Send a Great Revival

Acts 2


Peerless British pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) shares the following in his sermon titled “The Great Revival” preached Sunday morning, March 28th, 1858 at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens:  “My soul has been made exceedingly full of happiness, by the tidings of a great revival of religion throughout the United States.  Some hundred years, or more, ago, it pleased the Lord to send one of the most marvelous religious awakenings that was ever known; the whole of the United States seemed shaken from end to end with enthusiasm for hearing the Word of God; and now, after the lapse of a century, the like has occurred again.  The monetary pressure has at length departed; but it has left behind it the wreck of many mighty fortunes.  Many men, who were once princes, have now become beggars, and in America, more than in England, men have learned the instability of all human things.  The minds of men, thus weaned from the earth by terrible and unexpected panic, seem prepared to receive tidings from a better land, and to turn their exertions in a heavenly direction.  You will be told by any one—who is conversant with the present state of America, that wherever you go there are the most remarkable signs that religion is progressing with majestic strides.  The great revival, as it is now called, has become the common market talk of merchants; it is the theme of every newspaper; even the secular press remark it, for it has become so astonishing that all ranks and classes of men seem to have been affected by it.”Here Spurgeon refers to the revival in New York City that was born in prayer meetings on Fulton Street led by Jeremiah Lanphier in 1857 and 1858.  This revival continued through 1865.  Revival historian J. Edwin Orr (1912-1987) called it, “the most thorough and most wholesome movement ever known in the Christian Church.”A thoughtful reading of Spurgeon’s sermon titled “The Great Revival” will reveal penetrating insight on the subject of revival.  While he appreciates the experience of revival he does not approve its excesses.

Rev. Donnie L. Martin, pastor of Parkview Baptist Church, Leland, Mississippi, shares, “I remember when I was in my early teens, God settled in on Crestview Baptist Church in Petal, Mississippi with a great demonstration of His power and presence.  Bro. Manley Beasley was preaching a revival meeting for us that week.  One particular night, God’s presence came in such mighty conviction, that people were standing and confessing sin and getting right with one another.  There was an awesomeness about the atmosphere.  That service lasted until after midnight.  At one point, people were even lying prostrate on the floor in the agony of conviction.  Before that meeting was over, about two thirds of the church got saved.  People were calling the pastor’s house at two and three o’clock in the morning under conviction.  I have never forgotten those days.”

Hymn writer Baylus Benjamin McKinney (1886-1952) penned these powerful words in 1925: “Coming now to Thee O Christ my Lord, / Trusting only in Thy precious word / Let my humble pray’r to The be heard / And send a great revival in my soul Chorus: Send a great revival in my soul(in my soul) / Send a great revival in my soul(in my soul) / Let the Holy Spirit come and take control / And send a great revival in my soul / Send the Holy Spirit now within / Burning out the dross and guilt of sin / Let Thy mighty works of grace begin / Oh, send a great revival in my soul / Send a great revival, Lord, in me / Help me that I may rejoice in Thee / Give me strength to win the victory/ And send a great revival in my soul / Help me go for Thee, dear Lord, today / To some lonely soul that’s gone astray / Help me lead them in the homeward way / Oh, send a great revival in my soul”.

Dr. Elmer Towns, co-founder of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and dean of the school of religion, says, “Revival is ‘God’s pouring His presence on His people more.  God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.’  Revival is when God’s presence is manifest and flows among His people.”
Dr. Andrew Alexander Bonar (1810-1892), friend and biographer of Robert Murray M’Cheyne, states, “Revivals begin with God’s own people.  Oh, what responsibility this lays on the children of God.  If you grieve Him away from yourselves or hinder His visit, then the poor perishing world suffers sorely.”

Luke records a great revival in the Book of Acts.  Please notice the following characteristics of this great first century revival.

