1. What is Revival?
What is Revival? The very word suggests the enlivening of something that once had life but has become near to death. Yes, Revival speaks about the need of churches that have become institutionalized, lukewarm, self-sufficient, proud, or liberal and humanized, and sad to say, where sometimes lawlessness abounds.
Revival must not be confounded with evangelism, even though during times of revival many people are saved. Revival in its initial stages is a work of God towards His own people who have lapsed from true zeal, and have become church-conscious rather than God-conscious. Often the spiritual fires begin to burn within just a few Christians, sometimes just one. But then the fire begins to spread to others as a result of impassioned prayer.
Revival is not a humanly based endeavour to inject new life into a dying organism, but a divine intervention to achieve what man cannot achieve himself. The Holy Spirit chooses a human channel, and the work of God begins in earnest. Perhaps David knew what it felt like when he said, “My heart was hot within me; while I was meditating, the fire burned.” (Psalm 39:3) Jeremiah was very vocal, “But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not.” (Jer.20:9)
Revival therefore begins when God lays upon the hearts of the ones and the twos who see the need, and who bewail the human resources to meet that need, and pray that God will come in power to cleanse and to save.
Revival, when it comes, strikes deep into the lives of those who have prayed earnestly for God to come in His power. It will reveal their own shortcomings, their own hidden sins, and bring about a deep work of repentance and cleansing, that they may be His own helpers in what is about to break forth. As Jesus foretold, the Holy Spirit “will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.” (John 16:8) The conviction begins initially in the chosen channels who see the need for “clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:4)
Revival is therefore divine intervention in the normal course of spiritual things. It is God revealing Himself to man in awful holiness and irresistible power. It is such a manifest working of God that human personalities are overshadowed, and human programmes abandoned. Evangelism and preaching that led up to it may have brought in a trickle of conversions, but when Revival comes it is more like a flood tide, sweeping all before it. It is man retiring into the background because God has taken the field. It is the Lord making bare His holy arm, and working in extraordinary power on both saint and sinner.