B. Motives for Seeking Revival
b. Second motive: for the sake of the lost
1. Share God’s grief for the lost
We have a choice. We can either believe what Jesus says about the fate of those who are spiritually lost or we can believe the modern diluted idea of judgment and Hell held by many Christians. Jesus’ teaching is certainly alien to our modern culture which has little sense of accountability to God. But who are we to disagree with what Jesus said?
Also, if Hell is a reality and we don’t (sensitively and appropriately) warn people about it, how can we call ourselves loving? If we know someone is heading into danger love requires that we warn them. Ezekiel 3:16-21 makes clear the principle that if we don’t warn people about the serious results of their wrong behaviour, God will hold us responsible for those results.
Jesus referred to Hell more than anyone else in the New Testament. He made it clear that Hell is a place of torment and agony (Luke 16:24, 28) as if a blazing furnace (Mt 13:30,40-43:49-50), a place of darkness, weeping, gnashing of teeth (Matt 8:11-12 cf 10:14-15; 11:20-24; 12:41; Mark 6:11; Lk 10:12-15), separation (Lk 16:26) and destruction (Mt 10:28; Lk 12:4-5).
There are around us many good, loving, caring, generous people but if they don’t also sincerely love God that is an extremely serious sin. To ignore or reject a God who:
- is infinitely greater than the vast universe he created
- is utterly pure and perfectly holy and cannot abide sin and evil
- is absolutely just in all his ways including the judgment of sin
- is so infinitely loving that he is love
- chose to suffer death and Hell for us through incarnation
- conquered death so that we can through faith in Christ share eternity with him
is, to say the least, clearly extremely serious. Hell as conscious punishment has to be seen in this context.
No doubt much of the description of Hell in the New Testament is vivid imagery, seeking to convey how terrible it will be for people to experience separation from their Creator God and Saviour.
Since Jesus is far more loving than we are I’m sure he feels great distress over the fact that, as he said, many go on the broad road and through the wide gate “that leads to destruction.” Many unbelievers are good people but the worst sin is godlessness – excluding God from our lives.
We must always remember that Jesus went to the extreme lengths of experiencing Hell (being forsaken by God) in order to save people from Hell. This should counteract the idea that God is too loving to send someone to Hell. His holiness and justice require the existence of Hell but God has done everything necessary to save everyone from Hell. We can’t blame him if we ignore the conditions – repenting and trusting in Christ – and so experience the consequences of so doing.
But the cross shows just how far God was prepared to go to save human beings from Hell. Yet such sacrificial love also indicates how grieved God is that people don’t listen, don’t repent and trust in Christ and so are on the road that leads to destruction. God, the almighty judge, doesn’t just “put a black cap on”, he deeply grieves in his infinite love at the attitudes and the plight of the lost. We must share in that grief with God for those who are on the broad road.
This is another powerful reason why we need Revival. The Lord doesn’t force people to love him but revival provides the most powerful invitation and encouragement to love him, repent and trust in Christ.
If we believe in the profound grief of God over the plight of the spiritually lost (which the Cross indicates) and we believe what Jesus said about the fate of the spiritually lost we will make prayer and preparation for Revival a very high priority, alongside evangelism etc. Revival is the most powerful means of reducing both the grief of God and the danger to the spiritually lost.
A PRAYER ABOUT GOD’S GRIEF FOR THE LOST
Dear Lord, I worship you for your infinite love for those who ignore you and rebel against you. I praise you that this love led to Jesus suffering Hell on the cross so that no human being need do so, if they put their trust in him. I can only begin to imagine how that same love now causes you deep grief as you see our largely godless society. Lord, come in Revival, I pray, for the honour of your name, for the lessening of your grief, for the revering of the cross and for the sake of the lost. Come with that maximum incentive to repentance and faith, which is Revival. Bring many thousands into the kingdom, in the name of Jesus. Amen.