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Sermon #RV11

Revival Sermon: The Phenomena of Revival

A Sermon on Supernatural Phenomena during Revival from Acts 2:12-13


Acts 2:12-13 ESV KJV
And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” (ESV)

Sermon Description

Great awakenings by God are often accompanied by great physical and mental phenomena. During revivals, men and women are described as being “struck”—falling to the ground and fainting. Supernatural knowledge about the future is given to ordinary people. What is to be made of these revival testimonies about prophesy and physical phenomena? Should such things as hysteria or brain washing be dismissed? In this sermon on Acts 2:12–13 titled “Revival Sermon: The Phenomena of Revival,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones pushes back against the Western tendency to describe these kinds of things in naturalistic terms. While acknowledging there can be mixture of false phenomena with the true, he cautions Christians not to merely dismiss these physical phenomena based upon a dry intellectualism. Such reasoning could result in Christians quenching the Holy Spirit. Instead, Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds that these kinds of phenomena are always accompanied by a response from bystanders. It is either a response of doubt, amazement, or mockery. This was the experience of the early Christians in Acts 2:12–13 and it has held true throughout the history of revivals as well. The Christian response, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, must test such things. Nevertheless the whole person can be impacted by a great movement from the sovereign Spirit. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones seeks a balanced approach in this controversial topic.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The sermon examines the question of how revival affects those outside the church.
  2. Acts 2:12-13 describes the reaction of some who witnessed the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost: some were amazed, some doubted, and some mocked the disciples saying they were drunk.
  3. This reaction is common throughout church history during times of revival. Some disapprove of revival altogether.
  4. The reaction can be attributed to the phenomena that sometimes accompany revival. These include physical phenomena like falling, fainting, and trances as well as mental phenomena like gifts of speech, prophecy, knowledge, and discernment.
  5. These phenomena do not always occur during revival and revival can happen without them. But they are frequently present to some degree.
  6. There are several false explanations for these phenomena including:
  7. Brainwashing: But this fails to explain the spontaneous origin of revival or why it would happen simultaneously in different places. Revival also cannot be manufactured through human techniques.
  8. Mass hysteria: But again this fails to explain the origin of revival or why strong, rational individuals would be affected. The character and results of revival also do not match hysteria.
  9. Psychic phenomena: But this fails to explain why these gifts would suddenly appear in those without evidence of them before, why they would be so widespread, or why they would disappear. The results of revival also do not match psychic phenomena.
  10. The work of the devil: But the devil would not do something that brings glory to God, strengthens the church, and leads to salvation. Revival divides the devil's kingdom.
  11. The true explanation is the outpouring of the Spirit as described in Acts 2 and prophesied in Joel 2. This results in unusual phenomena as people react to God's power and presence.
  12. Differences of opinion exist even among godly leaders as to the exact explanation for these phenomena. We must approach the issue with caution, reverence, and humility.
  13. The Scriptures provide some guidance. The prophets experienced ecstatic states, trances, and visions as the Spirit came upon them. The disciples at Pentecost were accused of being drunk. Peter cited Joel's prophecy of the outpouring of the Spirit resulting in visions, dreams, and prophecy. Peter and Paul both had visions and trances. 1 Corinthians describes various gifts and phenomena in the Corinthian church.
  14. Some conclusions:
  15. These phenomena call attention to God's work.
  16. The Holy Spirit impacts the whole person - body, soul, and spirit. Powerful spiritual experiences will impact the physical and emotional.
  17. Different people will react differently based on factors like age, temperament, etc.
  18. The phenomena themselves are not the focus or goal. They tend to decrease over time. Some may be due to physical weakness or breakdown.
  19. The devil will try to counterfeit or misuse these phenomena. We must test the spirits.
  20. The phenomena are not essential to or the definition of revival. Revival is about the outpouring of the Spirit. The phenomena are occasional concomitants.

Revival Sermons

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.