Keys to Revival – William MacDonald Sermon

“Keys to Revival” – 

It is nice to be back at Greenwood Hills again. This place has many sacred memories for me.

In our time together I’d like to take up a series of keys to add some keys to your key ring—keys on some practical aspect of the Christian life. I’d like to take up this morning some keys to revival and then some keys to discipling others—keys to discovering your gifts in the body of Christ–keys to more effective prayer, and keys to more effective conversations one with the other. I expect brother Wilson will be transporting us back to the heavenlies, to view the risen and exalted Savior, and how we need that. I’ll probably be taking you into the kitchen. Ripe as it is today, he will be giving you the turkey feast and I will be giving you the “MacDonald hamburger.”

Somebody has said that a good sermon stretches the mind, tans the hide, warms the heart, and provokes the will. I expect that Mr. Wilson will be warming the heart, and I would like to provoke the will—not provoke you, but provoke your will.

So shall we turn this morning to II Chronicles chapter 7 verses 13 and 14. II Chronicles chapter 7 verses 13 and 14, keys to revival. The Lord is speaking to Solomon and he says, “If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; if my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” I’d like to ask this morning for a show of hands; How many people here think we need revival. Would you raise your hands? How many people would really like to see revival? Would you raise your hands?

In the verse of Scripture that we have read, verse 14, we have God’s surefire remedy. We have God’s surefire need for revival. You cannot fulfill the condition in the first part of this verse without realizing the results in the latter part. It’s absolutely impossible. It’s the word of God, the promise of God. If we will humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways, then He will hear from heaven and will forgive our sins, and will heal the land.

And yet, most of us could live and die without ever attending a meeting in our assemblies where God’s people gather together for confession and prayer. It is impossible to do it without seeing results, and yet we never do it. I’m not going to ask for a show of hands on this one.

I’m afraid it might be too embarrassing. But the question is, have I ever been at a meeting where God’s people came together for the express purpose of confession and prayer—humbling ourselves before God and confessing our sins.

This refers to our national life. This refers to our country. God says I will forgive their sins and will heal their land. It refers to our assembly life. It refers to our family life. And it refers equally well to our personal lives. And dear friends, we desperately need revival. My heart is burning these days. I am not satisfied with what I see and I long to see God open the windows of heaven and pour out that blessing.

In California and other parts of this country there is a tremendous drought at the present time–millions of dollars of damage to crops and to livestock. And Christians have been praying and have seen some phenomenal answers. God is speaking to our country at the present time. And God is looking for Christian men and women—young men and women— who will come before him and confess the sins of this nation as our own, as Daniel did in the 9th chapter of his book.

Do you realize that almost every sacred ordinance of God is being undermined in the United States at the present time? The great principles upon which God builds an ordered society are under attack in our country today. You think for example of the institution of marriage. And you think of the tremendous beating it is taking through the media and in the practice of everyday life. A generation has turned away from marriage, unhappy with what they have seen in their home, unhappy with the bitter wrangling, and the strife, and the contention.

They say, “That’s not for me!” And so they live together without marriage. I think I need not press the point. You think of the climbing divorce rate. In some cases—in some states in the United States the divorce rate today is higher today than the marriage rate.

I went into a card shop the other day to buy a wedding card, and the woman said, “You know weddings are coming back, and I’m kind of glad.” I think she was glad because she was selling more cards. But the sacred institution of marriage is really under attack in our country today.

I think of the institution of capital punishment. God ordained capital punishment as brother Wilson reminded us last night. It’s very doubtful that anyone will ever die from capital punishment again in the United States—very doubtful. The people of California recently passed a referendum asking for capital punishment, and their will has been completely thwarted by legislative processes.

You think of the distinction between the sexes ordained by God. It is under attack today—the great uni-sex movement in our country. You think of the subjection of woman to the man. The great principles of authority and subjection to that authority which exists even in the Godhead where Christ is subject to God—it’s under tremendous attack today with the “Women’s Liberation Movement.” You think of subjection to parents inculcated in the word of God, without which there can be no order in the home — under attack in the United States today with the “Children’s Rights” amendment and a lot of other legislation along the same lines.

And in the Old Testament over and over again you hear the word of God say, “Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of . . .” and so what do we have today–nudity beaches along both coasts. Our country is in a desperate condition. The legislation being passed legalizing sins for which God ordained death in the Holy Scriptures: “They that practice such things are worthy of death.” And now they are looked upon as respectable and decent things, which should not be prohibited by law.

