I can remember, as a young girl, the week-long revival services our church would have. Maybe you remember them, too. Each night would be a different theme, like “family night,” or “old-fashion dress night.” Then there was “pack a pew night,” where you were supposed to invite as many people as possible and fill your pew with guests. Usually, there was a prize for the person who brought the most guests. Naturally, the point was to get as many people in the church to hear the evangelists.
Most of those revival services, as well as the ones we see today, aim to evangelize the lost. But if that is the aim, then those services were and are not revivals. They are evangelistic services. You see, revivals are not intended for the lost – they are meant for the saved – the redeemed – the ones who are called by Christ’s name. So, it is the Christians that I am addressing today.
Now if you are Christian, and you do not like what you are hearing, then I’m really sorry I am stepping on your toes because my aim is to hit your heart. So, hold on a moment and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Because it isn’t really me you are upset with. What’s really bugging you right now is that the Holy Spirit is convicting you. He’s trying to get your attention.
What does “revival” mean?
The word “revive” comes from the Latin word, re, meaning “again,” and vivier meaning “live.” To live again requires that you have lived previously. Revival does not create life. Evangelism creates life. Revival resuscitates life that has gone stone cold. Therefore, revival is for those who previously experienced life but whose spiritual life has grown barren and anemic because of sin.
When is revival needed?
- Revival is needed when God’s people become arrogant and refuse to repent of their sin.
- Revival is needed when God’s people no longer have time to talk to God.
- Revival is needed when God’s people no longer seek his face.
- Revival is needed when God’s people refuse to turn from their wicked ways.
- Revival is needed when God’s people look like, smell like, and act like the world.
- Revival is needed when God’s people become cold to the ways of God, impenetrable to the voice of the Holy Spirit, stubborn to obey God, and unrepentant of their sins.
- Revival is needed when God’s people have hearts of stone.
Now, before I go further, it’s important to understand that in the Bible, the “heart” refers to one’s soul – the part of a person that controls the will and emotions. Does your will align with God’s will? Do your emotions align with God’s emotions? Do you get angry over the things that makes God angry? Are you burdened for the lost? Do you love others like God loves them?
A People with a Stone Heart
In Ezekiel’s day, God was tired of Israel’s rebellion against him, and he compares them to having a “heart of stone.” Through his prophets, God called his people to change their way, examine their attitudes and priorities, and return to Him. But Israel had a heart of stone, and God issued a harsh judgment because of their sin and rebellion.
It was as if the heart of the people had been spiritually dead for so long that rigor mortis set in, and the hearts of the people were hard as stone. Living with a stone heart is a miserable thing. It is miserable because, as a child of God, you are rebelling against Him. As a result, you live with anxiety and depression, anger and resentment, hatred and racism.
How do I know you are miserable? Because with a heart of stone, it is impossible for you to live out the two greatest commandments. Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Remember that the heart in the Bible refers to one’s will and emotions. A cold, dead, stony heart cannot love God or others. It only loves itself. It goes through life thinking that everything is about itself.
How do you know if you have a stone heart?
You could have a heart of stone if you…
- have no desire to read and study God’s Word.
- rarely, if ever, talk to God, and when you do, its because you need Him to bail you out
- do not feel the need to go to church
- believe that the Bible is antiquated and not applicable today
- do not have love for your neighbor
- your language includes cuss words
- do not find anything wrong with sex scenes in a movie
- Your life is filled with addictions – drugs, pornography, gluttony, etc.
- Your priorities are out of order, and you have made idols out of your career, hobbies, relationships, money, etc.
- feel that sex outside of marriage is “ok” because everyone is doing it today.
- think that homosexual relationships are ok.
- are not bothered by abortion
- carry grudges, hate, or anger, against others.
- have no desire to share the good news of the gospel with the lost
- have no desire to please God, love God, or worship God.
- do not hear God speak to you.
Basically, if you can live like the world and it does not bother you – you have a heart of stone. When your will and emotions do not align with God’s, and you no longer feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit about your sin and rebellion, you have a heart of stone. Revival is for you. Because God is waiting with arms open wide for you to turn to him, seek his face, and repent. Then he will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
A Heart of Flesh
Right in the middle of the judgment that God pronounces on Isreal, Ezekiel shares the promise that God wants to change their hearts. In chapter 11, verse 19, the prophet says:
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
God created our heart to mirror His. He created us to love Him, love righteousness and to walk in harmony with Him and others. But when we have hearts of stone, it takes a supernatural transformation to change our stubborn, rebellious, and prideful hearts.
Revival occurs when the Holy Spirit transforms a heart of stone into a heart of flesh.
The Holy Spirit changes our hearts from sin-focused to God-focused. How do you know that a stone heart has been transformed into a heart of flesh? It’s simple! You will behave differently, think differently, speak differently, and love differently. You will be bothered by sin in this world. A heart of flesh will gladly serve God and obey His commandments. You will become concerned for the lost and want to share the gospel with them. You will long to grow in your relationship with God and can’t wait to hear Him speak to you from His Word.
If you feel Him convicting you right now, he is trying to chisel away the stone of your heart. You do not need to wait for the next revival service, the next “pack a pew” night. You can surrender your heart of stone to Him right now and ask him to give you a heart of flesh? What about it, dear Christian? Is revival for you?
Julia Bruce, CEO, Wellspring Christian Ministries and author of God, Love, and Marshmallow Wars.
A non-profit ministry located in Jacksonville, FL
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