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The Importance of Revival (Revival-Library)
In today’s world of endless wars, failing economies, corrupt politicians, rampant secularism and unbridled cultural perversions the Lord knows we need a fresh global move of the Holy Spirit. The world has a multitude of problems but God’s ultimate solution has always been to invade mankind with His grace and power through an awakened church. Revival is the cure of all man’s ills.
The church in the west is already rising from the ashes of unbelief, idolatry and theological nit-picking by restoring the New Testament pattern of faith and life. It is waking up with an eager longing for a new Pentecost. Revival is back on the agenda again. There are books on revival, prayers for revival, preachers’ revival anecdotes and special conferences devoted to revival. This is an exciting phenomenon because such an emphasis on revival has often preceded genuine spiritual awakenings in the past. So, who knows? We may well be en route to a massive spiritual upheaval across the world!
But what would revival look like? How would we recognise revival if it came? Is revival always the same in effect, experience and extent? Are there discernable revival characteristics? Can we promote or prevent the onset of revival? We will try to answer these questions in the next few articles.
How important is revival?
Let’s try to answer this fundamental question. Does the idea of revival reflect the life and Spirit of the New Testament or is it merely a three-centuries-old fad, promoted by deluded fanatics and totally incompatible with a mature 21st century church?
Firstly, revivals are advocated and experienced in the Bible. (See http://www.revival-library.org/pensketches/hr_menu.php) It will be argued that the word ‘revival’ is not found in the Bible but the sacred scriptures proclaim the concept and principles of what we call ‘revival’ from Genesis to Revelation. They are everywhere in the Old and New Testaments.
Isa 64:1-3 Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
Hab 3:2 Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. KJV
Mal 3:10 “see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
Joel 2:28-29 I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
In the New Testament the activity of the Spirit in blessings believers and arresting the attention of the lost was not confined to the Day of Pentecost. It is similarly everywhere. Luke records a number of events where the Spirit was outpoured and Paul writing to Timothy describes the common experience saying ‘the Holy Spirit which he poured out upon us richly.’ Outpourings of the Spirit are part and parcel of New Testament Christianity.
Secondly, ‘revival’ is the major means that God has used to advance the cause of the gospel.
I know this takes some swallowing but history speaks for itself!
Jonathan Edwards got it right when he said “Though there be a more constant influence of God’s Spirit always, in some degree, attending His ordinances; yet the way in which the greatest things have been done towards carrying on this work, always has been by remarkable effusions of the Spirit at special seasons of mercy…” (History of Redemption p30)
Revivals are His normal and most common way to advance the quality and quantity of the church. This is His major antidote for decline and the foremost method of reviving dying churches, achieving mass evangelisation and reaping huge harvests of souls. Revival makes an indelible mark on society and thrusts out zealous evangelists onto the field securing the future for God’s work.
When revival comes everything is affected and nothing remains the same. The church is revitalized and the world is impacted.
Christians become preoccupied with the things of God. They become intensely prayerful, attending God’s house more frequently for fellowship and worship. They develop a hunger for the preached word which illuminates and powerfully penetrates the hearts of its hearers, bringing conviction, repentance and life transformation. During times of revival God’s people are restored from backsliding, carelessness and inactivity. The church is restored to her mission and ministry-training institutions become overcrowded with fresh pastoral, evangelistic and missionary candidates. Bible and Christian literature demands excel and new humanitarian societies are spawned. In every revival the Christian church receives fresh life and impetus which usually lasts for a generation. Consequently, every generation needs a fresh awakening.
In times of revival believers develop a passion for souls and become deeply concerned about the spiritual welfare of the lost. Prayer for the lost and gospel preaching has extraordinary effects. The normal traits of ungodliness disappear. Blasphemy and filthy language, drunkenness and immorality, dishonesty and selfishness are all replaced by a sweet sense of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Sometimes entire towns or areas are affected. At other times whole nations are so blanketed with God’s renewing activity that hardly any inhabited places are without some evidence of His glorious workings.
As in the Book of Judges the church goes through cycles of sin – suffering – supplication – salvation. Frequent revivals are needed to bring the entire church back to its vitality and mission.
“It is most significant that since the Reformation revivals have recurred with increasing frequency. Again and again God has rescued that which had gone beyond all human aid: what could have saved the church but these gracious interventions of almighty power? The need can but grow more urgent as the age draws to its close.” (D. M. Panton – quoted by Arthur Wallis In The Day of Thy Power p24)
Revival, then, is what the church and the world needs. And revival is just what God wants to give. He is not unwilling to open the heavens and send us ‘times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.’ Indeed, it is true to say that seasons of revival have always been the major means that God has employed to advance His cause and the cause of the church in the world.
