There are two kinds of churches in the world today. First, there is the dead, formal church, which has a form of godliness but no power. Its ministers are hirelings, most of whom are unconverted. God calls such shepherds "...twice dead..." (Jude 12). And He promises to pluck up such churches by the roots and burn them!
I have preached in several of these lifeless mausoleums over the years. The pastors would invite me because they had read "The Cross and the Switchblade." Yet whenever I preached in such a church, and the Holy Spirit fell upon me, the pastor grew nervous, slumping in his seat. People would be weeping under Holy-Ghost conviction. But as soon as I gave an invitation, the pastor stepped in quickly and dismissed the meeting.
Oh, how that bothered me! Those pastors dreaded the very thought of anyone having an emotional response to my preaching. All they wanted was to get the people up off their knees and out the door before the Holy Ghost could do something "out of control."
We know God cannot bless such churches with revival, because He doesn't pour out His Spirit where He is not welcome. And the dead, formal church has rejected the Holy Ghost outright. It simply does not want to be raised from the dead.
But there is another kind of church in the world today. And that is a holy, remnant church - a praying, God-fearing, uncompromising, righteous body of believers. It is comprised of people wholly given to Christ - people who pray, fast and seek the face of God regularly.
My message is concerned primarily with this righteous, Holy-Ghost church. Why? It is the only church in a position to receive a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit! You see, God pours out His Spirit only on those who ask Him to come, and who prepare themselves to receive Him.
Yet I do not believe the true church is ready for revival - for God's last, great, promised outpouring of His Spirit. You see, a church can be engrossed for months in prayer, fasting, weeping, supplications, begging and beseeching the Holy Ghost to fall - and yet still may not be ready for revival!
(Let me explain the terms I'm using here: The word revival literally means "the resurrection of that which threatens to become a corpse." So, if you revive someone, it means he has already passed out. Yet I do not believe God's holy, remnant church has fainted. And when I use the word revival, I'm actually talking about an outpouring of God's Spirit.)
It is necessary to search God's Word to find out how His people prepared themselves. You see, God has given us many biblical promises that are "on call" - that is, ready to be fulfilled. And I believe He is simply waiting on a people who will prepare themselves to lay hold of these promises.
Of course, God is sovereign and can pour out His Spirit on anyone He chooses. There are reports of the Holy Ghost falling on various peoples around the world, bringing resurrection life to those who neither expected it nor were prepared for it. Yet God also gives us a biblical pattern that shows us His standard and way. And His way is this: He works through a prepared people! He digs up fallow ground before He sets things in divine order.
I want to give you three reasons why I believe the church is not ready for revival. I pray that as we look at these, we will line up with God's Word in preparation to receive what He has promised:
1. We Are Not Ready for Revival
If We Are Convinced This Society
Has Sinned Away Its Day Of Grace!
America has so grieved God - its intensity of sin is so horrible - that many are convinced there is no hope left!
Indeed, in recent years I have been nearly convinced by America's terrible moral landslide that God has no option left but judgment. So I have preached His impending judgments intensely, especially over the past ten years. And I still believe that message with all my heart - and will continue preaching it with all authority!
You see, God may wait patiently for repentance, sending many prophets to warn of judgment. But a day finally comes when He says, "Enough!" - and prayer is useless at that point. I call this "the dread release" - when God releases a society to destructive judgments. We see several examples of this in church history:
- It happened to Noah's generation. God strove with wicked mankind for 120 years, with mercy, warnings and visible signs such as the ark. But finally He said, "No more!" - and He wiped out all of humanity, except for those who entered the ark.
- It happened also to Lot's generation, in Sodom and Gomorrah. God counted the days of wickedness in that society so saturated with homosexuality, lust and violence. Finally He could endure no more and said, "Your cup of iniquity is full. Your sins have ascended to heaven!" - and He wiped out those cities and all the surrounding towns. They were given over to "the dread release"!
- It happened as well in Jerusalem. Christ walked the streets of that city and wept, warning of the coming judgment. Seventy years later, God said, "That's enough!" - and Jerusalem fell, razed to the ground. Thousands were murdered in a horrible holocaust.
