Many differing thoughts exist as to what a revival within a church consists of. For many, if not most of us, a revival is simply an event; it is something we attend or go to see. It is something our church does because, well, we always have. 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 misunderstand 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, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land
. 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, His people so that they can be about His work.
Even though a revival is not primarily for evangelism, it will certainly produce it.
Acts 2:1-4 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.
Acts 2:46,47 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 nonbelieving 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 revived church will result in evangelism. I found the following which captures the essence of the difference between revival and evangelism very nicely. I have lost where I found this, so good job to the one who did.
Revival is what the church experiences. Evangelism is what the church engages in.
Revival is the 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.
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. The group that was gathered was 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…”