The Coming Revival
by John Edwards
The coming revival will be just like how it was when the Gospel first began.
It will be:
(1) miraculous, and
(2) it will attract the attention of whole regions.
Let’s have a look at what it was like in the beginning of the Gospel.
First of all, look at John’s ministry:
16 The people which sat in darkness saw GREAT LIGHT; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
Notice that the people saw “a great light.”
It was no small thing. All Israel went out to hear John. Even the Romans came.
John’s ministry made such a public impact that Jesus called him “a burning shining light.”
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and ALL FLESH SHALL SEE IT TOGETHER…
The glory wasn’t revealed in a small building in some corner of the city.
“All flesh shall see it together,” the prophet said.
Yet as gret as John’s ministry was, it was only a preparation for what was to come – the ministry of Jesus.
The Ministry of Jesus
Jesus' ministry was so great that John said He had the Spirit without measure (John 3:34).
John said, "I must decrease and He must increase".
Jesus actually made and baptized more disciples than John.
“And all men come to him,” said John’s disciples (John 3:26).
His miracles of healing and His teaching attracted multitudes.
The Apostles' Ministries
Now let’s look at the effects of the Apostles’ ministries after the resurrection.
12 And by the hands of the apostles were MANY SIGNS AND WONDERS [not just a few] wrought among the people…
14 And believers were the more added to the Lord, MULTITUDES BOTH OF MEN AND WOMEN [not just a few].
15 Insomuch that THEY BROUGHT FORTH THE SICK INTO THE STREETS, AND LAID THEM ON BEDS AND COUCHES, THAT AT THE LEAST THE SHADOW OF PETER PASSING BY MIGHT OVERSHADOW SOME OF THEM. [Now notice what progresses…]
16 There came also a MULTITUDE OUT OF THE CITIES ROUND ABOUT UNTO JERUSALEM, BRINGING SICK FOLKS, AND THEM WHICH WERE VEXED WITH UNCLEAN SPIRITS: AND THEY WERE HEALED EVERY ONE [every one!]
The Apostles certainly continued in the style of both John and of Jesus – they attracted the attention of whole regions.
And they followed in Jesus’ ministry of miracles, as Jesus said they would:
12 Verily, verily I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
We observe the same two characteristics in Paul's ministry:
10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that ALL THEY WHICH DWELT IN ASIA HEARD THE WORD OF THE LORD JESUS, BOTH JEWS AND GREEKS.
11 And God wrought SPECIAL MIRACLES [better than ordinary ones!!] by the hands of Paul:
12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and THE DISEASES DEPARTEED FROM THEM, AND THE EVIL SPIRITS WENT OUT OF THEM...
20 So MIGHTILY GREW the word of God AND PREVAILED.
The Gospel got the upper-hand in society!
People eventually called the Apostles “those who have turned the world upside down” and said, “all the world is gone after them.”
God never intended for the manifestation of His glory to be contained to a little building in the corner of society. It’s not just for a few lucky people who happen to live next-door to a witnessing Christian.
The glory of the Lord shall be revealed! All flesh shall see it together. A river will flow into society!
If there was so much glory manifested publicly in Moses’ ministry, which was all to do with a temporary covenant - how much more glory do you think God wants to reveal through the Gospel, which is the prized and final plan of God since before the foundation of the world!
The manifested glory in our day ought to make the plagues, the parting of the red sea, the pillar of fire and cloud, the shaking of the mountain and the provision in the desert seem small - because it is much more important now.
II CORINTHIANS 3:7-11
7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:
8 How shall not THE MINISTRATION OF THE SPIRIT BE RATHER GLORIOUS?
9 For if the ministration of condemnation [because the Law of Moses brought condemnation] be glory, MUCH MORE doth the ministration of righteousness [the gospel brings righteousness] EXCEED IN GLORY.
10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of THE GLORY THAT EXCELLETH.
11 For if that which is done away was glorious, MUCH MORE that which remaineth IS GLORIOUS.
How it Works
Joel said, “…and it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered [saved]… (Joel 2:32).
But notice that is preceded by, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour my spirit upon all flesh…” (Joel 2:28).
It’s all done by the Spirit of God.
That’s the significance of the current move of God. God is visiting the church with a fresh outpouring of the Spirit of God to prepare it for the coming revival.
Anything God does in the world, He will do through the church. Because the bible says, “Out of Zion the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.” If God is going to reveal his salvation and glory to ALL FLESH (“All the ends of the earth have seen [not just heard about but seen demonstrated] the salvation of God”) its going to start by a fresh outpouring on his church.