God put this same message in the heart of Jeremiah. He sent the prophet to the gates of the temple with this solemn cry:
"But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel.... Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.... Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee" (Jeremiah 7:12-16).
God told the righteous, "You can stop praying now! My patience is gone, and I have determined judgment. I'm going to take My Spirit from the east gate and lift it from My house completely. It's going to be just like Shiloh!"
Shiloh stands as a testimony to all generations that judgment begins in God's house. God's people had become so backslidden and wicked that the Lord moved in with sudden and awesome judgments. Shiloh was where the Spirit of God departed, and "Ichabod" was written above the door. The Lord removed all His glory, shut the doors and departed - leaving it in ruin!
The Word of the Lord also came to Ezekiel with the same kind of warning:
"Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it: Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God... they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness" (Ezekiel 14:13-14, 20).
God was saying, "Even these three men - Noah, Daniel and Job - couldn't pray down a revival. Even their righteous prayers couldn't buy more time. You see, I determine judgment - and all the praying people in the world can't change My mind!"
When I See What God Did To Noah's
Generation, Sodom and Jerusalem, I
Can't Help But Deduct That America
Is Ripe for Destruction!
Think about it for a moment: None of those societies killed 25 million babies, as we have through abortion. Their inhabitants didn't commit random acts of murder in their streets in such aggregate numbers as we do today. And Sodom's entire population didn't equal the number of gays who march in one parade in New York City. Beloved, we are a million times worse than those generations - and God judged and destroyed them all!
I often pray, "Oh, God - if You destroyed them, how can You spare us? Why have Your fierce judgments been held back from America?"
Experts say the economy is booming in this year of 1995. Our gross national product is increasing. Automobile factories are producing cars at a record-breaking pace. Inflation is holding steadily. Indeed, everything looks good ahead. Yet, why doesn't all this good news bring any sense of security to people? All across the country, people feel that something is hanging in the air, about to happen. Even the worst sinner doesn't feel secure. Why? It is because, deep down, this nation knows it deserves judgment! We all know we're living on borrowed time.
How can we be ready for revival if we believe that all hope is gone - that we have sinned away our day of grace and there is nothing left but judgment? Beloved, we can't have faith for a revival until we're convinced God still wants to pour out His Spirit on us!
Why hasn't America been judged? Why hasn't Jesus come yet? It is because there is still a great harvest ahead! And God is "...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
We see this great mercy of the Lord in a passage in Isaiah. God instructed the prophet to tell Judah:
"Thus saith the Lord, Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away. Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver?" (Isaiah 50:1-2).
God had already divorced Israel, giving them "...a bill of divorce..." (Jeremiah 3:8). But now His attention was on Judah, a people who had cheated on Him and walked away from Him. God still had a heart for Judah, and He came to them crying, "Where is the bill of...divorcement..." (Isaiah 50:1). He was saying, "Show Me your divorce papers! Prove to me I ever put you away. It was you who walked away from Me! I did nothing to grieve or hurt you. I loved you the whole time. I came to you and I called you!"
Try to picture it: There was the Lord, going into the very dens of Judah's harlotry to look for her, calling, "I'm coming after you! You're telling everyone that there's no hope, that there can never again be a love between us. But I'm coming back for you!"
Beloved, that is exactly what I see God doing with America right now. He is saying to us, "Show Me your divorce papers! Show Me I walked away from you! I have not yet removed My Holy Spirit. Rather, I am still at work all over this nation - still wooing, calling, coming to you!"
The Lord is speaking this through Times Square Church and many other pulpits across this nation. And He is speaking it through godly men and women who spend precious time seeking Him. He is calling America back to repentance - back to His own heart! Yet, when He comes, He asks, "Where are those who will answer My call? Where are those who will return to Me?"
This is what our recent weeks of prayer at Times Square Church have been about. It all has to do with His last call!
