by Paul Zettersten
The moral foundations have been severely damaged in our homes, schools, churches, courts, and in the public arena as well. So what is the answer? In times past, God graciously visited his people with revival, and this is our only hope in the present situation as well.
A few reminders from past experience may serve as an encouragement for us today. Charles G. Finney (1792-1875), “the father of modern revivalism,” stated that revival is nothing but a new beginning of obedience to God. I believe we have reason to seriously consider this definition from a man who saw whole cities transformed by revival. In other words, revival is within reach!
Overlapping the time of Finney’s ministry was D. L. Moody (1837-99). During his early years, when he arose to speak in a prayer meeting, a deacon told him that he “would serve God best by keeping still.” Another critic felt that Moody should “realize his limitations and not attempt to speak in public.” Yet, eventually, he became the pastor of Chicago’s largest church—and it was there a couple of ladies informed him that they were praying for him that he would be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Brothers and sisters, it is possible to be the most successful pastor in the city and still be in desperate need of power from on high. Eventually, Moody had this experience, which resulted in divine love flooding his soul and body in such a way that “I had to ask him to stay his hand.” From that time on, according to his testimony, “I did not present any new truths; and yet, hundreds were converted.” It is estimated that he spoke to more than 100 million people during his lifetime and saw more than one million converted to Christ.
God did this with a person who was advised to keep quiet. It was a baptism of love that made the difference. Charles G. Finney, describing his experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, said it was “like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed, it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love…. It seemed like the very breath of God…. I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart.”
After this remarkable baptism, Finney testified, “I spoke with many persons that day, and I believe the Spirit of God made lasting impressions upon every one of them. I cannot remember one whom I spoke with, who was not soon after converted.”
At a recent FCA meeting at the Church for All Nations in Tacoma, Washington, Dr. Gary Waldron of ChinaSource (and a professor at Faith Seminary) spoke of the explosive revival in China today. “Each day more people are saved in China than in all the rest of the world,” he noted. God is using ordinary people there—not just the ordained—in this remarkable visitation.
Everyone who realizes our desperate need of revival needs to commit to pray for it. Not a day goes by in our home without us praying “that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19—in other words, for revival! One way or another, I have resolved to touch on this need every time I preach.
Finney believed that “Revival may be expected when Christians have a spirit of prayer for revival…when the attention of ministers is especially directed to this particular object, and when their preaching and other efforts are aimed particularly at the conversion of sinners.” This led him to conclude that Christians “must be willing to sacrifice their feelings, their business, their time, to help forward the work. Ministers must be willing to lay out their strength, and to jeopardize their health and life.” Apparently, revival does not come cheap.
God has kept the church alive through centuries by sending one revival after another. He is doing it again in our time in places such as China. The God of revival in China is the same God of our needs here in North America.
My father was one of the early Pentecostal pioneers in Sweden. He testified that a lady in England sent out a prayer card to believers all over the world at that time—now just over a hundred years ago. She called on believers to pray, “Lord send a revival, and let it begin in me!” And the Pentecostal and charismatic revivals followed.
Let us again pray the prayer, “Lord send a revival, and let it begin in me!” May the Lord fill us with the Spirit of love until our preaching and our testimony effectively turns men and women, young and old, to Christ.
Paul Zettersten served as an FCA pastor for 50 years and as editor of the FCA publication for over 25 years.