Hon. Secretary of the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade, London
I am sure from my own experience, as well as from what we have seen in the ranks of our Mission these last three years, that what the authors tell us about in these pages is one of God's vital words to His worldwide church today. For long I had regarded revival only from the angle of some longed for, but very rare, sudden outpouring of the Spirit on a company of people. I felt that there was a missing link somewhere. Knowing of the continuing revival on a certain mission field, and because it was continuing and not merely sudden and passing, I long felt that they had a further secret we needed to learn. Then the chance came for heart-to-heart fellowship with them, first through one of our own missionary leaders whose life and ministry had been transformed by a visit to that field, and then through conferences with some of their missionaries on furlough and finally through the privilege of having two of the native brethren living for six months at our headquarters.
From them I learned and saw that revival is first personal and immediate. It is the constant experience of any simplest Christian who "walks in the light," but I saw that walking in the light means an altogether new sensitiveness to sin, a calling things by their proper name of sin, such as pride, hardness, doubt, fear, self-pity, which are often passed over as merely human reaction. It means a readiness to "break" and confess at the feet of Him who was broken for us, for the Blood does not cleanse excuses, but always cleanses sin, confessed as sin; then revival is just the daily experience of a soul full of Jesus and running over.
Further, we are beginning to learn, as a company of Christ's witnesses, that the rivers of life to the world do not flow out in their fulness through one man, but through the body, the team. Our brokenness and openness must be two-way, horizontal as well as vertical, with one another as with God. We are just beginning to experience in our own ranks that team work in the Spirit is one of the keys to revival, and that we have to learn and practice the laws of a living fellowship.
I need not say more, as Roy Hession and his wife expound the whole matter. But we have seen God at work in our midst. I could name half-a-dozen of our workers, several of them leaders, in whose lives there has been a new spiritual revolution. Then rivulets of blessing in some of our individual lives have been merging in a larger stream. God has been giving us times as a company when "as they prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." Here and there on our battle fields, distant and near, the sound of abundance of rain is being heard; and we believe among many companies of God's people He is preparing afresh for these last days a "sharp threshing instrument having teeth," and that what God is saying to us through this Revival, and through the interpretation of that message in this pamphlet, is a word of the Lord for our day. May it be greatly used to produce revived lives, revived fellowships and revived churches. PREFACE
In April, 1947, several missionaries came at my invitation to an Easter Conference which I was organising. I invited them to come as speakers, because I had heard that they had been experiencing Revival in their field for a number of years, and I was interested in Revival. What they had to say was very different from much of what I had associated with Revival. It was very simple and very quiet. As they unfolded their message and gave their testimonies, I discovered that I was the neediest person in the conference and was far more in need of being revived than I had ever realised. That discovery, however, only came slowly to me. Being myself one of the speakers, I suppose I was more concerned about others' needs than my own. As my wife and others humbled themselves before God and experienced the cleansing of the precious Blood of Jesus, I found myself left somewhat high and dry -- dry just because I was high. I was stumbled by the simplicity of the message, or rather the simplicity of what I had to do to be revived and filled with the Spirit. When others at the end of the conference testified of how Jesus had broken them at His Cross and filled their hearts to overflowing with His Holy Spirit, I had no such testimony. It was only afterwards that I was enabled to give up trying to fit things into my doctrinal scheme, and come humbly to the Cross for cleansing from my own personal sins. It was like beginning my Christian life all over again. My flesh "came again like that of a little child," as did Naaman's when he was willing to humble himself and dip himself in Jordan. And it has been an altogether new chapter in life since then. It has meant, however, that I have had to choose constantly to die to the big "I," that Jesus might be all, and constantly to come to Him for cleansing in His precious Blood. But that is just why it is a new chapter.
At that time my wife and I had been issuing a little paper which we called "Challenge," in which we were seeking to lead young Christians into a deeper experience of the Lord Jesus. It was natural, then, that in the following issue we should put down what God had shown us. We simply put down in print the Message of Revival as it had come to us. There was a sudden and surprising demand for the little paper, because it carried this simple message. As we continued to write further of the Message of Revival in subsequent issues, the demand continued to increase surprisingly. Letters came in almost every day telling of the way God was blessing His people through it, and asking for further supplies. Requests began to come from far away countries, to which the little paper was finding its way, and news began to come of the beginnings of revival in the lives of God's people in various parts. Translations too were made into French and German. We had been caught up in the current of God's working beyond anything we expected or deserved. Indeed we had nothing to glory in, for it became evident that revival blessing was not so much the result of "Challenge," as that "Challenge" was the result of revival blessing. God was at work in many hearts and in many parts. The testimony of those who had been revived made others hungry, who in turn found their way to the Cross, and so the blessing spread from life to life. And wherever the blessing spread, the little paper seemed to go, for it sought to put in clear and Scriptural language what so many were beginning to experience.
