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Revival: When is it of God?
by David A.
What is REVIVAL? I mean, a
real one, brought to pass by God Himself?
Actually, any revival that is truly of God is going to be nothing more
than a restoration of exactly what God has been seeking to do for the last
two-thousand years: To save people,
yes, but then FORM CHRIST in His people.
Thus, a revival is not a new movement.
It is simply a return to the ONE and ONLY movement that God began, and
people have departed from, that started in Acts 2.
God's purpose was always to give us, "Christ in us" -- so that Christ
would BE our life. He has always
wanted to form Christ in us so that we could live and walk with Him, and become
His witnesses. This purpose was for
this age, yes, but unto the next.
All of this means the redemption and restoration of all under God.
There is much IN that, but there is nothing new about it.
It is what God has always purposed through Christ, and any REVIVAL is
going to bring people back to it, or into it for the first time.
This is not maybe. It is a
But to most Christian people, a real revival is one with signs, wonders,
or miracles – or at least a revival is filled with what people claim are signs,
wonders, or miracles from God. We
usually envision the healing of the sick, people falling down in the aisles
under the weight of glory, and a large amount of emotional hysteria.
For some reason, THAT is what we think happens when God truly visits.
Today, revival is about stuff God does when He shows up – and that stuff
is signs, wonders, and miracles.
The biggest irony in all of this is that most people think that the proof
of a revival from God is the attention and reactions and the conduct of those
involved. If people are acting
crazy in the name of Jesus then it must be a real revival because not that many
people could be wrong, faking it, or deceived.
Right? Thus, once something
like that gets going, it will last quite some time.
It will attract the curious, but also attract those with real need who
want to be touched by God, or who want to experience what others say have
happened to them. "Revivals," like
this can last for years. But
history has shown that such revivals do very little to bring anyone alive in
There have been documented cases of fraud on the part of some leadership
in modern revivals. People have
been caught red-handed planting things like, “angel dust,” and, “angel
feathers,” and precious gems, and there are been fabricated stories of gold
teeth appearing in people’s mouth.
But there have also been many more cases of sincere people getting caught up in
emotionalism, getting an adrenalin rush, and claiming healing, etc., only to
realize later that nothing has changed.
There have been others who have gotten caught up in things like, “holy
laughter,” and acting like fools.
They would tell you that they weren’t faking this, but that it was something
that came upon them that they could not control.
It is certainly a fact that most supposed revivals are NOT the result of
deliberate fraud on the part of the average participant.
But that is never the question.
The question is whether this kind of thing is of God.
I don’t know whether most of us realize the gravity and seriousness of
that question. For if a supposed
revival is NOT of God, then we are talking about some other source or cause.
We are, at the very least, talking about being part of a big LIE.
But worse, we are talking about something that may be of the enemy.
There will be lasting consequences.
There always are.
So this brings us back to the question:
What is true revival? In
this day and age, it is all the more vital that we understand the answer, for as
we move forward in these last days, there are going to be more and more fake
revivals, with signs and wonders, all for the purpose of leading God’s people
away from Jesus Christ.
is Judgment Unto Restoration
One of the real tests of revival is what remains when all of the
excitement dies down. God is
interested in only ONE issue: The
measure of Christ. Have people come
into a greater fullness of Christ?
Have they gained a personal knowledge of Him?
Is God having His way with those people -- in Spirit and in Truth?
In the final analysis, it is not going to matter what THINGS went on in
any supposed revival. What matters is
the SAME thing that always matters with God:
Has Christ been formed in people?
Is God getting His purpose and glory?
Does this continue when the supposed revival passes?
Or -- is there error? Is
there just another season of waiting for the next revival or new thing?
Revival is about Christ becoming our life.
That is eternal.
Well, that's changes our perception of revival, doesn't it?
Revival isn't about God doing THINGS.
Revival is about the same thing God has always sought to do:
Reveal Christ TO people, IN people, and then THROUGH people.
