Revival in the church is a topic that is often discussed and prayed for and has been front and center of the Christian news and blogosphere for the last two weeks in the midst of the so-called Asbury Revival. However, the concept of true revival is easily misconstrued. Many people equate revival with emotional experiences and singing evocative worship songs that garner an emotional response—in fact, for some, it seems the more emotional one gets the closer they are to God. While emotions in worship can certainly be present as part of church life, they are not the essence of true revival. As Jesus said in Luke 11:28, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
The problem with equating revival with emotional experiences is that it can lead to a shallow and low-doctrine understanding of the gospel. Worship songs that are only focused on making people feel good can most often lack the depth and truth of the gospel. As a result, people can be left with a feel-good experience but without a solid foundation in the Word of God.
True revival, on the other hand, is about real repentance wrought by an understanding of God’s nature and character and a right understanding of how we stand as sinners before Him. It brings about a deep and lasting change in people’s hearts and lives. It is a revival of the Word of God, a revival of the Gospel, and a revival of the church. It is a time when people come back to the Bible and seek to understand it deeply—not just superficially—and when people seek to live out the teachings of Jesus Christ in their daily lives.
Revival begins with the Word of God. As the Apostle Paul said in Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Revival is not just about hearing the Word of God, but about hearing it and keeping it. This means that we must not only read the Bible, but also put its teachings into practice in our daily lives.
The church should be a place where people come to hear the Word of God and be transformed by it. The focus should not be on emotional experiences or shallow worship songs as is what we see all throughout most modern Evangelical churches, but rather on the Word of God. The Word of God is sufficient and all-powerful, and it alone has the authority to change people’s hearts and lives. As Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
The church should be a place where people come to be taught the truth of the gospel. The gospel is the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It is a message of hope, love, and forgiveness. It is a message that needs to be proclaimed clearly and unashamedly.
Revival in the church is not about sitting around playing an acoustic guitar and singing shallow, low-doctrine, emotionally charged songs. It is about hearing the Word of God and keeping it. It is about seeking the truth of the gospel and living it out in our daily lives. It is about being transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and becoming more like Jesus Christ.