What is True Revival?

In walking the Revival Road , there are various main obstacles that must be overcome.  These obstacles find their residence particularly in the minds of God’s people. The first of such is a sad misunderstanding of what Revival really is.

In his book ‘In the Day of Thy Power’ Arthur Wallis says the following: 

‘Revival is more than big meetings.  It is more than religious excitement.  It is more than the quickening of the saints, or their being filled with the Holy Spirit.  It is more than a great in-gathering of souls.  One may have any of these without Revival and yet Revival includes them all.

There is a wealth of difference between missions or campaigns at their best and genuine Revival.  In the former man takes the initiative, it may be with the prompting of the Spirit; in the latter the initiative is God’s.  With the one the organisation is human; with the other it is Divine…

It is God revealing Himself to man in awful holiness and irresistible power.  It is such a manifest working of God that human personalities are over-shadowed, and human programs abandoned…’

Revival is therefore essentially an experience first of all in the Church amongst the people of God.  It is restoring life where it has ebbed away.  It brings the Church to a spiritual state in which it can effectively live its God-designed life.  It enables the Church to give proper execution to the Great Commission under the manifest power of the Holy Spirit.  It is also doubtless the way in which God would prepare His Church to be as a spotless Bride, eagerly awaiting her Lord’s return.

As we proceed in these articles it shall be shown very clearly that Revival is not a ‘nice-to-have’ in addition to what the Church has but it is a Divine imperative.  Therefore the Church not walking in true Holy Ghost Bible-based Revival, is in fact disobedient to the Lord.

Dr Johannes van der Colff quite correctly says: ‘Revival…is a Divine attack on society through a restoration of God’s people’.

Jesus Christ handed over the running of His Church into the hands of the Almighty Holy Spirit.  Dr Samuel Chadsworth says: ‘No other religion has anything corresponding to the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and in the Christian religion there is nothing so vital, pervasive and effective’.

Any true Biblical Revival will be one performed by the Holy Spirit and it will be Christ- centered and Calvary-based.  It is essentially a Covenantal issue, not a Covenant with us as much as it is one between Father and Son and we are simply being drawn into this as beneficiaries.  These aspects we shall pursue further as time goes on.  Sufficient to say that if a Revival is not Calvary-based as well as Christ-centered, it will be a spurious Revival.

Someone may well say: ‘I am convinced my Church has Revival.  Ever so often we see miracles happening, people are filled with the Spirit and we have a great outreach program.’  Dr Johannes van der Colff has the following to say and we endorse it: ‘If all the professed ‘baptisms of the Spirit’ and ‘fillings of the Holy Spirit’ in our Churches were real then the whole country would already have been set on FIRE FOR GOD BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.  If just one pastor received the anointing Divine then the towns for kilometres around him would be swept by a mighty Revival’.  He also quotes Emil Brenner who says: ‘Fire kindles fire.  What looks like fire but does not spread is probably only pyro-technical display and should be avoided’.

Roy Hession says it very aptly: ‘Revival is just the life of Jesus poured into human hearts.  And we…have only to get into right relationship with Him and we shall see His power demonstrated in our hearts and lives and service and his victorious life will fill us and overflow through us to others’.

Revival is a distinct Supernatural intervention from above and cannot be generated by man.  Therefore, it can and always will be exclusively the work of the Lord our God.  This dispels every human effort, and spells death to the big ‘ I ‘ and all that ‘self’ can achieve with own intellect, gifts, programs and other means which are purely man-made.  It is the evidence of the Supernatural that makes the Church attractive and gives credibility to the message it proclaims.

Gideon had the correct idea when we read in Judges 6:13 where he says about the Presence of the Lord: ‘…if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?  And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us of…?’  We are living in the dispensation of ‘Emmanuel’ but we see precious little evidence thereof in the Church of God .  No wonder, Revival must start in the Church of God because after all the Lord tells us clearly that this is also the place where judgment will commence.  See I Peter 4:17.

This being so, and the Lord, in the seven Letters addressed to the seven Churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, breathes distinct threats against His Church, do we think that we shall escape if we are not walking in terms of His design for us as a blood-bought Church?  Do we not sense the absolute necessity that there must be REVIVAL NOW? 

The Cross of Jesus Christ.

‘But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world’.

 We are in the danger of grossly under-estimating sin in its power, pollution and punishment and how it has permeated all of our lives.  We realise little of just how angry God is with the sinner.  But we have also grossly under-estimated the glory of our salvation.  These under-estimations come to the light and are being dealt with, when we spend time at the cross of Calvary in respect of which we would then find that our greatest under-estimation is of what happened there.

