“A revival does two things. First, it returns the Church from her backsliding and second, it causes the conversion of men and women; and it always includes the conviction of sin on the part of the Church. What a spell the devil seems to cast over the Church today!” – Billy Sunday
We can all recall the excitement we experienced at the beginning of our new life in Christ. Being supernaturally shown what reconciliation and rebirth provides induces the best feeling we can have this side of our future glorification. New converts to Christianity are easily identified by their apparent joy and zeal for Christian service. Yet apathy and listlessness still can creep in and spoil our enthusiasm.
In John 15:11 Christ said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” The way of Christ is indeed also the way of great joy, but how do we keep that ‘new convert’ feeling? How do we revive and maintain that fullness of joy and live as victors rather than victims? How do we overcome in this present realm instead of living in quiet desperation?
Going through the motions
Just as a sports team can get into a slump, so too can we Christians. That is, our spiritual lives can be adversely affected by sin, apathy, or even unchecked life stress. To reach our true potential, we need to be revived; we need to work on the fundamentals of our faith to have our fervency renewed.
To be revived, we must be in God’s presence, living in His word, and focused on righteousness as we work to see his plan for our lives fulfilled. We are expected to rejoice in the blessed assurance of our salvation and be given to constant praise and worship. A truly revived believer is dedicated to the Christian witness and service to God and man.
While it’s true that the Holy Sprit infuses us with the power to be so inclined, we must do our part in being revived. Going through the motions of our Church service routines will not accomplish the results we need and ought to desire. So, let’s look at what our part is in the equation.
I. Revived faith
The scriptural definition of faith is found in Hebrews 11:1 where we read, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” To be clear, faith is being sure of the things we don’t yet see; a steadfast reliance upon God’s promises. Faith is a firm conviction and confident trust in God’s existence, attributes, and love for His children.
Faith, its necessity
In John 8:24 we read, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” Faith in Christ as our Savior is a non-negotiable proposition. Faith is also essential to finding forgiveness of sins and salvation. It is imperative to believe in the One who will day lead us from the grave unto life eternal. Without this ‘essential faith’, we suffer the ill effects of doubt and fear (Matt 14:30-31).
A revived faith is more than mere belief. To have our faith energized, devotion to biblical reading and study is paramount. Faith comes to us and is supplied by God’s word (cf. Rom 10:17; John 20:30-31) We must remember to read with renewed excitement as our goal regarding God’s instructions and promises to us (cf. 2 Cor 1:20).
Dead faith neither saves nor revives anyone
In James 2:14-26, we learn that true faith is evidenced by our actions. We must ask ourselves, “Does our faith move us to action or to merely pay lip service to an ideology?” A life transformed by faith is one devoted to good works and Christ-like living.
We gain nothing by verbally laying claim to intellectual faith alone. A life-giving faith is one that is moved by love and compassion to act and not disregard the needy. Likewise, vain well-wishing given to those in need is equally indicative of dead faith.
To be clear, James 2:17 tells us, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” Faith without works is no better than a body without a spirit; they are both dead. We are not saying that works save a person. We are saying that good works are something a saved person does.
Finally, is it not reasonable to conclude that the blessing of revival is attached to exercising our faith through good works? “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” – James 2-21
II. Revived hope.
“Hope” and “faith” are akin to one another in meaning. While faith provokes us to believe, hope encourages toward joyful anticipation. It’s more than mere wishful thinking; it is a confident expectation of good things to come. Desiring a positive outcome is natural. We cross this line into the supernatural when our confidence is in God, when we have desire plus expectation.
Hope, its necessity
In Romans 8:25 we read, “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” We have the steadfast expectation of receiving based on faith and not what we see, our patience is fortified (cf. 1Thess 1:3). When we practice walking by faith and not sight (2 Cor 5:7), we revive our hope.
In 1 John 3:2-3 we read, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” So, hope is necessary and motivates us to become pure.
Revived hope empowers us to evangelize. The necessity for this is great as we can hardly be moved to fulfill our commission as believers if our hope is weak. A weak hope not only imperils our own relationship with God but keeps us from being salt and light to the world (Matt 5:13-16).
As the case with faith, God’s word is designed to fortify our hope. In Romans 15:4 we see this confirmed where we read, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” The biblical text is a rich history of God’s faithful treatment of mankind.
Knowing that we serve a God who has honored His past covenants encourages us to trust Him regarding our future. Our hope should rest fully upon God’s grace as revealed to us through Christ (1 Pet 1:13). Nothing revives our hope like proof of God’s faithfulness. And nothing delivers that proof like God’s word.
Finally, our hope is maintained by focusing upon what God’s promises, reminding ourselves of his faithfulness, and choosing to believe that He cannot fail us. This level of hope is sure to revive our confidence in God and empower us to joyfully overcome through any circumstance.
III. Revived love
In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 we read:
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
Most of us commonly define ‘love’ as being an intense feeling of deep affection. Here, the Apostle defines love by way of listing its attributes and speaking to how it functions in our lives. From the biblical perspective we could say that love is “benevolence in action”.
Love, its necessity
The Gospel message itself is arguably the most profound expression of love known. By undeserved grace, God gave His best to cover our worst. Out of divine love for us, the plan of salvation was conceived in the mind of God. It is, therefore, paramount that we realize the importance of love.
In 1 John 3:14 we read, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” One of the telltale signs of the new birth is the manifestation of love for our brethren. To be clear, we know we are saved when we love our fellow Christians. The outpouring of God’s love assures us that we abide in Him and vice versa (1John 4:7-8,12,16).
Reviving our love
In 1 Thessalonians 4:9, we learn that God teaches us how to love one another. And Christ’s sacrifice for the propitiation of our sins was the ultimate expression of divine love and an example par excellence (1John 3:16).
It is imperative that we immerse ourselves in the prayerful study of God’s word. In doing so, we learn those priceless lessons we need to be revived. To be clear, careful reflection upon God’s love for us, activates (revives) our love of Him and others.
Reviving our love can be as simple as realizing that love of God and man is commanded rather than suggested. Jesus gave us two commandments that summarize all the laws and commands in Scripture. We are commanded to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We are also commanded to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. These commandments are indeed tall orders for mere mortals and, therefore, require us to lean upon God for guidance and strength. We can rest assured that God will revive our love when we submit ourselves to following His commandments as dear children.
In closing, let’s summarize our points for the sake of clarity. We ought to seek revival as we never lose our need for it. God expects nothing less than our best as we assay to live for Him. Revival is more easily achieved when we realize the necessity of faith, hope, and love and seek God in seeing each of those Christian attributes revived in our hearts.