We Need A National Revival, Part 2
In last month's blog, I wrote about Canada's need for a national revival and a return to biblical morality. I believe that if Canada continues on its current moral trajectory – there is little hope it will return to God – unless our nation experiences a national revival or spiritual awakening.
For many of my readers the terms revival or spiritual awakening might seem foreign to them. They have no firsthand experience of what can happen to towns, cities, and countries, that experience an overwhelming move of God's Spirit, that moves masses of individuals to repentance and a return to God.
One only needs to research the subject of revivals to see their impact on cities and a nation as a whole. In America's earliest history, the First Great Awakening (1730-1770) and the Second Great Awakening (1795-1835) had profound spiritual impacts on the new America. These revivals were not only life changing, they were culture changing too.
Benjamin Franklin, a Founding Father, who was sympathetic to the Christian faith, but was not known as an ardent believer, marveled at the effects of the First Great Awakening. He said, "It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants; from being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk through the town in an evening without hearing Psalms sung in different families of every street."
During the Second Great Awakening, churches experienced a great increase in membership due to the hundreds of thousands of people that made decisions to follow Christ. It stimulated several moral and philanthropic reforms, including the temperance movement and the emancipation of women.
When Alexis de Tocqueville, the French historian and social philosopher, came to America during the Second Great Awakening to observe its new form of democracy, he was immediately impacted by the influence the Christian religion had on American citizens. He published his findings in his two-volume work titled, Democracy in America. Tocqueville said, "There is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men then in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth."
For Tocqueville, Christianity was the defining factor of the nation's character and identity. He believed it to be the most important element in the nation's success and that it would determine its future status:
I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors . . .; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public-school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless constitution. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness, did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.
Tocqueville's quote is noteworthy. America's success was seen in its pulpits that flamed with righteousness. But can that be said of today's pulpits? It doesn't appear to be so. And, what about Tocqueville's prophetic and ominous insight about America's goodness as it is now influenced by secularism and socialism?
A recent report by the Cultural Research Center of Arizona Christian University, came to a troubling conclusion. American Christians are undergoing a “post-Christian Reformation,” says Dr. George Barna, Director of Research at the CRC. Unlike the Protestant Reformation, whose goal was to return to the foundational teachings of the Bible, this modern movement is one where Americans are redefining biblical beliefs according to secular values.
Barna said, “The theology of this reformation is being driven by American culture rather than biblical truth. He added, “The most startling realization” about this secular reformation, said Barna, “is how many people from evangelical churches are adopting unbiblical beliefs.”
Evangelicals have traditionally emphasized the importance of seeing the Bible as the infallible, inerrant Word of God. Now, however, 52 percent do not believe in objective moral truth, which “equates to most evangelicals believing that the Bible is either not inerrant or trustworthy in its content.” That, said Barna, “is a radical and critical departure from the traditional teachings and biblical reliance of evangelicals.”
Studies of today's evangelical youth also reveal that 69% who attend church do not believe in absolute truth, and they agree that if your beliefs offend someone, your beliefs are wrong. Today's young Christians are also five times more likely than their older peers to embrace Marxist ideas. Yes, these are the same ideas that led to Communism – a godless movement that is credited with killing more than a hundred million people, including countless scores of Christians, over a one hundred year period.
Whenever a nation adopts a secular ideology that rejects God's sovereign and moral authority – godlessness ensues. We see this clearly in the nation of Judah.
1. A Nation that Didn't Acknowledge God
When King Ahaz of Judah, came to the throne, he did not follow the example of his godly father, King Jotham. Instead, he sought to liberate Judah from all the "oppressive" moral decrees his father had enacted.
Ahaz wasn't just content to leave people to follow their own wantonness – he “encouraged his own people to sin” (2 Chron. 28:19).
One of the things Ahaz encouraged his people to do was Baal worship – which included, "horrendous and repulsive aspects such as sexual excesses and perversions (Isa. 57:3–10).
But if you are thinking we can claim moral superiority to Judah – when it comes to sexual excesses and perversion – think again. The sixties unleashed decades of sexual permissiveness in our nation with the introduction of artificial contraception, and the legalization of abortion. Contraception brought about a radical change in our nation's social perceptions of sexual intercourse, human life, and morality in general. Contraception helped to ingrain abortion and other anti-life practices into our culture. I concur with John Paul II who said that “despite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree” (Evangelium vitae, n. 13).
