Summary: This sermon explains the meaning and nature of revival, the history (including Hawaii in the 19th c.) and the conditions of true revival.
“Revive Us Again”
Mililani Community Church
Dr. Rick Bartosik
Recently we were privileged to have Dr. Robert Coleman in Hawaii to teach a modular graduate course at International College and Graduate School. Dr. Coleman is known around the world as the author of a book entitled The Master Plan of Evangelism. This book has had a tremendous impact on the cause of world evangelization.
Dr. Coleman’s course was not on the topic of evangelism. It was on the theme of revival. Diane signed up for the course as a community enrichment student. What she learned in this course was so challenging to me personally, that I decided to study the subject of revival myself, and do a series on revival for our own congregation here at Mililani Community Church.
THE MEANING OF “REVIVAL”
The word ’revival" means "to make fresh and strong again; to bring back to a good condition.” One of the keys to the true meaning of the word revival is found in Psalm 85. In the first three verses of Psalm 85, the Psalmist recalls the way God worked so majestically in the past history of Israel: “You showed favor to your land, O LORD; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger.” Then in the following verses he says, “Do it again God!” Verse 4,6: “Restore us again O God our Savior … Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?"
It is the nature of all created things to wear out and to wind down. It is the nature of a fire, to go out; of sheep, to wander; of love, to wax cold; of the church, to drift; and of people, to forget.
As a result we need to be revived and restored to the early devotion we had for becoming loyal disciples of Jesus Christ.
Acts 3:19 is a good definition: “…times of refreshing from the Lord”.
There is a difference between a revival and an evangelistic campaign. An evangelistic campaign is something the church decides to do. Revival is something God does. Revival is a work of GOD! (“Will YOU not revive us again…”).
Stephen Olford writes: “Revival is the sovereign act of God in which he restores his own backsliding people to repentance, faith and obedience.”
At the same time, a true revival will result in the church having a greater impact in society as Christians become serious about living lives of full devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ before a watching world.
EXAMPLES OF REVIVAL
There have been examples of extraordinary movements of the Spirit of God throughout history.
One example is the tremendous movement of the Spirit of God in Korea (1906-1910) with 80,000 added to the churches. Since the Korean War, 15 million have come to Christ in a nation of just over 40 million.
Another example is China. There were less than one million Christians in China prior to 1950. Primarily in the last 25 years the Spirit of God has added 70-90 million believers in a nation that contains one-fourth of the world’s population
In our nation’s history we have experienced three major revivals:
FIRST: The Great Awakening about 1740 in the time of George Whitfield and Jonathan Edwards. All of society was dramatically affected. Thousands came to Christ. The Great Awakening became probably the major unifying factor among the American colonies at that time. Laid the spiritual foundation for the beginning of our nation.
SECOND: The Second Great Awakening at the beginning of the 19th century. 1785-1820. Taverns were closed, families were reconciled, young people became serious in their pursuit of God. Thousands came to Christ.
The Gospel came to Hawaii during this period. Henry Opukaha’ia was the first Hawaiian Christian. In the late 1700s his entire family was killed during a tribal war on the shores of Kealakakua Bay on the Big Island. As he fled from the battle with his baby brother on his back, someone threw a spear and his little brother was killed. In his grief, he pled with the captain of the Ship Triumph, harbored in the bay, to let him come on board and leave Hawaii. Eventually he ended up in the home of Timothy Dwight, the President of Yale College and the grandson of Jonathan Edwards. There Henry came to faith in Christ. He attended Yale College, learned Greek and Hebrew and became a scholar and an evangelist with a passion to go back to Hawaii to tell his own people the Good News of salvation in Christ.
But Henry Opukaha’ia died of Typhus fever before fulfilling that vision. Christians on the East Coast of the United States read his memoirs and said, “If Henry can’t go, we will go.” That led to the arrival of the first missionaries to Hawaii in 1820. Just six months before the missionaries arrived, in God’s wonderful providence, the Hawaiian people had overthrown their idol system and rejected their gods. They realized their gods were false and unable to rescue them from the many diseases they were dying of as a result of foreigners coming into Hawaii at the time – eg. the sailors on the whaling vessels. For that six month period the Hawaiians were a people without a religion. The Chief Kahuna of King Kamehameha prophesied that someone would come to tell them about the true God. Then the missionaries showed up and the rest is history!