In Collin Hansen and John Woodbridge’s book A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir, the book’s first chapter explores the “Biblical Foundations and Theology of Revival.” While reading this book recently, I came across the following two quotations. The first comes in the context of the authors recounting the revival that occurred under the leadership of King Josiah. When this teenage king rediscovered the Book of the Law, deducing from its reading that his forefather’s disobedience meant God’s impending judgment, he passionately led the nation in repentance and recommitment to walk in God’s ways (2 Chron. 34). Following this, he led Israel in an unrivaled Passover celebration (2 Chron. 35.18). On the heels of this, the authors say:
“Following the characteristic pattern of revivals, recovering Scripture brought conviction, followed by repentance, resulting in rejoicing, because the redeemer God doesn’t abandon those who seek his face.”
The second quote is written after explaining Ezra and Nehemiah’s respective leadership roles, which also involved calling God’s people to repent and obey His Law once again.
“By now, a revival pattern has come into focus. Following a period of spiritual decline, someone steps forward to acknowledge failure to live according to God’s good and gracious law. Others begin to see the problem, and they turn from their wayward path. God may hear their petition and answer their cry with revival.”
These two quotes and the biblical stories they’re rooted in illustrate a powerful thread we can trace to any move of God: namely, a repentant recommitment to the Word of God in the personal lives of believers and the corporate life of the Church. This is so simple that it seems to insult our Christian intelligence. We know the Bible contains God’s story of salvation. We know we need to read the Bible daily to remind ourselves of the gospel’s hope in each of its sixty-six books. We know we need to claim its gospel promises by faith to battle the world without, the flesh within, and the devil withstanding. We know we need to obey its commands by the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet we deceive ourselves into thinking we’re people of the Book – just by virtue of intellectually knowing these things. Our American idolatry of productivity, prominence, and pleasure all the while keep us from the Bible’s transforming power in our lives.
Brethren, this is altogether the simplicity and corresponding struggle for revival. Might I encourage you this summer – one of the most difficult times of the year to establish a spiritual discipline – to set aside time daily to revive your soul, refresh your heart, and repent of sin by opening the Book? If God is to move, bring change, and reform your personal life, it starts by opening His Word and asking the Spirit who wrote it to change you (2 Pet. 1.21; Ps. 85.6; Hab. 3.2; Rom. 12.1-2). And if God’s winds of revival are to blow through His Church, changing His people corporately and reforming our congregations, it will start with His Word being exposited, sung, and wholeheartedly obeyed by His people – with verbal vows and character commitments – every Lord’s Day, and every day.
Believe again. Repent again. Recommit again. Obey again. Revive again. Reform again. Amen.