Faith in Action
We are not saved by good works. But once saved, we should do good works. Salvation is by the grace of God alone, received by faith alone. However, we are saved to serve. We are blessed in order to be a blessing. To whom much is given, much is required. To whom much more is given, much more is required. Those who have been forgiven much, love much.
The Fruit of Faith
Good works are a fruit of faith. Not the root. The grace of Almighty God is the root of faith and the fruit of faith is seen in: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in action.
Learn to do Good
We read in Isaiah 1:17: “Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.”
Glorify God by Good Works
In the Sermon on the Mount our Lord Jesus taught us: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Be Fruitful in Every Good Work
“That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:10
Be Rich in Good Works
“Let them do good, that they may be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share.” 1 Timothy 6:18
Maintain a Pattern of Good Works
“In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility.” Titus 2:7
Be Zealous for Good Works
“He gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Titus 2:14
Be Careful to Maintain Good Works
“This is a faithful saying and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to man.”Titus 3:8
Exhort One Another to Good Works
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25
Faith Without Works is Dead
“Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:17
Show Forth your Faith by Action
“But someone will say, you have faith and I have works. Show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works.”James 2:18
“Having your conduct honourable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:12
Works of Charity
We read of Dorcas, in Acts 9:36, who is described as a woman “full of good works and charitable deeds …”
Labour of Love
The Apostle Paul commends the Church of Thessalonica “remembering without ceasing your work of faith, your labour of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father.” 1 Thessalonians 1:3
Beware of Sins of Omission
“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17
Honour God with Great Acts of Faith and Obedience
The Greatest Century of Missions was launched by a sermon by William Carey which was summarised as: “Expect great things from God! Attempt great things for God!” God is great. We should honour Him with great faith. God just loves to be trusted.
The Revival in Ireland
The Revival in Ulster of 1859 began when Rev. J.H. Moore exhorted some of his young men: “Can you not do something more for God?” He challenged them to gather some of their careless neighbours to spend an hour with them reading and studying the Word of God.
The Bible Study in Kells
James McQuilkin, Jeremiah Meneely, Robert Carlisle and John Wallace began a weekly Bible study and prayer meeting in the old school house near Kells, not far from Ballymena. During the long winter of 1857 to 1858, every Friday evening, these young men gathered with an armful of coal and taking their Bibles, made their way to the old school house. There they read and meditated upon the Scriptures and poured out their hearts in prayer to God. As the coals in the fireplace heated the school room, the Scriptures warmed their hearts and fired their minds with a hunger for Revival.
These Bible study and prayer meetings continued for three months before there were any visible results. During that time two more young men joined them and on New Years Day, 1858, the first conversion took place as a result of their prayer meeting. Thereafter, there were conversions every night. By the end of 1858, there were fifty young men involved in those Friday evening prayer meetings in the school house in Kells.
Edwin Orr later wrote that the Revival which originated in this prayer meeting of four young men in the school house of Kells made a greater impact in Ireland than anything else since the days of Patrick, the missionary who had won Ireland to Christ.
Many people had ridiculed these young men praying for Revival. But faith grew. Hope brightened. The power of prayer began to be known, felt and seen.
The School in Coleraine
At the local school in Coleraine, Antrim County, a school teacher, seeing one young boy clearly under the conviction of sin, advised him to call upon the Lord in private. He sent with him an older boy who had found peace the day before. As these two boys travailed in prayer, the young boy was blessed with such sacred peace and rejoicing. He returned to school, and with beaming face reported to his teacher: “Oh sir, I am so happy. I have the Lord Jesus in my heart!” The attention of the whole class was arrested.
Conviction of Sin
One boy after another silently slipped out of the classroom and after a while the school teacher looked out to see the boys on their knees throughout the playground, each one in earnest prayer. He turned to two boys who he knew to be walking with the Lord and asked them: “Do you think you can go and pray with these boys?” They did so, and kneeling down with one after the other, they began to implore the Lord to forgive their sins for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ who had borne all upon the Cross. Silent grief, soon turned to bitter cries.
