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A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of joining a conference of Acts 29 pastors and wives at their retreat. The theme of the conference was revival. Honestly, I can’t think of anything more important to seek as Christians than a fresh outpouring of God the Holy Spirit on the Church and on our communities. No single act of God short of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ could do more for our souls and our world than a visitation of God’s Spirit in power!
In the early 1800s, a revival broke out among Baptist churches in Vermont (among other places). Pastor Silvanus Haynes wrote an account of a nine year old girl who attended a meeting to relay her conversion experience. Here’s the back-and-forth between Haynes, working to be careful with the girl’s soul, and the young girl.
Haynes: You tell us about being so great a sinner; what have you done that is so bad?
Girl [after a short pause]: I do not know as my outward conduct has been worse than many others, but my heart is so wicked!
Haynes: You tell about God’s law being so good and just, but do you know the nature of that law?
Girl: That law is so severe that it will curse and condemn a person for ever for only committing one sin, unless he repents of it, and applies to Christ for pardon.
Haynes [in a serious tone]: Would it not be better to have that law altered a little, and not have it so severe?
Girl: No, Sir, not at all, it is not too strict.
Haynes: But you tell us that you love God; and this God can thunder when he pleases, and dash the world to atoms in a moment, and are you not afraid of him?
Girl: I used to be afraid of him, but now I love him.
Haynes: But do you know the nature of this God?
Girl: He is so holy that he does not allow people to commit one sin, and if they sin but once, he will send them to hell if they do not repent and apply to Christ.
Haynes: Would it not be really better if God were altered a little, so as not to be quite so strict with us?
Girl: No, Sir, he is just right, he is none too strict.
Haynes: But there must be some alteration somewhere or else such as we are can never enjoy the favour of God.
Girl: I need all the altering.
Haynes: Why do you love God?
Girl: Because he is so holy and so just.
Haynes: But you tell about going to heaven, and what do you wish to go there for?
Girl: To praise God.
Haynes: But what do you want to praise him for?
Girl: Because he is so holy, and so just.
Haynes: Well, and what if you should go to heaven, and God should tell you that you might forever enjoy those pearly walls, and golden streets, and have the company of saints and angels, and join and sing with them to all eternity; but I must go away to another heaven a great many million miles off; now, would not heaven be just as good without God, as with him?
Girl [pausing a moment]: It would be no heaven at all!
Haynes tells us that this nine-year-old girl joined the church not long after and remained in good standing ever since. Oh, how I wish the Spirit would give such holy knowledge of the Lord to children and adults in our neighborhood today!
I’ve continued to meditate on revival and I’m hoping to begin leading our church family in regular prayer for it. What about you?
Quoted in Tom J. Nettles, “Baptist Revivals in America in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries,” in Robert Davis Smart, Michael A.G. Haykin, and Ian Hugh Clary (eds), Pentecostal Outpourings: Revival and the Reformed Tradition (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2016), pp. 209-210.