Do you really want revival?
All across our nation I hear the same plea over and over again, “We want revival.” Churches sing about it, pray about it, and preach about it. I was in a church once that said they wanted revival regardless of the cost. While I’m in agreement with the desires of so many people about revival, I’m not sure that we really understand what a true revival would do. To start with, revival by its very definition implies that we are dead. So our immediate desire for revival should extend well beyond filling empty seats in our churches with new prospects; rather, it should be to resuscitate our dead, dry, and barren wastelands. If we’re going to request revival, we must first repent for abdicating our position of authority with Christ for the works of the flesh. To be honest, we wouldn’t need revival if we truly remained in the Spirit. The prophet Jeremiah stated that God’s people had forsaken Him and hewed cisterns that didn’t hold water (Jer. 2:13). That statement identifies the peril of churches across America today, and explains why we actually need revival.
Revival will also disturb the status quo. Before Jesus established Himself as the “Lord of the temple,” He overturned tables and benches and He drove out various merchants (see Matt. 21:12). In other words, the activity within the temple was reformed. When Jesus revives your church, certain ministries may be overturned and driven out. Chances are you will not continue doing what you did before if Jesus brings revival. In Acts 2:1, the Holy Spirit fell like a violent rushing wind causing believers to speak with such utterances that people thought they were drunk. In Acts 4:31, the Holy Spirit caused the place where the church had assembled to be shaken. In Acts 9:4, the Holy Spirit caused a man to fall to the ground and become blind for several days. In Acts 16:26, the Holy Spirit caused a great earthquake and shook the foundations of a prison house. I have discovered that the Holy Spirit is good, but He’s not safe. When the reviving power of the Holy Spirit comes upon a church generally everything that we do will be shaken and disturbed.
What I’ve often discovered is that people desire revival until it actually shows up. Their present wine skin doesn’t allow for the fresh outpouring of “new wine” because they have become accustom to a form of godliness with no power (see Luke 5:37; 2 Tim 3:5). So when the Holy Spirit manifests in extraordinary ways, they take issue with what they observe to be “strange fire.” I’ve heard the story many times about a pastor or small a group of people who fasted and prayed for a fresh outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. When God answered that prayer, a few folks resisted the new move of God because He came in ways they least expected. The outpourings of God’s Holy Spirit rarely fall in repeated manners. The tragedy is that many people have become so unfamiliar with His actual presence that they can’t discern when He settles into a room and moves upon people. Becoming insensitive to the workings of the Holy Spirit is a dangerous place to be. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were accused of blasphemy because they mistook His manifestations for the work of Satan (see Matt. 12:22-32).
Consider also that revival will expose all sin and call all flesh to be crucified. Nothing is hidden when the presence of the Holy Spirit settles upon us. The light of God’s glory brings conviction to everyone who is unclean. Isaiah couldn’t flee when the presence of God moved into the temple; He was found out. He was undone and sorely in need of cleansing (see Isa. 6:1-7). Unless we are willing to die a deeper death and seek a deeper cleansing, revival will be very uncomfortable. At the start of this year, I was in a service where the manifest presence of God came like a search light. Areas of my heart were exposed that I was not able to see before. I soon found myself confessing those things and allowing the Holy Spirit to purge my heart.
Revival often gathers the prodigals and refurbishes our passion to reach the lost as well. So when “sinners” come into the church with their array of issues it can make for interesting moments. Like Bartimaeus shouting when Jesus walked by, sometimes new believers don’t know how to behave in church. They need instructed and taught with love and grace. Additionally, if we are truly reaching the lost, then there will be those entering our churches that are demonically oppressed. We experienced someone demonically manifesting during our altar call. We silenced the evil presence and cast it out. What I’m saying is revival can be messy! Proverbs 14:4 says, “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much revenue comes by the strength of the ox.” If we want the blessing of having an ox in our stall, then we will have to deal with messes now and then. I would rather tolerate the mess of revival than to be clean out of business.
Finally, revival involves more than reformation of our local church. True revival will include citywide transformation. To seek a revival is to desire seeing your entire city overrun by the manifest presence of God. True revival will start to affect the climate around your church. It will affect the way we pray for our city, and how we treat people within our community. We will start to speak blessings over our city believing that one day it will be exalted (see Prov. 11:11).
By now you realize that revival is so much more than having special services during the week. It’s much more than praying and fasting for a week or two before the services, or inviting a coworker or neighbor to the meetings. That may be a start, but let’s not stop there. Let’s press in for a mighty outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit, a revival God’s way, which causes a ripple effect that will touch nations.
This much for sure: true revival is worth whatever mess it might cause.