In the Days of Revival
March 8th, 1959 @ 7:30 PM
IN THE DAYS OF REVIVAL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-8-59 7:30 p.m.
We turn now to the Second Gospel, the Gospel of Mark, the first chapter, the first fifteen verses. The Gospel of Mark, the first chapter, the first fifteen verses. Mark 1:1-15. Let us all read it together, Mark 1:1-15:
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the Prophets, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee.
The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.
John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
And preached, saying, There cometh One mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
I indeed have baptized you with water: but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
And straightway coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him:
And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
And immediately the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness.
And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto Him.
And after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
You have just read the outline of one, one, just one of the great revivals of the world. And I am to speak tonight, entitled, In the Days of Revival.
It is a strange thing, as I have prepared this message, it is a strange thing to observe that the sweeping days of revival come in a dry spell, in a thirst and parched land. They come when the day is dark, and the hour is difficult, and the times are not propitious. I hardly know any exception to that. And the message tonight is a demonstration of that thesis.
We have just read in the hearing of the angels and of all this congregation the beginning of the gospel, the good news, the glad tidings of the Son of God; and John the Baptist, a voice crying in the wilderness, "Repent ye, turn ye, for the kingdom of God is at hand [Matthew 3:2]. And there went out to him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were baptized of him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins" [Matthew 3:5-6; Mark 1:5]. That was in the most unpropitious and unlikely day that you could imagine. This is in the time and the hour of the rationalistic Sadducee, believing nothing. This is in the day of the unregenerate Sadducee who turned aside from all things spiritual and as we know them godly. Jesus was described as "a root out of a dry ground" [Isaiah 53:2]. This is the day of the lowest spiritual ebb of the nation. And in that day came John the Baptist saying, "Repent ye, turn ye, prepare ye: for the kingdom of God is at hand" [Matthew 3:1].
It was the same way in the revival in the days of Elijah the prophet. The Book says, "There never was any king that wrought evil like Ahab the son of Omri, whom Jezebel his wife did stir up to do wickedness" [1 Kings 21:25]. And in those days came Elijah the Tishbite, God’s messenger with God’s message. And on Mt. Carmel when the prophets of Baal and King Ahab and the children of Israel were gathered together, Elijah said, "Pour water on the sacrifice, pour water on the wood, pour water on the altar, dig a trench, fill it with water; for God can make to burn wet wood as well as dry" [1 Kings 18:33-38]. These unpropitious times are the days of great revival. It was so in the days of Jonah the prophet. He came marching three days into the city of the Assyrians and saying to the Ninevites, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be judged of God" [Jonah 3:4].
Wonder what all of these modern people would think about a message like that? They say that’s a negative message; you must never preach the wrath of God, never refer to the judgment of God. Don’t try to frighten people talking about the flames and the fire and the brimstone of hell, that’s a negative message, as though you were frightening people, terrifying souls into the shepherdly care of Jesus.
That’s sure not the way the Bible looks at it. Jonah came, preached, saying, "Just one thing: yet forty days," and "forty" in the Bible is a symbolical period for a time of trial; "Forty days and the judgment of God falls." Forty days is a symbol of the life of our trial – forty days, the days of your life, and the judgment day, and the final hour of God.
One of these old-timers said, "When we had hell preached by the preachers in the pulpit, we never had it so much hell on the streets and hell in the homes. But now that we don’t have hell preached by the preachers in the pulpits, we’ve got hell in the streets, and hell in the cities, and hell in the homes, and hell in the lives."
That’s the message: "Repent ye, turn ye, yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be destroyed" [Jonah 3:4]. And in that unpropitious hour, all Nineveh turned; from the king down to the lowest servant, sat in sackcloth and ashes, and appealed unto God for the deliverance of their souls [Jonah 3:5-10].
It was no less the same in the days of Simon Peter. The audience to which Simon Peter preached was the crowd that had murdered the Lord Jesus, crucified Him, nailed Him to a tree. And Simon Peter stood in the presence of that unlikely congregation and condemned them as the murderers of the Prince of life, and called them to repentance and conversion and to faith in Jesus [Acts 2:14-40]. The apostle Paul held his greatest revival meeting in the very center, and in the very city, and at the very throne room of Artemis, Diana of the Ephesians [Acts 19:1-41].
That thing that we find in the Word of God has been no different in the story of the history of the preaching of the gospel through the ages. In the days of John Wesley, England and Europe and the whole continental expanse of this western world was sunk in its lowest depths. France, in moral corruption and in governmental misadministration, had fallen into the French Revolution; and the blood ran knee deep down the streets of Paris, their capital city. And the same thing that brought the blood and the horror of the French Revolution to that unhappy nation, those same conditions were present in England. Do you forget that it was English vessels that scattered the slave trade over the earth and brought it to America? The church was as corrupt as the government and the people. And in those days came John Wesley, and Charles Wesley, his brother singer, and George Whitefield, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. No church would allow them to speak in its pulpit. They spoke on the streets, in the commons, in the squares, on the greens, by the pits, wherever men assembled, there those men of God stood up to preach the unsearchable riches of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. And they turned England God-ward! England never went through the experience of the bloody French Revolution. The slave trade in that generation was forever sealed away. The Sunday school movement began. And what we know as "English righteousness and justice" was born in the days of the great revival of John Wesley. And yet those were the most unpropitious and unadvantageous times that a historian could describe.