Not simply during the revival, but in a way that builds a foundation for
Let's look into the NT.
First of all, if you read the NT, you will find NO mention whatsoever of
revival. It simply isn’t there –
not in the form that we normally associate with the concept.
What you do have are a number of churches that have gone astray, and a
letter from Paul or another apostle that is intended to warn them, and bring
them back to the Truth in Jesus Christ.
Read Galatians. This church
was, according to Paul, “standing aloof,” from Jesus Christ as their life.
(Gal. 1:6) Christ had
become, “of no effect,” to them.
(Gal. 5:4) They had not lost salvation.
Rather, they were trying to maintain their spiritual life through their
own works. This had the opposite
effect – spiritual death – because Christ alone is our life.
The solution, according to the apostle, was not signs and wonders.
It was not emotionalism. It
was not a miracle rally. The
solution was that, “Christ be formed in them.”
(Gal. 4:19) The Galatians
needed a revival of Truth and Life in Jesus Christ.
This is true revival. Jesus
Christ is THE LIFE. He is the only
solution to unbelief and deception.
This brings us to a sobering conclusion:
Revival is judgment.
Absolutely. If God is to bring us
back to Christ as the source of all for us, then He MUST convict us of where
this has not been the case. If God
brings light it will expose darkness.
If God is to strengthen our faith, He must expose error and unbelief.
You cannot have revival without the judgment of God upon all that needs
to be revived. Revival begins with
judgment unto repentance.
If Jesus Christ is to become our life – the means by which we live and
move and walk with God – then all that is of US; of natural man – must be
brought under the Cross. This is
nothing more than the principle of life from death.
Where revival is needed among Christian people it is usually because
natural, religious man has become the life – in place of Christ as our life.
Thus, revival will expose this condition and people must respond by
repenting and by bringing all that is of THEMSELVES to the Cross of Christ, that
the life of Christ might then become their life.
Do we want to come alive?
Then we must first die -- come to the Cross.
There is simply no other way.
Do we want Christ to be our life?
Then we must lose our life into His hands.
Now, note that judgment will certainly include repentance of SINS.
But too often we don’t realize that we need to repent of the ONE SIN that
provides ground for all of the rest:
The sin of UNBELIEF. The sin
of unbelief is not merely us NOT believing or of refusing to belief.
The sin of unbelief always involves faith or reliance upon something
other than Jesus Christ – as the means by which I walk with God.
Get that. You and I can use
even religious and seemingly good things as the means by which we walk with God
– including our own good works. But
it is unbelief. It is sin.
It spells spiritual death.
The Galatians had a church filled with good works – but also with
self-righteousness. They were
deceived and under, “another gospel.”
They needed revival – which meant they needed the judgment of God.
They needed to bring all of that to the Cross and to return to Christ as
If Jesus Christ is THE LIFE – if Christ IS OUR LIFE (Col. 3:4) -- then
revival means a restoration back to Him AS our life, in a practical way through
faith. It is not the new birth all
over again. Rather, for God’s
people, revival corrects the condition of unbelief in us, and restores God’s
ongoing work of revealing Christ and forming Christ in us – as our life and
object of faith.
think of revival as a time when God touches people and does stuff TO them.
It is not that God would not do that.
But true revival is about more than God doing stuff to us, or for us.
It is about what God wants to do IN US.
If what is happening is not unto the end that Christ be revealed IN
people, then it is not real revival.
REVIVAL – and the term suggests a, “coming alive again” – revival
suggests that spiritual death has become the norm.
Revival is therefore restoration to Christ as our LIFE.
There would be no need to, “come alive again,” in Christ if people were
already alive. No.
They were perhaps once alive in Christ but now must be REVIVED.
Thus, by definition, revival is necessary when spiritual conditions have
reached a sorry state.
