WHAT IS REVIVAL?
|Posted by Terry (terry) on Jan 26 2011 at 1:06 PM|
What Is Revival?
by Terry Somerville
"Revival" - Finding A Definition
The word revival has evolved to mean many things that are not revival at all. For example you may see on a sign " Revivals Meetings this Thursday to Sunday". So what happens the rest of the week? We know that revivals are not defined by a set of meetings but takes hold of hearts in an ongoing way. In the "Lakeland Revival" it is reported that Todd Bentley called it the greatest revival ever. Fat chance of that! We know that true revival is marked by holiness and transformation of lives, and that was sadly lacking. We may experience the Holy Spirit coming with power but that doesn't make revival. In fact it's a false comfort to look at the power. Jesus warned us about this. He said
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
The dictionary defines revived as
1. To return to life or consciousness.
2. To regain health, vigor, or good spirits.
3. To return to use, currency, or notice.
4. To return to validity, effectiveness, or operative condition.
When some one is resuscitated from near death by a doctor it is said he is "revived". "Re" means again, "Vive" means alive. To come alive again
Revival is a term for what happens to Christians when a living faith and first love to Christ is restored. It happens to individual Christians all the time. I have experienced personal revivals. But by "revival" we usually mean a large move of God affecting the whole church and the world.
In revival a number of things typically happen.
-Christians are stirred by the Holy Spirit to pray for an outpouring of His grace and restoration in the church.
-The Holy Spirit begins to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment.
- Gods word has light and power and pierces like a sword into the heart of sinners.
-Christians begin to see themselves in the light of Gods love, holiness and judgment.
-Christians often begin to weep and pray. Some tremble, and fear judgment.
-Christians see the problem is rooted in their hearts and confess their sinful character.
-Christians experience a breakthrough in the love and grace of God for them.
-Christians begin a new obedience to God from the heart. They are ready to obey the Lord.
-Christians restore their relationships, return what is stolen, change their speech, become faithful and loving husbands and wives, become honest workers.
-Finally the world is affected by many coming to Christ in church and in the community.
Revival is a renewed conviction of sin and repentance, followed by an intense desire to live in obedience to God.
It is giving up one's will to God in deep humility.
- Charles Finney
Is Revival A Work Of God Or Man?
In his Revival Lectures Charles Finney stated revival was the result of the right use of "means" He was an Arminian. He experienced revival as he applied himself in a definite way. But later in his life he admitted that there was more of Gods sovereign action in revival than he previously thought. He was preaching a time when the Kingdom was drawing near.
Johnathan Edwards believed revival was a sovereign work of God. He was a Calvanist. He was concerned about the sinful life of so called Christians and set about praying and preaching to bring them to repent. On three occasions he preached "Sinners in The Hands Of An Angry God". Reading from a manuscript, he spoke in a plain style and monotone. On this occasion the revival broke out. Here is an account
During the previous night godly women had prayed for a spiritual visitation. It came. A special service had been called for by a group of ministers with Edwards as the speaker for the afternoon session. As the ministers entered the meeting place, they were shocked by the levity of the congregation. They appeared thoughtless and vain, and hardly conducted themselves with common decency. As Edwards preached, he used no gestures but stood motionless. His left elbow leaned on the pulpit, and his left hand held his notes. His text was Deuteronomy 32:35, Their foot shall slide in due time! Strong men held onto their seats, feeling they were sliding into hell! Men shook, some losing their reason. His words would so grip the audience that they felt, should he cease speaking, the doom he pronounced would immediately come upon them. He flashed before the people the fiery prospects of eternal damnation, as hell was a living reality to him. Yet, unlike Whitefield, he did it with calm tones. So vivid was his imagination that he could graphically picture the eternal torments of the lost. The theme of the message was, "The God that holds you over the pit of Hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over a fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked." Men and women stood up and rolled on the floor, their cries once drowning out the voice of the preacher. Some are said to have laid hold on the pillars and braces of the church, apparently feeling that at that very moment their feet were sliding, that they were being precipitated into Hell. Through the night, Enfield was like a beleaguered city. In almost every house, men and women could be heard crying out for God to save them. Before it was all over 500 were saved in the community that day. Someone has said about that sermon, "New England might forgive it, but she could never forget it."
So revival seems to be a work of both God and man. It is a relationship after all, otherwise why would we pray for revival?
Perhaps G Campbell Morgan says it best.
"We cannot organize revival, but we can set our sails to catch the wind from Heaven
when God chooses to blow upon His people once again."
The Wind Is Blowing Again
Praise God, the wind is blowing again. Many churches are experiencing the presence and power of the Spirit. The Kingdom of God is drawing near! But it is not revival. Yet. We need to answer an important question. Are people changed just because the Lord is near? Does coming into the Lord's presence and power transform lives? The answer is NO! Not unless they have prepared hearts. It didn't happen in the Exodus, and it didn't happen for many who met Christ in person. (that was the point of John the Baptist preaching - to prepare hearts for Jesus) Many saw Jesus miracles and were healed, but were unchanged. For example, Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one was made whole - which means saved! His heart was changed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
Seasons of Outpouring - The Power Of The Kingdom Drawing Near
The seasons of the power of the Holy Spirit need to be understood as "the Kingdom Of Heaven Is Drawing Near". There are times when the Lord comes close with His Kingdom. We need to understand the current outpourings and renewal as Kingdom Comes Near seasons. Jesus said "if I by the finger of God cast out demons, then know that the kingdom of God has come near" These times can produce revival, but we must do as Jesus and the disciples did. They called for repentance..
And in those days cometh John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
TO REPENT - to change your mind, change your attitude, to change your heart.
REVIVAL - The Valley Of Decision
In revival the word of God divides the soul from the spirit - the flesh nature from the new nature. The word is preached, the hearers are cut to the heart, pressure applied by the Holy Spirit until they yield and begin a walk in newnesss of life.
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, as it judges the thoughts and purposes of the heart.
John the Baptist said it well.
"Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from sin and turned to God. Don't say "we are children of Abraham." That proves nothing. God can change these stones into children of Abraham."
Matthew 3:8,9 NLT