Monday, August 25, 2008

When Revival Comes

First, let me begin by defining what is Evangelism and what is Revival.

Evangelism is introducing Jesus Christ to the lost. It is as simple as that. While there are a myriad of methods used to present the Gospel (the Good News) of Jesus Christ, evangelism is, nevertheless, the presentation of Jesus Christ and His message of repentance to lost souls.

Revival, in its simplest terms, is both the reclaiming of the regenerate who have become hardened with sin, as well as inspiring the redeemed to greater depths of holiness before a thrice-holy God. Revival is not something that man works up, but that God pours down from heaven. The agent of revival is not the machinations of man, but God Himself. An evangelistic overflow is a consequence of spiritual revival.

When Revival comes, the following observations can be made:

1. There is an unmistakable divine visitation of God Himself! Planning committees cannot plan it, cottage prayer meetings cannot make it happen – God in His sovereignty elects to come down upon a meeting, whose heartfelt purpose is to glorify God. I am not talking about a three-day meeting, a week-long meeting, or even a two-week meeting. I am talking about a movement of God upon a group of people where the message is repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This kind of divine visitation is not – cannot be – controlled by man. God takes over the services. And the effect of God’s sovereign power is so strong that the affect is felt not only by the person in the pew or the stadium seat, but it also moves into the community itself. Lost people sense the presence of God in the community; and this evangelistic overflow results in lost people getting saved.

2. Sin is seen in all of its awfulness. Saved people who have been living hypocritical lives see the awfulness of their lives as they have been grieving the Holy Spirit within them. Lost people see the sins in their lives and come to realize that they are damned for all eternity unless they seek Jesus for mercy. The lost man comes to understand that he is living under the wrath of God, and that only the blood of Jesus Christ can save him from such wrath.

3. The whole counsel of God, as perceived in the Doctrines of Grace, is lovingly embraced by those who love the Scriptures. Gone are the me-centered sermons that lift up man, and in their place are messages that preach the sovereignty of God in all His love, all His justice and all His mercy. God-sent revivals will always center on a holy God Who hates sin, a God Who covenanted with His Son, Jesus Christ, to save a people that the Father gave to Jesus before the foundation of the world, and a God Who purposes to save sinners for whom Christ died!

4. As repentance runs deep, there is a great sensitivity to sin in a person’s life. Confession of sin is common in God-sent revivals – not only between believers who have held grudges against one another for years, but also a searching out of lost people in the community where wrong has been done, but has never been dealt with. In true God-sent revival, the gray of compromise and rationalism dissolves. And all that a person is left with is “I have sinned against God and man.” This new awareness leads to the reconciliation of relationships and the restoration of lives.

5. Illumination into the Word of God grows quickly as the person is sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is showing them in the Word of God. Hunger for the Word of God becomes immense and the thirst for the Living Waters of the Scriptures cannot be quenched. Sensitivity to the clock goes out the window as people seek “Thus saith the Lord.” The preaching of the Word of God becomes paramount. Meetings will often last for hours – with no complaint from the people.

6. Churches are called back to the pattern of the Biblical Church as shown in the Bible. Traditions made by man fall by the wayside, as churches seek the Scriptures for what it means to be the church of God. There are no sectarian biases, there are no denominational agendas in a God-sent revival. God calls his churches back to Him and His Word. This is why a truly God-sent revival transcends denominational lines as the Holy Spirit moves among the churches of a community to bring about revival in God’s people.

7. There is a distinct evangelistic overflow – the community feels the impact of a God-sent revival. Business practices are changed as God get a hold of the heart of the owner; worldliness ceases to be promoted as men get right with God. And the people of the community see the differences. Churches who have split off from one another forgive one another, and the people of the community – who have known of the splits and the hard feelings, take note of the changes. All of this leads to an openness on the part of the community to the revival, for it was the churches hypocrisy, bitterness toward one another, and an unforgiving spirit that kept so many lost people out of the churches.

8. Satan and his forces rise up against such a God-sent revival. Satan cannot tolerate the people of God repenting of their sins and getting right with God and with one another. The Evil One will do anything in his power to undermine, subvert, malign, and cripple the affects of a God-sent revival. He will use other disgruntled churches, who are jealous and envious over what is happening, to attack the preacher of the Gospel and the people who listen to what God is saying through His man. Plainly put, many churches don’t want a God-sent revival, and Satan knows this. He is all too willing to encourage them to stand against a God-sent revival.

This is the kind of Revival our community needs. This is what America needs. Oh, may God grant, in His boundless mercy, another great pouring out of His Spirit upon the churches in our land – and may Revival come!

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