A Chronicle of Renewal and Revival

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Andrew Staggs is the Dean of the School of Ministries at Christian Heritage College, Brisbane.
Staggs Andrew
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Here is a paper that I wrote many years ago about the amazing way that God moves in His people, His church and His world.
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I hope that it helps you position yourself under God to receive His favour and love at a completely new level.
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INTRODUCTION
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Much has been written about the revivals and awakenings that have taken place in the Church over many centuries. It is clear that there are a number of revival principles that constantly recur including persistent prayer; powerful preaching and testimony; and a deep awareness of the presence and holiness of God leading to a strong sense of conviction of sin and repentance followed by extreme joy when peace with God is received (Davies, 1992, p 217). This essay will illustrate from revival history these and other principles and explore the nature and potency of revival.
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WHAT IS REVIVAL?
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It is important to define in more detail what is meant by the term revival as this will determine which events are included as illustrations in the essay. Davies (1992, p 15) proposes a working definition of revival as
A sovereign outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon a group of Christians resulting in their spiritual reviving and quickening, and issuing in the awakening of spiritual concern in outsiders or formal church members; an immediate, or, at other times, a more long-term, effect will be efforts to extend the influence of the Kingdom of God both intensively in the society in which the Church is placed, and extensively in the spread of the gospel to more remote parts of the world.
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Waugh (1998, p xxii) quotes Arthur Wallis definition of revival as
A divine intervention in the normal course of spiritual things. It is God revealing Himself to man in awesome holiness and irresistible power. It is such a manifest working of God that human personalities are overshadowed and human programs abandoned. It is man retiring into the background because God has taken the field. It is the Lord…working in extraordinary power on saint and sinner…Revival must of necessity make an impact on the community and this is one means by which we may distinguish it from the more usual operations of the Holy Spirit.
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Edwards (1997, p 28) proposes the following definition:
A true Holy Spirit revival is a remarkable increase in the spiritual life of a large number of God’s people, accompanied by an awesome awareness of the presence of God, intensity in prayer and praise, a deep conviction of sin with a passionate longing for holiness and unusual effectiveness in evangelism, leading to the salvation of many unbelievers.
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Revival is necessary to counteract spiritual decline and to create spiritual momentum (Wallis, 1956, p 13). In revival the church dormant becomes the church militant. For example, as the nineteenth century dawned America was again morally bankrupt. Eight years of war had drained the nation’s vitality leaving a dark cloud of spiritual indifference and moral degradation. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church circulated a pastoral letter declaring they were filled with concern and awful dread at the conditions of the nation. They expressed the solemn conviction that the eternal God has a controversy with this nation. This concern prompted fervent prayer that precipitated a national spiritual awakening beginning on the east coast around 1800 and spreading to the western frontier (Hyatt, 1998, p 121).
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Charles Haddon Spurgeon experienced a continual revival in his church in London for many years in the middle of last century and he was convinced that a true revival is to be looked for in the church of God. In other words revival begins with the church and spills over into the world. It always begins by getting Christians right first, which is very painful.
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Revival will always vitalise God’s people … but revival is not always welcome. For many the price is too high. There is no cheap grace in revival. It entails the repudiation of self-satisfied complacency. Revival turns careless living into vital concern…exchanges self-indulgence for self-denial. Yet, revival is not a miraculous visitation falling on an unprepared people like a bolt out of the blue. It comes when God’s people earnestly want revival and are willing to pay the price (Pratney, 1984, p 17).
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Preaching at the Keswick Convention in 1922, Douglas Brown, who was used in a revival the year before, rightly maintained that “revival” is a church word; it has to do with God’s people. You cannot revive the world; the world is dead to trespasses and sins; you cannot revive a corpse. But you can revitalise where there is life… (Edwards, 1997, p 27).
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Evan Roberts made the same claim in Wales in 1904: “My mission is first to the churches.” When the churches are aroused to their duty, men of the world will be swept into the Kingdom. A whole church on its knees is irresistible. Revival always brings the church to its knees. Rhys Bevan Jones who preached in Wales throughout 1904 declared that if ever there was a slogan for that revival it was this: “Bend the church and save the people” (ibid).
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A revival usually results in an unusual sense of spiritual interest or concern and it can first manifest itself as a deep concern on the part of professing Christians regarding the shallowness and superficiality of their spiritual lives. They become profoundly conscious of their poverty of their relationship with God, the standard of their moral lives and their service for Christ (Davies, 1992, p 19).
