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Is revival truly necessary?

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Unsplash/Zac Durant

In grasping for a metaphor to describe from the Lord’s perspective both the importance and necessity of the spiritually revived life, a nature scene flashed before my mind. I first saw the site of what had formally been a mountain stream, flowing down through some now dried up trees and water stained boulders. The dried flakes of algae clung to these once submerged stones and the partial remains of different species of fish dotted the now dried up mountain watering hole. Browns, greys, and different densities of black were the lifeless color tones of the panorama of a location which had obviously been a focal point of beauty and life. Now only one’s imagination could re-create an image that anyone would want to spend more than a moment’s concentration on.

Then however, in the flash of a moment, the scene changed before my eyes. Fresh water began to run down the formally dry streambed. What was previously dry and full of decay was now shiny wet and sparkling with bright sunlight. God allowed me to see His version of time lapse photography as I watched the greys and browns gradually turn to a beautifully bright springtime green and plants with flowers started sprouting up everywhere along the creek bed. Where there had been no sign of animal life before, deer, rabbits and other forms of mountain wildlife began to move to this new flowing stream to drink and graze on the fresh greenery now growing in abundance along its shoreline.

As I look back, I think it must have been as a small boy that I first started realizing my calling as a type of revivalist. I didn’t have a clue then what it was then. All I know is that whenever I recognized something was broken, I wanted to fix it! Whenever something was not running as smoothly as it could I wanted to adjust it. Whenever someone could obviously do better than they were doing I wanted to admonish them to do better and most of all whenever anyone was being mistreated everything in me wanted to come to the rescue.

Anyone who truly studies the scriptures will soon find out that Jesus was very much a revivalist. He did not come to leave things as they were. He was not content with the dried up lifeless mountain stream. In every single sermon He preached, in every parable He taught, He called people everywhere to take one step closer to God. He wanted them to seek to be baptized or totally immersed in God’s Holy Spirit and to be a bright light to the World.

In my early twenties, at a point when I was ready to throw in the towel on life, God reached into that sinful situation and saved me out of that self-destructive behavior. I had been raised in the church. I was a product of a multigenerational line of ordained ministers. From my perspective, the church was little different than the world and operated little differently than any secular organization. Now however, as as a newly reconverted believer studying the writings of the revivalists of the nineteenth century was a huge breath of fresh air, providing the answers to my many years of questions.

Could the God of our Fathers in Heaven be displeased with the church of our day? I concluded one only needed to read John’s writings to the seven churches of Revelation to see that he was very displeased with several of the churches that had been established only a short time after He left this world to rejoin His Father in Heaven. If He was monitoring their works, activities, and behaviors it would only make sense that He was monitoring ours.

However, if could have worn a super hero costume my first few years out on the road as an evangelist/revivalist it would have said in bold letters across my chest, “SUPERNAIVE.” I had just spent a seven-year period of my life in concentrated diligent intercessory prayer never failing to spend at least an hour every morning sprawled out on my face before God in prayer. I had also spent hours and hours during those years in Bible studies and studying the writings of some of the most influential preachers in the then known history. While keeping my day job I went and set up a post office box and began to contact preachers by the hundreds in one of the largest evangelical denominations in the world.  I just fully expected in no time my mailbox would be full and with invitations to preach.

The pastor of my home church was the regional Presbyter and he was a huge help to give me references as he fully supported the message God had placed in my heart. What I did not expect however was that the everyday church attendee within that denomination was really quite content with their life the way it was. They did not want some young preacher coming into their church and using scripture to apply leverage against what was often a very lukewarm spiritual lifestyle. God also began to teach me by His Holy Spirit that the churches in America had been so infiltrated by extreme grace teachings that the average churchgoer no longer felt the need for spiritual growth or personal sanctification. They believed that once they prayed a “repeat after me” prayer with someone at an altar that salvation was set in stone for them and this whole belief system had a numbing effect in which they saw no need for personal revival.

Today the people of the world by the billions are looking on the church picture as the dried up mountain stream. There is no true spiritual life, no fresh sparkling running water, and no wildlife grazing at its shoreline. There is no sunlight sparkling from wet boulders, and no spring like green plant life sprouting up from its source.  Where there is no true conversion, there is no Jesus and no life!

Rev Nolan J Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. since 1985. He spent most of his adult life working in youth ministry. He also felt the calling of Evangelist/Revivalist and traveled as the door was open holding evangelistic meetings in churches throughout the Northeast. His website is

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