What is revival? What can learn from the Bible about revival so that we can apply these verses to our life today?
Psalm 85:6 “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?”
The psalmist is asking God for revival so that once again the people can rejoice in God. Where does revival begin? If you are not a Christian, you can’t even be revived because you must first be “vived” or made alive in Christ (Eph 2:5). If you are a believer, draw a circle around where you are standing. Revival starts within that circle. The Hebrew word for “revive” is “chayah” and means “to be quickened, to be made alive,” and “to be restored” showing what I just said; you must first be quickened or made alive by the Spirit of God before revival can occur and this takes a new birth (John 3:3, 7).
Second Chronicles 7:14 “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.”
Here Solomon speaks of a turning from their wicked ways. The word “repent” essentially means to turn around and go the other way and that’s what revival entails. It is a turning away from sin and a turning toward God and only then can they seek God’s face but they must first “turn from their wicked ways” and only then will God say “I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land.” There can be no revival without repentance or a turning away from sin and a turning to God.
Habakkuk 3:2 “In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.”
The prophet Habakkuk is pleading with God to send revival or revive the nation and in His righteous indignation or wrath to remember His mercy. God actually grants repentance (2nd Tim 2:25) and this is something that we ought to pray for when we are drifting away from God and obedience to Him. We should also pray to God for those who we not are not saved that God would grant them repentance so that they might be saved.
Psalm 19:7 “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”
You cannot separate the Word of God from the God of the Word and the same goes for God’s Law. His Law and His Word are synonymous with one another. Here we see that the law of the Lord is perfect and by the context of this chapter we know the psalmist is not writing about the Mosaic Law but the Ten Commandments. What revives the soul? It is the law of God. The Hebrew word for revive is “shuwb” and means “to return, to turn back” so revival, as we have previously read, means a turning away from sin and a turning toward God and the law of God does the converting or reviving of the soul. Let me put it this way; it takes a man of God speaking the Word of God with the Spirit of God to make the children of God for the glory of God. You can insert the word “woman” and have the same result of course. Either way, God is the dominant theme here because God and His law or His Word revives or quickens (makes alive) the soul.
Second Timothy 2:24-26 “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
The Greek word for “repentance” is “metanoia” and it’s not just remorse or regret but it means “a change of mind” so revival cannot occur until there has first been a change of mind and this takes the Spirit of God and only God can grant repentance. Only if God grants repentance can a person be lead to the knowledge of the truth in order that they might come to their senses and by doing so, “can escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” Without repentance, this cannot even be done because as Jesus noted in speaking to Peter “flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (Matt 16:17) and even Paul acknowledges that it took a supernatural act and intervention by God “to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being” (Gal 1:16).
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
In perhaps the greatest prayer of repentance found in the Bible when David repented of his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband Uriah, he prayed for God to create in him a clean heart and that his spirit might be renewed within him. The cleansing of the heart and the renewing of his spirit solely depended on God and only God can renew our minds (Rom 12:2).
Acts 3:19-20 “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.”
Peter in one of the most powerful sermons given in the Bible commanded the people to “repent” (Greek for “metanoeō” to change one’s mind) and turn back (“turn back is the Greek word “epistrephō” meaning “to turn to” God). Only if they had a change of mind (metanoeō) could they turn back to (epistrephō) to God which would then allow their sins to be blotted out. If there is no change of mind and if there is no turning to God, there cannot be the forgiveness of sins.
Is your church seeking revival? Then start with yourself because only then can revival possibly spread to those around you in the church, then outward to the community and hopefully, reaching out to the lost if perhaps God grants them repentance because without repentance, there can be no revival and without revival, there can be forgiveness of sins and eternal life for those who are presently separated from God by their sins (Isaiah 59:1-2). That’s what revival is all about.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.