God’s Law Of Revival Is Realistic
By Armin Gesswein
There is a simple law of Revival revealed in Scripture. It is profound and realistic. It makes sense, and it is very striking in its operation. Jesus brings this law into full focus at the close of His earthly ministry. Speaking of the Holy Spirit He says:
"It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter) (Advocate) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged" (John 16:7-11).
This is a classical compendium of what takes place when the Holy Spirit comes in Revival power. I must confess that for a long time I read past the little word "you." But it is the key word, and we must not miss it.
Jesus is telling us: When I send the Holy Spirit to you (first)…to you My people…to you My Christians…to you My Church, then I will (through you) convict the world (the non-Christians) of sin, righteousness and judgment….
We are suddenly taken to the courtroom of heaven. The Holy Spirit is God’s Advocate, and summons our consciences to the bar of His judgment. The action of the Holy Spirit is twofold. It gives us the law of Revival, which can be stated like this:
The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin to the non-Christians in the measure in which He first works in Christians in the Church.
The unconverted feel their need of salvation when Christians first feel the need for them to be saved.
When Christians feel their deeper need of the Holy Spirit, non-Christians will feel their need of Christ.
The Church must be concerned for the world if the world is to be concerned for the Church.
Non-Christians will deal with their sins according to the way Christians first deal with theirs.
When Christians repent, sinners will repent.
Sinners will pray and seek the Lord when Christians do so first.
The unconverted will be "born again" of the Holy Spirit when Christians are burdened for them and birth them in prayer.
When Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit, non-Christians will be convicted of sin and converted to Christ.
When Revival is strong in the Church, evangelism will be strong in reaching the world.
When Christians walk in the light they have, sinners will see the light in and through them.
When God’s people face the many plain Scriptures about holiness of life, cleansing from all sin, purity, victorious Christian living and sanctification, sinners will face up to the plain Word of God regarding their salvation.
Conviction of sin is the hallmark of genuine Revival, and the lack of both shows how needy we are.
In short, the Sword of the Spirit is two-edged, and in Revival it cuts both ways: bringing forth repentance and Revival in the Church, and at the same time strong conversions to Christ in Evangelism.
The Day of Pentecost (Acts 2)
When the Holy Spirit came on the great day of Pentecost, He worked this "law" exactly the way Jesus said He would in John 16:7-11. Though Jesus had spoken so plainly, no one had any idea that it would all happen the way it did. There are always some wonderful surprises in any true Revival.
But what a wonderful help it is to know that God sticks to His Word, fulfills His plain promises, and carries through on His unmistakable commands. This is His way, His standard. He never disappoints. He is so believable. He foreknows, foretells, and follows through on His own pattern. He says what He means, and He means what He says. There is no "maybe" or "perhaps" with God. We can rely on Him to keep His Word.
This is the pattern He follows in Revival, and so must we! We always get stuck when we try to change or improve on His plan! We are not here to tell God what to do. He has told us what He wants to do, and also what He wants us to do.
Prayer is always primary with God. So the first thing the Holy Spirit did on the day of Pentecost was to come to the "Upper Room" and fill the 120 believers who were together "with one accord in prayer and supplication" (Acts 1:14). He had formed the first New Testament church prayer meeting, and now He answered their tremendous praying with power from on high as we read in the second chapter of Acts. At once Jesus here gives us the biblical basis for the church "Prayer Meeting." It was not optional! It was a command of Jesus. And it still is! It set the pattern and paved the way to Pentecost (Acts 1:4).
The Prayer Meeting is the key to Revival from that day to this – from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth and until Jesus comes again! (Acts 1:8, 14).
It was to the disciples headed for this prayer meeting that Jesus said:
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
It was to the disciples headed for this prayer meeting that the two angels appeared and said:
"Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
Backsliding begins when churches neglect this pattern of prayer and the glory departs from churches. We must repent and get back to this kind of praying.
What a revelation: Pentecost came to a prayer meeting! We seem to have forgotten this. The 120 members were filled with the Holy Spirit with a double filling (all and each) in the grandest display of divine power ever known on earth (Acts 2).
It is important to see that the Holy Spirit did not fall on Jews all around Jerusalem in some kind of a general outpouring without discrimination. He came directly to that praying body in the upper room.
