REAL REVIVAL MAKES US BECOME SOUL-WINNERS
There are certain features which mark all revivals of the Lord. We can by such features recognize real revival. Some look for the wrong things, and are thereby either stymied about a lack of revival, or deceived into thinking they have revival, when they do not.
Evangelism is one of the key ingredients of real revival. God will manifest His power during the evangelistic message. In the former rain revival, we see men become "pricked in their hearts" (Acts 3:7), and "fear came on every soul" (Acts 2:43). The salvation message found great power of God to make men conscious of their sinful states, and to turn to Jesus as the Answer.
The people saved during the former rain revival did not leave the services glorifying themselves, or praising the preachers, or uplifting the denomination, or admiring the beautiful sanctuary, No! They left the service, enthralled with JESUS! The early church was busy glorifying this same Jesus. When the early church was ordered to be silent, its leaders replied:
"We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
The church has an inescapable commitment for evangelism. All four gospels show an emphasis for evangelism to be upon the church.
"Go ye therefore and teach all nations..."
"Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."
"And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached
in His name among all nations... and ye are witnesses of these things."
"As My Father hath sent Me, so send I you..."
The church in the former rain revival expected a tremendous force of God to aid them in their outreach. They had been promised power to do miracles beyond what Jesus had done, and power to speak with new tongues, cast out devils, etc. The Pentecostal power was a force linked to evangelism.
"And ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you... ye shall be witnesses unto Me."
The power and miraculous power of the Spirit should always be linked to evangelism. We have no right to seek the power of the Spirit, and then not evangelize. The Spirit's power was given to us, so we could more effectively win souls to Jesus. It takes nerve to be given a gift as that, and not to then evangelize.
IF we really believe what we say we do, we must evangelize.
IF Jesus is really Savior, Healer, Baptizer in the Spirit, and coming King, the world should be told.
IF the gospel is really the power of God unto salvation, the sinners need to be so informed.
IF our message is the ONLY key that will unlock the gate of heaven, to fail to share it is criminal.
The basics of the message was, of course, Jesus. On the day of Pentecost, Peter quickly got to a detailed description of Jesus (Acts 2:1-36). When Philip went to Samaria, he "preached Christ unto them..." (Acts 8:5). When Philip was taken to the Ethiopian eunuch, he "preached unto him Jesus" (Acts 8:35). With the name of Jesus, Paul opened his ministry (Acts 9:20,22,29). Peter took the name of Jesus to the Gentiles (Acts 10:36). With the name of Jesus, the book of Acts closed (Acts 28:31). The name of Jesus dominates everything during the former rain revival. In the book of Philippians, in 104 verses, the name of Jesus is found 47 times.
The latter rain revival needs to beware becoming so concerned with the "fringe benefits" of the gospel - as prosperity, holiness, etc. - that it forgets to lead people to an encounter with Jesus.
The gospel does offer much, but the key to all of it is - salvation through Christ Jesus. To preach the wonders of revival, and ignore the key message, that is Jesus, is folly. To expect a move of the Spirit in manifest power, and not allow the Spirit to glorify Jesus - is sheer lunacy. The reason for revival, the reason for the Pentecostal experience, the reason for the church is to be a witness of Jesus.
"...ye shall be witnesses unto Me."
The revival church cannot be "witness" without having witnessed a personal encounter with the One Whom we witness. The former rain revival began with people who personally knew the Savior. They witnessed about Someone they personally knew. The latter rain revival needs to encourage people to truly know the Savior also. When we, the Church, personally know and speak with this Savior Jesus, we will find revival power to be manifest.
"We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen."
I John 1:1-3
"that... Whom we have heard, and Whom we have seen with our eyes, Whom we have looked upon, and our hands have handled... declare we unto you."
Simply living a righteous life, and providing the best of example to the unsaved does not suffice. There is no substitute for the actual message we are told to take to the world. We are not told to draw a crowd of admirers to ourselves. We are not told to make disciples of a denomination. We are not told to have the best facilities, gymnasium, ball team. We are told to make disciples, to persuade men, to preach Jesus, and to introduce this same Jesus to them for their personal encounter.
II Corinthians 5:10-20
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men... For the love of Christ constraineth us... Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature... Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ."
