Revival Studies 2. The Spirit and Revival

Part 1.
Earnest Prayer
17 March 2019

Part 2.
The Spirit and Revival
17 March 2019

Part 3.
Fullness is Christ
24 March 2019

Part 4.
Beautifying the Bride
15 April 2019

Part 5.
The End of Revival
28 April 2019


Heb 5:1-10; Rom 8:18-27

“I have one passion: it is Jesus, Jesus only.”


“Pentecost will become a reality only when we come to the point where we find the misery of our situation unbearable, and where it will be possible to see that only God’s help can avail….it is the way of Jesus to come to us when our hearts are heavy.”



Inreaction to my past teaching, I originally had no intention to teach on the Spirit and revival; but something happened in a prayer meeting this week that changed my mind. This study then is an attempt to unite a consistent Christ-centred approach to revival with the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Whilst the Spirit is the immediate author of supernatural manifestations (1 Cor 12:7 ESV) these only possess form, order, direction and purpose when they are seen to be a part of his great mission, to reveal that “Jesus is Lord….to the glory of God the Father[1]See Biblical References 1 Cor 12:3 ESV; Phil 2:11 ESV.

Revival movements burn out or break up under the judgement of God when this vision isn’t understood and they have become ends in themselves. A revival was certainly an idol in my heart when as an intense young preacher I thought I had been called to oppose the stubborn passivity in the Church with what I felt was an irresistible passion for a move of God.

All this, at the time quite impactful, human effort was on the wrong plane, the plane of human effort, rather than the new creation in Christ completed by the power of the Spirit.

What was lacking in “my” meetings back then, and as in many “alive” churches today, was the Spirit’s power- filled testimony to the identity of Jesus[2]See Biblical References Rev 1:1 ESV; Rev 19:10 ESV.

Popular books on revival have much to say about the work of the Spirit, but few connect that the new life outpoured in awakening is a share in the new life Jesus received in being raised from the dead. This resurrection life is needed because humanity long ago lost the glory of God (Rom 3:23 ESV).

Lost Glory in Israel

There is a clear pattern for revival which unfortunately is repeated indefinitely in Israel’s cycle of material prosperity, spiritual decline, judgement, desperate calling out to God, and restoration (Judges 2).

What is ultimately at stake in such revivals is not the condition of the people but the manifest glory of God[3]See Biblical References Ex 40:34 ESV; 1 Ki 8:11 ESV cf. Rom 9:4 ESV. Various examples make this clear.

When the Lord handed the sinful nation over to the Philistines (1 Sam 4:3 ESV) so that the ark was captured, the cry that went up was, “Ichabod… The glory of God has departed(1 Sam 4:11, 18, 21-22 ESV). Since God ruled from the ark for his people (1 Chron 28:2 ESV) the nation had catastrophically lost its manifest identity as the Lord’s people (cf. Ex 33:16 ESV).

Centuries later the same dreadful rebellion is happening in the days of Jeremiah. God himself is in trauma, vs.11Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have exchanged the glory of God for worthless idols. vs.12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, vs.13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.(Jer 2:11-13 ESV). Spiritual dryness is a sure sign of religious idolatry.

Those who abandon the glory of the Lord will be abandoned by the glory of the Lord. So Ezekiel receives a vision of God’s presence departing the temple and Jerusalem (Ezek 11:22-24 ESV). This was a crisis previously unimaginable in popular Israelite religion (Jer 7). But by grace, the Lord always has a remnant who see in the Spirit what others will not see. Such seeing is dramatically described in Ezekiel 9.

vs.3Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub on which it rested to the entrance of the temple. And the Lord called to the man… had the writing case… vs.4 …“Pass … through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.vs.5 And to the others he said …“Pass through the city after him, and strike…show no pity. vs.6 Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.” ” (Ezek 9:3-6 ESV).

Peter picks up this passage when he says concerning the Church, “judgement must begin at the household of God (1 Pet 4:17 ESV)Lost glory, God’s people indistinguishable from the heathen, spiritual dryness, a household under judgement- this is the Church today!

Revival scholar J Edwin Orr once said, “Revival is like judgement day.” This is so counter-cultural it’s difficult to imagine any contemporary preacher saying it, but the prophet Habakkuk says, vs.2O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.(Hab 3:2 ESV)

The mercy that follows judgement is resurrection life. This sort of language is fund even in the Old Testament. God tells Ezekiel to speak to the valley of dry bones, “Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath/spirit to enter you, and you shall live.(Ezekiel 37: 5 ESV). This miracle of life comes as an outpouring of the Spirit of God on dry ground[4]See Biblical References Isa 44:3 ESV; Ezek 39:29 ESV; Joel 2:28-29 ESV.

Jesus and the Spirit

Revival phenomena – vast crowds, repentance for baptism and forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:1-18 ESV) at the “preaching of “the gospel” (Luke 3:18 ESV) surrounded John the Baptist. But he spoke of one coming with a baptism of the Spirit and fire (Luke 3:16-17 ESV), for only in Jesus did the glory of the Lord return to Israel[5]See Biblical References Luke 2:14, 32 ESV; John 1:14 ESV etc..