If this is true then it requires our proclamation to our people, our praying for it consistently and preparing ourselves for it continually.
Tony Cauchi. January 2010
Next month: Defining Revival
George Barna points that many of us claim to follow Jesus don’t have a clue what it means to be broken and truly sorry for our sins…
“Very few American Christians have experienced a sense of spiritual brokenness that compelled them to who beg God for his mercy and acceptance through the love of Christ. We have a nation of ‘Christians’ who took the best offer, but relatively few who were so humiliated and hopeless for a holy and omnipotent God that they cried out for undeserved compassion. That helps to explain why in practical terms it’s hard to tell the difference between those who have beliefs that characterize them as born again and those who don’t” (quoted in David Bryant, CHRIST is ALL! 244)
Let us pray that a spirit of brokenness will sweep through our churches.
Richard Baxter once said, “A surrendered life in the hands of a holy God is a fearful thing.”
That’s where we need to be as we lead our congregations toward total surrender to God.
What does it mean to be surrendered to God? The Bible’s word for surrender is also the word for brokenness. We know from the Bible that God uses broken vessels. It’s a divine principle.
The greatest example of this is Jesus. In Luke 22:42, Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (NIV) In the New Testament, ‘cup’ always represents suffering. When Jesus looked into that cup, he saw every sin ever committed. You know that – every sin committed by me, and by you, and by the members of our congregations.
He saw every reason why I shouldn’t be a pastor; yet, he still called me to be one. He saw every reason why you shouldn’t be a pastor; yet, he still called you to be one. Get this – he saw every attack made upon you because you are the leader of your congregation. He saw every lie told about you; he saw every misunderstanding caused by selfish intentions; he saw betrayal. Yet, he still called the people of your congregation to be his own, and he asked you to be their shepherd.
Jesus looked into that cup of suffering and saw he’d be shouldering the blame for all those sins. He was the good Shepherd. He looked into that cup of suffering and said, “Father, if it is possible take this cup away from me. But nevertheless, not my will but your will be done.” That’s surrender! That’s total submission to the Father. That’s brokenness.
It shows us a divine principle: God takes us, he breaks us, he blesses us, and then he uses us. But, in order to use us, we need to be broken of our own sin and pride, just as Isaiah cried out, ‘I am a man of unclean lips,’ when he came face-to-face with Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord, God, Almighty.
God will never “reject a broken and repentant heart.” (Psalm 51:17 NLT)
God cannot use us to the fullest extent until we come to our own Gethsemane. We need to come to a place, and then remain at that place, where we say, “Father, not my will, not my ambition, not my desire to be popular, not anything, but your will be done.”
When we do that, God will do all kinds of amazing things through us. But it starts with brokenness. God will never “reject a broken and repentant heart.” (Psalm 51:17 NLT) He promises us that.
I’ve told my staff many times we don’t want to hire anyone who hasn’t had problems in life. They’re usually not very effective in ministry. I want people who have been broken. It makes people more real; it makes them more honest.
Why do we need our hearts broken? We need broken hearts over what’s happening in the world. Bob Pierce, who founded World Vision, said it like this: “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”
God is looking for spiritual leaders who have surrendered everything to him.
May you and I both become that kind of leader for Christ.
Copyright © 2010 Rick Warren
Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle charges all the new members of the church to deal with the sin of slander. It doesn’t matter if they hear slander or are involved with it themselves. They are to put a stop to it.
Why? Because slander can render a church ineffective.
He says this of slander in the church: “I know what most easily destroys churches. It is not crack cocaine, government oppression, or even lack of funds. Rather it is gossip and slander that grieves the Holy Spirit.”
Ephesians 4.29 commands us: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
When slander is on its way out of the church and encouraging words are the increasing norm, then the church will more and more reflect the image and heart of the Lord Jesus
The story of Evan Roberts and the Welsh Revival of 1904-5 is the most thrilling, but also the most sad and sobering in all revival history. On the one hand we see one hundred thousand souls in Wales coming to Christ in just nine months, from November 1904 to August 1905. This was the beginning of a world-wide revival that ushered hundreds of thousands more into the Kingdom of God. On the other hand, we see Evan Roberts, the principle revivalist of this move of God, becoming deceived, deluded and finally suffering a nervous breakdown which took him out of the public limelight to live the life of a recluse. Furthermore, the fruits of the revival in Wales (but not world-wide) were soon lost through criticism, fears of deception and a Welsh theology which suppressed the assurance of salvation. Within a generation there were no signs that a revival had ever occurred. Surely there are some important lessons for 21st Century Christians to learn here?
