This is a question that is often raised when there is any discussion of an effort to seek God for a renewal
of the church and (hopefully) a renewal of our country/culture. It is indeed a valid question and one that
should be asked. No one wants to go down a blind alley and spend massive amounts of energy on any
effort which is doomed to fail at the outset.
One of the problems, in my opinion, is that Christians in America have long believed (subtly, and
sometimes unconsciously if not vocally and deliberately) that our country is a sort of special case like
ancient Israel and that God has a special relationship with this piece of real estate that is called The
United States of America. Many books have been written touting that very issue, showing how many
circumstances of our history point to Divine Intervention on our behalf.
Indeed, many of our founders and original settlers were serious Christians of one persuasion or another
and many biblical principles were used as guides in the founding documents. Our land has been a
haven for the persecuted and oppressed believers from many places and has always guaranteed one of
the most basic of Divinely given rights, that of freedom of the conscience to worship God as one
understands His Word to guide the soul.
Many, if not most, of our great patriots have been Christians and God’s people in our country have
earnestly prayed during the great wars that we have fought for His hand to be upon our soldiers and
their leaders during the conflicts. Many of our great generals and lesser commanders have been men of
faith who sought God’s direction in their decision making.
There is no arguing that America has been especially blessed by God with the Outpoured Spirit to
enable the preaching of the gospel here as well as the granting of prosperity like no other nation has
ever seen for the general population. It truly is no wonder that some have drawn the conclusions they
But now we are beginning to see massive collapse on every front. Evangelical Christianity is in many
ways a cartoon caricature of what it once was, and the so-called ‘Christianity’ outside of Evangelical
circles is a disgrace and an embarrassment to God-fearing people when they see the outright sham that
is being palmed off on the world as the ‘faith once delivered to the saints.’ Recently, for example, we
were bombarded with images of ‘Gay Pride’ marches in city streets supported by churches, some of
them even marching with the sodomites and passing out condoms with scripture verses printed on them.
Our minds revolt and our hearts break to see such things.
In addition to that much of modern ‘Christianity’ is onboard with the wholesale murder of inconvenient
children under the motifs of ‘Abortion,’ ‘Women’s Rights,’ and ‘Reproductive Freedom.’ Tens of
millions of infants have been sacrificed on the altar of convenience while the government has gleefully
funded the insatiable appetite of the abortion industry. Even the grotesque revelations of the butchery
and vile profiteering that goes on has not budged the public mind on the atrocities nor persuaded our
representatives and judges on the national level to back away from their hideous commitment to
wholesale murder. This is surely not the America that our forefathers envisioned when they penned our
founding documents, though it certainly is the one they feared would come if the population in general
lost its commitment to biblical morality.
There is one reality that most all bible believing Christians share. Unless something radical and dramatic
happens this country is headed to the same trash heap as all those who have come and gone before us
over the course of the history of the world. But it seems that even those folks are divided into two
camps and the reality is that either of the camps may be correct. Some take the state of current affairs
in their minds and conclude that we are gone beyond hope, that God must surely judge America, and
that in a profound way, seeing how we have taken His blessings and despised them so as a people.
Others, and I number myself among them, have not totally lost hope. We look at the history of the
world and we see other very dark times into which God sent Intervening Grace and aroused the
consciences of people, people groups, nations and even continents to a fresh understanding of His
Word and His Will, reviving, awakening, restoring and renewing them in ways that could not have been
imagined before. Some dare to hope that God might do the same thing, one more time, for our sad
country. Then there are those who stand in a slightly different place and sometimes I find myself in this
vein of thought. They agree with those who are certain that judgment is coming but also have hope that
God might yet Revive His church that she might be able to withstand the things that are about to occur
and powerfully minister His Word with His Power even as the culture crumbles around us.
Every Christian has a responsibility to behave himself rightly concerning what is coming in our world.
So, does he simply resign himself to God’s judgment and hope that he can ‘hunker down’ and ride out
the storm? Does he seek a General Awakening and Revival with the hope that this nation, and with it
many others, can be brought back from the brink of total spiritual suicide? Or does he seek the Revival
of the Church with the idea that even in total collapse of the world around us we can hold fast and
proclaim the gospel to an increasingly godless world? Where is our guidance? What do the scriptures
say concerning times like ours and situations like this?
