THE DOCTRINE OF REVIVAL (4)/ GOD DELIGHTS IN MERCY
Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh preached a sermon titled The Doctrine of Revival (4)/ God delights in mercy (Micah 7:18). Her main text was taken from the Book of Psalms, Isaiah, Habakkuk, and Micah. “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10). “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:11). “Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence—as fire burns brushwood, as fire causes water to boil— to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence! When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, the mountains shook at Your presence. For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, who acts for the one who waits for Him” (Isaiah 64:1-4). “O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2). “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me… Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will give truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham, which You have sworn to our fathers from days of old” (Micah 7:8, 18-20).
Revival is a miracle; it is a phenomenon! Revival is a visitation of God’s Spirit to the Church. It affects even the unbelievers. Revival is defined as the unique, sovereign move of God, the Holy Spirit, coming down to earth in a dramatic way, changing people and nations. It manifests as a heartfelt return to God and His commandments. Only God can produce revival. The Holy Spirit does two types of works: the regular work (convicting people of sins, the process of sanctification, helping people to understand the Word of God…) and the extraordinary work, which is called ‘Revival’. From time to time, in the history of the Church, the Holy Spirit manifested His power among the believers in a most unusual way. The believers became filled with the Holy Spirit, signs and wonders multiplied among them. The overflow of this move of God affected all people. Many surrendered their lives to Christ and the Church became stronger. During revival the Holy Spirit recovers the basic doctrines of salvation, especially the justification by faith, by Grace, thru Christ alone. Revival can happen to an individual believer, to a family, to a church, or to a geographical area. True revival changes the history of a city or a nation. Great social changes start to happen. Righteous laws are given and the nation changes for the better. God does more in one day of Revival than in hundred years or ‘regular’ church work! Selah!
Revival can be ‘messy. No man can totally control revival manifestations. The devil can infiltrate a church with fake manifestations to distract the believers from the genuine work of the Holy Spirit. The pastors need supernatural wisdom and discernment of spirits. Listen to what the great pastor and author R. T. Kendall said “I have prayed for revival all my life, but I wonder if I will recognize it when it comes. Will I be able to cope with the packaging in which God sends it?”. These are honest words.
REVIVAL MEANS THE CHURCH GETTING AWAKE FROM SLEEP, TAKING HER BATH AND WALKING IN WISDOM AND LIGHT!
Revival is a gift from the Holy Spirit for the church in particular. Revival has been described as ‘a community saturated with God” (Duncan Campbell). In revival the ‘sleepy’ church wakes up to please God afresh! “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore, He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph 5:8-16).
The Church is ‘sleeping’. Most of the Christians are spiritually asleep. Not dead, but asleep! The reason is because they still love the things of darkness. Many believers have intimate ‘fellowship’ with unbelievers, with the shameful and unfruitful works of darkness. They are children of light, but they chose to partake from ‘the fun’ of darkness. What do people do in the night? They party, they commit adultery, they kill, and they steal! The believers go to church during the day and join those who do evil in the night. To protect them from greater harm, God puts them to sleep. That means they become weak and some, they die untimely death. It is better to sleep than to destroy your testimony. Many Christians are like this. Sleeping people are spiritually tired. They find it difficult to pray, to study God’s Word, or to attend the local church (especially the weekly activities). Revival means waking and walking in love, wisdom, and light! See the Church, not only in its dryness, but the way Christ sees it, glorious and powerful! You need to balance the present and the future vision to be able to pray for revival! Selah!
But not all believers are sleepy. There is always a faithful remnant who stays alert and awake even during the night. These are the ones who study God’s Word and ‘pray without ceasing’ (1Thess 5:17). They are the humble, faithful, and responsible servants of God! They pray day and night! “Shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?” (Lk 18:7). It is their prayers that God answers to bring revival. Revival is not just a visitation of the Holy Spirit to the nations. Like rivers in the wilderness, Revival is God’s precious Gift to the local church. During and after revival the church gets stronger. God’s purpose for the church is to be the Household of God, the Pillar, and the Foundation of Truth (1 Tim 3:15). The Church is the Light of the world and a City on a Hill (Mt 5:14). The Church is the Bride of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ loves the Church. That is why He died for her. He now cleanses her with the Word of God. He does not cleanse the world, but only His Bride, the Church. “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:25-27). The cleansing goes on until she is perfect! Glory! During revival, you can see the difference between the believers (who are clean) and the unbelievers (who are unclean). Christ awakes His Bride and brings the Living Water to give her a fresh bath in the morning light! The preaching of correct Biblical doctrines supplies this fresh water and perfumed soap for the bath. Halleluiah!
