Certain things in life seem at first glance to be contradictory. When in fact, to be understood, they must be regarded as a whole.
For example, there is a common misconception that the God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath, judgment and righteousness, whilst the God of the New Testament is a God of love, mercy and forgiveness. Taken separately, they seem to be polar opposites. Did God change dramatically between the Old and New Testament timelines? Of course not! God is both a God of judgment and of mercy. To separate the two is to attempt to diminish who He is! It cannot be done! It MUST not be done…
Take the two opposing views of people. You might say that everyone is evil at heart. That we are worthless, selfish, wretches, deserving of nothing but eternal condemnation. Conversely, you might say that since God loved us enough to save us that we are of infinite value and should never feel unworthy. Either view taken alone is incomplete. We are certainly undeserving sinners, but God has also placed an inherent value on every human life. There is a balance to be found here.
Yet another example is the debate between the intellectualists and the emotionalists. One side claims that true faith is understood in the mind, and that emotions only serve to confuse and mislead us. The other makes the assertion that that real faith comes from the heart, and that any attempt to work out our faith in our minds will only lead us away from it. Both camps are absolutely wrong! Is it possible that our soul is merely the combination of our minds and hearts? If so, then our faith must be a part of both. Reason alone guides us to humanism. Feeling alone guides us to everything under the sun, as long as it feels nice. The mind tempers the heart, and the heart inspires the mind. Faith must firmly take root in both if it is to survive.
Revivals and religions are often geared towards the ideas of either faith or works. Some emphasize nothing but faith to the point of belittling any virtuous actions as an attempt to “buy” salvation. Others insist that we must do enough good works in order to “earn” our salvation. Yet again, neither could be further from the truth. There is a synergy that exists between real faith and the actions that back it up. Works will not save you, but neither can a mere claim to be “Christian” save you. It’s easy to “talk a good talk” but when push comes to shove Jesus was right: you can know His followers by their fruits. If they show no evidence of their faith by their works, then their faith is dead. They no longer follow Him.
So-called revivals in America are very emotional occasions. Attendance numbers swell, people cry, great claims are made by people about their faith. But where does it go from there? It’s typically short-lived. Look to the churches in modern America. They are devoid of the good fruit that we expect from them. Even worse than bearing no fruit at all, they bear the fruit of evil. Everything looks fine in the middle of a “revival” but it doesn’t take long for reality to set in. It doesn’t take long for “faith” to be stuck in a box, only to be pulled out on Sunday morning. Genuine faith—real revival—will only ever produce dramatic change. It becomes so much a part of your life that every single area of it is touched by your faith. It changes you in ways that will astonish those who have known you since childhood. The change is so complete that everyone who knows you knows that there is just something different about you, without you ever having to say a word. But what does that mean practically?
It means that because of the compassion that Christ has shown us, we stop tearing people down and instead encourage and build them up. It means that because we feel the serious responsibility of God’s command to teach our children His ways, we choose to teach them at home rather than handing them over to Caesar’s schools. It means that we take to heart God’s commands to be honest and fair with everyone, and conduct our business dealings in such a way that people know that we are trustworthy because we have shown it to be true. It means that we base our social and political opinions on nothing but Scripture, even though it leads to us being ridiculed by many. It means that every time we write or speak, we filter our words through His Word. This intense, passionate faith affects every decision and every action in ALL facets of our lives; IT MUST!
Nothing less can be considered revival.