Canada is also dealing with the scourge of a flourishing pornographic industry, fueled by decades of tolerance for sexual immorality. And yet, in spite of the research done by a Standing Committee of our Government in 2017  documenting the harmful effects of pornography on men, women and children, our government has done nothing to address this industry or its vices.
Ahaz also "sacrificed his own sons in the fire in his worship of Baal" (2 Chronicles 28:3). But once again, we find ourselves no better than the nation of Judah. Every year thousands of children are aborted because our government considers this morally acceptable. And, this atrocity is committed at the "altars" of sexual freedom, human rights and convenience.
When abortions are deemed an "essential" service during the Covid 19 pandemic – while other medical services had to be postponed causing people needless pain and even death – our government showed its "moral" priorities. When 90,000 abortions were allowed to occur in people's homes in the UK since March 2020 – the UK government also showed its "moral" priorities.
Ahaz also 'shut the doors of the Lord’s Temple so that no one could worship there . . . In this way, he aroused the anger of the Lord" (2 Chronicles 28:24-25). After all, who needs God's temple to be open, when people were having so much fun sinning? Ahaz reasoned like many government leaders – with God out of the way, people had a license to commit whatever sins they wanted in the name of freedom.
When Ahaz finally died, his 25-year-old son Hezekiah came to the throne. Would the people be in for more of the same? No, Hezekiah led the nation to spiritual reform and renewal. Our Government and all of us can learn some critical lessons from Hezekiah's spiritual reforms.
2. For a Revival to Happen Our Government Needs to Acknowledge God's Sovereignty
Government leaders must stop appealing to their own progressive feeling-based version of morality. They must adopt a biblical morality when enacting legislation. It is the only objective moral truth that has stood the test of time and to which everyone can be equally held accountable.
Fortunately, for King Hezekiah, his moral and spiritual foundation was grounded in the law of Moses. His story opens with, "Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord" (2 Chron. 29:1) and his story ended with, "In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God’s laws and commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful (2 Chron. 31:21)."
What exactly did he do right that made him so successful? "In the very first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the Temple of the Lord and repaired them" (2 Chron. 29:3). Then, "He summoned the priests and Levites to meet him" (2 Chron. 29:4).
These were the actions of a twenty-five-year-old monarch, who for all intents and purposes, could have chosen to join the Baal worshippers in sexual revelry. But he didn't – he had been sickened by what he saw under his father's reign.
Imagine our government today taking the initiative to encourage people to go to church so they could connect with their Creator and stop sinning. Imagine our government summoning pastors and church leaders to meet with them and to talk with them about the spiritual state of the country. Okay, so I am dreaming, but it is a good dream, nonetheless.
Hezekiah saw the importance of helping people return to God. But what about all the people who loved their sexual escapades at the altar of Baal? Would they not be offended by his drastic actions and by his refusal to attend their depraved events? Yes, he was probably called every derogatory name possible and ridiculed at every social gathering. Hezekiah had to go against the popular culture, which was no small task. He had to abandon political correctness and do what was right. He knew he was answerable to God.
It's easy for politicians to surrender to secularism, or to hide behind the fact that Canada has gone too far left to reverse course. But leaders need to have the courage to reverse this trend. If not, we will get progressively more godless as a nation.
Consider this one example of many. Currently, our government is fast tracking euthanasia legislation referred to as M. A. I. D. (Medical Assistance in Dying-Bill C-7). It expands access to euthanasia and assisted suicide to those who are not dying. Our government claims our society is truly liberated and progressive; but we have seriously regressed in the manner in which we treat the weak, the ill, and the marginalized. Euthanasia or assisted suicide is the intentional killing of human beings. It is nothing less than murder and was recognized as such by the Criminal Code of Canada only four years ago.
