Jim Wood the Chairman of RRF welcomed us. He said how his son Marcus Wood sent a
text to his mother from Fulton Street in New York asking if she could find out the
location of the Dutch church. That building was the heart of the 1859 Revival when
Jeremiah Calvin Lamphier began to pray. It was another time of financial meltdown
in that great city as it is facing today. Jeremiah prayed by himself in the Dutch
church, growing disheartened, but then he felt the power of the text urging us not
to become weary in well-doing. He returned the following week, and slowly others
joined him and they prayed each day, humbly and earnestly, until over 100 were meeting.
They humbled themselves before God, and soon prayer meetings spread across New York.
It is chronicled in the book The Power of Prayer (Banner of Truth). John Wesley once
said that God does nothing here except his people pray.
Psalm 119:126.It is time for you to act,
O LORD; your law is being broken. In this verse we read those great words that it
is time for the Lord to act for his law is being broken. The psalmist is showing
his high regard for his law throughout the psalm. The more we are enraptured with
God's works and promises the more it puts into sharp relief the situation facing
the church and the nation. The psalmist despairs of finding a solution among men
and so turns and pleads with God. There are two inter-related themes, first that
the people had emptied the law of all its meaning. The law had become null and void.
The psalmist has a strong desire that God arise in his glory and vindicate his name
and cause. Those are the two key elements in every study of revival. The Westminster
Assembly of divines said that there was a time for God to act and provide a remedy;
God helping in revival is his own wonderful remedy for what sin has done.
1. In what
sense do people break or make void God's law? That period displayed a more than ordinary
sinfulness. There was something in society around that caused the psalmist to bring
the world to God earnestly. Things had got so bad - as today and surely it is now
time for God to make a move. To 'make void' is to annul, to destroy the force of
something, and make it ineffective. The people of the psalmist's day had passed a
law that made God's law ineffective.
How did this come about? It is because the authority
of God's law has been denied. He is the author of the law and what he expresses in
it is entirely in keeping with his attributes. His character is bound up with his
law. Also God's law is broken when the meaning is obscured. People do not attack
the law outright but they neutralize it by distorting its understanding and interpretation.
Their own opinions become the interpreter of God's law. Then the law becomes null
and void and people will not submit to it, they having their own interpretation up
their sleeves. God's law is broken when its authority is denied and the meaning is
obscured, and the teaching is greatly weakened. Jesus said to the Pharisees that
they had made the commandment of God of no effect by their traditions. All religious
systems are weak by human authority being set against divine law. So his law is robbed
of its authority and thus the conscience of society falls into a stupor.
2. Is There
Any Hope in Such a Situation? When God's law is denied, obscured, and weakened by
the people of God and society then where is any hope in such a situation? It is only
in God acting. All over the country there are ministers of the gospel who are dispirited
and disheartened in spirit. The church continues to decline numerically. In spite
of the best efforts of religious organizations iniquity seems to have increased.
Many Christians have been misled and diverted from their real work and they have
translated their passion into central causes. If anything is to be done then God
must do it by taking the work back into his own hands. We have spoiled it and God
must now act, but how? Both in providence and in utterly unexpected ways he must
work. We must learn to see the barrenness of the age as under his sovereign control.
In our praying we must see that the church's spiritual lethargy to be a platform
for God to act. God used various means and we must be prepared to see all of them
An insignificant member of the church praying in the secret place can be
the instrument God uses. In the history of the church God has used a sermon in ways
that you never imagined. The treasure is in you, an earthen vessel, yes, so that
the power be of God. The Spirit blows where he wills, of course.
The text we need
to hear is "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." It
is faithfulness God takes up and uses.
3. Why does God leave it so late? When things
are at a low ebb then God works. Why? You would expect God to act earlier, or that
he pour out his wrath, but instead, he pours out mercy. In the O.T. there was great
reform under Asa after a time of unparalleled iniquity, but then, instead of wrath
God came in blessing. Again in the time of Ezra, and in the time of Josiah God acted
in mercy. The dead situation came to life. Why should we think it incredible that
God should raise the dead?
He works late in the day to show that it is the work of
God, not human agency. He alone can pour out his Spirit when he will. He demonstrates
that he is God. He seems to wait, to utterly destroy human pride. He is humbling
us as we have that tendency to rob God of his glory and allow others to exalt us.
Out God is jealous in the way revival begins, and the instruments he uses and in
the course the revival follows. Think of the men despaired of whom God converts at
a time of revival.
4. Why is this fervent prayer of the psalmist essential? A] To
raise up a standard against iniquity. We pray in accordance with what he desires.
