The news is particularly dark today—disrespect among the youth of the nation; increasing sexual assault in which even infants and toddlers are violated; violent crime increasing; external threats to national economic security; rising social unrest centring around linguistic and racial issues. Daily news casts cast a pall of negativity and darkness over those who watch. All that is lacking is an actual invasion and occupation by a hostile, foreign power. And I fear that even that possibility may be lurking in the wings.
Some time ago, I listened to a talk show host as he lamented the increasingly disrespectful attitudes witnessed among the young and the concomitant dissipation of morals within society. He discussed a variety of remedies, none of which will make any difference. The one remedy that has always worked—repentance—was never mentioned.
“The crown has fallen from our head;
Woe to us, for we have sinned!” 
I have witnessed, as you have, the disintegration of courtesy in society and the hastening slide into moral turpitude with the passage of years. It seems more evident in the “little” issues—children who are openly disrespectful toward their elders, the defiant stance of young mothers walking two or three abreast down a crowded sidewalk refusing to make way for others, the sullen glare of young men who feel compelled to view every person as a threat to safety. Doors are locked on homes which two decades ago would never have been barred. Almost every automobile is equipped with alarms or mechanisms to immobilise the steering wheels. Even churches and synagogues are alarmed to keep thieves and those with malicious intent at bay.
“The crown has fallen from our head;
Woe to us, for we have sinned!”
As the talk show host bemoaned the present condition of society, I couldn’t help but recall a statistic which likely holds the key. With the increase in crimes against society there has been a progressive and correlated decrease in attendance at religious services. The more we have discarded ideas concerning godliness and righteousness as outmoded and trite, the greater our propensity to disregard responsibility for one another. Churches which were filled with worshippers and people seeking after God a couple of decades past are now emptied, dark, silent; and though these churches may attract a modest attendance for a morning service, they no longer offer evening services or mid-week services, and the baptismal waters are seldom stirred.
“The crown has fallen from our head;
Woe to us, for we have sinned!”
Modern Canadians appear to be spiritually schizophrenic. On the one hand, we appear hesitant to confess that we are a Christian nation. If, however, we do make that statement, it is almost inevitably in the form of an apology because we don’t want to offend other nations where another religion predominates. Then, again, we may boast that we are a Christian nation, but the concept appears to have a different meaning from what it may have once meant. At best, the concept points to an ancient heritage that no longer is relevant, a dim memory of a forgotten day. We retain the patina of that bygone era, claiming certain moral features while rejecting the open embrace of the Faith.
People openly hostile to godliness acclaim their relationship to God; but it is impossible to reconcile the open ridicule of biblical principles with a lifestyle so consumed with the self that it has no time for God. Politicians treat the Faith as though Christ’s assembly was a tawdry trollop rather than the holy Bride of Christ. Even a growing number of pulpits brazenly dismiss the Word of God, no longer believing the Word to be authoritative. Many of these pulpits exalt the expertise of the preacher as superior to the revealed will of Holy God. Anyone foolish enough to oppose the popular will is mocked and jeered as unworthy of being heard.
The mournful refrain is repeated each time a nation is confronted by Holy God, each time a culture is revealed to be wicked, each time an individual is exposed for the sinful character that has gained control over life. It has been that way throughout the centuries, reaching back into history. Without question, the mournful refrain will be heard again and again until the day the Master returns to reign in righteousness.
“The crown has fallen from our head;
Woe to us, for we have sinned!”
The tragedy is that when this plaintive refrain is heard, it inevitably is after judgement has already been visited on that nation. The people never utter this cry before judgement rains down, for had it been heard it would have meant that the people were looking to God for mercy. Always and ever, it is after God has surrendered a people, or a culture, or a nation, to the dust bin of history, that the people bewail their condition.
“The crown has fallen from our head;
Woe to us, for we have sinned!”
RELIGIOUS HISTORY OF THE WEST — God has blessed the western world, though our culture appears insensible to God’s blessings. For many years the western world has been identified as “Christian.” This wasn’t merely a distinction delineating the differences between the west and the east, between the west and the Muslim or Hindu world, it reflected the fact that the western nations had embraced the Faith of Christ the Lord. This holy Faith held sway over the mindset of the western world. Though it did not mean that all the leaders were godly, it did mean that society generally held to Christian ideals. Christian ideals held sway throughout western culture. Though today we are jettisoning our heritage and discarding the blessings we have known, it does not change the fact that the western world has been richly blessed, and the blessings we have enjoyed were the result of our having embraced the Faith of Christ the Lord.
