Holiness As A Fruit Of Revival
By John McGregor
The following is excerpted and edited from a message given at Heart-Cry Southeast in March 2010 in Tennessee U.S.A. (www.heartcrysoutheast.com) Used by permission.
Let us read together Isaiah, chapter 6. In this chapter you are looking at an illustration of holiness as a fruit of revival:
"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!’ And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: ‘Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.’
"Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.’ Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me’" (vv. 1-8).
Things Found in Real Revival
As I journey about, people often ask me, "How can you determine what is real revival and what is not?" I am prefacing our walk through Isaiah 6 by talking about six things you are going to find in real revival.
The first is a prayer movement. This is not just independent prayer but a prayer movement, a groundswell where people are coming to the place of prayer moved by the Spirit of God. It is the forerunner of revival and the sustainer of revival. When that kind of praying stops, revival stops.
The second thing is the presence of God. Theologically, we know that God is everywhere present, but I am talking about the manifest presence of God and we know that we know He is there. And oftentimes when He takes over we have what we would call "organized chaos." Some people have the idea that revival is always nice and tidy and looks like the chapters of a history book, but that is not true, because when God shows up, He takes over. In revival, that is what we want, isn’t it?
In the revival in western Canada forty years ago, one of the common sayings was, "We are giving the church back to God. He does a much better job of running it than we do." When you think of holiness as a fruit of revival, how could it not be since God is holy? When He comes in the fullness of His presence, holiness is there because He is there.
The third thing is obedience to God’s Word. There is a prominence of obedience to God’s Word that is fresh and encouraging. It is uplifting to see God’s people not only hearing His Word but doing it; not just talking about reconciliation, but following through to do it; not just talking about dealing with sin, but actually taking it to the cross.
The fourth thing is a sensitivity to sin. In our Western society, we have become desensitized to sin. But in revival, there is great sensitivity to sin and the Spirit of God is working in hearts and lives and there is conviction. In revival we cannot just "sweep things under the carpet." We have to deal with them. Sensitivity to sin leads us on to repentance, and the heartbeat of revival is repentance.
Number five, there is life in the body. It is the life of Jesus in the people of Jesus. It is refreshing, because everywhere you go people are talking about Jesus and what He is saying and what He is doing. That is one of the things that gives me a hunger and a thirst after revival, because to see Jesus in the center is so absolutely refreshing.
And number six, you will find in true revival that evangelism happens with effectiveness. People whom someone has tried to push or pull or somehow get them into the kingdom will all of a sudden be on their knees at the altar saying "Yes!" to Jesus, because of the life of Christ in the life of His people.
Personal Revival in Isaiah Chapter Six
In the first five chapters of Isaiah, Isaiah has been preaching, "Woe to them...." But in chapter six, the subject changes and he says, "Woe is me!" It becomes very personal here. Isaiah sees the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up. There he sees the Holy One Himself, lifted above all other things, above his thoughts and imaginations. When God was lifted up, His train filled the temple. When the temple is full, how much room is left? None. This is where the holiness of God comes as the fruit of revival. When He is filling the temple, there is no more room.There is nothing else. We are consumed by the Lord God. We see that God is more than we have ever imagined or anticipated. Those around the throne simply worship Him, the splendor of His glory. The greatest thing we need is a fresh vision of the Lord of Glory – our eyes to be filled and our hearts and lives filled up beyond measure with His glory.
"The whole earth is full of His glory" (v. 3). Isaiah is not just looking at some position, some philosophy, but at Someone whose relationship to us is love and in grace, and the whole earth is full of His glory. And the place was shaken (v. 4). Remember in Acts 4:31, it says that after they had prayed, the place was shaken, because the glorious One was there working right along with them. It says they spoke of Jesus with great boldness. Do you know what happens when we really see the Lord? We break, just like it broke Isaiah.
In verse 5 Isaiah said, "Woe is me, for I am undone [completely undone]!" When we are completely undone, there is nothing that God has not touched, nothing that is left whole, that is unaffected. Isaiah said, "I am a man of unclean lips." It is from the heart that the lips speak (Matt. 12:34). If he says his lips are unclean, he is really saying that his heart is unclean. Isaiah must have been thinking something like, "O God, when I see You and when I see me, I am undone."