B] To vindicate God's holy law which lies in the dust under the feet of the enemy.
The consciences of the unconverted tell them that the law is right. C] It manifests
the divine glory. The deeper the darkness the more light is needed. D] To reinstate
the church to its proper function in society. Our hands are often unclean and so
society ignores the church. What the psalmist says here is a powerful incentive,
teaching us our duty in times of decline, challenging us to asses the seriousness
of the time in which we are in. Calling to God for revival is our increasingly clear
duty. So we must ask ourselves whether we are like Jeremiah in chapter nine where
he expresses his longing for his head to be full of waters and he was weeping for
the daughter of his people slain.
The Mow Cop revival was powerfully blessed. The statistics
for the growth of Primitive Methodism are impressive. A revival is a special season
of mercy, a work of the sovereign God.
1. The Men God Used at the Revival. 1] Hugh
Bourne (1772-1852). Helped by some books such as a copy of the letters of Fletcher,
Wesley on the Trinity, and Baxter's Alarm. The sermon on the Trinity helped him;
it is a very ordinary sermon, with nothing special in it at all. Yet God used that
message to awaken Bourne. He then joined the Methodist society. 2] William Clowes
(b. 1780). Like Bourne's mother his mother was also educated, moral and an attender
of the Church of England. As a boy he came under conviction of sin and came under
the influence of a woman called Nancy Wood, but he drifted, delighting in dancing
and riotous living. Then there came renewed conviction, and, responding to an invitation
to a preaching service, he was converted in January 1805. His zeal was extraordinary;
his old religious companions thought that his Christian life would not last very
2. The Preparation for the Meeting in Mow Cop. Hugh Bourne came by way of his
business to the Mow Cop area and saw how dark the spiritual state was. In 1800 he
spoke to a number of men who were converted and this turned into numbers of religious
friendships. Many more were converted. Prayer Meetings were begun and many attended;
there were complaints about the shortness of their duration. In other areas nearby
the growth of the work was negligible. Then they read of Tent Meetings in the USA
and that stirred them up. Then Lorenzo Dow arrived from the USA in the country. He
was an eccentric who was also tireless in his boldness and labours. His ministry
and testimony had profound influence on Bourne and Clowes.
In 1807 there was a parish feast/wake planned and the history of these occasions
was one of excess and immorality. So these two men decided to organize meetings on
the nearby hill of Mow Cop at the same time, lasting a few days.
3. The First Class
Meeting at Mow Cop. The date was fixed for some secluded communion with God in prayer
- not for evangelising those attending the parish wake. May 31 1807 dawned and it
rained; Bourne felt there would not be such a meeting, but Clowes and hundred others
came. There was a time of prayer, and a sermon, and more community prayer, and then
preaching, and prayer and so on. Grace descended and the people of God were increased
in number. Many were drawn there and a second preaching stand was set up. The first
man came under conviction, and then as the days went by many others were saved.
Thousands of people stretched out in all directions- between 3000 and 5000 - a sight
of godly grandeur. A fourth preaching stand was set up and four sermons were preached
at the same time in neighbouring fields. This went on to 4 p.m. and then by 6 p.m.
there was just one preaching service, and finally the day ended with some children's
meetings. Bourne had not been present when the meetings began and he did not preach
through the day. There was no predetermined plan, but Clowes preached, prayed, and
counselled for 14 hours.
4. The Progress of those Camp Meetings. The second meeting
on Mow Cop was planned for two months later, but opposition grew. The Methodist Connection
opposed these meetings being held again. The Conventicle Act was even invoked by
some preachers to prevent the next meeting and even Bourne was tempted to cease holding
the meetings, but necessity was laid upon him. He walked 40 miles to obtain a license
for the next meeting, but the magistrate demanded a building be set up. Bourne did
this, erecting a large wooden building, largely by himself, as well as an additional
three tents. Then he went to the magistrates and got a license for the preaching
on that day. Bourne prepared everything for the meetings' success.
After much anxiety he saw the meetings beginning on the Saturday with a day of prayer
and the next Lord's Day many gathered (though some stayed away because of the opposition)
and many more were converted. Vast numbers attended that meeting for three days.
It was one of the greatest open-air meetings in England since the time of Whitefield.
Yet there was strong opposition, and the Methodist Conference opposed it and told
their preachers to speak earnestly against it. Yet they went ahead with the August
meetings and on 23rd August, a Lord's Day, in rain, the congregation gathered, getting
larger and larger. However, the preachers were discouraged, and then Paul Johnson
of Dublin arrived and preached. His voice was like a bell and his preaching that
day and the next moved the whole congregation. Again many were converted to the Lord.