Clearly, God’s plan is that the Bride of Christ is a blessing to the world. “The manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him” (Eph 3:10-12). During Revival, people stop mocking the Christians and the Pastors. They see the glory and the beauty of the Church like never before! Wisdom gives us boldness to preach! May Revival come to Nigeria!
REVIVAL IN NIGERIA
About revival, God has done special work in Nigeria. There are two men that God has used in a particular way: Pa Elton and Apostle Babalola!
PA ELTON (1907-1987)
Pa Sydney Granville Elton was an English man of God, and a missionary to Nigeria. He was a towering apostolic and prophetic vessel in the hand of God specifically for Nigeria. When he was a young man growing up in England God specifically spoke to him to move over to Nigeria and locate a town by the name of Ilesha. He came and he found such a town. It will be his home for the next 50 years of his life (1937-1987). He never left Nigeria. He is buried with his wife at Ilesha. He is undoubtedly the father of the Pentecostal Revival Movement in Nigeria. Pa Elton had arrived in Nigeria in 1937 with a clear mandate to raise a new breed of leadership in the Nigerian Church, who, powered by the Holy Spirit, will take the message of God’s kingdom and the all-conquering King to the very ends of the earth. He lived in Ilesha which is about 30km from university town of Ile-Ife where he found a potent platform to impact and disciple young men and women who were students and lecturers at the University Awolowo. When he got to Ilesha, he became a part of an ongoing revival there led by Apostle Ayodele Joseph Babalola. He became the mentor of Apostle Babalola and to many other great men of God (Archbishop Idahosa, Pastor E.A Adeboye, Pastor W.F Kumuyi, Bishop David Oyedepo, Emeka Nwakpa, Gbile Akanni, Francis Wale Oke etc). His only daughter Mama Ruth, just like her father gave her life for the service of humanity in Nigeria. She got her Nigerian passport in her eighties. She refused to marry or move back to England. She too has done missionary work all her life. She is now 88 and still living in Nigeria. These are Pa Elton’s last words on earth: “But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” These words were the strongest motivator for all that Pa Elton achieved in 50 fruitful years as the untiring vessel of a spiritual movement that was soaked as much in prayer as it was in prayer-inspired action. He and his wife are buried at Ilesa. Listen to his prophecy about Nigeria: “Nigeria and Nigerians will be known all over the world for corruption. Your name Nigeria will stink for corruption but after a while, a new phase will come a phase of righteousness. People from the nations of the earth will hold to a Nigerian and say, We want to follow you to your nation to go and learn righteousness.” To God be all the glory!
PROPHET AYODELE JOSEPH BABALOLA Ayodele (1904-1959)
Joseph Ayodele Babalola was born on April 25, 1904, at Odo-Owa in Ilofa, near Ilorin, in Kwara State, Nigeria. His father was the Baba Ijo (“church father”) of the C.M.S. Church at Odo-Owa. In 1914, his brother took him to Osogbo where he went to school. However, he quit school to become a motor mechanic apprentice. He soon joined the Public Works Department (PWD) working as a steam roller driver. On September 25th, 1928, he suddenly became restless and could not sleep. The next day, as he was working, the steam roller engine went off with no visible mechanical problems. He heard a great voice ‘like the sound of many waters’ calling him three times. The voice told him that if he does not go and preach, he will die. Babalola resisted the voice initially. Later, he surrendered to God’s call. He resigned his work at PWD. The same voice came to Joseph a second time asking him to fast for seven days. He obeyed and at the end of the period he saw a great figure of a man that resembled Jesus. The man in a dazzling robe spoke at length about his ministry. The man also told him of the persecutions he would face and assured him of God’s protection and victory. He was given a bell and told that evil spirit will flee at the sound of the bell. He was also given a bottle of ‘life-giving water’. He was told that he will pray for the water and any who is sick and drink that water, shall be healed. This is how he started his ministry. Pastors invited the young prophet who performed miracles of healings. Muslims and pagans got converted to the new faith and revival started. He said that he was not sent to start churches. At that time, he said that he is a member of Faith Tabernacle church in Lagos, where the leaders baptized him in water. He also went there to learn the doctrines of the church (one of their doctrines is rejection of all medicine, and only pray and trust God alone for healing). There was a division in the church. Some said you can pray but still take malaria medicines. Others said that only prayer is sufficient. The church spilt. Babalola went with the group that believed in prayer alone, which eventually became Christ Apostolic Church.
