What is Revival?

December 5, 2019 at 3:50 PM Leave a comment

For as long as I’ve been a Christian, I’ve heard the term “revival.” I’m sure you have as well. The main problem with the word is twofold. First, it doesn’t appear in Scripture.[1] Second, it means something different to each person. In effect there is no general agreement on meaning.

To be sure, simply because the word revival is not mentioned in Scripture does not necessarily mean that it is an invalid concept. The word “Trinity” is not used anywhere in the Bible but we believe God is an equal Trinity of Persons as expressed throughout Scripture. Certainly, there is a sense in which all Christians need to have their hearts and minds “revived” where God is concerned.

However, today, we hear a constant call for revival with a lack of explanation. It’s become a catch word that is used to grab our attention and emotions. Drive down a street with numerous churches and chances are you’ll read on at least one marquee the invitation to come to their next revival service, this Wednesday, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Some churches even seem to specialize in having revivals. This is especially true of Emergent Churches and those associated with New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).

When we hear the word revival, we automatically think we know what it means because it means something to each one of us. Unfortunately I think the use of it has become way too generalized. If you ask 10 people what revival means you’ll get 10 different answers. What is it you think of when you hear the word revival?

When I hear it I’m taken back to the years I spent in the Charismatic Movement where everything pointed to an emotional reaction to God and what it was He was alleged to be doing at that time. If our feelings and emotions were not heightened with a greater expectancy where God was concerned and if we didn’t feel as though we desired to know God more intimately, then we were not soon going to experience any sort of revival.

Therein lays the huge problem with revival, in my opinion. Anything that relies on the way we feel is suspect because our feelings are not good barometers of truth. Yet, in today’s society especially, our emotions are often used as the barometer of truth. If it feels good or if something promotes feelings of well-being, then we are on the right track, we are told. This often flies in the face of actual truth of Scripture.

People can easily work up tears when talking about an alleged need for revival or they can work up tears during a revival service. They’re ultimately reacting to an emotion they think is highlighting their need for “more of God,” or maybe they’re reacting to what they think is an impartation from God Himself.

Think about the people you have relationships with in life. If you’re engaged or married, do you love your spouse? How do you know? Is it based on feelings or commitment? While good, solid relationships with members of the opposite sex can impact our emotions, we understand that at some point, those feelings or heightened emotions will subside, allowing the relationship to become more perfunctory and what we would call “normal.”

I recall when I first began dating my wife, I didn’t think I needed to eat or sleep. Just being with her was “food” enough. My emotions were certainly heightened as were hers toward me. Eventually, those ever-present feelings began to subside a bit and take on a different perspective. While some might misinterpret that to mean that the “love” is dying, it often simply means that the relationship has moved into a different level and is actually often deeper than the initial rush of feelings. It is there that the relationship solidifies.

But for those who believe their love or marriage is based on feelings, good luck with that because you’ll experience many up and down feelings; some good and some not so good. If based on commitment, you are doing it correctly in spite of what feelings may dictate, which constantly ebb and flow.

Certainly, Christians are to love God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. That is the first and most important commandment. Second to it is the fact that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus went over this in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Christians are familiar with this passage and others but how do we interpret them?

We think that to love God more requires us to “feel” greater emotion toward Him. In essence, we are putting the cart before the horse. I look at the prophet Daniel, who clearly loved God. How do we know? Because we see his obedience at every turn, even when it meant being thrown into the lion’s den. Daniel’s love (translated into devoted obedience to God’s moral will), for God was obvious. It was crystal clear. I would like to be like that. How about you? Can our emotions get us there? I don’t think so.

What is it Christians need in order to draw closer to God? Is it a revival of our emotions or something else? It is something else altogether.

All Christians need to “draw” closer to God (James 4:8).

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (ESV)

Clearly, the only way we can draw closer to God is by “cleansing” our hands and “purifying” our hearts so that we are not double minded. In other words, we cleanse and purify ourselves so that we will be drawing close to God. That’s how it’s done.

Drawing closer to God requires one thing only: a commitment to be obedient. Really? That’s it?! Yep, but obedience is not easy because our desire is to ourselves. If we think being obedient to God is not a problem, maybe we’re looking at obedience incorrectly. Maybe we’ve fooled ourselves into thinking that obedience is something that it is not.

James talks about living the life of a Christian. In fact, his entire epistle breaks down into concrete ways in which Christians are to live practically speaking. Paul does the same thing, as did Jesus. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (ESV)

We were created in Christ to complete “good works.” These good works do not earn salvation or even to maintain it because it is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone that we have salvation at all. The good works are to flow from our salvation because of the fact that through salvation, we have become new creatures, being molded to the image of Jesus Himself. It is another way to say that we are to be obedient to God’s moral will in all areas of life.

In essence being obedient to God is what brings about so-called biblical revival, if you will. In this case, our obedience to God is the path to be and remain in fellowship with God. When we are being obedient to God’s commands (His moral will), we are in fellowship with Him and because of that, we are drawing closer to God. The more consistent our obedience, the greater our fellowship with God will be. It’s that simple yet difficult because of our propensity to sin, which remains the biggest hurdle we face in life every day.

God wants us close to Him. How do we get there? We don’t get there through our emotions or an emotional experience that many are pushing today as they did 40 years ago when I was involved in the Charismatic Movement. It’s not our emotions that bring us closer to God. It is unquestioned obedience to His moral will, which is the same for every Christian. By choosing to obey His moral will (and actually doing it), we are proving to Him (and ourselves) that we love and honor Him.

One “reward” of obedience is a “closer” walk (which may impact our emotions). Another reward is greater wisdom and insight to navigate life’s path including all the decisions we make about everything.

Our emotions should not be the engine that pulls the entire train. While our emotions may well react to a closer walk with God, our emotions themselves will not get us closer to God or in fellowship with Him.

True revival is when God’s people deliberately choose to be obedient to God’s moral will. Choosing to be obedient is the first step. Following through on it is the second. These are cognitive decisions we make with our brains, not our emotions and this decision must be made every day, in all of the situations we face. We must continually choose to be obedient.

But…how do we know what God’s moral will is for us? Only through reading, studying and knowing His Word can we ever hope to learn what He wants us to do and how He wants us to comport ourselves in this life. After that, it’s putting it into practice. That’s where the rubber meets the road and by the way, I’m not at all saying I’m there 100% of the time. Not even close, but I, like all of you, need to ensure that I’m moving in that direction.

If someone figures out an easy way to accomplish this, I’d appreciate knowing…



[1] https://laymanointing.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/revival-what-does-it-mean/


Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, emergent church, Emotional virtue, eternity, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , .

Truth Suppression Down into the Sewer?

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