5. The Opposition Movement. Handbills were printed by the Mow Cop opponents and distributed
throughout the area. All the Methodist preachers were put under an interdict not
to attend nor to permit their congregations to attend, and some of Bourne's friend
complied, even Clowes. Bourne was put out of the Society. He was finally excommunicated
because of his advocacy of the Open Air preaching.
This occurred a mere sixteen years after the death of Wesley - with mutters of "highly
improper in England, if it is all right in America." He gave himself to evangelism,
but the new converts were not allowed to join the Methodist Connection. So Bourne
had to pastor them, but soon Clowes was also excommunicated. This was the beginning
of the Primitive Methodist Connection consisting of people largely converted from
the world. The term 'Primitive' was used to distinguish them from their fellow Methodists.
It was an old phrase in Methodist circles going back to 1734.
So that Methodist revival,
which began on Mow Cop, went on for forty years and grew to 104,000 members by the
time Hugh Bourne died.
6. Characteristics of these Primitive Methodist leaders. They
were obedient to the Word of God. They knew a powerful experience of the life of
God, and lived a holy life. They were rigorous in self-denial. They preached the
substitutionary death of Christ as the heart of the gospel.
7. Lessons from this
Revival. They believed in the necessity of Prayer. They knew the tangible overwhelming
presence of God. They knew opposition from those one expected to be its main supporters.
8. Conclusion To cry to the Lord. Wilt thou not revive us again? Wilt thou be angry
with us forever?
THE SUBSTANCE OF JONAH'S MESSAGE.David Carmichael (1)
Jonah 3:1-5 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 2 "Go to the great
city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you." 3 Jonah obeyed the word
of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city - a visit
required three days. 4 On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed:
"Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned." 5 The Ninevites believed God. They
declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
Jonah is a book of autobiographical revelation in order that we avoid the mistakes
he made and that we live in the way and have the ministry that advances the will
of God. Jonah had been given a command that he defied. We too have defied God. Then
storms came into his life as they have come into our own lives. He was a man far
from God, an embarrassment to himself. Then God does a miracle through the great
fish and he prays. God is in strategic control of his life. Then he accomplishes
his mission by going into Nineveh and that incredible change that took place in the
There are three things we are going to touch on, those elements we want to
see in our day: the truth about Vision for our mission and men. Then, Veracity as
we look at our message in its integrity. Then we have to look at Voice as we consider
the declaration of the message.
1. The Scope of his Mission. In verse two 2 "Go to
the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you." He was not
to seize on one group a target group who will find it attractive. No, he was to speak
to all the people the very truth he preached they were all to hear because they all
needed it. His message was for all the people of Nineveh. Don't worry about those
things. They all need the message of God. They are dead in sin and need to hear the
divine diagnosis and cure. Don't become ashamed of the gospel. The world is dark
and depressed and we pray that the world will be saved. The wonderful thing about
the amazing grace of God is that he comes a 3rd and 4th and 5th time because his
grace is amazing - as we see in the OT.
2. The Commission He Received. He preaches
the message God gave him in Nineveh having been solemnly commissioned by God. We
cannot produce preachers. God calls and equips a man. We can help him but we cannot
produce preachers. When the battle gets tough we need men who will stand tall and
true until God takes them somewhere else. We don't want Bible studies, we want men
who can preach the gospel, the heart of the message; too many clones are on the go.
We need men called and commissioned by God.
3. The Counsel He Heard. "Go to the great
city of Nineveh," God said. That spelled out the difficulty of the moment. The city
was great, this was no walk in the park; it was a hostile environment with violent
reaction even the taking of his life. God would not downplay the difficulty. They
hated the people of Israel. The city was dark, depraved, and brutal. "Woe to the
city of blood," the later prophet would say about it. It was a vicious city, but
no different from any big city today. All the cities of the world are depraved cities.
Nineveh turned its focus on satisfying its lusts. It was not a city that would put
out a welcome mat for a prophet preaching a message of judgment. It would be a moment
in life for Jonah of great danger.
