Over the course of the next undetermined number of weeks we will be, for our Saturday devotional recap, be summarizing our daily devotionals on Revival. I don’t have any clue how long this will take, because as of yet, I have no clue how long our series on Revival will last!
Let’s Talk About Revival!
We are about to begin a new Devotional Series on the topic of Revival. In churches across America, it is Revival time. Most, including the church I attend, usually have a summer Revival. In fact, ours is coming up next month.
We use the term quite loosely sometimes, and may or not actually be thinking about what it actually means to have a revival in our churches. I heard a comment the other day on a comment thread that a commenter had always just thought of revival as something they attended. That really made me think. (By the way, brother commenter, if i could remember where it was, I would have given you proper credit!)
So, what then, is a Revival? One of the definitions of Revival, from the Merriam Webster online dictionary, read in part as follows:
Revival: restoration to life, consciousness, vigor, strength, etc.
I found the following definition in the online KJV Dictionary:
KJV Dictionary Definition: revival
REVI’VAL, n. from revive.
1. Return, recall or recovery to life from death or apparent death; as the revival of a drowned person.
2. Return or recall to activity from a state of languor; as the revival of spirits.
3. Recall, return or recovery from a state of neglect, oblivion, obscurity or depression; as the revival of letters or learning.
4. Renewed and more active attention to religion; an awakening of men to their spiritual concerns.
Over the next little bit, and I don’t really know how long, we will explore the topic of revival. We will try to answer a few questions about it as we go, and this list may not include all of the topics which will come up.
What is revival and what is it not?
Who is revival for?
Why do we need revival?
What does a revival require?
What dampens revival?
Are there examples of revival in the Bible?
Are there consequences for no revival?
Today, we won’t be getting into any real thoughts on the matter, as this is just a warning so to speak of what is coming.
I’m going to be drawing from a lot of information over the course of this study, and much of it will come from, surprise, revival sermons I have heard or read over the last 8 years. So, if any pastors I know read any of this and think it might look vaguely familiar, that is because it probably is. I hope that constitutes proper attribution!
Revival Is Not Evangelism
Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?
Many differing thoughts exist as to what a revival within a church consist of. For many, if not most of us, revival is simply an event; it is something we attend or go to see. Many of us head out to revival, with some hope that, “Gosh, i sure hope somebody gets saved at revival.” I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but that is not what revival is for!
Don’t miss understand me at all; if a person comes to a revival and gets saved, that is wonderful. Just as it is wonderful if they get saved on a regular Sunday morning, Sunday night, in their fishing boat, on the golf course, or any other place where God chooses to reach out to a lost person and convert them. The salvation of a lost soul should always be a cause for great and joyful celebration by the saved themselves; however, the salvation of lost souls is not the purpose of a revival.
Let’s look at the word itself. Re simply means “again,” while vive simply means “life.” So, what we see here is the revival literally means “life again.” It doesn’t mean new life, or the birth of life; it means the restoring of life that already exists.
Here are some other passages that seem to express the sentiment here.
Psalm 85:6 Wilt thou not revive us again: that THY PEOPLE may rejoice in thee?
Habakkuk 3:2 O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive THY WORK in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.
2 Chronicles 7:14 If MY PEOPLE, who are called by My name……
His people…His work. Revival, then is not primarily an effort to give life to those who do not have it. It is primarily an effort to bring back to life those who already have it!
I’m going to try something I think. We commonly greet our visiting preacher with something along the lines of, “Thanks so much for coming to be our evangelist.”
I wonder what would happen if somebody said, “Thanks so much for coming to be our revivalist?”
Next: Is there a relationship between revival and evangelism?
Revival Certainly Produces Evangelism
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
I think we have established in the previous devotional that Revival is not for the non believing world primarily; it is for the believing churches of the world. It is not primarily for giving life to lost souls, but is primarily reviving life in souls already possessing it.
A legitimate claim could be made that the day of Pentecost in Acts Chapter 2 represented the greatest Revival in recorded history. The Disciples had, as instructed, returned to await the event which was to occur, which was the giving of the Holy Spirit to them. By the way, I acknowledge areas of dispute about what occurred here: some might wish to debate the role of tongues for instance, or whether the church existed or not. But, let’s not have that debate here. The fact of the matter remains that on that day, the group that was gathered was indeed given the power of the Holy Spirit, given new life, and revitalized with a new mission in mind.
That mission was to turn the world upside down; that mission was to evangelize the world. 3000 souls were added to the church that day, and they continued on in that endeavor as we see in Verse 47 when “The Lord added to the church daily…”
A revived church will result in evangelism. I found the following which captures the essence of the difference between revival and evangelism very nicely. It is from Raptureready.com
Revival is what the church experiences. Evangelism is what the church engages in.
Revival is spiritual renewal of God’s people. Evangelism is confronting those without with the claims of Christ.
Revival is God crying to lethargic Christians: “Wake up — and get to work.” Evangelism is an awakened church crying to sinners: “Repent — and be saved.”
Revival is getting one’s own heart warmed. Evangelism is setting other hearts on fire.
Revival is periodic. Evangelism is continuous.
Those who understand the difference between revival and evangelism never say, “Oh, we didn’t have much of a revival — just a lot of church members warmed over!”
But that is revival.
Revival Is Not Primarily an Emotional Event
Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?
I really want to choose careful words here as I delve into this next topic. Causing offense or divisions in the body of Christ is not and never has been my objective. So, please just bear with me as I run through this thought. Thanks!
God is clearly all for us expressing joy, and even emotive joy over the blessings He has clearly given us. In our verse above, the Psalmist clearly asks to be revived so that the people can rejoice. We see this in other places as well:
After his sin with Bathsheeba and his restoration(revival one might say) David had the following to say:
Psalm 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
The congregation sang the following in song to celebrate their return from captivity in Babylon:
Psalm 126:2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.
Who can forget David dancing for joy upon the return of the Ark of the Covenant in 2 Samuel 6?
Obviously, joy and excitement at revival and restoration is very appropriate and highly encouraged by our Lord. Why then, do I raise this issue? What do we need to consider when we balance the emotional aspects of revival?
Did revival make me happy, or did it make me change? I can be whirling in the aisles and barking like a dog during service, but If I leave as the same person I came in as, then I was not revived.
Was the focus on the emotional aspects of revival, or on the sound preaching and admonishment of the Word of God? If the focus is on how excited I got, then I have become the focus, and not God. If I, or anyone else was the focus, then we were not revived.
Revival Is Not an Event
Revival….every night this week except Tuesday! All welcome!
Today’s lesson is just going to be a very short one, and oddly enough I have not included a scripture, as these are really just my idle thoughts on this matter.
Reading the above, as it was seen on a church sign a couple of years ago just made the question arise in my mind: “So…what happens Tuesday? Does everybody have to get re revived come Wednesday?” And is re revived a real word? Okay, I am sure readers get the point.
As I said in the introduction to our study here, I had a commenter make the remark that for years he considered revival simply something he attended. That is still true, in that for many churches revival is simply something they do once a year to punch the revival ticket. So, just some random thoughts here:
Revival is not something a church does, it is something the Holy Spirit causes to happen to a church.
I don’t go to revival, I become revived.