If you want to know where progressivism is leading us – consider the Netherlands where euthanasia has been legal for years. Health Minister Hugo de Jonge recently told Parliament that he is working to make it so that children between the ages of one and twelve can be killed through euthanasia. This is a stark and disturbing departure from the rhetoric we are used to seeing from euthanasia supporters about how euthanasia is only for people who are terminally ill and have the full capacity to consent. Will Canadian politicians now rush down this road too? After all, this is where progressivism leads us – further away from Almighty God, moral decency, and a respect for life.
Have we learned nothing from Nazi Germany? Hitler and his health minister made it known to leaders in the medical field that, according to a secret decision made at the highest level, it was necessary to get rid of "useless mouths" — the insane, the terminally ill, children, and elderly people.
So, in October 1939, several weeks after the beginning of hostilities, Hitler gave the first order concerning the Gnadentod, "charitable death or mercy killing." On the 15th of that month, gas was used for the first time. In less than two years, seventy thousand “sick” people disappeared into the gas chambers. The Gnadentod program was going so well that the head of the Wehrmacht Hospital's psychiatric ward, Professor Wurth, worried, "With all the mentally ill being eliminated, who will want to pursue studies in the growing field of psychiatry?” The program was interrupted only when the bishop of Münster, Clemens August Graf von Galen, had the courage to denounce it from his cathedral's pulpit; protest, in other words, came not from the medical profession, but from the church. Finally, public opinion was moved.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King once said, "There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, politic or popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right." As such, we must pray that God speaks through the consciences of our MPs. Pray that they would do what's right and not just what's popular. Pray that God would convict our leaders so that they would acknowledge his sovereignty over their lives and our nation.
God's supremacy over our nation musty not only be in words, but in action. The preamble to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the introductory sentence to the Constitution of Canada's Charter of Rights and Constitution Act, 1982. It reads, "Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law."
Theologian Douglas Farrow sets forth a logical defense about God's sovereignty and the rule of law as stated in this preamble:
Canada cannot be regarded as a strictly secular country, in the popular sense of the term. Either Canada "is, or is not, committed to the notion that divine worship is linked- one way or another- to 'a love of the laws,' and a love of the laws to divine worship". The word "Whereas", moreover, indicates all sections of the Charter should be read in light of the principle recognizing the supremacy of God. Farrow writes that the rule of law "is hard to account for, to interpret, or to sustain without reference" to the supremacy of God.
So, we cannot believe that our nation was founded upon principles that recognize the sovereignty of God and then in turn enact laws that contradict God's moral authority.
Acknowledgement of God's supremacy was also noticeable in the founding of America. In the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the first constitution ever penned in America, the words of that document are very decisive: "Well knowing when people are gathered together, the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people, there should be an orderly and decent government established according to God."
Samuel Adams, signer of the Declaration of Independence wrote: "No truth is more evident in my mind that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of every people."
Gouverneur Morris, who was credited with being the literary composition overseer of the Constitution of the United States, said, "Religion is the only solid base of morals and morals are the only possible support of free governments."
We all need to pray that our political leaders will understand these historical truths and convictions. Pray for them to acknowledge God's sovereignty and supremacy over their own lives and our nation.
3. Every Christian Needs to Take Personal Responsibly for Spiritual Renewal in Canada
Lest you think that I am suggesting that all things regarding spiritual renewal are the responsibility of our government, then let me correct that misperception.
King Hezekiah said to the spiritual leaders of his day, "Listen to me, you Levites! Purify yourselves and purify the Temple of the Lord . . . do not neglect your duties any longer! (2 Chron. 29:5)
Hezekiah knew that one of the first things that needed to happen was for the nation's spiritual leaders to purify themselves and to stop neglecting their duties.
If spiritual renewal is to happen in Canada, it must begin with pastors and church leaders. A hunger for God and his holiness must be our passion. We cannot neglect our duties before God as spiritual leaders. We need to preach all of God's word with conviction and live it out in our lives as well.
Do you ever wonder what our political leaders and others see in Christian leaders? Do our governments see holiness and a heart for God in us, or just hypocrisy? When Jerry Falwell Jr., the President of the largest private Christian University in the US makes headlines, first for an improper photo of himself, then for a sex scandal involving his wife, and then for an alleged 10.5-million-dollar severance package from Liberty University, what do politicians and others see?
