Posted in bible, jonathan edwards, repentance, revival, sinners in the hands of an angry god, valley of vision

Marks of a True Spirit-initiated Revival

The Book of Acts is such a wonderful book to study. I’m fascinated by what the Spirit brings to mind each time I read through it. On Wednesday night we were studying the end of chapter 13 and the beginning of 14. I was thinking about Acts chapter 13, verse 42. Here are the rabbit trails I went down after I got home and in the succeeding two days 🙂

As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. (Acts 13:42)

Antioch. From Wikipedia

I focused on the word “begged”. Isn’t it wonderful that the people BEGGED to hear more of the Word. Begged to hear more of the Good News. It seemed important. Begged.

I started thinking of the reaction of people to the Gospel that Acts shows us. Shortly after the verse 42 was this one in v. 44

The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.

What a wonderful work of the Spirit! To ignite an entire city’s heart so that almost all of them turned out! I know that among the crowd would like be some rubber-neckers, others would be sent to spy on them (Gal 2:4) but still, almost an entire city eager and begging to hear of the Gospel. It blesses the heart and refreshes the mind to even think of such a thing happening today.

That thought brought me to another city that turned out to hear the message from God, this time, not Good News but Bad News: impending Divine wrath. Jonah preached only one day into a three-day walk sized city and immediately they were repenting already. (Jonah 3:3-4). Again, another amazing move of the Spirit.

Turning from those days to Enfield CT when Jonathan Edwards preached Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, I was thinking of the Spirit’s lack of move in Edwards’ own congregation. He’d preached the same sermon to his own people but it fell like a lead balloon. When Edwards was invited to preach at Enfield, it had an immediate impact, the historically verified one we know of today.

The Dictionary of Bible Themes defines revival as

The soveriegn activity of God whereby he renews his people individually and corporately in vigour, affecting both sincerity of belief and quality of behaviour.

What seems to be the marks of a real revival? In looking at Antioch, Nineveh, and Enfield CT the same things are present:

–an immediate response (eagerness to hear more of God’s word, repentance)

–widespread impact (in the case of the Woman at the Well, her individual conversion resulted in telling the Good News to the town, which all showed up asking Jesus to stay and tell them more as per John 4:40. In the case of the corporate conversion, the people at Antioch wanted to hear more and all showed up the next week to listen to Paul.)

–demonic opposition (angry Pharisees, plots, riots, rejection. Even as Edwards was lauded for the sermon and people begged to hear it over and over from different pulpits to which he was invited, after a several-year fight he was dismissed from his own pastorate for trying to lead them away from the liberalism and compromise in the Half-Way Covenant).

It’s so strange to think of the Spirit’s move in masses of people. In Nineveh, widespread repentance. In Jerusalem, widespread rejection of Jesus and His followers. In Antioch, widespread acceptance (at least, a curiosity without rancor). In Lystra, they drove Paul out and stoned him. In June 1741 in Northampton, Edwards’ sermon was received without murmur. A month later in Enfield, they tore their clothes and begged to be saved.

It seems that after repentance, the very least one should see in a genuinely converted or revived person or corporate entity is eagerness to hear the Word preached, to study it, and proclaim it. After that, one should expect to see lives that align with the repentance they professed, in the form of a personal hatred of sin and progressive sanctification as their old man dies and the New Man is growing in them. Last, one should expect to see perseverance of the saints. The genuinely revived or converted will not fall away

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

Matthew Henry wrote,

The Spirit sends his influences where, and when, on whom, and in what measure and degree, he pleases. Though the causes are hidden, the effects are plain, when the soul is brought to mourn for sin, and to breathe after Christ.

The Faithlife Study Bible Commentary says,

3:8 wind The Greek word pneuma can mean “wind,” “breath,” or “spirit.” John uses the metaphor of the wind as a power that is felt but unseen to explain the power of the Spirit of God. This echoes God’s Spirit hovering before His creative works began—providing credence for the Spirit that Jesus initiates among all believers being one with God the Father as well (1:2). The creative act of God will enter people, becoming the source of their transformation back into God’s image.

The Holy Spirit’s work in salvation individually or corporately, is a wondrous strange thing.

Lord Jesus, I sin. Grant that I may never cease grieving because of it, never be content with myself, never think I can reach a point of perfection. Kill my envy, command my tongue, trample down self. Give me grace to be holy, kind, gentle, pure, peaceable, to live for Thee and not for self, to copy Thy words, acts, spirit, to be transformed into Thy likeness, to be consecrated wholly to Thee, to live entirely to Thy glory. Valley of Vision

Posted in revival

What is apostasy? Will there be revival or apostasy in the last days?

I hear so many people saying that the last days will come a revival. They pray for revival, they expect a revival, they promise a revival. Of course, no one is denying that revival is good. The more people that come to the Lord before they die, the better.

