Most Christians are familiar with the idea of a spiritual "revival". Some believe that what is needed today is a true revival in which God pours out His Spirit on His church. In this short essay Arjan Baan of the Netherlands gives some guidance about this very important issue.
This study deals with the blessings of revival or regeneration and about the conditions needed to see such a revival happening. About this subject is also much more to say than we can discuss in this essay. Therefore the advice is to study the Bible and church history to find out more about the times in which the Spirit of God worked in miraculous ways. Your heart will start burning in you when you hear and read about the mighty works of God and the great revivals that have taken place and still take place.
First, we want to emphasize that you cannot separate revival and prayer. There will be no revival in your church if there is no prayer.
To pray effectively for revival one should know what revival is and what it is not.
Revival is not:
– a special meeting with a special guest speaker
– an (evangelism) campaign, accompanied by all kind of special miracles and signs
– a special healing service or a great conference
– a special youth service or a special music concert
– a good Sunday morning service.
Revival is much greater, deeper, wonderful and more blessed!
The word revival or regeneration means renewal of life/resurrection. Here some statements of preachers who experienced a revival:
1. Revival is the reawakening of believers of the church. There can only be revival where there is life. It is necessary that this life will be rekindled again.
2. Revival is the revelation of God in His holiness and irresistible power.
3. Revival is a renewed awareness that God is holy and a renewed consciousness how terrible sin is.
4. Revival is a time of refreshment in the presence of the Lord.
5. Revival is a community of believers who are immersed in God.
6. Revival is the flow of godly life in a body that is endangered to become a corpse.
7. Revival is God's sovereign act to open the floodgates of heaven in His great mercy and bless His children abundantly so that the streams of living water can flow through them to unbelievers.
8. Revival is that God the Father is going to reveal His Son more clearly to all believers.
9. Revival is giving the Lord Jesus Christ the authority and honour He deserves.
In other words, revival is:
a. the extraordinary work of the Spirit of God by whom sleeping believers, whose life is arid and dry, come to renewed life again. (Ez. 37:1-10)
b. the habitation of God in His church, by which His presence and glory are intensely experienced. (Isaiah 64:1-5)
c. an extraordinary work of the Spirit of God, by which God's people undergo a deep purification in regards of specific sins. (Mal. 3:1-4)
d. an awakening of many unbelievers, caused by the burning hearts and frank testimonies of revived believers.
Who needs revival and why?
In the first place, revival is necessary for the people of God (Ps. 85:7), known as believers. When believers receive renewed devotion to the Lord, the world will become aware of this and share in the blessing. The blessing will flow to the world around us. If God’s people really experience revival, it will be used by God to bring sinners into a new life.
Revival is necessary for the following reasons:
1. Without revival, churches will lose their spiritual power more and more. They will slowly have less attendance or die spiritually.
2. Without revival, Jesus will not be glorified. Worldliness, sin and indifference will increase.
3. Without revival, churches do not have any attraction and many will not be reached with the Gospel and be lost forever.
4. Without revival, we cannot show the world in an undeniable way that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the only way to God and that He has risen from the dead. (1 Kings 36-39)
5. Without revival, churches will be without prayer.
Of Whom revival comes
Revival comes from God (Ps. 85:7): “grant us Thy salvation”. It doesn’t come from prominent preachers or leaders. One cannot plan, organize or support revival. Revival doesn’t arise by applying a certain method. The Bible points out obstacles and hindrances for revival. Also how they could be taken out of the way. Nevertheless, God is sovereign to grand or not grand revival.
Hindrances to revival are:
1. Lack of humility and no confession of sins (Jer. 29:12, 2 Chron. 7:14)
2. Lack of fearless Spirit-filled preaching (Eph. 6:19)
3. Lack of continuous prayer (Matt. 21L13, Luke 11L13, Marc 9:29)
4. Lack of faith (John 7:37, Hebr. 11:6, Matt. 21:21, 22)
5. Lack of true Spiritual life (John 6:63, John 4:23, 24, Matt. 15:8)
6. Lack of emphasis on sanctification (2 Cor. 7:1, Hebr. 12:14)
7. Lack of humility and mercy that makes one honest and sincere (Rev. 3:17)
When to expect a revival
We can expect revival when we are willing to pay the price for it. We can find this price in 2 Chronicles 7:14:
‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’
In this verse four things are highlighted:
a. Humble yourself. Bow for God, confess your sins and faults, surrender yourself to Him and die to your old self.
b. Praying. Pray continuously and persistently, in private as well with others.
c. Seek God’s countenance. Live in continuous communion with the Lord.
d. Repent from wicked/bad ways. Restrain yourself from sins, live holy for God, obey God’s Word in all areas of life.
