There is no doubt that our generation suffers from moral uncertainty. We have a great deal of levity, but little real joy. There is searching on the part of young people for fun, but little real happiness. There is a great deal of canned laughter on television, but it is empty and hollow.
We are zealous for freedom, but we are weak in our worship of God. We boast over military strength, but our television screens show that it is brutal in application.
We have everything, but possess nothing. We seek knowledge, but lack understanding. There is plenty of struggle upward, but we continue to sink lower.
As John Steinbeck said, “Our civilization needs the panic of a great crisis to shock it out of its pharisaism.” We must have a rebirth of moral conviction and a regeneration of thousands of individuals if our generation is to be saved.
Economist Roger Babson once said, “People generally are realizing that without a spiritual awakening, no peace or other plans will do much good. Nations cannot be depended upon to cooperate and to stick to their agreements unless they recognize God as their real ruler and guide.” Since a revival will never come to the world until it has first come to the church, the need is for the fountains of sin to be broken up in the church. Backslidden Christians must be brought to repentance.
Before the world can be moved, we must renew the image of Christ in ourselves. It is sheer mockery for the church to call upon men and women to love their neighbors when the church has ceased loving Christ first.
The cry of millions of people Christians around the world is, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Psalm 85:6). “Oh, that You would rend the heavens!
That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence” (Isaiah 64:1).
In the fourth chapter of John’s Gospel we find the story of the Sychar revival. Jesus was going through Samaria. He was weary from the journey so He stopped by an ancient well to get a drink. The disciples had gone into the city to buy food.
While Jesus was sitting there, a woman came down to get some water. Jesus engaged her in conversation and asked her for a drink of water. The woman was amazed that Jesus, being a Jew, should ask a woman of Samaria for a drink, for as John’s Gospel says, in those days “Jews [had] no dealings with Samaritans” (John 4:9).
Then came a theological discussion. And in that discussion Jesus said, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13-14).
Then the woman asked, “Sir, give me this water.” However, Jesus would not give her eternal life until first He had pointed out the sin of immorality in her life. She confessed her sin and came to believe in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.
Then the woman left her water pot and went immediately into the city announcing the Good News that Jesus was the Christ and that He was nearby (John 4:15-30).
There are several things in this passage that speak to us today about the spiritual awakening and revival that we desperately need.
First, there is a warning that the spiritual awakening that began at the well of Sychar occurred without the disciples. Even when they went into the city to buy bread, their arrival had caused scarcely a ripple of interest. In other words, God was getting ready to do a mighty work in Sychar, and the disciples had been left out.
It would seem that if God were going to send a spiritual revival, certainly Christ’s disciples would have a place of prominence in it. However, this is not always so. They were left on the side while the stream of blessing flowed by.
What a warning there is here for all of us who call ourselves Christians! What a challenge lies in this passage for those who hold office in the church, for those who hold positions of prominence, such as ministers, bishops, elders, deacons, and presidents within various ecclesiastical organizations!
If a spiritual awakening should come to America, would God have to bypass the religious leaders and begin this awakening among regular laymen?
History seems to indicate that when spiritual awakening comes, it does not start with the leadership of the church. The movement of the Spirit of God seems to bypass the very people we would have expected to be at the heart of it.
As we look at the passage in John 4, we wonder why the disciples were bypassed when there was a great spiritual work to be done. There are two verses that hint at a possible reason:
We read in John 4:8 that they went into the city to buy meat. Of course, to provide food for themselves was a necessary and legitimate concern, but it was possible that food for themselves occupied their minds to the exclusion of blessing for others. They may have been too occupied with material things to sense the spiritual need around them.
This was their preoccupation, and this is the preoccupation of thousands of Christians today. They are so concerned with material and social matters that they have no time to minister to the spiritual needs of men and women. There is little time for the prayer meeting at church. There is little time to give to winning others to Christ.
In affluent America thousands of us Christians have become too comfortable. We are too much at ease in this world. We have ceased to challenge the world in which we move; and if God wanted to do a great work in our time, we would probably be bypassed. This is why the Scriptures time after time warn against worldliness.
The second thing about this great revival at Sychar, when an entire city listened to the Gospel, is how God used a former sinner like this woman to be an evangelist.
The disciples had gone to the city, and there had been little interest in them. However, an hour or two later a woman who had been of immoral character threw the entire population into a ferment of excitement; and in a few minutes they were streaming out to meet with Christ. God had not chosen to use the religious leaders. He had chosen to use a woman who had sinned much.
As we look at history, we are struck time after time by the fact that God has used the most unlikely and the most unworthy instruments to bring about spiritual awakening.
Time and again the principle is found exemplified that Paul laid down in 1 Corinthians: “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28).
Thus, no matter how sinful or unworthy you may feel today, God can use you. Throughout history God has chosen ordinary people and unworthy people and the least likely people.
If God could use such a woman two thousand years ago to bring a revival to the city of Sychar, how much more could God use you today if you would put yourself in His hands? He can use you in your community, your town, your city, your country.
The woman who startled a city, who set the people marching out to meet Christ, was a transformed and changed woman. The power of Christ had changed her, and in that very transformation two things were involved:
First, she had repented of her sin. The only thing that may be keeping revival back from your life, from your church, from your home, from your community, may be unrepented sin. God can only use cleansed vessels.
The second thing in the preparation of the instrument was prayer. The woman at Sychar said, “Give me,” and what an intensity of desire must have gone into that prayer! Thus, she repented of her sin, she believed that Christ was the Messiah, and she began to pray. This simple woman was used to transform an entire city.
After the experience of this day, the Scripture says that Jesus went with them. Revival is not more and not less than the presence of Christ in the heart, the home, the community and the nation. It is the practical application of this fact that we so desperately need to work out in our lifetime.
The cry of the Old Testament prophet was “… that the mountains might shake at Your presence” (Isaiah 64:1). Nothing less than this will do. The Psalmist cried, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Psalm 85:6).
Our greatest need at this moment of confusion and revolution is a moral and spiritual awakening. However, this moral and spiritual awakening is not coming until the people of God repent of their sins, and believe with all their hearts, and begin to pray.
One person listening to my voice at this hour could be used of God to bring about a spiritual awakening in your area if you are willing to pay the price. Will you be that man, that woman, that boy, or that girl? ©1966 BGEA
Scripture Quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.