It is because of Jesus Christ, and for the proclamation of His name, and His message, that we are given grace and apostleship... That is we have His mercy, and His commission to preach the gospel, because He wants it shared with the rest of the world. To share Jesus, is "obedience" and to not share Jesus is disobedience to the faith. Note this often overlooked, yet important verse:
"By Whom (Jesus) we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name."
Many in our day do not witness for the proper motive. In the early church revival, there were also some who preached Christ for the wrong motives.
"Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel."
There are many today who preach, teach, witness, but out of a competitive spirit. Perhaps for a desire to have success, or the desire to sustain a denomination or congregation, they preach. We may become so entangled with the concern for numbers, or for prestige, or for fame that we double our efforts for those reasons. The true motive is acceptable to the Lord, and any other motive will cause us to lose our reward. We must witness because of the love of Christ, which constrains us to share the One Whom we already have found.
II Corinthians 5:4
"...the love of Christ constraineth us."
Many lose sight of the fact, that Jesus is the Lord of the Harvest. It is the message of the Lord that brings life and growth. It is His choice which field that should be reaped by each one of us.
"Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest."
When we get the right message, and the right motive, signs and wonders will follow.
"...to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed. Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ."
There are evil powers, and an evil leader of such powers, that is - the devil. Unless there is convicting power of the Spirit, no one will get saved. The enemy is gripping hard. His hold on the sinners is a mighty grip that is hard to break. It takes the power of the Spirit to break the devil's hold on the sinner. Miracles, healings, discerning of spirits, signs, wonders, convicting power should be present in the revival periods.
When Jesus called the apostle Paul to his work, He said:
"To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me."
The grip of the devil on the lives of sinners is broken by the miraculous power of the Spirit, and we unleash the power of God by doing the work of the Spirit, that is to glorify Jesus. The power of the devil and of all his forces is no match for the power of a people who preach Jesus and unleash the Holy Spirit's power.
Evangelism calls for total involvement of the whole congregation. The pastor is the under-shepherd for Jesus. The Shepherd wants to feed the sheep. And the sheep are to beget sheep. This is the plan of God for the flock. The pastor may also do the work of evangelism (II Timothy 4:5), but the rest of the congregation are to be the primary witnesses.
"Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word."
Like Peter, after Pentecost, preached boldly, saw the Spirit awaken the consciences of men. There came from Peter's lips - anointed preaching, fearless preaching, Christ-centered preaching. The words from Peter's mouth were prophetic. A holy unction made the sermon powerful. This unction was powerful, piercing, softening, hammering, and opened even the stony hearts. The message of Peter saw a resulting 3000 get saved.
"And there were added unto them in that day about 3000 souls."
"Many that heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to be about five thousand."
"And the number of the disciples multiplied... exceedingly and a great number of priests were obedient to the faith."
When the good news about Jesus is preached in any revival, multitudes will be saved. In the 1857 revival, 50,000 a week were being saved. In 1904 a great revival swept the land and 5 million were saved in two years. These kind of results, in fact, even greater results will soon occur, in response to the preaching of Jesus.
Revival is not as common as it should be now because:
people build sanctuaries within churches,
but forget they are personally the sanctuary of the Lord...
people own Bibles, but forget that Jesus is the embodiment of the Word...
people speak of Christ, but do not truly know Him...
people sing hymns, but do not even listen to
the worshipful words they are speaking to Jesus...
people have love for the denomination, the building of worship, the pastor, etc.
but do not have the "first love" they once had for Jesus...
people seek to make worship exciting, rousing, and touching,
but do not build a relationship with the One worshipped...
people want services that make men praise the sermon, the pastor,
the denomination... but do not seek to have them praise Jesus...
people steal the glory that belongs to Jesus...
Real revival is measured, not by its emotion. For remember that on Palm Sunday, people were emotionally joyful, but Jesus wept. Many services in which people shout, Jesus is still weeping.
Revival is not measured by the crowds. The great events of the Bible were usually witnessed by small crowds, as the Mount of Transfiguration had Jesus, Elijah, Moses, and three disciples. Calvary had John, and a few women kneeling before the crucified Savior.
Revival is not measured by its lack of problems. The devil fights harder when revival comes. The Corinthian church had more problems than most churches today, because it had revival.
Revival is measured in several ways. One of the ways in which it is measured - is the evangelization of the sinners by the proclamation of Jesus. If we begin to share our relationship with Jesus with the world, the world will see revival as never before.