Do yourself a favor and learn all you can; then remember what you learn and you will prosper. Proverbs 19:8 GNT, (or in the Message translation, Grow a wise heart – you’ll do yourself a favor; keep a clear head – you’ll find a good life.)
Come, Let Us Reason Together
I have always squirmed just a little at the “let’s pray for Trump’s reelection.” Don’t misunderstand me. I believe, on the evidence, that there is an almost unassailable case for Trump’s reelection, and that any other outcome will simply accelerate the failure of the American Experiment. But it is God’s will that must (and shall) be done. Let us pray for that.
Moreover, as Believers, we can see clearly what is required. It does not depend on the election of this president or that. What is required is a repentance, beginning with the Church. Which, if it is God’s will, shall be followed by a revival. A turning and a returning. A fourth great awakening (or fifth if you are so inclined; it matters not).
What A Revival Is: Conviction, Repentance, and Reformation
First, it comes for the Christians. In His recent book, Evangelicals At The Crossroads, Will We Pass The Trump Test, Dr. Michael L. Brown lists “Ten Essential Keys For Passing The Trump Test.” Number ten is “We must lead the nation in repentance, knowing that repentance prepares the way of the Lord, opening a path for revival, visitation, and awakening.” Dr. Brown explicates [paraphrased]:
“We all agree that elections play an important role in our society, otherwise you would not be reading this book and I would not have written it. But let’s be candid. If every president for the next fifty years was an equal to George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, that would not solve our country’s deepest problems. If every Supreme Court justice adjudicated righteously, that would not heal our wounds. Only a massive, sweeping revival in the Church, leading to a glorious awakening in the society, can turn the tide. Otherwise, we will continue sliding down the slope of immorality, injustice, carnality, hatred, division, murder, addiction, and worse.
“Of course, American will never be a fully Christian nation in this age. No nation will. And a theocracy is not the answer. (Who among us would want clergy of any background ruling over the nation, by alleged divine command, and making authoritative judgments to be obeyed by all, enforced under penalty of law?) I’m simply talking about turning things in a more positive direction, about undoing some of the damage caused by the sexual revolution and radical feminism and homosexual activism, all of it aided and abetted by a compromised, self-exalting message from our pulpits.
“Our only hope is a national revival, and that revival must begin with us, the church, the people of God. “Revival,” as Charles Finney (1792 -1875) astutely observed, “presupposes that the Church is sunk down in a backslidden state, and a revival consists in the return of the Church from her backslidings, and the conversion of sinners.”
“We can debate the meaning of “Make America Great Again,” especially from the vantage point of a Native American or African American. When was America “great” for them? What point in time are we seeking to recover? Still, it’s hard to deny that, not that long ago, our society was more innocent, families were more intact, there was more fear of God, and churches were more committed to the Word. We were not as addicted or as distracted or as in debt. The idea of homosexual “marriage” was unthinkable, as was the idea of middle school children exchanging naked photos. And who would have imagined, when the first Playboy centerfold came out in 1953, featuring Marilyn Monroe, that today, on average, children would be exposed to pornography at the age of eleven? And what of the ongoing racial divisions in America? Or the plague of human trafficking? Or a host of other, deep-seated problems which no president or congress or court can solve?
“What, exactly would this look like? Finney offered this vivid description, emphasizing that revival starts with us, the people of God, which also means repentance starts with us, the people of God. From there, it sweeps over to the world. He wrote:
- The foundations of sin need to be broken up. A revival always includes conviction of sin on the part of the church. Backslidden Christians cannot wake up and begin right away in the service of God, without a deep searching of heart. In a true revival, Christians are always brought under such conviction(s). They come to see their sins in such a light that they can find it impossible to maintain a hope of their acceptance with God. It does not always go to that extent. But there are always, in a genuine revival, deep convictions of sin, and often cases of abandoning all hope.
- Revival is a new beginning of obedience with God. Backslidden Christians will be brought to repentance. Just as in the case of a converted sinner, the first step is a deep repentance, a breaking down of heart, a getting down into the dust before God, with deep humility, and the forsaking of sin.
- Christians will have their faith renewed. While they are in their backslidden state they are blind to the state of sinners. Their hearts are as hard as marble. The truths of the Bible only appear like a dream. They admit it all to be true. Their conscience and their judgment assent to it. But their faith does not see it standing out in bold relief in all the burning realities of eternity. But when they enter into a revival, they no longer see men as trees walking, but they see things in that strong light which will renew the love of God in their hearts. This will lead them to labor zealously to bring others to Him. They will feel grieved that others do not love God, when they love Him so much. And they will set themselves feelingly to persuade their neighbors to give Him their hearts. So their love to men will be renewed. They will be filled with a tender and burning love for souls. They will have a longing desire for the salvation of the whole world. They will be in agony for individuals whom they want to have saved; their friends, relations, enemies. They will not only be urging them to give their hearts to God, but they will carry them to God in the arms of faith, and with strong crying and tears beseech God to have mercy on them, and save their souls from endless burnings.
- A revival breaks the power of the world and of sin over Christians. It brings them to such vantage ground that they get a fresh impulse toward heaven. They have a new foretaste of heaven, and fresh desire for union with God. The charm of the world is broken and the power of sin overcome.
- When the churches are awakened and reformed, the reformation and salvation of sinners will follow. Their hearts will be broken down and changed. Very often the most abandoned profligates are among the subjects. Harlots, drunkards, infidels, and all sorts of abandoned characters are awakened and converted. The worst part of human society are softened and reclaimed, and made to appear as lovely specimens of the beauty of holiness.”
Brown continues: “While there may be debate about some of Finney’s theology and methods, I find his words to be deeply sobering and thoroughly scriptural. As for when a true revival could be expected, Finney said this: “A revival may be expected when Christians have a spirit of prayer for a revival. That is, when they pray as if their hearts were set upon it. When they go about groaning out their hearts desire. When they have real travail of soul.” In other words, we can expect a true revival when our hearts long for God with a holy desperation, when our burden of the lost brings us to the point of “travail.” When our cries become a mighty crescendo reaching the throne of our heavenly Father.
“Then the answer will come, as surely as God is God. As He said through the prophet Isaiah, “For this is what the high and exalted One says – he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.’” (Isaiah 57:15)
“Let us, then, lead the nation in private and public repentance, in confession of sin and wrongdoing, of turning to righteousness, of turning to God. That is the great hope of America, not four more years of Donald Trump, or any political candidate, but a heaven-sent revival and awakening.
“Until that time comes, we pray, we reach out, we serve, we speak, we love, and we get involved in the political process, but with our focus in the right place and our hopes firmly rooted in the Lord and the Lord alone. If we do this, we will pass the Trump test with flying colors. And who knows? Perhaps he too will be mightily touched by God and help lead the nation into deeper repentance and awakening. What is impossible with people is possible with God.”
What Now 2 Do?
Defend the Truth. Live the Faith. Advance the Kingdom.
- Although this post is written from an US perspective, I submit there is not a country or people-group in the World to whom it does not apply.
- This post has been adapted from the lectures and writings of Charles Finney (1792-1875) (including What A Revival of Religion Is (1834)), and from Evangelicals At The Crossroads, Will We Pass The Trump Test by Michael Brown (2020). And with apologies to both men.
- Which, in my view, speaks to all Believers, not just Evangelicals. Nor is it really a ‘Trump Test.”