All people who knew Babalola agreed that he was a very humble man. Glory to God! The revival began in July 1930 with the raising by Babalola of a child who was dead for 4 days, at Oke-Oye, Ilesha. The mother of the dead child who was restored to life went about spreading the news that a miracle working prophet had come to the town of Oke-Oye. This attracted many people to see the prophet. Many of those afflicted with various diseases who came to Oke-Oye were healed. Many mighty works were performed using the prayer bell and the drinking of consecrated water from a stream called Omi Ayo (“Stream of Joy”). The result was that thousands of people including traditional religionists, Muslims and Christians from other denominations were converted to the Faith Tabernacle. As there was no space in the church hall, revival meetings were shifted to an open field where men and women from all walks of life, from every part of the country and from neighboring countries assembled daily for healing, deliverance, and blessings. Within three weeks Babalola had cured about 100 lepers, 60 blind people and 50 lame persons. The Anglican Churches in Ilesha were left desolate because their members transferred their allegiance to the revivalist and that all the patients in Wesley Hospital, Ilesha, abandoned their beds to seek healing from Babalola. Hopeless barren women were made fruitful. The dumb spoke and lunatics were cured. The number of clear healings and miracles was never previously seen in Nigeria. Witches confessed and some demon possessed people were exorcized. Babalola said that God told him to burn the mighty tree in front of Owa’s palace. He said that the tree is a coven for witches. He burnt the tree down. People expected him to die. But he lived. That increased his fame. Babalola travelled all around the area. The revival spread to other places. The success of the revival was accelerated by the conversion of both the Oba of Efon and the Oba of Aramoko. They were both baptized with the names, Solomon Agunsoye and Hezekiah Adeoye respectively. Some people persecuted him. A warrant for his arrest was issued from Ilorin. He was arrested for preaching against witches, a practice which had caused some trouble in Otuo in present Bendel State. He was sentenced to jail for six months in Benin City in March 1932. Babalola got married and had four children. Two of his daughters are still alive today. To God be all the glory!
CHRIST APOSTOLIC CHURCH
Christ Apostolic Church is a distinctly indigenous African Church with headquarters in Nigeria, but with members spread across the world. We are the pioneer Pentecostal Church in Africa, with a membership base of presently over five million, made up of men and women, families from diverse sectors of the social strata. Our history is traceable directly to the definite outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Nigeria, Africa, in the great revival which began in 1930 through the ministry of Apostle Joseph Ayo Babalola. The Church is renowned as a praying church, and we believe that healings, miracles, and other signs and wonders as recorded in the book of the Acts are meant to manifest today” (From their website).
