By C. William Fisher
Some teen-age boys were tinkering with a car that would no longer run. One said, "I believe the trouble is in the carburetor." Another said, "I believe it's the spark plugs." Another said, "I believe the problem is the battery." Finally one of the boys called out: "Hey, you guys, here's the trouble -- no gas." When they pushed the car to a filling station and filled up with gas, they started going places again.
All sorts of experts are swarming over the church today giving their diagnosis of the trouble, trying to answer the question, "What's wrong with our evangelism?" Some point at the superintendents and say, "There's the problem." Others point to the pastors and say, "There's the difficulty." Others point to the schools and say, "There's the trouble." Others point to laymen and say, "There's the problem." While many others point their fingers at evangelists and say, "No doubt about it, there's our difficulty."
Isn't it about time that all of us quit pointing our fingers at anyone except ourselves and then get down on our knees and pay the price to fill up with the power of the Holy Spirit! Then we could go places we've never gone before -- and we wouldn't have time to ask, "Do revivals pay?" We would be too busy enjoying the throb of power of a vital and thrilling evangelism.
But that's just it: we want evangelistic results without paying revival prices. We want to go places evangelistically without paying the price of filling up. But God is not running a discount house; if He gives evangelistic results, it will be because we have paid revival prices.
My own heart is disturbed when I see those who profess less than we do and yet at times show more concern, more real passion, more willingness to be filled afresh with the power of the Holy Spirit than some of us who profess so much.
The day before Dr. George Truett died, his wife left the hospital room for a few minutes and when she returned she had a friend with her. Not seeing Dr. Truett in bed, the ladies looked
around and there, by the open window, they saw him kneeling with arms outstretched toward the city of Dallas. Sick as he was, and as near the end as he was, this man who had pastored the First Baptist Church in that city for fifty years, and had made a tremendous impact on its life, was kneeling there with tears running down his face as he sobbed, "O people of Dallas, won't you come to Jesus?"
We may not share their denominational labels or their theological bias, but may God in heaven forgive us if we who profess so much do not share that kind of burning, aching passion.
I don't know about you, but I have come to the place where I feel the needs of the world are so urgent and hearts are so hungry and the harvest is so white and the laborers are so few and the time is so short and the bombs are so awesome that whether a man dots every [i] and crosses every [t] just as I do, or speaks the same words in the same accents, if he has God on him, if he is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, if he has that burning, passionate hunger to see souls saved and the Kingdom advanced in these desperate days, I will gladly give him my hand and my heart and my prayers. Thank God, we can all be filled with the Spirit and enjoy the full throb of His power in our lives and in our churches and in our evangelism. And that, friends, is the only kind of ecumenicity that interests me in the least.
Can we get along without revivals in the Church of the Nazarene? The answer is an emphatic "Yes!" Lots of other churches do.
But it all depends on what you mean by "getting along."
If you mean, Can we build bigger and fancier buildings without revivals? -- the answer is yes.
If you mean, Can we add more members to the rolls without revivals? -- the answer is yes.
If you mean, Can we increase our college enrollments without revivals? -- the answer is yes.
If you mean, Can we increase our finances and our social and denominational prestige without revivals? -- the answer is yes.
If you mean, Can we enlarge our missionary enterprises without revivals? -- the answer is yes.
If you mean, Can we engage in various types of evangelism without revivals? -- the answer is yes.
But if you mean, Can we fulfill our mission as a holiness church committed to holiness evangelism without revivals? -- the answer is an emphatic "NO!"
To be a redemptive agency in this sin-scarred world -- we must have revivals.
To resist the incredible pressures of a church in transition -- we must have revivals.
To maintain our loyalties to our doctrines and our standards -- we must have revivals.
To fulfill the dreams and realize the vision of our founders -- we must have revivals.
To fulfill our destiny and to realize our full potential as a God-called, God-directed, God-empowered distinctively holiness church -- we must have revivals.
To hand on a spiritually vigorous and dynamic church to our children -- we must have revivals.
To have an evangelism that is more than a mockery of our mission, but that is a genuine holiness evangelism that sees souls saved and believers sanctified wholly and that is at once the dynamic of the church and the only adequate answer to a confused and chaotic world, then we must -- we simply must -- have revivals!
May God help all of us to be willing to pay whatever price we have to pay for that revival emphasis that has ever been, and must ever be, the first and finest thrust of evangelism in the Church of the Nazarene.