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“Without the Spirit of God, we can do nothing. We are as ships without wind. We are useless.” – Charles Spurgeon

“I believe it is impossible for any Christian to be effective either in his life or in his service unless he is filled with the Holy Spirit who is God’s only provision for power.”– Henrietta C. Mears

Revivals and awakenings are times of great outpouring of God’s Spirit. By definition they are excessive. It is like Christmas. And while the idea is appealing, Christmas doesn’t happen every day. In fact, life would be quite bizarre, excessive, and unbalanced if it did.

If we attempt to make the excessive nature of revivals normative, it can lead to an imbalance in our life, our walk with God, and particularly our understanding of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in us. Historically, it has at times done all of these. So, to gain all of the spiritual blessings of praying for, anticipating, and experiencing revival, while eliminating the negative side-effects of extremism, we want to review what the Spirit-filled life is.

Believers Are All Indwelt by the Spirit

When you became a Christian, Christ indwelled you through the person of the Holy Spirit. I know neither the how nor the where, but I do know that the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence carries with it the assurance of our salvation. “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

We are now God’s possession, and the Holy Spirit is, in effect, the down payment on His purchased property—that would be you. Like the idea expressed through the marriage ceremony, receiving Christ is a one-time decision. We don’t awake each morning to a fresh need to say, “I do”; once was enough. Having received Christ, we became children of God. “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

In theory, I could tell my parents that I no longer wished to be in their family, but I can never change the reality that I am their son. It’s an established fact on the basis of my birth. I can sever our fellowship but not our relationship. And as there was not one thing we did to earn our salvation, so there is nothing we can ever do to lose it—we are eternally Christ’s. But the Holy Spirit is more than simply an assurance of our salvation. It is through the Spirit that God enables and empowers us to live the Christian life.

The Spirit Comes to Glorify Christ

As we experience the blessings of the Spirit, we can lose sight of Jesus—and we never want to do that. We need to remember that the Spirit works in us to glorify Christ.

“When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” (John 16:13-14).

The Spirit-filled life is the Christ-centered, Christ- directed, life.

Walking with the Spirit

Walking is a process and not an event.1 This is how the event of revival can throw off our thinking concerning the Spirit- filled life. Clearly there are events, moments in time, when God empowers us in a special way; that’s what revival is. But the normative Christian life is predominantly a process, a walk. And the Spirit’s influence in our lives is typically not an overwhelming, overpowering presence but a more subtle influence. If we get an overpowering experience—Score! Icing on the cake! Christmas morning! It’s an additive, but not essential, blessing.

The normative Christian life is not an overpowering event but is daily seeking to do those things that increase the Spirit’s influence and decrease the hindrances to that influence. So how, exactly, does the Holy Spirit exert control and influence over our lives, and what is our role in the process? Perhaps the most helpful passage in Scripture for answering these questions is this one in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

Be very careful … how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-20)

One is compelled to ask, “What does getting drunk on wine have to do with being filled with the Spirit?” Well, obviously they are opposite alternatives, but they must share some base of similarity, or else why couple them together? The link between them, or the similarity they share, is in the idea of influence. They are both foreign entities that, when internalized, influence our behavior.

In fact, this is not the only time Scripture places them side by side. In the coming of the Holy Spirit, it was suspected that the Spirit-filled believers “had too much wine” (Acts 2:13), because of the similarity of influence.

Of course, there are many important differences between alcohol and the Holy Spirit. Alcohol’s influence leads to greater enslavement, while the Spirit gives great freedom. Alcohol eclipses our personality, while the Spirit reanimates it. And Satan uses alcohol to control us as God controls us through the Spirit. Still, alcohol provides an example of a foreign influence (albeit a bad one) that can affect our will and behavior.

