True Revival and Reformation 

"If Thou Hadst Known...."

"And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." Luke 19: 41-44.

True Revival and Reformation—Part 1

F. M. Wilcox

An Appeal made by Pastor F. M. Wilcox, Editor of the Review and Herald, in a devotional meeting of the Autumn Council of the General Conference Committee, held in Battle Creek, Michigan, October 20-27, 1937.

Happy the people whose God is the Lord. Blessed the believers who live continually in the light of His presence. Fortunate the church with spiritual discernment to see and understand the things which belong unto their peace. But sad indeed is it when the church fails in this recognition of the leadings of Divine Providence. 

The Sacred Record reveals many failures in this respect, and this record is left for the instruction and admonition of the church in every age. The chosen people in the days of Christ afford a notable illustration of a church that failed to know and appreciate the things which belonged unto their peace. It was their backslidden condition which drew from the lips of the Master the sad lament recorded by Luke: 
"And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." Luke 19: 41-44. 

This characterisation of their condition came not because the Jewish church had professedly rejected God. They made their boast of God, and prided themselves in their zeal for His service. This was their own estimate of themselves, as given by the pen of divine Inspiration: 

"Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest His will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law." Rom. 2: 17-20. 

The scribes and Pharisees representing the Jewish church were praying men. Matt. 23: 14. They professed great reverence for the prophets. Verses 29, 30. They were so earnest in missionary endeavour that they compassed sea and land to make one proselyte. Verse 15. They were so scrupulous in the matter of tithe paying that they tithed even the small herbs of the field, mint, anise, and cumin. Verse 23. Wherein did their failure before God consist? 


Wherein Israel Failed

In that notable chapter of woes pronounced against the Jewish leaders — Matthew 23 — the Saviour clearly points out wherein the Jewish church failed, why they knew not the things that belonged unto their peace. They made long prayers, only to cover up their sin of devouring widows' houses. They revered the prophets of old, building for them lofty tombs, but were plotting to take the life of Christ the Lord. They compassed sea and land to make one proselyte, but made him twofold more the child of hell than they themselves. They tithed mint and anise and cumin, but "omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith." 

Ah, this was their failure! The religion of the Jewish church consisted of theory, not of heart service. It pertained to the external, and did not take hold of and change the inner currents of the life. It was a religion of form and ceremony, of beautiful ritualism, of imposing architecture, of impressive services, but it was not a religion which changed the heart and moulded the life in harmony with the divine precepts. It was a religion of self-righteousness, of works without love; of cold, reasoning philosophy in the place of warm, vibrant faith. 

It was this condition of the chosen people that called from the lips of the Master the sad lament recorded in the closing verses of this chapter: ''O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." 

Truly Israel of old knew not the things that belonged unto their peace. How many times in the history of the church of God has this been true! How many times has religious service degenerated into mere form! How earnestly have professed Christians sought salvation by their own works, rather than through the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ! 


The Lesson for Us

The lesson of these experiences is for us, and woe to the remnant church if it take not seriously to heart the lesson which this record of the past is meant to give! Woe to us if we fail to recognise the things which belong to our peace! Declares the apostle: "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." 1 Cor. 10: 11, 12. 

The Spirit of divine revelation clearly recognised that these same temptations and evils which have threatened the church in every age would threaten the church of the last generation. A definite warning is sounded to the church of Laodicea, as recorded in the third chapter of Revelation. This church is charged with the spirit of self-righteousness, with glorying in its own good works and achievements. It is charged with saying, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;" but God says of it, "Thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." 


Boasting After the Flesh

The apostle Paul declared, "If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more'' (Phil. 3:4), and then he goes on to delineate his lineage, his education, his seal, his outward righteousness touching the law, etc. From that same human viewpoint those connected with this movement could boast after the flesh. We have our church organisation, one of the most efficient of its kind in the world. We have our institutions, some of them exerting a worldwide influence. We are carrying on missionary endeavours which are the admiration of all who are acquainted with our operations. We are liberal in our gifts and offerings to Christian work, perhaps not equalled in per capita giving by any other church body. We have a system of religious faith so grounded in the Scriptures that it has withstood through the years every assault of error. We have much of which to boast from the human viewpoint; and unfortunately, we fear this spirit of boasting, of self-righteousness, has taken possession of many Advent believers. We are told: 

"The steady progress of our work, and our increased facilities, are filling the hearts and minds of many of our people with satisfaction and pride, which we fear will take the "place of the love of God in the soul." — "Testimonies," Vol. 4, p. 535. 

"They are more ready for active labour than for humble devotion, — more ready to engage in outward religious service than in the inner work of the heart. Meditation and prayer are neglected for bustle and show." — Ibid. 