The word ‘Aladura’ in Yoruba means ‘the praying people’. The first Aladura movement emerged from St. Savior Anglican Church, Ijebu-Ode, in 1918. The leaders in the church felt led to start vigorous prayer meetings. In 1919 they became influenced by the doctrines of the Faith Tabernacle of Philadelphia, to reject all forms of medicine, whether western or traditional. This led to a doctrinal conflict with the Anglican Church, and they were forced out of the church. The Aladura movement began as a renewal movement in search of true spirituality. A revival took place in 1918 during the influenza pandemic. The group claims to have used prayer to save many lives affected by the epidemic. This consolidated the prayer group. The movement grew gradually and formed branches throughout Nigeria. The name of the group went through several changes, such as Prayer Band, Precious Stone, Diamond Society, and Faith Tabernacle. A great revival started in July 1930 by the raising of a dead boy by Apostle Joseph Ayo Babalola at Oke-Oye in Ilesha. People traveled from neighboring cities and countries to receive healing at Ilesha. Several people were healed through prayer. The revival lasted about 60 days and is regarded as the greatest revival ever in Nigeria. The C.A.C. believe that the spiritual power bestowed on Babalola placed him on an equal level with Biblical apostles like Peter and Paul. The Revival group went through additional name changes until they settled for Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) in 1942. The Church established schools at all levels, including Joseph Ayo Babalola University. The Aladura Churches separated into two main groups: The Pentecostal and the Spiritualists churches. These are the main Aladura Nigerian Pentecostal Churches: Christ Apostolic Church, Redeemed Christian Church of God, Mountain of Fire Ministries, and Deeper Life Bible Church. These are the main Aladura Spiritualists also called ‘white Garment’ churches: Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim, Church of the Lord (Aladura), and Celestial Church of Christ.
THE SIN OF ISRAEL
“For among My people are found wicked men; They lie in wait as one who sets snares; They set a trap; They catch men. As a cage is full of birds, So, their houses are full of deceit. Therefore, they have become great and grown rich. They have grown fat, they are sleek; Yes, they surpass the deeds of the wicked; They do not plead the cause, the cause of the fatherless; Yet they prosper, and the right of the needy they do not defend. Shall I not punish them for these things?’ says the Lord. ‘Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?’ “An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests, rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?” (Jer 5:26-31). “Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is given to covetousness; And from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; Nor did they know how to blush. Therefore, they shall fall among those who fall; At the time I punish them, they shall be cast down,” says the Lord. Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it” (Jer 6:13-16)
This is a description of the corrupt and perverse church leaders. They are greedy. They deceive people. They are more wicked than the unbelievers. They don’t care for the needy. They don’t care for the wound of the people. They refuse to repent. The congregation imitates their wicked pastor. Therefore, God will punish them, the leaders, and the followers. This corrupt religion is the state when people must pray for mercy, for revival. God says: “ask for the old paths, where the good way is”. Like Isaac, who opened the wells of his father Abraham, go back to the Cross. Repent, trust, and obey! This is the unfailing royal way of the Cross that leads to revival! Halleluiah!
THE CONDITIONS PRIOR TO REVIVAL (Exodus 32 and 33)
This is the story of how the people of God chose to backslide as a nation. They abandoned God and their leader Moses, to make for themselves an idol in the form of a calf. The glory given to God who brought them out of Egypt, they now give it to this idol. Aaron was their pastor. He could speak better than Moses, but he was a weak-willed man. The congregation convinced him to make them an idol. He was afraid to reject their request. Out of their gold earrings Aaron made for them an idol looking like a calf. This was the idol the Egyptians were worshipping. The choice of this idol was no accident. It was like the Egyptian god, Hathor, a bull goddess of joy, celebration, and love. You can see that they were out of Egypt, but Egypt was not out of them. Aaron’s weak faith resulted in national idolatry and the death of thousand of people.
God became angry. He threatened Moses that He will destroy them completely and make a new nation our of Moses. Moses intercedes for them, and God relents from punishing them immediately. Moses prayed something like this: “In wrath, remember mercy!” (Hab 3:2). This is a prayer for revival! God interceded for the people for the glory to God! Have you learned to argue with God? God was delighted with Moses. Do you know how to intercede with God? God said: “Come now and let us reason together!” (Is 1:18). God loves spiritual courage!
God always judges sin. The Judgment of God may come in a form of warning. This type of judgment is soaked with mercy and grace. The purpose is for the people to repent. Other times, the judgment is final; for example, a Christian who refuses to repent may experience sorrows or untimely death. A good example is the death of Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5:1-11). Here there is no grace at all.
