Language is like humans. It lives, it breathes, it changes, and it dies. Unlike God who never changes, language is subjective and means different things to different people.
Unfortunately, within the church and in Christian circles, language is no more objective than it is outside of Christianity.
I mean, what did I even just say? What is the meaning of church, and what is a Christian? I know what I meant, but you may completely misunderstand what I meant because you might define those words differently than I did.
Baptism. Church. Conversion. Tongues. Apostles. Evangelists. Christian. Revival.
These words can all mean different things to different people, and sometimes we build entire doctrines on a word and the meaning that we give it.
So what is revival?
In my last blog post, I said that Asbury University in Kentucky “has been home to at least nine documented student revivals.”
But how do we define revival?
Dictionary.com has nine definitions, and they range from “restoration to life, consciousness, vigor, strength, etc.” to “a showing of an old motion picture.”
Most people who I talk to would agree that revival has the idea of giving something new life, restoring something that lost its value or vigor as a victim of entropy.
But we also see the term used to describe masses of people being born again or upcoming week-long church services.
To further complicate matters, we also talk about revival in a positive sense, but the term is really quite generic. In Romans 7:9, Paul says, “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.”
So what is the point? If we are going to talk about revival, we need to be extremely clear with our definitions and give credit where credit is due.
Based on its multiplicity of definitions, revival happens all the time. Christians experience spiritual renewal when God grabs hold of their hearts and prompts them to live differently. Sins of the past rise to the surface as a weakened Christian returns to his pursuit of worldly things. People wake up from their sleep and begin a new day of work. Dirty clothes are washed and returned for reuse in a closet.
These are all examples of revival, and it happens every day.
But once you get specific about what revival is, you may find that some “revivals” that take place are not revivals at all based on your definition.
So if you are going to talk about revival, make sure you know what you mean, and make sure other people know what you mean.
This is also why I said in my last post “that I do believe that some people will spend eternity apart from Christ even though a ‘revival’ at some church gave them confidence that just the opposite would happen.”
But I will address that topic in a later post.