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January 14, 2018 Revival!

 

 

[I. Introduction] According to both the clear teaching of Scripture and the experience of millions, man in his natural state is dead in sin. Ephesians 2:1 says:

 

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…” (ESV)

 

Verse 5 repeats this truth: “even when we were dead in our trespasses…”

 

The spiritual deadness of man results in his dislike, even hatred, of God. The unregenerate person has no interest in having anything to do with the Lord. This means they will have no interest in visiting a church, no interest in reading their Bibles, no interest in prayer, no interest in the person of Jesus Christ, no interest in God…until the Spirit of God begins to work upon their hearts. Often the Spirit does this in times of trouble or distress and some people will begin to realize how inadequate they are to deal with the situations in which they find themselves. By the Spirit’s operation they see that they need a Power beyond themselves.

 

Unless this happens in good measure in a nation or in a community there will be a spiritual deadness in that nation or that community. This deadness will result in sin being promoted and righteousness being criticized. This is the condition of our nation today. It can become discouraging as we see the forces of evil predominate and trod down those who have faith in the Lord.

 

Yet, we should not be discouraged. Our God is greater than all the forces of darkness and this has happened many times before. What our land needs is a revival. There are always some Christians in every place. This means that there is some light, even in the darkest places. There is some life in the deadest places. What our land needs is a revival. There have been several revivals. One of the most famous was the Great Awakening in the mid-1700’s. The American landscape at that time was characterized by sin and rebellion. There were brothels in all the large cities and saloons were frequented by many people with drunkenness being a blight upon our shores. When the Spirit of God fell, people cried out to God for forgiveness, repented of their sins, and placed their faith in the Lord Jesus. The revival was so powerful that it changed the moral landscape of our country and all the world took notice. The brothels closed, not by legislation, but because men were born anew and stopped going. Many, many bars closed for the same reason. Men started staying at home with their families instead of going to bars.

 

This happened again in the early 1800’s, sometimes called the Second Great Awakening, and yet again in the mid-1800’s. One lesser known revival took place in Wales in 1904 and 1905, known as the Welsh Revival.  The London Times reported remarkable changes that took place in the public spirit. For example, in Swansea people who had left their parents in what was then known as the "workhouse for the poor” (what we would call a convalescent home, except without any nursing care) came to take them out. Entire congregations were on their knees in prayer and "for the first time there was not a single case of drunkenness at the Swansea County” court, according to a testimony of the time. The Bible Society saw orders for Scriptures multiply to three times the level for the previous year. At Bangor University revival fires were spreading in January of 1905.  There were "only one third or a fourth of the students attending some of the classes”...There was a spontaneous outburst of praise and prayer among the men students, the movement spread . . at a united prayer meeting...some...broke down sobbing."

David Lloyd George, who later became Prime Minister of England, saw one of his political rallies taken over by the Welsh revival. On January 11th, 1905 he said the Welsh revival gave hope "that at the next election Wales would declare with no uncertain sound against the corruption in high places which handed over the destiny of the people to the terrible brewing interest..."

 

We need a revival in our land.

 

It wasn’t just a revival of communities that took place in past revivals. There was a revival in the church. Indeed, it began in the church and then spread to those outside. The churches were also lacking life in those days of revivals. The Spirit of the Lord came and brought greater life to his own people which then moved them to reach out to their neighbors. The Spirit’s move was not restricted to those already in a relationship with Him, nor to only the lost. It fell upon both.

 

We need a revival in New Salem Church! The Spirit is present but in a subdued way. We need to be enlivened! Just like the churches in previous revivals needed an awakening, we need an awakening today. There may be many churches that need an outpouring of the Spirit, but I do know that New Salem needs a revival. Do you sense it? There is a need and we cannot go on the way we have been. If we do, the Lord will not be pleased and we will be disappointed.

 

There can be no revival in our land without a revival in the church. And, here is where the rubber meets the road; There can be no revival in the church without a revival in you. Revival must start with you and me. I believe I am faithful, but I do not have the flow of life to the extent that is available. Can you admit this, too? Maybe you are faithful in many ways, but there is a kind of restlessness, a reticence to give one’s all to the Lord, a certain amount of deadness in you. Many of us need a personal revival. When you revive the seed will be sown for a revival in your church!

 

[II.] How does revival begin? Two things are needed for revival to begin. First, there needs to be a desire for more life within you, more life in the church of the Living God, and more life in our land. Desire is the first need. If you do not desire more life, you will not see it. Get your desires in line with God’s!

 

I heard a sad word not too long ago. One family was having trouble with one of their children – more than the usual trouble that teenagers can generate. A sister in the Lord went to visit this family. The mother was a faithful attendee at the meetings of the church, but the father never attended. The topic of the daughter’s misbehavior came up and it was mentioned by someone that if she attended church she would be exposed to much truth that might help her. This is sometimes called ‘taking advantage of the means of grace.” God’s grace usually comes to us through means. One of those means is the assembly of God’s children. Someone, then said, “We can’t get her to go.” Then the sister who was visiting gave a good response. She said, “If the father, who is to be the leader of the family, would set a good example by attending church maybe the daughter might follow his lead.” The father then responded by saying, “Why should I have to sacrifice my time?” If I had been present I would have rebuked this father, as gently as I could. This sister, maybe wisely, did not reply.

