Revival in the Book of Acts (A.D. 30-60)
The Book of Acts is the first account we have of revival. After the ascension of Jesus, 120 believers prayed for ten days in an upper room in Jerusalem. On the tenth day, God poured out the Holy Spirit on them. This sparked a revival in Jerusalem which spread to many countries in the Roman Empire. Reading the Book of Acts gives us a biblical picture of what normally happens during a revival.
James Edwin Orr was a Baptist Christian minister, hymn-writer, professor, author and promoter of Church revival and renewal. He said that the major signs of an Evangelical Awakening are always some repetition of the phenomena seen in the Acts of the Apostles. This is followed by the revitalisation of nominal Christians, and the bringing of outsiders into vital touch with the Divine Source that causes all such awakenings, the Holy Spirit.
When there is a revival, when God works in power, the lost will be saved. In Acts 2:37 we read that when Peter preached, the people were ‘cut to the heart.’ The Greek word for ‘cut’ can also be translated as ‘pierced, stabbed, stung, stunned, or smitten.’ It can also mean feeling ‘drummed to earth’, i.e. more than just an ordinary feeling or a casual request for help. People, who come to such a realisation of their sinful nature, desperately call out to God, and this is precisely what has happened thousands of times throughout history in Evangelical Awakenings.
The following Scripture references from the Book of Acts give us an idea of the growth of the Church during the first few years after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
- Then those who gladly received his [Peter’s] word were baptised; and that day about 3,000 souls were added to them. (Acts 2:41).
- Then they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine… (…) And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47).
- However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand. (Acts 4:4).
- And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women. (Acts 5:14).
- Then the word of God spread, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:7).
- Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. (Acts 8:14).
- Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles also received the word of God. (Acts 11:1).
- And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. (Acts 11:21).
- And a great many people were added to the Lord. (Acts 11:24b).
- And as many as had been appointed eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48b).
- So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily. (Acts 16:5).
- And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. (Acts 17:4).
Signs, wonders, healings and deliverance
Where the gospel is preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, signs, wonders, healings, and deliverance from evil spirits will always follow. This is clear from reading the Book of Acts. Often, such phenomena will lead to the salvation of many, and the return of the backslidden. Read the following Scripture references and pray that God will do this in our time also, in our churches and amongst the hundreds of millions who do not know Jesus so that they will be saved.
- And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:2-4).
- ….everyone heard them speak in his own language (…) Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs – we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God. (Acts 2:6-11).
- …and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. (Acts 2:43).
- But Peter said “…You have not lied to men but to God.” Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. (…) Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. (…) Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. (Acts 5:3-10).
- But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them [the apostles] out… (Acts 5:19).
- And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralysed, and lame were healed. (Acts 8:6-7).
- But it happened in those days that she [Dorcas] became sick and died. (…) But Peter (…) knelt and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. (Acts 9:37-40). …
- [Peter] fell into a trance and saw heaven opened… (…) And a voice came to him… (Acts 10:9-10).
- Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him [Herod], because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died. (Acts 12:23).
- … [Paul] said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you [Bar-Jesus] son of the devil…And now indeed the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” And immediately a dark mist fell on him. (Acts 13:10-12).
- Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision… (Acts 18:9).
- Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them, and the evil spirits went out of them. (Acts 19:11-12).
- … [Eutychus] fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, “Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.” (…) And they brought the young man in alive… (Acts 20:9-12).
- For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve… (Acts 27:23).
God will do this again in our time!
Article taken from South African Revivals:1786 – 2015 written by Bennie Mostert.