11th February 2024

God alone brings Revival

Passage: Isaiah 44:3-5, 12:3, Joel 2:28, 32, John 14:18-26
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Transcript

In our church we have been talking about in the morning services the old covenant led by Moses the law and the new covenant Led by Jesus and the biblical statement. That's The law came by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ This morning particularly we are looking at the word grace and the fact that grace is when God pours out His love love and does something for you totally undeserved. That's his grace. One of the ways that God brings about grace, both in the Old Covenant times, the Old Testament times, and also in the Christian era which is the new covenant times we are now in, is that there are seasons when the Spirit of God is poured graciously out on an area if you like or maybe a church Church', or on a city, there is a movement of a spirit and many wonderful things happen. And because it is a work of grace, it is undeserved. Often people have in their minds the idea that if we all behave ourselves properly and if we do all the right things, reading the Bible and praying that we will somehow merit there being revival amongst us. There are some promises that read that way but the overall teaching of the scriptures is that grace is something that comes when we don't deserve it, that's why it's grace. And the same is true for revivals. It's a matter of history. In my own experience, there were times when the Lord came and worked amongst young people back in the seventies, when I was a young Fry. There was a movement of the spirit in many different places, different countries, and here in Brisbane, there are little pockets of where the Holy Spirit burst out and you did things that it was his work of grace. And because of that, my background actually is as much in revivals as it is in evangelism. Now something about some language when you go to different countries you discover that even if they're English speaking, they don't all use the vocabulary with same meetings. And I found that to be the case when I went to study overseas, in the city of Dallas. And at the place I was studying there was a group of us who got together a prayer meeting. We're all internationals who were interested in revival and by revival we meant that sudden outpouring of God's Spirit, that you couldn't cause or can't deserve when sometimes didn't expect. And so we wanted to have a prayer meeting. The other guy who was running it with me was Indian and it was myself, and most of us were internationals who particularly wanted to see something more than churches that are running because there's a good preacher alone in it and just because there's a good administration making the programs respectable. But we wanted to see something come by God's grace and so we prayed for a revival to come. But what we meant by revival of course was a bit different from the Americans which you know on their lingo they call their evangelistic crusades revivals and so they'll advertise revival here next Sunday you know and every time as an Australian you see that you say well that's a bit of a joke you can't make revivals happen and being I was a bit of a skeptic every time I saw someone advertising a revival, I said, aren't they boasting ahead of time? How do they know God is going to work like that? But it's because the language was different. Anyway in the prayer group there were some Americans that filtered in, there were 2,000 students in the place. And they were rather keen in the prayer meeting. In fact things began to happen in the prayer meeting and those students were used to formal religion, with very strong conservative churches were all the right doctrines, they believed. But they had never been in a church where things happened. As a matter of fact, one of them told about one of the churches in Dallas with a big reputation for it being a good church to go to. And they reported that they had one conversion in car park, a previous year. And that was amazing to me. I wouldn't call that a very ongoing church but actually was a successful church in terms of numbers and having all all the correct teaching. And some of the ones who were also students there, that's the background they came from too. And when they heard us praying, the little Indian guy and myself, we got excited and began to pray with fervour. And they caught on and some of them began to join. In fact, there was one guy whose doctrine was very conservative. He was quite reformed in the sense of tulip, if you know what that means. And he was used to the formal doctrines but he got so excited that he'd get down off the chair and kneel on the ground in front of it. He used to beat the chair as he prayed with all the fervor of his heart. I thought, I've never seen a Reformed person pray like that before. And he went out and told all the other students that Revival had come to our Prayer Meeting. That was very embarrassing actually because it wasn't the Revival that had come, it We had, I think, a normal amount of tenderness when you get in prayer, something happens if you pray, with fervency, if you get into the spirit of prayer, but that's what he had experienced and never been in before. So, as he told the other students, then we started having a whole lot of different ones with 2,000 students to get curious. There were different visitors coming along