“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47).
A Biblical Revival will certainly transform us spiritually as individuals. However when we see a revival Biblically and historically in the Church it effects the whole Church as individual members get right with God and then get right with each other. Any church can have a revival. How you say? As an example if you have a group of 50 believers and they all go back to their first love you will have a revival! God is more willing to give a revival than we are to receive it, however, there are conditions which we have already started to look at. What then will a revival produce in the local Church? How will it affect the Church members?
What will a Biblical Revival produce in us and in the life of our Church?
(Acts 2:42-47) Read these verses again. There are seven distinct marks of a revival in the local Church. These are clearly seen in chapter two and in chapter four of the book of Acts. We will primarily look at what will happen to us as believers when we experience a genuine Biblical Revival.
1. In a Revival we will devote ourselves to the teaching of the Apostles.
After the Holy Spirit fell on the Day of Pentecost he first thing He produced in their hearts was a love for God’s Word and for what the apostles themselves were teaching. We still have their apostolic doctrine and teaching today revealed in God’s Word. “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The Canon of scripture is complete and there is no new doctrine but only a deeper revelation of what God has already revealed in His Word the Bible. In a real revival the Holy Spirit will lead us back to the teaching of the apostles as revealed in His Word. We still have apostolic authority in the Church today and it is the New Testament. Paul himself said, “Do not go beyond what is written.”(1 Corinthians 4:6)
Tragically there are many today who do go beyond what is written in God’s Word. They claim to be apostles but their definition of apostolic authority is different than the Bible’s definition of apostolic authority. They claim to have “new revelations” yet when you examine what they actually teach it’s unbiblical! Furthermore, there are those today primarily in the “New Apostolic Movement” camp who claim to be apostles who actually think that they have the same authority from the Holy Spirit to declare doctrine as the apostles themselves had. Also many who call themselves prophets say and do things that go beyond scripture. When the Bible itself teaches us to “avoid all extremes” they go over the top!
A few years ago I actually saw on video a man claiming to be someone with an apostolic or prophetic anointing who was speaking at an AOG pastor conference. He took off his canary yellow jacket and invited all those who wanted his anointing to come to the front and touch his jacket. There was a rush of pastors to receive ‘the anointing.’ In the Bible we are clearly told that someone cannot take his anointing and transfer it or pass it on to someone else. (Exodus 30:30-33) The only apostolic doctrine we have today is the teaching of the apostles in the New Testament and those who go beyond what is written or take away from what is written in God’s Word come under God’s severest judgment and are in danger of loosing their salvation. (Revelation 22:18-19) A revival restores the first love for God’s Word in the hearts of His people.
2. In a Revival we will devote ourselves to genuine fellowship.
Fellowship has the idea of bricks being pressed together by a cornerstone. A good example of this is the way the Romans built their bridges. They never used cement but put pressure on the bricks by pressing them together very tightly using a cornerstone to keep them in place and compacted together. The Lord Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone that holds a local fellowship together by applied pressure. Just as the bricks press against one another so in fellowship the Holy Spirit puts believers together who will often have to contend with differences. Often friction will occur and then the opportunity to practice love will manifest itself.
Scripture also says, “Iron sharpens Iron” and when this occurs the sparks will fly! In fellowship the Lord puts us with those who at times will rub us up the wrong way. These are usually His opportunities for us to practice His love. It’s easy just to love those who agree with us but much more difficult when a brother or a sister really rub us up the wrong way! In a revival the Holy Spirit will enable us to love our brothers and sisters even though we may have differing opinions on certain matters. Of course there will be unity where the basic fundamental doctrines of scripture are concerned.
Only the Holy Spirit can unite believers together, with man this is impossible. We can have all kinds of programs and fellowship meetings but in themselves they won’t work because only the Holy Spirit can bring about real fellowship. Real fellowship is more than just going to church, singing in the choir or sitting on a church board or having tea and biscuits in the church foyer after the Sunday service. In many churches these days after the service you will find believers talking together about everything except spiritual things. In some churches when you try to speak about spiritual things you are treated with distain and often avoided by other believers in the fellowship. A genuine revival will stop all of this kind of nonsense!
