Unit One: The Meaning And Purpose Of Revival
JULY 24 & 31, 2022
Oh Lord You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at your presence (Isaiah 64:1).
For there is hope for a tree, If it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And that its tender shoots will not cease. Though its root may grow old in the earth, And its stump may die in the ground, Yet at the scent of water it will bud And bring forth branches like a plant (Job 14:7-9)
To rend is to remove from place, split, or tear apart, or in pieces by violence. It also means to lacerate mentally, or emotionally. Apply all of these to the statement in our memory Scripture and you would get to understand the cry of Isaiah better. Our memory Scripture opens Isaiah’s cry for pardon in the whole of the chapter that opens with a recall of the great past (Isa. 64:1-5) when God moved mightily amidst them. Here, he asks that God would do as He has always done-a repeat of God’s power-packed manifestations amidst His people. That is revival. He asked for God to rend the heavens like tearing a piece of cloth, dissolve great mountains before Him, like a pyramid of snow before hot sun. That can never be difficult for Him. When God comes visiting in His power, He uproots and plants, at the same time, to fulfil His eternal redemptive purpose. He rends things that must be split, and shakes the shakeable to establish His purposes among men, and brings His people back to Him. He hastens to help His people. May we experience the revival that we urgently need to save us from the decadence pervading our world and the Church in some areas. Amen.
Mon. 18: True Revival Involves Reading God’s Word (Nev. 9:1-6)
Tue. 19: True Revival Is Progressive (Jn. 15:4-9)
Wed. 20: True Revival Involves Conviction And Confession (Jn. 16:7-8)
Thur. 21: True Revival Involves Preaching The Gospel (Acts 2:14-35)
Fri. 22: True Revival Convicts And Concerts (Acts 2:37-41)
Sat. 23: True Revival Is Qualitative Than Quantitative (Acts 8:25-39)
1. Revival is God coming down to bring man back to activeness in, and for Him. Are you cooperating with Him?
2. Man has the tendency to stray from grace because of the devil’s traps. Where that happens, it becomes difficult for man to return to God. However, revival is the grace that makes God to restore the straying man. Nevertheless, man must cooperate with Him as He moves to restore him.
AIM: To show what revival really is, against from misconceptions.
OBJECTIVES: At the end of this lesson, it is expected that the learners should be:
i. able to show from both OT and NT Testament what revival truly is;
ii. more courageous enough to silence those misconceiving the concept of revival in the Church;
iii. able to meaningfully discuss the differences between revival and evangelism; and
iv. able to point out the intersection between revival and evangelism.
TEXTUAL SOURCE: GENESIS 45:26,27; PSALM 51; HOSEA 6:1-3; 10:12-13; HABAKKUK 3:2; MATTHEW 28:18FF; ACTS 1:8; 3:12-26; 1 CORINTHIANS 9:19-23; HEBREWS 12:12,13
We thank Jehovah God for His ever-faithfulness to us, most especially, since the beginning of this glorious year. He is indeed loading us with everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:2,3). In the first half of this year (2022), our Sunday school bordered on the theme: GROW IN THE GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD (2 Peter 3:18). God ruggedly took us through biblical principles and practices that enhance individual and corporate discipleship that are sadly lacking in so many churches, today. We hope this is yielding sustainable revival already.
In this second half of the year, we continue with this trend, but from a slightly different angle. The theme is REVIVAL: REDISCOVERING THE PATH TO SPIRITUAL MATURITY. God’s powerful Arm of revival is returning us to winning ways characteristic of the spiritually mature in Christ and His Church. Glory be to God that this is the very first lecture in the series, and it harps on the very meaning of revival.
Experiences have shown that there have been lots of misrepresentation about the idea of revival, everywhere, including the Church circles. The academia isn’t left out of this bastardisation of the concept. In fact, lots of so called charismatic view revival as acrobatic activities of jumping up and down, clapping vigorously, with deliverance exercises. Some see it as a meeting, or a series of meetings of evangelical Christians intended to awaken religious fervour in those who attend.
