The Price And Power Of Revival
"Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Afterwards, I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the Churches of Judaea which were in Christ, but they had heard only, that he which persecuted us in times past now preaches the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me."-Galatians 1:20,24.
This quotation is a snatch of autobiography; Paul is here telling of his life prior to his conversion. In verse 18 he tells of how he persecuted the Church of God. He then goes on to speak of that great hour when God met with Him; he refers to the effect of that great experience. Conversion to the Apostle was something intensely real, to him as to all others; the outstanding evidence was in the sharp division this inner revelation and realization it brought about. All this he attributes to the sovereign mercy of God. Paul believed that in the whole field of Christian experience the first step is with, and remains with, God. Thought, feeling and endeavor must find their basis and inspiration in the sovereign mercy of God.
I wish to draw attention to three thoughts from the scripture quoted:
I. The Divine in the human.
II. The Divine manifested through the human.
III. God glorified in this manifestation.
The Divine in the human: In God's creative plan, man holds a unique place, distinct in this respect that he alone of God's creation is capable of God-consciousness. This consciousness, or feeling, is as much a verity as any other fact of human consciousness.
I've heard people say, "Oh don't bother about feeling." Now I quite understand what they mean. You may know about God without having feeling; knowing about God has to do with the intellect, but you cannot know God and not feel it. "God revealed His Son in me" and "this hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast." Was that not a consciousness, a realization? Listen to Moody's testimony on this great truth-"One day in the city of New York, oh what a day, I cannot describe it, it is almost too sacred an experience to name. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went on preaching, the sermons were not different, yet hundreds were now converted." God is personality. Surely that is what McCheyne referred to in a letter which he wrote to Andrew Bonar and which I have seen. It reads: "Andrew, I seem to know Jesus Christ better than any of my earthly relatives". My brother, my sister, do you know Jesus Christ in that way? Is Jesus supreme in your personality, or is it just a decision, a resolution, a text or a verse of Scripture on which you are relying? You can make decisions, you can come to a resolution, you can cling to a verse of Scripture and be doomed and damned for ever. The ultimate reality in the realm of Christian experience is simply this, that salvation is of God.
A Christian is a supernatural being who has had a supernatural experience, and that is something more than singing songs; that is something more than making a decision; that is something more than becoming a member of a church; that is something more than enjoying Conventions. It is Christ at the centre of my life.
How does this become actual and real? When I realize that what we call a presence, in reality is a life. Paul sums up the whole thing clearly in his letter to the Philippians. There he gave the divine conception of the Christian life, "For me to live is Christ." He does not say, "For me to live is to try to be like Christ, for me to live is to imitate Christ." Thomas a Kempis,' book The Imitation of Christ, is a very wonderful book, and a book that has been blessed to countless thousands, but, with all due respect to Thomas a Kempis, you can not imitate Christ. But I will tell you what you can do. You can allow the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ, so that His glorious personality is incorporated in your being, and then it is not your winsomeness, it is not your trying, it is Christ. That is why I never sing that unscriptural chorus that you sometimes sing, "Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me." Remember that line that speaks of "all my nature refine". Can your nature be refined? We should alter it, and substitute the words "make all Thy nature mine and then the beauty of Jesus shall be seen in me". Not my struggling, not my trying, but Jesus in me expressing Himself through me. Was it not that great saint of God, Oswald Chambers, who said, "Sanctification is allowing the perfections of Jesus to express themselves through your personality." Oh, how we need to proclaim this truth, especially in these desperate days when countless thousands, particularly young people, are frustrated and baffled. I had them coming to me in the Universities; I had them at Keswick, asking "Is there deliverance from sin? Can we know emancipation?" Let us discover the secret that all the resources of the Christian life are in Christ Himself, as He lives in me, by His Spirit.
Frequently I say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit in its final analysis is not manifestations, it is not gifts. The baptism of the Holy Spirit in its final analysis is the revelation of Jesus. "God revealed His Son in me."
This takes me to the second thought, the Divine manifested through the human. Jesus said, "He that has seen Me has seen the Father," and John adds, "As He is so are we in this world," suggesting that the Divine nature cannot be hidden. It must, and it will, express itself. How does He express Himself? We have the answer in verse 16, "God revealed His Son in me that I might preach Him." This truth is wonderfully demonstrated in Luke's Gospel, in chapter eight, where we read that "Jesus went throughout every city preaching and showing the glad tidings." It is one thing to preach the glad tidings; it is quite another thing to show the glad tidings. But here you have the glad tidings becoming visible through a God-possessed personality. Yes, vital Christianity is a witnessing Christianity, and its witness is to life; a life centered in a Person. Carlyle was right when he cried, "Holy living is the best argument that tells for God in an age of fact." And was it not the same man who said, "Words have weight when they have a man behind them"? And I say that your testimony and my preaching have weight only when they have the Man, Jesus Christ behind them. Some years ago it was my privilege to share a room with that great Indian mystic, Sadhu Sundar Singh, and I remember a story he told us of a conversation that he had with a Professor of Comparative Religions in the University of Cambridge- "Tell me," said the Professor, "what have you found in Christianity that you did not find in your old religion?" The Sadhu replied, "Professor, I found the dear Lord Jesus." "Oh, yes, I quite understand, but what particular principle or doctrine? Tell me, what new philosophy have you found in Christianity that you did not find in your old religion?" And again the Sadhu replied, "Professor, I found the dear Lord Jesus." You see, his witness was to a Person and not to a principle; to a life, and not to a philosophy: Christ was real.
