Revival Definitions

What is a Revival?

Few people today understand the definition of revival. They are unfamiliar with the historic events during the past several centuries wherein individuals and whole congregations had visitations from God that brought radical upheavals. These visitations of God inspired and filled believers with so much evangelistic passion—and power—that hundreds of thousands of people were swept into the Kingdom of God in the space of a just a few years.

Below is how several authors have defined revival.


Some people think revival takes place when an evangelist preaches a protracted set of meetings in a church that last several days or even weeks. Others may think revival is a style of worship or preaching. Yet, revival is not something we do, but what God does in and through us.          —Todd Rhoades

Revival is when God reveals Himself in awesome holiness and irresistible power. It is when He visits the world of men to impart a fresh vision of His glory and grace and simultaneously to reveal man’s sinfulness, inadequacy and desperate need of God’s mercy. During times of revival God’s people are restored from backsliding, carelessness and inactivity. They become preoccupied with the things of God. They become intensely prayerful, attending God’s house more frequently for fellowship and worship. They develop a hunger for the preached word which illuminates and powerfully penetrates the hearts of its hearers, bringing conviction and response. Believers develop a passion for souls and become deeply concerned about the spiritual welfare of the lost.  —Arthur Wallis

Revival is a strange and sovereign work of God in which he visits his own people, restoring, reanimating, and releasing them into the fullness of his blessing.  —Stephen Olford

Revival, in many respects, replicates the believer’s experience when they were first saved. It is initiated by a prompting of the Holy Spirit, creating an awareness of something missing or wrong in the believer’s life that can only be righted by God.  —S. Michael Houdmann

Revival happens both personally and corporately. Personal revival happens when the Holy Spirit renews the heart and mind of an individual. The Spirit renews and revives us when we pray and seek his face. Corporate revival comes about when the Holy Spirit brings renewal to a church or a movement. The end results in church revival is that Jesus is Lord, the Holy Spirit is unleashed, and the Father is glorified, the church is edified, and the lost are evangelized.  —Alvin Reid and Malcolm McDow

Revival has to do with God’s people. We sometimes say, at the risk of being misunderstood, that we do not pray for revival in order that souls may be saved, but souls are saved in the thousands when we have revival.  —Duncan Campbell

Revival is a return to spiritual health after a period of spiritual decline into sin and broken fellowship with God.  —Henry Blackaby

Revival occurs when God restores spiritual health and vitality to His people.  —Henry Blackaby

Revival is a community saturated with God. That is the difference between revival and evangelism. In successful evangelism, in successful crusades, you have ten, you have twenty saved here, you have a hundred brought to Christ there, but the community remains unchanged.  —Duncan Campbell

Revival is a divine visitation, a sovereign work of God—in answer to sincere, prevailing prayer. During a revival God will:

1. Grip His people with deep conviction, repentance, forgiveness, and deliverance from personal sins.

2. Fill His people with the Holy Spirit and manifest through them the fruit and graces of the Holy Spirit.

3. Fill the church and community with His presence and power.

4. Cause non-Christians to earnestly seek Him.

5. Ignite in His people, young and old, a passion to bring the lost to Christ at home and around the world.”  —Bill Bright

Revival is a time of personal humility, forgiveness, and restoration in the Holy Spirit, wherein obvious and secret sins are repented of. Revival comes to scorch before it heals.  It comes to condemn ministers and people for their unfaithful witness, for their selfish living, for their neglect.  —Bill Bright

Biblical Definition of Revival

Revive (Strongs 2421) = to live, whether literally or figuratively; causatively, to revive: quicken, recover, repair, restore (to life), revive.

1. Literally = “to start again”

a. Arouse; bounce back; brighten; encourage; energize; enliven; rally; recondition; recover; refresh; rejuvenate; resuscitate; renovate; revitalize, rouse, strengthen, touch up, wake up.

b. Jacob was revived when he heard that Joseph was alive (Gen. 45:26-27).

c. Food revived an Egyptian David found in the field (1 Sam. 30:11-12).

d. Elijah’s prayer revived a child from the dead (1 Kgs. 17:22).

e. The body of a dead man, while being placed in a grave, came into contact with the bones of Elisha’s dead body. The recently deceased man revived (2 Kgs.. 13:21).

2. Revival speaks clearly to God’s work within the believer.

3. As the Psalmist encounters various events and struggles in life, he calls for God to revive his spirit (Ps. 51:9-13). Difficulties, afflictions, trials can wear down even the best among us.

4. In Neh. 8-10, we see that after turning to the Word of God, and reading it for several hours, God’s people:

a. Began to weep.

b. Restored worship and the prescribed feasts.

c. Humbled themselves in fasting.

d. Confessed their sin, as well as those of their fathers.

e. Resolved (vowed) to correct areas in their lives that were not honoring to God, even signing a covenantal agreement between themselves and God.

5. When believers lapse into spiritual apathy, neglect or sinful lifestyles, the Lord will speak to the leaders of a fellowship of believers to revive them (Rev. 2-3).

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