My ancestors lived in Germany and in Scotland. They were members of vicious tribes, people noted for their cruelty toward any people who were not identified as part of their own tribe. These ancestors were pagans, living in ignorance, their lives ruled by superstition and violence. Then, the Gospel of Jesus Christ penetrated the darkness with the light He alone can bring. Unnamed missionaries, followers of the Christ filled with a burning desire to honour the Risen Saviour by telling others of His grace and of His mercy, carried the message of life to my ancestors. These missionaries told them of the grace of God, calling them to faith and to life in the Risen Christ. The transformation of these pagan tribes became the foundation for modern civilisation. This is the story of the western world.
The New World, especially the United States and Canada, provided a continuing story of missionary advance. Perhaps contemporary culture has decided that it no longer wishes to remember the roots of the nation, but it doesn’t change the fact that families seeking religious freedom came to this continent in search of the freedom that had been denied in the old world. The discovery of this new world by Christopher Columbus and later by the English navigator, Cabot is diminished in modern days. However, it is less generally known that Columbus hailed the opening of the New World with a song of praise and by a solemn act of prayer consecrated it to God.  It is folly-wide-the-mark for contemporary social justice warriors to ridicule his accomplishment by committing cultural seppuku.
God blessed the new world, and among those living in this vast new world many recognised their responsibility to point the inhabitants to the gracious God who gives life to all who look to Him. Methodists ministers pushed into the new territories. Baptist preachers who tilled the soil and planted crops throughout the week before preaching the Gospel each weekend ensured that those living on the frontier would hear the message of life. With the passage of time, the churches that sprang up saw God call some from among their numbers to carry the message of life to distant lands, and the expansion of the Kingdom of God continued apace.
I admit that western governments have not always been perfect; to claim otherwise would be a bold-faced lie. For instance, there is nothing Christian about the actions of the German nation during the middle of the past century. Much of Europe has dismissed righteousness to pursue their own interests throughout recent history. Even Great Britain cannot be said to have reflected the tenets of the Prince of Peace in the imposition of imperialism that marked the nation. Though nations that were under the rule of Great Britain may have benefitted, it was at the expense of freedom and with the loss of dignity. Neither the United States nor Canada have batted a thousand in the realm of righteousness, though neither nation has ever expressed imperialistic tendencies. Nevertheless, principles of the Faith did permeate the western governments, tempering the evil that would otherwise have characterised these nations.
Whatever flaws may be laid at the feet of the nations that may legitimately lay claim to a British heritage, it is obvious that the nations sharing this western heritage have done more to advance righteousness and to lift the downtrodden than is true of any of the nations that came before them. It is not the godless socialistic nations that are advancing righteousness today, nor are any of them likely to do so. The Muslim and Hindu nations of this world are not witnessing hoards of people attempting to enter their precincts while clamouring to become citizens, nor is such likely to be the case in the immediate future. The nations which the masses are clamouring to enter are precisely those nations of the west that still retain the patina of equality that arose from righteousness as outlined through the biblical heritage that marked those nations.
CURRENT CONDITIONS OF THE WEST — In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed the western world move steadily away from godliness, while drifting into what can only be described as neopaganism, a demented form of self-worship. Today, our culture gives lip service to the Faith and ridicules anyone who attempts to take the Faith seriously. Even among the churches, vigorous pursuit of righteousness and ardent love for the Master makes many leaders uncomfortable. Consequently, the churches are often more at ease with the denizens of this fallen world than they are with the Living God. The saints are prepared to avoid a strong stand on biblical principles lest they offend someone in the world.
Dennis Prager has written, “At PragerU, we have released about 400 videos on virtually every subject outside of the natural sciences and math. Along with two billion views, the videos have garnered tens of thousands of comments. So, we have a pretty good handle on what people most love and most hate. For example, any video defending America or Israel inevitably receives many negative responses. But no videos elicit the amount of contempt and mockery that videos defending religion, explaining the Bible, or arguing for God do.” 
Why would you suppose there is such hostility toward the Bible? Why would you suppose that people are threatened by the Word of God? The reason likely has to do with the fact that biblical righteousness is diametrically opposed to human secularism. Prager listed several examples of this conflict between the two worldviews. 