God had said to him "Go to the great city and
preach against him because its wickedness has come up before me." God would in due
course send judgment. But in chapter three, that had become "the message I gave you,"
and that in 40 days God's judgment would fall. God knows our wickedness today. He
sent Jesus a Saviour, but when he comes the second time it is to set up the throne
4. The Demand on the Man. Jonah was being counselled to go forth and
preach his word, facing up to the difficulty of the moment. You must go as a God-reliant
man, trusting in Him, or you will never survive. He is sending him into the darkness
but with all his hope in God. It was mission impossible, but God was bringing him
to the place where he would have to cast his cares on God. Jonah trembles in his
weakness and humility and is utterly reliant on God. There is nothing we can do to
save the day but to cast ourselves on God. We are dependent on God as the prince
of evil continually moves against us. How are we to go on? In the power of God. Go,
trusting in him as we live in our Ninevehs. Wisdom and security and strength and
protection are all found in God and we need to live out that truth. The Lord is our
light and salvation, whom shall we fear?
5. The Design of the Mission. The citizens
were to be warned that judgment was on its way. Consider preaching to your neighbours
knowing that in less than 6 weeks they were going to be swept away. You would not
be fearful as you pleaded with family and friends. In 40 days they were going to
die. We need preachers who are urgent; how desperately we need them in our day.
The Status of his Mission. Notice the call he knew, "Then the word of the LORD came
to Jonah a second time:" to a man who had defied God the first time and had he not
forfeited the right to become a child of God. Then a miracle of deliverance had come
into his life and he was a man unworthy of God, and yet God rescued him. He had been
forgiven but would he ever again be trusted to give service to God? But on a second
time God spoke to him. He found himself on the receiving end of God's grace. Who
are those who shoot their wounded? Not God. He came in mercy to Jonah, and soon he
was preaching in Nineveh.
7. The Command he Obeyed. "Proclaim the message I give
you," said God. It was a command full of provision. Jonah did not think that this
was 'a message that would go down well and make him a celebrity.' He had a defined
message and he preached that. If we all preached that then there would be no hiding
place for them because they were all preaching the message God gave them. Now is
the time for preaching, for now is always the time for preaching. It is the means
by which God calls people to their senses and prepares them for glory. Men who have
vision are what are needed. Grant us more! God has given His church a message for
his age and as we preach it then it will do the bidding of God.
It was a command-fashioning
word. Heeded, it changed men; defied, it condemned them.
Psalm 119:126 "It is time for you to work
O Lord..."There are times when a remarkable work of God begins. Numbers increase
and conversions multiply; a tent is hired for the crowd and put up outside the little
church building. Reconciliation and restitution become commonplace. There can be
such 'local awakenings.'
A revival is an extraordinary work of God and we stand back
in amazement. This does not diminish the normal means and timing of God. We are not
to make the normal means of grace as inefficient. Nothing actually happens in times
of revival that is not happening in times of ordinary church-going life. What is
happening? God's people are gathering, and they are praying, and sinners are being
converted; that is normal church life. In revivals that is just the same. The psalmist's
passionate plea for God to act is not assuming that God is idle at non-revival times.
Revival is God accelerating, intensifying and extending the work of grace that is
going on in every Christian's life. What happens in revival is that God's work, that
never ceases, is revived in those ways. So God has 'normal' activity and extraordinary
1. Revival Is An Acceleration Of The Work Of God. In all revival history what
seems to have taken years to develop happens in an instant. What would take a month
of Sundays God does suddenly. This, of course, is where the sociologist has difficulty
in understanding the phenomenon. God can change his process by speeding it up. The
whole process of the spreading of the gospel becomes a vital living matter. There
is no difficulty in finding volunteers. The mission field has new candidates. It
is nothing spectacular; it is God's normal work only it is accelerated and it is
manifest. Even in the darkest times God never takes his hand off his own handiwork.
2. Revival Is An Intensification Of The Work Of God.
It is seen in two main areas.
There is an intensification of conviction. People are gripped by an awareness of
their status in the eyes of a holy God. It does not happen normally because of the
absence of the preaching of the law. The Spirit of God goes out into the world with
the hammer and the chisel of the law and using them to bring people to Christ. To
break God's law is to offend God's nature and character. People cannot evade the
immediacy of what God is demanding from them. God will not let them go until they
let go of their sin. Surely you have been told of the deacon who told off Evan Roberts
for missing a meeting; "What if the Holy Ghost had come?" There is an intensification
of God's work in revival so that we know God is there. In praying and in the conviction
of sin there is an intensification. For example, prayer meetings begin, and they
can go on for many years.
3. Revival Is An Extension Of The Work Of God. The most
powerful evangelism is the overflow of revival. The Spirit and the bride say come,
and him that hears says come, and let him that is athirst come and drink the water
of life freely. The Spirit saying 'Come' is revival, personal renewal is ourselves
saying 'Come', and many sinners coming and seeking the Lord is the fruit of revival.
