There has been much discussion among Baptists and considerable coverage in the media regarding the revival in Jena, La. Many are beginning to ask what genuine revival might look like, and if revival such as the one in Jena might spark a spiritual awakening across our land.
Unfortunately, many modern movements claiming the name “revival,” do not meet the criteria for being either biblical or balanced. So what is the nature of healthy, biblical revival, and how do we seek God for such a nation-changing blessing? Though not an exhaustive list, The Baptist Messenger believes Gregory Frizzell, prayer and spiritual awakening specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, is correct when he points to at least five characteristics that are central to genuine revival such as the one in Jena.
According to Frizzell’s extensive study of spiritual awakening, biblical revival first springs from prayer that is fervent, corporate and kingdom-focused. (Matt. 6:33; 18:19; Acts 2:1) Prayer which brings revival is heavily centered on holiness, reconciliation and salvation. The central focus is not physical needs or earthly desires. While God certainly meets earthly needs, that is never the predominate focus in true revival. Genuine revival is about eternal souls and repentance, not sensationalism. As believers unite in urgent prayer for holiness and evangelism, God moves in awesome power.
Frizzell believes history has proven biblical revival is centered on Jesus Christ and His awesome presence, not men or programs. (1 Cor. 1:26-31; Heb. 13:8) While God certainly uses key people, the focus is on Christ, not personalities. The healthiest revivals often then spread from village to village through people who are humble and empowered, though not necessarily famous. True revivals are only explained by a sovereign move of Holy God. He gets all the glory!
Biblical revival that is characterized by Scripture-based preaching brings deep brokenness, prompt obedience and full repentance according to Frizzell. (2 Chron. 7:14; 2 Cor. 7:1; James 5:16) We agree with Frizzell when he says it is vital for believers to obey promptly when God’s Spirit speaks. Pride must be surrendered and humble confessions made. Many revivals start when a single individual obeys God’s voice in public repentance.
Frizzell has also determined that biblical revival also centers on powerful reconciliation of family, church and community relationships. (Matt. 5:23-24; 6:14-15; John. 13:34) Rifts that have been denied or ignored for years are ignored no more. Believers suddenly realize no one can be right with God while remaining wrong with another human being. As people give and receive forgiveness, God’s Spirit moves like a flood.
Finally, biblical revival is about burning passion and power for evangelism. (Acts 1:8; 2:42-47) When God sends revival, numbers of conversions typically explode many-fold, not a few percentage points. Furthermore, the results are dramatic, lasting “conversions,” not surface “decisions” that quickly fall away. Throughout all Christian history, the most explosive evangelism comes from a cleansed, revived Church. True revival is the power for lasting, sweeping evangelism!
While these five characteristics outlined by Frizzell may sound daunting, we must remember one glorious truth. What is impossible with men is possible with God! What God is doing in Jena, La. definitely meets all the above criteria. What seemed like a most unlikely place became an example of hope for a nation. Will there be sweeping revival in Oklahoma and America? The jury is still out and the verdict depends on two specific actions: (1) that churches thoroughly examine themselves by the five biblical patterns and (2) make the necessary adjustments to seriously seek God’s face.
It is the desire of The Baptist Messenger to pray for and promote nothing less than “genuine” revival. To God’s praise, there are signs of hope! To learn more about genuine revival and spiritual awakening, contact Frizzell and the BGCO office of prayer and spiritual awakening at 405/942-3800.