It is more than that. God is using this lesson to redirect our attention to how God views revival.
Man has since the Fall been drifting away from God’s purpose, programme and principles. God is never happy with this. He is the Giver of spiritual life but man cooperates with the devil to lose his spiritual vitality often. However, God graciously puts measures in place to restore man from his drift into lethargy, backsliding, indifference and weakness, hence the need for man to be revival.
The above immediately suggests revival as the fresh outpouring of God’s life-giving Spirit on His people that restores them to normalcy. Significantly, it means remarkable improvement in devotion to God by God’s people. Literally, revival is the religious sense, it is a new interest in religion, or better still, the things of God, or the reawakening of such interest. How does the Bible corroborate these definitions of revival? God is using this lesson to answer that question. May we not miss anything He has for us in the course of the lesson. Amen.
This lesson is divided into two sections, I and II. Each of the sections is further divided into A and B.
There is the need to first check through the Bible, both the OT and NT, to unravel what it says about the concept of revival. This way, we would be able to premise other definitions on what God says about revival, thus moderating the pantheon of definitions available in both academic and spiritual circles. This is what this section aims to achieve, God helping us.
In this section, we want to compare and contrast the two concepts; Revival and Evangelism. The truth is, they are somewhat different. How? This is what the part A of this division is all our to answer. Nevertheless, the two concept are related in some ways. This relationship between the two is what part B discusses. May we not miss any of those things the Lord has for us, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
I. DEDUCTION FROM THE BIBLE (Genesis 45:26,27; Hosea 6:1-3; Habakkuk 3:2; Acts 3:19; Romans 12:2; Hebrews 12:12,13
Revival is spiritual reawakening and renewal in the worship of, and obedience to God. Let us see some OT Scriptures that buttress this. These go a long way to model what we mean by revival.
A. THE OLD TESTAMENT (Gen. 45:26,27; Hos. 6:1-3; Hab. 3:2).
Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth (Hos. 6:3).
i. Gen. 45:26,27; Jdg. 15:19; Psa. 138:7 portray revival in terms of encouragement, 1 Kgs. 17:22; 2 Kgs. 13:21 do that in terms of bringing back to life, physically, Neh. 4:2, in terms of building physical structure, while Hab. 3:2 presents it with respect to making God’s work come alive, with the people returning to a right relationship with Him (cf. Jdg. 15:19; 1 Kgs. 17:22; 2 Kgs. 13:21; Ezra 9:8-9; Hos. 6:2; 14:7).
ii. It is bringing back to active and meaningful life, that which is dead, dying, sleeping, dormant or docile—-God’s people, and good legacies, values norms and dedication (1 Sam. 7:1-6; 2 Kgs. 22:11-14; Job 24:2; Prov. 22:28; 23:10).
iii. Isa. 57:15-17 portray revival as re-absorbing the humble and contrite repentant backslider into fellowship with God—spiritual re-awakening and renewal. It also involves God restoring healing healing and comfort to the repentant (v.18; cf. 2 Chron. 7:14).
iv. Hos. 6:1-3: It is what follows genuine repentance (v.17) ; God’s response to our returning to Him by coming like rain with His refreshment and blessing back into our lives (cf. 10:12-13; Jn. 7:37-39; Acts 3:19ff).
v. Hab. 3:2: It is God coming again to reveal His presence among His people with a fresh display of His power that His people had once lost due to sin/disobedience.
vi. Repentance here, is the change of heart that makes one to acknowledge one’s sin, turn from it, surrender to christ, and begin following God. It is turning from sin and dedicating oneself to God, and the amendment of one’s life, resulting from the feeling of regret, remorse or contrition, occasioned by the Holy Spirit’s conviction.
