(Hosea 10:12) “Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you” (Psalm 85:6). “Will you not revive us again that your people might rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:6).
1. A Biblical Revival is the work of God.
A Biblical Revival is the work of God. With man this is impossible. Men may well try to produce it through modern methods of communication and by emotionally stirring songs and exuberant worship and by engaging leading ‘spiritual luminaries’ or ‘gurus’ of one sort or another but these things and people in themselves will not produce a Biblical Revival. There are many today claiming to have a revival but when you look at what is actually happening you will see disorder, chaos, emotional outbursts, shaking and gyrating of bodies, glitzy ‘prophecies’ that are strung out one upon another promising blessing and prosperity and kingdom dominion preaching but inevitably not producing genuine holiness, righteousness, sanctification of saints and the salvation of sinners. Some claim to be saved but what are they saved into?
Law before Grace
Today there is an increased emphasis on signs, miracles and wonders and seeker friendly services that avoid the weightier matters of the Law of God such as genuine and thorough repentance that calls upon God to have mercy upon sinners and to revive the Church. Biblical repentance and the unconditional surrender of the will to God is strangely absent in most of what people are calling the work of the Holy Spirit today in the western democracies, not to mention the lack of it in the preaching from unnumbered Church pulpits. If you look at the ministry of the prophets, the apostles and the Lord Jesus Himself you will see they always had the perfect balance between the preaching of Law and Grace and spiritual matters related to heaven and hell. One was never overemphasized above the other. There were times when God’s judgements were announced because of unbelief sin and rebellion and at other times His love was poured out because of faithfulness, obedience and fidelity to the Word of God.
2. A Biblical Revival is initiated and sustained by the Holy Spirit.
In the Book of Acts we see the Holy Spirit at work amongst God’s people. Before the Spirit was poured out there were 120 believers in the upper room including the apostles. Undoubtedly, as they prayed together they felt the burden to go and fulfil the Lord Jesus’ command concerning the Great Commission yet knew they were powerless to do so. They were waiting on God in prayer to fulfil His promise to send the Holy Spirit to empower them. This was the Promise of the Father, the mighty Baptism in the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3:11) (Luke 24:49) (Acts 1:14) The blessed Holy Spirit dwelt in them because the Lord Jesus before He ascended back to His Father had breathed on the apostles personally and imparted the Holy Spirit to them individually. (John 20:22) They were born again by the Spirit but not yet baptized in the Holy Spirit.
With signs following
Of course on the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God fell upon them and the others gathered with them in the upper room, they were all empowered to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. (Luke 24:49) (Acts 1:8) (Acts 2:4; 4:8) They were empowered by Him to preach the Word of God with signs following. (Mark 16:15-20) In every case they first and foremost preached the Word of God and the signs followed to confirm the Word of God. Today many so called ‘revival’ meetings emphasize the miraculous and the sensational and uplift gurus of one sort or another but there is virtually no solid exposition of scripture. It’s mainly hype and sensationalism and the numbers game and one gimmick and fad after another. Many claim that the excessive ‘manifestations’ are from the Holy Spirit but He is a Spirit of love, power and self-control (a sound mind). (2 Timothy 1:7)
Out of control?
What is often seen is anything but self –control and of a sound mind. Passing out, waving coats over people, blowing on people, others are seen falling backwards into some spiritually euphoric state, some are into transferring the anointing which is an abomination to God or supposed glory clouds and many other excessive non Biblical manifestations, signs, miracles and wonders and those producing them claiming it is the Holy Spirit when in reality He has nothing to do with it. Some into self-esteem and feel-good sermons use the Bible as a prop. They quote a Bible verse now and then but usually out of context. They actually do a ‘cut and paste’ job with the Bible to support their own teaching. The Word of Faith prosperity teachers and some seeker friendly preachers are past masters at doing this. I recently saw a promo picture of faith prosperity preacher Joel O and he was posing with his arms extended and with his hands empty and with a big smile on his face. The caption read; “Look No Bible!” As they say “a picture paints a thousand words.”
