[introductory comments prior to reading his prepared remarks]
Fifty-six years ago a World Missionary Conference at Edinburgh, Scotland, met to consider the opportunities and responsibilities of evangelizing the world in their generation. From this assembly sprang the Faith and Order movement, Life and Work movement, and the International Missionary Council. These three movements became the nucleus of what is now called the World Council of Churches.
The Edinburgh conference, attended by 1206 delegates from all over the world, had been largely organized by John R. Mott. John Mott was one of those who had entered Christian service as a result of the Student Volunteer Missionary Union launched at Dwight L. Moody's Northfield Conference in 1886. At that time A. T. Pearson's slogan had been adopted: "The evangelization of the world in this generation."
On December 10, 1946, in Oslo, John R. Mott was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Asked what his vocation was, this best-loved and most prominent layman in the world Church for two generations replied simply: "Evangelist!" From the moment of his conversion at Cornell in 1886 until his death nearly 70 years later, John R. Mott was first, last and always an evangelist.
To the end of his life he lamented the fact that the doors opened in 1910 for evangelism and missions were not entered. The Church, he felt, was losing its evangelistic zeal and passion, and in 1951, he declared: "We are living in a time of specific trial. When has there been anything to equal it?"
In many circles today the Church has an energetic passion for unity, but it has all but forgotten our Lord's commission to evangelize. One of the purposes of this World Congress on Evangelism is to make an urgent appeal to the world Church to return to the dynamic zeal for world evangelization that characterized Edinburgh 56 years ago. Remembering their Lord's words, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel," the Student Volunteer Movement shouted to the world: "The evangelization of the world in this generation!" -- or as John Mott once worded it: "Carrying the Gospel to all the non-Christian world."
For my message tonight I would like to use as background two statements of Christ's. The first is found in John 4:35: "Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest."
The second one is from Matthew 9:37-38: "The harvest is truly plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest.”
Christ often used the simile of the harvest. In these two passages, it serves to illustrate the urgency of evangelism.
Just before this, He had talked with a Samaritan woman. She had been gloriously converted and had gone into the town of Sychar to announce that this marvelous Saviour was nearby. Already the people were streaming eagerly and curiously out to hear the message of Christ. It is against this background that Jesus uses the harvest illustration: the time had come to go out quickly to gather in souls to the Kingdom of God.
Harvest time is always the ever-present now! It is always easy to rationalize that the present is not the best moment for action. It will be easier tomorrow or the day after, or perhaps in the next generation. "No," said Jesus, "there are not yet four months. Now is the acceptable time! Go now, and gather all the workmen you can. The fields are white already unto harvest. Tomorrow may be too late! The weather may have changed and the crops could be destroyed by a storm." Throughout the teachings of our Lord is this note of urgency concerning evangelism.
The evangelistic harvest is always urgent. The destiny of men and of nations is always being decided. Every generation is crucial; every generation is strategic. But we are not responsible for the past generation, and we cannot bear full responsibility for the next one. However, we do have our generation God will hold us responsible at the Judgment Beat of Christ, for how well we fulfilled our responsibilities and took advantage of our opportunities. We have been given greater and sharper instruments to gather in a greater harvest than any generation of history. Our Lord warned: "To whom much is given much is required." We must not fail to meet the challenge of this hour.
There seem to be periods of special urgency in history when it can be said with peculiar relevance, "The fields are white unto harvest." I believe that we are now in such a period of history. We stand at the heart of a world revolution. The next 25 years will be the most decisive years since Christ walked the roads of Galilee.
Our world is on fire, and man without God cannot control the flames. The demons of hell have been let loose. The fires of passion, greed, hate and lust are sweeping the world. We seem to be plunging madly, toward Armageddon. We live in the midst of crisis, danger, fear and death. We sense that something is about to happen. We know that things cannot go on as they are.
The prospect of a world whose population is growing at a fantastic rate has inspired nightmares in world statesmen, sociologists, philosophers, and theologians. For example, if I live to be 70, there will be nearly seven billion people on the earth -- more than double the present number. Scientists are now talking about "pathological togetherness" -- a world where not only disease and poverty stalk, but a world of terrifying psychological problems and insoluble political problems.
The very pressure of the population explosion is bringing an increase in racial tension throughout the world. Unless the supernatural love of God controls the hearts of men, we may be on the verge of a world-wide racial war, too horrible to contemplate. The population explosion is also increasing the ideological differences that separate men. The world indeed has become a neighborhood without being a brotherhood. Scientists, educators and editors have become "evangelists," proclaiming the grim message of a bitter, cynical despair.
