Foreword by Donald Gee
IT was a happy inspiration that led the Editor of the Study Hour to invite a catena of writers to contribute a series of varied articles on the absorbing subject of Revival. The method has produced rather unique contribution to our literature on the matter. Now that the seven articles are conveniently bound together the reader is enriched not only by studies on different aspects of the subject, but by the wisdom, knowledge and faith of a group of minds and personalities that differ as broadly as the terms upon which they approach their theme.
This is as it should be. True Revival has so many vital aspects. And it interests all who have the glory of God, and the deepest needs of their fellow-men at heart. The “Conversion of England” has become a matter of such urgency that all sections of the evangelical church have become significantly unanimous in their emphasis upon its priority among the spiritual and religious issues of our day. The war did not produce Revival. It now seems evident that neither will its aftermath. Relaxation from the strain of total conflict only seems to be tempting men and women further into godlessness. We must have a reviving breath from heaven. Let God arise!
It seems superfluous to try and add anything to the extensive treatment of the theme presented in this series of articles, although I appreciate the invitation to contribute something more than merely a complimentary foreword. Perhaps the special characteristic of the series does suggest one fruitful line of thought. I am impressed by the fact, which these contributions to one theme by such a varied group of writers emphasizes, that Revival is a far broader and bigger thing than many stereotyped conceptions of it would suggest.
Far too often Revival is confused with “revivalism,” and in popular notion this has become associated with a certain type of evangelism and evangelistic meeting. The so-called ‘revivalist’ has not been treated fairly by a section of the press always ready to pounce upon anything spectacular; but he does represent a sort of fervent preacher whose ministry, at its highest and best, is only one among others equally given by the Spirit of God and equally essential to true Revival. Arising from this false notion is the other wrong idea that what is now popularly dubbed, as ‘revivalism’ is a religious interest limited to a particular class of temperament that is highly emotional and low in mentality. There is great need of correcting this utterly false conception, and studies like these help towards that end.
In a reviving Breath of the Holy Spirit within the Church, and through the Church upon a whole community, whether local or national, all classes are touched. In true Revival it must be so. Certain it is that some will always find it harder to enter the Kingdom of God, and that “not many” of the privileged classes will share in the calling. But what we need to escape from is the poisonous error that Revival is only for a certain type of personality, and that it leaves untouched a whole section of the community who would excuse themselves by saying “that kind of thing is not in my line”. Genuine Revival must be as wide as the Gospel itself, and that means that it is for “whosoever.”
Now to achieve this proper conception of Revival it does seem to me that we need to broaden our idea of what constitutes “a revival” ministry. The true revivalist in the best sense of the word is not merely an evangelical preacher of a rather dramatic type. Under the rich diversity of the Spirit’s gifts a revivalist may be a Bible-teacher, or a faithful pastor, or a consecrated businessman, or a fervent student. The supreme essential is the ‘Anointing of the Spirit’. Then there is Life; then comes the Breath of God; then arise immeasurable potentialities in the Gospel. Let us lift “revivalism” out of the rut. Revival is a great and grand theme — nothing less than the bringing of new Life from God to the whole Church. Our vision must enlarge itself. It can hardly be too large in this matter. For Revival is more than any “Movement,” however blessed and true. The Pentecostal promise of the outpoured Spirit is not for one particular type of personality — it is for ‘‘all flesh.’’
Great Revivals usually have had their necessary figureheads before the public-eye, and perchance before God. Let us honour the heaven-sent leader of any Revival. We are not misled when we pray and wait for such a one again to appear in the land. The intense consecration of one gifted, fiery soul is usually the pivot upon which a widespread Revival turns. But it also is true that the strength of a Revival will lie in the breadth of its basis among many personalities of diverse parts. Rank individualism in leadership spells early decay in any religious movement within the Church. The law of life in our dispensation, when expressed in ministry, is that “the body is not one member, but many.” The principle applies to Revival as much as anything else.
There is, therefore, something more than a slightly fresh method of treatment to commend this series of articles. Underlying what has been written is the significance of the diversity of the writers, and it is to be noted that each article does bear the impress of the personality behind it. In this manifestation of a deep unity of warm interest we feel that we glimpse something so deeply of the Spirit of Truth and Love that it quickens our hope and strengthens our faith. God is moving. On a broader basis than some might have imagined we are moving towards the answer of many, many prayers. We have talked, and written, about Revival enough. Now let it come.
What is Revival? by David B. Owen
Let us be very clear at the outset that this article does not presume to explain revival. You cannot explain revival, there is too much of God in it. There are some attempted book-explanations, I think, but when they have said all, revival still remains one of Heaven’s delightful mysteries. Revival in a book is like Christ in a stained-glass window. Of course, I do not refer to those soul-stirring records of records that make us long unutterably for more of God. I mean the attempted “explanations” of Divine Phenomena Human explanation of a Divine visitation is something like Saul’s armour on David it just does not fit. Revival, as to cause, time, place and degree is an enigma. It defies analysis. It beggars explanation. No, I shall not presume to explain but merely to recount the most obvious things about revival in its effects and results.
Revival is a quickening of life. Its first approach is seen in those who are already believers. Sleepy, sluggish saints begin to awake. Smoldering (m)embers are fanned into flame by the almighty Breath of God. There is a general thawing of the hosts of indifference and apathy. Lips, long sealed, begin witnessing for Christ. Dry, dead meetings are displaced by meetings throbbing and pulsating with life. Voices, seldom heard before, are raised in testimony, song and prayer. Grave-clothes of decorum are changed for garments of praise. Preachers (ay, it touches preachers, too) no longer serve stone-cold sermons from the refrigerators of mere human logic with ecclesiastical etiquette, but deliver white-hot messages straight from Heaven that sting the conscience, stir the emotions and capture the will. Brotherly love and kindliness warm the very atmosphere. Holiness becomes the order of the day.
Nor is this all. Revival is more than a quickening of Church life. Revival is a general Spiritual awakening that is by no means confined within Assembly boundaries. It is far, far too great for that. It profoundly affects those outside the Church. It arrests the “man in the street.” I have seen preachers take pains to prove that revival is only for saints. Their etymological exactness leaves me cold. So confirmed are they in their straightened outlook, so well versed in ponderous argument that only one thing could change their opinion — Revival!
