Do We REALLY Want Revival?

There is a great deal of talk about revival. Lakeland in its short-lived hayday under Todd Bentley was being called a revival that was going to influence the world and bring healing back to front and center in the Church. Didn’t happen. Wasn’t a revival.

At times the Church seems to pursue revival as if it were an idol that we are worshipping. Instead of focusing on revival and praying for revival it would be good to actually prepare ourselves for revival. When the Church is prepared then God will send a revival our way. You see, I believe that “revival” is God’s norm and His standard. So, the Church should be living in a perpetual state of revival.

The Toronto Airport – The Father’s Blessing – was being called a revival near the end of its run a few years back. It was not a revival.

Pensacola was called a revival – it seemed to come closer to the classic look and feel of a revival. But it was not a revival.

Many things are called revivals but so far I have not seen one although I have been in a number of major moves of God and a few renewals.

So, what is a revival? I have been studying them for years and it is hard to get a lot of agreement on any given definition. However, one thing they all seemed to have in common …

They were days of the church when God manifested His presence in overwhelming reality. They always left you with a profound realization of God’s greatness and transcendence and of your own unworthiness and dependence upon Him. Sinners felt a fearsome awareness of God’s presence and their own sinfulness.

There’s the key. The believers and non-believers became aware of the awesomeness of God and, as a result, they had a sense of fear towards Him. They also had a great sense of their own sinfulness and their unworthyness. It was serious business as the Holy Spirit would come upon people and bring conviction regarding their sins and they would fall out wailing and crying out to God … not laughing, not demanding more from God, not looking for angels, wind, visions and dreams, or other manifestations. It was a serious time of conviction, godly sorrow, repentance, and salvation.

As I look at what is passed off as revival today – not even close. Man-made enthusiasm and emotionalism is superficial and cheap. In real revival emotion is not produced or manipulated by man. It is a response to the unsought, unexpected, and powerful working of God’s Spirit upon the inner depths of people’s souls. In fact, in Finney’s revivals he worked hard at shutting down any sign of emotionalism. But often it came as a result of a serious and deep conviction of sin that fell upon people – sometimes just a few sentences into his sermon. Sovereign, non-hype, God-centered and God-initiated.

Dr. W. Graham Scroggie once said: “there has never been a spiritual revival which did not begin with an acute sense of sin. We are never prepared for a spiritual advance until we see the necessity of getting rid of that which has been hindering it, and that, in the sight of God, is sin.”

Didn’t see that in Lakeland or in the moves of the Holy Spirit I have been a part of. And, if I dare offer an opinion, unless God moves sovereignly and supernaturally we will not see one in the near future. They are not man-made – they are God-given. They don’t come because we announce that what we are holding is a revival. They don’t come as a result of man’s hype and emotions. They are a serious move of God. And, the Church needs to become serious, once again, about the things of God – holiness, repentance, and soul-winning to name just a few. When we become serious about what we already know then we will see God move upon His people taking us to a whole new level. Whden we walk in the fear of the Lord and obedience to His Word – something we have not seen for a number of decades – then He will release His Spirit to bring sinners (Christians and non-Christians) to repentance.

We are too tolerant of sin in the camp and in our personal lives. With this tolerance comes a lack of God’s presence and power which are necessary ingredients for a real revival. In fact, in a real revival people are morally transformed – and it usually starts with the leaders. That definitely rules out Lakeland as a “revival”.

If we dare risk it – and if we really want a revival for the sake of seeing the believers get right with God and rid their lives of compromise and sin and seeing non-believers saved and discipled … then we need to pray this wonderful prayer found in Isaiah 64:1-2 NKJV

Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence – as fire burns brushwood, as fire causes water to boil – to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence!

And, may I add, that not just the unsaved and nations would tremble in His presence – but that the Church would too. We have lost the sense of the holiness and awesomeness of God – our reverence and fear of our holy God. We are much too familiar, demanding, and irreverent when talking about and talking to Yahweh.

6 replies
  1. Dave B
    Dave B says:

    I simply cannot agree with the above statements Ralph… And with your many years of experience in studying revival, where is your revival? It sounds like you are wanting to see the church become more like a funeral service than a place of abundant life! We must continue to pursue Revival whatever the cost and not slump back to lifeless church programs. The church needs to come back to the book of Acts and learn how to move in signs and wonders and the miraculous so that we will put our faith in the power of God not in the persuasive words of man. People are drawn to the miraculous power of God not a bunch of people wailing like Cats and Dogs!!

  2. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for joining us on these daily blogs. Thanks, as well, for your comments to this recent blog.

    If you go back to the Biblical revivals – both Old and New Testament – you will find in every case that the key to the revival was turning back to the Lord and repentance with godly sorrow. The key was not miracles, signs and wonders – but the preaching of the Word and people coming under conviction with godly sorrow, repenting, turning to the Lord, making restitution and getting things right.