to see what the revival was looking like. It was a really embarrassing experience actually. In the end, the seminary told me when I finished my masters degree there that I couldn\'92t stay for a doctorate because I was too charismatic and that was really very silly because they were taking it somehow or another that my being a charismatic was causing what other people call a revival. maid wasn\'92t me at all. I was one of the beneficiaries of prayer. the little Indian guy looked around and suddenly he broke the prayer scheme and he said to us, we're all single here. As it happened, that was the case. Most of the students were married. It was a master's degree place and most were married and we were all single and he said, we should pray for wives. And all the Americans just laughed. Why they laughed was that they were not quite in the business of praying because they were busy doing as different things, chasing him down. And the idea of being in a prayer meeting like a little Indian guy was, and just praying for God to provide it. I guess they pictured in their minds the women walking in, you know, in answer to the prayers. And anyway, but was a strange thing because he used to make us pray each morning we met, at 6 o'clock whenever it was and we'd pray for wives. It was in those times that Michelle in Australia got converted to Christ though I didn't know her yet. And the events that would lead to my being sent home, to be at different Graeme Crusades, was to take me to be at her church and that's how we met. So God was in the prayers. But it was a normal prayer. I wouldn't call that revivalist at all. I think that's what you should expect for normal prayer meetings. If you get in the spirit there's something that catches you and you don't want to leave, there's something about the spirit of prayer as Virgin said, that's greater than the habit of prayer, she said the habit of prayer is good but the spirit of prayer is better. Anyway, at the end of my time there after finishing the degree, I ended up getting up to Wheaton Gradschool and the Dean called me in and he said we've heard about you, and And why didn't I heard about it? It came about because Dr Chris Willop, the Church in Dallas, had helped me put out a brochure. And the brochure was to get me opportunities to preach as an evangelist. But I didn't mention the word revivals in it. I did give him illustrations that we worked on to be part of what we said in the brochure. And one of them was a crusader I had up in Papua New Guinea, which did have revivalistic touches to it. Anyway, up in Wheaton College where I've gone One of the things I asked of me they said we've got a chapel here that they've kept someone to staff And it's a chapel to pray for revivals because periodically we've had revivals in Wheaton College And by continuing a chapel it goes on praying for the next one That's what's going to happen Now my attitude to revivals back then was they do happen in history It's a sudden work of God and you can't do anything about it turns up by God's doing. So, I've never been the idea that let's all pray for revivals. It was either going to happen by the grace of God or not at all and so I didn't want to say yes to being the person in charge of the chapel. You had to stay there all the time and help other people coming in the door to pray for revival. But I felt I had to and from just being requested and so I said okay In my time there I got people praying for revival and I always explained to them that doesn t mean an evangelistic crusade. It means a special movement of the Spirit that can happen in all sorts of different ways and we prayed for revival. I left in the due season. I got sent back to Australia to be the graham crusade. So I didn t see what happened but got a newsletter along the way a couple of years later, it mentioned how Wheaton College was having a revival and it happened in the major chapel seasons, chapel times, I used to have one big chapel in the mornings two thousand odd students, they had even more two thousand coming, and God's Spirit broke amongst them so even when the program finished for the chapel and classes were maybe meant to start, there were people who didn't leave leave and they were weeping and praying it was a revival and they had it all riddled up. I felt ashamed of the fact I had been so unbelieving about revivals, even though my own history was one where the movement of God's Spirit had made things like prayer and wanting revival something that was very much on my mind. Now tonight, I want to talk about revivals, and just a few pointers about them, from the scriptures and the first ones in Isaiah are 44 verses 3 to 5 and Joey read to us already the verses, but it says I will pour water out on a thirsty land. Now by referring to the land as thirsty is not saying that the flowers are gulping and crying out for help, it's talking metaphorically about the absence of the movement of the Spirit of God. And one of the features of revival is not just that it comes when all the Christians get together and pray properly as 2 Chronicles Seventh calls on us to do, not just when we do the right things but I'll tell you, revivals often come and have come in points of history in the different countries of the world at their driest times. One such time was when George George Wittfield got converted, he became an evangelist and a flaming fire of a preacher who preached on Christ and people would weep and repent and he came to Christ in a time when all of the churches were getting so nominal that people laughed at what the church was like it just didn't capture anybody and it was just a formality the culture was doing. And there came a revival and His time and He was one of the results. And if you read His testimony, He was the point of backsliding away from being Christian and all of his behaviour when God converted him, and he became someone getting around and beginning to preach at his time. It was the season when He and John Wesley began to be shut out of the Churches of England as the Church of England wanted to stick to their formalities and their dryness. They couldn't get anywhere to preach so they started just preaching in the fields or find somewhere where people were crowding and others will come and join and Revivals started out there without preaching in the fields And so George Whitfield though he was someone who came to Christ at a time that you'd never have guessed At a moment in his life when he wasn't really displaying anything to cause God come and work on him He came when the land was thirsty and this verse I'll pour water out on a thirsty land what it's telling us about revivals is they come when God decides and often he comes and he's the initiator and it's what God does that brings revivals and sometimes he chooses the moment when people who are in prayer are praying for it and other times it is that there's nothing going on and everything's going dry and he decides just to bless for the movement of the Holy Spirit and streams on dry ground so God sometimes chooses those times when it's needed most and I'll pour my Spirit upon your offspring by blessing on your descendants they shall spring up and among the grass and the willows by flowing streams like willows alongside flowing streams and one will say to another I am the Lords, another will call it the name of Jacob, and another will write on his hands the Lords, and name himself by the name Israel." This is back in the old covenant days that Isaiah is prophesying about, that he's talking about the principle that also applies in the New Testament, these New Covenant Times, when Jesus has already died on the cross and has opened the door by his death and resurrection for there to be conversion to Him. and revivals can come in these times just equally the same. But I want first you to notice revivals start because God starts it. That's why we pray to Him. That's why we call on Him because He's the only one who can really start that special movement of the Spirit. The second place I want us to go is in Joel 2, 25 and verse 32, two particular verses, but Joel chapter 2 we've been on about this in the morning services. It shall come to pass afterward. Now you can't pick it up just from this verse but there's much talk there in Joel chapters 2 and 3 about there being a time of a new covenant, about there being a time when as different from the old covenant but as in the New Testament idea of there being a time of grace, a time that is called a period of grace. That it comes after something. And what it's after is the end of the old covenant period by Jesus dying on the cross. And by that moment when the temple was split from top to bottom, as the time of the priests, and the way that God was blessing him in the old covenant, had come to a climax and a finish. But it finished in Jesus obeying the law, and in Jesus going to the cross and paying for our sins, and our breaking of the laws of God and Jesus rising from the dead and going back to heaven and introducing the Age of the Spirit, the Age of the Spirit, that when anybody cries and calls upon the Lord God and asks him to forgive them, that they can know what it is to become children of God and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And those of you who have come often to our church, some of the things we're always mentioning is that the two blessings of the New Covenant is one, the forgiveness of sins, and two, gift of the Holy Spirit. And when you come to Christ and you take him as your Lord and Savior, when you trust him to forgive your sins, the first Christian sermon which happened on the day of Pentecost by Peter climaxed by saying, for the promise is to you and all those who are far off, to as many as our Lord our God shall call. And it is the gift of the Holy Spirit that you come and reside in your heart and make you a Christian. So the the gospel has as its claim to call people to come to Christ, to take him as saviour, to trust him to forgive them, but also to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and that gift to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is what makes you a Christian as what we call Being Born Again. It's what we describe as your regeneration, which is the same thing as saying Being Born Again. And it happens if you come to Jesus and you trust him as your personal Saviour, and you put your faith in him to forgive you of your sins, there's no need for any temple aside from the temple that he is up in Heaven being your intercessor with God the Father. But there is only the facts that you get the gift of the Holy Spirit. 