CAN REVIVAL COME TO AMERICA?
By Dan Gayman
Can Christian revival come to America? Has the wickedness of this nation's 325 million people reached the point of no return? What awaits America--repentance or judgment? Have we already passed the day of repentance? Has this nation crossed the red line from which there is no turning back? Does the wickedness of this nation arise out of spiritual and moral depravity, ignorance, and biblical illiteracy, or is something more profound responsible for the free fall of this country? Does America suffer from willful, deliberate, and calculated wickedness? If the latter be true, from such apostasy there can be no repentance--only judgment. Sadly, it is the consensus of this writer that judment rather than repentance lies ahead for America.
The United States of America now faces the most severe spiritual and moral crisis we have ever witnessed. The secular, pagan, humanistic culture that pervades this country is astonishingly wicked. New advances and levels of sin proliferate throughout this land. Sin is celebrated and splashed across the television and cinema screens every day. Yes, sin has found a place of honor in almost every venue as a tsunami of wickedness threatens to suffocate and censor every Christian virtue still alive. Sexual addiction and perversion are manifested in every form of wickedness known to mortals. Growing numbers of Americans are obsessed with miscegenation, fornication, promsicuity, adultery, and murdering the innocent who naturally result. Lethal contraceptives, sodomy, lesbianism, transgender deviants, pedophilia, pornograhpy, prostitution, and other assorted sexual sins flourish. They seem to be the new norm. We spend billions annually on alchohol, hard street drugs, and gambling. These sins are repeatedly repudiated in Scripture. Random acts of violence have turned America into a war zone.
Can a spiritual and moral reversal ever come to this nation before our own self-inflicted judgment arrives? America is ripe for judgment; our punishment will come from our own self-induced wickedness, sin, and moral decadence. Having elected to disconnect from Jehovah Elohim, and His immutable law, we have of our own deliberate, willful, and pre-meditated desires invited judgment. Our hope at this late date lies in the promise of our faithful, covenant-keeping God Who promised He would spare a God-fearing remnant within the folds of this nation.
Can revival come to 21st Century America? Before revival could ever come to the nation at large, there would be an urgent need for revival within the rank and file of professing Christians. Of the alleged 250,000 Protestant churches in America, 200,000 are either stagnant (with no growth at all) or in sharp decline. About 4,000 churches are closing their doors annually in the United States. There is less than half of the number of churches today than there were only 100 years ago. It is estimated that some 3,500 people leave the church every single day in the United States.
The 21st Century is witnessing a powerful transformation of the churches within the landscape of America. Both the number and size of churches are in rapid decline. Over 100,000 of the 400,000 alleged churches in America average less than fifty people on a Sunday morning. The trend is toward mega churches, consisting of a few thousand people, and away from smaller, more intimate congregations. Mega churches appeal to the masses with the hope of helping them solve everyday problems, make their lives happier, and improve their self-image and personals relationships. While there is nothing overtly wrong with these goals, they fall far short of the true commission of Jesus Christ, which includes teaching sound doctrine and bringing sinners to conversion, repentance, and true change. Years ago, churches focused on preaching directly from the Bible—teaching God’s Law and the fear of God, establishing the guilt of sinners, and calling people to faith, repentance, and godly living. Worship was God-centered, with sermons, great hymns of the faith, and a call to righteousness. Today, churches are dedicated to a man-centered, user-friendly Gospel, also known as the prosperity gospel.
What is the true Gospel of Jesus Christ? It calls for a fully surrendered, devoted, and dedicated life of service to Christ and His church. This type of full-meal-deal teaching is increasingly rare. Jesus Christ came to save His people from their sin and the wrath to come. The road of true biblical Christianity is narrow indeed. Often, interspersed with joy and blessings that all believers experience, there are days and times when tribulation, tears, and even persecution abound. The true Gospel of Jesus Christ does not promise an easy and tranquil life. The way into the Kingdom is through the “straight gate and the narrow way” (Matthew 7:14).
