During the Sunday service, Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh preached a sermon called ‘Revival”. Her main text was taken from the Book of Psalms. “Will You not revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You?” (Ps 85:6). Revival is a sovereign act of God by which the Holy Spirit pours upon the believers who seek God. The presence of God comes down as a blanket upon people. Revival starts with the believers, but later, it affects all people. It is a manifestation of the grace, glory, and power of God in answer to people’s prayer. It is a powerful move of the Holy Spirit that changes cities or nations. Many people get converted. No man takes the glory. God alone is glorified. Most of the time it starts with one or few believers who humble themselves to seek God and revival. They prepare the altar with prayers, fasting and worship. They present themselves as a living sacrifice on that altar. They pray with faith and passion until the Holy Spirit comes down.
The Holy Spirit does two types of work. He does the ‘regular, ordinary’ work of converting sinners, leading in all truth etc. This work of the Holy Spirit goes on all the time. That is why we have churches and Christianity, 2000 years since Jesus lived and died. Of course, nothing the Holy Spirit does is ‘ordinary’. But we need to use human words, that we may all understand. The second type of work of the Holy Spirit is His extraordinary work. This is called ‘revival. It happens from time to time in the history of the church. For the past 2000 years, there have only been about 50 revivals total, all over the world. After the Cross, there was no revival for the next 1500 years. The first historical revival started with Martin Luther who God used to ignite the Reformation combined with Revival.
Revival is an extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit that is under the sovereignty of God. We can fast and pray for revival. But no man can make revival to happen. There is a difference between revival and evangelistic crusades. An evangelistic crusade is organized by men or by churches. People hear the Gospel and become saved. This is the good work of the Holy Spirit, blessed by God. But this is not revival. Men cannot ‘organize’ or ‘sponsor’ revival. It is God’s sovereign work on earth. God alone decided when, how and where a revival may start. We prepare the ground, plant the seed with prayer and fasting. But it is God who decided when He wants to ‘come down’.
Revival has many symbols. It is hard to describe it. Revival can be like the experience of the burning bush in Exodus 3. Moses saw a bush burning with fire that did not consume it. When revival comes, our hearts shall burn, hot with anointing and passion for Jesus. But we shall not perish in that fire. Our hearts will be purified and made strong to love God even more. Moses knew God better than all the nation of Israel. But he still wanted to know God more. “Show me Your glory” (Ex 33:18), he cried. God answered Him by showing His glory and His goodness. Man saw God’s glory on earth. That is another way to describe revival.
Revival can also be compared with the falling of the fire on Elijah’ sacrifice (1 Kings 18). Elijah prepared the sacrifice and prayed. The fire that came from heaven consumed the sacrifice and brought all people on their knees to repent and worship God. During revival you do not need to beg people to pray, read the Bible or go to church. They do it willingly and happily.
The best symbol of revival is what happened on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). This is called the Baptism (or the Sealing) of the Holy Spirit. It is not what they did for God that matters. They prayed, trusted God and waited. The Holy Spirit came down on them. It is what God did to them that matters. This is a manifestation of Revival. In a way, what happened on the day of Pentecost cannot be repeated. It is a unique event that started the Church of the Living God. But in another way, it can be repeated. Few days after Pentecost, during the persecution, the disciples prayed for strength and boldness. The baptism of the Holy Spirit they experienced on the day of Pentecost is now repeated in another manner (Acts 4). The Holy Spirit baptized Cornelius and his household (Acts 11). These are repetitions of the Day of Pentecost! This is revival!
Revival changed people! Before Pentecost, Peter was still worried, ashamed about his backsliding. He told the other disciples that he wants to go back to fishing. That was his natural comfort zone. The other disciples followed him. Simon Peter said to them: “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing” (Jn 21:3). After Pentecost Peter and the other disciples had no more doubts about the Truth. They were happy when they saw Jesus resurrected. But the resurrection of Jesus did not give them the power to stand as men of God. It was the Baptism (the Sealing) of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost that changed them to become witnesses for Jesus. The resurrected Christ told His disciples: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Ac 1:8). To be a witness you must have seen the person directly. They saw Jesus in the past. But they needed the Baptism (seal) of the Holy Spirit to have the power to say what they have seen with their eyes. Their preaching now was direct, authoritative and bold. It had great impact upon the listeners. That is revival!
In the history of the church, revival comes suddenly. But if you study it, you see that there is a preparation in advance. This preparation may be hidden from the eyes of many. But it is there. Some few Christians, led by the Holy Spirit, decided to seek God thru prayer and the study of the Word. Most of the time, these believers are not among the religious elite. They are humble and faithful working ‘behind the scenes.’ There are some basics doctrines that are fundamental for the preparing of revival. Revival does not come to churches who ignore these basic doctrines. These are the basic doctrines related to the true Gospel (Christ Crucified and Resurrected):
*The Sovereignty of God
*The Authority of the Bible
*The Doctrine of sin in man and the wrath of God
*The Doctrine of justification by faith alone, by grace alone
*The doctrine of the Trinity (The doctrine of God the Father, The doctrine of the centrality of Christ; The Doctrine of The Person of the Holy Spirit. In the history of the church, revival starts with the preaching of these basic doctrines. The Holy Spirit uses the Word to soften the hearts of many. Then they start praying. They love the Word. They worship Jesus! Without these doctrines, no revival can come. Selah!
A peculiar sign of revival is great joy among the believers. This manifests as freedom, exuberant praise and worship! As it was with Moses, their faces shine with the glory of God! The world is attracted by these manifestations. The unbelievers come, they see and hear the truth. This is how they are led to repent and become converted! This is revival! Let us humble ourselves and pray! God will answer us! Worship the Lord!