Are We Experiencing Christian Revival in America?
When I was young, my grandmother would tell stories of going to watch Billy Graham preach at Texas Stadium. As she spoke of the passion and fervor with which he delivered his message, I would imagine being there, just letting the waves of emotion wash over. The more mature my faith became, the more I realized that the emotion wasn’t the sign of a true revival in a person, or in a stadium. So what is a Christian revival all about, and are we in one now? I believe we may be, but not for the reasons you might think… Let’s start by defining what Christian revival is.
Christian revival is a term that has been used throughout history to describe a renewed interest and enthusiasm for the Christian faith. It is often characterized by an increased emphasis on prayer, Bible study, repentance, and a deeper commitment to living out the teachings of Jesus Christ. Revivals have played a significant role in the development of Christianity, shaping its history and influencing the lives of countless believers. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of Christian revival, its historical significance, signs of true revival, examples of revival in the Bible, and whether we are experiencing a revival today.
What is Christian Revival?
Christian revival is a spiritual awakening or renewal that occurs among individuals, churches, or communities. It is often marked by a heightened sense of God’s presence, a deep conviction of sin, a desire for repentance, and a renewed commitment to living a godly life. Revivals can happen in various settings, such as churches, schools, communities, or even entire nations. They can be initiated by the work of the Holy Spirit or through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word.
How have revivals historically played a significant role in the development of Christianity? Throughout history, revivals have played a significant role in the growth and development of Christianity. They have been catalysts for spiritual awakening and have led to the transformation of individuals, churches, and even entire societies. Revivals have sparked movements of evangelism, missions, and social reform. They have brought about changes in attitudes, behaviors, and lifestyles, resulting in a renewed commitment to living out the teachings of Jesus Christ. Revivals have also fostered a sense of unity among believers, transcending denominational and cultural boundaries, and promoting a spirit of love, humility, and service.
What are some of the most well-known revivals in Christian history?
Christian history is marked by several notable revivals that have had a profound impact on the growth and development of the faith. Some of the most well-known revivals include the First and Second Great Awakenings in the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries, the Welsh Revival in Wales in the early 20th century, the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in the early 20th century, and the East African Revival in East Africa in the mid-20th century. These revivals were marked by a deep sense of repentance, fervent prayer, and a renewed commitment to living out the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Signs of a Revival:
True Christian revival is marked by certain signs that indicate its authenticity. Some of these signs include:
Repentance and humility: Revival often begins with a deep sense of repentance and humility before God. It involves recognizing our need for forgiveness, turning away from sin, and humbling ourselves before God in contrition and submission.
Hunger for God’s Word: Revival is characterized by a renewed hunger and thirst for God’s Word. Believers have a deep desire to study and meditate on the Scriptures, allowing them to guide their lives and transform their hearts.
Fervent prayer: Revival is marked by fervent and persistent prayer. Believers are driven to their knees, seeking God’s face and interceding for their own lives, their communities, and the world. Prayer becomes a central part of their lives, and they seek God’s guidance and direction in all they do.
Love and unity among believers: Revival fosters a spirit of love, humility, and unity among believers. It transcends denominational, racial, and cultural boundaries, bringing believers together in a sense of oneness and common purpose. Genuine revival promotes harmony, reconciliation, and mutual support among believers.
Transformation of lives: Revival results in transformed lives. Believers experience a change in their attitudes, behaviors, and priorities. They become more Christ-like in their character and conduct, and their lives bear the fruit of the Spirit. Revived believers become a testimony of God’s grace and power, drawing others to Christ.
Examples of Revival in the Bible:
The Bible provides us with examples of revival that serve as a guide for understanding its nature and significance. Some of the prominent examples of revival in the Bible include:
The revival under King Hezekiah: In 2 Chronicles 29-31, we read about King Hezekiah’s efforts to restore true worship in Judah and bring the people back to God. He cleansed the temple, reinstated the priests and Levites, and led the people in repentance and dedication to God. As a result, the nation experienced a great revival, with the people returning to the Lord and worshiping Him with sincerity and devotion.
The revival under the prophet Elijah: In 1 Kings 18, we read about Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Through a powerful display of God’s power, Elijah turned the hearts of the people back to God, and they repented and worshiped Him. This event marked a significant revival in Israel, with the people acknowledging God as the true God and turning away from idolatry.
The revival under the ministry of Jesus: The entire ministry of Jesus on earth can be seen as a revival. Through His preaching, teaching, healing, and miracles, Jesus brought about a spiritual awakening among the people of Israel. Many lives were transformed, and people turned to God in repentance and faith.
How do we know when revivals are "spirit-led"?
Not all revivals are genuine and spirit-led. Some may be driven by human emotions, hype, or false teachings. So, how can we discern whether a revival is truly spirit-led? Here are some guiding principles:
Alignment with Scripture: A genuine revival will be in alignment with the teachings of the Bible. It will exalt Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior and emphasize repentance, faith, and holiness as essential aspects of the Christian faith. Revival should not contradict or compromise the truths of God’s Word.
Fruit of the Spirit: A true revival will bear the fruit of the Spirit in the lives of believers. It will result in transformed lives, characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Genuine revival produces godly character and conduct in the lives of those who are impacted by it.
Focus on Jesus: Revival should always point to Jesus Christ as the center and focus. It should exalt Him as the Savior and Lord, and lead people to a deeper intimacy and relationship with Him. Any revival that elevates human personalities, emotions, or experiences above Jesus may not be truly spirit-led.
Discernment: It is important to exercise discernment in evaluating any revival. We need to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, test everything against the standard of God’s Word, and be discerning of the fruit and outcomes of a revival. Genuine revival will always align with God’s character and purposes.
Are We Experiencing a Revival Now?
There are arguments both for and against the notion that we may be experiencing a revival now in certain places. For example, there have been reports of revivals happening in Christian universities such as Asbury University and Texas A&M University, where students are encountering God in profound ways, experiencing repentance, renewal, and transformation of lives. These revivals are marked by a hunger for God’s Word, fervent prayer, unity among believers, and a focus on Jesus Christ.
Proponents of these revivals argue that they are genuine moves of the Holy Spirit, bringing about a revival of faith and devotion among the younger generation. They believe that God is stirring the hearts of His people, calling them to repentance, prayer, and a deeper intimacy with Him.
On the other hand, there are dissenting arguments against the notion of current revivals. Some may question the authenticity of these revivals, citing the potential for emotionalism, sensationalism, and false teachings to distort the true nature of revival. Others may argue that revivals, by definition, are rare and exceptional occurrences, and what we are witnessing now may not meet the historical standards of a genuine revival.
We Should Always Seek Revival
In conclusion, Christian revival is a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit that brings about repentance, renewal, and transformation among God’s people. It is characterized by a deep hunger for God’s Word, fervent prayer, love, and unity among believers, and a focus on Jesus Christ. Revival aligns with Scripture, produces godly fruit, and ultimately leads people to a deeper intimacy with God.
While there may be arguments both for and against the notion of a revival happening now in certain places, it is essential to exercise discernment, seek God’s guidance, and test everything against the standard of His Word. Whether or not we are experiencing a true revival today, as believers, we are called to continually seek God’s face, repent of our sins, and live in obedience to His Word, as we await His sovereign move in our lives and communities. May we always hunger for genuine revival, led by the Holy Spirit, and may our faith be renewed and transformed for God’s glory.