The Need of a Revival
L. R. Shelton, Sr.
The Lord has laid it on my heart to bring you a message on the subject,
"The Need of a Revival." I am using that word "revival" to mean a spiritual awakening,
or a refreshing from the presence of the Lord. I do not know why the Lord has laid this message on my
heart, but He has—I can't get away from it, so I want us to look into "The Need of a Revival."
I want to show you,
1. The Condition
of the Present-Day Church, as it furnishes a background for the
need of a spiritual awakening as we have
never faced before.
Is a Revival?
3. The Results of a Revival.
In Hab. 3:2 we find these words, "0 LORD, I have heard thy speech, and
was afraid: 0 LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the
midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy" What a plea
from the heart of this old prophet! The prophet Habakkuk, moved with the
spirit of fear, was conscious of something unusual in the air around him.
He felt that he was on the eve of some great manifestation of God, and
he was afraid. He tells us in that sixteenth verse of the third chapter,
"When I heard, my belly trembled...in myself.." The prophet began
to see his own corruptness and vileness and depravity, and he was afraid.
He felt that God was drawing near, and he did not wish to fight against
God. My friend, I wish more people were afraid to fight against God.
A revival is the Lord God of Heaven becoming real to His people.
He does this by first turning the searchlight of His presence upon the
individual's heart until he begins to see his own rottenness and begins
to tremble before the Sovereignty of God. Then the prophet cried out,
"0 Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of
the years make known; in wrath remember mercy." He did not want to
fight God. How many of you are fighting God, in rebellion against Him!
Let me tell you, friends, you had better not be found fighting God.
in Psa. 85:6 we find these words, as the old prophet gave vent to the
cry of his soul, "Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may
rejoice in thee?" You don't like a drought when you begin to see
things burn up in the fields, do you? Neither do I like to see a dearth,
or drought, in the church when everything becomes stagnant and stale—and
there is no moving of the Spirit of God upon the hearts of individuals.
A revival is Jehovah God walking in the midst of His people showing them
mercy. In II Chron. 7:14 Jehovah God speaks to His people, "If
my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray,
and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from
heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." Here
we have the call of God to His people to return to Him in repentance,
forsaking their sins, that He may heal them, that is, save their souls
and bless them in mercy. Do you not feel the need of a revival, my friend?
All this week there has been such a burden upon my heart, a crying out
unto the throne of God's grace, "Lord, give me this people as a trophy
of Thy grace."
Let's first look at the background for the need of a revival. When
we examine the present-day church, we find that she has lost the reality
of Christ. Now, my friend, I am not critical; I am diagnosing the case.
Will you sit there and listen? Will you get everything quiet? Don't jump
up and say, "Oh, he's criticizing." My fnend, I am not. When a doctor
comes in, sits down by the bedside and diagnoses that case, he's not critical—he
is not criticizing that individual. He wants to help. So you listen.
The church has lost the reality of Christ today. In Rev. 3:20 we
have the picture of Christ standing at the door of the church knocking
for entrance, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man
hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup
with him, and he with me." The church is represented here as being
unaware of Christ's absence. They are going about their worship. They
have all the outward form, they have all the shadows, but the substance,
Christ, is absent, and the tragical situation is, the church is not
conscious that He is absent. The reason I call your attention to this
great fact is because folks are not talking about Christ when they come
to worship. They – no, let me make it personal – You! – you are talking about
the happenings of the week; you are talking about business. You are talking
about your fishing trips; you are talking about a program. Or, you are
talking about your pleasure trips, your parties, your social clubs. Worship
has become just a habit and a form.
The missing note in present-day testimony is the Person and work of Christ. Yes, we have substituted social life and form for the Person
and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are very few today in comparison
who are enjoying the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, a revival
is the Lord Jesus living again in the midst of His people. Will you pray
for me as I continue this message? Pray that God will open our eyes to
see our need of a revival.
are living in perilous times because the church today has lost the
authority of God's Word. No longer does the average church member
mold his life by the Word of God. I have never witnessed such a rebellion
against the Word of God as we have today within and without the church
and the ministry. Young people are revolting against the authority of
the Word in shaping their lives. The wicked self-will of the average person
is manifested in utter rebellion against the authority of God's Word.
In Christ's day (I want you to get this) the religious world made much
of the Word, but they crucified Christ; in our present day they try to
make much of Christ, but they reject the Word of God.
average church member today is governed, not by the Word of God, but
by his own opinion. He has substituted a program for the Bible. Man
today worships his own opinion. When you preach the Word of God to him
in the power of the Holy Spirit, immediately he will say, "Oh, this is
my opinion" – "Ah, I don't believe that." He will not have God's Word.
