‘Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.’ Acts 2:43
I was about to preach my second sermon ever. I had prepared for days and yet, as I sat in the pew waiting for the singing to end, I felt very inadequate and nervous. The Elder in charge of the service announced that before the Word was preached there would be an opportunity for anyone to come to the front to receive ministry. An elderly couple approached the communion rail and slowly knelt. The man explained that his wife was rapidly going blind and could no longer read the songs from the chorus book, nor could she read it off the overhead projector. The Elder and his wife laid hands on her and suddenly she asked her husband for a song book and started reading aloud from it with great excitement. Everyone was filled with awe and joy and for a while the whole congregation was abuzz. The couple went back to their seats and the Elder announced that I would now preach. What was I supposed to do? The message I had so carefully prepared seemed irrelevant and flat in the light of what had just happened, so I did the only thing I could, I cried out silently but passionately to God, “Help me Lord! What am I to do?” Into my mind came the words from Isaiah 61 that the Lord Jesus quoted when he inaugurated his ministry: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4:18-19). So I discarded my notes, opened my Bible to that passage and preached from it with all my heart.
This was an unusual Sunday for the elderly lady, the congregation, and for me. However, in times of revival this sort of thing is common. The Holy Spirit anoints the people of God with great power and manifests in and through them in miracles, healings, and words of knowledge and wisdom. In the days of the early church people were healed when Peter walked past them and Acts 5:16 records that ‘Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.’ ALL of them were healed! O how I long for the time when this becomes the reality of the church of our day. And it surely will if God sends us revival.
In the Azusa street revival people watched awestruck as a man who had lost a leg in a farming accident miraculously received a new leg! They watched it grow before their astonished eyes. Similarly, a man whose arm had been caught in a factory machine and ripped out at the armpit miraculously grew a new arm over a period of just a few minutes! In times of revival there is no leg-straightening sleight of hand and no people with sore legs being placed in wheelchairs so they can be raised out by the ‘man of God’ before a packed audience. No angel dust or shiny new golden tooth fillings. In times of revival there is no room for pseudo-spiritual hype, psych and trickery because all that is swept aside by the genuine and unmistakable power of the Holy Spirit.
The results of these mighty works of God are not uncontrolled laughter or drunken behaviour, but glory to God and people getting saved. And those who get saved during these revival times stay on fire for God for the rest of their lives. Come O Lord and visit us with revival… please!