Peter Cartwright was sixteen years old in 1801 when he returned late at night from a nearby wedding where drinking and dancing dominated the festivities. His life then took a sudden turn:
I began to reflect on the manner in which I had spent the day and evening. I felt guilty and condemned. I rose and walked the floor…. It seemed to me, all of a sudden, my blood rushed to my head, my heart palpitated, in a few minutes I turned blind; an awful impression rested on my mind that death had come, and I was unprepared to die. I fell on my knees and began to ask God to have mercy on me….
Next morning I rose, feeling wretched beyond expression. I tried to read in the Testament, and retired many times to secret prayer through the day, but found no relief… I had never believed in the doctrine of unconditional election and reprobation, I was sorely tempted to believe I was a reprobate, and doomed, and lost eternally, without any chance of salvation.
Several months passed without young Peter finding relief from his guilt. He made his way to a church meeting (eventually called frontier “camp-meetings”), an off-shoot of meetings held in the wake of the revival that had broken out at nearby Cane Ridge (Kentucky).
To this meeting I repaired, a guilty, wretched sinner. On the Saturday evening of said meeting I went, with weeping multitudes, and bowed before the stand, and earnestly prayed for mercy. In the midst of a solemn struggle of soul, an impression was made on my mind as though a voice said to me, “Thy sins are all forgiven thee”…. I rose to my feet, opened my eyes, and it really seemed as if I was in heaven; the trees, the leaves on them, and everything seemed, and I really thought were, praising God. My mother raised the shout, my Christian friends crowded around me, and joined me in praising God; and though I have been since then, in many instances, unfaithful, yet I have never, for one moment, doubted that the Lord did, then and there, forgive my sins and give me religion.
I share this story for two reasons: to show where revival begins and where revival should lead.
Where Revival Leads
The second reason first: “Revived” leads to “revival.” Young Peter Cartwright didn’t just experience personal conversion, assurance, and transformation in his own life. He did what every committed follower of Jesus Christ is supposed to do: He shared what God did in his life with others so they could experience the same thing. In other words, being revived should lead to revival among others.
Peter Cartwright was one of the first souls to be revived in the early days of the Second Great Awakening in America that spread to many states and lasted for decades. He is an example of where personal revival leads: from the heart of one to the hearts of others.
Where Revival Begins
Psalm 51 describes King David’s cry for revival after his sinful affair with Bathsheba (“Have mercy upon me, O God”—verse 1). And David writes in Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” David knew where personal revival has to begin: in the individual’s heart and soul.
Personal revival begins with conviction of sin. Remember: “Whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). And it is sin that quenches the Holy Spirit in the human heart (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
Part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to convict “of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). And He brings conviction for a reason—so we will repent and be revived in righteous living.
How does conviction arise in the heart? By reading God’s Word and asking the Lord to open our eyes as we read (Psalm 119:18). By praying as David did: “Search me, O God, and know my heart” (Psalm 139:23). By God’s chastening (Hebrews 12:1-13). And by the counsel of others (Proverbs 11:14). The challenge is not in receiving conviction; the challenge is in submitting to it.
Is your heart ripe for revival? Commit to taking whatever steps the Holy Spirit shows you. Let revival begin with you—today.
David Jeremiah is the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church and the founder and host of Turning Point for God. For more information about Dr. Jeremiah or Turning Point, visit www.DavidJeremiah.org.
Living the life of an overcomer starts with one very simple, yet often overlooked action: putting on your armor. You’ve heard it before, from the book of Ephesians, the wonderful metaphor—the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the shoes of peace—the armor of God.