Many of you who claim to believe God's Word, when it comes down to brass
tacks, you will not have the Word of God to rule over you and shape your
lives! Why? Because you are enmity against God: you are not subject
to the law of God, neither indeed can be (Rom. 8:7). How we do need men
today who will go up and down this country under the power of God's Holy
Spirit preaching the Word of God, like John the Baptist and others, until
it will echo and re-echo in the hearts of men and they are broken at the
feet of Christ crying for mercy!
have also lost our compassion for the lost, and as a result our
tears are dried up. The old-time prayer meetings where men threw their
lives in the breach for the souls of men are all but a thing of the past.
All through the New Testament it is said that Christ was moved with compassion
as He looked upon the multitudes. The Apostle Paul said, "I could
wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen
according to the flesh" (Rom. 9:3).
do we find such compassion today? The average church is just a business
institution; church membership has been substituted for salvation, and
the average person thinks only of getting members into his church, and
not of the salvation of the lost. This is a sign that we have lost
the prayer chamber and know nothing of the power of prayer, but have
substituted banquets, oyster fries, and suppers instead. May God pour
out the spirit of prayer and supplication upon us today. May hearts be
moved far and near under the power of God's Holy Spirit for the souls
of men. That's the prayer of my own heart—may I come to know a compassion
for the lost that I have never known. Oh, the need of a spiritual awakening,
a refreshing from the presence of God in our midst! Our cry is, "Revive
thy work in the midst of the years...in wrath remember mercy."
do not see lost souls going down to the vortex of Hell without God and
without mercy. Seventy-five percent of our present-day ministry, according
to statistics, believe that Hell is a myth. Therefore, to them sin is
a virtue and God is such loving God until He would send no one to Hell,
if there were a Hell. No such doctrine is taught in God's Word! May God
help us in this hour! Wake up, friends. Men are going down to Hell.
night an old man, a hunter, was walking down a section of railroad track,
where there had been a great flood. He came upon a bridge across the old
creek that had been washed away in the flood. He looked at his watch—only
a few minutes until that fast express train would be coming around the
curve, rolling across that broken trestle! He began running up the railroad
track with lantern in hand. Minutes went by. Faster and faster he ran.
Then all at once he heard the crackling of the steel rails on the ties.
Somewhere around that curve the express was coming at breakneck speed.
On he ran, and as the light of the train flashed in his face he began
to wave that lantern frantically. He saw the engineer was not slowing
down, and just before the engine passed, he leaped off the rails and flung
that lantern into the lap of that engineer, crying, "My God, stop
that train!" The engineer knew then there was danger ahead and brought
the engine to a stop just as he started over that broken trestle. Oh,
my friends, that my voice could go across the ether waves as a warning
and fall into your hearts warning you of the danger ahead! There is
a Hell. There is a sin-avenging God. Wake up, sinners! Wake up, Christians!
May the mercy of God rest upon us.
we have lost Holy Spirit conviction of sin, of righteousness,
and of judgment; therefore, sinners are dry-eyed and unmoved. There is
an utter absence of old-time, Bible, Holy Spirit conviction in our midst.
There is the absence of the breaking up of the human heart, the plowing
and subsoiling and making ready the heart of man for the planting of the
seed of truth, which brings forth eternal life. We have substituted the
wisdom of men, training, developing, and cultivating the old human nature.
This has led to counting decisions for Christ as salvation, which has
resulted in folks trying to quit their sins, and reform their lives. This
is only religion without life, profession without possession, church membership
without Christ. Such stuff cannot even be called religion. Lord, help
us in this hour!
lost Holy Spirit conviction, the missing note in present-day preaching
is repentance. Modern-day preaching, as a whole, does not produce
repentance, bringing a sinner down in the dust and opening his heart
until he sees himself as he is. In the absence of repentance, we have
only a decision for Christ, which is a mental assent, and not a heart
acceptance. All of this is Satan's method of trying to make the world
religious without Christ.
we have lost the reality of blood redemption in Christ and substituted
religious movies and all other forms of recreation for religious life,
and Christ is not known experimentally among our people. He is not real;
He is not a living reality to the vast majority of our church members.
Our people do not know Him experimentally as their Lord and their Saviour.
What a need for a revival, for God to move in our midst! Acts 3:19, says,
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted
out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord."
is a very dark background, but, my friend, the darker the cloud, the brighter
the rainbow. It is in such hours as this that the grace of God stands
out the brightest. Oh, that we could see and feel the need of a refreshing
from the presence of the Lord and for Christ to walk anew in the midst
of His people! Our one cry is, "Lord, rend the heavens and come down;
Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years. Oh, Lord, send us a revival
that Thy people may rejoice in thee!"
know, as I have sat here and poured out my heart to you folks in radio
land, many will say, "He doesn't know what he is talking about." Someone
said one day, "That preacher doesn't know what he is talking about. Christ
is real to the people. Why, we are in the midst of the greatest worldwide
revivals we have ever known; more people are being saved today than ever
in the history of the world."
friend, will you listen while I analyze that statement—we are experiencing
a great revival of religion on practically every continent and among every
class of people, but it is not a revival from the presence of the Lord.
What we are witnessing today is not a heart-felt revival. It is Satan trying
to make the world religious without Christ. Christ is not becoming real to
our people. I know, more people are making so-called decisions for Christ today
and joining the church than in the history of Christendom, but it is a false
revival! Let me repeat – it is a movement of satanic spirit trying to
make the world religious without Christ.
There are two phases to this so-called revival, this false
"revival." On one hand, there is the orthodox movement where great multitudes are making
decisions for Christ, and are being registered as saved, but the vast majority are not
getting to Christ. On the other hand, there is what is called the revival of faith healing,
which is purely and simply a manifestation of satanic power. Our people are blinded by the god of
this world, Satan, and they cannot tell the difference. May I say again, what a dark background,
but what a need for a refreshing from the presence of the Lord! Such a revival as we are having
today is not stemming the tide of modernism that is sweeping our pulpits into Hell, as well as our
men of the pews into the abyss.
We have looked briefly at the background which manifests the need of a true,
heartfelt, Heaven-born, Holy Spirit revival. Let's now see, What is
a revival? Well, briefly, a revival is an excitement; it's a religious
excitement. It is a great and extraordinary excitement. It's an excitement
produced among men. It's an excitement created and sustained by God
the Holy Spirit. It's an excitement promoted by prayer that becomes
an intercession with groanings which cannot be uttered. It is such a refreshing
from the presence of God in which souls are quickened, or made alive,
unto God. It is the Lord Jesus Christ walking in the midst of His people
until hearts are broken down with weeping and brought to the place of
repentance realizing that they are lost and going to Hell. It may be limited
or widespread; it may be in the heart of one individual or hundreds at
the same time.
A revival in which hearts are quickened, or made alive, in
Christ, when Christ becomes real to the human heart, is particularly needed
today in a fallen world. Everywhere you turn there is gaiety, betting,
gambling, drunkenness, impurity, infidelity, skepticism, books filled
with the darkest and most dangerous doctrines. On every hand newspapers,
magazines, etc., are crying down the verbal inspiration of God's Word,
reducing the Bible to mere fiction. Evolution is widespread, modernism
is on the rampage. Movie producers are taking the great old Bible
stories and twisting the Word of God and misrepresenting the characters
of the Bible to a people who are ignorant of God's Word. The vast
majority of our popular novels are Christless and godless, and are filled
with infidelity. Immortality is rampant everywhere. The church has
lost her spirituality and has been conformed to the world. The church
today as a whole is not calling men to repentance.
the midst of this spiritual darkness we hear the call of God to His
people. I wish you would listen to this call, "If my people,
which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek
my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven,
and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (II Chron.
7:14). Did you hear that call? You say, "It is all right for the other
fellow." But this is a call to your heart, friend. God's call to His people
is to humble themselves. "Pride goeth before destruction,
and an haughty spirit before a fall" (Prov. 16:18). In the midst
of this darkness today the church is saying, "We are rich, and increased
with goods, and have need of nothing," and yet above this we can hear
the call of God if we will only listen, "Knowest not that thou art
wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee
to buy of me gold tried in the fire" (Rev. 3:17, 18).
of the first manifestations of the convicting power of God's Holy Spirit
is to humble man and hide pride from him (Job 33:17). May there come the
humbling Spirit in our midst; then will follow prayer.
"If my people, which are called by my name...shall...pray." As
we listen, we can hear nobody praying. It's a going and a serving and
an eating and a banqueting—as a group said one day, "We do not have time
for a revival, we have so much church work to do." What a situation we
find ourselves in! In Zech. 12:10 we find this great promise, "And
I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
the spirit of grace and of supplications." My that great promise
be fulfilled in our midst today, when the Spirit of grace and of supplications
shall fall upon hearts far and near. May the Spirit of the grace of God
fall upon our hearts now until He will break us down at His feet in prayer.