Reach the outsider? Definitely so. Forget the dictionary a moment and let the facts speak. What was the Wesley revival? Assuredly not a mere church affair. What was the Welsh revival? Was it for saints only? Let tens of thousands of ransomed “sinners” who owe their Salvation to that awakening, answer the question. You cannot confine or monopolize revival. It laughs at church boundaries. It leaps over barriers of class and creed. You cannot hold it. Revival is not a house-fire controlled by dampers, but a prairie-fire driven by the Wind of Heaven, that bloweth where it listeth. It not only re-inspires the living and revivifies the dying but also resurrects the dead. Hallelujah!
Yes, it reaches sinners. Indeed, it is our only hope of reaching some sinners. Nothing but an extraordinary visitation of God can save a community whose soul is corrupted and shriveled by sin. Such visitations are invariably termed “revival” and are inseparably associated with sweeping in gatherings of sinners
Revival is a return to solid, sound, Scriptural doctrine. The Bible, as the authoritative Word of God, is magnified and enthroned. A revival to day would strike at the very vitals of Modernism, and any other “ism” that is a perversion of truth. Revival means a mass trek back to the grand, old, evangelical doctrines of the Bible.
Revival is the reinstatement of Christianity in the home. The Bible, as a family Book, comes back into its own. Broken down family altars are repaired. The hearth becomes a Holy Place and a man is priest in his own household. Revival purifies the springs of a nation’s life — the home.
Revival, from a Pentecostal standpoint, is a restoration of the Gifts of the Spirit. Any future revival, I believe, will be distinctively Pentecostal, in character if not in name. By that I mean a revival manifesting, in equal or even greater degree, all the tremendous phenomena of the Acts of the Apostles. Of course, it is pointed out that “Pentecost” itself is a revival. True, but the fact must be faced, not with any depressing grumbling about it, that the Pentecost of today is not quite the same as wtat it appears to have been in the Acts, at least not in Britain. For example, there are probably thousands in British Pentecostalism that have never witnessed one single outstanding case of healing. Exclude the Gifts of Tongues, Interpretation and Prophecy and to many of us the other Gifts are non-existent quantities, from a practical standpoint. As sure, however, as each revival of the past seemed to restore to the Church some “lost” New Testament treasure, so sure will the next revival witness a restoration of miraculous, supernatural signs and wonders in an unsurpassed degree. Revival without the Gifts of the Spirit is unthinkable.
Finally, revival is the sovereign act of God. It comes solely from Him according to His own sovereign Will. I do not doubt the sincerity of those who believe that the Church can get revival any time, but I do wish they would set about getting it. If I declare myself to be fully persuaded of, and thoroughly acquainted with, certain Spiritual procedures that guarantee revival, and yet am manifestly in need of reviving, I surely stand self-condemned. Somehow, I prefer to ascribe revival to the Sovereign Will of God.
And yet, like other Sovereign acts of God, its performance awaits suitable circumstances. For instance, the coming of Jesus to earth was entirely of God’s sovereign Will, but four thousand years elapsed before the human stage was so prepared that circumstances readily gave themselves to fulfill the purpose of His coming. Revival is like that. Certainly it behoves the people of God to be prepared, and it is by prayer and other means of Grace that they prepare themselves. But the world must be prepared too. By that I mean that the trend of circumstances must be such as to ensure the greatest glory to God in the sending of revival. THEN He sends it.
Meanwhile, let us patiently and expectantly wait. But do let us beware of spoiling the word by over-frequently applying it to our own little bursts of enthusiasm. Revival is not the puny, local Assembly spurt to which we so often apply the word. Revival is tremendous, supernatural, phenomenal. Revival is God intervening in a big way to save a corrupted, crumbling community from complete collapse. Revival is the re-enthronement, in the heart of a community, of God and God’s Book, and God’s House, and God’s Day. Revival is Heaven let loose on earth.
The History of Revival by Leslie F. W. Woodford
A DEFINITION of the precise scope and purpose of this article is imperative in view of the severe limits imposed by the necessarily short space allotted to such a comprehensive subject. We therefore intend to take but a brief panoramic view of Church history as a whole (latterly, in this country) from the standpoint of spiritual revival, to mark through the centuries the main valleys of declension and darkness and the mountain heights of divine visitation in blessing, and to ascertain as far as may be the broad principles that have governed the overruling hand of God through these epochs with their recurring phenomena. History, it has been said, is “His story” and this is certainly true in real measure in the history of the Church of God.
The Church born at Pentecost, with all its admitted imperfections, still stands as an example of purity, power and progress without parallel or rival, and all revivals since that first era are instinctively measured by its standard as recorded in the Scriptures. The Church of the post-Apostolic Fathers failed to maintain the spiritual light and life of its birth, and with the advance of the 2nd century there was a noticeable decline. From that decline there was never any complete or wide-spread recovery.
From the close of the 2nd century we discern first a slow and then a steady deepening of the shadows over the Church, with compensating periods of clear shining under persecution. Spiritual gifts languished and virtually ceased before the end of the 2nd century, spirituality gave place to laxity and episcopal domination, step by step the Church became politically minded until, with Constantine in 323 A.D., the fusion of State and Church became complete. Then, centered in Rome, the ecclesiastical system found its crowning act with the Papacy, which survived the shock of the downfall of the Empire. But a great resurgence of paganism swept around the Church and engulfed country after country. Hardly steadying herself under the impact, there followed schism within, and finally East and West broke apart in hopeless division. Worst of all, from the deserts of Arabia there arose a great scourge, which burst upon the enfeebled Church that had lost its vision of the Cross and the Crown and, before the close of the 7th century, Mohammedanism had established itself as the most formidable rival the Church had ever faced. Six hundred churches in North Africa alone disappeared in the great catastrophe. For nigh a thousand years a deep gloom and a fearful atrophy settled upon a Church, still arrayed indeed in its gorgeous pontifical robes but hopelessly stripped of its heavenly power and authority.
