Revival In Our Churches – Now!
By Armin Gesswein
We are living in crescendo times. They are filled with quick changes and new challenges. These are the last days, when "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3:13). However, these are days when God is also at work as never before.
There is only one throne, and Jesus is on it, not the devil. Jesus is not playing catch-up with the devil either! It is the other way around; but it takes a watchful eye to observe that.
Revival Emphasis Today
There is now a whole new wave of prayer in our land. There are prayer conferences, concerts of prayer, prayer rallies, and prayer seminars. May it all increase with the increase of God!
Nothing, I suppose, is more prayed about or more needed than revival. Nor is anything more promised in Scripture. Yet our praying seems to be so little answered.
Most of the praying sounds as if revival is always "going to be." We constantly hear the phrase "when revival comes." But when? Why are we not expecting revival now? Because we do not expect it now, we futurize and generalize and procrastinate it.
Praying for revival is not the same as revival-praying. Our land has never been more needy and God knows it calls for a spiritual revival. However, while we keep sending up petitions for our land, Jesus is saying, "What about your churches?"
Revival is for God’s people. It is not a call to the White House but to God’s house. We want a landslide while we let our churches backslide. It is like praying for a forest fire to get our fireplaces going. We say revival is all in God’s hands, while we let our prayer meetings get out of hand and die.
Our great need today is revival now! What are we waiting for? "Now is the accepted time…" (2 Cor. 6:2).
"Today if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts" (Heb. 3:15; 4:7).
"He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev. 2, 3).
Hearts and Ears for Revival
The Book of Hebrews warns against hardness of heart, and the Book of Revelation warns against being hard of hearing. In Revelation chapter one, the Lord is blasting a trumpet so loudly that all of the seven churches (meaning any and every church) are to hear it, wake up, repent, be revived, and get on fire for God. Then, as if that were not enough, He lifts up His voice with the roar of the Niagara with the same message, while He walks in the midst of those churches. Finally, the Holy Spirit also penetrates our eardrums seven times with the same words to every one of those seven churches: "He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
Think of it! All these are siren-like voices, and we pay little or no attention to them. We do not even seem to hear them!
So we wait for Christ’s second coming to take us out of a miserable world, while He is blasting His trumpet for us to wake up, awaken our churches, and get on fire for God in this miserable world!
Are we waiting for the coming of the Lord to do what the coming of His Spirit wants to do now?
The coming of the Holy Spirit with power in our churches is not only needed for the evangelizing of the world – it is also the best preparation for the coming of the Lord. Nothing makes us more ready for heaven than living in the heavenlies now.
The message on the coming rapture is never more wonderful than in a revival of the church.
Question: Is the Lord going to forget all about the backsliding in these churches and simply sweep them all into glory at any moment?
No, He calls them to repent and get back to the glory they have lost. When Jesus ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit descended upon His church. When He descends again, His church will ascend, prepared as a Bride to meet the Bridegroom. The cloud of glory that attended His ascension is to rest upon our churches. His Bride will never be more ready for the rapture than when she is enraptured by His Spirit in her "first love" (Rev. 2:4). In the Book of Revelation it is "the Spirit and the Bride" who say "Come… even so come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:17, 20).
Question: Do we really mean it when we say we want revival?
Various reasons are given for not having revival in our churches now. Some even say that the prophetic Scriptures tell us we are now in the "last days," the "days of the apostasy" and days of "falling away from the faith" like in the days of Noah and Sodom and Gomorrah. Such people argue, therefore, against expecting to see revival now.
However, the Book of Revelation is prophecy! That’s all it is, all the way through. Full, final, authentic biblical prophecy! In it God is prophetically blowing His trumpet to get His preachers and churches to wake up spiritually, repent, and get back to their original power from on high and wake up their cities for God. Isn’t it strange how we can postpone revival, or express doubt about it while we keep on praying for it? We even use "prophecy" to put off the very thing it is calling us to do!
What is it we are postponing? We are postponing our priorities. We are postponing our repentance. God is speaking to us as loudly as He can, but we do not listen.
The fact is most of the reasons given for not having revival in our churches are the very reasons for it. They are just another way of expressing our fallen condition. The prophetic messages of Revelation are God’s call to revival, not against it.
