Let’s open our Bibles to John chapter 4 this morning. And as you’re turning I want to say this morning that one of the saddest things about the church today, and by church I mean the universal church of which we are a part, one of the saddest things about the church is its total ineffectiveness in the world today. By and large we are a church that lacks power, and lacks the presence of God Himself. The church today looks so much like the world, acts no different than the world, has its hobbies and its habits and entertainment just like the world that we are making no impact whatsoever. The world doesn’t give us a second look, and we’re not even making them uncomfortable.
See the church is like Lot today. Remember Lot? He had become so integrated into Sodom and Gomorrah that they didn’t pay any attention to him whatsoever. When it came time for God to pour out His judgment and Lot warned them they thought he was mocking. He had no influence with them because he had become just like them. That’s the church today.
We’re far more concerned about our comfort, our toys, our “down time”, our homes and cars than we are about a world that is lost and dying and going to hell. We are described in Haggai chapter 1 where God says:9 "You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the Lord Almighty. "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.” See they were more interested in their own activities, paneling the walls of their house, while the temple of God lay in ruins. I say to you this morning the church of God lies in ruins today while we are all concerned about our own interests.
See, the church today doesn’t cry over people dying in their sin, they cry over time they have to give up and go to church, or time spent ministering to others when we could have been doing what we want to do. And that just shows that we are void of Holy Spirit power and God-given priorities today.
But you read about revivals of the past and you read about God’s presence descending on people in power, people flocking to churches in droves, people falling on their knees before a holy God and begging for mercy. For instance, In Wales in 1743 God’s presence came so powerfully among His people that one writer said, “this is so incredible that you can’t hardly believe it unless you see it for yourself. Their singing and praying is so full of God. They are a God-saturated people. Oh how my soul burned with love when I was among them. They fall almost as dead by the power of the Word, and they continue weeping for joy, having found their Messiah. Some of them are crying under a sense of their own wickedness, some of them are in the pangs of the new birth. All are lifting up holy hands with hearts filled with God, filled with joy.”
But today the church has so little of the presence of God, so little of the power of God that we can’t even make an impact on our neighbors and friends; we are not even leaving a dent in the society in which we live. We are weak, impotent, powerless.
And what is the remedy for our condition today? Is there any hope? What will fix a powerless, indifferent, apathetic, and luke-warm church? I don’t believe anything can fix us except an extraordinary visit of God to His people. If God comes, we will turn from our apathy, if God falls upon us we will fall on our knees and we will hate our former idols of complacency and comfort and ease, and we will weep over our indifference and turn to Christ with a passion. Then we will begin to make an impact in this world, as we share testimonies of lives truly changed, then will people see God’s presence is with us. Then the lost will begin to cry out for mercy because they see God working in the church and they want what we have.
Well today’s passage of Scripture gives an insight into a revival that happened just like that, and I want to learn the lessons of the passage with you and more importantly I want to ask God to repeat today what He did back then in Samaria.
The context of the passage is that Jesus had just spoken with a Samaritan woman, and in the encounter they had He had quenched her thirst and satisfied her desires and longings, as only Jesus can do. And while He was speaking with her, His disciples had gone into town to buy food and had now come back, just in time to witness an event that was nothing short of a revival. Let’s notice how this revival started:
39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. 42 They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world." John 4:39-42
Notice the words “many believed” in verse 39 and then “many more became believers” in verse 41. This revival of the town of Samaria started with a testimony of a previously immoral woman, it continued by the presence of Christ among them, and grew in strength by the power of Christ’s Words.
So I’ve called the sermon this morning, “the Recipe for Revival”, and I want to look at this passage as 3 ingredients to true revival:
1. The Power of a personal testimony: (verse 39)
2. The Power of the presence of Christ (verse 40)
3. The Power of Christ’s Word: (verses 41-42)
The power of a personal testimony: 39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.” A personal testimony is a powerful thing. You see, if you read all of John 4, this woman had been living immorally, was isolating herself from society, she was going from man to man, thirsting in her soul for love, and she had the scars of broken relationships and shame of her immoral lifestyle. But then she met Jesus, and she drank in His forgiveness and His grace like a parched man in the desert finding an oasis. And she was satisfied. And she was changed.
And she couldn’t wait to go tell others, so she left her water-pot and immediately ran into town and gave her testimony. And her testimony was so powerful because her thirst was quenched, her life was changed, and the Bible says these words “many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony.” Well yeah! She came out of the town a specimen of impurity, she returned to it a teacher of Evangelical truth!
