Send A Resurrection, O Lord!
By definition, a revival is a resurrection.
We can think of this life-giving miracle on two levels. First, individuals need to be revived. This happens as we are connected to the life-giving power of our risen Lord through the ministry of His Holy Spirit. It is by the Spirit, Paul says in Ephesians 1, that we come to know (meaning experience and encounter) the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead” (Eph 1:17-20). It is by the power of this Spirit that we have already been made alive together with Christ (Eph 2:5).
On a second level, revival can touch churches, cities, or whole nations. Qualitatively, this is not a different work than the first. Here only the expanse or scope of the work has changed, broadening now to include a group of individuals who are all making a vibrant connection to Christ’s resurrection power. As Adrian Warnock argues in his excellent book Raised with Christ:
A revival is something that happens to individual Christians first and only subsequently has implications for those outside. Once a significant number of God’s people are experiencing more of the change that the resurrection brings, a larger number of conversions seems almost inevitable. Such “awakened” Christians are infectious in their in God, delight in telling people about the love of God for them, and tremble at thinking about the eternal state of the unbeliever (164).
If we can see the connection between revival and resurrection, we can see that something powerful is being said about our access to revival. Namely, revival is not to be an anomaly for the Christian, just as the resurrection is not celebrated once a year but every Lord’s day, and every day! A revival is not be something “odd” or “extra” for the one who has been raised with Christ and whose life is sustained by the Spirit of the risen Lord!
To think of the same point a different way, Easter Sunday does not mark a one time, past tense event but a present tense, ongoing reality. Easter inaugurates a new age – where the crucified Christ is always alive! And this new age has a new social “norm”, resurrection power available to make and mature believers – every day. Thus a revival, individually or corporately, comes when we experience more fully the change made possible by the resurrection. Because of Easter, Warnock argues, a revival is “a powerful intensification by Jesus of the Holy Spirit’s normal activity” (161). Indeed, “the Spirit of revival is always available to us. Thus, when revival comes, we should recognize it as a greater manifestation of normal Christianity” (161).
So it is our Easter-people privilege to cry out, in the word of Psalm 85:6 “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” In other words, “send a resurrection, O Lord!” This is the hunger and this is the hope of those who have been shaped by the Easter gospel.
In his chapter of A God-Entranced Vision of All Things, J. I. Packer surveys both history and the Scriptures to discern a pattern for genuine revival. I am including his list of 10 elements here because they form excellent prayer points as we ask for the implications of Easter to be more completely and intensely released in our hearts, in our church, and in our city. As we cultivate a hunger for these things and cry out for them to come to pass, may we see “a powerful intensification by Jesus of the Holy Spirit’s normal activity!”
1. God comes down
2. God’s word pierces
3. Man’s sin is seen
4. Christ’s cross is valued
5. Change 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. (It is often said that the first person to wake up during an awakening is the devil!)