During the last week churches in the Middelburg area of the Karoo’s heartland, were involved in seven days of 24-hour prayer for spiritual breakthrough and revival in South Africa, which was part of Jericho Walls’ Seven Days on the Wall night-and-day prayer initiative earnestly seeking God for revival among the nations and in South Africa.
A pamphlet about the initiative explained what revival is quoting Lewis Drummond: “A spiritual awakening is no more than God’s people seeing God in His holiness, turning from their wicked ways, and being transformed into His likeness”, which immediately made me think that standing squarely in the way of revival is our complacency.
Complacency causes a sense of self-righteousness and self-satisfaction that undermines the desire for repentance and without repentance revival will fail like an idea without action.
Hunger for righteousness
The fire that repentance brings to revival demands a hunger for righteousness and the awareness that only God is righteous, that we are sinners saved by the grace of God, and that salvation is an on-going process rather than an event; salvation requires that we continue to press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).
I turned to more of God’s Word for confirmation:
- Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
- Acts 3:19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
- Revelation 3:17-21 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked – I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
Then I sought insight from evangelists and pastors.
No revival without repentance
Evangelist Daniel K. Norris, writing in charismanews.com said – without repentance, there can be no revival.
After commending the church at Ephesus for all the good things they were doing, Jesus rebukes them by saying, ‘I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first’ (Revelation 2:4-5, NIV).
“He didn’t say, ‘I need you to change your mind about your ways.’ He said, ‘I want you to change your ways! Come back to Me. Fall in love with Me once again’.
“I assure you that revival entered the church at Ephesus the moment they heard His words and repented of their ways.
“If you are away from God or have sin in your life, I urge you to take heed of these grace-filled words. Repent! Turn away from your sin, and turn toward your Saviour. When you do, that’s revival,” wrote Norris.
Thorough job of repenting
Likewise, Ray Ortlund, senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, said that for revival to take place do a thorough job of repenting.
“Do not hurry to get it over with. Hasty repentance means shallow spiritual experience and lack of certainty in the whole life. Let godly sorrow do her healing work. . . . It is our wretched habit of tolerating sin that keeps us in our half-dead condition.”
Ortlund advises to make restitution wherever possible.
“If you owe a debt, pay it, or at least have a frank understanding with your creditor about your intention to pay, so your honesty will be above question. If you have quarreled with anyone, go as far as you can in an effort to achieve reconciliation. As fully as possible, make the crooked things straight,” said Ortlund.
Norris concurs: “When families and relationships are restored, that’s revival. When your identity in Christ is restored, that’s revival. When things that have been lost or stolen are restored, that’s revival”.
Restoration as sons and daughters
“Jesus said that He came to seek and save that which was lost. He wasn’t just speaking about saving you from the fires of hell, but to the restoration as sons and daughters of God. For Jesus, the focus is not on where I come from but on where I’m going. He pulled you from the fire to set you on fire!”
Ortlund also emphasises that for revival to take place we need to be on fire for change, “you need to get thoroughly dissatisfied with yourself” and “set your face like a flint toward a sweeping transformation of your life”.
“Timid experimenters are tagged for failure before they start. We must throw our whole soul into our desire for God,” said Ortlund.
According to Norris, the answer is in our position: “God gave His people a pattern for finding that position in 2 Chronicles 7:14. He said, Humble yourself, pray, seek My face, and repent of your own wicked ways.”
This adds up to there being no true revival without repentance, which requires surrender to the glorious sovereignty of God, His holiness, perfection, and a deep seated awareness of our complete dependence on Him for salvation from the sinful nature of self.
Revival and repentance interconnected
There is a direct relationship between revival and repentance; both come from God and have little to do with our own effort except the humbling and submission of ourselves before God in prayer, worship and praise. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of repentance and inspires revival causing a response in us through the outward expression of what He has revealed within us.
This is emphasised in a devotion, in which Angus Buchan informs that preacher and author John Blanchard once said: “Man can co more organise revival than he can dictate to the wind”.
Having been almost convinced that there is no revival without repentance, some of Uncle Angus’s last words in the devotion hit home: “Don’t try put God in a box. He moves in ways that we will never understand”.
So, perhaps instead of there being no revival without repentance, revival can ignite a heart rendered for repentance?
This all highlights the importance of Uncle Angus’ call for a Sacred Assembly on November 19 at FNB Stadium in Soweto to humble ourselves before the Lord God Almighty and repent, both for the healing of our land and revival to take place in South Africa.