The Revival We Need - Awakening!
Series: LEM Early Leaders
This is a condensed version of a sermon preached by Rev. J.O. Gisselquist at the January 1945 LEM Midwinter Evangelistic Conference. Rev. Gisselquist was an active participant in the LEM from its inception in 1937 until his death in 1968. He served as an LEM evangelist from 1945-1956.
In Job 33:19-26 we read of the sad plight in which Job found himself under the judgment and chastisement of God. He was ready to die. He had come utterly to the end of himself - even physically. As far as Job was concerned, there was no hope. Nothing that man could do could save Job. The expected help from his friends had failed. His only hope lay with God. But even God was unable to save Job unless a ransom could be found for him. Was there such a ransom? Job needed to know, and that soon if he was not to perish.
There was such a ransom. A messenger from God cried to Job, “I have found a ransom!” And because God found a ransom for Job, he was saved from the pit and his life from the destroyer. We read of his deliverance and restoration in verses 25 and 26: “His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s; he returns to the days of his youth. He prays unto God, and He is favorable unto him so that he sees His face with joy; and He restores unto him His righteousness.” The ransom made all the difference between life and death, liberty and bondage, defeat and victory. It was the ransom that saved Job and restored him into fellowship with God.
In restoring Job, God dealt with him through judgment. This judgment is the awakening which we need. We must be awakened to see ourselves in the light of God’s righteousness and thus to place a correct estimate on ourselves and our works. “Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes,” was Job’s humbling confession. When he was brought to this place, it was not difficult for the Holy Spirit to reveal the divine ransom.
Not until a man becomes lost and helpless to the degree that he admits he is lost and can do nothing himself will he be really awakened to the need of a ransom. Before this time, he many consider the comfort of religion to quiet an accusing conscience; he may seek help from God through prayer in time of physical distress or danger; he may even make an effort to keep the commandments of God; but he is not yet ready to accept the ransom.
Our text points to God as the author of that awakening which we need. Only God can awaken a soul dead in trespasses and sin. To that end, God has sent the Holy Spirit into the world - “He shall convict the world of sin.” To accomplish this work, the Spirit uses first of all the Word of God. Fire, rock-breaking hammer, two-edged sword - these are three powerful comparisons of the Word of God in its effect on men’s hearts. It enters the sleepy, indifferent, and careless life and stabs the spirit wide awake.
God may use sickness, distress, disappointments, wars, foxholes, famine, pestilence, and such like to arouse men to listen to His Word. Once a man has thus had his attention called to his guilt and God’s wrath against sin, he finds no refuge from his accusing conscience except in Jesus, the divine Ransom. This is the end and purpose of awakening - to bring men to Christ. “There is salvation in no other,” we hear Peter say. “He that has the Son has life; he that has not the Son of God has not life.”
A free-thinker in Sweden went to hear a very popular preacher in one of the neighboring parishes. On this particular Sunday, the preacher spoke on “The Narrow Way.” With eloquence he proclaimed the way of life. “What if this is true?” the free-thinker asked himself. That night he could not sleep. In great distress of soul, he went to see the famous preacher the following morning and asked, “If this is true, what will become of us?” That little word somehow fastened itself into the preacher’s heart. He, like many, had taken himself for granted as a Christian. But now with terrific force the question came to him, “Do I know of the narrow gate of heart-felt need, a broken spirit, and true repentance from sin in my life?” He began to pray for himself. The following Sunday the preacher was not feeling well and did not occupy his pulpit, nor the two following Sundays. But when on the fourth Sunday he appeared in his pulpit, it was with a beaming face and a glad testimony of salvation on his lips.
Intellectual assent to orthodox truth is not sufficient unto a man’s salvation. Nor will an outward submission to the ordinances save a man. But Luther nails the truth when he says, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him, but the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel. What is meant by saying that the Holy Spirit calls men? That He awakens in our hearts a knowledge of sin and invites us to accept God’s grace in Christ.” This is the awakening we need.
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