The most outstanding characteristic of genuine revival throughout history is an overwhelming sense of the Lord’s presence. Revival, above all else, is a purposeful glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a restoration of Him as a living personality to the center of life in the church. During every period of revival, you will find without expectation, there has always been a tremendous increase in the emphasis upon His actual personhood and the unique power of the blood he willingly shed on Calvary.
Just imagine what it might be like if Jesus began attending your church on a regular basis. Picture the difference it would make, and you will have a pretty good idea of what revival in your church would look like.
In my example, say Jesus attends your church in bodily form for a moth or even two. Now I know that every Sunday He is with us in Spirit, but what if he were physically present and your could see Him, not just through eyes of faith but with your own two eyes? What difference would that make? Following is a list of responses, seven in total, I think you might very well observe. By design, it does not cover every base because I have reserved a key one for another blog post 🙂 It does, however, give you a good feel for what would take place.
ONE: If Jesus were to bodily join in your church service, I believe your first response would be immediate worship. As As soon as someone recognized Him…people would begin to nudge one another and whisper…”Is that who I think it is?”
Then I would expect the room to become very quiet. Next, some would probably go over and humbly bow before him. The term worship means to attribute worth to God-to praise or adore Him. These acts are the body language of worship. Someone might begin to sing, “Jesus, I adore you. Lay my life before you. How I love you.” I can hear the praise music continuing, uninterrupted, for quite some time.
Would you believe renewed worship is actually one of the early signs of revival in a church? Its an expression of people trying to honor their Lord and Savior, because they want to fully acknowledge what He means to them.
TWO: Love. Were Jesus to come to your church Sunday after Sunday, it wouldn’t be long before the people would start to extend Christ-like love to one another. Knowing this was extremely important to Him, they would do their best not to act in a way contrary to His desires. Negative feelings toward someone would be put on hold, at least for a little while. Why? Because our Lord is right there with them in His church and this issue is one He has repeatedly emphasized.
I don’t know if you are aware of this, but remarkable evidences of love between congregation members always characterize times of revival. “We were extremely careful with our words, because none of us wanted to be responsible for ruining what was being experienced.”
THREE: With Jesus present in bodily form, many would want to talk to him. You can easily imagine a long line of folks waiting patiently for their turn. Maybe some people would only say, “Thank you, Jesus.” Its also quite possible they would have a personal request, or they would want to talk to Jesus about a loved one. Some would ask for forgiveness. Others might declare, “I love you,” or “You’re wonderful.”
Prayer, or talking to Jesus, and revival go together hand in glove. You never, ever find revival without extra ordinary times of prayer. Times of persistent and prevailing prayer are always one of the key factors leading to revival.
FOUR: God’s word begins to come alive for people during periods of authentic revival. This doesn’t mean Jesus will be doing the preaching. Look at it this way: If I am standing behind the pulpit and Jesus was sitting with the congregation, you would constantly be looking in His direction for some evidence of approval. And if He says amen to something I say, it will underscore my words in an incredibly powerful way.
If it fair to report that in times of revival, the scriptures possess an amazing power to convict. Hearers don’t question what is said. Instead, they willingly submit to the authority of the Bible.
FIVE: When men and women perceive that the Lord is near, they are unusually anxious to serve. They might very well say, “You’ve done so much for me, Jesus. What can I do to show my gratitude?” The gifts they have received from God are now offered back to Him. No one says “I’m sorry, I can’t,” “I’m too busy,” or “It’s not a good time for me right now.” Instead the church has such an abundance of volunteers, its almost as if an apology is in order. “Check back again in a couple of weeks, and we’ll see what new ministries are beginning that might need some help,” becomes a standard reply.
SIX: When Christians sense that Jesus is there, numerous friends and acquaintances begin to accompany them to church. “You just have to meet him,” they tell others. “He’ll change your life. I mean there’s no one quite like him in the whole world.” Evangelism is no longer seen as some kind of burden or some obligation. Rather it now becomes the very lifeblood of every individual whose life has been made new because of a personal encounter with their savior.
SEVEN: This one may or may not surprise you. The presence of Christ also provokes an immediate response from the enemy. In fact, intense spiritual warfare is actually precipitated by the advent of revival. As soon as new life begins to emerge, the enemy does everything within his power to abort it. He begins by exploiting every weakness of the church leaders, they attacks the flock with a determined vengeance, concentrating first on those who are spiritually feeble. He goes after the most spiritually feeble in the flock in whatever way he can. That’s just the way he operates. His ruthless knows no bounds.
So revivals can be “crazy.” The great London preacher Charles Spurgeon called them “seasons of glorious disorder.” Times of revival aren’t exactly Heaven on earth, even though it does provide us with a taste of what it will be like. At the same time, however, the forces of darkness with spare no effort to squelch any momentum as quickly as possible.
As you consider these seven signs of revival in the local church, try to evaluate where your church and YOU personally stand in relationship to each of these evidences. Hopefully, you now have a more complete picture of what happens to a church when the presence of Jesus becomes a reality for every member. Personally I find these characteristics attractive. I think you will, too. I would certainly hope so, because all revivals are intended to be high-water marks in the life of a church! Revivals possess an innate power to bring the glory to the Lord, as well as to inflict defeat on the enemy.