When the Spirit of God sends a revival believers become co-dependant upon each other. The gifts of the Spirit flow and the body of Christ is built up in love, righteousness and holiness as each member does its part. Each “brick” is important to the whole structure. If a brick is missing then the building is incomplete and not as strong. Every member is important and when a revival comes every member finds their place of service and where they fit in to the overall spiritual structure. In a revival those who have been first often become last and those who have been last become first. Most revivals have never begun by some great preacher up front but when one or two or a group of people begin praying, confessing their sins and the sins of God’s people. A real revival comes when believers in a local church return to their first love for God, for the Lord Jesus, for His Word and for each other.
3. In a Revival we will devote ourselves to the Breaking of Bread.
The believers in the book of Acts really took the Lord’s Supper seriously and so should we. In the first century church the Lord’s Supper was actually a fellowship meal that led into communion. Paul tells us that we must not eat the bread and drink the cup in an unworthy manner or without examining ourselves. (1 Corinthians 11:27-29) At Corinth believers were careless in the way they behaved at this sacred meal and many became sick and some actually died as a result. (1 Corinthians 11:30)
In a real revival the Lord’s Supper becomes a time of real joy but also a time of deep heart searching as well as the searchlight of the Holy Spirit penetrates the depths of the human heart. In a revival believers really appreciate the work of the cross and rejoice in the blood and merits of the Lord Jesus Christ and humble themselves before the Lord. At Corinth people were greedy at these fellowship meals. Some didn’t wait for others while others became drunk consequently bringing themselves under God’s judgment. (1 Corinthians 11:20-22) If we are careless and flippant when we participate in the Lord’s Supper we may actually short circuit God’s will for our lives. We won’t go to hell but could physically die before our time forfeiting our rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
4. In a Revival we will devote ourselves to Prayer.
This was no Wednesday night prayer meeting from 8pm to 9-30pm followed by buns and coffee. These first century believers were devoted to prayer. Prayer had become a way of life. Even before the Spirit fell on them in power we find them continuously praying. (Acts 1:14) They didn’t want to miss all that the Lord had for them. They persevered in prayer until they received what the Lord had promised them. When they faced opposition to the gospel and threats they prayed and God answered them in a very powerful way and they spoke God’s Word boldly. (Acts 4:29-31)
When Peter was in prison they prayed until God supernaturally set him free. (Acts 12:5) In a revival the Holy Spirit shows believers the real purpose of prayer namely to glorify Jesus through the preaching of the gospel, for throwing back the powers of darkness and for setting people free from sin, demons and even sickness itself. In a revival the focus of prayer will be primarily for others and not for our selves. The history of revivals has proved this.
When the Holy Spirit really falls people will not be pressing into meetings to pray for prosperity and blessings or to see some ‘stage show’ of signs miracles and wonders but for power to preach the gospel and to uplift Jesus Christ before the world! When the Holy Spirit really moves in a church believers will be praying to God “Your kingdom come, your will be done now on earth as it is done in heaven.” In a revival heavenly realities of the unseen spiritual realm will become more real than the fleeting pleasures and pursuits of this world. (Hebrews 11:10, 16, 24-27)
In a genuine revival our minds and hearts will become preoccupied with God and with the Lord Jesus Christ and with His Word and the salvation of sinners and the sanctification of backsliding saints will become our spiritual priorities. We will really be burdened in prayer because the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the authority of His Word are being dishonoured in the eyes of the world and by the backslidden state of the Church. In a revival the spiritual gift of intercessory prayer will flourish among believers along with the gift of faith. In a revival believers will no longer pray in the context of life but live in the context of prayer! Everything will become a matter of prayer in a revival! (Philippians 4:6)
5. In a Revival we will see genuine miracles.
In a real revival there will be genuine miracles. In Acts chapter four the believers had prayed and God literally shook the building and the power of God was so great that not only did the believers present have boldness in speaking God’s Word but many wonders; miracles and signs followed the preaching of the Word. Even though these came through the apostles at that time it does not mean that they died out with the apostles. This cannot be proven either by scripture or from Church history. In a real revival there will be miracles. In the Indonesian revival many years ago now there were miracles including water being turned into wine. In revival genuine miracles, signs and wonders will only follow true repentance and the preaching of God’s Word. Miracles, signs and wonders will never be the focus of a true revival. Jesus said that these signs would follow the preaching of the Gospel. (Mark 16:17-18) We see this clearly in Peter and Paul’s ministry. (Acts 5:12-16) (19:11-12)
Satan is very subtle today and leads many leaders into thinking that if they promote signs, miracles and wonders and advertise miracle crusades that these will be the means of bringing people to Christ but they are misled. God will sometimes do miracles to endorse His Word and to show that Jesus is alive and the same yesterday, today and forever but the miracles will never be the main focus only the means to bringing people into a right relationship to God.
