Matthew 5:17 Ministries

What Is True Biblical Revival?

“God is the decisive giver of all spiritual life, so ask for a fresh outpouring of his live-giving Spirit.” – John Piper.

With the recent revival that has been taking place at Asbury college and lasting days, according to reports, I would like to explore what complete Biblical revival is. The unfortunate reality is that humans, even those who are a part of G-d’s covenant family, from time to time drift into a kind of lifelessness and even entirely fall away at times. When this happens, you get the need for the hope of reviving, coming back to life — a fresh outpouring of G-d’s life-giving Spirit on his people. But what does true revival look like from a Biblical perspective? Are there any examples in Scripture?

The First Recorded Revival

The first account of revival in Scripture is in Exodus 32-35.

Impatience lay at the root of this sin of Israel. They cannot wait. Remember that in chapters 19-25, they had just received the Torah. Where had Moses gone? To make matters worse, in Exodus 19:8 that people had already agreed to do all that G-d had instructed. And now they were breaking that covenant, violating G-d’s instructions, and falling into spiritual corruption. Because of their rebelliousness, they build for themselves a golden image, which G-d had warned them not to do.

Moses then appeals to G-d through his self-chosen relationship with Israel and by all he has done for them in the past. Next, he appeals to the need for G-d to vindicate his name (verse 12). Lastly, he appeals to the tremendous patriarchal promises (verse 13). Put briefly; this prayer appeals to G-d by the consistency of his nature, a declaration of confidence in his revealed will. It brings the saving acts of the Exodus into a direct lineal relationship with the acts of G-d done for Abraham.

G-d then “repents.” The meaning is not that G-d changed his mind. It means, in biblical terms, that he now embarked on a different course of action from that already suggested as a possibility, owing to some new factor usually mentioned in the context. In the Bible, it is clear that G-d’s promises and warnings are always conditional on our response: this is most clearly set out in Ezekiel 33:13–16.

We are not to think of Moses as altering G-d’s purpose towards Israel by this prayer, but as carrying it out: Moses shared G-d’s mind and loving purpose. Finally, we see the giving of the new stone tablets; the proclamation of G-d’s name; the making of the first renewed covenant; and the listing of demands that spring from the covenant. The renewal of the covenant was the start of the revival of Isreal, and the response was returning to the Torah.

True Biblical revival leads to Torah.

The account in Exodus is just one of many examples of revival. When we read Isreal’s history, we see that anything in scripture called “revival” leads back to The Torah. While the modern Christian concept, like what is reportedly happening at these colleges now and many other similar accounts in America over the years, has no biblical parallel, if we were to call anything in Scripture a revival, it is always a returning to Torah. We must stop referring to spontaneous worship, sensationalism, alleged outbreaks of miracles and healing, and other things such as “revival.” Not only are these all things that Satan can mimic, but we also have passages like Matthew 7:21-23 to consider.

True biblical revival would have to involve a return to The Torah and a hunger to follow G-d’s Law. Satan is the lawless one, according to scri[ture. The only thing he cannot imitate is the Torah-keeping and transforming faith. So the only biblical guideline by which we could distinguish a genuine move of G-d’s Spirit from a movement of Satanic deception would be whether or not there is a drive toward the commandments of G-d. So I have no doubt there is a significant religious experience at Asbury University and other reported locations. Still, I have a lot of reservations in saying this is a true revival.

Instead of jumping on the hype bandwagon, we need to wait this out and see the fruit. If this is not of G-d, it won’t last, but if it is of G-d, nobody can stop it…, and I will add, if it is from G-d, it WILL lead to people embracing and returning to The Torah. Suppose it does not lead to embracing The Torah. In that case, it is not of G-d, and it is not a revival at all… but rather just another setting in of the grand delusion of lawlessness where people will come to believe that because they were “in revival,” they are “more solid in their salvation.”

I know this sounds “negative,” and people do not like that. But sometimes, a reality check is needed. I do hope that whatever is happening now leads to the ultimate biblical goal of this “revival” concept, which is embracing the Torah. But if this “revival,” like many others before it, comes and goes and nothing changes and the people remain antinomian Christians, you will know it was not a genuine move of G-d. We need and should be asking G-d for a fresh and genuine outpouring of the Spirit that leads us back to The Torah.