By Arthur Wallis
"This is that which hath been spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall be in the last days, saith God, I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all flesh." (Acts 2:16)
There are certain characteristics that mark this divine activity we call "revival", and distinguish it from other and more normal operations of the Spirit. Some have already been mentioned, but it will now be necessary to set them forth in order, and consider them in their relation to the whole. As Pentecost was the first distinctive outpouring of the Spirit, a careful examination of that great event will reveal the distinctive features of every subsequent outpouring. Let Acts 2 be the text-book.
This first mark is implicit in the statement, "When the day of Pentecost was now come".
Every genuine revival is clearly stamped with the hallmark of divine sovereignty, and in no way is this more clearly seen than in the time factor. The moment for that first outpouring of the Spirit was not determined by the believers in the upper room but by God, who had foreshadowed it centuries before in those wonderful types of the Old Testament.
"The slaying of the paschal lamb told to generation after generation, though they knew it not, the day of the year and week on which Christ our Passover should be sacrificed for us. The presentation of the wave sheaf before the Lord 'on the morrow after the sabbath' (Lev. 23:11-16) had for long centuries fixed the time of our Lord's resurrection on the first day of the week. And the command to 'count from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering, seven sabbaths', determined the day of Pentecost as the time of the descent of the Spirit. . . They tarried in prayer for ten days, simply because after the forty days of the Lord's sojourn on earth subsequent to His resurrection, ten days remained of the 'seven sabbaths' period" (A. J. Gordon).
But there was something more than the fulfilling of prophecy in the choice of the day of Pentecost for the great outpouring. It was a strategic moment which God had foreseen would give to the event of that day the maximum possible effect. God saw to it that this mighty outpouring of the Spirit was felt throughout the world of that day, for the feast had brought to Jerusalem "Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven" (Acts 2:5).
Not only the day, however, but the time of day had been appointed by God, that the mocking charge, "they are filled with new wine" (verse 13) might be easily rebutted, seeing it was but "the third hour of the day" [9 a.m.] (verse 15).
Similarly God has His time for every subsequent outpouring, a time that must surely be related to a thousand other plans He has on foot, and therefore a time that He alone can determine. It has already been mentioned that God promised His people Israel, if they were obedient, the rain of their land, but only "in its season" (Deut. 11:13-17; Ezek. 34:26).
It would not help the spiritual harvest that God desires if we could have the outpouring of the Spirit any time or all the time; any more than it would have helped their harvest if the Israelites could have had the former and latter rain at any time or all the time. "Ask ye of the Lord rain." When? - "In the time of the latter rain" (Zech. 10:1). A sober view of the sovereignty of God will not lessen a God-given burden, or discourage fervent praying in the Spirit, but it may deliver us from extravagance in which some have erred, or despondence in which some have failed, in their quest for revival.
It may seem strange to go to Charles Finney for an example of the sovereignty of God in revival, as that great revivalist tended to overlook this aspect in battling against the hyper- Calvinism of his day. However, he once recounted: "While I was in Boston on one occasion, a gentleman stated that he had come from the capital of Nebraska, and he had found prayer meetings established throughout all the vast extent of country over which he had travelled.
Think of that - a region of 2,000 miles, along which the hands of the people were lifted up to God in prayer! From north "to south, till you come within the slave territory, a great and mighty cry went up to God that He would come down and take the people in hand and convert souls; and He heard, and everybody stood astounded." Such a vast, unorganized, and yet co-ordinated prayer movement cannot be explained except that God in His sovereignty had taken the initiative. What is true of the promise of future blessing for Israel, is true also of the promise of revival, "I the Lord will hasten it in its time" (Isa. 60:22).
It has been said of the Welsh Revival, "The outpouring of the Spirit came dramatically with precision, in the second week in November, 1904, on the same day - both in the north and in the south." Undoubtedly there were those in both regions who had met the conditions and were ready for God to work, but we can not account for this strange co-ordination apart from that divine strategy which lies behind the sovereign ways of God.
In the 1859 Revival that spread to many parts of the British Isles, there was an immediate movement in some places when Christians met to pray and fulfil God's conditions. In other parts, however, although it would appear that the preparation of heart and burden of prayer were quite as real, the believers were kept waiting for one or even two years.