3. A Biblical Revival is recognized from past revivals .
If you read about the previous revivals in the history of the Church you will see an emphasis upon repentance, renouncing sin, humbling oneself before God, a crying out to God to have mercy because of sin. No one was laughing hysterically, rolling around on the floor, making animal type noises and having a good time but weeping tears of repentance while at the same time filled with righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17) If you read the journals of John Wesley you see people falling face down before God repenting and asking God to have mercy of their sinful hearts and lives stained black with sin and all unrighteousness. Wesley avoided all excesses. It was the same thing in the meetings under George Whitfield. At his meetings people would fall face down repenting in dust and ashes as it were. No ‘glitz’ or ‘glamour’ just plain repentance!
Back to Biblical basics
A genuine revival is a return to Biblical basics. It is discovering something that has been lost in the past and seeing it restored to its proper place. What we see being proclaimed as revival in many western democracies is not real and genuine Biblical revival. The Bible is no longer the final authority in matters of faith, doctrine and Christian living and service. This is why many churches go in for Purpose driven and Alpha and other seeker sensitive, seeker friendly approaches because they have lost touch with the real power of the Holy Spirit to convict and convert sinners of their sin and sanctify the saints. When you look at these ‘seeker sensitive, seeker friendly’ programmes they lack in dealing with subjects such as repentance, holiness, righteousness and Biblical prophecy.
The prophetic word more fully confirmed
In fact Rick W says this about Biblical prophecy; “When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism. He wanted them to concentrate on their mission in the world. He said in essence, “The details of my return are none of your business. What is your business is the mission I have given you. Focus on that!” (PDL, p. 285) What Bible does he read? Of course when you look at the teaching of the Lord Jesus and the apostles and the prophets they most certainly emphasized the importance of understanding Biblical prophecy and more so it most definitely was God’s business they taught and emphasized concerning it. As Peter writes; “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19) Without a basic understanding of Bible Prophecy all will be darkness and confusion. Around 40+ years ago there was a lot more interest in Bible prophecy than there is today and the Second Coming of the Messiah is much nearer.
4. A Biblical Revival must have repentance before renewal.
When Peter was preaching to the unsaved Jews on the Day of Pentecost he clearly told them to repent. And so we read; “And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” (Acts 2:40) And again in his later sermon he said; “Repent, then, and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped away, 20that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus, the Christ, who has been appointed for you.” (Acts 3:19-20) There was nothing ‘seeker friendly’ about his appeal. Today in many churches in the western democracies it is the other way around, Multitudes of preachers, ‘prophets’ and self-claimed ‘apostles’ are all the time going on about refreshing, renewal, gifts, manifestations, kingdom dominion and having it good in this world but not preaching Biblical repentance. For many their experience of ‘salvation’ is to simply put their hand over their heart and ask Jesus into their life and have some kind of emotional experience. They feel sorry but have no real revelation of the sinfulness of sin and the complete spiritual corruption of the human heart and that they are great rebels and sinners in God’s sight and need to repent. Sometimes it will mean naming specific sins and a willingness to leave off doing them with all of their heart. Repentance primarily is an action of the will and not the emotions. The Lord Jesus saves His people from their sins, not in them!
By the Word and the Spirit
Without repentance there can be no refreshing. Indeed Hosea the prophet had it right when he said; “Break up your unploughed ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12) This is not only true for the unsaved but also for those who are saved and realize they need God’s power. For both sinners and saints repentance must come first if blessing is to follow. There must also be the faithful preaching of the Word of God by ministers baptized in the Holy Spirit and bathed in prayer. If the Word of God is not preached in the power of the Holy Spirt then those listening will have nothing upon which to base their faith and confidence in God. As it is written; “faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
