“Jesus walking on the earth is far more important than man walking on the moon.” —Astronaut James Irwin
“Revival is ultimately Christ Himself seen, felt, heard, living, active, moving in and through His body on earth.” —Stephen Olford
“[Revival] is such a manifest working of God that human personalities are overshadowed and human programs are abandoned. It is man retiring into the background because God has taken the field.” —Arthur Wallis
“It was noised that he [Jesus] was in the house.” (Mark 2:1).
The outstanding feature in any revival is that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the center of attention. The drawing card is not the preacher, singers, performers, program, or human personalities. These things always remain in the background when God has taken center stage.
Sensing the Presence of God
Duncan Campbell defined revival as “an awareness of the presence of God.” During revival, this God-consciousness becomes larger than life. The sense of God is overwhelming, both to saved and unsaved people alike. I met an older man who was born again in a revival movement in the Scottish Highlands. He commented, “The thing that struck me was the awful sense of the presence of God.” Even many decades after his conversion, he was still visibly moved as he spoke those words. He had been in the fire of revival, and he still had the smell of smoke about him!
Evan Roberts, who preached during the Welsh Revival, feared when he thought people were coming to hear him and not God. At times he would refrain from speaking if he sensed that the people were looking to Him instead of Christ. During times like these, he would urge the people to “look away to Christ and Him alone,” lest the Holy Spirit should withdraw His presence. Though he became the most publicized preacher in the world at the time, he refused interviews with newspapermen who came from all over the globe to see him. He knew that if he was idolized the Shekinah Glory cloud would depart.
Taking Eternity Seriously
F.B. Meyer came to see for himself what was happening in Wales. There he sat with visitors from all over the world in crowded gatherings where people—even children—sang, prayed, and testified. Other Christian leaders like G. Campbell Morgan, Gypsy Smith, and William Booth visited the meetings where they would quietly sit and watch what was without doubt a divine work. These men recognized that it was not great preaching or preachers behind this movement. No! It was a supernatural work both in its origin and operation.
Though Evan Roberts had become the most popular figure of the Welsh Revival, there were at least one hundred other pastors, evangelists, and laypeople whom God had used to lay the foundation for the revival. The fire of God fell in scores of places that Roberts never visited, and where he did go, he often found the fire was already there. His job was simply to fan the flame. Of course there is always a human side to revival. In the Book of Judges we read about “The sword of the Lord—AND Gideon.” God does the work, but He works through human agents. There were hundreds of instruments in different parts of the Principality of Wales that God used to win souls, but every one of them recognized that it was the Holy Spirit instigating and promoting this work.
Brian Edwards states in his excellent book REVIVAL! A People Saturated with God: “We live like the world we are supposed to be saving: for the things of time rather than for the things of eternity. Our priorities are world-related rather than heaven-directed; our treasure is on earth. Revival always begins by putting eternity back into the minds of Christians, and only when the church takes eternity seriously can we expect the world to do so.”
Jesus told His disciples that the fields were white unto harvest. In order for the harvest to be reaped, laborers must be sent. The world to come must grip God’s people before we will impact the world in which we live. The starting point for improvement in evangelism and missions is the revival of the people of God.
Making Christ Preeminent
Historian Jaroslav Pelikan wrote a book titled The Illustrated Jesus Through the Centuries, where he compiled two hundred images of Jesus from different times and cultures. He points out that each age “created Jesus in its own image,” depicting Him in ways that suited their personal and cultural needs. But in revival the real Jesus comes and reveals Himself as He is to men as they are. Jesus becomes the center, and everything revolves around Him. As 1 Peter 2:7 says, “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” We don’t need another “cultural Christ” who will sanction the spirit of the age. What we need is a heavenly invasion from the Christ who died for our sins, was buried, rose from the dead, and is returning to earth to judge the quick and the dead! When He has the supremacy, men become convicted, converted, and committed to His cause.
Early in 1904, Pastor Joseph Jenkins became deeply burdened about the need of his own heart and the indifference among Christians in New Quay, Wales. He called the young people together and challenged them to obey the Spirit. It was in a Sunday morning prayer meeting where something significant happened. A young girl named Florrie Evans had been converted only a few days prior. She rose to her feet and said, “I love Jesus Christ with all my heart.” These simple words sent a thrill through the hearts of all who were present. A fire was ignited that spread throughout the land.
Missionary to China Griffith John once said, “The secret of the success of the Apostles lay not in what they did and said, but in the presence of Christ in them and with them. They saw with the eyes of Christ, felt with His heart, and worked with His energies. They were nothing; Christ was everything. Christ was living, breathing, and triumphing in their personal lives. Their entire nature being replete with His life, their spirits bathed in His light, and their souls kindled with the fires of His love, they moved in the midst of men as embodiments of supernatural power … Brethren, this is what we must be, if this mighty Empire [China] is to be moved through us. But to be this, the throne of grace must be our refuge, the secret place of the Most High must be our daily and hourly habitation.” Griffith correctly noted that the preeminence of Christ is the bedrock of all effective service. Jesus was “in the midst” of the early church and He can be “in our midst” in these last days!
Jonathan Goforth authored a book detailing the amazing revivals in China. It is titled By My Spirit. In it he writes:
“Finally, the call to revival must be a call to exalt Jesus Christ in our hearts as King of kings and Lord of lords. He is like an Everest peak, rising from the level plain. There must be room only for Him, if we would have Him dwell with us at all. Every idol must be smashed; every darling Isaac laid on the altar; every urge of self denied. Then, and then only, can we expect the larger fields to open before us. It is said of Mahmoud, the great Moslem warrior that in his trail of conquest through Northern India, it was his practice to destroy all idols which fell into his hands. He came at last to the city of Guggeratt, where there was an idol which was held in unusually high esteem by the people. The chief notables of the city came to the general and pleaded with him that he would spare to them this one idol. He might do as he wished with the others, they said, but if he took this god from them, too, they might just as well die. They pleaded with such intensity that, for a moment, the heart of the conqueror was touched. It seemed more than heartless to bereave these poor people of what was apparently life and death to them. Then he remembered his vow to spare not one idol. The will of Allah was plain. He had a sledge hammer brought to him, and with it he dealt the idol one terrific blow. To his amazement there poured from the rent in the image a stream of jewels and precious stones. The people had hidden their treasures in the image, hoping to move the conqueror to spare it. Consider what his loss would have been if he had stayed his hand at the sacrifice of that one last idol.”
All the lesser gods must go if the Lord Jesus is to have the preeminence. Yes, the Spirit is still with us. The blessings they enjoyed in the Book of Acts are within our grasp. Goforth writes, “If revival is being withheld from us it is because some idol remains still enthroned; because we still insist in placing our reliance in human schemes; because we still refuse to face the unchangeable truth that ‘it is not by might, but by my Spirit.’”
Questions to Ponder
- What is the outstanding feature—the main attraction—of any revival?
- How did Duncan Campbell define revival?
- During the Welsh Revival, what did Evan Roberts do if he felt people were coming to hear him and not to meet with God?
- Why did Evan Roberts refuse interviews with newspaper reporters?
- Who went to Wales to see the revival for himself?
- Who did God use to lay the groundwork for this revival?
- Who is the instigator and promoter of the work of revival?
- What must we as God’s people feel before we can impact the world in which we live?
- What is the starting point of improvement in evangelism and missions?
- According to this chapter, what happens when Jesus has the supremacy?
This chapter is taken from Revival In Our Time: Outside The Box-Inside The Book! by Harold Vaughan