It is significant that when revival came after a longer waiting period, the work was often deeper and more widespread. "Behold, He withholdeth the waters, and they dry up; again, He sendeth them out, and they overrun the earth" (Job 12:15). The same principle is seen in the great variety of manifestations that have accompanied different movements. God is sovereign, and His sovereignty is revealed not only in the timing of every revival movement, but in the manner and measure of the Spirit's working.
Where believers have been encouraged by God to expect revival, and where they have with all their hearts sought to prepare themselves and pray through, but the blessing has been delayed, there is a danger of giving way to despondence, or undue introspection. Let such remember that if He has promised, then "God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? Or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?" (Num. 23:19).
Let such be emboldened to "hold on" by a sober view of the sovereignty of God, and the immutability of His purposes. "The Lord of Hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand. . . For the Lord of Hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?" (Isa. 14:4, 27). Let them wait on the Lord, and wait for the Lord, and they shall not be ashamed (Isa. 49:23).
This feature was also in evidence, for "they were all together in one place" (verse 1). How these believers in the upper room had reached this state of preparedness is shown in Chapter 1, where we find that they "all with one accord continued steadfastly in prayer" (verse 14).
The word of God presents to us side by side the two foundation stones of every revival - the sovereignty of God and the preparedness of man. Because we cannot understand how they harmonize is no reason for emphasizing one at the expense of the other.
There is an extreme view of the sovereignty of God that argues, "If God wills to send revival it will come. Nothing that we do can effect this, so why need we be concerned?" The word of God and history teach us that such an attitude of indifference and fatalism must be abandoned before revival can be expected. If the blessing comes then we may be sure that somewhere someone has met the conditions and paid the price. Such a view of divine sovereignty ignores the conditions of spiritual preparedness.
There is also an extreme emphasis on spiritual preparedness that ignores the fact of divine sovereignty; it suggests that God is at our beck and call, and that we can have revival any day we care to pay the price, much as we can have electric light the moment we care to turn the switch. The word of God gives us the proper balance by presenting, as here in the first verse of Acts 2, the two aspects side by side. Similarly David declared, "Thy people offer themselves willingly in the day of Thy power" (Ps. 110:3). The day of His power is determined by God alone, and emphasizes His sovereignty; but in that day His people have met the conditions by being ready and willing, which reveals the fact of spiritual preparation.
God reminds us of His sovereignty when He declares, "I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be builded. . . I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it"; but He adds, "For this moreover will I be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them", reminding us of the conditions that must be fulfilled (Ezek. 36:33-37).
War is not all attack, but there is a strategic moment for offensive action. The place, the time, and the manner of any attack are of crucial importance in the interests of the campaign as a whole; therefore such matters are not left to the soldier in the fighting line, but are determined beforehand by the supreme commander in the conference room. He alone can see the whole picture and keep his hand upon the whole situation. If, however, the plans made at the highest level are to be carried through successfully, the soldier in the line must be fully prepared for all that is involved.
Revival, as we have seen in the previous chapter, is a strategic attack by God upon the strongholds of Satan. The place, the time, and the manner of working are in the sovereign hands of the Lord the Spirit; but His subordinates, through whom He works, must be spiritually prepared when God's zero hour strikes.
How clearly these two important factors are set forth in the promised rain of Canaan. Divine sovereignty was seen in that the rain was confined to its God-appointed "season", but it was also strictly conditioned by the obedience of the people. "If ye shall hearken diligently unto My commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give the rain of your land in its season" (Deut. 11:13).
God declared with equal emphasis and on the same occasion, that if on the other hand they turned aside and serve d other gods and worshipped them, He would "shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit" (verses 16, 17).
How spiritual preparedness, or the absence of it, may influence God's working is vividly illustrated by the visit of the Saviour to Nazareth. "He could there do no mighty work. . . and He marvelled be cause of their unbelief" (Mark 6:5, 6). What this spiritual preparation involves, and how it may be effected, is a subject so large and so important that it must be considered separately.
Here is the third feature, "And suddenly there came. . ." (verse 2). Since revival may be likened to a strategic attack, it is plain that, as in the realm of human conflict, so in the spiritual, the effect of every attack is heightened by the surprise factor. In revival God works suddenly and unexpectedly. Often even the mass of believers are taken unawares, while wonder and astonishment grip the hearts of unbelievers. It was so at Pentecost where we read of those who came together, "They were all amazed and marvelled" (verse 7), and again, "They were all amazed, and were perplexed" (verse 12).