B. THE NEW TESTAMENT (Acts 3:19; Rom. 12:2; Heb. 12:12,13)
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).
i. Though the word “revival” is not mentioned in the NT, it doesn’t mean that the idea of revival is absent from the NT.
ii. Acts 3:19: The Grk. word used here is anapsychsis. It means “refreshing,” “refreshment,” “cooling” or “comfort.” Therefore, revival involves the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
iii. The parable of the prodigal son implies revival as a change of the life of the repentant in the sense of the dead, living again (Lk. 15:24,32)—-“making alive” or “causing life.”
iv. We see the idea of “to live again” that the OT clearly conveys with respect to revival in Rom. 14:9 and Rev. 20:5. Of course, Rom. 13:11; Eph. 5:14 imply that revival is “to wake up”, “to rise.”
v. Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 4:16; Col. 3:10; Tit. 3:5 employ the Grk. word anakainosis to show ‘revival’ as “to make new again.” The word used for revival in 2 Cor. 4:16, anakainoo, conveys the idea of the renewal of the inner/inward person, day by day (cf. Rom. 12:2; Tit. 3:5).
vi. Heb. 12:12,13: Revival is strengthening the weak/feeble hands/knees, and making straight paths to bring about healing and restoration.
vii. Genuine repentance comes with a lot of blessings from the Lord—forgiveness, restoration of joy, restoration of one’s place in the Lord, deliverance from the devil and his cohorts, to mention but few.
1. Revival is never a foreign idea in the OT. God desires bringing His erring/backslidden people back to Himself.
2. Despite that ‘revival’ isn’t mentioned in the NT, it is clearly written all over the NT. The Church cannot afford to joke with it.
Compare the concept of revival in the Bible with what people call revival today. Any difference? How can we realign the present-day idea of revival with the biblical orientation?
i. What do people call revival today?
ii. Some see revival as the activity of gathering people to demonstrate the so called spiritual skills, gifts or acumen of the ‘revivalist’.
iii. Some say it is gathering people together for clapping, singing, dancing, jumping, and violent shaking, among others.
iv. So many churches and ministers see revival as a means of fund raising. This only comes up with so called revival programmes when the need for financing a programme or project arises. Hence, they look for professional ‘fund-raisers’ to help them make sufficient money. Souls won do not matter to such people.
v. There are lots of other misconceptions. Mention some more.
vi. These are different from the concept of revival that we just discussed from the OT and NT.
vii. Revival is when God’s people who are straying, or have strayed are convicted by the Holy Spirit, such that they see their filthiness and immediately return to the Lord they had strayed from.
viii.In the biblical revival, money isn’t the goal, at all. The passion to see God’s people back in their places in God is the only motivation. No wonder God wouldn’t vacillate in granting such humble desire from the godly ministers.
ix. Of a truth, most of our churches and ministers need re-orientation in this regard.
II DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REVIVAL AND EVANGELISM (Psalm 51; Matthew 28:18ff; Acts 1:8; 3:12-26; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
Revival and evangelism are different in nature, form and operation. We need an understanding of the degree or amount by which both differ in quantity or measure. Their modalities, target and modus operandi go a long way to specify their differences. However, both concepts have things in common.
A. THEY ARE SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT (Matt. 28:18ff; Acts 1:8; 3:12-26)
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).
i. Revival is more than just an organised prayer meeting or gathering multitude, or where people gather (cf. 1 Kgs. 19:11-12; Acts 12:20-23).
ii. It is not a bodily exercise (cf. 1 Tim. 4:8), neither is it an annual event; a well-advertised, highly planned programme, with guest ministers. Of course, it is beyond what one can slate for a date, or determine its duration, because it is God’s move.
iii. Acts 3:12-26 shows it as God coming down mightily on His people by His Spirit, to honour His Word, giving them life and power to live up to His expectation; an answer to Isaiah 64:1-3.
iv. Matt. 28:18ff; Mk. 16:15; Acts 1:8: Evangelism is Christ’s definite command to His Church—the Great Command that the Church must keep obeying, not to fossilise.
v. It is the definite efforts of God’s people to go out to where the sinners are, in a bid to leading them to accept the definite Saviour (the Lord Jesus Christ) at a definite time.
