What is a Christian Revival?
is the topic that will be discussed today on RIOT Podcast, a Christian Discipleship Podcast
The topic of today's show is “What Is a Christian Revival?”. We've heard about what's going on at Asbury, and we're seeing signs of revival on the campuses of many other universities across the country.So, what is Revival exactly? We believe it is a spiritual re-awakening from a state of dormancy or stagnation in a believer's life. It includes a renewed love for God, an appreciation for God's holiness, a love for His Word and His church, a convincing awareness of personal and corporate sin, a spirit of humility, and a desire for repentance and growth in righteousness. Revival energizes and sometimes deepens a believer's faith, opening his or her eyes to the truth in a new and exciting way. It generally causes a new beginning with a clean slate, a new beginning of a life lived in obedience to God. Revival breaks the world's charm and power, which blinds men's eyes, and generates both the will and power to live in the world but not of the world.
The First Great Awakening, also known as the First Revival, occurred in the United States in the 1730s and 1740s and resulted in a spike in Protestant devotion, leaving a lasting imprint on American religion. It came about as a result of authoritative preaching that profoundly affected the congregation with a convicting understanding of individual guilt and the amazing nature of salvation through Christ.
By igniting a strong emotional need for a relationship with Christ, the Great Awakening liberated Christianity from mindless ceremonial and dull ritual, making it extremely personal to the average person as it should be.
In many ways, revival mimics the experience of a believer when he or she is saved. It is prompted by the Holy Spirit, who creates an awareness of something missing or wrong in the believer's life that can only be corrected by God. The Christian, in turn, must respond from the heart, acknowledging his or her own need. The Holy Spirit then powerfully draws back the veil that the world has cast over the truth, allowing believers to fully see themselves in comparison to God's majesty and holiness. Such comparisons, of course, bring great humility, but also great awe of God and His truly amazing grace.
Isaiah 6:5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”. Unlike the initial conversion experience, which results in a new relationship with God, revival represents a restoration of fellowship with God, the relationship having been maintained despite the believer's withdrawal for a time.
In a variety of situations, God, through His Holy Spirit, calls us to revival. The letters of Christ to the seven churches reveal some of the circumstances that may necessitate revival. Christ praised the church in the letter to Ephesus for their perseverance and discernment, but He also stated that they had abandoned their first love (Revelation 2:4-5 “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the work you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”
Many times, as the excitement of accepting Christ fades, we lose the zeal that we once had. We become engrossed in the ritual, going through the motions, and lose sight of the joy of serving Christ. Revival aids in the restoration of that first love and passion for Christ. Revelation 2:10-11 is about the church in Smyrna, which was under severe persecution. Life's cares and concerns can wear us down, leaving us emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. Revival can provide us with new hope and faith.
Revelation 2:14-16 says “But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also, you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.” These verses address the issue of worldly compromise and incorporating worldly values into our belief systems.
Revival assists us in correctly determining what values we should hold. The problem of tolerating false teaching in our churches is addressed in Revelation 2:20-23 it says “But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.” We must examine the messages we hear and compare them to the Bible's message.
Revival aids us in discovering the truth. Revelation 3:1-6 says “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you still have a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” This describes a dead church, one that goes through the motions on the outside but has nothing on the inside.
Here is a picture of nominal Christianity: prosperous on the outside, preoccupied with religious rituals, but devoid of spiritual life and power. Revival aids in the resuscitation of spiritual life. In Revelation 3:11 it says “I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. We are warned against complacency, or living a fruitless life.” All of these scenarios necessitate revival.
The root word for “revival” comes from the word “revive”. The prefix “re” meaning “again,” and “vive”, which derives from the Old French word vivere, meaning “to live.” So, the word revive literally means “to live again.”
This type of reviving involves the renewing of the mind, Romans 12:1-2 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
If Pastors and leaders want to see Revival in their churches, then True revival involves proper preaching of God’s word: This quality can be found in the book of Nehemiah (chap. 9:1-38), where Ezra, a scribe who was highly trained in the Law of Moses, stood at a wooden podium that was made for this purpose (vs. 1-5). It was at the wooden podium where Ezra spoke the Law to all of Israel, while they sat attentively listening to Ezra (v. 7)
In similar fashion, Peter, on the day of Pentecost, gave the first sermon to the Jewish people pointing from the Old Testament that Jesus was Messiah sent by God, to be crucified (Acts 2:14-36). A true revival has with it true preaching from God’s word in context. Popcorn preaching many times leaves out context
Bottom line is True revival is not a superficial, emotional response that results in a temporary experience, but no long-term fruit of righteousness. True revival is when the living God sovereignly and powerfully breaks into human history with the good news of His salvation. It invariably begins with His people coming under deep conviction of sin and turning from that sin in genuine repentance. It always involves a recovery of biblical truth, especially the truth about how sinners are reconciled to a holy God. Therefore, it also involves a recovery of the centrality and authority of God’s Word over all of life.
It is long lasting with a renewed sense of God’s presence, power, holiness, and truth then inevitably spills out of the church and into the world, resulting in many genuine conversions. If you want to read two excellent books on the subject, I recommend Revival, by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Revival and Revivalism, by Iain Murray.
The evidence of revival has changed lives. Great movements toward righteousness, evangelism, and social justice occur. Believers are once again spending time in prayer and reading and obeying God’s Word. Believers begin to powerfully use their spiritual gifts. There is confession of sin and repentance.