He pointed out that the biblical view is that people are not basically good. Evil, in the biblical view, arises from within human nature. For the secularist, human nature is not the source of evil. To make such a concession would be to condemn oneself. Consequently, the secularist appeals to multiple other sources to account for evil, necessitating a redefinition of “evil” itself. To the secular mind, capitalism, patriarchy, poverty, religion, nationalism, or some other external cause is the source of evil. To the secularist, man is basically good, but they recognise that they still must account for evil.
The Word of God presents the view that nature was created for man. The modern view is that man is just another part of nature. Hence, man can be removed from the equation and nature will prosper. This accounts for the drive to fight “climate change,” or to rid the world of cattle because of belching or passing gas. Those who are left after all meat production ceases will breathe easier because cattle (or sheep, or goats, or swine, or…) will no longer be belching.
God’s Word is quite clear that man is created in the image of God. Mankind was formed with a transcendent immaterial soul. The prevalent view of secular ideologies that currently hold sway over academia and among the political elite, is that man is purely material. To the modern mind, man is an accidental assemblage of stellar dust.
The Bible argues that the people have free will—and they are accountable for the exercise of that will. The secular outlook is that human beings have no free will. Everything we do is determined by environment, genes, and the matter of which we are composed. Firing neurons, exchange of neural transmitters, not free will, explain both murders and kindness.
The Biblicist holds that while reason alone can lead a person to conclude murder is wrong, murder is ultimately and objectively wrong only because there is a transcendent source of right and wrong. Murder is wrong because God deems murder evil. We have a moral code to direct our actions, and even our thoughts.
Those holding to the biblical view believe God made order out of chaos. Order is defined by distinctions. One such example is male and female—the only inherent human distinction that matters to God. There are no racial or ethnic distinctions in God’s order, only the human sex distinction. The modern mind, having excluded the Holy One from the equation, loathes this concept of a divine order. That is the primary driver of its current attempt to obliterate the male-female distinction. Until quite recent days, science recognised two sexes. Now, we no longer recognise sexes, but we speak of “genders.” We are quite willing to jettison science for a novel social construct with multiple genders. There seems to be no limit on the number of “genders” we will have in days to come. One can only marvel at the confusion in the field of biology, and especially in the field of genetics.
According to the Word of God, the nuclear family is the basic unit of society—a married father and mother and their children. This is the biblical ideal. All good people of faith recognize that the reality of this world is such that many people do not or cannot live that ideal. And such people often merit our support. But that does not change the fact that the nuclear family is the ideal best-suited to create thriving individuals and a healthy society. Though an increasing number of religious authorities are prepared to accommodate the modern view that seeks to jettison the biblical view, we who take the Bible seriously are responsible to continue to advocate the ideal family structure as the Bible defines it.
We who hold the biblical view are assured that wisdom begins with acknowledging God as Creator, as Sovereign, as very God worthy of worship. The secular view is that God is unnecessary for wisdom, or even that the concept of God is detrimental to wisdom. Increasingly, the prevailing view in contemporary society is that faith in God is destructive to wisdom. But if you want to know which view is more accurate—biblical or secular, look at the most godless and Bible-less institution in our society—the universities. They are, without competition, the most foolish institutions in our society.
Part of the reason for this popular view is that we don’t know what wisdom is! Our culture tends to confuse wisdom and knowledge. While knowledge is important, without wisdom, knowledge becomes destructive. As an example of what I am saying, consider that though we know how to split the atom, we don’t know what to do with the energy we produce. We can prevent many diseases, but we have raised a generation that refuses vaccination because they read on Facebook that someone speculates it causes autism. So, our children are normal, more or less, but vulnerable. We create computers that permit us to exchange information, and then we waste our time amusing ourselves with these powerful instruments. We produce small personal computers that we call cell phones and use them to fill our minds with pornography. We can track our expenditures that are necessary for us to live in a modern society, but we can’t seem to budget for what we need. We have knowledge, but we lack wisdom.