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This can also be demonstrated in the Brownsville revival in 1995. Stephen Hill (1997, p 74) noted that as in the revivals of old, people fell to their knees, prostrate or backward on the ground, weeping and wailing and crying out to God: John (Kilpatrick) and I prayed for individuals, and I realised that repentance was on the hearts of these people. I heard them cry out to God about their lukewarmness and stale Christianity, confessing their sins, and wanting desperately to get right with God. It seemed that everyone in that sanctuary desired a renewed relationship with their Lord Jesus Christ.
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Revival is not primarily to give the church power, though it certainly does this, but give it life. There is a world of difference. In one sense the church had no history before Pentecost. In Acts 2 the church was not restored to where it ought to have been and from where it had fallen, but it was the starting-point of the new covenant church. The Acts story certainly describes the effects of a community saturated with God. A revival is the spring of Christianity – the renovation of life and gladness … it is the season in which young converts burst into existence and beautiful activity … the whole landscape teems with living promises of abundant harvest of righteousness and peace… it is the jubilee of holiness (Jenkins in Hill, 1997, p xxx).
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When a group of God’s people are revived there is an inevitable effect on those in the immediate neighbourhood. They see that something has happened, make enquiries, and are then told by those who have been revived. This is what happened on the day of Pentecost, and is what has often happened in subsequent times of revival. For example:
1. Wales, 1904, 100 000 conversions
2. Argentina, 1951, 300 000 conversions
3. Pensacola, 1995, 100 000 conversions
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Revival is remarkable, large, effective and, above all, it is something that God brings about. It is quite impossible for man to create revival. Though men may prepare and pray for it, revival is the work of the sovereign God. Commenting on Acts 2:1, when the day of Pentecost came, Wallis in Edwards (1997, p 29) claims every genuine revival is clearly stamped with the hallmark of divine sovereignty, and in no way is this more clearly seen than in the time factor. The moment for the first outpouring of the Spirit was not determined by the believers in the upper room but by God, who had foreshadowed it centuries before in those wonderful types of the Old Testament.
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The suddenness is a typical feature of revival. What happened in the time of Hezekiah was done so quickly and the same was true 700 years later when, on the day of Pentecost, suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind… (Acts 2:2). No matter how long people have been praying for it or expecting it when it comes it is always a surprise.
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When God came to the north of Korea in January 1907 it was on the Monday following a particularly formal and weary Sunday. In revival things happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Meetings are lengthened, crowds gather, and sermons have to be preached, not because it is all arranged in advance, but because God is at work. At
Herrnhut in 1727, Zinzendorf acknowledged, hitherto we had been the leaders and helpers. Now the Holy Spirit himself took full control of everything and everybody (Edwards, 1997, p 30).
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PERSISTENT PRAYER
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God longs to work afresh in the affairs of His people and bring them back to the knowledge of Himself and relationship with Him (Waugh, 1999, p 11). To illustrate, God gave a promise at the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem in 2 Chronicles 7:14 – If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land (NIV).
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He has kept this promise and the history of Israel gives many examples. This verse speaks of the need for God’s people to humble themselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from their wicked ways, thus emphasising the paramount need for prayer. As God’s people truly seek his face, humbling themselves before him and acknowledging their complete dependence on him, earnest and urgent in expressing their wholehearted desire for his presence and blessing together with their determination, like Jacob (Gen 32: 26), not to give up until he answers, he will hear. They will find that He reveals to them their secret sins which up to that time they have cheerfully committed and tolerated, but which now become hateful to them as they have a glimpse of how He views them.
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Orr (1993, p 13) quotes Pierson who said, there has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer. Joel 2: 15-17 is a vital passage to apprehend for revival – blow the trumpet in Zion … Here is a community of people of God called to pray for revival, and it clearly involved a radical alteration of their regular program. The first hint of revival is frequently a stirring in the life of prayer in the church. King Hezekiah set the example for the people by his own commitment to God in prayer.
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Commenting on the prayer that preceded the revival in Shotts in 1630, one writer remarked that while God sometimes works without His people, he never refuses to work with them (Edwards, 1997, p 85).
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The first hint of revival is frequently a stirring in the life of prayer in the church and this can be well documented from history. In the case of the First Great Awakening there were Christian leaders such as Cotton Mather (1663-1728) who over the course of his life spent hundreds of days in prayer and fasting for revival, even though he did not live to see the answer to his prayers, at least not in his own church.
