Heaven-Sent Revivals

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We are in need of a Gospel-saturated Spiritual awakening. The last true Gospel Awakening, from which we are still receiving benefits, was in the Eighteenth Century. But the reality is this: there will be no Gospel Awakening without an authentic revival in the church. Why? Because the instrument God uses to deliver a gospel awakening is His church.

Therein lies the problem. The fundamental reason there is no gospel awakening is that the contemporary church languishes in ministry lethargy, spiritual impotence, biblical illiteracy, and trendy fascinations. A God-given, heaven-sent revival is desperately needed. But are we desperate for God’s sovereign, soul-searching, and life-changing grace to move?

An honest assessment of the contemporary church reveals that we are neither desperate for nor desirous of a heaven-sent revival. For multiple reasons, we are satisfied with the man-sent revival substitutes that are not only inadequate but actually counterproductive and contribute to the ineffectiveness of today’s church. There is an infallible indicator as to whether a revival is heaven-sent or man-sent. Man-sent revivals (which are not revivals but self-absorbed religious manipulations) are marked by a preoccupation with personal momentary experiences, preferably delivered instantaneously. A heaven-sent revival, in contrast, produces lasting effects through a protracted commitment to the means God has designed to deliver authentic revival. Scripture and church history reveal that what seems to be instantaneous revival is preceded by faithful leadership consistently bringing God’s Word to His people while insistently calling upon the throne of grace in God-centered worship assemblies.

Often we see remarkable athletic achievement on the field of competition, but we do not see the hours of devoted, disciplined commitment on the practice field preceding the moment of glory. Likewise, when we have seen revival in history and Scripture, we didn’t see the days, months, years, and even decades of faithful leadership, gospel preaching, intercessory prayer, and God-centered worship before the glorious revival outbreak. More profoundly, we didn’t see the desperate hearts of God’s people who realized they had no hope but Christ.

Heaven-sent revivals are not momentary explosions of adoration focused upon “rock star” personalities, nor are they manipulated, momentary, vacuous experiences. Heaven-sent revivals come through ordinary people who, compelled by the love of Christ, surrender all to Him. Revival comes when believers realize “without Him I can do nothing,” but also that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Authentic revivals are marked by gospel-compelled confession of sin as convicted sinners agree with God on the absurdity, insanity, and treachery of their sin. Believing that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), they also believe that it is not simply “all” who have sinned but “I am the sinner.” With deep conviction and full awareness, their confession acknowledges their attempts to assassinate God’s glory. Therefore, they confess their treason against God and rejoice that by His grace they may confess sin and surrender to Christ as Lord and Savior.

Authentic revival not only brings “no-spin” confession of sin but also heart-felt repentance that reveals a passionate desire to assassinate sin intentionally and pursue holiness passionately. Beyond that, revival brings the unembarrassed manifestation of brokenness and the unabashed excitement of victory in Christ over sin, which leads to a new life of eradicating sin to pursue Christ-focused obedience.

Revival sends us to the heights of Mount Sinai, where God graciously reveals our sin and convinces us of the need of a Savior. But, wonder of wonders, the reviving work of God’s grace then sends us to the heights of Mount Calvary to see, by faith, Christ crucified. There upon Calvary, we see the Son of God suspended between heaven and earth to save us from our sins. There on Calvary, the love of God in Christ satisfied the holiness of God to save sinners for the glory of God.

So, here I am, O Lord. “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.” Man-sent counterfeit revivals fascinated with momentary personal experiences, delivered by whim and manipulation, have lost their appeal. Heaven-sent revivals, with the lasting effects of expanding Christ’s rule of grace in my life and heart and to the world, have become my desire. “Revive thy work in the midst of the years” (Hab. 3:2, KJV). O Lord, revive Thy work.

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.