It has been a long time since America and the English-speaking world have been visibly shaken by the power of the Spirit of God. Why must most of us acknowledge we have never been part of a deep and powerful revival? Is it because God has ceased to send revivals? Has He found a better way to promote His work than by periodic awakenings? Or are there severe hindrances to true revival built into the very structure of our lives, our churches, and our society.
Those who pretend no serious interest in revival can scarcely be expected to deeply concern themselves with these questions. What about the rest of us who profess a great concern for the things of God and a belief in revival? Could we ourselves be the major reason revival does not come? Are we the hindrance? We owe it to God, to ourselves, and to our children, to searchingly analyze this possibility and face the results with the integrity.
As the local church can expect to reap the great harvest of revival blessings, so it must also expect to share heavy responsibility for hindering the work of God. Among the most common obstacles to revival are the following:
The love of comfortable truth. There is a time for comfort and a time to be made uncomfortable. The church that forgets this raises a powerful barrier to revival in its midst. The Bible abounds in passages designed for the comfort and security of the believer, and rightly used at the right times. These Scriptures are to the glory of God and the good of the Church. Used continually and without regard to the deepest needs of a congregation, comfortable truths can be damning.
Many persons attending church services have no desire to be disturbed or aroused. Pastors in general, in order to satisfy this love of comfort in their congregations, use great care in preparation of their sermons to see that no one is aroused or upset. If, indeed, by some slip, they should happen to disturb some comfortable parishioners, they may even apologize to the entire congregation. Not content to apologize for themselves alone, some will even go so far as to apologize for visiting preachers. It will be a long time before I forget the pastor who, immediately following my sermon in which a gripping sense of the Spirit of God became manifest, apologized for what I had said, saying he was sure I did not wish to see anyone aroused or upset. Is it any wonder the church is declining? When grown men and women will not or cannot face the facts of spiritual life and death, how can they even pretend to love the truth?
This love of comfort is closely akin to indifference and can scarcely be separated from it. The world is perishing but the lover of comfortable truth says, “Let us sleep on.” The forces of wickedness are mounting on every hand, but these indifferent persons yawn in the face of facts and say, “Don’t trouble us with talk of sin and wrath and judgment. God is a God of love and mercy and that is enough for us.” “God is a good Father,” these indifferent hypocrites piously say. “Surely He will not let any of His children suffer. There is enough of sorrow and upset in the world; let us not bring it into the church.”
Revival and the exclusive love of comfortable truths are bitter enemies. Churches may fill their padded pews with careless listeners who love the low lights, soft organ tones, and conversational sermons on pleasant subjects, but they will never fill heaven until they declare all the truth of Scripture with the convicting disturbing power of the Holy Spirit. Where revival prevails, the love of false comfort takes flight. Pampering and coddling the base nature of man is a devilish device the Church must resist. Arousing men from their sin and sloth and firing them with zeal for the kingdom of God can only be accomplished when the Church crucifies its love of comfortable truth and without fear and equivocation stands with God in the declaration of the full counsel of His Word.
Excerpts from “Revival” by Richard Owen Roberts