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George Whitfield attributed much of the blessing which attended his ministry and that of others to a daily prayer meeting which he and his friends began in October 1737. Jonathan Edward’s preaching derived its power from his prayer life. He would spend whole days and weeks in prayer and it was not unusual for him to spend eighteen hours in prayer prior to preaching a single sermon. The result was a revival that not only transformed the moral and spiritual character of his community but also that of an entire nation (Hyatt, 1998, p 116).
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The Moravian church was renewed at Herrnhut in August 1727 and this was preceded by nearly a century of prayer for renewal by the persecuted remnants of the Unity of Brethren in Bohemia and Moravia from whom the refugees at Herrnhut had come. The twenty-four hour prayer watch which soon became a distinctive feature of the Moravians and which continued for another hundred years provided much of the moving power which sent the Moravian missionaries to all corners of the globe.
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In the 1740s John Erskine of Edinburgh published a pamphlet encouraging people to pray for Scotland and elsewhere. Over in America the challenge was picked up by Jonathan Edwards who wrote a treatise called, A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom.
For forty years John Erskine orchestrated what became a Concert of Prayer through voluminous correspondence around the world. In the face of apparent social, political and moral deterioration he persisted. In 1781 in Cornwall the heavens opened at last and across the country prayer meetings were networking for revival. A passion for evangelism rose and converts were being won – not through regular services of the churches but at the prayer meetings! Whole denominations doubled, tripled, and quadrupled in the next few years. It swept from England to Wales, Scotland, United States, Canada and to some Third World countries.
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Matthew Henry wrote, “When God intends great mercy for His people He first sets them praying” (Robinson, 1993, p 8).
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The prayer movement had a tremendous impact but waned until the middle of the 19th century. Then God started something in Canada and the necessity to pray was picked up in New York. A quiet man called Jeremiah Lanphier had been appointed by the Dutch reformed Church as a missionary to the central business district. He called a prayer meeting in the city to be held at noon each Wednesday. Its first meeting was on 23 September 1859 and eventually five men turned up. Two weeks later they decided to move to a daily schedule of prayer. Within six months 10 000 men were gathering to pray and that movement spread across America. Within two years there were one million new believers added to the church. The movement swept out to touch England, Scotland Wales and Ulster. It was estimated that 100 000 converts directly resulted from prayer movements in Ireland. It has also been estimated that during the years 1859-60 some 1 150 000 people were added to the church wherever concerts of prayer were in operation (ibid, p 10).
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In describing how revival comes, believers can never overlook the part that urgent prayer and confident expectation play. There must be, especially among the leaders, the determination that God will come, that He must come. William Bramwell is typical of this. A powerful Weslyan preacher towards the end of the eighteenth century and the first twenty years of the nineteenth, Bramwell was on the Dewsbury preaching circuit and longing for God to come in revival. He had been praying fervently for this when God gave him the assurance that the revival, which actually broke out in 1792, would come (Edwards, 1997, p 75).
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It is said of David Morgan that for ten years before 1858 he never prayed in public without praying for revival. The revival that came to England in 1859 and particularly to the preaching Charles Haddon Spurgeon can be traced back six years to the prayers of his London congregation. It is not always clear when prayer meetings are part of the revival itself or are preceding it. But the distinction does not matter too much. Prayer is both the cause and result of the coming of the Spirit in revival (ibid, p 78).
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Commenting on the Welsh revival in 1904, RB Jones looked back to the latter years of the previous century. From 1897 many younger ministers were meeting together to pray for revival. One minister recalled that on a Saturday evening when his sermon preparation was finished he spent time in prayer and there would come upon him such a power as would crush (him) to tears and agonising praying (Edwards, 1997, p 77).
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Pandita Ramabai opened a home for girls in India. In this endeavour she was totally dependent on God’s provision and prayer was truly her lifeline. In January 1905, she began to speak about the need to seek God for revival. Before long, 550 people, mostly women and girls, were meeting twice daily, praying for revival and for an enduement of power. On June 30 Ramabai was teaching the girls from John 8 when suddenly the Holy Spirit fell as in the book of Acts. Everyone in the room began to weep and pray aloud. The revival had begun. Pandita Ramabai left her imprint on her generation and surely deserves to be recognised as the mother of the Pentecostal movement in India.