"To many, the externals are the sum total of religion." — "Testimonies to Ministers," p. 196. 


We Cannot Save Ourselves

As a church we have done much, but even so, we cannot save ourselves. The keeping of the Sabbath, attendance oftentimes with much inconvenience and sacrifice on our part, will not save us. Our liberality will not save us, though we go so far as to give all our goods to feed the poor and our bodies to be burned. We cannot buy our way into heaven. The attainment of our church goals will fail to bring us salvation, even though we may pursue them most zealously and obtain their full realisation. Our beautiful system of doctrine will not bring us our reward. Rather it will prove our condemnation in the end, unless we are sanctified through the truth. The Sabbath-keeping and the liberality and the attainment of goals are all necessary, but not as a means of salvation. 

The child of God will be fruitful in good works. But these will appear as fruits in a life motivated by love for Christ. They will be the outward expression of an indwelling faith. 

We may multiply statistics and number Israel, as did David of old; but while the evidences of our growth may bring satisfaction, and even some inspiration for future endeavour, there is no sanctifying power in this study. In our own accomplishments, however commendable, there is no salvation, and the one who trusts in them and glories in them only cries out his own blindness and shame and wretchedness, as stated in the message to the Laodicean church.

 Is there then hope for Laodicea? Yea, verily, but not in ourselves. God does not point out sin in order to taunt us with our wretched state. He provides as well a way of escape from our prison house. There is hope even for the poor self-righteous Laodicean. 


The Remedy For Sin

This is the remedy: "I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.'' Rev. 3: 18, 19. 

In harmony with this is the word of the prophet Hosea: 

"It is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you." Hosea 10: 12. 

It is always fitting that we seek God, but this is a special time to which the prophet refers. Christ is preparing to lay aside the sceptre of mercy, and take the sword of judgment. Soon "He that shall come will come, and will not tarry." To us who live in this day, in a special sense is this solemn admonition given: 

"Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." Isa. 55: 6, 7. 


The Church’s Great Need

And this call to repentance is sadly needed. May I mention some of the dangers threatening the church? Many are putting afar off the coming of the Lord. They are saying by their lives, if not by word, “My Lord delayeth His coming." 

Some are treating not only with indifference, but with unbelief and even contempt, the instruction that has come to us in the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy. 

Some are patrons of the theatre and the movie. The radio in the homes of many of our people has become an agency of great evil, bringing within the sacred precincts of the family life the spirit of jazz, not alone in music, but in lectures and theatricals. 

The Sabbath, in the lives of some Seventh- day Adventists, is a day for social visiting and pleasure. 

The popular bathing resort is another one of Satan's agencies in these last days whereby morals are being corrupted, even in the lives of members of our own church. Card parties and private dances among select groups are invading the homes of some of our people. 

The slimy trail of impurity may be traced in the lives of even some who should be high examples of virtue and integrity. Many are readers of fiction, with its sex appeal so demoralising to purity of heart. We have members who, in the matter of marriage and divorce, are living in plain violation of the seventh commandment. 

The world is making a strong bid for the youth of our denomination. The daily contact which some of our young people make with the world in the way of employment, attendance at worldly schools, and in social life, brings to them constant temptations of a peculiarly fascinating character. 

The sin of extravagance, of lavish spending, is seen in many lives and homes. Many are becoming self-centred in their interests, and the appeal of gospel needs is growing dim in their ears. There is danger that this spirit of extravagance will intrude itself into the administration of our conference and institutional work. 

Remnant Israel has indeed sinned. We have strayed far from God. We have departed from the simplicity of the gospel. We have wandered into worldliness. The spirit of covetousness has taken possession of many hearts, and much is squandered in speculation and lost in the mazes of worldly pleasure. They have turned their backs upon Canaan, and are retreating toward Egypt. There are found in many of our churches those who have a name to live, and yet are dead in trespasses and sins. Their names are upon the church books, and they go through a formal service, but the oil of grace has leaked out of their hearts, and they are as widely separated from the saving knowledge of Christ as is the open sinner. 

Why do I point out these evils existing in the church? Is it because Seventh-day Adventists are sinners above all men? Is it because our church ranks lower in the scale of spirituality and Christian living than other denominations? Far from it. Probably no church body in the world possesses a higher grade of communicants than those in our own church. But God has given to us great light. We believe in Christ's soon coming, and are preparing to meet Him. In view of this, our responsibility is correspondingly greater, and our standard of Christian living and experience should be correspondingly higher. Heaven rightly expects more of us. 