He says, "If my people...shall... seek my face," and
in Jer. 29:13 He says, "Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall
search for me with all your heart." People are so satisfied with
their church work today and with the additions they are having until they
do not want to seek the face of Christ. Then He says, "If my people...shall...
turn from their wicked ways." Sin is so blatant in our midst
today, but one of the great outward manifestations of a spiritual awakening
is the turning of the hearts of men and women to God from sin, seeking
His face. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous
man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will
have mercy upon him; and unto our God, for he will abundantly pardon"
(Isa. 55:7). But man does not want to turn from his way; he does not want to forsake
his sins. May the God of all grace, and the Father of all mercies pour out His Spirit
of grace upon our hearts until we will be willing to turn.
a revival is not having folks walk down the aisles and take a stand for
Christ; a revival is not having hundreds or even thousands of people making
so-called "decisions for Christ." A revival is the hearts of men turning
to God from their sins, from their wicked ways, from their self-will,
and finding themselves in the dust of repentance at the feet of Christ
crying for mercy! We don't hear any mourning over sin like that today,
do we? No, we don't. "Then," God says, "will I hear from
heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land." May
the Lord God rend the heavens and come down (Isa. 64:1).
let's notice, in conclusion, some of the results of a revival.
In the time of a spiritual awakening, men's minds are clear; they have
been quickened, separated from the world and from sinful practices and
brought to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. I know, if things
be stirred up by the Spirit of God, men are made alive unto Christ, and
Satan will be stirred up also. The devil will come down having great wrath;
he will put forth every effort in the world to keep the sleeping church
from awaking and to keep unconverted souls from fleeing from the wrath
to come. I know that the world and so-called worldly hurch members will
sneer and mock and make fun, and this will frighten the timid individuals;
then they will draw back and turn away from Christ, and will be more disloyal
than they would have been had there been no awakening. In other words,
a revival divides the Esaus and Jacobs, the Cains and Abels.
there will be some who will come out on professions and do nothing but
talk, talk, talk—not about Christ—but they will be critical of others,
and will lead many astray. In such an awakening the devil will do his
best to bring about envy and strife, and will cause individuals to take
offense where no offense was intended. But, praise God, in the midst
of such an awakening God will be glorified. He wll break down all
opposition to the progress of His own work. I know the greatest opposition
to a Heaven-sent revival will come from inside the church where the self-righteous
elder brother will begin to cast stones, and criticize. But, my friend,
the only thing we can do is to keep our eyes upon the Lord and move forward.
One here and one there will come to know Christ, whom to know is life
laboring for a revival we have to make up our minds to one thing—that
is, to walk with the Lord Jesus Christ and turn a deaf ear to the critics,
to those who laugh at us, because many will trample our names under their
feet as the filth of the street. They will falsely accuse us of everything
under the sun; they will make every move possible to keep folks fom believing
our testimony. But I am for a revival.
you join with me in this hour to pray for a spiritual awakening, first
in your own heart, and then in your own family, in your own community,
in your own church, and look to the Lord God of Heaven to break down all
opposition to His own work? It is only in a revival that God deepens the
conviction of sin in the hearts of His own people. It is during a spiritual
awakening that saints will be bowed down and humbled before God. May
the revival begin in our own hearts with a confession of our sins, with
a humbling of our hearts before God. I believe the greatest joy this
side of Heaven other than being saved myself is that of seeing souls saved.
If we could only realize at this moment that our loved ones and our friends
are sinking down to a devil's Hell, and "Hell from beneath is moved
for thee to meet thee at thy coming," our one cry would be, "Lord,
revive Thy work in our midst, and we shall be a willing people in the
day of Thy power."
brother, you are not telling me a thing in the world about the results
of an awakening that I haven't faced. We have had it here in First Baptist
Church, Algiers, when all hell has turned loose, but praise God, He is
able, and out of it some souls will get saved. I believe I am hearing
and witnessing the moving of the Holy Spirit again in our midst, because
sinners are beginning to rebel against the Word of God and saints are
beginning to prick up their ears and listen anew to God's call to repentance.
God give us a revival. Will you pray with me for such a revival, first,
in your own heart? Friends, will you do it? Will you? How many of you
will join hands with me in praying for a spiritual awakening, first, in
your own heart; then pray for one in my heart. Pray that He will open
my heart. Pray that He will give me His message. Pray that I will not
compromise with the souls of men in this hour. Then pray for a revival
in your church, in your community, and let the results be what they will.
Will you? If you will, let me hear from you. Just sit down and write,
saying, "Brother Shelton, I will join hands with you in this hour to pray
for an awakening, for a spiritual revival in our midst." I will be waiting
to hear from you.
– L. R. Shelton, Sr.