Summary: A historical look at great revivals of years past.
Revive Us Again
If you ever want to know the truth about something, all you need to do is ask a child. You see, when we ask adults questions that do not have easy answers, they will usually hem and haw around the topic so as not to offend anyone. Children, however, will let you know exactly what is on their mind. There once was a little boy who had grown close to his pastor. Every Sunday after church, they would serve coffee in the fellowship hall together to the people of the congregation. The pastor viewed this as a perfect opportunity to teach this boy about service, fellowship, and evangelism, so he asked the boy, “Do you know why we serve coffee each week?” The boy thought for a bit, and then turned to the pastor and said, “I think it is probably to get people fully awake before they drive home.” This pastor learned a valuable lesson from this child that he would never had learned from an adult. He learned that his church services were boring.
I have to admit that I have sat through many boring church services in my life, and after awhile, you begin to accept boring as normal. It is like the two kids who sat next to each other in church. The younger brother was always antsy, and his older sister tried to get him to sit still. Finally, she said, “I wish you would calm down!” The boy looked at her and proclaimed, “I can’t. It’s just so boring.” Without missing a beat, the sister turned and said, “It’s supposed to be boring.”
When I think about the condition of God’s church, I can’t help but wonder if there is something missing. Is there something more that should be taking place in our services? Is boring the most we can hope for? I am glad that this is not the case. Church does not have to be boring and was never intended to be boring. In fact, as I said a few weeks ago, church was intended to be just the opposite. It was intended to be a place of revival. I’m not talking about the kind of revival where we set up a tent and call in a special speaker. I’m not talking about the kind of revival that we schedule on a calendar. I’m not talking about the kind of revival where the preacher calls down fire and brimstone and bangs his fist on the pulpit. I’m talking about the kind of revival that happens when we come face to face with the Spirit of God and our souls are renewed and set on fire by God. I’m talking about the revival that happens when we come clean before the manifest presence of our Almighty, Holy God.
This morning, we are going to have a bit of a history lesson about revival by taking a look at several revivals that have happened down through the years. We will start by looking at the first revival after Jesus departs, known as the Pentecost, and then we will take a look at other prominent revivals throughout history to see what we can learn from them. Let’s ask the Lord to bless our time.
The Revival at Pentecost
With revival being the topic, I can think of no better example to start with than the very first revival to hit after Jesus had ascended into heaven. Let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about this revival in Acts chapter 2.
1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11(both Jews and converts to Judaism Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” 13Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” 41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.