The Spirit of Revival

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I have been watching this revival spirit moving among colleges in the United States with great interest. Fifty-three years ago this same Spirit swept through our country, Canada, Europe and most of the world among the young. Oddly enough, it started in Wilmore, Kentucky in that same chapel at that time as well. Back then it broke out on the west coast in numerous places not long after. Many of the youth God moved on had experimented with drugs and eastern religions for the Hippie movement was in full swing. God was answering the prayers of many a prayer meeting that these young people would get saved and He move on the youth, but not in the way most religious people expected. This new move still had long hair and funk clothes, but they loved Jesus! With its coffee houses and tabloid papers and zeal for evangelism it became known as the Jesus Movement.

On the week of June 7th, 1970, a group of freshly converted hippies held some park meetings in our town. I had been hearing rumors about God moving among the young people elsewhere in the U.S. So, I decided to go see what it was about. At this time my wife and I had been attending a Free Methodist church and I was desperate for God to do something in my life to the point that I had considered suicide if something didn’t change. I was angry and had a dismal mindset. At one point about three months earlier my dear wife said to me one evening, “Michael, this hate inside of you is killing you and it’s killing me and the kids. I don’t think we can live with you like this much longer.”

Those words rattled around in my head for the next three months. I had been of a radical right wing persuasion and fed on that propaganda for some time. With this mindset, I hated what America had become and hated anyone that I saw as part of its degradation. So, hippies with their long hair, drug abuse, free sex and anti-war culture became a target of that hate in me.

God Chooses the Foolish Things to Confound the Wise

So there I was in the local hippie park with my wife and sons in our Sunday best after seeing a handbill (it was on our windshield after church) announcing a Christian outreach called “The Jesus People Army.” Soon some of them gathered out of the rest of the hippies, and though they also had funky clothes and long hair, these kids were different from the pot smoking and wine drinking crowd in the park. This group had faces that shined. They got on a stage and started talking about what Jesus had done in their lives. As each of them gave their testimonies laced with singing songs about Jesus, I became more and more intrigued. As the week went on, I went to other meetings they had in a different park in the evenings. Finally I had to find out why they were so happy and different from me and all the rest of the Christians I knew, yet they loved Jesus.

Later on the night of June 10th I found out. I went with one of them to a coffee shop and church outreach downtown called “The Way Inn.” While I sat with him he told me that the difference among them was the Holy Spirit and asked me if I had received the Spirit. I told him that I didn’t know, but I had said a “sinner’s prayer” with a pastor two years earlier. He then said, “If you had the Holy Spirit in you, you would know the difference! I asked him what it meant to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He took a paper cup filled with coffee and set it beside an empty one and said, “The cup that has the coffee in it is you. How much air is in it?” I said, “Not much. You filled it with coffee!” He then dumped it into the other cup and said, “Now how much air is in it?” I said, “Now it is full of air.” He said, “This is what you have to do. You need to pray, confessing all your sins in the past and present and give everything that is you have and your are over to Him and let God have complete control over your life.”

That night I went back into their prayer room fully expecting to lose everything that was once dear to me as I surrendered to God. What did I have to lose? My life was in a shambles. Two years earlier when I prayed with that pastor, I was not ready to give my life totally to Jesus. I only gave Him the things that I thought were “bad.” The problem is, if God is not in it, it is ALL bad! This time I got alone and started confessing everything that came to mind. At one point I had the dry heaves as He delivered me of a spirit of hate that I had ever since my involvement in the Vietnam War. After praying that night I went home slept, but the next morning I awoke a new man. Like the prophet Isaiah said, He gave me, “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they (I) might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified” (Isa 61:3, KJ2000). My life was totally changed after that because I now had Jesus’ life in me. Paul wrote about this.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20, KJ2000)

Dear saints, this is what real revival is. It happens when God moves on people to exchange their old lives under their own control and become filled with and led by Jesus Christ’s Spirit within.

