What is a revival, who sparks it, and how does one begin? In more charismatic circles we hear about revivals and supposed prophesied soon coming and that we need to do A, B, and C to usher in a revival. But looking at history, we see a couple major revivals. We can also learn what happened and how it happened when we look through the lens of scripture.
Simple History of Church Revivals
Since the time of Peter’s first public sermon where thousands came to faith in one moment and the Holy Spirit sweeping through the land and setting up the first generation church we can look back and witness other moments where the Holy Spirit did it again and again.
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In the 3rd and 4th century the church was growing so fast Rome had no way to stop it despite numerous violent persecutions in the past. In only about 300 years, the most powerful empire the world had ever known (at that time) was converted to Christianity, all the way up to the Roman Emperor himself, without war. No ‘christian army’ invaded Rome to cause this. After this came some of the most important understandings of the Church faith such as the Trinity and the Hypostatic Union.
Also read Major Church Councils
Then history shows us that the church become spoiled, selfish, greedy, and prideful. The Holy Spirit moved again and caused a reformation from within the church beginning around mid 15th century and lasting till around the 17th century. This was known as The Reformation. Different people from different parts of the world were all lead by the Holy Spirit to rebuke and correct the lost church. These corrections brought the church back to its foundational understanding of the power and majesty of God in the universe and how it relates to mankind. This was described by The Five Solas of the Reformation. Not all people were willing to accept the rebuke and correction and the church ultimately split.
Also read The Reformation
As the Americas were being colonized the Holy Spirit ensured that the Church would be firmly planted there as well. In the 18th century, what is known was the First Great Awakening took place. This revival solidified the Church in the colones. A second revival, known as the Second Great Awakening that begin in the early 19th century, was a massive evangelistic revival that reached the unchurched. This then lead to the next generation of Christians continuing this revival in the Third Great Awakening which influenced more missionaries world wide in the late 19th century.
There is a claim of a ‘final great awakening’ but this is where the TRUE historic revivals have stopped; and here’s why: All these revivals and movements of the Holy Spirit remained true to scripture and consistent with each other. There were no NEW teachings, just different focuses on original teachings. This so-called ‘final great awakening’ began new teachings that were not part of all the other Holy Spirit lead movements all the way down to the founding of the church itself. This movement gave birth to Spiritual Legalism which now as led to the Prosperity Movement.
Also read Prosperity Movement | Hyper Spiritualism | Spiritual Legalism | Supernatural Positive Thinking | The Gift of Supernatural Healing | The Errors of The Modern Prosperity Gospel
There have been many smaller scaled revivals take place in other countries throughout the world in history. It is believed that a revival is taking place in China and in South America currently. But, that is not our focus, that is up to God. Our focus is God’s Glory and The gospel; not our efforts in a revival. God > Us.
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What is a True Revival?
A True revival is a intense renewed zeal for God’s Glory, repentance, holiness, and passion for His Word. Basically, a surge in the community of changed lives and focus on the gospel. It inspires, invigorates, and intensifies a believers faith. This renewed zeal is seen by the outside world and it attracts non believers.
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It does NOT contradict God’s Word or invent new rituals or acts to attempt to feel more holy or righteous. It DOES intensify the focus on God, his word, and his Son. It is NOT caused by human effort or will. It IS caused by the Holy Spirit moving in the hearts and minds of people who proclaim the Gospel. Praying harder, trying harder to be more nice to people, any effort done harder… does not bring about a revival. It is at the will of God alone by The Holy Spirit through the people who naturally persistently proclaim the person and work of Jesus Christ.
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A revival without the focus on intensifying God’s Glory, deeper passion for His Word, and fearless proclamation of The Gospel; it is not a true Holy Spirit led revival but a ‘other spirit’ led one like Mormonism for example. If lives are permanently changed and a profound zeal for God isn’t heightened than whats the point?
Also read The Satisfaction of Christ Jesus
Whats the Point?
If The Holy Spirit causes revivals at the Will of God, than what is the point of trying to spark a revival? It has nothing to do with ‘you’ starting a revival but has everything to do with your love for God’s Glory and his Son Jesus Christ. This love must compel you to love the people around you and proclaim what Christ has done on the cross. That is our focus, not a revival. A true revival comes, Lord willing, as a result of the church unified in glorifying God. It is a real possible result from bringing God glory and being obedient to him by proclaiming the Gospel. We worship God, He decides the results.
Also read God Does ALL The Work | Correctly Interpret and Understand The Bible
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