WHAT WOULD BE THE IMPACT OF THE SPIRIT UPON A CONGREGATION IN TRUE REVIVAL?
Let me quote some words of my friend Stephen Rees of Stockport, Manchester, as he pictures some of the consequences of the coming of the Spirit. He describes them in these ways:
i] The felt presence of God in our meetings- There are times when God’s Spirit descends upon a meeting and everybody knows God is present. The unseen world becomes terribly and wonderfully close. At those times, the preaching is transformed. The preacher speaks with a boldness and an authority that is obviously supernatural. Hearers forget the preacher and hear only the voice of God speaking to their hearts. Familiar truths become real as they are preached. Those who listen tremble at the thought of God; they shake with fear as they are made aware of their sins and are overwhelmed with wonder as they hear about the cross of the Lord Jesus; they are filled with a joy that can’t be put into words as they are reminded of heaven to come. The singing is transformed. People sing as they’ve never sung before, realizing how wonderful the words are that they’re singing and conscious that God is listening. The praying is transformed. God’s people pray with confidence, earnestness and with the wrestling spirit which says ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me’. All of us, I hope, can remember meetings when we’ve had a taste of that. But we want all our meetings to be like that. We want to know that God is among his people whenever they meet.
ii] Every member of the church filled with the Holy Spirit- I am not talking about one great crisis experience. I am saying that every one of us ought to be brim-full of the life of God every moment. If we were filled with the Spirit, we would have a great sense of the love of God towards us. We would be able to say, “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given to us” (Romans 5:5). And we on our side would love the Saviour with a warm, steady love. We would long for the day when he comes again. We would want to serve him with all our strength. If we were filled with the Spirit, we would love one another more warmly, more affectionately and more practically than we do. We would pray for one another more consistently. We would commit ourselves to the life of the church more thoroughly. We would be eager to be with our fellow believers, listening to God’s Word, so we would do everything in our power to be at the meetings. We would look forward all month to being at the Lord’s Supper and feeding on Christ there. If we were filled with the Spirit, we’d be very careful to avoid anything sinful or even dubious. We’d turn away from worldly entertainments and distractions. In every situation our first question would be ‘How can I honour God?’ not, ‘What do I want to do?’ We’d deal with our problems, especially our disagreements with other church members, in a biblical way. We would be praying in the various church prayer meetings. We’d never let dislikes or grudges fester in our hearts. We’d learn to say sorry. We’d learn to be straight with people. We’d learn to talk to people who offend us, not talk about them behind their backs. The life of the church would be sweeter and happier.
iii] Many people around us being converted- Members of our families long prayed for would change in their attitude to our Lord. Young people who had professed faith as teenagers but had fallen away, would come back from the distant country. Husbands for whom wives had prayed for years would end their rebellion and bow the knee to Christ. We do have students converted, and also the children of church members, but what of people wholly outside of Christ? Utterly indifferent men and women both teenagers and the elderly, Muslims, policemen, professors, fishermen, jewelers, managers of betting shops, politicians, clergymen, sportsmen, Jehovah’s Witnesses, journalists, media people, refuse collectors, car dealers, shop-keepers and scientists, members of the local football teams, gardeners, bakers, electricians, artists, plumbers – we want to see all trades coming to know Christ, and all kinds of personalities, depressives, academics, illiterates, melancholics, addicts, extroverts – the doors of heaven are open to all of them.
At times of spiritual awakening, many kinds of people are contacted, there is boldness given to shy believers to share their faith with the people to whom Providence brings them. A favored, prepared people grow weary of mater ialism and Dawkins and television and conversations down at the bars and football, and they are opened up by grace to consider the greatness of God. Even if they are not converted, they’ve become more subdued; a fear of God has fallen on them.
When the Spirit of God is poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour he comes to convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment; he comes to honour and magnify Jesus Christ as the Son of God; he changes many lives for ever. People who have served sin henceforth serve the Saviour. Let us cry to God that he would pour out on us abundantly the Spirit, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
– Geoff Thomas