I think of the sacredness of life as taught in the word of God, and then this tremendous drive for abortion as well as violence of other forms. I turn on the radio and learn that drunkenness isn’t a sin; this is just a warped idea of a Puritanical society. Drunkenness is a sickness. And I say it is a sickness by which God will bar men from the Kingdom of God.

Imagine—imagine God keeping men out of the Kingdom of God because of sickness. He’s not that kind of a God. It really is a sin.

And I say God is looking for men and women today who will come before him and take these sins and confess them as our sins. That’s what Daniel did. In the 9th chapter of Daniel, we might just turn to that. And here’s this dear man of God, he is crying to God. He is sensitive to all of these things. And he takes sins that he never committed himself and he makes them his own.

Verse 5 of Daniel chapter 9: listen, “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from Thy precepts and from Thy judgments: Neither have we harkened unto Thy servants the prophets, which spoke in Thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel that are near and that are afar off, through all the countries whither thou has driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee. O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against Thee.” Verse 10: “Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. “ Here is a lone voice ascending to the throne of God, and God shakes the universe. And he brought back the children of Israel from Babylonian captivity. You say coincidence, I say not at all! These things are inevitably linked in the word of God.

Not very long ago a group of young people gathered out there in California– they gather once a month to pray for Christian missions. They gather at 9:00 on a Friday night and pray on into the morning. No two prayer meetings are exactly alike, and the particular prayer meeting I am thinking about, they gathered together, and before anything else they got down on their faces and they humbled themselves on the floor before God, and they confessed the sins of the nation and confessed the sins of the church and they confessed the sins of personal lives. The first part of that meeting was entirely given over to confession. Then as they moved on to the subject of foreign missions, the Chad Republic came before their minds. And at that time the

Chad Republic was ruled by a very wicked ruler named Tombalbaye. You’ve read about him in the magazines and in the newspapers. Tombalbaye was very oppressive on the Christians in that country. Time Magazine reported that one Christian was buried up to his neck in the sand so that the ants could finish him off. Another Christian was placed inside a drum and they beat on the drum until he starved to death.

I got a letter about that time from Dick Sanders and he said “Brother don’t feel sorry for the Christians who have died, they’re in the presence of the Lord. Feel sorry for the Christians that are still alive.

While these requests were shared and these dear young people went to prayer –mind you they had first of all confessed—and they cried to God for the Chad Republic—crying to God for the national church in the Chad, and for those wonderful indigenous assemblies that are there. And when they left the prayer meeting in the wee hours of Saturday morning they had a definite sense that they had touched the throne.

On Sunday morning I was driving to the meeting, Bethany, there in Oakland, turned on my radio, and a news flash came on: “Military Coup in the Chad: Tombalbaye killed.” I want to ask you something. Do you think a group of little nobodies praying in California can affect the destiny of a nation in Africa? I do. I ‘m just simple enough to believe that. And I think the significant thing was, those young people proved the promise of II Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Our country has just been through a terrible time with this Watergate scandal. During that awful time Senator Mark Hatfield proposed a day of confession and humiliation and prayer.

I don’t think it was ever officially passed by the Senate. I don’t think it ever got that far, but never mind. Christians throughout the country took up the call. And probably many here—we were—we set the day aside. I think it was April 4, no, April 30, 1974—we set the day aside for confession and humiliation and fasting and prayer. Did anything happen? Dear friends, you can’t do this without something happening. It’s the promise of God. And it was right after that, that some of those most damaging tapes came to light—where the abscess was lanced and the pus began to flow.

Now I want to tell you Christians on their knees are the ones that affect the direction of a country like this. We are approaching a presidential election. One man is supposed to be a born again Christian, the other one is rumored to be. I’d like to suggest to you today that you, as the people of God, can do more on your knees than you can do with—in the polling place. I am not saying “don’t vote”. I am not saying that. If God leads you to vote, vote. But Christian people can do more on their knees than they can do with the ballot. If we would only come before God and humble ourselves, and cry out to Him in confession, and eat the sin offering, we would really see things happen.

You have it all through the Old Testament. You have Moses doing this very thing–Ezra, Nehemiah, you have Elijah. These men were men that realized that in prayer, in confession, in humiliation, there was power with God—and they used that power. Why don’t we use it today?

