WILMORE, Kentucky – One morning in February 3, 1970, Asbury College’s 10 a.m. chapel service students and faculty members had shown up at the college’s chapel, Hughes auditorium, for what they assumed would be one more routine meeting… (3 images – Asbury 1,2,3)
· Custer Reynolds, Asbury’s academic dean briefly gave his testimony, then issued an invitation for students to talk about their own Christian experiences. There was nothing particularly unusual about that.
· One student responded to his offer. Then another. Then another.“Then they started pouring to the altar,” Reynolds said. “it just broke.” Gradually, inexplicably, students and faculty members alike found themselves quietly praying, weeping, and singing. They sought out others to whom they had done wrong deeds and asked for forgiveness. The chapel service went on and on.
· It lasted 185 hours (nearly 8 days) non-stop, 24 hours a day. Intermittently, it continued for weeks. Ultimately, it spread across the United States and into foreign countries.
· Typical of the student responses: It was after 2 a.m., the president of the college, Dennis Kinlaw walked to Hughes Auditorium and sat on the back pew. He was approached by a student who asked for his counsel. Though no one knew it, she said quietly, she had been a habitual liar. She needed to make reparations to people on campus she had wronged.
This was a revival. A revival led by conviction. The catalyst of this spiritual awakening was remorse, confession and repentance.
In the aftermath of the revival a number of people reflected on what it felt like:
· Initially President Kinlaw said he felt scared by the intensity and duration but later admitted “this is not of man…this is of God. The Lord walked in.
· Dr. David Hunt, a Louisville physician who was then a student.“I always have been reminded of the verse ‘Take off your shoes, for you are standing on holy ground.’ You just walked in and sensed that God had indeed sent His Spirit.”
This is what happens in revivals. It is one of the evidences. As a matter of fact I believe it is one of the key evidences of revival. In the past month we’ve been examining evidences of revival and asking ourselves…
§ is God doing it again? Could we be in one of on the cusp of one?
§ And...What do we need to do to hasten a spiritual Awakening?
Well, let’s take a hard look:
· are we experiencing a unique Holy spirit inspired love, compassion and community?
· are we functioning with a radical spirit of consensus and spiritual discernment?
· are we becoming an army of ordinary people doing extraordinary things?
· is healing happening among us?
These are all evidences of revival. And we will see in the coming weeks there are more:
· deliverance from demonic oppression
· culture defying diversity
But there are two evidences that stand out above all the others…two clear proofs that the Holy Spirit has descended upon us and launching a spiritual awakening:
· conversion – people surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ.
· conviction …the kind of conviction evidenced at Asbury College and in Wales in 1904: (2 images Wales 1,2)
o >100,000 surrendered to Jesus
o Wave of moral conviction and cleansing…people breaking down sobbing and renouncing all kinds of sins.
o In particular, a number of accounts said that the two things most affected: coarse language and alcoholism.
This is what happens in revival...
When the Holy Spirit brings revival He awakens conviction and repentance.
Let me show you examples from the greatest of all revivals:
Acts 2:36 page _______________
Context: Peter’s extraordinary sermon following the coming of the Holy Spirit.
36 "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:36-38
Note V. 37:
· “cut to the heart” = compound word than means literally “pierced down”…a knife to the heart.
o it was a deep conviction…a realization of wrongness , sin that led to remorse….and a very important question:
· “what shall we do?”
o how do we make amends?
o how do we fix this?
o how do we repent appropriately? A change of direction! It isn’t real remorse without a change of direction…of behavior.
· it was unashamedly public…embarrassment disappeared.
· it had a corporate feel to it…we are all complicit
· This is how revival feels!
One more passage I want you to examine. It is odd, creepy, confusing and frightening. Acts 5:1
Context: Acts 4:32-37 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet. 3 Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God." 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, "Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?" "Yes," she said, "that is the price." 9 Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also." 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
What I don’t totally understand and we will not get into…their deaths. (Coincidence? Product of their emotional state? Did God execute them?) Here’s what I want you to see…why revival is so necessary and how these two resisted it.
· Their deepest issue was not that they were chincy,cheap, or selfish but Vs 3 - that they lied to the Holy Spirit “…you have lied to the Holy Spirit”
What does that mean? Consider this:
· Their decision was premeditated…Vs. 2 this was done with his wife’s “full knowledge” = premeditated and calculated = brazen plot
· this was done in the face of deep conviction:
o they were in the middle of a revival and totally rejected it.
o they were (as we are all) under the ongoing conviction of the Spirit.
When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. John 16:8
· They felt it…they ignored it…they found some way to justify it and in all truthfulness, Ananias and Sapphira deliberately baited God Vs 9 Peter asked them…. "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord?
Stepping back and analyzing this story and these two people it appears that Ananias and Sapphira were Sociopaths.
Here are some characteristics of sociopaths from those who study such things:
· Sociopaths have a complete lack of conscience, lack of empathy, remorse, guilt or shame.
· Sociopaths are great at giving a falsepersona that has the impression of being truly empathetic and caring character. This, like most things with the sociopath, is merely for show.
· The facade that you see on the outside, has little resemblance to the reality that is going on behind the screen, well hidden, and only known by the sociopath themselves. They are the chameleons of society.
· I repeat: Sociopaths have a complete lack of conscience, lack of empathy, remorse, guilt or shame. Their brains simply lack the circuitry to process such emotions. Sociopaths never apologize.
The reason this is crucial is it illustrates exactly why we need a revival…Why we are desperate for spiritual awakening. We are living in an era of “sociopathy”. Our culture is dominated by a sociopathic spirit.
Caveat: I know the timing of this message is provocative in light of what we are being subjected to by both presidential candidates. But it is illustrative of a bigger problem that I see in my counseling, in my interactions with others and most importantly in my own heart.
All of us daily face an extreme tug of war…The Holy Spirit beckoning us to remorse and repentance and the evil one tempting us to become sociopaths. Satan is winning.
Here is the sociopathic language that is becoming commonplace around us and in our hearts:
· “I made a mistake” …rather than I was wrong.
· If you were offended then I am sorry.
· I am sorry that you felt bad about it.
· Why is it always about me? Look at you!
· I’m just being me. It’s the way I am.
· It’s no big deal
· Nobody got hurt.
I hear this all the time AND I’ve said some of these myself. So...What does true conviction sound like?
1. I am so sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me.
2. Here’s what I am going to do to change. (remember “brothers what should we do?)
TWICE this shows up: Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
What we need is:
· a revival – and only God can do that.
· A revival that is characterized by remorse that comes from conviction.
· A revival that looks like the guy Jesus described:
"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' 13 "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Luke 18:9-13
That kind of repentance times 1000 is what we need. And it will only come through spiritual awakening.
Will you pray with me for it?
Will you pray that God will take down the veil that keeps you from seeing your own sin…your own sociopathic tendencies?
Will you pray that the Holy Spirit will turn up the heat and scare us half to death? We need fear.
If it can happen, out of the blue at a small college in the middle of Kentucky it can certainly happen right here.
If it can be generated by one man praying in a tiny country in the British Isles…it can begin here. Will you pray with me for it?