There is needed a call to repentance. There is need for a revival and reformation in the remnant church, and we as ministers of Christ, as shepherds of the flock, should recognise this need; and only as we do recognise it, and call the church up to a higher plane of Christian living and back to a higher standard of righteousness, shall we be true to our sacred trust.

Australasian Record, Vol. 42, No. 14, April 1, 1938.

True Revival and Reformation—Part 2

F. M. Wilcox

We have spoken of the need of a revival and reformation. What will bring this about? Do we not find an answer to this question in the prophecy of Joel: 

“Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil. . . .” 

"Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?" Joel 2: 12-17. 

Upon the ministry of the church, the leaders of the people, rests the solemn responsibility to be foremost in this work of reformation. It is time to seek the Lord. It is time for us to seek God as never before for the baptism of His Holy Spirit; to seek Him not only for the forgiveness of sins, but for cleansing from sin; to seek Him for His transforming, keeping power, for hearts of holiness, so that we may be made vessels of grace to others, instruments through whom God can work for the salvation of His people. How can we help others unless we have first received help? How can we minister to others God's forgiving grace and keeping power from sin, if we ourselves do not know what this experience is in our own lives? It is for us to know. God calls us to know, and may we heed this call while yet there is opportunity. 

We need to weep and pray for God to spare His people, to save them from their sins, to recover them from their backsliding, in order that His heritage shall not become a reproach, but shall stand in the light of His truth and in the power of His grace for the salvation of a lost world- We need especially to pray for our dear youth who are beset and assailed by Satan in these evil days as youth never were tempted before. 


The Whole Church Guilty

We may look upon the weakness and indifference of some in the church, and reason that their backslidden condition is not ours; that while others have fallen, we have been kept by Christ's grace. This may be true, but this reasoning is not the spirit of the true seeker after God. Daniel of old had been kept by God's power from the sins which prevailed in the church, and yet he recognised that in his church relationship the sin of the church was his sin. He classed himself with his brethren. Hear his humble supplication: 

"I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession: , . . We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly." "O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face." "Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God." "Yea, all Israel have transgressed Thy law." Dan. 9:4, 5, 8, 10, 11. 

The sin of some in the church is the sin of the whole church, unless the church as a whole condemns the sin and seeks to reclaim the erring ones. The sin of some in the church is our sin as preachers and leaders, unless we clear our own souls by crying out against it. Of the leaders of Israel of old God said: 

"If they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings." Jer. 23: 22.

We cannot be guiltless before God if we permit sin to reign in the church without our earnest protest. As watchmen upon the walls of Zion, God calls upon us to cry aloud and spare not, to lift up our voices as trumpets, and show God's people their transgression and the house of Jacob their sins. In love and compassion, but faithfully and fearlessly, we must call Israel to repentance. Truly the call of this hour is to revival and reformation. Revival without reformation leads only to sentimental change of feeling, which naturally reverts again to the old level. This has been the trouble with too many revivals in our experience of the past. Listen to this appeal from the messenger of the Lord:

“God calls for a spiritual revival and a spiritual reformation. Unless this takes place, those who are lukewarm will continue to grow more abhorrent to the Lord, until He will refuse to acknowledge them as His children. 

"A revival and a reformation must take place under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are two different things. Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganisation, change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. Reformation will not bring forth the good fruit of righteousness unless it is connected with the revival of the Spirit. Revival and reformation are to do their appointed work, and in doing this work they must blend." —"Review and Herald," Feb. 25, 1902. 


The Fruit of True Revival and Reformation

True revival and reformation not only will stir the mind, but will transform the outward life. It will bring a change in habits and practices. 

It means, in concrete terms, that the one who experiences the revival and the reformation that God calls for, will cease his life of sinning. He that is born of God sinneth not. God calls His children to a life of holiness. 

More specifically it means that the one who steals will cease this wicked practice, and will restore that which he has wrongfully taken. 

True revival and reformation means that the one who has robbed God in tithes and offerings will restore that which he has withheld from the treasury of God. 

It means that the one who has used his tongue in gossip and slandering his neighbour, will confess his great sin, and will go forth to bless. 

It means, that the one who has been careless in Sabbath observance will sacredly regard the day unto the Lord, not doing his own ways or seeking his own pleasure or speaking his own words. 

It means that the one who has been neglectful in his practice of the principles of healthful living, who in his eating and drinking has ministered to the lusts of the flesh, will henceforth eat and drink to the glory of God. 

True revival and reformation means that the one who has followed the fashions of the world, and has dressed with regard to his own fancy, or in conformity to worldly fashions, will seek to dress in a manner becoming his holy profession. 

It means that the one who has been engaged in the pleasures of sin, associating with worldly companions, engaging in frivolity and parties of pleasure, will become sober, prayerful, and reflective. 