Jesus Christ did not come into this world to establish a church to assuage the guilt of sin, improve one’s self-image, make us happy in our sin “wherever we are,” or improve our financial portfolio, although He does desire that we follow Him and in return enjoy a life filled with fewer potholes and missteps. After all, consider His own words: Jesus declared that He came that His sheep “…might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Christ did not promise His followers a bed of roses strewn with happiness, sunshine, and prosperity. What He encouraged was a life of surrender, devotion, and commitment to the cause of His Kingdom.
The clouds of apostasy that gather over America make it difficult to believe revival can come to this land. Our plunge into sin has become so deliberate and willful that one cannot possibly plead ignorance. The Prophet Jeremiah delivered a significant sermon titled “The Potter’s House” during the interval between the two Babylonian invasions of the Southern Kingdom of Judah about B.C. 601. The entire sermon is summarized in twenty-three succinct verses in Jeremiah 18. This sermon might also be called “Last Call to Repentance.” The nation of Judah was languishing in spiritual and moral decadence, and, not unlike America, was suffering from a failing economy, foreign intruders, and an endless assortment of foreign powers threatening them on every side. God had instructed Jeremiah to visit the potter’s house and observe how a potter could take a vessel that had turned out imperfect and make it into another more useful vessel. Jehovah told Jeremiah that the house of Israel was not unlike the potter’s vessel in that they were marred with sin and unfit to be His covenant people. Jeremiah was further instructed to remind the people that like clay in the hand of the potter, they, too, could become a new people if only they would come to heartfelt repentance from sin and turn from serving idols to serving the Living God. In the midst of this call to repentance are these four points worthy of our careful attention:
Firstly, the nation had lost the means of recovery, which is repentance from sin and turning from idols to serve the Living God. In the face of this call to repentance, Jeremiah found that the people did not have a heart or knowledge to repent. They failed to recognize that all of their national calamities had a root cause and were the result of spiritual and moral disconnections from God’s Word. They appeared oblivious to their personal and national sins. In the face of this ignorance, Jeremiah declared, “If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them” (Jer. 18:8). Jeremiah discovered a nation that demonstrated absolutely no outward signs of repentance. This is precisely where America is: we have absolutely no overt signs that we are ready for repentance or even recognize the need for it. Our proclivity is to become hardened in sin, resolute in our determination to wallow in paganism and secular humanism. With the exceptions of several less known preachers, not a single voice with national prominence is calling America to repentance!
Secondly, on a national scale, we have been duly warned but still demonstrate no desire to repent. Our walk into sin has been deliberate, willful, and calculated. Our response to Jeremiah’s call to repentance is found in verses 11-12: “…Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” In the face of this appeal, the Israelites’ answer was this: “And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.”
The nation of Judah, not unlike America, had lost all desire to repent. Consider this: in recent weeks, whistle blowers have well demonstrated and documented the fact that Planned Parenthood clinics across America are killing and harvesting infant children and selling their body parts for profit. Some 700 of these Planned Parenthood clinics flourish in this land—and this while millions of Americans pride themselves in condemning judgment upon ISIS extremists who are beheading Christians in Central Asia.
State endorsed abortion via Planned Parenthood is receiving in excess of 500 million dollars annually from American taxpayers. This outrageous, barbaric, sadistic, ruthless, godless, child sacrifice has been going on for forty-two years, making it the most heinous killing field in history, with some fifty-seven million children being murdered. That is unconscionable! If any sin under heaven could tug at the heartstrings of a nation and bring us to repentance, surely it ought to be the sadistic slaughter of the unborn.
In such a time as this, only scattered churches across America are demanding an end to abortion and the complete de-funding of Planned Parenthood. The lips of millions of professing Christians and the clergy leading them remain silent as this outrageous slaughter continues. How is it that only a comparative few thousand people are willing to picket, write letters to the editor, and demand that their representatives at the state and national levels stop the killing fields of Planned Parenthood abortion murder mills. Not unlike the people in ancient Judah, our general population has no desire to repent. How utterly sad!