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Prayer seems to have been the foremost activity at the Azusa Mission. One participant said, “The whole place was steeped in prayer. William Seymour spent much of his time behind the pulpit with his head inside the top shoe box praying. Seymour was consumed with a passionate desire for God.” Seymour said, “Before I met Parham, such a hunger to have more of God was in my heart that I prayed for five hours a day for two and a half years. I got to Los Angeles and there the hunger was not less but more. I prayed, God, what can I do? The Spirit said, Pray more. …I increased my hours of prayer to seven, and prayed to God to give what Parham preached, the real Holy Ghost and fire with tongues with love and power of God like the apostles had” (Hyatt, 1998, p 156).
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The event that preceded Azusa Street by five years and actually precipitated the revival in Los Angeles began at the outset of the century in a student atmosphere. It was in a Bible School in Topeka, Kansas, where Charles Parham’s students searched the scriptures and where the Holy Spirit came on a student during a prayer and study vigil.
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Along with the growing acceptance of their movement, Pentecostals were, at the same time, experiencing a loss of spiritual vitality that always accompanies the onslaught of institutionalisation. The 1930s and 40s have been described as a time when the depth of worship and the operation of the gifts of Spirit, so much evident in earlier decades, were not so prominent. Many were concerned to the point that systematic times of prayer and fasting were instituted to pray for spiritual renewal and revival. The answer to their prayers began with the advent of the Healing revival which began in 1946 and the Latter Rain Revival which began in 1947 (Hyatt, 19 98, p 183).
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The ministries of William Branham and Oral Roberts signalled the beginning of a significant era of healing evangelism. Almost immediately a host of other evangelists began reporting miraculous healings and other supernatural phenomena in their meetings, These included AA Allen, Jack Coe, TL Osborn, William Freeman, WV Grant, Kenneth Hagin and many other evangelists. In 1947, after a seven month season of focussed prayer and fasting, Oral Roberts received inner assurance that it was time for God’s call to be fulfilled – to take God’s healing power to his generation. Many remarkable miracles occurred and Roberts eventually became the most prominent healing evangelist of that era.
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Before God began the revival that swept across Borneo in the 1970’s he had been preparing the ground by giving the missionaries the burden to pray. Ravenshill (1958, p 155) states that for this sin-hungry age we need a prayer-hungry church…prayer does business with God. Prayer creates a hunger for souls; hunger for souls creates prayer.
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Cho (in McClung, 1986, p 99) states that before 1980 individual revival movements took place with such prominent figures as Billy Graham and Oral Roberts. More recently it appears that the individual revival movements have abated and revivals have burst forth in the local church. In Korea, where the church has grown from almost zero to a projected 50% of the entire population in this century alone, Pastor Paul Yonggi Cho attributes his church’s conversion rate of 12 000 people per month as primarily due to ceaseless prayer (Robinson, 1993, p 5).
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A dramatic revival took place at Whittier Christian High School in Los Angeles from 1987 to 1989. It had been preceded by fifteen years of secret prayer for revival by the mother of one of the students who had attended in the early 1970’s and by four parent/teacher prayer groups who were similarly praying through the early part of 1987. The revival spread to some of the other colleges in the area and to two campuses on the other side of the United States. A prayer movement for God to send out 100 000 missionaries in this generation has grown out of the awakening.
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The Toronto Blessing erupted in January 1994 and by 1997 attendance had reached the two million mark. Even though the leaders of this revival consider evangelism to be their second priority – after the renewal of the Church and individual believers – over 25 000 conversions have occurred of which 8-10 000 are first time decisions (ibid, p 210).
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The lost of the Apostle Paul’s day were the same as the lost of today. Paul desperately wanted them to be set free. This same burden for the lost is at the heart of the Brownsville revival (Hill, 1997, p 12). One obvious characteristic of the Pensacola revival is its intense evangelistic emphasis. The meetings are obviously geared towards getting those who are unsaved or backslidden to the front during the altar service. Since its beginning in June 1995 it is estimated that two million people have visited the revival with over 100 000 making decisions for Christ (Hyatt, 1998, p 211).
