THE NEED FOR REVIVAL

Pastor James J. Barker

Text: JAMES 4:1-10




INTRODUCTION:


1.     I would like to speak tonight on the subject of revival.

2.     Many years ago Evangelist James Stewart wrote these words, “The vast majority of Christians are living a sub-normal Christian life. The New Testament characteristics of power invincible, joy unspeakable, glory immeasurable, and peace incomprehensible, are strangely lacking in their lives. The Christian experience of the Church isn't deep, intense or vital enough to meet her own needs, let alone the needs of the world…We are so sickly and feeble that we're not able to discharge the functions for which we exist. We're as powerless as a burnt-out volcano; as useless as a deserted ship swinging at anchor, covered with barnacles, awaiting destruction; or an old locomotive rusting on the sidings. We have adopted a policy of self-pity. The result is, we have the invalid's groan instead of the warrior's shout. We are absolutely powerless before the appalling conditions of the world today. The Church must herself be saved or she can't save the world. This is a law corroborated by every genuine movement of God in the past. The Church can't give what she doesn't possess. The measure of the outward must always be a measure of the inward. It's the Church that is unbelieving, apathetic and worldly.”

3.     If that statement was true 50 years ago, what about today?  Churches are not winning souls so they are turning to the purpose-driven, seeker-friendly, rock-and-roll fad.

4.     Fundamental Baptist churches all over America are closing down the Sunday night service.  And few come out to prayer meeting.

5.     Most Christians today care more about sports, television, and Hollywood than about the things of God.

6.     Our churches are prayerless and powerless, and have hardly any influence to the lost sinners that live among us.

7.     I have heard it said and I believe it to be true is that if revivalism is normal NT Christianity, than what we are experiencing today is subnormal.

8.     Should we be satisfied with substandard and subnormal Christianity?

9.     We are seeing many of our young people leave fundamentalism for new-evangelicalism.  Many are out in the world and don’t even attend any kind of church.  They are deep in sin.

10. Meanwhile we are supposed to be excited because President Bush got reelected. (Don’t misunderstand me, I voted for him.)

11. We need revival.  My church needs revival.  Your church needs revival. 

12. America needs revival.  I heard that Korea now sends out more missionaries than we do.  In fact, I heard many more missionaries.  I heard an evangelist report recently that there are Korean missionaries and evangelists all over Asia.

13. In our text tonight I believe we see a prescription for revival.  We have in verses 7-10 ten imperatives.  One expositor likened them to “curt military commands” which “demand incisive action.”

 

I.                  SUBMISSION (4:6, 7)

II.               CLEANSING (4:8)

III.           HUMILITY (4:9, 10).

 

I.                  SUBMISSION (4:6, 7).

1.     “But He giveth more grace” (4:6).  We need God’s grace to be submissive.  We need God’s grace to be humble.   “He giveth grace unto the humble” (4:6).

2.     I don’t know a whole lot about being humble, but I have learned a few things.

(1)  We need to be mindful of our own sinfulness. We need to stop making excuses for besetting sins.  We need to stop trying to redefine our sins.

(2)  We need to acknowledge our dependence on God.  We must deny self and yield to God.

3.     A humble spirit and a submissive spirit go hand in hand.  You cannot have one without the other.

4.     “Submit yourselves therefore to God” (4:7). Submission is seldom preached these days, and yet it is basic Christianity. 

  “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands” (Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:8; I Peter 3:1).

  “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right” (Eph. 6:1). 

  “Children, obey your parents in all things” (Col. 3:20).

  “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls…” (Heb. 13:17).

  Here’s one I had to remember as I drove down here today from NY – “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” (I Peter 2:13).

  All of these ultimately touch upon our submission to God (James 4:7).  Students who complain about their teachers; workers who gripe about their employer; children who rebel against their parents; church members who rebel against their pastor; and so on are all disobedient to this plain command – “Submit yourselves therefore to God” (James 4:7).

  Teenagers chafe at standards because they are not submissive. Women get upset when a preacher mentions pants on women because they are not submissive.

5.     Pride and stubbornness keep sinners from getting saved.  And pride and stubbornness keep Christians from getting revived. 

6.     God will not send revival to a worldly church.  Revelation 3:16 says He will spue the lukewarm church out of His mouth.

7.     But God will send, and God wants to send revival to a humble church, a praying church, a church that is seeking after God (cf. II Chron. 7:14).

8.     “Wilt Thou not revive us again: that Thy people may rejoice in Thee?” (Psalm 85:6).

9.     “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7b).  The devil is constantly trying to break down our resistance and our separation.  He is always whispering to the Christian, “Don’t be so narrow-minded!  Don’t be a fanatic!  You deserve to have a little fun.  Worldly pleasures and worldly amusements are here for your enjoyment.” 

10.Beloved, let us “draw nigh to God” and He will draw nigh to us (4:8a).  Ignoring the convicting work of the Holy Spirit is dangerous.

11.Saying “no” to God is nothing but treachery. God deals with willful and deliberate disobedience.  God gave us a conscience and it can be easily hardened.  A stiff-necked Christian is a sorry sight.

