Obedience To The Word Of God
The men that God uses as leaders in revival are men who are obedient to the Word of God. In Second Chronicles 29:2 we are told that Hezekiah "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord." But how did he know what was right in the eyes of the Lord? The answer is that he was reading the law of Moses: "He held fast to the Lord and did not cease to follow Him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses" (2 Kgs. 18:6). The commandments of Moses mattered to Hezekiah; he wanted to know what the Word of the Lord had to say. Hezekiah was concerned to know what Godís Word had to say to him. That is where revival begins.
All who have been used by God in spiritual revival were diligent in the study of Scripture and the application of the Scripture to their own lives. God uses men and women who submit to His authority. He does not begin revival with those who have no interest in His Word. When we look at the course of revivals, and those things that inevitably accompany them, we will see this again. However, it is the preparation we are concerned with here, and in particular the preparation of the people God uses. He will not trust revival to those who will not trust His Word. It has to be stated as a point of historical fact that revival never begins with the "liberal" wing of the church; that is, those who deny the full authority and accuracy of Scripture. I am not aware of any exception to this. Of course, those who are critical of Scripture may subsequently be swept into revival and receive full blessing from it, but always their attitude to the Word of God will change. Revival is an evangelical awakening.
A significant comment is made by an observer of the revival in China from 1927-39, himself a national. Gih Tsu-wen reported that the revival was hardest and slowest in those schools and institutions where "modernism" was taught; the poison had to be taken out of their system before students could be converted.
Long before revival broke out under the preaching of George Whitefield, he records his own relationship to Scripture, and in doing so he could be speaking for all leaders in revival: "I began to read the Holy Scriptures upon my knees, laying aside all other books and praying over, if possible, every line and word. This proved meat indeed and drink indeed to my soul. I daily received fresh light and power from above. I got more true knowledge from reading the Book of God in one month than I could ever have acquired from all the writings of men."
You will notice that Hezekiah did "what was right in the eyes of the Lord." He kept the Lordís commands. Perhaps one of the greatest problems of the church in its current scene is summarized by Ezekiel 200 years after Hezekiah: "As for you, son of man, your countrymen are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ĎCome and hear the message that has come from the Lord.í My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain" (Ezek. 33:30-31).
Dr. Tozer has said, "Christians do not tell lies; they sing them in their hymns," and one of the great tragedies is that we come and listen to the Word, and we may invite others also to "Come and listen to the Word of God," but we do not do what the Word of God tells us. The men God uses in revival were always men who did not merely pay lip-service to the authority of Scripture. They had a fear of being disobedient.
This total acceptance of Scripture as the Word of God, and instant obedience to its commands, has characterized those whom God uses in revival. There is no escaping this fact.
The reason for this essential acceptance of Scripture is that in revival God uses His Word to change and correct His people, and there is always a renewed love and acceptance of Scripture. God will not trust leadership into the hands of those who deny the very weapon He is going to use more effectively than any other.
Taken from Revival! A People Saturated with God by Brian H. Edwards. © 1990 Evangelical Press, Darlington, England. www.epbooks.org. Used by permission.