‘Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.’ Psalm 85:6-7
Many years ago I went to Bradenton, Florida to spend time with the principal of a small private seminary. While I was there he invited me to come to a ‘revival’ that a local church was holding. The idea was that any church can create a revival by doing some things in a certain order. This was a foreign idea to me but I later learned that it stemmed from Charles Finney, a key figure in the Second Great Awakening in North America during the late eighteen hundreds. He taught that revivals followed along predictable lines and could be brought about by skilled revivalists.
My understanding of revival is very different to the Finney model. Historic revivals do teach us that certain things, such as prayer, precede revival, but prayer does not create a revival. The Holy Spirit stirs the hearts of a small number of people to pray for revival but when it comes, revival is entirely a sovereign act of God. It comes suddenly and with unmistakable divine power. Whole areas are saturated with the presence of God and great numbers of people turn to the Lord in repentance.
Moriah Chapel, Wales
History is replete with wonderful Christian revivals, and their names live on through the centuries; The Great Awakening, Azusa Street, The Welsh Revival, The Hebrides Revival, Indian Revival, Chinese Revival, Korean Revival, Philippians Revival, South African Revival, and so on. And from each of those revivals we remember the names of the key leaders; Evan Roberts, Campbell Morgan, Wesley, Whitfield, Seymour, John G Lake and many more. Each account tells of how God swept into a community and turned it from sin and apathy to glory!
Sadly, most of the recent ‘moves of God’ that have been hailed as revivals are just cheap spiritual forgeries. We have become accustomed to claims of gold teeth, silver dust, bizarre antics, and the reports of tens of thousands ‘saved’ through superficial altar-calls and simplistic parroted prayers. Would we recognise a true revival in our day? Yet the very abundance of the false is a strong indicator that we need the true – come Holy Spirit and revive your church again!
Revival in Australia – early 20th century
Revival is a ‘returning to life’ of a church or wider church community. It is not a reward for faithful ministry, but a remedy for apathy and dead religiosity. God comes to the aid of His struggling people when we have grown cold and ineffective, materialistic and religious. He comes with power and glory. Holy Spirit revival comes with repentance, confession, prayer, and new birth. It also comes with mighty works of healing and supernatural manifestations of the power of God.
In the next few posts I am going to touch on some of the characteristics of a true Holy Spirit revival. Won’t you search your heart right now and ask, ‘Do we need revival at this time?’ Then ask the harder question, ‘Do I want revival?’