“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Saviour], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].“ (2 Corinthians 5:17 AMP)
The Bible and church history repeatedly demonstrates that when God manifests His presence, things happen that cannot be explained simply in human terms. When the Holy Spirit enters a human heart, all things become new. When God’s Spirit comes down in His reviving power, all kinds of “new” things occur in individuals, in churches, in cities and the nations.
“Those who feel tired and worn out will find new life and energy” Jeremiah 31:25 CEV
Throughout 2022 the “energy crisis” has been a continual headline on the front pages of newspapers across the globe – escalating gas and electricity prices; serious concerns about winter blackouts; the deliberate targeting of power infrastructure in Ukraine; the ‘sabotaging’ of gas pipelines in the Baltic sea. But did you know that there are also often energy crises in the church, and these situations are unbelievably critical? Prayer is the boiler room, the powerhouse of the church. Prayer isn’t preparation for spiritual battle, prayer is the battle! William Cowper penned these well-known words “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon their knees”. Every Christian is involved in the battle – there aren’t any exceptions, no conscientious objectors.
Akin to the well-known ‘Pareto Principle’ (80% of consequences come from 20% of causes), it’s often stated that the average church has 100% willingness: 10% of the people are willing to do the work, and the other 90% are most willing and indeed very obliging to let them get on with it! But Revival radically transforms this deeply ingrained mindset and behaviour. Revival brings a whole new vitality, a new energy to the church, which is truly transformative. Revival gets people off their pews, out beyond the walls of their church building and involved in the Great ‘Co-mission’ or Great Partnership Jesus commanded us to engage with fully.
After Jesus healed the man sick of the palsy, Luke records, “They were all astonished, and they began glorifying God; and they were filled with [reverential] fear and kept saying, “We have seen wonderful and incredible things today!” (Luke 5:25 AMP). What they had witnessed was far from commonplace. It was so unusual that the entire region of Galilee was deeply and profoundly impacted. Just imagine the immense and intense excitement and joy that accompanied this event. Such is the tremendous new vitality and energy apparent when God revives and resurrects a dead church!
Remember, Jesus told the disciples that they would receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 1:8). It’s a repeated theme throughout the Book of Acts. The Apostle Paul writing to the Thessalonians reminds them how the Good News arrived there. It came with its inherent power and in the Holy Spirit and with great conviction (1Thessalonians 1:5). Revival power isn’t something vague and nebulous. It isn’t a small energy boost, a slight nudge forward. No, It is an irresistible, unstoppable force, God’s dynamic energy!
When God invaded Herrnhut (1722 – 27) or Ulster (1859) or Wales (1904 – 05) or Azuza Street (1905), and so many other places at different times in the church’s history, the public was taken up with what God was doing in and through His churches. The impact on society was unbelievable. Judges were handed white gloves because crime had ceased. Drinking houses were closed. Gambling addicts, drunks and prostitutes were converted and turned their attention toward their families. Interest in sports waned. Work in mines slowed until pit ponies learned the ‘new vocabulary’ the converted miners had acquired, so used had the animals been to the cursing and swearing in the past. Newspaper accounts focused on the spread of revival and its impact on communities. The world had to plan its events around the activities of the churches.
Holy enthusiasm! Holy optimism! Holy initiative! Our lethargy is swept away and replaced with His abundant supernatural energy. That’s the only explanation for how people can stay up all night, go to work the next day, and function normally day after day. It’s the only explanation of how a prayer meeting can be sustained for over 100 years and launch the modern global missionary movement. The only explanation, as David Brainerd, Evan Roberts or Frank Bartleman knew full well, was the unleashing of the dynamite power of the Holy Spirit! “Without God we can’t, but without us He won’t” is the maxim which inspired and energised the great missionary movements of the last 200 years. It’s why it is essential that we say yes to God.
John Wesley wrote that his fear was not that his great movement, known as Methodists, would eventually cease to exist or one day die from the earth. No, he feared that the Methodists would become content to live without the fire, the power, the excitement, the supernatural element that made them great. So don’t flick the switch or pull the plug to disconnect from the supernatural source of power that is our Lord God Almighty.
“Let the fires go out in the boiler room of the church and the place will still look smart and clean, but it will be cold. The Prayer Room is the boiler room for its spiritual life.” Leonard Ravenhill