When Revival Swept Hawaii

A decade after the first missionaries arrived, the gospel tore across the islands in the 1830s.
CHRIS COOK

When Revival Swept Hawaii

Today we picture the Hawaiian Islands as a premier tropical vacation destination. Nearly 200 years ago, that same idyllic island landscape boasted a revival, out of which grew the largest Protestant congregation in the world of that time.

Before 1820, the Hawaiian Islands had never encountered widespread Christianity. But that was about to change. As the Second Great Awakening traveled around the United States, it also spread outside its borders, sparking the New England missionary companies that arrived in the Sandwich Islands, which today are called Hawaii, in the 1820s and 1830s. Hiram Bingham led the inaugural mission’s team that arrived in 1820. Fellow New Englander Titus Coan, who landed in Hawaii in 1834, built on the foundation that Bingham’s generation had established, his work catalyzing the Great Revival of 1836–1840. The effect of this movement proved so significant that within a generation, the ruler of Hawaii declared his kingdom a Christian nation.

A New England Upbringing

Titus Coan was born in 1801 to pious parents, into a family of seven children during at an outbreak of revivals in New England known today as the Second Great Awakening. The son of a Connecticut farmer, Coan grew up working alongside his father, before serving in the militia after the War of 1812.

Upon his return home from the military, Coan attended revival meetings led by evangelist Asahel Nettleton, who was his cousin. Coan later wrote about the experience, “I returned just in time to see 110 of my companions and neighbors stand up in the sanctuary and confess the Lord Jehovah to be their Lord and Saviour.”

After moving to Western New York to join four of his brothers, Coan took a teaching job and in 1826, met his future wife, Fidelia Church. Within a couple of years, Coan began working at his cousin’s former school. Shortly thereafter, a revival broke out on campus, with “many of my pupils hopefully born again.” This school term “was the turning point, the day of decision” for Coan; he had felt the call of God to seek direction for “where to go and what to do.”

From there, Coan’s ministry trajectory took off. In 1830, he began studying with and ministering alongside a pastor in Western New York where an “interesting work of grace was in progress.” Coan spent that summer “laboring in the revival; sometimes meeting the Rev. Charles Finney.”

In 1831, he entered the Auburn Theological Seminary in Central New York, graduated two years later, and was shortly thereafter ordained as a missionary by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. In August 1833, he boarded a ship heading for the wilds of Patagonia on an exploratory mission for the American Board.

In 1834, Coan returned and married Fidelia Church at Park Street Church, the same congregation where Hiram Bingham had wed his wife 15 years before. Like Bingham, the wedding came only several weeks before the couple departed for Hawaii. The Coans sailed with few possessions, knowing little about the islands but holding great hope for their mission.

The Hilo Church Multiplies

It took seven months for the Coans to arrive in Honolulu in June 1835. Mission families greeted them at the Honolulu wharf and escorted them a half mile mauka (inland) to the home of Hiram Bingham. “We regard these veteran toilers with a feeling of veneration,” Titus later recalled. By 1835, the Hawaiian ports of Honolulu and Lahaina served as a crossroads in the mid-Pacific, hosting a fleet of Yankee whalers. Visits by European and British merchant ships and frigates were common in an era when European powers sought to colonize the South Pacific.

The couple only briefly stayed in Honolulu before arriving in Hilo on July 21. “Hundreds of laughing natives thronged the beach, seized our hands, gave us the hearty Aloha and followed us up to the house of our good friends, Mr. and Mrs. Lyman …” Only a handful of foreign residents from the United States and elsewhere then lived there, two of them David and Sarah Lyman, who had arrived at the Hilo station in 1833. After a season teaching children at Hilo and himself being tutored in Hawaiian by a church member named Barnabas, Coan was able to preach in the native language. He and David agreed to a partnership: David would oversee the station staying in Hilo and develop a vocational school for native Hawaiian boys, while Coan would tour their district as an itinerant evangelist.

