapologetic exposition of God’s Word leaving the hearer in the presence of what God has actually said rather than what they want or wish God to say. Worship through song, in many cases, has become more about the singer and his/her desires than the One who is being sung to. Sin is no longer detested among the people of God but coddled, hugged up to, and justified. The list could go on and on. THE CHURCH DEFINATELY NEEDS REVIVAL but the question is DO YOU NEED REVIVAL? If the Church is going to experience a revival then it will come about in the individual lives of those who are the Church. Does your life indicate signs that you need to be revived? Those of you here who are in the medical field know what signs to look for to determine whether somebody needs to be revived or not. You check for a pulse. You check for breathing. You check for signs of life to help you determine whether one needs reviving or not. In the same way we are going to spend some time in LUKE 7:36-50 and as we engage the Scriptures I am going to point out some signs that will indicate whether you need revival or not.
As we unpack this passage of Scripture I want us to look at the “signs” we see in both the life of the Pharisee and the life of the woman who disrupts his dinner plans. The “signs” that we will see will manifest themselves in the way that each relates to Jesus and they will serve as signifiers as to whether we are in need of revival or not.
The Pharisee. There are three words I want you to take note of as we consider the Pharisee’s encounter with Jesus as recorded here in the Bible.