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John Kilpatrick, pastor of the Brownsville Assemblies of God church in Pensacola, Florida highlights the value of prayer in revival when he reflects on the powerful moves of God in peoples lives: I see the scenes replayed week after week, and service after service. Each time, I realise that in a very real way, they are the fruit of a seven-year journey in prayer, and of two and a half years of fervent corporate intercession by the church (Waugh, 1998, p 137). Stephen Hill (1997, p 2) notes that it was a deep-rooted motivation to do the ministry God had given that caused Kilpatrick to rise up for over two years, take hold of the horns of the altar, grab them firmly, and scream out, “Dear God, send revival to our church. Revive us, oh God!’ He also notes (p 5) the ministry of Lyla Terhune and the intercessors who spend time in the back prayer room during the revival services agonising over the souls of the lost. They can be found weeping and wailing, often travailing as a woman giving birth, not for themselves but for the salvation of others. They do not flinch at the thought of waging heated spiritual warfare during this revival.
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Derek Prince notes in Hill (1997, p xxii) that Tuesday night is prayer night at the Pensacola revival. The seventeen hundred people present represented quite a large turn-out by most standards of prayer meetings … one distinctive feature was the presence of ten or more banners, each one representing some major theme of prayer. People focussed their prayer on a theme by gathering around that particular banner. There was none of what I would call ‘shotgun praying’, rather it was very directed.
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There have always been pockets of believers, sprinkled throughout the land – earnestly seeking God – motivated by a desperate desire for revival. God has always had His remnant. They took hold of the horns of the altar. The darkness of night was pierced by their agonising pleas for a visitation from God. Their white-hot prayers lit up the sky just as lightning displaces utter blackness (Hill, 1997, p xviii). I know not what course others may take; but as for me, GIVE ME REVIVAL in my soul and in my church and in my nation – or GIVE ME DEATH! (Ravenshill, 1958, p 161).
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POWERFUL PREACHING AND TESTIMONY
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The second consistent principle of revival is powerful, urgent, relevant Christ-centred preaching.
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On the day of Pentecost the 120 disciples were filled with the Spirit and immediately began to speak in various languages about the wonderful works of God. This was followed by Peter’s preaching which was accompanied by such spiritual power that 3 000 were convicted and converted (Acts 2). The work continued and spread as the Christians preached publicly and testified personally to the great saving acts in Jesus Christ.
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Often in revivals, an individual or a small group, have experienced powerful awakening and renewal as they have waited on God in prayer and then their personal testimony and public proclamation have been the means of communicating that blessing to other believers as well as awakening and converting non-believers.
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True revival is a revival of gospel preaching (Edwards, 1997, p 101). Powerful, urgent,
relevant Christ-centred communication of the gospel emphasising the holiness and grace of God and the need for personal response is a hallmark of revival. It is often because the preachers themselves have been revived and quickened, and the content of their preaching as well as their method of presentation bear evidence to what has happened.
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Davies (1992, p 222) notes that preachers in revival are never flippant. They know they are the servants of the Most High God and they are aware of their awesome responsibility and of the seriousness of the task. They have a sense of the awfulness of men dying without Christ and are extremely concerned to communicate the gospel faithfully. They have an urgent desire to bring men and women to repentance and faith before it is too late. Preachers in revival are concerned to make the truth plain and to show each person its relevance for them. They are also conscious to avoid superficial and therefore false conversions.
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The description of Duncan Campbell as a preacher shows how seriously revival preachers took their task: There was nothing complicated about Duncan’s preaching. It was fearless and uncompromising. He exposed sin in its ugliness and dwelt at length on the consequences of living and dying without Christ. With a penetrating gaze on the congregation and perspiration streaming down his face he set before men and women the way of death. It was a solemn thought to him that the eternity of his hearers might turn upon his faithfulness. He was standing before his fellow men in Christ’s stead and could be neither perfunctory or formal. His words were not just a repetition of accumulated ideas but the expression of his whole being. He gave the impression of preaching with his entire personality, not merely his voice (Edwards, 1997, p 103).
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In revival Christ, and the blood of the cross particularly, is central to the preaching. Perhaps this is why many records of revival refer to the special blessings experienced at communion services when the blood of Christ is preached both from the Word and through the bread and wine. At Cambuslang in 1742 the presence of God was so real at the communion service held on 11 July that it was agreed they must celebrate it again, and very soon. Untypically for the Scottish Presbyterians, they arranged another service for 15 August and this was attended by some 20,000 people! Though only a few thousand were allowed to participate, hundreds were converted.
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In the eighteenth century Whitefield and Wesley found that the preaching of the cross was hated, just as it is hated now. But thousands found in the blood of Christ justification, redemption, propitiation, peace, reconciliation and cleansing, whether or not they understood all those terms.