Now known as Koana, Coan embarked on a trip to spread the gospel across the island. The journey was not easy. “For many years after our arrival there were no roads, no bridges, and no horses in Hilo, and all my tours were made on foot,” Coan journaled. He often walked along narrow, winding trails, climbing up and down steep volcanic hills, crossing streams often flowing torrentially due to the rainy windward climate.

Despite the physical difficulties, Coan was encouraged by evidence of the beginnings of a spiritual awakening. “Now they rallied in masses, were eager to hear the word.” Soon houses he visited were filled to overflowing and protracted meetings went on late into the night. When he reached a settlement in Puna, a southeastern region of the Big Island, “Multitudes came out to hear the Gospel. The blind were led; the maimed, the aged and the decrepit, and many invalids were brought on the backs of their friends. There was great joy and weeping in the assembly.”

Among those also in attendance were a brother and sister. Known as the High Priest and High Priestess of the Kilauea Volcano, the couple murdered travelers passing the volcano unwilling to turn over goods. But at the service, they experienced a heart change. The priestess yielded to a “higher Power … and with her brother became a docile member of the church.”

Back in Hilo, the Haili church had as few as 23 members in 1836. But it soon became a hub for the growing revival. “Soon scores and hundreds who heard the Gospel in Kau, Puna, and Hilo, came into the town to hear more. During the years of 1837 and 1838, Hilo was crowded with strangers; whole families and whole villages in the country were left, with the exception of a few of the old people.” The thatched Haili church, 200 feet long and 85 feet wide, “was crowded almost to suffocation while hundreds remained outside. … The sea of faces, all hushed except when sighs and sobs burst out here and there, was a scene to melt the heart.” Coan noted, “My precious wife, whose soul was melted with love and longings for the weeping natives, felt that no doubt it was the work of the Spirit.”

Physical manifestations added to the dramatic scene. “The word fell with power, and sometimes as the feeling deepened, the vast audience was moved and swayed like a forest in a mighty wind. The word became like the ‘fire and the hammer’ of the Almighty. … Hopeful converts were multiplied and there was great joy in the city.”

Seeing the great need for more church space, several thousand native Hawaiians, men and women, labored for three weeks and built a second thatched church, one that held a congregation of 2,000.

“But God visited the people in judgement as well as in mercy,” Titus remembered, recalling a tsunami that ravaged the Hilo church on the evening of November 7, 1837.

During evening prayers, the earth shook mightily, a sound “like the wail of doom” came forth from along the coast of Hilo. “I immediately ran down to the sea, where a scene of wild ruin was spread out before me.” A giant tsunami wave had destroyed the coastal settlement. About 200 people struggled for their lives in the tsunami wave whirlpool. Wave after wave struck. Parents called for lost ones.

“This event, falling as it did like a bolt of thunder from a clear sky, greatly impressed the people. It was as the voice of God speaking to them out of heaven, ‘Be ye also ready.’”

Despite the death toll, the tsunami seemingly sparked the revival to new levels. “Our meetings were more and more crowded, and hopeful converts were multiplied,” wrote Coan.

A native Hawaiian named Paaoao provided a first-hand account from a school in Hilo at the height of the Great Revival. In a letter published on July 4, 1838, in the Hawaiian-language newspaper Ke Kumu Hawaii, Paaoao wrote, “The Lord’s work here in Hilo is astonishing. The Holy Spirit has descended here. I have never before seen this amazing activity. … The Lord’s conversion of male and female children is marvelous.”

Soon the revival burst out of Hilo with remarkable results across the Hawaiian Islands.

Beyond the Big Island

The revival spread across the Hawaiian Islands. In Kailua, Kona Artemis Bishop reported, “Our congregation has increased to about four times its former number. About 1,000 was the former number of hearers. We have now, perhaps, about four thousand on the Sabbath morning.”

Missionary Richard Armstrong observed on Maui that “the meetings were opened as soon as I could see to read a hymn and many of them were the most solemn and interesting that I ever witnessed.”