Further, this life announces itself in delivering power. Note the wording of verse 4. "He gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us." Now the reference there is to the substitutionary work of Christ that declares that He died for our sins, but I think it is important for us to see that in the Cross there is a further fact, and a deeper meaning; a fact that takes us beyond the substitutionary work. Is it possible to get beyond the substitutionary work? I say yes. It is the fact of my identification with Christ in death, and in resurrection, and I want to suggest that this is the thought that gripped Professor James Denny when he spoke of the conscious theology of the atonement. Not just the objective aspect of His atoning sacrifice, but the subjective aspect "bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body". Oh, you say, but I've got the old man, he's always about me. Yes, I believe that, but this truth tells me, this truth declares that there is a way through which the old man can be dealt with; a way through which the governing principles of sin can be dealt with. Paul is speaking of an experience that is vital and that is gloriously real, when he cries, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free." What does it mean?
It means deliverance from sin. God dealing with root principles, and when He deals with that he deals with the old man. We had one of London's leading ministers preaching in Edinburgh. He was giving a series of addresses on Paul's letter to the Romans, and on this particular night he was speaking about the old man, and in the course of his address he said this: "There is only one thing you can do with the old man, and that is to starve him, starve him." I have heard that again and again, but I had some light thrown on it that evening. There was sitting beside me an elderly gentleman from the city of Glasgow. He was a bit deaf; he didn't catch everything, so turning to me he said, "Excuse me, sir, but would you tell me what he said about the old man?" I said to him, "He suggests that the only thing that we can do with the old man is to starve him." "Starve him, did he say, that would not do with mine. He carries about with him a good supply of emergency rations; I cannot starve him." I smiled, but the old man was right.
"The law of the Spirit of life . . . hath made me free from the law of sin and death." May God help us to discover that the secret of victory, and the secret of emancipation from indwelling sin, is to come under the complete control of the risen Son of God. And when I get there. Scripture declares there is "no part dark".
As the third thought in the quotation, the last verse speaks of God being glorified in us. This surely is the ultimate reality and the supreme wonder of human existence, that God can be glorified in us.
In other words-we are to be "living epistles". After all, the greatest contribution you or I can make to the cause of Christ, is the impact of our unconscious influence, and that influence impregnated by the life of Jesus. We will have failed in our object, unless we bring back to our schools, our colleges, our homes and our common task, something of the uncommon fragrance of Jesus.
So let us yield to His indwelling that Christ may be able to express His loveliness through us.
"Thine handmaid does not have anything in the house, except a pot of oil."-II Kings 4:2.
This is one of the very fascinating stories of the Old Testament. You will recall that one of the sons of the prophet had died. He left a widow and two little sons. It would appear that at this particular time this widow was in financial difficulties, and the creditors were coming to take her two sons to be bondmen. In her distress she sent for the man of God: she sends for the prophet Elisha and tells him her pitiful tale. He listens and then asks the question, "What do you have in the house?" and she answered, "Nothing," or as we have it in our Gaelic Revised Version, "Nothing at all, except a pot of oil." Then the prophet speaks again and calls upon her to send her two boys out and collect as many empty vessels as they could lay their hands upon. They did that and went on bringing until one of the sons, addressing the mother, said, "There is not a vessel more." Then we read the significant words, "The oil stayed." Now that is the story and the setting of my text. There came a moment when the supply of oil stopped, not because the source had dried up, but because the capacity to receive what was flowing at that moment had failed.
It seems to me that the simple truth we have here is this, that God wills to give Himself; He wills to give Himself again, again, and again, so long as we keep bringing that into which He can pour Himself. He kept giving so long as they kept bringing that into which He could pour Himself. Now this is a very suggestive story, and I want to direct your attention to three very simple thoughts suggested by this incident. First of all, we have the expression of a great need: "Thy servant has nothing at all," nothing at all, except this little pot of oil. That is the expression of a great need. Then we have here also the inspiration of a great confidence. She said "call the man of God" in confident anticipation that God was equal to the situation. That was why she sent for him. And lastly, the replenishing and the empowering of obedience. She went and she did what the prophet commanded her to do, and the miracle happened.
First of all then, let us consider our first thought-the expression of a great need: "Thy handmaid does not have anything at all in the house except this little pot of oil." Newberry suggests that it was a pot of anointing oil possibly used by her late husband, but since the day of his death it had stood on the shelf. Nothing at all save this little pot. Now that was not very much, but what I want you to observe is this, that the prophet saw in it something upon which he could work; something through which the miracle was going to happen. Notice that when she makes reference to her need, when she speaks of her destitution, her eye rests upon the pot of oil. Nothing, except this. Is my sense of need, and your sense of need, the very ground on which God can work? Oh, how true it is that hunger, real hunger, creates a capacity for God. "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled." And the reason why we are not filled is simply because we are not hungering after God. We may be hungering after other things, but not after righteousness.
I believe that God is true to His promise. I believe that He is a Covenant-keeping God, I read in the Word that they that hunger shall be filled. The crisis of conversion is ever to be regarded as a conviction of guilt, but the crisis of sanctification is a conviction of want. You have it expressed in the words of the hymn:
"Oh, when shall my soul find her rest,
My strugglings and wrestlings be o'er,
My heart by my Savior possessed,
Be fearing and sinning no more?"
There you have the cry of desire; there you have hunger expressing itself; there you have a true longing after God; there you have a vessel into which God wills to pour Himself. Oh, may God create within us a hunger. Perhaps you sense a need of pardon. You are conscious of a sense of guilt. Why? You are still a stranger to grace and to God, conscious that you have sinned against Him, that you have rebelled against the Most High, and that your sense of need at this very moment is for pardon.
"Him who pardoned erring Peter never need'st thou fear,
He that came to faithless Thomas, all thy doubt will clear,
He who let the loved disciple on His bosom rest,
Bids thee still with love as tender, lean upon His breast."
Let me assure you that a sense of need, a consciousness of guilt, is a vessel into which God wills to pour His pardon and His recovering grace.
Or you may be conscious of defeat; conscious of having failed God. Let us never forget that God's character before the world is committed to you, it is committed to me, committed to His people. If we fail, in the eyes of the world, He fails. If we fail, His name is beclouded, His luster is dimmed and men are not drawn to Him, but rather are driven from Him. Yes, God's character before the world is committed to you, and maybe you have made this discovery, that you have been a poor representative, and you are gripped by a sense of failure.
