Posted by: Hugh Griffiths | August 14, 2006


Characteristics of Revival

I recently came across this quotation I noted, originally from the book ‘Revivals: Their Laws and Leaders’ by James Burns (Baker, 1960)

Two phenomenon commona to all revivals are:

  1. Every revival movement sees an awakening in the individual and in the Church to a deep sense of sin … Under the pressure of this agony of conviction, men openly confess their sins. A new consciousness of sin is awakened in the church as well as the individual
  2. The second characteristic effect produced by a revival movement is its wonderful outburst of joy.

It struck me that perhaps churches are not experiencing revival because of their inability to hold these two biblical experiences in tension.

It seems to me that some churches are unable to move into the glorious freedom of the Holy Spirit characterised by a ‘wonderful outburst of joy’ – rather they remain constantly in a state of sin-consciousness that is never relieved by the wonder and excitement of forgiveness and grace.

Other churches seem unable to walk maturely with the issues of repentance and holiness – instead they are fiercely protective of their enthusiastic, bubbly and frothy atmosphere. The equally glorious work of the Holy Spirit to bring consciousness of sin is only talked about in hushed tones since ‘the agony of conviction’ doesn’t usually create the usual positive feel-good factor in the short term.

However, if we are revival people, we must let the Spirit of God move fully and freely. One way or the other, that may well be more uncomfortable than perhaps we are used to..



  1. Amen.

  2. Wow. Hugh – that’s really good. Father and Son Lord Jesus and Holy Spirit is a Holy God – and when His Presence draws near, as it does in revival, He exposes sin by virtue of His very Holiness. But His joy is also our strength!! God seems to do that a lot – present two seemingly opposing ideas and ask us to hold them in tension.

    I have a theory. I believe that revival will be a lot messier than we are inclined to imagine…just because of the conviction factor. I have aquaintances who would like to think that revival will be one great big walk in the park…sort of “frothy” ALL THE TIME (“frothy”…nice adjective!! May I “steal” it, down the road?) I believe that there WILL be times of fun in God. But it will also be a lot of internal work. He begins cleaning in His own house, and He is out to make us into a Bride without spot or wrinkle.

    I’m thinking about brides now. The thing about brides is that they are SERIOUSLY aware of the things that please their grooms…and the things that don’t. And brides are SERIOUSLY FILLED with great joy!!!

    Hey…doesn’t that sound like revival? =-)

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