In the New Testament it started with John the Baptist
John the Baptist was the man who laid the foundation for the revival that culminated in Pentecost and self-perpetuated for more than a century. What was his secret, what was his message? It is of fundamental importance that we comprehend what really produces true revival so that we can maintain it. If we embrace only the synonyms of revival, we can lose it just as easily as we receive it.
First of all, true revival begins with people whose hearts are totally given over to the Holy Spirit. Secondly, true revival always extends to the church. After that, it spreads and wakes up unbelievers and non-Christians. Finally, it brings reformation to society in general. I am not suggesting that the earth will become heaven, but simply that the light will prevail over the darkness and righteousness will dethrone injustice. If there is a genuine revival in a nation, the history of this nation will change.
To understand what happened at Pentecost, we need to return to John the Baptist, the apostle of the revival, the man who prepared the way of the Lord.
John continued where Malachi had left off
Between the Old and New Testament there is a period of 400 years which began with the end of the ministry of the prophet Malachi and began with the ministry of John the Baptist. After this long prophetic silence, the voice of God returned to Israel. What was the last message before this biblical silence of 400 years? Malachi had prophesied:
“And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with the curse.” (Malachi 4:6)
And what was the first prophetic message after the silence was broken? It was the same! There is continuity between Malachi and John the Baptist even though they were separated by a long chronological gap. This is the message that connects the Old to the New Testament, that unites Jews and Gentiles and that fixes the world: restoration and reconciliation of the family – the foundation of true revival. This was the prophetic path of the whole Ministry of John the Baptist.
“And he (John) will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (Luke 1:16, 17)
The main route of rebellion that locks people up in jails of sin comes from unresolved conflicts between parents and children. Family reconciliation dethrones rebellion, invokes prudence and trains the church. The apostolic and prophetic ministry of John the Baptist leveled the ground in the spiritual world:
“As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth: and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:4-6)
Few people were able to notice this, but hell was being torn apart. The fear of God came, and the nation was under a baptism of repentance. There were “atomic explosions” of public humiliation, confessions of specific sins and mass conversions that were tearing apart the state of religious confinement that Satan had formerly imposed.
“Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Matthew 3:5-6)
An attitude of genuine humbleness shown by a collective confession of sins removes captivity, destroys curses, dislodges territorial spirits and heals the earth.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
During John’s revival thousands of prodigal parents were returning to their children and thousands of prodigal children were returning to their parents. There was a tremendous amount of confession of sins. The baptism of John was one of confessing sins. Public repentance was producing family reconciliation on a major scale. These people’s way of thinking was being renewed, and they were willing to change their attitudes. In response they asked what they should do. John wasn’t in anyway superficial; he never smoothed over the people sins and much less tolerated their religiosity. His message demanded not only repentance but also the fruit of repentance: lives converted and families healed.
Even Jesus prophetically subjected himself to the baptism of John, which was part of the new revival. At that moment the heavens were torn open to a new move of the Holy Spirit and to the voice of the Father.
“And the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, thou art my beloved son; with thee I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)
Before Satan and demonic principalities fell from heaven, the Holy Spirit came down through the ministry of John. Demonic spiritual structures were being strongly confronted and the principality of the nation was losing his right to operate. Political and religious governments felt the shocks of this move of the Holy Spirit and faced the same confrontation.
Repentance through naming and confession of sins, acts of reconciliation and prophetic witness are the most aggressive attitudes of spiritual warfare that silence every demonic argument and accusation. This is what prepares the way and straightens the path for true revival. (Matthew 3:3). Principalities and powers totally lose their ability to operate and are obligated to retreat. Demons cannot stand the anointing that brokenness and unity bring and are easily cast out. This is why Jesus ministry was marked with deliverance and healing. Evil spirits were being dislodged with an authority that amazed the religious class. Jesus declared that he saw Satan falling from heaven during those days (Luke 10:18). Satan had lost his strategic position by which he controlled the mentality of the people. Surely a great harvest was ready to come.
We must not fail to recognize that the man who worked to obtain this legality in preparation for the ministry of Jesus was John the Baptist. He cleansed the heavens and spiritually leveled the earth. Satanic principalities in heavenly realms and territorial spirits were destabilized.
During John’s ministry people repented, confessing their sins, changing attitudes and behavior, and reconciling with their families. This is how we see Satan fall from the sky over city or nation.
In Jesus’s ministry we can observe the collateral effects of this: Demons were being cast out, sick were being healed, miracles were flowing, multitudes were being saved and taught, and true disciples were being trained. Jesus was following the tracks of the path made ready by John.
The path was opened up, a powerful church realigned with the will of God began to be formed. John prepared the way for their “revival in person”: Jesus. And Jesus, through his life and death on the cross, prepared the way and passed the baton for the collective revival: the Holy Spirit. The first church wasn’t distracted by the power it received: rather, it responsibly channeled it to disciple the nations. Each member did his part.
The true pillar of sound revival consists of reconciliation and restoration of families through the power of the cross. This point can make the difference between a move of God and a profound transformation by God; between a visitation of God and a residing of God on earth; between a breath of God and a lasting revival.