3 And it shall come to pass afterward. He's talking about after the period of the law, the period of time of all the Passover and is talking about the New Covenant Times. Now, some people look at what happened in the book of Acts when the Church was founded where this time of the Spirit, they see what they call a revival. It's actually a bit of a mistake, it's an understanding mistake, because what happened in Acts Chapter 2 and the coming of the Holy Spirit, the beginning of the Church, was not anything unusual or anything special or unexpected or whatever. It wasn't revival of such, it was the beginning of the availability of the Holy Spirits. But when there is a time where the church has become stagnant or where Christians have been backsliding away badly where the name of Jesus is not being honoured where the Gospel is not heard God is in the business of bringing a time of Revival." And so we should be praying for there to be revival. Revival right across Australia, we as a country are sliding so far away from Christianity, only God can step in. And because it's God who starts Revival, our prayers should be that he should work in our country, and it will happen when he chooses to. But it will also happen in answer to our prayers, and he will work on us and he do things that are spiritual things. And He may return us to be more like the Day of Pentecost and return us back to the norm. That's not because that's what revival is, being like the Day of Pentecost, that's actually just us getting back to being what New Testament Christianity's meant to be about. And so the mention of the sons and daughters prophesying or the old men dreaming dreams or young men seeing visions is examples of what happens when we get back to what is original Christianity. We cannot do it by own strength. It is something that comes in the timings of God, and comes by his process. He's the one alone who makes it happen. And though he's the one that starts, he's also the one who will continue to move and let it come about by his power. He's the one that continues it. Let's go to another verse as we're looking at these and why don't we go to John's Gospel so John's Gospel chapter 14 and verse 18 for a start now this is Jesus getting ready to be goes to the cross and getting ready to be killed and to rise again then return to heaven and but he says as he begins to try and make known known to his disciples these things are going to happen. But he says to them I will not leave you as orphans I will come to you. Now in reading that some people might think perhaps he's referring to the Second Coming which would be true enough because his coming in the Second Advent would certainly fulfill that that he's intending to come back again. But that's not what he's talking as the rest of the passage shows, when he says, I won't leave you orphans, they've had Jesus leading them and teaching him for three years, and then he's telling them he's gonna get crucified and that's gonna be a shattering effect on them, and then he's gonna rise again and go back to Heaven and leave them in the world, facing all the persecution. And he says, I will come to you. What's of interest is indeed what follows these passages in John's Gospel for when he says I will come to you He also goes on to say a bit about that in verses 25 to 26 In John chapter 14 25 to 26 These things I've spoken to you while I'm still with you, he says, but the helper the counselor some translations have the one who comes along side you and helps you the Holy Spirit Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name. Now notice the connection between the Holy Spirit's ministry and Jesus, because when the Holy Spirit comes he doesn't come as some separate blessing or some third entity that you didn't get when you came to Christ. If you can remember the time when you prayed and asked Jesus to be your saviour, and then someone comes along and says to you what you've received Jesus down you better receive the Holy Spirit don't listen to them because when Jesus came to you as you prayed for him to be your savior the way that he came was through the Holy Spirit representing him which is everywhere the teaching of the New Testament that the Holy Spirit is the way that we take the impact of having Jesus come to our hearts as a matter of fact if you were to have Jesus come and enter your person and take up his residency, your personage could not take the moral impact of Jesus coming suddenly to you. It's only that the book of Ephesians tells us that the Holy Spirit strengthens our hearts so we could take the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And see, the Holy Spirit is sent in Jesus' name. There's a lot of Christians around who are rather confused as they listen to the teaching of the Bible about the Holy Spirit, well they sometimes say do I have the Holy Spirit, I know I have received Christ, but what s this Holy Spirit? Well, you see it is because God, the Father God, the Son and God, the Holy Spirit, this trinity of personages are a unit, and the Bible teaches that though there's a plurality in the Godhead, they are one God. we are one is the statements in the Old Testament which used the plurality about God. Even the Elohim name means the plural gods, and it says The Lord gods is one and uses the verb which is singular and the oneness is there and so So there's something mysterious, I can't explain it tonight because it's beyond our capacity to really grasp. God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit working together as three persons in one God. And you call that the Immanent Treaty, the fact that there is something about the immanence