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The Nature of Revival

Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. Selah You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger. Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us! Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. Yes, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way. Psalm 85:1-13


Revival is a work of God’s sovereign grace. Revival does not come by the will of man because it is not his means to accomplish it, nor can man manufacture its manufacture of results. It must come from the divine hand of God alone, in his providential timing alone. Revival is a work God promises to his people when they return to him through repentance, faith, and prayer.

Theologian J.I. Packer lists ten traits of revival that help us understand the nature of this supernatural shifting of the tide:

1. God comes down.

2. God’s Word pierces.

3. Man’s sin is seen.

4. Christ’s cross is valued.

5. Repentance goes deep.

6. Love breaks out.

7. Joy fills hearts.

8. Each church becomes itself—becomes, that is, the people of the divine presence in an experiential, as distinct from merely notional, sense.

9. The lost are found.

10. Satan keeps pace.

But are we really that bad? Is supernatural revival even necessary? To answer these questions and to understand why revival is essential (and it is!), we need to understand that:

  • Our litmus test for spiritual fidelity can’t be with one another because this clouds our judgment. The Bible does not call us to be holy in that holiness is defined by the unholiness of the generation we exist among. The Bible calls us to be holy as Christ is holy. By removing the darkness around us from our vision, we have chosen to set our eyes on Christ through our fast, and in so doing, we should pray to see the light of his holiness and be amazed.

  • Repenting of sin and returning to God is not a ceasing of peace and pleasure but the renewal of it. We respond in this way because we begin to be burdened by the commands of God, and we feel that someone like a pastor standing in the pulpit and calling us to repentance and faith is just another brow-beating exercise of religious cajoling by a preacher. In reality, the call comes from the heart of God for all of us to experience the true peace of Christ that can only come through this means.

  • At least one driving desire for the Christian must be that our neighbors experience the blessings of revival. If we reckon that we have attained a life pleasing to God by faith and that life does not include a deep and abiding desire that your nonbelieving neighbor experience revival and reformation, then we should reconsider our definition of biblical godliness. We should desire that our homes be whole and happy in the Lord and that our neighbors are also in that same happy state. We should long for a day when the Spirit of God has fallen upon our society so that the primary conversation is not political talking points but whether or not we have engaged our world in a way that honors God.



  • A sum can be put right, but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on. – C.S. Lewis

  • Revival is God’s extension of his kingdom through the restoration of his people and his church, like the breaking of a wave [over them] that renews an intensifying and accelerated work of his grace to individuals and whole communities. – J.I. Packer

  • God [desires] for his great blessings to be sought before they are bestowed in order that they be greater valued upon being received in this way. – Jonathan Edwards


1. What is the difference between confession and repentance?

2. What makes repentance so much more difficult than confession of sins?

3. How often should we repent of our sins?

4. How does the enemy keep us from confessing and repentance?

5. How does God restore his people acer repentance?


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