  Calvary was no accident but the very specific plan of God for Christ was ‘crucified from the foundation of the world’.  All of God’s plans concerning this sinful world and all of our life, our hopes our power and all of the work of the Spirit of God centre for us in Calvary .   

Calvary is God’s Great Altar of Sacrifice and it is here that God and man are drawn together in a cataclysmic way.  

The red thread of blood to be spilt for sin runs right through the Bible and culminates at Calvary .  But already in Psalm 22 we read the most graphic descriptions of our Saviour’s suffering.  

It is here that He cries out ‘My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken Me?’  It shows Him as having no help, no strength and He was made a man. But by man He was made a worm.  Here in the words of David, God is called to look at those that are surrounding Him like wild animals ready to tear Him apart.  God is invoked to listen how they laugh at Him and mock Him saying He trusted in God, let God now save Him.  Here we see them shaking their heads and pulling their faces at Him.

It is in this Psalm that He says ‘Look at Me’: ‘They pierce My hands and feet’.  He is hanging there, with His bones out of joint and you can count them all as they protrude in His agony.  His strength is dried up like pottery baked in a hot oven and His heart is melted like wax, and ready to burst.  There is a fire inside Him and His tongue is swollen, filling His mouth and every word is pure agony.  He is stripped naked and His clothes they divide among themselves and gamble for His garment.  They simply sit down and stare at Him.  Surely God had brought Him lower than the lowest, into the dust of death.  

We can have a limited idea of His physical suffering but could we ever gauge His emotional and spiritual agony?  But more than that could we assess His humiliation, the revulsion of His holy Person now filled with every sin great and small of all people over all time?  Could we realise the extent of the powers that met here?  All these are infinitely stronger than us. 

BUILDING A SOUND RELATIONSHIP WITH MY SAVIOUR

Part 1
INTRODUCTION
 

There is no other activity that can take the place of your ‘Quiet Time’ and if you fail here you will have failed in your Christian life.   The quiet time is the test of your level of Christianity.   If you are not reading your Bible and praying effectively every day, you will be a losing Christian and your spiritual life will be pretty weak.   No amount of going to church, listening to tapes or Christian music or going to Bible Studies led by others, can take the place of your personal quiet time.  

It is a time of sacrifice.   Quiet time will cost and it will cost you in time and effort and energy.  It is in the quiet time where you are tested whether or not you really mean business with God.   If you are serious about the things of God you will be serious and disciplined as to quiet time.   

This practice does require a distinct, deliberate, daily discipline.   It is not easy and it never becomes an easy exercise in the Christian life.   It certainly becomes more and more meaningful, precious and enriching but discipline will always be required till the end of your life.  

In your quiet time you learn about God, and His requirements of your life.   It is here that you make discoveries about yourself and where you start putting matters in order with God and with man.   It is here that you start learning to see things the way God sees them.  This is the place of fellowship with God; a place of communion;  a place where you ‘exchange’ with God.   In other words you give Him of yourself and He in exchange gives to you of Himself, His life, His nature, His strength, His ways.  

Here you learn to grow to become more like the Lord Jesus.   Here you find healing for the wounds of the day and strength to face the next day.   He leads you into victory here, gives you wisdom and guidance and speaks to you deep inside your heart.   You are more shaped by your quiet time than by anything else in all of your life.

2) THE OBJECTECTIVE IN OUR QUIET TIME:  

  • In reading your Bible it is to discover God, His thoughts, His desires for you and for the people around you.

  • In prayer your objectives should be to meet with Him, to know His wonderful presence

If you have these objectives clearly before you, quiet time will become a life transforming experience,   which you will long for as you progress in your Christian life. 

HOW TO READ YOUR BIBLE  

Find the right time and the right place.   A time that you can keep to daily and preferably a place which becomes your little sanctuary that when people know that you are there, they also know you are busy with the Word of God.  This means that you will have a regular daily, if not twice daily reading or rather study of the Bible.   Detailed study will develop as you go along.  

The next thing to remember is to be systematic in what you read.   In other words you must read in terms of a specific programme and not jump all over the place reading now there and then there.  It is best for you to obtain a preset programme of reading but if this is not available you could take for instance the Book of John and start reading there.   It is advisable to read both the New and Old Testament simultaneously and so we suggest you read for instance the New Testament in the morning and the Old Testament in the evening.  In the Old Testament one could preferably start with the book of Genesis.  The Book of Psalms is of course also very popular and easy to relate to.  

Then remember to take only a small passage at a time.  If you read too much or too far, you will lose much of the value of the passage.   Sometime you need to read for instance a whole chapter but then come back again to just a portion thereof and read that over and over again.  

