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Holiness and Revival

From Darkness to Light

As disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, true Christians, we have come from darkness to light; we have passed from death to life being sanctified in the Spirit and sprinkled by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:2). We should no longer serve the lusts of the flesh, but should offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God which is our reasonable service; we should no longer be conformed to this world, but our minds must be renewed so that we have the mind of Christ, living for Him in true holiness (Romans 12:1-2 and Ephesians 4:23-24); not merely knowing the concept, but being able to apply it and live it from one day to the next. ‘Give to the Lord the glory due to His name; bring an offering and come before Him. Oh worship Him in the beauty of holiness’ (1 Chronicles 16:29).

‘Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence…to make Your name known’ (Isaiah 64:1).

True Holiness

God is a holy God and we are called to be holy in all our conduct and God Himself has declared, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). Revival is for the glory of God, a vindication of His name. Revival is then for the reviving of the church (the body of Christ) and for turning sinners to Christ so that they too can become saints. We are not called to be passive, to sit back and do nothing and wait for revival to come, for the Holy Spirit to be poured out like at Pentecost (Acts 2) or at a prayer meeting (Acts 4:31) or during preaching as happened at Cornelius’ house (Acts 10:44); but we are called to pray for God to rend the heavens, for floods to be poured out, for God to come and heal our land. BUT, our prayers for revival will be just a mockery if we are not living holy. Not doing our bit, not trying our best. ‘…Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God’ (2 Corinthians 7:1).

To pray for revival whilst living in sin is to make us out as hypocrites and our prayers will go no higher than the ceiling, because we have rejected His commandments (Proverbs 28:9).

Revival is Related to Holiness

At conversion we are sanctified (made holy) because of Christ and what He has done for us, but it is our responsibility to live holy and to be salt and light amidst a wicked and perverse generation.

It was Duncan Campbell of the Lewis Revival (1949-1952) in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland who said, “Revival must ever be related to holiness” and as the Word of God declares, without holiness no man can see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

It was during this revival that 75% of people were converted outside of a church building! On the roadside, at home and at their place of work! Because God came down!

If we truly desire to see revival in our church, in our town, in our nation then revival must start with us. As someone one prayed, “God send revival, but start the work in me!” We must be living holy, God-glorifying lifestyles which please the Master. We must do our bit and confess and forsake sin. We must crucify the flesh daily and take up our cross and follow the Master.

Let us be like the psalmist who prayed, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting’ (Psalm 139:23-24). Followed by: ‘I acknowledged my sin to You and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgression to the Lord” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this cause everyone who is godly will pray to You’ (Psalm 32:5-6a).

Compromise and Hypocrisy

Those of us who profess that Jesus is our Lord and Saviour need to be very careful about compromise and hypocrisy. Many of us unknowingly influence those around us on a daily basis, for better or for worse, but for a non-Christian looking in (at the Church – the body of Christ); these traits will be repugnant in their eyes.

Selwyn Hughes, founder of Crusade for World Revival (CWR) wrote:‘Uncomfortable though it may be for us to consider, we Christians have to face the fact that many of us are not always good examples of the faith we profess.’ If we desire to see revival then we need to ‘so let our light shine before men’ that they ‘glorify our Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16). Selwyn concluded with a poignant question: ‘By our attitudes are we nullifying the Christian message? Does our behaviour contradict the very truths we are trying to get across to others?

Peter wrote: ‘Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honourable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evil doers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation’ (1 Peter 2:11-12).

Holiness Revival

The Evangelical Revival (1739-1791) was hallmarked by its transformation of Great Britain under the preaching of John Wesley, George Whitefield and hundreds of other preachers of varying denominations. The revival was primarily characterised by its teaching and preaching on holiness and is nicknamed the Holiness Revival because of this essential truth was brought to the fore of everyday life. Great Britain had a population of just under 5 million people and in a period of fifty years, one quarter of the population was born again!

The preaching under John Wesley (amongst other preachers), often caused riots, because of his strong denunciations of sin, calling them to forsake sin and to embrace the cross, to flee from the wrath to come. On occasion up to 30,000 would turn up and hear him preach and it was not unknown for 20,000 people to be assembled for a 5am mid-week sermon in winter!

John Wesley was attacked on many occasions; stones, rotten vegetables and even parts of dead cats were thrown at him! On other occasion the buildings he was preaching or lodging in was firebombed, damaged and one house was literally torn down around him! Wesley was just over five feet tall and never weighed more than 126lbs (9 stone) – he was small, but in these trying times he would always go straight to the ringleader, passing through the midst of the angry crowds and confront him, outstretch his hand and converse. Wesley was so full of God, so holy and upright that people could not but be ashamed of their actions and many submitted to him, repented of their sins, then and there and put their faith in Jesus Christ!

As the psalmist wrote: ‘The Lord has set apart for Himself, him who is holy’ (Psalm 4:3). Let us also ‘serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness…all the days of our life’ (Luke 2:74-75).

Glory Carriers

Other preachers like Charles Finney of America saw revival literally wherever they went. They were so full of God it was as if they carried His presence with them wherever they went. Rees Howells of Wales arrived in Gazaland (modern day Zimbabwe) in 1915 and within six weeks revival broke out. For 18 months revival continued at his mission station. He was then called to travel across Southern Africa until 1920. He saw a minimum of 10,000 converts, revival broke out in every mission station he preached at and he travelled in excess of 11,000km in five nations.

These men were literally glory carriers – they carried the glory of God with them and like many revivalists, people would break down; come under conviction of sin without a word being uttered!