Thirdly, near the end of the nation of ancient Judah, the people had lost the only source for the message for national recovery, and that was God’s Word. The nation of Judah had forsaken Jehovah, broken covenant, repudiated His law, scorned His judgments, maligned His name, and turned to serving other gods. In this wholesale spiritual and moral disconnect, they lost the source of absolute truth, Jehovah and His Word. In so doing, they lost the message of repentance as the pathway to recovery and victory from national destruction and judgment. Through His servant Jeremiah, the Holy Spirit articulated the mind of God in this urgent matter: “Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up” (Jer. 18:15). Not unlike ancient Israel, America has forgotten the Mighty God Whose inspiration and truth ignited the exploration, settlement, building, and civilizing of this nation. We have turned from the ancient pathways of truth and righteousness to serve the gods of our own hands and in the process have become a spiritually passive, morally depraved, biblically illiterate nation.
Fourthly, in the end, ancient Israel lost the messenger of recovery. The very voice whom God had raised to call the nation to repentance was silenced and rejected. Not only did ancient Israel confirm that they lost the message, means, and desire for recovery, they also rejected and persecuted God’s messenger: “Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words” (Jer. 18:18).
Likewise, America has consistently rejected God’s messengers. There is no nationally recognized mouthpiece of God today. We have reached the point where we tolerate every voice but that of Jehovah’s. America does not want the absolute truth of the Bible. Our people do not want to hear the message of repentance from sin, faith in Jesus Christ, and a wholesale cleansing of this land. Those who stand up for the truth will be persecuted, maligned, and vilified on national television; liberal, humanist spin artists on national television will scorn and ridicule their message.
Can Revival Come to America?
The answer is not blowing in the wind, nor is it difficult to discern. We have lost the means, desire for, and the message of recovery, all the while we have rejected the messengers of repentance. America is already under self-imposed judgment. Our economic fortunes are falling as the American dream fades into obscurity. Stagnant wages, high taxation, high unemployment, and plunging standards of living plague us. We are under foreign invasion, with millions of illegal aliens pouring in. We have the most bloated bureaucratic government in the annals of history. In the midst of this chaos, our spiritual and moral fabric is being rent asunder as the soul of America languishes without God, ignorant of His Law and Word.
A Time for Reflection
America has been visited with several great spiritual and moral revivals. The First Great Awakening came early, about 1730, and lasted until 1750. This was a revival within the Congregational, Presbyterian, and Dutch Reformed Churches in Colonial America. Thousands of professing Christians who deeply hungered for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ came to full conversion. Powerful, Holy Spirit-inspired preaching ignited this twenty-year revival. Dozens of preachers, including Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, George Whitefield, and scores of others, led people to a genuine state of repentance and conversion. This revival time helped reshape and revive Reformed, Congregational, Presbyterian, Dutch, and German Reformed churches, along with smaller Baptist and Methodist churches. The First Great Awakening did not impact much the Anglicans, Lutherans, and Quakers, but it did also sweep Protestant Europe, England, Wales, Scotland, Germany, and, of course, Colonial America. Its great significance was that it brought revival within the rank and file of those who professed Christ but really did not know Him as their personal Savior. This revival left a permanent impact upon all of Protestant America!
The Second Great Awakening began in 1790 and lasted through most of the 1840s. This prolonged spiritual and moral awakening was essentially a Protestant revival. By 1800 and after 1820, this revival had swelled the ranks of the Baptist and Methodist congregations, whose preachers led the movement. This revival essentially was comprised of unbelievers who had lost their way amid skepticism, deism, and rationalism that had crept into people’s thinking. From this prolonged revival, millions of new Christians began the formation of many new denominations.
Many became convinced that a new millennial age had come to America. This stimulated many reform movements designed to eliminate sundry perceived evils in America. One of the leading evangelists of the Second Great Awakening was Charles Finney (1792-1875), who was extremely active in evangelism during the 1820s and ‘30s; he also advanced social reforms, including the abolition of slavery. This revival time included the work of Thomas Alexander (1763-1854) and his son Alexander Campbell, who, having left the Presbyterian Church, formed the Disciples of Christ. They later merged with the evangelistic work of Barton Stone (1772-1844), another Presbyterian minister; together they formed what became known as the Restoration Movement.
The great religious excitement that flourished between 1790 and into the 1840s produced many new denominations and some entirely new religious movements. Joseph Smith (1805-1844) founded and launched the Latter Day Saints between 1820 and his death in 1844. The Second Great Awakening had barely run out of energy before the arrival of America’s third awakening.