The apostles never went around advertising themselves and setting up healing crusades. They went around preaching God’s Word and the signs followed. Jesus worked miracles and the people flocked to see them and experience them but the same people who applauded Jesus called out for His crucifixion. Miracles, signs and wonders are no guarantee that sinners will be genuinely saved in fact sometimes the craving to see miracles overshadows the craving to see people saved.
6. In a Revival we will express our love in a practical way.
We read in Acts that the believers had all things in common and sold up their possessions and goods and gave to everyone as they had need. (Acts 2:44) A revival produces a genuine love for our brothers and sisters. This love will express itself in a visible and practical way. Now the believers in Jerusalem knew that the city would be devastated and the temple destroyed according to what the Lord Jesus had prophesied and so they realized the futility of being attached to this world.
In a revival the same kind of thing will happen. Believers will no longer be preoccupied with the things of this world. Not only that but they will be moved to help other believers who are hard pressed financially or in debt. In Acts the believers were all re-filled with the Holy Spirit. This time they sold their properties and gave the money to their leaders to distribute it according to others needs. (Acts 4:34-35)
Now in a revival believers will not necessarily sell up everything, however, believers will no longer consider careers, possessions, houses and lands and especially money as being more important than being right with God and obeying the Word of God. God’s Word will have the priority over everything secular where their daily lives are concerned. They will see money as the means to spreading the gospel instead of being the means of their future security in this world.
7. In a Revival we will have fellowship everyday.
Notice in verse 46 of Acts chapter 2 that it says, “Everyday they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” This revival brought about a sense of community. They considered one another family and treated each other as they would their own blood relatives. They were so excited about the things of God that they couldn’t keep away from each other. In a sense they were experiencing just a sample of what heaven will be like. They shared meals together and opened their homes to each other. Fellowship, worship and the Lord’s Supper became the priorities around which their lives revolved. Not only that but they were thankful for everything they had especially for the food on their tables. In a revival we will be able to rejoice always, pray unceasingly and give thanks in all circumstances enabling us to fulfil God’s will as individuals, as families and corporately as a church community. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Notice what else they did in verse 47. They were “praising God.” Their meetings were not dull and singing sluggish as many church services are today. Their worship was not out of control either but they were praising God. Their praise was not some hyped up situation but genuine. In 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14 Paul sets out the genuine way to worship the Lord and even though he encourages spontaneity he also commands order as an apostle with the authority to command it. So much praise and worship today is the worship of worship itself. We are caught up with the music and the experience of worship itself. Primarily our tendency is to go to worship to receive some emotionally fulfilling spiritual experience for our selves.
When a real revival comes things will be different in worship. Our desire will be to build others up in their faith and to seek God’s grace to exercise the gifts of the Spirit that the Holy Spirit wants to give us according to His will and not ours. Our primary motive in worship and fellowship will be to see others excel in their gifts and abilities and to rejoice with them when we see God using them. We will come to church with the attitude of, “What can I give to enhance the worship and build others up according to their own needs?” and not with the attitude of “What can I receive out of worship for my own emotional gratification?”
Genuine praise is infectious and when it is offered up in the power of the Holy Spirit it will draw others to the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul also tells us in 1 Corinthians chapter 14 that if our worship is under the control of the Holy Spirit then the unsaved present in the meeting will have the secrets of their hearts exposed and fall down and declare that God is among us instead of rolling on the floor in hysterics! Not only that but those present in the meeting that are not open to the gifts of the Holy Spirit will want to be open to them. Now also notice what else it says in verse 47, “Praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their numbers daily those who were being saved.
8. In a Revival the Lord will save people everyday of the week.
In a revival the church will increase numerically by souls being saved and not by the transference of church membership. Many of these large churches in America today, if they are honest and most of them are not, will have to admit that their church growth is by transfer of church membership and not by people being saved out of the world.