Be aware of God is wanting to do. Discern the significance of all this laughter and joy, all this healing & deliverance and all these visions and gifts that accompany this current outpouring. It’s not just a temporary refreshing. It is intended to result in revival and church growth. God is up to something bigger.
The following is a testimony of the extent to which this outpouring can progress.
I was sitting in a church ready to preach, thinking over what I was going to say. Then the Holy Spirit said to me, “I don’t want you to preach that sermon.” Now, it had a title, an introduction, three points and a conclusion (and I could even have thrown a poem in at the end)! But I said, “Why not, Lord, it’s about the Holy Spirit, and they need to hear about the Holy Spirit in this church.” The Lord said, “This church has had 20 years of good preaching and teaching, what they need is a fresh move of the Holy Spirit. And they’ll learn more about that by watching me move than by hearing you talk about it.”
“So what do you want me to do?” I asked.
“I want the people to experience the Joy of the Lord,” He replied.
When I stood up to preach I said, “I know we usually preach first, but tonight lets allow the Holy Spirit to move first.” I got them singing a joyful song but I had a sense that wasn’t quite what God was talking about when He said, “I want the people to experience the Joy of the Lord.”
I didn’t quite know what to do though, so I stepped off the stage and laid hands on a lady and said, “Receive the Joy of the Lord.” To my surprise she started laughing and ended up rolling around the floor. So I tried it with someone else. They started laughing too. It spread to the whole church. 45 minutes later we had some testimonies of people who were touched, and we discovered that healing and all sorts of things accompanied the laughter!
In future meetings, we gave more room to the Holy Spirit to touch people like this. The laughter became deeper. People were so drunk they had to be carried home. As interest grew, the church started meeting more often, not just a couple of times a week. Even prayer meetings and music practices were affected. People started seeing visions as well. Tongues were poured out. Deliverance began to take place. They gladly allowed it to interrupt their song list!
Finally, young people were so full of the Spirit that when they went to school they couldn’t stop speaking in tongues – apparently including known languages such as Chinese and English (which they hadn’t studied!) The teachers asked, “Where did you learn to speak these languages so fluently?” So the young girl asked God to enable her to speak her own language again so she could explain. The whole class fell under the power of God. Classes couldn’t continue. The next day the same thing happened. Students began to come from other class rooms, wanting to be prayed for. Everyone she touched fell over and when they got up they asked with tears, “What have we got to do?” As she laid hands on them, she prophesied and cast out demons. Classes couldn’t continue for weeks so that the Principal threatened to expel her. She brought students to the Holy Ghost meetings at church, and as soon as they walked in the door, they fell under the power and cried. The TV news arrived to the school to film her. But to avoid too much attention (and trouble with the teachers) she refused. To further avoid attention, she laid hands on her friends to impart the same anointing, so they could be used as well as her – and everyone they touched received from God in the same way. It spread to other schools and universities. Students in universities were on the floor of lecture rooms laughing in the Spirit, under a visitation of God.
Meetings that started with 25 people grew to over 400 in a matter of weeks as other churches began to close down their own services to join the revival. Unprecedented unity was the result. Backsliders came back. Reconciliation was made. Finances multiplied. As pastors went back to their own churches, the glory spread, as they agreed to put aside their programs and let the Holy Spirit move.
One such pastor was opposed to it at first. But finally the Holy Spirit challenged him, “Are you going to let me move in your meetings like this?”
He agreed. The presence of God came in like a mist. Unbelievers walking past saw the building on fire. They came the next day to give the pastor their condolences for losing his building- but there the building was – perfectly fine! In that meeting, they had to put the children outside to allow room for the adults. After the adults had a glorious meeting they went outside to get their kids. And guess where they were? Flat on their backs on the ground under the power of God – seeing visions of Jesus, angels and laughing. The church grew.
Some Baptist pastors came to have a look. When they went back to their own church, people began laughing in the Spirit and speaking in tongues while he spoke, without anyone even laying hands on them. The place where they were gathered began to shake so they all ran outside thinking it was an earthquake. But the neighbours said, “There’s no earthquake. Your church is the only building shaking.” There were some visitors in the church that day. When they returned to their own churches, it spread their also.
The anointing is transferable.
You see, the laugher brings with it the potential for revival, if we become intimate with what the Holy Spirit is wanting to do in meetings and in our lives, on a continuing basis.
Lets be like the children of Issachar who “had discernment of the times and seasons, to understand what Israel ought to do.”
[This testimony, with footage of some of the actual meetings, is available on video].
