Revival Begins With Oneself

We Christians want a revival in our own ministries, churches, nation and world. But no revival happens corporately before it happens individually. No revival happens in non-Christians unless it first happens in Christians. In Isa 6:1-7 Isaiah saw God who is holy and a revival began in him. No revival ever happens without seeing the (“triple”) holy God (Isa 6:3; Rev 4:8). Meeting God transformed him from a “regular” believer to a “revived” believer. There are at least 4 signs of revival in Isaiah (4 ways to assess whether or not there is a revival in ourselves).

  • Sin. Isaiah had an acute awareness of his sin. Christians often treat their sins lightly, while blasting others for their sin. When Isaiah met God, he cried out, “Woe to me! I am ruined!” (Isa 6:5) Some Christians say, “Yeah, I sinned. But that guy’s sin makes me sick!” No one senses their sin without seeing God. A revival begins with honest self-criticism and personal repentance, while “regular” Christians are often moralistic and judgmental.
  • Sanctification. When Isaiah felt the pangs of death of his sins and guilt, he experienced God’s cleansing, forgiveness, newness of life (Isa 6:6-7) and times of refreshing (Acts 3:19). But one who treats their sins lightly experience dryness, deadness and defeat.
  • Sent. Isaiah was ready to be sent by God to his people to share the message of God. But it didn’t go well for him. His message was resisted. His life was hard. The people’s response was progressive hardness of heart leading to God’s wrath and judgment upon his entire people.
  • Salvation. However, God would preserve a remnant through Isaiah’s ministry. Though his people were cut down, “the holy seed will be the stump in the land” (Isa 6:13). A remnant of holy people would be preserved.

Colson experienced a revival when he met God newly. After becoming a committed Christian, Chuck Colson wrote: “By the end of the sixth lecture (of R.C. Sproul’s tapes on the holiness of God) I was on my knees, deep in prayer, in awe of God’s absolute holiness. It was a life-changing experience as I gained a completely new understanding of the holy God I believe in and worship. My spiritual drought ended, but this taste for the majesty of God only made me thirst for more of him.” (Loving God, pp. 14–15)

Job was a devout man of prayer, a man who feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1). But after losing virtually everything–wealth, children, health–he met God newly and said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).

Is anything happening in me or my ministry? I cannot force/create a revival. No one can. But I can strive to intentionally and continually seek to see God in his holiness and pray. Do you experience a revival in yourself?


  1. Joseph R

    I have met mature Christians who ‘recommitted [their] life to Christ’. This sounds both good and bad. Good because you are admitting that you are repenting for sins you committed. Bad because you were dwelling in sins you were not or have stopped dwelling in before.

    ‘Regular Christians’ and ‘revived Christians’ are hard for me to understand. Everyday is a choice to be revived. A choice to go closer or walk away from God. Reviving in Christians should be done regularly. Regular Christians should be revived daily.

    I slept for five hours in the middle of the afternoon yesterday. I woke up realizing how much time I had wasted… and I can easily say I slept for the glory of God. Yet, I have to admit I was being lazy and did not need to sleep that much in the middle of the day. So I prayed and repented and in my heart I asked God to help me glorify Him because I continually give in to my own desire (sleeping way too much). Yesterday was an experience I would consider a ‘revival’.

    We simply cannot draw a line to what can be considered a revival or not. This is hard for me to understand. How can a ‘regular’ Christian not experience ‘revival’ in a moment to moment basis?

  2. Hi Joseph,

    J.I. Packer, the renowned theologian, scholar and author, once said, “Do not neglect the revival component in your ministry.”

    What you shared about oversleeping is good, though sleeping because you need rest is not a sin. I would feel pretty crummy myself if I felt I just wasted my day doing unproductive things.

    Perhaps, “regular” and “revived” are not optimal terms, that might seem to be judging, critiquing, evaluating and categorizing people. That is not my intention.

    My point is that when we truly see God, as Isaiah, Job, and Colson did through the workings of the Holy Spirit in them, they could never be the same again. This, I believe, is true of anyone who truly meets God “anew.”

    No revival in ministry ever happens without a revival and fire of the Holy Spirit in oneself. It is, I believe, a deep sense of awe that God is doing something great and miraculous and supernatural in our midst.

    If there is no revival or fire in oneself, then Christian life, church, and ministry is simply “business as usual,” doing routine Christian activities that have not resulted in anything significant for years or even decades, other than proving to themselves and their church that they are “faithful” and “committed” to God.

    I just read this: IF YOU KEEP DOING WHAT YOU’VE BEEN DOING, YOU’LL KEEP GETTING WHAT YOU’RE BEEN GETTING. These words greet many missionaries as they commence Church Planting Movements (CPM) training. It has become something of a mantra that some CPM trainers have used to jolt frustrated missionaries out of their fruitless patterns and into new ways of looking at their community and ministry.

    What frustrated unproductive Christians and missionaries need is a revival that begins within oneself. The revival only happens when we see God and perceive His real presence with us. It is mystical, but it is a tangible reality that is recorded repeatedly through out the Bible.

  3. Here’s more J.I. Packer on revival, which seems to describe corporately what Isaiah experienced personally:

    “In times of revival, there is a deep awareness of God’s presence and an inescapable sense of being under his eye; spiritual things become overwhelmingly real and the truth of God becomes overwhelmingly powerful, both to wound and to heal. Conviction of sin becomes intolerable; repentance goes very deep; faith springs up strong and assured; spiritual understanding grows quick and keen, and converts mature in an amazingly short time; joy overflows (Ps. 85:6; 2 Chr. 30:26; Neh. 8:12, 17; Acts 2:46f.; 8:8), and loving generosity abounds (Acts 4:32); Christians become fearless in witness and tireless in labor for their Savior’s glory.”

    Don’t we need a revival in ourselves and our churches? What can we do? Packer says 2 things,

    1. Preach and Teach God’s Truth.
    2. Pray.