This portion of Scripture we read applies to our national life, but it applies to our assembly lives as well. And I know that God is working on many fronts today, and there’s much to encourage, but I’ll tell you too there is a desperate need for revival. And most of us have the habit of trying not to look at reality, thinking that if we don’t look at them, they’ll go away. But they don’t go away. And it’s not only our own assemblies as it were, it’s the whole evangelical church.

Did it ever occur to you that we should be on our knees confessing the sins of the evangelical church as a whole–The body of Christ? When you think of the scandalous cases of moral failure, do we ever come before God and confess these things to him?

And you think of the divorces, and the separations, the broken homes… boys and girls and young people who wish they were a million miles away. Can you take these things lightly? And you think of children who have become rebels and apostates—children on drugs– liquor, free love, children who despise their parents.

What shall we do, sweep it under the carpet? It will never work. If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land.

When you think of the desecration of the Lord’s Day that takes place on every hand today, perhaps some of you will think that I am legalistic—I have been called that—as well as obscurant and all the rest; but I somehow feel that if you love the Lord, you’ll love His Day too. This is a day not of legal restrictions, but of sacred opportunity. When released from the secular duties of life, we can give it to Him in a special way in worship and service. But on every hand it is being desecrated today.

When we think of the prayerlessness in our midst today, prayer meetings that lack life, and that in many cases that need to be closed down more than anything else — because we lack reality. When you think about ministry without unction — we not only are having a drought in this land, we are having a famine of the word of God.

When we come together, we hear ministry and we go out and our lives are unchanged and we’re never broken at the foot of the cross—and we need it—and we need it very desperately. And you think of dull worship meetings. And you think of the few people relatively speaking who are being saved, and how we are becoming conditioned to seeing men and women, young men and women, going down to hell, and not shed a tear—dear friends we need revival!

Ezekiel speaks of the sin of Sodom as being pride and fullness of bread and prosperous ease. Just think of it: pride and fullness of bread and prosperous ease. And God is looking for men and women who come before him and bring these things out into the open and confess them as the sins of the church today.

I thank God for some of our older sisters—I tell you, the chariot wheels of God would drag a lot more heavily than they do if it weren’t for some of our sisters who are in touch with

God. I think of two elderly ladies on an island off the Northwest coast of Scotland years ago and just where they were they called out the ungodliness of this island, the drunkenness, and the desecration of the Lord’s Day and all of these things, and they got before the Lord and they confessed those sins as their own sins. They took the sins of the island and the church there and confessed them as their own and God appeared to them. I don’t mean visibly or audibly, but God gave them assurance that he was going to visit that island with his salvation. And they knew of a man on the mainland named Duncan Campbell. He was associated with the Faith Mission and they wrote him and they said, “Brother, God is going to work here! The fire is going to fall here! And you had better get over here, and get over here in a hurry.”

Imagine two old ladies calling the shots like that. But that’s what they did anyway. And he was in the midst of a great crusade in Edinburgh at the time, and he wrote back and said, “So sorry, you know I’m right here in the middle of a great crusade, and I couldn’t possibly come.”
Well when they got that letter, they dipped their pens in acid, and they wrote back and said,

“Brother, if you don’t come, you’re going to miss the blessing.” They said that to him. By the time their second letter got to him, his little crusade had withered up and died. He got on the next boat and crossed the Minch and came over to the island and when he came, it had already started. It already started. God was pouring out a blessing, it was known as the Hebrides Revival. It was practically unparalleled in the history of the church.

A man going home drunk at 4:00 in the morning, saved by the side of the road before he ever got home–people praying in their places of worship until the wee hours of the morning.
The unsaved going to meetings that they didn’t want to go to—had no intention of going to— but they were saved before it was all over.

I tell you it was a mighty outpouring of the Spirit of God. Why–Because two women prayed. That’s why–because they came before God in confession and humiliation and fasting and prayer. And do you know, of all the hundreds of people that were saved at that time, less than a handful have ever gone back into the world. It was such a mighty encounter with the Spirit of God—less than a handful.

I have a cousin that was in the Second World War, and he has a plate in his head today to protect his brains. He has one eye missing and shrapnel in the other eye. And he went back drunk as could be. Well, this revival came along, and Norman went to the meetings. He didn’t want to go to the meetings, but he was drawn to the meetings. The Spirit of God got a hold of him and he was gloriously saved! And after that when he would walk down the street the ladies would pull back the curtains of their house, and they would look out and say, “When sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” That’s it. Why–because two women prayed.

