What is revival and what does it mean? What does revival look like? Have you recently heard the term revival be used frequently? You may have seen or heard of the events that took place at Asbury University during their college's chapel service. Today, we are witnessing something beautiful in the United States. Revival is happening right now and it is important for you to know what is going on.
What Does the Word Revival Mean?
How do you define revival? Here we have provided a medical definition and a spiritual definition of revival.
The medical definition of revival or the word revive refers to the process of bringing someone back from a state of unconsciousness or near death, restoring their vital signs to normal.
The spiritual definition of revival is a spiritual awakening after being in a state of dormancy or stagnation and is usually characterized by a renewed appreciation of God's holiness and a renewed passion.
It would be considered revival when we see a group of people previously in a state of dormancy or unconsciousness, not aware of what is going on around them, and entering into an awakening or being restored to normal.
In other words, it can be characterized as these moments and a state of being where we are in awe of who Jesus is and so in love with him. We come back with a heart of repentance (changing the way that we think to be more like Jesus Christ).
What Does Revival Look like?
In a corporate sense, revivals are moments in human history that can be recognized as major spiritual awakenings. In assessing what corporate revival looks like, these major events serve as examples of how people of different backgrounds and cultures come together to answer a common call for spiritual reflection and change in their spiritual life.
Revival does not always have to look like a drastic change in an area or a highly emotional evangelistic meeting. Revival can be personal to you. When you fix your gaze upon God your life will be transformed as you experience the goodness of God.
A personal revival will occur and when a dedicated effort is applied, transformation will begin to take place in relation to how you interact with others, how you respond to difficult issues, and how you manage both big and small decisions that require discernment. Your spiritual life improves as well, it becomes easier to pray and talk to God.
Personal revival doesn't mean perfection; it's an ongoing process of self-improvement and spiritual growth as you become closer to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Can We Start a Revival?
How did the people before us start these great awakenings? Can we do the same thing today?
Some people have a view of God and Christianity where we were made to follow all of His laws and live by the Law like it was in the Old Testament; but in the New Testament Jesus was all about relationship. In that relationship, in the love relationship that we have with Christ, revival begins to break out. When we adore Him and He responds to us.
Revival starts now with us and can start in this very moment. Take a moment as you are reading this and turn your attention to God. It is when we do this that we become aware of God's presence. We think God shows up when we turn towards Him but actually God is always there and has always been there. We become aware of Him and his glory when we have a renewed attention towards God.
Through experiecing who God is, being in awe of who He is, and having a relationship with Him we begin to share and testify of His goodness.
What is evangelism? Evangelism is the spreading of the Christian gospel (good news) by public preaching or personal witness. We as believers after having a personal revival in our own lives are to share what the good sovereign work of God has done in our lives so others may hear the goodness of God and be brought to repentance.
It is the goodness of God that brings us to repentance because we see His goodness and it births a desire in us to be closer to him and that requires turning away from our old life and sin.
The History of Revival
Revival is not a new concept or something that we are seeing for the first time. In the United States, we have seen throughout American history, moments of a great awakening in the church. These moments of awakening or revival captured national attention and have revolutionized the way that God's people view and practice their faith. People come back to their first love in awe of Him and there is a renewed focus back on Jesus Christ who is our Lord.
The First Great Awakening
The First Great Awakening, which occurred from the 1730s to the 1770s, was a christian revival in colonial America that had a tremendous impact. Characterized by radical religious reforms, the movement was led by preachers such as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. They were integral parts of the movement, preaching passionate sermons that sought to challenge complacent Christian beliefs, potentially inspiring conversions and refocusing on living with moral integrity.
As people who attended these revivals learned more about the bible and its teachings, they wanted to live their lives with greater morality and dedication to God, leading to a large number of conversions. This period of time saw deep changes in religious belief, practice, and organization; it also affected ideas about government, women’s rights, and education in positive ways.
In addition to increasing church attendance at many Protestant denominations, the First Great Awakening resulted in deeper spiritual commitment among members. Those impactful events are still remembered today for paving the way for modern evangelism movements.
The Second Great Awakening
The Second Great Awakening was a religious revival that swept through the United States in the late 18th century and early 19th century. It began in the 1790s, eventually reaching its peak during the 1830s. It saw an emphasis on personal salvation and individual commitment to Christ, rather than the submission to church teachings of traditional Protestant denominations.
This period also saw a sharp rise in anti-slavery sentiment within communities of faith nationwide, as abolitionists sought to make “free produce” mandatory among many churches: no longer could people purchase items produced by slaves or slaveholdings. This spiritual renewal marked a dramatic shift in American culture and gave rise to widespread emotional outbursts in churches throughout the nation.
Since the second great awakening of the early 19th century, several other revival movements have taken place in varying locations and eras.
After this period of awakening and renewed religious interest, two more main revivals would follow: The Third Great Awakening (1850-1910), which was marked with a renewed commitment to social reform, and the Charismatic Movement (1960-present day).
The Charismatic Movement began in the 1960s (twentieth century) and is still alive today. Recognized as the Jesus Movement, it was marked by a renewed interest in Pentecostal beliefs, which emphasize a personal relationship with God in addition to being activated in the gifts of the Holy Spirit such as speaking in tongues and healing. This movement has been largely responsible for a renewed interest in faith-based healing, as well as an increased emphasis on the power of prayer in everyday life.
Bible Verses Connected to Revival
Isaiah 57:15 - For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (NKJV).
2 Chronicles 7:14 - and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive theier sin and will heal their land (NASB).
Habakkuk 3:2 - O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy (NKJV).
Pslam 51:10 - Create in me a clean heart, God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (NASB)