It has been no different with us in the story of the gospel preaching in America. The two great, great revivals of America came to pass in the days of the most rampant and open infidelity among our people. In the days of Tom Paine,about two days ago I read in the paper, where there was a great movement trying to exalt Tom Paine. Did you know Tom Paine was just like this article said: everybody wanted to listen to Tom Paine? Tom Paine was as popular as George Washington, the general of the revolution and the first president of the United States. Everybody read his pamphlets, everybody read his books, everybody went to hear him. Tom Paine was the intellect of those days of the American Revolution! And his pamphlets and his books and his lectures mocked God, and ridiculed the Bible, and made fun of the faith of Jesus Christ. And in those days, in those days of rampant infidelism, blatant effrontery and blaspheming, in those days there came Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitefield from across the seas, and Bishop Asbury, and Coker, and others of like stature and courage and inspiration. And they brought to bear and to pass what is called in history as the Great Awakening, the great turning to God, the days of revival.
There was one other time, one other day, when infidelity, blasphemy, effrontery to God was open and rampant in the story of America. And that was in the days immediately following the Civil War. And its scintillating genius and representative was the incomparable orator Robert Ingersoll, Bob Ingersoll, the infidel. The people thronged to hear that brilliant lecturer by the thousands and the thousands. And he went up and down the whole countryside of America making fun of God, making fun of the Bible, making fun of the Christian faith, and people listened to him and believed what he said. And infidelity and blasphemy was everywhere rampant. And in those days, in those days, there came Dwight L. Moody, standing up in empty store buildings, standing up in auditoriums and municipal centers, wherever men would gather, standing up to preach the gospel of the Son of God.
One time Moody was on a train, and a news butch was going up and down the train with a bunch of Bob Ingersoll’s pamphlets in his hand and selling them for a penny a piece and advertising them, saying, "Bob Ingersoll on hell, Bob Ingersoll on hell." And Moody, hearing the butch, called the boy over to him and said, "Son, put these in your other hand." And it was one of Moody’s sermons on heaven. And he said, "Son, go up and down the aisle of the train, and if you want to say, ‘Bob Ingersoll on hell’, fine, but add to it, Moody, Dwight L. Moody on heaven!" And up and down the aisle the butch went: "Moody on heaven, Bob Ingersoll on hell." Those were the days of rampant infidelity! Those were the days of great revival.
I haven’t time to project it, nor would it need to be done. May I just take one other instance how God works? All through these years that lie ahead, there are coming terrible things, God says, awful things, God says, dark and troublous things, God says. Does God withhold His hand? Does God stay His power? Listen, my brother, listen to the preacher, listen to the Word of the Lord: there shall be tribulation, and trial, and darkness, and distress such as has never come upon this world before! In the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew [Matthew 24:21], and in the [seventh] chapter of the gospel of the Revelation, it is called the great tribulation, the great tribulation [Revelation 7:14], the hour of Jacob’s [trouble] [Jeremiah 30:7], the hour of the pouring out of the vials of the wrath of God [Revelation 16:1]. Then what? Why, bless you, then is the greatest revival the world shall ever see! Up and down every nation and every land, one hundred forty-four thousand of God’s chosen evangelists, out of His chosen people, preaching the gospel of the Son of God [Revelation 7:1-19]. And they are converted, they are turned, they accept Jesus by the uncounted multitudes. They die for it in martyrdom. They’re hunted and hounded like beasts of the earth [Revelation 6:9-11]. "But these are they that come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" [Revelation 7:14].
When the hour is dark, look for the dawn. When the way is difficult, look for the power of the presence of Jesus. And when it is hard to win men to Christ, look for revival. Somehow it’s when the way is hard and difficult, and people are hard to reach, it’s in those days that God somehow delights to bare His strong arm to save.
We live in an hour and in a day of grossest materialism and secularism. The only difference between Russia and us is this: they flagrantly announce it from their governmental dogmas, but we live that kind of an atheistic life in our universities, and in our press, and in our pictures, and in practically everything that America does. This is a day of blatant, outspoken, rampant materialism and secularism. And the religion that we have in America is like a veneer: just mostly to point out the difference between the freedoms of American and the dark tyrannical oppressions of the Soviet Union. But underneath, underneath, what of the death of the spirituality of the American people? Why, tonight while I am preaching here, practically all of the churches of America are closed. Every light is out, every door is locked and shut, and the people are, are what? Looking at a television, or in a theater, or entertaining, or out somewhere. But we live in a day when we’re supposed to be religious; that is not religion!
