Summary: The church must have the power of the Holy Spirit, the breath of God, in order to live.
February 12, 2012
Text: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Title: By My Spirit
I have heard about it since I have been a Christian. I keep expecting to see it full blown. I don’t know what it is going to look like but when it happens I will know it. I’m talking about revival in the church. I have attended revival meetings. I have experienced times of revival. I have preached about revival. I’ve read the history books of the Great Awakening of the 1700’s, and the Welsh revival led by Evan Roberts in the early 1900’s. I know all about the Azusa Street revival beginning in 1906. Revival continued throughout the 1900’s with the healing revivals of the 50’s and 60’s and the charismatic renewal of the 70’s and 80’s on into the revivals in Seattle, Toronto, and Pensacola of the 90’s.
Let me read some records of some to the revival events mentioned.
1739 Monday 1 January - London (George Whitefield, John Wesley) 1739 saw astonishing expansion of revival in England. On 1st January the Wesleys and Whitefield (now returned from America) and four others from their former Holy Club at Oxford in their students days, along with 60 others, met in London for prayer and a love feast. The Spirit of God moved powerfully on them all. Many fell down, overwhelmed. The meeting went all night and they realized they had been empowered in a fresh visitation from God.
1801 August - Cane Ridge, Kentucky (Barton Stone) Impressed by the revivals in 1800, Barton Stone, a Presbyterian minister, organized similar meetings in 1801 in his area at Cane Ridge northeast of Lexington. A huge crowd of around 12,500 attended in over 125 wagons including people from Ohio and Tennessee. At that time Lexington, the largest town in Kentucky, had less than 1,800 citizens. Now Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist preachers and circuit riders formed preaching teams, speaking simultaneously in different parts of the campgrounds, all aiming for conversions of sinners. James Finley, later a Methodist circuit rider, described it:’ The noise was like the roar of Niagara. The vast sea of human being seemed to be agitated as if by a storm. I counted seven ministers, all preaching at one time, some on stumps, others in wagons and one standing on a tree, which had, in falling, lodged against another. ... 'I stepped up on a log where I could have a better view of the surging sea of humanity. The scene that then presented itself to my mind was indescribable. At one time I saw at least five hundred swept down in a moment as if a battery of a thousand guns had been opened upon them, and then immediately followed shrieks and shouts that rent the very heavens' (Pratney 1994:104). The Rev. Moses Hoge wrote: 'The careless fall down, cry out, tremble, and not infrequently are affected with convulsive twitchings ...
1906 Easter Saturday 14 April - Azusa Street, Los Angeles (William Seymour) 'At Azusa, services were long, and on the whole they were spontaneous. In its early days music was a cappella, although one or two instruments were included at times. There were songs, testimonies given by visitors or read from those who wrote in, prayer, altar calls for salvation or sanctification or for baptism in the Holy Spirit. And there was preaching. Sermons were generally not prepared in advance but were typically spontaneous. W. J. Seymour was clearly in charge, but much freedom was given to visiting preachers. There was also prayer for the sick. Many shouted. Others were "slain in the Spirit" or "fell under the power." There were periods of extended silence and of singing in tongues. No offerings were collected, but there was a receptacle near the door for gifts. ... 'Thus the significance of Azusa was centrifugal as those who were touched by it took their experiences elsewhere and touched the lives of others. Coupled with the theological threads of personal salvation, holiness, divine healing, baptism in the Spirit with power for ministry, and an anticipation of the imminent return of Jesus Christ, ample motivation was provided to assure the revival a long term impact' (Burgess & McGee 1988:3136).