Much is being said and written about revival these days. To be certain, our countries, churches, and families desperately need revival. But what does that mean? How does revival manifest itself in the life of a believer? The first thing we know is it won’t look like what the world tells us it looks like. I’d love to give you the Biblical definition of revival, but the fact is, the word is not in Scripture. The principles of revival are there, but God’s Word never speaks of “revival”.
We do see Jesus admonishing the Church at Ephesus to return to their first love (Revelation 2:4-5) and instructing the Church at Smyrna to hold fast to the joy they once knew in serving Him (Revelation 2:9-11). We also have the words of Peter repeating the Lord’s instruction to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). From a biblical perspective, then, the best definition of revival for me is to return to Christ with your whole heart, maintain the joy you once knew in following Him, and live a life worthy of His holiness.
When we look back at the great revivals throughout the centuries, the hallmarks of them all were a marked difference in the lives of those who attended such meetings. It wasn’t about the meeting, the speaker, or the music. Revival happened in history because hearts were changed and people began seeking God above their own desires. Revival happens when individuals determine to live their lives in total surrender to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
This life can wear down the best of us and we can lose focus on what matters most. Seeking comfort wherever we can find it, we abandon our first love (Jesus) and pursue the pleasures of this world. The joy of doing everything for Christ becomes burdensome and we begin behaving selfishly, looking out for ourselves first. While we did not intend to stray from the path of discipleship, it is often where we find ourselves.
Revival always begins in the heart of an individual. When we recognize how far we have strayed from God, it devastates us. We are broken and undone. Indeed, revival cannot occur until we empty ourselves of everything that is not of God and allow Him to fill us with His glory and righteousness. If the revival is genuine, the results will be long-lasting and obvious to all. It’s not about a temporary emotional outburst, but rather a lasting change of heart. We experience revival when our wickedness becomes too much for us to bear and we can do nothing but fall on our faces before the holy God and plead for mercy.
Revival is necessary in the heart of every believer. All of us fall, get distracted, and lose our way. We are all in need of God’s redeeming grace. We cannot walk the narrow path on our own. Without Jesus, we will forever fail to please God. If your walk with Christ is not where it should be, examine your heart. What is in there that is not of God? What compromise has taken root in your life?
Reflect on the majesty of God. Remember who you were and what He saved you from. Remember His faithfulness throughout your life, and marvel at His majesty. A proper view of God will necessitate revival in your soul. Look at His beauty. Cower at His holiness. Repent of every sin and shortcoming in your life. This is the beginning of revival.