It is increasingly apparent that our parents were wiser than we thought. Our parents managed to send men to the moon, managed to create wonderful implements to make our lives easier, managed to turn raw land into productive regions to feed not only themselves and their families, but to feed the world; they faced difficult challenges and overcame them. Meeting those challenges, they created a world in which life is more comfortable for their children. Still, it is increasingly apparent that our parents failed to prepare us to grapple with the challenges we would face in this brave new world. They managed to be content in lifelong monogamy, and we can’t make it without multiple partners—even then, we’re disappointed.
For nearly the entirety of western history, the Bible was the most important book in national life. That no longer appears to hold true. This condition is a moral and intellectual catastrophe. Now, it is almost as if we are witnessing the fulfilment of the dark prophecy issued through Amos:
“‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord GOD,
‘when I will send a famine on the land—
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the LORD.
They shall wander from sea to sea,
and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD,
but they shall not find it.’”
Though there may be a Bible in every home, it is not read. Few people are familiar with the Bible; fewer still actually read the Bible with any degree of regularity.
I recall an occasion when my car had broken down and I needed to call my wife. It was long before there were any such conveniences as cell phones. We were living in Dallas at the time; I was working at the Veterans Administration Hospital in the Oak Cliff section of town. I knocked at the door of a nearby home, asking if I could use the phone. People were somewhat more relaxed in the seventies—there were more guns, less crime, and consequently less fear. The lady who answered the door readily agreed to allow me to use her phone to call my wife.
As the number was dialing, I noticed a large family Bible sitting on her coffee table. The Bible was quite dusty; it was obvious that it had not been picked up in some time. I casually mentioned, “I know the Author of that book.”
The woman, obviously surprised, responded, “You do?”
“Oh, yes,” I stated. In fact, I spoke with Him just this morning. We had a rather lengthy conversation.”
“That is really something,” she said with some excitement beginning to register in her voice. “Do you suppose I could meet Him?”
I don’t need multiple opportunities when a door such as that opens. I finished my conversation with my wife, asking her to bring some tools and come get me. Then, turning to the woman, I picked up the Bible, blew the dust off the cover and introduced her to the Author. We walked down the Roman Road together. I pointed out that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” [ROMANS 3:23]. We also read that verse which says, “Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” [ROMANS 5:12]. When she realised that one sins because one is a sinner and one is not a sinner because one sins, the woman acknowledged that she was a sinner. In other words, it is a condition of the heart that condemns a person, and not particularly what they might do. All of us sin; but we sin because we are sinners.
I pointed out that God recognises our helpless condition and has done what we could not do. Therefore, we read in Scripture, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us… If while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” [ROMANS 5:8, 10]. This dear woman was positively excited at the thought that God would do this for her.
She was practically demanding that I get on with the really important matter of introducing her to the Author of the book. I gladly read the glorious promise, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” [ROMANS 10:9-10]. Then, I joyfully proclaimed the promise of God, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” [ROMANS 10:13].
She asked, “If I do that, will I meet the Author?”
I assured her that would be precisely what happened. She did call on the Name of the Lord; she did pray, asking the Master to save her. When she had prayed, I read one more portion of the Word. “The Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him” [ROMANS 10:11-12].
“You are not ashamed of having called on the Name of the Lord, are you?” I asked this woman. She assured me that she was not in the least ashamed of calling on Him as Master over life. Her admission was a verification of what is written in the Word. “Then, there should be a coronation ceremony if you have made Him King over your life, wouldn’t you agree?” She readily agreed that there should be some ceremony. When I told her that God had created a coronation ceremony just for her, she wanted to know what it was. I told her of baptism for those who had made Jesus Master over life. She was joyful and agreed to be baptised because she had become a follower of Christ. There was a dearth of knowledge of the Word in that home! However, when the Word was presented, the Spirit of God performed His powerful work and opened the woman’s heart.
We live in a day in which there is a drought of preaching the Word. There was a time when Bible tracts were distributed, and the Word was presented constantly. It is doubtful that anyone would read a tract today, even if the people of God presented them. However, people are on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter. Perhaps we should assess what we put on these various media, ensuring that we are presenting biblical truth. Some will read, and the Spirit of God will work, as He has always worked, to open the hearts of some.
I’m not suggesting that we throw our pearls before pigs, quoting a Bible verse willy-nilly in hopes that someone will read it. I am suggesting that we become deliberate in what we write, pointedly aiming for those for whom we care. I am asking that we make the effort to become “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” I am suggesting that if we deliver the message, God will work. The challenge is now in our court.