It means that the one who has been light and trifling in his conversation, spending his time in. joking and idle chitchat, will have his mind filled with thoughts pertaining to his eternal welfare and the salvation of his fellow men. 

True revival and reformation means that the one who has been cross and surly and impatient in his home, will manifest a spirit of meek and loving forbearance. 

It means that the one who has been dishonest in deal or who has willingly neglected to meet his obligations to his fellow men, will make every endeavour to pay his debts and to conduct his business in an honest, God-fearing manner. 

It means that the one who has neglected prayer will be found often in communion with his heavenly Father. This communion will be sweeter than association with, any earthly friend. 

The one who has neglected the study of the Word of God will find pleasure and life in its perusal. It will be more interesting and entertaining than the magazine or storybook. 

True revival and reformation means that the one who has found pleasure in lustful thoughts or acts of impurity, will cry out in the agony of his soul to be delivered from this body of death, and by Christ's grace his thoughts will be turned into channels of purity and righteousness. 

It means that the devotee of the theatre and the movies and other dramatic representations, will turn from these forms of amusement as a waste of time and a denial of his Lord, and find his pleasure in the religious exercises of the church and in missionary labour for those who know not the Lord. 

It means that one who has felt the urge and power of the message of the coming of the Lord in his own heart and life, will do his utmost, by personal effort and by giving support to others, to bring to those who know not the gospel, the joy of salvation he himself has experienced. 


A Return to the First Love 

The call of God today is to a new life in Christ Jesus. We need to be born again. We need to return to our first love. Sin has deadened our sensibilities and seared our consciences. Our vision has become blurred, so that we cannot see with true perspective. We have become so fascinated with the things of time and sense, that the appeal of Heaven has largely lost its power in our lives. We need a revival of heart, a reformation of life, a new unction from on high, a new baptism of the Holy Spirit. And this is our only hope. Without this revival and reformation we are lost. Unless this experience comes to thousands in the church of Christ, they will continue their downward steps, and in the final crisis will take their stand on the side of the arch-deceiver. 


Promise of Pentecostal Power 

May God keep us from being content with a mere wave of emotionalism. This is as far as many revivals have gone. May He lead us into the deeper depths, into the higher achievements of Christian experience. The promise of Pentecostal power is given us. The messenger of the Lord declares: 

"The Lord calls for a renewal of the straight testimony borne in years past. He calls for a renewal of spiritual life. The spiritual energies of His people have long been torpid, but there is to be a resurrection from apparent death. By prayer and confession of sin we must clear the King's highway. As we do this, the power of the Spirit will come to us. We need the Pentecostal energy. This will come; for the Lord has promised to send His Spirit as the all-conquering power." — "Gospel Workers," pp. 307-308. 

We are told that the whole church will never be revived, but "before the final visitation of God's judgments upon the earth, there will be, among the people of the Lord, such a. revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured, out upon His children." — "The Great Controversy," p. 464. This will constitute the true and genuine revival which God calls for. 


The Response of Heaven

And what will be the response of Heaven to such a revival and reformation as this in the hearts and lives of His people? Following the call to revival in the second chapter of Joel, we have this promised blessing for those who take part in this work of seeking God: 

"Then will the Lord be jealous for His land, and pity His people. Yea, the Lord will answer and say unto His people. Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith; and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen." Joel 2:18, 19. 

"Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call." Verse 32. 

Then will the remnant speak forth the message of truth with mighty converting power. The refreshing from the presence of the Lord, the latter rain, will enable the gospel messengers to go on in the strength and wisdom of Christ our righteousness. 


The Great Refreshing

"I heard those clothed with the armour speak forth the truth with great power. It had effect. Many had been bound, some wives by their husbands, and some children by their parents. The honest who had been prevented from hearing the truth, now eagerly laid hold upon it. All fear of their relatives was gone, and the truth alone was exalted to them. They had been hungering and thirsting for truth; it was dearer and more precious than life. I asked what had made this great change. An angel answered, 'It is the latter rain, the refreshing from the presence of the Lord, the loud, cry of the third angel."— "Early Writings," p. 271. 


The Grand Consummation

Thank God, there will come the day of deliverance. The prophet Zephaniah sees the remnant church victorious over sin, saved in the kingdom of heaven: 

"The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid. ... In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing." Zeph. 3:13-17. 

Truly "it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you." Hosea 10:12. He who seeks shall find. He who asks with abiding faith shall receive. May we one and all seek and find, ask and receive. This is the promised heritage of every true disciple. May God bring us into possession of this glorious and blessed heritage, is my sincere prayer.

Australasian Record, Vol. 42, No. 15, April 11, 1938