Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-8-76 7:30 p.m.
We shall conclude our presentation of this story of revival with a word about revival today. In the eighty-fifth Psalm and the sixth verse: “Wilt Thou not revive us again: that Thy people may rejoice in Thee?” Psalm 85:6, “Wilt Thou not revive us again: that Thy people may rejoice in Thee?”
A revival will save a nation. Manasseh was king of Israel, of Judah, for fifty-five years, and because of his unspeakable transgression God said, “I shall remove the nation out of My sight. The kingdom shall be sold into captivity” [2 Kings 21:14; 2 Chronicles 33:1-9]. Manasseh was followed by his son Amon, and Amon was even more vile and wicked than his father Manasseh [2 Kings 21:19-22; 2 Chronicles 33:23]. And he brought the nation down to unspeakable degradation, and degeneracy, and debauchery [2 Kings 21:21-22]. And Amon was slain by his slaves in his own palace [2 Kings 21:23; 2 Chronicles 33:24]. He was followed by his son Josiah, and the boy was but eight years of age [2 Kings 22:1]. He ascended the throne of Judah in unspeakable iniquity, and tragedy, and sorrow, and sin—when he was a boy, eight years of age. In the eighth year of his reign, when he was fifteen years of age, Josiah was wonderfully and marvelously converted [2 Chronicles 34:3].
He sought the Lord, and the Lord looked down from heaven and answered the searching prayers of young King Josiah [2 Kings 22:13]. And searching through the temple, opening the doors for the first time in a generation, cleansing out all of the debris and the dust, they found the Book of the Lord [2 Kings 22:8]. And Josiah, having it read before him [2 Kings 22:10] and the people, resolved under God to turn from their sins and to seek the face of the Lord [2 Kings 22:11-13]. And there broke out a great revival in the days of the King Josiah [2 Chronicles 34:3-7], and in that revival Daniel was saved; Meshach was saved; Shadrach was saved; Abednego was saved, and the nation was saved from destruction [2 Kings 22:19-20].
Would God there had followed Josiah another like him! It would have preserved Israel unto the Day of the Lord, for revival will save a nation. In this recounting of the Great Awakening, Charles Wesley—John Wesley who preached and Charles Wesley who sang, brought England to a day of repentance and seeking the face of God that saved them from the bloody French Revolution. Had it not been for the revival of John Wesley, the same bloodbath that simply encrimsoned the whole French nation would have covered England itself in blood. But while the French were slaying each other, and the guillotine taking its toll by the thousands by the day, England was having a great revival under John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield.
A revival will save a nation, and the same chaos, and the same rioting, and the same blood that characterized France can also characterize the racial conflicts and the economic conflicts and problems that besiege America. America is not immune from all of the judgments of Almighty God we find in history in other nations, but the great revival of John Wesley can also save America. Oh, that our eyes might see, in our day and in our time, a great turning to God! Revival can save a nation.
And revival can save a city:
And Jonah came into Nineveh, the capital of the ancient empire of Assyria, and he said, Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed!
And when word came to the ears of the king, he took off his lordly garments and he sat in sackcloth.
And all of his noble people and all of the people of the city took off their garments and sat in sackcloth and they repented of their sins.
And God looked down from heaven and said, “Look! Look, look, the king is on his face, on his knees, praying in repentance.”
And even the donkeys and the beasts of burden were dressed in sackcloth and God said, “I will spare the city of Nineveh.”
[from Jonah 3:4-10]
For revival can save a city; and revival can save a family. In the city of Lystra there was—in Pisidian Antioch, in that part of the world up there in Central Asia Minor—there was a family. The grandmother was named Lois, and the mother was named Eunice [2 Timothy 1:5], and the boy was named Timothy [2 Timothy 1:2], and his father was an unnamed Greek [Acts 16:1]. And when Paul the apostle came to preach the gospel in Lystra, that whole family turned to the Lord. And out of it came this young man, Timothy [Acts 16:1-4], who followed Paul in his great missionary journeys and became pastor of the church in Ephesus [1 Timothy 1:3]. A revival can save a family, it can cement it together. It can rear a boy in the love and nurture of Christ Jesus, and it can send him out as a missionary and as a preacher of the glad tidings of Jesus Christ.