Before you start reading, bow your head in silent prayer and ask the Lord to speak to you.   Ask him to reveal His Word and show you just what His message is for the day.  Most of the times you will find something but there is the odd occasions when nothing seems to come forth out of the passage.   Do not be disheartened because this may well come back to you at a later time when you specifically need it.

HAVE A VERY PRACTICAL APPROACH ALONG THE FOLLOWING LINES:  

1.      Have a notebook with a pen or pencil and use this notebook only for your quiet times.   Put on the top of the page the date on which you are reading and have your pen or pencil ready in an attitude of expectancy.   In other words expect God to speak to you and what He tells you, put down on paper.  

2       Under the date, put down the reference to the passage to be read (e.g. John 1:1-14).  

3.      Now read the passage a few times and see what it says about God.   It can speak about God the Father.  God the Son or God the Holy Spirit or two or all three of them together.

         Remember that the Bible is God’s letter of revelation of Himself to you.   Handle it as such.  

4.      Now look for any promise that is of particular importance to you. Underline it in your Bible and make reference to it in your notes.  

5.      Is there a command God if giving you?  If so, note it down.  

6.      Is there perhaps a warning or some teaching that is particularly precious, then note that down.  

How can you apply what you have learned in practice?   What is the kind of prayer that you can pray concerning what you have read?  

FURTHER GUIDELINES:  

Please be very careful to read the passage within its context.  In other words see what happened before and what follows after it.   Much of the poor interpretations of Scripture arise out of the error of taking a single verse out of the context within which is were written.   Therefore look at what is around the verse of passage which you read.

Try to get into the habit of underlining a special verse, which have particular or special meaning to your.   Dot it neatly and as times goes on you will find that one verse relates to another and you can start making a cross reference in your Bible.   If you have the right kind of coloured pencils you could even use different colourings to mark different kinds of verses.  For instance, green for the Holy Spirit, red for Salvation, blue for a verse concerning God, yellow for a verse concerning prayer or the Word of God and maybe orange for any other precious verse which you some across.   Such special pencils are available.  

Make a point of memorizing special verses.   This causes you to focus more and more on individual words and the meanings of the verses.   As you so hide the Word in your heart it will keep you from sin and be a guide to you on a daily basis.  What is more, as you start working for the Lord, He will bring back to your memory these verses at the correct time.  

Be aware of the kind of reading matter that you have before you.  So for instance, The Gospels are written quite differently from the Epistles that follow later,   whereas prophecy has its own method of interpretation.  Stay away from the difficult passages for a start.  

Be also very much alert to learning history and see how God worked in the lives of different people over all the years.   Learn concerning His dealings for instance, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David and the more.   Therefore you can do come further historical investigations.   As you go on try to do some character studies, taking the character of a man like Joseph or Nehemiah, Peter, Daniel and other well know names.   See how God worked in their lives and see how it could be applicable to your life or to the world around you.  

How about studying the prayers of famous people and if you want some guidelines here, perhaps we can give it to you.   But there is the prayer for instance of Abraham for Sodom and Gomorrah, the struggle of Jacob with the Lord at Jabbok, the different prayers of Moses for Israel,  the prayers of people like Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel.  There are also the prayers of Paul and particular the prayers of the Lord Jesus Christ.   Lean from these great men and above all from Jesus, how to pray.  

You can also acquire a small Bible Atlas or perhaps you have some maps in the back of your Bible.   There is a small “ Westminster smaller Bible Atlas’ which is very handy to have and can be used to trace the places referred to in the Bible.  So you learn to study the Bible geographically and it becomes so much more meaningful as you find the places, cities, countries and rivers and mountains in the maps.  

You could also take a certain subject matter like the Armour of God.   ( see Ephesians 6:10 etc.)  Or the world as revealed in the first Epistle of John.   Then there are midnight experiences, which can be found in the Bible, and also mountain top experiences.   There are also certain meetings at wells and so we can go on.   Therefore you can be varied in the way that you study your Bible and you should never become so stereotyped that you have only one way of approaching it.  

Finally whatever you have gleaned from the Word, hide it deep in your heart and try to recall during the day what you learnt.   In the new day, go over the diary of the previous day and pray over it again.   Allow the Lord to refresh you and renew you.  

Trust His Word, read His Word, obey His Word and learn to love His Word; Your life will become more like the Lord Jesus Christ.   So listen carefully as He speaks to you and respond to Him in prayer as you take time for this holy exercise.  

Next time we shall have a brief look at how to pray.