Summary: This is a second sermon on Habbakuk Ch 3 v 2 looking at the characteristics of revival, but which also covers dangers signs to look out for, as when God works the Devil is not far behind
HABBAKUK CH 3 V 2
‘I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.’
Many of you will recognise part of the text of Martin Luther King’s inspired civil right’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC on 28.8.63. It was this sort of revolutionary vision that fired the non-violent civil rights movement in the 1960’s.
Vision is vital for any movement to be successful, but for the Church of Christ the source and nature of that her vision is spiritual and heavenly. Without true vision the Church looses hope and impetus.
We’re looking at ‘Revival’ – something that the Prophet Habakkuk eagerly looked for from God in a time of imminent judgement for the Jews because of their unfaithfulness to God. It’s this hope; this vision that kept Habakkuk looking up! (verse 2) ‘LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew [or revive] them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.’
We saw in our first look at this verse that in revival God re-invigorates the life of Christians, the life of the Church, that’s grown weak and frail. That blessing then overflows to the society around. Duncan Campbell great definition of revival was: ‘A community saturated with God.’
We highlighted that revival is characterised by: Prayer power; Preaching power; Life Enhancing Power; Life Giving Power; Word Hunger; Awesome Worship; Emotional Power; Unity in the Spirit and Social Impact.
What other characteristics do revivals have?
Unity in Spirit
True unity is based on God’s Word; in the acceptance of the one great Gospel of God’s grace. The Holy Spirit won’t ever contradict Himself, so if true revival comes then the Good News of Jesus – forgiveness by His blood shed on the cross; new birth; repentance and faith alone in God’s Son - will lie at the centre of it all.
In revival all God’s true people find a unity and joy together: Stanley Griffin writing about a revival in Lowestoft in the UK noted that: ‘The Baptist minister, three Anglican clergymen, the Port Missionary, a Primitive Methodist layman and Town Councillor and Salvation Army Officer experienced remarkable oneness in the work of proclaiming the Gospel of salvation in Christ alone.’
This is a wonderful example of what Jesus asked for in His High Priestly prayer: ‘May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you loved me.’ JOHN CH 17 V 23.
Miracle working power
The sovereignty of the Spirit is the key principle that comes into play here – there is a given element when it comes to miraculous happenings. We’re not in charge; God is. He chooses to do what He will do.
For example He may delivers His people from danger and harm. The English Anglican evangelist George Whitefield was preaching at Moorfields fair in 1742. As he did so stones, dirt, rotten eggs and pieces of dead cat were thrown at him from the crowd. He vividly describes a group who were intent on putting an end to his preaching: ‘…having got a large pole for their standard, [they] advanced toward us with steady and formidable steps till they came very near the skirts of our hearing, praying and almost undaunted congregation.’ Now George was earnestly praying for deliverance when something remarkable happened: ‘Just as they approached us with looks of resentment, I know not by what accident, but they quarrelled among themselves, threw down their staff and went their way.’ Gorge Whitefield reckoned that about 350 souls were saved that day and he received 1,000 notes from hearers.
Also, God reveals knowledge that otherwise would remain secret. This is illustrated from an incident during revival times in Borneo in the 1970’s: ‘You have not confessed all your sins,’ someone said to one of the men folk, ‘You have a charm hidden out in your farm hut to make sure of a good crop.’ The man denied it but the one with the gift of knowledge continued: ‘You climb the notched log and in the door post on the left of you, you will find a hole, and that hole the charms are hidden.’ The leadership investigated the claim, found the charms exactly as described and the man repented and sought forgiveness.