As to Christians being taken by surprise, Charles Finney often noticed it and remarked, "They would wake up all of a sudden, like a man, just rubbing his eyes open, and running round the room pushing things over, and wondering where all this excitement came from. But though few knew it, you may be sure there had been somebody on the watch-tower, constant in prayer till the blessing came."
How vital it is for the ears of the saints to be open to the voice of God in these days, for He speaks first to those whose ears are attuned to Him, and then He acts suddenly. "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). God's methods have not changed down the centuries: it may be the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, it may be a tiny cloud arising out of the sea; such insignificant tokens are all that is needed for the listening ear or the watchful eye. "I have declared the former things from of old; yea, they went forth out of My mouth, and I shewed them: suddenly I did them, and they came to pass" (Isa. 48:3); "Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them" (Isa. 42:9).
In 2 Chronicles 29 there is a detailed account of the revival that took place under Hezekiah.
The house of the Lord was cleansed and the people were moved to offer sacrifices and thank- offerings in such abundance that the few priests who had sanctified themselves could not handle them, and they had to be assisted by the Levites. Scripture records, "Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, because of that which God had prepared for the people: for the thing was done suddenly" (verse 36). Who knows all that God is preparing for His people in these days? May we not be found unsanctified, and so unfitted for the work, when the day of God's power shall dawn.
The effect of the sudden working of the Spirit in revival is very striking in the conviction of sinners. Often without any preparatory concern or even thought for spiritual things, a sinner will be suddenly seized with overwhelming conviction of sin. "But God shall shoot at them; with an arrow suddenly shall they be wounded. . . and all men shall fear; and they shall declare the work of God, and shall wisely consider of His doing" (Ps. 64:7. 9).
Describing the course of the Ulster '59 Revival at Ballymena and elsewhere, John Shearer writes of some who "were suddenly pierced as by a sharp sword, and their agonized cry for help was heard in the streets and in the fields. Here, for example, is a farmer returning from market in Ballymena. His mind is wholly intent upon the day's bargain. He pauses, takes out some money, and begins to count it. Suddenly an awful Presence envelops him. In a moment his only thought is that he is a sinner standing on the brink of hell. His silver is scattered, and he falls upon the dust of the highway, crying out for mercy" (Old Time Revivals).
With the brevity and simplicity characteristic of Scripture we are shown in four words the source of the outpouring, "there came from heaven" (verse 2). This provides the fourth feature of revival; it is spontaneous because it is "not forced or suggested or caused by outside agency" (Oxf. Dict.). It is the result of a divine and not a human impulse. In language plain to all, it cannot be "worked up". It is true that spiritual conditions must be met before revival can be expected, but fulfilled conditions do not provide the motive force of revival.
At Pentecost it was "the windows of heaven", not the windows of the upper room, that were opened. The source of the blessing was the heart of God, not the heart of man. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that such "seasons of refreshing" have always come "from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:20). We may believe that during those ten days of waiting there were revived hearts in that upper room, but there was no revival; there were empty vessels, but no outpouring. When it came, it came direct from heaven and found in that waiting band a channel through which to flow.
A missionary, recounting what he had seen of the 1860 Revival in South India, wrote, "Man seems to have little part in it, the Spirit's work is all predominant, fulfilling that blessed promise, 'I will work'." Another who wrote of the 1904 Revival stated, "The hidden springs of the Awakening in Wales lay deep in the heart of God", and this is where we may find the springs of every awakening. The origin of all revival must be traced back, further than human factors and fulfilled conditions, to the heart of the Eternal that yearns to bless, and to bless superabundantly. "God so loved. . . that He gave" and "He that spared not His own Son. . . shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?"
Once again the rain of Canaan, with the remarkable accuracy of Scripture types, aptly illustrates this very feature of revival. Contrasting Egypt, which typifies the world, with Canaan, which speaks of that which is heavenly, God said: "For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs; but the land, whither ye go over to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven" (Deut. 11:10, 11).
Egypt was stamped with the workmanship of the creature; it was "as a garden of herbs", carefully laid out, planned and arranged. Canaan, on the other hand, was stamped with the workmanship of the Creator; for everywhere the eye was refreshed and delighted with the unorganized order of creation, it was "a land of hills and valleys".
