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By David W. Virtue, DD
June 10, 2021

Evangelicals in America believe that if we had a genuine outpouring of the Holy Spirit in spiritual revival, this country would leap beyond its wokeness and sins and become the great nation God intended it to be.

It is a noble sentiment and one that offers hope in a post Trump and increasingly post COVID world.

If God would just send down his Spirit, pour it out on all (American) flesh, replicate Acts 2, then all would be well, making us all holy, happier, more loving, Spirit filled and presumably godlier Christians.

Evangelicals love quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

So, one of the key words is humility, being humble, but Americans are the least humble people on earth. Americans believe in winning. Winning more souls, (because they love head counts), winning wars, winning (making) more money, being more successful, being first, grabbing all the gusto they can get, aligning the Bible with America's constitution or vise verse and on and on. It's John Wayne versus Jesus. To date, John Wayne is winning.

We talk about humility, but few practice it; until they are broken by life's circumstances.

Alcoholic Anonymous people get it; the churches for the most part do not.

"We admitted we were powerless...humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings...having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps..."

When you are brought low by life's circumstances and demonstrate that you are broken, then you might be ripe for revival. But Americans don't like being brought low, it is not on their agenda. Americans are taught to win. We are taught to be rugged individualists, The Marlboro Man, my way or the highway, you are either a winner or a loser. We envy Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk for their abilities and wealth. Jesus is not a success story. In fact, He is an embarrassment by American standards. A carpenter's son, a wandering itinerant preacher, L L. Bean sandals, had nowhere to lay his head, spent a lot of his time berating religious leaders and siding with the poor and downtrodden and talked a lot about a kingdom no one could see and repentance. Hardly leadership/revival/messianic credentials.

Let's look at a few hindrances to revival and why we won't be seeing it any time soon in America.

Let's start with the M word...Materialism. You don't hear it talked about much if at all, because it conflicts with the good life that we are all pursuing. We are a nation of materialists. We don't think about it, because it conflicts with "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." And God forbid we should change or challenge that. That is sacred text to a lot of Americans.

Let's talk about Sports in America. It's truly America's national multi-billion-dollar religious pastime. Church services are shortened so we can get to the ballpark or switch on television so we can watch the big game. 'Keep the forgettable sermon to 10 minutes, pastor, so we can get home to watch it all on TV.' God or the pastor is not permitted to change this, and God help the pastor if he goes past kickoff time.

Let's talk about Sex. Sex is now a right; it is no longer a gift. I have a right to sex, straight sex, homo sex, transgender sex. It isn't a right, of course and most evangelicals, especially millennials and Generation Z now believe sex outside of marriage is the norm and no one dare speak against it. Just read the latest stats from Barna or Pew on their findings here. https://ifstudies.org/blog/sex-and-the-single-evangelical

Let's talk about the Culture of Celebrity. It was a secular thing, but no more. It is now a Christian issue. Here are some bad examples. Ravi Zacharias, Jerry Falwell, Paige Patterson, Bill Gotthard, John Ortberg, multiple mega church pastors, even high-flying evangelical worship leaders, all the while forgetting that putting your faith in princes is strictly prohibited. (Psalm 146). Do evangelicals learn anything from this? Apparently not. They go on putting leaders on pedestals and when they fall, they either live in denial or drop out. You can count on one hand evangelical leaders who never bought into this. Think John Stott, Francis Schaefer, J.I. Packer, and evangelist Michael Green. (I knew them all.) They hated any personal aggrandizement. One time a man stood up and started saying how great it was to have Dr Stott, a man of God with us. Stott listened politely and said, "you don't know my heart." Can you imagine Joel Osteen saying that? Hollywood and TV have made the culture of celebrity what it is and evangelicals have gone along and emulated it. The Kardashians are famous for being famous. They are an empty, vacuous, mindless, rich family. And who the blazes is Justin Bieber anyway and why am I supposed to care? He has 114 million followers and millions more on other social media. And this is important, why?

Evangelicals have to get over their worship of men and some women preachers, like they are some special gift to the Church. They are not. They got there because they got something from someone in order to promote them. You scratch my back and I will scratch yours. "Puff Graham", said William Randolph Hearst to all his newspaper editors. As a result, within five days Graham gained national coverage. (This is not to diminish in any way Graham's Global Gospel outreach.)

