WHAT REAL REVIVAL LOOKS LIKE
SOMEONE ASKED for my thoughts concerning the revival reportedly taking place in Asbury, KY. I replied that I didn't know enough about it to comment, but that I hope and pray that real revival is taking place there and would break out all across our country. . My friend's question did start me thinking about what I know of the history of revivals and what real revival has looked like.
During and after the revival that came to Wales over half the bars went out of business and the donkeys and mules used by miners were too confused to respond to the commands used by their masters who refused to curse; churches that for years were emptied and being emptied were packed out by attendees. This is what real revival looks like.
In the early part of the 20th. century, a young journalist named Bruce Barton was told to investigate the results of three of Billy Sunday’s city-wide campaigns in hopes of finding something negative to “expose.” Barton wrote: “I talked to the merchants and they told me that during the meetings and afterward people paid bills that were so old that had been written off the books.” One chamber of commerce said, “I am not a member of any church. I never attend, but I’ll tell you one thing. If it were proposed to me now to bring Billy Sunday to this town, and if we knew as much about the results of his work in advance as we do now, and if the churches would not raise the necessary funds to bring him, I could raise the money in half a day from men who never go to church. He left a different moral atmosphere.” The intended “exposure” became a tribute to the cleansing power of the Spirit-filled message of Christ. This is what real revival looks like.
One of Billy Graham’s meetings in Shreveport, Louisiana was typical of his early evangelistic campaigns. Liquor sales there dropped by 40% and the sale of Bibles increased 300%. During and after a meeting in Seattle, Washington courthouses were shocked by the number of impending divorce actions that were cancelled. City officials, after a campaign in Greensboro, NC reported in the newspaper: “The entire social structure of the city was changed.” This is what real revival looks like.
Now and then we’re told of great revivals that have taken place or are taking place somewhere. But no such results are seen as described above. We want real revival, and we desperately need it. But real revival can be seen (Acts 11:2). There is a powerful supernatural antiseptic power in real revival that cleanses and changes people in unmistakable ways that can’t be ignored.
People sometimes want something that isn’t real to be real so badly that they think wishing so will make it so; but displays of religious emotion and well-intentioned wishful thinking is not a substitute for real revival. And real revival is always authenticated by changed lives.