June 25, 2012


Included in the study of church history should be a history of revivals.  They are important because they have swept great multitudes into the kingdom of God.  Another beneficial result of revivals is that there is a return to genuine Christianity and consistent Christian living.  Normally we think that progress is beneficial and digression is detrimental.  When we think of revivals those two words are turned around.  The world looks at the departure from biblical Christianity as progress, but in reality, it is digression and detrimental. In a revival Christians digress and go back to the relationship with God they once had.

Revivals bring God’s people back to a closer relationship with God and a clearer understanding of Biblical truth.  They are always accompanied by repentance, reconciliation and restoration of relationships.           He who does a careful study of church history can’t help but see the beneficial results of revival.

A revival greatly facilitates the work of a pastor.  That’s why they often pray for revival and encourage God’s people to do likewise.  The desire of a good pastor is that his people love God and have a close relationship with him.  He prays for and preaches to those who have departed from that relationship.  Ephesians 4:12 says that the work of a pastor is to “perfect the saints.”  He labors to bring God’s people to an ever closer relationship with God.  It’s a continuing ministry.  We are never as close to God as we could or should be.  A healthy church is in a constant state of revival.  There will be a steady spiritual growth and frequent decisions for salvation.  This is the goal of a good pastor.  A healthy church is the ideal we strive for, but it is seldom a reality.  For that reason Christian leaders are frequently promoting revival.

There is power in spending time with God in prayer.  We need to keep in mind that a revival is, in great part, a work of the Holy Spirit.     Zachariah 4:6 says “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”  God gives this power by means of much prayer.  It’s doubtful that there is any historical evidence that a revival ever began just because a church decided to have a series of revival meetings.     If revival meetings are successful, it’s because there was prayer before, during, and after the meetings.  Dr. Harold A. Ficher writes “Prayer is an essential link in the chain of causes that lead to a revival.  Some have used great zeal in promoting the use of means of every kind.  They have talked, invited, distributed tracts, and advertised with little success.  But nothing is done by truth alone, unless there is a spirit of prayer in direct connection.”1

Normally a revival is accompanied by an awakening of the unsaved around the church.  For that reason, a pastor’s preaching should encourage God’s people to examine their hearts, confess their sins, and draw closer to God.  There needs to be an acceleration of godliness on the part of God’s people.  When the people from the church start going to the unsaved around them, asking for their forgiveness for the way they have cheated them or gossiped against them, the unsaved will start listening when someone talks to them about their need of salvation.  If the church gives off a dim light and the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, the unsaved aren’t much inclined to listen.

Perhaps some ask, is it worthwhile having a series of special meetings when there doesn’t appear to be much interest in spiritual things?  That, in itself, constitutes a reason for special meetings.  Before thinking about having evangelistic meetings, there needs to be an awakening of the believers in the church.  The first step will be in mature believers pleading with the cold hearted to come to the special meetings.  If they come and hear God’s servant pleading with them to draw nigh to God, the Holy Spirit will do his work.  “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:8-10).

Sometimes, in a series of special meetings, there is the temptation to maintain interest by stirring up excitement.  It may be a matter of playing on the emotions of people to bring them to tears.  There are often tears in a genuine revival, but, if they aren’t produced by the work of the holy Spirit, there will be no lasting result.  Another temptation is that of inserting an excess of humor.  A little humor in the pulpit is alright, but if people come just to have a jolly good time, it will all be in vain,.  Special meetings should never be with the end of helping the church financially.  That might be one of the results, but it should never be an end in itself.

Let’s go on praying for revival.  It is greatly needed.  Until it comes, and after it comes we need to go on praying and walking faithfully with God.    “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).

1 The Voice Of Victory magazine, Jan. – Feb. 2012 p. 22

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