Even as we’re taking our first steps in 2023, I’ve been reflecting on what the past year has brought.
It has personally been a whirlwind year of new experiences and spiritual growth, and if I could sum it up in one word — it would be “revival”.
Indeed, not only did 2022 mark the 50th anniversary year of the 1972 Charismatic Renewal in Singapore, it was also a year of personal revival for me.
I attended several revival nights and conferences, and at one of them was blessed to have been baptised in the Holy Spirit, even receiving the gift of tongues.
I’ve experienced God in new and profound ways, and what was once a rather ordinary Christian life has now become a true journey with God.
If I could describe my experience, I would say it is like a colour-blind man seeing rainbows of living colour for the first time ever.
During one of the revival nights I attended last year, however, I felt God ask me: “What does revival really mean?”
That nudge from God led me to realise that revival goes way beyond just the manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
The word “revival” in the Christian context is often closely associated with terms like “baptism of the Holy Spirit”, or physical manifestations of the Holy Spirit such as speaking in tongues, prophecies, dreams, visions and more.
Though I can personally attest to having experienced these wonderful charismatic expressions — and I am quite the empiricist — they are not the only things that revival entails.
To me, revival means being set on fire for the Lord. It is the awakening of spiritual hunger, and the start of deeper intimacy with the Lord.
It means being filled with the Holy Spirit, anointed with God’s power to go out and do His work.
We should not be so caught up with the physical manifestations of the Holy Spirit that we neglect the bigger picture at hand – the Great Commission.
There is a well-known quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes that goes: “Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” While this is not a direct quote from the Bible, there is much wisdom in his words.
We should not be so caught up with the physical manifestations of the Holy Spirit that we neglect the bigger picture at hand – the Great Commission. To evangelise and make disciples is really the main purpose of revival.
So what are the by-products of revival that will empower us to play our part in the Great Commission?
Power and boldness for the gospel
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Firstly, the anointing of the Holy Spirit empowers and emboldens us to go forth and testify of God.
The apostle Peter, after being filled with the Holy Spirit, stood up and boldly preached his first sermon in front of a whole crowd of strangers — and 3000 came to know the Lord that day.
Such a powerful yet unscripted and impromptu testimony about Christ – it’s hard to imagine that Peter was the same man who fearfully denied Jesus three times before His trial!
Peter’s boldness can only be attributed to power from God, to go forth and be His witness. Evangelism was something that thus overflowed naturally out of Peter because the Holy Spirit filled him with power and boldness.
Similarly, once we have received anointing and power from God, evangelism wouldn’t feel forced or be seen as some sort of Christian KPI to meet.
Rather, sharing the gospel becomes something we do because we genuinely have been transformed by the power of God and can’t wait to tell the world about how great our God is!
What would living out the gospel look like in our families, among our friends, in our schools and our workplaces?
Personally, it’s about not hiding God’s light in me under a basket. Where evangelism in the past would terrify me, I am no longer ashamed to talk about Jesus and will eagerly talk about Him anytime!
Passing it on
The other by-product of revival? The work of the Holy Spirit cannot just stop with us – the fire must be passed on!
“When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:15-17)
The early church’s disciples prayed for others to be similarly baptised in the Holy Spirit, just as they too had received it.
Similarly, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we can pray for others to also be filled by Him so that they in turn can be empowered to go forth and be witnesses for Christ.
It so happened that during the last Christian conference I attended in 2022, I got the opportunity to lay hands on and pray for a little girl who wanted to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Coincidentally, it took place in the exact same church and sanctuary where I was baptised in the Holy Spirit during the first conference I attended in 2022.
Looking back, I know it was no mere coincidence but a God-ordained appointment. Almost a year after I had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it was my turn to pass the fire on — a full-circle moment that was hands down the best part of my 2022!
“The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.” (Leviticus 6:13)
As a brand new year gets underway, if you have yet to experience revival personally, it is my prayer that God would fill you with a new measure of His Holy Spirit so that you will be empowered to do His work.
For those of us who have already experienced personal revival, I would like to encourage us to keep being on fire for the Lord.
Let’s not be like fireworks that burn brightly for only a short while, but an ever-burning lampstand that will shine even brighter in the years to come!
- What does revival mean to you?
- In which aspect of your life could you experience God’s revival power at work?
- Tonight, make some time to speak to the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to touch your life!