of God the Father is in the Son. the Holy Spirit is representing the Son, and the Holy Spirit represents the Father as well. And the three of them, these three persons of the one Godhead can't be separated. You can't get one in and not the other two. And if anybody tells you you've got Jesus but you haven't got the Father, then they're telling you a furphy, because no, the Holy Spirit, the Father, sends him in Jesus' name. And He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I, that I Jesus, have said to you. And so for the Christian who is growing, the Holy Spirit helps us somehow cotton on to what Jesus has taught. The Holy Spirit leads us into deeper things, and in prayer meetings, the Holy Spirit causes You, to grow. And if you're a person that has come to Christ, you can count on the Holy Spirit and there's nothing wrong with asking him to do what he's come to do and say please teach me more about how I can know God. Teach me more about Jesus and how I can follow him. He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. That's actually a good apologetic point so since I'm thinking about this coming Thursday. We've already had a good start two occasions of the apologetics club but thinking about this happening. How did some of the critics of the Bible say it's impossible for these people writing up about Jesus to really get it accurately as to what he didn't and said but the reason why I trust the scriptural New Testaments to be accurate about Jesus is because it's not being relied just on the fact that they were eyewitnesses and they saw a fair bit. That adds to it for for sure, but it is because they received at the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit to begin the Christian era, and he taught them all things and brought to their remembrance all that Jesus had said to them. So the help of the Holy Spirit and Jesus – they're working together. You don't need to worry that if you've received Jesus then you haven't got the Holy Spirit. You just need to open yourself to the ministry of that Spirit. Now we could turn to another verse in John which is chapter verses 25 and 26. So have we already done that? No, we already have. So we'll go back now to Isaiah 44 verses 3 to 5. This is where we started, I'll pour water on a thirsty land and streams on the dry ground. One of the things about the way it's worded is that the promise of the coming of the spirit in language of pouring, and the result being streams, this is like flood language. I was present in the 74 Flood here in Brisbane, and I want to tell you it wasn't just a little trickle, I was present in the suburb I live in, one of the more recent, more minor floods in Brisbane. a part of the problem was that the waters of the river got up so high it all got fed backwards through the storm drains so a storm quality or quantity water that was coming backwards through the storm drains They made a lot of flooding around the district where I lived Thankfully our street was higher up But a lot of the houses got flooded because the quality the quantity of the water was like streams dreams." This is what God is saying, I will pour my spirit on your offspring and my blessing on your descendants. It's going to be a time in revival time promise where God will not do things by halves. And one of the things that happens in true revivals – it isn't just a little bit of a touch here, a little bit of a touch there – that happens in general times and we long for more of it, but nonetheless when revival happens God will pour his spirit And if poor is spirit on your offspring and often the blessings of revival time happens in families where there are people who love the Lord and sometimes its a bit of a struggle to get your young But when God works in revival times, there's whole families who get keen for Christ and there are people who become visionary as to what to do because the revival is like that. They shall spring up among the grass like willows flowing near streams. It's a factor that the people in the olden days knew that if you had a live stream that kept on flowing, you always had a whole row of trees on both sides of the streams that kept flowing because their roots were constantly being fed by water even in drier times. And this is what it's like when there's a revival period because the Holy Spirit is not coming in a trickle but it's got to be streams and they'll cause people to be riding on their hands I belong to the Lord. That's a bit of a reversal of the normal idea of people having all sorts of other things written on them but it's going to be that maybe people I don't know whether this is advertising for having more what you're gonna call lights the ink I'm not advertising it and I'm just saying that there's going to be people who write on their hand the Lord's there would be a bit of a surprise wouldn't it if you saw someone with one of those what do you call on their hands and you thought it was going to be a picture of something and you went and looked at it says the lords and people naming themselves after Israel that was certainly be an unusual thing. Another will call on the name of Jacob, and name himself by the name of Israel. God is going to stand up for Israel, she's in trouble now, but there is the promise of the fact that the Israel people who presently are not converted, by the way, to be Christians, many of the folk who live in what we now call Israel, are atheists, or