“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your steadfast love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation” (Psalm 85:6-7).
God has called his people to live a life of love and truth and obedience to him. Yet there are times in the life of individual Christians and churches where the roaring fire of the Christian life is reduced to mere embers. It is here that the church needs revival. What are some things that must happen and will happen when revival occurs among God’s people?
- Set your sails. G. Campbell Morgan called his people to set their sails. “We cannot organize revival, but we can set our sails to catch the wind from Heaven when God chooses to blow upon His people once again.” To use another analogy, as we ready ourselves for an outpouring of the Spirit of Christ, we make sure that our vessels, as humble as they are, (2 Corinthians 4:7), are ready to receive what He has. This is why the daily spiritual disciplines of prayer, Scripture study, church attendance, weekly preaching of the Word, and receiving of the ordinance as a daily and weekly rhythm are so critical. Revival readiness includes an awareness of spiritual needs.
- A God-infused urgency. A.W. Tozer, in his monumental book The Pursuit of God, reflected on John 6:44 when he wrote, “We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. . . . The modern scientist has lost God amid the wonders of His world; we Christians are in danger of losing God amid the wonders of His Word.” While the wonders of His Word need recapturing (see #3), we must not reduce the Bible to a mere book that, in theory, holds authority but not in practice. God gives us an urgency to pursue Him, love Him, obey Him, and share the works of His Son, Jesus Christ. The urgency is Spirit-born. Can we seek fervency?
- A renewed desire to pray. Paul’s admonition to “pray without ceasing” becomes a reality, not merely a saying stitched on our pillows. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” In a soon-to-be distributed article, Joy Raley noted, “When I read or hear statistics that say Christians spend very little time in prayer, I am appalled. How can we have God’s power without prayer? His Word continually encourages, admonishes, and teaches us to pray.” She then shares a word from David Bentley-Taylor: “The power of prayer cannot be diminished by distance; it is not limited by age, infirmity, political changes, or restriction. The power of prayer in the life of an obedient Christian can only be undermined by neglect.” Revival takes us away from neglecting prayer. Our prayer lead, Winn Allison, rightly noted, “The Spirit-quickened heart will recognize the deficit of prayer. Revival focuses on our desire to seek the Lord in prayer communion where we want more of God.”
- A recapturing of the wonders of the gospel. Of all the revivals in Bible and church history, each is marked by recapturing the wonders of the gospel! The Bible is an interesting book, but if that’s as far as it goes, we will never experience a movement of God in our hearts and lives. The Word must be hidden in our hearts (Psalm 119:11) and serve as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). The Word is the instrument the Spirit uses to sanctify us (John 17:17). The Word equips us for every good work by the template of teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16-17). His Word is where we find the good news of how Christ rescues us from our sin and brokenness by repentance and faith in what Christ accomplished for us. Revival is when the gospel comes alive all over again, rising like a Phoenix out of the ashes of our apathy, disinterest, laziness, procrastination, and distracted priorities. In Jeremiah 20:9, when the prophet’s persecution brought him to a breaking point, he exclaimed: “His Word is in my heart like a fire.” Later in Jeremiah 23:29, we read: “My message is like fire or like a hammer that shatters rock, is it not?” declares the Lord.” God brought a fire into John Wesley: “I want to know one thing, the way to heaven–how to land safely on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way: for this very end, he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O, give me that book! At any price give me the Book of God!” God puts us in a position to put that fire within us.
- A realization of hell and the destiny of those without Christ. Bible-believing Christians know hell exists. Yet, a gap (chasm!)–a mental, emotional, and spiritual gap in thinking and feeling–has developed in many over the years that those who do not know Jesus as their Lord will go there for all eternity. The trajectory set in this life goes into the next. If our friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors have this destiny, and we have little urgency to have a gospel conversation with them to tell them about the way to escape and know the true and living way, we need revival. We need a revival of compassion for the lost.
- A joyful heart and spirit. Revival helps the fruit of the Spirit to bloom in our lives: “Now the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” A critical and cynical nature is now replaced by a joyful, hopeful nature that rejoices in all that God is and will do in Jesus. When our hearts are focused on something besides Christ, this will lessen our joy of Christ and the world and the position he’s put us in. Hebrews 12:15 reminds us, “Let no root of bitterness spring up” (Hebrews 12:15).
In Mark 8:34-35, we read: “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34-35). Revival says, “Jesus, you are enough! I surrender to you. I will follow you. I will live for you. I will pray to you. I will read and share the gospel for you. I gladly lay my life down for you, for my life counts as nothing except that I take up my cross and follow you.”
“Revive us again.”
Yes, revive us again.