Evan Roberts was born and raised in a Welsh Calvinist Methodist family in Loughor, on the Glamorgan and Carmarthenshire border. As a boy he was unusually serious and very diligent in his Christian life. He memorised verses of the Bible and was a daily attender of Moriah Chapel, a church about a mile from his home. Even at 13 years of age he began to develop a heart for a visitation from God. He later wrote “I said to myself: I will have the Spirit. And through all weathers and in spite of all difficulties I went to the meetings… for ten or eleven years I have prayed for revival. I could sit up all night to read or talk about revivals. It was the Spirit who moved me to think about revival.”
After working in the coal mines and then as a smithy, he entered a preparatory college at Newcastle Emlyn, as a candidate for the ministry. It was 1903 and he was 25 years old.
It was at this time that he sought the Lord for more of His Spirit. He believed that he would be baptised in the Holy Spirit and sometimes his bed shook as his prayers were answered. The Lord began to wake him at 1.00 am for divine fellowship, when he would pray for four hours, returning to bed at 5.00 am for another four hours sleep.
He visited a meeting where Seth Joshua was preaching and heard the evangelist pray “Lord, bend us”. The Holy Spirit said to Evan, “That’s what you need”. At the following meeting Evan experienced a powerful filling with the Holy Spirit. “I felt a living power pervading my bosom. It took my breath away and my legs trembled exceedingly. This living power became stronger and stronger as each one prayed, until I felt it would tear me apart. My whole bosom was a turmoil and if I had not prayed it would have burst…. I fell on my knees with my arms over the seat in front of me. My face was bathed in perspiration, and the tears flowed in streams. I cried out “Bend me, bend me!!” It was God’s commending love which bent me… what a wave of peace flooded my bosom…. I was filled with compassion for those who must bend at the judgement, and I wept. Following that, the salvation of the human soul was solemnly impressed on me. I felt ablaze with the desire to go through the length and breadth of Wales to tell of the saviour”.
Needless to say, his studies began to take second place! He began praying for a hundred thousand souls and had two visions which encouraged him to believe it would happen. He saw a lighted candle and behind it the rising sun. He felt the interpretation was that the present blessings were only as a lighted candle compared with the blazing glory of the sun. Later all Wales would be flooded with revival glory.
The other vision occurred when Evan saw his close friend Sydney Evans staring at the moon. Evan asked what he was looking at and, to his great surprise, he saw it too! It was an arm that seemed to be outstretched from the moon down to Wales. He was in no doubt that revival was on its way.
He then felt led to return to his home town and conduct meetings with the young people of Loughor. With permission from the minister, he began the meetings, encouraging prayer for the outpouring of the Spirit on Moriah. The meetings slowly increased in numbers and powerful waves of intercession swept over those gathered.
During those meetings the Holy Spirit gave Evan four requirements that were later to be used throughout the coming revival:
1. Confession of all known sin
2. Repentance and restitution
3. Obedience and surrender to the Holy Spirit
4. Public confession of Christ
The Spirit began to be outpoured. There was weeping, shouting, crying out, joy and brokeness. Some would shout out, “No more, Lord Jesus, or I’ll die”. This was the beginning of the Welsh Revival.
The meetings then moved to wherever Evan felt led to go. Those travelling with him were predominately female and the young girls would often begin meetings with intense intercession, urging surrender to God and by giving testimony. Evan would often be seen on his knees pleading for God’s mercy, with tears. The crowds would come and be moved upon by wave after wave of the Spirit’s presence. Spontaneous prayer, confession, testimony and song erupted in all the meetings. Evan, or his helpers , would approach those in spiritual distress and urge them to surrender to Christ. No musical instruments were played and, often, there would be no preaching. Yet the crowds continued to come and thousands professed conversion.
The meetings often went on until the early hours of the morning. Evan and his team would go home, sleep for 2–3 hours and be back at the pit-head by 5 am, urging the miners coming off night duty to come to chapel meetings.
The revival spread like wildfire all over Wales. Other leaders also experienced the presence of God. Hundreds of overseas visitors flocked to Wales to witness the revival and many took revival fire back to their own land. But the intense presence began to take its toll on Evan. He became nervous and would sometimes be abrupt or rude to people in public meetings. He openly rebuked leaders and congregations alike.
Though he was clearly exercising spiritual gifts and was sensitive to the Holy Spirit , he became unsure of the “voices” he was hearing. The he broke down and withdrew from public meetings. Accusation and criticism followed and further physical and emotional breakdown ensued.
