So you want revival?

Sunday service, Erlo Stegen, 24 Jul 2016


John 7:37-38
37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

When the Lord called me to leave home and preach the gospel it was very difficult. It was like death. But I said that if I must go and preach the gospel I don’t want to play around with the gospel. I wanted to preach the truth as Jesus did. So I determined to preach the truth till the end. At that time revival was a special topic to me. I tried to read every book on it and the working of the Holy Spirit. I read about men of God through which God worked and I desired that. I took the Bible as literally true. The Bible was sweeter than honey to me and the promises were marvellous, e.g., John 14:12, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father”, and other promises like our text. Another precious text was John 16:24, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” It was more precious to me than the things of the world.

But after 12 years of preaching I was disappointed, for these promises were not being fulfilled in my life. I remember back in 1966, I was frustrated and troubled in my spirit. I would be praying day and night that God would come down and work through His Holy Spirit.

One day in a service with my congregation I asked them who of them believed in Jesus and everyone lifted up their hand. But then I followed it up by our text that Jesus had said that the one that believed in Him, rivers of Living Water would flow from his innermost being. I asked them if it was true of them and they answered no. I said I also don’t see it in my own life.

During those days we were taken by a farmer to a strong borehole in a very dry area. He asked me to taste the water and it was undrinkable, full of salt and minerals. He told me how glad they were when they found the water, but how disappointed they were when they realised that it was undrinkable. He said they then tried to use it to water their plants, but the plants wilted and died. Then they tried to use the water to wash their clothes, but the linen was ruined. They finally realised that the water was totally useless.
At that moment I realised that that was a picture of me, the more I preached the more I killed the people spiritually. I’ve been preaching for 12 years but I didn’t see any rivers of Living Water.

I also remembered how I said that if I preached I wanted to preach the truth. I then said to myself that my brothers are in business making money but I’m busy with something that doesn’t work. I’m wasting my time and it’s better to stop.

At that time I was visited by my oldest brother and I stayed in his home while I preached. And I was wrestling about this matter. I woke up at 2 in the morning and my pillow was wet with perspiration. So I turned it around. I switched on the light and opened my Bible and read from John 4, where Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink. It struck me that He spoke to her and told her that everyone who drinks of the water of the world will thirst again but the one who drinks of the Living Water Jesus gives will never thirst again, because that Living Water will become a spring of life in him to eternal life. When she asked for the Living Water He told her to call her husband.

I realised that I was continually drawing water but remained thirsty and the people I preached to remained thirsty. We would hold revival meetings and be blessed for awhile but then it would wear off again and I would need it again. Like this woman I realised that I needed His Living Water. I would preach but the young men would go and buy magazines with pictures of naked women. They would confess their sin but continue to thirst after the things of the world.

The Lord met me that night and revealed my life that I was like that Samaritan woman. I acknowledged that I needed His Living Water. I realised then that when a person truly becomes a believer he will drink of the Living Water and not thirsty anymore after the things of the world.

I thought upon why Jesus asked her to call her husband, when she asked Him for His Living Water. It’s almost as if He changed the subject and didn’t answer her question. But Jesus was revealing her sin. That is what is necessary for true revival, before His Living Water can flow from your life. Your life must be straightened out. Jesus put His finger on the nerve, He pointed out the crux of the matter that stopped her from drinking of the Living Water.

People don’t like it when one preach on the matter of sin. You can preach on eschatology etc., but don’t touch sin. Then they feel uncomfortable.

The story is told that certain naughty boys sent telegrams to 3 prominent politicians, “all has come to light”. The one committed suicide and the other 2 fled the country.
If you get such a telegram what would you do?

There is nothing hidden that will not come to light (Luke 8:17). Jesus said that we should not fear men who can kill your body but then nothing more. But rather fear God who can put both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28).

If you meet with Jesus everything will be in the light. If you claim to have met with Jesus but still have secret sins it cannot be for He would have revealed your sins to you in His light and have washed them in His precious Blood.

Jesus says that the one who sins is the slave of sin but if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed (John 8:34-36). Do you know the Jesus who had revealed to you everything you had ever done? Jesus even numbered the husband she had. He knows each sin you had ever done. Jesus said that if you look at a woman lustfully you’ve already committed adultery in your heart (Matthew 5:28).

Can you point others to Jesus like the Samaritan woman did, “come and see a man who told me everything I had ever done”. What will it help if you claim to know the Lord but He doesn’t know you?

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