O Lord, our people, our people! When you read the statistics of our modern American republic, you stagger at it. We drink more, we have more drunkards than any other nation in the world. We have more crime and more sin, violent and vicious, than any other nation in the world. The crime rate is rapidly rising in every Western nation, and fearfully so in our own. I went out in California, oh, about three months ago, I went out to a meeting for young people, held on a Saturday night. And I was given there a pamphlet, and the pamphlet was inscribed, it was entitled, "Youth – Christian or Criminal." And on the inside of that pamphlet I copied this word, listen to it:
In one year, in any one year, and it goes up with each passing year, in any one year 734,041 boys and girls enter a life of crime: 6,751 involved in murder, 21,509 involved in burglaries, 58,094 involved in assaults, 64,213 involved in larceny, 18,294 involved in automobile thefts, and 37,322 involved in sex offenses.
And that thing that I read in that little pamphlet out there in California is corroborated by everything that I see and observe and read in the city of Dallas. Oh, oh, oh! What tears and what sorrow, what heartache, and what frustration, what disappointment, and what despair follows the statistics of a thing like that; for each one of those is somebody’s boy, and somebody’s girl, and comes out of somebody’s home.
In the days of the long ago, after 1000 AD, between 1000 and 1100 AD, there began the great crusades from Europe, to wrest from the Saracens, the sepulcher of our blessed Savior the Lord Jesus. Peter the Hermit stood up and said, "God wills it. God wills it." And hundreds of thousands of men marched to the Holy Land. About fifty years later than Peter the Hermit, there were a million and a quarter men marching in a great crusade, not one of whom ever saw the Holy Land. In 1212 AD was the saddest of all: the Children’s Crusade, 30,000 French children led by a youth, a lad called, named Stephan, marched down to Marseilles; and a like number of German children marched over the Alps and down to the Mediterranean. They were unarmed; they expected the deliverance of God. They thought God would open the waters of the Mediterranean, and they would arrive in the Holy Land in safety. Instead, practically all of them perished in the march, or were lost at sea, or were sold in slavery; and not a one ever reached the Holy Land. When you read those great crusades, you marvel at the devotion of the people just for the sepulcher of Jesus and the sorrow and tragedy that attended their constant defeat and loss.
What we need today is a crusade of another kind and another character. We need a crusade not for the rock and the stone, the dirt of the sepulcher of our Lord, but we need a crusade for the gospel message, the regenerating power of the risen Christ [Titus 3:3-7], what He can do, what He can do. Oh, turn and see, look and live, this is our Lord, the hope of our souls, and the Savior of the world! [Titus 2:13]. What a crusade, what an announcement, what a day in which to proclaim it, what an hour to live for God and to give your life to Jesus. Make it so. Make it so. He still reigns who says, "All authority is given unto Me in heaven and in earth" [Matthew 28:18]. And it is still so what the psalmist sang: "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him" [Psalm 126:5-6]. Come with us. March with us. Give your heart to us, as we give our allegiance to Jesus our Savior.
Would you do it? Tonight, would you make it now? Some of you to give your heart in faith to our Savior, "And here I come, taking Him as my Lord, looking to Him in faith, in repentance, turning to accept Jesus. Here I am, and here I come." Some of you to put your life in the fellowship of the church, a family you, one somebody you, as the Lord shall press the appeal, shall say the word, shall open the door, shall lead the way, would you come? Would you make it now? "Tonight, here I am." In this throng of people in the balcony, down one of those back stairwells, down one of these front stairwells, and here to the pastor. In the throng of people on this lower floor, into the aisle, into the aisle, into the aisle, and down here to the front, "Here I come, pastor, here I am. Tonight, tonight, I say yes to the call of Jesus in my heart; and here I am, here I come." "I’m putting my life in the church." "I’ve never been baptized, I ought to be baptized, as it says in the Book; and here I come" [Matthew 28:19; Romans 6:3-5]. "I’m coming by statement." "Back yonder I belonged to the church. I’ve drifted away, I don’t even know if I can get a letter." Not interested in a letter; it’s a piece of paper: interested in you. You come, you come, you come. Or if you have a letter back home in a church, come, and we’ll send for it. As we prepare our hearts for these days of marching, and these hours of crusading, "Repent ye, and believe the gospel" [Mark 1:15]. Will you stand with us? Will you come? Will you march by our sides? Will you make it tonight? "Here I come, and here I am." While we sing this song, while we prayerfully wait, somebody you, somebody you, somebody you, will you make it now? While we stand and while we sing.
IN THE DAY OF REVIVAL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. In a day of darkest distress, that is when God will visit with revival
A. In the days of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-6, Mark 1:5, Isaiah 53:2)
B. In the days of Elijah (1 Kings 16:29-33, 21:25-26, 18:33-39)
C. In the days of Jonah (Jonah 1:2, 3:4-10)
D. In the days of the apostles (Acts 2:14-40, 19)
A. England and France corrupt, wicked
1. France had a revolution
2. England had revival under John and Charles Wesley
B. In America a similar visitation
1. Tom Paine’s The Age of Reason, but the Great Awakening
2. Bob Ingersoll, but Dwight L. Moody
III. A great revival coming
A. Revival in the days of the tribulation (Matthew 24:21-22, Revelation 6, 7:9-17)
B. We live in a dark time
1. "Youth – Christian or Criminal"
C. Great crusades from Europe
1. We need a crusade of another kind and character
2. A call to Christ (Matthew 28:18, Psalm 126:5-6)