Almost every newspaper and every book screams from its pages, "The harvest is ripe." Never has the soil of the human heart and mind been better prepared. Never has the grain been thicker. Never have we had more efficient instruments in our hands to help us gather the harvest. Yet at a time when the harvest is the ripest in history, the church is floundering in tragic confusion.
An official of the World Council of Churches told a group of us at Bossey, Switzerland, a few years ago that if that group adopted a definition of evangelism it would split the Council. Within the conciliar movement deep theological differences make it almost impossible to form a definition of evangelism and to give authoritative Biblical guidelines to the Church. This is one of the purposes of this Congress -- to help the Church to come to grips with this issue and to come to a clear understanding of the evangelistic and missionary responsibilities of the Church for the remainder of this century.
1. There is confusion throughout the world Church as to the very meaning of the word "evangelism.”
Definitions are formed to fit one's own taste. Some think of evangelism simply in terms of getting people into church, or persuading them to conform to a particular pattern of religious belief and behavior similar to their own. Some new definitions of evangelism leave out entirely the winning of men to a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. They look upon evangelism as social action only. The secretary of evangelism of one of the great American denominations said two years ago: "The redemption of the world is not dependent upon the souls we win for Christ...There cannot be individual salvation...Salvation has more to do with the whole society than with the individual soul...We must not be satisfied to win people one by one...Contemporary evangelism is moving away from winning souls one by one to the evangelization of the structures of society."
We cannot accept this interpretation of evangelism. Evangelism has social implications, but its primary thrust is the winning of men to a personal relationship to Jesus Christ.
For several years the Church has been urged to do evangelism, but many churchmen do not have the slightest idea of what Biblical evangelism is.
In recent years we have seen a change from the Biblical doctrine that men are individually sinners before God and will be held responsible to Him at the Judgment, to a doctrine of collective sinfulness and of the corporate guilt of society.
We have seen a change from man's personal responsibility before God, to an entirely new concept of reconciliation which assumes that all men are Christians. Therefore, reconciliation takes on a new and non-Biblical meaning.
There has been a change in understanding of the nature and mission of the Church, from "the Church has a mission" to "the Church is mission." There has been a change of emphasis, from the spiritual nature of the Church task to one of secular reformation. This new evangelism leads many to reject the idea of conversion in its historical Biblical meaning, and substitute education and social reform for the work of the Holy Spirit in converting and changing men. All of these ideas would have appalled most of the delegates at Edinburgh 56 years ago.
The early Christians went by land and sea to spread the "evangel" -- the good news that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. This phenomenon of people claiming others for Christ is emphasized in the New Testament by the fact that the Greek word for "evangelize" is used 52 times, and the noun form of "good news" or "Gospel" is found 74 times. The Early Church proclaimed to the world: "We have found hope for despair, life for death, forgiveness for guilt, purpose for existence!" They shouted abroad: "We have found it; and having found it, we must share it!" That was the evangelism of the Early Church.
It seems to me that we cannot improve on the definition of evangelism that was given to us by the Archbishop's Committee on evangelism in 1918: "To evangelize is so to present Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, that men shall come to put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their Saviour and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His Church."
Evangelism means to bear witness, with the soul aflame.
A lay evangelist once approached a woman in a Boston hotel and said: "Do you know Christ?" When she told her husband of this, he said: "Why didn't you tell him to mind his own business?" The woman replied: "If you had seen the expression on his face, and heard the earnestness with which he spoke, you would have thought it was his business."
Oh, that God would give us a love for souls like that! In our prayer groups during this conference, and in our discussion periods, let us ask God to strangely warm our hearts and set our souls on fire until we have a burning passion for the souls of men.
2. There is not only confusion about the meaning of evangelism, there is confusion concerning the motive for evangelism.
There should never be any doubt that the Commander-in-chief, the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ, has given a command. To fail to heed this command is deliberate disobedience. Three of the four Gospels end with a commission to the Church to evangelize the world:
--- "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
--- "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:18-19).
--- "As the Father hath sent Me, even so send I you" (John 20:21).
In Acts 1:8 we read: "Ye shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria and to the end of the earth."
At the end of the walk to Emmaus, which is also the climax of Luke’s Gospel, the Lord, in opening the minds of His traveling companions to understand the Scripture, says: "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem" (Luke 24:46-47).
