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Revival Fires

“A wonderful revival is sweeping over Wales. The whole country, from the city to [the mines] underground, is aflame with gospel glory…”1

The leader of this great spiritual awakening in 1904 was a young Welsh miner with coal dust in his hair and grime beneath his fingernails. He possessed no skills as an orator, nor was he widely read. The only book he knew was the Bible, and his heart burned with a passion for God and His holy Word.

Just as God had shown him, Roberts saw the revival leap to England. There, an estimated two million people received Christ. Then the Holy Spirit coursed out into Western and Northern Europe. When He “fell” upon Norway, so many packed the churches that the clergy had to ordain lay persons in order to serve communion to the masses. Then the Spirit of revival swept across the world to Africa, India, China and Korea.

In America, ministers tracked the move of God as best they could from sketchy reports from overseas. The excited Americans called clergy meetings in the large cities to decide how to react when the move of God reached their nation. For them, it was not a matter of “if” but “when.” And God rewarded their anticipation: The Spirit came, and His holy fire burned from city to city.

What Is Revival?
First, revival is a sovereign act of God. The Holy Spirit is the one who orchestrates and enables even our love for Christ. We cannot understand God's Word apart from the Holy Spirit who inspired the writing. We cannot pray unless He intercedes for us. We cannot witness for Christ without His power. So revival is the product of the Spirit, the third person of the Trinity.

Second, revival is a divine visitation. In the end, you discover that spiritual renewal was God's idea in the first place. Believers find they were only responding to Him. Sometimes God comes in power and you have no idea what you said or did to prompt it-and, indeed, it probably had nothing to do with your piety at all.

Third, revival is a time of personal humiliation, forgiveness, and restoration in the Holy Spirit. It is a time when the Spirit calls on a person to repent of obvious sins, and reveals those which are not so obvious-coldness of heart, loss of first love, letting the world go by, refusing to step beyond our personal "comfort zones," living quietly as God's "secret agents" in the midst of a society which desperately needs the salt and light of the world.

Fourth, during revival, preaching is fearless under the anointing of the Holy Spirit-as in Acts 4:31 when "they spoke the word of God with all boldness."

Fifth, the presence of the Holy Spirit is powerful. Fearless, Christ-centered preaching with people literally "falling on their faces" before God often is a hallmark of revival. In the John Wesley and George Whitefield revivals in England the awesome presence of the Holy Spirit was common and it had a powerful effect on the people. Some American revivals were marked with miracles and controversial experiences such as trembling, jerking, screaming, groaning, fainting, prostration, or dancing for joy.

Sixth, revival changes communities and nations. History shows that a true awakening leaps far beyond the walls of any church and radically reforms society. During the Welsh revival, for example, the social impact was astounding. For a time, crime disappeared: no rapes, no robberies, no murders, no burglaries, no embezzlements-the judges had no cases to try.

Our Task
In America today, we need not wait for a sovereign act of God to bring revival. We do not have to wait for a general out-pouring of the Holy Spirit on the church and the nation. Our task is to surrender to the lordship of Christ and the control of the Holy Spirit, fast and pray, and obey God's Word. Meeting these conditions, we can expect the Holy Spirit to transform our lives.

God’s Word promises us that if we humble ourselves, reverence and worship God, He will bless us. But for the slothful person, the disobedient person, there is no blessing-only discipline, or worse.

The Holy Spirit of God is sovereign. He works when and where He chooses. But we should always pray and plan for His sovereign work in the affairs of people and nations. But personal revival begins with an inner call to the heart by the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:13). The conscience finds itself stirred by that call. The will makes the decision to obey or ignore it.

Today, our decision is crucial as individuals, as a church and as a nation. God is asking us to seek Him with all of our being. The revival which He promises begins when we humble ourselves, repent, fast, pray, and seek His face and turn from our evil ways. God has promised to respond with revival fire for any person who will hear, love, trust and obey Him.

*******
1. Winkie Pratney, Revival (Springdale, PA: Whitaker House, 1984), p. 189.

[Excerpt from Chapter 5, The Coming Revival by Bill Bright]

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