I have studied the subject of revival for over thirty years. As a fifteen year old boy I heard about the Welsh Revival of 1904 and it captivated me. I first visited Moriah Chapel when I was seventeen I had no idea how much revival would impact, and direct, my life. Even the Church that is next to my parent’s house was a place where Evan Roberts preached during the revival. Also the church building my hometown church owned as offices and a training center, during the 1904 Welsh Revival, boasted stories of orbs of light shining above the roof whilst services commenced. I love Revival!
In the 1990’s we saw revival come to the Church through the ministry of a South African by the name of Rodney Howard Browne. A little later a preacher called Randy Clark from St Louis traveled to Canada to preach at a Vineyard Church in Toronto and a revival started there that, in effect, continues today. Initially they held meetings six nights a week for twelve years. Back home in the UK we were relishing in the effects of these moves and I remember being greatly impacted by them to this day. I’d like to share three experiences from those times.
We had started to see God moving in our church in Wales and weekly, up in England, one of the churches in our network held a midweek service. I was able to attend a couple of these “refreshing” services, and it was amazing. I can only describe it as clean air, easy to breathe, no pollutants, just a fresh, crisp, revitalizing atmosphere. I LOVED it!! I was around sixteen or seventeen at the time and just remember loving that time of life seeing God move like that. In one service I remember the Holy Spirit touching me and I had an urge to RUN. As I started to run around the room, I lapped 2-3 times, it actually provoked a wave of the Spirit to break out over the room. Laughter, people falling over, and even others started running. I was embarrassed at first but when I saw the effects of “yielding” to the Spirit I was amazed. Interestingly enough it was great to find out twenty years later that “running” was a regular manifestation of the Spirit across this move. Someone in a meeting would just up and RUN.
Rodney Howard-Browne 1:
An opportunity arose to go hear Rodney Howard Browne speak at the Wembley Conference Centre in London. I was very excited. In the first service Browne stated that he would lay hands on everyone. That was about 2500 people. Since we were two thirds of the way back that gave me too much time to imagine what was going to happen when he laid hands on me. My excitement got the better of me so that by the time he eventually reached me I was expecting Elijah to zoom by on a chariot of fire while Jesus poured oil on my head from a vast vessel held by angels. Browne laid his hands on me and NOTHING happened. I was so upset I got really quiet for the rest of the afternoon. My friends even noticed it. It took a few hours for me to shake it off, get over myself, and be ready for the evening service.
During the worship time I determined to keep my eyes on Jesus and just worship. I remember saying out loud “Lord I keep my eyes on YOU and not the man”, immediately Browne, as the music played, said “Keep your eyes on Jesus and not the man!”. That excited me as I thought I was on the right track. The evening service concluded and as we were walking down the steps to leave the Holy Spirit hit me. I began to stagger. I was trying to contain it, but when we exited the arena the Holy Spirit fell on my two friends as well, they were brothers, and all three of us melted on the forecourt, totally smashed in the Holy Spirit. We were making our way to the car, drunk as skunks in the Holy Ghost. We had a designated driver, so when we reached the car the three of us spilled into back seat and for over an hour switched between deep sobbing and hysterical laughter. A day I will never forget.
Rodney Howard-Browne 2:
A few months later Rodney Howard Browne came to our main church building in Cardiff, Wales. The first night I managed to get into the main auditorium. There was about a thousand people inside and hundreds more in the overflow rooms. I was sat against the wall, to the left of the stage, behind and out of Browne’s line of sight. He spoke on the Glory of God that night. At the end of his message he scanned from stage right all the across the full room until he was looking over his left shoulder and then he saw me. He pointed and asked me to come stand in front of him. “The Glory of God is going to fall on you tonight”, he didn’t even lay hands on me and when he prayed I hit the floor, but my right arm stayed straight up. It was odd, and I remember thinking “what’s happening to my arm?” Then the power started to flow and it felt like my right arm was attached to an electrical force that just increased and increased. It became so painful that I got scared. I was so overcome with confusion as to why a touch from God would be hurting so much. I cried for it to stop, but it did not, and for almost two hours I was sweating in an unknown agony.