4. Revival Is The Continuance Of The Work Of God.
There is the ongoing steady plodding
work of giving ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word. If you are in the
ministry today and all that you are hoping for is that somehow, at the end you will
see God move then you are not being true to your calling. You have a ministry to
perform day by day for what God intends you to do is to pray and preach the world.
That is the continual work of God. God never stops working, and he chooses to work
through our regular ministries. M'Cheyne was asked if his meetings were ever advertised
as 'revival' meetings. M'Cheyne replied that none of the preachers who were engaged
in the work of God ever used the word 'revival.' All the meetings were used simply
to revive godliness in the congregation. Sometimes God works at a quicker pace and
extends his work, but it is the same work that continues all the time. We long to
experience the powerful invasion of God in revival. It is not that he is not acting
and working; all we are trying to reflect on is this, "Is it time for us to stand
back and for God to take the field."
THE SUBSTANCE OF JONAH'S MESSAGE. David Carmichael (2).
Jonah preached that in 40
days Nineveh would be overthrown. What pursuing grace he had known as he ran away,
and preserving grace in the fish, rescuing grace as he came to dry land, surprising
grace recommissioning him as a prophet of God. What amazing grace from God, the one
who does not fail or forsake his people. So here God sends him again to Nineveh even
though he had let him down. God is the one who sees our regret, renews us, and sends
us back into the world. God's grace is amazing, and we need to be at the end of it
receiving it, especially when we stumble and fall. At the beginning of the commission
in chapter one the emphasis is on his being God's servant.
Then in chapter three he is told he must be the preacher of the word God has given
him. We, like him, must not superficialise it or trivialize it; we must not omit
the blood of atonement. We must not deny the fundamentals; there is no other message.
People who are changing the message were once changed by that message they are now
seeing to change. People say, "I was lying in bed and I got this message from God."
Back to bed! Take your message with you! Preachers have no need to be innovators
of new truth. What arrogance in those men today, who claim that for 2000 years the
church has got the doctrine of justification wrong. A mother-in-law in his congregation
was telling a daughter-in-law that she needs to be saved to get to heaven, and the
younger woman is very upset with a woman she loves. Yet that was true and needed
to be said. Why wouldn't people go to the Saviour unless they were wounded?
Substance Of Jonah's Message Had To Do With Warning - the warning of judgment to
come (v.4) in 40 more days. He certainly did not repeat that phrase of 8 words over
and over again. That would have grated on the ears of his hearers. Jonah said much
more; the message would have been contextualised; there was wickedness and he exposed
it. His message was earthed in the character of God and the depravity of the city.
Such emphasis is given to those eight words because they were the heart of Jonah's
message. Today we are urged to ignore that theme. None of that compromise occurred
in the preaching of Jonah. Nothing was done to win their hearing. The thought strikes
me that Jonah today would have been urged to go and learn at some contemporary school
of evangelism. "Back to school Jonah!" Yet there was no sense of hiding the truth
of judgment away. If men are going to be truly saved they need to hear the warning
of the judgment to come. When the Spirit comes people will come looking for God.
The judgment to come would be humiliating. Nineveh was going to be overturned. They
would be humiliated at the hand of God. Jonah believed in his message, that it was
of God, and he preached it with that conviction. How we need that, such a confidence
in that conviction. He believed his message and that Nineveh would be humiliated.
There was something in the message that unsettled the people. How could such a thing
happen in Nineveh? It was a wealthy city. So his preaching took them by surprise.
The burning conviction of his bold words did more than his hearers thought possible.
They had gathered to mock him and suddenly they found it challenging. He knew a focused
concentration; he knew confidence born of God's word. There was raw power in his
words: "Nineveh will be overturned," again and again it was hammered home. The word
of God made that clear over and over again.
We have to preach so that men tremble
under it so that there will be no hope unless they know mercy. We have to preach
so that Christ is exalted and men and women are humbled before him. I don't mean
that preaching on judgment is our exclusive message, but that there is in our ministries
the message of warning and the fact that the time is running out. 'Love' and 'mercy'
and 'grace' all mean nothing unless there is the message of judgment. Jonah also
told them that the judgment would be terrible. They would 'overturned.' It was not
that some buildings would fall but that all the city's buildings would fall. The
place would be left in a state of dereliction. The rest of the world would hardly
remember the location of the place called Nineveh.
The Judgment Would Also Be Solemnizing.