I. The prayer meeting before Revival

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers,” (Acts 2:42).Dr. Charles Wesley Pope (1890-1973), former pastor of the First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, Tennessee, and Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Tennessee Baptist Convention, wrote his master’s thesis at Mercer University in 1925 on “The Psychological Characteristics of the Great Awakening.”In his book titled Is Life Worth Living?  Dr. Pope explains, “First, this great revival began in a prayer meeting.  I am convinced that every great revival begins in prayer.  And I am further convinced that it is impossible to have a really great revival until a good many of God’s people begin to pray earnestly for it.  Lord, teach us to pray!  Jesus had just left the earth, and for the first time the cause of Christ on earth was completely in the hands of the disciples.  They felt helpless and afraid.  The only thing they knew to do was to pray.  Some 120 of them met and started a prayer meeting.  They continued it for ten days.  In that time they must have prayed about almost everything!  They probably prayed about their new responsibilities, their weaknesses, and their helplessness in the face of strong opposition.  It was in that ten day prayer meeting that the greatest revival in human history began.

What power there is in prayer!  Prayer puts us in touch with God on a private line.  Prayer brings to us the will of the God about what we should do.  Prayer lifts the lost souls on our hearts to the throne of grace.  Prayer brings the solution to unsolved problems.  Prayer burdens us with lost souls, but at the same time gives us strength to win them.  Prayer makes us humble in the sight of God, and fearless in the presence of men and devils.  Revivals are born in prayer meetings.  The amount of praying we do indicates the measure of our interest, and there can be no revival when God’s people are incidentally interested.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon explains, “Every revival has been commenced and attended by a large amount of prayer.  In the city of New York at the present moment, there is not, I believe, one single hour of the day, wherein Christians are not gathered together for prayer.  One church opens its doors from five o’clock till six, for prayer; another church opens from six to seven, and summons its praying men to offer the sacrifice of supplication.  Six o’clock is past, and men are gone to their labor.  Another class find it then convenient—such as those, perhaps, who go to business at eight or nine-and from seven to eight there is another prayer meeting.  From eight to nine there is another, in another part of the city, and what is most marvelous, at high noon, from twelve to one, in the midst of the city of New York, there is held a prayer meeting in a large room, which is crammed to the doors every day, with hundreds standing outside.  This prayer meeting is made up of merchants of the city, who can spare a quarter of an hour to go in and say a word of prayer, and then leave again; and then a fresh company come in to fill up the ranks, so that it is supposed that many hundreds assemble in that one place for prayer during the appointed hour.  This is the explanation of the revival.”

Maybe you have seen a television commercial for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company that talks about the “if” in life.  Charles Haddon Spurgeon states a series of “ifs” related to his desire to have a similar revival in England.  He explains, “If this were done in London-if we for once would outvie old Rome, who kept her monks in her sanctuaries, always at prayer, both by night and by day,—if we together could keep up one golden chain of prayer, link after link of holy brotherhood being joined together in supplication, then might we expect an abundant outpouring of the Divine Spirit from the Lord our God.”

God promises, “If My people who are called by My name will 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” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Spurgeon further explains, “The Holy Spirit, as the actual agent—the Word preached, and the prayers of the people, as the instruments—and we have thus explained the cause of a true revival of religion.”

