Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 25, 1983
NUMBER 12, PAGE 2,11b

Spiritual Revival In The Local Church

George W. Tyler

We often read of our present great leaders of thought and action expressing their firm conviction that a mighty spiritual revival is the greatest need of our time. I doubt if they would all agree on a definition of revival, but it does indicate an evident desire for a return to real Christianity. Back of this longing hangs the dark curtain of fear — fear caused by ever increasing crime, fear of the constantly increasing number of broken homes with their resultant growth in the number of juvenile delinquents, fear of racial and economic tensions and fear of another world war in which the use of the hydrogen bomb would produce a holocaust that could wipe humanity from the face of the earth. To my mind the fear of divine judgment and eternal hell is a larger reason than any of these for local, national or world wide spiritual revival. For the millions who have never heard the gospel preached the eternal fire of hell is far more eminent than the sudden flash of the hydrogen bomb.

The need of a spiritual awakening in America cannot be denied. God has been good to us; but His goodness has not brought us to repentance. The dominant philosophy of the masses is still materialistic. Wickedness and crime continue to increase and worldliness is running rampant in the church. Well might we with David say, "Oh Lord, how long?" will the hand of judgment be withheld?

I recall the "Back to God" movement of prewar days, "preaching missions" sponsored by denominational groups and today we have the much advertised "Youth for Christ" and the "Herald of Truth" movements reaching from coast to coast. Some have already failed and so will all other devices of men. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:8,9); "Every way of man is right in his own eyes" (Prov. 21:2); to the Pharisees Jesus said. "Ye are they that justify themselves in the sight of men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God." (Luke 16:15)

A genuine Christian revival in this generation must begin with and be channeled through the local church. All the work that has been assigned to the church by the Lord must be done by it if the local congregation fulfills its assigned mission in the community in which it is located. It is through the local church that God mediates His gospel to mankind. This method has never been improved upon. It worked successfully during the apostolic age cf the church and will do so again when prayerfully, conscientiously and zealously followed. Emulating the pattern laid down by our Lord and Saviour while on this earth and His apostles has within it the potential of a great spiritual awakening and mighty ingathering of souls.

A heavy responsibility lies upon the preachers of our age. There is positively no room in Christ's church for place-seekers and time-serving preachers who lull the church to sleep with enticing words while the world goes to hell. Much of the success of a spiritual revival depends upon tried, true and faithful preachers and we still have many of them.

The lack of spirituality in many congregations is the fault of the elders. They have, in many cases, permitted the babes in Christ and the flock of God to be lulled to sleep by the soothing syrup of platitudes, poisoned with false doctrines or become "entangled in the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." (Col. 2:10) Consecrated church members, preachers and elders must join hands to bring the church back to its divine mission.

This spiritual revival for which I plead must begin with prayer. History records that all sweeping religious revivals began with prayer meetings. To His disciples Jesus said, "They ought always to pray, and not to faint." (Luke 18:1) Paul wrote, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17); again, "I desire therefore that the men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands." (1 Tim. 2:8) There must be a revival of prayer in our local congregations, family prayer, cottage prayer meetings and congregational prayer meetings. The Lord said to the seventy, "The harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of harvest, that he send forth laborers into his harvest." ( Lk. 10:2)

God speaking through the prophet Hosea said, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." {Hosea 4:6) To gain knowledge of God's Word there must be a wide-spread return to the study of it. Because of this lack of knowledge of the Word upon the part of many Christians modernism, ecclesiasticism, worldliness, desire to be like other people and nearly the whole catalogue of sins have crept into the average congregation till we can hardly recognize it as the people of the Book. "Where the Scriptures speak" we are too often silent because we do not take time to hear their message. We are prone to let others lead us instead of following the example of the Bereans. The Word says, "Now these (Bereans) were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, examining the scriptures daily, whether these things were so." (Acts 17:11) "Where the Scriptures are silent" we often speak ill-advisedly and presumptuously because our ignorance of the Word has led us to confuse opinion and faith and often we try to make our opinions binding on the church instead of following the plain Word of God. The spiritual revival will begin when "Christians only" will again be able to comply with Peter's admonition, "Be ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear: having a good conscience." (1 Pet. 3:15)

There must be a return to Christian zeal if we are to win others to Christ. The lethargy of the Laodiceans and their lukewarmness written of in Rev. 3:14-19 must be thrown off and no longer allowed to paralyze the church. The spiritual revival will get under way when our local congregations bury their pride and undertake day-by-day and house to house evangelism, not only to save souls from eternal hell, but to make homes happy, churches spiritually strong and the resulting effects will even be shown in better communities by their being leavened by genuine New Testament Christianity.

Those best fitted to create a real spiritual revival and deep interest in the salvation of souls in our age are the faithful churches, enthusiastic dynamic preachers, zealous elders and consecrated individual Christians. It was this type of fervent workers in the field during the apostolic age that shook the Roman Empire from Babylon to Spain. The same kind of laborers will do it again if we are willing to pay the price to keep them in the field delivering the gospel to a lost world. All the mechanics and organization that are needed are in the local church built "according to the pattern" given to us by Christ through His apostles. "The gospel is the power of God unto salvation" and will do its work well if men will faithfully perform their part in spreading it.

— San Diego, California