Theology Essay — THE Great Revival!

Revival is defined as something that brings back to life the people of God from a state of slumber and apathy. A sovereign act of God. A time of visitation. A season when God opens the heavens and sends us times of refreshing from His presence. And I’ve been in some great revival services in my Christian life. I’ve experienced phenomenal times enjoying the presence of God in these services. Times of great joy and uncontainable laughter, and other times of great weeping and moments that could only be described as holy and sacred.  Times that I’ve heard such clear direction from the Lord to the point that it felt audible to me and other times of quiet intimacy, just resting in the flow of His love towards me. Times of refreshing as we prayed, repented, fasted and earnestly sought God, believing that if we did those things well enough, He would look from Heaven and want to visit our church. That He would reward us for our diligence.

Revival is an Old Testament concept. The only time you see it mentioned in the New Testament is in Acts 3:20 times of refreshing come from the Presence of the Lord. The Weymouth translation uses the word revival in place of refreshing. Refreshing in the Strongs is anapsuxis meaning recovery of breath, to breathe easily again, and used figuratively as a revival. The root is to revive with fresh air. It’s only used this one time in the New Testament. It is preceded by verse 19 which reads repent therefore and be converted (turn again) so that your sins may be blotted out. The lame man had just been healed, and the people were marveling at the miracle. Peter is telling the people that Jesus was crucified and that they should repent and turn back to God so that their sins could be blotted out. Peter still had an old covenant mentality… he did not preach a finished work. He still had an IF and THEN way of thinking. 

The first time the word “revive” is used in the Old Testament is in Ezra chapter 9. It is in reference to God not forsaking them but reviving them to repair the house of God and rebuild its ruins. The word used is michyah. Michyah means to preserve life, to quicken. The root of the word is chayah which is to live. They were reminding God that He delivered them from bondage before and are asking Him to now quicken them and cause them to live again. That root word “chayah” is also used in Psalm 85:5-6 when the sons of Korah are asking God to show them mercy and to grant them salvation. Asking God if He will be angry with them forever and to their generations. Or will He not revive them again… give life (chayah) to them again? 

In Habakkuk 3:2, Habakkuk is asking God to revive (chaya) to quicken or restore life to His works and to remember mercy and not wrath. Then David in Psalm 80 is praying for God to turn to them again and shine His face on them so that they will be saved. He prays this three times. He asks God how long His anger will smolder against the prayers of His people. He implores God to put His hand upon the Son of Man, the Man at His right hand so they will not turn from God anymore. For Him to quicken (chayah)… to restore them to life and then they will call upon His Name. And finally Isaiah 57:15 also talks about God healing repentant Israel from idolatry and reviving them, restoring to life their hearts and spirits. 

So, in the Old Testament, Israel was consistently up and down. Feeling in and out of the presence and the favor of God. They would turn away from God and run headlong into idolatry, serving self and false gods. They would then be taken captive by other nations. The prophets would then preach repentance and the people, enslaved in bondage, would cry out to God for “revival.” Crying out for Him to save them, deliver them, have mercy on them, and to withhold His anger and wrath towards them. Their lives were rooted in a mistaken identity, having a wrong perception of God, forgetting that He was a good Father, and having a visitation theology based on the sincerity of their repentance. This seems to be the basis for revivals ever since…. IF you repent and turn back to God He will forgive your sins, and THEN you will experience seasons of revival. 

When it comes to revival, the church is not much different than Old Testament Israel. They also live a life rooted in a mistaken identity, having a wrong perception of God, believing they are separated from Him when they sin and that He will turn His face to them and pour His favor on them if they are sincere in their repentance. So, they pray and fast and seek His face corporately desiring a “move of God” in their churches and in our nation, not realizing that God moves IN them. Desiring God to fill their churches with His presence, not realizing that we ARE the presence of God… it is Him in us, as us and flowing through us. And we believe that if we do experience “revival” that means God has accepted the cry of our hearts to turn once again to “revive” us and our feelings of guilt and condemnation are absolved, albeit temporary. All due to a false perception that His presence is evidence of His acceptance of us and we now “feel” holy and worthy…. again, only temporarily. And we experience this cycle again and again…. up and down… always feeling in and out of His presence and His favor. Just like Old Testament Israel. And so we have revival after revival, great awakening after great awakening, only to fall back into our legalistic mindset of trying to please God, not realizing that God doesn’t desire visitation because we ARE His habitation. 

While Old Testament Israel was ok in praying those prayers for revival and salvation, we in the New Covenant are wrong in using those same Scriptures to validate our desire for revival. The things Israel prayed for Jesus already fulfilled.  Habakkuk 3:2 “O LORD, I have heard the report of You; I stand in awe, O LORD, of Your deeds. Revive them in these years; make them known in these years. In Your wrath, remember mercy!” Asking God to once again do what He has done before (in previous revivals).  Psalm 50:23 He who sacrifices a thank offering honors Me, and to him who rights his way, I will show the salvation of God.” Believing our praise and repentance – our righting our ways – will bring His presence. Because He will only exhibit His salvation in an atmosphere that feels welcoming to Him. We use 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 as a roadmap for revival….“IF we will humble ourselves and seek His face THEN, He will look from Heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land.” Again an IF and THEN… a visitation mentality. And Jeremiah 29:13… searching for Him with our WHOLE heart. All of this was Old Covenant Israel searching for God, believing they had to “right” their ways and humble themselves before He would ever look at them and visit them…. reviving them so they could once again feel alive.