But was there no revival to mark those long centuries? There were indeed evidences of revival — and by revival we mean a spiritual awakening, born of God Himself, bringing the professing Church in some degree back to its first love, back to its true foundations in Christ Jesus the Lord. Although one cannot speak of “revivals” in the modern usage of the term, during this long and dark period, yet inasmuch as revival brings a recovery of lost spiritual life and liberty, of a lost vision of sainthood and consecrated service, of a lost daring in missionary enterprise, there certainly were “revivals” in some measure in the Church of the Fathers and the dark Ages. There were movements which owed their origin to a desire for “more of God” on the part of longing souls, as witness the Montanist movement of the late 2nd century (notwithstanding its excesses), the martyr Church of the Empire as it fearlessly withstood successive bitter persecutions under ruthless Emperors and gave the world its rolls of countless witnesses faithful unto death; and the missionary activities which carried the Word to the Far East, to the barbarous Goths and to the Isles of Britain. Again, the rise of Monasticism was due in the first place as much to a protest against the worldliness of the professing Church as to a desire to escape the troubles and trials of a particularly evil age, following the break-up of the Empire with its ancient law and order. The growth of the Religious Orders, later corrupted, was promoted by a conception of practical charity and simplicity of godly living as a protest against the selfish and exclusive attitude of the privileged roman hierarchy, and lives of singular beauty were lived by some of their outstanding leaders. Later, even the materialistic conception of the so-called holy wars, or “Crusades,” were indeed moulded by the dominating purpose to rid the Holy Land of the hated Saracen, and a certain enthusiasm moved the masses of Christendom.
In all this we may well see that the heights of true spiritual revival were rarely, if ever, attained within the Church, yet there was a work of God proceeding through these dark centuries. A godly remnant was still left, to preserve alive the faith of the Gospel here and there from time to time there emerged leaders of true piety as examples to the flock and, of great importance, the letter of the Scriptures was being carefully preserved in abbey and monastery, to await the time when the breath of God would quicken it into a living flame before men.
With the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries there came the first unmistakable quickenings of a new life, and a reviving of a genuine spiritual order. The rise of the Waldensian Church of the Piedmont Alps, the Pietists of the German States, the Wycliffe movement of the Lollards, the freer Brethren communities and, in Bohemia, the bold witness of Huss all indicated that the Spirit of God was once again moving upon the hearts of “seekers after God”. It was but a century or so after this that the Renaissance stirred European civilization profoundly, and as a direct result of the new spirit of enquiry abroad, bringing with it a revived knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, there issued forth, under the hand of God, the Reformation of the Church. He found His chosen vessels — a Luther and a Melancthon, a Calvin and a Zwingli, Latimer and Ridley, Cranmer and the martyr Bishops, the fearless Knox and a shining host of faithful witnesses in many lands. Broadly speaking, in its varied forms — German, Swiss, French, English, Scottish — it was a mighty protest against the Papacy and the Roman ecclesiastical system and its main achievement was a complete break from Rome by a large and influential section of the European Church. Undoubtedly there was an admixture of the political element (particularly in the English Reformation in its earlier stages) and the movement tended to develop on national lines rather than on a distinctly spiritual basis, but it was undoubtedly a great “revival” within the Church.
What were its fundamental gains? The recovery of vital truths of the Gospel (justification by faith in particular), the inestimable treasure of an “open Bible” in the language of the people, the established right of the people to read the Bible for themselves and to interpret it in the light of the Spirit of God, the emergence of a “reformed” Church free from all papal domination, and the ruthless exposure of the corruptions of the Roman system that had debased the hearts of its superstitious devotees.
Yet the Reformation fell short of God’s full purpose for His people, and the “Protestant” Church still stood in need of a clearer vision of spiritual things and a more thorough disentanglement from the Erastianism that subordinated Church interests to those of the State. Hence, in Britain (confining ourselves now to this country) came the rise of the Puritans and the great Non-Conformist movement initiated in I662. Once more the touchstone became the fearless advocacy of an open Bible and freedom to worship according to the dictates of one’s conscience in the sight of God. It was indeed a genuine gain to the Church of God, notwithstanding an evident loss of outward unity, that there should now appear a Church independent of State control, with its lustrous roll of godly ministers — Bunyan and Baxter, Goodwin and Owen and the rest of that generation of spiritual giants. Nor can one overlook Scotland, which at this time witnessed a fierce and long struggle by the devout Covenanters striving unto blood to uphold their dearly prized liberties against an oppressive and unwanted episcopacy. Yet again, since “the wind bloweth where it listeth,” there arose another movement of distinct spiritual significance, the Friends, or Quakers, under Fox and Barclay, with their special stress on the true inwardness of spiritual life and light, and their own protest against all formality, priest-craft and outward observance.
Declension soon followed until, upon a Church that had sunk to the lowest depths of torpor and corruption, there burst the Evangelical Revival of the I8th century, led by the Wesley’s and Whitfield. It was a mighty visitation of the Spirit of God that, within 50 years, wrought a silent revolution within the land. All the elements of true revival were manifest. The precise moment for the display of the supernatural power of God upon a lifeless community, divinely chosen and equipped leadership, the recovery and passionate proclamation of the truth of the Word perfectly fitted for the times, a vast ingathering of tens of thousands of souls, the creation of a simple organism under godly oversight to enable the new converts to secure fellowship and a corporate witness, an orderly expansion in ever widening circles until it overleapt the Atlantic to the New World, finally, under Dr Coke, it pioneered overseas Missions both West and East. Nor should we forget the great debt owed by the Church Universal to the godly Moravian Church of Hernhutt, inspirer of John Wesley himself in the I730’s and flaming with missionary zeal before any other Church of its generation.
