Preparation for Revival - Knowing God
by Sammy Tippit
The following is from a message given at the Heart-Cry for Revival Conference in April 2006 at The Cove, Asheville, North Carolina U.S.A.
There have been many preparations made by the planning committee for this "Heart-Cry for Revival Conference" during the past two years. But preparation for revival is different than the kind of preparation made for this conference. Preparation for revival takes place within our hearts. Our hearts must be prepared for revival.
Revival is the work of God among His people. Revival is not evangelism. It is not proclaiming the Gospel to those who do not know Christ. Revival is a work of God among us who know Him, who love Him and who follow Him. Revival is God renewing our hearts. The best definition of revival that I personally have heard is one given by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who said, "Revival is simply when God is known as God."
The knowledge of God is an awesome thing. The knowledge of God is something you cannot manipulate. It is not something you can work up nor plan for. Knowing God is a deep work of the Spirit of God in our hearts and lives, to bring us to repentance and to a new walk of obedience. It is out of that obedience that Jesus says: "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me, and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him" (John 14:21).
Preparation for revival comes when we allow God to work in us to bring us to that place of repentance and that new walk of obedience to the Lord. God has been doing things that I don’t understand in my life since the last conference. Two years ago I came back from Cambodia from preaching to an unreached people group, and I came back with total exhaustion. I found myself on my couch for thirty hours and I couldn’t get up. I called for a friend to come and pray for me. Billy Hobbs, a former all-American football player, and his wife came over and prayed for me. I was scheduled to go to Haiti. Billy said, "Sammy, you are not going to Haiti without me. I’m going to go with you and take care of you." He went with me with a servant’s spirit and carried my suitcases.
Two months later we were in Brazil together and he led most of one of Brazil’s professional soccer teams to Christ. He was supposed to go with me in three months to Pakistan, but two weeks after the Brazil trip he was killed in an automobile accident. I preached his funeral. At the close of his funeral I collapsed again and had to be taken to the emergency room of the hospital. I went to Pakistan a few weeks later and on my way home in Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, I collapsed again and was taken to the hospital. I found myself in a position I had never been in before, completely helpless. I cried out to God, "God, what’s going on?"
Just a few months after that I was having lunch with a friend of mine in Louisiana and I received a phone call from a colleague of mine who said, "Sammy, the man who was interpreting for you in [a Mid-Eastern country] has been kidnapped, and the kidnappers are demanding $60,000!" Before I could respond to their demands, I received another phone call that he had been killed and mutilated terribly. God was doing something in my heart, bringing me to a place I had never been before.
A month after that I received a phone call from my sister saying that she had received a letter from a man who said that he had evidence that he was our brother and he lived in Portugal….We submitted to a DNA test and found out he was not my brother, but in the midst of that he said he had evidence that the DNA testing showed that we were from the same Indian tribe. I discovered that my whole background was not what I thought it was.
All of this transpired during the past two years since the last Heart-Cry Conference. I’ve come to this conference with a heart that is crying out, "Oh, God, I want to know You! Though the world around me falls, though everything shakes, I want to know You!"
Knowing God as a Sovereign God
Revival is coming to know God intimately. When God visits His people, out of that meeting we become different people. We are changed because of the knowledge of God and the encounter we have with Him.
Let us look at Psalm 24 in the light of preparation for revival. There have been instances in history where people who were praying and seeking God for revival read through this Psalm and began to apply it to their hearts. And God began to do a work in their lives and prepare them for a mighty move of God’s Spirit in their own hearts.
"The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods" (Psa. 24:1-2).
The first thing I want us to notice about revival is an assumption: if we want to get to know God, we must get to know Him in His sovereignty, that He is Almighty God. That might seem like a very simple, basic thing, but we must know Him, not know about Him. We must know Him as the sovereign God. He is the One who put the mountains in place, the One who hung the stars in space. I was talking with my son, who has a ministry to this new generation, and he said in passing, "I believe the greatest need for this generation is the sense of the awe of God." That is, to know God, to reverence God, to have an awe of who God is, to know Him as the Almighty God, as the sovereign God. First of all, we need to know that He is the Creator of all things. We need to recapture the sense that He is the God who has placed everything into existence. There is nothing that exists without Him. There will be no revival until deep within our heart and soul we know Him in this kind of way.
