I have often thought about getting hold of the reports that senior churchmen in one of the Protestant denominations in Northern Ireland (who were given a year to go round the congregations, inter alia), gave when they finished their year, and read and study these reports to find out what the spiritual state of the churches really was - in their view. Having been and listened to about fourteen of these reports over the years, I would have to conclude that that church is in very good heart, is spiritually alive, has prayer meetings, good work being done, made up of good people, God’s work progressing steadily, and so on.
Having listened to such reports, I could not reconcile what these church leaders were saying with what I and many other ministers were experiencing on the ground. The annual meeting of that denomination was told very good news about life within and around that denomination, yet there were fundamental theological problems, such as, the acceptance of theological pluralism, the honouring of men and women ministers who held theologically liberal views and preached accordingly; there were all kinds of mix-ups with ecumenism, fraternising with Romanism on a frequent basis, the institutional cover-up of serious wrong-doing, and all emerging from a determined opposition to the Gospel and to Gospel preaching ministers in many places. Yet, the annual reports spoke of how healthy the churches were spiritually speaking. Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gives such an attitude as the reason why revival has been withheld from many churches today.
And, and here’s the irony, the churches that are furthest away from Scripture are the very churches that need the reviving power of God’s Holy Spirit more than the “purer” churches, whatever and wherever they are! It is these very churches that claim how spiritual they are, how faithful they are to the Gospel, and how much work is being done for God's glory amongst them. And these churches that make such unfounded claims are the churches that are being deprived of God's blessing - blessing that He is longing to pour out upon them. They are also the most likely churches to be revived by God when His time comes to pour out His Spirit again. DMLJ longed for this to happen in his day, but felt very disappointed that he had not experienced revival at the end of his ministry as he had done in Sandfields in the 1930s.