We must have a very clear view of what Genuine Revival is in order to appreciate just how Marvelous such a Work of Grace Truly Is. Those who have themselves witnessed The Power Of The Holy Spirit In Genuine Revival hardly need written descriptions and definitions to help them. However, those who have never really known the reality of Genuine Revival are more prone to settle for something far less.
Many believe that Genuine Revival is linked to the restoration of Supernatural Gifts to The Church. Genuine Revival of the past has indeed been noted for The Supernatural, but these have not been of the kind seen in some modern movements. This distinction is vital and underlines the importance of careful definition of what constitutes Genuine Revival.
Four basic essentials can be observed at Pentecost which characterize all Genuine Revivals of this age. We shall examine each of these in turn.
1. The sense of God’s nearness and especially an awareness of His Holiness and His Majesty.
This first feature is vital. It consists of what is sometimes referred to as the 'Shekinah Glory' Of God’s Presence. In Exodus 40:34 and II 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 Genuine Revival, The Presence Of The Lord is sensed in an awesome and in an overwhelming real way.
This point is critically important because it focuses on the fact that Genuine Revival is God coming down on mankind, with the result that they are humbled In His Presence. There are religious movements in Africa as an example which involve huge numbers of people who sing in a very impressive manner. People can easily get the impression that a great revival is in progress. But it is always essential for us to use our minds and analyze what is going on (Rom. 12:1,2). Some consider such questioning to be sinful, but it is not. I do not mean that we should be skeptical, but rather, that we are duty-bound to test everything by Scripture.
When there is great emotion, we need to ask ourselves about the source of that feeling. Is it some- thing that has been worked up by manipulators who are experts in controlling crowds, or is it something which is from heaven? Is there a glorying in patriotism, or nationalism, or tribalism? Often religion is used as a veneer to cover what is, in essence, idolatry. An emotional response alone does not indicate a Move Of God.
Many modern-day religious movements are characterized by a strong emphasis on the emotions. In mass meetings, there is sometimes a deliberate attempt made to bring great crowds to a high point of excitement and exuberance. This is emotion worked up from within and does not Save anyone from the curse of sin, whereas Genuine Revival is The Holy Spirit coming down. When He comes down, there is a prostrating effect; The Awesomeness and Glory Of God’s Holiness is felt in an overwhelming way by all present.
We see this illustrated in the personal experience of the patriarch Jacob when The Lord met with him at Bethel. Jacob’s response was expressed in these words: 'How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven' (Gen. 28:17).
An awareness of the nearness of The Living God is the chief characteristic of all Genuine Revival (Ps. 80; Isa. 64; John 14:17; I Cor. 14:24,25).
At Pentecost everyone was filled with awe (Acts 2:43). A realization of The Holiness Of God is also one of the hallmarks of Genuine Revival. The initial experience of Fear Of God and conviction of sin is followed by Intense Joy and Love.
This sense of the Fear Of God is always a vital element of Genuine Revival. It is the feature which is missing from contemporary evangelicalism.
2. A Greatly Intensified Work Of The Holy Spirit in conviction of sin and giving repentance and faith.
The second essential characteristic of Genuine Revival points us to The Work Of The Holy Spirit In Regeneration.
Many times in Genuine Revival there will scarcely be a single person in the whole town or region, old or young, left unconcerned about the great matters of the eternal world. These Great Awakenings and the work of conversion will be carried on at times in a most astonishing manner, and increased more and more; where lost souls come to Jesus Christ in vast numbers.
Yet by no means all who in times of Revival profess to have faith and repentance prove to be genuine. Time alone proves whether they are or not. Satan seeks to counterfeit revival, and he is very active in Genuine Revival to sow false seeds and promote false professions. None of the following are true signs of A Work Of God: great emotions; great effects on the body, such as tears, groaning, 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. People can exhibit all kinds of emotions and yet fall away after Genuine Revival. So what then are the true signs?
A True Sign of A Work Of God is a delight in The Excellency Of God, His Holy Character and His Truth. True affections are attended by True Humility. 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 Holiness and 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 Himself. A vital sign is Fruit in Christian Practice. Emotions of people change like the wind, but The Work Of God Endures Forever!
3. A magnificent increase in New Believers are added to The Church.
Genuine Revival is times of God’s Personal Intervention In Great Power. Genuine Revival always has A Powerful effect on society as a whole in turning back the tide of immorality and vice. Genuine Revival is bad news for breweries, distillers, drug dealers, for prostitution and the gambling industry. Genuine Revival will bring down the divorce rate and heighten society’s view of the sanctity of life.
4. Powerful Preaching Of The Gospel.
The Anointed Preaching of The Gospel of Jesus Christ in Genuine Revival is seen in The Book of Acts. Where is Power for Preaching to be found? The One and Only Way of Power suggested in the New Testament is with The Holy Spirit sent down from heaven (I Thess. 1:4,5). That is unlikely to be our experience if we misrepresent what The Holy Spirit Has Inspired In The Word Of God. The Apostles summed up the dual needs of Prayer and Ministry when they explained the necessity of the appointment of deacons: "It would not be right for us to neglect The Ministry Of The Word Of God in order to wait on tables . . . We will give our attention to Prayer and The Ministry Of The Word" (Acts 6:2).
Some forget that The Power lies In The Word Of God. But The Word Of God Is Living and Active' (Heb. 4:12). Paul exhorted Timothy, "Preach The Word" (II 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).