A number of years ago I went to South Africa with a man who was my mentor, an evangelist by the name of Mike Gilford. He has gone on to be with the Lord now. Mike had a heart for revival. I met him when I first became a Christian. He was holding a conference in South Africa and he asked me to go with him and to speak at the conference. Each night before the pastors’ conference began, I preached in Cape Town. Each night I would go out alone and pray. We were staying at the place where the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans come together. It is awesome to see the handiwork of God in that place. It is one of the most beautiful places in the whole world. There I would spend a couple hours in prayer, listening, taking in and absorbing God’s handiwork, His majesty, His power, who He is.
I remember thinking as I looked up into the heavens, meditating on who God is – God is here! There is nowhere I can go on this planet but that God is there! Then I had a second thought: God was here long before I arrived, and He was going to be here long after I left. God is the eternal God, the omnipresent God. Then I had a third thought: God knows everything. The God that I was having communion with was the same God who was everywhere all the time and knew everything. Then I had a fourth thought: God has all power.
As I began to understand this, it did something to my prayer life. I was in touch with the God who was everywhere, all the time, had all power, and knew everything. Every night there in Cape Town I would go out for two hours and just meditate on the awesomeness of who God is. He is the Creator; He is the eternal Lord God. As I meditated on that, something took place within my soul.
By the time the pastors’ conference came and we were putting together the schedule, I said, "Just forget about me. I just want to be here and meet with God." But they said, "No, Sammy, we want you to speak."
I had the afternoon session. I spoke about who God is and what God wants to do. When I finished, I sat down and something happened in that moment. God came and met with us! We were supposed to be dismissed and no one could leave.
Someone stood up and began to sing. Others fell on their faces and wept. Some people sat there; some people stood; people were crying. Brothers began to go to other brothers and sisters in Christ, people from different racial backgrounds, and there was reconciliation and there was forgiveness. There was a deep sense of brokenness; repentance took place in that moment. This presence of God among those pastors and leaders went on for about an hour and a half.
Finally, the person who had been in charge before this came and said, "We have to dismiss because it is time for dinner. We must go. They are waiting for us." He walked away and no one followed, because no one could leave. It went on another hour. The man came back in and said, "The food is getting cold. We must break for dinner." No one could leave. There was such a sense of the awesome presence of God. When God comes and when God visits, we know Him as the Creator, as the sovereign God. He is the One in control and in charge. I met with a pastor a couple weeks ago who was in that meeting. He said that when God came, it was the turning point of his ministry and life.
God’s Sovereignty at All Times, in All Things
Revival is not necessarily the top blowing off; revival is sometimes the bottom falling out. When we have nowhere to look, and we see Him and behold Him for who He is – then He meets with us. Our hearts have been prepared when we see Him as the owner of all things. One of the things you are going to learn if you are to see and know revival is that you are not the owner. Not only is God the Creator, He is the owner of all things. "The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psa. 24:1). If He created the mountains, He owns them. If He calls you into the ministry, He owns it. He is the sovereign God. He can do what He so desires to do. We must take our hands off. We are not called to be owners; we are called to be stewards.
A great problem in the Church today is that we have a lot of "owners" in the Church. The truth is: God is the owner of the Church. The biblical concept is that we are stewards. A steward is one who stands under the authority of the owner. The only test for us is whether we have been faithful stewards.
When things go wrong, it may be that God is wanting to meet with us, that God is preparing our hearts for a deeper work within us, to reveal Himself, that we might know Him better. In the midst of the bottom falling out, we might really get to know Him. We need to see Him when things go wrong, and ask ourselves the question: "Have I been faithful?" If things go wrong because we have not been faithful stewards, then we need to repent. But if we have been faithful and we deem that things go wrong, then we must say that God is in control. God is the owner.
A couple years before Dr. Bill Bright died, I had an opportunity to interview him about personal revival, about his own walk and personal relationship with God. I asked him what he thought the secret of ongoing, personal revival was and he said to me, "Every night before I go to sleep, my wife and I lie in bed, and we say, ‘Lord, here we are; we’re Your servants.’ We wake up in the morning and we say, ‘Lord, we’re Your servants reporting for duty.’"
I believe that in the work of the Lord we have developed a lot of Chief Executive Officers, owners of ministries, instead of servants. God is the owner; God is the One in charge; God is in control. Only He and He alone has the authority to say, "Go to the right" or "Do this," or "Do that." You place yourself as a steward. The biblical position for revival is to say, "God, I’m only a steward. Whatever You want me to do, I’m here. I am one saluting. I am one saying, ‘Yes, sir. I will do whatever You want me to do.’" There must be a sense of awe in our hearts because of who He is.
Knowing God as a Holy God
"Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or, who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation" (Psa. 24:3-5).
