When the Welsh (Calvinistic-Methodist) missionaries planted the seed of the Gospel in my home state (Mizoram, India), in less than 50 years the entire state became a 98 % Christian through consecutive awakenings and revivals. Having celebrated Christianity for over 100 years, none of us have arrived. Our need for Gospel revival is greater than ever before, as the sins of individuals and communities abound in these days. Having been in Japan for the last 7 years I have seen a growing desire for revival among the Japanese, both young and old, traditional and contemporary churches alike, in their nation. My own heart longs to see an awakening among the Japanese who have been so dear to us! We live in a very important historical moment, a time of tragedy and suffering and recovery from the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear radiation (2011/3/11). Our burden for revival did not start there! It began with the heart-breaking fact that Japanese are the 2nd largest unreached people group in the world! These are times of extraordinary prayer for revival in this country. But what is the secret of Revival, if any?
“Early in the Welsh Revival (1904) a Wiltshire evangelist visited the meetings at Ferndale. He stood up and said, “Friends, I have journeyed into Wales with the hope that I may glean the secret of the Welsh Revival.” In an instant Evan Roberts was on his feet, and with an uplifted arm towards the speaker he replied, “My brother, there is no secret! Ask and ye shall receive!!” (i)
Revival is a season in the life of the Church when God causes the normal ministry of the Gospel to press forward with extraordinary spiritual power. Revival is an unusual experience in the Church where people have a renewed interest in the Gospel. Ephesians 5 is a wonderful chapter. Let’s see some of the implications for revival in these texts:
15. Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16. making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
1. Getting “drunk with wine” is unwise, because verse 15 tells us to “look carefully how we walk” as wise.
The entire life of a Christian is a “walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5).
2. Getting “drunk with wine” is not “making the best use of the time” as Paul would have us do (v.16). It’s a waste of time. We are called to discern “because the days are evil.” We are to invest our time on things that will have eternal impact on our own lives and in the lives of others.
3. Getting “drunk with wine” is “foolish” (v. 17). When a person is drunk with wine discerning “the will of the Lord” becomes impossible. Because being drunk with wine leads to a diversion of the mind. Being drunk with wine is “debauchery,” an excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures (v. 18). Paul said we are not to be “be enslaved by anything” (I Cor. 6: 12), including excessive drinking- which leads to drunkenness.
Paul offers an alternate lifestyle:
18. “And do not get drunk with wine……BUT be filled with the Spirit,” (Not the spirit of alcohol, but the third person of the Trinity).
When a person is drunk with wine, it is not the person who is in control, but the alcohol. The person’s demeanor changes. A drunken man thinks, speaks and acts differently under the powerful influence of the alcohol. Although he may think he is in control, it is the alcohol, not him, that is in control.
But we are to “walk by the Spirit, [so that we] will not gratify the desires of the [sinful] flesh” (Galatians 5: 16). The works of the flesh are evident, like “drunkenness” (Gal. 5: 21). But the fruit of the Spirit is “self-control” (Gal. 5:23). A drunken man is not under “self-control” but a Spirit-filled man is!
How then can we be filled with the Spirit?
We DRINK as a man who drinks wine. We drink from the fountain of grace:
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7: 37, 38).
What happens to people who are filled with the Spirit?
There is a remarkable overflowing effect on the work of the Spirit in their individual lives and community.
a) Their hearts overflow with love songs to Jesus. And they like to have Christ-centered fellowship with one another as a community. They like to talk and sing about the Lord to one another and to the Lord, like one who is “drunk with wine.” “For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day” (Acts 2: 15).
19. addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,
They have the words of Christ richly stored in their hearts.
Colossians 3: 16. “Letthe word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom,singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
b) Their hearts overflow with thanksgiving to God for everything.
20. giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
c) They are mutually submissive to one another as servants of Christ.
21. “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
What does being “drunk” in the Spirit to do with Revival?
“In revival, Christians have often to defend themselves against the charge that they are “drunk” (Acts 2: 13- 14). And what are the marks of a man who is a little drunk? He is happy, hearty, jocular, exhilarated, genial and exuberant. Most of today’s Christian do not come under the dark suspicion as did our first century brothers and sisters, but it is hardly to our credit to stress such a distinction. We are more dignified, more sophisticated, more respectable and more sober and more in need of revival”- (Classics on Revival).
The Holy Spirit is not like wine because he is a person. Therefore, Jesus tells us to ask the Father for more of the Holy Spirit:
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11: 33).
This is what Paul prayed for the Ephesians in chapter 3.
Let us pray for one another that our communities “may be filled with all the fullness of God” (v. 19).
“It is God’s will through His wonderful grace, that the prayers of His saints should be one of the great principal means of carrying on the designs of Christ’s kingdom in the world. When God has something very great to accomplish for His church, it is His will that there should precede it the extraordinary prayers of His people; as is manifest by Ezekiel 36:37. and it is revealed that, when God is about to accomplish great things for His church, He will begin by remarkably pouring out the spirit of grace and supplication (see Zechariah 12:10).” (Jonathan Edwards, Thoughts on the Revival in New England – 1740)
My Sermon on: January 1st 2012. Praying to Jesus on Gantan (元旦).
NOTE: (Gantan is a Japanese word for New Year. During this holiday season millions of Japanese go to shrines and temples to pray for peace & prosperity and favor. It is a challenge even for Christians who have non-believing family members as they are expected to conform to traditional family norms and practices. Hence the title of this message).
- (i) From an unpublished account of the Welsh Revival, quoted by Arthur Wallis, In the Day of Thy Power, p112
- Related article: How to Be Filled With The Spirit.