Revival? We don’t know! 14 June

‘There is one prayer that God never answers with a ‘yes’ – ‘same again please.’ C S Lewis wrote this, or something very like. God is too creative to repeat Himself. He loves to do far more than we can ask or imagine, as Paul wrote.

Christianity magazine (July 2013, out this week) asks of The Cwmbran Outpouring ‘But is it a revival?’ Some moves of the Holy Spirit in the past have been given the term ‘revival.’ Some people have looked at what the Holy Spirit did then and created a pattern of what they consider revival. What happens today is then checked against this pattern, this definition, so that a judgement can be made.

The danger of this thinking is that it is that of Nicodemus the Pharisee in John 3. Nicodemus starts by saying ‘We know… Because of our religious and historical knowledge we can tell who is a teacher sent by God and who isn’t. Good news, Jesus, you make the grade. We, with our superior special, knowledge are ready to give you our approval. We know you are a teacher sent by God…’ Nicodemus is about to carry on when Jesus interrupts him.

Jesus is not impressed. He does not welcome this, probably conditional, seal of approval. He challenges and dismantles Nicodemus’ whole thinking. ‘Very truly, I tell you, no-one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.’ ‘You think you know things. Here’s the truth, greater than religious knowledge. To see and recognise what God is truly doing, you have to start from scratch. Go back to being a baby who knows nothing at all. Start all over again. Give up your religious knowledge. Then you can see, then you can know.’

Starting with ‘We know what revival is,’ is the wrong place to start. Far better to start with a child’s view, even a baby’s view. ‘What’s this then? Does it taste good? Can I have some? Yum yum. Whoopee!’

Maybe this is why the Welsh Outpouring is primarily for Welsh addicts. Victory Church was started by an ex-addict and, even in only 3 years, has a considerable ministry to addicts. They know they need to start life all over again and need the Holy Spirit to make this happen.

The Outpouring in Cwmbran may or may not be like other recognised Outpourings. It may or may not be like other recognised Revivals. It really does not matter. What matters is what we see God doing, as Jesus said to those John the Baptist sent when John wasn’t sure just how Jesus fitted into his understanding. Healing of body and heart, new commitment to Jesus, new enthusiasm for Jesus. That’s what there is to see. Let’s welcome it, enjoy it and stop trying to find a category for it.

Doug commented on my first post on Cwmbran:
Great post! Although there is great “enjoyment” in being in the presence of God, the ultimate aim has to be to receive the Spirit as per book of Acts and receive boldness to preach renewal in the church and to witness to those outside of the church. The hopes for a wider revival are not for enjoyment, but for the saving of a great many souls in our nation. At least that is my strong hope and prayer. Have mercy on us and our fellow men Lord!

Yes and no. The ultimate aim has to be to receive the Spirit as per Jesus. We are Christians, not Actsians. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ is a command of Jesus in John 20. ‘Don’t let the Holy Spirit pass you by. Welcome Him in. Take Him in.’ (It’s the same word translated as ‘take’ in Jesus’ words in the last supper about taking in, receiving, bread remembering Him.)

Jesus connects this receiving with power and authority to forgive, an awesome power and authority for ‘Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ Now, because Jesus died and rose again, God the Holy Spirit, living in us, cooperating with us, can and does forgive sins, or retain sins. Mind-blowing! Jesus also connects receiving the Holy Spirit with sending us as the Father sent Him. Our ultimate pattern is not the early Church of Acts but Jesus Himself.

We receive the Holy Spirit, in Cwmbran or anywhere, simply to enable us to love God fully and love our neighbour as ourselves. Part of this love will be witnessing to others. But if we think of witnessing before loving we are putting the cart before the horse. John Arnott of Toronto says ‘The Great Commands before the Great Commission.’