Don’t underestimate the power of godly Christian women. And dear sisters, you get before the Lord—if nobody else will do it—you get before the Lord, and cry out to him for this revival.

I think of our own personal lives too. It is possible for us to be suffering from personal drought at the present time. Dear friends, we are a pleasure-seeking people. We are trying to find satisfaction where it can’t be found. God loves pleasure and God wants us to have pleasure. But there’s only one place that can be found and that is at his right hand. “In thy presence is fullness of joy and at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Many are living double lives today—one thing on Sunday and something quite else during the week in business.

Our coldness, our bitterness—I think of the gossip and backbiting going on in our personal lives. We hear a lot about the charismatic movement today. We hear a lot about unknown tongues—I have never heard anybody speak in tongues, and I have never spoken in tongues. But I want to tell you something. There’s something a lot worse than unknown tongues. That’s the English tongue when it’s used for gossip and backbiting and slander. Isn’t it true? Let’s keep things in balance. A man can be a gossip, a woman can be a backbiter, and be a citizen in good standing in the assembly. They shouldn’t be. It shouldn’t be. May the Lord have mercy upon us.

There are people today who are TV worshippers. Glued to the tube. And I will tell you they don’t realize what that thing is doing in the life of individual believers and the life of the church today. We are being conditioned to carnality, and it’s very poor preparation for the worship meeting. Don’t you think? It’s very poor preparation for the worship meeting. We are worldly. We have personal feuds and animosity—and we don’t know how to break before the Lord and go and make things right. We are laying up treasures on earth. We are a materialistic people.

It goes right back to the story of the prodigal son. That’s what he was. And there he was, floundering in the far country. And finally he comes to himself. And he says, “Why, my father’s servants are better off than I am. I know what I’ll do, I’ll arise and go to my father and say ‘Father I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight. I’m no longer worthy of being called thy son. Make me I pray thee like one of thy hired servants.’” And he went you know, and the father met him—and I’ll tell you, confession is the road to revival. It really is.

I’d like to close with a verse from Isaiah that’s been especially precious to me. It’s Isaiah chapter 44 and verse 3. Some of us might like to claim this as a promise from the Lord today. Isaiah chapter 44 and verse 3. It says, “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.”

What kind of soil does God pour water on? Upon thirsty soil—floods upon the dry ground. Dear friends, are our souls thirsty today? Are we willing to take the place of dry ground and call out to God in confession, and humiliation, and prayer?

Our brother Glen is going to come I believe and lead us in a verse two of a hymn, and then we’ll look to the Lord in prayer after that.

[Hymn: Search me Oh God]

Final Prayer by Mr. MacDonald:

Lord, we can truly say with Daniel, we have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly—have rebelled even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments. Lord, we think of our government. We think of the Watergate scandal. We think of the bribery and we think of the corruption. We think Lord of that absence—the absence of that righteousness that exalts a nation. And we pray Lord, in this bicentennial year, have mercy upon our land. We confess that sin to you today and cry to you for mercy and for healing. We think of our business lives Lord. Oftentimes our lips are sealed by our conduct. We think about how we use the wisdom of this world instead of the wisdom that comes from above. And we think of how we give priority often to the dollar than we do to spiritual values. Father, we think of our assembly lives. We think of our self-satisfaction and how we’re blissfully unaware oftentimes of our own low state of spirituality—how we have a greater interest in the sound of music and the Late Show than we do in the meetings of the assembly. Lord, send a revival we pray into our midst. We think of our family lives Lord. We think of the unequal yokes, the separations, the divorces, the conflict—we are seeing wayward children today, and the abandonment of the family altar. Lord we pray that it may be said of our homes again, “Christ is the head of this house, the unseen guest at every meal, the silent listener to every conversation”. Lord we think of our personal lives as well today—our materialism and our covetousness, our pleasure seeking—how we’re occupied with the pleasure of passing things.

We think of the neglect of the word of God—the gossip, the backbiting—the prayerlessness that exists. Lord forgive us. We pray today, we confess, we take the low place, and we pray, O God, that you will pour out the blessing of revival in our midst. We ask it in the Savior’s name and for His sake. Amen!