II. The prime mover in Revival.

The Holy Spirit is the prime mover of revival.  There can be no genuine revival or spiritual awakening without the Holy Spirit.  Charles Haddon Spurgeon affirms, “If a revival be true and real, it is caused by the Holy Spirit, and by him alone.  When Peter stood up on the day of Pentecost, and preached that memorable sermon by which three thousand persons were converted, can we attribute the remarkable success of his ministry to anything else but the ministry of the Holy Spirit?  I read the notes of Peter’s discourse [Acts 2:14-39]; it was certainly very simple; it was a plain narration of facts; it was certainly very bold, very cutting, and pointed, and personal, for he did not blush to tell them that they had put to death the Lord of life and glory, and were guilty of his blood; but on the mere surface of the thing, I should be apt to say that I had read many a sermon far more likely to be effective than Peter’s; and I believe there have been many preachers who have lived, whose sermons when read would have been far more notable and far more regarded, at least by the critic, than the sermon of Peter. It seems to have been exceedingly simple and suitable, and extremely earnest, but none of these things are so eminently remarkable as to be the cause of such extraordinary success.What, then, was the reason?  And we reply, once more, the same word which the Holy Spirit blesses to the conversion of one, he might, if he pleased, bless to the conversion of a thousand: and I am persuaded that the meanest preacher in Christendom might come into this pulpit this morning, and preach the most simple sermon, in the most uneducated style, and the Holy Spirit, if so he willed it, might bless that sermon to the conversion of every man, woman, and child, within this place: for his arm is not shortened, his power is not straitened, and as long as he is Omnipotent, it is ours to believe that he can do whatsoever seemeth him good. Do not imagine, when you hear of a sermon being made useful, that it was the sermon itself that did the work.  Conceive not, because a certain preacher may have been greatly blessed in the conversion of souls, that there is anything in the preacher.  God forbid that any preacher should arrogate such a thing to himself.  Any other preacher, blessed in the same manner, would be as useful, and any other sermon, provided it be truthful and earnest, might be as much blessed as that particular sermon which has become notable by reason of the multitudes who by it have been brought to Christ.  The Spirit of God, when he pleaseth, blows upon the sons of men.  He finds a people hard and careless; he casts a desire into their minds—he sows it broadcast in their spirits—a thought towards the house of the Lord, and straightway, they know not why, they flock in multitudes to hear the Word preached.  He casts the seed, the same seed, into the preacher’s mind, and he knows not how, but he feels more earnest than he did before.  When he goes to his pulpit, he goes to it as to a solemn sacrifice, and there he preaches, believing that great things will be the effect of his ministry.”Dr. Pope also writes, “The second characteristic of the Pentecostal Revival was that it depended upon the Holy Spirit for its power.  This revival would have to be promoted by the disciples of Jesus, and humanly speaking they had very little power of their own.  Not one of them was an educated man.  Not one of them was a wealthy man.  Not one of them had any power of position and public influence.  They were mostly just a group of common fishermen who were unknown to the public.  No movement ever started with so little human power to generate it!  That fact, alone drove them to seek the power of God.  And that fact put them in a frame of heart and mind to receive the power of God.  God can never do much with a self-satisfied soul.  And so long as we trust in our own ability, or education, or wealth or position, we can never fully trust God.

On the day of Pentecost the power of God came upon these 120 people in a strange form.  The sound was like a great wind, as when a storm is breaking in its full force.  In appearance it was like tongues of fire resting upon each of them.  In effect it was like an electric current which is suddenly turned on a sleeping motor which suddenly leaps into action and becomes a dynamic moving thing.

These 120 people suddenly lost all their fears and timidity.  They were charged and surcharged with a strange new power; and from now on they would rely upon this power to preach the word, win the lost, heal the sick, and face a hostile world.  It was the same power which they had seen their Savior use while on earth, to heal the sick and raise the dead.  To them it had been a strange, hidden power!  The power of the Holy Spirit!  That power of the Holy Spirit is the only real power the New Testament church had.  It is the only power which can convict a lost soul, and the only power which can save a lost soul.  It was the power which generated the great Pentecostal Revival, and it is absolutely essential to a revival today.”

Jesus explains the following about the work of the Holy Spirit, “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’  But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.  Nevertheless I tell you the truth.  It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.  And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.  All things that the Father has are Mine.  Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you,” (John 16:5-15).

Dr. Pope continues, “Shortly after his resurrection Jesus stood before his disciples and said, ‘Receive ye the Holy Spirit.’  John 20:22.  You can’t use something you don’t possess.  The battery in your car is a very unattractive part of the car, but it is a very necessary part of it.  Do you ever go out on a cold morning and try to start your car and it only grunted when you pressed the starter?  You turned on the lights; but they were a pale sickly yellow.  You pressed the horn and it just growled!  The trouble was that your battery had been called on so much, and had given out so much more than it had received, that it is now powerless.  You are going to have to take it down to a station and let them hook it up; and for 30 minutes it will stand there and receive—just receive.  Then again it will have the power it had lost.  We Christian have so many occasions to give out spiritual energy that the supply becomes exhausted, and we can’t give out much more until we have first received more.”