As these cries reached the girls’ school, they too fell upon their knees and wept in grief over their sins. The cries of these boys and girls at school reached passers-by in the adjoining streets and conviction of sin came upon these pedestrians and they fell upon their knees in the street, pleading to the Lord for mercy.
Pastors and many prayer warriors were sought out and they spent the rest of the day in counselling and praying with these mourners. It was not until 11pm that night that the school premises could be closed.
Sermons in the Streets
The next day an open-air meeting was held to hear testimonies of those who had been converted. Masses of people from town and country began to pour into the square. The multitude could not hear the voices of the people on the platform, so it was suggested that the people should separate into different groups and that the various ministers should preach to each group. This was done immediately.
Earnest Searching for Peace with God
One of the ministers testified afterwards: “I never before saw in any audience, the same searching, earnest, rivetted look fixed upon my face, as they strained up to me from almost every eye in that hushed and awe-struck multitude. I remember while I was speaking, asking myself: How is this? Why is this?”
A peculiar cry arose from one side of the square and in minutes the whole multitude was overcome with conviction of sin. Ministers spent the rest of the day and night counselling and praying with individuals under the conviction of sin. As one minister described it: “When the morning dawned and the sun rose, I was still wandering from street to street and from house to house, on the most marvellous and solemn errand upon which I’d ever been sent.”
Kneeling in the Street
The next day the market place was packed with even greater multitudes than the day before. And they all fell to their knees in the streets and began to seek the Lord with loud cries, calling for mercy.
On the night of June 1859, the town hall of Coleraine was packed to overflowing with people under conviction of sin and seeking consolation, instructions and prayer from Christian ministers. One minister wrote: “Full sanctuaries, full Sabbath Schools, full prayer meetings, brotherly love, increased generosity and additions by the hundreds to the communion of the Churches. These are the fruits that remain” of the summer Revival of 1859 in Coleraine.
When Church services were concluded, the people remained, still yearning for more. People would stop ministers on the street and urgently demand: “What must I do to be saved? I have been a hypocrite! I’ve been a formalist! I have been blind! I feel such a burden of sin. If I do not get relief, I must die and be dammed.”
The Music Hall
The Belfast Music Hall was packed to overflowing and nearly 100 ministers from all denominations filled the platform. Even the mayor was part of this seeking for the mercy of the Lord.
The Botanical Gardens
Soon the Botanical Gardens had to be opened up for the vast crowd that had gathered, a larger crowd that had ever gathered before in the history of Ireland. “It was the most impressive spectacle I have ever witnessed … thousands of sturdy and resolute men were congregated … with a stern purpose … with their Bible in their hands … pouring on as in as unceasing stream …” In Belfast it appeared that the entire population was gathered for prayer meetings and open-air evangelism, with the deepest seriousness and concern about eternal matters. It seemed that the entire city was filled with anxiety about salvation and a desire for prayerful study of the Word of God in the Bible.
Street People Saved
One humble, devout Christian woman led 20 prostitutes to salvation and rescued them out of sin and misery. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.” Zechariah 4:6
One pastor reported: “The joy of converts, the cry of penitents, the wailing of friends, the Holy Ghost was there indeed as a mighty rushing wind … we saw their eyes beaming with the light of Heaven; their light shining like angels, their hearts heaving with the love of Jesus and their hands clapping with joy before the God of Heaven … it was a foretaste of Heaven. All was in accordance with order, nothing extravagant … God was there and we all bowed before Him. To Him be the glory.”
Unable to Sing
There were services where people came under such conviction of sin that they broke down and were unable to continue with singing the words of the Hymn … “My body broken, thus I give …”
The Power of Prayer
One man who was converted became most anxious for the conversion of his fellow workers in the mill. However, his fellow workmen mocked, swore and sang impure songs to distress him. He resolved to pray for them. Suddenly, one day, the men in the mill were astonished by cries from their homes nearby. The business in the mill was suspended as the men rushed to their homes to see what was causing these cries. They found their wives, sons and daughters prostrate under strong conviction of sin. Crying out for mercy to the Lord. The men quickly requested the new convert to come and pray with their family members. Soon the weeping penitents became rejoicing converts.