The crowds following Christ concentrated[6]See Biblical References John 2:23 ESV; John 6:26 ESV on the glory displayed in his signs and wonders[7]See Biblical References Matt 9:8 ESV; Matt 15:31 ESV; Luke 7:16 ESV; Luke 13:13 ESV; Luke 18:43 ESV; John 2:11 ESV; John 11:4, 40 ESV but to his intimates Jesus spoke of the glory of God he shared with his Father from before the foundation of the world (John 17:2, 22 ESV). And he testified that once he was personally glorified, he would pour out the Spirit (John 7:39 ESV).

Glorification meant death, resurrection and ascension into heaven[8]See Biblical References Luke 24:26 ESV; John 12:23-33 ESV; Acts 5:31 ESV; Rom 6:4 ESV. This is uncontroversial, but to understand how the Spirit imparts the glory of Christ to the Church in revival we must first understand and accept how he brought glory to Jesus.

For this reason I want to look more closely at how Christ’s earnest praying in Gethsemane (Luke 22:44 ESV) is expounded in Hebrews, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.(Heb 5:7 ESV). “in the days of his flesh” means in the time of Christ’s weakness, temptation and mortality.

In response to this degraded condition Jesus cried and groaned that God might “save him from death”. This “saving from death” was not his pleading to be spared the cross, he came to die, his will was always to die[9]See Biblical References John 3:16 ESV; Heb 10:5-10 ESV.

His Spirit-filled prayers in Gethsemane (Heb 9:14 ESV) were aimed at something far greater than any personal deliverance. Here’s what I believe the Lord highlighted to me during the week about the Spirit’s work in Jesus’ praying.

In Romans Chapter 8 “the whole creation” awaits “the glorious liberty of the children of God … the redemption of our bodies(Rom 8: 21, 22, 23 ESV).

Paul says “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly(Rom 8: 23 ESV) for the day of resurrection.

This groaning is not miserable hopeless agonising over the sorry state of the world, it is a groaning charged with hope and anticipation because it is a union with God’s own praying in the Spirit.

Romans 8:26 ESV remarkably says, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.(Rom 8:26 ESV).

The Holy Spirit is groaning in our hearts/spirits[10]See Biblical References Rom 8:16 ESV, Gal 4:6ESV for our resurrection and the renewal of the whole universe.

This intercessory groaning of the Spirit of God is one with and effective through the groanings of Christ in the Garden where he groaned to be brought into resurrection existence, not only personally, but on behalf of his Church and all creation.

These prayers were answered when the Spirit gloriously raised Christ from the dead[11]See Biblical References Rom 1:4 ESV; Rom 6:4 ESV. Understanding groaning prayer in the Spirit as a plea for resurrection life has immediate implications for understanding revival.

Spirit and Church

The earnest anguished prayers “in the Spirit” that precede every genuine move of God are longing for the coming of the glory of Christ on earth as it is already in heaven. Revival is nothing more than the Spirit’s “show and tell” of the glorified life of Christ[12]See Biblical References John 7:37-39 ESV; Rom 6:4 ESV; Rom 8:2-11 ESV; Eph 1:17-23 ESV; Eph 3:14-19 ESV; Eph 5:14 ESV.

All the dimensions of revival; brokenness, weeping, confession, repentance, conversion, healings, miracles, social transformation, are the Spirit imparting to the Church what he has achieved in the glorifying the lowly flesh of Christ. This is just as Jesus said, “ “when the Helper/Advocate comes… the Spirit of truth… he will bear witness about me.” ” (John 15:26 ESV).

It’s the Spirit’s glory to make Jesus known as Jesus’ glory was to make the Father known[13]See Biblical References John 14:10 ESV; Phil 2:9-11 ESV.  This is a mature relational understanding of revival.

Bishop Festo Kivingere describes the East African revival,

“revival was never an experience… never a manifestation… it was the living Lord on the throne of his people’s hearts. This made dumb people sing for joy, and the blind opened their eyes to see the beauty of the Lord, and the sceptical were deeply convinced of his presence. Broken lives were put together.”

Bishop Festo Kivingere

The extraordinary dimensions of revival are a manifestation of the resurrection life of Christ. For example, since the 1950s churches in South Korea have practised daily 4 am prayer meetings and all-night Friday prayers.

This is supernatural life. If all Christians confess through the indwelling Spirit that Jesus has been raised from the dead[14]See Biblical References Rom 8:9 ESV; 1 Cor 12:3 ESV why isn’t the whole Church in “continuous revival”?

Why Revival Tarries

Simply because the people of the new covenant “rebel and grieve God’s Holy Spirit(Isa 63:10 ESV) just like Israel did of old. There are signs of this rebellion everywhere. I groan when I hear, as I have recently, Christian leaders praying without mentioning the name “Jesus”. 

