God has always used a voice to call His people back. Whether a godly king, a prophet, a preacher, or a missionary, He has historically raised up a singular voice that has resounded across the landscape of the land, calling people to repentance, revival, and renewal.
One such voice was George Whitefield. A few years ago while in New England, I visited Pulpit Rock where Whitefield preached to thousands with no amplification. I also went to his grave, which is under an old historic church. He preached the night he died to thousands of people gathered outside the pastor’s home where he was staying. That part of our nation, once the hotbed for the fires or revival, is now in most instances parched, burned over land – land in need of a fresh breeze from heaven.
Whitefield had a voice that could be heard by thousands in an open field. He once said, “I love those who thunder out the Word. The Christian world is in a dead sleep. Nothing but a loud voice can awaken them out of it.”
An actor who was a contemporary of Whitefield said his voice was so powerful that if he were an actor on stage he could have made the audience weep or tremble by just saying the word, “Oh.” Where is that voice today?
Whitefield was used of God to shake England. From 1738-1770, he made seven trips across the Atlantic to America to preach. He covered the land from Maine to Georgia. In one 75-day period, he preached 175 times and traveled 800 miles (when the only way was by horseback or wagon). He preached anywhere and everywhere – barns, churches, courthouses, open fields, always looking for the opportunity to preach Christ.
As I think of George Whitefield, I also remember the voice of Vance Havner. He had a soft-spoken, nasal, Carolina drawl, but when he spoke, he could cut to the heart. My life was changed under his preaching. I’m sure the average preaching professor would scoff at his style, his lack of outlines, and his use of humor, but no one could sit unchanged when listening to Vance Havner.
America needs a voice today. We’ve got pastors, preachers, and teachers, but we don’t have the kind of voice that will cause God to rend the heavens and come down. Some voices are watered down because they want to have favor with whomever “Pharaoh” is at the moment. Others can’t be the voice because they are indebted to someone in their church for all the perks they get for ignoring certain topics. Others lack the voice because they are selling a false gospel, a prosperity gospel, or even an “everyone will go to heaven” gospel. These will all find favor and are often applauded, but they are not what we need in this hour.
Nathan wasn’t looking to be on David’s advisory council when he said, “You are the man!” and called out David for his sin. John the Baptist wasn’t invited to dinner at Herod’s palace. He was sent to prison and lost his head for preaching repentance. Paul was invited to speak to governors, but they thought he was out of his mind.
The voice we need today won’t be politically correct, and it won’t be heard by most denominational leaders. Why? The voice we need will shake the system, rattle cages, offend the comfortable, rebuke the carnal, and be totally out of step with the religious establishment.
Vance Havner wrote, “He will be on better terms with heaven than with earth, like Elijah who stood first before God and therefore needed not to bow and scrape before Ahab. The prophet pays a price, but it is worth it to walk into any pulpit beholden to no man. He owes no political debts to anyone for pulling wires to get him a top seat in the synagogue. While other speakers worry about making good and putting it over, the prophet is concerned only with delivering God’s message regardless of consequences.”
What politician fears the preacher today? Mary Queen of Scots feared John Knox. Where is the Elijah that makes trouble with Ahab and Jezebel? Where is the Amos that doesn’t worry about the dress code for a speaking event, but comes dressed in the full armor of God and covered with the Holy Spirit?
If we are serious about revival, we need a voice. In fact, we need resounding voices – in harmony, on the same page, with the same heartbeat, who refuse to be cowards because they fear man or the opinions of others. A. C. Dixon, who was pastor of Moody Church and Spurgeon’s Tabernacle said, “Every preacher is, or ought to be, a prophet of God who preaches as God bids him without regard to results. When he becomes conscious of the fact that he is a leader in his church or denomination, he has reached a crisis in his ministry. Shall he be a prophet of God or a leader of men?”
We need another School of the Prophets. We need men on fire for God who’ve come out of their prayer closets with a message burning in their hearts. The time is too short and the situation is far too desperate for anything less than that.