vi. It is Christ’s command for the wise Christian (Prov. 11:30) who have His mind, know the worth of a soul before Him (cf. Mk. 8:35-38), and would be indescribably rewarded (cf. Psa. 126:5,6).
vii.Evangelism is directed towards the sinners (bringing them into Christ)—-external proclamation, while revival is for the backsliding saints (re-awaken them into God’s purpose).
viii. Evangelism is the processing of helping people discover and accept Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour, so that by this, they are birthed into the Family of God—born again. Revival, on the other hand, involves bringing back to spiritual life and vitality God’s people who have strayed away from Him and His holy standard, in any way.
To the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some (1 Cor. 9:22).
i. Psa. 51; Lk. 15:17-20; Acts 2:1-47: When God visits His people (revival), Holy Spirit-induced repentance and re-dedication push them out to share the good news with the world for soul-winning (evangelism).
ii. Acts 2:14-36 shows that true revival involves the sound preaching of the Truth about sin and its effects, bringing about renewal in the fold, and salvation to sinners in the world.
iii. God desires that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). This is why He calls His Church to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18ff; Mk. 16:15ff).
iv. Christ must reign until He has put ALL ENEMIES under His feet (1 Cor. 15:25). The revived Church must preach His Gospel worldwide (Matt. 24:14; cf. Psa. 22:27-28; Zeph. 3:9-10).
v. 1 Cor. 9:19-23: Revival brings hunger and thirst for more of God (Matt. 5:6) that translates into passionate preaching (Acts 3:19,26; 5:42; 8:12,35; 19:18-20; Rom. 6:20-22; 2 Cor. 4:5ff).
vi. The differences between revival and evangelism notwithstanding, both are related in the sense that only the revived can evangelise the sinking world. Also, only the evangelised can receive the Gospel and become members of the body of Christ that can need revival at any point in time.
1. Evangelism is good news while revival is new life. Evangelism is man working for God through the Holy Spirit while revival is God working in a sovereign way on man’s behalf.
2. We need true revival for God’s people to be re-launched into meaningful evangelism. Why? The truly revived church would do everything to evangelise the world around.
1. What is your own understanding of the concept of revival, from the standpoint of the Bible?
2. Compare and contrast revival and evangelism.
i. Refer to division I.
ii. Spell out your own understanding of the concept of revival.
iii. Make sure these align with the biblical deductions that have been made.
I. Refer to division II.
According to James Packer, in his book, “Your Father Loves You” (1986), “Revival is the visitation of God which brings to life, Christians who have been sleeping and restores a deep sense of God’s near presence and holiness.” He opined that every revival movement is unique, but the pattern is the same every time. In every revival, God comes. During the “love feast” that John Wesley, George Whitefield, and some friends held on New Year’s Eve of 1739, which turned out to be a watchnight of prayer, Wesley reported that at about 3am, “the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground.” Revival always begins with a restoration of the sense of the closeness of the Holy One that result in the gospel being loved as never before, and the Spirit works fast, including bringing about very deep genuine repentance amidst God’s people.
There are a lot of misconception about revival today. Glory be to the God of our fathers who has chosen to refocus our attention on what God considers to be true and lasting revival, as deduced from His Word—OT and NT. Having gone through this lesson, we are better equipped to go all out to champion the truth about revival amidst God’s people in our local settings, so that we all are on the same page in this regard. May the Lord GOD help us to uphold this truth wherever He has placed us, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Mon. 25: True Revival Transforms The Revived (Gen. 35:1-15)
Tue. 26: True Revival Restores To Winning Ways (1 Sam. 7:1-15)
Wed. 27: True Revival Proves God’s Mighty Power (1 Kgs. 18:20-46)
Thur. 28: True Revival Removes Idolatry Totally (2 Chron. 14:1-5)
Fri. 29: True Revival Gives Rest On Every Side (2 Chron. 14:6-15)
Sat. 30: True Revival Restores Lasting Joy (Neh. 8:8-12)

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