I recall just now words spoken by the late Dr. Stuart Holden at the 1924 Keswick. He told us of a man he had in his congregation, a Christian worker, a man used of God, but who unfortunately at an evil hour slipped badly. Oh, "let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." This man fell and he was serving a seven-year sentence in one of our penal settlements. Through the instrumentality of Dr. Stuart Holden the man was led back to Jesus, led to know the recovering power of the precious blood of Christ, and on the fly-leaf of his cell-Bible he wrote words which he requested might be added to that unscriptural poem, "The bird with the broken pinion." You remember the words at the end of every verse: "But the bird with the broken pinion never soared so high again," this man wrote, "But the soul that comes to Jesus through failure, shame, or pain, by His wondrous love and mercy may soar as high again." A sense of need, and the spirit of repentance is a vessel into which God wills to pour Himself in recovering grace. Is there not everywhere today a sense of need? I find it everywhere.
We have tried this and that in an endeavor to create interest in the minds of men for the things of God, but is it not true that we have come back from every endeavor with a sense of baffling and frustration, and we have said again and again, "It cannot be done on human levels"? There is a cry everywhere today for God to do something; God is preparing a vessel. It may not yet be clean enough for God. Has He begun to handle us? Has He begun the process of cleansing? "Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord." God will not pour His Holy Spirit into that which is polluted by failure. God wants a clean vessel. Are we clean? Yes, I say again, there is a hunger, and that is why we are encouraged to believe that revival is near.
I think again of those people in the Hebrides. How they longed and how they prayed and how they waited and how they cried, "Oh God, rend the heavens and come down," and all the time God was handling them; all the time God was dealing with them and the process of cleansing went on until the moment came when angels and archangels looking over the battlements of glory cried, "God, the vessels are clean, the miracle can happen now." I believe that with all my heart; it is the deep conviction of my soul that they are ever gazing over the battlements of glory and waiting for a prepared people. It is one thing to shout it, it is one thing to sing it, it is one thing to talk about revival, but give me a people on their faces, seeking to be rightly related with God, and when that happens, we will soon know the impact of God-realization in our country.
Now, I'm not saying that the need is articulate everywhere, but the failure of man's best endeavors is apparent to all, and I believe the day is not far distant when, in a sense of desperation, when at the end of her endeavor, the Church will cry, and God will take it in hand. Are we there? In the case of the widow her need became articulate, and she cried, "Oh, man of God, come! the situation! s desperate, my two boys are to be removed from me. God, come and deal with the situation." This was a youth problem indeed, and the coming of God solved the youth problem, but the miracle had to happen.' Thank God the miracle can happen. Is it going to happen? We know that God can give us a great many things, but He cannot give us His best gifts unless we hunger for them. For instance, He cannot make a man wise if he refuses instruction ; He cannot save a man from his sins if that man wills to hold on to his sins with both his hands; He cannot make a man holy if he has not aspirations after a holy life. Is it not true that the need of the Christian Church today is just holiness; a people desirous of walking in the ways of God?
I was once my privilege to speak to a group of young people, and what a joy it was to sit listening to their aspirations and their longings; what a privilege it was to speak to them about the power of. an indwelling Christ, and I remember saying this: "The greatest thing about us all is not what we say, it is not what we do; the greatest thing about us all is our unconscious influence, and that unconscious influence impregnated by the life of Jesus." Oh, the power, the dynamic of a God-possessed personality. Let that loose and revival is at the door. A baptism of holiness, a demonstration of godly living is the crying need of our day. So if you measure the intensity of your desires, you will measure your capacity.
God is not going to respond to a feeble fleeting wish. Just for a moment suppose that those boys of the widow while holding the vessels under the spout of oil were more interested in watching a butterfly in the sun than on keeping their eye fixed upon the oil; the chances are that most of the oil would have been lost. Yet is that not the way many of us come to God? We long for revival, we are longing to see a movement in our own community, in our own Church, Hall or Assembly, and we are crying "God send it", but heaven cries: "Is your eye fixed upon Me?" "Get rightly related to Me." I read in the Old Testament story of "men who feared the Lord, but they served their own gods". Do we profess to fear Him, but are we serving our own gods, our own interests? May God lead us into truth.
Is there a hunger, is there a cry, "I've nothing, I've nothing, save a sense of need." Bow in His presence and acknowledge it, and bring that vessel of honesty, sincerity and of true seeking after God, and the promise will be fulfilled, "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty". Remember that revival has got to do with God's people. I sometimes say, at the risk of being misunderstood, that we do not pray for revival in order that souls may be saved, but souls are saved in their thousands when we have revival, when the thirsty are satisfied, then the floods come on the dry ground. If you want revival, get right with God. If you are not prepared to bring the "last piece", for God's sake stop talking about revival, your talking and praying is but the laughing-stock of devils. It is about time we got into the grips of reality. Are we thirsty?
"I hunger and I thirst,
Jesus, my Manna be."
Is that your prayer?
But further will you notice that this woman was inspired by a great confidence. Yes, the man of God was ^here, and could she but get into touch with him the miracle could happen, the boys could be left at home and the youth problem solved. She got in touch with him, I'm not sure how, I cannot say how difficult the path was, but of this I am certain, she got in touch with Him, and through getting in touch with Him the miracle happened. Why is the miracle not happening today? We are in touch with churches, we are in touch with missions, we are in touch with conferences and conventions for the deepening of spiritual life; I would to God we could get into touch with Him. The miracle happens there. Yes, that was her confidence and she set before Him:
"Faith mighty faith the promise sees,
And looks to God alone;
Laughs at impossibilities,
And cries, 'It shall de done'."