After He changed me, I wanted to everyone to have what I had discovered. There is so much more to Jesus than Sunday church attendance! I went back to my church with my enthusiasm and my new found love for Jesus and started telling everyone about being filled with the Holy Spirit and that they could be filled with His love and joy, too. To my surprise, the pastor and the elders were upset with me and one warned me that this “Holy Spirit stuff” was dangerous and not welcome in their church. Yes, the Holy Spirit is dangerous to those who want to remain in their fleshly ways. God has this problem: He thinks HE is God. If we let Him in, He takes control of our lives by crucifying our old adamic nature and giving us His Son’s life instead. This is what real Christianity is! It’s and exchanged life.

It is refreshing to see that this same thing is happening among the young people today as revival spreads across the country among college campuses. It also blesses me that there are no “special speakers” or church programs behind any of this… just young people getting right with God and letting His Spirit do the rest.

But I can tell you from my own experience that inevitably, men will rise up and lay their hands on what God is doing if these people don’t heed Paul’s warning,

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears. (Acts 20:29-31, KJ2000)

Jesus also warned us.

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits… Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity. (Matt 7:15-23, KJ2000)

This is a real danger and, sad to say, and it happened with us in Spokane, Washington and other places where the Spirit moved. Men entered in among us, even Bible teachers, and we gave them place. Soon they were in control and the Holy Spirit was there no longer. In our case, the man who had been teaching us out of the Bible moved further and further away from sound teaching and was influencing us to take up smoking and drinking in our new-found freedom. It took nine years for us to have his spell broken off. One of us read a pamphlet on alcoholism, and the attributes of an alcoholic described there fit our leader perfectly. We had been duped. What a shock! Many of us grew up with abusive alcoholic fathers and it didn’t dawn on us that we were submitting to that same spirit again because it came cloaked as a Bible teacher. After he shared that AA pamphlet with the rest of us, and the truth lit up our darkness it wasn’t long that group disbanded. They had been slaves to an alcoholic. Some had their eyes opened much earlier and left the group, and the ones that no longer jumped at his commands or were no longer considered an asset to his program were “graduated.” We all were in constant fear that we would be next. After all this was the body of Christ as we knew it. To be cast out of the group was to be excommunicated from Jesus.

If any of you reading this have been touched by this current revival, I pray you will heed this warning and not give up the “fish” our good Father has given you and accept a serpent in its place. Beware of false teachers and false prophets. While writing to the church about the Antichrist. John told those believers this:

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us— eternal life. (1John 2:18-25, ESV2011)

Today these antichrists most often come in among us in the form of false teachers and false shepherds who win our devotion away from Christ to themselves. This is what it means to deny Christ. They deny Him of His rightful place as the Head of the body of Christ in the congregation, drawing attention to themselves. The following is an example of righteous leadership.

And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Are you Elijah? And he said, I am not. Are you that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who are you? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What say you of yourself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaiah. And they who were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptize you then, if you are not that Christ, nor Elijah, neither that prophet? John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there stands one among you, whom you know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s thong I am not worthy to unloose. (John 1:19-27, KJ2000)

Though there was much adulation of John among the Jews, he always point to Christ and away from himself.

The Greek word antichristos not only means against Christ, but it also means instead of Christ. They might not deny Jesus is the Christ openly, but you will know them by their fruit. They set themselves up as infallible leaders in the Church and deny us our devotion to Christ alone. They also drown out the voice of the Spirit who is teaching us all things we need to know. Speaking of the importance of the Holy Spirit as our Teacher, Jesus said,

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13-14, ESV2011)

Does God want teachers in the Church? Yes, He does as long as they are speaking what the Holy Spirit is giving them to share in His timing.

Paul wrote the saints in Ephesus saying,

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe according to the working of His might… (Eph 1:15-19, ESV2011)

Lord Jesus, please watch over your flock and lead them into all righteousness and truth. Enlighten the eyes of our hearts that we might know your leading in our lives. Especially protect these young people from the working of the wicked one. Amen.