Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
The hue and cry of many believers today is for revival so that Christians wake up from the many Gospels-du-jour that seem to have reduced the Word of God in many places to one or more of the following: positive thinking, New Age “speak your own reality,” pomp-and-circumstance exhibitions, and/or Sunday morning rock concerts (a stupor of a different kind).
More importantly, however, is the need for revival to overcome the Christian-phobic and anti-Christian times in which we live.
While revival movements involving millions are historical and encouraging, and while I believe there is an argument to be made for an “end times” world-wide outpouring of the Holy Spirit that usually accompanies classic revivals that began, at least in this country, in a little church in Cherokee County, NC back in 1896, personal revivals catch on like wildfire, too. Both kinds, however, spark and flourish via the common elements of the Word of God and the response of the believer.
Today’s thoughts on the latter, personal kind of spiritual revival (many individual fires fueled by the same source, as it were) are sourced in Acts chapter 3, verses 19-20 (NASB), verses that both explain–and expound on–the process.
I focus on the personal today because as persecution against Christians increases in these so-called “end times,” aka, “end of the Church Age era,” believers may need to resort to small groups, or two or three, or simply on their own, in order to worship and minister freely.
Gone, at least restricted, might be the days when we could/can rely only on mass revival meetings in large buildings.
But, as I hope you will understand, and by which be encouraged, mass meetings are not necessary for believers to be “revived” by our gracious and loving Father through His Son, Jesus Christ, administered by the Holy Spirit.
Believers–new and seasoned–can experience “revival” at will, as needed, one-on-one with God.
THE LONG VERSION
See what the following verse reveals:
19 Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you,
- First, repent: metanoeó–(from 3326 /metá, “changed after being with” and 3539 /noiéō, “think”) – properly, “think differently after,” “after a change of mind“; to repent (literally, “think differently afterwards”). Specifically, “conduct worthy of a heart changed and abhorring sin.” But “being with” Who or what? Being with the source of information about sin and understanding the nature of what it really is. Consider what Jesus had to say before His Ascension: But I tell you the truth, it is for your benefit that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And when He comes, He will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because they do not believe in Me;… (John 16:7-9).
- Next, return: epistrephó–turn back…turn around. Specifically, to turn back morally, to reform.
- Next, “so that your sins…”: hamartía–(“forfeiture because missing the mark”) is the brand of sin that emphasizes its self-originated (self-empowered) nature – i.e. it is not originated or empowered by God (i.e. not of faith, His inworked persuasion, cf. Ro 14:23). Note #1: when in doubt, cut it out (the behavior), as it were, so that peace returns. Note #2: this is where the comfort, wisdom, patience, guidance, love, and forgiveness from the same loving Father will aid in conquering those sin “strongholds” that are not so easy to overcome.
- Next, “may be wiped away”: eksaleíphō–(from 1537 /ek, “wholly out from,” intensifying 218 /aleíphō, “smear”) – properly, to rub (smear) out, i.e. completely remove (wipe away); obliterate; remove totally from a previous state with the outcome of being blotted out (erased). Specifically, the guilt of sins. Note: not only the sin itself but the guilt of it, too.
- Next, “in order that times of refreshing may come”: anápsyksis–properly, breathe easily (again); hence, refreshing; ” ‘cooling,’ or ‘reviving with fresh air’ ” (WS, 230), used only in Ac 3:20. Note: perhaps this is the very verse from which the term “revival” originated?
- Next, “from the presence of the Lord“: prosópon–appearance…presence…face. Specifically, the refreshing which comes from the bright and smiling countenance of God to one seeking comfort. Note: quite a different concept of God than one usually presumed by accepting the common, harsh and judgmental definition of God and sin and repentance and reform from religious definitions void of a relationship with Jesus Christ…
- Next, that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you: procheirizó–“hand-picked before.” 4400/proxeirizomai (“divinely hand-picked”) refers to God’s sovereign hand choosing people to be His agents. Specifically, Jesus Christ as appointed for one’s salvation.
THE SHORT VERSION
“Return to Me,” declares the LORD of hosts, “that I may return to you” (Zechariah 1:3).
Return: shub–return to show favor.
Be revived and comforted today, beloved, in the favor of God, Who will look upon all those who show Him favor not with anger and condemnation, but with a bright and smiling countenance.
A lot like the father of one prodigal son.
And always like One Who wants us “in His joy,” because “the joy of the Lord is our strength ( maoz—force, fortress, rock, [strength]…strong hold)” (Nehemiah 8:10).