Volume. XXVI, No. 20
Sunday, 13 November 2011


Marks of Genuine Revival


Introduction

A.W. Tozer says, “In the Book of Acts faith was for each believer a beginning, not an end; it was a journey, not a bed in which to lie while waiting for the day of our Lord\'s triumph. Believing was not a once-done act; it was more than an act, it was an attitude of heart and mind which inspired and enabled the believer to take up his cross and follow the Lamb whithersoever He went.” The book of Acts is one of the most important books in the Bible because, in it, we read not only about how the great plan of salvation that was instituted by God the Father and accomplished by God the Son was applied to the elect by God the Holy Spirit, but it also actually gives us divine patterns so that we may continue our celestial journey and live our lives for the LORD by taking up our own cross and follow Jesus. The book begins with the story of the birth of the New Testament church. A small band of believers met together in prayer and waiting on Jesus’ promise. There were fearful and timid. The believing community, the church, was crippled by fear and gospel preaching was almost non-existent. The book of Acts is also the story of the unfolding of Acts 1:8. "…ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” The rest of the book gives us the historical record and actual story of the early church, but it doesn’t end there. We, believers in the present day, are to continue to the story. We are to carry on fulfilling that great commission. The question is, "How do we too become part of this story of mission expansion in our generation?” There is a need for the church to go back to the biblical patterns for church growth and be revived. We need to ask ourselves these questions: How did the New Testament church start? How was the gospel preached in the first century by the Apostles? And, how did the church grow exponentially? In this article, I would like to consider with you three marks of genuine revival which we can learn from the first record of revival of the New Testament church.

A Sense of God’s Nearness and an Awareness of His Holiness and Majesty

In Exodus 40:34 and 2 Chronicles 7:1, we read of the cloud of the Lord’s presence filling the tabernacle and the glory of the Lord filling the temple. There may not be any visible cloud, but in all true revival, the presence of the Lord is sensed in an awesome way. This phenomenon is important because it focuses on the fact that revival is God coming down on mankind, with the result that they are humbled! There are religious movements across the world which involved huge numbers of people who sing in a very impressive way. One can easily get the impression that a great revival is in progress as long as there are huge gathering of crowds singing hymns together—but not necessarily. It is always essential for us to use our minds and analyse what is going on according to the light of the Scriptures. Whenever there is a large crowd singing hymns of praises, it does not always means that revival is taking place. There are many mega churches in our nation and around the world today, but many of them are just a gathering of the spiritually dead, sad to say. Some might say, “I see people crying and calling on the name of the LORD. What do you say about that?” When there is great emotion, we need to ask ourselves about the source of that feeling, and ask ourselves: Is it something that has been worked up by manipulators who are experts in controlling crowds, twisting God’s word or is it something which is really from heaven?

In contrast to many modern day so-called revivals, what happened at the Pentecost? At Pentecost everyone was filled with fear. Acts 2:43 reads, “And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” What was the cause of their fear? It was not only that they were convicted of sin, but also because they sensed the presence of the holy and awesome God. In other words, a realization of the holiness of God should be one of the hallmarks of genuine revival! But the initial experience of fear of God and conviction of sin should also be followed by intense joy and love! It was said that such fear characterised the revival at Northampton in 1735 when the first Great Awakening took place in America in the 18th century. John Edwards, who was the leading preacher of that time, writes, “Presently upon this, a great and earnest concern about the great things of religion, and the eternal world, became universal in all parts of the town, and among persons of all degrees and all ages. The engagedness of their hearts in this great concern could not be hid; it appeared in their very countenances. It then was a dreadful thing amongst us to lie out of Christ, in danger every day of dropping into hell.” This sense of the fear of God is a vital element of true revival! It is the feature which is missing from contemporary evangelicalism and, for that matter, an element missing from evangelical church worship. We often like to get casual with God and make him as one of us, as if He is not to be feared. When a sinner like us comes into the presence of the thrice Holy God, he should bow down and worship.  

