By Mike Chitwood
A few months ago at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Alexander City, Alabama where the Lord has allowed me to pastor, we held revival services. It was a great time as the Lord blessed our congregation through our guest preacher Rev. Jason Brown. By God’s grace we even saw one person profess Christ as their Lord and Savior and he will be baptized later this week. Sunday was truly a time of rejoicing and we pray the Lord will continue to drawl people to repentance. After all we can hold a revival service at anytime, but revival only happens through the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, as a congregation it is essential we seek the Lord through so He will move in the hearts of people to bring glory to Himself.
So since revival is dependent on the Lord, is revival the only thing needed? No, because too often Christians pray for revival when we need to pray for an awakening of one’s soul, and I believe there is a difference between the two. The issue in some churches is that some Christians may not actually be saved and if this is the case then revival does not apply to them. Scripturally, Ephesians 2:1-10 helps distinguish between a revival and an awakening. Specifically, Ephesians 2:5 says,
“Even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.”
Simply put, a dead person cannot revive himself or herself; it takes the intervention of another and this usually occurs when one is not really dead. However, in Ephesians 2:1-10 and in verse five we clearly see that “we were dead in our trespasses.” In other words, we did not need reviving; we needed an awakening. This can only come from the atoning work of Jesus who calls people to repentance, which means one believes in faith, that Christ is God’s good news to redeem fallen humanity. For anyone who comes from a revivalist tradition this is important because often people say “we want revival in our land,” meaning, we want to see people saved through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But, revival can only apply to current Christians who repent of a current sinful lifestyle. As a result, Christians should pray for revival among other Christians AND WE SHOULD ALSO pray for an awakening within those who have not been saved by the grace of God through faith and in Christ, those who are not Christians.
The difference between a revival in one’s life and an awakening is important because it affects how we view the Gospel. By simply praying for revival we infer that we are good people who simply need a spiritual pick-me-up. However, Romans 3:10-12 says different,
“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
We are not good people who need a spiritual makeover. To say otherwise is to speak of Christ’s death in vain. No, we are wretches that need an awakening from Christ because we have “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Jesus is the gospel good news that we can never be and as the good news Jesus is able to supernaturally initiate both Christians and non-Christians towards repentance that then involves a persons believing through faith. It is only the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that can awaken or revive our souls in His daily transformation of our lives that can then give all the glory to God.
So there is a difference between revival and an awakening. The question is, which do you need? If you are not a Christian repent and accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God and redemption for your life today. If you are a Christian repent of any sinful lifestyle you may now occupy. Regardless of where you are spiritually, Jesus is lovingly willing to welcome you home into His arms when you are ready to turn away from your sin and embrace His hope that is far greater than anything your current life offers. Now is your time!
(This post is by my friend Mike Chitwood. He is the pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Alexander City, AL and a Chaplain in the Alabama National Guard. Each week he and I will be sharing various posts on one another’s blog. You can view his blog HERE.)