With such a mighty inheritance bequeathed to it, it is not surprising that the I9th century crowned all before it in spiritual blessing and enlargement. Now the flood-tide seemed to rise, slowly at first, then more rapidly, with increasing force as the century advanced. Only a few of the dominating features can be noted. The steady growth of World Missions from the early days of Carey until the great days of the closing two decades with illustrious names all down the years — the deep work in Scotland following the Disruption of I843, under Chalmers, the Bonars, McCheyne and a host of godly men — the genuine evangelical revival within the Anglican Church — the great revivals of ‘59 and the ‘60’s — the holiness movements crystallising in “Keswick” — the mighty visitations under Moody and Sankey — the birth and growth of the Salvation Army, signally blessed to the “submerged tenth” — the re-vitalizing of the Free Churches in soul-saving ministry.
The increased tempo in spiritual awakenings and the rapidly changing character of their special manifestations renders it difficult for one fully to assess God’s progressive purpose, but with the opening of the 20th century and the extraordinary revival in Wales, it becomes clear that the Spirit of God was moving towards a definite goal: to bring the present day Church once more into the pristine blessing and glory of the Church of the 1st century, and to give to the Holy Spirit His full and rightful place in Christian life and witness. The “latter days” were upon the earth and the “latter rain” was due to be out-poured. From the I904 visitation, through the succeeding years, the world has been belted with supernatural revivals, with manifestations “as at the beginning” and with all the characteristics of the Church of Pentecost, and a fellowship of believers of all nations has been created, without parallel in the history of the Christian Church.
God’s methods have varied from age to age in the accomplishing of His wondrous purposes of redemption, nor can one say with any degree of certainty how He may choose to work in coming days. Yet we may learn much from the past history of revivals and we suggest that there are certain broad principles upon which God has worked and which we may discern for ourselves upon reflection.
I. His revivings are supernatural in origin and He has had appointed times and seasons for special visitations from on High down the centuries.
2. For such times, He has laid His hand upon chosen instruments, in His sovereign will, to accomplish His purpose.
3. These chosen instruments have been equipped, in varying degree, by His Spirit, the Word of God has come to them as a message for their day and, though men of their time, they have been in advance of their time and have, under God, lifted the Church above the level on which they found it, in spiritual light and life.
4. The resulting revivals have varied greatly in outward manifestation and final form, according to the characteristic message of each and the conditions prevailing from age to age but in the measure in which they have fulfilled the purpose of God they have all brought men face to face with the eternal revelation of God in Christ, in the power of the Spirit, in the face of apathy, apostasy and at times bitter opposition.
5. The lasting achievement of each reviving of God has been to infuse into the Church a spiritual quickening and some recovery of vital spiritual truth more nearly approximating to the Church of the Apostles than anything that has gone before down the intervening centuries.
6. Each major revival has been an advance upon its predecessors in spiritual intensity and degree of light upon the Word of God, each inheriting the blessings of its immediate predecessor and stressing a consequent sharper division, between the Church and the world.
7. There has been a steadily increasing tempo of revival over the past 400 years until with the present time there seems to be in degree a closer proximity to the Church of Pentecost than ever before, but God is still moving towards His goal and there is much yet to be done before the church can truly be said to be “His fullness, the fullness of Him who filleth all in all” May He hasten the time with yet another final revival that will consummate His purpose for this age.
The Time for Revival by John Carter
“GOD will send a revival when it is His time to do so. No matter how much we may work and pray for a Divine visitation, it will come only when God will it. The Almighty is sovereign in such matters, and nothing that we may do will cause Him to deviate from His predetermined plan.”
Have you ever heard that argument before, often coming from quite well meaning people? They believe firmly that everything which happens, and everything, which does not happen, is the out-working of an irresistible power, which they interpret as the will of God. Followed to its logical conclusion, it degenerates into mere fatalism, the belief that “all events are determined by arbitrary decree,” demanding submission to everything that happens as inevitable. Let it be known that this attitude is also the doctrine of the infidel. “ What must be will be.” “If it has got my name on it, I shall get it, no matter what I do or don’t do.” “It is as sure as fate.”
But is this a true interpretation of the Divine mind and will. If so, then it is useless to pray for anything. Prayer becomes meaningless. Why pray for our daily bread? Why ask that God’s will may be done on earth as in heaven? Why beg not to be led into temptation. Why plead for healing? Why petition the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers? If all things are fixed by arbitrary decree, why pray at all? For praying will not affect the inevitable.
God Moves in Answer to Prayer.
Why pray? Why ask God to do certain things? Because God moves in answer to prayer. The Bible is full of it. Listen. “Ye have not because ye ask not.” “If ye ask anything in My name, I will do it.” “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer believing, ye shall receive.”
And so we come back to our specific theme. Why should we pray for revival? Because we need revival. Because such praying is scriptural. Because it is God’s will to revive His people.
Is it not true we need a revival? Was there ever a time when it was more needed? “The world is in danger” warns the former Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden. Another war, and millions of people will be wiped out. Frantic efforts are now being made to save the peace. Notwithstanding the great advance in knowledge, nations are becoming more ungodly and lawlessness is on the increase.
“Sir Harold Scott, Commissioner of Metropolitan Police, said at a Press conference in Scotland Yard yesterday (December 20th, I945) that indictable crime in the first II months of this year showed an increase of 26.5 per cent. on last year — and of 35.7 per cent. over the peace year of I938” (Daily Express.)
Is it scriptural to ask God for revival? Let us quote two examples. “O Lord revive Thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Hab. 3: 2) “Wilt Thou not revive us again, that Thy people may rejoice in Thee.” (Ps. 85: 6).
Is It God’s Time?
Is God willing to revive His people? Is it God’s time? God is always willing to revive His work. It is never His will that His people should live in a cold, callous, worldly, back-slidden state. The Lord wants His church alive, fervent in spirit, full of zeal, consecrated, filled with a burning love for souls
Can we then expect a revival at the present time? There are many, who believe that the days of great revivals are past, that we cannot expect any mighty movings of the Spirit resulting in multitudes of sinners being won for Christ. We are living in the last days, they argue, when the second advent of Christ is to be expected at any moment. The last days, they remind us, have been foretold by the Lord Jesus as times of apostasy, such as Luke I8: 8, “When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” Then in the epistles written to Timothy “In the latter times some shall depart from the faith” (I Tim. 4: I), “grievous times shall come” (2. Tim. 3: I, R. V.), and the same Apostle forewarned the Thessalonians, “there shall come a falling away first” (2 Thess. 2: 3) With this dark picture of the last days presented to us in the Scriptures, it is contended that to think of revival taking place is vain, and that we should resign ourselves to the inevitable. It would accordingly appear to be a mere waste of time and strength to go on praying for a revival that cannot possibly come.