 

We may be quick to judge the father but I think many of us are guilty of this same thing in different areas. We put our own desires above those of the Lord at times. The solution to this dilemma is not to grit our teeth and reluctantly submit. It is to make the Lord’s desires our desires! Oh! This is the way of contentment and peace! It is so good to embrace the will of the Lord Jesus and make it yours!

 

So, there are two things needed for revival to begin. The first is desire. The second is prayer.

 

Do you know how the Welsh Revival began? In the spring of 1904 a young Welshman named Evan Roberts was repeatedly awakened to pray from 1:00 to 5:00 a.m.  By November a powerful spiritual awakening was spreading through Wales.

After he had prayed for those many months there was a meeting of a church in Wales where Pastor Joseph Evans asked for testimonies. A girl by the name of  Florrie Evans (I don’t think there was any relation), who had recently come to the Lord, arose and with a trembling voice simply said, "I love Jesus with all my heart." Those in attendance had their hearts melted and God began a work in that church. People’s hearts were on fire for God in a greater way than before. This pouring out of the Spirit spread to other churches in Wales and then to those in the towns. Evan Roberts’ prayers were answered!

 

[III.] How should we pray? Revival is effectuated by the Spirit. Therefore, we must seek and pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

 

There are three receptions of the Holy Spirit taught in the Bible. The first is when a person is born from above or “born again,” to use language familiar to us from John chapter 3. This is called regeneration. It is the Spirit that brings a person to faith in Christ.

 

The second is the “supply” of the Spirit. This is a further supply of the same Spirit that was received upon regeneration. It is the indwelling Spirit that every true Christian possesses but that many, sadly, do not rely upon. (See Gal. 3:5; Phil 1:19) It is also called being “led by the Spirit” (e.g., Gal 5:18), “living by the Spirit” (5:25; Romans 8:5), the indwelling of the Spirit (Romans 8:9-11), and being “filled with the Spirit” (Acts 13:52; where the word for fill is pleroo in Greek).  The purpose of the greater supply of the Spirit is to live the Christian life with joy and to conquer sin.

 

The third reception is also called by more than one term. It is called the outpouring, receiving power, being filled (using a different Greek word: pletho), anointed with the Spirit, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I intentionally listed “baptism” last because I know that some Christians are simply afraid of the expression “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” possibly because of some of the excesses observed among our Pentecostal brethren. We must never allow someone else’s mistakes about a subject deter us from receiving something good. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is something believers in the Lord Jesus need if they wish to be the most effective witness for him.

 

You can still be an effective witness for the Lord without it. But, to be the most effective witness you need the outpouring of the Spirit upon you for power.

 

We must pray for the outpouring of the Spirit upon us as individuals. And, we must pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our church.

 

Without prayer we should not expect anything to happen. With prayer we should expect to see a living change in ourselves. It may take as long as seven months as it did in Wales. It may be sooner. God is sovereign. It is in His good pleasure. But we must do our part. That is to ask.

 

Before we ask, you must know that it is the Lord’s will to give it. Is it your will to receive it?

 

Let us be certain that it is the Lord’s will. Let’s look at just a few passages.

 

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46       and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47    and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48    You are witnesses of these things. 49        And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” [1]

 

Again, in Acts we read:

 

      So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7       He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8   But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”[2]

 

In both of these passages we see that the Spirit was poured out in power so that the disciples could be witnesses. Some might wish to say, “Well, that was for the apostles, not for us today.” Not so. After those disciples received what was promised, we later read that the other disciples, besides the original twelve, were gathered together for prayer and sought the boldness to speak for Christ.

 

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. [3]

 

It is not always tongues that manifest the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It can be simply speaking the word with a boldness heretofore unknown. Note however, it was again through the prayer of the saints that the Holy Spirit came.

 

[IV. Conclusion and Application] Saints! We need revival. And, revival must begin with you! Here is a sample prayer that I strongly urge you to pray. Would you commit to saying this prayer three times per day? You do not have to use the wording of this prayer. In fact, I would hope that you would allow the Spirit who is already within you to lead you to pray with other words as well.

 

“O Lord, fill me with a desire to see the flow of life increase within me and to increase in my church. What little desire I have now I use to seek your anointing.

 

Pour out your Spirit upon me so that I might be a witness for you with all boldness. Pour out your Spirit upon my church so that we all might be a greater light shining in a dark place. May my words be your words and may they bring life to those in darkness.

 

Revive me, O Lord! Revive us, O Lord, so that your grace may be extended!

 

Amen.”

 

 

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 24:45–49). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 1:6–8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 4:31). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.