We sometimes forget that the Church of Jesus Christ was born in a time of apostasy, moral and spiritual
collapse, and in the beginning of the decline of the Roman Empire. The Power of God upon her was
absolutely essential to her survival and the apostle Paul had a running prayer that the churches would be
unusually empowered to survive the tests of their day; Eph 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Phil 1:8-11; Col 1:9-29.
When God has been pleased, since the days of the apostles, to visit His people in power, these things
contained in these prayers are the very things that He has worked in them. They define Revival and
Let me be very clear here. I cannot speak for others but for myself I am desiring and seeking nothing
but what is described in those great prayers of Paul. I look for no ‘new things’ and the ones that have
been introduced over the years in supposed ‘Revivals’ I categorically reject. I have no sympathy for
the outflows from the Azousa Street event nor any of the others that brought novelties into the mix of
Christianity which are not taught nor sanctioned in scripture. I seek nothing other than the empowered
proclamations of the Word of God which bring biblical repentance and faith to the hearts of men,
repentance and faith which lead to exactly the same
kind of lifestyle that has characterized the church over the centuries, nothing less than obedience unto
holiness. I am resolved to resist innovation on the methodology of the New Testament.
That being said, what is the way forward? Are we past the ‘tipping point’ and headed for the certain
devastation of our culture regardless of what the church might do? Is outpoured wrath and judgment
completely and totally inevitable? Is prayer for an Awakening a fruitless and useless effort, maybe even
one that offends God and brings the one praying before Him for discipline? Any honest person would
be required to at least consider that this is a possibility. My question, though, is “how could anyone
know that with enough certainty that he would fail to support the idea prayers meetings directed toward
the goal of a Genuine Revival?” Another question, “how could he be so certain that the work is
contrary to the Will of God that he would oppose it outright?”
If, indeed, we had a prophet who could speak with the certainty of the “thus saith the Lord” used by the
ancient prophets and even the apostles, we might, in my mind, have the assurance that no prayer
meetings for Revival and Awakening ought to take place. But we do not have such spokesmen, do
we? So, again, without that absolute conviction, what is to be our guide? Certainly we would agree
that nothing can be except for the Word of God, the actual Bible that has been handed down to us
across two millennia.
So, then, what does the Word instruct us? How does it guide us? Does it give us information that we
are living, for sure, in a time that God will refuse the prayers of His people and send devastation upon
their land regardless of what they do? If not, then, does it give us guidance for how to live and behave
ourselves in the midst of a decaying and collapsing culture? Does it give us hope that the influence of
the gospel might be felt nationally and even globally? Does it suggest that a real Revival in our own
church might change for the better the community that immediately surrounds us? I guess there are
differences of opinion even here but I have chosen to answer these questions with hope rather than
despair, with expectation rather than gloom.
But, here is the thing, even if our nation, the United States of America, cannot be saved and is on the
path to certain destruction, the churches, at least those committed to the gospel, are not going to survive
unless something dramatic happens to them. They must undergo a radical revitalization such as that
which we have only seen during the great awakenings of the past. The reality is that formal commitment
to a particular doctrinal statement is not sufficient to keep them faithful under persecution. Labor needs
to be done here and now to restore the spiritual vitality of our churches regardless of whether the nation
crashes and burns or is lifted up by a general awakening. We are in need of an Awakening on general
principles and that would be true even if the culture were not as bad as it is and even if we could not
see the storm clouds of impending judgment on the horizon.
But do we have reason to believe that America might be brought back from the brink of destruction?
One of the answers to that might be tied up in just how powerful and effective we believe the Christian
Faith could be if empowered in the same ways that the First Century churches were empowered or
those who have experienced Awakenings over the centuries. Certainly no one doubts the Power of
God, do they? Any careful examination of the prayer of Paul for the Ephesian church demonstrates that
he envisioned a powerful visitation of God upon them and prayed for it diligently.
