Five Marks of True Revival
We recently began our new series in the books of Ezra-Nehemiah entitled “Return to the Lord.” As we see the exiles returning to Jerusalem and returning to the Lord we are praying as a church for spiritual revival for ourselves. We are praying for a movement of God among us.
It’s not that we believe that the church has strayed. It’s not that we feel that the church is in rebellion to God. It’s not that we are missing it all together.
This is the truth: We never want to settle for less than God will give us!
We don’t want to settle for a comfortable, complacent Christianity like other churches. We don’t want to settle for a routine religion that ends up being heartless. If we wanted Southern Bible-Belt going through the motions Christianity than we wouldn’t have ever planted a church! There are plenty of those churches to attend already!
We at Christ Fellowship want to believe that when the Gospel is preached (“the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes”- Rom 1:16) that things get shaken up! We want to believe Jesus when he says “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” We believe that when Jesus is exalted things start to move! We want to see the Spirit-filled movement of God for the glory of God!
In his book “God in Our Midst”, J.I. Packer says that though there are various features of revivals throughout history in different cultures, different races, different settings, there are 5 distinct characteristics that are found in all Biblical or Post-Biblical revivals!
This is what we are longing for as a church. These are the marks we are praying for:
Awareness of God’s Presence. Packer says “The first and fundamental feature in revival is the sense that God has drawn awesomely near in his holiness, mercy and might.”
This was Isaiah’s vision of God being captivated by the “Holy, Holy, Holy” God! It’s a strong sense that surely God is in this place! There’s no yawning in the presence of God. There’s no time to be looking at your watch. There’s no time to update your Instagram or your Fantasy Football line-up. There is only time for being in awe.
Too many of us spend too much of our time too distracted to be captivated. We are distracted by our phones. We are distracted by our jobs. We are distracted by our sports. We need to stop and be still, to be quiet, to listen, to fast, and to pray! We need to pray for awe.
Responsiveness to God’s Word. Packer goes on to say, “The sense of God’s presence imparts new authority to his truth. The message of Scripture which previously was making only a superficial impact, if that, now searches its hearers and readers to the depth of their being.”
This reminds me of Acts 2 where the people are hearing God’s gospel preached for the first time. The Bible says they are cut to the heart and must say “Brothers, what shall we do?” We are praying for God’s Word to have a powerful effect among our body. Where we must say “Show us what it means to obey our King!”
Sensitiveness to Sin. Packer says “Deep awareness of what things are sinful and how sinful we are is the third feature of revival that calls for notice.”
There is a sensitivity to those who know God is present and his word is doing surgery on me. They say with Isaiah: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
Packer goes on to say, “Consciences become tender and a profound humbling takes place.” This should not sound like something that is scary to us. It should be longed for by the people of God. It should be welcomed! We want God’s light to expose our sin and brokenness so we can repent and be renewed.
Liveliness in Community. Packer says: “A revived church is full of life, joy and power of the Holy Spirit.”
Where a church is experiencing spiritual renewal like never before, there should be love for another like never before! There should be selfless service like never before! There should be bearing of one another’s burdens like never before! There should be sharing the gospel like never before! There should be generosity, hospitality, authenticity, vulnerability like never before!
You should be able to sense the gospel of grace blowing in the air!
This only makes sense because once you are aware of God’s presence. And his word has cut you to the heart. And you have been fully exposed of your sin. And yet, you feel comforted and safe in his grace. This makes the community of grace the safest place you could ever be!
Fruitfulness in Testimony. Packer concludes by saying: “Revival always has an evangelistic and ethical overspill in the world. . .Christians become fearless in witness and tireless in their Savior’s service.”
The Christian now goes from “Woe is me I am lost to “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”
This was the blessing of being a young church plant. We started with a desire to reach the lost. We started with a desire to be selfless in serving the community. But the danger of being a 10 year old church is that this desire can grow cold. We don’t serve like we once did. We don't give up our time like we once did. We experience mission drift.
Let’s pray during this season that God would revive us again! Let’s pray for a Spirit-filled movement of God for the glory of God! Let's beg with God to move among us! Let’s not settle for anything less than all that God will give us!