Her testimony, you can see from verse 29, is simply this: “Come see a Man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” Yes, there is power in a personal testimony of a changed life. In fact, I invite you to turn with me to Revelation chapter 12. I want you to see the power of a testimony:
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Revelation 12:10-11
You see the power in a testimony? This passage tells us that there is an accuser, someone who stands before God and accuses us. This is how it goes, the devil says, “he is a liar” “she’s immoral”, “he practiced homosexuality”, “she is unforgiving and bitter”, and you feel the stinging accusation because you know its true. But you look at the cross and you see Jesus’ blood pouring out of Him from five wounds, and you know that God made Him to be sin for you, and you know that God made His life a guilt offering, and that blood covers over your sin of lying, and immorality and homosexuality, then one day you stand up in church and say with tears, “I was this, or that, but God forgave my sin, God changed my heart, God made me new.” And guess what! You have overcome the accuser “by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony.”
There is power in the testimony of a changed life. So let’s look at this lady’s testimony, and notice some truths about a good testimony. Look at vs. 29: “Come see a Man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”
A good testimony is first of all…
• Short. It was brief. Her testimony was one sentence, “Come see a Man Who told me all I ever did”. Notice she did not say, “let me tell you everything I ever did.” No. Let me ask you a question: do you have a testimony? Can you give your testimony in one sentence? Now if you’re not a Christian you don’t have a testimony, because your life has never been changed, and you’ve probably never shared a testimony with anyone, and you need to repent and believe the good news, and receive God’s free grace and the forgiveness of your sins. And then you will have a testimony, but keep it short. This ladies’ testimony acknowledged her past but spared the details.
• Christ-centered. It was about a man who told her everything she ever did. Her testimony was about Christ. In one sentence she described Him as a Man, a Prophet, God and the Messiah. And this is the most important thing about a testimony, it has to be about Jesus, Who He is, how He satisfied me, how He changed me. I heard a man in a church one time when testimonies were asked for and he said, “I have lived a good life all these years, I’ve helped the homeless, I’ve always tithed, I’ve done my best.” Well that’s all fine to share at a civic club or a Mason’s meeting, or a Rotary club, but that’s not a Christian testimony. A good testimony is about Christ. If at any time Jesus comes to visit us our story will be all about Him.
• Invitational. She said “come, see a man.” A good testimony is not just for yourself, it should contain an invitation to whoever you’re talking with. That’s the reason we are sharing our testimony is we want others to meet Jesus too. In Luke 15 Jesus tells a parable of a woman who finds treasure, and when she found it she called together all her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her and share with her. That’s what this woman is doing, is sharing her treasure with others.
So it’s like this: “I was wicked in my heart and in my life, I was in bondage to sin and to myself. I lived every day for me, and in so doing I hurt a lot of people along the way. Then I met Jesus Christ. He forgave my sin and paid the price for me by dying in my place. He changed my life because I don’t love the same things I used to, now I really love Jesus Christ, and I really want you to know Him and love Him too.” That’s short, it’s Christ-centered, it’s invitational. And there is power in a testimony.
Now I am not here this morning to urge you to go share your testimonies. No, nobody had to tell this woman to go share her testimony. She simply met Jesus and spent some time with Him and had a conversation with Him. That is what I am urging all of us to do this morning. There is nothing more important than meeting with Jesus. Nothing. Not having down time, not taking a vacation, not taking our kids to all their events, nothing is more important than meeting Jesus and talking with Him personally. Our lives ought to be consumed with meeting Jesus and being with Him. That’s the proper priority of life. And if we will do that, nobody will be able to stop us from sharing testimonies. And there is power in a testimony.
You may know that the Welch revival of 1904 was the biggest revival in the history of the world. Literally hundreds of thousands of conversions were recorded, churches that were previously empty were now packed full, bars and night clubs shut down all over the world, policemen formed barbershop quartets and sat around singing all day long because there was nothing for them to do. This was truly an amazing revival that touched nearly every country in the world. But do you know how it started? A young lady stood up in a small church service and said, “I love Jesus with all my heart.” Her testimony was so moving and so powerful that people began to weep in that church service, and this short, Christ-centered testimony was the beginning of world-wide revival. There is power in a personal testimony.
But secondly, there is power in the presence of Christ. Look at verse 40: 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 42 They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."
Wow, when Jesus comes to stay, faith is born and lives are changed, people become Christians, and towns go into revival. You know why the church is so impotent and weak today? Because we are not urging Jesus to come and stay. The church has God’s provision and God’s promises, but where oh where is God’s presence?
This, right here, is the single most important need that the church has; we need the presence of Christ. This is the answer to our luke-warm condition. We should be doing just what these Samaritans did and “urge Him to stay with us.” Ask Him to be “our Immanuel” and be “God with us.” And that is what we are going to do next weekend.
