What is True Revival and What Does it Cost?
These are the questions God has put in my heart. They burn within me like an oven! I can’t run away from them. They consume my thoughts.
What is revival anyway? Revival is a word that the church loves to throw around and half-heartedly (and yes, some whole-heartedly) “pray” for. But what does it really mean?
Let’s start with what Webster’s dictionary defines revival as:
- An act of reviving, the state of being revived.
- A renewed attention to or interest in something.
- A new presentation or publication of something old.
- A period of renewed religious interest.
- An often highly emotional evangelistic meeting or series of meetings.
2. Restoration of force, validity of effect (as to contract).
We see in the first definition of revival, how the world and the church picture revival based on the revivals of the past. But what if revival is more than that? What if the true revival God wants to bring to the western world goes way beyond that? What if God wants to do a new thing – a mind blowing new thing?
What if God wants to take us beyond the feel-good revivals of the past? What would that look like? What would be the cost to see such a revival?
That has been the prayer and the thought of my heart for some time now.
So, let’s look at both the early church and the modern-day church in the eastern world to see what it would cost.
I feel that I should put a disclaimer here. I’m not knocking (speaking against) the former revivals such as the Azusa Street Revival or the Toronto Airport Church, they served their purpose. I’m just saying that God wants to do a new and deeper revival.
In Acts 8:1, we read: At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the Apostles. We go on to read in Acts 13:50: But the Jews stirred up the devout women and chief men of the city and raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their region.
We learn from these two verses that true revival costs something. It isn’t just a feel-good emotional experience – though it can be a part of it. It goes way beyond just feeling giddy in the Spirit.
Here’s where the second definition Webster gives for revival comes into play. A restoration of force, validity, or effect. The early church was compelled by the Spirit to share the gospel thus changing the world around them. They didn’t just sit around feeling good; they were empowered to be God’s witnesses by preaching and living out the word and will of God.
So, what happened? Where did it go wrong? How did it get boiled down to just small pockets of feel-good, yet affective movements here in the western world?
Why is the body of Christ growing in power throughout the middle east, Asia, Africa but is slowly dying here in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand? What is different there?
Let’s take a brief glance and find out. You can look up many articles on the internet and learn about the suffering they have to endure there. They are having their homes confiscated or destroyed. They are being imprisoned, beheaded, stoned to death, and shot just for confessing Jesus as their Savior. They are being chased from city to city, town to town, country to country – even by their own families.
So what drives them? How do they endure such persecution and yet still have joy, peace, love, and a faith that keeps them going? A faith that keeps the churches there growing in power and numbers.
They counted the cost. In Luke 14:28-33, Jesus gave us this example in a story: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, doesn’t sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – lest after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it will mock him saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish?’ OR what king going to war against another king, does not first consider whether he is able to with ten thousand to meet him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation of peace. Likewise, whoever of you who does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
Let’s move onto Acts 9:16, where we hear Jesus telling Ananias the He will show Paul how many things he must suffer for His name’s sake. By this and his many letters, we read that Paul counted the cost and found that serving Christ was worth losing everything to gain Christ and to fulfil the calling He placed on his life.
I could go on and on, giving example after example for days, nor will this article answer all the questions the Holy Spirit and I are posing. But I hope these examples with help to stir you up.
The questions that God burns into my heart to ask everywhere I go are: Is the cost of true revival, not only in America but in the western world, is for us to lose our constitutional rights? What if seeing true revival will cost us everything we have taken for granted and trusted in along side of Christ or worse yet, instead of Christ? What if to experience true revival, we have to begin to suffer the same persecution that the church in the middle east, Africa and Asia have to suffer? How many of you are willing to count the cost and be willing to pay it?
Sadly, I fear that not many would. Most of the time, when I ask these questions to others, they avoid answering them by saying things like “God would NEVER do that”! or “God would NEVER allow that”!
They are afraid to answer these questions because they challenge them to examine their own hearts, evaluate their motives and intentions, and to count the true cost of following Christ. They are afraid of their answers to these questions.
Who can blame them? If these questions and the cost of true revival, or even the thought of them, doesn’t make you nervous, then you’re either lying or you’ve hardened your heart.
These questions terrify me. Because I’m not even sure myself. I want to say that I’ve counted that cost and am ready to lay down everything to follow Him. But I’ve only just begun to count the cost.
God has shown me some things to come that shake me to my very core! I know that our rights will be taken away one by one, with a round of applause. How soon, I don’t know. But I know that this is part of the cost for true revival to happen. A revival that goes way beyond the revivals of the past that fizzled out.
It’s what it will take for the great falling away of the posers (imposters) so that the true sons and daughters of God to be revealed. So we can shine like the noonday sun (Matthew 13:43).
