More on Revival
The following is a summary of the sermon I preached on Sunday, January 29, 2017.
THE CORE OF REVIVAL - PART 2
Part 2 of The Dynamics of Revival. Acts 2:41-47
January 29, 2017. The Cornerstone Church.
In his classic book, Why Revival Tarries, Leonard Ravenhill wrote:
“The Church right now has more fashion than passion, is more pathetic than prophetic, is more superficial than supernatural.” ― Leonard Ravenhill, Revival God's Way.
Do you agree? Ravenhill wrote that in 1959. It was urgent then, BUT it is even more urgent today. I don’t have to look any further than my own life to know this. I am not a passionate, prophetic, supernatural man.
I need a revival. I need a fresh revelation of the awe-inspiring majesty of God To restore the fire in my cold heart. I’m guessing, so do you.
Let’s pray again: “Lord, send your Holy Spirit to revive our cold hearts. Stoke the fire of first love for Jesus. Give us burning hearts for holiness and for you, the Holy One. Amen.”
Last Sunday, we explored what happens when the Holy Spirit visits a church in extraordinary power. That’s what we call revival. Our reading in Acts 2 describes what happened to the first church in Jerusalem when it experienced revival.
Last week, I gave you the first two signs of revival. This week, we’re focused on the third and fourth signs. My goal is that we would pray for this kind of revival in our lives and in the Cornerstone Church.
C. REVIVAL SIGN #3: WE ARE DESPERATE FOR BIBLE-TEACHING - verse 42.
Holy Spirit revival creates a raging hunger for the Word of God. These believers in Acts 2 “were devoted to the apostles’ teaching.” - v. 42. Every day, the apostles taught in the temple courts and in homes. And every day, the new Christians showed up to feast on the Word.
Revived Christians have an insatiable appetite for God’s voice. They have an experience similar to Jeremiah’s:
“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart …” - Jeremiah 15:16
I was a college student when I first turned to Jesus as my Savior and God. And my new Christian friends insisted that I go to church with them. The pastor’s name was William Still. He was a phenomenon in Scotland. Beginning in the 1940’s his preaching drew large crowds even when other churches were empty. I believe it was a revival that latest for decades. When I heard him explain and apply the Bible, I was gripped by God. It was a devastating experience. I wanted more and more and more. I started reading the Bible AND Bible commentaries. I couldn’t get enough of the Word. And I wasn’t alone - there was a whole church full of people with the same hunger.
There was a mighty revival when the Jews returned from exile in Babylon and the clearest sign was their hunger to heart the Bible:
“And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. 2 So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.” - Nehemiah 8:1-3
Churches in revival cry out, “Bring the Book!” They demand more Bible teaching. But that’s not all they do. When you’re in revival, you will love the Word, believe the Word, and OBEY the Word.
King Josiah was a godly young man who tried to bring Israel back to God. He destroyed pagan worship sites. But he had a huge obstacle to overcome: he had never read the Bible. He was mostly guessing at what the Lord wanted. Then, Hilkiah - the high priest - found a scroll of the Bible buried in a storage room in the temple. It was read to King Josiah. And it sparked a revival in the land:
“Then the king sent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30 And the king went up to the house of the Lord, with all the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the Levites, all the people both great and small. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. 31 And the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. 32 Then he made all who were present in Jerusalem and in Benjamin join in it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. 33 And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel and made all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the Lord, the God of their fathers. 1 Josiah kept a Passover to the Lord in Jerusalem. And they slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the first month. 2 He appointed the priests to their offices and encouraged them in the service of the house of the Lord.” - 2 Chronicles 34:29-35:2
Will you pray for an outpouring of the Spirit that results in a hunger to hear God’s voice in the Bible and a demand for more Bible teaching along with a commitment to obey whatever it teaches?
D. REVIVAL SIGN #4: WE ARE DRAWN INTO WORSHIP - verses 42-43
The first church was a worshipping church:
“They devoted themselves to … the breaking of bread (Lord’s Supper) and the prayers (the daily three times of formal prayer) . 43 And awe (holy, reverent fear/respect) came upon every soul.”
In times of revival, we forget about ourselves because God is THE center. We’re consumed with our encounter with the living God through faith in our Savior Jesus Christ. There is a vivid illustration of this God-entranced worship in Revelation 4. We’re given a portal into the throne room of God. There, in the presence of Almighty God himself, the elders and angels around the throne can’t help themselves. They fall down before him. They cry out “holy, holy, holy Lord.”
Such worship makes no sense to a cold heart. But it makes perfect sense to a revived heart. The Holy Spirit makes us sensitive to and grateful for our mighty salvation in Jesus Christ. We respond to the mercy and grace of God to us.
A revived heart wants to bring glory to God - in every part of life. This is reflected at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Their mission statement reads:
“We exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.”
When the Holy Spirit is poured out in extraordinary measure, he makes God so huge in our minds and hearts that we want our whole lives to bring praise to him. We respond like the psalm writer:
“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” - Psalm 34:1-3
In times of revival, we become 24/7 worshippers (see, for example, Romans 12:1-2). We live to bring glory to Jesus. It’s not so much about singing as it is about showing God’s majesty at home and work and everywhere through our joyful, faith-filled delight in and surrender to. We obey for the glory of the God who has saved us and kept us and loves us in his Son. A revived Christian believes his purpose is to be an all-out, in all things, all-the-time, “glorifier” of God.
I get so fired up about what would happen here if the Spirit were to work in extraordinary power among us. The signs of revival would be obvious. We would experience a raging hunger to hear and obey God’s Word; overwhelming awe of God and a desire to glorify him; true sorrow for sins and a commitment to get things right with God and each other. We would see lost people coming to Christ for salvation.
Genuine revival is a sovereign work of God. We can’t demand it, manufacture it, or schedule it. But we can prepare for it. Preparation begins with a commitment to pray for revival; with a sense of desperation; with a hunger for more of God. We will pray like this: “O Lord, give us revival. And start with me.” It’s no coincidence that the Acts 2 revival in Jerusalem was preceded by ten days of concerted, intense prayer” “Send your promised Spirit.”
The question is this: will you commit to pray?
Leonard Ravenhiil was correct when he wrote:
“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.”
Pray! Don’t delay! This is urgent. This is the need of the hour. We need revival. Pray now!