In only 40 days it would come. They deserved God's judgment because of their wickedness,
but by an action of God's grace they could be warned, given 40 days to straighten
their lives, and come to the place of repentance. It was 40 days more than they deserved.
Has God used you to save souls? Tell men that time is running out. We are living
in days of financial ruin and decline. Who would have thought that such a day would
have come self-assured Britain? But come it has. Time is running out. People have
been let down by those they entrusted with their money and pensions. Despite all
their rank and cleverness they will be judged. They will be taken completely by surprise.
There are signs of decay everywhere in our world and when God judges many lives will
be overturned. You will face an eternity of regrets, and if you turn from Jesus you
will face God without a Saviour. World! You have 40 days. Be solemnized by the word
of truth by the substance of Jonah's message.
2 Jonah Also Approached Them With A
Wooing. Many preachers say nothing today on the holiness of God. God is not a big
cuddly teddy bear. He is holy and yet he announces that he may woo men and women
to himself. We know of these celebrity preachers who emphasize everything except
the holiness and righteousness of God.
Jonah was in the centre of the city preaching
a message that many do not preach today. That message is of pressing terrifying judgment.
When a preacher speaks of judgment then it is to his credit and to the benefit of
his hearers. As we expound Scripture's message we awaken people.
While Jonah warned
Jonah also wooed. Where there is warning there is wooing and where there is wooing
there is warning. To warn is to say to people, “Will you not turn from your sinful
ways? Let your 40 days be used well.” and the people will be saved. Let the preacher's
model for evangelism be Jonah, or our Lord, and let us warn as they warned. In the
NT there is little difference. Peter at Pentecost warned and pleaded with them; "With
many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them," (Acts 2:40). That is
wooing, and yet Jesus let the rich young ruler go! The talk of judgment has disappeared
in our day, and talk of the fear of God has also gone. This is the God we present
to people as we come to woo them. In warning there is wooing, and in wooing there
is warning. Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh and see the city saved, but God did.
By the preaching of a warning wooing message people today should be presented with
UP-TO-DATE NEWS OF THE CHURCH IN CHINA. Tony Lambert
The church in China should have
died out 40 years ago, and if human logic reigned that would have been the case,
but from Psalm 2 we know that Christ is the king of the nations. He laughs, the one
who is enthroned in heaven. My wife and I have been with OMF for 26 years. We are
still in mission because of the promise of God the Father to the Son that he has
given him the ends of the earth for his inheritance. Is our world view as believers
too constrained? We can become too antiquarian and look at the past. What about now?
There has been the most tremendous explosion of the gospel in the last 200 years.
Carey got the missionary vision and call, and in 1807 Robert Morrison was the first
Protestant missionary since then to go to China. The earlier missionaries had never
translated the whole Bible into Chinese but Morrison did, and the contemporary Bible
is largely his work. As he got on board the ship for China (in the teeth of the English
government's opposition to him becoming a preacher) the British captain sneered at
him. "How do you think you can single-handed convert the Chinese Empire?" said the
captain, "I cannot but God can," he answered.
There were in those days few missionaries
around the world but today with a few exceptions like North Korea there are gospel
churches in every country of the world. Philip Johnson has written a book about the
spread of the gospel worldwide. The balance has tipped in the last ten years to Asia,
Africa, and South America where the majority of Christians live and most of them
are under 35. There has been enormous growth. Consider that narrow band under the
eclipse of the sun while the rest of the world is in the sunlight. So while we are
in darkness in the UK for many countries in Asia and Africa and South America it
is the era of gospel light. Outside of our benighted island we see much evidence
of growth. To go to Seoul in South Korea is to discover a large church building almost
every 200 yards. So we must get our perspectives right. The gospel call is going
out into the world and many are turning to Christ in repentance and faith.
comprises one fifth of mankind. Almost a thousand missionaries left China over fifty
years ago and the church was left on its own. The communists squeezed the life out
of the church imprisoning many pastors, and by 1958 most of the churches were closed
down and were involved in the 3-Self movement. Faithful believers met in their homes
and that was dangerous. In 1966 the Red Guard demolished churches, temples, and every
place of worship. There were just four left in Beijing - there had been 64 - and
the 200 in Shanghai were finally all closed down. Many church leaders were packed
off to the frozen lands of north-eastern China without a hut to sleep in. In 1966
all the churches were closed and until 1979 no buildings were open. Even Russia never
did this. Mao's wife boasted that they had put Christianity into a museum. The liberals
of the WCC in 1972 said that Mao is fulfilling the kingdom of God in China. That
was the theology emanating from Geneva at that time. The Lord held them in derision.