The command in Acts 1:8 is all-inclusive, and embraces evangelism in all possible circumstances. "The end of the earth" represents every conceivable situation -- taking account of every possible language, race, color, or even religious belief. There was no syncretism here! There is an exclusiveness about the Gospel that cannot be surrendered. If there were no Other reason for going to the ends of the earth proclaiming the Gospel and winning souls the command of Christ would be enough! It is not optional we have no choice. We are ambassadors under authority.
The second motive for evangelism is the example set by the preaching of the apostles. An evangelistic objective was at the very heart and core of their preaching.
The third motive for evangelism should be, in Paul's words, that "the love of Christ constraineth me" (2 Corinthians 5:14).
The most important thing that has ever happened to us as Christians is our acceptance of Christ as Lord and Saviour. We immediately want to share it with others.
One of the greatest tragedies of our day is that there are so many professing Christians who lack the desire to share their experience with others. Dr. James S. Stewart of Edinburgh has, said: "The real problem of Christianity is not atheism or skepticism, but the non-witnessing Christian trying to smuggle his own soul into heaven."
It was natural for Andrew, when he found Christ, to go and tell his brother, Peter, and for Philip to hurry and break the good news to his friend, Nathanael. They did not need to be told to do it -- they did it naturally and spontaneously. Perhaps there are some here tonight who once had a zeal and passion to win others for Christ, but that early glow of love for souls has diminished. It is my prayer that during this Berlin World Congress it will be rekindled. If we have lost our enthusiasm for Christ, our eagerness to share our faith, it is because our faith has ceased to mean much to us.
The fourth motive for evangelism is the approaching judgment. The Apostle Paul said: "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Corinthians 5:11). The background for the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not only the love of God but also the wrath of God! In the solemn light of the day of judgment, man's greatest need is for reconciliation with God. Christ bore our sins on the Cross in order that we, through faith in Him, might be reconciled to God.
This brings us to one of the most important points of confusion in the mission of the church today. Are men really lost? The great weight of modern theological opinion is against the fact that anyone is ultimately lost. The various shades of universalism prevalent throughout the Church have done more to blunt evangelism and take the heart out of the missionary movement than anything else. I believe the Scriptures teach that men outside of Jesus Christ are lost! There are many problems and many mysteries here, and I do not have time to go into it. In Matthew 7:21-23, our Lord says to some men: "Depart from Me." Here is final judgment! He again said: "He that believeth not is condemned already."
Language cannot get plainer than this! To me, the doctrine of a future judgment, where men will be held accountable to God, is clearly taught in the Scriptures. In 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, Paul says when Christ comes some men shall "suffer...eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might." The same truth is taught again in Revelation 20:11-15 which is the passage concerning the Great White Throne Judgment. All the dead of all ages are called to account. Everyone whose name was not found written in the Lamb's Book of Life was lost.
If we really believe that men are lost apart from Jesus Christ, it would become a burning incentive to evangelize with a zeal and a passion that we are in danger of losing. When Charles Peace, the notorious British criminal, was on his way to the gallows, the chaplain was warning him about the future judgment. He suddenly turned to the chaplain and said: "Padre, if I believed that, I would crawl across England on broken glass to save men from it."
The fifth motive for evangelism is the spiritual, moral, and social needs of men. "Jesus had compassion on them" is a phrase that is used more than once in the Gospels. He looked upon men not only as separated from God by sin, but as sick bodies that needed His healing touch and empty stomachs that needed feeding, and prejudiced hearts that needed His Word. (For example, His experience at Capernaum, and His story of the Good Samaritan.) Evangelism and social compassion have always gone together. Foreign missions have always had conversion in one hand and a cup of cold water in the other. Today the evangelist cannot ignore the diseased, the poor, the discriminated against, and those who have lost their freedom through tyranny. These social evils cry loudly in our ears and we, too, must "have compassion on them."
