The greatest need for the church, and for our fractured nations, is revival. No, not the kind of revival we have been satisfied with over the last two generations: the hired evangelist that comes once a year to preach all week to half the congregation of a church, salvation messages to people who are already saved. That’s not real revival. It’s a cheap second. A knock-off.
So what is real revival and is it even possible?
The First and Second Great Awakening
Real revival has taken place on our shores, but it was several centuries ago and has become known as the First and Second Great Awakening. It was spurred on by the preaching of Charles Finney, Wesley, Whitefield, and many others, who faithfully preached about the conviction of sin and the need for repentance and conversion. In fact, the results in the communities where revival took place were remarkable.
But note this, modern, manufactured feel-good meetings are not true revival. In fact, they are a cheap substitute for something Spirit-led and ordained by a sovereign God.
In 1932, William Sprague took upon himself to research the Great Awakenings in our nation and wrote a book titled, Lectures on Revival. In his book, he quoted many ministers who had experienced, first hand, the Spirit-led move of God on this land. One of these men was Francis Wayland, a Baptist pastor and president of Brown University. Wayland described the true revival he had experienced as follows:
I believe in the existence of revivals of religion, as much as I believe in any other fact, either physical or moral. By revivals of religion, I mean special seasons in which the minds of men, within a certain district, or in a certain congregation, are more than usually susceptible of impressions from the exhibition of moral truth.
For example, ministers are more than usually desirous of the conversion of men. They possess, habitually, an unusual power of presenting the simple truths of the gospel directly to the consciences of their hearers, and feel a peculiar consciousness of their own weakness and insufficiency, and at the same time a perfect reliance upon the efficacy of the gospel, through the agency of the Spirit, to convert men.
Christians, during periods of revival, are characterized by an unusual spirit of penitence, of confession of sin, and of prayer, by a desire for more holiness, and especially by a tender concern for the salvation of souls.
Unconverted persons are more desirous to hear the gospel, and particularly the plainest and simplest exhibitions of it; they readily listen to conversations on the subject and seem to expect it. Truths which they have frequently heard with total unconcern they now hear with solemn and fixed attention; and in many cases, for days together, scarcely a sermon will be preached, or an exhortation offered, which is not made effectual to the conviction or conversion of one or more souls.
This is what true revival looks like. Ever experienced that? Have you ever known anyone in the West that has seen God move this way? I didn’t think so. Me neither.
The Time is Now
But all of our excuses must stop. Not one of us who have known the Lord for any amount of time should rest until we make a commitment to Him to do whatever is necessary to see Him move today, in our lives, our church, and in our country, as He has in the past. Anything less is a great failure on our part and, quite honestly, a wasted life.
And remember, our first step in seeking true revival is to ask HIm what we are doing, or not doing, that grieves His Spirit. But we’ll talk more on that later.
Until then, be vigilant and strong and live out the life He intended for you to live. Empowered by HIm, seeking Him, being dependent on Him alone, and faithfully serving Him wherever He commands.
Adveho quis may.
Come what may.
The following is a study on true revival and draws from the first chapter of Isaiah and Malachi.