Revival has been one of the most mysterious, compelling, sublime, and desperately needed phenomenon in human history. You cannot remain indifferent to it although it produces a wide variety of responses. Over the centuries revival has produced massive influxes of converts into the churches, yet ecclesiastical leaders are often bewildered at how to respond to it or even whether or not they are in favor of it. Revival quickens the human spirit and enlivens worship. It makes prayer exciting, preaching dynamic, and Christian service fervent. Yet churches are as prone to resist revival when it comes as they are to embrace it. Revival seems to defy a simple explanation, let alone a means to control it.
Revivals are God initiated, and God has laid down explicit prerequisites for them (2 Chron. 7:14). Even when God’s people are longing and praying for revival, it comes suddenly and unexpectedly. Just as inexplicably, revival can dissipate or end abruptly.
Revival has always met resistance, even within the church, which may seem surprising since revivals have been responsible for many significant advances for God’s kingdom. Yet revival also exposes the sin and morbidity of congregations. Numerous accounts of revival testify to the profound sense of God’s presence during worship preceding the revival. The dynamic preaching often experienced in revival contrasts services. This keen awareness of God’s nearness was noticeably missing in services the anemic and ineffective exhortation of earlier days. The electric singing during revivals eclipses the lifeless music that was the norm. The testimonies of radically changed lives in revival exposes the absence of personal transformation before revival. The fervent and extended prayer times throughout the day and night replace previously forsaken prayer meetings. Most notable is the profound conviction of sin during revival compared to the heretofore complacent and indulgent attitude toward sin before revival. While this book is intended both to explain and to promote revival, Brian Edwards was correct in claiming: “Revival does not need a defense; it needs to be experienced.”1
Revival amplifies the Christian experience, making the Holy Spirit’s work in a person’s life unmistakable. Revival demonstrates what is important to God, and it exposes how far God’s people have departed from His intention. Revival is not for those who enjoy the status quo. It will disconcert those who rationalize and accommodate their sin. It will unsettle stoic Christians with its fervency. But for those who cannot bear to continue their Christian experience at the same low level to which they have grown accustomed, revival is their deliverance. When churches realize that if the Spirit does not breathe fresh life into their midst they will continue to suffer spiritual powerlessness and cultural irrelevance, then revival is the answer to their desperate prayers.
Blackaby, Henry T., Claude V. King, Richard Blackaby, and Anne Graham Lotz. 2009. Fresh Encounter: God’s Plan for Your Spiritual Awakening Revised. Nashville, TN: B&H Books.
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