(Article for publication week of 4-9- AD 2015)
"Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time is come" (Psalm 102:13).
The Lord has put it upon my heart to write this month on the Christian significance of the War for Southern Independence since April is Confederate Heritage Month here in the Sovereign State of Mississippi. Lord willing, next month we shall resume our series on the doctrine of sanctification.
Sadly, it is little known that during the War there was a great Revival in the Confederate Army. Ignorance of this historical fact is not because of insufficient information and data, for it has been well documented. For example, Pastor J. William Jones, who was one of the preachers that the Lord used in the revival wrote a wonderful account of this mighty work of God's grace in his book, "Christ in the Camp." I highly recommend this book to you, and will gladly lend you my copy if you are not able to obtain one yourself. Pastor Jones related that thousands of Confederate soldiers were converted, especially during the last two years of the War. The Revival was especially notable, and perhaps began in the Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by Gen. Robert E. Lee, although it was not limited to that army.
First of all, from all accounts the work was a genuine revival. Now, none of us have seen a genuine revival in our part of the world in our lifetime. We have had many "protracted meetings" that were advertised as "revivals," but that is not genuine revival. True revival is a work of God, not of men. It cannot be worked up, but must be prayed down. The meetings that have been styled as "revivals" in our day, in our part of the world have sometimes generated some excitement, but when they were over the people went back to their old ways and never evidenced any lasting change that is the evidence of true conversion. True revival is a work of God's sovereign grace when He is pleased to convert multitudes, and further sanctify them to live holy lives. There were thousands of Southern men who left home unconverted, who returned as devout Christians. Pastor Jones relates in the latter part of "Christ in the Camp" that he followed up with pastors and churches all over the South after the War and the report was that generally the men who professed Christ during the War continued to walk with Him after they got home. Thousands more were converted, but never returned to their earthly home, but were called up to their home in heaven.
Pastor Jones and others relate that life in the Confederate armies was typical of life in most armies in the early days of the War. There was much drinking, swearing and worldly and frivolous amusements like fiddling and card playing. But through faithful preaching, earnest prayer and Godly Examples, multitudes began to take seriously the state of their never-dying souls and began to seek salvation in Christ. Of course many of the new converts died in battle and never returned home, but many did live to return home and served faithfully in their churches the rest of their lives. The South is still known as the "Bible Belt" as a result of the Great Revival and the influence that the men of the South had upon their churches, families and communities. Sadly, we are now the "Bible Belt" in name only because we have forsaken the gospel of our Fathers and our Mothers. I urge the Remnant among our readers to pray for God's set time when He shall favour Zion again with a Great Revival in the South. There is little hope for us unless He is pleased so to do.