5. A Biblical Revival must have the ploughing up the soil of the heart to receive the seed of God’s Word.
When you consider the farmer he does not sit on the porch of his farmhouse looking at his unploughed field expecting a crop to somehow magically spring up once the rain has passed over. The rain may pass over the field and yet there is no fruit because the ground has not been ploughed up and the seed sown into the soil. The farmer must first plough up the ground and break up the hard soil and then sow the seed into the ploughed ground so that when the rain comes in its due season it will water the seed and a crop will result. For a genuine Biblical revival to start there must first be a ploughing up of the soil of the heart to receive and digest the seed of the word. (Matthew 13:1-7, 18-23) Once that happens then when the rain of the Holy Spirit comes in its due season there will be spiritual fruitfulness and a harvesting of the crop. The farmer ploughs up the ground and sows the seed. The rain waters the seed and causes it to produce fruit and after that the farmer then gathers in the harvest. This is the Biblical principal the Bible uses to give us for revival. To plough up the soil of the heart is through repentance, through forsaking those sins and fleshly appetited and desires that war against the soul and a laying aside of every weight and sin that so easily besets us and fixing our eyes alone upon the Lord Jesus to revive us. Ploughing up the soil of our hearts to receive the seed of God’s Word is hard work. There is no instantaneous ‘fixes’ in the spiritual life.
Wrestling with principalities
Our warfare as believers in our Lord Jesus is not with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. All of us are in a perpetual wrestling match with Satan and his principalities and spiritual hosts of wickedness in high places. As we submit our wills to God by faith and seek to digest and obey His Word the blessed Holy Spirit will go to work watering the seed and producing the fruit of it. Many think that seeing people saved is revival, but it isn’t. People being saved, is a result of revival. What comes first is the sanctifying of the saints and the reformation of the Body of the Messiah and after that the souls get saved and discipled.
6. A Biblical Revival must have a heartfelt repentance.
In the Old Testament to repent means, “to grieve and to mourn over ones wrong doing to the point where they are willing to leave off doing it with all of their heart.” In the New Testament repentance is described in this way “to change one’s mind or thinking about God, about the Lord Jesus, about the Holy Spirit and about the Bible and especially about sin and more specifically the sin of unbelief in the Lord Jesus as Saviour and Lord.” This was the sin the Holy Spirit convicted people of on the day of Pentecost. This is the first and foremost sin the Holy Spirit will convict a sinner of before anything else in their life. (John 16:8-11) The unsaved on the Day of Pentecost were not saved by the miraculous manifestation of speaking in tongues, that was the draw card, but their salvation happened through the faithful preaching of the Word of God concerning the Lord Jesus the Messiah. As we are told in scripture that “faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17) If we want to see people saved, saints sanctified and a revival in our fellowship then there needs to be receptive heart soil willing to receive the seed of the Word of God and that without any reservation or conditions. Of course those preaching it have to be baptized in or filled with the Holy Spirit themselves otherwise the word they preach will not have its full effectiveness spiritually. There is nothing wrong with the Word of God or the preaching of it but both the preachers and the hearers of it must be willing to do whatever the Spirit asks them to do. There must be a willingness to hear and to obey everything the Holy Spirit asks them to do. This applies both to the local fellowship corporately as well as to the individual.
Laying aside plans and programmes
Any local fellowship that wants to have a genuine revival must be willing to lay aside any plans, or programmes that the Holy Spirit says must go. When you look at those believers in the Book of Acts all they had was the scriptures and the Holy Spirit. They did evangelism and discipleship according to the direction of the Holy Spirit based on being instructed by Him from the Word of God. In countries today such as North Korea, Pakistan, China, Iran and in Saudi Arabia, the believers there may not have access to Bibles and book stores but they have the Holy Spirit and He directs them according to the Word of God even if they do not have copies of it. In the western Church we have so much material available on almost every Biblical subject you can think of yet we are in a spiritual drought. Do we rely now more on the writings of men that we do on the Word of God? No one undervalues the benefit of Bible Teaching through books and videos, CD’s and the internet but have they produced a revival? Since Billy Graham how many men have been raised up by God to win souls like he did? Billy had his faults as we all do but God used the man to win untold millions to faith in the Lord Jesus.
