Revival: What do you think of when you hear that word? lf you’re like me, you might think of an old circus tent, with folding chairs and a poorly dressed evangelist running back and forth across the stage shouting and hollering. Other people might think of a series of meetings held at a church, with a guest speaker. Or maybe a week of meetings held at the Holiday lnn, where several churches join up and listen to a guest speaker.
Guess what? None of these things are revival. What IS revival? We’re going to spend some time exploring this area of the things of God.
I guess l was about 18 when l first ran across a book called, “Revival Lectures.” lt was written in the mid 1800’s by Charles Finney, Mr. Finney had been an attorney, and he gave his heart to the Lord, when he was 27. Within days, the Lord called him into the ministry, and he began speaking. Not in the churches, because they wouldn’t have him. He spoke in homes, schools, town halls, factories and anywhere else he could get a group of people together.
Under Charles Finney’s speaking and preaching, frequently entire towns would come to the Lord. I want to share with you some of the truths that he shared that brought such moves of God. He begins with helping us to understand what a revival is, and isn’t.
“O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Habbakuk 3:2). Habbakuk was crying out to God to spare his nation from the judgments that were speedily coming down on his nation.
The prophet was asking God to influence His people, to move on the hearts of the people, so that they would obey God. He knew that people on their own wouldn’t obey God fully, and needed the influence of the Holy Spirit if they were ever going to obey Gods commands.
The word “revive,” means “to bring life back to; to restore to a lively condition; to energize or stir up. So, revival, by definition means there’s been a backing down from your earlier life with God, a losing of your lively condition and you need to be energized or stirred up. lt means that at some point you were closer to God than you are now. You need reviving. You’re in an inactive state that resembles death!
People are so spiritually sluggish, and there are so many things that take their minds off of the things of God, that He needs to intervene from time to time. Then the obstacles to true spirituality are swept away and people begin to obey God once again.
People need to FEEL, before they are willing to OBEY. This is why so many people who know they ought to be serving God fervently don’t. They’re afraid they’ll be laughed at by their friends. Many are married to their possessions; others put off repenting until they’ve secured some worldly measure of success. People like this will never give up their false shame or give up their personal agendas until they FEEL the senses of danger their soul is in and can’t hold back any longer.
First off, spiritual revival always includes the church realizing it isn’t doing its job. lt begins with a spiritual housecleaning among God’s people. They feel the seriousness of their own sins and find it impossible to keep living the life of a phony. People who have grown cold in their devotion recommit themselves to the Lord.
Secondly, Christians have their faith renewed in a time of real revival. When you’re slipping away from God, your heart gets hard as marble. The truths of the Bible seem like fantasies. You admit that it’s all true, but the burning realities of eternity don’t move you.
When God begins to move in your heart, you no longer “see men as trees walking,” but you see things in that strong light that renews the love of God in your heart. You’ll begin to FEEL for other people, and want them to be able to love Jesus like you do. You’ll be longing for your friends, your relatives and even your enemies to give their hearts to God.
You won’t just be speaking to them about their souls, but you’ll find yourself praying for them sincerely and earnestly, asking God to move on their hearts.
Third, real revival breaks the power of those sins and habits that have gotten hold of you and drag you down, destroying your hopes for future happiness. It brings you to such a high ground in God that you feel a fresh impulse towards Heaven. You have a new sense of belonging to the Kingdom of Heaven and you get new desires to be in communion with God. This is how the pull of the world is broken and the power of the enemy is broken in your life.
What God Uses to Bring Revival. Mr. Finney mentions three things God uses to bring true revival The first is simply the way God moves in the events in a person`s life.
God arranges things to happen that bring your mind into contact with the truth. He brings you to where the truth reaches your eyes, ears and thoughts. God might use the weather, the political situation, social ills or anything else that might turn your attention towards Him. Then, He sends along a minister or other Christian just at the right time. And, that person will bring out a specific truth just at the time you’re ready to hear it.
Knowing your mind, your heart, feelings and your whole personal history, God will use the right truth in the way that’s best adapted to your particular case. He gives it such strength, vividness and power that it causes you to stop in your tracks and turn to the Lord.
See, if people were inclined to obey God, they would get all the truth they need from the Bible. But, because people are totally disinclined to obey the truth, God makes it clear through their minds and pours it onto their souls in a blaze of light that they can’t withstand. That’s what causes people to yield to the truth, obey God and be saved.
Next, God uses other people to reach you. People aren’t mere instruments in the hands of God. Instruments have no choice. People have a choice whether or not they will be used by God. What instrument does God use? He uses the truth. People are agents that God uses.
You’re probably aware that people can read your state of mind by looking into your eyes. lf your eyes are full of silliness, fear, anxiety or hypocrisy, anyone can read it. lf your eyes are full of the Spirit of God, they read that, too. Just the look on your face can be enough to bring a person to face their spiritual condition.
lf you have a deep feeling towards the things of God, you’ll produce deep feelings wherever you go. And, if you’re cold, or frivolous, or trifling, you’ll inevitably destroy all deep feeling, even in people who are concerned about their souls`.
We want to spend some time together learning about how God revives His people. The purpose isn’t to spend our time and strength just receiving instructions, or to give you something to talk about. lt’s not so you can say, “We’ve learned all about how God revives His people,” while you do nothing.
At the end of his first Revival Lecture, Mr. Finney asks, “Will you follow the instructions I shall give you from the Word of God, and put them into practice in your own lives? Will you bring them to bear upon your families, your acquaintances, neighbors, and through the city? Or will you spend your time learning about revivals, and do nothing FOR them?
“l want you as fast as you learn anything on the subject of revival to put it into practice, and go to work… you ought to decide NOW whether you will do this or not.”
You know we call people to decide on the spot whether THEY will obey the Gospel. And we have no more authority to let YOU take the time to think about whether you will obey God, than we do to let lost people “think about it.”
We call on you to make a promise to God that you will do your duty as fast as you learn what it is, and to pray that He will pour out His Spirit upon this church and this city.”
When the churches are awakened out of their sleep by God, changed lives will follow. Peoples’ hearts will be broken down and changed. Even the “worst” people in society, the crack addicts, prostitutes, drunkards and atheists will be awakened and converted. The worst of human beings will be softened and reclaimed, and transformed into beautiful and renewed citizens of Heaven!