Many who sit in our church are proof of the Lord's wooing. At one time He stirred their hearts and shook them out of apostasy and compromise. He called out, "I love you!" - and they responded. And now the same Spirit who roused them wants to gather in a whole multitude. Our part is to pray with faith that, as the Spirit woos backsliders, a multitude will answer and return.
We have to be fully persuaded that there is still time (though short), still hope - and that while we are praying, the Spirit is at work in all levels of society, calling and wooing people to Himself!
2. We Are Not Ready for Revival When
We Are Overwhelmed by the Darkness
That Has Settled Over the Nation
and by the Fury of the Enemy!
I see a fury and an intensity in sinners today as in no other generation. When I was a boy, the church referred to Africa as "the dark continent" because of its spiritual darkness. But today, a spiritual darkness is hovering over America that is almost tangible. America is now "the dark continent"!
"For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people..." (Isaiah 60:2).
"Gross darkness" signifies a darkness you can feel. And the darkness over America right now is intense, widespread, thickening every moment.
When you fly into New York, you're dazzled by all the city's bright lights. Yet, once you get off the plane, take a cab into Manhattan and get out at Broadway, you instantly feel the darkness. It's heavy, demonic, blinding people's hearts and minds - and it's getting worse!
Yet, the Bible says God has a part in that darkness:
"Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness" (Jeremiah 13:16).
God makes the gross darkness! When people are so set on their sin that they reject the Lord, they are driven to darkness. David said of the wicked, "Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not..." (Psalm 69:23). The Spirit of God allows a darkness to fall over their hearts and minds.
"And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness" (Isaiah 8:22).
Sinners are actually driven to their dark acts. Satan has come down upon the earth with an army of demonic powers who are whipping godless people into a frenzy of evil!
The fury and intensity of this present vileness is a thousand times darker than when I first came to New York a generation ago. Today I look at people's eyes as they're on their way to make a drug connection, stumbling out of a bar, running to and fro looking for pleasure - and there is no mistaking they are driven!
When I first began this ministry some thirty-five years ago, I spoke in churches all over America, warning of the moral landslide to come. I told people in Iowa, Oklahoma and all the Southern states that drugs would strike even the smallest hamlet. Pushers would appear in schools and on playgrounds. I warned of blatant homosexuality, with nude parades taking place in our cities. And I prophesied that nudity and sexual acts would air on prime-time TV.
Most of the people who heard me thought I'd come from Mars. Pastors berated me. And sincere Christians came to me afterward, saying, "No way! God will never let that happen to America." Today, some of those people who ridiculed me are grandparents. They sit before their TV watching the R-rated, perverted movies I prophesied about. And their children and grandchildren are addicted to drugs and alcohol. The darkness I warned about has now come into their very souls!
Can you imagine how dark it's going to be ten years from now, should the Lord tarry?
Yet, I ask you: As you see the darkness thickening and growing on all sides, do you believe it will exceed the light of the gospel? Are you afraid the darkness is going to squash it, quell it, snuff it out?
No - never! God's people must never be intimidated by the darkness and fury of the enemy in these last days. It doesn't matter how dark the world becomes. The Bible says Jesus is going to rise and shine in the darkness!
- "I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?" (Isaiah 51:12-13).
- "Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee" (Psalm 139:12).
- "...he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him" (Daniel 2:22).
- "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined" (Isaiah 9:2).
We live in a time of widespread death and darkness. But God says that in such times He will shine His light the brightest:
"And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them" (Isaiah 42:16).
It doesn't matter how wild it gets in the streets, or how many homosexuals curse Christ in gay parades. We are not to be overwhelmed by any darkness! When gross darkness covers the earth, we must expect the Lord to shine in all His glory and to deliver multitudes:
"Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising" (Isaiah 60:1-3).
No darkness will ever stop God's light! So get your eyes off the darkness, off the sin, off the fury of violent people. And believe the Lord for the bursting forth of His shining, effusing light!
3. The Church Is Not Ready for Revival
Because of Its Weak Faith In God's
Willingness and Power to Save Wicked,
God put His finger on Judah's problem: They doubted His willingness and power to redeem a people entrenched in apostasy and idolatry.
