You might have heard of “revival” when it was spoken by someone in reference to a yearly church conference. Or, you could have heard the terms mentioned in an American history lesson. Either way, revival and awakening need some clarification. A spiritual awakening and a revival don’t happen just because a church sets a date and time for God to zap them into piety. Yet, Christians have experienced spiritual renewal and revitalization (Revival) on wide-spread scales before, and that in turn has been the cause of what others have termed a “Great Awakening.” As you will read, that is something that Christians can pray for with expectation. Now, for the definition, before we go farther.
That spiritual blessing whereby God, the Holy Spirit is individually, corporately, regionally, or even globally made known to the objects of His blessing. In other words, God’s presence is revealed to the awareness of one or many, whereas before He was spiritually hidden, misunderstood, misrepresented, thought as inaccessible or non-existent, “blocked” from relation by one’s personal hurt or doubt, or otherwise ignored or unrecognizable (or “lost”) to one’s “heart.”
[Note: The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 14-16). Therefore, when the Holy Spirit is “poured out” (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17-18; 10:45), then Truth –not just proverbs or maxims– is poured out upon the recipient to counteract and dispel lies about God in all of their variations. To ask for an outpouring of the Spirit is to ask for an imparting of truth, which will disarm the bondage which an evil or falsehood or half-truth has done (1 John 5:6; Isaiah 58:6 ff).
An outpouring of the Spirit is an atmosphere flooded with inundations of truth and of spiritual illumination to the true nature and character of the God of the Christian Bible. This truth and spiritual illumination occur, because people become keenly aware that God Himself is present, and the effect on the soul is at once both utterly humbling and completely convincing. Suddenly, in the presence of God, doubts melt concerning things like creation, concerning God’s nearness historically and now, concerning the verity of God’s Word, concerning Jesus Christ as the Son of God and only worshipful Savior of Mankind, concerning abundant forgiveness and mercy and love in the face of evil and sins and injustice and atrocities, concerning His plan of hope for the world, concerning mankind in everlasting union with God, etc).
An awakening is having one’s eyes opened to God’s grace; a reviving is one returning to or learning the depths of God’s grace. To pray for an outpouring is to ask God that His truth would prevail above the spiritual damage done by sins, skeptical conjectures, wrongs, religious philosophies, theories, personal experiences or abuses, heaviness of inadequacy the Law reveals, or by the destructive consequences from what God calls sin, etc.)
Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9; 1 Pet. 1:11), and so, Jesus Christ is illuminated to the heart of the recipient of the outpouring through the working of the Holy Spirit.]
The Effect of an Outpouring:
The pouring out of the Spirit results 2 main doings: 1) repentance and spiritual revitalization among the redeemed, so that God is their supreme joy; and, 2) spiritual awakening among the non-redeemed, so that they are drawn to reconciliation with God through Christ Jesus
The individual(s) experiencing said manifestation do not need to see God physically; but spiritually one KNOWS God is indeed present, and by virtue of the presence of Truth, spiritual illumination occurs: doubts are made certain, deep and paralyzing/life-altering hurts are healed, fears are allayed, skepticism is seen as foolish, forgiveness feels near and accessible through Christ, joy is abundant, a boredom with and a lack of need for vice occurs–they seem lesser in comparison to Him and all Good (though revival is not “not sinning”); past failures are finally buried, injustices seem vindicated, God gives a peace that surpasses the exacting thirst for knowledge/answers, spiritual mysteries are clarified; nobility & wisdom & virtue & goodness become desirable, purpose of life is given or restored, and hope is instilled or refreshed.
Consequently, love for and faith in Jesus flow into the willing heart. Whether that love and faith are coming the first time to the heart or being renewed, the effect is “seeing” (or spiritually comprehending) Jesus in the true and untainted light of His Goodness, in His everlasting Mercy, and in His undying Compassion for every soul–which is not to condemn but to rescue. One understands how much God loves him/her through Jesus, who died on the cross and rose again to take away the sins of the world. This love of God fills the willing soul and changes one’s view of life and relationships with God and others. In that sense, revival is truth working so one can receive God’s love, and so, be enabled to love God and others in return… after all, to love God and neighbor is the greatest commandment from God. Therefore, when Christians love one another and non-believers as Christ loves them (John 15), they are agents of God’s love and truth, both binding up and healing the broken as well as spreading the Good News of Jesus in its proper context of genuine love.
Prerequisite (How to Obtain an Outpouring):
Even as the Son of God came at His first advent in response to remnant Israel’s faithful waiting (Luke 2:22-38; Acts 26:7; Many women named Mary–meaning, “come Lord”), and even as Christ Jesus’ Return will be the result of the same (Zech. 12:10); so also, visitations of the Spirit (the promised blessing of partakers of the New Covenant, as “seasons of refreshing sent from the Presence of the Lord” — Acts 2:15-17, 32-33; 3:19) must be received by the body of Christ, the custodians of the Kingdom (the Church — Matthew 16), as the result of awaiting prayer. This is done in accordance to both times of need (i.e. times of spiritual need deemed necessary by the body of Christ – Matthew 16:17 ff) and times foretold by Christ and the prophets (ex. “Pentecost” — Joel 2, Acts. 1:8; “Fullness of the Gentiles” Romans 11:25)
Causes for Seeking an Outpouring:1. The natural human condition of being alienated from and offensive to God by a fallen nature plagued with its sin-bent. Nothing promotes believing like a direct encounter with God Himself, dispelling the intervention of the enemy and/or one’s own difficulties in believing. 2. The working of the enemy of God and mankind to blind the human mind and/or to discourage the believer from his identity and calling in Christ. An outpouring is a visitation of God Himself w/ a company of spirits designated to minister to those who need salvation. At His Presence and command, the wiles and tactics of the enemy cannot prevail. 3. Either the immaturity or the preoccupation of the redeemed (family of God) with the temporal things of life to the neglect of the Great Commission and vibrant relationship with God. A refreshing–a visitation from God, the Spirit lets one know what is necessary and not, what is priority and not, what is pleasing to God or not. 4. When believers compassionately see the need of their fellow humanity and notice the seeming unstoppable force of evil, of wars, of excessive desires, of destructiveness/hopelessness of youth, of corruption and lack of virtue going unchecked (or, seeming too big to bring to rectification)… i.e. forced to choose lesser evils to fight evil. 5. When the world and/or relationships just need a good dose of genuine love to heal it/them. …………………………………. SPECIAL RESOURCES:
- Audio recording of Duncan Campbell, who witnessed and instructed the penitent in many seasons of the Spirit’s outpouring in the mid 20th Century. God at Work — How Revival Came to Lewis