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Joseph Kemp returned from a visit to Wales in 1905 and reported to his congregation at Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh that the dominating note of the Walsh revival was ‘redemption through the Blood.’ Whenever we hear or read that the Spirit is at work we can assess the genuineness of the work by how central the blood of Christ is to the preaching and the worship. And if the cross is central in the preaching and the worship then it will be central in the lives of the converts (Edwards, 1997, p 108).
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Jonathan Edwards complained, in 1733, that the young people, especially, were very careless and were not interested in listening to what God had to say through their parents or through the ministers of the gospel. But when the Spirit of God came in revival, ‘The young people declared themselves convinced by what they heard from the pulpit, and were willing of themselves to comply with the counsel that had been given; and it was immediately, and I suppose, almost universally, complied with.’ Submission to leadership is a biblical condition of worship and it runs tight through both Old and New Testaments. The description of the Christians in the Acts of the Apostles was that they were dedicated to the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42). And when revival comes, one of its hallmarks is not independency, but a holy dependence upon Scripture and a respect for those whose task it is to explain and apply it (Edwards, 1997, p 111).
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The twin activities of public preaching and personal testimony provide the ideal combination which has so often been the way that awakening and revival have spread. Even when the preaching has been limited to ‘properly ordained ministers’ the witness of ‘ordinary Christians’ has been a major factor in the spread of revival. It is the emphasis upon living, vital and urgent preaching, together with the people’s confidence in Scripture and love for it, that produces such a powerful force in revival. Revival never begins with those who deny or despise the authority of the Word, and if people who do deny Scripture are effectively influenced by the revival it will always change their theology of the Bible.
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At times of revival there has been a paramount need for sound teaching and instruction. When those who are revived are themselves soundly taught in the truth of God’s Word, they can properly interpret their own experience, adequately proclaim the truth to others, and also correctly instruct new converts. When this is not the case or when they fail to properly instruct new converts of the revival there is a strong possibility that there will be dangerous extremes of belief and practice and that the whole movement of revival will not produce lasting fruit. In the case of the Welsh Revival of 1904 many believe that Evan Roberts’ neglect of preaching and instruction was the cause of the revival’s failure to achieve its full potential (Evans in Davies, 1992, p 223).
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One commentator on the eighteenth-century Awakening rightly claims that the uninhibited and compelling urge to preach the Gospel was the basic characteristic of all the personalities involved, whatever other gifts they might have: Both Harris and Wesley had keen organising ability, both William Williams and Charles Wesley had unsurpassed genius to write hymns, Whitfield’s compassionate heart and breadth of vision well-nigh encircled the globe, and Rowland’s communion seasons were heavenly, but each felt deeply the absolute priority and unique authority of preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit (Edwards, 1997, 104).
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DEEP AWARENESS OF THE PRESENCE AND HOLINESS OF GOD
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Another key principle of revival is the deep awareness of the presence and holiness of God leading to a strong sense of conviction of sin and repentance followed by extreme joy when peace with God is received.
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In Israel’s time, under God’s judgement, people awakened to a realisation of better days and linked this back to their previous relationship with him. Prayer went up in agony for deliverance and God raised up another leader and another restoration. Right relationship to the righteous standards of the Word of God was also confirmed by Charles Finney who succinctly defined revival as nothing more or less than a new beginning of obedience to the Word of God (Pratney, 1984, p 19).
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There is an observable connection in the history of awakenings between revival and holiness. An overwhelming sense of the holiness of God frequently characterises revivals bringing with it a crushing sense of personal and often corporate sin and guilt. The repentance which is produced in revival is a deep, radical, complete abhorrence of sin and turning away from it, with a heartfelt desire to have done with it completely. Sin is seen for what it really is, as God sees it, and it continues to be hateful to the young convert. Holiness is seen as beautiful and infinitely desirable. The new Christian longs after holiness, seeing it as a characteristic of his God.
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Waugh (1998, p 136) quotes Kilpatrick regarding the Brownsville revival – corporate businessmen in expensive suits kneel and weep uncontrollably as they repent of secret sins … drug addicts and prostitutes fall to the floor on their faces beside them, to lie prostrate before God as they confess Jesus as Lord … souls who come to Christ, confessing their sins.