A SOLITARY HOPE FOR THE WEST — I am convinced of the wisdom found in one of the Psalms.
“The LORD looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.
“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.
“Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.”
A nation will never be delivered from the threat of invasion and conquest because it possesses missiles and stealth bombers and armed drones—instruments of war and people trained to employ those armaments. The divine promise still stands, and it is applicable to us even now,
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD”
That same Psalm reminds us:
“The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.”
If a nation will be delivered, if that nation will be preserved, it will be because God shows mercy and reveals His goodness to that nation. Armed might can never, in the final analysis, deliver a nation from conquest. When the LORD God withdraws His protecting grace from any nation, the supposed might and power of that nation evaporates, and the nation is left defenseless. Knowledge such as this should make us cautious, should drive us to seek God’s mercy, should drive us to be humble before Him.
I don’t know that western culture will ever again witness widespread revival. As I survey the scene of current religion, I don’t believe our nation is desperate for God. I am hard-pressed to think that the professed people of God are desperate for His presence. We have become so comfortable with our present condition that we don’t long for what lies in store for the redeemed. We are promised,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him.”
[1 CORINTHIANS 2:9]
However, the promise seems to have little meaning for us. We have everything we want. We are content with this life, so we have no longing, no yearning for what is promised.
We are ignorant of the Word and ignorant of how God has worked through His people in the past. Prayer meetings no longer have any appeal. How well I remember one time of revival during the days I was ministering in the Lower Mainland, and I remember how fragile that revival was. Three ministers covenanted to meet weekly to pray for revival. We each brought a bag lunch and spent an hour and a half each Thursday in prayer for revival. For more than a year we prayed—and nothing happened. We invited other ministers and church members to meet with us, but no one accepted our invitations.
After almost eighteen months as we three ministers met for prayer each week, something began to happen. The three of us began to confess our struggles, to admit our failures, to openly acknowledge our thirst for God’s power to be witnessed among the parishioners for whom we bore responsibility as servants of the Risen Saviour. For some weeks, the meetings were marked by an openness that is rare in our world. Suddenly, without warning something dramatic began to transform our meetings and the prayers we shared. Church members began to join us in prayer. A lady from the Evangelical Free Church, a gentleman from the Nazarene Church, a young man from another Baptist Church— and the meetings began to grow. A high church Anglican priest, a Pentecostal minister, a Presbyterian minister, joined us in the prayer meeting. Shortly, forty, and then sixty, and then one hundred twenty people crowded into the basement of the Evangelical Free Church building as we met, praying for God’s mercy.
Then came the day a layman asked, “Why can’t we have revival meetings in our community?” It was the common people of the congregations who began to ask for meetings to communicate the call of God to the community; the ministers were compelled to follow the church members. It was the church members who were revived, and the ministers followed. Within weeks, meetings were planned—an auditorium was secured, people were assigned responsibilities, and meetings were announced.
For a brief period, it was truly a time of revival. As was true in the days of Hezekiah, the people of God “rejoiced because God has provided for the people, for the thing came about suddenly” [see 2 CHRONICLES 29:36]. As suddenly as it began, it ceased. The reason it ceased was sin among the religious leaders. Some of the pastors of the larger congregations wanted more recognition for their personal contribution; they were jealous of the attention the laity had received. They demanded more control over what was being done. Though the laity had sought revival and were revived, it was ministers who brought about the death of the movement. Pettiness soon prevailed, and little fiefdoms were jealously guarded; and revival ceased after a very brief time. Like a forest when it has been burned over, there was no more standing wood to be consumed, and it would take time for new growth to be witnessed again. However, for one brief moment, God had taken control and revealed His glory.
I do not see the willingness to invest days in prayer among the people of God at this time. I wish I did see such commitment. I wish I could see such commitment, but I can’t say that I see it. I do not see the openness to confession of personal sin among God’s professed people; we need such openness, but I don’t see it, not even on the horizon. I do not see the brokenness that is required for revival today; we need it, but I don’t see it. I’m not saying that God cannot revive His people, but I am not certain that I see the willingness among His people to pay the price for revival. Don’t misunderstand! I long for revival, but I am not certain that we are willing to do what is necessary to be revived. I want God’s power to be revealed in the midst of His churches, but I doubt that Christians are willing to do what is necessary to see His power revealed.
