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  • Writer's pictureRobin Smit

The Great Revival

This is a chapter from my book Awakened. Enjoy!

Revival is defined as…..

  • something that brings back to life the people of God from a state of slumber and apathy

  • a sovereign act of God, or a time of visitation.

  • a season when God opens the heavens and sends us times of refreshing in His presence.

I’ve definitely been in some excellent revival services in my Christian life. And I’ve experienced phenomenal times enjoying the presence of God in these services. Times of great joy and uncontainable laughter and other times of great weeping, and moments that could only be described as holy and sacred.  Times that I’ve heard such clear direction from the Lord to the point that it felt audible to me and other times of quiet intimacy, just resting in the flow of His love towards me. Times of refreshing as we prayed, repented, fasted, and earnestly sought God. Believing that He would look from Heaven and visit us if we were fervent in seeking Him. Thinking He would reward us for our diligence. But revival is an Old Testament concept.

I am so thankful that God always meets us where we are at! And equally grateful that He loves us so much that He continually calls us up higher to see from His vantage point. Because it's there that we know that we were seated with Him in those high places ALL the time!! And then we realize we have no more need for revival in our life because we are already FULLY alive IN Him!

New Testament believers interpret Acts 3:20 as a time of revival. It says, "times of refreshing come from the Presence of the Lord." The Weymouth translation uses the word revival in place of refreshing. Refreshing in the Strong's Concordance is anapsuxis, meaning recovery of breath, or breathing easily again. The root is to refresh or revive with fresh air. It’s only used this one time in the New Testament. It is preceded by verse 19, which reads "repent, therefore, and be converted (turn again) so that your sins may be blotted out." The lame man at the Gate Beautiful had just been healed, and the people were marveling at the miracle. Peter is telling the people that Jesus was crucified and that they should repent and turn back to God so that their sins could be blotted out.

Peter was still being renewed in his mind. He still thought with an old covenant mentality… which is evidenced in the story of the judgment of Ananias and Saphira. And so at this point in his life, he did not preach a FINISHED work. He still had an IF and THEN way of thinking.

The first time the word “revive” is used in the Old Testament is in Ezra, chapter 9. It is about God not forsaking them but reviving them to repair God's house and rebuild its ruins. The word used is michyah and means to preserve life and to quicken. The root of the word is chayah, which is to live. They were reminding God that He delivered them from bondage before and are asking Him to now quicken them, deliver them once again from bondage, and cause them to live again. That root word chayah is also used in Psalm 85:5-6 when the sons of Korah are asking God to show them mercy and to grant them salvation. Asking God if He will be angry with them forever and to their generations, or will He not revive them again. In other words, will He give life (chayah) to them once more?  

In Habakkuk 3:2, Habakkuk is asking God to revive (chaya), to quicken, or restore life to His works and to remember mercy and not wrath. Then David in Psalm 80 is praying for God to turn to them again and shine His face on them so that they will be saved. He prays this three times, asking God how long His anger will smolder against His people's prayers. He implores God to put His hand upon the Son of Man, the Man at His right hand, so they will not turn from God anymore. Asking Him to quicken (chayah) them, to restore them to life, so they will call upon His Name. And finally, Isaiah 57:15 also talks about God healing repentant Israel from idolatry and reviving them, restoring to life their hearts and spirits. 

So, in the Old Testament, Israel was consistently up and down. Feeling in and out of the presence and the favor of God. They would turn away from God and run headlong into idolatry, serving self and false gods. They would then be taken captive by other nations. The prophets would preach repentance, and the people, enslaved in bondage, would cry out to God for revival. Crying out for Him to save them, deliver them, have mercy on them, and withhold His anger and wrath towards them. Their lives were rooted in a mistaken identity. They had a wrong perception of God, forgetting that He was a good Father, and had a visitation theology based on their repentance.

And this seems to be the basis for revivals ever since. IF we repent and turn back to God, He will forgive our sins, and THEN we will experience seasons of refreshing in His presence. 

When it comes to crying out for revival, the church is not much different than Old Testament Israel. Western Christianity is also living a life rooted in a mistaken identity, having a wrong perception of God. Believing they are separated from Him when they sin and that He will turn His face to them and pour His favor on them IF they are sincere in their repentance. So, they pray and fast and seek His face corporately, desiring a “move of God” in their churches and in their nation, not realizing that God moves IN them. Asking God to fill their churches with His presence, not realizing that they are God's manifested presence. And so they continue crying out for revival, believing if we experience it, it means God has accepted the cry of our hearts. He has turned His face to us again to "revive" us. And our feelings of guilt and condemnation are absolved, for the moment. Because we believe that His presence is evidence (or the reward) of His acceptance of us, and we now "feel" holy and worthy again. But it's only temporary.