Egypt's fertility, as dependent upon water as was Canaan's, was watered with the foot. In other words, a simple device worked by the foot, which can still be seen in Egypt today, pumped water from the Nile, and conveyed it by a system of irrigation channels to where it was required. Thus the supply of water was dependent upon human energy and ingenuity, and a dirty supply it was when men had finished manipulating it, and it had reached the thirsty soil. But the heavenly country - oh, how different - "a land that drinketh water of the rain of heaven". Canaan was made fruitful by that which came down in all its freshness and purity from above. God had designed that it should be dependent upon the heavens for water, and if these were shut up, the spiritual reason must be sought out and the matter rectified; there was no suggestion of devising any artificial substitute.
It was said of redeemed Israel that they "turned back in their hearts unto Egypt" (Acts 7:39).
Someone has put it thus: "It was one thing to get the people out of Egypt, but quite another to get Egypt out of the people." Said the prophet, "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help. . . but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord" (Isa. 31:1).
This tendency of going back for assistance into the land whence we have come out, of borrowing from the world and its ways, is as evident today as ever. There are still too many who have more confidence in the working of the foot to produce results, than in the bowing of the knee. This spontaneous feature of revival, however, cuts right across this human tendency.
There is no mightier corrective to worldly methods in Christian service than a heaven-sent revival. Who would want to continue to work the pump when the heavens are pouring down a copious rain?
A movement bears this mark of spontaneity when men cannot account for what has taken place in terms of personalities, organization, meetings, preaching, or any other consecrated activity; and when the work continues unabated without any human control. As soon as a movement becomes controlled or organized, it has ceased to be spontaneous - it is no longer revival.
The course of the 1904 Welsh Revival has been outlined thus: "God began to work; and then the Devil began to work in opposition; and then God began to work all the harder; and then man began to work, and the revival came to an end." It is most needful in times of revival that a careful watch should be kept so that nothing should gain a foothold which is not of the Spirit, but great care must be taken not to interfere with what is evidently the work of God.
When God is working let man keep his hands off. Many a revival has ended through human interference.
Here is another conspicuous feature that characterizes revival. "There came. . . a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind. . . there appeared unto them tongues. . . like as of fire" (verses 2, 3). Wherever the Spirit of God is poured out saints and sinners alike are made acutely aware of the presence of the Almighty. The spirit of revival is the consciousness of God. Just as the "light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun" struck down the zealous Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, and brought him to his knees, convicted and repentant (Acts 26), so does the Eternal Light, in days of revival, burst upon the slumbering consciousness of men with much the same result. On the day of Pentecost God manifested His presence first to those in the upper room, and then to the multitude who had gathered outside, who were soon "pricked in their heart" (Acts 2:37), until that strange, mysterious influence from heaven had spread over the whole city, "and fear came upon every soul" (verse 43).
The effects of such manifestations of God are twofold: men are made aware both of His power and of His holiness. What awe must have come to the hearts of that waiting band, as they listened to that "sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind" - what a sense of the irresistible power of God! But there was also the appearance of "tongues parting asunder, like as of fire". Fire typifies the activity of God's holiness in relation to sin; fire consumes and fire purifies.
When the Spirit came upon Christ it was not as the fire, but "as a dove", for there was no sin in Him, as the Father then declared, "Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22). But here the tongues like as of fire sat upon each of them, bringing not only a sense of the infinite holiness of God, but of the activity of that holiness in dealing with all that was unholy in themselves.
This manifestation of God in power and holiness was intensely personal. The sound of the wind appeared to bear down upon them until it filled the very house where they were sitting.
The tongues of fire parted asunder and sat upon each one of them. It was God moving in power and holiness, and moving toward them; they themselves were the objects of God's activity. Here is an outstanding feature of revival, and it is not difficult to see why it results in overwhelming conviction both among the saved and the lost, whenever there is unjudged sin.
Those waiting hearts in the upper room were doubtless cleansed and prepared for the coming of the Spirit, consequently there is no evidence of conviction, though no doubt there was a deeper work of purging accomplished by the fire of the Spirit. Usually, however, it is otherwise. At such times man is not only made conscious that God is there; but that He is there, as it seems, to deal with him alone, until he is oblivious of all but his own soul in the agonizing grip of a holy God.