It is also possible that revival would include the introduction of
spiritual life for the first time into a person's condition of death – people
would be born again or saved -- in which case the term RE-vival would not quite
apply. Semantics aside, “revival,”
certainly speaks of the bringing in of the spiritual life through Jesus Christ
into a condition of spiritual death.
If you examine this, true REVIVAL is nothing more than God bringing
people BACK to where they have always needed to be – with Jesus Christ as their
life. Or, it is God bringing people
to Christ as their life for the first time.
Either way, revival is NOT something NEW that God is doing or adding.
Rather, it is God bringing people to where they were supposed to be all
God is NOT doing
something new in this age and never will.
No. God is revealing Christ;
speaking to us in His Son. Have we
exhausted Christ? Are we even
listening? Any revival that is of
God is not going to be a new thing, but a restoration of us back to the ONE
Person who is to be our life. Acts
2 began the one, "movement," of God.
There isn't going to be another.
If we were all living in a healthy Christianity based upon the Person of
Jesus Christ there would be no need for a revival – all we would need is
spiritual GROWTH. Thus, again --
this shows us one of the fundamental characteristics of any revival that is of
Get that. Revival is
judgment. It is God bringing to His
people the light of Truth in Christ, such that we see where we have strayed, see
where we have erred, and repent.
all of us need to see more of Jesus.
Thus, there are always aspects of our Christian walk that God could judge
– and judgment can be a POSITIVE thing. Knowing
the Truth sets us FREE. If God is
showing you a greater dimension of His Son, then by definition, you will see
where you have been blind. You will
see your unbelief. Truth will
always expose UNTRUTH – and there is plenty of that in each of us.
How much more would this be true if God were seeking to open the eyes of
those who were in grave error and unbelief?
Thus, revival is not a party.
It is judgment – all intended by God as the means of our freedom.
But it is judgment unto repentance nevertheless.
Signs and Wonders
Once we recognize that judgment is essential to any restoration back to
God – to any revival – it raises the question as to whether what we need is some
big movement filled with signs and wonders.
Do most people emerge from such a movement more grounded in the Truth?
Do folks emerge from these modern revivals with a greater revelation of
Jesus Christ within them – to where Christ is now their very life?
Indeed, if you examine a number of the more famous revivals of the early
twentieth century you don’t see any lasting foundation of Truth and life in the
Person of Christ. What you do see
is ERROR perpetuated and growing worse.
It would seem that once these revivals die down many people try to
perpetuate what happened during that supposed revival.
You hear it everywhere today, "God can do it again?"
No. He doesn't need to.
IT IS FINISHED IN CHRIST.
Any move of God will always lay or build upon the foundation of Jesus
Christ and from there move forward in revealing the Person of Christ to us, and
in us, and then through us. That is
The Bible itself tells us that signs and wonders cannot change the
heart. Indeed, Jesus Himself warned
against seeking them. What does
that tell us?
The kind of
revival that is needed today is not one that is filled with signs, wonders, and
emotionalism – we don’t need another circus.
What we need is God’s judgment – God’s light and Truth.
If God would bring that then it would quickly, “weed the garden.”
People who really want to know Jesus Christ in spirit and Truth would
open themselves to the light of God’s judgment.
People who aren’t serious with God would refuse to accept it.
If Jesus Christ warned us against seeking after signs and wonders – said
it was spiritual adultery to do so – how likely does it seem that when God
brings revival that it would come with signs and wonders?
No. Revival from God comes
What God wants to do in the individual is to REVEAL CHRIST IN US.
The work of the Holy Spirit is to reveal Christ TO us, IN us, and then
ultimately THROUGH us. God wants to
FORM CHRIST in us. This cannot be
accomplished with signs and wonders.
Even if a person would encounter a real sign or wonder from God it would
not accomplish this. It cannot.