The Work of the Holy Spirit in Conviction of Sin and Giving Repentance and Faith

The second essential characteristic of genuine revival is the work of the Holy Spirit in the work of regeneration! There can be no true conversion unless the Holy Spirit first regenerates the heart of a sinner for man cannot have faith in Jesus Christ if he is not first regenerated. (Titus 3:5-7; Ephesians 2:8,9) This truth is illustrated by the description given by Edwards of the revival in Northampton: “There was scarcely a single person in the town, old or young, left unconcerned about the great things of the eternal world. Those who were wont to be the vainest and loosest, and those who had been most disposed to think and speak slightly of vital and experimental religion, were not generally subject to great awakenings. And the work of conversion was carried on in a most astonishing manner, and increased more and more; souls did, as it were, by flocks come to Jesus Christ.” Having witnessed revival in 1735, Edwards realized the need to provide principles by which we can distinguish the true from the false. It is almost as if he knew that there would be many false revivalist movements in the latter days. So, he wrote two crucial works on this theme: the first, a short work, was called “The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God,” and the second, a much fuller and more detailed book, was entitled “The Religious Affections”. The latter, which is regarded as his best work and the most profound book ever written on the subject, is really an enlargement of the first. In brief, Edwards shows that none of the following are true signs of a work of God: great emotions; great effects on the body, such as tears, groanings, loud cries; agonies or prostrations; an appearance of love, joy, or great excitement; much time and zeal spent in duty; great expressions of praise or moving testimonies.
 
Does it mean that we should discount the presence of great emotions; great effects on the body, such as tears, groanings, loud cries; agonies or prostrations; an appearance of love, joy, or great excitement in any true revival? No. I believe Edwards is trying to say that these signs alone do not mean anything. Edwards observed that people can exhibit all kinds of emotions and yet fall away after the true revival. So what then are the true signs? A true sign of a work of God is a delight in the excellency of God or His attributes, His holy character and His truth! True religious affections are attended by what Edwards calls \'evangelical humiliation.\' The believer has a sense of his own utter insufficiency and the hateful nature of his own sin, from which he turns, coming to depend on God’s provision of righteousness. One of the true signs is a change of nature, the new birth, the creation of a new disposition which has the likeness of Jesus!

It is Accompanied by Powerful Preaching of the Gospel in the Holy Ghost

The third essential of a genuine revival is the powerful preaching of the gospel in the Holy Ghost. Paul wrote, “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.”  (1 Thess. 1:5). This is illustrated in the conversion experience of the three thousand men and women in the book of Acts. Acts 2:37 reads, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Why were the audience pricked in the heart? Is it because the Apostles had just preached on “positive thinking,” “importance of self-esteem,” and “self-confidence,” “prosperity gospel”? No, none of these nonsense. Peter preached the gospel that pointed out of their sins for crucifying their Messiah (Acts 2:36) and the hearts of men and women were pricked. For this matter, I do not believe that a preacher has preached the gospel message until he has made the audience feel uncomfortable because natural men do not want to know their spiritual condition. Also note that their hearts were pricked not by the preaching of Peter, but by the Holy Spirit! The Apostles simply preached the word and the Holy Spirit worked amongst the hearts of their audience! Preaching the gospel is indeed to preach the word, but many of us forget that preaching the word alone will not do any good. The preaching of the gospel must be energised by the power of the Holy Spirit!  In a genuine revival or for us to prepare for a genuine revival to come, we must make sure that whenever the word is preached, the Holy Spirit of God is also actively present. This is so basic, yet it seems that many preachers cease to believe that preaching the gospel is “the power of God” (Rom. 1:16). They direct their principal energies to activities of all kinds, to the neglect of study combined with prayerful meditation. The life of piety, combined with evangelistic enterprise and constant work in God’s Word, is vital.

Conclusion

As we have seen, at the Pentecost the revival came as promised. God’s awesome power was manifested, the small band of believers was transformed into powerful evangelists and the fruit of their transformation touched thousands of lives in one day and hundreds of thousands in the subsequent generations. Many today believe that a revival is linked to the restoration of supernatural gifts to the church. Others believe that as long as certain church growth methods are employed, church would grow like mushrooms or grow like a multi-billion industry. However, the book of Acts tells us that this is certainly not the case. Revival is not certainly achieved by might, nor by power, but by God’s Spirit. God’s people must be ready for a revival to happen. There must be a sense of God’s nearness and an awareness of His holiness and majesty being sensed in our lives. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit will convict our sins and give  repentance and faith to those who are still outside of His kingdom. We must be faithful in our preaching and teaching ministry so that the word will be faithfully expounded in the power of the Holy Ghost.