But the writer heard the very same arguments being advanced in I9I2 when he came into Pentecostal meetings for the first time. Small companies of Spirit baptized believers were then meeting in small out-of-the-way halls, upper rooms or dwelling houses, and these little groups insisted that we could not expect any great additions to the ranks. What God was doing was preparing His Church for imminent translation. This was the current belief, and the result was that very few attempts were made on any large size scale to go after the unsaved.
It must have come as a great surprise to many when, in the years between the two wars, some of the greatest revivals of modern times swept this land, and tiny assemblies became large flourishing congregations. The largest halls in the country were packed, converts were numbered by thousands in the mighty campaigns, and signs and wonders accompanied the powerful preaching of the Word.
Just prior to the recent war, however, and during these fearful years of conflict, there has been a marked abatement of revival enthusiasm. Consequently people are once again arguing along the same lines as before, which can only lead to the paralysing of the evangelical effort.
Watchfulness and Workfulness Wedded.
Surely the blessed hope of our Lord’s return was never intended to act as a deterrent to soul-saving efforts. Watchfulness was not to be emphasized at the expense of workfulness. Nay, we find the two have been blessedly yoked together by our Lord. We read that he gave to every man his work and commanded . . . to watch. Watch ye therefore” (Mark I3: 34 — 36). Here are work and watchfulness wedded in the parable of the Pounds, He told them “Occupy till I come.” (Luke I9: I3) They were to be busy right up to His return. Still more definite is the evangelical picture presented in the parable of the Marriage Supper where the task of inviting people to the banquet continues right on up to the time of the King’s appearance.
Millions Have Never Heard.
Then we must never overlook that Christ told His disciples “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations , and then shall the end come” (Matt 24: I4) Whilst we are not to read into this the conversion of the world, it does predict great evangelical effort right up to the end. There are hundreds of millions of people in the world to-day who have never yet heard the gospel, and this appalling fact should cause us to see the great need of a universal outpouring of the Spirit. This in turn should lead us to pray that nothing in us may hinder such a visitation, but that we, as God’s people, may be ready and willing in the day of His power.
Without doubt, it was God’s intention that the revival, which began on the Day of Pentecost, should have continued in undiminished power and blessing throughout the whole of the Church era, right up to the second advent of Christ. What then caused the revival to decline and the Church to become bereft of her power and authority, until, like poor impotent Samson; she became the sport of the unbeliever? Was it that this had to be because Christ had predicted the dispensation would end so? The blame lies with the Church. When, like Samson, the sign of her separation becomes apparent once more, then will the Spirit move again in revival power, resulting in the overthrow of her enemies.
The Latter Rain Outpouring
What should give us ground for believing that the day of great revivals has not passed is the astounding fact that the first half of the present century has witnessed an out pouring of the Holy Spirit which must be greater in magnitude than the early Church. The number of people in the world to day who have received the experience of the baptism of the Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues must surely exceed the multitude even of the first century. All over the world, in practically every country, are to be found vast numbers of people who are enjoying an Acts 2. 4 experience. And this universal outpouring has happened at a time in dispensational reckoning when the very opposite might have been expected. Let us therefore claim the promise of Zech. I0: I, “Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain.”
We do not close our eyes to dispensational truth. What we are endeavoring to show is that God has not changed in His attitude and is just as willing to open the windows of heaven as ever He was. Let no one lay the blame for his helplessness upon the dispensation, or seek to excuse himself from fulfilling the Great Commission on the ground that things must inevitably grow worse and worse. Let us rather examine our own hearts, to see if there is anything that we are failing to do to bring about the mighty revival, which will send the Gospel to all the nations of the world. The servants, in the parable, slackened not in their efforts to bring to the Marriage Feast as many as they could in obedience to the Royal Command, and were all busy at the task right up to the time when the King made His appearance. May we, too, receive our Lord’s approbation, and not be ashamed before Him at His appearing.
The Promotion of Revival by Percy S. Brewster
In every Christian enterprise there is always the Human and the Divine: “The sword of the Lord and Gideon.” God chooses His man or men and then works through them. God has the power to work unaided, as He did when He spoke from the Mount, and the voice that the people heard was as the loudest roar of thunder. It came direct from God. Since that day, however, God has always been pleased to work through human channels. In the study of past manifestations of God’s power it is noticeable that a vessel is chosen and singled out for a particular work, and a special portion of Holy Ghost power is given to that one. Should the channel fail or lose out in any important direction, then God simply places him on the shelf and uses another. The Lord is never long without a witness, and no one — not even a personality of national or international calling and ability — is indispensable.
Other aspects of Revival have been considered in previous articles so in this message we shall prayerfully consider how best we, as members of the Body of Christ, can promote Revival, either in the local Church or district. It is right and perfectly legitimate that we should promote and do all in our power to further the cause of Christ and the salvation of precious souls, also to awaken the sleeping Christians to the glorious realization that Christ is coming and that the day of grace is fast drawing to a close. In our eagerness to keep the work of God pure and aggressive, we must be careful that we do not stand in the way of God.
Sometimes we have such set views and preconceived ideas as to how God is going to work, or must work, that it does not dawn upon us that God might have other plans. Thus God is left in the shadows waiting to work in a new way while we are preventing Him from doing so. We cannot tie God down to the small confines of our limited experiences. The Lord will work how He will, when He will, and through whom He will. It is folly always to be talking of what God used to do and how He used to bless. What is He doing NOW? He is the same yesterday, to-day and for ever. The God of Wesley and of all the great reformers and revivalists is our God, and He is unchanged
Yet another little problem we must face if we would have revival we must settle once and for all that God can do all things and that nothing is too hard for Him. We must take our eyes off all the mountainous difficulties — the hardness of the world and the deadness and rebelliousness of sinners — and be still, recognizing that God is all in all. How often we hear splendid Christians speak of the hardness of their town or city, and refer to them as being gospel hardened. How often they speak of the hard state of their relatives, as though they could never be converted. Nothing is too hard for God, and some of the areas that have for years been pronounced as Gospel hardened and hopeless have yielded rich results as the Evangelist has launched out in God. Some of our Lord’s richest harvests were gathered from unexpected sources, and some of the choicest commendations were directed to those who would have been described by others as hardened and hopeless.