When megachurch pastor John Gray announced that he has “submitted to a process of restoration" in the wake of new allegations of infidelity, what do people see? Gray said, “I’m sorry . . . For every area of behavior that has dishonored the holiness of God. He went on to admit, "Pastors are held to the highest of standards, they need to maintain their character when no one is looking and have "fidelity and faithfulness in marriage."
When Hillsong's New York Pastor Carl Lentz was recently fired for being unfaithful in his marriage, what do people see? Lentz said, “I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life. . . When you accept the calling of being a pastor, you must live in such a way that it honors the mandate. That it honors the church, and that it honors God."
My intent here is not to be critical of these men. I merely want to emphasize that we all need God's holiness to sweep over us, if we are ever going to have any moral authenticity or authority as spiritual leaders. The world is watching to see if we are living what we are preaching. Like Isaiah, we all need to see God in all his holiness, and say, “Oh, no! I am not pure, and I live among people who are not pure". We need God to touch our own lips and hearts (Isaiah 6:5-7). We need to be revived.
King Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah to come to the Temple of the Lord at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover of the Lord, the God of Israel. He said: “O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so that he will return to the few of us who have survived the conquest of the Assyrian kings (2 Chronicles 30:6).
This was a sweeping invitation for spiritual renewal and consecration – nobody was to be left out. Every sinner was invited! But when the "messengers went from town to town throughout Ephraim and Manasseh and as far as the territory of Zebulun, most of the people just laughed at the messengers and made fun of them" (2 Chronicles 30:10). That response should not surprise us! A call to godly living and consecration – when people are enjoying their sin – will not be popular. Fortunately, some "humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem." (v. 11). They no doubt had a sickening sense that something wasn't right with all the rampant sin in their nation.
The proof of any genuine spiritual renewal is in the actions and behaviors of the people so affected by God's Spirit. "When the festival ended, the Israelites who attended went to all the towns of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh, and they smashed all the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherah poles, and removed the pagan shrines and altars (2 Chronicles 31:1). Now that's genuine repentance and spiritual renewal!
Whether it's in a godless nation like Judah, or in California – a place dubbed the third worst sinful state in the US – the Spirit of God can draw people to Jesus. In the midst of recent fires ravaging California, Calvary Chapel Church in Chino Hills, California, held an outdoor baptism at a local beach where nearly 1,000 people made a public declaration of their faith in Jesus Christ. Church Director Gina Gleason told CBN News that "California may be experiencing a spiritual revival." Oh, that Canada and America would experience the same!
Pray with me that the Spirit of God would draw our government leaders, and all of us, to leave our sin and return to God. We so desperately need a revival. Pray like Hezekiah, "May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets his heart on seeking God" (2 Chronicles 30:18-19). Will you set your heart to seeking God? He will pardon you if you do. The Bible records, "And the Lord listened to Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people."(v.30) Oh that God would hear our prayers and heal our nation too.
 Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott and Company, 1869), 253.  Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1835-40.  Ibid.  Jessica Lea, "Barna: We’re Experiencing Another Reformation, and Not in a Good Way", https://churchleaders.com/news/383605-george-barna-another-reformation.html?utm_source=outreach-cl-daily-nl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=text-link&utm_campaign=cl-daily-nl&maropost_id=&mpweb=256-9119439-742537196, Church LeadersOctober 8, 2020.  Ibid.  Jeff Myers, Analysis and Opinion, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/oct/21/young-church-going-christians-embrace-anti-religio/, The Washington Times, October 21, 2020.  