Volume. XXVII, No. 45
Sunday, 05 May 2013


Theology of Revival according to the Book of Acts


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 following Jesus. The book of Acts is 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 are to continue 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.

How did the church start? How was the gospel preached? And, how did the church grow? The book of Acts begins with the story of the birth of the New Testament church. A small band of believers met together to pray and wait on Jesus’ promise. They were fearful and timid. The believing community, the church, was crippled by fear and gospel preaching was almost non-existent. But at Pentecost, the revival came as promised! God’s awesome power was manifested, the small band of believers were transformed into powerful evangelists and the fruit of their transformation touched thousands of lives in one day and hundreds of thousands in subsequent generations.

In view of this fact, some say that the book of Acts is the record of one of the greatest revivals in the history of the church. Today there is much talk about the need of revival in the church, and I believe we need one. This is why I believe that we can learn many things about revival from this wonderful book! For, God willing, our church will have a revival! But before we can a revival, we must possess a very clear view of what genuine revival is, and examine the false revivalist movements in the light of the Scriptures, particularly from the book of Acts!

In a true revival, there needs to be a sense of God’s nearness and especially an awareness of His holiness and majesty

 

What is God’s 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 that involve 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 it is always essential for us to use our minds and analyse what is going on. The fact that whenever a large crowd singing hymns of praises does not always means that revival is taking place. There are many mega churches in the world today, but it is sad to say that many of them are just a gathering of the spiritual dead. You might say, “I see people crying and calling on the name of the LORD. What do you say about that?” Well, when there is great emotion, we need to ask ourselves about the source of that feeling. Is it something that has been worked up by manipulators like Benny Hinn or Robert Schuller who are experts in controlling crowds, or is it something which is from heaven?

 

What Happened at Pentecost?

In contrast to many modern-day so called revivals, what happened at 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 that 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 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 characterized the revival at Northampton in 1735 when the first Great Awakening took place. Jonathan Edwards, who was the leading preacher of that time, wrote, '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 the 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. 

True revival must be characterized by the intensifying work of the Holy Spirit in conviction of sin and giving repentance and faith!

 

What is conviction of sin and giving repentance?

The second essential characteristic of genuine revival points us to the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. This 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. Don’t get him wrong. 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! Is this what happened in the early days of the church?

 

What happened at Pentecost?

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?” (3000 converts). For this matter, I do not believe that a preacher has preached the gospel message until he made the audience feel uncomfortable. This leads to the last point.

True revival is accompanied by a powerful preaching of the gospel!

The primacy of preaching in revival is seen in the book of Acts

I am fully aware that there are times that people may not like what we say when we share the gospel with them. I always remind myself that I only need to be careful of attitude in presenting the gospel but not the context. By this I meant, I need to be sincere and compassionate when I deliver the gospel, but there is no way that I should change the content or dilute it into a ‘God loves you and cares for you’ kind of gospel. I know this is the right approach because it is the approach of our Lord and the approach of the Apostles. We can preach no less of the gospel simply because we are afraid of offending people. Not many realize that the greater offence is when we preach another or a diluted gospel, not preaching the gospel itself. Our Lord said, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matt 18:6)    

 

Where is power for preaching to be found? 

To preach the gospel is 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 energized by the power of the Holy Spirit. We must make sure that whenever the Word is preached, the Holy Spirit of God is also actively present. “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). Paul exhorted Timothy to “Preach the Word” (2 Tim 4:2). This is so basic, yet it seems that many ministers 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.

 

Conclusion

Let us be reminded that revival can only come when God’s people begin to sense God’s nearness, His holiness and majesty. They must also allow the Spirit of God to take control of their lives and allow Him to convict them of their own sins in sincere and genuine repentance through the preaching of God’s Word. Therefore, the life of piety, combined with evangelistic enterprise and constant work in God’s Word is needed if God’s people would to expect a revival to come. May God help and revive us!

 

Pastor David Weng


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster: Today’s Team Leader: Dn Edwin D’Mello. Next Lord’s Day: Bro Daniel Volvricht.

*Hope Bookstore: Open today: 12:30 - 1:30 pm.

*Ladies’ Fellowship Mothers’ Day Lunch at Citi Zen Restaurant, 401 King William Street.

*Combined Ebenezer - Hope BPCs Easter Family Bible Camp— MP3, CD & DVD Media order forms available at the foyer table. Please submit orders by 19 May 2013 latest.

*Video materials including worship service webcasts & sermon videos now available in the password-protected “Members Area” on the church website. Please approach Dn Wai Kin Wong or Session Members for details.

Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Rev Edward & Mrs Lehia Paauwe; Dn Edwin D’Mello (Adl); Dns Joyce Gong (Adl/Melb); Bro Raphael (Adl/Barossa) & Sis Bernadette Ng & family (Barossa/Adl); Bro John & Sis Josephine Wong & family (Melb); Bros Raymond Ang (Pinnaroo) & Houston Li (Barossa/Adl); Sis Serene Wong (Melb); & others who are travelling. 

2. Church Activities, in the past week. 

3. Ministry of Bro Charles Scott-Pearson at Hope

4. Covenant BPC (Perth, WA) - 4th Anniversary on 28 April (last Lord’s Day).

5. Evangel BPC (Petaling Jaya, Malaysia) - 7th Anniversary today.

6. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

7. Visitors & new worshippers.

 Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev George van Buuren; Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Rev & Mrs James White; Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson (Nursing Home); Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bros Elton Law & Kang Fun Tan (S’pore); Sisters Margaret Hooper, Lai Kheng Chiong (KL), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Susan Varadi (Nursing Home); Mr Swee Liang Ng (Bro Raphael’s father); Mr Mang Soo Ong (Sis Gillian Ong’s father); Mr Wong (Dn Wai Kin Wong’s father); Mrs Maggie D’Mello (Dn Edwin’s mother in Mumbai) & Mrs Chuilin Yap (Malacca); Mr Tony Zhang; & others in affliction.

2. Special Prayer: Healing & strength: Pastor & Sis Ki.

3. Special Prayer: Bro Surish Dharmalingam (in Laos: Fractured leg)

4. Cambodia Missions - Rev Sun Sokha & Ministry (Phnom Penh).

5. Ministry in New Life BPC (London) & God’s guidance: Ps & Sis Ki.

6. Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions: Rev Keith Coleman, Board members & missionaries.

7. Presbyterian Missionary Union: Board & missionaries.

8. Batam Missions - Sis Ang Liang Phoa & Ministry.

9. House of Hope, Cebu - Salvation & healing of drug addicts

10. iSketch&Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry & preparation for ordination - Pr HS Lim  (Melb, Vic).

11. Ministry in Hope BPC - Ps & Sis Weng . 

12. Journey mercies: Bro Charles & Sis Rachel Scott-Pearson & family (UK); Dns Joyce Gong & Sis Serene Wong (Adl); Bro Raphael & Sis Bernadette Ng & family (Barossa/Adl); Bro Houston Li (Barossa/Adl); & others who are travelling. 

13. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

14. Full-time Job - Sisters Felicia Tan & Corinne Teng; & others looking for  stable jobs.

15. Unity in doctrine & fellowship of all B-P Churches

16. Australian work & PR visas - Sisters Clara Sim, Felicia Tan & Sharon Ying.

17. Australia - God’s wisdom for our nation’s leaders & people; salvation of souls.

18. Believers under persecution in Islamic & Communist countries (especially in North Korea).

19. Sichuan Earthquake - Victims & those who lost loved ones; for Salvation, comfort & healing.

 

 

© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063