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.