Believers at Thessalonica had a revival culture. They experience joy in the Spirit even under persecution. Since Paul’s departure the region is talking of the radical transformation of this community.It’s a model for all churches (1 Thess. 1:5–10).
This early picture of a church exhibits Holy Spirit power. Paul wants these believers to continue in their culture. He instructs them to never “put out the Spirit’s fire” or despise prophecy. He encourages these believers to “test everything” (1 Thess. 5:19–22).
Today’s overly cautious church can quickly shut down the Spirit’s work. In the West a culture of caution is rampant. We quickly judge the Spirit’s slightest move as dangerous and totally avoid it. Martyn Lloyd-Jones warns about this anti-supernatural arrogance. “What do we know about these great manifestations of the Holy Spirit?” he asks. “We need to be very careful lest we be found to be fighting against God, lest we be guilty of quenching the Holy Spirit of God.” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Joy Unspeakable: Power and Renewal in the Holy Spirit [Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1994], 61.)
Don’t misinterpret Paul’s advice to “test everything.”It’s not permission to reject revival. You’re not being deputized to pat down the Holy Spirit if he shows up. One translation, The Original Aramaic New Testament in Plain English, says “explore everything.” That makes better sense. You take a car on a test drive not because you fear it. Rather, you like it and want to see what the car can do. When the Spirit comes in power, test what he can do!
Exploring God’s power is revival culture. You can’t limit God to what you know. Your knowledge doesn’t exhaust God’s display of power. Leave caution behind and cross into expectancy.
John Wesley records the moment revival breaks out in 1739. He doesn’t fear the Spirit’s power but test drives it. Finishing a sermon, he says, “I called upon God to confirm His word. Immediately, to my surprise, someone nearby cried out with utmost vehemence, as though in agony of death.” After prayer, the man who is overcome by God experiences unspeakable joy.
A week later after preaching, he invites the people to explore revival power with him. “I asked them to pray that if this was the will of God, He would bear witness to His word. Immediately on, then another, and another sank to the earth. They dropped on every side as if thunderstruck.”
That evening God’s power continues to accelerate.Wesley tells, “Almost before we called upon God to set to His Seal, He answered.” Another man is overpowered by the Spirit.
Wesley explores revival for nearly fifty years. He transfers this culture across the ocean, where God’s power explodes through the Methodist camp meetings. It is boldness that plants revival cultures throughout the new nation and brings wave after wave of revival.
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, revive me! Overcome all my dependence on human effort, self-promotion, and fearful caution. Keep filling me with your Spirit. Embolden me to explore supernatural breakthroughs. Raise up a people who, together, pray for revival.
If you’d like to read more about revival and how you can be involved in a powerful work of God, I wrote about it in my book, Revival Rising: Preparing for the Next Great Wave of Awakening. You can find it in the Seedbed store.