William Alexander, at the Waioli Station on Kauai, recorded, “I have never before witnessed among the people so earnest an attention to the means of grace and so deep concern for the salvation of the soul.”

Meanwhile, back in Hilo the frenzy of the revival coalesced into the largest organized Protestant congregation in all Christendom. The son of missionaries, Sereno Bishop witnessed the Great Revival as a child. He noted, “There was a more direct and efficient presentation of Christ, less encumbered by the old and stiff Westminister forms of doctrine. This new preaching undoubtedly contributed much to the great spiritual awakening among the Hawaiians.”

Discipling New Believers

After converts embraced their new faith, Coan moved his flock into church membership with massive baptisms, keeping careful records of names and dates in a notebook.

“From my pocket list of about 3,000, 1,705 were selected to be baptized and received to the communion of the church on the first Sabbath of July, 1838.”

Coan stood in the middle of the gathering and gave the baptism blessing. “The scene was one of solemn and tender interest, surpassing anything of the kind I had ever witnessed. … All was hushed except sobs and breathing.” Communion was then distributed.

The records of the Haili church preserve the numbers received each year. From 639 in the spring of 1838, the number rose 5,244 in 1839, and 1,499 in 1840.

The confession of faith included abstinence from liquor, kawa drinking, and smoking. Coan kept track of young men who shipped out on whale ships and ministered to them upon their return. His travels included follow-up visits to villagers who returned home from Hilo.

The revivals sparked the earliest missionaries to Hawaii to acknowledge how God was working in their junior counterparts. Hiram Bingham wrote in 1839: “The Spirit of God is showered down upon the whole extent of the Sandwich Islands and those of us who have seemed to think the Gospel could hardly gain a lodgment in the heart of this people because of the alleged stupidity, or ignorance, or want of conscience, are now constrained to admit that they can be as readily affected by the Spirit of God as any class of men with whom we have been acquainted.”

In 1840, Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) declared his kingdom a Christian nation. The Hawaiian Constitution of 1840 began: “God hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the earth, in unity and blessedness. God has also bestowed certain rights alike on all men and all chiefs, and all people of all lands.” Yet as the revival peaked that same year, the leadership of the movement experienced a time of transition. Bingham began to plan his departure from Hawaii, and Coan began confronting the challenges such mass Christian movements face as they mature.

Beginning of the End

During the Great Revival, a single foreign frigate had the power to threaten the takeover of Kamehameha III’s kingdom and a single foreign merchant ship could spread a plague. In July 1839, a French warship arrived near Honolulu and its captain demanded that Kamehameha III grant equal religious rights for Catholics. The king acquiesced, a decision which resulted in the spread of previously banned Roman Catholic churches, and the departure of strict revival-influenced temperance laws that had banned the importation of French wines and brandies.

Protestant norms were further challenged when the United States Exploring Expedition ship Vincennes sailed into Hilo Bay and began to research the Kilauea Volcano and the Hawaii Island’s peaks. Scientists began hiring native Hawaiians by the hundreds to carry 50-pound loads, a job that included working on the Sabbath. A measles epidemic traced back to a California ship in Hilo Bay spread the disease to all islands, launching widespread breakouts of diarrhea and influenza, killing about 10,000 native Hawaiians.

But even as the revival ebbed, the movement had accomplished the goal of the pioneer Sandwich Islands Mission, as charged by the American Board at the Park Street Church in Boston in 1819: “You are to open your hearts wide and set your marks high. You are to aim at nothing short of covering these islands with fruitful fields, and pleasant dwellings and schools and churches, and of raising up a whole people to an elevated state of Christian civilization.”

The ministry and life of Titus Coan in Hawaii continued to flourish following the Great Revival. Coan directed the construction of the present Haili Church from 1855 to 1859. When Fidelia died in Hilo in 1872, Titus remarried to Lydia Bingham, the daughter of Hiram Bingham, despite a 33-year difference in their ages. He died at the age of 81 in Hilo in 1882. Beyond his evangelistic accomplishments, Coan was noted in the scientific world as a pioneer volcanologist, known as the “bishop of Kilauea,” who studied activity at the Kilauea Crater and the high peaks of Hawaii Island.