Only then can true revival happen – a lasting revival. The great harvest.
But are we truly willing to count the cost? Are we willing to go beyond what we know, what we think revival should be or look like based on the revivals of the past? Are we willing to get out of our comfort zones and think outside the box of our limited understanding?
Are we willing to ask God to take us to the place where we can pray with all of our hearts: “Lord, take away everything that offends you, everything that is keeping us from all that You have for us, everything that we’ve trusted in more than You or have trusted in alongside of You – even the rights and freedoms we’ve enjoyed as American (insert your country here) citizens. We want all that You have for us – no matter that cost. Give us the strength and wisdom to know what we need to lay down and the faith and courage to lay them down and to trust that You have something better for us. We want You and nothing else. Cleanse us from all our idols. Amen!”
Because true revival can only come once we as the body of Christ (the church) come to that place where we’re not afraid to pray “dangerous” prayers like this; until we are willing to ask ourselves these tough questions, face our fears and come to the point where we are willing to forsake everything to follow Him (Luke 14:33), we will never experience the true revival that God wants to bring – that driving force (the fire of His Spirit) that will compel us to be about our Father’s will – that passion that comes from God. With out which we cannot fulfil God’s calling on our lives to change the world -one soul at a time.
The people around us are longing to see this passion and power at work in us.
Now, I know that your instinct is to dodge these questions the Holy Spirit and I have been posing by attacking me or just labeling me and what I wrote by the Holy Spirit (this is the nature of humans after all). But the holy Spirit and I challenge you to search your heart and the scriptures and let the Holy Spirit help you to answer these tough questions and bring you to the place where you can forsake everything think you have or think you know to be revived, made alive, empowered, and transformed like never before.
If you are not willing to come to this place, then don’t bother even asking for revival. Jesus told us that we cannot serve two masters – you will love the one and despise the other. And God’s word tells us that a double minded man will not receive anything from the Lord (James 1:8).
So, who’s willing to step out in faith and start asking yourself these difficult questions?
- What does revival really cost?
- What is seeing true revival in my life and in my country going to cost me?
- Have I truly counted the full cost to see revival come to my life and to my country?
- Am I willing to pay that cost?
- Do I really want to see revival come to my life and to my country or am I just praying for revival because that is what we are supposed to do or was told to do?
- Do I really mean what I pray?
- What does revival really mean?
- What does it really mean for me and my life?
- What’s going to change?
- What is God’s definition of revival?
- What does He have in mind?
- What does true revival look like?
- Is it just a feel-good movement that fizzles out after a short time?
- Why did the revivals of the past die out?
- Or is it something more, something we’ve never seen before?
- What does God have in mind for true revival?
- What if God wants to take me past what I’ve heard, seen, or learned He did in the past?
- Am I ready for Him to do that?
- Am I willing to let Him?
- Why am I afraid to trust Him to lead me where He wants me to be?
- What is holding me back and am I willing to let it go?
- Am I trying to serve two masters?
- If so, what other masters do I need to repent of serving?
- Am I truly ready to renounce them and repent to serving them?
- Am I actually ready to turn from these things (evil ways)?
These are just a minuscule amount of the many questions that should be flooding our minds and hearts before we even begin to start praying for true revival to come to our hearts and our lands. And continue to flood them while we are praying for revival.
I know that these questions are scary and cut to the heart – that’s the point! But we have to face them if we are going to have that close relationship with Jesus and to experience true revival in our lands and in our lives.
Without self-examination – with the help of the Holy Spirit, and repentance, there can be no revival in our lives or in our land. I know that you’ve heard this before. It’s become a cliché in the church. But it is a central truth that we NEED to start taking seriously again!
It isn’t about having all the answers. I don’t have all the answers to these questions. It’s about getting you to begin to start asking the questions and seeking God for the answers to them.
I’m not saying that seeking revival will be all hard work with no joy. There is a place for being moved with joy and laughter in the Holy Spirit, but that’s just one side of the proverbial coin. This is to cause you to turn the coin over and bring balance. We need to do both in order to live a healthy spiritual life and experience true revival.
As I’ve said before, these are the questions that God has been burning in my heart and I feel compelled to ask of you as well. They scare me yet thrill me! They set my heart on fire! I want to know Him in the fellowship of His suffering, not just the fellowship of His mercy.
Like Paul, I want to know everything I must suffer for His name’s sake, do I can truly count the cost of being His disciple and experiencing true revival in my life, my country and on the earth.
May these questions that the Holy Spirit and I posed and what is written here cause you to be stirred up, cut to the heart, and set on fire – all moving you to action. And to begin to ask yourself these questions and examine your hearts to see where it leads you.
This is my sincerest prayer for you all.
Your brother in Christ,
Pastor Rob Weaver