What Does Revival Mean To You? :: by Grant Phillips

Two years ago I wrote an article called “Is It Too Late For Revival?” Many today are seeking a revival in our land, and that desire is to be applauded. The problem, as I see it, is what do we mean by “revival?”

I have found over the years that most church people think a revival is having a series of meetings involving singing, testimonies, preaching and people being saved. Their primary emphasis is on getting people saved. That is not a revival in the true sense. That is an evangelistic meeting. Now, whether people are saved during revival meetings or evangelistic meetings is a plus. We always want to see people come to the Lord and receive salvation, but let us not confuse the two.

A revival is God’s people getting serious about Jesus. Period. It can be accomplished in the privacy of your own home, in a church setting, under a tree in the back yard, in your car on the way to work, etc. It can be done wherever you are.

Is it necessary to have a series of consecutive days of church meetings, commonly called a revival meeting, to have revival? No, but it doesn’t hurt, if done God’s way.

Perhaps I’ve missed something, but I have seen no signs of true revival within the Church. That isn’t to say that there are none within the Church who are serious about Jesus and doing His will. That isn’t to say that there are none within the Church who want to know Jesus as closely as possible. It is to say, that they comprise a very small minority.

One of the greatest problems within the Church is a lack of Godly leadership. Jesus, the Head of the Church, has appointed certain men to lead His people, and most are failing. On top of that, many Christian men and women are in positions of leadership of which they have not been called by God. If that isn’t enough, Satan has infiltrated the local churches, seminaries, and other organizations with his own misguided men and women. So now we have Christian leaders not fulfilling their service for Christ, Christian leaders who were not called by Christ for leadership, Satan’s crowd in positions of leadership, and finally a handful called by Christ and doing His will.

So what do we do? What can be done?

First, and most importantly, we start by saying “we” need to get serious about Jesus, and not “they” need to get serious about Jesus. It must start with each of us individually. None of us are exempt from needing improvement (a revival) in our Christian life.

From the early 18th century to the late 19th century there were four Great Awakenings. The Church leadership in particular got serious about Jesus Christ. Because of that, thousands who sat in the pews got serious about Jesus and put Him first in their lives. In addition, thousands outside the Church came to know Jesus as their Savior. That goes to prove that when Christians actually put Jesus first, people will get saved. Revival will result in evangelism which will result in men, women, boys and girls coming to Christ.

Why is it the world around us today isn’t interested in what we have as Christians? I’m glad you asked. I’ll tell you. They can’t see any difference between them and us, and they have more fun, so they think. That’s right. We Christians go from one extreme to another. Either we live like the world, and they can’t see any difference between them and us, or we make Christianity look like a burden we carry on our back ‘til the day we die. We either party with the world, or we shut them out by our stodgy, condemnatory attitude.

One thing I notice in particular when reading the lives of pastors in the 18th and 19th centuries is their total, unswerving devotion to Jesus Christ and His Word, and their love for people. Every time I read about how they lived each day, I am humbled. Those I have read of so far would arise about 4:00 A.M. and spend three to four hours in nothing but prayer and concentrated Bible study. During the day, they would teach their family God’s Word, visit, write articles, books, and sermons and then close the day with more hours alone with Jesus and His Word, the Bible.

This was a pattern for these great men of God day after day. The harvest of their many daily hours in study and prayer overflowed into the sermons they delivered behind the pulpits. Their relationship with Jesus grew and their love for people grew along with it.

What happened here? Revival came from their study where they spent many hours per day with the Master, not to be Biblically smart, but spiritually filled. It did not come from meetings, church dinners, sing-a-longs, the golf course, or anything else they did. It came from what they received when spending time in God’s Word in the company of the One who wrote the Bible; Jesus Christ.

True revival, for the pastor or any other Christian, comes from sitting at the feet of Jesus daily while He teaches us what He wants us to know from His Word. It comes from a passion to know Jesus as intimately as possible. It comes from a hunger to be in His presence. The passion and the hunger come from growing in the daily intake of the Holy Word of God and sitting in the presence of the Author while He teaches us.

Why are so many pastors and their Christian flocks weak? They are not being spiritually fed on a daily basis. Would we starve our body? Why do we starve our spirit? If we don’t feed our body, we become physically weak. If we don’t feed our spirit, we become spiritually weak. A healthy body can accomplish much. A healthy spirit will thrive for Christ.

Would God support another Great Awakening if we Christians, especially our pastors, got serious about wanting to know Jesus and actually live for Him? If we put Jesus first, before family, friends, and everything else, would He allow us one more true revival before His return? Whether He does or not, shouldn’t that be our one desire regardless?

Most sermons today do not come from hours and hours spent in the presence of Jesus Christ and His Word. Most are quickly prepared Saturday night or ad-libbed on Sunday morning. Many of today’s sermons are also “borrowed” from the sermons of others, or prepared hastily while on the go.

When God’s men decide they want to spend as much time each day as possible with Jesus and His Word, then maybe we might start seeing mass revivals.

Revivals come from God’s Word, not from men’s opinions, cute little stories, and wishy-washy sermonettes. God’s Word is “thus saith the Lord” with genuine love running all through it. God’s Word addresses sin and doesn’t compromise, but is full of love. God’s Word does not try to offend, but neither does it withhold the Truth. It doesn’t avoid the Truth even though it may cost us a sizable financial supporter or even our “job.”

True revival comes from those who love Jesus Christ so much and spend so much quiet time with Him they rely totally on His guidance in every area of their lives.

So we conclude that there will never be revival until we get serious about Jesus Christ being first in our lives. There will never be revival until His Word is planted and matures in our hearts.

What if we continue to say, “Lord bring a revival,” but we continue our lackadaisical attitude? Everything and everyone else comes first in our life, and if we have some time left we’ll spend it with Jesus, unless we’re just too tired. Result? No revival, and whose fault is that?

There is another way He can get our attention. Usually hardships change our priorities about spending time with God. When we’re too busy He can remove those things that interfere with our spiritual life. Not enough time to digest His Word? Not enough time to talk to Him? That can be changed.

When Josiah became king a revival broke out in Israel, because the Word of God was found, dusted off and read aloud to one and all. The king made some drastic changes and they obeyed God’s Word and were blessed.

Jesus made His way to the cross because His Word was corrupted by religious officials and the people followed that disastrous course. The Son of God was right in their midst and they didn’t recognize Him. After Jesus arose revival broke out when Jesus followers got serious, even to death, about Him being first in their lives.

We will never have revival until we Christians, and especially pastors, decide what is more important to us. Joshua said, “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

Grant Phillips