Later that night my parents dumped me in my bed and my body vibrated all night. When I woke in the morning I was still vibrating, but definitely not at the intensity of the night before, and the pain had gone. One of my friends had let me borrow a VHS of Browne sharing his testimony at Benny Hinn’s old church in Orlando Florida. He described everything that had happened to me the night before, but he had it occur over many days. I was grateful mine had lasted as long as it did. Browne explained how we will need glorified bodies to live in the unmasked presence of God. The pain I had felt the night before was just God turning up the manifestation of His Glory, maybe just half a breadth of a human hair, and my body could not cope with it. That night marked me terribly. Over the years I have regretted crying out for Him to stop. Next time, if my courage doesn’t fail me, I’ll simply cry MORE!!
Before we look at what I believe is the New Testament definition of Revival, let me share some of my favorite quotes by revivalists about revival:
“The work of the Holy Spirit in restoring the people of God to a more vital spiritual life, witness, and work by prayer and the Word after repentance in crisis for their spiritual decline” – Earle Cairns
“The awakening and quickening of God’s people to their true nature
and purpose” – Robert Coleman
“Revival happens when a good percentage of people in the church decide to swallow the Book and let it have its effect on their lives, come what may” – A.W. Tozer
“Revival is not just an emotional touch; it’s a complete takeover!”
– Nancy Leigh Demoss
And one of my favorites declaring that Revival is,
“A community saturated in God” – Duncan Campbell
All of those stories tell of the fruit of Revival – Refreshing, Realigning, Revealing Jesus. You can read accounts of people who were in the Welsh Revival of 1904, or of Azusa in 1906, and many years later those people are still following the Lord with great passion and zeal. Something is deposited in those times that grows and grows. This is how we know it is truly revival, because it is not about an experience, but about transformation.
Revival, The Holy Spirit Heimlich Maneuver
In Acts 3:19-21 we have a beautiful expression of the pre-requisites for Revival, how Revival comes, and the Purpose of Revival:
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago”
It is almost the New Testament equivalent of 2 Chronicles 7:14
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land”
I’d like to draw attention to the phrase in Acts 3:20 that is “Times of Refreshing”. This a perfect definition of what Revival is in a New Testament context.The Greek translates it like this:
Kairos – a fitting, favorable, season, or time
OF REFRESHING –
Anapsuxis – Recovery of Breath, reviving with cool fresh air, or drink
These “Times of Refreshing” come from the Presence of the Lord in response to repentance of sin. I would concede that at an initial new birth, of a new believer, the breath of the Spirit would be breathed into their very spirit as to revive it. This would produce supernatural life to flow through their life. Peter did see 5,000 men accept Jesus as a result of this sermon. I would like to further propose that any loss, abandonment, or forfeiture of living that initial life would require repentance on our part, and the need of our Lord to intervene with a fresh infilling of His Breath. This is where I see the role of Revival.
When I look at the Church in the book of Acts I do not see a Church in Revival, rather I see the Church as She should be. We have to stop reading Acts and masking it to our current moves of God and deeming it business as usual. Revival is what we need to raise us back to the level, and expression, of the Church in the Book of Acts. We are in desperate need of personal revival for us to live holier lives than we live now. We are in desperate need of personal revival for us to live more powerful lives than we are living now. Imagine that the Church in Acts is at Level 10 (in fact it is Ground Zero) and we as the church today are operating on level 3-4. We need personal, and corporate, reviving to elevate us and bring us to same level of Christianity, in thought and deed, that the early Church enjoyed before we can go higher. We are behind and we need MORE revival to remedy this malady.
So how does Revival work?