at least agnostics. But there's going to come a time when that nation as a whole the overall are going to be converted to Christ and become the latest evangelists who get around to tell people to come to Jesus. And that's one of the prophecies that will be fulfilled and they will become a nation of evangelicals with a gospel and that's a bit of history that hasn't yet happened and so that's Isaiah telling us some of the things that will happen when revival times come. I want to only just give enough of you to get you thirsty. Because one of the things it does say bout the when revivals come is that often it creates a thirst and people get to be trying to learn more and more about revivals. That time that i went up to Wheaton College they made me in charge of the Chapel. I knew about revivals but I sort of did what I was meant to do and got people praying for it but I was surprised when it And if it happened in a place like that, it can happen anywhere. Because it's God's doing to start it, God's doing to sustain it, God's doing to come sometimes when it's right at the bottom of what's happening socially. I believe there could well indeed come a Revival to Australia, we could have a Part to Play, we could see a time when many different people come to Christ. Just as this happened in the west coast of America back in the 1970s and there were people who turned away from the commonality of what was meant to be a successful person getting all the money and getting the big career. There came about that which was called the Jesus Movement, and now having mass baptisms down at the beach. Time magazine had a picture of this Mass Baptism and people people even here in Australia thought how unusual and strange it was that these teenagers who were in a culture that had lots of money in the West Coast of America, but yet, they came and wanted just to live for Jesus, and that Jesus movement touched here in Australia. In fact, some friends of mine were involved in a prayer meeting that met at six o'clock each weekday morning, and different young people came along on their way to university or to where they might have worked in the City. and it was a revival time where God moved and God has already been doing such things in Australia, He can do it again and it's something that we ought to pray for and know that it'll come when He decides but God will be the one that starts it God will be the one that sustains it and when it happens most of all, my final Bible verse for you is describing the experience of those who are in it And it is, if we pick up this piece. Isaiah 12 verse 3. And with joy, you will draw water from the wells of salvation. Becoming a Christian doesn't make you someone who's got a sad, sack life, or you're out of the way of anything fun. With joy, you will draw water from the wells of salvation. when God's Spirit moves one of the features of that is moving first of all was the thirsting people have for it to happen and Secondly thing that happens when the spirit of God moves is the joy that the participates have In being involved in something. That's bigger than themselves and being involved with something That is spiritually satisfying and I want to tell you in the little revivals I've been in they've always been the things I go on talking about my family sometimes tell me on what the same old illustrations sometimes but they don't know about the measure of joy that used to accompany. At the time when youth for Christ, had their big Gold Coast Crusades with teenagers under 10 down at talab wigra and I was involved in the team and they would have two meetings, one in the morning and one in the evening. I was in charge of the counselling and involved with getting people to pray and then at the end of day, they would send all the teenagers out to go to bed by lights out, which was midnight or something like that. And we would get behind where we used to have the meals brought out as a rolladoo, and they rolled it down, and the young people didn't know we all got behind that rolladoo, and we were eating with having an extra meal of rejoicing, and the joy of the fellowship and people told of the ones who do come to Christ, and people told of of things that have been problems, that were handled in the 1000 teenagers under 10th, there were always problems. And as the news of what was happening happened, they were the most joyful times of my life. With joy, you will draw water from the wells of salvation. That's what happens when God's spirit's on the move. That's what you need to get involved in. In praying for revival, and experiencing what it is to be telling people how to come to Christ. From the wells of salvation, that's where the joy is in Christian ministry. When you're participating and helping other people come to Christ, that's the greatest joy I've ever learned. Let's pray. Heavenly Father we thank you for the night and we thank you for the opportunity to talk about revivals. We notice, Lord, that they don't start by doing it but to do it in the genuine works of grace, where Your hand comes in first – a gracious hand to help and to convict and bring people to Christ. Father, would You please work in our church and in our city and in our generation. Work in this nation of ours, and bring about a movement for revival, we pray that will sweep many into the kingdom. We ask it in Jesus' name, Amen.

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