Revival Comes to Those Undone
I was in an unexpected revival in a North American Indian Reserve up in Manitoba a few years ago. I went to teach evangelism. You cannot drive in, so I flew in on a Friday. You know you are in a remote community when someone hands you your suitcase as you get out of the plane and says, "There is a shack over there. Go and wait in it and someone will pick you up." About twenty minutes later a missionary who worked in that Reserve came to get me. On Friday night and all day Saturday we taught on evangelism.
We came to the end of the Saturday sessions and one of the leaders said, "John, the plane does not come back until Tuesday, so would you speak in the morning if the four churches here met together?" I said, "All right." There were forty or fifty people when all four churches came together. After Sunday morning they said, "The plane does not come back until Tuesday, so would you mind speaking again tonight?" I said, "All right." After Sunday night they said, "The plane does not come back until Tuesday. Tomorrow night could we all meet at one of the houses and could you just sit and answer questions?" I agreed, and just before the meeting at 7 o’clock on Monday evening, they brought me seven pages of questions. I had a quick look through the pages. Every question but one was about the Holy Spirit. The other question was about the authority of Scripture.
I said, "Let’s start and I will answer this question about the authority of the Word of God." When I finished about 7:15 I said, "Now, let’s do a Bible study on the ministry and work of the Holy Spirit." I realized they had those questions because through satellite they get all kinds of teachings, and confusion reigns in their understanding about the Holy Spirit. So we started in John 14 and worked our way through a portion of the Scripture, ending in First Corinthians 14. I finished up with this question, "You must ask yourself, ‘Why do I want this gift? Is it for God’s glory or is it so that I will look good?’" I did not say one word in all that study time about the family. We just looked at the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
"Now," I said, "we need to take some time to pray." At 11:00 p.m. we went to prayer and one man started to pray. He started in an ordinary way and said, "Dear God, thank You that we could be here tonight. Thank You that we could study Your Word and that we heard about the Holy Spirit…." Then there was a long pause, and I thought he must be finished. I opened one eye to see if he was done. I noticed tears and I could hear the gentle sob. Then he really started to pray.
He started his prayer with these words, "O God…." That is revival praying. "O God…." I do not think he got beyond that in the flow of his tears for about 15 minutes, and then he just started to pour out his heart to God. This is what he said: "God, You know I have not been a good husband to my wife. You know I have not been a Christian father to my children. O God, You know all about it…." His wife prayed next. Tears were flowing everywhere. She started to pour out her heart and said, "God, You know, You know, You know, I have not been a good wife to my husband, and I have not been a Christian mother to my children…." Friends, that prayer meeting ended at seven o’clock in the morning and we had revival.
But that is not the end of the story. Just like Isaiah, this dear brother was undone. His idea about himself was broken. He was not who he thought he was. At 7 o’clock in the morning, he said to me, "John, the plane does not come back until 11 o’clock. Come over to my house for a cup of tea." Do not forget, we had been there all night. About 7:30 I was sipping tea at his home and he said, "I wanted you to see something." He brought his six children out of bed and into the living room and he lined them up in order of age. Then that man went to the oldest boy, and said to him, on his knees, "Son, you haven’t seen Christ in me. Will you forgive me?" That boy put his arms around his dad, and said, "I love you, Dad. I forgive you." The father went right down the line.
I kept track of that family and I want to tell you about them. The oldest boy is in university now and he is working hard for Jesus. The next one was a girl. She is finishing up high school. She is one of the most active students in that school for Jesus. Why is that? Why is it that all six of the children are living and walking with Jesus? It is because that mother and that father that night were broken, from looking into the face of a holy God and seeing Him for Who He is and seeing themselves for who we are. That is a living illustration of what repentance is.
Taking Time to Pray
Holiness is a fruit of revival. A continuing work needs to happen in you and in me. Let us work with the Spirit of God.
"Lord, what must happen in me before I see You? What must change in my prayer life? What must be confessed and cleansed? Here am I, Lord. I surrender. Take me, break me, make me, mold me...."