The first way I would suggest to promote Revival is to recognize the men endued with evangelical ministry, and thrust them out to pioneer and found Churches, reaping the harvest wherever it is ripe. These men must have the support and prayerful backing of those who are to follow up and shepherd the converts. Much harm, unnecessary discouragement, and wastage of money and strength has been brought about by thrusting out unsuitable men into this work
Another important feature, which may at first seem unnecessary to some, but will be recognized as important by others, is the heart acceptance that an Evangelist is necessary and vital to act as a spearhead to pioneer the towns and cities as God leads. There are other ways, such as the working up of an assembly from a mere handful or a couple of families. This is a slower way, and could also operate in conjunction with the bigger efforts God has set in His Church, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelists, and they are all important in the Plan of God for the furtherance of His work. When every servant of God is prepared to recognize the Divine call of another of God’s servants, to honour him and pray for him, then that is the beginning of a sweetness and a harmony that will be beautiful to behold and a delight to Christ Himself.
A third suggestion is that when men get together as a Revival team or party, there must be absolute soul unity, loyalty and understanding. Tremendous issues are at stake and great spiritual forces are standing at bay, and is it vital for all concerned to have perfect harmony, not merely outwardly in the working but in the spirit and the soul. There must be much reading of the Word of God together, times of waiting upon God in prayer, and, when prompted, times of fasting. How important it is for the Evangelists to enter the meeting full of God, Holy Ghost freshness and blessing. They must radiate life and make the atmosphere alive with faith and expectancy. On Revival campaigns the congregations are composed of 50% unconverted, a sprinkling of cold backsliders, and Christians from other denominations. The atmosphere is cold and hard, unfriendly and critical. The Evangelists must create their own meetings by faith, prayer, enthusiasm, fervour and passion. The public are very quick to detect sincerity in the things of God, and after a few meetings will be quick to respond.
Yet a fourth thought, which is vital to remember, is that God will not tolerate a rival or allow any Evangelist to rob Him of the Glory that is due to His Name. God is jealous, and when a channel takes the praise and glory to himself that is the beginning of the end for that person.
In our desire to reach the sinner we must not be afraid to use all the legitimate means at our disposal. Attractive advertisements, on posters, bills, in the press and in public vehicles, and where possible block photographs attract the people to read the bills, etc. : the use of the largest public halls is important to success, as the public are more ready to enter well known halls than they are to visit small back street missions and halls. Town Halls, Cinemas, Theaters, Dance Halls are bound to be more inviting to the sinner, as he is more used to entering them. The use of well known hymns is important, and the choruses should be of a deep devotional character rather than the light empty type that we sometimes hear. The words and the tunes must grip the people as they sing, and lead them towards Christ. In all this there must be a venturing out on God, and in this respect, finance should not be spared if the venture is to be a success. It is false economy to be mean with the things of God. The world is prepared to spend millions of pounds on unimportant things and light pleasures for the people, so why should we hold back?
In all Revival work the Holy Ghost must be honoured, for He reveals Christ, opens the BOOK and brings conviction. During the Campaign nothing should be hidden, but an uncompromising stand taken for the full message. The truth of instantaneous Conversion, the need of Repentance, the promise of the Holy Spirit, the fact of miraculous Healing, and the sudden return of Christ, should be brought to the forefront. It is vital to teach Doctrine rather than startling topical subjects, which often only tickle the ears of the curious and unstable hearers.
The theme of every Revival effort, whether in the local Church or in the area, should be THE GLORY OF GOD. Anything less than this is bound to fail. Included in this central theme is the Passion for lost souls — not merely to fill a Church, to help a brother minister, or to build up a Movement — but to snatch souls from the gates of Hell. Our calling is not to educate or to keep the youth off the streets, or to undertake the social side of life, but to EVANGELISE.
A campaign usually proves more successful if each member of the team has his particular work, the ministry of God’s Word to be left to one, who should, under God, shoulder the leadership of the effort. The organizing, the singing, and contact with the people are vital. Souls can be sung into blessing as well as by other means.
Healing for the sick, the casting out of demons, and instantaneous conversion for the sinful and lost, played a large part in the ministry of Christ and the Apostles. The early Church was established in the atmosphere of miracles. So it must be to-day the evidence of supernatural power attracts the ungodly, and they come under the sound of God’s Word and get saved.
Having, as suggested, dealt with the question of Revival from the Campaign and practical standpoint, I would earnestly contend that the follow up of all Campaign efforts is vital and of paramount importance. It is not the work of a young beginner but the work of an experienced Pastor. The converts, full of their new found love and experience, must be nursed and nourished, and led on in the deeper things of God. This is, of course, the work of an experienced shepherd.
The Cost of Revival by Howard Carter
There is a price to pay for everything of value. We hardly expect to receive anything as a gift in this world, which is worthy of acceptance, except of course the leaflet that advertises, or the brochure, which describes the article for sale. We pay for the houses we live in, for the furniture we require, for the car we drive, for the various means of transport, and the telephone system.
We purchase “truth” also, but not with the currency of this world. We are exhorted to buy it and not to sell it again. Character also is bought, true Christian character is bought at a price, a price far higher than we would pay say for a worldly education.
But someone will affirm that salvation is free. Why should other things be bought and yet salvation be offered without money and without price? Simply because it is utterly beyond the price that anyone could pay. The wealth of the world in the aggregate could never purchase redemption for a single soul, and all our good works, however virtuous our lives, could never merit it. The weeping Apostle in his rapturous vision on the Isle of Patmos had to learn that there was only ONE who could pay the price that would cover man’s redemption.