 

II.               CLEANSING (4:8)

1.     I love that old hymn, “Cleanse me.”

      Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
      Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray:
      See if there be some wicked way in me:
      Cleanse me from ev'ry sin, and set me free.

2.     Oh, may God search our hearts today!  The Psalmist wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23, 24).

3.     God sees it, but we need to see it.

4.     Conviction of sin, accompanied by godly sorrow leads to genuine repentance. Then comes the cleansing (4:8). 

5.     The filth of this world is constantly splattering us.  We are constantly stained and defiled and contaminated by the pollutions of this world (cf. 1:27).

6.     The indwelling Holy Spirit hates sin.  I am afraid that often we grieve the Holy Spirit by making excuses for sin. 

7.     James is writing to Christians and he says, “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners” (4:8).

8.     It is so easy for us to preach against big sins like adultery, homosexuality, pornography, drinking, etc.  But we need the Holy Spirit to convict us of prayerlessness, selfishness, faithlessness, slothfulness, a critical spirit, a bad temper, envy, an unforgiving spirit, and many other sins that quench the Spirit of God.

9.     Beloved, let us not be “double-minded” (James 4:8). “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).

 

III.           HUMILITY (4:9, 10).

1.     “Be afflicted” (4:9) – Strong’s Concordance says it means literally, “be wretched, i.e., to realize one’s own misery.”

2.     It means to “grieve over your sin.”  In fact James calls us “sinners” in 4:8.  We must see our sin the way God sees it.

3.     “Be afflicted” in the OT often refers to fasting.   Often in the OT, we see the _expression, “Ye shall afflict your souls” in reference to fasting.

4.     I do not believe James is saying we must fast in order to induce this feeling of grief and remorse.  I do not see that at all in this text.

5.     However, I think prayer fasting is a good response to this feeling of grief and remorse, this burden for revival.

6.     I have heard missionaries say that prayer and fasting is very common among Christians in Africa and Asia and other parts of the world but is sadly neglected here in the United States.

7.     I will not spend much time on this but I will remind you that Jesus said, “When you fast” – not, “If you fast” (Matt. 6:17).

8.     Our Lord plainly said in Matthew 9:15 that after His departure His followers would fast.

9.     Furthermore, our Lord said that fasting is necessary for breaking down certain demonic strongholds (cf. Matthew 17:18-21).

10.Did you know that Matthew 17:21 is left out of the NASV, NIV, RSV, NEB, Jerusalem Bible, the Phillips paraphrase, etc.  The TEV puts it in brackets, indicating it does not belong there.

11.These modern translations also omit fasting in Mark 9:29; Acts 10:30; I Cor. 7:5; II Cor. 6:5; and II Cor. 11:27.

12.I am not an expert in this Bible translation controversy, and I do not wish to appear divisive, but I firmly believe that the devil has taken the word “fasting” out of these new translations.

13.The devil is trying to undermine and weaken this important Biblical teaching.  God wants us to fast and pray, but the devil does not want that!

14.So why are fundamental Christians disregarding what the Bible plainly teaches regarding fasting?  I think the answer is found in the apostle Paul’s second epistle to Timothy, chapter 3 and verses 1-4.  “For men shall be lovers of their own selves…lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”

15.Many churches are dead and cold.  There is wicked sin in many churches.  And we are surrounded by millions of lost sinners who will soon be cast off into hell.  We ought to be broken, but we’re not.

16.“Be afflicted, and mourn (James 4:9).  Mourning and heaviness always accompany a deep sense of sin. 

17.The apostle Paul cried out, “O wretched man that I am” (Romans 7:24).

18.“Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep…” (4:9). The great evangelist Hyman Appelman said revival “is a time of weeping.  I told you that I have seen revival meetings without much advertising, but I have never seen a revival without tears.”

19.Our Lord said in Luke 6:25, “Woe unto you that laugh now!  For ye shall mourn and weep.”  Most Americans are laughing themselves right into hell.

20.During WWI a man wrote an immensely popular song that went, “Pack up your troubles in your old kit back and smile, smile, smile.”  Later on, during WWII, he committed suicide.

21.Johnny Carson died recently, and a newspaper writer said that when he entered heaven one of the angels said, “Here’s Johnny!”  Do they really believe he is in heaven?

22.We can criticize Johnny Carson but many Christians are almost as shallow and worldly. Recently, I heard a preacher say that we must stop complaining that sinners are too hard, or their area is too hard, etc.  He said, “The problem is we’re too hard.”   Man, was I convicted about that!

23.“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.  He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5, 6).

 

CONCLUSION:


1.     This passage in James 4 calls for repentance.  God bends us and breaks us so that He can restore us and use us (James 4:10).

2.     I have read a few books and heard quite a few sermons about some of the great revivals.  One of my favorite stories is about the great revival that started in downtown NYC in 1857.

3.     One thing these revivals all have in common is that they started with prayer. Cf. James 4:2 – “Ye have not because ye ask not.” 



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