Letting God Move in Meetings
Having discerned what God is wanting to do, we can learn to make adjustments and flow with it in our services, in order to maximize the potential of the anointing that God is making available in these days.
1. This is not just a temporary visitation
If we look on it as merely a season of laughing and then we go back to church as normal, we could be like Israel who did not perceive the hour of her visitation.
2. “Refreshing” is meant to be a permanent state of the church
Let’s clear something up about “times of refreshing.” It’s possible to over-emphasize the truth that God moves in seasons by calling something seasonal when really it should have stayed and just been the beginning!
We often hear Acts 3:19 quoted, but let’s look at it in context and notice what it’s really saying:
18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets,
that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.
19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, WHEN THE TIMES OF REFRESHING SHALL COME FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD;
20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things…
It’s clear that “the times of refreshing” which Peter referred to is the offer made to Israel through the gospel. The time frame for this “refreshing” begins at the cross (verse 18), is received through repentance (verse 19) and lasts until Jesus comes back (verses 20,21). At that time, Peter may have thought it would only be a short season of refreshing for the nation and then Jesus would shortly return. But he soon discovered that the promise included the Gentiles, and that season of refreshing has extended to 2000 years so far. The time of refreshing referred to is the entire gospel age!
So let’s receive all that God is making available and not mistakenly think that revivals are only meant to be periodic seasons of blessing for the church. I believe that what we call revival, God calls normal. Revival can be the normal state of the church. The reason God has to keep sending revivals is because we keep sinking below what was intended to be continuous.
When I was a child I eagerly studied revivals to learn how they started. Then once I became involved in moves of God in churches, I became more interested in why they stopped. In every case I studied or observed, specific reasons could be pointed to concerning why they stopped, and it was never because of God. He wanted them to keep going and growing! But outside observers who were not aware of those reasons easily came to the wrong conclusion that God must have decided to stop what He had started, and then called it “seasonal.”
(Some of those reasons include: ceasing to allow God to use whoever He wants; ceasing to allow the move of the Spirit to manifest at any time in the meeting; pride & jealousy about people who are used; common arguments and disunity; not acting on guidance from the Lord; backing-down because of criticism of the move; fear of man, not perceiving the purpose of God. There are so many examples that could be given of churches that were in the move and were experiencing revival and church growth, then it suddenly stopped due to the reasons above – it was like switching off a light or turning off a tap. And there were such simple, human causes. Then there are examples all around the world of churches that have continued and become famous in their area because of continuing in the move – and again, it’s because they responded accurately in the Spirit and consistently with what God was revealing and doing.
3. Develop and maintain a relationship of integrity with the Holy Spirit
For example, we sing to usher in the presence of God – right? Then often His presence comes, and we all feel it, but then we keep on singing songs like “Let Your Glory Fill this Place,” or “Summon your Power O God.” We continue on with our song list when all the while God had sent His anointing to do things in the meeting! Wouldn’t it be better to honour the Holy Spirit by allowing Him to take over in different ways when we sense He’s wanting to do that – even if we don’t get to our next song for an hour? Sometimes I think song leaders want to do this, but they feel obligated to do the job they’ve been given to do. Or sometimes we sense an anointing come but we’re so used to having the preaching first – so we override it by going ahead with the preaching and then we often try to re-create that sense of anointing on an altar call at the end. Wouldn’t it be better if the various leaders of a meeting had an understanding that they will let the Holy Spirit do whatever He wants, whenever He wants, through whomever He wants – and all the leaders flow together and make room for each other. We could make room for more flexibility in the order of our services.
4. When we sense that anointing come into a meeting, our usual response has been to keep singing, perhaps with a bit more gusto. We may sing in the Spirit and even dance a little. But I think that anointing came to do a work in the meeting – and He’s wanting to manifest Himself. Singing is only one response. Yet it seems to be the one we do all the time. We began the meeting with singing, then He comes in response to that, wanting to fill people with laughter, visions of glory, healing, deliverance etc – He just wants to fill the meeting and everyone in it – but we keep singing! Some people will still begin to be touched despite that, but most will just go along with the songs. There could be a greater manifestation of the touch of God, however, if the song-leader would instead say to the congregation something like, “The Lord is here to touch you. Now is the time to just receive. Be filled. Drink.” Or another leader who felt to could take-over at that point and begin to encourage the congregation to receive. You don’t even necessarily need to lay hands on anyone. But if you felt to, you could move amongst the congregation and begin ministering the Spirit by the laying on of hands, or by speaking words of faith like “More.” Once Jesus has had His way, ministering to the people, it usually results in a celebration of praise, singing and dancing. Out of that, preaching, teaching, prophesying and interpretation of tongues are inspired, for the instruction of the people. Sermons sometimes get preached that were not pre-planned – but it’s birthed by the Spirit – it’s what God wanted said!
