(Article for publication week of 4-23- AD 2015)
"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsufferring and doctrine" (II Timothy 4:2).
As we are observing Confederate Heritage Month during April we are using the occasion to write upon the Great Revival the Lord sent down on the South during the War for Southern Independence. We urge every Southerner and every Christian to obtain and read "Christ in the Camp" by Dr. J. William Jones and "The Great Revival in the Southern Armies" by Dr. William W. Bennett. The little flock among our readers who are truly saved and pray for revival will be encouraged by these two historical accounts of one of the few genuine revivals that God has sent on this Continent.
We had observed in previous articles that the Revival was genuine as proven by its fruits, and that it was preceded and accompanied by much prayer. The next thing that is noted is the faithful preachers that the Lord used in the Revival. The Confederate Armies were blessed to have preach among them men like Dr. Robert L. Dabney, the pious Presbyterian, and Chief of Staff for General Stonewall Jackson, and men like the Southern Baptist Dr. John Broaddus, who helped found Southern Seminary and one of the men for whom Broadman Press was named (the other was Basil Manly). And there were of course, hundreds of lesser known, but just as useful and faithful preachers among the Confederate Armies. Drs. Jones and Bennett relate that there were multitudes of faithful preachers from all the Christian denominations active in preaching among the troops. Both books mention Presbyterian, Southern Baptist, Primitive Baptist, Methodist and Episcopalian preachers who were used of the Lord in the Revival. Many of them were regular soldiers in the army fighting in the front lines and preaching. Others were full time chaplains and evangelists and pastors. But they generally had in common a firm belief in the Scriptures, the terrible condition of lost souls, and the Power of Christ to save the chief of sinners. They were men who were committed to the Glory of God, the advancement of His Kingdom, and the conversion of sinners. And God blessed their united efforts.
OH! How we need such men today! How we need men that will quite trying to build churches and do as my text says- "preach the word!" I have been blessed to participate in the ordination of a few young ministers and as I have laid my hands upon them I have always whispered in their ear, "preach the word!" Faithful preachers will preach the Word of God, not psychology nor politics nor denominational agendas, nor fads. Faithful preachers will be concerned with pleasing God, not pleasing men. Faithful preachers will preach the gospel, not philosophy. Faithful preachers will preach the Word whether it is popular or not (and it will never be popular with the world and the nominal church).
John Bunyan paints a portrait of the faithful man of God in Pilgrim's Progress. At the Interpreter's House Christian was shown a portrait of a grave person who was "one of a thousand; he can begat children, travel in birth with children, and nurse them himself when born. And whereas thou seest him with eyes lift up to heaven, the Best of Books in his hand, and the Law of Truth writ on his lips; it is to shew thee, that his work is to know and unfold dark things to Sinners; even as thou seest him stand as if he pleaded with men; and whereas thou seest the world cast behind him, and that a Crown hangs over his head; that is to shew thee, that slighting and despising the things that are present, for the love he hath to his Master's service, he is sure in the World that cones next, to have Glory for his reward." Bunyan continues to instruct us, " Wherefore take good heed to what I have shewed thee, and bear well in thy mind what thou hast seen; lest in thy journey thou meet with some that pretend to lead thee right, but their way goes down to death." Such were the calber of faithful men that God used in the Revival among the Southern Armies, and the kind He always uses. There are very few such faithful men among us today. May the Lord be pleased to raise up many more.