We often hear of revival and Christians praying for revival, but what exactly is it? How can we even discover what true revival is? Is it simply when a church decides to put up a sign that says: "Revival meetings tonight!" Surely that cannot be a genuine revival, if we can just set a date and expect the Spirit to move. So, what is a revival? A real, genuine, Scriptural revival?
Revival, in short, always leads to two important and easy-to-see results. The first, dead or backslidden Christians will suddenly break with repentance, wash their hearts and become burning zealots to win the lost. A church or churches are revived, as it were, from sleeping and cold hearted spiritual slumber, to a fiery zeal of evangelism. This directly leads to the second result: sinners begin repenting and turning to YahShua as never before. An awakened congregation, armed with the Ruach Ha'Kadosh, is an influential force before which many sinners will melt.
If either of these two results is missing, you can be sure it is no true revival. I have had the privilege of witnessing two genuine revivals. The first occurred in 1997 while I still lived in Texas. My church was filled with hypocrites and we were generally asleep and cold. An evangelist came through in late August and his messages sent shock waves through our church. Although many left the church, those that remained repented of their coldness, shook off their slumber and allowed the Ruach Ha'Kadosh to fill them. Almost immediately, the visiting evangelist began leading groups of newly awakened believers from our church into downtown Austin where we preached to the lost.
Although this revival was short-lived because of sin that was allowed to fester, several sinners did repent and turn to YahShua as a direct result of newly awakened believers evangelizing.
The second revival I was in occurred in my apartment in Portland, Oregon. In late 2000, what started as a prayer meeting with my wife and myself, soon erupted into ten to fifteen people meeting at our house nightly. A new power and zeal engulfed us and directly led to our weekend street preaching. Sadly, though, the Adversary brought a sharp division into our little group just as sinners were beginning to repent, and the spirit of revival vanished rather quickly.
Although revivals tend to be short-lived due to the hatred Satan has for them, they will always include genuine repentance of backslidden believers and subsequent repentance of raw sinners. Individual believers, having come out of a revival, will be changed permanently.
Revivals can be different depending on the time, place and people used. They will always be driven by the Spirit and Word of Yah. Often times "strange fire" can mingle with a genuine revival, another attempt of Satan to crush the movement. People oinking like pigs or barking like dogs are not Spirit filled, but devil motivated and many times discourage any serious seeker of Truth. Both the Pensacola and Toronto revivals, while bringing many to real repentance, had this "strange fire" burning in its midst and many times served to derail the faith of a questioning saint.
Whatever shape or size a revival comes in, it will always stay true to Scripture. YahShua may choose to use unlikely people and unlikely methods, He may choose to circumvent the orthodox means, but He will always bring people to genuine and lasting repentance.