"So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen." — Matthew 20:16
Every revival in history has been brought into being by a dedicated few. Before the masses are ever stirred there must first be a vanguard of believers who have become thoroughly dissatisfied with the status quo. This vanguard has always been a people with vision, able to see the greatness of the cause for which they stand, and willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary. The force of truth guiding their thinking has always been, and must always be THE WORD OF GOD. If there is to be a spiritual revolution (this is what revival actually is), there must be a revolutionary people. Without this vanguard of spiritual revolutionists built upon the revolutionary teachings of the Word of God, it is impossible to lead the dreary hosts of ordinary church members into action against the enemy. It was to these spiritual soldiers the Holy Spirit had reference to when he says, "He maketh his ministers a flaming fire." (Heb. 1:7) These human firebrands sweep through the dull, dead world around them, making ordinary Christianity look drearily tame and common place in comparison. Moses was such a revolutionist, or revivalist, whichever term you prefer. God spoke to him through a bush that burned yet refused to burn up. Through that confrontation at the burning bush, God sent him forth to deliver a nation of slaves. The dreary hosts of Israel could not stand unmoved in the presence of this walking, living, flaming fire brand. Through Moses the ordinary people were challenged to act. Revival followed. Nothing has changed. The great mass of believers will never be challenged to action without the efforts of a dedicated, self sacrificing few. The masses, as a whole, are timid, fearful and tradition bound. They tread beaten paths because for the most part they are beaten people. They have accepted without question, the creeds and dogmas of static religion and will never be free until set free by a people who have themselves been set free. Millions in Luther's day hated the religious system that prevailed. They were slaves to a system that refused them the right to think but were afraid to do anything about it. When Luther nailed his ninety five thesis to the Church door in Wittenburg, and began to preach a gospel that sets the captive free, they climbed out of their holes and joined the move. A well disciplined spiritual remnant, armed with the Word of God, using principles set forth by God, who are ready and willing to make whatever sacrifice necessary, can set the Church free. Jesus said, "My sheep know my voice." We must have faith in this statement. For, when the true child of God hears the voice of God, as He speaks through His vessel forged by the Spirit, they will rise to the challenge. Every revival movement in history has always been of a revolutionary nature. It has always challenged the system and demanded change. The message of such a movement has been considered radical and extreme by the orthodox religions of its time. The very word revival speaks of change of the most radical nature. It is to make alive again that which has died. To raise from the dead demands more than proper conduct and well ordered choirs. It demands more than homiletical perfect sermons. It demands a demonstration of the Kingdom of God and only the violent take that Kingdom.(Matt. 11:12) "The God that answereth by fire, let Him be God." (I Kings 18:24) These are the words of one of the greatest revivalist in history. He thundered them to a people who had listened to the soft spoken words of the false prophets and false leaders who had caused the people to forsake the God of their fathers. In ringing tones and with sublime indifference to his own personal safety he challenged the king and the dead religionists of his time with this text: "The God that answereth by fire, let Him be God."
These words were spoken to backslidden Israel, a people who had once known the goodness of God in His great delivering power toward man, but now there was no evidence of God in their midst. Empty forms and hollow mockery constituted their worship. The time had come when silence on the part of the prophet would be a sin. His message forced the issue. God became the horizon of everything. The nation was reborn. Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. With these words the strange preacher from the wilderness of Judea began his campaign. Stepping forth clothed only in camel's hair, John challenged the religious system of his day with the message of repentance. He was indeed a true revolutionist. He was willing to place his life on the line for the cause he espoused. He dared to speak truth, and demand change. The people of God were virtual slaves to traditional religion. Orthodox methods could never break the hold. The banks of the Jordan became the main street of the world, as this strange man preached his message. To the king he cried, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." To the Roman soldier, "Treat every man justly." To the tax collector, "Exact no more than is lawful," and to the religious, "The ax is laid at the root of the tree." The cause of Christ has never been advance by compromises with the world to avoid misunderstanding. "et us go unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach," has always been the theme of every movement that has moved Heaven to the heart of man. My heart is filled today as I see the growing apathy; as I see the settling back in general assent to a creed without the presence of the mighty passion that gripped the lives of the great soldiers of the past. God must once again raise up a vanguard of Spiritual soldiers who will dare to live dangerously. Men and women who will not seek to live on comfortable terms with the world (the enemy of God), but will challenge its systems and methods. The greatest revolutionist of all times was our Lord himself. He stepped out of the frame work of conventional religion and challenged men to be like God. He refused their traditions by breaking every rule. He plucked corn on the Sabbath, ate with unwashed hands, healed the sick on the Sabbath, and told the people they did not have to worship in Jerusalem or Samaria, but could find God anywhere. From the moment the Spirit came on Him in the Jordan, until He was crucified, He was engaged in a viscous struggle. Everywhere men plotted His death. The enemy meant to stop the revolution He brought to men's hearts. He warned those who followed Him that the same enemy would hate them also. "In the world ye will have tribulation but fear not, for I have overcome the world." He let them know they could win but they would have to face the enemy and that victory would cost them something. "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." These are strange words falling from the lips of Him who the Bible calls the Prince of Peace. These words were spoken at the close of the Last Supper. Only a few moments before Satan had come as they sat around the communion table and entered into Judas. While they tarried the Prince of darkness made a bid for Simon Peter, but the Lord prayed that his faith would not fail. Peter, ignorant of the fearful power of the enemy, and fierceness of the conflict about to be loosed upon the earth, boastfully declared that he was ready to go to prison or death for the Lord. The whole world has the record of his miserable failure when the storm broke over his life. He never dreamed the conflict would be so terrible. Christ was to be crucified the next morning. The Church was to be planted in the world, and Satan was to be challenged on his own territory. The warfare was to continue unabated until every foe was conquered, every sin forgiven, or judged, every sickness healed, and the earth restored to the rule of Heaven. "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." This was the call to arms even as when Gideon blew his trumpet to attack the Midianites. Christianity was born in blood, sweat and tears, and at no time or place have conditions changed. The devil has not been converted; neither have we educated him from his evil. The battle rages and will grow more intense as the end approaches. God's people are not called to comfort but to battle and one of the most subtle efforts of the enemy is to
soften up the Saints by appeasement and compromise. After the death and resurrection of Christ, the struggle intensified. Thousands of Saints were slaughtered; their places of worship destroyed. They were sawn asunder, wandered in caves; the world wasn't worthy of them. In the heat of the conflict the majority of the Church became a form without the real presence of God. Paul crying out against this condition, called for a vanguard who would stand against the tide of worldliness coming into the Church. He wrote young Timothy, "Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." (2 Tim. 2:3) He was saying to Timothy, "stand up and resist the enemy; fight the fight of faith." He could drive back the enemy. "Preach the word, be instant in season and out of season," was Paul's admonition. Once more, in the end of this age, God is calling for a people to stand up, to dare to believe, to be a vessel, an instrument in the hand of God.