So is this “revival” we are having or what?

Posted: October 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

Will you not revive us again,   that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O LORD,  and grant us your salvation.

Psalm 85:6-7

We are holding special worship services at Oak Grove Baptist Church October 2-5, 2011 we are calling “For His Glory.”  Many have asked “is this revival we are having?” We have tried to answer before we can call something “revival” it has to happen.  So I hope the following post that is a combination of articles I have written before will be helpful.

There is a difference between “revival services” and revival.  The term “revival services” may be used to refer to an evangelistic emphasis with a guest preacher and musician.  It may refer to a special effort to seek renewal in the church — an “in-house revival.”  They can be scheduled and placed on the calendar.  They can be organized and promoted.  These types of services are good things.  However, while God may occasionally send true revival while a church is holding such “revival services,” God sends revival at his sovereign pleasure.  Most Christians have been in “revival services” when revival did not come.
Revival is when God awakens believers to their lukewarmness and sin, and powerfully calls them to repentance.  In revival God presses upon His people the seriousness of sin and the urgency of repentance.  Believers begin to think deeply about God and their relationship to Him.  God has revealed Himself—His holiness, His sovereignty, His power.  God’s people are driven to confess their sins and refocus their affections.  Their indifference is shaken and they begin to have emotions about spiritual matters proportionate to those eternal realities.  God reinvigorates His church in revival.  There is new life and power in the church.  Christians serve the Lord with great effectiveness and a fresh joy.

The word revival means to bring new life. One cannot give new life to that which has no life. One cannot “re-vive” what has not first been “vived.”  Revival begins among those who have been made alive in Christ through the new birth.
While revival always begins in the household of God, it will powerfully impact those who are lost. As God restores His church to its proper level of holiness and power, the Lord’s people gain a concern for their lost family members and neighbors.  Christians begin to pray earnest prayers for the conversion of the lost and God moves in powerful ways to bring people to Christ.In the 1857-58 Prayer Revival crews onboard ships are recorded as falling under mighty conviction of sin as their ship entered the harbor at New York City.

Revival impacts a community in positive ways.  In the Welsh Revival, they had to take the work horses out of the mines and retrain them because the workers had stopped using the profanity they had used in the past to command them. One police station formed a singing group and sang at churches because so much of their time was freed up.  Judges were given white gloves, the custom  when there were no cases to be heard.

True revival cannot be scheduled.  It cannot be worked up or promoted into existence.  Churches have “revival services” because they wish to make themselves available to this dynamic work of God.  We can pray that God will send revival, but it’s a brave prayer. If God is pleased to send revival, it will mean conviction of sin, the work of repentance, and moving outside our comfort zones.

The word for “revive” is often the same as “renew” found in the Bible and they are used interchangeably and have the same meaning. It comes from the original Hebrew word  ”chaya” meaning “to bring back to life.”

Our prayer to the Lord in these days of special service at the beginning of October we are calling “For His Glory” is that the Lord would do a super-natural work of renewing our hearts for Him & His glory. This article is to be used to help inform us so we can prepare & pray more effectively.

Revival is certainly a word in the Baptist vocabulary. In Baptist life, it is usually used to describe a series of worship services in which a visiting preacher, and sometimes a visiting choir director, come to a church to lead special worship services. These services have a special emphasis placed on leading people, who do not yet have a relationship with Him, to Christ. The church members often help out by doing such things as singing in the “revival choir,” bringing their friends to “pack a pew night,” or serving pizza to teenagers before the service on “youth night.” Sometimes the services are preceded by “cottage prayer meetings,” where the members go to a member’s home to pray together for the services. This is pretty much what the word meant as as we heard it growing up. Because of this tradition, there remains a “terminological inexactitude” (to borrow a phrase from Winston Churchill) among many Baptists concerning the meaning of the term, revival.

Evangelism is not that to which the word revival refers. Revival is what God sends, not to the lost, but to His own people, the church. The dead can not be revived; they require resurrection. In revival, God does a fresh work in those who have life, yet who have grown weak through sin or neglect. It is true that evangelism will inevitably flow out of revival. Evangelism is important! But in terms of methodology, more and more, we are having to learn how to do that work outside the walls of the church. Unbelievers are not going to come and hear as often as they did in earlier generations. We are having to learn to share the faith in natural ways with those with whom we have relationships.
Here are some better definitions of revival; these will be found to be more consistent with biblical teaching:

“Revival is that sovereign work of God in which He visits His own people, restoring and releasing them into the fullness of His blessing.” – Robert Coleman

“Revival is a return to spiritual health after a period of decline into sin and broken fellowship with God… Revival is for God’s people when they need to be forgiven and restored to life, spiritual health, and vitality” –Henry Blackaby  (Fresh Encounter, Lifeway, 1993)

“Revival is an extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit producing extraordinary results.” – Richard Owen Roberts
Look in the Bible. Notice how many times it says, “me” or “us” when speaking of revival or renewal. Here are some examples:
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Psalm 119:156: “Great are Thy mercies, O Lord; Revive me according to Thine ordinances”

Psalm 119:88: “Revive me according to Thy lovingkindness, So that I may keep the testimony of Thy mouth”

Psalm 85:6: “Wilt Thou not Thyself revive us again, That Thy people may rejoice in Thee?”

Isaiah 40:31 “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Habbakuk 3:2: “Lord, I have heard the report about Thee and I fear. O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy”

Like the old song says, “It’s me, it’s me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” When is revival needed among God’s people? When they have their left first love. God’s people need to be revived when they find themselves going through the motions, having “a form of godliness but denying its power” (2nd Timothy 3:5). God’s people need revival when they are wallowing in sin, perhaps regretting their sins, but unwilling to thoroughly repent of them. Or even worse totally denying or not seeing their sin.

God’s people need revival when they are neglecting their relationship with Christ. Renewal is needed when we have forsaken evangelism and we are not broken for the lost. Revival is needed when we are low on zeal and have grown lukewarm.

J. I. Packer lists five Marks of Revival:

(1) Awareness of God’s Presence

(2) Responsiveness to God’s Word

(3) Sensitiveness to sin

(4) Liveliness in Community – A revived church is full of life, joy, and power of the Holy Spirit

(5) Faithfulness in testimony – an evangelistic and ethical overspill into the world.

Is there a “formula for revival”? Sometimes, you hear 2nd Chronicles 7:14 used as a recipe for revival: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” But that’s the whole deal, isn’t it? Getting God’s people to humble themselves, to pray, to seek God’s face, and repent? It would seem that if all that is happening, you have revival! The condition being met in this passage leads to forgiveness and restoration; at least that’s what it says after the word, “then”. So, should we pray for revival? Of course! That’s what we see the Psalmist doing in many of the verses above. But can we reduce the work of a sovereign God to a man-dependant formula? No. Revival is the work of God. So we must pray. We are in a transition to in the life of our church  it is vital that we understand and embrace God’s mission for us. But if God doesn’t move to make this happen and we don’t open our hearts it will be in vain . Please pray and let us search our own hearts.

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