Summary: This is the story of Pentecost along with stories of revival from more recent church eras.
Last Sunday as we were preparing for worship, just before the service, our guest worship leaders were playing a prelude. The music finished, and as Pastor Garret came forward to begin the welcome and announcements I heard a sweet little voice right behind me loudly proclaim, “again! again!!”
I feel that same cry, “again! again!!”, in my heart this morning as I’ve spent some time reading and preparing for our worship time this morning. Do you know what is special about this Sunday morning? Today is Pentecost Sunday, the day when we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples who had gathered for prayer 50 days after Jesus’ crucifixion.
Revival historian J. Edwin Orr says, “There have been instances in the in the history of the church when telling and retelling of the wonderful works of God have been used to rekindle the expectations of the faithful intercessors and prepare the way for another awakening.” So this morning, that is what I want to do: retell stories of the “wonderful works of God”, with the hope and prayer that it might “rekindle” within us a desire for and action towards experiencing more of God, being more deeply awakened to His presence and purpose, and being transformed by His Spirit. “Again!”
My source for these stories is a book by Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter called, “The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever: From Pentecost to the Present”. http://elmertowns.com/books/online/10Greatest/10Greatest_revivals_ever%5BETOWNS%5D.pdf. Now obviously I can’t tell all the stories of revival from 2000 years of church history. So I’ve selected some from that are a little closer to home, in both time and geography. And as I tell these stories, there is one question I want to ring in your mind and in your soul: If God could do it then, can He do it now?
It Starts With Scripture: Acts 2
The sermon series we are in has been called “Pivotal Moments in the Biblical Story”, and the story of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples as they met to pray 10 days after Jesus’ ascension to heaven is, without question, a “pivotal moment”. We know and celebrate it as the birth of the church; it is a major turning point in how God has interacted with His people in that now, all believers receive the gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God, all believers are now considered “priests” in the sense that we can each approach God personally and directly rather than rely on an intermediary – now the only intermediary between us and God the Father is the indwelling and empowering Holy Spirit and our brother Jesus Christ. And it begins here:
“2 On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. 2 Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. 3 Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. 4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
5 At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. 6 When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.
7 They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, 8 and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! 9 Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!” 12 They stood there amazed and perplexed. “What can this mean?” they asked each other.
13 But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!”
14 Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd…
37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”