Today the intellectuals in China are studying Christianity, interested in how it
was during the Industrial Revolution the Christian faith spread throughout Europe.
So in China all denominations were swept away, and no buildings were left, and of
course there were those who fell away, especially those who more social gospellers
in their orientation. But the conservatives stood for Christ and suffered. In 1949
there had been a million Protestants in the country. Resurgent Maoism seemed to demolish
all Christianity, but the Holy Spirit kept the faith alive in the hearts of believers,
and most of them were ordinary working class people, peasants, and miners. So the
faith continued in secret in that dark period. Christians had no contact with the
outside world. "Lord how long?" Christians prayed.
After Mao's death things changed.
The leadership realized how Mao had destroyed the culture and economy of the country.
Today I have seen in this week's Economist the question is being asked "Can China
Save the World?" What a contrast with fifty years ago. There seemed to be no Christians
left, and then in 1979 they were given permission to open churches again and since
that time there has been a huge momentum of gospel work spreading out and out. The
church has grown, and the preparatory time had been in the 60's and 70's when they
met in houses in informal fellowship in homes or in fields. In 1979, "Let there be
religious freedom" said the government, and 30 years later there are now 55,000 Protestant
churches open in China today. These are registered legal churches. In January this
year there was a survey or two published of Christians and they judged that 40 million
Protestants were in existence. China has endured the greatest persecution since Nero
and yet the church has thrived. In the Economist on October 2 this year a government
official estimated that there are 120 million Christians in China. That is probably
an exaggeration. There are certainly more Christians than members of the Communist
Party. There may well be more active Christians in China than any other country,
judged the Economist.
What is the Christianity that has emerged from this maelstrom
of persecution? It is a kind of Bible-believing fundamentalist evangelicalism. This
church must not go off the rails because in God's providence there are huge churches
that have lines of people waiting to get in. The sermons are Christ-centred and long,
up to an hour in length, with yuppies following with notebooks. I was in a service
this year and as an additional surprise the pastor announced that there was to be
a baptismal service. The candidates were asked to stand and 134 people rose, came
to the front and were baptized All over China there were tens of thousands of people
also baptized that day and they are constantly being baptized. There are raids on
house churches and people are sent to jail - 21 earlier this year – to endure 2 or
3 years in a labour camp; nasty things are happening to Christians. There is much
good being done in the state church; house churches are largely evangelical with
the additional cult emphases of health and wealth and tongues here and there (although
the tongues are quiet; in my experience I have hardly ever been in a loud Pentecostal
service in China). The church is conservative in theology and practice. How do you
train theologically, these people? There are 23 centres training men for the ministry.
Yet there are constant periods of training - weeks of special instruction.
is changing in the cities, but the young people still have their freshness of approach,
though now these yuppies are living in nice modern flats and houses. Still the persecution
is still a threat. There is also growing missionary outreach especially to the peoples
within its borders like those in Tibet. There is also the diaspora, the Chinese who
are all over the world, and in the UK there are dozens of Chinese churches. The time
is short and God's judgment is hanging over us. In the 1920's two Chinese were in
Paris and soon they became leaders of the Marxist party in China. What would have
happened if there some evangelicals had invited them home and told them the gospel?
[The last two messages, one each from Sandy Roger and David Carmichael, were given
on the final morning, but I was unable to stay at the Conference for these final
sessions.] (see below)
[I'd like to thank Geoff for his detailed report.
Here is a resume of the last sessions – you need to get the CD’s and hear them. Ray]
In his last address Sandy Roger brought to
our attention the Need of the Hour. Psalm 119 was written under the inspiration of
the Spirit by a man who loved God and sought to give testimony to the exalted nature
of God’s Law. He can’t understand why the people devalue it. He uses so many expressions
that it seems he has “ransacked the dictionary” to describe the multi-faceted nature
of God’s Law. Here was a Bible man and a Burdened man. Is that true of you?
is no greater definition of revival than it is “God acting and working”. Only God
can raise the dead; only God can revive those whose spiritual lives are flagging.
The Psalmist was a Jew and they saw God’s mighty acts in (i) Creation, and (ii) in
Redemption (the Exodus). Revival is both a creative and redemptive act (Eph. 1:14).
It is also sanctifying. As far as sanctification is concerned A W Tozer said, “Too
many Christians are content to let Christ do all the dying”. We must allow our idea
of revival to go higher, deeper, and wider than our present thoughts and understanding.