Remember that David numbered the troops and this was a greater sin that the sins of adultery and murder. David was advised against this but persisted and brought disastrous consequences upon God’s people. (2 Samuel 24) Numbering heads is associated with spiritual pride and Satan was able to move David because David had decided in his heart to do it. The reason that counting heads is a great sin is because this is what the antichrist system of government will do when it numbers people by the mark on their right hand or forehead. It is a mark of domination, manipulation and control that defies God’s authority.
Whenever you see heavy shepherding or church leaders dominating and manipulating the flock you see the handiwork of Satan. Those churches that are into head counting are into pride and in a revival these churches will feel the weight of God’s hand. Even without a revival if a church persists in counting heads then God will send one of three things. He will send a famine for the hearing of God’s Word or send spiritual defeat and humiliation before the eyes of the world or sickness to decimate the ranks of that church. (2 Samuel 24:13)
In a real revival the Holy Spirit will be saving people everyday from all walks of life. Drug addicts, prostitutes, thieves and even murderers will be saved and added daily to the church. David Wilkerson’s church in Times Square New York is a living example of a genuine continuous revival where people are being saved everyday.
9. In a genuine Revival there will always be persecution and opposition.
The Acts of the Apostles is the record of the early Church and the Holy Spirit has laid out for us how the Church is to move in the power of the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost the Lord Jesus poured out His Spirit in a revival upon the infant Church. While those revived were Jewish believers it set the example of all future revivals. Today there are multitudes of churches in the Western nations that are claiming that they are having a revival but the one thing missing is real opposition and persecution. When we read the account of the early Church in the book of Acts we see that persecution and opposition came whenever the gospel was really preached in the power of the Holy Spirit.
On the day of Pentecost Peter preached and 3000 were soundly converted and then He and John had the grace from the Lord Jesus to see a crippled man walk because of their faith in Jesus name. Peter used this opportunity to preach the gospel once again. No sooner had they been speaking when the religious leaders confronted them and dragged them off to prison. (Acts 4:1-3) Satan could not shut down the message of the gospel because another 2000 were saved. Once they had been released they went back to preaching the gospel and were arrested once more. (Acts 5:17-18) During the night the Lord miraculously delivered them from prison and encouraged them to keep on preaching the gospel. (Acts 5:19-21) They were arrested again and this time they were flogged. (Acts 5:27, 40)
Next Stephen was martyred and following this a persecution started against the Church instigated primarily by Saul before he was saved. (Acts 7:58 8:1 9:1-2) Next we see the apostle Paul himself after he was saved preaching the gospel and then being lowered in a basket over the wall at night to escape those who had planned to kill him. (Acts 9:20-25) Wherever Paul went preaching the gospel opposition and persecution followed. At one time he wrote to Timothy saying, “In fact everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
In a genuine revival the opposition and persecution will never start with the secular authorities or by those in the world. Opposition to revival always comes from within the ranks of the professing Christian Church by false brethren or by those who are not open to the Holy Spirit. The History of genuine revivals proves this. The Anabaptists were Bible believing Christians who were open to the gifts of the Spirit yet they were persecuted by the protestant reformers.
The early Methodists suffered opposition and persecution by local Anglican clergymen who led mobs to ransack the homes of believers. Wesley and his open- air preachers were often scorned, ridiculed, beaten and had things thrown at them while they preached. In the early days of the Salvation Army many mainline denominations opposed them because William Booth and his followers were prepared to go out into the streets to win the lost to Christ. In every revival there will always be opposition from those within the ranks of the Church who will not go along with what the Holy Spirit is really doing.
Many today especially the money preachers are telling us that the church in America, Great Britain and in other parts of the western world is experiencing revival and in some cases these men are prophesying revivals to come but no revivals come and society as a whole continues on its downward plunge into moral, social and spiritual decadence bankruptcy and decay.
When you look at many TV and Internet preachers what persecution do they really have? Are they beaten or killed or do they go to prison? The only ones going to prison are the ones who are fleecing the sheep and are caught doing it. No these men are so called “Super Apostles” driving around in Limousines, staying in five star hotels, wearing expensive clothes and jewellery and basking in the affirmation of multitudes of Christians. Are they persecuted? The only opposition they face is from honest servants of the Lord who stand up and challenge them because of their unbiblical doctrines and lifestyles.
The Church in the Western nations is having little or no effect on society. Multitudes of professing Christians are just warming pews or becoming spiritually fat on Bible Teaching and seminars but are not going out with the gospel. The New Testament and history proves that when opposition and persecution is coming against the Church it is very healthy spiritually.