Hyper Faith and Kingdom Dominion
Today it is all hyper word of faith, Kingdom Dominion, prosperity, seeker friendly, Alpha, Purpose Driven, psychotherapy, psychology and even post modernism where there are no absolutes anymore. Why do they not go back to Acts to rediscover how they did Evangelism and discipleship and worshipped and moved in the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Repentance was the key that unlocked the door to spiritual revival, it was true then, it has been true down through history and it is true today. God’s Word has not changed. If we really want a genuine revival then we need to get rid of the faith prosperity, kingdom dominion and seeker friendly stuff and go back to the Biblical basics. Certain discipleship programmes and courses that are Biblically solid may have their place but they cannot substitute for revival. There must be a direct dealing with the Holy Spirit if a revival is to occur in any local fellowship.
7. A Biblical Revival must have Obedience before blessing.
The problem for many local fellowships is that they are not obeying what the Lord Jesus has already written in His Word for them to do and even though they pray earnestly for guidance God will not give it if they are not obeying the guidance He has already given them in His revealed Word. Many local church leaders need to repent of trying to control things according to their own plans. If the leaders were totally surrendered to the Holy Spirit then they would be empowered to lead the people over whom the Holy Spirit has made them overseers. The blessed Holy Spirit will never ask them to do anything that goes contrary to the Word of God because the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Repentance must be preached first. For the unsaved person to repent is to change one’s mind and attitude from a Jesus hating, Jesus rejecting way of life to a Jesus loving and Jesus accepting way of life. It means a willingness to stop doing what is wrong and to make a 180 degree turn to do what is right. We turn away from sin and turn to God for mercy and pardon through exercising our faith in the Lord Jesus and in His atoning blood to justify us before God and to cleanse us from all and every sin through Jesus’ blood. (1 John 1:7-9)
When the whole sacrifice is on the altar
Repentance is the prerequisite to the blessing of the Holy Spirit. In fact we are told that God’s goodness is exercised towards us that we might be led by it to repent so that He can empower us and make us useful in His service. (Romans 2:4) The same goes for any local fellowship and its leaders. In the Old Testament the fire of God fell upon the altar out of heaven only when the whole of the sacrifice was laid upon it with no part held back. The Day of Pentecost saw this spiritual law. The 120 were constantly in prayer and waiting upon God to sanctify their souls and fill them up with His power. When the hearts and the will of a local fellowship and its leaders is yielded completely to the Holy Spirit the fire of God will be rekindled on the altar of their hearts and overflow into the lives of others. Obedience always precedes blessing.
8. A Biblical Revival must have believers rediscover their first love for the Lord Jesus and His Word the Bible.
So then a Biblical revival is Believers in the Lord Jesus rediscovering their first love for God, for the Lord Jesus, for the Holy Spirit, for the Word of God and for fellow believers and to be used by the LORD to bring others to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus. A revival is to see believers in the Lord Jesus, in view of God’s mercy, presenting their bodies once again as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God as their true spiritual worship and no longer being conformed to this world but to be transformed by having their minds renewed on the Word of God by the Holy Spirit and so proving what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
God gets the contents as well
If God gets control of our bodies then He gets the contents as well. Once He has our bodies, with their fleshly desires and appetites fully yielded to Him, the Holy Spirit will have free sway to deal with the desires and appetites of the flesh that are at war with the desires of the Spirit in us. Any local fellowship can have a revival and God is more willing to give it than we are to receive it. For example if only 10 believers meet together and corporately decide to regain their first love, and, as an act of the will to love God, plough up the soil of their hearts to receive the seed of Word, then they will have a revival when the rain of the Spirit comes in its due season and it will if they do not give up! As Paul writes; “The one who sows to please his flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; but the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9) Sometimes prayer and fasting will be required. While the mind and emotions to a degree are involved in a revival the key to revival is the complete and unconditional surrender of the will to God in everything!