That was what inspired that saint of God in the Hebrides to pray: "God, You promised revival and if You do not send it, how can I trust You again?" I say that prayer must have gladdened the heart of God. That is the inspiration of a great confidence; God has promised and God will fulfil His promise. God is the God of revival and He will revive us again. God is a God of power and He will find a willing people in the day of His power. The inspiration of the great confidence! Desire is one thing, confident anticipation that the desire will be fulfilled is quite another thing. And I want to point out that the two go together. This is just another way of saying "according to your faith be it unto you." I am afraid many of us have our expectations fainter than desire. We pray for strength, we pray for holiness, we pray for revival, and nothing seems to happen. Why? For the simple reason that we do not expect it to happen. W^hy did the widow send for the prophet? Because she expected the miracle to happen.
There is a place beyond consecration, there is a place beyond sanctification, and that is the place of implicit confidence in God. It is not easy to stand in that place, but I have known men and women who stood there, and I have seen before my eyes the miracle happen. Beyond consecration is the promise of God: "I pour water upon him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground." "The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son," suppresses? No! Counteracts? No! We have coined such phrases outside the Holy Spirit, now let us use Holy Spirit language; "The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleans us from all sin." So that in the presence of God we cry:
"I am crucified with Jesus and the Cross has set me free,
Now I live again in Jesus and He lives and reigns in me.
That is the secret of holiness, not my holiness, but His. "Jesus empty me and fill me with Thy fullness to the brim." That is His promise, not only power but purity. I would say that the peculiar prerogative of the Holy Spirit is to purify and then empower.
That brings us to the last point, and it is brief. Think of the replenishing and the empowering of obedience in the woman. She went from him and shut the door. You see, the need was met when the conditions were fulfilled. So I read in the Word of God, "If any man will do His will he shall know." He will know many things within the will of God. He will know deliverance, he will know the realization of an indwelling Christ, he will know the power that enables him to walk in the ways of God's commandments, he will know God. I want to say humbly and reverently that to me the greatest reality, the greatest fact in life is just the presence of the Lord Jesus. And I love Him; that to me is greater than preaching, it is greater than seeing revival. I thank God for what I have seen in that realm, but the greatest thing of all is just to have fellowship with Jesus. Well, if we do His will we shall know that. Here you have a case of general principle. Desire and wishing are all right and well, but unless they are backed up and verified by experience and by obedience, desiring will not bring God's blessing to the soul.
Was it not Hudson Taylor who said while addressing a meeting in Perth, "God gives His Holy Spirit not to those who long for Him, not to those who pray for Him, not to those who desire to be filled always; He gives His Spirit to those who obey"? And after all, salvation and sanctification are realized from the human side in obeying God. Are you going to bring your empty vessel? If you do. He will fill it.
"And now, Lord, behold their threatenings, and grant unto thy servants that with all boldness they may speak thy word; And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness"-Acts 4:29, 31.
Let us consider the principles that govern spiritual quickening. I will base my thoughts on Acts 4:29-37.
I suppose it might be considered a truism to say that we live in a world that is rocked in a sea of trouble. Solid foundations that we once built upon are being abandoned and we think of them today as mere shadows belonging to a vanished past. On every hand, we see signs of frustration, of barrenness and of defeat, and I suppose we all agree that the stream of vital Christianity runs very low indeed.
Now it seems to me that the all important question for us to face at this hour is, what have we as a Church to offer a generation that is awake, but a generation that is failing to find the true way of life. I know no question in all the range of thought so vital in its issue, so devastating in its implication as this one question-Is the Church we know today a light that marks the road that leads men to the Cross? Is it not true that too often faint-heartedness creeps over us, and accordingly there springs up an unwillingness to make a strenuous effort toward revival? Now if any book is fitted to correct that tendency, that book is the Word of God, and here in this portion, that I have just quoted, we have a signal illustration.
Here we have one of the most encouraging, the most stupendous facts in the records of revealed truth. I discover here that a power is placed at the disposal of the Church that can outmaneuver and baffle the very strategy of Hell, and cause death and defeat to vanish before the presence of the Lord of Life. Barrenness is made to feel His fertilizing power. I feel that we would do well today to face honestly and sincerely one or two questions.
How is it that while we make such great claims for the power of the Gospel, we see so little of the supernatural in operation? If Christianity is a religion, not of aspiration alone, but pre-eminently of fulfilment, how is it that revival tarries? Is there any reason why the Church today cannot everywhere equal the Church at Pentecost? I feel that this is a question that we ought to face with an open mind and an honest heart. What did the early Church have that we do not possess today? Nothing but the Holy Spirit, nothing but the power of God. Here I would suggest that one of the main secrets of success in the early Church lay in the fact that the early believers believed in unction from on high, and not entertainment from men.
One of the very sad features that characterizes much that goes under the name of evangelism today is the craze for entertainment. Here is an extract from a letter received from a leader in youth work in one of your great cities: "We are at our wits' end to know what to do with the young people who made a profession of conversion recently. They are demanding all sorts of entertainment, and it seems to us that if we fail to provide the entertainment that they want, we are not going to hold them." Yes, the trend of the time in which we live is toward a Christian experience (or should I say experience and leave Christian out of it?), an experience that is light and flippant and fed on entertainment.
Some little time ago I listened to a young man give his testimony. He made a decision quite recently, and in giving his testimony this is what he said, "I have discovered that the Christian way of life can best be described, not as a battle, but as a song mingled with the sound of happy laughter." Far be it from me to move the song or happy laughter from religion, but I want to protest that young man's conception was entirely wrong, and not in keeping with true New Testament Christianity. "Oh, but," say the advocates of this way of thinking, "how are we to get the people if we do not provide some sort of entertainment?" To that I ask the question how did they get the people at Pentecost? How did the early Church get the people? By publicity projects, by bills, by posters, by parades, by pictures? No! The people were arrested and drawn together and brought into vital relationship with God, not by sounds from men, but by sounds from heaven. We are in need of more sounds from heaven today. It seems to me that heavenly sounds are dying out. I am sure you must have noticed that Pentecost was its own publicity.