The Great Revival today is recognized as a vital step in helping the native Hawaiian people survive the great decline of their numbers in the 19th century. Deborah Liikapeka Lee led her family in returning the remains of her ancestor Opukahaia (Henry Obookiah) from New England, the first notable native Hawaiian Christian. She sees the Great Revival as a key event in spreading literacy across the Hawaiian Islands, thus preparing her people for great changes ahead that threatened their future existence:

The Great Revival was very important to all Hawaiians of that time because through the growth of the churches they became educated, knowledgeable. They gained an education like Henry did. From having just an oral language they became as literate as any other people on earth.

The native Hawaiian petition against the Overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893 was signed in eloquent script. The people were as educated as the royal alii, their status raised by education, health and love from New England. After hundreds of years in isolation their population was diminished by introduced diseases, the remnant living today can look back at the Great Revival as a turning point in their survival.

Christopher L. Cook is the author of The Providential Life & Heritage of Henry Obookiah, and the forthcoming book Preparing the Way, a pictorial account to commemorate the bicentennial of the pioneer American mission to Hawaii sent in 1819. He is a long-time resident and author based on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.

 

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A New Normal: Kingdom Collaboration on Our Campuses Like Never Before

The EveryCampus coalition indicates we may be nearing a revival.
R. YORK MOORE

A New Normal: Kingdom Collaboration on Our Campuses Like Never Before

The heat and humidity were intense, but the ground shook with the bass of the music and sincere worship of an army of Jesus followers who had come to Washington D.C. for the day.

I had worked with Nick Hall’s national leadership team at Pulse for over a year, planning Together ’16, which turned out to be an historic gathering of over 300,000 young people on the Washington Mall.

The day was here, and I was excited to say the least! While nobody was there to hear me speak, I was honored to be included. As I approached the podium to preach on revival in our time, the stage manager informed me that the entire program was being shut down. We were scheduled to go until 9PM and it was only 2PM but we had seen hundreds of Together goers rushed to the hospitals all around town with heat stroke.

Not only would I not speak, but the hard work of over 600 organizations that year would be cut short. I felt like a leaky helium balloon as all my joy and anticipation escaped me; little did I know something was about to be birthed from this day of disappointment that was bigger than my simple message on the Mall.

That same month, I had just been given a new role in InterVarsity: I became the Executive Director of Catalytic Partnerships. It was a new role, but given we were in a search for a new president, I was told not to grow too attached to the position as it may not continue when we identified our next leader.

Disappointed and a bit disoriented, I decided to prayer walk the streets of D.C., hoping for direction from the Holy Spirit. My simple prayer was “Holy Spirit, lead me.” Immediately in my prayer walk, I was drawn to a man sitting by himself—one of the hundreds of thousands in town for the event.

I asked him why he was at Together, and he responded, “I work for a ministry called Cru, we used to be called Campus Crusade for Christ.” Now, I knew all about Cru. I had started a Cru chapter after my conversion from atheism at the University of Michigan. I had recently spoke on the stage at the Cru national staff conference, but obviously my message didn’t connect with this man as he had absolutely no idea who I was.

I refrained from telling him all this and simply asked, “What do you do with Cru?” He responded, “I am the new national director for strategic partnerships.” Barely able to hold in the laughter, I asked, “So what are you doing with that job?” He gasped honestly, “I have no idea. I’m asking the Holy Spirit to lead me.”

This ‘chance’ encounter led to six months of meetings with Cru’s executive team and InterVarsity’s new senior leadership, and each time this man—Keith—and I would lead the meetings with one single question, “What’s the one thing we can do together that we could never do apart?”

Assuming the Spirit had brought us together for our first-ever national partnership, this seemed like the question to ask. As we sat in this question, soaking in Scripture and prayer together, we each had a strong sense that God was calling not only Cru and InterVarsity, but the church in North America to come together for a new and mighty move of God—for revival in our time!