Historian James Gilchrist Lawson (1874-1946) shares the following in Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians, “[Dwight L.]  Moody [1837-1899] continued to hunger for a deepening of his own spiritual life and experience.  He had been greatly used of God, but felt that there were much greater things in store for him.  The year 1871 was a critical one with him.  He realized more and more how little he was fitted by personal acquirements for his work, and how much he needed to be qualified for service by the Holy Spirit’s power.  This realization was deepened by conversations he had with two ladies who sat on the front pew in his church.  He could see by the expression of their faces that they were praying.  At the close of the service they would say to him, ‘We have been praying for you.’  ‘Why don’t you pray for the people?’  Mr. Moody would ask.  ‘Because you need the power of the Spirit,’ was the reply.  ‘I need the power!  Why,’ said he, in relating the incident afterwards, ‘I thought I had power.  I had the largest congregation in Chicago, and there were many conversions.  I was in a sense satisfied.  But right along those two godly women kept praying for me, and their earnest talk about anointing for special service set me thinking.  I asked them to come and talk with me, and they poured out their hearts in prayer that I might receive the filling of the Holy Spirit.  There came a great hunger into my soul.  I did not know what it was.  I began to cry out as I never did before.  I really felt that I did not want to live if I could not have this power for service.’”

In his hymn titled “Brethren, We Have Met To Worship” George Atkins, shares the following:  “Brethren, we have met to worship and adore the Lord our God.  Will you pray with all your power, while we try to preach the Word?  All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down; / brethren, pray and holy manna will be showered all around.”

Dr. Bob Barker, Sr., (1915-1994) longtime pastor of the First Baptist Church of Chickasaw, Alabama, shares the following in his book titled Coffee With The Parson, “Pentecost means plenty-cost.  That statement startles me!  Pentecost was when the Holy Spirit came in power.  Pentecost, when three thousand persons were saved, means plenty-cost!  Pentecost did mean then, and does mean now, plenty-cost!”  Dr. Barker continues, “Pentecost meant the plenty-cost of Calvary, for before there can be any Pentecostal experience there must be a Calvary.  Calvary must be magnified in preaching.  There can be no discounting of the cleansing blood of Jesus.”

III. The premier Man of Revival.

“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ,” (Acts 5:42).Because Simon Peter was the preacher on the day of Pentecost, some might assume he is the premier man of revival.  Listen to an excerpt of Peter’s later address to the Sanhedrin, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,” (Acts 4:12).  Paul the Apostle later affirms, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake,” (2 Corinthians 4:5).The premier Man of revival is Jesus Christ our Lord!  Paul the Apostle writes about God, “Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,” (1 Timothy 2:4-6).

Dr. Pope also explains, “The third characteristic of this great revival was that they worked.  ‘Daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.’  Some people have hesitated about cooperating with the church visitation program, because they think it is something new and unscriptural.  Well, it’s as old as Pentecost!  They were practicing church visitation before any book of the New Testament was written.  They were practicing it before Saul of Tarsus was converted.  And they did a thorough job of it.  The King James Version of the Bible says, they went into every house.  They didn’t just take a preferred section of the city and go into those houses.  They didn’t leave off certain houses because someone lived there who was too poor and ignorant; or because he was too rich and influential.  They went into every house.

And notice again: they did it daily.  Everyday they held their services of prayer and worship in the temple and then, everyday they went into the houses of the city doing personal work and soul-winning.  Everyday.  They didn’t wait until the revival was half over before they started; and they didn’t quit before the revival was finished.  They kept up their visiting everyday.

And notice who these people were who were doing the visiting and going into the homes.  They were not the Apostles.  In Acts 8:4 we are told that even when persecution came upon them, and they were all scattered abroad, they went everywhere preaching the word.  But the word used here for preaching actually means, ‘Heralds of salvation who were not apostles.’  These people were not preachers, but laymen who went into the homes proclaiming salvation through Jesus Christ.  There were ten or eleven apostles in the revival, but the laymen and women didn’t leave the visiting to them.