And revival can save a soul. In the city of Samaria the Holy Spirit of God blessed the witness of the deacon and evangelist, Philip [Acts 8:5-25]. And in the midst of the outpouring of the Spirit in Samaria, God said to him, “Down into down Gaza alone” [Acts 8:26]. And obeying the voice of the Lord, Philip the deacon-evangelist was standing by the side of the road. Isn’t that a wonderful thing? In revival we become sensitive to the word of God, and to the voice of the Lord, and to the direction of the Holy Spirit. And leaving the city of Samaria with its great outpouring, he was standing by the side of the highway, alone in a desert. And there came driving by the treasurer of Ethiopia under Candace the queen [Acts 8:27-28].
And the Spirit said to Philip, Join thyself to this chariot.
And as he walked by the side of the chariot, he heard the man reading the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, and he said, Do you understand what you read, The Lord hath laid on Him the sin of us all? Do you understand?
And the treasurer said, How can I, except some man should guide me . . . Is the prophet speaking of himself, or is he speaking of some other man?
And beginning at the same Scripture, he preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water.
and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
And Philip answered and said, Thou mayest if thou believest with all thine heart.
And he said, Today, in this minute, I accept Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe He is the Son of God.
And they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch: and he baptized him.
And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more. And he went on his way rejoicing, Glory to God, hallelujah! I have found the Lord!
That is revival! That is revival; it will save our nation, it can save our city, it can save our homes and families, it can save our souls—the great awakening today, “O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years that thy people may rejoice in Thee” [Psalm 85:6; Habakkuk 3:2]. Listening on the radio on KRLD all over this great vast Southwest, there are thousands and thousands of us who need God. We need to draw nigh to the Lord that He might draw nigh to us [James 4:8]. We must confess our sins to Him and ask forgiveness [1 John 1:9]. We must ask God through Christ’s Spirit to come into our hearts, to cleanse us, to make us whole, to save us and sanctify us, and some day to glorify us [Romans 8:28-30].
Wherever you are, listening to this service: tonight, this moment, would you bow your head before the great God of heaven and in Jesus’ name ask God to save you forever? [Romans 10:8-13]. And in the great throng of people here tonight, in the balcony round—and you, either coming down one of these stairways or walking down one of these aisles, “Pastor, tonight, I open my heart heavenward, and Christ-ward and God-ward, and I give my soul in faith and in trust to the Lord Jesus [Ephesians 2:8]. I ask Him to forgive me my sins [1 John 1:9]. I ask Him to write my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life [Revelation 20:12, 15]. I ask Him to stand by me in the pilgrimage of this journey, and in the hour of my death to receive my soul to Himself. And here I am, pastor, and here I come. Tonight, I’m taking Jesus as my Savior” [Romans 10:8-13]. Or, “Tonight I’m coming into the fellowship of the church.” Or, “Tonight I’m answering God’s call with my life. I feel, I hear the wooing of the Spirit in my heart.”
Make the decision now, and in a moment when we stand to sing, stand answering with your life. God bless you as you come; angels attend you in the way as you respond. Make it now. Do it now. Come now, while we stand and while we sing.
Our Lord, there is a spirit of seeking and searching in the hearts of many, many of our people. We are believing that God is preparing us for an outpouring of the heavenly, holy, saving Spirit of Jesus. These who’ve come tonight saying, “We are praying for revival.” Lord, hear the prayer, may it break out in our church. Not something of men or of the flesh but something of God of heaven. And our Lord, by the side of these who have come, is there yet somebody one, who tonight ought to turn in saving faith to our blessed Lord; who tonight ought to follow the wooing and the leadership of the spirit of Jesus, Lord, is there yet one? May the Holy Spirit, who having ninety and nine, yet sought the one that was still lost, may that same holy Savior woo to Himself and to us that one the Spirit seeks and speaks to tonight. While our people pray, and before we sing that appeal again, does God say a word of invitation to you? Does He? Does He speak to your heart? Does He invite you to trust Jesus as Savior? Does He invite you to put your life as a working yokefellow in the congregation of the Lord, in the household of faith? Does He ask you to re-give your life to the blessed Lord? Does God speak? If He does, would you answer tonight with your life? Would you do it now? Would you come now? “Preacher, tonight I am taking Jesus.” Or, “Tonight I am putting my life in the circle and circumference and communion of this dear church.” Or, “Tonight God can help me. I open my heart an answer to His call. If the Lord speaks to you, while our people bow before God in prayer, and while our choir sings the song of invitation; down that stairway or down this aisle, would you make it now, would you come? While we pray and while we sing.