A Christian revival is a moment in history when 1) the hearts of many of God’s people are awakened to greater love and commitment to Christ, 2) many who consider themselves Christians (but are not) get converted, and 3) many people who have never known Christ are drawn to faith in Christ through what God is doing in his people.
As I write, a Christian awakening that began a week ago at Asbury University in Kentucky has begun to spread to other neighboring Christian universities (Lee, Cedarville, Cumberland). Time will tell whether what God is doing right now in Kentucky and beyond will produce long-lasting spiritual fruit, but I rejoice that young Christian men and women are seeking God in prayer and publicly repenting of their sins. When I was a young man, I was impacted by reading Robert Coleman’s little book, One Divine Moment, about an earlier revival at Asbury (1970). In my childhood and youth, I was personally drawn to Christ during the Jesus Movement of the 1970s—the memories of which continue to propel me to pray that God will pour out his Spirit again as he has in the past. Let it be, Lord!
Would you like to learn more about revival? Here are three books that will help you:
- A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories that Stretch and Stir, by Collin Hansen and John Woodbridge. This book is short and easy to read. After one chapter laying out biblical and theological foundations for revival, the rest of the book simply describes moments between 1730 and 1950 when God revived his people. This book is where I would recommend you start if you have never read anything about revival.
- Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal, by Richard Lovelace. This classic book, first published in 1979, is the best overall theology of revival I have ever encountered.
- Religious Affections, by Jonathan Edwards. Edwards wrote this book in response to doctrinaire critics of the First Great Awakening, on the one hand, and “enthusiasts” (who were driven by emotions), on the other hand. He addressed and answered the crucial question: How can you tell that a work of God is truly a work of God? For a condensed interpretation of Edwards’ famous book, take a look at Sam Storms, Signs of the Spirit: An Interpretation of Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections.
Shall we not pray together that God will move with his Spirit to produce a deep, long-lasting, fruit-bearing revival in our generation? We can pray the classic prayer found on the lips of all who have ever prayed for revival: “Oh, God, revive your church…and start with me!”
For a reminder of why we must root ourselves in Scripture if we want personal revival to endure, see my little book, Bible Revival: Recommitting Ourselves to One Book.