Only if or if Only?

Title: Only if or if Only?

Bible Book: 2 Chronicles 7 : 14

Author: Franklin L. Kirksey

Subject: Revival; Prayer; Repentance



Sidney Evans, a man who has written a good deal on the subject of revival said: ‘The revivals of past history have often safeguarded the Christian ministry for a whole generation.’”[1] Dr. Stephen F. Olford (1918-2004) stated, “Revival is that strange and sovereign work of God in which He visits His own people—restoring, reanimating and releasing them into the fullness of His blessing.”[2] “‘We cannot legislate spiritual awakening, but we can set our sails to catch the wind,’ said G. Campbell Morgan [1863-1945].”[3]

“Only if” speaks of requirements, while “if only” bespeaks regrets. We will relate these two concepts to revival and spiritual awakening. We find the word “if” towering at the beginning of 2 Chronicles 7:14, where we read, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” This verse reveals God’s requirements for His people in the Old Testament under the leadership of Solomon. It applies to us in principle as we think about revival and spiritual awakening.

Dr. Lawrence O. Richards asks and answers, “How do we recover after we've wandered deep into some dark valley? After God had revealed His glory to an ecstatic Israel, He gave this prescription to Solomon.”[4]

Allow me to share three things from 2 Chronicles 7:14 needed to see God’s hand of blessing upon His people called by His name.

I. Relate with God humbly according to His ways.

In 2 Chronicles 7:14 we find the first requirement for those who genuinely want revival to “humble themselves.” In 1 Peter 5:5 we read, “God resists the proud, / But gives grace to the humble.” From Matthew 23:12 we read, “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Dr. V. Raymond Edman (1900-1967) former president and chancellor of Wheaton College, explains, “Few things are as obnoxious and offensive as is pride. Instinctively we have the same attitude toward the pompous and puffed-up as does the Almighty, for He says, ‘Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall’ ([Proverbs] 16:18). The proud He knows afar off; and their way He turns upside down.”[5] Proud people do not see the need for revival and spiritual awakening in the first place.

From Romans 12:3 we read, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” In Philippians 2:1-11 we read, “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Remember that “humility” is closely associated with the word translated “meek” or “meekness.” Meekness does not mean weakness. I remember hearing someone say that you “meek” a horse. This does not diminish the power of the horse it merely brings the horse under control. Paul the Apostle writes in Ephesians 5:18, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” The word translated “filled” means “controlled.” Have you yielded control of your life to the Lord Jesus Christ?

II. Request from God harmoniously according to His will.

In 2 Chronicles 7:14 we find the second requirement for those who genuinely want revival to “pray and seek My face.” Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) comments in Faith’s Checkbook, “In this prayer we are to seek the Lord's face.”[6]

David Roper shares the following in Seeing God: Meet God in the Unexpected, “And so the quintessence of life is prayer, not to demand but to wait with patience and submission, to long for and expect. By it everything else is done.”[7] David Roper also states, “Prayer, then, whatever else it may be, is not calling God’s attention to things He’s not aware of, nor is it urging Him to do His duty. Not, it’s rather a conversation in which we speak our minds and God speaks His. We talk and we listen until we get into His mind and He gets into ours.”[8] Roper further explains, “Prayer, however, by its nature is requesting. It is not insisting or clamoring. We can make no demands of God or deals with Him. Furthermore, we’re coming to a friend. Friends don’t make demands. They ask and then wait. We wait with patience and submission until God gives us what we request—or something more.”[9]

Dr. Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) explains, “If man is man and God is God, to live without prayer is not merely an awful thing: it is an infinitely foolish thing." [10]

In Matthew 21:22 we read, “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Jesus taught His disciples how to pray in Luke 11:1-4, “Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.’ So He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, / Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done / On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, / For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.” We read in Luke 18:1-8, “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: ‘There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?’”

Pray for revival and spiritual awakening. From Isaiah 64:1-8 we read, “Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence—As fire burns brushwood, / As fire causes water to boil—To make Your name known to Your adversaries, / That the nations may tremble at Your presence! When You did awesome things for which we did not look, / You came down, / The mountains shook at Your presence. For since the beginning of the world / Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, / Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, / Who acts for the one who waits for Him. You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, / Who remembers You in Your ways. You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—In these ways we continue; / And we need to be saved. But we are all like an unclean thing, / And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; / We all fade as a leaf, / And our iniquities, like the wind, / Have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on Your name, / Who stirs himself up to take hold of You; / For You have hidden Your face from us, / And have consumed us because of our iniquities. But now, O Lord, / You are our Father; / We are the clay, and You our potter; / And all we are the work of Your hand.” From Psalm 85:6 we read, “Will You not revive us again, / That Your people may rejoice in You?” We read in Habakkuk 3:2, “O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; / In wrath remember mercy.” In Daniel 9:19 we read, “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”

In Psalm 27:8 we read, “When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ / My heart said to You, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek.’” We read in Hosea 5:15, “I will return again to My place
Till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; / In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” We read in Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” From Isaiah 55:6-7 we read, “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 on him; / And to our God, / For He will abundantly pardon.”

