[This was simply a good time for me to think about revival, about renewal, about what God would have me do to see more of Him in my life, in my church, in my ministry, in my family, in my community. I want to have more passion in my life and the lives of the people around me. So excuse my ramblings and research and hopefully you may be blessed]
What is revival? Would we want it to come? How come it doesn’t come? What would it be like for revival to happen in my own life, in the life of my church, in the life of my community?
There have been several things recently that have led me to think again about this topic i have neglected for the past few years.
First, there have been difficult things in ministry. There have been ways in which I have seen my own laziness, my own sloth, my own lack of passion. I have been easily thrown off, distracted from pursuing God and His Kingdom passionately.
Second, I have recently listened to talk about revival by Tim Keller, who has experienced twice in his life what would be called revival—once while a student at Bucknell University, and once in ministry in Manhattan, NY. It got me thinking about my own experience as a student at Cal Poly, SLO, and how I got to experience revival in amazing ways (You can listen to the talk here). I also remember talking a lot about revival, praying for nationwide revival, seeing revival around us and wanting that to spread.
Third, I learned about a young woman involved with Cru in Chico, CA who died on Nov 1 after being struck by a car while she was on her bicycle. She was 20 years old, and apparently a devoted follower and servant of Jesus. It has made me think much about the brevity of life and the necessity for vigor and life in regards to God.
I want to spend some time thinking about this for myself, and hopefully to inspire others to pray again, pray more, or perhaps pray for the first time ever for revival in our own lives, in the lives of those around us and in the world.
What is revival?
I like Tim Keller’s description that revival is simply the acceleration of the Holy Spirit’s normal work in salvation and sanctification. I think many are afraid of revival because they are afraid of people going a bit crazy and perhaps the ‘signs’ of revival being uncomfortable in a charismatic way. Instead, I think about what the Holy Spirit does in normative times and want to see those with greater frequency and depth.
He makes people born again (John 3:3-8, Gal 4:29, 1 Cor 2:1-5, 1 Thess 1:4-5, Titus 3:4-5). He convicts us of sin (John 16:8-11). He teaches us the truth of the Gospel in our inner-most beings (John 14:17, 16:13-14, 1 Cor 1:18, 2:11-14). He helps us feel the closeness of God as a Father and access to Him (Gal 4:6, Rom 8:15-16, Eph 2:18). He helps us to pray (Rom 8:26-27, Eph 6:18, Rev 1:10). He helps us put to death the deeds of the body, to mortify our flesh, to stop sinning (Deut 30:6, Jer 31:33, Eze 11:19-20, 36:26-27, Ps 51:10, Rom 2:29, 8:13, Col 3:5). He causes us to become more like Jesus (1 Cor 3:17). He gives us power in evangelism and preaching (Acts 1:8, 4:33, Luke 24:49, 1 Thess 1:5, Luke 4:14, 12:11-12, Isa 61:1-4). He causes us to see the Bible as the Word of God and not the words of men (1 Thess 1:2:13). He causes us to prophesy, dream dreams, and see visions (Joel 2:28-29, Acts 2:17-21, 21:9, Luke 2:36). He enables our service to God (1 Pet 4:10-11). He gives us freedom in this life (1 Cor 3:17, Gal 5:1, 13). He gives us spiritual gifts (Rom 12:6-8, 1 Cor 12:1-11, Eph 4:7-13). He baptizes us into Christ, identifying us with Him (1 Cor 12:13, Rom 6:3-11). He makes us to experience all the goodness and blessing and fullness of Christ (John 7:37-39, Isa 55:1-2, 44:3, Matt 5:6, Rev 21:6). He gives us singleness and unity of heart and purpose (Jer 24:7, 32:39-40, Philip 1:27, Eph 4:1-6). He sends out missionaries to foreign fields and appoints servants in domestic fields (Acts 13:1-2, 8:29, 20:28). He does many more things than those…
I think about these things, and want them more and more in my life. I want to be more fervent in spirit (Rom 12:11), which is also translated ‘fervent in The Spirit’). I want to have zeal for the Lord, be zealous for good works (Titus 2:14). I want to have a heart that is fully alive, wanting Jesus more than anything else, and knowing that my only satisfaction in life comes from Him alone (Psalm 16). I want that to be welling up from within me, not something I have to put on like a mask. I want some of the passion that I had when I was in college (but without the constant angst of an unformed identity and unsettled soul).
Revival is to make alive again, or to make alive more fully. It’s Christians who begin to live like the Bible says is the normal and good way to live. It isn’t because we’re forced to, but because we want to. It’s truly living out 1 John 5:3 – “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” It’s to WANT to serve God, serve other people because of the great love that God is putting into our own hearts. It’s deeply understanding the Gospel and letting that have it’s full fruit (James 1:4). I want these to be true of my life.
So why doesn’t that naturally occur? Why doesn’t revival come into my own life and the lives of the people around me? Why must I live a life of a semi-awake existence, where I know and believe God, but struggle and strive? Why does it feel like so much work to live for God? I long for another time in my life of an inward passion so much so that the thought of giving more time, money, emotion and life to God sounds like the absolutely best idea I could have.
“Draw near to God, and I will draw near to you.’ A recent post by John Piper on this verse from James 4:8 gives me a bit of the answer. The verse continues to say, ‘cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded (not single minded, my addition). Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.’ It reminds me of 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, which says, ‘When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.’
The principle behind both of these verses (though one was given under the Mosaic Covenant) is that God will bless those who are penitent and humble in heart. Indeed, ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.’ (Psalm 51:17). This leads me to ask myself, am I broken in spirit? or prideful? I know that ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ (James 4:6, 1 Pet 5:5).
My conclusion is that I need to humble myself. I need self-examination. I need to see my own sin for truly what it is. I need the Word of God to do it’s work in that revelation of my true nature and God’s true nature. (Heb 4:12, 2 Tim 3:16-17, Jer 23:29, Eph 6:17, Rev 1:16, 2:12, 1 Cor 14:24-25, Isa 40). I need to cleanse myself (2 Tim 2:20-21, Prov 25:4) by the Spirit (Rom 8:13) and ask God to bless me (Joel 2:12-14) and ask that God would bring the blessing of His Spirit to myself and to all those around me (Isaiah 35).
Will you join me, and seek revival in our land?