Responsibility Before Revival Comes
By Iverna Tompkins
Transcribed by Jane Vaughn
When we begin to seriously look for the next move of God, it is important to focus on what God’s purpose is in “revival.” We can review the great revivals in church history and note a number of similarities in the miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Powerful. Marvelous. People were saved, healed, and filled with God’s Spirit. We always remember the positive results of revival but there is also a negative shared by them all. It is this: at some point, the marvelous, the miraculous ceased and a lengthy period of time transpired before another revival appeared. Do you think that was a part of God’s plan?
Understanding God’s purposes in revival helps us to learn how to maintain His intent. A shocking truth is that God’s purpose is not the salvation of souls. Salvations are a result of the revival, not the reason for it. Rather, God watches the hearts of His children – the already-saved – and knows we get side-tracked by life’s activities to the point of losing something precious from Him that we once possessed.
Look, for instance, at the fairly recent Charismatic Renewal, or Revival, of the 1960’s and ‘70’s. Of course God is always in the process of fulfilling His Word (i.e. Joel 2:28,29). But further, the previous revival, known as “Pentecost,” failed to fulfill God’s main goal. It has always been the purpose of God to reveal Himself to man so that man could become enough like God to have fellowship with God. We must not see revival as some titillating experience with God. It is so much more than that!
In the move called Pentecost, the people who received that tremendous outpouring of God’s Spirit were supposed to reveal to the people of God (in all denominations) that there is a greater measure of God than they presently had. At that time, the recipients of His grace-gifts refused to be the revelation of God to others, but embraced the outpouring for themselves. They held onto the Holy Spirit rather than reveal Him in His power to the rest of the Body of Christ.
God is looking for people, men and women of all ages, who can contain Him and will reveal Him. He is looking for those who will be revelators of Who He is. When we, as the church (or part of the church), begin to control the truth revealed by God. We lose His purpose trying to define and control the move. He will allow that mistake and wait, for decades if necessary, before He sends another outpouring of His Spirit. Thus, the periods of time that have elapsed between “revivals.”
In both the Old and New Testaments, God had to pour out fresh revivals. Down through church history since the first century, the same thing has happened. I believe it has always been God’s intent to send only one outpouring, but when man would begin to take over, each revival waned. Yes, revivals have always left a residue, an alive remnant. But God has let the church go its own way until we thirsted for a fresh revelation again, a fresh outpouring. We would lose sight of His intent, and so to remind us of Who He is and why He comes in a visitation of power, He brings a new revival.
We have work to do in preparing for the next move of God. We need to go back and deal with the basics again. We have to get our lives in godly order; our relationships set aright, and return to our first love. And, yes, we need to pray.
Let’s recognize the fresh emphasis on prayer in the Body of Christ today. We know prayer precedes revival and, therefore, are not surprised to see the Lord leading His people in that way. Previous generations in the church knew how to pray but needed to learn to praise. Today, we are experts in praising God, but, by and large, we have failed in prayer. We need to do both – praise and pray. One without the other is like having a single oar in a boat. One oar only sends us around in circles. We need both oars in the water to make forward progress.
As we learn what prayer is and what it isn’t, we should also be careful not to allow the praying to become an idol in and of itself. It’s not in how many hours we pray, nor is it in the application of some prayer formula. The power of prayer is because we have placed our faith in God, not in the process of petition. Prayer is actually two-way communication with the Almighty God. What a privilege! It is being in His presence, talking with Him and learning to hear His voice. It is not coming into His presence to present a list of wants. It is discovering what delight there is in just being with Him. We sing, “I just want to be where You are, dwelling daily in Your presence,” and that is what we are talking about here. Learning to praise and singing to God and about Him, teaches us how to be in His presence without presenting Him a want-list. As we mature in God, our focus turns away from our self-issues and concentrates on Him. It is all about Him.
Sadly, the prevailing attitude concerning prayer today is, “If I have walked in obedience, I deserve answers to prayer.” Not so, dear friend. It is not by merit or any good thing that may emanate from us. Answers to prayer come by grace – grace – grace – God’s grace and more grace. The Body of Christ is so high-minded. We must put that away. First, we must expose that attitude too often camouflaged as “spiritual authority” in some circles. There is an authentic spiritual authority that comes from God and is pure and untainted by our human tendencies of pride. But, we do not tell God what to do because of who we are. He is Lord! We can come to Him making our requests known because He said to do that (Phil. 4:6). It’s because we are His and have faith in Him that He answers our prayers, not in how good we have been.