We need to see Revival from God’s perspective. The Psalmist felt in his day the same
we do today “It is time…” There is always a right time to act. The Jewish idea of
time is linear; the Greek idea of time is cyclical; but in the New Testament we find
time is a point: “Now”. As praying, believing people we can pray “Now”.
is spiritually bankrupt; European civilisation has sold it’s birthright for a mess
of potage – and WHAT a mess. The dignity and sanctity of life, marriage, and the
home is being undermined, there is a mad craze for pleasure, armaments are being
built up, and there is a declension of religion. The Church often has a form of godliness
but is lacking power. Is this why Islam has risen to such prominence – and could
this be the instrument of judgement by God? It is not only time for God to act but
it is long overdue. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous
do? (Ps 11:33). We cannot; GOD CAN.
The root cause of the problem is that God’s Law
is being broken. Verse 126 can be legitimately translated “It is time to work for
You, O Lord”. What is our work to be to bring about Revival? It can only be by PRAYER.
The Psalmist is putting our feeble prayer on a par with the MIGHTY ACTS OF GOD. The
Psalmist takes his responsibility seriously!! The mighty work of prayer – the means
by which God’s creative and redemptive work can be brought to bear. The people of
God need to UNITE in Prayer. Will you join with us in praying for Revival in this
THE STYLE OF JONAH’S MINISTRY. David Carmichael (3)
In his Third address, David Carmichael
spoke on The Style of Jonah’s Ministry. If men and women are to learn what God requires
of them we need men who will preach and teach the gospel. Pray that God will raise
up men who know what God expects of them and will preach that Word as it deserves
to be preached. Preaching should be dynamic and alive. It should grip us. We need
to find ourselves stirred. Therefore we need our preachers to be filled with the
Spirit of God and the Word of God. That’s what happened to Jonah. He was God’s man
and knew it. He had no fear of man and the result was that Nineveh became the Old
Testament equivalent of Pentecost in the power and effect caused by one man’s preaching.
It was a supernatural outpouring of the Spirit of God as one man, under the Word,
gave himself to the faithful and fearless preaching of the Word. Setting forth the
Word of God plainly, he proclaimed that men are lost in sin and dead in sin but by
the almighty saving grace of God they can be saved.
1. His preaching was purposeful. His preaching was according to God’s will. Previously
he had been commanded and commissioned to preach, and expected nothing. God’s discipline
worked to bring Jonah back into God’s will – and it is the same for us. Now he was
restored and recommissioned, Jonah expected blessing. He didn’t consult church growth
books but preached the Bible. He didn’t use speculation or theories but gave the
plain meaning. Yet there was nothing dull about Jonah’s preaching; there was fire
and power in it. He wasn’t overwhelmed by Nineveh’s walls, or riches, or sinfulness
but by God’s presence and Word.
2. His preaching was pertinent. Jonah didn’t waste time. He had a message that dying
people need to hear. There was no airing of favourite subjects or attempts to increase
his popularity but only preaching what God said they need to hear. He pressed their
need to be saved (as we must press folk to recognise their need for Christ).
3. His preaching was penetrating. Jonah’s experience was part of his message – God
will save you as He saved me! He may have cut a comical figure to the Ninevites,
being mocked and heckled, but they soon listened as the Word of God penetrated their
minds and hearts! Even scorners will be converted under the power of Spirit-filled
preaching! O Lord may it happen. O Lord, anoint my preaching!
4. His preaching was passionate. He believed it and he preached it for all he was
worth. He wasn’t casual about the message but told the people the truth they needed
to hear – that life will not carry on like this forever. “Forty more days and Nineveh
will be overturned” (3:4) was his message, which gave it a necessary urgency. His
preaching was far from being dull, boring, or complicated.
5. His preaching was powerful. Nineveh was a wicked city – no different from all
cities today, but the power of God can work through His preached Word like an exocet
missile. It was not miracles and techniques that pierced their personal defences.
The Ninevites believed God, not Jonah, and it was to Him they bowed. That is why
we need the unction of the Holy Spirit – to make our spiritual sight sharper, to
make our thinking clearer and know the power from on high. Such Spirit-filled words
give shape and sharpness to truth, and raise men and women from the dead. Lord, send
Your Spirit so that people will be aware of the voice behind the preacher. Lord,
give us preachers who can storm the Citadel of Satan.
6. His preaching was productive. Nineveh was, without doubt, the most unlikely city
to respond to such a message. Yet respond it did by believing God. There is no city
and no heart that God cannot change. The Word of God preached in this way brings
people to faith in Him. The power of Almighty God accomplished this in the Ninevites,
and may He accomplish such wholesale turning to Him through preachers modelled on