Now I want to illustrate this point, so please turn in your Bibles to the Book of Isaiah chapter 45. This chapter details the history of the nation of Israel. But I want you to notice what the other nations do in Isaiah 45:
14 This is what the Lord says: "The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush, and those tall Sabeans-- they will come over to you and will be yours; they will trudge behind you, coming over to you in chains. They will bow down before you and plead with you, saying, ’Surely God is with you, and there is no other; there is no other god.’" Isaiah 45:14
Question: do you see any unbelievers banging on the door of the church, pleading with us to come in because God is here? No! Because God’s presence is not with the church today. You see this passage tells us that the presence of God draws people, and frees people. The Egyptians and Sabeans and the Cushites come to God’s people in chains, they are drawn to Him in their bondage, in their sin, because they somehow know that where the Spirit of God is there is freedom, so they come in their chains because they want God.
But that is not happening by and large in the church today. Because the presence of God is outside His church. In Revelation 3 He is pictures as outside His luke-warm church, knocking to come in. Some people try to use that passage as how God deals with unbelievers, but no, read the passage He is outside the church, knocking on the door to come in. We need to connect the luke-warmness of the church with Christ being outside. We need to connect that they lost their first love and had fallen from a great height with Christ being outside.
See if we had the presence of Christ in the church today we would have the same experience as the Samaritans had. Many people would become believers, because there is power in the presence of Christ.
24 But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, 25 and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!" 1 Corinthians 14:24-25
What happens when God is among us? People are convicted of sin, they are exposed, and they fall before God in worship because of the presence and power of God.
And how do we get His presence back in the church? Verse 40: “they urged Him to stay with them.” He wasn’t outside knocking to come in, He was there and they were inviting Him, even urging Him to stay.” There is our answer. Calling out to Jesus, inviting Him, urging Him, even pleading with Him to come in. This is the only hope of the church today, that Christ would come in.
So we’ve seen the power of a testimony, we’ve seen the power of Christ’s presence, and finally let’s note the power of His Word. It is in verse 41:
41 And because of his words many more became believers.
People heard Him speak, that He spoke with authority, that His Words came with power, and with such grace and such love. In fact, a few chapters later we are going to see the powerful effects of His Words. Look over in chapter 7. In John chapter 7, the Pharisees sent out a guard to arrest Jesus, but they came back empty handed. 45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, "Why didn’t you bring him in?" 46 "No one ever spoke the way this man does," the guards declared. John 7:45-46
The presence of Jesus was powerful, and the words of Jesus were powerful. This is no ordinary man. When He speaks towns become converted. When He speaks, soldiers are changed, and they return saying, “man, nobody ever talked like Him.”
So I want to ask you this morning: have you experienced the power of Jesus Words? They are recorded for us today in this Book. See we are people who are either experiencing the power of God through His Word, or we aren’t. I want to mention what Jesus said to a group of people who came and gave Jesus a parable about a woman marrying one man and he dies, she marries his brother, he dies, she marries again, he dies, and they ask Jesus, “whose wife will she be in the resurrection?”
29 Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. Matthew 22:29
Jesus here connects together the Scriptures and the power of God. As if to say, if you knew one you would know the other. If you are ignorant of one you are lacking the other. The Scriptures and the power of God go hand in hand.
So to summarize: we’ve seen the power of a testimony, we’ve seen the power of Christ’s presence, and we’ve seen the power of Christ’s Word. And we’ve also seen the solution to the condition of the church today: they urged Him to stay with them.
Lamak was born into a wealthy, powerful Muslim family in South Asia. His family’s reputation put pressure on him to live as a Muslim. But everything changed when Lamak met Jesus Christ in a life-changing way, while he was working in Singapore. Reminds me of our good friend Varma here who was a Hindu and then he met Jesus. Someday you’ll hear his testimony.
When Lamak returned home four years later, he accepted the risks of living out his faith. Despite the danger, Lamak could not help but share Jesus with his family. His father-in-law reacted violently. He had Lamak strapped to a chair and he pumped volts of electricity into his arms. He tried to force Lamak to give up his faith in Christ. But Lamak refused.
Though scars remain on Lamak’s arms as a result of this torture, he uses his wounds to share his testimony with others. You know what he says to people? “I have met Jesus Christ, I really love Him, can I introduce you to my friend?”
As a result of his testimony of faith in Jesus, Lamak has helped plant 32 churches and has baptized over 500 Muslims who became Christians. That’s the power of a Christian testimony, the power of the presence of Christ and the power of His Words.
My friends it is time to make a change in our lives. It is time to meet Jesus for real, it’s time to turn from our apathy and our indifference, it’s time to plead with Christ to come and stay with us, it’s time to plead for His presence and His power. Let’s sing and then we will pray:
Father in heaven, we thank you that with you there is forgiveness, that you don’t treat us as our sins deserve, that when we humble ourselves and pray and seek Your face and turn from our wicked ways that you hear from heaven, forgive ours sins and heal our sick land. Today we repent, and we ask you to come to our church today, we invite you in, we ask you to please come and stay with us, revive your church, wake us up, pour yourself out upon us oh God. That we might see many come to you, fall on their knees before you, and put their faith in you. In Jesus’ Name Amen.