There are three things said here in order to know God, to see God in His glory and in His manifest presence, and to welcome God in revival, for revival is a small manifestation of the glory of God: 1) commitment to the truth, 2) clean hands, 3) a pure heart.
First, there has to be a sense of commitment to the truth. Who "hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully" or another translation says, "has not sworn by that which is false, or by idols." One of the great things that sets Christianity apart from other religions is truth. Jesus is the Truth. In India I went into a temple where they have a little god of stone, and people brought their food to offer to this god of stone. The next day the food was gone. They didn’t think that the god ate the food. They know that this is a fable. In Christianity we are not dealing with fables. We are dealing in truth. Jesus is the Truth!
When we minister and when we come to revival, it is important that what we say and what we do is rooted in integrity of life and ministry. What we preach must be with integrity. It must be the Word of God. Revival has always come as the Word of God has been proclaimed in power and in truth. It is important that we speak the truth, that we not exaggerate. When Jesus comes and visits His people there is no need for exaggeration. Often we try to build something up to more than it really is and to say things about our ministry that are more than has really happened. We need to speak honestly. When revival comes, there is honesty about who we are and about what we’ve done. We don’t have to impress people. In revival there is a genuineness and truthfulness.
One of the great problems in our culture today is with marketing. There is a temptation to try to paint a thing to be something that it is really not. Evangelicals have stepped over the line on this to impress people. We feel that in order to get something to work, we have to show people something that is dynamic and exciting; we have created thoughts and ideas that are not rooted in reality and in truth. When revival comes, it is all about truth. Jesus is the Truth. We not only won’t swear by nor speak about that which is false, but we’ll have integrity in our speech.
And we’ll have clean hands in our relationships. Revival is the knowledge of God, and to know God means to love your brother. Today we live in a culture of broken relationships. One of the great hindrances to revival is that we do not have clean hands. Jesus said that if there is a broken relationship, when you bring your gift to the altar, go and make it right with your brother, and then bring your gift to the altar (Matt. 5:23-24). There has to be a righting of wrong relationships, no matter who it is. There are times in the ministry when you’re going to be hurt. There are times when you are going to do things that are wrong, and we have to have a spirit of humility, go to our brothers, humble ourselves before them and have forgiveness if we are going to have revival.
We can do some great things. We can have some great conferences, even revival conferences, but we will not have revival until we have clean hands. Whatever it is, with whomever there is a broken relationship, whatever had been done – one thing supremely important is that we have clean hands.
As I understood God, He called me to preach the night I was saved, and I surrendered to preach two nights later. I knew nothing about the Bible and my pastor encouraged me to go to Bible College. So I went to a Christian college to study the Bible. The college had strict rules and regulations. Before I became a Christian I had cheated on some of my exams. When I became a Christian, I studied and I wouldn’t cheat on my exams. In a biology class at the Christian college, we had to dissect a frog. I had studied and knew all the parts of a frog. In the exam, we were gathered around the frog and were writing down the various parts of the frog. Although I had studied and knew every part of the frog, I came to one part and I couldn’t remember it. A friend of mine saw my dilemma and he turned his paper and I saw the answer. Since I had studied and knew it, I wrote it down and turned it in and got an "A" on the exam.
I went back to my dorm room and closed the door and got on my knees to seek God. God was so far away. I said, "God, before I went into that exam I met with You. You were here. Where are You?" And the Lord said, "Son, you cheated on that exam." I said, "God, forgive me. I’m sorry." The Lord spoke to my heart and said, "But you’ve got a lie on your record. You don’t have clean hands. You have to go to that professor, and tell him what you’ve done, and you have to ask for forgiveness from that professor."
I began to argue with the Lord and I said, "But, Lord, this is a Christian college. I’ll be put out of this school if I do that." And the Lord said, "No problem." And the windows of heaven were closed. I wrestled with the Lord in my heart that day and finally I couldn’t stand it any longer. More than anything else, I wanted clean hands.
I went to that professor and I said, "Sir, there is something I’ve got to confess to you, and that is that I cheated on that exam," and I told him what I did. I’ll never forget what he said. He said, "I knew that." And he did. But he said, "You know what? You’re the only one who has confessed and there were others who cheated too. I’m going to give you another chance."
I ran back to my dorm room. I closed the door and the windows of heaven were open! I realized something. I could have substituted a good grade on an exam for the knowledge of God. I could have gone through my whole ministry, preaching without the power of God, manipulating situations, but I had to be willing to humble myself and repent and go to that professor with the attitude that whatever happens to me I’m willing to accept. If it means being put out of the school, then that’s all right, but I need to be right with God. And I can’t be right with God if I don’t have clean hands.
