Last year I was sharing on Revival in this church in a different city, both of which I will leave unnamed. After the service, the pastor of the church very confidently told me, “We’re already experiencing revival”. That excited me so much that I almost kept off my remaining schedule to sit and hear him share about the revival they were experiencing.
On inquiring, he told me about a particular conference that had an attendance of a few thousands of attendees, and at the altar call all of the attendees committed to the Lord’s work. I was expecting to hear more, when he concluded, “That is revival!”
I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I was to hear such a cheap definition of revival. In fact, that was not the first or the only time when I had heard somebody share revival to be such an easy or small thing.
To be open about it, I do believe in conducting revival conferences and meetings. One of the purposes of conducting Ablaze conferences in various parts of the country is to help the church dream and work towards a revival. But I would be such a fool to say that a city or town has experienced revival because we have conducted an Ablaze conference.
Technically speaking, such definitions, as the one given above, of revival holds true. Oxford dictionary defines it as “a reawakening of religious fervour, especially by means of evangelistic meetings”. However, the view I subscribe to is the standard from the book of Acts, which was written to record the revival brought by the Holy Spirit post the day of Pentecost.
Before we go into what the bible calls “Revival”, can we first nail the fake and the exaggerated understanding of revival?
– An Increase in Religiosity is Not Revival
No matter how well you try to prove that this is biblical, it really is not. Constantine tried doing this in the third century when he declared Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, expecting to bring an end to the persecution of Christians and an increase in evangelism. We all know the disastrous results of the same. Christianity became a religion only after this point. Religion never brings revival.
– People’s Acceptance of Your Ministry is Not Revival
There have been occasional acceptance for the church and her ministers by monarchs and the government of the world, or media and common people. Such acceptance is surely divine favour and is towards a divine purpose, but that in itself is not revival. Jesus was very clear when He said, “If the world hated Me, they will hate you too!” Though Joseph being sent to Eygpt was a part of God’s purpose, that didn’t yield revival inspite of his favour with Pharaoh. However, Moses being sent to Eygpt brought a revival in-spite of the fact that he didn’t have favour with Pharaoh!
– Any God Movement Inconsistent With the Scriptures is Not Revival
This is so true, especially in our day and age when churches, ministries and ministers dilute the word of God and compromise its principles. These attract more people and conversions than others who hold fast to their scriptural truths and principles. Here is where I would hope that you would rely heavily on the word of God to guide you continually and completely in your pursuit of doctrinal purity.
– Massive Gatherings, Evangelistic Crusades are Not Revival!
Wow, it takes a lot of efforts for me to actually say this. But it is a true fact. Massive gatherings and evangelistic crusades have the potential to turn into a real revival. But in itself, they are not revival. Why is it important to not classify such meetings as revival? It is so that we don’t get carried away and stop labouring towards the real thing.
Here are few of the many things that characterised the revival in the Bible, especially in the book of acts!
– An outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:4)
– Conviction of sins, and desire to repent. (Acts 2:37)
– Salvations & Baptisms in continual and mass numbers. (Acts 2:41)
– Awe of God over the church, as a result of great signs and wonders done by the leaders. (Acts 2:43)
– Church ridiculed by the world and at the same time enjoying their goodwill. (Acts 2:13,47)
– Revival, riots, persecution & favour went hand in hand throughout the book of Acts.
Definition of Revival
Now that’s something that I will leave for you to do. What I mentioned above is some of the effects that do and do not characterise a real revival. Based on that, you can go ahead and define revival as it would mean to you and your ministry.