SIGNS OF REVIVAL
The Word of God says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2Cor.5:17); “And as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God” (Jn.1:12). We must know—this is our identity in Christ! A son or daughter of God—that’s who we are!
We did not come here by accident; we were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (Jn.1:13). And everyone who believes that Jesus is Christ is born of God (1Jn.5:1). We have come from God.
We are here, not to just get by in life, or perfecting ourselves in the art of survival—having roti, kapda and makaan (bread, clothes and shelter)! These are minor issues; the Word of God says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt.6:33). We are here for a purpose. Look at John 17. We are here to know the eternal life; to know His Word; to be cleansed by the Word and sent to proclaim His name.
Whether you like it or not, you have to leave this world some day. Yes, we are all on the waiting list. Well, are you thinking, “Pehle Aap” (First you)! Ah… There is no necessity that the older one must go first! I know I am here, anointed by Him, appointed by Him, assigned by Him. I am here for a purpose. And when my assignment is complete, angels will carry me to be with the Lord. Yes. Absent from the body and to be present with the Lord (2Cor.5:8). Do you have that hope, that assurance?
You can know what you should do from Isaiah 6. Isaiah was a pitiable man because he was blinded by King Uzziah. He was a prophet of God, dwelling among people of unclean lips and among people living an unclean life. But glory be to God; when Uzziah died, Isaiah saw the vision of the Lord. He heard the voice of God, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”
Isaiah answered God’s call, “Here am I! Send me.” You see, God is not going to push you to do something that you don’t want to do! You have a choice. You can either live for Him or live for yourself. This is the message from God Isaiah was given to tell the people, “Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive, make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes…lest they be healed.”
Jesus Did Not Come To Make A Religion!
The Bible has wonderful truths. In Ephesians 1, we see that we are pre-destined, chosen, redeemed, forgiven, sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise; that all things are under our feet; that we live by revelation and understanding. Yes, we can know the hope of His calling, know the riches of the glory of His inheritance…
But when I was young, what I saw around me was quite different; men in robes and with seminary degrees. The thinking was, more the degrees, more the understanding! And the trained one goes to his denominational group and preaches the Word! There they were, standing flamboyantly in the sacred pulpit and you could see them die by degrees! I was thinking, how and why, what I read in the Bible does not work in the church? And does not work in life?
And when I started ministering, I had a ‘moving’ ministry; when I moved in, people moved out. I cried out to God, “Lord, give me direction.” I began fasting and praying and telling God that I would not go forward unless He ministered to me first. And I did have a revelation; yes, I saw a vision of Jesus…
This is the Gospel. The Lord of heaven came down, went to the cross, finished the work of salvation, and we are called as sons and daughters of God. Now, there is hope of eternal life with Him. If you are in death, you are a ‘sinner’; if you are in life, you are a ‘saint’. There is nothing in between. It’s either sinner or saint; neither is there vacillating between one and the other—one day ‘saint’ and next day ‘sinner’. If you are willing, God is going to take care of all other ‘minor’ issues of khaana and peena (food and drink).
There is also the second part, the radical part. Do you know that everyone born-again is a minister of God? Ephesians 4:11, 12 talks of the various ministries in the church. There is the prophetic ministry, for the guiding; evangelists, for the gathering ministry; pastors (or shepherds), for the guarding ministry; and then the teachers, for the grounding ministry. We are all equipped to edify one another—everyone will someday be like Him. Every one of us is a minister for Christ. Our ministry must be a) saturated by prayer, b) supplemented by a vision and plan, and c) succeeded by implementation of the plan.
Any revival does not happen just like that! You must know what is happening around you. God is saying to us, “Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations…” Now, is it not worth knowing what to ask from God?
Hunger For God
There are young people who are hungry for God. They are fed up with what religion offers. They want a relationship with God. We recently organised a cricket tournament, and the man of the match was selected for sponsorship in cricket coaching; yes, there were many slum children in the cricket tournament. But what a joy to see them coming and to help them find life in Jesus Christ. See, you cannot change anybody’s heart, for it is the work of the Holy Spirit; but preaching the good news is your responsibility! And that’s exactly what we should do!
When we stop at traffic signals, we give hand-outs of written Gospel in various languages to others nearby. I personally have experienced the power of sharing the Gospel this way, when John’s gospel was given to me some 53 years back. I am pretty sure that the person who gave it to me would never have imagined what a person I would become with that life-changing Gospel!
