“Revive us again, oh Lord, that your people may rejoice in you.” (Psalm 85:6)
The word “revive” means something like “reinvigorate with fresh life”. Though the word “revival” does not appear in the Bible, the idea of it does. Revival is a Biblical idea. “Revival is a season in the life of the church when God causes the normal ministry of the gospel to surge forward with extraordinary spiritual power... Revival is seasonal, not perennial. God causes it; we do not. It is the normal ministry of the gospel, not something eccentric or even different from what the church is always charged to do. What sets revival apart is simply that our usual efforts greatly accelerate in their spiritual blessings...Revival theology is pervasive in the Bible.” (Raymond C. Ortlund)
God is the great Life-giver, reinvigorating his people at different times and in different ways, but always for the same purpose: that Jesus Christ may be glorified and the gospel proclaimed.
As a young teenager I was greatly and permanently marked by a season of revival/reviving in our church.
Growing up in the country of Mexico, pre-internet, news reached us slowly. At some point my dad, who was pastor of a small church in the city of Uruapan, heard about something called “The Toronto Blessing”. A revival, he was told, had broken out. God was visiting his church in a fresh way. But if you’ve been around long enough, then you’ve heard stories and lived to tell the tale of “false” or “empty” revivals and revivalists. A student of the history of revivals, my dad waited, but prayed.
He sought out the opinion of men he trusted, men who had seen and been impacted by past seasons of revival. The verdict was withheld, until a man my father greatly respected, a former teacher and President of Elim Bible Institute, David Edwards, went to see for himself what, if anything, God was in fact doing in Toronto.
David Edwards was reinvigorated with fresh life by God. He encouraged all he knew to “come and see”. Once that report found its way back to us, my dad boarded a plane and traveled to Toronto. The same “reviving” occurred in him, and shortly after his return, began to occur in our church. I remember those days vividly, moments undeniably filled with God’s presence, a strong conviction of sin, a deep abiding sense of joy, passionate praise and worship, periods of weeping and laughing, the lost being saved, the sick being healed, and the demon possessed being set free.
But while those times didn’t last, and that season came to end, it bore fruit that remains to this day. I recognize those days changed me as I came to know and to be known by Jesus in a fresh new way.
I long for those days. Not in a nostalgic way, wishing for the good ol’ days. And not with an ungrateful or critical attitude of where I am today. But in a way that hopes and seeks for God to “revive us again”. I long for it for the sake of my children, for them to experience such a season as I did. I long for it for my church, for us to behold more of the glory of Jesus and to be empowered for the work he’s called us to do.
Yes, God is moving in our midst! There is growth and there is fruit. But I urge us to be thankful yet expectant of heart. Which disciple following and becoming like Christ would ever say, “I know you as much as I want to and I think I’ve changed enough”; or which local church proclaiming and adoring Christ would ever say, “We’ve reached enough people for you and we’ve done our fair share of good works”. May our prayer and the cry of our heart for ourselves and for our children’s generation be, “Revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you.”