8/01/2015

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF AMERICA'S PULPITS WERE TO ONCE AGAIN "FLAME WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS"?

"Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power." (A quote often attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville)

It was 1800. The Revolutionary War was over. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, George Whitefield and others who had been prominent in the founding of America were dead.
God Has No Grandchildren
A generation had arisen that knew little or nothing of the Great Awakening that had impacted the Founders and given birth to the nation. Spiritual indifference was rampant with less than 10% of the population being connected to a local congregation. On the western frontier many areas were completely devoid of Christian influence.
Profanity, lewdness, gambling and drunkenness were on the rise. Negative influences from the French Revolution were reverberating throughout the country. The most popular book was The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, in which he attacked historic Christianity.
Colleges that had been formed to train Christian ministers had become hotbeds of agnosticism and infidelity. A popular fad on campuses involved students adopting the names of well-known atheists such Voltaire, Rousseau, Hume and others.
The Presbyterian Church distributed a letter in which church leaders stated that they were “filled with concern and awful dread” at conditions they beheld on every hand. They expressed the solemn conviction “that the eternal God has a controversy with this nation.”
It Only Takes a Spark to Get a Fire Going
A few concerned, devout believers began to pray and fast for revival in the land. Some congregations signed "covenants" in which the members agreed to fast and pray for revival. James McGready, pastor of three Presbyterian churches in Logan County, Kentucky, led his congregations in signing a covenant to pray every Saturday and Sunday morning for revival and to devote the third Saturday of each month to prayer and fasting. Out of these churches came the great Cane Ridge Revival.
As churches and individuals prayed, a Second Great Awakening swept across the nation. However, it did not happen until pastors, evangelists and college presidents took a stand for truth and righteousness and began to boldly proclaim God's word.
The president of Yale, Timothy Dwight, the grandson of Jonathan Edwards, decided to confront the situation at Yale head-on. In 1802, taking the Bible as his guide, he preached a series of messages in chapel on the unreasonableness of atheism, or infidelity as it was then called. God confirmed the word preached and revival broke forth. One-third of the 225 students came to new-found faith in Christ and others were renewed in their faith. The campus was transformed.
The revival quickly spread to other college campuses and students became the agents carrying the revival into the towns and villages. Historian, Mark Noll, says, "Together with the promoters of local revivals, they spread concern for renewal up and down the East Coast. Soon there was hardly a locale in which Christians were not praying for revival or thanking God for having received one."
On the western frontier pastors and circuit riding preachers like James McGready and Peter Cartwright boldly preached God's love but also hell-fire and brimstone messages in which they warned the populace to flee to Christ in order to escape the wrath to come. Revival erupted and spread. At Cane Ridge, KY it was estimated that as many as 20,000 may have gathered for this campmeeting where the attendees shouted, ran and "fell under the power."
Cartwright, a circuit riding Methodist evangelist, said the revival gained momentum like a great tidal wave “until it seemed all our country was coming to God.” Noll calls it "the most influential revival of Christianity in the history of the United States."
America was transformed. Negative influences from the French Revolution were broken. Desim and infidelity faded into the shadows. People lived to do good and the Christian character of America was guaranteed for generations to come.
He Discovered the Key
A key to understanding this revival came from an unlikely source--a French sociologist by the name of Alexis de Tocqueville. When Tocqueville visited America in 1831 on the heels of this Awakening, he exclaimed, “The religious atmosphere of the country was the first thing that struck me on arrival in the United States.”
A quote historically attributed to Tocqueville but not found in his writings has him attributing America’s rapid ascent to greatness to her vibrant Christian faith, which was a result of the Second Great Awakening. He reportedly said, “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.”
Tocqueville was right! The churches, not the politicians, were the key to America’s greatness. The same is true today. The answer does not lie in Washington D.C. or with the next election. Only when the pulpits of America’s churches once again “flame with righteousness” will we see America saved and changed for the good.
5 Necessary Ingredients
Here are 5 necessary characteristics or attitudes that must be present in those who preach the Word if our pulpits are to again "flame with righteousness."
1.       We must love God more than we fear people: We must be more concerned with what God thinks of us than with what people think of us.
2.       We must remember that we represent God and His truth to the world. Take a lesson from Charles Finney, who as a converted lawyer, always saw himself as representing God and arguing His case before an unbelieving world and church.
3.       Let’s remember that God has promised to confirm His word--not feel-good sermons--with signs following.
4.       We must preach in the light of eternity. Determine to have no regrets when standing before Christ and giving an account for how you have carried out His call and commission. (II Corinthians 5:10)
5.      We must cover our preaching with prayer. Our success in talking to people about God will be determined by our success in talking to God about people. It was both prayer and the preaching of God’s word that sparked The Second Great Awakening.
It happened before and it can happen again. Pray for the pastors and Spiritual leaders of America, Canada and your nation. Ask God to give them the boldness to proclaim His truth to this generation. Pray that the pulpits of the nation will once again "flame with righteousness."

Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt is an author, historian and Bible teacher with a vision for another great Spiritual Awakening in America, Canada and around the world. His books on Spiritual awakening, including his most recent, The Faith& Vision of Benjamin Franklin, are available from Amazon and from his website at www.eddiehyatt.com/bookstore.html