    Peter preaches the first sermon of the Christian Church after his experience at Pentecost with the Holy Spirit and the manifestation of tongues. He declares the Gospel and the people were convicted deep in their hearts. They asked him what they should do to get right and he responded “Repent…”. That is the key to all God-sent revivals.

    I learned long ago that the way you birth people into the Church is what you will need to do to keep them in the Church. If you birth them into the Kingdom and the Church through the preaching of the Word and them hearing God’s voice and responding then they will stay because that is a mainstay of the Sunday assembly.

    If you bring them into the Church through a guest speaker – then you have to keep a string of guest speakers coming or they will leave. If you birth them in during a time of manifestations of whatever sort – then this is what is “norm” for them and they will leave as soon as the manifestations lift or stop for whatever reason – evn if it is God lifting them.

    Best to birth people into the Church through God’s Word. And, the only way to birth them into the Kingdom and see them born again is for them to come to Jesus in brokenness with godly sorrow and repentance to have their sins forgiven.

    We have too many false converts thinking they are alright with God when they are absolutely not. They are false converts because they came to Jesus for a warm fuzzy, an emotional experience, because someone promised them peace, joy, prosperity, or whatever. Jesus promises us trials, trouble, and tribulations in this world if we follow Him.

    The only valid reason to come to Jesus initially is the recognition that you are a sinner and that your sins have separated you from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and that without repentance and godly sorrow there is no salvation (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). The Gospel being preached in places like Lakeland did not preach the true Gospel – it was the American version of the Gospel – promising healing, prosperity, etc. Hold on now – I am not against those things as I was healed of a serious medical problem the night before I was saved … but you don’t come to Jesus for these things. You come to Jesus because you understand that you are a sinner in need of a Savior or else you will find yourself in hell one day. That’s the Gospel. The rest follows if God so determines.

    There are a lot of false gospels out in the church world in North America and they all leave out the biblical need for brokenness, godly sorow and repentance. When that is not front and center you do not have a revival – you have a mess that is deceiving many non-believers and entertaining the believers who should be so busy out winning the lost that they would not be looking for or be involved in such nonsense.

    As to my local Church… it is a Christ-centered group of believers who are hungry for all that God has planned for them. Many of them (50%) are trained in evangelism and a good number of them are on teams reaching out weekly or are doing the same individually at their places of employment and among their relationships. We have been through a number of lively renewals and seen God’s hand touch, heal, and deliver many over the years. But, the center of the assembly and the ongoing life of the Church is God’s Word and the worship of our King. Not manifestations, miracles, signs and wonders. As good as they are – Jesus is better!

    We are making idols of the “miracles, signs and wonders” the same as we have made an idol of revival. We are called to “seek first the Kingdom…” not run after miracles, signs and wonders or any other manifestations. And, seeing I am talking with serious pagans and non-believers daily … let me comment that they are not looking for the spooky and spectacular as seen in so many Christian circles. They are looking for solid Bible answers to their issues and questions – and the real presence of God when meeting with Christians. They see through the hype.

    One of my other blogs – September 2, 2008 – has some interesting definitions of revival and some facts and insights … if you would care to take a few minutes to read throught that posting. Might give you some insights into where I’m coming from after 30+ years of ministering world-wide.

  3. AngieF
    AngieF says:

    Hi Ralph 🙂
    Yes it has been a long time since we spoke.
    Too long I miss you all.
    I totally agree with what your saying and I so needed to hear that this morning. Thank you!!!!

  4. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    We are definately too tolerant of sin in the camp and I think most of the time it is because if we confront other people’s sins and or acknowledge them we would have to do the same for our own. Messy buisness.

    We need Prayer! REAL prayer. petitioning prayer. passionate prayer. wrestling prayer. Prayer that costs us something. Without this prayer can revival come? And if it could what good would it do? I agree that we have lost our sense or reverence for God. It seems to be our culture to take away any level of authority and to allow others to do whatever for fear that the authority figure (or worse yet the person in charge or the government) would have to take ownership and deal with the consequences. SAD!!!

  5. Ralph
    Ralph says:


    If prayer is the answer- and it is at least part of the answer – it will have to be different in format, intent, focus, and power than what now passes for prayer. Because the way we pray now certainly is not working. People’s lives are not being changed and revival is no where to be seen. To double our efforts would result in 2 times zero – and so we are still no further ahead.

    Let’s look again at how we pray and what the Bible states prayer is all about and the form and format (if any) that it should take. Then, let’s pray according to this biblical understanding of prayer and persist in prayer. Keep going until something happens.

    However, just doubling the effort we currently put in to what we call prayer – I have better things to do with my time.

  6. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Hi Angie,

    Really good to hear from you. You can reach me “off blog” by emailing me at and by phone toll-free at 1-866-615-6470, extension 701.

    Thanks for the positive feedback on this current blog. Looking forward to hearing from you again on future blog entries.


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