Friday, July 10, 2009

Thoughts on Revival/Outpouring

First I want to say that I without a doubt don't expect to get many amens, because on the one side I'll be going too far and on the other side I won't be going far enough.

Well I've been chewing on this for a while, and wanted to throw out some generals perhaps to the blessing of someone. If you're like me then you might be a little frustrated at the extremes that take away from the work of God and you might be equally frustrated at the great variety of teaching concerning outpourings and revival: it is my belief that such variety only shows well-intentioned men going a little too far in trying to give more light then scripture.

Scripture MUST rule, not church history, not testimonies, nor personal experiences; all such MUST be tried and regulated to the word of God! As my former Pentecostal pastor's wife used to say 'take it with a grain of salt'!

I can't recall who said it (Iain Murray or Lloyd-Jones perhaps) but 'revival is a acceleration of grace'. In otherwords revival accomplishes things which usually take years otherwise, or I should say God does things at an unusual and intense speed upon His people.
Revival is rare, it has never been and will never be normal: it is a work of God alone and yet like all works of God there are means in which God employs. The chief characteristic above all is DESPERATION, however it is expressed, whether in preaching, prayer or worship.
Though it can't be organized and though it is rare, yet we have much reason to pray diligently for it, primarily that God would receive the GREATEST amount of glory! You could read the apostles prayer in Acts 4 as one big cry 'GIVE US MORE, VISIT US AGAIN'.
Although we should request it and cry out for it, let us not think we have failed at something because God in His sovereignty has not sent it, however let us not be content with 'NORMAL'!

Extremes? Yes they are incredibly abundant and have robbed the people of God of powerful expectation, yet be careful to not reject what you're afraid of and can't fully explain. Take for instance the Brownsville 'revival', which initially if the testimonies are true bore good fruit, red-hot preaching and an abundance of confessions of all sorts. This was the 'BIG' thing when I was single, I remember watching the services live while jumping all around my parents dining room. Well when I got married, me and my wife took our honeymoon in Pensacola, FL hoping to jump in 'the river' of the revival, yet despite our great hopes we found much hype and found looney revival junkies. In fact I made a habit of visiting churches when I was single (whenever my church didn't have a service) and I sure could write a book. Throw in all the times I've spent with groups of young adults in all night worship or all night prayer and I can honestly and fairly say the majority of it was flesh. Yet there have been those rare times individually and groups where the clarity, the joy, the expectation, the wonders, the boldness and sense of power to do great things for God were unexplainable. Like the time after a 4th of July fireworks show in an incredibly bad part of town, I watched as over 20+ youth were chanting their 'side' until as it always happens they start fighting or in this case rioting. Watching from across the street, I saw these teens (and young adults) throwing trash cans at cars, even throwing punches at any drivers who said anything including a couple of guys who almost kicked down one guys front door. Yet like a wild man, I wasn't shocked or fearful but incredible boldness was stirring in me, my mind was fixed on one thought 'God what do you want me to do?' and with unusual clarity I knew who exactly to speak to and had the whole conversation in my mind. The young man was someone I didn't know and he was on the other side of this wild crowd. Well I simply walked through these people (seemingly unnoticed) and went straight to this kid who testified that this must be God speaking to him (come to find out he was a teen who the pastor of my church at the time poured a lot of time into and had practically disappeared). Well that's just one story, yet I'm convinced that God enjoys doing such things to His children from time to time. More than once has my soul been flooded while alone or a baby in my arms or by my wife, to the extent that for hours my yearning for God kept growing, to the point where truly NOTHING could move me, nothing could impress me, NOTHING could disturb (no trial or problem) me/us! No I didn't experience stigma's, uncontrollable shaking, floating, or giggles but with my right mind and with sound emotions God blessed/visited/stirred me! Yet I have over the years brought everyone of those experiences to God begging Him to reveal to me if it wasn't genuine.
Why would the most intimate of all our relationships be stripped of a desire to experience (feel), when it would be abnormal to NEVER want that from those we are intimately close to?

Revival can be personal, corporate, and even city/country wide. It would be my opinion that the frequency is in that order as well. Revival is a glimpse of the fullness of the kingdom of heaven.

Genuine revival usually has all of these elements with unusual intensity:
Conversions as well as Persecutions
Growth in holiness as well as Apostasy
A restoration of truth as well as revived heresy
Faithful supporters as well as unexpected critics

From my limited knowledge, many have gone too far in 'getting out of the way' during revival to the point where their passivity welcomed fanaticism. I like something which Pastor Jeff Noblit has pointed out concerning church discipline, that it was (to our surprise perhaps) carried out during times of revival (Acts 5), the point is that even in the midst of the most amazing moves of God there is still the need for godly oversight and wherever it was neglected much harm has always followed. It would be well to ask the question 'but what exactly happened after the so called 'revival'?' did the church or the city stay changed, how long did the change last?
It could also be asked 'was the revival for the blessing of God's people or for the heaping of more judgment upon the wicked?'

Concerning our desire for revival, I would suggest that we plead for the fruit of revival. The glory of God among the nations, salvation of souls, unity of the brethren, and holy conformity to Christ.

1 comments:

Patrick Eaks

Thanks for your post. I am forty years old and have been serving the Lord Jesus Christ for about twenty years. I have only experienced corporate revival twice in those twenty years.

However, we individually can have a daily revival, (communion or fellowship) with our God! (Psalm 24, James 4) And this type of revival can be as precious to us individually as it is during corporate revival.

Do I pray that God would sweep through our church with a great outpouring of the Spirit. Amen, Yes I do. Am I disappointed when God does not do this, I am not. Why? Because as you have said, corporate revival is a sovereign work of Almighty God. Only He can bring it, and we cannot manipulate Him into doing it.

I do believe however, that when God is going to work in corporate revival, he will lead his people to pray for it.

Thank you for your labor here, in this post.

Patrick

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