Why WE Need Revival - It's the Starting Point for a Move of God
- Summary: Many Christians are crying out to God for revival in their city or nation: "Move, God! Please move!" But God may be saying: "It's your move!" The prevailing pattern of Scripture is God's people being revived first, then that in turn spilling over into ministry to the lost.
Psalm 85:6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
Do Christians today long for revival? Of course. But their focus and their prayers are often misplaced. They pray for revival among the lost. But before that will happen, there needs to be revival among the saved!
Look carefully at the Book of Acts. You will not find a prevailing pattern of God directly pouring out revival among the lost. What you will find is great moves of God and mighty harvests of souls where God uses His own people — on-fire believers who have had their own stirring personal encounters with the Lord — as His vessels to bring God’s presence powerfully into the lives of the lost.
The inspired psalmist cried out, “Lord, revive us. Revive your people!” When we, the Lord’s committed followers, experience dramatic inward change by God’s stirring in our own souls and spirits, there is no limit to the influence of such Spirit-empowered believers upon the lost of this world.
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Millions of Christians here in America are praying for God to bring healing revival to our nation. It's no secret that we need revival all across the land. Similar to the psalmist’s words above, the inspired writer of the Chronicles issued God’s cry for a revival, a renewal, a spiritual change for good first among God’s people.
Why do we need revival? God addressed His own: “If my people…” do four things, God said, He would “heal their land.” We long for that, don’t we? Then let’s fulfill those four things God declares that He wants from His people before He would heal their land.
- • HUMBLE ourselves. God wants to use in His service men and women whose entire attitude is “not my will but thine be done, Lord.” He wants ministers of the Gospel to point the lost to Jesus Christ, not to themselves or their ministries or reputations. God seeks to use His people greatly, as He used John the Baptist. But let’s be always mindful of John’s humility. Speaking of the coming Messiah (Jesus), that great prophet John said, “[He is] far greater than I am, so great that I am not worthy to carry his shoes!” (Matthew 3:11, Living Bible).
- • PRAY. Time spent with the Lord in prayer is essential to being “revived.” Jesus, our perfect example, sometimes spent entire nights alone with the Father in prayer. This verse is speaking to me personally and is exhorting me to enlarge the scope of my time in prayer with the Lord. If we want God to “heal our land,” then we must do it His way, and that includes “if my people…will pray.”
- • SEEK HIS FACE. We can do this in a number of ways, including prayer, Bible reading, praise and worship, and quiet meditation upon the Lord and His Word. If we, His people, seek His face, He in turn will “hear from heaven” and will use His revived people to work with Him in His plans to “heal [our] land.”
- • TURN FROM OUR WICKED WAYS. Remember, in context this was addressed to “His people,” not to the heathen. Each of us believers should take this to heart and examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) and look for any areas of our lives where we are walking carnally. It is unrealistic to expect the lost to forsake their sins if the saved don’t! Summarizing this famous verse, we see that God promises to hear from heaven and to heal entire nations if His people do these things: humble ourselves … give ourselves to prayer … seek the Lord (“His face”) … and repent and turn from any wicked ways in us. That’s why I entitled this sermon “Why We Need Revival.” God’s revived people are the vessels He uses in bringing broader moves of God to entire cities and even nations.
John 5:19, ESV So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
This is what I want, for myself and for you! That is, we become so God-centered — rather than self-focused — that we never act out of our own will, but only according to the leading of God. This was at the heart of Jesus’ ministry. Even though He Himself was Deity, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, in His earthly life He never acted on His own. Rather, He was always looking to the Father for what to do and what to say. The closer that we His people can come to this God-centered, selfless attitude, the more effectively God can use us in His plans to reach a lost world.
Acts 8:5-8, 26-39 … Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza” …  The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
Philip had been ministering with great results in Samaria. Souls were being saved, bodies healed, and demons cast out. But Philip was so in tune with the Lord that he heard two promptings from heaven. First he listened to an angel’s direction to leave the very fruitful Samaritan revival and go to a specific place in the desert. Once there, Philip heard the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit tell him exactly where to go and minister, in this case to an Ethiopian official traveling through the desert. Philip obeyed, led the man to Jesus Christ, and to this day stands as an example to us of the type of Spirit-filled, Spirit-led ministry that God’s people can accomplish — if we, like Philip, are walking very close to the Lord.