In third world countries right now in places like the Sudan, Indonesia, in South America and in Russia and North Korea the church is expanding despite severe opposition and persecution. While persecution comes from the devil God permits it and uses it to make believers actively evangelise the lost. This happened in the book of Acts after the martyrdom of Stephen we read where, “Those who had been scattered preached the Word wherever they went” (Acts 8:4).
While persecution always ends up coming from the secular powers it never starts with them but with those who profess to be our brothers and sisters. Jesus said that this would happen His faithful followers in these last days. What happened to Jesus in His last days happened to the apostles and the early Christians. It has been happening down through the history of the Church and in these last days what happened to Jesus and the apostles will happen universally to the true Church especially during the Great Tribulation. (Matthew 24:9-13) (Luke 21:12-19) (Revelation 13:7) (Daniel 12:7)
What do we need to do to experience a revival?
First and foremost we need to return to our first love for God, for the Lord Jesus, for the Holy Spirit and for the Word of God.
This unconditional love must be the control centre around which all of our daily life revolves. We need to repent of everything that we know is hindering the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in us. We need to come honestly and openly before the Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to put His finger on whatever it is that is holding us back from loving God with all of our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength and our neighbour as ourselves. (Psalm 139:23-24)
It may be something big or something small in our lives or it could be several things. We need to ask ourselves honestly do we really love Jesus and is it our first and foremost desire to please Him in everyway? Are we prepared to take the time to read and to study His Word daily and allow the Holy Spirit to apply it to our daily lives? Are we willing to rejoice always, pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all the circumstances of our lives so that we might fulfil God’s will? (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) Are we willing to be used by the Holy Spirit in whatever way He chooses to use us?
We can all have a personal revival if we are willing to return to our first love. If a Church with 50 people in it all decide to go back to their first love you would have a revival. The spiritual condition of their hearts would be such that the Holy Spirit could send a revival. Of course we cannot produce a revival in our own strength and the greatest spiritual battle we all face as believers is the loss of our first love. This is a battle we must fight everyday. The nearer we come to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ the harder it will be to stay faithful to Him.
Just before Jesus returns because of lawlessness in the world and in the professing Christian Church the love of most professing Christians will grow cold. This will be the great apostasy Paul says will come in the last days that will bring the Antichrist to power in the world and in the Christian Church. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4) Only those who stand firm to the end will be saved. We are saved now but in order to stay saved we must persevere now! (Matthew 24:12-13)
A real revival will see a separation between those who want to move with God and those who don’t.
It will mean opposition from many false brethren who have gone to the ‘Babylon’ of false religion, ecumenism and interfaith. It will ultimately mean hostility, derision and persecution by the secular powers and betrayal by family and friends. (Luke 21:12-19) For some of us it will mean prison and for others even death. During the Great Tribulation the Body of Christ will have its hour of crucifixion but will be raised again triumphantly at the resurrection when Jesus comes for His bride. What happened to Jesus in His last days will also happen to His body the true Church in its last days. In these last days there is an ever- increasing call for the patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. (Revelation 13:10)
Realistically wherever real revivals going on in third world countries right now there is also opposition and persecution with it. What the majority of the faith prosperity and Charismatic churches in the West are calling revival is not revival but a counterfeit revival. A real revival will unite many families but divide others. (Matthew 10:34-39) A real revival will see believers no longer being conformed to this world but being transformed by the renewing of their minds through God’s Word as they offer up their lives as living sacrifices on God’s altar of self-denial and service. (Romans 12:1-2)
A real revival we see fierce opposition from within and from without the rank and file of the professing Christian Church.
A real and genuine revival will see the faithful followers of Jesus come forth as a bride beautifully adorned for her husband clothes in His perfect righteousness to meet their bridegroom in the air. Our only hope in this world is the Resurrection and on that day in the twinkling of an eye we will be changed and our mortal bodies will be clothed with immortality and we shall be caught up to meet our Lord in the air and so shall we forever be with the Lord, therefore let us comfort each other with these words as we see the day rapidly approaching. (1 Corinthians 15:50-58) (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) The Time of Jacob’s Trouble is coming and as this time of spiritual darkness descends upon the face of the earth let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. (2 Corinthians 7:1) Let us work while it is still day because the night is coming when no one will be able to work!