Since we signed our agreement, initially called the ‘3 Rivers Charter,’ in the Spring of 2017, we have had this sense of calling to revival confirmed dozens of times as we have reached out to new partners for what has now come to be known as EveryCampus.

EveryCampus is our feeble attempt to conspire with the Holy Spirit to instigate revival by catalyzing new gospel movements and prayer all across America. I say ‘feeble’ because nobody can finance revival; we can’t strategize it or schedule it; we can’t even bring revival through our prayers and ministry efforts.

Revival is a unique work of the Lord.

Martin Lloyd Jones said it most simply when he defined revival as, “…days of Heaven upon the earth.” Revival is a punctuated season of breakthrough in word, deed, and power that ushers in a ‘new normal’ of kingdom fruitfulness.

I believe revival, true revival, is so much more than mere mass conversion or spiritual fervor. True revival is like living into the actualized eschatological reign of Jesus in the here and now where the power of the future kingdom is experienced by many.

When this happens, systems and structures are transformed, wrongs are made right, people and places are made new. It is what I expect will come in its fulness when, in Revelation 11:15, it is finally declared, “The Kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and He will reign forever and ever.”

That is a ‘revival’ that will never end, but I believe we can live into a season of revival in the here and now, and more importantly, many are believing that we are about to enter into that season very shortly! That is what EveryCampus is all about.

Since the 3 Rivers Charter was signed, we have launched a coalition called EveryCampus. Since the beginning, we in InterVarsity and Cru had a deep sense that what God was calling us to was not just a partnership between two organizations, but something much larger.

We are investing seven years into the EveryCampus initiative and are hoping for many to join us. The first phase of this coalition is to build partnerships with other collegiate ministries, churches, church networks, and individuals to prayer walk every single one of the 4941 campuses in American in 2019. To help facilitate this, we’ve launched the site, www.everycampus.com.

This user-oriented site equips people with a prayer guide to physically prayer walk campuses throughout the U.S. We are hoping to join the Spirit of God by crying out to him for a mighty and new revival in America.

To date, there are over 60 organizations, networks, churches, and denominations who have joined the coalition. Some of the collegiate ministry partners include the Navigators, Chi Alpha, the CCO, RZIM, Pulse, Jews for Jesus, Pine Cove, and Luke 18. We are adding official partners each week.

On the back end of EveryCampus.com, we are working with Gloo to build a never-before-possible digital platform to bring organizations together for collegiate ministry. Through the ministry portal, partners in the EveryCampus coalition will share data about ministry efforts, events, and groups and also receive leads from people participating who may want to join local efforts.

This portal is unprecedented and represents a new normal of kingdom collaboration between many organizations that used to operate as rivals. Sharing finances, human resources, digital assets, and platforms at events and online are just a few ways we are seeing the groundwork set for revival.

Unity among believers, significant prayer, and a sincere yearning for revival are all hallmarks historically of seasons of revival. Revival is so much more than a website, a signed charter, or a digital platform.

It is ‘days of Heaven upon the earth.’

Having said this, we are conspiring with the Spirit to instigate this revival by catalyzing prayer and new gospel movements across America. And how we need it! If we add up all the collective ministry from all the churches, denominations, and parachurch organizations, only 23% of American college campuses have a gospel presence on them.

EveryCampus seeks to change that by planting a gospel movement on every single campus in the U.S. in the coming years.

We are seeing signs of revival all around us. One would have to go back to the 1940s (when many of the large, historic organizations were originally started) to find another era in America where we’ve seen this level of new collegiate ministry startups.

Just in the last six months, over 200,000 collegians have gathered at events like Jubilee, One Thing, the Send, Urbana, and Together ’18.

We are seeing young people respond to the gospel in unprecedented ways as well. In all of InterVarsity USA’s 80-year history, we’ve never seen as many students coming to Jesus as we are seeing now. Prayer gatherings and networks of prayer movements are convening in historic ways. Organizational leaders are laying down their logos, banners, and agendas to do something together that they could never do apart.