True revival is a revelation of Jesus Christ to individuals – and this is
something that could BEGIN in a revival, but must continue over the course of a
person’s lifetime. It is the
revelation of Jesus Christ, which, in turn, will judge all that is in us that is
contrary to Him. Anything else is
not revival, and consequently, not of God.
Revival is not intended by God to accomplish anything different than what
He has always intended to accomplish in people through Jesus Christ.
Thus, it is only because the church has strayed into unbelief and
deception that revival is necessary.
The great need today is not for signs and wonders.
The great need is for Jesus Christ to be revealed to us and in us.
Christian people are often pressured to join movements or ministries, “to
get in on what God is doing.” To be
perfectly blunt about this, such pressure is usually motivated by MONEY.
The truth is, you don’t need to join a movement or a ministry to, “get in
on what God is doing.” What God is
doing is CHRIST. And if you are
born again, He is IN YOU. I would
say that is involvement.
In addition, if God wants to use you in any sort of ministry, it is not
necessary for you to join a movement.
You are ALREADY IN ONE – it started in Acts 2.
God has had ONLY that movement since – and any so-called revivals, if
they were of God, were unto the end of returning the Body of Christ to Jesus
Read the NT.
You will never find a single instance where Paul, John, Peter, or any of
the other apostles, appealed to people to join them, “lest they miss out on what
God is doing.” Indeed, in most
cases, the apostles were deserted.
God has NOT anointed certain people and commanded the rest of us to join them
lest we miss out. No.
The anointed one is IN US.
Any leader is going to tell you exactly that.
It would seem that since the second century there has been this continual
deception suggesting that God has a special movement, special church, special
group, or special leader – and that the rest of us must submit to them, become
part of them, or give money to them – or we are going to settle for less of
Christ. This is a lie and one of
the greatest lies of the enemy.
Jesus. (Col. 1:27-28)
Jesus. (I Tim. 2:5)
things have I
him. (I Jn. 2:27)
There is no greater access to God through any other person or movement.
Our access to God is solely through Jesus Christ.
Do we want to know the way to God, or the way to keep ourselves in His
will? Jesus said, “I AM the Way.”
(Jn. 14:6) It is not wrong
to be part of a ministry. But it IS
wrong if they are telling you that you must join or support them in order to,
“be part of God’s will,” or to, “get in on what God is doing.”
No. If Christ is in you, you
have direct and personal access to God ONLY through Him.
Nothing can add to that or subtract from Him.
If Jesus Christ is THE WAY and THE TRUTH and THE LIFE, then if you had
never heard of any supposed, “move of God,” and had never come across some
so-called, “anointed ministry,” then through Christ alone God would bring you
into His fullness. Don’t we have to
come into God’s fullness through Christ anyways?
Thus, any ministry that is preaching the Truth is going to point us to
Christ alone and will NEVER make of themselves some sort of conduit or special
connection to God.
Read the above passage again from I John.
John writes what he does, “concerning them that seduce you,” that is, as
a warning against those who would seduce believers away from Christ to someone
else. The point being that every
believer needs to understand that our relationship with God is NOT dependent
upon whether we are in the right church, the right group, under the right
leader, or in some special movement.
Our relationship with God is dependent upon the Christ who already dwells
in us. And it will always be.
Any true ministry will TELL US THAT.
Again – God has never started a movement.
He has not brought new Truth.
He has not done a new thing.
No. God has had ONE movement – in
Christ through the Spirit of God – which began in Acts 2 and continues until the
present. He has only ONE Truth – it
is found in the One who said, “I am the Truth,” and who dwells in us.
And God has never done a new thing – because He has never given us a new
Person -- but He has simply given us Jesus Christ.
But you see, where Satan has blinded people to the living Christ who
dwells within each believer, we can be seduced away to a substitute.
We can be convinced that we need to belong to a movement or a ministry.
No. We belong to Christ
alone and He dwells in us.
, whereof he
, Let us
which thou hast not
, and let us
them; Thou shalt not
with all your
and with all your
they which are
(I Cor. 11:19)
wonders. (II Thes. 2:9)
evil and adulterous generation seeks after a
sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.
