I am a revived believer whose life was drastically changed by the power of the Holy Spirit in 1981. I had been raised in the church. My family heritage is rich with Christian relatives and ministers going back several hundred years, a history that Ancestry.com confirms includes 15 direct ancestors who came to America on the Mayflower.
However, from 1972-1980, I had no active relationship with Christ and found myself living in Jacksonville, Fla. – 1,000 miles away from my home – lonely, hurting, and searching for answers.
In previous articles, I had testified of my life-changing experience that occurred as the result of meeting the sister of an internationally known rock star and having her introduce me to the very active Holy Spirit. I remember my excitement when I realized, “Hey, this stuff is real!” I jumped into knowing Jesus with both feet, shortly thereafter attending church and loving spending hours in prayer and in His Word. This dramatic change occurred because I had found out that God was real. He revealed to me such scriptures as, “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” (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV).
Entering full-time ministry, I went by the title of an evangelist and many came to Christ during that time. But, realizing that not everyone was seeking God wholeheartedly, my greatest passion eventually became trying to “wake up the sleeping saints,” as it were. I once knew a young Christian lady who flat out told me, “Nolan, I have all of God that I want to have!” I cried out “Lord, what is wrong with people that have been in the church for years? Why are so many lukewarm?”
I thought that people like me who had been saved out of a very sinful lifestyle sought the Lord with more zeal and diligence than those with less alarming backgrounds. I was frequently invited to speak at teen residential facilities, and would often also travel to guest speak at local jails. It was deeply impressed in my spirit that there was a clear difference between the low level of enthusiasm of the church folk and the deep spiritual hunger of individuals who had been delivered by Jesus from a life of deep sin and bondage.
For many of the former type, those of comfortable conversions, this observation leads to a simple, “Amen, it is what it is and that is all there is to it.” “They who are forgiven much love much!” (Luke 7:47 paraphrased).
However, in the many years of study, prayer, and ministry that followed, God seemed to offer a different perspective – a perspective that led to my current calling to be a revivalist.
If God by His Spirit is continually calling all of us as His children “up higher,” as is so clearly taught in the seven churches of Revelation, then we will all stand before Him one day to give an account for how diligently we sought Him and how faithfully we served Him. We will all be held accountable for what we did with the talents that He has entrusted to us, and how much fruit we produced with those talents. There will not be a “church section” over here and a “former addict section” over there.
You see, some people like to feel more comfortable and never sacrifice anything for the sake of Christ. It may be revealed one day that these people were never truly born again, and it will cost them their souls in the end. Only preaching the truth under a heartbroken and prayerful disposition will open the eyes of the unconverted, that they might repent and truly be saved.
Rev Nolan J Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. since 1985. He spent most of his adult life working in youth ministry. He also felt the calling of Evangelist/Revivalist and traveled as the door was open holding evangelistic meetings in churches throughout the Northeast. His website is www.verticalsound.org.