As demonstrated by alcohol, control is always a question of degrees. There are things we can do that hinder the Spirit’s influence and things we can do to increase sensitivity to the Spirit’s leading. This is at the heart of walking in step—or being filled—with the Spirit. (The word “filled” means filled like a sail, not filled like a cup. When we think about the sail metaphor, we rightly think about adjusting ourselves to catch the existing wind of the Spirit. When we think about filling a cup, we wrongly think about increasing the amount of the Spirit like pouring in more of a drink.)

So, what constitutes the Spirit-filled life? What leads to the Spirit having maximum influence over our lives? This is not comprehensive, but what follow are the primary vehicles affecting the Spirit’s influence upon our thoughts, heart, will, and emotions.

Lordship

How does one become more drunk? (Or should I say drunkerer?)

For the rest of the post…

“Christians in revival are accordingly found living in God’s presence (Coram Deo), attending to His Word, feeling acute concern about sin and righteousness, rejoicing in the assurance of Christ’s love and their own salvation, spontaneously constant in worship, and tirelessly active in witness and service, fueling these activities by praise and prayer.”

“Revival is not just an emotional touch; it’s a complete takeover!”

Nancy Leigh Demoss

“Revival is not just an emotional touch; it’s a complete takeover!”

~ Nancy Leigh Demoss

“Revival is the eruption of God’s heart on a life poured out”

~ Lou Engle

“TO LOOK BACK UPON THE PROGRESS OF THE DIVINE KINGDOM UPON EARTH IS TO REVIEW REVIVAL PERIODS WHICH HAVE COME LIKE REFRESHING SHOWERS UPON DRY AND THIRSTY GROUND, MAKING THE DESERT TO BLOSSOM AS THE ROSE, AND BRINGING NEW ERAS OF SPIRITUAL LIFE AND ACTIVITY JUST WHEN THE CHURCH HAD FALLEN UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE APATHY OF THE TIMES.”

~ E.M. BOUNDS

 

“Revival is the visitation of God which brings to life Christians who have been sleeping and restores a deep sense of God’s near presence and holiness. Thence springs a vivid sense of sin and a profound exercise of heart in repentance, praise, and love, with an evangelistic outflow.”

~ J.I. Packer

“When Holy God draws near in true revival, people come under terrible conviction of sin. The outstanding feature of spiritual awakening has been the profound consciousness of the Presence and holiness of God.”

~ Henry Blackaby

by Bill Muehlenberg

Revival is the need of the hour. All true Christians long for and pray for revival. Without sweeping revival we are in very dire straits. And it is certainly true that we NEED revival far more than what we need to read about revival. But offering helpful works on revival can help us to get more of a hunger and a thirst for genuine revival.

So there is a place for offering some key titles on this subject. Indeed, there are many thousands of books which could be offered here. I will be much less ambitious, and only present a few select titles. There are of course all sorts of general books about the various great revivals and awakenings which are not included here, nor the biographies of the main players, such as Whitefield or Wesley or Edwards, etc.

What is revival?

Before proceeding, let me offer just a few definitions of revival. Stephen Olford says that revival is “the sovereign act of God, in which He restores His own backsliding people to repentance, faith and obedience.” J. I. Packer says it is “God’s quickening visitation of his people, touching their hearts and deepening his work of grace in their lives.”

“Revival,” says Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “above anything else, is a glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is the restoration of him to the centre of the life of the Church.” And Richard Robert Owens describes revival “an extraordinary movement of the Holy Spirit producing extraordinary results.”

Speaking of Richard Owen Roberts, since I include one of his books in my list, let me say a bit more about him here. One biographical blurb says this about him:

He worked with the Billy Graham Association and Wheaton College in the formation of the Billy Graham Center Library. His own private collection of some 9,000 volumes relating to movements of religious revival provides the nucleus of the Graham Center Library. From his youth, Mr. Roberts has been a student of spiritual awakenings. He has authored, edited and/or published numerous volumes relating to revival and revivalism.
rortrust.org/about

Given that his own library has 9000 volumes on revival, he is the one to turn to if you want a much larger listing. But if you want a much briefer selection, these books should be of use. I have divided them into two main sections: nearly 30 general works on revival, and then ten volumes on the incredible Welsh revivals.

