I think Leonard Ravenhill had the best definition of revival that I've heard. Ravenhill said this: “Revival is when God gets so sick and tired of being misrepresented that he shows up himself”, and I think that's what revival is.
Now we should delineate between revival and awakening. I think awakening is what happens when the Spirit moves in the world; revival is so much harder because it’s when God has to pry away what’s easy from his church.
What I see in revival is God is coming back to do something in his church first. I think it's when God comes back first to his church to make sure that it’s a place where there is a harvest and the seed can be thrown out from that good ground. He's doing something through both conviction and exposure. I think it is what we've seen happening interdenominationally. We see it happening all over.
When God comes back to his house and starts cleaning it up, it’s for a reason. It is disciplinary, but it is also preparation. When all of a sudden we have plastered across the news that there are atrocities happening within certain denominations and that certain high profile people have fallen into sin or been revealed in sinful lifestyles, my heart breaks for that. I grieve for those churches and the people who have been hurt in those situations.
That said, there's also something in me that thinks, “God, this is not just disciplinary. This is preparation because you want this church to be a place for people to come when you start bringing in a harvest of people.” This calls to mind Paul’s cry to the church. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2, ESV).
I'll tell you what; seeing this, while it sometimes hurts my heart, also makes me excited when I think about what God is doing in the church today and what he’s preparing us for. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!
After pastoring an inner-city congregation in Detroit for thirty years, Pastor Tim served at Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for five years and pastored in Lafayette, Louisiana, for five years. He became Senior Pastor of Times Square Church in May of 2020.