The connection of all this with the present little book is that this book is simply a collection of some of those numbers of "Challenge." Circumstances make it difficult at the moment for us to continue to send out further issues of "Challenge," and yet the requests for back numbers have continued to come in. There is obviously a need for this simple Message of Revival to be made available to a wider circle of readers, for there is a growing thirst in God's people for the Rivers of Living Water. And so, encouraged by God's blessing on what has gone before, we have put together some of the more helpful numbers of "Challenge," together with two extra chapters, and send them on their way, looking to God to use them as He will. We cannot boast that this contains an orderly treatment of our subject chapter by chapter. Each article was designed to be complete in itself, and therefore now that they are put together in one pamphlet, there cannot but be a good deal of overlapping, and certain things will be seen to be repeated again and again. It cannot, therefore, be regarded as an ordinary book, and the chapters might best be read each one on its own, rather than the whole of them at one sitting.
It must not be thought that this pamphlet represents a purely personal contribution on our part. The things recorded in this book have been learnt in fellowship with others in various parts, who have begun, like ourselves, to walk the Way of the Cross in a new way. Any others in that fellowship might have written these chapters. It is a fellowship, too, which is continually growing, for an ever-increasing number of lives are being quietly influenced and blessed by the movement of Revival in this country now. This fact, we think, adds to the strength and significance of what is here written.
Now a word about Revival itself. The conception of Revival contained in the following pages may come as a surprise to many. The common conception of Revival is usually that of a spectacular religious awakening, in which large numbers of the unconverted are convicted of sin and brought to Christ amid a good deal of excitement. Such a visitation of God's Spirit, while greatly to be desired, is thought to be largely unaccountable. It is something for which one can only pray and we must wait for it in God's good time. Meantime we must go on being defeated and the Church must somehow contrive to continue her witness without New Life. Some of us are finding in actual fact that true revival is often the very reverse of all this. Revival need not be spectacular at all (it is certainly no spectacle to the one who is facing up to his sins in the light of the Cross!). Indeed where there is evidence of the spectacular, it is often the least important part of revival. Our missionary friends seemed studiously to avoid reference to the spectacular side of what they had been through, lest it might obscure the real challenge of what God was saying to us. Then, too, revival is not something that God does firstly among the unconverted, but among His people. Revival simply means New Life, and that implies that there is already Life there, but that the Life has ebbed. The unconverted do not need revival, for there is not any life there to revive. They need vival. It is the Christians who need revival. But that presupposes that there has been a declension. You only revive that which has grown weak. And they only are candidates for revival who are prepared to confess that there has been a declension in their lives. And the more specific the confession, the more definitely will God revive. And when that happens among us Christians, God will be able to work among the lost in new power and we shall see a new work of grace there. One of Evan Roberts' mottoes in the days of the Welsh Revival was "Bend the Church and save the people." And the two are always linked. The world has lost its faith, because the Church has lost its fire.
One last thing needs to be said about the necessary attitude of heart of the reader. If God is to bless him at all through these pages, he must come to them with a deep hunger of heart. He must be possessed with a dissatisfaction of the state of the Church in general, and of himself in particular -- especially of himself. He must be willing for God to begin His work in himself first, rather than in the other man. He must, moreover, be possessed with the holy expectancy that God can and will meet his need. If he is in any sense a Christian leader, the urgency of the matter is intensified many times over. His willingness to admit his need and be blessed will determine the degree to which God can bless the people to whom he ministers. Above all he must realise that he must be the first to humble himself at the Cross. If a new honesty with regard to sin is needed among his people, he must realise it must begin with himself. It was when the King of Nineveh arose from his throne and covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes as a sign of his repentance, that his people repented.
Let not, however, those readers who are not leaders be tempted to look at those who are and wait for them. God wants to begin with each one of us. He wants to begin with YOU.
May God bless us all.