5. At other times you may not feel any special anointing, so you continue with worship and the Word. Then the anointing can be activated simply by faith in the Word.
6. Sometimes when you’re activating this anointing and wanting people to come into it, they tend to do something they’re already used to doing, such as speaking in tongues or singing, or even prophesying. I often say, “This is not a time to intercede but to receive. It’s not a time to speak in tongues – receive. We can sing later. Now – receive!” Sometimes I come straight out with it and say, “Laugh!” In the same way that Jesus said to the man with the withered hand, “Stretch it forth,” and the power of God was activated by the spoken word of faith, I say, “Laugh,” or “Be Filled,” fully believing that if they know how to receive, it will happen. Sometimes we don’t get results when we minister if we don’t know exactly what it is we’re expecting. For example, Jesus never actually prayed for the sick. He gave commands. In the same way, we often spend so much time praying for people when all we really need to do is speak a word of command. But you have to speak exactly what you want. If you want this anointing to come on them, say, “Receive,” or “Be filled,” or even “Laugh.” If you’re not clear, they’ll probably just fall back into an expression that they’re used to. And it doesn’t just stop with laughter, it may not start there either, but it results in a wonderful work according to the will of the Spirit in that person’s life.
7. Sometimes our songs get in the way because they keep us thinking that we’re still asking God to move, when in fact He’s already there. So they actually hinder faith and receiving.
8. We will see new songs birthed which acknowledge what God is doing rather than contain themes which keep asking Him for something which is already here and available to those who make room for it.
Interpretation of Tongues in Song:
This is a day of fulfillment
This is a day of “coming to pass”
This is a day of activation
9. This move of God also affects the way we pray. Sometimes God is waiting for us to stop praying so He can answer our prayers. A lot of our prayers are for the Holy Spirit to move in the church etc. Then God is ready to pour out His anointing but we keep praying for it instead of making room for it.
I was asked to speak during a half night of prayer in a particular church. I asked, “How long can I speak for?” They replied, “40 minutes.” I said, “Well how about I speak for 20 minutes and then we’ll allow the Holy Spirit to move for 20 minutes (knowing full well that once He started to move, He would spill over beyond 20 minutes – the meeting couldn’t be the same again!)” They had no idea what to expect so they said, “Whatever.” Well I spoke, then the Holy Spirit filled the church – I mean filled. They were drunk with laughter and received a new anointing. After 40 minutes I dutifully handed it back to the leader, who was supposed to lead them in prayer. When she stood up she couldn’t speak. Everyone was laughing. I was hoping that she wouldn’t just go ahead and pray as usual, because that would be evidence that they missed the significance of the visitation they’d just received. Finally she said, “We were supposed to pray for a fresh move of God – but we’ve just had one! Next, we were supposed to intercede that our musicians would be anointed – but they’ve just been anointed! Everything we were supposed to pray for – God has already poured out! So I think we’ve got nothing left to do but to dance and praise God!” Hallelujah! She caught it!
There have been more people praying for revival in the last two decades than ever before in history. Now God is pouring it out all over the world – so don’t keep begging for it – receive it!
So what place does prayer have? Well, we can ask God to increase it. We can ask God to do signs & wonders out in the community. We can pray for our persecutors. We can ask God to let the outpouring spread. We can pray for backsliders etc. We still pray, but we pray out of an understanding, an acknowledgment, a thankfulness and a receiving of what God is already doing. Don’t pray with ignorance or unawareness of what God is already doing. That blocks faith, and you keep praying for something which doesn’t need to be prayed for but is simply a matter of learning to step aside and make room for. After a church has rolled around laughing, enjoying the Lord, been ministered to by angels, seen visions, been empowered by the Spirit and ending in a great celebration of dancing and praise – then when they begin to pray – its altogether different to if they’d prayed without an acknowledgment of what God was already up to in their midst. You pray from a more informed stance.
10. It’s simply a matter of making room for God to move. For this outpouring to happen in your church, you don’t need to go on a long fast. You don’t need to intercede any more for it. God is already making it available all over the world. Just jump in! Even children are being used.
I was at a combined churches meeting and they had a big banner on the stage with the words “Great Awakening.” When I looked at their program, it was all typed out: Opening Prayer – brother So-and-So – 2 minutes. Opening songs – sister So-and-So – 15 minutes. Special number – sister So-and-So – 3 minutes. Worship songs – brother So-and-So – 20 minutes. Announcements – Pastor So-and-So – 5 minutes. Guest Speaker – Pastor So-and-So – 45 minutes. Offering – brother So-and-So – 3 minutes. Closing Prayer – brother So-and-So – one minute.