In trying to understand what prayer is and isn’t, let’s be aware of another common problem. Too many people see prayer as an end in itself. We feel good because we have spent so much time in prayer. If that is the case, then “prayer” or “praying” has become an idol. Prayer ought to be our reaching God and God reaching us. When it happens that way, a change comes about in individuals, for we cannot have divine contact and remain the same!
Besides laying a foundation of prayer preceding revival, let’s understand there are a few other things we can (even must) do in preparation for its coming. In this message, we will look at four personal activities individuals ought to be considering if they have a hunger for more of God. It is not what we do so much as it is in creating a pure and holy place in our hearts for Him. Again, it is not the activities we do in preparation as much as it is allowing a thirst for God to increase that cannot be satiated by any other.
It is no accident that all four Gospel writers retell the story of the “Last Supper” (Mt.26:17-35; Mk.14:12-25; Lk.22:7-38; John13:1-17:26). After they had partaken of the Passover meal and Judas left to complete his deed, we should learn from Jesus’ conversation with the remaining eleven disciples. The disciples thought they had full understanding as they had walked with Jesus for over 3 years and experienced His truth, revelation, power, and authority. In Luke’s account, Jesus addresses bold, confident Peter. “Satan desires to sift you as wheat, Peter, but I have prayed for you ‘that thy faith fail not:’ and when you are converted, strengthen your brothers” (Lk.22:31 and 32). But Peter didn’t actually hear Jesus. He thought he was so mature and strong in his faith and commitment. Peter offered Jesus some “unknown information” about himself. (Unfortunately, we do the same and call it ‘prayer!’)
Peter said, “I’m the faithful one, Lord. I’m ready. I’ll not leave You or fail You. The others may drop off, but not I.” Jesus replied by telling Peter the cock would not crow in the morning before Peter had denied, three times, even knowing the Lord (Mk.14:30; Lk.22:34; John13:38). Did Peter believe Him? He didn’t even hear because there had been no emptying of self – yet.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter was wearing a sword. Again, Luke tells us that Jesus turned from Peter and talked to the eleven. He reminded them that when He first sent them out, they were to take nothing with them – no purse, no scrip (money), no shoes, nothing (Lk.22:35). In verse 36, Jesus said, “But now – this time – you’re going to need some things.” Among the list of items is a sword. Why a sword at this time? Let’s try to understand.
Again, all four Gospels relate the story of Jesus and His eleven disciples walking to the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt.26:36ff; Mk.14:31ff; Lk.22:39ff; John18:1ff). Jesus knew exactly what lay before them – and Him. They did not know. Once in the Garden, Jesus invited Peter, James, and John to draw a little closer (Mt. 26:37; Mk.14:33). They had already seen some things the others hadn’t (i.e. the Transfiguration – Mt.17:1-13; Mk.9:2-10; Lk.9:28-36). We can learn from this that with increased revelation there is increased responsibility. Speaking to these three, Jesus tried to tell them of the hard road ahead. It wasn’t that Jesus feared anything of the physical abuse and pain He knew was coming. On the contrary, He dreaded becoming what His Father hated (see 2Cor.5:21; 1Pet.2:24). That totally overwhelmed Jesus. May we detest the things that cause God to turn from us! (see Isa. 59:2).
Then, Jesus asked them (Peter, James and John) to pray with Him – to “watch and pray” while He went on a bit further into the Garden (Mt.26:38-41; Mk.14:34-38). Yes, their hearts were willing, but when Jesus returned He found them asleep. So is the church today! Satan clouds the minds of people as we watch things deteriorating in our society. We can be overwhelmed and sleep through important issues with an attitude of “Who are we? What can we do? We’re just a few voices.” We forget we are anointed voices!
Jesus awakens them, “Couldn’t you watch with Me for an hour? I need you.” Today is much the same. Jesus says to us, “I need you to help Me get the work done. Church, I need you to pray.”
A second time, they slept. These are those great ones: great Peter, loyal and faithful, great John, the beloved disciple, great James, the quiet leader. Returning a third time, Jesus says, “Sleep on, now. It is enough. Rise. Let us be going” (Mk.14:41,42). Sleep on – but the work of God will go on (Selah.) Peter could have been a part of the end. He could have been there to bring strength to the Lord, but he wasn’t. And the soldiers came.