In times prior to revival, we see in the Old and New Testament and in church history that God calls men and goes a certain way with them. The disciples walked with Christ for three years. The same we see with men of God who are used for His glory. If you want to become a powerful instrument in God’s hand, allow the Lord to go His way with you. Before He gives revival, He will search for men, women and young people who have totally committed themselves to Jesus Christ’s dominion. These are people who cannot trust their own power and knowledge anymore. They have died to their own plans and dreams. When believers purify their hearts, they will first experience personal revival. And if they start to pray that the Spirit of God will work again like in Acts 4, revival will come. All revivals are the effect of persistent prayer! The spiritual need became pressing…
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication (Acts 1:14a).
God looks for people whom He can use as leaders: people who have fully surrendered to Christ, who are willing to live a holy and pure life and who have started praying. These are also the people who continue in prayer until the power of God will start working with new strength. This can be at school, university, church, youth club, prayer community or where ever… Praying for revival is a difficult task because by nature we like to hurry things. We should not think a new revival will take two or three months of prayer. Of course, it might be so, but the history of the church shows that often it takes a long time of prayer for revival.
Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Math.18:19, 20).
There is an incredible power in a small group of people who pray for revival. Do not get depressed if you start to pray and it seems the prayer will not be answered. Keep on praying, because a very prayer that comes from the heart and is purified by the blood of Jesus will be answered in one way or another. In Luke 18:1-8 Jesus tells a story to make clear that you should continue praying until He answers.
A true revival always has these marks:
1. God reveals Himself in glory and holiness. (Is. 6) This leads to a deep and serious conviction of sin in His children. (Acts: 2:37, 19:17) They start to confess their sins and get their lives in order. This is the most prominent sign of a revival worked by the Holy Spirit.
2. Believers become, after they have purified themselves, powerful and gloriously filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:14, 4:31)
3. Through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the name of Jesus will be magnified. (Acts 19:17) People will not say: “Where is your God” anymore. There will be a great joy in the church. (Acts 2:16, 8:8, 13:52, 15:3)
4. Great numbers of unconverted people will be saved, sometimes without any human interference (Acts 6:7) and sometimes even large cities. (Acts 9:35) Every day, people will be saved. (Acts 2:41-44, 5:14, 6:7)
5. During revival one comes to true obedience to God's word. (Acts 4:18-19, 5:27-29) Believers are willing to totally submit to and bow for the entire Word of God.
6. A great hunger for God and His word arises. (Acts 2:42-46, 19:9)
7. There are unity and love among all believers. (Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-37)
8. Believers are filled with zeal for evangelism and an urge for missions. (Acts 4:33, 8:4, 11:19-20, 19:8-10, 8:25-40, 9:32) The gospel is spread rapidly. (Acts 12:24, 13:44-49, 19:10, 20-26, 21:20, 2 Thess. 3:1) This is because younger and older people are passionately anointed by the Holy Spirit.
9. Believers become passionate and fearless in giving their testimonies. They testify everywhere. (Mark 16:20, Acts. 5:28, 8:4, 21:28, 22:15) They testify without end. (Acts 4:20, 5:42, 14:19-21). Nothing can stop them: no threat, whipping or imprisonment. (Phil. 1:14) They testify every day. (Acts 5:42, 17:16-17) And they testify frankly. (Acts 4:13)
10. The Word of God appears to be what it really is: a hammer, fire, water, balm, bread, honey, a mirror and it will conquer! (Acts 19:20, Hebr. 4:12, 2 Thess. 3:1, Acts 12:24, Isaiah 55:10-11, 1 Thess. 1:5, 2:13). The gospel appears to be what it really is: a force of God to save. (Rom. 1:16) The Word becomes irresistible. (Acts 7) It conquers sin, evil forces, false lessons, unbelief, doubt and opponents of the gospel.
11. There will be resistance from settled and lukewarm churches. From church history, we know that revivals took regularly place outside the 'big churches'. Often these revivals are considered with suspicion or are even slandered and opposed. (Acts 4:18, 19:9, 23:14)
Evangelist (MA Theology)