by Sandy Simpson, 2/15/18
Acts 3:19 Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;
There has been so much hype of “revival” in our modern day that it is easy to forget the true biblical criteria and definition of revival. Revival cannot be brought about by signs and wonders or laying on of hands to transfer apostolic or prophetic anointings. In fact there is no such thing in the Bible.
The Biblical criterion for revival has, as a precondition, repentance. The word “refreshing” is also defined as “revive”.
403anaqucxiv anapsuxis an-aps’-ook-sis from 404; TDNT-9:664,1342; n f
AV-refreshing 1; 1
(1) a cooling, refreshing
404 anaqucw anapsucho an-aps-oo’-kho from 303 and 5594; TDNT-9:663,1342; v
AV-refresh 1; 1
(1) to cool again, to cool off, recover from the effects of heat
(1a) to refresh (one’s spirit)
(2) to recover breath, take the air, cool off, revive, refresh one’s self
You cannot get revival by putting the cart before the horse. I remember quite well Third Wavers claims that in a revival meeting people then feel free to repent (of course the true Gospel is usually not presented). But repentance from sin can only come as a result of the Gospel being preached and a response to Holy Spirit conviction.
John 16:8 And He (the Holy Spirit), when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;
Mark 1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
I am not going to be dogmatic and state that there is only one way revival can come. But it is clear that it can only come when there is true repentance from sin. I have seen a few real revivals that conform to Biblical standards in my time which is why I was not fooled by all the counterfeit revivals out there. I realize what I am about to relate to you may seem somewhat subjective in nature, but it will seem that way only to people who were not there when these things happened. I was there along with many others and can testify that what I saw was a true revival from the Lord. Why? Because it followed the Biblical pattern.
The first revival I saw was in high school. We were having our normal assembly at the Christian school I attended in the Philippines called Faith Academy and the guest speakers were the Palermo Brothers. They were a couple older guys who had some fancy Gretsch electric guitars (which, being a guitarist myself, I was impressed with) and were playing old hymns and spiritual songs. All of a sudden a student stood up and asked to speak. With tears he admitted that he had sinned against another student and was offering forgiveness. The next thing you know that other student stood up and admitted a grudge against the first student. They walked over and hugged one another. The guest speakers clearly did not know what to do. This act spurred another and another until the meeting came to a halt. People were forgiving one another and forming small prayer groups. A long time later we were adjourned by the principal but that was not the end of it. Many gave their lives to the Lord who had previously not done so. Prayer groups spontaneously cropped up everywhere. The next few days school classes were canceled as the students and faculty felt a great need to pray for the salvation of people in Manila, and I was among the groups that went out to witness downtown. This revival lasted for at least two weeks.
My second experience with true revival happened in college in very much the same way as the one at my high school. The difference was that college was not accustomed to seeing that kind of move of the Spirit and some of the faculty were standoffish. But many students who were there formed groups and started Bible studies and prayer groups as well as witnessing. This lasted for weeks.
I have seen this same thing happen a few other times. It is somewhat rare these days but it is good to know the Lord is still working, bringing times of refreshing to those who repent. I have also seen many counterfeit revivals predicated on everything but true repentance of sin. These are often marketed on TV and brought into churches with a promise of signs and wonders that end up being a show of “slain in the spirit” which is decidedly NOT from the Holy Spirit, but an occult technique brought in from shamanism and eastern mysticism. Revival leaders, such as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, warned against physical manifestations when they become the epicenter of a movement and were detached from true repentance and the fruit of the Spirit.
The wonderful thing is that the Lord changes people from the inside out, not the outside in. Those who purport to throw the Holy Spirit around churches, blow the Spirit onto people to knock them down, or try to press the Holy Spirit into a person’s forehead are in denial of some basic facts about God and precepts of the Bible. We don’t control God. He is sovereign. He moves as He wills. He brings revival to those who are repentant.
His promise it to move where two or three are gathered together and there is repentance and forgiveness present. This is not a formula. It simply highlights God’s character and what He wants to see in us.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
1 Peter 5:6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
If we would be like Christ we should elevate concern for others above self-concern. When that happens, times of refreshing come and the Lord, who urges us to further service, to evangelization, and love towards our neighbors.
There are many other verses that talk about what God does for those who humble themselves before Him. Here is one of them.
Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.
Revival starts with a contrite heart. It starts with the individual who repents.
Here are some things you can do to have personal revival. I borrow from Jim Eliff's "Five Resolves for Personal Revival". Personal revival begins when the believer faces his sin honestly.
1. REPENT OF EVERY KNOWN SIN.
"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent" (Rev 3:19).
2. FORSAKE ALL QUESTIONABLE HABITS AND ACTIVITIES.
"For whatever is not from faith is sin" (Rom 14:23b).
3. MAKE RIGHT ANY WRONGS BETWEEN YOURSELF AND OTHERS.
"Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First become reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (Matt 5:23-24).
4: COMMUNE WITH GOD THROUGH PRAYER AND THE WORD.
"Revive me, O Lord, according to Your Word" (Ps 119:107b). "Pray without ceasing" (1Thess 5:17).
5. TRUST GOD TO USE YOU AS HIS INSTRUMENT IN THE LIVES OF OTHERS
"Brethren, if anyone amongst you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way, will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins" (Jas. 5:19-20).
As demonstrated above, personal revival is often the catalyst for church wide and sometimes even community wide change. It starts as a result of one person admitting their sins, practicing forgiveness, and earnestly seeking revival according to the Word of God (Ps. 119:107b).