I love that passage in the Acts that tells us that "when this was noised abroad the multitude came together". What was noised abroad? What was happening in the midst of men? What was noised abroad? That men and women were coming under deep conviction. What was noised abroad? That men in the community appeared like drunken men because they were drunk by the mighty power of God. That was God's method of publicity, and until the Church of Jesus Christ rediscovers this and acts upon it, we shall at our best appear to a mad world as a crowd of common people in a common market babbling about common wares. The early Church cried for unction and not for entertainment because they knew that unction creates interest and real soul-concern.
But you say, yes, that happened in the Acts of the Apostles, but dare we expect that to happen today? Are there sounds from heaven today? Are men moved in this fashion today? Are men arrested by a power that seems to be apart from all human agency today? I say yes, it is happening today! Some of us saw it happen in churches comparatively empty, the youth given to pleasure rather than seeking after God; then suddenly there was a sound from heaven. Three young women were praying in a barn when there was a sound from heaven, and the whole community became saturated with God, and men and women were swept into the Kingdom. We had not organized, we had no publicity program, but heaven's messengers moved in the midst of the people, and in a matter of hours churches became crowded as scores were swept into the Kingdom of God.
Yes, unction is the dire and desperate need of the ministry today. They believed in unction and not in entertainment. Further, the early Church put power before influence. The present state of our country presents a challenge to the Christian Church. Those who have eyes to see and who are truly observant tell us that at this very hour forces are taking the field that are out to defy every known Christian principle. The need is desperate, and it is awful. We have got to do something.
In many quarters there is today a growing conviction that unless God moves, unless there is a demonstration of the supernatural in the midst of men, unless we are moved up into the realm of the Divine, we shall soon find ourselves caught up in a counterfeit movement, but a movement that goes under the name of evangelism. There are ominous signs today that the devil is out to side-track us in the sphere of evangelism, and we are going to become satisfied with something less than Heaven wills to give us. Nothing but a Holy Spirit revival will meet the desperate need of the hour. The early Church, the men of Pentecost, had something beyond mere human influence and human ingenuity. But what do we mean by influence? The sum total of all the forces in our personality; mental, moral, academic, social and religious. We can have all these, and we can have them at their highest level, and yet be destitute of power. Power, not influence, was the watchword of the early Church.
While at the Keswick Convention, it was my privilege to spend an afternoon with a leader in foreign mission activity. I was arrested, if not perturbed, by what that man said to me. Here are his words: "Today we have some Bible Schools in our land and they are turning out young men and young women cultured and polished but without power." Was that a true diagnosis? I want to suggest that he was near to the truth. Polished, yes, we may be polished, we may have culture, but the cry of our day is for power, and that from on high.
I could take you to a little cottage in the Hebrides and introduce you to a young woman. She is not educated; one could not say that she was polished in the sense that we use the word, but I have known that young woman to pray heaven into a community, to pray power into a meeting. I have known that young woman to be so caught in the power of the Holy Spirit that men and women around here were made to tremble-not influence, but power. The Apostles were not men of influence, "not many mighty, not many noble". Oh, no, the Master Himself did not choose to be a man of influence. "He made Himself of no reputation," all of which is equal to saying that God chose power rather than influence. I sometimes think of Paul and Silas yonder in Philippi. Why? They had not enough influence to keep them out of prison, but possessed of the power of God in such a manner that their prayers in prison shook the whole prison to its very foundations. Not influence, but power.
Oh, that the Church today, in our congregations and in our pulpits, would rediscover this truth and get back to the place of God realization, to the place of power. I want to say further that we should seek power even at the expense of influence. What do I mean by that? I mean this: never compromise to accommodate the devil. I hear people say today, these are different days from the days of the 1859 Revival or the Welsh Revival; we must be tolerant and we must try to accommodate. In order to do that it is necessary at times to lower our standard and seek the co-operation of those who do not accept the position that we hold relative to evangelical truth. The secret of power is separation from all that is unclean, for me there is nothing so unclean as the liberal views held by some today. We dare not touch them. I am stating what to me is a deep-seated conviction: "Come out from among them and be ye separate . . . and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you."
Yes, we must seek power even at the expense of influence. Think again of the great Apostle Paul. What an opportunity he had of gaining influence with Felix, had he but flattered him a little in his sin, he could have made a great impression and I believe he could have got a handsome donation for his missionary effort by being tolerant, by accommodating the situation. Paul chose power before influence and he reasoned of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Let Felix say what he will let Drusilla think as she chooses to think, I must be true to my conscience and to my inner convictions and declare the whole counsel of God and take my stand on the solid ground of separation unto God.
Now the person who will take his stand on that ground will not be popular, he will not be popular with some preachers of today who declare that we must soft-pedal in order to capture and captivate. Here I would quote from the saintly Finney: "Away with your milk and water preaching of the love of Christ that has no holiness or moral discrimination in it, away with the preaching a Christ not crucified for sin." Such a collapse of moral conscience in this land could never have happened if the Puritan element in our preaching had not, in a great measure, fallen out.
Here is the quotation from a Highland minister preaching on this very truth. He cried: "Bring me a God all mercy but not just, bring me a God all love but not righteous, and I will have no scruples in calling Him an idiot of your imagination." Strong words, but I say words that I would sound throughout our land today, in this age of desperate apostasy, forsaking all the fundamental truths of Scripture. Here you have the Apostles proclaiming a message that was profoundly disturbing. We are afraid of disturbing people today. You must not have their emotions stirred, you must not have people weeping in a meeting, you must not have people rolling on the floor under conviction of sin; keep things orderly. May God help us, may God have mercy upon us. Who are we to dictate to Almighty God as to how He is going to work? If God chooses to move in that way, if God chooses to so convict men and women of their sin that they will be about to lose their reason, I say, God move on until we can see again what was witnessed in the Edwards Revival, in the Finney Revival, in the Fifty-nine Revival, in the Welsh Revival, and, praise God, today in the Hebrides Revival -God moving in supernatural reality.