The Third Great Awakening arrived gradually in the late 1850s and gained great momentum by 1900. Some scholars believe that the movement was more exercised by social reforms rather than by deep religious and spiritual transformation. The Third Great Awakening occurred because of the post-millennial belief that Jesus Christ would return following, not before, the reformation of society at large. Out of this movement the Social Gospel Movement was born, and this is an attempt to exercise Christianity and direct its energy toward social issues then gaining prominence: this movement actively pursued abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, prohibition, child labor laws, missionary societies, compulsory education, and other social issues. The War of Northern Aggression (1860-1865) was waged during this period. The Third Great Awakening sparked many revivals, including some within the ranks of Confederate armies. This was the Gilded Age of plutocracy (especially from 1870-1900) and the birth of Christian social reforms. In the name of Christianity, the Women’s Temperance Union mobilized Protestant women for social crusades against pornography, alcohol, prostitution, women’s suffrage, and other social action. This was an age of tremendous social and religious interest.
The Pentecostal movement grew out of the holiness movement, which gained strength during the late 1800s. Charles Parham (1873-1929) and many others, such as Howard Goss and Frank Bartleman, were convinced that the return of Jesus Christ was near; thus, it was urgent that Christians be baptized in the Holy Spirit, as evidenced by speaking in tongues. William Seymour (1870-1922), a Negro preacher, helped ignite what is called the Azusa Street Revival, a three-year revival with a multi-racial congregation in Los Angeles, CA. This marked the beginning of the racial integration of American Churches. The Pentecostal movement grew to become one of the largest branches of Christianity, along with Catholicism, Protestantism, Greek Eastern Orthodox, and Evangelical Christians.
The Salvation Army arrived in 1880. This age witnessed the revivalism of Dwight L. Moody, his hymn singer Ira Sankey, and other well-known preachers and evangelists including the Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892). New religions were spawned, including Christian Science (introduced by Mary Baker Eddy). Charles Taze Russell founded the Bible Students movement, which later morphed into Jehovah’s Witnesses.
This was also the age during which William Miller (1782-1849) rejected the idea of a post-millennial return of Jesus Christ and promoted the idea that Christ would return sometime between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. Followers of Miller, known as the Millerites, were sorely disappointed that Christ did not return. Tens of thousands of his followers continued under the name Advent Christian Church while thousands of others ended up with Ellen G. White (1827-1915), a prominent leader and principal founder of the Seventh Day Adventist movement.
There is much debate as to the lasting significance of the Third Great Awakening. Of course, many challenge some of the social reforms that came out of this era, for some of these reforms resulted in a powerful transformation of American society, including racially mixed congregations.
Fast Forward to the 21st Century
It has been well over one hundred years since America witnessed any kind of spiritual awakening on a national level. At the last Great Awakening one hundred-plus years ago, America was a rural, Protestant, and Caucasian nation with packed churches and pulpits ablaze with truth. Race mixing, abortion, sodomy, and birth control were banned. Divorce was almost non-existent. An illegitimate child was rare. Race relations were good, and crime rates were low. People did not lock their doors in most communities. In just over one hundred years, look where we are: America has undergone a complete spiritual and moral transformation—to our shame!
Consider the current plight of our nation. With the rest of the Anglo-Saxon world, America has experienced a technological explosion. Since 1960, America has been in a spiritual and moral freefall that has reached the point of such moral decadence that many believe God has simply given our nation to complete reprobation, and judgment is imminent. Beyond the heinous crimes of abortion, lethal birth control, miscegenation, sodomy, and wholesale promiscuity, consider the consequences of our spiritual and moral fall. The following stats from the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control, and other reliable sources reflect just a small window through which our decadence can be viewed.
* 50% of all new marriages end in divorce.
* 75% of all second marriages end in divorce.
* 84% of all divorces are filed by women.
* 60% of cohabitating couples are not married.
* 40% of all White children are born out of wedlock.
* 72% of all Black children are born out of wedlock.
* 43% of all White children live without a father.
* 63% of all suicides in the U.S. are from fatherless homes.
* 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
* 85% of children with behavior disorders are from fatherless homes.
* 80% of rapists come from fatherless homes.
* 71% of all pregnant teens have no father.
