WILT THOU NOT REVIVE US AGAIN?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
6-23-63 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled Wilt Thou Not Revive Us Again? The sermon is a preparation, an appeal and encouragement, in behalf of the tremendous coliseum crusade for Christ that begins this evening on the SMU campus in the athletic coliseum at seven-thirty o’clock. Those services will continue each night for eight nights, beginning tonight at seven-thirty, every night this week at seven-thirty, and concluding next Sunday night at seven-thirty. Every night has an unusual emphasis. As tomorrow night, Monday night, will be a night in which some of our finest Christian athletes in America will have a part in the services. Every night will be a glorious evening. God will be present. The power of the Lord will be working with us. The Spirit of Jesus will move in our souls. We have prayed for, worked for, asked for in faith this unusual day of revival. God will do it, and we are so grateful for answered prayer and for the promise of the Spirit working with us.
This sermon is a cry in the eighty-fifth Psalm; and I read the first part of it:
Lord, Thou hast been favourable unto Thy land: Thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob.
Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of Thy people; Thou hast covered all their sin.
Thou hast taken away all Thy wrath: Thou hast turned away from the fierceness of Thine anger.
Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause Thine anger toward us to cease.
Wilt Thou be angry with us for ever? Wilt Thou draw out Thine anger to all generations?
Wilt Thou not revive us again: that Thy people may rejoice in Thee?
Show us Thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us Thy salvation.
Just to read those words is to feel the heartthrob of the psalmist crying for the regenerating, quickening presence and power of the Lord in their midst.
These Psalms convey a marvelous record of the spiritual story of God’s people. The one hundred thirty-seventh Psalm records the tragedy, the pathos, the indescribable sorrow of the captivity:
By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
We hanged our harps upon the willow trees in the midst thereof.
For they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing unto us one of the songs of Zion.
How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
There is a pathos and a sadness in that, as the sorrows of the captivity are described; the people taken away into the country of Babylon. Now the one hundred twenty-sixth Psalm describes the joy of the people when God turned their captivity:
When the Lord turned the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the nations, The Lord hath done great things for them.
The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.
Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south.
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.
The night of the sowing of tears is passed, and the day of the glad harvest, bringing in the sheaves, is come; when the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, and the people turned their faces back home.
Now the eighty-fifth Psalm, the psalm in which we have taken our text this day, the eighty-fifth Psalm is a psalm in the land; the captivity is over, the people have come back home. "Lord, Thou hast been favorable unto Thy land: Thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob." That’s the first verse. The day of their sorrow is passed; God has brought them back home. They live in their houses again. They’ve rebuilt Jerusalem again. The temple worship has started again. The Lord’s people have been blessed in returning home again. But, but, with all wherewith God has blessed them, and among all the multitudes of remembrances wherewith the Lord hath remembered them, the old spirit is gone; there’s a lack, there’s a want, there’s a need, there’s a lifelessness, there’s a lusterlessness. And the psalmist prays,
Lord, Thou hast brought us back, Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of Thy people; Thou hast covered all of our sin, Thou hast taken away Thy wrath, Thou hast turned Thyself from the fierceness of Thine anger; but O Lord, there is a famine in our souls, there is a lack in our lives, there is an emptiness in our spirits, there is a hunger in our hearts. O Lord, with all God hath done for us, O God of our salvation, wilt Thou not revive us again?
It’s a remarkable prayer; and it is so apropos and so descriptive of us now. With all that God hath done for us, and the favor wherewith the Lord hath favored us, and the remembrances wherewith God hath remembered us, O God of our salvation, there is still and yet a want, a lack, an emptiness, O God, for a divine fullness.
See how he prays: "O God of our salvation, wilt Thou not revive us again?" Not look, not, "O Sovereign God, who made heaven and earth," or, "O Mighty Creator in whose hands the spheres are but as fine dust in a balance, O Sovereign Omnipotence"; he doesn’t pray like that. He prays personally, experientially, as though he had known what it was in days passed that God could do: "O God of our salvation, the God I have experienced in days passed, the God who touched my soul and who forgave my sin, and who came into my heart, O God of our salvation," praying to the God whom he knew, whom he had met, whose power and presence had touched and changed and saved his own soul.