Thus evangelism has a social responsibility. The social, psychological, moral and spiritual needs of men become a burning motivation for evangelism. However, I am convinced if the Church went back to its main task of proclaiming the Gospel and getting people converted to Christ, it would have a far greater impact on the social, moral and psychological needs of men than any other thing it could possibly do. Some of the greatest social movements of history have come about as the result of men being converted to Christ. For example, the conversion of Wilberforce that led to the freeing of the slaves, the conversion of William Booth that led to the founding of the Salvation Army, the conversion of George Williams that led to the founding of the YMCA, the conversion of Keir Hardie that led to the founding of the British Labour Party. Scores of current and up-to-date illustrations could be used. We have made the mistake of putting the cart before the horse. We are exhorting men to love each other before they have the capacity to love each other. This capacity can only come about through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
3. We have discussed the confusion about the meaning of, and the motive for, evangelism; but there is confusion also concerning the message of evangelism,
There is growing pressure to accommodate the Christian message to minds and hearts darkened by sin -- to give precedence to the material and physical needs while distorting the spiritual need, which is basic to every person. This change in emphasis is really changing Christianity into a new humanism.
My wife and I recently watched a British clergyman being interviewed by some students on television. He openly denied and made fun of many of the fundamentals of the faith. The students eventually drove him into a corner where he had to admit there was little difference between his brand of Christianity and humanism.
The great question today is: Is the First Century Gospel relevant for the 20th Century? Has it as little to say to modern man as some radical theologians would have us believe?
The Apostle Paul sums up the Gospel in I Corinthians 15:1-4: "I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved ... For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures."
When Paul preached this message in Corinth, nothing seemed more irrelevant to the people of that day. However, the Holy Spirit took this message and transformed the lives of many in that city. Dr. James Stewart of Edinburgh points out: "The driving force of the early Christian mission was not propaganda of beautiful ideals of the brotherhood of man. It was proclamation of the mighty acts of God. At the very heart of the apostles' message stood the divine redemptive paid on Calvary." Any other message than the kerygma is not evangelism.
While methods may change, the message never changes. It is relevant and transforming in every generation. This is the Gospel I have declared on every continent and before every conceivable group -- from university students to a totally pagan tribe. I have found that there is a supernatural power in this message that cannot be rationally explained. It may appear ridiculous and foolish to the intellectuals of our day, but it is the power of God unto salvation. Paul himself said: "This doctrine of the Cross is sheer folly to those on their way to ruin, but to us who are on the way to salvation it is the power of God...God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. As God in His wisdom ordained, the world failed to find Him by its wisdom, and He chose to save those who have faith by the folly of the Gospel." Thus the message of the kerygma that we must proclaim to the world is: Christ died for our sins; He has been raised from the dead; you must be converted by turning from your sins and by faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour!
As Christians, we are under no obligation to attempt to reconcile the Gospel with modern philosophy. Biblical truth does not parallel human opinion in any generation -- it usually opposes it! We are to be witnesses to the world, not imitators of it.
4. There is confusion concerning the strategy of the enemy of evangelism.
To Jesus and the apostles Satan was very real. He was called "the prince of this world," "the god of this age," and "the prince of the power of the air." The names used concerning him indicate something of his character and strategy. He was called "deceiver," "liar," "murderer," "accuser," "tempter," "destroyer," and many other such names.
The Apostle Paul said he wanted to visit the church of Thessalonica "but Satan hindered us" (I Thessalonians 2:18). Thus the evangelist and the work of evangelism is opposed on every hand by tremendous spiritual forces.
Satan's greatest strategy is deception. His most successful strategy has been to get modern theologians to deny his existence. The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:14: "For Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."
When the seed of the Gospel is being sown, he is always there sowing the tares -- but more. He has the power to blind the minds of those whom we seek to evangelize -- 2 Corinthians 4:4: "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." His strategy is to use deception, force, evil and error to destroy the effectiveness of the Gospel. The Apostle Paul said: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." If we ignore the existence of Satan or our ignorance of his devices, then we fall into his clever trap. However, we have the glorious promise that: "Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world."
5. There is confusion also concerning the method of evangelism.
We represent the vast majority of countries here tonight, and each of our countries differs in its attitude to Jesus Christ and in its willingness to respond to the Gospel. Yet travelling round the world, I have found that while the approach may be different here and there, the spiritual needs of men are the same. I no longer speak to laboring men as laboring men -- to university students as university students -- to Africans as Africans -- to Americans as Americans. I speak to all as men in need of redemption and salvation.
Evangelist Leighton Ford has listed at least six methods of evangelism found in the New Testament that I would like to enlarge upon:
There are many problems and pitfalls in the use of mass evangelism, but it is a Biblical method, and it is being used today on every continent with great effect. With world population growing at about 40 million a year, more than 110,000 must be won to Christ every day -- 4500 every hour -- 75 every minute -- just to keep pace with the present increase.
