Revival is a term used to refer to spiritual awakening in the lives of Christians. In other words, Christian revival can be thought of as a renewed passion for God and devotion to Him.
Christian revival has been expressed in many ways throughout church history. The term is most often thought of in association with times of great spiritual renewal such as the First Great Awakening in the United States in the 1730s and 1740s. During this time, a renewed focus on preaching and evangelism stirred the hearts of many in ways that changed the church and society at a deep level.
In the twentieth century, revival meetings served as an important part of many Protestant churches in the United States. During these meetings, an evangelist or minister, usually from out of town, would call people to holiness and to share the gospel with the unsaved.
In addition, outreach events (often called Crusades) began to grow popular in association with the youth events of Youth for Christ. Soon, the evangelist ministry of Dr. Billy Graham emerged, popularizing the citywide crusade worldwide. Though Dr. Graham was the most popular of these leaders, many similar organizations operated throughout the twentieth century to encourage entire communities to come together for evangelism and revival.
By the end of the twentieth century and now into the twenty-first, the citywide outreaches of Dr. Graham are less common in the United States, yet similar outreaches continue to arise in other nations where the church is quickly growing, such as Brazil, India, and parts of Africa. In addition, the use of media technology continues to extend the goal of Christian revival through radio, television, print, and online strategies to take the gospel and spiritual renewal to people in many places.
Biblically, the Old Testament offers a picture of spiritual revival in the ministry of Ezra. In Nehemiah 8, Ezra read the Law before the people, calling them to repentance. The people both learned and began to apply God's teachings, showing their changed hearts.
In the New Testament, Jesus called the Ephesian Christians to "return to their first love" (Revelation 2:4-5). He called them to return to their original passion for Christ and live for Him with all of their heart.
Still today, God calls each believer to spiritual awakening. In addition, there are appropriate times for churches to focus on spiritual awakening or Christian revival, repenting of sin and seeking to live holy before the Lord.
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