The Book of Acts records some great spiritual harvests, where multitudes were saved or healed in Jesus’ powerful name. But these things didn’t just “happen” to them out of the blue. No, rather, Christian believers on fire for the Lord and full of the Holy Spirit obeyed God’s directions and went forth and ministered powerfully to the lost, the sick, and those under demon power. Spiritually stirred believers ministered under the anointing of the Spirit and with their personal inward fires burning brightly for Jesus (Luke 12:35). And multitudes were touched for the Lord. Here are some examples of great harvests under the ministries of stirred-up, revived, Spirit-filled believers in the Book of Acts.
- • The 120 disciples received the mighty baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5; 2:1-4). They all spoke in other tongues (languages unknown to them). Many in the crowd marveled (2:12). Newly Spirit-filled Peter stood up and preached a powerful evangelistic message (2:14-36). As a result, 3,000 people were saved and baptized! (2:41). This Spirit-anointed preacher is the same Peter who only weeks earlier had denied Jesus three times!
- • In Acts 3 we see Peter and John, in the fresh bloom of their own personal Pentecost, raise up a lifelong cripple in Jesus’ name (3:2-11). Again Peter preached a Holy Spirit-anointed message to the bystanders who marveled at this miracle of healing. As a result, the number of saved believers “grew to about five thousand” (4:4).
- • Later in Acts we see a man named Philip, one of the original seven deacons (6:1-6). He was a man “full of the Spirit and wisdom” (6:3). Later (Acts 8:4-8) we see the same Philip preaching powerfully in Jesus’ name in Samaria. Large numbers of people were being saved, healed, and delivered through the Spirit-anointed ministry of this man.
- • A few paragraphs above we just read how, in the midst of this great harvest in Samaria, the Lord moved Philip away from there to minister to a solitary Ethiopian man in the desert (Acts 8:26-39). Here too God chose to use a man (Philip) who was fully in tune with the Holy Spirit (vs. 29). Surely by now the point is becoming clear: Personally revived, Spirit-anointed, on-fire-for-Jesus believers were the human agents God sent and used to participate in great moves of God.
- • The apostle Paul, a man full of the Spirit and fully devoted to Jesus Christ, preached the Gospel in Lystra. Then looking towards a listener who had been lame from birth, Paul called out, “Stand up on your feet!” and the man did, causing astonishment among the onlookers (Acts 14:8-18).
- • Peter, a man full of the Spirit and given to prayer (Acts 6:4; 9:40), was used by God to raise the dead woman Dorcas to life. And this miracle led many people in that town of Joppa to faith in Christ (9:36-42). Just prior to that (9:32-35) God used Peter to raise up paralyzed Aeneas. As a result, “all those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord” (35). Just think of that! One individual prayerful, Spirit-filled man (Peter) was God’s agent to do a miracle and thereby to lead two whole towns to faith in Christ.
- • More examples from the Bible could be given. But the point has been made clearly: when God’s people, His faithful followers, draw close to God and find themselves spiritually renewed and empowered, they in turn minister to a lost world with dramatic, powerful results. The takeaway for you and me as Christian believers? Just this: “Lord, revive us; revive your people!” Then we in turn can effectively bring the Lord’s Gospel to a world that does not know Him.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
1 Thessalonians 1:5, NASB …our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.
You don’t need a lot of education and degrees to be used by God. If you have your “B.A.” (Born Again) and your “BHS” (“Baptism with the Holy Spirit”), you are well equipped to minister powerfully to those around you.
Paul said it wasn’t “wise and persuasive words” that reached people for the Lord. Rather, it was “demonstration of the Spirit’s power.” If you are born again, have the baptism with the Spirit, and are walking prayerfully, humbly, and in holiness before God (2 Chr. 7:14), then expect God to use you to bear fruit in His harvest. God’s Word shared and testified in Holy Ghost power (1 Thess. 1:5) by men and women of God walking close to Him will reach many people for the Lord.
Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Do you feel “unschooled and ordinary”? You’re in good company(!) with Peter, John, Jesus’ mother Mary, and most of Christ’s earliest disciples. In the world’s eyes they were unqualified. But oh, they certainly were qualified! Why? How? The answer (then and now) is that they “had been with Jesus.”
That’s the urgent need for believers today — to have much time “with Jesus”! Get to know Him more closely through His Word the Bible, through time in prayer, in individual worship and in worship with fellow believers in your local church. Let His indwelling Holy Spirit lead you, empower you, and convict you of any sinful areas to renounce. Then be ready for God to use you greatly in His service and for His glory.
Psalm 85:6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
Yes, my fellow Christians — We need revival to help usher in the move of God. We’ll close with our opening verse. Let your daily prayer be: “Lord, revive me, stir me, convict me, empower me, then use me in your plans for this lost world.” An army of such revived Christians will be the ministers of the Lord in harvesting great fruit for the advancement and enlargement of the kingdom of God.
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©2017, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.