Summary: The psalmist asks the question that plaguesour minds and hearts today, "Will You not revive us again?" God can, but only when we surrender everything to Him in repentance and Lordship.
THE QUESTION OF REVIVAL
The most perplexing question that we face today in our convention, is why there is a serious decline in membership of our baptist churches?
Why is there no revival in our midst?
Why have we not seen baptisms in our churches?
Why is it that several churches in our convention can go through several years without seeing any conversions?
The convention is taking this issiue very seriously.
One of the statements in the Convention Review Committee Report is a committment to evangelism within our convention.
There is a conference on evangelism scheduled for fall 1999 with Lieth Anderson in St. Andrews.
Lieth is very gifted in the area of evangelism.
We have adopted the "Alpha" programme as the flagship programme for evangelism in our convention.
The elements seem to be in place for growth, yet there is none, Why?
The answer is both simple and complex.
Revival within the Atlantic Baptist Convention is not based on the restructuring of the convention.
Not will it be based on our programs of evangelism, good though they may be.
Revival will only occur in our Convention, in our Association, and in our church, when we dare to look within our lives, and confess to God those things which we find that are not pleasing to Him.
There has to be a constant realiziation that we were, are, and can be nothing without Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour.
There has to be a reawakening of our condition as sinners, and a heartfelt belief that greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.
Authentic revival is like riding on a roller coaster.
You gradually hit the high points of the ride and then plunge down the other side uncontrollable.
You can’t control revival.
We can’t say that revival will begin at such and such a time and end two weeks later when the evangelist leaves.
The concept of "revival Meetings" is erroneous in this aspect.
It is just as impossible to plan for a revival as it is to catch the wind.
Charles Finney the great revivalist believed that God moved principally through revivals.
Almost all the religion in the world is produced by revivals. God has found it necessary to take advantage of the excitability there is in mankind, to produce powerful excitements among them, before He can lead them to obey. Men are so sluggish, there are so many things that lead their minds off from religion and to oppose the influence of the Gospel, that it is necessary to raise an excitement among them, till the tide rises so high as to sweep away the opposing obstacles.
He goes on to say:
There is so little principle in the Church, so little firmness and stability of purpose, that unless it is greatly excited, it will go back from the path of duty, and do nothing to promote the glory of God.
Now keep in mind that he is speaking some 100 years ago.
Our world has only changed in the types of problems that take people out of the church or keep them from going in the first place.
God is still working in the convention today.
The Atlantic Baptist is still recording baptisms in some of our churches.
But I think that we use cliche expressions to rationalize the absence of revival, because we do not want to deal with our own sinfullness.
Consider these statements:
1. Our church membership is down because we live in a post-Christian society.
My question is do we?
The church in third world countries is growing dramatically.
The church is not declining globally but regionally, specifically in North Amaerican churches.
I believe that North American churches, of which our convention is part, and we part of the convention use the term "Post-Christian" as a copout so that we can overlook our sinfullness.
2. God is sovereign and will act on His time.
This is true, but it doesn’t excuse us from being the agents of His working.
Sometimes we use the sovereignty of God as a copout for not acting.
We actually can’t answeur the question asked in Psalm 85:6 because we haven’t counted the cost of revival.
The fact of the matter is, we don’t know what revival is, or for that matter what it is not.
Today we are going to look at five points of revival that Finney dealt with:
Point One: What a revival is not
Point Two: What a Revival Is
Point Three: When A Revival Is Needed
Point Four: The importance of a Revival
Point Five: When can a revival be expected
Point One: What a revival is not
1. Contrary to easy belief, a revival is not a miracle.
It does not suspend the natural laws of nature.