The Flame of Revival


The Flame of Revival

March 31st, 1963 @ 10:50 AM

Acts 2:1-41

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Related Topics: Awakening, Evangelism, Revival, 1963, Acts
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Acts 2:1-42

3-31-63     10:50 a.m.



On the radio you are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock message entitled The Flame of Revival.  It is the beginning; it is the introduction to a long season of evangelistic appeal and soul-winning effort.  Immediately, and in this week, our protracted series of meetings begin this coming Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week; our all day prayer meeting Saturday; then Sunday and each night through Easter week at seven-thirty o’clock here in this main auditorium of our First Baptist Church.

The Flame of Revival is fed by three things: power from God, unction from heaven, power, visitation, Pentecostal endowment, enduement from above; then the two things before and after that lie in the hands of human men, our part, earth’s part: prayer, and a dedicated, consecrated, yielded personality, a preacher, a witness, a testifier, an inviter.   And these are the three characteristics of the flame of revival that is presented here in the Holy Bible.  In the first and the second chapters of the Book of Acts, as Pentecost is described, prayer, "And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, and Philip, and the eleven disciples.  These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren" [Acts 1:13-14].  The second, the unction, the power of God from heaven:


And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And there came suddenly from heaven the sound as of a mighty rushing wind,parting tongues of fire upon each one of the witnesses.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance . . .  And those present were amazed and marveled, saying, Look, how hear we every man in his own tongue, wherein we were born?  Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and Mesopotamians, and Judeans, and Cappadocians, and Pontians, and Asians, and Phrygians, and Pamphylians, and Egyptians, and Libyans, and Cyrenians, and Romans, and Jews, and proselytes, and Cretians, and Arabians, all of us do hear in our tongue the wonderful works of God.  And while they were filled with amazement, saying, What meaneth this? . . .  Simon Peter stood up with the eleven, and lifted up his voice, and testified to the marvelous grace of God in Christ Jesus, [Acts 2:1-14]. And when they heard these things [Acts 2:15-36], they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?  Then Peter said, Repent, turn, look to the Lord Jesus Christ, be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ because of the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, and to as many as the Lord our God shall call.  And they that gladly received his word were baptized:  and that same day there were added unto the church about three thousand souls [Acts 2:37-41].

[Acts 2:1-41]


And that is the introduction of the great apostolic revival, evangelistic period, dispensation of grace, to which we belong and in which era we believe.

It is a wonderful thing that God has given to us so vital and so significant a part in the building of the kingdom of God.  Our part begins in prayer and in supplication, in earnest searching and seeking after the face, and voice, and word, and will, and assignment of God [Acts 1:13-14].  It begins in our burden of intercession, both for ourselves and for these who are lost.  In a real sense, any real revival is prayed down from God in heaven.  The responsibility of revival is always laid upon, incumbent upon, His church.  And in a like real sense, the destiny of the nation and the future of our people lies in the willingness of God’s children in the nation to open their hearts and their churches and their lives for a visitation from heaven.

Our nation has been saved by and guided by these great periods of revival.  In 1740 began what in history is called the Great Awakening, under Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield.  And that made possible the saving and the preservation of our nation in the terrible and dark days, the next forty years that lay beyond the Great Awakening that began in 1740.  The years that immediately followed that Great Awakening were years of terrible, terrible trial for those early colonists.  They were engaged in violent and blood Indian Wars; the colonies were in political turmoil; and finally they were engaged in the Revolutionary War for Independence.

But in those dark and trying days, the colonists found strength and encouragement and help in a great unity, in a common faith to which they had been introduced by the exchange of their preachers in the days of the Great Awakening.  When the revolution came to France, it resulted in anarchy and in a violent drift toward blasphemy and atheism.  But when the revolution came to the United States of America, it resulted in the creation of a great Christian nation.  This was the result of the strength of the faith that came to our American colonies from the great revival that we call the Great Awakening.

A like godly, and beneficial, and heavenly result came from the revival of 1857 and 1858.  It began in the Fulton Street Church in New York City.  That church stayed downtown; all the others left.  It stayed downtown just like the First Baptist Church in Dallas stays downtown forever.  Until Jesus comes to set up His kingdom in this earth [Matthew 25:31], the First Baptist Church stays downtown.  I don’t believe after the ministry and words of Dr. Truett for forty-seven years, and I don’t believe after the words and ministry of his successor, now for nineteen years or however long God shall say beyond, I do not think our church will ever forget or live beyond the earnest admonitions of their pastors that our place and our ministry is to this great vast city, not to a luxurious affluent suburb or piece of it, but to all the souls everywhere that comprise the great city of Dallas.

