Last week I mentioned the importance of being a genuine and growing disciple of Jesus before being a revivalist. We must all endeavour to walk out our faith and in doing so become seekers of God and the outpouring of his Holy Spirit. In the midst of revival there is a deep awareness of the love and mercy of God. Revelation of the greatness and holiness of God increases. The awareness of eternity in light of heaven and hell capture our thoughts. I ended with the idea that as God’s people are revived and transformed, the society in which we live can be change for the best. These aspects of revival are what touches the hearts of believers, which results in the salvation of souls and the growth of God’s Kingdom. Our pursuit is not to be the “grand slam” of revivals but a hungry pursuit of Jesus. We are to be faithful in the small things and not to despise the days of small beginnings.
The Jesus’ People
I am sure that many of you have heard about the Jesus People. It was a revival born out of the Summer of Love in San Francisco in 1967. Hippies from all across the country gathered together to celebrate personal expression, drug experimentation and easy sexuality. It was estimated that during this summer about 75,000 Christian hippies were revived, found new freedom in Christ, worshipped openly in the streets and became powerful evangelists. These “hip Christians” took the country by storm, transforming lives, opening coffee house, and starting churches. Calvary Chapel (Chuck Smith) and Campus Crusade for Christ (Bill Bright) were helpful in nurturing these Jesus’ people and keeping them free of temptations. By the end of the 1970’s the hippies were having children and the movement slowly ran out of steam. However, their passion for Jesus, their raw expressions of worship, their non-religious liturgy, became the seedbed for other emerging Pentecostal and Charismatic churches.
Jesus and Revival
I have heard it said that one of the greatest barriers to a new movement of the Holy Spirit is the last move of God. Often times people hold onto their previous spiritual encounters and miss what God wants to do in a new way. This was one of the challenges of Jesus’ day. In time of Christ, “wine bottles” were most often made of animal skins. After a time, an animal skin became brittle and ruptured easily. New wine could not be put into an old skin because it would ferment, expand, and burst them open. “New wine must be poured into new wineskins” (Luke 5:38). This morning we will look into the life of Jesus Christ and his new wine thinking. We know that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. I believe that it was in the heart of Jesus to see his Jewish brothers and sisters, the synagogue or church of his day, revived and to come to new life. The question is, what did that look like in the first century?
Revivals are often preceded by the prophetic. In the case of Jesus, John the Baptist was a forerunner – Luke 1:5-25. God-fearing parents. The supernatural surrounded his life. Angels interacted with his family. John lived a consecrated life. Revivals start small and take time to develop. What does this mean? God’s plans always start in seed form. This is true of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ; their ministries took time to develop. “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). At times revivals can be opposed. The messages of John and Jesus found. The Pharisees and teachers of the Law stood their ground against John and Jesus. Most often the opposition comes from Satan himself. He does not want to see the church revived or renewed in any way. One of his strategies is to lead believers into temptation and sin. Our own selfishness stands in the way of Jesus.
The Temptation of Jesus
One of my favourite passages of Scripture in the life of Jesus in Luke 4:1-30. This brings me hope in my walk with Jesus and some strategies to put into action. The temptation of Jesus is important to the theme of revival. Because Jesus has overcome both temptation and sin, we can have complete trust in the Son of God. And, because he met temptation as the Son of Man, he has given us hope and the secret of overcoming to you and me. How did Jesus overcome?
· He began full of the Holy Spirit - Luke 4:1. The fulness of the Spirit in the life of a believer is essential to overcoming temptation.
· He engaged in fasting – Luke 4:2. Fasting has become a lost art for many followers of Jesus. Fasting places ourselves in a place of dependence upon God in the midst of the temptations of Satan.
· He used the Word of God – It is written – Luke 4:4, 8, 12. Jesus was a man of the Scripture. He read it, studied it, memorized it, meditated on it and spoke it out…
· He continued in the power of the Spirit – Luke 4:14. I believe revival begins to see expression when the power of the Spirit is present.
· He taught in their synagogues (as was his custom) – Luke 4:15-22. This was Jesus seeking to bring revival to the church of his day. The key verse is found in Luke 4:18 – “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” There were two responses to his message. They received it with grace. Then they sought to kill him.
Continuing with the theme of revival, we must remember to take our cue from Jesus himself. We live in a world that is in desperate need of a Saviour. The church of Jesus Christ is the means by which God has determined to reach the lost. This is why revival of God’s people is so important. The church needs to embrace the new wine of the Spirit – for today. Jesus taught us that the fulness of the Spirit is needed to overcome temptation. We need a new and fresh love for the Word of God. The power of the Spirit is essential to see the ministry of Jesus fulfilled in one’s life. The new wine of the Jesus is not just for the revival of believers but to see the salvation of souls. I believe God is calling the us to be like Jesus, in prayer and fasting, in the Word of God and Worship of God. We can all engage as God directs. Everyone has a place and part to play.
It is my prayer today that we all grow in “wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men”.