Tuesday, February 21, 2012


(Because of the wretched state of Red Deer’s pulpit space, it is now, as predicted by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3, the time to ‘pluck up that which is planted…a time to break down…a time to weep…a time to cast away stones’ and even ‘a time to refrain from embracing.’ And it is certainly more ‘a time to speak’ than ‘a time to keep silence.’ Be that as it may, the wrecking ball of negative criticism should be followed by the laying down of truth. To this end, we introduce the sermon sketch as an intermittent blog feature. As the term ‘sketch’ implies, this kind of post, in distinction from the usually lengthy analysis, will be pithy. The source for each sketch will be indicated at the bottom of each post.)

Spiritual Revival the Want of the Church

“O Lord, revive thy work” (Habakkuk 3.2.)

Introduction. All true religion is the work of God. It is his greatest work. He views the work of grace as being more glorious than the works of nature. I believe the Eternal might sooner forgive the sin of attributing the creation of the heavens and of the earth to an idol, than that of attributing the works of grace to any thing else but God. There are means and agencies employed, but the work of converting the soul is both start and finish wholly the Lord’s. He converts, maintains, completes, and perfects the life of the soul and Church. Therefore, ‘O Lord, revive thy work!’

(1) Revival in Ourselves. We are too quick to flog the church, too fast to magnify her little errors. Let’s lay the whip on our personal shoulders first. I will not flatter you. London is a huge criminal full of sin; if all of its professors of religion were true, this city would be less wicked. Let us admit it, or our enemies will! How many church members are liars or money-chasers, grinding the faces of the poor? Now if these be true Christians, is not their spark smothered, needing to be fanned into a flame? Ah, it is so fashionable to be religious when persecution is taken away! If you are fake, quit pretending! If you are real, quit your errors! Do you think that God would now stoop from heaven to listen to the conversation of his church? Where is the talk of our Lord and Master? Are we too scared to speak of Christ for fear of being called strange? O, we must not talk about this doctrine or the other because so and so disbelieves it! Then we end up with nothing but worldly talk! Now let me ask—when did you last have a love-visit from Jesus? Do you weep and groan over this lack? Maybe you are content without Christ? Ah, you need prayer most of all! There are many that need revival, but only few that feel they need it. Stir up your feelings by recollecting what the Lord has done for you. If you feel your need you will groan to have the ordinances of song, preaching, and communion to seem as sweet as once they were! Is your emptiness an aching void? Forget about resolutions to revive yourself. Instead, pray, ‘O Lord, revive thy work!’ When you really feel the lack of revival, you will never speak of reviving yourself! He that first made you must revive you!

(2) Revival in the Church. This age is too much the age of form, not enough of life. Men are the rarest things in all the world. Compared with the puritanic times, where are our preachers? our Howes,  our Charnocks? Where is the galaxy of grace that followed Whitefield? We have no real preaching today. Where are the preaching tears? There is a lack of revival because there is a lack in the pulpit. And look at the lack of good teaching. Orthodox men of old would be called heretics today! The decline was gradual, and was begun by ministers who were ashamed to preach the hard doctrines! We need revival of sound teaching. And we need a revival of zeal too. Our prayer meetings are too empty. We are too honorable in the world’s eyes. If we were zealous we would be hated more. Maybe you think we are fine, that there is no need? But some of us will cry out for reviving. We need life, not new plans, forms, and fresh ministers—but life!

Selection from Conclusion. “O! for the days when in this place hundreds were converted sometimes under Whitefield’s sermons. It has been known that two thousand credible cases of conversion have happened under one solitary discourse…O! for the age of deep feeling…Let us ask God for it; let us plead with him for it. Perhaps he has the man, or the men, somewhere, who will shake the world yet; perhaps even now he is about to pour forth a mighty influence upon men!”

{This sermon by C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) is sketched by M. H. Gaboury.}

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