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4 marks of spiritual revival: Lessons from the ‘Jesus Revolution’

Revival
UNSPLASH/Zac Durant

What my generation called “The Jesus Movement,” TIME Magazine called “The Jesus Revolution.” They were right. Revolution involves a dramatic change, a return. The same can be said of revival. Simply put, a Christian revival is a return to New Testament Christianity — the way we who follow Jesus should always live.

We need another Jesus revolution, and I believe we will see one in our lifetime. But to experience revival, we must first wake from our sleep.

So many in the church today are spiritually asleep. They are settling for a watered-down form of the Christian faith. This is not the form of the Christian faith that changed the world in the first century — the faith that changed families, countries and cultures. As evangelist and Bible scholar G.Cambell Morgan once stated: “Organized Christianity that fails to make a disturbance is dead.”

But God has laid out a plan for our redemption: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

As someone who lived through the “The Jesus Movement” and came to faith as a result of it, I can recall several earmarks of that time:

There was a sense of expectancy at every gathering

No one was ever late for church. If you were, you wouldn’t find a seat. We were there consistently and punctually, knowing that the Holy Spirit would show up.

The Word of God was always taught

This consistency and commitment to the Bible gave us stability as we learned from Scripture. Like sponges, we soaked up everything and looked forward to the teaching each week. Verse by verse and chapter by chapter, my mentor and friend, the late Pastor Chuck Smith, brought the pages of the Bible to life.

People were open to the work of the Holy Spirit

We used cutting-edge technology (i.e., cassette tapes!) to share our hope. We took chances — I preached for the first time at Pirate’s Cove. (This may mean something to you if you're from California. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, Google it.)  We were careful to base all we did on the unshakable foundation of Scripture. In fact, my life was changed by the “Jesus Freaks” who took the time to tell me the truth about the hope I was searching for.

People invited non-believers to church and told them about Jesus

Because we believed Jesus could return at any time, we felt a sense of urgency in sharing his Good News. We invited people to church, and people came to know Jesus at every service. In Acts 2:47, we learn that “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” New believers were and still are the lifeblood of the Church. The Christian Church today has a choice to either evangelize or fossilize. If a Church does not have a constant flow of new believers, it will grow stagnant.

Gen Z is the loneliest generation, even more, depressed and despondent after a year of lockdowns. In April 2020, incidents of self-harm among 13- to 18-year-olds rose 99.8%, overdoses rose 119%, generalized anxiety rose 94% and major depressive disorders rose 84%. Our basic human desires, such as connection, love, acceptance, peace, and safety, never change. Thankfully, neither does Jesus (Hebrews 13:8). But as Apostle Paul asks, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14).

Despite all this, Millennials in the Church today tend to not share their faith with others. One study noted, “Almost half of Millennial Christians (47%) agree at least somewhat that it is wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will one day share the same faith.”

If we desire revival, then we need to encourage these younger generations to pick up the baton of the Gospel. We need to pray and prepare the ground for God to move by doing our part: teaching them, mentoring them, and loving them.

R.A. Torrey, founder of the Bible Institute Of Los Angeles (BIOLA), had a prescription for revival. He advised:

“Let a few Christians (they need not be many) get thoroughly right with God. Let them commit themselves to pray for revival until God opens the windows of heaven and comes down. Let them put themselves at the disposal of God.”

The “Jesus Revolution” of my time followed this formula and changed the world.

So, I pray: Lord, do it again.

Lord, may it begin with us.

Greg Laurie is the Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship and the speaker at the Harvest Crusades. He is also the author of Lennon, Dylan, Alice and Jesus: A Spiritual Biography of Rock And Roll.

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