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Revival is always a revival of holiness. And it begins with a terrible conviction of sin. It is often the form that the conviction of sin takes that troubles those who read of revival. Sometimes the experience is crushing. People weep uncontrollably. There is no such thing as a revival without tears of conviction and sorrow. In January 1907 God was moving in a powerful way in North Korea and a Western missionary recalled one particular scene: As the prayer continued a spirit of heaviness and sorrow for sin came down upon the audience. Over on one side someone began to weep and in a moment the whole audience was weeping. Man after man would rise, confess his sins, break down and weep, and then throw himself to the floor and beat the floor with his fists in perfect agony of conviction … sometimes after a confession the whole audience would break out in audible prayer and the effect of that audience of hundreds of men praying together in audible prayer was something indescribable. Again, after another confession, they would break out in uncontrollable weeping, and we would all weep, we could not help it. And so the meeting went on until 2 am, with confession and weeping and praying (Edwards, 1997, p 115). Scenes like these are typical of almost every recorded revival. There is no revival without deep, uncomfortable and humbling conviction of sin.
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In some mines in Wales in 1904 the work came to a standstill because the pit ponies could no longer understand the orders that were given to them; the hauliers, classed as the worst group of men in the pits, proverbial for their profanity and cruelty, were no longer cursing their commands and the ponies were confused (Edwards, 1997, p 187).
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A revival usually results in an unusual sense of spiritual interest or concern and it can first manifest itself as a deep concern on the part of professing Christians regarding the shallowness and superficiality of their spiritual lives. They become profoundly conscious of their poverty of their relationship with God, the standard of their moral lives and their service for Christ (Davies, 1992, p 19).
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Revival rectifies the impoverished spiritual conditions of people, some of which are outlined in an internet bulletin from www.highwayman.net/prayernet titled A27 Evidences of the Need for a Fresh Visitation of the Spirit. A sample includes – we need revival:
1. When we would rather make money than give money;
2. When we make little effort to witness to the lost;
3. When we seldom think thoughts of eternity;
4. When we know truth in our heads that we are not practicing in our lives
5. When we are more concerned about what others think about us than what God thinks about us.
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The full list has been reproduced and is available in the Appendix. Revival will always vitalise God’s people. In the revival in Kentucky in the late 1700s sleep and physical comforts seemed to be forgotten as things eternal gripped the hearts and minds of the people…cries of distress over sin soon gave way to shouts of joy arising out of assurance of salvation (Hyatt, 1998, p 123).
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The deep, uncomfortable and humbling conviction of sin can be demonstrated in the Brownsville revival in 1995. Stephen Hill (1997, p 74) noted that as in the revivals of old, people fell to their knees, prostrate or backward on the ground, weeping and wailing and crying out to God. John (Kilpatrick) and I prayed for individuals, and I realised that repentance was on the hearts of these people. I heard them cry out to God about their lukewarmness and stale Christianity, confessing their sins, and wanting desperately to get right with God. It seemed that everyone in that sanctuary desired a renewed relationship with their Lord Jesus Christ.
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OTHER REVIVAL PRINCIPLES
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There has been much written and spoken of about the dynamics and principles of revival. Nine outstanding characteristics of the major revivals have been articulated by Fischer (in Pratney, 1984, p 19) as follows:
1. They occurred in times of moral darkness and national depression
2. Each began in the heart of a consecrated servant of God who became the energizing power behind it
3. Each revival rested on the Word of God and most were the result of proclaiming God’s Word with power
4. All resulted in a return to the worship of God
5. Each witnessed the destruction of idols where they existed
6. In each revival there was a recorded separation from sin
7. In every revival the people returned to obeying God’s laws
8. There was a restoration of great joy and gladness
9. Each revival was followed by a period of national prosperity
.
Revival brings vitality to God’s Church and His people. A principle of revival is that it brings results. There is an increase in evangelism, mission, social action and the increased involvement of the laity. A revival always has an effect upon the nation. Edwin Orr (in Edwards, 1997, p 185) claims that the evangelical awakening in the eighteenth century saved Britain from the revolutionary experience that ravaged the continent of Europe at that time. Wesley, the English evangelist, defeated Volataire, the French philosopher and Deist.
.
2 Kings 18: 7-8 notes the success of King Hezekiah during the revival – And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. From watchtower to fortified city, he defeated the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory (NIV). The nation was sufficiently strong to throw off its slavery; the revival gave the people of Judah moral and military fibre and it was this that led Hezekiah to make a bid to secure spiritual unity in the nation after 200 years of warfare between the north and south. The revival was also a time of his brilliant engineering.