Are you Born Again?

Marie Monsen was a Norwegian missionary to China – she saw revival from 1927-1937 wherever she went. She always denounced sin in its strongest terms and openly confronted fellow missionaries and Chinese pastors and leaders and asked them if they if were “born again?” Many of these people were highly offended and indignant of being asked such a question when they were serving God; but the light of the Holy Spirit shone in their hearts and many were weighed in the balance and found wanting (Daniel 5:27). They came under conviction and surrendered their lives to Christ, whilst Christians came under conviction for their sins, repented, renounced and walked on the highway of the upright which is to depart from evil (Proverbs 16:17).

True and False Revival

Andrew Strom in his book 'True and False Revival' wrote: ‘Deep repentance, daring faith and ‘agonising,’ spirit-filled prayer have always been the keys to genuine revival in any age and this of course applies to everybody, not just to those in ministry.’

‘…The difference between revivals that are true and those that are false [are]: One is centred around the cross and deep repentance and holiness and death to self, as well as forgiveness, cleansing and infilling of the Holy Spirit – who is the Spirit of holiness. The other is centred around excitement and soulishness and the seeking after ‘experiences’ for their own sake – often with selfish agendas - “Bless me God,” or “Give me more,” rather than a focus on getting right with God.'

An Unholy State before a Holy God

Without Jesus Christ no man can get to heaven and without holiness no man can see the Lord. When the Holy Spirit comes in revival power He can move vast multitudes of people to see their unholy state before a holy God and cause them to cry unto God most high. This is not mans persuasion to compel them to come in, but God’s arm of love drawing them to Himself in convicting power of sin; the goodness of God leads to repentance, enabling a realisation that forgiveness is only found at the cross of Christ in repentance, forsaking ones sins and faith in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ – the Saviour of the world as there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

Holiness Scriptures

‘Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him…’ (Psalm 24:3-6).

‘Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you’ (Hosea 10:12).

Colin Urquhart in the foreword to 'Great Revivals' by Colin Whittaker, wrote: ‘Revivals begin as God’s response to the heart-cries of His people, not only praying for the lost, but facing their own need of spiritual revival…prevailing prayer can be costly…the cost is not only in prayer. It is the fervent prayers of the righteous that avail much before God. During times of revival there is a real concern among the Christians for righteousness and holiness; to be more Christ-like…[Christians] can only seek God for such times of blessings while being prepared to let the work begin in their own hearts and lives. So there is little point in praying for revival unless we are prepared for God to meet with us, to bring our lives into closer conformity to His will and purpose.’

Live Holy Lives

Evangelist Steve Hill, preaching at the Pensacola Revival (1995-2000) spoke with authority, of the love and the wrath of God, of His compassion, the cross, the blood and full-on repentance and was direct and to the point under God’s power and anointing. Below is a summary of some the main points of Steve Hill’s, Christ embracing and holiness preaching during the Pensacola Revival which the author heard with his own ears when he travelled to America in 1997.

As Christians we are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:16, set apart for God), so let us get the sin out of our lives and the rubbish out of our homes. Destroy all videos, CD’s, posters, magazines etc. which are anti-God in morals and principles, any swearing, cuss words or blasphemy. Don’t forget the rubbish you watch on television. Quit it now! Get the junk out of your house and lives, the lucky charms, articles of affection that you know God is not happy with, the cursed ornaments, the devil’s trinkets, any foreign gods, the fantasy novels, the men’s girly magazines.

Guy’s get those *earrings out! Ladies dress modestly. *Earrings for men are a symbol of slavery, bondage and idol worship, see Genesis 35:2-5, Exodus 21:5-6, Exodus 32:1-4, Deuteronomy 15:15-17 and Judges 8:23-27.

We are in the world, but not of the world. We are called to be set apart and different, a holy people. Stop going to immoral places where satan’s followers hang out (evangelise yes, socialise no). You’re dancing with the devil and two-timing Jesus! You are crucifying Jesus again (Hebrews 6:6). His blood was shed for you! Don’t be a God mocker. You mock Him with your lifestyle.

Either you live like a Christian or you’d better change your name. Quit the smoking, the drugs, the sleeping around, pornography, lustful thoughts, masturbation, attention seeking, arrogance and prideful snobbery glances; stop the judgmental thoughts, criticism, the back stabbing, the slander and the gossip. You are tearing the body of Christ apart. Stop loving your denomination more than Jesus, and put Him first. Stop following the Christianity of Christ and follow the Christ of Christianity. God wants you to become a disciple, not merely a person with the nickname Christian. Religion is hanging around the cross; Christianity is getting on the cross! (Galatians 2:20). God wants total surrender in your life. As Christians let us walk worthy of our most holy calling in true assurance of our faith, being built up and grounded upon the word of God, looking to the Author and Finisher of our faith; Jesus being our Rock of hope and Chief Cornerstone in whom we can depend upon.

‘Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer’ (Psalm 19:14).

Revival Related Scriptures

‘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).

Thus says the Lord: “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; and also on My menservants and My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (Joel 2:28-29).

Thus says the Lord: “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your descendants and My blessing on your offspring” (Isaiah 44:3).

‘O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do it for Your name’s sake; for our backslidings are many, we have sinned against You’ (Jeremiah 14:7).

Recommended Revival Books: Revival Fires and Awakenings Revival and the Great Commission 150 Years of Revival and Understanding Revival by Mathew Backholer

Recommended DVD: Great Christian Revivals