Showing up at EveryCampus leadership gatherings, Cru leaders are wearing CCO shirts, InterVarsity leaders are wearing Chi Alpha shirts, Pulse leaders are wearing Cru shirts…wearing each other’s ‘flags’ has become a simple symbol of lifting up one another for the greater cause of Christ.

Revival may not be here yet, but if the EveryCampus coalition proves anything at all, it’s that we are closer to it than we’ve every been in recent history!

R. York Moore serves as National Evangelist for InterVarsity USA. He is the author of Do Something Beautiful: The Story of Everything and a Guide to Your Place in It, Growing Your Faith by Giving it Away, and Making All Things New: God’s Dream for Global Justice. As the National Director for Catalytic Partnerships with InterVarsity, York is a convener of leaders for evangelism and missions in America. In this capacity, York has helped to start the ‘EveryCampus’ initiative, a national multi-organizational coalition focused on planting gospel movements on every campus in America.

 

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AUDIO Should We Expect Revival or More Social Decay?

 

Interview with John Piper
Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Audio Transcript

What’s coming to America? Can we anticipate widespread spiritual revival? Or should we expect a deepening social degeneracy? It’s a question from a listener named Cole. “Hello, Pastor John. I’m a 21-year-old recent college graduate, and I’ve noticed over the past few years among younger believers, especially in the college setting, a lot of encouraging talk of revival. Everyone seems to be expecting an awakening (i.e., a lot of nonbelievers repenting and coming back to God).

“However, the more I read Scripture, it seems like we should actually be expecting things in this world to get worse. There are so many instances in the Bible where it says that ‘in those days’ there will be more egregious sins, even within the church, and a lot of deceptive teaching and people walking away from the faith. Should we really be expecting revival? And where did that notion come from? Or should we be expecting the number of believers to dwindle until the coming of Christ?”

I surely do not want in any way to discourage prayer for and God-given expectation of a great move of God in our churches, our denominations, our cities, our ministries, our nations, or the world. But I want to provide a biblical orientation, perhaps, for how to think about such prayers and expectations. I’ve got seven positions for you to think about, and I’ll just briefly try to show that they’re biblical.

1. Widespread Rebellion

Cole, this age — until Christ returns to establish his kingdom — will draw to a close with an intensification of evil and a great outward rebellion against God. The reason I say that is mainly because of what the apostle Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 2: “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, . . . that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first” (2 Thessalonians 2:13). I think rebellion is the right translation there, as opposed to just kind of a gradual drifting away.

“We have no authority for saying there can be no great revival.”

Paul continues, “The rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4). Paul concludes, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:7–8).

My conclusion from that is that a great rebellion and a singular figure of great arrogance, claiming to be God, will arise at the end of the age. Then the Lord comes and slays him by the sword of his mouth. That’s position number one.

2. Lawlessness at Work

This time of intensified evil and rebellion was already happening in some measure in Paul’s day. He says, “The mystery of lawlessness is already at work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). There’s a man of lawlessness coming, there’s a great rebellion and lawlessness coming, but the mystery of lawlessness is already at work.

John says in 1 John 2:18, “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.” We have been living in the last hour for two thousand years. That’s the biblical perspective since the time of the apostles. But a final upsurge of lawlessness and rebellion and a man of lawlessness is yet to come.

3. The Gospel Still Advances

There’s no teaching in the Bible that I’m aware of that says a great rebellion will come by a steady, irreversible decline of the church through history. We have no authority for saying there can be no great revival.

The gospel has advanced in the last two thousand years in history mainly by great awakenings and great declines. I just assume that’s the way it’s going to happen until Jesus comes. There will be seasons of remarkable awakening, and there will be seasons of sad decline. We have no teaching about a gradual worsening with no interrupted blessing.

4. Hot and Cold

Jesus describes the progress of the gospel to all the nations in and through the very time when the love of many grows cold, which means that not all have grown cold at the end of the age, because it will not be cold people who take the gospel to the nations at the cost of their lives.

