In recent years, God has been giving different people a vision for revival that involves great numbers of people turning to follow Jesus. History has so many stories of how the Spirit of God has brought revival to different places that it is easy to see it happening again. But will this revival be like those of the past? What truly is revival?
The word revival means “to live again.” This means that God is moving to restore life to His people. This is not simply a feeling of energy or freedom; it is life as He designed.
1 John 3:14
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
The focus of revival is bringing people out of death and into life. What is death? It is the state of lovelessness, a realm of life dominated by selfishness and sin. And what is life?
Deuteronomy 30:6, 19-20a (NASB, emphasis added)
“Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live…I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him [davaq, becoming one with Him]; for this is your life…”
In these verses, Moses gives us some more detail about what it means to truly live. Here we find the three pillars of life: love, intimacy, and unity.
Love: Our call is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. If we let God change our hearts with His power and love, we will live. Life is a state of selfless love.
Intimacy: All intimacy is built on communication. As we hear and obey the voice of God, our intimate knowledge of God increases, and we feel more alive.
Unity: The word davaq means to fuse together and make one. We were created to be one with Jesus. A life of wholehearted, selfless love is entirely impossible outside of our unity with Jesus. But when we let Him live through us, it is more than possible; it is easy. We are in Christ and He is in us. We are one with Him.
By necessity, a true revival will include all three of these pillars. People will fall in love with God and devote their lives to following His voice and living in union with Him. The first outworking of such a revival will be that people start to meet together in small groups with a mandate of love. This love will lead them to selflessly invest in each other and to carry the good news of God’s love to the world.
During the Welsh Revival, Rees Howells spoke of losing so many new believers because “there were more children born than there were nurses to tend them.” In contrast, the Wesleyan Revival was spread by people whose primary focus was calling people to repent and devote their lives to loving God. Their focus on the first command led the leaders to establish societies, which were built upon small groups they called classes. These classes were intimate meetings which made space for confession, testimony, discipleship and encouragement. This is where the first command was not only preached but lived out in relationship. The big public meetings were valuable to send out sparks, but the small group meetings were where the fire of revival was truly burning.
If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
In this present revival, God is restoring the first command to first place. He is restoring the foundations of love, intimacy and unity in the body of Christ. He is raising up His body to become known in the world by their love for one another. However, while God is moving in true revival, the enemy is also moving with a counterfeit “revival.” In this passage, Moses warns that God will permit false prophets and dreamers to perform signs and wonders that will come true. They will say “come let us go after another god.” Like Aaron in the wilderness who claimed that a golden calf was the true God, these people will call people to follow a false representation of Jesus. This could be a Jesus who loves us so much that He would never discipline or correct us, but rather just continually wash away our sin as fast as we can practice it. This could be a Jesus who does not truly care about holiness, repentance or the circumcision of the heart. Or it could be a Father who lords over us as a hard employer, rewarding our obedience and punishing our disobedience. People are preaching many different distortions of God, and often with signs and wonders. Our call is to be discerning, and discernment begins not with our knowledge of Scripture but with our devotion to wholehearted love. We must test everything against the standard of love. Does the teaching express the love of God? Does it call us to a life of selfless love? Or does it appeal to our selfish desires? If we are not truly devoted to loving God with all our heart and soul, then we will find it difficult not to be deceived in the days ahead. We must decide: we will choose a life of selfless love?
This post is taken from the 16th chapter of And He Will. Get your free copy.
 We look in detail at each of these areas in the book, First Love.
 Rees Howells, Intercessor by Norman Grubb, Chapter 4.