Can man cause revival? The prim and proper response to this question is “no way!!!” – but is this true, is this what the Bible reveals to us? But contrary to popular Christian view and after studying the accounts, I believe we, the Church – the body of Christ, have much to do with revival.
Let us examine this question.
First what is revival and what is its relationship to an awakening?
Revival in its simplest form means to comeback alive. In Psalms 80:18, there is a prayer to revive the people of God – “Then we will not turn back from You; revive us, and we will call upon Your name.” So revival is someone or something that was that once alive, but now is dead, being brought back to life (like the dry bones in Ezekiel 37). We also hear the term “Awakening” which is similar to revival but refers to someone or something that was never alive in Christ.
This is a time of turning back to God. Because of this, we can say that God wants revival more than any human is capable of.
Revivals in the Bible
We see revivals happening in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Under the old covenant we see revival breakout when Ezra, the scribe/priest, returns to Judah to seek the heart of the Lord and to teach His Word (Ezra 7) to Judah. He calls for a fast – a time to seek the Lord and humble themselves (Ezra 8). Revival breaks out as the people of God repent (Ezra 10).
Under the new covenant we see revival break out in Ephesus – Acts 19:1-12. It begins when a small group of believers meeting consistently for two years – reasoning and persuading on the things of the kingdom of God. This meeting leads to revival as we see unusual miracles (aren’t all miracles unusual??) breaking out, the Ephesian society being transformed, and Satan getting mad.
The intersection of three things that fan the flames of revival
But it’s infant Church revival/awakening that gives us the best blue print of what leads to revival:
- The unity of the people of God – Acts 2:46 (NLT) – They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity. Are people on one accord. They have all things in common. There is one agenda – to seek the Lord. They are all participating, complaining. Psalms 133 tells us this is where the anointing is
- The hunger of the people of God – Acts 2:42,46a (NLT) – All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer … 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day. James 4:8 – tells us to draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Revelation 3:20 lets us know that God wants to fellowship with us but we have to let Him in. And Isaiah 57:15 says that High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy, will dwell with us revive us if we have an humble and contrite heart.
- The faith of the people of God – Acts 2:43-44a (NLT) – A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44And all the believers … It was the faith of the people that brought them together daily. It was the faith of the people that led to the awe of God. And this is why they are called “believers” or the faithful ones. Without faith it is impossible to please God – Hebrews 11:6.
God seems to intervene when these three things intersect.
First, God wants revival more than we do. 2 Peter 3:9 shows us that the Lord is longsuffering in regard to His return because He doesn’t want any to perish but to turn to Him.
And finally, while God is sovereign, man has free will which gives us the responsibility to respond to Him – this is where our responsibility lies with revival. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) – 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.
So we don’t have to worry about God wanting revival – He does much more than you, we need to only to be concerned about our response to this desire of God. Revival really begins in the heart of man and women who are hungry for Him.