And we experience this cycle again and again…. up and down… always feeling in and out of His presence and His favor. Just like Old Testament Israel.

And so we continue to have revival after revival. Only to fall back into our legalistic mindset of trying to please God.

Not realizing that God isn't interested in visiting us. Why not? Because we ARE His habitation.... He doesn't visit us, He lives IN us!

And so, while it was ok for Old Testament Israel to pray and cry out to God for revival and salvation, it is not something we need to do. The things Israel prayed for, Jesus already fulfilled. And yet we still use Old Testament Scriptures to validate our desire for revival.

Habakkuk 3:2, “O LORD, I have heard the report of You; I stand in awe, O LORD, of Your deeds. Revive them in these years; make them known in these years. In Your wrath, remember mercy!”

Psalm 50:23, “He who sacrifices a thank offering honors Me, and to him who rights his way, I will show the salvation of God.”

And we continue to pray for revival, believing our praise and repentance - our righting of our ways - will bring His presence. Because we believe He will only exhibit His salvation in an atmosphere that feels welcoming to Him. Not realizing that salvation has already FULLY come and is COMPLETELY ours!

We look to Scriptures to serve as a roadmap for revival, such as….

  • 2 Chronicles 7:13-14: “IF we will humble ourselves and seek His face THEN, He will look from Heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land.”

  • Or Jeremiah 29:13, “And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

All of these Scriptures were Old Covenant Israel searching for God. Believing they had to do right and humble themselves before He would ever look at them and visit them. Asking Him to revive them so they could once again feel alive. As believers in the New Covenant, under grace, our prayers have flowed out of a wrong understanding of our relationship with God. Rooted in an IF and THEN, Old Covenant agreement with Him. He is not waiting for us to humble ourselves so that He can turn and look at us. NO! We are completely FACE TO FACE with Him IN Christ. He has already completely forgiven us and removed sin from the world. We are not to desire a visitation from Him. Why? Because He lives IN us, COMPLETELY, FULLY! We are His PERMANENT dwelling place.

Paul never prayed for revival. Not even when the Galatians had turned back to the law or when the Corinthians were steeped in sin. He NEVER preached that a revival was needed to bring people’s hearts back to God!  Why? He must’ve known that it doesn’t work. It only gives people a temporary "feel good" feeling as they become aware and feel God's presence. And the reason we experience His presence and His power in those “revivals” is that He loves us so very much! He often meets us at the point of our expectation because He is such a good Abba! His grace overtakes us despite our misunderstood theology. He always meets us where we are at.

And yes, there were great things that came out of all the revivals and great awakenings. Speaking in tongues was restored, signs, wonders, and miracles restored. And great healing evangelists came out of these revivals, men, and women, like Lillian B Yeomans, F.F. Bosworth, John G. Lake, William Branham, Oral Roberts, A.A. Allen, Jack Coe, Gordon Lindsay, and one of my absolute favorites, T.L. Osborne.

BUT all revivals eventually fizzle out, and people go back to life as usual before the revival. God doesn’t want our focus on our external experiences. He doesn't want us to host "revival services" where He can visit us. Just like He didn’t want Peter to build a tabernacle when he experienced God's glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter still had an Old Covenant visitation mindset. The tabernacle was the place of meeting between God and man. And the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  

God’s response to Peter was, “This is My Son, hear Him.”

The writer of Hebrews tells us the same thing in chapter 1…. but in these last days, He has spoken to us IN and BY His Son. The first verse says God spoke in times past to the fathers at various times and in various ways by the prophets. This was the God Peter was used to… a God who spoke at various times and in various ways, talking to them intermittently and inconsistently.

Israel was used to the occasional visitation. And they would seek after and look for that occasional visitation when He would speak through the prophets. And today, we are no different. Seeking after and looking for a visitation, God speaking through a prophet, enjoying an occasional manifestation of His glory — always living in a revival mindset.

We need to get rid of a visitation theology that desires revival. And instead, embrace a habitation mindset… an IN-dwelling mindset.

