Who Needs Revival?

Some years ago, I was visiting a small rural church in Michigan where a preacher delivered a message on revival. His text was Genesis 26:18.

And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham.

He argued passionately that what we need more than anything else in these times is revival. In fact, revival would solve every significant problem that exists in our nation, our churches, and in the lives of God’s people everywhere. Near the end of his message, he summarized with these words. “Our nation needs revival, God’s people need revival, we here—we all need revival… I need revival.”

The message illustrates a widespread way of thinking about revival and a common pattern in pulpit use of the term. But three problems with this usage call for our attention.

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Revival and Revivalism (Part 2)

(From Think on These Things. Read Part 1.)

Biblical Basis for Revival

If the Scriptures do not encourage us to seek revival, what does it say on the subject? In the Old Testament we find several references to being revived. The word that is sometimes translated “revive” or “revived” is found two hundred thirty-four times in the Old Testament and it means to give life, make alive, and give new life, depending upon the context.

In Psalm 119 we find this word for “revive” used several times in the context of spiritual renewal. On at least twelve occasions the psalmist prays to be revived. That is, an invitation to renew or make alive the spiritual passions and desires of a believer. By studying these examples we can find the biblical marks or characteristics of a spiritually alive person:

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Revival and Revivalism (Part 1)

(Originally published at Think on These Things, January 2001)

Revival is hot right now. If you read any Christian literature, especially magazines, listen to Christian radio or watch Christian TV, you know this is a subject that is on the front burner of evangelicalism.

In doing research on this topic I turned to the web site of Christian Book Distributors to run down a couple of books on the subject that I had been wanting to purchase. I was a bit surprised to discover that CBD listed 156 books on revival. These are books that are currently in print, and are being sold by this one outlet. This does not include many books that they do not carry nor the many hundreds that are out of print.

Revival is hot and it is easy. Who could say a word against fit? It is like putting down motherhood. Go into any Christian circle and declare that we need revival and you will get a hardy “Amen.” Tell people that you are praying for revival and expect a lot of admiration.

But what exactly is revival? Do people know what they are praying for? Would we know revival if it came, and would we like it? Should we even desire revival?

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Reformation That Brings Revival (Part 2)

From Voice, May/June 2014. First appeared at Always Reforming. Continued from Part 1.

3. Reject everything contrary to God’s Word

2 Chronicles 17:6, 30:14, 31:1, 34:3-5

King Jehoshaphat was clear about the prohibition of idol worship. So had all the other kings before him that had allowed it. But in 2 Chronicles 17:6, it tells us that Jehoshaphat did something about it. The text says, “His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord.” This courageous heart sought to obey the Lord in all things, including the destruction of the popular high places of worship and the Asherim.

For his part, King Hezekiah did similarly brave acts recorded in 2 Chronicles 30:14 and 31:1. And Josiah at the ripe young age of 20 likewise followed in the godly footsteps of these two kings (2 Chron. 34:3-5), making sure to defile the graves of the pagan priests.

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Reformation That Brings Revival (Part 1)

From Voice, May/June 2014. First appeared at Always Reforming. Used by permission.

There is no doubt that the church today needs revival. But not revival as it is sometimes defined: evangelistic tent meetings in which the Holy Spirit is scheduled to arrive on our set dates. Revivals or “awakenings” as they used to be called, mark a special time when God moves upon God’s people and there is evidence of the Spirit’s powerful work among His people and those He draws to salvation through the proclamation of the gospel message.

Today there is a lot of activity in the evangelical church—lots of money being spent, books printed, and conferences held, churches planted and sermons preached. With the technology of our day, there is more access to the Bible, sermons, and the gospel worldwide than ever before. We have in our country a majority of the world’s largest churches.

But would we say that there is revival happening in our nation or our churches? Most of us would say no, and I would heartily agree. There are victories and people are being saved but the Church today, especially in North America, is a long way from revival. Do you desire revival in our churches and our nation? I do, and I think that you do as well.

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