I have had my fair share of fads in Christendom. Like a wild eyed tornado chaser I have trudged and raced against the waves and later lapped up every breeze like a lazy dog sticking its tongue out of the window of a car into the rushing country side winds. Revival however has been the most elusive of all fads. Ask any Christian today what revival is and you will get a myriad of answers. Ranging from revival being a warm fuzzy sensation (revival fire) that triggers a chilling convulsion of goose bumps (revival rain), a force that swings you from the chandeliers and throws you across the room till you fall down flat on your face motionless. The focus of attention in these revivals seems to centre on an individual or group of personalities and little emphasis goes to God’s Sovereignity or Bible Exegesis or the even the Gospel message.
But I always vaguely knew revival had something to do with mortals having an extra terrestrial encounter of sorts though was too lazy to read the Bible and find out. I guess I was contented with a lay definition that a college roommate once gave me– revival is when “God comes down and the whole village gets saved”. Call me dumb but that was my Alma mater! Who wouldn’t want to see such a cool move? I could only imagine finding my Muslim neighbour singing ‘Amazing Grace’ and the Atheist milk man whistling ‘Rock of Ages cleft for Me’ -and top that with the land lord slipping a note under the door saying, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches” under the door when times are hard. Well if revival is a Sovereign move of God in the affairs of men, how about Salvation?
A few years earlier, I had come to know the condition of my own heart in light of a Holy God. I was a sinner. I was a liar, self righteous and had no time for God and cared less if He had time for me. There you have it in no uncertain terms. So if only one lie can make you a liar; one sin makes you a sinner. Not slight sinners, but serious sinners. The whole planet is infested with sin. Every human being is a sinner by birth, a sinner by nature and a sinner by choice. Our sin is our rebellion against God, a determined defiance of God, a calloused choice to disobey God in the face of everything we know is right. Therefore sin is not small, because it is not against a small Sovereign. The seriousness of an insult rises with the dignity of the one insulted.
The Gospel is the news that Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, died for our sins and rose again, eternally triumphant, so that there is now no condemnation for those who believe, but only everlasting joy. God cannot just overlook our sins, because He is a God of holiness and justice. He can’t pretend they do not exist because He is a God of truth. And because of the love of God, in the face how serious our sinful condition is, God’s only option was to do what would otherwise be impossible.
We will never stand in awe of being loved by God until we reckon with the seriousness of our sin and the justice of His wrath against us. But when, by grace we waken to our unworthiness, then we may look at the suffering and death of Christ and say, “In this is love not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the [wrath-absorbing] propitiation for our sins”-John Piper
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive [quickened us] with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5
Regeneration or being made alive is a New Testament concept that grew out of a parabolic picture-phrase that Jesus used to show Nicodemus the inwardness and depth of the change that even religious Jews must undergo if they were ever to see and enter the kingdom of God, and so have eternal life (John 3:3-15). Jesus pictured the change as being “born again.”
The concept is of God renovating the heart, the core of a person’s being, by implanting a new principle of desire, purpose, and action, a dispositional dynamic that finds expression in positive response to the gospel and its Christ. Jesus’ phrase “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5) harks back to Ezekiel 36:25-27, where God is pictured as symbolically cleansing persons from sin’s pollution (by water) and bestowing a “new heart” by putting his Spirit within them. –J.I Packer
Revival is God’s quickening visitation of his people, touching their hearts and deepening his work of grace in their lives. It therefore begins with one person -a Sovereign God. He alone can regenerate a sin infested soul, birth it anew causing it to live and sustain it. Why does He stoop so low? Why does He even care about sinners? Well God is not willing that any should perish. His plan of Salvation is the only escape route against His wrath. God will save and He alone saves as many as He wills to – by grace for His own Glory. I now sit back and think my old college roommate was right in some way, if “God comes down” He can cause the whole village to get saved. For only He alone can do that. Oh when will God visit us again?
Revival is a sovereign work of God. And since it is there are ‘marks’ or true revival. I cannot list them all from memory, but one mark that has been evident in every genuine revival in the history of the church is an overwhelming sense of our sin, and all that means, along with genuine repentance and mighty cleansing. I think I need to post a good series from R.C. Sproul.
Rightly said, one of the marks of revival is indeed an overwhelming sense of sin and along with repentance and faith in Christ.
In 1994, I thought I went through a personal revival, having thought I had been saved when I was 8 years old. Only recently – after coming to an understanding of the doctrines of grace – did I realize that I was saved in 1994. Before that, there was no fruit of the Spirit in my life. After that, many people noticed my love for the Word of God and His people. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. “
Thank you Manfred for the encouragement. Stay in the word brother to show yourself a workman approved,rightly dividing the word of truth. God bless you.
Ah yes, Acidri – one must stay in the Word or the world will draw one away. I have been in a reading plan of the Bible for a couple of years and am currently reading a small booklet from JC Ryle – “How Readest Thou?” and belong to a solid, Reformed, Southern Baptist church with my dear wife of 32 years.
Let all who claim Christ praise Him!
I agree with Manfred. We must resist the urge to follow “every wind of doctrine.” I am eager for revival too, but there are definitely enough examples of fake revivals now adays where the emphasis is on group emotion. So, instead of worrying about large groups getting saved all at once, I just work on the ones I can, praying that the Lord will use me to lead my friends, family, and acquaintances to Him. Hopefully I will see some of them turn to Him in true faith and repentance, resulting in irrefutable evidence of revival in their personal lives.
And if large groups of people get saved through my efforts or someone else’s, then I will praise the Lord! But I will also praise the Lord if He uses me to save a single individual.