By: Zach Collins
His name was “Raccoon” John Smith. He spent much of his life as a Baptist preacher. From a young age, he sought the Lord through Calvinistic theory. One day, a Baptist preacher told him the Lord had called him to be one of His “elect.” Immediately, he began to preach. He studied the Bible restlessly. When he preached, he would quote entire scripture passages, much more than his fellow Baptist preachers. However, there was a significant moment that changed his life. One night, a fire consumed his family’s cabin and burned two of his four children. For the next several years, a thought occurred in his mind that he could not escape. Were my children part of the “elect of God,” or were they doomed to the fires of Hell? In 1822, this soul-consuming thought came to a breaking point. While preaching at Spencer Creek, he told his audience, “If you believe Jesus is God’s son and obey Him, you will be saved. If you disobey Him, you will be lost.” That day, it dawned on “Raccoon” John Smith that the statement he had just declared was foreign to the Calvinistic doctrine. This was a turning point in the life of “Raccoon” John Smith.
Eventually, after studying the New Testament, he saw that the Baptist church was not the church of his Lord and that the theories preached by Baptist preachers were not the gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course, “Raccoon” John Smith would become instrumental in the Restoration Movement that would begin in Kentucky. In 1832, he preached a New Year’s Day sermon in Lexington, Kentucky. He stated in his sermon, “let us, then my brethren, be no longer Campbellites or Stoneites, New Lights or Old Lights, or any other kind of lights, but let us come to the Bible, and to the Bible alone, as the only book in the world that can give us all the light we need.” In truth, “Raccoon” John Smith had deprived himself of spiritual nourishment in seeking revival from religious error. When he dedicated himself to the word of God, the principles, and precepts of the New Testament, he found authentic revival, and his soul was redeemed.
Lately, in our nation, there has been much discussion about the topic of revival. Once again, this discussion originated in Kentucky. In Wilmore, Kentucky, at Asbury College, a so-named “revival” occurred. Since this event, many places across our country and the world have claimed the same events taking place, a so-named “revival.” I admire those who desire to live godly, restore themselves to the precepts and principles of the New Testament, and turn the tide of a nation heading toward the fate of destruction for the ungodly. However, there is a difference between artificial and true biblical revival. Artificial revival, based upon human emotion and religious error, deprives us of the spiritual nourishment needed for restoration. Authentic revival, fastened in the firm foundation of God’s word, provides the necessary spiritual nourishment for restoration. The definition of true biblical revival is restoration to Biblical precepts.
In Deuteronomy 10:12-13, Moses provides the perfect procedure for true revival. It is the procedure by which “Raccoon” John Smith found restoration that day, and so can we today. It involves possessing five “rights” if you are to be right with God and spiritually revived.
1. Revival involves the RIGHT attitude. Moses said, “Fear the Lord….” If we are ever to be revived, we must know the will of God. This begins with fear (c.f., Proverbs 1:7).
2. Revival involves the RIGHT direction. Moses said, “…walk in all His ways…” The direction of unhinged emotion is wrong, whereas the direction of biblical truth is right.
3. Revival involves the RIGHT affection. Moses said, “…love Him…” True, biblical revival can only be grounded in biblical truth, not human emotion, or religious error.
4. Revival involves the RIGHT behavior. Moses said, “…serve the Lord with all your heart and soul….” How can serving the Lord bring revival and restoration to your soul?
5. Revival involves the RIGHT action. Moses said, “…keep the commands of the Lord and His statutes.” Revival only comes through love and obedience (c.f., John 14:15).
If you allow me, I would like to broaden the statement of “Raccoon” John Smith. Let us hold fast to the Bible, and the Bible alone, as the only book in the world that can revive, redeem, and restore our souls. Are you seeking to be revived, or are you being deprived?