Just imagine a body that has a blockage and cannot breathe. That person’s sole desperate need is the removal of whatever is blocking their airway. We have techniques to deal with that, back slaps and abdominal thrusts, these help to force the object out of the airway, why? so that air can enter the lungs again. For us the blockage is SIN and this can take many forms as apathy, doubt, disobedience, lukewarmness, backsliding. Repentance acts as the abdominal thrusts that forces the blockage out of our lives. Then the refreshing Breath of God breathes again and fills our lungs, we are revived. That is a kairos of Refreshing. A “kairos” moment is when eternity invades chronological time – TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK, 💥 TOCK – It can happen in a conversation, a worship service, in your home, at your job, wherever! These divine moments can last for seconds or for years, but they are transformative moments because they are reviving something in us.
This leads to another startling question, how long have we lived with blockage? I am a firm believer that we only ever advance as far with God as our last act of disobedience. We want to please God so our disobedience is usually not based in having a rebellious heart but rather out of fear. He could be touching on an area of hurt, unforgiveness to someone, or He’s asking you to do something that is out of your realm of possibility, it could even be that He’s calling you closer to Himself, which requires the giving up of many things. The initial pang that we feel is strong, then it weakens the more we ignore it. Before long we have chosen where to level off and this can cause more problems that range from falling away from God to just going through the motions. Over time we can even forget how we became this way. In my own experience He is faithful to let me go around the mountain again, and when I return, there He is, sat at the same issue as six months, one, or two years ago. Even though we may feel that we are making progress and moving with God, going around the mountain again is not going forward.
When we yield then we experience this grace of Refreshing.
In verse 21 we see this phrase:
“heaven must receive (Jesus) until the time (chronos) for restoring all the things…”
Look at that there, the Greek word for “time” is our chronological time. So “Times (Kairos – eternal times) of Refreshing” come to us to live out our natural, chronological, times to work with Jesus in restoring all things.
Now, depending on your end-time theology will determine how much we get done UNTIL. I am a partial-preterist, so I believe that most of the book of Revelations has already been fulfilled. This verse in Revelation 21:5 is one I love especially:
“And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new””
This is, in my opinion, connected to the “restoring all things” in Acts 3:21. Jesus is bringing His rule to bear on the nations of the earth, and all of creation. We are working with Him to bring the realities of His current position in creation and have it affect earth. He sits on a Throne and declares “I’m re-NEW-ing”.
Revival, I believe, is about refreshing the life in us. Just imagine that you’ve helped someone who was choking. The blockage is cleared, airflow is restored, but we don’t just sit around and celebrate being “revived”. No, that part should be short-lived, the person you’ve helped has a life to live, family, friends, work, hobbies, dreams etc. Helping them made it possible for them to get on living their lives, and hopefully live it better. Equally, Revival gives us back the lives we are meant to be living. It raises us on a higher level, closer to the book of Acts experience, and I believe these other words are part of the WHY of being Revived. Revival gives us the grace to tackle them:
- Restoration – “the restoration not only of the true theocracy but also of that more perfect state of (even physical) things which existed before the fall” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)
- Restitution – One of the definitions of Restoration includes the idea of Restitution (Strongs). I explain Restitution as “The Restoring of anything that has been lost, stolen, or forfeited by lies, theft, or deception”
- Reformation – The rescuing from error and the placing back on course under the rule of Jesus. This is reformation in a Kingdom perspective.
I will write more about restoration, restitution, and reformation again. My main aim was to introduce us to Revival, these Divine Times of Refreshing from the presence of the Lord. They help us by unblocking whatever has clogged our spiritual airways. Once life is coursing through our veins, and the Breath of Life fills our lungs then we can get on working with Jesus to bring about the evidence of His peaceful government in creation.
Let us pray:
Lord, I come. I need you more than I think I do. I want to want you more. I want to love you more. Lord, remove any hindrance, any blockage, and revive me. Let your breath of life flow unhindered in my life. Revive me so that I can rejoice in you and the life you have called me to live. Revive the dreams you gave me. Revive relationships that I need in my life. Let your times of refreshing flow from your presence and transform me now. I thank you Jesus. Amen!