However, along with this population increase, technology has given us instruments of mass communication. The printed page, radio, television, motion pictures, the computer, etc. are all at our disposal to proclaim the Gospel to millions who otherwise would never hear. If we are to keep up with the population explosion, we must take advantage of mass media on a scale the Church has never known before. If we do not do so, we will be disobeying the command of Christ, sinning against our generation, and failing the Kingdom of God.
To be sure, we will be criticized. We will hear anguished cries of those yelling "brainwashing tactics," and lamenting the fantastic cost. Yet these same people applaud the Beatles, who for one night's screaming, emotional concert in Shea Stadium in New York a few weeks ago, earned $180,000.
b. Personal evangelism -- (35 personal interviews of Jesus alone are recorded in the Gospels),
This is a method of evangelism that every Christian throughout the world can engage in. Many organizations are teaching methods and techniques of personal evangelism with great effect.
The most effective method of evangelism is organizing the laity of the church to do the work of evangelism. The clergyman is not to do the work alone. He is to be like the foreman in a shop, or the coach of a team. The actual work is to be done primarily by the laity.
c. Impromptu evangelism -- (Jesus at the well, Peter and John at the Gate Beautiful)
I am convinced that if each of us is living a Spirit-filled life, God will continually bring across our paths people in spiritual need that we can lead to Christ.
d. Dialogue evangelism -- (Paul at Mars Hill, Apollos at Ephesus - Acts 18:28)
This is one of the most effective methods, especially with university students -- as I have found in my own ministry. During the dialogue with students around in a circle, God the Holy Spirit will take some sentence, some Scripture, some thought, and drive it like an arrow to the heart and mind of the student.
e. Systematic evangelism -- (The 70 sent out by Jesus two by two, house-to-house visitation mentioned in Acts 5:42)
A few years ago the Latin America Mission developed "Evangelism in Depth", which uses almost every method of evangelism. They systematically organize an entire city or an entire country.
f. Literary evangelism -- (John 20:31 and Luke 1:1-4 both clearly state the evangelistic apologetic intent of the writers of these Gospels)
It is in this area that perhaps the Christian Church has its greatest opportunity and is tragically neglecting it. We should be covering the world with hundreds of millions of Gospel tracts and portions of Scripture. The United Bible Societies and many other groups such as the Gideons are doing splendid work, yet even then we are barely scratching the surface. Nearly 2000 dialects and languages still have no Gospel in writing. Desperately needed are more qualified men and women to offer themselves to such agencies as Wycliffe Bible Translators.
No one method will be right for every person in every situation at any given time; but some method of evangelism is certainly right for all people in all situations at all times! The Holy Spirit can take any method and use it to win souls.
Our goal is nothing less than the penetration of the entire world. Jesus said: "This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations" (Matthew 24:14). Here evangelism is put into an eschatological context. We are not promised that the whole world will believe. The evangelization of the world does not mean that all men will respond, but that all men will be given an opportunity to respond as they are confronted with Christ.
Most of the illustrations of the Gospel used by Jesus -- salt, light, bread, water, leaven, fire -- have one common element penetration. Thus the Christian is only true to his calling when he is permeating the entire world. We are not only to penetrate the world geographically, but we are to penetrate the world of government, school, work and home -- the world of entertainment, of the intellectual, of the laboring man, of the ignorant man.
The world desperately needs moral reform; and if we want moral reform, the quickest and surest way is by evangelism. The transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only possible way to reverse the moral trends of the present hour.
David Brainerd, in the journal of his life and doings among the North American Indians, said: "I found that when my people were gripped by this great doctrine of Christ and Him crucified, I had no need to give them instructions about morality. I found that one followed as sure and inevitable fruit of the other."
Do we want social reform? The preaching of the Cross and the resurrection have been primarily responsible for promoting humanitarian sentiment and social concern for the last 400 years. Prison reform, the abolition of slavery, the crusade for human dignity, the struggle against exploitation -- all are the outcome of great religious revivals and the conversion of individuals. The preaching of the Gross could do more to bring about social change than any other method.
Do we want unity among true believers throughout the world? Then evangelize! I believe that some of the greatest demonstrations of ecumenicity in the world today are these evangelistic crusades where people have been meeting by the thousands from various denominations with the purpose of evangelizing. There is a dedication, a zeal, and a spirit that is not found in other gatherings.'