Understandably, converts were confused. Was this God? Was Evan Roberts God’s man or was he satanically motivated? He fell into a deep depression and in the spring of 1906 he was invited to convalesce at Jessie Penn-Lewis’ home at Woodlands in Leicester.
It is claimed that Mrs Penn Lewis used Evan’s name to propagate her own ministry and message. She supposedly convinced him he was deceived by evil spirits and, over the next few years co-authorised with Evan “War on the Saints”, which was published in 1913. This book clearly delineates the confusion she had drawn Evan into. It left its readers totally wary of any spiritual phenomena of any kind or degree. Rather than giving clear guidelines regarding discerning satanic powers, it brought into question anything that may be considered, or that might be described, as Holy Spirit activity. Within a year of its publication, Evan Roberts denounced it, telling friends that it had been a failed weapon which had confused and divided the Lord’s people.
Evan stayed at the Penn-Lewis’ home for eight years, giving himself to intercession and private group counselling. Around 1920 Evan moved to Brighton and lived alone until he returned to his beloved Wales, when his father fell ill in 1926. He began to visit Wales again and eventually moved there in 1928 when his father died.
Nothing much is known of the years that followed. Evan finally died at the age of 72 and was buried behind Moriah Chapel on Jan 29th 1951.
May his life be both an example and a warning to all those who participate in revival to maintain humility; keep submissive to the Spirit; be accountable to godly men and women; remain true to their calling; use the gifts God has given, but be wise in the stewardship of their body.
Bibliography An Instrument of Revival, Brynmor Pierce-Jones 1995, published by Bridge Publishing (ISBN 0-88270-667-5).
The Next Spiritual Awakening
But there are hopeful signs! Before every great spiritual awakening in history, there were common indicators that we are beginning to see emerge once again.
One of the first signs is an increase in the use of revival and spiritual awakening language. In the past few years, great movements of prayer have been rising up, including alliances of Christian ministries devoted to prayer for revival. It was nearly 20 years ago that I first began exploring the historical roots of revival in our nation. Now the call for prayer for revival is becoming common place.
Another sign is an increase in the fervency of prayer among a “remnant.” These are the pastors and intercessors who have prayed faithfully and sought God for a greater move of His power in our midst. More and more prayer warriors are joining the ranks of those praying fervently for revival. This is one of the most encouraging and hopeful signs, as almost all revivals have started with less than 12 people praying. God loves to work through a remnant – but His remnant is growing!
As we close in on a desperately needed move of God in our nation, there are two more indicators that will manifest just prior to revival breaking out:
- There will be an increase in united, extraordinary prayer. More people will come together in small groups or large gatherings in churches or across denominational lines to pray. This prayer is passionate, fervent, and repentant in nature – and already this is increasing exponentially!
- You will hear greater boldness in messages based on the truth of the gospel, including the message of repentance. Not only will the messengers of the gospel proclaim the integrity of the gospel clearly, they will also experience their own repentance and transformation. This is something we should all long for in our lives in preparation for revival.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Christian revival is a term that generally refers to a specific period of increased spiritual interest or renewal in the life of a church congregation or many churches, either regionally or globally. This should be distinguished from the use of the term “revival” to refer to a evangelistic meeting or series of meetings (see Revival meeting).
What is hindering the Holy Spirit from sending revival to our country? Is it the lack of prayer and faith on behalf of God’s people? Is it because the church has compromised and settled for a “cheap grace” as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it?
What do you think?
Check out the words of Charles Spurgeon on cold prayers…
From Spurgeon’s sermon, “True Prayer–True Power!“
Cold prayers ask for a denial.
The lips may move, yet the heart remain silent.
When we ask the Lord coolly, and not fervently,
we do as it were, stop his hand, and restrain him from
giving us the very blessing we pretend that we are seeking.
Oh, those cold-hearted prayers that die upon the lips–
those frozen supplications, how can they move God’s heart?
They do not come from our own souls, they do not well up
from the deep secret springs of our inmost heart, and
therefore they cannot rise up to him who only hears the cry
of the soul, before whom hypocrisy can weave no veil,
or formality practice any disguise.
We must be earnest, otherwise we have no right
to hope that the Lord will hear our prayer.
Shall I come into your presence, O my God,
and mock you with cold-hearted words?
Do the angels veil their faces before you, and shall I be
content to prattle through a form, with no soul and no heart?
We should speak to God from our own hearts,
and talk to him as a child talks to his father.
God always has an open ear and a ready hand,
if you have an open and ready heart.
Take your groanings and your sighs to God
and he will answer you.
“Our prayers are God’s decrees in another shape.”
This editorial comic puts things in perspective. Let us continue to pray for the nation of Haiti. Our God is a global God.