“Jesus describes the progress of the gospel to all the nations in and through the very time when the love of many grows cold.”

I’m getting all that from Matthew 24. This is Jesus talking: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake . . . because lawlessness will be increased” (Matthew 24:912).

That sounds a lot like the man of lawlessness and that season of outbreak at the end. Matthew continues, “Because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end [he’s not going to be cold] will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:12–14).

That gospel, proclaimed in the face of great tribulation, is not going to be proclaimed by cold people, but by white-hot people. Many may grow cold at the end, but not all, because only those with a passion for Jesus will endure to the end through the martyrdom required to finish the Great Commission. Therefore, there will never be a time when the church is completely cold and ineffective. She rises with faith and passion and mission, and she declines in church history, but there’s never a time when there are not people who are red hot for God and pursuing his mission.

5. All Nations Will Come

Is there biblical warrant for knowing and believing that a great revival — with millions repenting and coming to Christ, and a great purifying of the church — is going to happen? Can we expect this with biblical certainty? My answer is that I don’t know of any such promise in the Bible.

There are many promises, for example, in the Old Testament that all the nations will worship the Lord. But that may simply refer to the time when Christ has established his kingdom in person on the earth. For example, “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:27–28).

Amen — come, Lord Jesus! That’s going to happen. I don’t think we can assume that refers to a great revival on this side of the second coming. It certainly is an encouragement to press on with world evangelization, because Jesus underlined that promise that people from every tribe and tongue and nation are going to be saved because they’re bought with the blood of Jesus. Here’s Revelation 5:9: “You were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” They are going to worship — all of them, sooner or later, are going to worship the Lord.

6. Promised Revival

There is one great awakening that we may expect, and that is a great turning of the Jewish people to the Messiah, Jesus. That’s what Romans 11 promises: “For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? If the dough offered as firstfruits [that’s Abraham and his people] is holy, so is the whole lump [Jewish people as a whole], and if the root is holy, so are the branches” (Romans 11:15–16).

“You and your church could be among the wide-awake, white-hot servants when Jesus comes.”

Even more clearly, he says in Romans 11:24, “If you [i.e., the Gentiles] were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree [that’s the Abrahamic covenant, and here comes the key sentence], how much more will these, the natural branches [i.e., ethnic Judaism], be grafted back into their own olive tree.”

That much more, in my understanding, is a great movement of God in this world. Then Paul adds, “A partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25–26). I take that mean corporate Israel turns remarkably, amazingly, to their Messiah, Jesus. That is a great awakening I think we should work toward, prayer toward, and hope in.

7. Torch the Glacier

Lastly, how should we live? This is how I’ve done my ministry for the last forty years. This is my conception. Picture the end coming like a glacier over the world, because it says, “The love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). It doesn’t tell us how fast it’s coming. It doesn’t tell us whether it can come and recede. It’s just coming. There is no requirement — none — no biblical warrant, mandate, or demand that your church or your city or even your people or nation be frozen by the glacier.

Instead, we should live by God’s command for white-hotness, not his providence. We don’t live by trying to sniff out God’s providence. We live by the commands of Scripture, not his providence that brings cold on the earth.

Who knows? You and your church could be among the wide-awake, white-hot servants when Jesus comes. My picture for ministry is that wherever I’m speaking, wherever I’m living, wherever I’m pastoring, I’m going to torch the glacier. If it looks like a glacier is coming over Minneapolis, I’ve got my torch of the word of God, and I’m poking it.

Picture me now, poking it up into the glacier, and I’m melting big holes in the glacier so the glory of God is shining through. Who knows? Perhaps enough churches poking holes in the glacier would make your city a vibrant, white-hot witness being found faithful when he comes.

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A Revived Church Is America’s Only Hope

What happens when a nation loses its conscience? When the light barely shines in the darkness? When truth is obscured by lies? We can answer those questions with another question: What does America look like in 2019?