But the bible doesn’t even hint at any such thing happening in the last days. Just the opposite is going to happen, and is happening. People will not be coming to the Lord in droves, they will be fleeing from the Lord in droves.

Dr. Andy Woods wrote a terrific essay on this topic titled The Last Days Apostasy of the Church (Part 1)

I am excerpting two paragraphs of it here, and I encourage you to go to the link and read it in full. The second paragraph, below, gives the reason why it is sooo important to completely understand why apostasy, and not revival, is God’s end time program.

Apostasy refers to a departure from known or previously embraced truth. The subject of apostasy has little to do with the condition of the unsaved world, which has always rejected divine truth and therefore has nothing from which to depart. Rather, apostasy pertains to the spiritual temperature within God’s church. While some might think that apostasy relates to some external factor such as whether the economy is up or down, the subject of biblical apostasy relates to internal church conditions.

Because comprehension of what Scripture reveals concerning apostasy is critical toward completely understanding God’s end-time program, this series will develop several general characteristics of apostasy. They include the following: apostasy is a sign of the last days, is warned against repeatedly in the New Testament, impacts every major doctrine, is internal, knows no limits in terms of who becomes involved in it, can happen quickly, is satanically energized, is destructive, makes life difficult for the man of God, and can be guarded against.

more at link

Posted in angus buchan, passion 2013, revival, spurgeon

What is revival?

Inside Christian culture, we often pray for something we call ‘revival’. As with secular culture, revival means a kind of refreshing, a renewal. Hope, and new beginnings. For the Christian it means a time when we do not have a strong faith because we either actively sin or we know of sin in our family or our church and we let it slide. This clogs up our spiritual arteries. We may become sluggish, apathetic, taking the faith for granted and losing touch with our ability to feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

One person in the bible that surely needed revival was Eli. A judge and priest for many years in the Temple, Eli had grown old, not just in age, but in spiritual age, too. Rather than being constantly renewed and refreshed by the Spirit through prayer, study, diligent service, and seeking God, Eli had simply grown lazy.

Worse, Eli’s son’s were ruffians of the worst sort- spiritual ruffians who were supposed to be priests but who were idolaters. They took the best temple offerings for themselves. They lay with women who served at the tabernacle. They blasphemed God. Eli knew all this and did nothing. (1 Sam 2:22, 2:29, 1 Samuel 3:13.)

We all know that sinning isn’t good and will result in correction by God. Worse, though, sinning will close our ears to hearing him. I don’t mean audibly, I mean feeling the prick of conscience, the warmth of prayer, the closeness of the Spirit. Soon enough, we don’t care that we are sinning.

However it comes as a surprise to many that even if we are not sinning ourselves, if gross sin exists in our family or our church, and we fail to acknowledge it and take the biblical steps to correcting it, God corrects us too. Eli’s sons were punished. They died. Eli was punished too, even though his sons were the immoral blasphemers. It is not just an Old Testament thing, either. Revelation 2:20 shows us that those who tolerate sin will be punished.

Anyway, when we tolerate sin our own ears become closed. Eli was unperceptive when the LORD was calling Samuel, his disciple, at the temple. (1 Samuel 3:8). Eli was in need of revival, long before the promised judgment came.

What happens when revival comes to a church or a nation? Let’s look at Acts 2:37 and the reaction of the people who heard Peter’s famous sermon at Pentecost-

“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?””

The phrase ‘cut to the heart’ means, pierce all the way down, i.e. deeply (thoroughly) pained; “emotionally pierced through”; psychologically pricked, emotionally stunned.

Let’s look at the Gentiles at Nineveh. After Jonah preached to them at God’s command, this was their reaction-

“The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.” (Johan 3:5-6).

Sitting in ashes, or flinging ashes over your head, was considered to be both mourning for the dead and a sign of national calamity. It was an outward expression of deep repentance and a sign to the LORD that they sought Him in humility. Fasting, wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes were outward signs that you wanted to be the lowest of the low before the Highest of the High.

How about a revival in non-biblical history? The famous sermon by Jonathan Edwards called “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” delivered at Enfield CT in 1741 brought about an awakening. The awakening was going on all over New England, but in that one church in Enfield the congregation sat unaffected. The pastor of that church invited Edwards to come preach. Edwards delivered the now-famous sermon in his typical style- which is read in a near monotone. Edwards believed that showmanship had no place in the pulpit and simply read or spoke his sermons plainly. The church went wild.

Eyewitness Stephen Williams, wrote in his diary, “We went over to Enfield where we met dear Mr. Edwards of Northampton who preached a most awakening sermon from these words, Deuteronomy 32:35, and before the sermon was done there was a great moaning and crying went out through ye whole House…. ‘What shall I do to be saved,’ ‘Oh, I am going to Hell,’ ‘Oh, what shall I do for Christ,’ and so forth. So yet ye minister was obliged to desist, ye shrieks and cry were piercing and amazing.”