Sensational signs or Biblical signs of true revival
I am not impressed by remarkable spiritual manifestations in church meetings. At times, I have seen some people who fall under the spirit; others laughing, crying, jumping, dancing or roaring like lions; others worshiping, prophesying, or speaking in other tongues, etc. all of this is very good and even necessary because this consoles and edifies many individuals in the body. The presence of God is emotional and the manifestation of his gifts is useful and strengthening. With all respect I say that I’m not impressed by these people because what they are experiencing doesn’t mean that their lives are being changed. In many cases this may only signify an encouraging and therapeutic touch of God for those whose life is emotionally and spiritually stressed. For many who find themselves in a depressive state this comforting by the Holy Spirit has its rightful place. Even so this is merely a superficial work.
However, when I see people in a meeting, moved by the Holy Spirit, confessing sins openly, humbling themselves, recognizing their guilt, revealing their secret sins, exposing their shame, renouncing the hurts of traumas, forgiving and releasing those who have offended them, paying restitution for defrauding others, reconciling relationships, taking a stand on their morals, that is when I perceive the fear of God and that is impressive! This is the aroma of the fire of true revival, an environment of true deliverance and spiritual conquest.
Revival through the family
A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land. (Psalm 68:5, 6)
TURNING THE ATTENTION TO THE FAMILY
The above passage reveals that it is God’s clear goal to heal, support, and preserve the family. In his infinite mercy, he is willing to make good on the losses and injustices which have been suffered. The family was planned out to be the proper environment, the emotional womb which generates healthy children, destined to consistent spiritual growth.
It has been clearly proven that people born outside of the protection and love of a family environment become insecure. This insecurity manifests itself in various forms of self-rejection and rebellion. This is where the deepest problems of any individual are rooted.
The most intense areas of spiritual warfare don’t begin outside in the world where the demons are throwing a party. The primary spiritual battlefield is inside the walls of the church, and is the most arduous strategy of the enemy’s attack, which is always characterized by a form of infiltration. In other words, it is in the mind, the family and the church that we will face the greatest Satanic investments. The point of attack invariably begins with the principle of attacking the authority figure. “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” (Matthew 26:31)
The main pillar of the family is the father figure, who is the divine reference point for the children and the wife. The absence of the father figure imposes a state of widowhood and orphanhood that destabilizes the family environment, provoking insecurity and a lack of protection. This is why Satan appears as the father of orphanhood.
We must not deceive ourselves: the strategy of attack of the enemy is against the father figure. This is readily evident in observing world religions. In Brazil there is a matriarchal religious system, run primarily by female patron Saints that, under a pretext of intercession, block the relationship with God the Father.
In Catholicism there is a big “mother of God” with the “Little Lord Jesus” in her arms and a father that never appears on the scene. This world outlook has manifested itself in the family situation shipwrecking relationships. Almost all the problems related to the wife and children are collateral effects of a father who for whatever reason, failed in fulfilling his proper place in the family. What we see so much of nowadays due to adultery and alcoholism are families with absent fathers, a “supermom” who takes on all the responsibilities, and due to her impulses motivated by insecurity becomes a “home Sargent” with the children suffering all the collateral effects of this inversion of roles.
As incredible as it may sound, in all the cultures of the world, the most common expression of Satan is as a “mother”. This is emotionally very strategic. Satan is an expert in transfiguring himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). These are frontal attacks, however subtle, against the fatherhood of God.
In the above passage from Psalm 68, God is presented as our main reference point for fatherhood. While the devil is the father of orphanhood, God is the father of the orphans, the protector of widows and the restorer of families. He has never abdicated this position in relation to the human race. Even though the human race has become lost through sin, he still adopts us thereby redeeming our sonship.
Jesus gave up his right as the “only begotten son” of God to become the “firstborn” of many brethren. Through the incredibly expensive price of his death and resurrection, he included us in his kingdom and family. We have been taken hostage by death, victims of our own sins. We were separated from God, but Jesus paid the price for our ransom and brought us back, giving us the Holy Spirit that cries out “Abba father!” Through his sacrifice he brought us into his family; not as slaves to religiosity, but as true children of God who can enjoy total liberty and have intimate access to the heart of the Father.
This is the dynamic of family restoration. The fatherhood of God exposes the company of loneliness, opens the prisons of rejection and makes the personality prosper. However, for God to break the chains of fatherlessness in our lives, we must first break the chains of rebellion in our lives. As long as we fail to do this, we will live in a totally sterile spiritual and emotional realm. We must choose to release our rights as victims and be baptized through the ministry of reconciliation.
“And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:6)
The curses of the land are directly related to the destruction of the structure of the family principle. This is the heart of the battlefield. The human race has been a victim of a satanic conspiracy to control the family. Sins, family conflicts and misalignments have the tendency to self-perpetuate, adversely conditioning successive generations. Many times it is not easy to resolve such situations and disarm these schemes of curses. It requires not only the search for a correct diagnosis through intelligent spiritual mapping, but also an adequate treatment and the whole process of renewal, instruction and transformation of the mind.
The spiritual leader and the family
In life we juggle many balls. Most of them are made of rubber, and if we drop them we are able to pick them up and continue juggling. The family, however, is like a glass ball. If we drop this ball, it will break. And if we lose it, we will lose the game of life. There is no success that can compensate for failure in the family. Ministry, friends, work, finances and even health are all rubber balls. If we lose them, we can easily get them back. However, if we lose our family, the spiritual trauma, especially for a leader to continue to be a leader, will be fatal.
In these situations not only have many leaders fallen to the wayside, but many churches also have been traumatized and imprisoned in terrible legacies of morality, division and curses. This path leads in the opposite direction of revival.