How Do We Understand Biblical Revival?

Years ago, I can recall learning about different times in history when revival or awakenings were recorded to have occurred.

I remember hearing talk of modern revival based on several passages of Scripture, and I can also recall being in local extended services for weeks that were ultimately labeled a revival by the leaders.

Years later, I find myself thinking on this topic once again as talk of revival hangs in the air among young adults on college campuses.

One of the passages I remember hearing in public gatherings pertained to Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones. Ezekiel 37:1-14 tells of Ezekiel’s account where the hand of the Lord was upon him, setting him down in the valley of dry bones.

Ezekiel tells of God asking him if those dry bones could live and then telling Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones to hear the word of the Lord and proclaiming,

Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews on upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:5-6).

Many of us know this account in Scripture as Ezekiel obeyed God’s instructions, and what God said took place. The Lord then told Ezekiel that this applied to the house of Israel. It is also a type and shadow of the gospel in the coming promise of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, as His Spirit will dwell within believers.

Matthew Henry said this about Ezekiel 37 in his commentary, “The vision was to encourage the desponding Jews; to predict both their restoration after the captivity, and also their recovery from their present and long-continued dispersion. It was also a clear intimation of the resurrection of the dead; and it represents the power and grace of God, in the conversion of the most hopeless sinners to himself.”

What Does the Bible Say about Revival?

The Bible does not use the word revival itself. However, we can read passages where individuals have proclaimed to the Lord a desire to be revived.

Psalm 71:20 says, “You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.”

The psalmist in Psalm 80:18 proclaimed, “Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name.” The word used for revive means to live or to keep alive, according to the Old Testament Complete Word Study Dictionary.

This should encourage us as believers that God’s Word preserves life and that a true born-again believer can not be brought from spiritual death twice.

Scripture provides accounts for us to read and to see that God’s people were revived. We find in the Old Testament where King Josiah, who walked in the ways of his father David, called the people to return to the Word of God after it had been found during the renovation of the temple.

We read in Nehemiah 8 where Ezra read the Book of the Law to the people, and their response is noted in verse 6 after Ezra blessed the Lord, “all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their head and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”

The men there helped the people to understand the Law, and in reading it to them, they led them back to the truth of God’s Word and instructions.

The people wept when they heard the Word because they realized their sin and rebellion against God, but Ezra went on to encourage them to rejoice and to be strengthened by God. 

Regarding this passage, Charles Simeon said, “Now, it is in this way that we should hear the Word delivered to us. When it shows us our sins, we should weep, as it were in dust and ashes; and when it sets forth the exceeding great and precious promises of the gospel, we should rejoice.”

One could say that these are examples of revival in the hearts of God’s people. We are brought back to the truth of God’s Word, testifying of Christ. He writes His Word on our hearts. Born-again believers are those who can say, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).

A vital area of our fellowship with God is abiding by His Word so that we know what He loves and what He hates. It safeguards us to walk in His ways and not be led astray. The Word of God is to govern our lives, not hype or emotion, or sensationalism.

How Do We Discern True Revival from False Revival?

I recently read an article talking about this very subject. With the recent events surrounding gatherings at Asbury and other college campuses, there are varying opinions and perspectives on the matter of revival.

It can seem to get quite polarizing, depending on who is discussing the topic. One thing we should not steer away from is using biblical discernment in any given situation.

The author of this article highlighted five false/inconclusive signs of revival, as well as some true or authentic signs of revival. The inconclusive signs included heightened emotions, a ready testimony, Scripture proof, spiritual deliverance, and freedom of worship.

Regarding true signs, the author touched on areas such as gracious gratitude, stating one who “loves God for who He is in Himself as opposed to what He can do or has done for me.” True revival in the life of an individual brings delight to His holy nature.

Sin becomes distasteful rather than desirable. A believer is progressively conformed to the image of Christ by the leading and the power of the Holy Spirit.

The third area noted was humility because “it is a rebuke to pride and a cease to self-willing, resting in God through Christ who saves us.” Obedience to God and to His Word in the life of a born-again believer will also be evident.

When thinking about revival and thinking about those who do not know Christ coming to saving faith in Him, I want to see revival in the hearts of God’s people and to see others come to saving faith in Christ.

I want to see brothers and sisters in Christ increase in their passion for the Lord. I ask the Lord that He would continue to increase my desire for His Word and for His ways in my own life every day. I pray it is not temporal or fleeting based on emotion and location for those who travel and attend extended meetings.

I say yes and amen to God’s work in the hearts and lives of people while testing claims of revival and knowing that enduring fruit testifying of Christ and the truth of His Word is where this is to be grounded.

For further reading:

Is God Moving Through the Revival at Asbury?

What Is the Significance of Revival for Believers?

What Is a Spiritual Awakening and Are We Experiencing One Now?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Theerapong28 authorDawn Hill is a Christian blogger known as The Lovesick Scribe and the host of The Lovesick Scribe Podcast. She is passionate about sharing the truth and pointing others back to Jesus Christ through the written Word as the standard of authority for Christian living and instruction while being led by the Holy Spirit into maturity. She is the author of NonProphet Woke: The Reformation of a Modern-Day Disciple. She is a wife to Nicholas and a mother to Anabel and Ephraim. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram

Source link