We receive the Holy Spirit to make us children of God. The Holy Spirit does not want to make us servants of God, but children. The Father does not make us His children so that we then act wholly as messenger evangelistic servants. He makes us His children because He loves us and wants us to love Him, because He enjoys us and wants us to enjoy Him and enjoy the life He gives. Enjoyment is primary. It includes the great great joy of seeing sinners repent. But if our witnessing is not enjoyable, not fun, the cart has again crept in front of the horse.

Roger Harper


2 Responses to “Revival? We don’t know! 14 June”

  1. Doug Says:

    Another great article Roger, many thanks. I agree that it is foolish to put a definition on revival and hence try to put either Cwmbran or God into a predefined box…revival will be many different things to many different people. You are right to say that in Cwmbran there is a lot of people being freed from addictions of all sorts, there and then, and for those people that certainly is revival – of their souls and bodies to Christ !

    It is in Acts 11 where the church were first called “Christians” in Antioch, because they were following what Christ did very closely; spreading the good news of the Kingdom of God and healing and delivering people from bondages – that has to be the biggest love of all: to free someone and show them the way to receive eternal life in all its joy! The church of the book of Acts has the greatest claim to following Jesus closely, having witnessed His life here on earth, and so if any had a good idea of what it meant to follow Jesus, it would be those disciples in the book of Acts ! Is the book of Acts written by the Holy Spirit just for our enjoyment also, or is it for us to humbly accept as a living example of a church operating as true Christians in the love of God, loving one another and moving in the Power of the Holy Spirit?

    I love enjoying God ! You write well to say that our first call is to be His children and that the Holy Spirit fills us and enables us to enjoy the life He gives. The thing is even without Cwmbran I enjoy my God very much. So much so that I am completely desperate to be able to share this enjoyment with others and to see them also released into this enjoyment also. For those new Christians, yes let them just enjoy and come to know the love of God for themselves, but for me I went to Cwmbran to love the Lord my God with all my heart, strength, soul and body: to give Him my everything as a living sacrifice, that He might consume me with His fire and enable me to get out there and preach His wonderful gospel. For me there would be nothing more enjoyable on this earth than “witnessing” about my great God’s love for people on this earth. That is my heart’s passion.

    I was involved in Revival Fires in Telford before it moved to Dudley, I was on the ministry team and I loved it and they are some of the most joy and love filled days. But after many meetings of enjoyment, there seemed to be a low desire for going out and even having the passion and boldness to go out and to bring that same enjoyment of God’s life to the lost. Without that, any move of God has to stagnate. At somepoint we have to look at loving others which ultimately means saving the lost.

    John Arnott is a great man, but I defer any respect for any man against the Word of God. The great commission is to love God and to love people and in fact it fulfils both of the greatest commands. God created man to have an eternal relationship with Him; man desperately needs eternal life. To even rescue one precious person for eternity is to provide God and that person with a love and joy for all eternity, which is so much more glorious than just hoping to stay in “enjoyment” mode as God blesses us in these “outpouring” meetings. We can’t do it without the Holy Spirit, but He does fill us with Power from on high to be able to proclaim the good news in great joy and signs and wonders for the love of God and for the love of all the precious people He has made on this earth!

    To know God’s love and our place as children of God is indeed paramount, but I think you will agree, we will all be learning that deeper and deeper through all eternity as our God is so awesome. As soon as we are saved by grace we receive the Holy Spirit who witnesses within us that we are His children. Through baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire, He then empowers us to live as Christ did: to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to set the captives free !

  2. rogerharper Says:

    Thanks again Doug,

    It’s great that your passion for the lost has been fanned again. You, it seems, are an evangelist. You love God and neighbour primarily by helping them into eternal life. Other people, with other gifts, will love our Father and our neighbour primarily in other ways, teaching, caring, providing, drawing them into worship etc. Whatever we do, we do in love, and in joy. Enjoying the people you meet, as people, is vital for an evangelist. If people sense that you don’t actually enjoy their company, they will not listen to you….

    Enjoy following Jesus’ instructions to the 72 in Luke 10!

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