.
There are also hindrances to revival which the believer needs to be aware of. Some of these have been outlined in Waugh (1999, p 9) and include pride (when Christians become proud of their great revival); exalting self over God; prejudice (when Christians lose the spirit of brotherly love); exhaustion; self-reliance (when dependence on the Spirit in replaced by human effort); conflict (when there is continued opposition of the >old school’ combined with a bad spirit in the >new’ school); and neglecting missions.
.
CONCLUSION
.
The life of a believer of prayer, striving for holiness, and wholehearted evangelism must all go on as if the future of the Church depended on them. At the same time believers should long for the community to be saturated with God, should talk of the great acts of God in revival, and should pray to continually remind God that a special occasion is needed for this generation.
.
When the prophet Micah looked around him he could find little to encourage him in the nation. An honest assessment convinced him that the forces of evil were gaining ground. In spite of this, or perhaps because of this, Micah set out his own position:
But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD,
I wait for God my Saviour; my God will hear me
Micah 7:7 (NIV).
 
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REFERENCES
Davies, R.E. 1992. I Will Pour Out My Spirit: A History and Theology of Revivals and Evangelical Awakenings. Tunbridge Wells: Monarch Publications.
Edwards, Brian H. 1997. Revival! A People Saturated With God. County Durham: Evangelical Press.
Hill, Stephen. 1997. The Pursuit of Holiness. Lake Mary, Florida: Creation House.
Hyatt, Eddie L. 1998. 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity: A 21st Century Look at Church History from a Pentecostal/Charismatic Perspective. Dallas, Texas: Hyatt International Ministries Inc.
McClung, L Grant Jnr. 1986. Azuza Street and Beyond: Pentecostal Missions and Church Growth in the Twentieth Century. South Plainfield, New Jersey: Bridge Publishing Co.
Orr, J. Edwin. ‘Prayer and Revival’. Renewal Journal: Revival. Vol 1, Number 1. Summer 1993. pp 13- 18.
Pratney, Winkie. 1984. Revival: Principles to Change the World. Springdale: Whitaker House.
Ravenshill, Leonard. 1959. Why Revival Tarries. Tonbridge: Sovereign World.
Robinson, Stuart. ‘Praying the Price’. Renewal Journal: Revival. Vol 1, Number 1. Summer 1993. pp 5-12.
Wallis, Arthur. 1956. In The Day of Thy Power. Christian Literature Crusade.
Waugh, Geoff. 1998. Flashpoints of Revival: History’s Mighty Revivals. Shippensburg, PA: Revival Press.
Waugh, Geoff. 1999. Class Notes for PB110 Renewal History. Mansfield: COC School of Ministries.
 
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APPENDIX
.
27 Evidences of the Need for a Fresh Visitation of the Spirit.
We need revival:
1. When we would rather make money than give money;
2. When we make little effort to witness to the lost;
3. When we seldom think thoughts of eternity;
4. When we know truth in our heads that we are not practicing in our lives
5. When we are more concerned about what others think about us than what God thinks about us.
6. When we do not love Him as we once did.
7. When earthly interests and occupations are more important to us than eternal ones.
8. When we would rather watch TV and read secular books and magazines than read the Bible and pray.
9. When we have little or no desire for prayer.
10. When our Christianity is joyless and passionless.
11. When we have time for sports, recreation, and entertainment, but not for Bible study and prayer.
12. When we do not tremble at the Word of God.
13. When we are more concerned about our jobs and careers than about the Kingdom of Christ and the salivation of the lost.
14. When Christian husbands and wives are not praying together.
15. When our children are growing up to adopt world values, secular philosophies and ungodly lifestyles.
16. When we watch things on TV and movies that we would not show in church.
17. When our prayers lack fervency.
18. When our hearts are cold and our eyes are dry.
19. When our singing is half-hearted and worship lifeless.
20. When we aren’t seeing regular evidence of the supernatural power of God
21. When we are bored with worship.
22. When we are making little or no difference in the secular world around us.
23. When we are unmoved b y the thought of our neighbours, business associates and acquaintances going to hell.
24. When we have ceased to weep and mourn and grieve over our sin.
25. When we aren’t exercising faith and believing God for the impossible.
26. When the fire has gone out in our hearts, our marriages and our church.
27. When we are blind to the extent of our need and don’t thinks we need revival.
(Source: www.highwayman.net/prayernet 11 May 1999)

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