If in my hardened heart I am groaning the Spirit is surely grieving (Eph 4:30 ESV). Jesus said to the church in Ephesus, “remember the height from which you have fallen(Rev 2:5 ESV), but our sedated, complacent congregations can no longer even recognise that the manifest glory of God has departed our midst.

Jesus said, “I will build my church(Matt 16:18 ESV), but our marketing, programmes, entertaining worship and church growth methodology shows we have taken over from Jesus and his Spirit.

Baptist notable Henry Blackaby comments, “we’re shaping God into the shape we want him to be. That is evangelical idolatry.” There’s no fear of God[15]See Biblical References Isa 6:5 ESV; Acts 2:43 ESV; Acts 5:11 ESV, no sighing and groaning over our condition.

If, “Revival is the inrush of the Spirit into a body that threatens to become a corpse.” (Egerton) then there’s no possibility that our well-appointed churches will be found crying out for revival because they cannot believe that they need resurrection life. God has promised to “revive the spirit of the lowly, and… revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isa 57:15 ESV).

When we are heavy about our sins, broken marriages, dysfunctional families, personal complacencies and impending deaths, but most heavy about our lack of the presence of the resurrected life of the Lord Jesus, revival will come.


Our heaviness is far too light for the actual broken spiritual state of nation and Church but what we do NOT need is the hyper-emotionalism of revivalism (e.g. Toronto, Pensacola, Lakelands etc.) so characteristic of my early preaching.

In researching this sermon, I was deeply impacted by realising that the First Great Awakening in America (c. 1730’s-1740) came through Jonathan Edwards preaching that all human efforts were useless to obtain salvation.

He was not preaching for revival. Unlike today’s huge industry telling and selling us how to grow our Christianity back in the eighteenth century it was the Spirit’s revelation of the sovereignty of God in saving through the gospel alone[16]See Biblical References Rom 1:16 ESV; 1 Thess 2:13 ESV that broke the hearts of people so that they cried out (literally) to be saved from falling into hell.

The revelation of our inability to save ourselves, in justification, sanctification and glorification, is a sharing in Jesus inability to raise himself from the dead apart from the power of the Spirit[17]See Biblical References Rom 1:4 ESV; Rom 8:11 ESV; 1 Pet 3:18 ESV.

To think and to act otherwise robs God of his glory, grieves the Spirit and plunges the Church into divine judgement. This is our present dreadful condition. Revival comes when the power of human activity is repented of and replaced by the power of the Spirit.

The Spirit is groaning to renew the whole creation starting with the Body of Christ. He is the only one who can lift us up in our weakness.

Revival is a sudden experience in the Spirit of Jesus standing in our midst with no distance, even if the great difference, between us and Christ

Each of us must ask, “What is there in me that causes revival to delay?”

If the Lord grants us to grow in our groaning about the abominations in and around us then revival will come as surely as the resurrection came for Jesus.

The cost of not having a revival is too great to contemplate.

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 24th March 2019 Location: Alive@5   

Author: Dr. John Yates

YouTube or PODCAST:

24th March 2019.


1 See Biblical References 1 Cor 12:3 ESV; Phil 2:11 ESV
2 See Biblical References Rev 1:1 ESV; Rev 19:10 ESV
3 See Biblical References Ex 40:34 ESV; 1 Ki 8:11 ESV cf. Rom 9:4 ESV
4 See Biblical References Isa 44:3 ESV; Ezek 39:29 ESV; Joel 2:28-29 ESV
5 See Biblical References Luke 2:14, 32 ESV; John 1:14 ESV etc.
6 See Biblical References John 2:23 ESV; John 6:26 ESV
7 See Biblical References Matt 9:8 ESV; Matt 15:31 ESV; Luke 7:16 ESV; Luke 13:13 ESV; Luke 18:43 ESV; John 2:11 ESV; John 11:4, 40 ESV
8 See Biblical References Luke 24:26 ESV; John 12:23-33 ESV; Acts 5:31 ESV; Rom 6:4 ESV
9 See Biblical References John 3:16 ESV; Heb 10:5-10 ESV
10 See Biblical References Rom 8:16 ESV, Gal 4:6ESV
11 See Biblical References Rom 1:4 ESV; Rom 6:4 ESV
12 See Biblical References John 7:37-39 ESV; Rom 6:4 ESV; Rom 8:2-11 ESV; Eph 1:17-23 ESV; Eph 3:14-19 ESV; Eph 5:14 ESV
13 See Biblical References John 14:10 ESV; Phil 2:9-11 ESV
14 See Biblical References Rom 8:9 ESV; 1 Cor 12:3 ESV
15 See Biblical References Isa 6:5 ESV; Acts 2:43 ESV; Acts 5:11 ESV
16 See Biblical References Rom 1:16 ESV; 1 Thess 2:13 ESV
17 See Biblical References Rom 1:4 ESV; Rom 8:11 ESV; 1 Pet 3:18 ESV