[Words & book list curated by Ps Robert Fergusson]
The word ‘revival’ suggests previous life. Thus it is primarily for believers not for unbelievers. Unbelievers, according to Selwyn Hughes, “…don’t need revival: they need a resurrection”.
Christmas Evans once wrote, “…Revival is God bending down to the dying embers of a fire that is just about to go out, and breathing into it, until it bursts again into flame…”. This re-ignition of God’s fire is a perfect picture of a spiritual revival. It is a re-awakening. A return to a former glory. Or as Martin Lloyd Jones says, “…A return to Pentecost…”
The spiritual revivals in the Bible, and church history, including Pentecost, are sovereign works of God. J. Edwin Orr suggests that the phrase “…times of refreshing may come from the Lord…” (Acts 3:19) is, “…one of the best definitions of revival in the Bible…” If he is right, then it is not for us, “…to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority…” (Acts 1:7). We just need to wait for God’s initiative.
So, is there anything we can do to promote revival?
Well, two things are in our hands:
Firstly, the Bible says, “…Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets…” (Amos 3:7). We can, at least, be sensitive to God’s timing.
And secondly, the Bible says, “…Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…” (Acts 3:19).
We can turn towards God now. And maybe we can not only promote revival but also prepare for it.
Here are a few books which may help in that preparation:
Revival – Times of Refreshing by Selwyn Hughes
- An excellent summary of the theology and history of spiritual revival.
True Stories of the Miracles of Azusa Street and Beyond by Tommy Welchel
- An inspiring collection of miraculous healings from the Azusa Street revival.
Great Revivalists by John Peters
- A brief overview of some of the key characters in a number of well-known revivals.
Great Revivals by Colin Whittaker
- A detailed and well-written book about some of the great revivals in history.
Revival Fire by Wesley Duewell
- A comprehensive and inspiring book about Biblical and historical awakenings.
God’s Generals by Roberts Liardon
- A great overview of twelve revivalists including Roberts, Seymour and Wigglesworth.
God’s Generals II by Roberts Liardon
- A great summary of six reformers including Luther, Calvin and Knox.
Prayer: Key to Revival by Paul Y Cho
- A classic book on the foundations of prayer as a catalyst for renewal.
The Revivals of the Bible by Ernest Baker
- A simple but helpful overview of Biblical revivals including under Josiah and at Pentecost.
Sermons on Revival by C.H. Spurgeon
- A classic collection of sermons about revival by the great nineteenth-century preacher.