Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? (Ps. 85:6)

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Reformation and Revival Fellowship

R. R. F. Conference 2000

The usual warm spirit was evident as conference members assembled at The Hayes, Swanwick, earnestly desiring to know the Lord’s influence through the ministry of his Word. They were not disappointed.

Graham Harrison from Newport gave three addresses. He began by justifying the need for revival both from church history and today’s scene. Then he expounded Malachi 3:1. Malachi foretold God’s herald, John the Baptist, and also the divine messenger (or angel) of the covenant. After Malachi there was no prophet for 400 years. God had nothing more to say to his wayward people. But a few such as Simeon and Anna clung on to his promises and awaited the Saviour.

One pervading theme in the Old Testament is God’s presence. We see God’s glory in Eden and at the opening of Solomon’s Temple, but by Malachi’s time the divine glory had departed from the Temple. Then after 400 years the Lord suddenly returned to his Temple — the Church — and 3,000 were converted on the Day of Pentecost. But in today’s evangelical churches there is a lack of God’s presence.

What do we have if we don’t have God’s presence? A beautiful building maybe; or a fine liturgy? But nothing is needed apart from God! Without his presence we are a despised people, and rightly so. Ministers become the vicars of ‘Dad’s Army’!

 

Mr Harrison dealt with Old Testament theophanies, or physical representations of God, such as the Man whom Jacob wrestled with. The supreme theophany is Christ, God manifested in the flesh, or Immanuel. Our need is to experience his presence. ‘Present we know Thou art, but O Thyself reveal’ (Charles Wesley). We are to pray earnestly, for Malachi promises that ‘the Lord, whom you seek, will come’.

Aneurin Bevan described the many closed Welsh chapels of his day as ‘rows of extinct volcanoes’. Some Romans had said this of a literal volcano in A.D. 78, but the next day it erupted and many were burnt to death! The Lord is powerful. But Mr Harrison warned that revival is not a panacea for all the church’s problems.

Gwynn Williams from Cardiff took Isaiah 64:1 as his theme for his three addresses. The text is to do with revival: its words are a prayer, and we live in days when we need the working of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah is crying ‘Oh!’ because he is deeply and passionately moved. ‘Oh!’ is seldom heard in prayer today.

Two ingredients caused Isaiah’s explosive cry to God: a realistic view of the situation confronting him and an understanding of the sort of God he had. The people of God were in great trouble and could not cope, as is the case today. Many believers live as if in a leisure centre rather than a barracks. We are still called to fight the good fight.

Mr Williams enlarged on the inner weakness of believers. Our sensitivity to sin has been deadened. Our moral indignation has been lost. We are no longer shocked when we ought to be. There is a doctrinal slide and a hardness of heart, creating insensitivity to the movements of God’s Spirit, and a lack of zeal, leading to the death of prayer.

But in chapter 64 Isaiah meditates on the nature of God. He is the Creator, the mighty one, everlasting and unchanging, He is our Father and Redeemer. Isaiah prayed!

Tony Lambert gave two addresses on the church in China past and present, and showed some most interesting slides. There is a genuine movement of God’s Spirit in this the most heavily populated nation on earth. One village saw an increase of believers from 8 to 800 within one year. A recent baptismal service took 9 hours, with 1,100 candidates.

James Fraser of the China Inland Mission started gospel work among the Lisu tribe in south-west China in the 1920's, and now half this idolatrous and drunken tribe of 500,000 are believers.

 

Chinese believers are devoted to Bible study and prayer. But there is also persecution. Massive revival is not sweeping China but an amazing gospel growth is occurring. There are perhaps 50 million Christians, which is 4% of the population. In some situations there is true revival.

 

 

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