Summary: Preaching for revival
I hope to encourage the preaching of real revival not just a special event, a church growth campaign or a counterfeit.
There are many events in recent church history that have been called a revival, but not all of them were genuine revivals. Some were an apostasy. Real revival is evidenced by changed lives, not electrifying preaching, manipulative crowd techniques or questionable manifestations. Real revival is a reformation, a renovation of people's individual lives. It is evidenced by dramatic social change in a community and remarkable personal transformation in an individual. It is the kind of change that only the Holy Spirit can produce.
We will take another look Acts 2, but this time as an example of a revival sermon, and a real revival.
The IVP New Testament Commentary says that, "Pentecost has become a source of confusion, embarrassment or division for Christians, even as it has become a curiosity, if not an object of ridicule, for non-Christians..." There are marked differences between this early church meeting and any modern Christian meetings. There are some elements that are the same, but many that are completely unique.
Pentecost First Fruits (Acts 2:1-4)
Pentecost was also known anciently as one of the feasts of first fruits (Leviticus 23:10-17). Jesus' resurrection makes him the first fruits of those who have died (1 Corinthians 15:20). The redeemed are called the first fruits (Revelation 14:4). We also have the first fruits of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:23). This Pentecost was a real revival. Are some of these elements things that we might experience today?
Pentecost Phenomena (Acts 2:5-11)
That Pentecost included miracles of a wind, visible fire and known human languages. I don't know if anyone has experienced the wind and fire today, and the vocal event that people experience today is usually "unknown tongues." Does this mean that if we don't have these phenomena, we don't have revival? No. Revival has to do with changed lives, not the manifestations that may or may not occur.
Were they Drunk? (Acts 2:12-15)
Detractors accused them of being drunk. We don't know many more details than that. So what could people do that seems like they are drunk? Drunks often laugh, dance, stagger or speak incoherently. Does the appearance of being drunk signify a revival? No, that is incidental. A revival is a changed life. People laugh and dance, stagger or speak in languages for all kinds of reasons, some of them good and some of them not.
Peter Explains Joel's Prophecy (Acts 2:16-21)
In Old Testament times the Holy Spirit was poured out only occasionally on individuals (1 Samuel 16:13; Ezekiel 11:24; Genesis 41:38; Exodus 31:2-3) one at a time. Peter explains that the time has come for the Spirit to be poured out upon many people without regard to age, gender, social prominence and later on even ethnicity (Acts 2:39). The Holy Spirit is the catalyst for revival. It cannot occur without his help. We may schedule a revival meeting, we may pray for a real revival, but only the Holy Spirit can initiate a genuine revival.
Peter Explains Jesus (Acts 2:22-28)
What is the message of a good revival sermon all about? Peter explains that Jesus' resurrection is central. Did you think it was certain manifestations? The cause of revival is ultimately rooted in the resurrection of our Savior. Without a Savior, we have no hope of revival. Jesus had ascended to heaven and it was he who sent the Holy Spirit (John 15:26; 16:7).
Peter Explains that they Killed their Messiah (Acts 2:36)
As orthodox or mainstream Christianity has attested throughout time, Jesus was God or divinity in the flesh. The understanding that we too have killed our Messiah is the beginning of revival. So then a modern revival sermon must bring the people to the point that they realize that they, through their sins, have likewise killed their Messiah.
Remorseful Crowd told Repent, be Baptized (Acts 2:37-40)
How do you deal with the fact that you and your bad behavior are the cause of Jesus' death? This is an important subtopic in a revival sermon. The people are challenged to have a change of heart. The result was, as the NIV translates it, that they were "cut to the heart." They knew they were culpable. They were accomplices in the murder of their Messiah, their only hope of salvation. The Greek implies that "every single one" stands guilty before God as an individual and that is why we are baptized as individuals. This is the beginning of a revived life, hearts turning to God.
3,000 Baptized (Acts 2:41-45)
The Apostles were not interested in some of the controversies surrounding this chapter that trouble our churches today. They focused on the important issues of Christianity. Do we? So what is the teaching of the Apostles? How does it differ from many of the fads that masquerade as revival? With genuine revival lives are changed by the Holy Spirit.