On one occasion, the Lord Jesus was actively hindered in His work of preaching. Perhaps there were other occasions, but there was one particular occasion that is described in the Gospels. It was not that people actually stood against Jesus, threatening to do harm or demanding that He cease doing what He alone could do, it was more subtle than that—the people simply refused to believe. In the process of proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom, Jesus would touch multiple lives in tangible ways. As He ministered, blind people were receiving sight, deaf people could hear—some for the first time, people who could not make a sound suddenly began to speak, lame people could walk, sick people received full healing, even dead people were raised to life. Jesus was busy doing what He always did—showing compassion and giving hope to the hopeless.
Interspersed with the physical transformation that Jesus always brought, He was preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God. In fact, it was this preaching that was paramount to His ministry. Mark, writing on the strength of Peter’s memory, points to the proclamation of this Good News as central to Jesus’ ministry, when he writes, “Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel’” [MARK 1:14-15].
The account I will ask you to read is somewhat reminiscent of what can be observed among many churches today whenever someone speaks of revival. The Word informs the reader, “Coming to his hometown [Jesus] taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?’ And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.’” Take special note of the final sentence in this pericope. “And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief” [MATTHEW 13:54-58]. Jesus not only did no mighty works among them, but He was astonished at their unbelief. Mark informs us, “[Jesus] marvelled because of their unbelief” [MARK 6:6b].
It seemed as if the people actually saw what Jesus was doing and chose to dismiss His words because they believed themselves to be superior to Him! It is difficult to come to any other conclusion. They were familiar with Him, and that caused them to imagine that they were better than Him. They thought they could explain Him. They thought they knew who He was. In this, they were not unlike many people in this day who imagine they can explain the Son of God. They imagine they understand His miracles, His grace, His mercy; however, they expose their ignorance. They neither know Him, nor do they know what He is able to do.
Only one who has been set free from guilt and condemnation can even begin to understand who the Saviour is. And then, they can never know Him fully because He is very God, infinite and mighty! Only one who has been delivered by His mighty arm can fully appreciate His power. Once we have witnessed His power, we will not soon forget His might. We will stand in awe of Him, confessing His majesty and marvelling at His grace and mercy. Only one who has actually met the Risen, Reigning Son of God will ever know what it is to worship in His presence.
The unbelief that arose from familiarity kept the hand of the Master from doing what He alone could do! Rejecting His message, the townspeople were deprived of the blessings that His presence would have brought. Something like that happens among churches even to this day. Familiarity with the Son of God keeps us from hungering and thirsting for righteousness and stays the hand of God. We know of Him, and we dismiss His power because we think we know Him. How damning are the words James writes, “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” [JAMES 4:2b-3].
Is it possible that we do not worship because we do not believe? We say that we worship because we do all that is prescribed by the liturgy, but somehow, we never quite experience the presence of the Living God. Is it actually possible that we have never met the Son of God in all His glory? If this is the case, it would explain why we have no longing, no yearning for revival. It would explain why we are unwilling to invest the time in extended prayer. Perhaps our first great need is to ask the Lord to forgive us for our unbelief, and then seek Him.
I may not witness revival in my day; I’m growing older and my time on earth is limited. However, I can preach, declaring the message of grace. It may be that a young man or a young woman will be stirred by the Spirit of Christ, becoming aware of His work in his life or in her life. That younger saint may become the catalyst for revival, becoming God’s instrument of grace to transform the world. I may not live to see revival again, but I testify that I long to see God revive His people, to see the churches of this land ablaze with holy fire and to see it now. May the Lord permit it before my days are ended.
Perhaps even as I speak there is someone who feels a stirring of the spirit today. Perhaps God is speaking to your heart even now, and you find yourself strangely stirred to ask Him to change what has become “the way it has always been.” If I’m speaking to such a person today, I invite you to come to an old-fashioned altar; kneeling at that altar, ask the Living God to do what no man can do—revive His work now. Amen.
 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Cf. Benjamin F. Morris, The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States (American Vision, Powder Springs, GA 2007) 57-60
 Dennis Prager, “Why the Left Mocks the Bible,” Townhall,com, May 07, 2019, https://townhall.com/columnists/dennisprager/2019/05/07/untitled-n2545952, accessed 7 May 2019
 The following concepts follow the arguments presented by Prager, op. cit.