"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" (Jeremiah 18:12).
Judah had given up hope, thinking, "We've gone too far - and now there's no going back. We have left the Lord, mocked Him, abused Him, cast Him aside. We are so deep into our sins, it's hopeless. Not even God can bring us back!"
Beloved, after all my years in ministry, I still have to fight this kind of thinking. You may feel the same way. Your husband may be an atheist, mean and godless. And you have convinced yourself, "All around me, people are getting saved. But my husband is different. He's so hard!"
The Lord said to Judah,
"...Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem?..." (Isaiah 50:2).
To shorten means to "chop off." God was saying, "Tell me - has the enemy chopped off My mighty arm? Have I lost My power to save? No! My mighty arm dried up the Red Sea. It clothed the heavens with blackness. It opened blind eyes. You have seen that I save to the uttermost. Why do you think I have lost My power to redeem you?"
Dear saint, when did God lose His power to save the vilest sinner on earth? When did He lose His willingness to deliver drug addicts, drunkards and prostitutes, when nobody was praying for them?
Would God then somehow decide not to save your family members, for whom you have fasted and prayed faithfully? Absolutely not! We must cry out to Him in faith, "Oh Lord, You can save Wall Street. You can deliver the worst homosexual in New York. You can redeem any Muslim in any foreign land. And you can save any member of my family. Your arm is not too short. You can save anybody!"
We will never be ready for revival until we stop limiting God. Don't believe His hand has been chopped off; instead, believe Him for the impossible! Get a vision of His mercy and love - of His mighty, outstretched arm, all-powerful to save!
If Jesus prophesied a great harvest, then we are going to witness supernatural outpourings of God's Spirit on vast multitudes. When the Spirit was poured out the first time in Jerusalem, thousands were saved at once. And, likewise today, we ought to pray with faith for the Spirit to fall on entire nations - even those with incredible strongholds.
In recent years, the Holy Spirit has moved in China, and great multitudes there have been saved. Isaiah prophesies of many people being gathered in from Sinim, which represents China:
"Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim" (Isaiah 49:12).
That same Holy-Ghost fire is also falling in Russia and in parts of India. God's Spirit is moving, wooing, calling people all over the world!
Yet God is asking His remnant church to begin with our own families, one person at a time:
"Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion" (Jeremiah 3:14).
We are to pray and be patient - and He will gather in our loved ones, one at a time!
Here at Times Square Church, we are praying that God will sweep many into His kingdom through outpourings of His Spirit. But the Lord also wants us to focus on our families. We must have an urgency in us to pray, "Lord, send conviction on my family! Save my son, my daughter, my wife..."
Several years ago there was a popular song, "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head." I believe that song tells us the way we ought to pray - for God to literally rain down His Holy Spirit! Scripture promises that in the last days, the Holy Ghost will fall as rain. And you can pray Holy-Ghost raindrops down upon the heads of your loved ones:
"Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field" (Zechariah 10:1).
God is waiting and anxious to pour out His Holy Ghost. Are you ready to pray down His rain? We are to pray not for the fire of judgment, but for rain!
Yes, God's judgment is coming; it is at the door even now. But while we still have time, we are to believe God to pour out His Spirit. So lay hold of His divine, "on call" promises - and you will see a Holy-Ghost revival poured out all around you.
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This data file is the sole property of World Challenge. It may not be altered or edited in any way. It may be reproduced only in its entirety for circulation as "freeware," without charge. All reproductions of this data file must contain the copyright notice [i.e., "Copyright © 1999 by World Challenge"]. This data file may not be used without the permission World Challenge for resale or the enhancement of any other product sold. This includes all of its content with the exception of a few brief quotations. Please give the following source credit: Copyright © 1999 by World Challenge, Lindale, Texas, USA.
This material is solely for personal use and is not to be posted publicly on other web pages. The Lorain County Free-Net Chapel holds exclusive rights from World Challenge, Inc. to publicly post these messages on its web page. You are free to download, copy, print and distribute this material, so long as you do not post it on a different Internet site. You may, however, link this site to reference these messages.
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