We are not here by accident. So, forget about all your worries. Let me go through, with you, the seven signs of revival. In all my 50 years of ministry, I have never seen such an increase at any time. We had a prophecy about the revival happening in Mumbai, and a warning not to take it lightly. So we organised meetings and paid evangelists who would gather the people, because revivals do not wait for long! They have their seasons!
Let us turn to Acts 4 and read from v23 onwards to find the signs of revival.
It all started with the miraculous healing of a lame man over 40 years old. There were people who then perceived the power of the Gospel. The people found the disciples radical in their thinking and bold in their preaching. But what the disciples found was opposition from the ‘religious leaders.’ The leaders suddenly found themselves wanting in comparison with the disciples; they were afraid they might lose their ‘jobs.’ The leaders tried to dissuade them by arguing and threatening them to no more call on the name of Jesus. That was when the disciples decided to come out of their religion—Judaism. Verse 23 says, ‘…they went to their own companions…’ That is the unity of the Spirit. They all were of one mind!
Acts 4:24,25 tell us the next sequence in the revival. It says that they raised their voice to God with one accord and said, “Lord, You are God who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them…”
Prayer is described as human dependence on divine intervention. It is a tool too for knowing God’s will and meeting God’s will. That is why we pray, “Our Father, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is interesting to note that the disciples referred to one of the psalms of David in their prayer. “Why did the nations rage and the people plot vain things?” (Psa. 2). It is interesting because the other part of the same Psalm says, “Ask of Me and I will give you the nations…” And this is what I believe, that the disciples knew this and prayed a prayer of faith, knowing that God has given them the nations.
3. Word Of God
The disciples faced severe threats of punishment. Their lives were in peril. But they did not pray, “Lord, grant us protection.” V. 29 says that the disciples prayed this way, “Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your Word.” All they wanted was to speak the Word of God; for the disciples were convinced that it was the power to transform people from death to eternity. Therefore, take time to read and study the Word of God; meditate and memorise the written ‘logos’ Word; that it may become ‘rhema’ the living Word in you. It is the key to success in times of revival, of change. That is what we see in Psalm 1 and Joshua 1.
4. Name Of Jesus
V. 30. “…that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” It is the name of Jesus that is needed for times of revival. “…for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil.2:9-11). Study the noble name (Jas. 2:7) of Jesus, which is invoked upon you in baptism after you are born again.
5. Holy Spirit
V. 31. “…and the place …was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” I do not know about you, but I have experienced some shaking places myself. And this is my desire too, that every meeting of ours, every assembling together, in any place, will be a ‘shaking’ experience. Whatever God gives is through the Holy Spirit; whatever God does is by the Holy Spirit.
V.32. “… they had all things in common.” Generosity and giving are expressions of love. It sometimes may look too good to be true, how people can give up everything they owned and share it with others freely. “…but they first gave themselves to the Lord” (2Cor.8:5). Acts 4:34 continues, “Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds…” There may have been borrowers and there may have been lenders; and borrowers are slaves to lenders. But, whoever the Son sets free is free indeed! You see, generosity focusses on the issues that are important and not possessions. And God is responsible to pay the bill for what He says we should do! There is no place for fear, whether it is a global meltdown, financial crisis or whatever name they call it! We can put our trust in the infallible Word of God.
There is power in witness. “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all” (V.33).
“Living He loved me; dying He saved me Buried He carried my sins far away Rising He justified freely forever One day He is coming back, O glorious day!”
These are the days! This is the season! There is no room for discouragement, no place for depression. Give no heed to any distraction! For a seed sown will become a forest. Do you know how many multitudes of angels rejoice over every repentant sinner?
In the past two years in Mumbai, more than 75,000 people have been added to the New Life Fellowship (NLF). A significant number of those are from the migrant community, from UP, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, and then the locals. Imagine such a large number longing for Jesus Christ! Imagine such a change sweeping across the city! What are you doing amidst this revival?
I remember the time I started ministering to less than 100 people. There were years in which there was not even a single baptism. Now there are more than 1000 NLF churches all over India, and abroad. God has a plan for you, a plan to prosper, to give you a future and a hope. Thank God for the name of Jesus. May God grant you the grace to be a witness.