David Satter, "100 Years of Communism—and 100 Million Dead", https://www.wsj.com/articles/100-years-of-communismand-100-million-dead-1510011810, The Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2017.  Marvin S. Pope, "Baal Worship", https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/baal-worship-jewish-virtual-library, Jewish Virtual Library, Encyclopedia Judaica, 2008, accessed August 312, 2020.  Bill Casey, Report on The Public Health Effects of The Ease of Access and Viewing of Online Violent and Degrading Sexually Explicit Material on Children, Women and Men, 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, House of Commons, Parliament of Canada, June 2017. https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/HESA/report-11/  Rachel Gilmore, "Abortion access will be maintained across Canada amid COVID-19 outbreak", https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/abortion-access-will-be-maintained-across-canada-amid-covid-19-outbreak-1.4870129, CTV News.ca, March 26, 2020.  Tré Goins-Phillips, "At-Home Abortions Skyrocket in UK: 90,000 Since Pandemic Began", https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/2020/september/at-home-abortions-skyrocket-in-uk-90-000-since-pandemic-began, Faith Wire, CBN News, September 1, 2020.  Prior to the exemptions of Bill C-14, medical practitioners and nurse practitioners in Canada, would have been charged criminally with “culpable homicide” if they “intentionally cause the death of another person, even if they consent to die (section 14 of the Criminal Code).” Likewise, prior to Bill C-14, it was a criminal offence for anyone to “assist a person to die by suicide, whether or not suicide ensues (paragraph 241(b) of the Criminal Code).” Cf. https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/other-autre/ad-am/p2.html  "Coalition agrees to support ‘active termination of life’ for younger children", https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2020/10/coalition-agrees-to-support-active-termination-of-life-for-younger-children/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWkdKak1HTXpaVFpsTW1JdyIsInQiOiJOXC9wNEdBVHU2dnIrMFJWMWFrT1JIa2JJRXlybFwvTmFKXC9uQkhYTUM0SlVaUHZnaVpIdjdwbDBZUlpJWmxidEdqZlNGU2RPRWROS3huZUc0Y2x5Nm5DajVhNENUckdjY0VCXC9BZVd5bURWNnlVbDhFSU05cmw5TTFXakw2cGdkNnoifQ%3D%3D,DutchNews.NL, October 13, 2020.  Erwin W. Lutzer, Hittler’s Cross, How the Cross Was Used to Promote the Nazi Agenda, (Chicago, Moody Publishers, 2015).  Ibid.  Ibid.  Martin Luther King Jr., James Melvin Washington, ed., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches, (Harper Collins, 1986 and 2003).;  Douglas Farrow. "Of Secularity and Civil Religion." In Recognizing Religion in a Secular Society: Essays in Pluralism, Religion, and Public Policy. Ed. Douglas Farrow. McGill-Queen's University Press, 2004.  The code of 1650, Being a Compilation of the Earliest Laws and Orders of the General Court of Connecticut, (Hartford, CT: Silas Andrus, 1822), 11.  Cited in Harry A. Warfel (Ed.), Letters. To David McClure, October 25, 1836, (New York, NY, Library Publishers), pp. 453– 454  Gouverneur Morris, letter to George Gordon, June 28, 1792.  Barnini Chakraborty, "Jerry Falwell Jr.'s life of luxury included private jets, swimming with sharks, trips to the White House", https://www.foxnews.com/us/jerry-falwells-life-of-luxury-private-jets-swimming-trips-white-house", Fox News, August 26, 2020.  Leonardo Blair, "Pastor John Gray says he has ‘submitted to a process of restoration’ after new infidelity allegations", https://www.christianpost.com/news/pastor-john-gray-says-he-has-submitted-to-a-process-of-restoration-after-new-infidelity-allegations.html?uid=ce8fdcf89d, The Christian Post, August 31, 2020.  Charity Gibson, "Carl Lentz explains Hillsong firing: ‘I was unfaithful in my marriage', https://www.christianpost.com/news/carl-lentz-hillsong-firing-i-was-unfaithful-in-my-marriage.html?uid=ce8fdcf89d, The Christian Post, November 6, 2020.  Charity Gibson, "Carl Lentz explains Hillsong firing: ‘I was unfaithful in my marriage' ", https://www.christianpost.com/news/carl-lentz-hillsong-firing-i-was-unfaithful-in-my-marriage.html?uid=ce8fdcf89dThe Christian Post, November 5, 2020.  "California ranked 3rd most sinful state, study says", https://www.turnto23.com/news/state/california-ranked-3rd-most-sinful-state-study-says, ABC News, 2019.  Andrea Morris, "California Church Celebrates Nearly 1,000 People Baptized on Beach During 'Spiritual Revival'", https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2020/september/california-church-celebrates-nearly-1-000-people-baptized-on-beach-during-spiritual-revival, CBN News, September 13, 2020.