Here’s the test: You, who could not watch an hour, can draw a sword. And the sword the Lord gave them was for this test. Jesus wanted to see what they would do with the sword. Listen carefully, for we stand in a similar place of testing. “Lord, I want to understand Your Word – I need knowledge. I want insights and revelation and truth from Your Word.” He says, “All right. I’ll give you the sword. Let’s see what you’ll do with it.”
As we see those who refuse to commune with Him, to share His heart, we watch them put His two-edged sword in their mouths instead of their hands. And, the sword kills – the letter kills (2Cor.3:6). Instead of the Word coming forth with the grace of God and the understanding of the Lord, becoming “a word fitly spoken, like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Pr.25:11), it comes out lashing and destroying, leaving bodies on the beach. Peter pulls his sword and strikes, and cuts off – the hearing!
We need to be able to be trusted with the sword of God’s Word. I don’t want to just receive a lot of little words, memorize a lot of verses, and carelessly pull out the sword every time I think someone needs it. I want to walk softly under divine inspiration and anointing.
Can we apply the principle to witnessing? Effective witnessing (sharing with others the good news of the Gospel) is not simply firing the same formula of memorized verses at every person I meet. It’s developing a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit to know when to speak and when to be silent, when to be weak and when to be strong, when to be loving and when to be the absolute strength in God. “Well, I don’t want to be that involved or have to stretch out of my comfort zone.” Sleep on, then! Put away your sword until you learn how to use it.
Later, Jesus told His followers to “Tarry. Tarry until you are endued with power from on high, and then you’ll be My witnesses” (Lk.24:49; Acts1:4-8). What a progression toward revival! Ten days in the Upper Room. They don’t have to have Jesus there to do it all for them. He left them with one thing to do: pray. The Lord is not going to be there in dynamic revelation of Himself in visual form until they learn how to commune with Him invisibly (in prayer). They don’t know that and they don’t know how to pray because they always had Him right there with them, in the flesh.
Earlier, when they asked, “Teach us to pray,” Jesus gave them the “Lord’s Prayer” (Lk.11:1-4; also Mt.6:5-15). What was He doing by giving them those particular words? It wasn’t for memorization. He was trying to get them in touch with Father. They didn’t want Father (the unknown); they wanted Jesus (the known and familiar). He instructed them, “Now stay in the Upper Room until you touch heaven.” When you become aware, when the Holy Spirit makes His presence known, there’s only one thing to do – empty yourself of your self, so that everything that is familiar to you will be gone.
“Lord, do something new. Change me. Bring revival. Save the lost. Oh, God, use me.” This can be our most sincere prayer. And He says, “Yes, fine. Let go of the old.” As long as we’re locked into the old, our eyes cannot behold the new. No more, “I remember the way it used to be…” longing for the old, comfortable fit. What will it be like, this something new? We don’t know specifically, but it’s going to be more glorious than anything. We shall behold His glory in a dimension the church has never known or seen. Whatever it is, however, it will not waver from the known ways of God.
Recall that Moses asked God for a special, divine visitation. God told him to stand on the rock – actually, in the cleft of the rock. Let’s remember that Jesus is the Rock (“On Christ, the solid rock I stand.”) Stand in the cleft. God will make a cleft for you – it’s called Calvary. Don’t become so spiritually mature you lose touch with a deep appreciation for the Cross. It is only by the grace of Calvary that we are endued with power from on high. It’s only by the grace of Calvary that we can be possessed by the divine Spirit of God. When we remind ourselves of Jesus’ work on Calvary, there remains no room for pride. It is there, only at Calvary, in the cleft of the rock (Rock) where I can see His goodness and enjoy His lovingkindness, His tender mercies, His forgiveness, His visitation, and yes, His correction and judging.
The next move of God will bring the spiritually needy into the church. There is no question; they will come in the thousands. We must be prepared to be useful to God at that time. Therefore, we will need to deal with our priorities, and emptying oneself of self is something only that person can do.
What brought the day of Pentecost? Preparation. Once the powerful Spirit of God visited Peter and the others in the Upper Room (Acts 2), that experience caused them to humble themselves and empty themselves of all pride in their doing. Focus switched to being. Afterward, God could use them mightily with the masses. The story continues in the Book of Acts.
Go to Part 2