To have your heart prepared for revival, you have to have a heart to know God, and to want His holiness more than you want anything else in life. If there is any broken relationship, you have to be willing to go back and say, "Would you forgive me?"
A Pure Heart
Very importantly, we must have a pure heart. "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Who shall stand in His holy place? He who hath clean hands and a pure heart…." (Psa. 24:3-4). "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matt. 5:8).
What does it mean to have purity of heart? The word purity means without mixture. There can’t be a mixture of desiring revival and desiring something else. We can’t desire the glory of God and the glory of our own selves. Man looks on the outside, but God looks on the inside. He sees what’s in our heart and He is looking for a heart that is pure, a heart that says, "God, I want You! What I want is You!" We may come to the place where we have to say, "Lord, the truth is – my heart is not pure; my heart is not after You alone. Lord, there’s a lot of self-glory in my heart." Get honest with God and go before the Lord and say, "Lord, I want You more than anything."
That brings us right back to the property of God. "The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein" (Psa. 24:1). It all belongs to Him. It all comes from Him. It is all unto Him. It’s Him! It’s Him alone!
In Psalm 24:6-10 we read: "This is the generation of them that seek Him, that seek Thy face, O Jacob. Selah. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory."
Oh, the longing of our hearts must be for a visitation of the King of glory! The sovereign God to whom all glory and all honor and all praise is due. It is not to an organization, but to the glory of the King! "This is the generation of them that seek Him…." This present conference that we are having is because we believe God is wanting a new generation that has a passion to seek God for who He is, and not for what we can get out of Him.
I believe that God is doing something in North America. First of all, we know that many of the great revivals of history have taken place in this land on university campuses. They have been student movements. I believe God is stirring students to seek God. The torch must be passed to a new generation who will seek God for who He is – a sovereign God, a holy God, those who will humble themselves under the mighty hand of God and seek His face and not just His hand.
Another thing that I believe has happened in the last number of years is that God has brought a new wave of immigrants to this country for the sake of revival. The closest that I personally have come to revival in recent years in America was at a conference with young Korean-Americans. Every evening as we closed the session there were still people praying and repenting and going deep until two, or three or four o’clock in the morning. I’ve not been in any Anglo services like that.
I remember speaking each morning at a conference of Cambodian leaders, who had come from all over North America to the state of Washington. There had been a revival in some of the Cambodian refugee camps. On the last day one of the leaders came to me and said, "O, Brother Sammy, you’ve got to give an altar call." I replied, "This morning I’ll give an appeal." So I said at the end of my message, "If God has been speaking to your heart this week and you need to repent, this altar is open for you to repent." Those Cambodians didn’t come and stand and say, "God, forgive me." They were literally underneath the chairs on their faces, crying, "O God, I have sinned and You are holy!" There were only two people standing and they were Anglo missionaries.
I believe that God has brought to North America an ethnic community which is close to revival. Some Romanian young people who are friends of mine have asked me to speak at their conferences. These young people are so on fire for Jesus. They have come out of revival in the days of persecution. They were little children five and six years old when they heard me preaching in the days of communism in Romania. Their parents immigrated to America. These young people are still close to what God did in those days when He moved in such a mighty way in Romania. Their uncles and aunts traveled with me when we did youth ministry in Romania during the days of Ceausescu. In order to be in the singing group you had to memorize the books of James and First Peter and First John. They were so committed to the Word of God. They put their lives on the line by just traveling with me.
I believe God has brought to North America a new wave of immigrants who have been persecuted, who have gone through difficulties, who have had the bottom fall out. I believe God has brought them here for a purpose, that there might be a generation here who would seek His face. At one Korean conference they said, "If you Anglos will not seek God for revival, we will take the torch and we will seek God for revival." This is the generation that seeks the King of Glory. Who is this King of Glory? It is God who is mighty in battle. He is able to do exceeding abundantly above everything that we could ask or think of asking. He is a great and mighty God.
"The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him" (2 Chron. 16:9). God by His Spirit, is looking into the hearts and lives of men and women and He doesn’t care whether they are young or whether they are old, whether they are black or whether they are white, whether they speak Russian or Arabic or whatever language. It doesn’t matter to God. The eyes of the Lord are going to and fro looking into the hearts of people and when He finds that right kind of heart, He will show Himself mighty – the King, the Lord of hosts, the Lord who is mighty in battle! What we need is a heart prepared to receive a visitation of the King of Glory!