The greatest need of the world today is a mighty manifestation of the Spirit of God in revival power. ‘Revival’ is when God reveals Himself in awesome holiness and irresistible power. It is when He visits the world of men to impart a fresh vision of His glory and grace and simultaneously to reveal man’s sinfulness, inadequacy and desperate need of God’s mercy. During times of revival God’s people are restored from backsliding, carelessness and inactivity. They become preoccupied with the things of God. They become intensely prayerful, attending God’s house more frequently for fellowship and worship. They develop a hunger for the preached word which illuminates and powerfully penetrates the hearts of it’s hearers, bringing conviction and response. Believers develop a passion for souls and become deeply concerned about the spiritual welfare of the lost.
Consequently, during times of revival, Gospel preaching takes on a new prominence and multitudes become converted. Sometimes powerful anointings of God’s Spirit produce physical manifestations such as deep conviction, tears, crying out, bodily prostrations, trembling, violent shaking or laughter.
The results of true revival are equally spectacular. The normal traits of ungodliness disappear. Blasphemy and filthy language, drunkenness and immorality, dishonesty and selfishness are all replaced by a sweet sense of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Sometimes entire towns or areas are affected. At other times whole nations are so blanketed with God’s renewing activity that hardly any inhabited places are without some evidence of His glorious workings.
Revivals usually occur after a prolonged spiritual and moral decline. By definition a ‘revival’ requires a state of death, neglect or loss. This has always been true historically. The church becomes apathetic to its master, its morals and its mission. It loses its zeal and becomes ineffective. Its worship becomes dull and uneventful and its membership declines. It needs to be ‘revived’ occasionally, for it’s own sake.
“It is most significant that since the Reformation revivals have recurred with increasing frequency. Again and again God has rescued that which had gone beyond all human aid: what could have saved the church but these gracious interventions of almighty power? The need can but grow more urgent as the age draws to its close.”
M. Panton – quoted by Arthur Wallis In The Day of Thy Power p24
The church also needs to be revived to achieve her mission. A dead church will never fulfil the Great Commission to invade the world with the life-saving Gospel.
“The quiet conversion of one sinner after another, under the ordinary ministry of the gospel must always be regarded with feeling of satisfaction and gratitude. …but a periodic manifestation of the simultaneous conversion of thousands is also to be desired, because of its adaptation to afford a visible and impressive demonstration that God has made that same Jesus, who was rejected and crucified, both Lord and Christ”.
William Reid, quoted by Arthur Wallis, In the Day of Thy Power p44
Revival, then, is what the church and the world needs. And revival is just what God wants to give. He is not unwilling to open the heavens and send us ‘times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.’ Indeed, it is true to say that seasons of revival have always been the major means that God has employed to advance His cause and the cause of the church in the world.
“Though there be a more constant influence of God’s Spirit always, in some degree, attending His ordinances; yet the way in which the greatest things have been done towards carrying on this work, always has been by remarkable effusions of the Spirit at special seasons of mercy…”
Jonathan Edwards, History of Redemption p30