General works

Backhouse, Robert, Spurgeon on Revival. Kingsway, 1996.
Davies, R.E., I Will Pour Out My Spirit. Monarch, 1992.
Dixon, Patrick, Signs of Revival. Kingsway, 1994.
Drummond, Lewis, Eight Keys to Biblical Revival. Bethany House, 1994.
Duewel, Wesley, Revival Fire. Zondervan, 1995.
Edwards, Brian, Revival: A People Saturated With God. Evangelical Press, 1990.
Finney, Charles, Lectures on Revival. 1835.
Hansen, Collin and John Woodbridge, A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories that Stretch and Stir. Zondervan, 2010.
Hill, Stephen, Time to Weep. Creation House, 1997.
Kaiser, Walter, Revive Us Again. Christian Focus, 2001.
Lloyd-Jones, Martyn, Revival. Crossway, 1987.
Murray, Iain, Pentecost Today? The Biblical Basis for Understanding Revival. Banner of Truth, 1998.
Murray, Iain, Revival and Revivalism. Banner of Truth, 1994.
Orr, J. Edwin, The Eager Feet. Moody, 1975.
Orr, J. Edwin, The Flaming Tongue. Moody, 1973.
Orr, J. Edwin, Full Surrender. Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1951.
Orr, J. Edwin, The Second Evangelical Awakening. Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1949.
Pratney, Winkie, Revival: Its Principles and Personalities. Huntington House, 1994.
Ravenhill, Leonard, Revival God’s Way. Bethany House, 1983.
Ravenhill, Leonard, Revival Praying. Bethany House, 1962, 2005.
Ravenhill, Leonard, Why Revival Tarries. Bethany House, 1959.
Roberts, Richard Owen, Revival. Tyndale, 1982.
Smith, Timothy, Revivalism and Social Reform. Abingdon, 1957.
Stibbe, Mark, Revival. Monarch, 1998.
Turnbull, Richard, Reviving the Heart: The Story of the 18th Century Revival. Lion, 2012.
Warner, Rob, Prepare for Revival. Hodder & Stoughton, 1995.
Whittaker, Colin, Great Revivals. Marshalls, 1984.
Wright, Fred and Sharon, The World’s Greatest Revivals. Destiny Image, 2007.

The Welsh Revivals (of 1859 and 1904-05)

Evans, Eifion, Revival Comes to Wales [1859]. Evangelical Press of Wales, 1959.
Evans, Eifion, The Welsh Revival of 1904. Evangelical Press of Wales, 1969.
Gibbard, Noel, Fire on the Altar: A History and Evaluation of the 1904-1905 Revival. Bryntirion Press, 2005.
Jones, Brynmor, Voices from the Welsh Revival 1904-1905. Evangelical Press of Wales, 1995.
Matthews, David, I Saw the Welsh Revival. Moody Press, 1951.
Paisley, Ian, The 59 Revival. Martyr’s Memorial Free Presbyterian Church, 1958.
Phillips, Thomas, The Welsh Revival [1859]. Banner of Truth Trust, 1860, 1989.
Railton, Nicholas, Revival on the Causeway Coast. Christian Focus, 2009.
Randall, Ian, Rhythms of Revival: The Spiritual Awakening of 1857-1863. Authentic Media, 2010.
Roberts, Richard Owen, Glory Filled the land: A Trilogy on the Welsh Revival (1904-1905) [H. Elvet Lewis, C. Campbell Morgan, I.V. Neprash]. International Awakening Press, 1989.

For the rest of the post…

“Christians in revival are accordingly found living in God’s presence (Coram Deo), attending to His Word, feeling acute concern about sin and righteousness, rejoicing in the assurance of Christ’s love and their own salvation, spontaneously constant in worship, and tirelessly active in witness and service, fueling these activities by praise and prayer.”

~ J.I. Packer

 

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