Having said that, however, our greatest need is not organizational union. Our greatest need is for the Church to be baptized with the fire of the Holy Ghost and to go out Proclaiming the Gospel everywhere. We must first have spiritual unity in the Gospel. Eight cylinders in a car are no better than four if there is no spark from the battery and no gas in the tank.
But one of the great questions before this Congress is: Can the Church be revived in order to complete the penetration of the world in our generation?
As Leighton Ford says: "One gazes at the apathy, the division, the jealousy, the materialism, and feels like an Ezekiel set in the midst of a valley full of bones. Surely many a pastor has echoed Ezekiel's sigh, 'Lo, they were very dry.' 'Can these bones live?' asked the Lord. And Ezekiel answered in effect, 'Only God knows.' But the Lord commanded$ and the prophet spoke his word and the bones came together, and the flesh upon the bones. Then the breath of God blew.... 'and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceeding great army' (Ezekiel 37:10)." (The Christian Persuader, New York, Harper & Row, 1966, p.53).
The revival that the Church so desperately needs cannot be organized and promoted by human means. It cannot be created by machinery. The two symbols of Pentecost were wind and fire. Both of these speak to us of the mystical, supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in revival. The meaning of the word revival in he Old Testament is "to recover," "to restore," "to return" God's standard for His people. The word for revival in the New Testament means "to stir up," or "rekindle a fire which is slowly dying." The Christian continually feels the pull of the world, the flesh and the devil. This is why Paul exhorted young Timothy to "fan the flame" (2 Timothy 1:6). Even the members of the Early Church needed fresh renewings. In chapter two of the Acts of the Apostles we find that the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room; yet in chapter four we read of their being filled once again. "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness."
In my travels I have met many sincere Christian leaders who believe it is impossible to have a world-wide revival. They say the Scriptures predict that "in the last days, perilous times will Come," when there will be a wholesale departure from the faith. They admit that the Gospel has lost none of its ancient power to save and that here and there a few souls will be gathered in. But they believe there will be no outpourings of the Holy Spirit before the end of the age. They argue that it is completely out of the plans and purposes of God for the Church to pray for and expect a mighty revival.
Brethren, I do not believe that the day of miracles has passed. As long as the Holy Spirit abides and works on the earth, the Church's potential is the same as it was in apostolic days. The great Paraclete has not been withdrawn, and He still waits to work through those who are willing to meet His conditions of repentance, humility, and obedience.
Let us not limit God in His working, and let us not fail to be ready for new and great outpourings of the Holy Spirit in this critical period of history. We are now living in a generation when nothing will break through the overwhelming power of Satan except the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. If the Church was supernaturally blessed of God at its birth, who will say that in the closing days of its witness here on earth it will not be blessed in even a mightier way? The very fact that God is sending local awakening in different parts of the world in answer to the heart-longing of His people, certainly renders false the doctrine that He does not purpose to send revival in these critical days. If God is reviving His work and His people in other places, then why not in your area?
It is my conviction that here in Berlin could begin a movement of God that could touch the world in our generation. If in the next ten days we will meet God's conditions, He will send us a time of refreshing, revival and awakening.
After fifteen years in China, Jonathan Goforth came to the deep and painful conviction that God had something mightier to do in his life and ministry. He became restless as he began, under the Spirit's anointing, an intense study of the Scriptures in relation to revival. After months of study and prayer, he began to believe that God would fulfill His Word in the most difficult field in the world. Thus began the great Manchurian revival.
Henry Martyn once wrote: "If ever I see a Hindu a real believer in the Lord Jesus, I shall see something more nearly approaching the resurrection of a dead body than anything I have yet seen." But Martyn carried on in faith, believing the promises of God, and lived to see the day when God began to work among the Hindus.
We are tempted at times to cry with Habakkuk, "Oh, Lord, how long shall I cry, and Thou wilt not hear?" (Habakkuk 1:2). The prophet was discouraged as he saw the overwhelming odds against the work of the Lord. He had almost reached the point of despair. God gave him a glorious answer: "For I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you" (Habakkuk lt5). In other words, God was saying to His despondent servant: "If I told you what I am doing in the world, you wouldn't believe it.
We come from different racial, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds -- but before God with our spiritual needs, we are one race! We have only one Gospel to declare in every generation, and that is, "God was in-Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." We have one task -- the penetration of the entire world in our generation with the Gospel! God help us here in this historic Berlin Congress to learn how to better understand and do our task.