We are a nation adrift. A nation confused. A nation in danger of completely losing our moral bearings. A nation where right is now wrong and wrong is now right. A nation where evil is celebrated and virtue is denigrated.

But I don’t primarily blame the society at large for these problems. I don’t primarily blame the people of the world (although, to be sure, each individual will give account to God for his or her actions).

I blame us, the believers, the followers of Jesus. We who claim to speak for God.

I blame us, the ones who are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

There is too much compromise in our midst. Too much carnality. Too much worldliness. Too much hypocrisy. Too little encounter with the living God. And that’s why so many churches are bleeding members.

As the brand new Gallup poll reports:

“U.S. Church Membership Down Sharply in Past Two Decades.”

Yes:

“Half of Americans are church members, down from 70% in 1999.”

And:

“Membership has fallen nine points among those who are religious.”

In my view, one of the biggest reasons people are leaving the church is because they are not truly encountering the Lord (or, are no longer interested in Him). And, quite naturally, decreased church membership quickly translates into decreased church influence.

Put another way, less light shining means more darkness. And the less brightly that light shines, the more the darkness prevails.

Really now, how can we change the world if we have become like the world? How can we point people to Jesus when we hardly resemble Him? How can we call for social transformation when we haven’t experienced (or, are not currently walking in) personal transformation?

I’m truly thankful for the millions of committed Jesus-followers in America today. They are swimming against the tide and going against the grain, no matter the cost. They are raising their children in godliness and keeping their marriages holy. And as singles, they are living with real integrity.

They are good witnesses on their jobs. They are making a difference in their communities. They are rich in good works. They are sharing their faith with friend and foe alike.

What great examples they are, even as the world scorns and mocks them.

But, for the most part, they are exception to the rule. And that’s because, for the most part, the American gospel is a watered-down gospel, a cheap substitute for the real thing. It bypasses the cross, promises happiness and prosperity, and neglects the call to consecration, to sacrifice, to service.

No wonder we can number in the multiplied tens of millions yet our spiritual impact is so minimal. No wonder we can have an almost endless number of outlets – from TV to radio and from our pulpits to the internet – with such meager results.

Gallup reports that:

“U.S. church membership was 70% or higher from 1937 through 1976, falling modestly to an average of 68% in the 1970s through the 1990s. The past 20 years have seen an acceleration in the drop-off, with a 20-percentage-point decline since 1999 and more than half of that change occurring since the start of the current decade.”

Worse still:

“Most millennials were too young to be polled in 1998-2000. Now that they have reached adulthood, their church membership rates are exceedingly low and appear to be a major factor in the drop in overall U.S. church membership. Just 42% of millennials are members of churches, on average.”

That is a cause for real concern.

That alone should get us crying out to God afresh.

That alone should cause to ask some deep and searching questions.

In his book The Signature of Jesus, Brennon Manning made this striking statement:

“If indeed we lived a life in imitation of his, our witness would be irresistible. If we dared to live beyond our self-concern, if we refused to shrink from being vulnerable, if we took nothing but a compassionate attitude toward the world, if we were a counterculture to our nation’s lunatic lust for pride of place, power, and possessions, if we preferred to be faithful rather than successful, the walls of indifference to Jesus Christ would crumble. A handful of us could be ignored by society, but hundreds, thousands, millions of such servants would overwhelm the world. Christians filled with the authenticity, commitment, and generosity of Jesus would be the most spectacular sign in the history of the human race. The call of Jesus is revolutionary. If we implemented it, we would change the world in a few months.”

He was not exaggerating at all, and this is America’s most pressing need: to recapture the revolutionary nature of the gospel and to live it out for the world to see.

Organized religion is not the key. Another new strategy is not what we need. Improved methodology is not the issue.

What we need is a fresh encounter with Jesus. A return to our knees, to the Word, to holiness, to the power of the Spirit, to sharing our faith afresh, to boldness, to passion, to compassion.

When that happens in the Church, the world will be affected — dramatically. It is America’s only hope. It is revival or we die!

Original here