If these facts are borne in mind the extraordinary effects of past revivals will not seem incredible. The ruthless logic of Jonathan Edwards' famous discourse, Sinners in the hands of an angry God (from Deut. 32:25), preached in his usual plain and undemonstrative manner, at Enfield, New England, in 1741, could never have produced the effect it did had not God been in the midst.
"When they went into the meeting-house the appearance of the assembly was thoughtless and vain; the people scarcely conducted themselves with common decency", recorded Trumbull, but he goes on to describe the effect of the sermon: "the assembly appeared bowed with an awful conviction of their sin and danger. There was such a breathing of distress and weeping, that the preacher was obliged to speak to the people and desire silence that he might be heard." Conant says, "Many of the hearers were seen unconsciously holding themselves up against the pillars, and the sides of the pews, as though they already felt themselves sliding into the pit."
Similar is the scene described by Charles Finney when he preached in the village schoolhouse near Antwerp, N. Y. "An awful solemnity seemed to settle upon the people; the congregation began to fall from their seats in every direction and cry for mercy. If I had had a sword in each hand, I could not have cut them down as fast as they fell. I was obliged to stop preaching." Of course the measure of conviction is not often so overwhelming as this, and varies even with different individuals affected on the same occasion, but the explanation is always the same, the manifestation of God in holiness and power.
This strange sense of God may pervade a building, a community, or a district, and those who come within its spell will be affected. At the beginning of the 1904 Awakening near the town of Gorseinon a revival meeting was in progress throughout the night. A miner, a somewhat hardened notorious case, returning from his shift about 4 a.m. saw the light in the chapel and decided to investigate. As soon as he opened the chapel door he was overwhelmed by a sense of God's presence, and exclaimed, "Oh, God is here!" He was afraid either to enter or depart, and there on the threshold of the chapel a saving work began in his soul.
No town in Ulster was more deeply stirred during the 1859 Revival than Coleraine. It was there that a boy was so troubled about his soul that the schoolmaster sent him home. An older boy, a Christian, accompanied him, and before they had gone far led him to Christ. Returning at once to the school, this latest convert testified to the master, "Oh, I am so happy! I have the Lord Jesus in my heart." The effect of these artless words was very great. Boy after boy rose and silently left the room.
On investigation the master found these boys ranged alongside the wall of the playground, everyone apart and on his knees! Very soon their silent prayer became a bitter cry. It was heard by those within and pierced their hearts. They cast themselves upon their knees, and their cry for mercy was heard in the girls' schoolroom above.
In a few moments the whole school was upon its knees, and its wail of distress was heard in the street outside. Neighbours and passers-by came flocking in, and all, as they crossed the threshold, came under the same convicting power. Every room was filled with men, women, and children seeking God.
Similar stories could be told of the 1858 American Revival. Ships as they drew near the American ports came within a definite zone of heavenly influence. Ship after ship arrived with the same tale of sudden conviction and conversion. In one ship a captain and the entire crew of thirty men found Christ out at sea and entered the harbour rejoicing.
Revival broke out on the battleship "North Carolina" through four Christian men who had been meeting in the bowels of the ship for prayer. One evening they were filled with the Spirit and burst into song. Ungodly shipmates who came down to mock were gripped by the power of God, and the laugh of the scornful was soon changed into the cry of the penitent. Many were smitten down, and a gracious work broke out that continued night after night, till they had to send ashore for ministers to help, and the battleship became a Bethel.
This overwhelming sense of God, bringing deep conviction of sin, is perhaps the outstanding feature of true revival. The manifestation of it is not always the same. Sometimes it is predominantly the unconverted who are convicted, as in the cases quoted. At other times it is Christians or professing Christians, as in the revivals in Manchuria and China (1906-9) under Jonathan Goforth; or the recent awakening in the Belgian Congo (1953). But the explanation is always the same.
Of the revival in Northampton, Mass., Jonathan Edwards wrote: "In the spring and summer,
A.D. 1735, the town seemed to be full of the presence of God. It never was so full of love, nor so full of joy, and yet so full of distress, as it was then." To cleansed hearts it is heaven, to convicted hearts it is hell, when God is in the midst.