You know that’s a wonderful way to pray, a marvelous way to talk to God. Remember when Jacob was in Padan-Aram, up there in Mesopotamia? Do you remember, the Lord said, "You go back home, you go back home?" And when Jacob turned his face homeward, the Lord said to him, "Jacob, you go back to Bethel, back to Bethel, and build thee there an altar unto God, and call upon the name of the Lord God that appeared unto thee in Bethel." And Jacob made his way back to Bethel, and rebuilt there the altar of the Lord, and began his prayer with these words, "O God, O God, that didst answer me in the day of my distress" [Genesis 35:1-3, 14]. And he prayed to the Lord God who appeared unto him in that sacred place of Bethel, when he fled from the face of his brother Esau. That is a marvelous way to pray, "O God, the Lord who saved me when I was a child, and the Lord who called me into the ministry, and the Lord who blessed my testimony for Jesus in the days when I began to preach, O Lord God of my salvation."
Do you remember an experience with God in your life? Pray to that God. Do you remember when you were saved? Pray to that God. Do you remember the Lord that helped in the day of trouble and was nigh in the hour of need and distress? Pray to Him. Pray to Him.
When I was in school, the president of our university was one of the greatest, finest, noblest Christian laymen that ever lived: Dr. Samuel Palmer Brooks. And once in a while at our chapel services, he would say this: he’d say, "Young men and women, there were times in my studying when the books I read shook my faith in God." And he said, "There have been dark times in my life when the experiences I went through shook my faith in God." But the great man said, "When those times came and studying philosophy and science and the works of men I began to lose my hold on the Lord, or because of the experiences through which I was going, I began to lose my hold on God," he said, "when those dark times came, I went back to the days of my youth, when after a revival meeting service, I turned aside, knelt down, gave my heart to the Lord, and the burden of my sin rolled away." And he said, "When I’d go back to that experience when God saved me," he said, "I’d stand up again strong in the faith and in the presence and the knowledge of the Lord." This is the way to pray: "O God of my personal experience, the Lord whom I have known, whose hand has touched my life, whose saving grace has washed away my sin, O God of my salvation, wilt Thou not revive me again?" This prayer, so personal, "Lord, Thou hast touched my life, touch it again. Thou hast saved my soul, Lord, quicken me again. Thou hast moved in the days in which I have lived, Lord move today; do it again. Do it again. Do it again."
Do you remember the story when the king so reluctantly placed Daniel in the lion’s den? That night he couldn’t sleep; because of an oath he had sworn to, he kept the promise and thrust the prophet of the Lord God of heaven into the way of those ferocious and starved and hungry beasts. But his heart smote him, and his conscience wouldn’t let him rest. Do you remember, early the next morning he went to the mouth of the cave in which Daniel had been thrust into the hungry jaws of those ferocious beasts? And the king cried, "O Daniel, is thy God whom thou servest, O Daniel is thy God able to deliver thee from the mouths of the hungry lions?" And from the cavernous depths of the dungeons below, where those hungry and ferocious and ravenous beasts were kept, from the depths of the dungeon below, there came the reply, "O king, live forever; my God hath sent His angel" [Daniel 6:19-22]. Isn’t that a remarkable way? "My God hath sent His angel, my God hath sent His angel." Reminds us of Paul in Philippians 4:19, "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus," personal, personal, not something we read about in a book, not something we heard somebody say about way over yonder or back there; but something we have experienced in our souls. He is our Lord, our God, my Savior, "O God of my salvation, wilt Thou not revive us again?" [Psalm 85:6].
Now may I speak of revival? We need revival when our lives fall into listlessness and lifelessness. We need revival when the love of God cools down and quietens down in our souls. A man who was president of a vast railway system long time ago was asked, "What is the greatest need of your railroad system?" And he replied, "Our greatest need is bigger boilers and hotter fires." You know there’s a wealth of picturesqueness for the old time railroader in an answer like that: "A bigger boiler and a hotter fire." Applying it to ourselves, what is our greatest need? O God, it is this: for a greater capacity, Lord, for loving and serving Thee, and for a greater zeal in doing Thy work in the earth. That’s it. "O Lord, wilt Thou not revive us again?"