The devil is very tricky and busy with all kinds of doubts and delay tactics. He is a master of doubt, delay, deceit, and denial. He hates revival and is its number one enemy. His voices are many, but God’s voice is one – always the same seven times: "He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
Question: Are we clear about what we mean by "revival?"
In other words, what are we looking for? Where do we expect it to come? When? And how?
Revival, we know, is a church word. It is reviving those who have life in Christ. The New Testament is never vague or general about it. We are always thinking of revival in our needy land, but in the New Testament God calls for revival in our needy churches. It does not call us to some kind of a future revival; it calls for church revivals now.
Pentecost was a church revival, and launched us into God’s new age – an age characterized by church revivals. Pentecost sets the pattern and the pace for church revivals.
Jesus never said anything more plainly than, "…I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). A more powerful word never hit the ether waves. The big question remains: How? How would He do this? What did He build?
Would you believe it? He built a prayer meeting (Acts 1). The Book of Acts is the story of that prayer meeting. It quickly becomes His new church, always advancing as it began – by prayer.
That little church is not only the mother of churches, it is the model. Clear as this is, churches miss it, for the most part. This church gives us the Bible basis for church prayer meetings.
It also gives us the much-needed Bible basis for expecting church renewal, church awakenings, church revivals. By church, I mean congregations (the meaning of the word ecclesia here).
Knowing this, we can pray, expecting the Lord to give us strong prayer meetings and powerful congregation revivals.
The church...the church...the church. That is where the rubber continues to meet the road all through the New Testament.
On one day alone – the day of Pentecost – about 3,000 Jews were converted to the Messiah, and were added to this new church. That is a manifestation of power from on high the like of which was never known before! After that, we are told, the Lord continued to add to that number daily "those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47). His Church becomes the centerpiece of history, turning it into "His Story." The Apostle Paul did not breeze through country after country with the Gospel. He planted churches everywhere. He followed that up with his famous Epistles – letters to many of those churches – in Thessalonica, Corinth, Galatia, Philippi, Colossae, Ephesus, and Rome.
Question: How are we to take our cities for God?
That is a big question today. Paul’s method was to get his churches on fire for Christ – the same plan the Lord modeled with His first church in Jerusalem. That plan – church awakenings and revivals – has always been God’s way in all the great revivals. It was the plan in the Norway revivals, where I ministered. It was the plan in the Wales revival. It certainly was the plan in all the many revivals under Charles G. Finney. He had no other plan. And his track record is one of the greatest of his century. Sometimes a whole city was awakened and turned to the Lord. How did he do it? He got the churches awakened to pray, and then in that atmosphere he preached his powerful messages of repentance. Like the Jerusalem church, he got the churches on fire – so strongly that he did not have to chase all the devils out of town! They were too hot for the devil and he "beat it," at least for awhile.
So we see, in the New Testament, the local congregation keeps getting the call to revival. The church is the major unit for the mighty working of the Holy Spirit.
The Book of Revelation is God’s final Amen to this. It knows no other vision of revival and sounds out the last call to revival in the New Testament. It is also the loudest. He literally trumpet blasts the call to the churches to repent, be revived, and return to their "first love" and do again their "first works" (Rev. 2). There should never be any doubt in any preacher’s mind, or in anybody else’s, that congregational revival is serious business.
Question: But when?
That is the final question. When will the revival come to the ministers and their churches? God wants it now! No waiting, except waiting on the Lord in prayer and following through with Him. For He is the real revivalist in the midst of the churches. "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord" (Zech. 4:6).
There is a lot of praying about revival, but that will not bring it about. Jesus did not pray about things. He brought them about by prayer. Revival must be birthed, prayed into being, just as Pentecost was born in the famous upper room "by prayer and supplication" (Acts 1:14).
Dr. A. T. Pierson said it well, when he said, "No revival has ever come except by that kind of praying, and no revival has ever continued beyond the continuation of the same kind of praying." It is like a fire: what gets it started is what it takes to keep it burning.
Let us gather the elders, the leaders, and the like-minded. Let us repair the broken altars – the broken prayer altars, the broken family altars, the broken-down prayer meetings. We must pursue it. Persevere. Pray it through and follow through. Follow Him through to revival in our churches…now!
– Used by permission of Revival Prayer Fellowship.