* 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
* 75% of all adolescents treated for drugs are from fatherless homes.
* 70% of all adolescents in state-operated institutions are fatherless.
* 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes.
* 61% of all child abuse is committed by biological mothers.
Perhaps nothing reflects the spiritual and moral status of America more than the events occurring during the last decade. Millions of Evangelical Christians either stayed home or voted for Obama in the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012. Abortion and lethal forms of birth control have reached epidemic levels. Planned Parenthood Abortion murder mills have turned the selling of baby body parts and organs into a billion-dollar industry. State-endorsed abortion, sodomy, miscegenation, same-sex marriage, and no-fault divorce have turned America into a social zoo. Our entire nation is on life support, with absolutely no signs of repentance.
Our real hope lies within the unconditional covenantal promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob-Israel, and their descendants. Our sovereign God has always spared His faithful remnant, but not without severe testing and tribulation. Such will be the case with the remnant in 21st Century America. There is a godly remnant of Christian believers tucked away within the folds of this once-great nation. From Maine to California, the Gulf States to the Canadian border and all points in between, there are those who have not bowed the knee to Baal. This Christian remnant lives outside the mainstream, think-a-like multitude that walks in political and religious correctness, biblical illiteracy, and historical ignorance. They are rife with the secular, humanist worldview.
The righteous judgment due America may be delayed only because of a few million God-fearing people still alive who are numbered in the Silent Generation, born from 1926-1945. Perhaps these Christian survivors plus the small remnant from the Babyboomers (1946-1964), the X generation (1965-1980), and the even smaller number of Christians numbered in the Millennial Generation (1980-2000) are all that has stayed God’s sovereign hand of judgment upon our wickedness. Jehovah promised Abraham that He would spare Sodom and Gomorrah if He could find but ten righteous souls. He found only Lot and his two unmarried daughters. The others all perished amid the fire and brimstone that destroyed that sinkhole of sin.
If revival and repentance come to America, there is nothing biblical or historical that could predict such an end. What is far more predictable is that judgment, not repentance, will visit this land of 325 million; when it does, the mortal cries of multiplied millions will ascend all the way to heaven…but without any response from God!
“O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calve of our lips…Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein” (Hosea 14:1-2, 9).
Revival is not for the lost. Revival is not for the unbelievers. You do not pitch a tent and advertise a revival meeting. Revival is for those who profess belief in Jesus Christ, but are spiritually passive, inactive, and on spiritual life support. Revival begins with each individual, and it begins with those who profess to believe. Draw a circle around yourself: this is where revival begins. As you become revived you encourage and promote revival in others. Quickly, then, the Holy Spirit can revive the church, and the church can then impact the community around it. Then you will make a powerful difference in this world.
Perhaps the following diagnostic questions will help reveal whether you are in need of spiritual revival.
1) When you seldom attend worship services and have little or no desire to be with the redeemed, you desperately need revival.
2) When your prayer life is almost non-existent, you are saying to God, “I am good to go.” You are then in desperate need of revival.
3) When you are not saddened by profanity when it comes out of your own mouth or others around you, you have a desperate need for revival.
4) When you seldom if ever open the Bible or think about God’s point of view or your spiritual walk, you desperately need revival.
5) When you are content to rationalize your sin and suppress what you know the Bible says about our sin, you are in desperate need of revival.
6) When you spend that portion of your financial increase that belongs to God and rob Him of His due, you need personal revival.
7) When you sit in front of a filthy, degrading movie filled with profane language or read and look at profane things without feeling guilt and a need to repent, you desperately need revival.
8) When you fail to speak a word of truth to those around you whom you know are moving toward the abyss of hell, you need of revival.
9) When you see egregious sin but are not emotionally moved to speak up and stand for God and His truth, you need revival.
10) When you know that personal addictions are separating you from God and you live with guilt and shame without repentance, you are desperately in need of revival.
Please, dear Christian, if you know God but have fallen away, will you not consider reclaiming your spiritual vision and turning to your Savior in repentance, with complete confession of your dead works and commitment to changing to obey the precepts of Jesus Christ? Go to God in prayer and turn your life around while there is still hope, before the day of repentance closes.