Then there are those who say, "but we must not frighten people". I would to God that a wave of real godly fear gripped our land. Let me quote from a sermon delivered by the Rev. Robert Barr, B.D., of the Presbyterian Church of South Africa: "This is what our age needs, not an easy-moving message, the sort of thing that makes the hearer feel all nice inside, but a message profoundly disturbing. We have been far too afraid of disturbing people, but the Holy Spirit will have nothing to do with a message or with a minister who is afraid of disturbing. You might as well expect a surgeon to give place to a quack who claims to be able to do the job with some sweet tasting drug, as expect the Holy Spirit to agree that the tragic plight of human souls today can be met by soft and easy words. Calvary was anything but nice to look at, blood-soaked beams of wood, a bruised and bleeding body, not nice to look upon. But then Jesus was not dealing with a nice thing; He was dealing with the sin of the world, and that is what we are called upon to deal with today. Soft and easy words, soft-pedaling will never meet the need."
Further, they believed in the supernatural. Notice the prayer of verse 29, "And now Lord behold their threatenings, and grant unto Thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak Thy Word, by stretching forth Thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of Thy holy child Jesus." You see, they looked for, and expected signs and wonders.
Someone has said that at Pentecost God set the Church at Jerusalem on fire and the whole city came out to see it burn. I tell you if that happened in any church today, within hours the whole of the town would be out to see the burning, and they would be caught in the flames.
It is fire we want. The best advertising campaign that any church or any mission can put up is fire in the pulpit and a blaze in the pew. Let us be honest. We say God send revival, but are we prepared for the fire? Think for a moment of that which took place at Carmel, that mighty manifestation of God. When did the fire fall? When the altar was built? No! When the bullock lay dead beneath the altar? Nol I see the man of God take his knife and he cuts the bullock in pieces; did the fire fall? No! The pieces are placed on the altar, piece one, piece two, piece three, but the heavens are as brass, the fire has not fallen. The process goes on. There is another piece here; I see the Prophet handle it and it is placed on the altar, but the fire has not fallen. Right there, just at the back of the altar, there is another small piece. I see the Prophet move round and I see him handling that piece. It is the last piece, and now the last piece is placed upon the altar. Then the miracle happens. The heavens are rent and God comes down, the fire falls, and there is a mighty manifestation followed by a mighty revival.
Will you honestly and sincerely face this question? You are interested in revival, you are praying for blessing, you are longing to see your Church revived. Brother ministers, has God handled the last piece? Many pieces have been handled, and I believe that there are men and women whom God has been handling; this piece has gone on the altar and that piece has gone on the altar, but the last piece has not yet been handled. Let us be honest, let us be realistic. I believe we are not going to see the movement we long for, and streams from the river of God, until Christian men and women cry out to God, "Oh, handle the last piece." If the fire is to fall the last piece must be handled. The truth about the Holy Spirit is discoverable and verifiable only by submission to His power. We may talk about Him, we may think about Him, but only when we submit can we know His mighty power. There is a law in the science of dynamics that tells us that all power is measurable at the point of its application. Are we prepared to apply that principle in the spiritual realm, to make this profound discovery that when we come to an end of ourselves, we can reach the beginning of God?
I believe we have only to regard and observe those laws and limits within which the Holy Spirit acts, and we shall find His glorious power at our disposal. In other words, obey the law of the Spirit and the Spirit of God will respond to you. Surely that was the conviction that gripped an elder in the Isle of Lewis when, in a situation that was difficult and trying, he cried, "You made a promise, and I want to remind You that we believe that You are a covenant-keeping God. Your honour is at stake." That man was at the end of his rope, that man was in the place of travail.
Revival is not going to come merely by attending Conferences or Conventions, though that may contribute to it. When "Zion travailed she brought forth children". Oh, may God bring us there, may God lead us through to the place of absolute surrender. I shall never forget that dear saint of God, Dr Inwood, cry at the 1924 Keswick Convention, "Christian men and women, self-renunciation is the cardinal ethic of the Christian Church." Is it not true, too often our very best moments of yielding and consecration are mingled with the destructive element of self-preservation? A full and complete surrender is the price of blessing, but that also is the price of revival.
" Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord or who shall stand in His Holy place! He that hath clean hands and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord."-Psalm 24:3-5.
This life to which we are called can be entered only through the gateway of a full and uncalculating consecration. Consecration is not sanctification, but there can be no sanctification apart from the yielding of self. Someone has said that the essential nature of sin is my claim to my right to myself. Consecration is my relinquishing of that claim. That yielding of myself in the presence of God leads me into the radical experience of what I like to term entire sanctification. So you have the Apostle writing: "Present your bodies a living sacrifice . . . and be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." There can be no half measures here. One regrets to say that we are living in days when we have a Christianity made easy as an accommodation to an age that is unwilling to face reality; an accommodation to an age that is more desirous of being amused than instructed in the things of God. Without question there is today an unwillingness to face the implications of Calvary. Jesus said, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me." Many of us are deeply concerned about the need of revival.
The stream of vital Christianity is running low and there are many today who, with the Prophet of old, are crying "Oh that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, that Thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence." Yes, that prayer is on our lips, but I sometimes wonder if this truth is in our hearts; that self-renunciation must ever be the cardinal ethic of the Christian life.
Where there is honesty and sincerity, where there is obedience and faith, this full life in God is gloriously possible. God in His wonderful mercy has made provision by which we can become the possessors of a life of purity, a life of power, a life through which there flows the blessing of revival: a life that has all its springs in God. Over and over again I have been asked, "Is it possible in the realm of practical experience to know this life of intimate fellowship, is it really possible to know the blessing of a clean heart?" Can we really ascend the hill of God and stand in His holy place with clean hands and with a pure heart? Is there a condition of heart that corresponds to the truth expressed in that great hymn of Wesley?
'"Twas most impossible of all
That here sin's reign in me should cease.
Yet shall it be, I know it shall;
Jesus look to Thy faithfulness!