Ps Weng

More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

Announcements
*Kitchen Roster: Team Leader: Bro Daniel Volvricht. Next Lord’s Day: Sis Yvonne Kam.
*Volunteers needed for dishwashing & kitchen duties after fellowship lunch so that classes can start on time.
*Hope Bookstore - New greeting cards available.
*All worshippers are encouraged to come to Bible Study classes, fellowship & ministry activities.
*Adult Sunday School - Dn Tony Law will teach the Gospel of Luke Class this afternoon.

Christmas Concert Announcements
*Christmas Concert 2011 will be held at Concordia College on Saturday 3rd
  December, starting at 7:30pm. This is an evangelistic event. Please invite your
  family, relatives & friends.
*Invitation cards are available on the literature table.  
*Christmas Concert letterboxing will take place next Saturday, 19th November 
  from 10am-12pm. If you would like to help, please let Dn Wai Kin Wong or Sis
  Xandrea Cai know.
*Christmas Concert helpers - There will be a short briefing for all helpers next
   Sunday, 20th November in the Sanctuary immediately after Service.

Praise & Thanksgiving
Journey mercies: Ps Ki (Lond); Elder Michael & Sis Alice Lee; Bro Ngie Joo & Sis Sooi Chin Gong (Melb); Bro Aaron & Sis Monica Tan & Annabelle; Bro Jason & Sis Tabitha Tan (Adl); Bro Raphael Ng (Adl/Pt Aug/Adl); Sis Sheila Chalil (India); & others who have arrived at their destinations. 
Church activities - over the past week.
Ps Ki’s ministry in S Korea.
Sis Peng Ha Yeo - post surgery recovery.
Unley Council’s approval of solar panel installation for The Stone Mansion.
God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.
Visitors & new worshippers.

Prayer Items
Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev George van Buuren; Rev & Mrs James White; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser;  Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Auntie Oei; Bro Elton Law; Sisters Lynette Booth, Mabella Booth, Margaret Hooper, Irena Kurek-Braden (NSW), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Lehia Paauwe (Per), & Susan Varadi; Mr Swee Liang Ng (Bro Raphael’s father); Mr Tony Wong (Bro John’s father); Mrs. Chuilin Yap (Malacca); & others in affliction. 
Sisters Lai Kheng Chiong (KL) & Myung Ki - Speedy recovery & healing.
Cambodia Missions -  Rev Stephen Choi & ministry (Phnom Penh & Kandal Province).
Ministry in New Life BPC (London): Ps & Sis Ki.
Batam Missions - Sis Ang Liang Phoa & Ministry.
iSketch&Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry - Pr HS Lim (Melb).
IBPFM (USA) - Rev Keith Coleman & Board.
Ps & Sis Weng - Ministry in Hope BPC.
Presbyterian Missionary Union - Missionaries.
Hopefuls in S’pore; In Kuching: Teo family.
House of Hope, Cebu, Philippines - drug addicts: for their salvation & healing from drug addiction.
Journey mercies: Elder Michael & Sis Alice Lee (Adl); Bro Ngie Joo & Sis Sooi Chin Gong (Adl/KL); Bro Raphael Ng (Pt Aug/Adl); Sisters Annie D’Mello (India); & Young Ae Choi & Bro Danny Choi (S Korea); & others who are travelling.
Logos International School (Phnom Penh) - Bro Peter Koo.
God’s comfort: Those in mourning & affliction.
Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin & Korean.
Christmas Concert - participants & preparation.
Sis Clara Sim - guidance for future plans.
Year 12 & Uni students - studying for final exams.
Believers in Thailand affected by the ‘catastrophic’ floods. Sis Mariam Atijatuporn & her family.
Pastors & believers suffering persecution in Islamic countries.
Job - Bro Raymond Ang.
Wisdom - Australian Federal & State authorities.

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063