Is Revival Conditional?
In the Bible, Biblical blessings and revivals are almost always conditional. From Abram onwards there have been conditions to be fulfilled before the blessing comes. God promised Abram a land flowing with milk and honey but if he didn’t leave Ur of the Chaldeas and stayed in Ur, he would not get the blessing. The condition was leaving his father’s house.
Throughout the Bible the same principle applies. We are promised that “no good thing” will God withhold from us, but it only applies if we “walk uprightly” (Ps 84:11). In the New Testament also the promises of blessings are tied to obedience. We will be able to “quench all the fiery darts of the devil” only if we take “the shield of faith” (Eph 6:16). Our very salvation is conditional. We are only saved if we believe and rest and trust in Jesus Christ.
Perhaps the most practical book in the Bible is the book written by the half brother of our Lord, James. In his letter, in chapter 4, there are three wonderful promises. The devil will flee from us; God will draw near to us; and God will lift us up. However to each of these promises is appended a duty.
The devil will not turn away from us, unless we resist him (v 7). We never have to pick a fight with the devil – he goes about looking for one and we are easy prey for him (1 Pet 5:8). So it is not long before we are struggling with him.
The word ‘resist’ here is the same word that Paul uses when he tells us to take the “sword of the Spirit” and stand fast.
There are times when we need to stand firm: without advancing or retreating. To advance or to retreat may be dangerous.
The devil does not have an unending source of energy and confidence. He gets tired like any other being that is not omnipotent. Satan is certainly not all powerful. To constantly resist him wearies him and turns him away.
Satan does not have what you and I as Christians have – an never-ending source of help and power. He cannot, like you and I call upon the Holy Spirit for help. In fact Satan has the distinct disadvantage of knowing he is already defeated! He is filled with discouragement! You and I are promised victory. “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Rom 8:37).
The second promise James makes is that God will “draw near to us” and the condition is that we “draw near to God” (v 8).
It is encouraging to note that the invitation to draw near is made to sinners. It is not the pure and the holy that are invited but those with sin, “draw near to God, cleanse your hands, you sinners”. Even our sin should not keep us back from coming near to God. Sin is the reason for our coming. Our Catechism tells us that we are “to draw near to God … as children to a father, able and ready to help us”.
We must never assume that because we go to a church, or because we pray regularly or because we read our Bibles daily, that we are therefore near to God. We can be ‘miles away’ from God even sitting at the Lord’s Table! We can even have the praises of God on our lips and our hearts can be far away. There is a form of godliness which denies the power (2 Tim 3:5). We can be cold and hard and yet appear to be true worshippers.
When we are near to God we have His mind and Spirit. We want to please Him. Getting near to God is becoming unselfish. It is denying self and serving others. It is putting ourselves last.
The third promise James makes in chapter 4 is that God “will lift us up” (v 10). The condition is that we “humble ourselves”. The Lord Jesus Christ “humbled Himself”. Jesus had a sinless human nature and it was a ‘natural’ thing for Him to humble Himself – it was His ‘nature’ to be humble – He did it from the inside as it were.
Sometimes, we are humbled by the discovery of sin, or something similar! We are ‘forced’ because of circumstances to be humble. Not so the Lord Jesus. He had grace above measure. He never sinned in any way and His humility came from His holy nature and spirit. However, God accepts our humility because it can only be performed through His grace in our hearts.
So, national revival will only come when we fulfil the conditions for God’s blessing given in His Word. God does deal graciously with His people. One vital condition is repentance for our sins.
For national revival, we will need national repentance. “If My people … humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron 7:14).
But there seems to be little sign of that in the nation at the moment. As a nation, we just do not realise how God defines sin. We are ignorant of what sin really is. Sin is the contradiction of God. We are totally unaware that God is deeply offended at our sinful way of life. We need to be made aware that God hates sin.
If there was national mourning over our sins on the scale that there was over Princess Diana’s death, I have no doubt there would be revival round the corner. God is more willing to send revival than we are to repent.