When do we need revival? We need revival when we come to that place in our lives when indifference marks and characterizes our attitude toward whether people are saved or not. It is difficult I want you to know to keep your heart hot and your spirit warm toward souls. We work with so many thousands, we pass them in the day, it’s hardly a thought with us, "Are these people saved? Do they know the Lord? Have they been regenerated? If an accident were to overtake them and they were to stand before God tonight, in what judgment would they stand in the presence of God?" Oh, it is difficult to keep our hearts sensitive to the lost. "Are they saved? Are they saved?" And it is very easy to fall into the rut of a ritual in our church services. And we do these things habitually, without any real unction from God, without any real burning intercession from heaven, without any actual immediate expectation that God shall do a marvelous thing among us. We need revival. We need revival; a quickened sensitivity to the spiritual welfare of the lost.
We need revival when we find our lives more and more enmeshed in the things of this world. Selfishness and personal fortune and remembrance has swept us along. Business has engrossed energies of our life, and the things and the things of this world have snagged us and pulled us down. We need liberation from it.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may be able to prove what is that perfect, and holy, and acceptable, will of God.
Oh, to be liberated from the conformity to the things of this world, and to live in the height, and in the depth, and in the glory of the spiritual realities and nearness of the Lord God, Lord, revival, revival.
An old pilot of the river was asked, "Sir, how can you keep your boat from the snags and the bars in the river?" And the old pilot answered, "By raising the level of the water." O God if such a thing could happen to us, raising the height, the depth, of our spiritual lives; then our, then the ship of Zion, our boat wouldn’t get caught on the snares of this world, floating above them – O Lord, revival.
In just a minute or so now, this is revival: when God’s people get right with the Lord. "Behold, behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that He cannot hear; But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear" [Isaiah 59:1]. This is revival: when God’s people get right with God, when there’s a great forsaking of sin in the land and a great drawing nigh to heaven. This is revival.
This is revival: when God’s people travail in agonizing prayer; when it is a matter, when it is a concern, when it is a burden. As Isaiah the prophet again said, "When Zion travailed, she brought forth her children, sons and daughters born into the kingdom of God" [Isaiah 66:8]. You don’t go to the Woolworth store and buy them, you don’t pick them up adventitiously going down somebody’s street; they come in birth, in labor, in pain, in travail. This is revival.
This is revival: when God’s people commit themselves, address themselves to God’s work in the earth. Like a farmer, the Lord sends the sunshine and the Lord sends the gentle shower of rain, but the farmer must plow and sow and cultivate. God sends His blessing, but His people must dedicate themselves to the task; and that dedication is revival.
This is revival: when God’s people boldly witness and testify to the grace of the Lord. Any time you are hesitant to speak about Jesus, we need God’s baptism and unction and holy presence in us. The disciples in the story of the Gospels, why, Simon Peter cowered before the question of a little maid as he warmed himself by the devil’s fire [Mark 14:66-71]. But when God’s Holy Spirit came upon him, like a lion courageous, he confronted the Sanhedrin and those who had slain the Lord Jesus to their faces unafraid, bold in the Lord [Acts 2:22-42]. That’s revival. That’s revival.
This is revival: working with the Holy Spirit of God. As the church at Jerusalem presided over by James, their pastor, said, "It seemed good to us and to the Holy Spirit" [Acts 15:28]. What an amazing thing to write; "It seemed good to us and to the Holy Spirit," so enmeshed, so in one, they and the Holy Spirit of God. He is the Divine Executor of the Almighty in this world today. This is His age, this is His hour, this is the age of the Holy Spirit of God. He takes the words of God’s Book, and He bears them to the heart of the listener. He convicts the soul of sin. He woos and pleads to the Lord Jesus [John 16:8-11].
You know the difference in services. The preachers preach sometimes the same message, and they deliver the same appeal, and they may follow the same expository outline, but one of them preaches in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit of God, and people are moved, and souls are saved; and the other speaks mechanically, maybe learnedly, maybe professionally, but the power of the Spirit of God is not with him. And it’s the unction; it’s the converting, saving presence of the Spirit of Jesus who makes the difference. This is revival: God with us. "O Lord of our salvation, wilt Thou not revive us again?" [Psalm 85:6].
Now while we sing our hymn of appeal, somebody you, even this hour to give his heart to Jesus, come and stand by me. A family you to put your life in the fellowship of the church, you come and stand by me. As the Holy Spirit of Jesus shall open the door and lead in the way, make it now, make it this morning, while we stand and sing.