The Fulton Street Church stayed downtown in the heart of New York City.  They hired, they employed a layman by the name of Mr. J. C. Lanphier.  They hired him as a lay missionary to go among the people of the city of New York and invite them to the church, invite them to the Lord, and to distribute tracts.  It was a discouraging assignment, and Mr. Lanphier found comfort and encouragement in seasons of prayer and intercession to God.  And as he worked and labored among the people, it occurred to him that maybe others in discouragement and with insuperable problems that they also could find strength and comfort in prayer.  So he announced a prayer meeting in the Fulton Street Church on the twenty-third day of September in 1857.  He announced a noonday prayer meeting and invited all who would like to share in it to attend.

Nobody came.  He prayed by himself.  After thirty minutes, somebody else came; and another one; and finally there were six that came.  The prayer services were announced for an hour and that they would be promptly dismissed on time.  The next week at that noonday hour, there were twenty-one who came.  The next week at that noonday hour, there were forty that came.  At the end of that third meeting it was decided to have them every day at a noonday hour.  And after four months, the church was jammed and crowded.  And it spread to all the other churches of New York City.  And it spread over the whole nation of America.  It was a revival flame born in the prayer meetings of those laymen and laywomen.

In a revival service that Charles G. Finney was conducting in the city of Boston, a man stood up and said, "I have just made a journey from Omaha, Nebraska, to Boston, Massachusetts, two thousand miles."  And he said, "I have seen a prayer meeting for two thousand miles long."  The whole nation was swept toward God.  And that gave our people strength for the dark and cruel days of the War Between the States.  Eighteen sixty-three was the darkest hour of the war for the Union.  In 1863, the United States Senate unanimously voted a resolution petitioning the president of these states for a day of national prayer and humiliation.  President Lincoln responded promptly with the following proclamation, and I quote:  "Now therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do by this proclamation designate and set apart Thursday, the thirtieth day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer."  And God’s people in the North went to prayer by the thousands and by the millions, answering the great national day of appeal by President Abraham Lincoln.

That revival that began in 1857 and 1858 and spread throughout the nation was most marvelously consummated in the troops of the Confederate armies, likewise, encouraged by their great Christian generals Robert E. Lee, and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, there spread throughout the Confederate armies a revival that burned like fire.  More than a third of all of the troops of the Confederacy became devout men of prayer.  And in that dark year of 1863, I read from the Richmond Advocate, and I quote:


Not for years has such a revival prevailed in the Confederate states.  Its progress in the army is a spectacle of moral sublimity over which men and angels can rejoice.  Such camp meetings were never before seen in America.  The bivouac of the soldier never witnessed such sights of glory and days of splendor.


And out of that revival there came strength for the desolations that wasted the homeland of our Confederate states.  In the faith of God, in the visitation from heaven, a people can draw encouragement and strength and wisdom for any ordeal that may lie ahead.

He is a blind man, he is a deaf man, he is an uninformed man who does not sense that America faces her greatest ordeal.  The enemies of this nation multiply by the millions and now by the billions beyond our shores.  And not only have our atheistic, merciless, and ruthless enemies over-spanned this world and surrounded our nation, but on the inside of our national life, there is tremendous evidence of decadence and decay.

We are losing the individual initiative that our forefathers had when they carved this nation out of a wilderness.  We are falling into those soft luxurious sins that sapped away the foundation of the ancient Roman and Greek Empires.  Our people are by the increasing thousands turning to lives of crime.  Our children by the increasing thousands are finding interest in lives of delinquency.  By the millions our citizens are becoming alcoholics and problem drinkers.  And the waste and ravage of iniquity and sin and wickedness rises in every blasphemous declaration against God, found in our advertisements, found in the habits of our lives, found in our desecration of the Lord’s Day, found in our unopened Bibles and our unprayed prayers, and our unwept tears, and our unburdened hearts.  History is unanimous and vehement in its verdict that when a nation forgets God, judgment and destruction soon follow thereafter.  This is an hour, this is a day when God’s people must seek for and pray for revival.

