FOOTSTEPS TO REVIVAL
Bible Reading Acts 8:1-23
In our Bible Reading, we see how persecution, which was meant to destroy the early Church, instead led to phenomenal growth and revival! God can take the bad things, and turn them right around to the benefit of His Kingdom!
BUT WHAT IS NEEDED FOR REVIVAL TODAY?
These are but some of the things! I’m sure you can add many more!
THE DESIRE FOR REVIVAL
Not all Christians necessarily want revival!
We cannot take for granted that they want their usual itinerary upset! They may not feel comfortable with Christians actually showing the "joy unspeakable and full of glory", and (oh my goodness) they may even take the Bible literally and dance!
While in one appointment, we had a number of Church of Scotland churches. The largest, was a very sedate place. The minister, came to vet me, shortly after my arrival, to make sure I wasn’t too evangelical to take school assemblies in the academy.
But during our time there, after many years in the ministry, that minister found a new experience of the Lord. The transformation was nothing less than amazing! He felt led to commence a monthly after church united meeting, at which just about every denomination was involved. These were tremendous meetings, filled with power, free periods of praise, to the accompaniment of keyboard, violin, trumpet, guitar, drums, flute. So many people, said to me, "I never thought I would see it happen in that church!"
What were they talking about? A great exuberance of praise, with real liberty - hands raised in praise to God - and even dance! Open prayer for the sick with the laying on of hands. It was all happening. I wonder has it ever occurred to us, that the revival for which we pray, could already be starting, and our church, the army, with all it’s background in the freedom of the Spirit, could actually be left behind! Did you know that some of the fastest growing churches of today, are taking their pattern from the activities of early day Salvationists?
THE COST OF REVIVAL
Always in revivals of the past, the plans of men have had to give way to the plan of God!
One of the centres in which revival burst out at the beginning of the century was the area we were in until recently, Peterhead. It started amongst the fishermen, in places like Gt. Yarmouth, and spread like wildfire to those fishermen who visited such centres. I was amazed when I read of the Peterhead Revival, which came about in this way. All usual activities in the Salvation Army ceased, because the hall was needed every night for revival meetings, and many, many souls were won to Christ! The meetings were so packed, people were even sitting on the window ledges. Also the importance of denominations disappeared, and Christians were ‘one in Christ’!
Insular exclusiveness has to disappear, complete with doing things ‘our way’. So many Salvationists should adopt as their anthem ‘I did it my way’! Or perhaps to put it in more familiar phraseology ‘IT’S NOT ARMY, AND THEREFORE WE DON’T WANT IT’!
In an organisation that in it’s beginnings was renowned for spiritual liberty and freedom, we have allowed ourselves to become ‘stodgy’ in our worship and that natural liberty has been stifled.
THE PROCESS OF REVIVAL
I am quite convinced, that in many corps, we have experienced the BEGINNINGS of revival - BUT THE PROCESS HAS NOT GONE FORWARD! Is it because we’ve been too stayed in our ways?
Is it because we would not give proper place to the Holy Spirit? Let us remember that the Bible warns us against grieving the Holy Spirit, and some of the things that have been said about His works and manifestations, must have grieved Him very much indeed! The Holy Spirit must be IN CONTROL! ( Acts 8:14 on) It is not enough to ask Him to be in what WE do - rather we must seek WHAT HE WANTS US TO DO - and do it!
THE PRIORITIES OF REVIVAL
The early Church were a PEOPLE OF PRAYER!
It doesn’t work if people are only there because it’s their DUTY to be there - indeed that will HINDER prayer!
Real prayer must stem from the desire of our heart, which will be fed by the depth of our relationship with the Lord!
Revival has always been marked by people living HOLY LIVES. Not simply a doctrine, or imagined or imitated experience - not simply a professed experience; There are many who put on a pretence because they would be ASHAMED TO ADMIT THEY DIDN’T HAVE IT! It’s all part and parcel of the experience of being FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT!! THAT IS THE ONLY PLACE IT CAN START! This was such a DYNAMIC and powerful experience, that Simon the sorcerer wanted to BUY THE ABILITY TO GIVE THIS EXPERIENCE TO OTHERS BY THE LAYING ON OF HANDS! Yet some people today, seem to think they can have the experience, and hardly even notice it!! ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE!
THERE CANNOT BE REVIVAL WITHOUT SACRIFICE!
We must face up to how high a priority we make revival! How high is it on our agenda - what are we willing to let go of, both as individuals, and as a company of God’s people to see it happen? Are we willing to ADAPT to the Spirit, rather than expect Him to adapt to us?
If we truly can sing, "Lord fill my craving heart, with a DEEP BURNING LOVE FOR SOULS," then EVERYTHING ELSE will take second place! The winning of lost souls, will be the most important thing in the world!
I think it goes without saying, there can be no move of the Spirit, whilst we harbour anything in our heart against another child of God! A top priority is that we are, in the words of Scripture, ‘OF ONE ACCORD’.
DISSENTION KILLS REVIVAL!!
As I said, you can probably add many more things that are essential for Revival today, but there are probably enough here to set us prayerfully thinking, and making sure that we are a help and not a hindrance to that revival!
English preacher Sidlow Baxter, when he was eighty five years of age, said, 'I have pastored only three churches in my more than sixty years of ministry. We had revival in every one. And not one of them came as a result of my preaching. They came as a result of the membership entering into a covenant to pray until revival came. And it did come, every time' (Willhite 1988:111).
In the United States of America, at Larry Lea's Church on the Rock in Rockwall, Texas, numerical growth was from 13 people in 1980 to 11,000 people by 1988. When he was asked about such amazing growth, he said 'I didn't start a church I started a prayer meeting'. When David Shibley, the minister responsible for prayer in that church was asked the secret of the church, he said, 'The evangelistic program of our church is the daily prayer meeting. Every morning, Monday through Friday, we meet at 5.00 am to pray. If we see the harvest of conversions fall off for more than a week, we see that as a spiritual red alert and seek the Lord' (Shibley 1985:7).
(Colossians 1:18) (John 14:6) (1Corinthians 3:6) (Psalm 127:1) (Colossians 1:14) (John 6:44)