When talking about revival, there can be many different images associated with this idea, and many of them are associated with extremes. We tend to shy away from talking about this concept because it makes others uncomfortable. But at the end of the day, Jesus came to bring new life, a great awakening for hearts, which is the essence of revival, so we need to join in this work.
Let’s examine characteristics of revival that can bring a greater light to the intent of this word.
- A community saturated by God- Duncan Campbell.
One of the important pieces of revival is that it impacts a community faith. Hearts are renewed, and areas of lives that have been previously closed off from God are brought back to life. Revival is answer to the psalmist’s cry of, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation!” Heaven breaks through and pierces hearts with the overwhelming knowledge and joy of our great God. This community of faith is woken up from the areas of passivity.
- Satan’s kingdom suffers- Jonathan Edwards.
A struggle with Christianity is that we tend to be very good at reaching spiritual highs, but these are not necessarily true revivals because no further action occurs after reaching this summit, or we quickly plummet down. A defining trait of revival is that Satan’s kingdom receives real damage as a result of the lives that have been renewed. Revival is not solely for our benefit. Revival wakes up our hearts so we can go be effective ministers to draw others into the joy of eternal life.
- Genuine repentance and communion with God.
We talk a lot about hearts being made new, and it sounds like a wonderful thing, but it actually can be difficult. Revival means that our hearts are being purged of the sin that plagues them. It is a concerted effort to fight back against the sin nature and its struggles. This involves repenting and turning from our sinful ways. These may not be overt sins. Often what holds us back from real communion with God is all those subtle ways we hold on to control. We harbor pride in our hearts, and we tend to leave God out of certain areas. Revival is cleaning house, falling face down, and turning it back over to God. Only this can open the door to true communion with Him.
- Obedience to the call of God.
Revival is marked by the loud “yes!” that goes up from the soul. Humbled by true repentance, the next natural response is to lean into God’s call and be His instrument of grace, no longer serving our own purposes. The call of God often is radical, especially when your heart is seeing clearly again, so it is proof of revival when we boldly answer “yes!” rather than only letting it be a spiritual high.
How are you seeing revival in your own community? What other defining characteristics do you feel are essential to revival?