If nothing is too hard for Thee,
All things are possible to me."
I want to bear testimony that it was the realization of this glorious truth that revolutionized my life and my ministry seven years ago. After spending seventeen years in a barren wilderness, baffled and frustrated in Christian work and witness, I suddenly came to realize that God had made provision for clean hands and a pure heart. And on my face in my own study at five o'clock in the morning I came to know the recovering power of the blood of Christ and could with the hymn writer say:
"Thro' all my soul its waters flow,
Thro' all my nature stealing;
And deep within my heart I know
The consciousness of healing."
I know that in some small measure-I say, in some small measure-the revival in Sky and later in Lewis, must be related to the experience of that morning. You ask me how did it begin? What was it that led me into this full realization of glorious deliverance in the Holy Spirit? I answer in one word, a baptism from God. Explain it as you will, it was a baptism from God. That experience was in my case preceded by a spiritual hunger, a longing for God to do something.
Now I am sure it will interest you to know that this is just how it began in Lewis also. The revival did not begin by my going there. God was moving and moving mightily before ever I thought of going to Lewis. This is where and how it began: A number of men and two elderly women there were made conscious of the desperate need of their parish; all human effort had failed and had left them baffled. They realized that their one resource was to fall back upon God. Oh, how true it is that despair often is the womb from which real faith is born. When man comes to the end of himself-to the end of all human resources- he has reached the beginning of God. That was where I had arrived, and that was where the men of Lewis had arrived. So they entered into a solemn covenant that they would not rest nor cease from prayer until He made "Jerusalem" a praise on the Island. According to the report given me by the minister of the parish you find men waiting through the night in confidence that God was about to manifest His power. You find two elderly sisters on their faces before the peat fire three nights a week pleading one promise, I say one promise: "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground." A promise made, as they declared, by a covenant-keeping God who must ever be true to His covenant engagements. So they waited and the months passed and nothing happened; until one morning a young man in the company read the portion of Psalm 24 that we have read, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart"-the Word of God speaks about heart purity-"He shall receive the blessing of the Lord." Looking down at his praying companions, and speaking in Gaelic, he said: "Brethren, it seems to me just so much sentimental humbug to be praying as we are praying, to be waiting as we are waiting here, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God." And then he prayed, "Are my hands clean, is my heart pure?"
He got no further. At that moment there came to them a realization of God, an awareness of His presence that lifted them from the sphere of the ordinary into the sphere of the extraordinary. Three of them fell prostrate on the floor: they realized at that moment that they were now moving, not in the field of the natural, but on the plane of the supernatural. Revival had come and the power that was let loose in that barn shook the whole community of Lewis.
These few men and two elderly women discovered this profound truth, that a God-sent revival must ever be related to holiness, and real New Testament separation. Yes, that was the truth that they discovered; revival was coming, God was going to be honoured, they were going to see men so supernaturally altered that holiness would characterize every part of their being, body, soul and spirit. That was the truth that gripped them and that moved Lewis and Harris, There was a hunger, a cry, for pardon.
Let us be honest in the presence of God and get right into the grips of reality. Have I a vision of my own desperate need? Oh, for a baptism of honesty, for a gripping sincerity that will move us to cry with the men of Barvas, "Is my heart pure, are my hands clean?" This great blessing of heart purity, of clean hands is a human necessity. Sanctification is Christ enthroned. If the secret of holiness is in the complete filling of the soul with the life of Christ; if the baptism with the Holy Spirit is, in its final analysis, the revelation of Jesus; if beauty of Christian character comes from the incorporation of His personality in mine, surely the great need of the Christian Church today is a clean heart.
"Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, who shall stand in His holy place? ... he shall receive the blessing of the Lord"-that is revival: that is God let loose through human personality and there you have the floodgates of heaven opened and the dry places flooded with God- Revival is a community saturated with God. That is the difference between revival and successful evangelism. In successful evangelism, in successful crusades, you have ten, you have twenty saved here, you have a hundred brought to Christ there, but the community remains unchanged. Men move on to their Christless hell. But when God steps down, when hearts are made clean by Him, then He finds an avenue through which He can move; the community becomes saturated with God, so that many of those who find the Savior come into saving relationship with Him before they come near any Church or place of meeting.
God is sovereign in His movings among men and, if this is true, the need is not a new technique in the field of evangelism, not a new approach to truth, not better organization, but a baptism of cleansing, making us fit vessels that God can use. When sin exerts itself and you know its power, when by its power we are held in bondage and in misery, when self-loathing and despair are the symptoms of its deadliness, surely our dire need is for God to deal with the cause. The cause is a sinful heart.
This is a divine promise. Nothing is plainer than the promise of God on this point: "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you." Note the words "from all". When all is removed, nothing remains; when all idols are taken away, none is left. This is where the miracle of the work of sanctification is seen. This glorious, mighty, and complete deliverance comes not from any effort of my own, but by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.
I could bring you just now to the village in Lewis where a young man made this great discovery. He was out on the hillside and battling with the corruption of his own nature. He was a convert of six months, battling with corruption, and suddenly he found himself asking the question: "Can Christ do nothing better than this?" Have you ever said that? At that moment a verse of scripture spoke- "the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleans us from all sin" -and at that moment the young man was lifted from the place of defeat and frustration of the Christian, to stand in God's Holy place. I believe when the day of reckoning comes it will be seen that more came to Christ through the prayer and through the life of this young man than from the efforts of all the ministers in Lewis, myself included.
What God can do through a man completely and entirely filled by the Holy Spirit, through clean hands and a pure heart! I want to think of this as a glorious possibility for you. You have heard of the movement in the Hebrides; you have heard of the movement in the Congo; you have heard of the movement in Korea, in Brazil.
Then you exclaim: "God can you do it again?" I want to say this, and I say it on the authority of this Book, yes, God will do it again when He finds a church He can trust; when He finds a man whom He can trust with revival. God found such men in Lewis-I have no hesitation in saying that-men whom He could trust.