Let's talk about abortion. Latest figures now reveal that 33% of evangelicals believe abortion should be safe and legal. 13% of evangelical women polled have had an abortion. 99.3% evangelical couples practice birth control. Research has consistently shown that the majority of people who obtain an abortion have a religious affiliation. It is passing strange that when Trump was president, and the House and Senate were in the hands of Republicans and the SCOTUS was 5 to 4 conservatives, no one stepped forward to challenge Roe v. Wade or Obergefell!

Let's talk about Power in the church and among church leaders. Power has intoxicated church leaders. Look at what has happened in the RCC and what is now emerging in the Southern Baptist Convention. Place power in the hands of a few leaders and suddenly, years of sexual abuse, racism and big money misspent appears phoenix-like from the ashes of orthodoxy. Think Jerry Falwell, OMG. Sex, misuse of alcohol, multimillion dollar lawsuits, a pool boy; all inside America's premier fundamentalist Christian college. Then the evangelical adulation of a president that defied all human reason. And all this is going to evaporate to produce revival? The truth is evangelicals can no more handle power than most politicians.

Let's talk about the other M word - Money. Money is truly America's number one god. We are obsessed with making it, spending it, making more, all the time buying bigger and better toys to play with. It is the elixir that oils the wheels of our success.

And what about tithing. Here is the latest from a nonprofit source guide. Only 3-5% of Americans who give to their local church do so through regular tithing. When surveyed, 17% of Americans state that they regularly tithe. For families making $75k+, 1% of them gave at least 10% in tithing. 3 out of 4 people who don't go to church make donations to nonprofit organizations. Source: www.nonprofitsource.com" www.nonprofitsource.com Of course giving to get tax deductions does sweeten the pot.

And God is really thrilled with all this? And will evangelicals revise their thinking about money and tithing if revival comes?

Jonathan Edwards, who wrote more on the theology of revival than anyone else in the last 2000 years, said revival starts with intercession. The church prays for revival, which means praying for a spirit of repentance.

A little history lesson. When revival hit Wales in 1904-1905, it came from below not above. It never started with a snot nosed Church of Wales bishop, or the Archbishop of Canterbury groveling before coal mine owners and blessing coal pits.

It started among the most miserable of people, miners. They had no power, no money, no standing in the churches, they had nothing. They worked long hours; 12-year-old children worked in the mines for their capitalist masters. There was no constitution, no first amendment or second amendment or Bill of Rights and no guns to fight back. In short, they had nothing. NOTHING.

A young Welshman called Evan Roberts was repeatedly awakened at 1:00 a.m. He met with God until 5:00 a.m. The Welsh revival followed.

"Coal miners crowded into prayer meetings that lasted till 3:00 a.m. and then washed, ate breakfast and returned to work. Many drunkards confessed their sins and received Christ," said one report.

And this: "In 1905 a week of united prayer meetings in an English town called Nuneaton led to a "glorious revival". The Prince's Theatre was packed each Sunday night after church with 1500 praying believers and many unsaved seekers. In Bulwell, many of the most degraded drunkards were converted. In the Bedfordshire villages, whole nights devoted to prayer prepared for powerful evangelism."

Some have said that God chose Roberts because he lacked all the usual characteristics often found in human leaders. God secured the victory through Evan's simplicity and spiritual power.

What happened in South Wales was heard around the world. From many nations went people of all ranks of life to the country to personally witness the phenomenon. Some criticized and others scoffed, but such voices were answered by the throngs of people who filled the church sanctuaries to capacity for months on end.

The Welsh revival was not an orgy of emotion but a "mighty outpouring of religious fervor, bringing a whole nation to its knees at the foot of the cross in adoration and praise."

Do you long to see God move like that in our day? What if God so moved in our nation that hundreds of thousands of people, even millions, flooded the churches? If so, remember there is never great, widespread revival without personal revival. Do you seek a personal, deep, Spirit-led movement of God in your life? Then consider these aspects of personal revival taught by Evan Roberts, known as the Four Points:

You must put away any unconfessed sin.
You must put away any doubtful habit.
You must obey the Holy Spirit promptly.
You must confess Christ publicly.

If these requirements are met, maybe, just maybe, revival will come to America, but don't hold your breath. Americans are not ready to give up their precious "devices and desires."


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