“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” -Acts 3.19-21
In God, there is a fountain of life, a “stream which makes glad the city of God,” springs of living water. The effect of the Spirits work among men is one of restoration and refreshing. Joy springs forth from the place of experience in grace, and the tenor of revival history is one of newfound liberty and wonder. Every revival and awakening has been accompanied by great joy, outbursts of laughter, and astonishment at the great works of God’s mercy.
I am so thankful that the Lord is the God of the living, and that He grants life to those who ask; waters to those who thirst; and a feast to those who hunger.
That being said, I am concerned with many modern renewal movements, many of which seem to have bypassed the essence and foundation of our rejoicing; namely, the experience of God’s mercy, which is the result of repentance from broken-hearted souls. The apostolic pattern is put thusly:
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord….”
Can we really rejoice rightly when the Spirit of repentance has not been experienced? It is right to rejoice when the Lord works in the Church. When bodies are healed, when the Spirit moves in power, when Jesus is exalted and the Spirit of prophecy is at work. But we must preach and encounter the Gospel, which calls us to repent and turn away from sin by the grace of God. The natural result is that times of refreshing will sweep in, but I’m convinced that an experience of refreshing and renewal which bypasses repentance is suspect at best. We need to be refreshed and replenished by the God of renewal, and His table is one of ultimate delight. But let us be sure that we are standing upon true foundations, lest we find that our hearts have hardened toward the Lord in the day of His power.
“A very great portion of modern revivalism has been more a curse than a blessing, because it has led thousands to a kind of peace before they have known their misery; restoring the prodigal to the Father’s house, and never making him say, ‘Father, I have sinned.’ How can he be healed who is not sick, or he be satisfied with the bread of life who is not hungry? The old-fashioned sense of sin is despised. … Every thing in this age is shallow. … The consequence is that men leap into religion, and then leap out again. Unhumbled they came to the church, unhumbled they remained in it, and unhumbled they go from it.” -C.H. Spurgeon