Christian people tend to flock to signs and wonders – which is exactly
what it means to seek after signs and wonders – and then most Christian people
tend to believe that they are indicative that God is blessing, affirming, and
manifesting Himself where the sign or wonder is taking place.
In fact, however, the Bible warns us against doing so.
Indeed, we are told that even if a sign or wonder is real – and often
they are fake – but even if they are real, they are not necessarily of God.
Even if there is a supernatural sign or wonder it does not prove that God
is at work. It could be of the
Think about it. Jesus
Himself warns us against seeking after signs and wonders – against gathering
around them; establishing them as evidence of God.
That being the case, how likely is it that God is going to do all kinds
of signs and wonders – when He has already warned us against seeking them?
The fact is, where these things have been reported they have taken
precedence over Jesus Christ.
Revivals have become about a thing called, “revival,” and about the signs and
wonders, rather than about the Person of Christ.
This has almost universally been the case.
Would God, knowing this, simply FEED IT?
I would submit
that many of the famous revivals that have taken place over the last century are
almost entirely known, not for any unfolding of the Person of Jesus Christ – not
for a correction in the church that came about from unbelief to a true
relationship in Christ – but nearly all of these so-called revivals to this day
are known for the antics that went on during the revival.
People were carried away with their emotions.
People were slain in the spirit.
People acted crazy. There
were all kinds of things that people did during these many revivals.
Thus, these revivals are today celebrated about THINGS God did, and
experiences people had, and yet very little has lasted in the way of the
foundation of Jesus Christ. Indeed,
out of some of these revivals have emerged movements and denominations whose
goal is to simply perpetuate what want on in the revival.
For example, the Pentecostal and charismatic movements are, in large
part, based on the 1906 Azusa Street revival.
It is claimed that this started the end time outpouring of God’s Spirit.
Really? Have; those
movements grown in the Truth over the last hundred plus years?
There is no doubt that they have grown in numbers, money, and influence –
those movements literally own Christian TV.
But has Jesus Christ been manifested in Spirit and in Truth?
Do these movements, above all others, preach and teach the Truth?
Do they focus on edifying others in Christ, and are they vehicles of God
unto the forming of Christ within believers?
No, they are not. You were
almost NEVER even hear on Christian TV today that Jesus Christ is in us, nor of
the freedom of knowing Him in a personal way.
Even if mentioned, it is usually tied to money, or their movement.
Just as the Azusa Street revival was more about what was happening than
it was about Christ, so is the case today.
I would submit that if God were to actually visit His people with an
outward and dramatic Spirit of Truth – bringing judgment and the need for a new
focus and direction -- that half the church would say it was the Devil.
Most would have none of it. And
some of those who might originally accept it would try to turn even that into a
There are no new movements.
There is simply HIM – the same Christ who has been there from the beginning, and
who has always offered Himself to all.
Thus, if we want a revival, we don’t want anything new.
We want what the church has generally overlooked.
It would seem that rather than try to attract people with signs and
wonders that God must surely know will do more harm than good, that God is not
likely to draw people’s attention to Christ in that way at all.
He has a better way: Through
trials and tribulations. And then,
as people seek Him in the midst of those trials, God will, either directly or
through teaching, show people they need to come to the Cross and lose their
lives to Christ --- that they might find Jesus AS their life.
When has THAT ever emerged as the Truth coming out of any revival,
whether in 1906 or today?
The bottom line
is that regardless of what part of the church I am in, or regardless of how I
got there, God continues to, “speak to us Son-wise.”
(Heb. 1:1) He continues to
travail that, “Christ be formed in us.”
(Gal. 4:19) He wants us to
be formed together with Christ (Rom. 8:28-29), and to become His living
witnesses, that is, wants us to become living evidence of the risen Christ.