To see His face is to seek His favor. We find Paul’s passion recorded in Philippians 3:7-8 where we read, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

James reminds us in James 5:16b, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” From Hebrews 4:14-16 we read, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” In 1 John 5:14-15 we read, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

III. Repent toward God heartily according to His Word.

In 2 Chronicles 7:14 we find the third requirement for those who genuinely want revival to “turn from their wicked ways.” This is not merely turning over a new leaf. I remember the lyrics “Turn away from sin and sadness” in a song titled, “Come All Christians Be Committed.”

Remember, there is a true and false repentance. True repentance is necessary. Remember Jesus told 5 of the 7 churches in Asia Minor to repent (Revelation 2 and 3). We read in Acts 3:19, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Dr. J. Edwin Orr wrote a book on revival, chronicling his trip through Canada in 1935, titled Times of Refreshing, published in 1936 by Marshall, Morgan, & Scott in London.

We know that repentance is initially part of a proper response to the gospel. As we read in 1 Thessalonians 1:9b, “how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” In the words of Helen H. Lemmel (1863-1961), “Turn your eyes upon Jesus.”[11]

We discover the word translated “if” several other times as we survey the Scriptures. For example, we read in Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear.” From James 4:3 we read, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” Dr. R. A. Torrey explains, “Many pray for revival. That certainly is a prayer that is pleasing to God—it is along the line of His will. But, many prayers for revivals are purely selfish. The churches desire revivals so that the membership may be increased or so that the church may have more power and influence in the community. Some churches want revival so that the report may be made at the presbytery or conference or association. For such low purposes as these, churches and ministers are often praying for a revival. And, God does not answer the prayer. We should pray for a revival because we cannot endure the dishonor of God caused by the worldliness of the church, the sins of unbelievers, and the proud unbelief of the day. We should pray for revival because God’s Word is being made void. We should pray for revival so that God may be glorified by the outpouring of His Spirit on the Church of Christ. For these reasons, first and above all, we should pray for revival.”[12]

In the New Testament epistle of 1 John we read, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” This is the baseline of a believer’s life, namely, to know you are a sinner in need of the Savior. John also reveals that we need to confess our sins to receive God’s cleansing and forgiveness for sins committed after conversion to enjoy fellowship with Him. From Hebrews 4:13 we read, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Therefore, we realize merely confessing, “I have sinned,” is not enough. From Scripture we find several who “confessed,” “I have sinned,” without truly confessing their sin. From Proverbs 28:13 we read, “He who covers his sin will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”

In the words of Daniel W. Whittle (1840-1901) based on Ezekiel 34:26, “Showers of blessing, / Showers of blessing we need, / Mercy drops round us are falling, / But for the showers we plead. There shall be showers of blessing, precious reviving again; / Over the hills and the valleys, Sound of abundance of rain.”[13] We read in Ezekiel 34:26, “I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing.”


Dr. Robertson McQuilkin, former president of Columbia Bible College, now Columbia International University, asks, “Are you resigned to the status quo or hopeful of ‘showers of blessing’ from the Spirit? Vern Strom was a wheat farmer in western Canada who tells of the ‘dirty thirties’ when he planted one thousand bushels of precious seed and reaped barely one thousand bushels in return. On one thousand acres, that's a bushel an acre! Like many a church—hard, hard work for a ‘survival’ harvest. But in 1942 the rains came and he averaged a crop of fifty-five bushels an acre! The silos and barns and garages wouldn't hold it all, so they stored it in piles outside, twelve thousand bushels to a pile. That's the kind of harvest when God sends rain. Wouldn't that be great for your church? What can you do about the drought, if that's what you're experiencing?”[14]

Although God sends His blessings in His time and in His way, we know His people must fulfill His requirements to experience revival and spiritual awakening. God will send revival and spiritual awakening only if we follow His prescribed method. We must be careful lest we fail to receive a promise of God’s mercy and grace in revival and spiritual awakening and say, “If only.” How many believers will recount, “If only, I had trusted and obeyed God, I could have experienced the blessing of revival and spiritual awakening?”

May we be able to come to the end of our life as young William Whiting Borden of Yale (1887-1913), who wrote, "No reserves, no retreats, no regrets."

Remember, when it comes to revival and spiritual awakening, it will either be “only if” or “if only.”

[1]Selwyn Hughes, Every Day Light, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), Day 329, 347

[2]Stephen F. Olford, Heart-Cry for Revival Database © 2004 WORDsearch Corp.

[3]Robertson McQuilkin, The Five Smooth Stones: Essential Principles for Biblical Ministry, 108, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

[4]Lawrence O. Richards, The 365-Day Devotional Commentary, (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Publishers, 1990), 265

[5]V. Raymond Edman, Sweeter Than Honey, (Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press Publications, Inc., 1956), 62

[6]Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Faith’s Checkbook, “If, and A Triple Promise,” October 13 Reading, Database WORDsearch Corp.

[7]David Roper, Seeing God: Meet God in the Unexpected, (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 2006), 27

[8]Ibid., 30

[9]Ibid., 47

[10]Phillips Brooks, Phillips Brooks’ Addresses, (London: Richard D. Dickinson, 1894), 121

[11]Helen H. Lemmel, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” (1922)

[12]R. A. Torrey, How To Pray, (Springdale, PA: Whitaker House, 1983), 64-65

[13]Daniel W. Whittle, “There Shall Be Showers of Blessing,” (1883)

[14]McQuilkin, Stones, 108

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on and / [email protected] / (251) 626-6210

© February 24, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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