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Here is how J. I. Packer answers that question in his essay, “The Glory of God and the Reviving of Religion” in A God-Entranced Vision of All Things (pp. 100-104):

Revival is God touching minds and hearts in an arresting, devastating, exalting way, to draw them to himself through working from the inside out rather than from the outside in.

It is God accelerating, intensifying, and extending the work of grace that goes on in every Christian's life, but is sometimes overshadowed and somewhat smothered by the impact of other forces.

It is the near presence of God giving new power to the gospel of sin and grace.

It is the Holy Spirit sensitizing souls to divine realities and so generating deep-level responses to God in the form of faith and repentance, praise and prayer, love and joy, works of benevolence and service and initiatives of outreach and sharing.

What is the pattern of genuine revival? Packer suggests the following ten elements:

  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.

For more on revival, keep your eye out for the book coming out this Fall from ZondervanA God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories that Stretch and Stir, by Collin Hansen and John Woodbridge.

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7 thoughts on “What Is Revival?”

  1. Chris Wiles says:

    Having grown up in an Armininian-type context, “revival” for me carries the connotation of “regaining” salvation through recommitment. Since then I’ve generally avoided the subject, feeling it “outdated” and archaic (which is admittedly naive of me to think so). I’d be interested in reading more on the subject, particularly the role of revival in today’s context.

  2. Matt Elliott says:

    I’m reading a good book on this topic. It has similar conclusions to what you’ve shared here. Its by Stephen Olford – Heart Cry For Revival.

  3. Gunner says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Justin. This is very encouraging and clear.

  4. David Patton says:

    One unmentioned element that occurs, witnessed in our church in Ft Worth,Tx in 1993 and again in 1994: denominational and factional walls joyfully come tumbling down.

    For example there is a woman, who we affectionately call “sister Catholic”, who is now on staff in the media dept. She was plucked up from the desert of the religious system and replanted by the river of living waters.

    The Holy Spirit is given to God’s people for many wonderful ministrations and administrations. For any believer to grieve, or ignore, or minimize His importance is to desire desolation over life.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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