I looked at the program and thought, “Exactly at what point in this program do you want the ‘great awakening’ to take place?” I so much wanted to get up and show them how to make it happen, but I wasn’t a speaker that day.
At another combined churches meeting, a similar thing happened. But this time they gave me a chance to speak right at the end. I stood and said, “Today you’ve sung about revival, you’ve prayed for revival, you’ve had a special song about revival, and you’ve preached about revival. Now, would you like to have a revival?” They looked at me weird. Then I said, “You’ve spent 40 minutes singing and 40 minutes preaching, wanting revival. Now God is saying, “OK, I’ll give it to you.” But then you would have closed the meeting by now, if it wasn’t for your feeling of obligation to give me the courtesy of speaking just because you know I’m a missionary. Since we spent 40 minutes singing and 40 minutes preaching, do you think we could now give the Holy Spirit just 20 minutes to respond to us?” They all agreed. But once it started, it went much longer than 20 minutes. They didn’t want to stop. They were laughing, crying, getting filled and it didn’t stop there. Finally I exhorted them to get into the habit of deliberately making room in their services for God to move the way they’ve always wanted Him to. That’s all the Holy Spirit is waiting for.
11. The Welsh Revival saw about 200 000 people added to the churches in two years, yet there was hardly any preaching or leadership in the revival. It all happened because the young 27 year old revivalist, Evan Roberts, held meetings where he simply said, “Obey the Holy Spirit.”
12. Find out what is happening to people after their experience, and if they’ve been given specific guidance, help them to put action to it. One of the criticisms of this move of God is that it hasn’t resulted in evangelism or church growth in some places. But through good leadership, we can channel what God is doing into real work for God. Saul is a scriptural example of how being “slain in the spirit” can result in action for God:
13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying…[then Jesus called him into the ministry – lets pick it up at Verse 16]
16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness…
19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I WAS NOT DISOBEDIENT UNTO THE HEAVENLY VISION:
20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent…
Saul had a spiritual experience, a heavenly vision, but then he put action to it, he was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.
In the same way, we can encourage people to get up off the floor and go and obey any direction they’ve received.
In one church, we had some testimonies after the people had a time of laughing and enjoying the Lord. One guy said, “I was laughing and I saw a vision of myself leading an evangelistic team along a mountain.” I said, “Fine – when are you going?” He hadn’t even thought of doing anything about it! I said, “I want you to go to your pastor and make a definite plan to obey that vision.” A couple of months later I was back in that church and I found the young man and asked him, “What ever happened about your vision, did you go?” He said, “Yes. We took a team for two weeks. And many people came to Christ!”
In another church, a girl was crying then laughing then crying again. We asked her afterwards what was happening. She said, “I was crying because I saw a vision of my sister tied in chains by a demon. Then an angel came and beat off the demon and untied my sister. So I was laughing at the demon. Then some demons came and fought off the angel and proceeded to tie up my sister again. They were trying to drag her to the end of a waterfall at the bottom of which was a river of flames. So I cried again. God told me, “I want you to go and share the gospel with your sister.” So she went and told her sister about the vision and she cried and hugged her and received Christ.
In the same church, the first person to start laughing was an eleven year old boy. God told him to preach to his teacher and class. So at school, he told them about Jesus and led them to Christ in prayer. Then they all started laughing!
In this way, you go from laughter to real results – by acting on the heavenly vision. You’ll go out in a new anointing that you haven’t known before.
13. Settle it in your heart that it’s not because of you that people are touched, neither is it your fault if they’re not. You can go to some meetings and all heaven breaks loose. In other places not much happens at all, and you can start wondering, “Maybe I didn’t pray enough.” No. There was probably some reason why they weren’t accepting it so easily, such as being unsure about the whole move, or having their minds on the program or the dinner that was to follow. Sometimes you can think, “Well maybe God just wanted to do something different tonight.” Maybe, but usually its just that they were having trouble receiving. Atleast you’ve done your part.
14. As God leads you in the future, always maintain a relationship with the Holy Spirit. Let Him guide in everything. He is the director of the church and of all ministry. Stay soft and sensitive. Follow even when it costs.
15. Remember the most important thing is love. If we make love our goal, everything else will follow – the manifestation of the Spirit, and souls being saved.
16. As you go on in this revival, share with us what you learn along the way!
Originally preached in Malacca, Malaysia, June 1999