Contemporary Comentary: Revival—The First New Testament Movement

The Lord Jesus taught His disciples about the coming of the Spirit. When Christ vacated the virgin tomb in resurrection power, He confirmed to them the promise of the Spirit’s coming (Luke 24:49). In Acts 2, the down-coming, indwelling, baptizing, filling, and power-effecting Spirit commenced His unique work on earth. What vessels did He use? Not the great intellectuals, the wealthy, the well-known of earth, but ordinary men that would accomplish extraordinary feats! They turned the world upside down! These God-ordained vessels, a fishermen and a tax-gatherer, were the most unlikely instruments, “the weak things to confound the mighty.” If God needed a Luke, a Paul, or an Apollos, He could also use them for His glory. Vessels empowered by the Holy Spirit are still the answer for revival. The gospels depict a few saddened disciples and disappointed women! Resurrection and the descent of the Holy Spirit made all the difference. Can revival take place in a city marked by dead religion, greedy commerce, sinful rebellion, and the rule of a despotic Caesar?

The Prayer Room and Prayers

Above the din and bustle of a religious yet lawless world, in an upper room, where commerce and self-centeredness are forgotten, the pulse-beat is high for a revival. “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women.” The lesson is obvious! The upper room is aptly described as “a prayer room with the ‘pray-ers’ praying.” We could use a large-lettered sign at the back of our halls, Prayer Warriors Needed. We pray and feast, they prayed and fasted! How easy to be formal in prayer, rather than fervent! Mark the words, “they continued . . . in prayer and supplication.” The result was a mighty revival. May burden displace barrenness and cause a genuine return to prayer!

The Patient Waiting Band

This band, united, praying, and waiting, must have delighted God. Do we wait both privately and publicly in the presence of our God? Is there reality? Intimacy? In a day of rush, we need to wait before the awesomeness of the Almighty. This demands holy quietness and reverence. We need believers with devoted hearts, willing to spend and be spent, whose true motto is, “God first.” Waiters, watchers, weepers, and workers formed a band God used for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and of everlasting blessing. Praying and waiting still precedes gospel blessing. What if we had a day of humiliation! “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Mat 5:4).

The Person of Holy Spirit

When the Spirit descended with power, what wonder that must have caused! The promise was fulfilled as the great phenomena took place as of a rushing mighty wind, a filled house, tongues of fire (dross removed) filled with the Holy Spirit, all listening and hearing in their own language the wonderful works of God. The Divine Person of the Trinity had visited our world, things were bound to happen and they did. Where the Spirit is in control things will happen, miracles will take place. While we are not looking for the signs of Pentecost, (they were signs to Israel), we long for the Power of the Spirit to visit us with miracles of conversion.

The Powerful Preaching

Peter is no longer the fearful, but the fearless. With the eleven standing with him (no competition, no criticism, no complaining), he clearly and powerfully presented the gospel to a Jewish audience by citing O.T. Scriptures. He preached heaven’s message in the unfettered power of the Spirit. With majestic boldness and nobility of spirit, Peter preached the Word of God. The gospel that day came not “in word only” but “in demonstration of the Spirit.” No gimmicks! No altar calls! No appeals for money! Nothing but the Spirit’s power in the preaching! This is humbling, searching, but needful.

The Public Display

Results? About 3000 souls in one day! This revival in Jerusalem spread like wildfire, as the book of Acts reveals. Amazing what a little band of Spirit-filled disciples can accomplish! Their priority was to put God first. Something unknown in the past happened: God, through His Spirit, using “holy instruments,” visited with everlasting blessing in salvation. We have the same Spirit, the same God, and the same message. Let us learn from this first revival that commenced in the city of Christ’s crucifixion. This day to be remembered was marked by patience, prayer, power, preaching, and resounding praise!

The Persecution Endured

Revival didn’t die in Jerusalem, but spread through persecution, suffering, and scattering. We may not desire the suffering, but it is linked to revival. This is not the prosperity gospel of modern thinking. When God works, the devil is close at hand. One servant of God said, “I’d rather have a roaring devil than a quiet one.” When Satan’s kingdom is shaken and his goods taken, his wrath follows. Do you wonder at apostles imprisoned, martyred, hunted from place to place? It is the norm when the Spirit works. Can we truthfully sing “Revive Thy work, O Lord”?

The Price Paid

In conclusion, we sum up the cost that men and women paid: Stephen was stoned to death, James beheaded, Paul martyred, Peter crucified upside-down, John banished on a lonely isle, saints scattered, and many torn by beasts. Others experienced cruel deaths that only the Satan-controlled could invent. Time would fail to tell of others of whom the world was not worthy. In a smugly complacent society, where we have advanced technology, increased libraries, and every convenience, we have largely lost our vision and our passion. Sermons and lectures are displacing the warm and faithful preaching of that plain, convicting, gripping, Bible-centered gospel that rang out in the past. The call for devoted hearts to give their all to God and for God is urgent. Revival always commences with “number one.” What are we willing to pay?