Today churches sometimes hire a church visitor to do the church visiting.  Sometimes it is the best they can do because the church members won’t do the visiting themselves.  But a church visitor is a poor substitute for church visiting by the membership.  It’s not that God just has a job to be done, and is satisfied when the church can hire someone to do it.  God wants his church members to do that visiting so they will grown in grace, and get the blessing from winning souls to Christ.  A Christian can’t hire someone to do the work which God wants that man, alone, to do.  If you can hire someone to do your part of the visiting, how long will it be before you hire someone to attend church for you on Sunday morning; or someone to repent for you; or someone to stand before the judgment bar of God for you?  It won’t work!”

Dr. Darrell W. Robinson, president Total Church Life Ministries, Inc., The Woodlands, Texas, and former pastor of Dauphin Way Baptist Church, Mobile, Alabama, warns about the “Super-Hired-Holy-Man Syndrome (SHHMS): The New Church Virus” in the fifth chapter of his highly recommended book titled Total Church Life: How To Be A First Century Church In A 21st Century World.   Dr. Robinson explains, “We are even seeing signs of SHMMS in the procedures of starting new churches.  A group of people come together and decide to start a new church.  They decide to ‘pool’ their money.  They hire a minister and expect him to do their ministering for them.

The preacher is paid to win souls, do the witnessing, visit the sick, and so forth.  The people attend, listen to sermons, and give their money.  If the church grows, they hire another minister to help the first minister do the ministering.  This is a reversal of New Testament church life.”

Dr. Pope further explains, “Our revivals today fail because we have departed from the pattern of the great Pentecostal Revival; and they succeeded in the measure and to the degree they conform to it.”

Dr. Adrian P. Rogers (1931-2005), longtime pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee, shares the following in What Every Christian Ought to Know, “Show a person his rights, and you have a revolution.  Teach him his responsibilities, and you’ll have a revival.”


Dr. Harold L. White shares that “Dr. George [W.]  Truett (1867-1944) [longtime pastor of the First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas from 1897 to 1944] told in a sermon how the Great Depression was behind, and on March 18, 1937, people were prosperous in New London, Texas from an oil boom.  The streets were filled with new cars, and bank accounts were fat from royalties.  Unfortunately, the material prosperity seemed to have caused a decline of interest in spiritual causes.  The people of New London, Texas had no time for God.  They had forgotten God!One Wednesday night — only the janitor and the pastor appeared for the midweek prayer services.  On the very next day, a fateful Thursday, New Londoners went about their business as usual.  School children were busy in the new school building, which had been constructed from oil revenues.  The new school building was the pride of New London.  Suddenly, the new school blew apart in a thunderous explosion.  Children were blown out the windows upon the playground like leaves caught in a gigantic whirlwind.  It happened too quickly for even a warning.  One moment the citizens of New London were going about their routine work; the next thing they knew, they were picking up their dead children from off the school ground.  Altogether, 294 children died from that tragic explosion.  That was horrible!That was so tragic!  That brought grief to the entire city.

Twenty years after the blast, an elderly Baptist deacon told Dr. Truett:
’I’ll never forget that scene in the Baptist Church after the explosion.  The church was packed and jammed the next Wednesday night.  Parents were sobbing in repentance.

There were so many converted, the pastor couldn’t keep count.  We had all forgotten God and begun worshiping the things which the oil royalties could buy.  But after the tragedy, in which almost every family in the town and in the surrounding area lost a child, we woke up to see what was important.’

Dr. White concludes, ‘Oh, may we wake up, and see what is really important!  We need revival!

Coming now to Thee, O Christ my Lord
Trusting only in Thy precious Word,
Let my humble prayer to Thee be heard,
And send a great revival in my soul.

Send a great revival in my soul,
Send a great revival in my soul,
Let the Holy Spirit come and take control,
And send a great revival in my soul.’”

Will the Lord send a spiritual awakening or a rude awakening?

May we passionately and persistently pray for the Lord to send a great revival.

Franklin L. Kirksey
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