In all three cases I described for you, Nineveh, Pentecost, and Enfield CT, revival broke out. Notice that the people who were revived were first pierced, cut to the quick, and cried out.

Revival always begins with tears.

Revival begins with lamentation.

Revival begins with grief.

THAT is revival.

Unless you, your nation, your church, whatever, has sat low and cried out in agony over the sins you’ve performed against the Lord, you are not in revival. The congregation at Enfield CT were flinging themselves down the aisle, leaping out of the pews in fearful agony of the spirit, crying out from where they lay.

The effects of revival are joy, works, buoyancy. Williams describes what happened after church in Enfield CT on the day Johnathan Edwards preached ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’ ,

“After some time of waiting the Congregation were still, so yet a prayer was made by Mr. W. and after that we descended from the pulpit and discoursed with the people, some in one place and some in another, and amazing and astonishing ye power of God was seen, and several souls were hopefully wrought upon that night, and oh ye cheerfulness and pleasantness of their countenances.”

“It is estimated that 10 percent of New England was converted during this time. Imagine today 28 million converted in 2 years. Picture every church in your town doubling or tripling in the next 2 years, and you have some grasp of the enormity of what happened” (Source)

Charles Spurgeon wrote of revival:
“When revival comes to a people who are in the state thus briefly described, it simply brings them to the condition in which they ought always to have been; it quickens them, gives them new life, stirs the coals of the expiring fire, and puts heavenly breath into the languid lungs.”

Spurgeon issued a caution, however: “If revival is confined to living men we may further notice that it must result from the proclamation and the receiving of living truth. … Intense excitement may produce a revival of the animal, but how can it operate upon the spiritual, for the spiritual demands other food than that which stews in the fleshpots of mere carnal enthusiasm.”

He is saying do not mistake enthusiasm for revival. You might think, how can we tell them apart? Easy. If there were no tears, there is no revival. The tears and lamentation mean that the person truly glimpsed their sin in the face of a Holy God, and their resulting spiritual suffering could not be contained inwardly.

Acts 3:19 gives us the progression of revival: “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;”

1. Repent of your sins
2. Return to the Lord’s ways
3. You will be forgiven
4. Revival will come… and then
5. Joy in His presence

In today’s Christianity, when the reverse of that progression happens people say it is revival. People toss around the word revival whenever a group of people get outwardly excited but inwardly they are unchanged. I’ve written of Angus Buchan in South Africa and the throngs who dance and jump and praise the Lord at his Charismatic signs and wonders healing ‘revivals.’ That’s not revival.

I’ve written about the Passion 2013 conference where thousands of young people jump and dance and praise the Lord as a result of the emotionally manipulative entertainment and non-proclamation of the living truth by Charismatic speakers. That’s not revival, either.

If you want to see what revival is, look to the bible. Nineveh and Pentecost are two examples. Look at Job:

“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6).

Only hearing the word but not letting it into your heart let Job continue on in his pride. When he truly spiritually saw the LORD, he hated himself. THAT’S revival.

After the grief, comes the joy. Spurgeon ends this way:

When Christians are revived they live more consistently, they make their homes more holy and more happy, and this leads the ungodly to envy them, and to enquire after their secret. Sinners by God’s grace long to be like such cheerful happy saints; their mouths water to feast with them upon their hidden manna, and this is another blessing, for it leads men to seek the Savior. If an ungodly man steps into a congregation where all the saints are revived he does not go to sleep under the sermon. The minister will not let him do that, for the hearer perceives that the preacher feels what he is preaching, and has a right to be heard. This is a clear gain, for now the man listens with deep emotion; and above all, the Holy Spirit’s power, which the preacher has received in answer to prayer comes upon the hearer’s mind; he is convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come, and Christians who are on the watch around him hasten to tell him of the Savior, and point him to the redeeming blood, so that though the revival, strictly speaking, is with the people of God, yet the result of it no man can limit.

Amen to that.

Posted in prayer, ravenhill, revival

Why we need revival, according to Leonard Ravenhill

In a Revival conference from 1989, Leonard Ravenhill was asked what is the greatest need in the church in America today?

“for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

“No matter how big your church is, the Sunday Morning attendance doesn’t matter… everyone goes to church on Sunday morning. Instead, Ravenhill asked, “How many have you got in your prayer meeting? The prayer meeting is almost dead. “I believe the spiritual condition in America at this moment lower than it was during the revival 1700s revival with Jonathan Edwards. We have forsaken God, in particular we have forsaken the prayer meeting.”

Pray!

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)

Prayer offers access by one Spirit unto the Father through Christ. (Ephesians 2:18)

God hears prayer. He hears it, He will not forsake you!

–“O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.” (Psalms 65:2)
–“And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. (Revelation 5:8)

Prayer brings revival. Pray!