#TheStadiumRevival: Revival Continues in California Despite Recent Restrictions. But Is It Legitimate?
Recently, a few news outlets asked, “What’s going on in California?” That question prompted me to write these articles (you can view the first one here.) With the beach gatherings, along with Pastor’s Jack Hibbs’, Rob McCoy, and John MacArthur’s bold stances, we decided to launch a Saturday night service in Lancaster, California, at JetHawk Stadium on July 25th. It’s being tagged the Stadium Revival.
30 Baptisms Last Night
To get you up to speed: Although the event was primarily for our local body as a way to come together, word quickly spread and approximately 1,000 people show up every Saturday. We are not collecting names for a database or trying to elevate our church; it’s simply a time to elevate Christ. It’s an incredible event that will run through September 2020 (God willing).
This second weekend we witnessed even more salvations, recommitments, and powerful personal testimonies leading to 30 baptisms, 29 of which were spontaneous. This move of God simply shows how hungry people are to be encouraged and uplifted … and even convicted. The message can be seen here and if you subscribe to us on YouTube here or Facebook you can see the full service.
For those asking, what we are doing is not connected to Bethel in any way. Although I know Sean Feucht, for example, and appreciate him leading worship in obscure places (would be to God that more would step up to the plate), God is doing something different in our area. My messages are focused on the simple message of repentance. It’s a call back to God … back to truth, holiness, and the fear of the Lord. As a matter of fact, if God doesn’t change my plans, next week’s message is: “There is No Fear of God in This Place.”
Conservatives think I’m too charismatic, and charismatics think I’m too conservative, but God will be my final judge. I have one desire: To see the Spirit of the living God revive dead churches and convict causal bystanders. To encourage believers and convict sinners, and to build the local church.
There is Always a Word Spoken Against Revival
Sadly, some are coming against these events throughout California. This is not uncommon. Every book I have read on revival always has a word spoken against it. George Whitefield had to retreat to the open fields to preach, and John Wesley was criticized often. Revival stirs the waters … dead churches are convicted about their barrenness, and carnal Christians are deeply challenged.
What many have experienced are valid moves of God. However, while revivals may grow from pure motives and humble beginnings, they can be quenched by bizarre behavior or by leaders who lack character, or by those who take the glory and promote themselves. God calls us to be concerned, prayerful, and surrendered to Him.
We easily ignore Scripture when we embrace views outside of God’s revealed Word. When we default to our old nature or cultural trends, and can be easily led by false teachings. Jeremiah 23:16 sheds even more light on the need to discern, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the LORD’.”
We are to discern truth from error, light from darkness, and right from wrong. But not all leaders in revival movements are false and misleading. Many are sincere and open to the work of the Holy Spirit and understand that “experiences” cannot supersede the Word. God’s Word is the foundation on which all truth stands (cf. 1 Timothy 3:15).
Is California Experiencing Genuine Revival?
What is true revival, and is California experiencing it? As stated last week, a genuine revival is God reviving His people — “Wilt thou not revive us again that thy people may rejoice in thee?” (Psalm 85:6 KJV). He fills us with joy, love, and an even greater presence of His Spirit, and repentance is often a mark of true revival.
Christians can embrace one of two extremes concerning the word “revival.” At one extreme are those who embrace pure emotionalism and hysteria — “if it’s odd it’s God” — all weird behavior is excused. The other extreme lacks a living, vibrant spiritual life. The church feels dead, cold, and lifeless. Talk of reviving the things of God (revival) is either dismissed or ridiculed. Both extremes can hinder the work of the Holy Spirit and genuine Christian growth. Those truly filled with the Spirit reflect the personality and nature of God. Someone truly filled with the Spirit though bold, is often not bizarre.
We cannot dismiss the truly miraculous works of God that happen daily, nor can we minimize the incredible power of God to radically change lives through the power of the Spirit. However, in our zeal and excitement we often minimize the need for discernment. A discerning person considers supernatural experiences in light of God’s Word, nature, and character.
That said, the short answer is yes. I believe what we are seeing in California is genuine (in most cases). Is there genuine fruit? Does the experience align with God’s Word? Is the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5 present: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? A true, genuine experience with the Holy Spirit will produce godly fruit and obedience to God. It seeks to promote those things that are pure and righteous.
Join me in praying: “God, please keep the revival fires burning from California to all 50 states and beyond. You are our only hope.” And don’t forget to check out our live feed next Saturday at 7 pm PST on both Facebook and YouTube.
Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Southern California and the creator of the WCF Radio Network. His program, Regaining Lost Ground, points us back to God and reminds us that although times change, truth does not. His books, blogs, and sermons can all be found at ShaneIdleman.com.