Paul never prayed those things. Not even when the Galatians had turned back to the law or when the Corinthians were steeped in sin. He didn’t start preaching that what was needed was a revival to bring peoples hearts back to God!  Paul must’ve known that doesn’t work. It only gives people a temporary “feel good” feeling as they become aware that they are in the presence of God. And the reason we experience His presence and His power in those “revivals” is that He loves us so very much! He often meets us at the point of our expectation because He is such a good Abba! His grace is able to reach through to us in spite of our misunderstood theology. And there were great things that came out of all the revivals and great awakenings. The speaking of tongues was restored, signs, wonders, and miracles restored, great healing evangelists came out of these revivals. Men and women like Lillian B Yeomans, F.F. Bosworth, John G. Lake, William Branham, Oral Roberts, A.A. Allen, Jack Coe, Gordon Lindsay and one of my absolute favorites, T.L. Osborne. 

But all revivals eventually fizzle out, and people eventually go back to life as usual before the revival. God doesn’t want our focus on our external experiences. He doesn’t want us to build “revival services” where He can visit. Just like He didn’t want Peter to build a tabernacle when he experienced the glory of God on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter still had an Old Covenant mindset. The tabernacle was the place of meeting between God and man. And the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  God’s response to Peter was “This is My Son… hear Him.” The writer of Hebrews tells us the same thing in chapter 1…. but in these last days, He has spoken to us in His Son. The first verse says God who at various times and in various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets. This was the God Peter was used to… a God who spoke at various times and in various ways. Talking to them intermittently and inconsistently. The occasional visitation. And they would seek after and look for that occasional visitation when He would speak through the prophets. And today we are no different. Seeking after and looking for a visitation… Him speaking through a prophet…. an occasional manifestation of His glory. Living in a revival mindset. We need to get rid of a visitation theology that desires revival and instead embrace a habitation mindset… an indwelling mindset. 

Paul knew that when the churches would begin to decline either into wrong behavior or back to the law, falling from grace, what was needed was a revelation of their identity…. not revival. Because there was nothing that needed reviving. The verb revive is defined as “to come back to life after apparent death; to be renewed or refreshed. (Webster).” Maybe that’s why Paul never prayed for revival. Only a dead man can be revived, and Paul knew that we were already revived when we were made alive in Christ. They just needed to be redirected back to identity… to that indwelling mindset. Because His indwelling altered the identity of the one indwelt. Changed them in every respect. He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit, HIM!  We are Him… as He is so are we in this world. 

Paul knew that we have already been revived in THE Great Revival… the ONLY revival ever needed. Romans 6:9-10 says, Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death hath no more dominion over him. (10) For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Jesus died ONCE. Verse 11 says LIKEWISE RECKON YOURSELVES dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ. He died ONCE…. we died ONCE.  He can never die again…. we can never die again. Remember, by definition a revival requires a state of death…. so only a dead man can be revived. Our co-resurrection in Him was the ultimate, one time only needed revival. He revived us IN HIM. We DIED (past tense) and now forever live in Him. We can’t die again…. we died once in Him and have been (past tense) already revived in Him. 

Any death or deadness we may feel is just that… only a feeling… a false perception.  We cannot be any more alive than we already are….. any more revived than we already are. His resurrection was THE GREAT REVIVAL of ALL time, for ALL men. We were raised with Him… revived… quickened and made alive together with Him. Co-alive… co-resurrected… co-revived. A whole revival… complete…finished…. ONCE in Him. When we understand this, then we can walk in its fullness… never again praying for revival but simply awakening to His Great Revival that happened on Resurrection Day 2000 plus years ago. We are sons. The Cross and the Resurrection brought forth a whole new creation of sons. I believe we are now in the beginnings of THE Great Awakening…..Romans 8:19, The creation waits in eager expectation for the manifestation of the sons of God. All creation standing on tiptoe yearning to see the unveiling of God’s sons. That is THE Great Awakening… awakening to our identity as sons. Awakening to who we are in Him… complete and filled with all of the FULLNESS of the Deity. 

In Him, we are whole and lacking nothing. Whereas revivals are pursued out of a false sense of lack. Sought by those believing that it will revive people who are “dead” spiritually. Dead faith, dead prayers, dead in their pursuit of holiness. Thinking that revival will expose sin in the hearts and lives of God’s people and in the hearts and minds of the unsaved. That it will make them holy, righteous and restored back to God. Not realizing that we already are holy, righteous, and God Himself restored us back to Him with no help from us…. co-reviving us in Christ.

Paul understood that in Christ we lack nothing. That as sons we are in the image and likeness of our Father… holy and righteous. Paul understood that as sons we don’t need a revival… we just need an awakening of our true identity…. an identity that is complete in Him. An awakening to the truth that we don’t need to be pursuing revivals, or healings, or any other intermittent or inconsistent visitation from Him. That we just need to reckon that we are entirely 100% fully dead to sin and completely 100% fully alive in Him. We are His habitation… His dwelling place. Fully redeemed in Him.. spirit, soul and body. That He is now the Minister OF our sanctuary, our spirit, and soul… and OF our tabernacle, our physical bodies. We are limbs and parts of His body, we are flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone. One with Him. Understanding that He fully ministered TO our sanctuary by becoming sin for us and making us righteous and He fully ministered TO our tabernacle by being made a curse for us and redeeming us from the curse of the law. 

We can’t be any more alive than we already are. We can’t be any more righteous than we already are. We can’t be anymore healed than we already are. We can’t be any more holy than we already are. In fact, holy is our new name. 1 Corinthians 1:2 says, “to those having been sanctified in Christ, called holy…..”  We have been sanctified and are now called holy. Called is kaleo which means surname. Holy is our new name… we share the Family name. 

Revival in the Old Testament was because they felt separated from God. We are NOT separated from God. We are His dwelling place. We merely need a revelation of what it looks like to be a son…. a revelation of our identity in Him. We only need to awaken to the truth that we have already been revived in Him at THE Great Revival. IT IS FINISHED!

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