If everything but salvation has to be purchased, then we must pay for revival, or otherwise it is a gift from heaven accompanying salvation. Is it a gift? Most assuredly from one standpoint revival is a gift from heaven; it is a heaven-born and heaven sent gift breathed upon the earth with the noiseless mystery and refreshing activity of the morning dew. Yes, revival is a gift. It is a gift of the Spirit, a gift of the power of God, of the presence of the Lord in the midst, a gift of divine energy animating the members of the body of Christ, and inspiring them to spiritual activity and holy zeal.
But before the Lord graciously works and pours out His Spirit in revival power, there is generally a person somewhere who is pleading before the Throne of Grace for the blessing to come. In the days of Elijah the time of drought did not simply and gradually emerge into one of blessing. The Prophet prayed, and prayed definitely and fervently and continually. He prayed seven times and grasped the fulfilment of his prayer with a living strong faith, when to the natural vision only a small cloud appeared in the sky.
What have we done behind the scenes to secure revival? What have we given of time and strength and soul grief? There is a sorrow that can disturb the soul until sleep is impossible, and tears flow freely, and the heart groans out its agony to God.
Such is not preaching about revival; let no one make this mistake. It is not taking “revival” as a topic for the pulpit or a subject for a magazine article, which may be calmly considered and spoken with rhetoric, or written with a flowing pen. The preacher who is discoursing on revival may give a very inspiring message, there may be urgency in his tone and vehemence in his manner, but these things are not actually revival, they are thoughts about it, which draw attention to the subject. They are good preliminaries.
The one who is “paying the price” for a sacred visitation may not actually be a preacher, or perchance only a poor preacher. But he will know how to pray, how to travail in soul, and soul travail, like physical travail, is not for public exhibition. The pulpit is not the place for soul travail.
We are exhorted to covet earnestly the best gifts, and to covet earnestly “ does not mean being willing to accept if God sees fit to bestow them. The best gifts will help to bring revival, but the best gifts must be sought for earnestly.
If we would “minister the Spirit” we cannot formally lay on hands on the seekers and say casually “now you have received”. If the seeker should seem to receive easily, someone has laboured in spiritual things and his faith has triumphed. Imparting the Spirit will of course help to bring revival, for it is actually a reviving of the individual. But imparting the Spirit is not as simple as it so often appears.
Again, Jacob was not made a “Prince with God,” by saying to the Angel; if it pleases you I shall be happy to receive a blessing. The hours of sweat and struggle and the final physical disability were part of the price he paid for a position where he could prevail with God and man.
Revival for Gideon also was a stern matter. It meant destroying his father’s idols, rising up against the idolatry of his parents, and touching the object of his father’s veneration. It was difficult and dangerous, but it had to be done. For Elijah it meant years of preparation, years at Cherith and Zarephath with all their attendant difficulties and hardships. And for all to day who would see the mighty work of God revived and His ministers anointed afresh, there will be a price to pay.
For revival to-day someone must be praying spiritually, “Give me children or I die,” others may be languishing beneath some Juniper tree, crushed and broken in spirit because their expectations are not fully realised. Some will have a sword and trowel in hand as they labour among the sacred stones of Jerusalem, while others will be treading paths of suffering, and tasting the bitterness of rejection, to be finally shadowed by the gloom of a dungeon, before they will know the glory of a power that will ultimately deliver their brethren.
Whatever the price that is paid for revival, the actual glory of revival abundantly compensates for all the sufferings, and the results that ensue are recorded by HIM who has given the Spirit in the first instance. It was His blessed power that moved so mightily in the midst of pride and prejudice in the priest bound City of Jerusalem at the beginning of this era, and it is His power to-day that can sweep away every obstacle and cause the dry bones of a dead and formal worship to mightily shake and marvelously change.
The Maintenance of Revival by Tom Woods
What! are there jeopardizes in the midst of the sweeping winds of refreshing? Are there possible dangers when the prosperity of Zion is gloriously apparent? Can the flame of revival be quenched when it is born in the liberal heart of God? Are we to be on our guard when the sails of inspiration are full and the once beleaguered barque is steering a blessed course of triumph? Is there a danger when holy prosperity touches the church of God? Experience has taught us that in the midst of all these glorious conditions many a testimony has faltered, and many a servant of God has reeled from his God appointed position and fallen a prey to some subtle device of Satan. When God is blessing, Satan is always busy, so to be conversant with the essentials and rules of revival, will save us from remorse, and inspire us to maintain what God has graciously bestowed.
The First Essential to Maintain Revival is to Maintain a Spirit of Prayer.
In Acts 3 we see the leaders of that revival which swept souls in by the thousands wending their way to the temple to pray. The flame of inspiration has blazed in chapter 2, and the grand ecstatic utterance of the hundred and twenty abandoned ones had struck a death blow to the anaemic ideals of the ritualists, and had shifted their devotion from a form of godliness devoid of power, to the power of God as revealed in Christ. Obedience and surrender had been born in a day, and the passion of these new converts was burning white hot. What meetings! What inspirations! What new found joys! Peter and John could have been taking notes and writing journals, and emphasizing the glory of this visitation, and probably bracketing their own part in this grand triumph, but no, here they are in the spirit of need tramping to the temple to pray. The retreating steps of yesterday can be heard in the distance, and the to-day is entering and the need of a to-day brings the poor sons of dust to a place of desire, which is the father of prayer, prayer being the inspiration to passion and exploit. We cannot live on revival, we must ever live on God and even though the Almighty might have used these once-lonely fishermen to carry the Divine oracle, and make way for the flaming Pentecostal visitation they must ever remember that the fashion and glory of man fadeth and perisheth. God alone is immutable, and from Him comes every supply. So up to the temple you blessed recipients of this flaming Revival, and let revival, which has been demonstrated in the open, be intensified on your knees. That is where the fires are freshly kindled, that is where the burning coals of passion are thrown into the already white hot atmosphere of revival. It might he glorious for us to contemplate that the fact in Acts three is the fact that God preceded them, and accepted their attitude, and blessed their condition, and satisfied their thirst, and healed a lame man and added another five thousand.
