“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:6).
Revival. Renewal. Restoration. These are all terms used in the Scriptures to describe what occurs when God’s people return to Him with humility and dependency. The Lord, in turn, responds with a rebirth of His people’s spiritual vitality and corporate well-being.
This coming year, I believe we need to pray together as a Fellowship for renewal in our personal lives and in our churches. We need spiritual freshness and empowerment in order to maintain an intimate relationship with our Lord and live in this world as His witnesses.
Pentecostals tend to have a franchise-like view of revival and renewal. As a leader in our Fellowship, I have dealt with churches that became focused on specific expressions of what they understood to be God’s reviving work. Although there were, very often, genuine indications of God’s presence, almost all of those “revivals” ended in disarray. Why? Because, as one elder told me, “We stopped being a local church.” The focus moved from the Spirit’s work of reviving the overall mission of the church to an emphasis on public gatherings and an expected pattern of worship or certain manifestations. Inevitably, an attitude of spiritual pride and arrogance crept in. When that season came to an end, many who had been in attendance went looking for where “the Spirit was falling now.”
It’s time to recognize that Spirit-empowered worship and witness are things that cannot be franchised. Certainly, we can be impacted and instructed by the Spirit’s work in another geographical setting. But no one church or movement can claim to have cornered the market on how God “moves.”
In the Book of Revelation, the churches in Asia Minor were invited to experience a life transforming vision of their risen Lord. However, the Spirit’s application of that vision to the seven churches was distinct to each one. Each church was inspired and instructed in ways that addressed its current circumstances and condition. One Lord revealed by one Spirit, but with tailor-made applications to seven bodies of believers. They were revived in first love and renewed in obedient service as they had ears to hear the Spirit’s call in their particular setting. The reviving work of the Spirit was meant to inspire true worship, loving relationships, fresh engagement of the Scriptures, vibrant proclamation of the truth, and missional activity that met practical needs and resulted in transformed lives.
As we pray for renewal in our personal lives and in our churches this year, we should expect God to answer that prayer in broader, more holistic ways than we have experienced in the past. We also need to remind ourselves that humility and prayer are always the starting point as well as the ongoing characteristics of a revived, renewed people. Spiritual pride and arrogance have no place, either at the beginning or during a season of God-given revival.
True revival is evidenced when followers of Jesus act justly, love mercy, serve their communities in practical ways, and disciple others to do the same. Spirit-revived churches will be characterized by sacrificial fellowship and care. Spirit-empowered worship and prayer will be apparent. If you and I are following hard after God, we will end up looking more like Jesus. Then our neighbours will take notice that God is truly at work.
Let’s enter 2014 with a passion to be revived and renewed. Let’s say with the prophet:
"Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces;
but he will heal us
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth"
- David Well, General Superintendent
This article appeared in the January/February 2014 issue of testimony, the bimonthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Visit www.testimonymag.ca.