Adrian Rogers, who served three terms as the president of the Southern Baptist convention had an apt reminder for the time we live in: “Study the history of revival. God has always sent revival in the darkest days. Oh, for a mighty, sweeping revival today!” There have been three great shifts in the life of this nation — the Revolutionary War, The Civil War, and the sixties sexual revolution; each time revival and awakening have preceded or coincided with the movements.
When we look back at the founding of this nation in the 1700’s, we find America was birthed in a culture of awakening. The first great awakening created the environment of unity, purpose, and vision that was needed for the colonies to challenge and prevail against an unjust rule. During the time of the Revolutionary War pastors and the church had a voice in the founding of our nation, the formation of our U.S. Constitution, the winning of the Revolutionary War.
As we move forward to the 1800’s, America was once again in need of change. Slavery was a moral and spiritual issue that marred the face of this nation. In fact, in the early 1800’s, society was as bad as it could get at that time. John Marshall, chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, wrote to President James Madison and said, “The church is too far gone ever to be redeemed.” When we examine why, we find that preachers had stopped preaching the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the people were not hearing God’s Word. What changed? Christians began to diligently pray for revival—and the result was the Second Great Awakening. This Awakening took on the issue of slavery and the revival continued on throughout the Civil War. When people’s prayers stormed the heavens, and when the Bible was opened in the pulpits and the Word of God proclaimed by passionate preachers, the church was awakened from slumber by the Holy Spirit, who moved in hearts, spreading revival throughout the heartland of America.
Looking at the 1900’s, the sixties ushered in a rebellion against all restraint. The sixties offered everything as “free”, but instead bound a culture to sin and death. The Jesus movement coincided with this rebellion and brought true freedom to millions; however, unlike the previous awakenings, this Jesus Movement failed to engage the culture. I was born the year that prayer was taken out of public schools, and then when I was ten, abortion was legalized in our nation. I have often wondered where was the voice of pastors and the church in that 10-year span where decisions were made by judges on the Supreme Court that fundamentally changed our nation? These decisions and rulings ushered in a death culture that impacted our nation and culture in a profound way.
Fast forward to the present year of 2015 and we can look back and see the result and carnage of those decisions from 1962-1973. Presently over 61 millions babies have been taken from the womb, with consequences on our nation that we cannot even begin to wrap our minds around. This week on April 28, the Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments that will determine the fate of marriage in our nation. Will we continue to be a nation that will uphold the sanctity of marriage of one man and woman, or will the Supreme Court legalize same sex marriage? As with the decision in ’73 to legalize abortion, if same sex marriage is legalized throughout our nation, it will have consequences and impact on our nation that we cannot even begin to imagine.
“Oh for a mighty sweeping revival today!” If Chief Justice John Marshall were alive today, he might believe that once again the church is too far gone to be redeemed. Yet, I believe the opposite. We find ourselves at another one of those critical junctions in history where the future of our nation hangs in the balance. When a nation is in crisis, Joel 2 gives the prescription. Pastors and Christian leaders must unite together across denominational, racial, generational lines in a solemn assembly to repent for national sins, to pray for revival and awakening, and to raise their voices to impact the culture with truth and righteousness. April 9, 2016 thousands of pastors and Christian leaders will gather at the Lincoln Memorial for a day of prayer and repentance. I invite you to be part of this strategic gathering – UNITED CRY DC16.