That’s why I had you read that prayer of confession from the prophet Daniel.  Did you notice what you read?  He identified himself with his people.  Daniel was one of the holiest prophets that ever lived.  Daniel was a delight to the Lord God in heaven from the days of his boyhood.  Yet when Daniel prayed and confessed, he identified himself with his people; their sins were his sins, and the judgment of God upon them was the judgment of God upon him.  He made a common cause with the dereliction and iniquity of his people [Daniel 9:3-19].  And that’s what we must do.  We cannot look out there and say, "Look at their sins," and look over yonder and say, "Look at their sins," look at the sins of the nation and say, "Look at their sins"; but we must look upon our people as one with us:  these are our derelictions, and these are our desecrations, and these are our blasphemies, and these are our rejections, and these are our iniquities.  There’s not going to be any loss to the nation that does not visit us.  There’s not going to be a judgment of God upon the nation that does not fall upon us.  There’s not going to be a great, great holocaust that burns furiously upon this nation that does not burn furiously upon us.  We are a part of this great commonwealth.  And if there is any salvation for our children, it lies in what God shall be good to in America.  And if there is any deliverance for our homes and our families, it lies in the deliverance of the Lord God for our people in America.

That’s why Daniel said, "O God, we have sinned, and have mercy upon us" [Daniel 9:3-19].  And in revival, God’s people must bear that responsibility of intercession.  You’re not going to have a revival among the bartenders and the brewers of America; they don’t meet to pray and to agonize and to confess their sins and to look to God for healing and help and forgiveness.  Revival belongs to the people of the Lord, to the house of God, to the church of Jesus Christ.  "Judgment must begin at the house of God" [1 Peter 4:17], said the great apostle Simon Peter.  Revival must start here.  It must begin in us.  And if it has any repercussion for the nation, it must begin right here in the heart of God’s family, in the prayers and intercession of God’s people.

You know it’s a strange paradox:  when a people prepare themselves for revival, revival is already here; revival has already come.  When the people open their hearts in prayer and plead with God in intercession, and are burdened for the lost, and it is a care to them, the destiny of a city and of a nation, revival has already started.  Charles Haddon Spurgeon sometimes would come to his pulpit, and looking around and sensing the presence of God, he would say, "Great blessings are in store for us today, for I see the dew of heaven scattered all around."  He meant by that that there were devout and praying intercessors all around.  No wonder God blessed Spurgeon:  for two nights every week for years and years, more than four thousand people met in that church and prayed for hours; every time the great London Baptist pulpiteer stood up to proclaim the gospel of Christ, there’d be more than five hundred people in another room praying for the blessings of the Lord upon him.  That is revival in itself!

They had a great revival visitation from heaven in 1950, in the Hebrides islands, off from the shores of Scotland.  And it came about when men and women, for several months, gathered in barns and in cottages, and prayed all night long in an agony for the lost that they might be saved.  In one of these obscure villages in New England, where nobody had been saved for years, and nobody added to the church, there was a little band of men who coveted together in prayer that they would ask God to save the hardest, most ungodly and unlikely man in the community; and when he was brought to Jesus, then they prayed for another.  And in the course of a year, more than two hundred in the community had been won to Christ.  That is revival!  One of the paradoxes of life:  when a church prepares for it, that’s the thing itself [Acts 1:14].

Hastily, we speak of the second thing that feeds the fire and the flame of revival, that characterized the visitation at Pentecost:  "When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all praying, gathered in one place, one heart, one accord," just one great intercessory appeal to God, "and suddenly, and suddenly, there came a visitation from heaven, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" [Acts 2:1-4].  That is God’s part.  And without that our sermons are just so many sounds and syllables; and without that our methods and our programs and our organized life and visitation is just so much empty, sterile and wasted effort.  "Power belongeth unto God" [Psalm 62:11], the psalmist said.  And it is something that God does from above.  The presence, the power of the Lord God:  "And while they were praying all with one accord, with one heart, in a vast supplication, they were filled with the Holy Spirit of God" [Acts 2:1-4].

These disciples had the vastest assignment that men have ever faced in the history of the world.  Without armies, without navies, without prestige, without influence, without social standing, they were assigned the Great Commission to win the world to Christ [Matthew 28:18-20].  They had just one equipment and that was the promise of the Holy Spirit of God [Acts 1:8].  And without that presence, and that unction, and that visitation, and that power from above, there is no revival.  But God looks down, and He searches the heart; and when He finds a prepared people, there does the glory and the majesty fall, the gift of God from heaven [Acts 2:1-4].

I’ve copied this out of the journal of John Wesley:  "Monday, January 1.  Mr. Hall, Kinchin, Ingram, Whitefield," that’s George Whitefield, "Hutchins, and my brother Charles," the great hymn writer:


And my brother Charles, were present at our love feast in Ketter’s Lane, with about sixty of our brethren.  About three o’clock in the morning, as we were continuing instant in prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground.  As soon as we recovered a little from the awe and amazement at the presence of the Majesty, we broke out with one voice, ‘We praise Thee O God, we acknowledge Thee our Lord.’