Paul knew that when people fell into wrong behavior or back to the law, what was needed was an awakening of revelation of their identity — NOT revival. Why? Because there was nothing that needed reviving. The verb to revive is defined as “to come back to life after apparent death; to be renewed or refreshed (Webster’s Dictionary).” Maybe that’s why Paul never prayed for revival. ONLY a dead man can be revived, and Paul knew that we were ALREADY COMPLETELY revived when we were made alive IN Christ. They just needed to be redirected back to identity… to that IN-dwelling mindset of ONENESS. Because His IN-dwelling COMPLETELY, FULLY altered the identity of the one in-dwelt. Changed them in every respect. He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit, HIM!  We are Him in the earth… as He is, so are we in this world. 

Paul knew that we have already been revived in THE Great Revival… the ONLY revival ever needed.

Romans 6:9-10 says, “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.”

Jesus died ONCE. Verse 11 says LIKEWISE RECKON YOURSELVES dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ.

He died ONCE — therefore, we died ONCE.  

He can never die again — therefore, we can never die again.

Remember, by definition, a revival requires a state of death…. so, only a dead man can be revived. Our co-resurrection in Him was the ultimate, one time only needed revival. He FULLY revived us IN HIM. We DIED (past tense) and now forever live in Him. We can’t die again…. we died once in Him and have been (past tense) already revived in Him. FINISHED! Any death or deadness we may feel is just that… only a feeling… a false perception. We cannot be any more alive than we already are. We can’t be any more revived than we already are.

His resurrection was THE GREAT REVIVAL of ALL time, for ALL men.

We were raised with Him, FULLY revived, quickened and made alive together with Him. Co-alive… co-resurrected… co-revived. A WHOLE revival — COMPLETE, FINISHED, ONCE IN Him. We will never again pray for revival when we grasp this because we will have awakened to His Great Revival IN us that happened two thousand plus years ago. We are sons. The cross and the resurrection brought forth a whole new (restored; FINISHED) creation of sons. I believe we are now in the beginnings of THE Great Awakening.

Romans 8:19, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the manifestation of the sons of God.”

All creation is standing on tiptoe yearning to see the unveiling of God’s sons. That is THE Great Awakening… ALL of His sons awakening to our identity as sons. Awakening to who we are IN Him… COMPLETE and FILLED with ALL of the FULLNESS of the Deity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). 

IN Him, we are WHOLE and lacking nothing. Whereas revivals are pursued out of a false sense of lack, sought by those believing that it will revive people they perceive as "dead" spiritually — i.e., sinners separated from God. Thinking that revival will expose sin in their life, causing them to repent, THEN they will be holy, righteous, and restored back to God. In other words, REVIVED! Not realizing that we were ALREADY made holy, righteous, and FACE TO FACE with Father, Son, and Spirit, two thousand years ago with no help from us.

ALL men have already been COMPLETELY co-revived IN Christ. FINISHED!

Paul understood that IN Christ, we lack nothing. As sons, we are IN the image and likeness of our Father… holy and righteous. And Paul understood that as sons, we don't need a revival… we just need an awakening of our true identity -- an identity that is COMPLETE IN Him. Awakening to the truth that we don't need to be pursuing revivals, or healings, or any other intermittent or inconsistent visitations from Him.

We only need to reckon that we are entirely 100% FULLY dead to sin and completely 100% FULLY alive IN Him.

We are His habitation, His dwelling place. FULLY redeemed IN Him -- spirit, soul, and body. Understanding that He FULLY ministered TO our sanctuary by becoming sin for us and making us righteous. And He fully ministered TO our tabernacle by being made a curse for us and redeeming us from the curse of the law. And He is NOW the Minister OF our sanctuary, our spirit, and soul. And He is equally the Minister OF our tabernacle, our physical bodies. We are limbs and parts of His body; we are flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone. We are ONE with Him.  

We can’t be any more alive than we already are. We can’t be any more righteous than we already are. We can’t be anymore healed than we already are. We can’t be any more holy than we already are. In fact, holy is our new name! 1 Corinthians 1:2 says, “To those having been sanctified in Christ, called holy…..”  We have been sanctified and are now called holy.

The word called is kaleo, which means surname. ALL mankind share the same Family name — HOLY!!

Revival in the Old Testament was because they felt separated from God. We are NOT separated from God. We are His permanent dwelling place. We merely need an awakening of revelation in us, of our identity IN Him. Awakening to the truth that we have already been FULLY revived in Him at THE Great Revival. ALL IS COMPLETELY FINISHED IN US NOW!

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