Here is a further vital feature - "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit". In times preceding revival it is common to find among believers of various persuasions a fresh emphasis on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Many have been lost in a maze of theological controversy. Others have moved for years in the rut of traditional interpretation, concerned with an explanation rather than an experience, a definition instead of a dynamic.
But with those stirrings of the Spirit that are the precursor of revival, there is born in many such hearts a wholesome dissatisfaction with that vague and mystic view of being filled with the Spirit that leaves one in the dark as to what it is, how it comes, and whether or not one has received it.
There is not scope here to deal with this important subject as it needs to be dealt with, but let us briefly mention three important facts regarding the anointing of the believer with the Holy Spirit that emerge from this and other parallel cases in the New Testament.
Firstly, the anointing was a definite experience. It had to be, for the risen Christ had left the believers of the upper room with a promise and a command: the promise was that of the Spirit coming upon them, "Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence" (1:5); and the command was that they were to "wait for the promise" (1:4) to be fulfilled, "tarry ye. . . until" (Luke 24:49). Apart from the expectation of a definite experience they could not have obeyed the command to "tarry. . . until". However, they took their Lord at His word, they waited, and in due time the promise was fulfilled. They knew that they had received the promised Holy Spirit, and very soon others knew also that something remarkable bad taken place.
These who but a few days before had slunk into the upper room and bolted the door for fear of the men who had murdered their Master, are now standing in the open and alleging that this Jesus is alive, and accusing their hearers of His murder. Peter, who a month and a half before had denied his Lord at the jibe of a servant-girl, now stands before the multitudes in the very city where He was crucified, and asserts that God had made this Jesus "both Lord and Christ".
Certainly something very definite has happened to these believers. Every other instance in the New Testament of individuals being filled with the Spirit confirms that it is a definite experience. There may or may not be emotional accompaniments. There may or may not be striking manifestations, but it is the birthright of every child of God to receive that anointing, and to know that he (or she) has received it.
Secondly, the anointing was a dynamic experience. It was not given that they might enjoy a spiritual uplift. It was not given primarily that they might be more holy. It was given to make them powerful and effective for God. Through it they would be "clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). "Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be My witnesses," said the Saviour (Acts 1:8). As the Father had sent Him, so was He sending them (John 20:21), and it was in view of this commission that He breathed on them as a symbolic act, and commanded them to receive the Holy Spirit, which they did on the day of Pentecost. Thenceforth they were to be like their Lord, "anointed. . . with the Holy Spirit and power" (Acts 10:38).
Being filled or anointed with the Spirit is always related to spiritual service. This alone can make the fearful believer a courageous and effective witness for Christ. It does not result in all becoming evangelists or great soul-winners. The gifts bestowed may vary with each individual (1 Cor. 12), and this is in the hands of the same Spirit "dividing to each one severally even as He will" (1 Cor. 12:11). But with each there is an imparting of power, and an equipping to function for God in whatever way He may choose.
Finally, it was a desired experience, intensely desired. It was then, and still is, born out of soul thirst. It is the experience of the one who cannot do without it. "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink" (John 7:37). "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty" (Isa. 44:3).
Thirst is a more intense desire than hunger, and in the realm of the Spirit "thirst" is the word that God has used to illustrate the desire that should characterize His people. How ready the Lord is to satisfy the longing soul, and to lead His people to the "fountains of living water".
Child of God, are you thirsty to be filled with the Spirit?
Characteristically revival is a time when large numbers of believers are filled with the Spirit.
Such an event, as here at Pentecost, may set off a revival. Charles Finney received a mighty anointing of the Spirit on the evening of the day of his conversion. As a result a revival broke out the following day in Adams, N. Y., the town where he lived. When the waiting vessel cannot contain the abundance of the heavenly anointing, there must of necessity be floods upon the dry ground, and such are often the beginning of revival.
Said Finney, "Many times great numbers of persons in a community will be clothed with this power, when the very atmosphere of the whole place seems to be charged with the life of God. Strangers coming into it and passing through the place will be instantly smitten with conviction of sin, and in many instances converted to Christ."
God has not only said, "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and streams upon the dry ground", but also "I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring" (Isa. 44:3). Both are blessedly true of revival, for it is then that God not only pours out His Spirit upon the church, but also upon the seed and offspring of the church, so that new-born souls are at once filled with the Spirit and become effective for God. A revival will often increase in power and influence in this way.