15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all
16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you
the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the
hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe,
according to the working of his mighty power,
20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at
his own right hand in the heavenly places,
21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every
name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all
things to the church,
23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. KJV
There is not room here to exegete the passage but the sheer force of the words gives confidence that
Paul believed that the church at Ephesus, though in the midst of a licentious and corrupt culture, might
see a powerful outpouring of God’s Spirit upon them.
But, we wonder, what happens when churches fall away badly and allow error and corruption within
them? Can they be recovered? Are they not certain to be rejected? Well, the reality may not be as
absolute as some presume. Even in the First Century there were corrupt churches. Ephesus had left
her first love. Pergamos was infected with the sins of Balaam and the errors of the Nicolaitans.
Thyatira had a ‘Jezebel’ who was teaching immorality and idolatry. Sardis was spiritually dead and
living a lie. And Laodicea was disgusting to the Lord, on the brink of being cast out by Him.
Yet…EACH of those churches was called upon and offered the opportunity of repentance and
restoration. The Lord’s mercy and faithfulness is staggering. One only need look at some of the
situations into which the Holy Spirit inserted Himself over time to recover people, communities and
churches from certain ruin and restore, revitalize and renew them to see that He is ‘able to save them to
the uttermost that come unto God…”
A remarkable thing occurred in Judah and Israel in the early days of Hezekiah. He came to power
during one of the saddest times of the divided kingdom. His father had been as wicked as any of the
kings of Israel (2 Kings 16:3,4) and the worship of the LORD had fallen into such disuse that the
temple was being used as a warehouse. Six years deep into Hezekiah’s reign, the northern kingdom
was overthrown by the Assyrians and the process of relocation began.
Hezekiah was determined to restore the worship of God in the right way and set about it almost
immediately upon assuming the throne. The false gods and altars of his father were thrown down and
cast out. The temple was repaired and all of the trash moved out of it. He wanted to celebrate
Passover as soon as possible but could not get things ready by the 14th of Nissan as prescribed in the
Law. The soonest that it could be done was the 14th day of the second month and even then there
were problems. There were an insufficient number of the priests who had properly prepared
themselves and there were many of the people who were not sanctified in a proper way for the
ceremony. Besides that, Hezekiah had invited and many had responded from the northern kingdom,
people who had not yet been carried away.
So, the Levites did the work of priests, the ceremony was celebrated on the wrong day, and the people
were not properly prepared. Yet the Lord heard Hezekiah’s prayer for forbearance and blessed the
time, granting a great spiritual revival to the land (2 Chron. 30:26,27). And even though Israel as a
whole was not restored, many of her people experienced revival. We do not know what became of
them but we are sure that they carried the blessings of that day home with them.
This is a pointed example of something that has occurred often throughout the history of Christianity.
God has been willing many times to be far more merciful and far more lenient with those of earnest
hearts than many theologians would have thought (2 Chron. 30:17-20). He has turned despair into
victory over and over again. He has heard the prayers of people whose theology was not perfect and
whose practices we would not necessarily sanction. He sent them Revival!
So, is it too late for Revival in America? Is it too late for our world to know another Awakening?
Honestly, I do not know. What I do know is this, one day I will stand before the King of Kings and
give an answer for how I occupied myself during my short journey here. What will I say about this
matter? Shall I say, “Well, I thought that things were coming to an end and there was no point, so I just
tried to survive until my time was over”? Or, shall I say, “I didn’t know what your Secret Will was but
operating on the patterns of Your Word and of history, I sought and labored to see my own heart and
the hearts of those around me revived and I prayed earnestly for a General Revival in my time”? I will
tell you that I am far more comfortable with the second answer than the first and I fully believe that it is
more demonstrative of the spirit of the New Testament.
Not everyone who has prayed for Revival has lived to see it, that is for sure. But, up until now those
prayers have been answered, some long after the deaths of those who lifted them up to God. Will this
time be the exception? Will God answer our prayers with a resounding ‘NO’? Maybe so, but I doubt
that He will rebuke those who sought Spiritual Restoration in their time and I plan to fully test that
theory. What about you?