Now let me demonstrate and illustrate what I mean. We were in a village where things were really difficult. A certain section of the Christian community was bitterly opposing me on the grounds that I was not teaching the truth because I proclaimed the truth that John Wesley proclaimed and the New Testament proclaims, that there is a Savior from sin.
Now I proclaimed the truth and I was opposed, and the opposition was so successful that only seven from this community came near the meetings in the Parish Church. At the close of one meeting the session-clerk of this particular congregation in which I was ministering, came to me and said, " Mr Campbell-these go not out but by prayer and fasting-so we are meeting tonight in the farmhouse; we are going to spend the night in prayer."
So we met. There were about thirty of us, and prayer began. I found it a very hard meeting. I found myself battling and getting nowhere as the hours passed. After midnight, between 12 and 1 o'clock in the morning, I turned to a young man in the meeting and said, "I feel led of God to ask you to pray," and that dear man rose to his feet and prayed, and in his prayer he uttered words such as I had never heard in a prayer before. He said "Lord, You made a promise, are You going to fulfil it? We believe that You are a covenant-keeping God, will You be true to Your covenant? You have said that You would pour water on the thirsty and floods upon the dry ground. I do not know how others stand in Your Presence, I do not know how the ministers stand, but if I know my own heart, I know where I stand, and I tell Thee now that I am thirsty, oh, I am thirsty for a manifestation of the Man of Thy right hand"-and then he said this-"Lord before I sit down, I want to tell You that Your honor is at stake."
Have you ever prayed like that? Here is a man praying the prayer of faith. I love to believe that angels and archangels were looking over the battlements of Glory and saying to one another, "This is a man who believes God, there is a man who dares to stand solidly on the promise of God and take from the throne what the throne has promised." Believe it, or disbelieve it-and you can verify this if you like -the house shook like a leaf, the dishes rattled on the sideboard, and an elder standing beside me said, " Mr Campbell, an earth tremor." I said, "Yes," and I pronounced the benediction immediately and walked out to find the community alive with an awareness of God.
Men and women were carrying stools and chairs and asking "Is there room for us in the church?" The revival did not break out because Duncan Campbell was there. No, a thousand times no. But because God found a man whom He could trust, a man who dared to believe the promise of God. I hear men say at meetings, "Lord, I am claiming revival, I'm claiming revival." We ought to be careful what we say. If we claim it, we have it; yes, this is a glorious possibility, indeed I would go as far as to say if I did not believe this I would go back to business, and I believe that when God finds the clean hands and the pure heart we shall see springs in the desert and rivers in the dry places.
Seven American ministers were in Lewis some time ago. They were walking through a certain valley when they heard singing coming from this direction, coming from that direction.
This is what was being sung:
"His name forever shall endure;
Last like the sun it shall:
Men shall be blessed in Him, and blessed
All nations shall Him call.
And blessed be the Lord our God, the
God of Israel,
For He alone doth wondrous works in glory that excel.
And blessed be His glorious name to all eternity;
The whole earth let His glory fill,
Amen, so let it be."
One of the ministers turned to the others and said: "This is heaven; heaven around us." The Parish of Uig will never forget that night. Revival blessing had come, and now it had reached flood tide; that night, some men and women, on the crest of its wave, were swept into the Kingdom of God. Oh, that God would do it again.
My dear people, let us get on our faces before God and pray that He may yet visit us in mercy and that we, His people, may once again ascend the hill of God and stand in His holy place. May God grant it.
One encouraging feature of our day is the growing concern on the part of many of God's people regarding the situation that confronts us. Indeed, we are not without blessed tokens of God's favour, as witnessed again in the Outer and Inner Hebrides, and in the prayer meetings springing up in different parts of our country. A report from Ashbury Methodist College tells of a revival that is deep and genuine and has now spread to a number of other colleges in the United States.
While we praise God for these tokens of His favour, I personally feel that the time has come when as Christians we must face ourselves with unqualified honesty, and ask what we are doing to stem the tide of evil that is flooding our country today. I believe that Satan's master strategy is to destroy our powers to wage spiritual warfare, and surely we have ample evidence of his success in this field today. We need to share the burden of the prophet in his cry: "Oh that Thou wouldest rend the Heavens, that Thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence" (Isaiah 64:1). We need men today with the conviction of the prophet. He clearly suggests that nothing can possibly be done unless God comes down, but if there was a manifestation of God's power the miracle would happen, as mountains of indifference would flow and nations are made to tremble.
On the spiritual battlefield of the present day, I believe Christ is taking up His position, and the great conflict has begun, and we are called to get by the side of our Redeemer as coworkers with Him in this great ministry of intercession. "Brother," wrote Hudson Taylor to Jonathan Goforth, "If you are to win the province of Honan, you must go forward on your knees."
These are days of much activity in the field of church and mission work, but we do well to remember that no amount of activity in the King's service will make up for the neglect of the King Himself. I do not believe that the devil is greatly concerned about getting between us and work: his great concern is getting between us and God. Many a Christian worker has buried his spirituality in the grave of his activity. It is possible to be doing a great deal in the name of religion, and yet not possible for it to be acceptable to God. The word of God declares: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord" (Zechariah 4:6). We have introduced unspiritual ways and unscriptural activities in the field of evangelism, which, to my mind, threatens the very life of the church. "I have proved," said Mrs. Penn-Lewis, "that the presence of God is more attractive than spiritual entertainment. The truth is that we cannot compete with the world. We must win by the force of something far above competition, and this is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit." Glover said, "The early church conquered because the early church out-thought, out-lived and out-died the pagan." That is, they showed a quality of life that could only be explained in terms of the Holy Spirit. Their work and witness leave us with no explanation apart from God. How much we need to return to spiritual sanity that leads to repentance and true humility that finds expression in the words:
"Soul of mine, must I surrender,
See myself as crucified,
Turn from all of earth's ambitions,
That Thou might'st be satisfied."