God then tells Moses to lead the people to the Promised Land. God said that He will not go with them anymore, but He will send an angel. Moses again intercedes that God should lead them and not an angel. God calls the people ‘stiff- necked’. The word means more than obstinate or rebellious. It means to be ‘perverse’. The word describes a stubborn horse that refuses to accept the rein on his neck and be guided by the rider. To be ‘perverse’ means a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable; opposing what is right, reasonable, or accepted; to behave strange and not what most people would expect or enjoy; to be corrupt (dishonestly using your position or power to get an advantage, especially for money).
When the people forsake God and His Law, God gets angry. This is a justified anger. God could have killed them all. Moses steps in as a Mediator. He intercedes with God pleading His glory and His promises. God has promised Abraham that out of him God will make a nation. Moses said that even with their sins, these are God’s people, made from Abraham. The enemies will mock God if He destroys them all. You see here the power of prayer, of intercession. Without a mediator, the people will die. When Moses comes down, he breaks the two tablets with the writing of God. The breaking of the tablets signifies that God has broken the covenant with them. Here you see grace when the covenant is broken. This grace is found in Christ alone. Moses has succeeded in his intercession. God will not kill them immediately. But sin has consequences. The leaders of the rebellion are killed. A plague kills some more. But the nation survives. This is grace! This is the story of revival!
The story with the golden calf is written for us as a warning.
“Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor 10:6-11)
God is holy. He always judges sin. God’s judgment manifests as death. The Levites killed 3000 people, that is all the rebellious leaders. God also sent a plague that killed more people. God also said that He will ‘blot out’ the names of the rebellious people out of His book. The people finally see how great their sin was. They stripped themselves of all ornaments and they mourned. This was a national repentance. This mourning for sin is necessary to pray for revival. At times like these, God raises great leaders! The Levites were raised at that time to serve God! They loved God more than their families. Moses becomes a great leader. He said: “God, if you do not save Your people, then let me die too”. Moses is ready to go to hell than to abandon God’s people. He is like Apostle Paul. “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh” (Rom 9:3). Do you care for God’s people? God tells Moses that He will keep His promise to give them the Promised Land, but He will not lead them over there. God will send an Angel. Moses rises to the occasion and prays again saying: “God, if you do not go with us, don’t send us from here! I don’t want blessings without You!” Then Moses gets bolder and says: “God, show me Your glory!” And God showed His glory and goodness. This is the passionate prayer that brings revival. The nation deserves to perish. We are sinners. We deserve to die. God is looking for people who know God’s heart, who know that old way of the Cross. They know that going on without God is death! They wait on God to come down, no matter how long it takes. This is the way to revival! Are you jealous for God’s revival? To see people falling in love with Jesus again! Christ died and rose again for us! This is the eternal Gospel! Its power is eternal!
For you to truly understand the Bible, you must read it from God’s point of view. If you feel sorry for the men who died, of for the weak-willed Aaron, or for the frustrated Moses, then you do not understand it well and you cannot pray for revival. You must listen to God’s heartbeat and feel God’s pain. He delivered His people from the slavery of Egypt to give them a good land, to make them worshippers. But they quickly forgot God’s kindness and wanted to go back to Egypt. They were impatient and ungrateful. This is wickedness. We are like these people. We forget God’s acts of mercy and His grace. We are commanded not to grieve the Holy Spirit. “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30). It is only a Lover or a Friend that can grieve. Living in the center of God’s will is the only way not to grieve the Holy Spirit! Hallelujah!
All true revivals were preceded by times of terrible moral and spiritual decline and by a manifestation of the righteous judgment of God. God brings burden upon one or few people, the faithful remnant, to pray for revival. God uses these people to do extraordinary things. He gives them a prophetic anointing to call people to repentance. These are ‘the old paths and the good way’ There are too many ‘Aarons’ in ministry and too few Moses. In the US, in the churches there are more than 70 % unsaved people and that more 70 % of the pastors are not born-again.
What are the lessons?
1-Nothing is hidden from God’s eyes. God will hold people accountable for their sin. Especially the leaders! Repent of sin! Trust and Obey God!
2- Jesus is our Mediator! “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1Tim 2:5).
3- There is great value in passionate prayer and intercession.
4- God prepares and raises true leaders who will bring His people back to Him!
5- God delights in showing mercy. This is the great hope for revival! Pray for revival! Worship the Lord!