The Power of God at the Mill
Soon the work of the mill had to be stopped because the men came under such conviction of sin that even the strongest men and greatest scoffers in the country, fell powerless under the mighty influence of God’s Holy Spirit. Strong men prostrated themselves face down on the ground and cried out for mercy. And this time it was their wives and daughters who came rushing over to the mill to pray with them. And with tears of joy, they returned thanks to God for His mighty works. As one minister wrote: “Such seeking, asking, striving to enter the Kingdom of God I never saw before.”
Children Praising God
As one young girl sang Psalm 51, crowds gathered outside and wept and prayed and came literally walking and leaping and praising God. In Armagh, a young girl of 11 years old entered school lifted her hands and declared: “Oh, I’ve found Jesus! I’ve found Jesus!” The other children began to cry to the Lord for mercy. One minister declared: “A year ago I was preaching to the dead, but now I am preaching to the living.”
God is Not Mocked
Some young men planned to mock the Revival by pretending to fall down and be stricken with guilt while others were to call Christians to come and pray for the pretended case of conviction. The first young man to foolishly take part in this blasphemous mocked grief fell dead on the spot. What had begun as a farce ended as a tragedy. The fear of God fell upon the unrepentant.
In Belfast, an old grey-haired man who had pawned his coat to pay for one more bottle of whisky, went into a bar and found a young woman there, on her knees, crying out for mercy. He left the pub declaring loudly that he could not take his whisky there. However, he soon returned and also fell on his knees, calling out to God for mercy. A coachman drew up, went in and was similarly affected. Before long there were five men in the whisky shop calling out to God for forgiveness and mercy, while praying on their knees.
The Presence of God
One minister wrote: “We have now seen the wondrous difference which His presence makes. When He is absent, Christians are cold, ordinances are powerless, cynicism immovable and dead, wickedness prevails. “When He comes in His love, and grace and power, God’s children are lively, tender, loving, fervent, zealous, laborious. The means of grace prove effectual to the salvation of multitudes. Hypocrites are unmasked. The careless alarmed and aroused. The ungodly fly to Jesus. Iniquity abashed hides it head. May the experience of the past stir us up to desire continued outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit.”
A Prayer of Surrender
One of the prayers used multiple times in the 1859 Revival was later printed up as a decision card for those who wanted to wholeheartedly surrender to the Lordship of Christ. It read:
I take God the Father to be my God (1 Thessalonians 1:19)
I take God the Son to be my Saviour (Acts 5:31)
I take God the Holy Spirit to be my Sanctifier (1 Peter 1:2)
I take the Word of God to be my rule (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
I take the people of God to be my people (Ruth 1:16-17)
I likewise dedicate myself wholly to the Lord (Romans 14:7-8)
And I do this prayerfully (Psalm 119:94)
Deliberately (Joshua 24:15)
Sincerely (2 Corinthians 1:12)
Freely (Psalm 110:3)
And forever (Romans 8:35-39).
“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God for He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:6-7
And how did this great Revival begin?
With a challenge: Can you not do something more for God?
Can you not do something?
Can you do not do something more?
Can you not do something more for God?
We can all pray. Most of us can give. Some of us can go. Can we not study the Word of God more? Can we invite some friends or neighbours around for a Bible study? Perhaps you could start a Bible study and prayer fellowship at your work place, school, or neighbourhood? Perhaps you could make regular witnessing a lifestyle choice. To always have tracts and Gospel booklets to put into the hands of people you meet at shops, at petrol stations, at toll gates and police checkpoints. We can sow the good seed of the Word of God in the lives of those we come across. Perhaps we can do more worship? Sing a hymn before work each day. Read the Bible before breakfast. Instead of just revving your engine at a red traffic light, how about using these stops as an opportunity to pray for someone?
Carpe Diem! Sieze the day!
We can take initiative. Make a plan. “Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.”
Expect great things from God! Attempt great things for God!
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and forever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
Faith in Action