The Second Essential to Maintain Revival is the Need of Humility.
When God blesses and refreshes there are always those who by word or attitude would shift the glory from the Suffering and Risen Lord to some gifted person or party, or even some movement. This spirit poisons and kills revival. Humility must be exhibited in those who are used of God. The men of the Early Church revival who maintained the blessing and intensified the spirit of revival were lowly men. In the glory of visitation they caught the gleam of the matchless Christ and advanced every truth as emanating from Him, marked every progress and enlargement as the bestowals of His grace, and emphasized, with the thunder of eternity behind it, that the excellency of the power was of God and not of them.
To them we pay our homage, not for what they accomplished, but in that they kept themselves in a right relationship with the Lord. No visitation is to exalt us. No blessing is to elate and inflate us. If God used our hands to heal millions of sick, and charged our lips with the most dynamic inspiration, and filled our Assemblies with praising saints through our God touched ministries, we are only dust and ashes, and every blessing should humble us, and every manifestation drive us lower down at Jesus’ feet.
When revival comes beware of those who would place wreaths upon your heads or they will dull the vision. Only humility can run parallel with revival, and it is the essential handmaiden of visitation.
The Third Essential to Maintain Revival is to Maintain Truth.
The early church reveled in the truth. Satan can enter no domain where truth is enthroned, and humility exhibited. Truth will keep the thing clean. Jesus knew that when He said “Now are ye clean through the words which I have spoken unto you.” This is not the hard letter, but the exemplified truth lived and taught. The truth must run and have free course. It must have first place. It was for this that Paul suffered, and the saints were called upon to agonize for. Not the straining at gnats, but the burning embrace of truth, which masters the life, and brings all into subordination to the Lord Jesus who is the truth. Conformity must ever be to truth. Revival must be bulwarked with truth. Our doctrines must have the red blood stream of truth in them, and that truth as it is in Jesus. There must be a throwing off if the body is to keep healthy, and good doctrine with its variety of flashes of truth must fling its rays across the revived companies, and the increased communities, if we are to maintain what the Lord graciously bestows upon us in revival.
The first operations of that great revival which swept through the pagan feasts of its day and spoiled them, and challenged cruel imperialism, and opened the door for civilization, were operations of conviction born in the fearless declaration of truth. This must continue if the Spirit of that revival is to continue. There must be no playing to the crowds, there must be an overmastering passion for truth. If it challenges and wounds it will also heal, for the same lips through which proceeded the challenging indictments laying the blame for that cruel and murderous act of slaying the Son of God at the doors of these listeners (in Acts 2), become mollifying lips by the same truth, and He Who had convicted by truth would also forgive them by the truth.
The whole counsel of God must be proclaimed, and truths, which seem to clash are reconciled as we see by the mind of the Spirit.
The Fourth Essential to Maintain Revival is to Stimulate Charity.
The end of the commandment is not a multitude of controversial doctrines, but charity out of a pure heart. We must be more concerned about the purity of our hearts than the acceptance of our doctrines. The great doctrines we must essentially maintain. The things outlined in our fundamentals are glorious to us as an heritage, but the little individual persuasions which neither tend to rock us or wreck us we can leave in abeyance until the full vision is attained and we see face to face.
What intensifications, what enlargements, what unabated movings of the Mighty Spirit should be maintained if Charity prevailed out of pure hearts, and burning love blazed amidst the liberalities of the Lord? How much has been undone by envy and jealousy when Revival has been breaking upon the people of God? Love will recognize God’s sovereignty and the Spirit’s sway, and there will be a recognition of those whom the Spirit raises to usefulness and exploit, and the whole company will rejoice, not in the vessel, but in the Lord Who is filling the vessel. How much we have lost here. How much has been spoiled by the carnal element, when it enters the flaming scene of revival, and how sad and amazing has been the results. There can be losses while the fire of revival is burning. There can be interferences with this dynamic work of the Holy Ghost, and many a revival has been spoiled and ruined in its infancy because of the giving way on the human side to the things which are contrary to love and grace.
The Fifth Essential to Maintain Revival is the Constant Demand of Yieldedness.
I believe that this Pentecostal fellowship was born in revival and if we had maintained continual yieldedness to the Spirit, and had been ready to obey its every conviction, the world would still have been reeling through the repercussions of the power of God in the earth, and it would still have been said of this fellowship that we were of the stock which turned the world upside down. God is no respecter of persons. His grace is continuous, His power is still the same, and, (forgive the deviation) if God can get us all into a full yieldedness to Him on all lines, there will be greater things demonstrated than we have ever seen. Revisal thrives in the atmosphere of submission. God has liberty to move when His children are fully yielded. He moves to revive and to continue to revise. They go from strength to strength in Zion, and the Almighty breaks in as soon as the elect yield, and once He is in, He claims all, and in claiming all proceeds to bestow and to bless with increase and blessing and intensified revival.
Revival Demands Continuous Brokeness and Contrition.
This is the true condition of heart for revival. He that inhabiteth, eternity, Whose name is Holy dwelleth also with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. (Isaiah 57, I5) Leaders must learn to weep between the porch and the altar. To know brokeness and contrition. To stimulate their hearts with tenderness and compassion, and this will catch the congregations already revived, and add flame to the fire, and passion to the devotion, until the glory shall be increased, and the droppings become showers, and the blessings multiplied, and the triumphs made manifest, and the Lord more clearly revealed, and loved, and adored, and the saints led on and on into greater depths of love and purity, and a holy prosperity made manifest to all around
There are other things to observe, but the seeking soul will find direction as the tide increases, and the test of all revival is its production, and if the glory of brokenness and contrition can ever adorn our revived companies, and the Holy Ghost can continue to hold sway over the refreshed congregations, then the words of the Master will find their fulfilment, “He shall be in you a well of water springing up into everlasting life,” and the glory of a maintained revival should prove the anointed vehicle to fling His fully revived Church into the final triumph, and an everlasting entrance afforded with all abundance into the Eternal Kingdom.