That cannot be accomplished through signs and wonders.
We can be brought back into this purpose only through judgment,
conviction, and repentance. That is
TRUE REVIVAL. It is a realization
of Jesus Christ as our life. It is
the only kind of revival that God initiates.
Alive in Christ
A revival is a, "coming alive again," in Christ -- not through being
saved all over again, which is impossible -- but it is people returning to the
Truth that Christianity is, "Christ in us," and that, "Christ IS our life."
And once we realize this, we will see
that God can accomplish such a work without any signs and wonders at all.
Indeed, I would submit that this would be His preference -- it would
leave only those who truly want the Lord.
God is quite able to bring people to repentance without a big fanfare.
If we turn to the NT we can see some of the desires of God for those
churches which had drifted away from Christ as their life:
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in
you. (Gal. 4:19)
Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto
you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what
is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance
in the saints, And what
is the exceeding greatness of
his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set
him at his own right hand in
the heavenly places.
For this cause we also, since the day we heard
it, do not cease to pray for
you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all
wisdom and spiritual understanding;
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every
good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but
unto us which are saved it is the power of God....But we preach Christ
crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of
God, and the wisdom of God....That no flesh should glory in his presence.
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and
righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the
Lord. (I Cor. 1:18-31)
there is no need to press the point further.
If you read the sermon of Peter in Acts 2 -- which was the FIRST sermon
ever given after God sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within His people -- you will
see what needs to be preached, indeed, you will see the revelation necessary to
bring people with open hearts to Christ.
Three thousand people were converted that day.
Despite the fact that those people noticed that the disciples were full
of joy, and heard them speaking of the wonderful works of God, each in their own
language, was it those signs that converted people?
No. It was the Truth -- the
light which judged them. It says:
when they heard this, they were
pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men
and brethren, what shall we do?
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in
the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the
gift of the Holy Ghost. For the
promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off,
even as many as the Lord our
God shall call. And with many other
words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward
generation. Then they that gladly
received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added
unto them about three thousand
souls. (Acts 2:37-41)
Here we have the outcome of a revival that God initiates -- and you will see
that it is exactly the SAME outcome that ought to be happening every day in the
Body of Christ. God wants people
saved, and for the saved, He wants to form in us Christ.
He wants to judge error and darkness and bring us into the Truth.
He wants to bring us into the knowledge of His Son.
Why would we sit around waiting for God to act upon us and make this kind
of thing happen? He won't.
It is supposed to be business as usual, without signs and wonders or
happened in the early church took place without media, money, or easy travel.
It happened without financing, advertising, or promotion.
It happened because behind it was LIFE -- the life of Jesus Christ.
No gate of the enemy, or lack of resource, could stand.
They turned the world upside down.
But you know,
when you don't have the real power of Jesus Christ, then you have to manufacture
it out of yourself. Money is power
-- if you have enough money you can buy a Christian network or get on Christian
networks. Just promise people a
blessing and the money will come in.
If you don't have the power of the Truth in your teaching, then yell real
loud, cry, or put on a big show. It
will stir up the emotions of people and feel like the power of God.
And above all, no matter what you do, make sure to use the word,
"revival," or, "move of God," because that makes your ministry sound as if
people need to join it, "lest they miss out on what God is doing."
All baloney. God doesn't
need advertising and promotion. He
want a revival, then we can begin by giving ourselves personally to God.
If nothing else, this might mean to ask Him to do whatever it takes to
bring light into our lives, and into our churches.
Then we need to do whatever it takes to embrace the light that He gives
in Christ. Then, as Christ is
formed in us, we can minister to others.
God's interests will dominate, and not the interests of man.
THAT is revival. Why?
Because it people coming alive in Christ.
It really is the only kind of revival God is interested in today.
In short, God's true revival begins with ME -- it begins with the
individual. Then God may wish to
birth a congregation. But that
would be the work of God, and not of men.
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