Revival and reformation
What is revival?
The word “revival” means different things to different people. To some, the word “revival” is a loose word bandied about, whenever a spiritual activity is taking place in the church. For some, it is a special church programme, aimed at winning the lost. Some describe “revival” in terms of miracles happening in the church, or when there is massive harvest of souls. Yet others think of “revival” in terms of repentance and holiness. Still others define revival from the prism of societal transformation. This group contends that the index for measuring revival is by the level of transformation in the society.
“The word ‘revive’ is made up of two parts, ‘re’ meaning ‘again,’ and ‘vive’ meaning ‘to live.’ Thus, revive means ‘to live again, to come or be brought back to life, health, or vitality.’ This definition of revival resonates with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Matthew 21 records that Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem did cause a great stir and left many wondering who He was. “And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, ‘Who is this?’ The phrase, “all the city was moved,” is rendered differently in the various versions of the English Bible. The Greek meaning conveys the idea that His entry into Jerusalem caused an earthquake. Is that not what a revival produces – a “spiritual” earthquake of some sort? Matthew’s account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem revealed four characteristics of revival that accompanied Christ’s visit to the city.
First, in verse 12, when He went into the temple, He rebuked the moneychangers and overturned their tables. This signifies an in-house cleansing. Repentance, purity and soul-searching are often marks of any revival. Next, in verse 13, He said to them: “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” Jesus’ rebuke highlights the significance of prayer in bringing about revival. There can be no revival without intense prayer. Dr. Edwin Orr said: “History is silent about revivals that did not begin with prayer.”
Again, in verse 14, we read that the blind and the lame were brought to Him, and that He healed them. By His action, He demonstrated the fact that healing is often a component of most revivals. Healing can be emotional, psychological, inter-personal, spiritual, or physical.
Lastly, in verses 15 and 16, we read about the indignation of the chief priests to the praise that the children offered to Jesus for the wonderful things He did. Revival is often a time of great praise to God for His visit to His children. However, it is not all who praise God during revival periods; skeptics and critics also have a field day in criticising those who overwhelmingly engage in God’s praise.
John Wesley says: “Revival is men and women on fire for God.” How true this statement is! During revival, men are consumed with the zeal for God and they go about proclaiming the gospel without minding the risks involved. During the Charismatic revival in the 1970s, Stephen Okafor and Raphael Okafor in eastern Nigeria, trekked for over two weeks from Onitsha to Uzuakoli, where this author was a student. Their mission was solely to come and spread the revival fire. Their visit sparked off a revival fire at the Methodist College, Uzuakoli. Only the zeal of God could propel men to trek such a long distance of over 100 kilometres to go and preach the gospel. May God restore His zeal to the Church.
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