What is revival? I love reading and studying the great moves of God throughout history. I find it fascinating to look into the lives of those who have gone before us and courageously pioneered the way for us to experience God in greater measure. There have been so many times in history where God has poured out his spirit upon people in such a way that it transformed cities, nations, neighborhoods, and brought thousands of people into the Kingdom of heaven. I not only love to read about the amazing things these leaders accomplished, but also learn from the mistakes they made along the way. There is so much to be learned from people that have walked this journey before us.
I used to think that revival was the result of some sort of “appointed time” in history when God chose to pour out his spirit in special ways. I used to pray for God to “send revival.” But I don’t really think like this anymore. Because what if revival is simply awakening to the revelation of “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27)? What if revival is simply us saying yes to Jesus’s command to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons” (Matt. 10:8)? What if revival is actually just normal Christianity?
Many of history’s revivalists were just regular men and women of God who chose to believe that God is who he says he is and we are who he says we are. They chose to stand on God’s promises even when faced with intense opposition and persecution. They persevered even when they saw nothing. They yielded to Holy Spirit even when they looked ridiculous. It’s not radical, it’s normal Christian life.
It only takes one person. One man or woman who says “yes” to God can change a nation. It doesn’t matter our age, gender, career, skill set, talents, or background. God is no respecter of persons; He will use anyone who says yes to him.
This is reality: We have been given the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:19). All demonic power and authority has been disarmed and defeated (Col. 2:15). Jesus has the keys of authority over all. And he gives these keys to anyone who follows him. “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (Luke 10:19). “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering… he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5). “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). Everything has already been done. It is finished. We have been set free and given authority to release heaven on earth.
To live powerlessly is to dishonor what Jesus died for. If I gave a gift to a friend, I would expect them to open it. If they accepted the gift but left it in their house, still wrapped in a box, until the day they died, that would be very strange. What if it had cost me everything but was never used? Jesus gave his life to give us the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. He came that we might have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10). We are forgiven and reconciled back to our Father. He has given us authority over sickness, disease, sin, and all powers of darkness. He has given us the power to put off our old self and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24). He has fully equipped and empowered us to live victorious lives in him. Too often we allow our own experiences to set the standard for how our Christian life ought to be lived. We become set in our own ways and never reach for anything more. But there is always more. Jesus is our model for normal Christian life. He has set the standard. He showed us what life can look like when we abide in our heavenly Father and are empowered by Holy Spirit. And now that same Holy Spirit lives in us so that we are equipped to do the same works that Jesus did.
I like to imagine what my life would look like if the revelation of what Jesus accomplished were to completely grab hold of everything within me. What would my life look like if I were to make a daily decision to lay down my own selfishness and allow Holy Spirit to possess my life for the sake of love? What if I were to press past the fear of looking stupid in order to be a conduit of heaven here on this earth? What if I truly lived with my eyes ever fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith? To awaken to the revelation of Jesus in me, is to awaken to true revival.
Let us not forget, to yield ourselves to Jesus will cost us everything. I have to lose my life in order to find it (Matt. 10:39). In our efforts to get people saved, Christianity can sometimes mistakenly be watered down to "believe in Jesus and add a few nice principles to your life and you will be happy and blessed..." This is not so. Jesus is not meant to be an accessory to our lives. To fully experience the powerful realities of life in God, it will cost us everything. To live in power is to be surrendered to love. We must never forget that we are not our own anymore. We belong to him. Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 14 to "count the cost" of what it truly means to follow him. Good news: He is worthy. He is worthy of our everything. To lay our lives down so that Jesus can live through us is infinitely greater than going our own way. Paul says, "whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him.." (Phil. 3:7-8).
Be empowered. We are seated in heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6). His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). We will make mistakes. We will look stupid. We will fail. But if we don't give up, we will win.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (Eph. 1:18-21)