Revival is what God does for the church while the Great Commission is what the church does for God. Since the late 1950s, the church has become indifferent toward God and His Word, as worldliness, and now sinfulness, is accepted and practiced in the church. The emphasis on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ has moved to how we “do” church. Church numbers have become the litmus test for church health instead of sound doctrine and holy living. The idea of a changed life today means one’s conformity to modern church methods and social justice with good works, instead of the working power of the Holy Spirit that transforms a life into the image of Jesus Christ.
What Is Revival?
In a biblical sense, revival has meant a move of God throughout a whole region involving many churches with Christians being lifted out of worldliness and into conviction of sin, solemn desires for more of Jesus Christ and His Word, purity of life, conversions of souls through the boldness to witness, joyful worship, and a renewed commitment to missions. I believe God has been supplying revival to believers throughout the SonLife Broadcasting Network (SBN) since 2010. Revival at SBN began with God moving upon believers to pray. The prayer meetings, which began in Baton Rouge preceding the birth of SBN, have now broadened to individuals throughout the viewing and listening audience. All the earmarks of revival are witnessed and experienced in all the regions where SBN is airing.
When Jesus Christ is lifted up and magnified for His work on the cross, the Holy Spirit begins to work in the hearts of God’s children. He meets their needs while also conforming them to the image of Christ. God’s will becomes the will of His people. As this occurs, there is a hunger and desire to see lost souls saved and delivered out of the bondages of sins.
Historical Example Of Revival
In the late 1940s, two elderly women in their eighties—Peggy and Christine Smith—lived in the village of Barvas, which is on the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides off the coast of Scotland. Both ladies were sick in their bodies and unable to physically attend church. Their residence became a sanctuary for prayer, and it was there that God began to speak to their hearts. God gave them a promise, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty and floods upon dry ground.” Peggy and Christine diligently sought the Lord as He led them to pray. A beautiful revelation came one night to Peggy, and the Lord began to tell her that revival was coming and the church of her fathers would be crowded again with young people. She called for the Rev. James Murray MacKay and shared what God revealed to her and asked him to get the deacons together for a time of prayer and supplication. During those times of prayer, the Spirit of God began to move. Peggy claimed she heard from the Lord that God was sending someone to lead the new revival. Duncan Campbell was called upon by Pastor MacKay but rejected several invitations prior to accepting his request to visit Lewis Island. Campbell agreed to come for ten days, and ten days turned into three years! The Lord began to move with the Holy Spirit calling the prayer warriors to repentance. They all sought God for a pure and clean heart as they prepared themselves for His service. Many others began to be saved as Holy Spirit conviction fell throughout the islands. A deep hunger grew among the people, especially the young, and an overwhelming love for God grew in their hearts. There was a young fifteen-year-old boy that got saved and became one of the prayer warriors. So diligent in prayer was this young boy that he was called upon by ministers to pray at meetings as the power of God was sure to fall. Between 1949 and 1952 a widespread revival and harvest swept throughout the Hebrides.
Earmarks Of Revival And Awakenings
Revivals supply a spiritual renewal to believers. They bring new hope and fresh faith. In one sense, they reenergize the church to fulfill the Great Commission. The first earmark of revival is the desire to see people saved.
In the Hebrides revival, the idea of eternal destiny was strongly preached. Duncan Campbell used the phrase “hell-deserving sinners” to have the lost consider their eternal destiny, either heaven or hell.
The preaching was biblical expository preaching and nothing like today’s motivational feel-good sermons. The Word of God was powerfully preached with the accompanying anointing of the Holy Spirit. Witnesses have said it caused the hearers to burst out into tears with sobs and repentance.
The Hebrides Revival was known as a young people’s phenomenon. Many teenagers and those under the age of forty gave their lives to Jesus Christ.
The fear of God spread out to the other nearby islands of the Hebrides, and many were saved in the church services, but also while walking in the countryside. God was moving powerfully. Unusual manifestations were occurring. These spontaneous manifestations, with some saying that on their way home in the dark, bright lights would appear to help them find their way home. Another interesting manifestation was the fact that people would linger after services for hours and head home only to continue worshipping the Lord. Many would stay up until 2 a.m., but be up and ready for work at 7 a.m. Although it defies natural explanation, they kept this up for nearly three years as God anointed them with little need for sleep.
As with any true move of God, one may expect opposition, and opposition was no stranger to the Hebrides Revival. It is one thing to have opposition from the world of non-believers, but opposition to the Hebrides Revival came from Christians. The town of Stornoway—the capital of the Isle of Lewis—was completely bypassed by God. The town’s ministers opposed and rejected the revival. Only the small towns and villages enjoyed what God was doing. Stornoway missed it because its ministers rejected it. Is it not unreasonable for us today to see the same thing happening again? The people missed the touch of God because the ministers of Stornoway did not discern what God was doing in their midst.
There is one more interesting caveat to the Hebrides Revival. Peggy and Christine Smith had a niece, Mary Anne Smith MacLeod. She emigrated from the Island of Lewis to America and met Frederick Trump, and they were married in January 1936. Although this preceded the 1949-1952 revival, there was an historic awakening in the 1820s on the Hebrides Islands that provoked a powerful move of God. Every homeowner in those days, and for decades afterward, built altars in their homes and lived for God. There is no doubt that Mary Anne Smith MacLeod was greatly influenced by the Lord and an altar in her home. Peggy and Christine Smith prayed that God would touch their little island with a move of God, and He did. Who would have thought that their niece, the mother of Donald Trump, would one day bear a son who would become the president of the United States? On his mother’s Bible, President Trump would take his oath to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States—a nation born after its own Great Awakening!