When Robert Murray M’Cheyne came back from a six months visit to the Holy Land, he found a great revival in his church at Dundee, Scotland.  It was led by a young minister, William C. Burns, who at that time was twenty-two years of age.  It was a mighty moving.  The people would gather for services on Sunday, and they’d stay until four o’clock in the morning, praying and praising God.  The presbytery of Aberdeen heard about it, and they called the minister of the church, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, to read words of condemnation to him for what was happening in the church at Dundee where he was pastor.  And when Robert Murray M’Cheyne appeared before the presbytery at Aberdeen in defense of the work of God among His people, he said and I quote,


Ever since my return, I have frequently seen the preaching of the Word attended with so much power and eternal things brought so near that the feelings of the people could not be restrained.  I have observed at such times an awful and breathless stillness pervading the assembly; each hearer bent forward in the posture of rapt attention.  Sincere men covered their faces to pray, that the arrows of the King of Zion might be sent home with power to the hearts of the sinners.


The presence of God: the power of the Lord.

Dr. Jewett, the famed preacher, said of Dwight L. Moody,


Moody’s excellency was in an earthen vessel.  And many doctors of divinity have wondered at the strange association, how God could do so mightily in a man so ill-adapted for such a sublime work.  There were thousands of speakers more eloquent than Moody, but the treasure was not in those eloquent speakers in overwhelming glory.  Moody may have been uninstructed, untutored, uneducated, and unskilled in public speaking; but when he spoke, the power of an unseen world seemed to fall upon the audience.


The power and the presence of Almighty God; that indefinable visitation from heaven.  Wherever the Spirit of God falls – oh! there is an overflowing response on the part of the people that is indescribable.

A man was looking at a vast concourse of miners, over twenty thousand of them, who were listening to George Whitefield preach.  And he said there were two things about it he could never forget.  One was the rapt, breathless attention as those miners listened to the preaching of the gospel of the grace of God; and the other was, he could never forget their blackened, unwashed faces, covered with the dust of coal as they’d come out of the mines, and he could never forget the white furrows made on their faces by the tears which so profusely streamed from their eyes, the presence and the power of Almighty God.

In the great revival meeting in Wales, in 1905, 1906, led by Evan Roberts, up and down the streets of those villages, those miners and those people marched by the thousands, singing gloriously hymns of praise to God.  And in this last revival just a few years ago, in 1959, in Ulster, in Northern Ireland, all over in factories, out in the fields, in the streets, in the homes, everywhere people were lustily and triumphantly singing this song:


Where’er we meet, you always say

What’s the news? What’s the news?

Pray what’s the order of the day?

What’s the news? What’s the news?

Oh, I’ve got good news to tell:

my Savior has done all things well,

And triumphed over death and hell.

That’s the news!  That’s the news!

The Lord was slain on Calvary

That’s the news!  That’s the news!

To set a world of sinners free.

That’s the news!  That’s the news!

‘Twas there His precious blood was shed,

‘Twas there He bowed His sacred head,

‘Twas there God raised Him from the dead,

That’s the news!  That’s the news!

His work’s reviving all around.

That’s the news!  That’s the news!

And many have salvation found.

That’s the news!  That’s the news!

And since their souls have caught the flame

They shout Hosannas to His name.

And all around they spread His fame.

That’s the news!  That’s the news!

[traditional revival hymn]


That’s the power of God burning in the flame of revival.

It is twelve o’clock, and I haven’t time to mention my third feeding of the flame of revival:  a yielded heart, hand, foot, life, tongue, soul.  God grant He finds that in us.  Need a hand, Lord?  Here’s this hand.  Need a foot, Lord?  Here’s a foot.  Need a tongue, Lord?  Here’s a tongue.  Need a heart, Lord?  Here’s my heart.  "And they witnessed and they testified; and every soul in that vast Pentecostal throng heard the gospel in his own language, and in his own tongue" [Acts 2:6-8].  Every one with an invitation; every lost soul wept over, prayed for [Acts 1"13-14], sought out, invited to God [Acts 2:1-41], this is the flame of revival.

And while we sing our song, this morning, somebody you, give his heart in trust to Jesus, would you come and stand by me?  A family you, a couple you, one somebody you, while we make our appeal, while we sing our song, down one of these stairwells at the front or the back, in this throng of people into the aisle and down here to the front, "Here I come, pastor, and here I am.  This is my wife, both of us are coming.  These are our children, we’re all coming."  As God would open the door and say the word and bid you, respond, make it this morning.  Make it now.  Come, come, while we stand and while we sing.