We remember that Jesus had said: when He has come to you (John 16:7-11). Then what? Then came the mighty explosion of the Spirit! First to and then through the new Church. Let’s be sure to say, the praying Church. It was on fire for God now, and through these Spirit-filled Christians and their witness for Christ thousands of Jews came running together to find out what was happening.
When Peter rose to preach to this mass of Jews, thousands of them were brought under conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment – to repentance – to conversion – to salvation, exactly as Jesus foretold (Acts 2:14).
Those unconverted Jews were literally pierced (pricked, stabbed) in their hearts! It is the same word which is used when the Roman soldiers pierced and broke open the heart of Jesus on the cross. With terrible conviction of sin they cried out: "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:37-41).
Strong Praying and Powerful Preaching
Then Peter preached as he had never preached before! A brand new message. He preached Christ the Messiah openly for the first time to thousands of Jews. With a boldness and dynamic he had never known in his life, Peter became the first Revival preacher of the New Testament Church! He shows us the right combination for Revival in a church: first, this same kind of strong praying; and then this same kind of powerful preaching.
We must remember, though, that this kind of strong preaching of repentance will never "get through" to people until there is this kind of strong praying.
Jesus had commanded that "repentance and remission of sins should be preached…" (Luke 24:47). Not just "forgiveness" and not just "repentance" but both! Today a tremendous amount of forgiveness of sins is being preached without repentance. This is a great weakness. We have no mandate for that, and we get no Revival! It is a great part of our "cheap grace," "easy believism," and the fallen-from-Revival condition in churches today. We must repent of it! Change our thinking. Agree with God, and do what He tells us to do, for He is the giver of Revival.
On the other hand, I have noticed through the years that strong preaching on repentance without strong praying backfires, or misfires, or there is no fire! There is only hardening of heart. There must be the right combination, and timing as shown by Peter at Pentecost. Peter did not only preach "Christ crucified," he preached Christ "whom YOU have crucified" (Acts 2:36), and he preached it right in Jerusalem where they crucified Him.
The awakening was so powerful in Jerusalem that thousands of Jews, guilty of crucifying their Messiah, were convicted, and as many as 3,000 of them were converted to Christ and added to the 120-member congregation, all on the same day!
Three thousand Jews! That demonstrates the enormous new power of the Holy Spirit, and the way He can work in mighty Revival. It has been said, we can now preach 3,000 sermons without anyone getting converted!
The Pentecostal power of the Spirit displayed in the first New Testament congregation in Jerusalem was the greatest force on earth because even the gates of hell cannot prevail against it (Matt. 16:18).
Everyone knows we need Revival, but now we know what the Revival is which we need. We also know how it is to come, and where, and when. The Acts (book of Revivals) and the entire New Testament make it clear that we are to pray for and expect Revival to take place in the Church. Even more definitely, in our churches and congregations. Pentecost, after all, came to a local congregation.
The fact is, Pentecost began a new age of Revivals! At the same time it began an age of a new and much more powerful kind of evangelism. It is this kind of evangelism we should be experiencing – through churches on fire. This is God’s plan. We have a lot of evangelism today without Revival in the churches like the profound kind where the glory of the Lord came down and filled His Church at Pentecost. Here we have the true model which the Lord Himself set forth for His Church, and for fulfilling His Great Commission on reaching to the uttermost parts of the earth and to the consummation of the age (Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:18-20).
The "Great Commission" waited – was put on hold – never even began to be fulfilled apart from the "Upper Room" praying, Spirit-filled congregation. Jesus never planned that the task of world evangelization would ever be accomplished and completed in any other way. Whatever His way was in Jerusalem in the beginning was to be His way for witnessing and reaching through to the "uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
We will never finish the task any other way because Jesus gave us no other plan – no "alternate route." It is this kind of Power the churches so easily depart from and to which they must return – back again to their "first love" and "first works" (Rev. 2).
This is the Revival we need, and for this the Lord blasts His awakening trumpet in Revelation, calling us and our churches to wake up, repent, and get back to it! (Rev. 1-3).
– From God’s Law Of Revival by Armin Gesswein. Copyright 1993 by the author. Used by permission.