Would you know a revival if you saw it? I am not sure I would. J.I. Packer has helpfully recorded ten different sings of revival life. If you would like to read the whole list, you can find it here.
The fifth sign of revival is: change goes deep.
When the winds of revival blow, conviction comes with it. Superficial, cosmetic, outward, cursory change is not enough when God’s presence comes in power. When Christ’s church is awakened, her people begin to change at a deeper, more profound level. In revival, sin ceases to be a plaything and we see sin for what it really is–repugnant to a holy God. And as we repent and turn back to our gracious, forgiving God we change to our very core. Long-standing sin is thrown off. There is new strength for obedience. Holiness does not seem so strange. The alteration in our person and character is so deep that believers seem to change by multiple degrees of glory at a time.
When God comes down in power, his people cannot remain the same. In revival, believers become aware that they live before the face of God first, second and always. And before his face, we simply cannot, will not stay who we are today.
David Brainerd describes a revival among the Susquehannah tribe in 18th century North America,
“I stood amazed at the influence which seized the audience almost universally, and could compare it to nothing more aptly than the irresistible force of a mighty torrent, or swelling deluge, that with its insupportable weight and pressure bears down and sweeps before it whatever is in its way.
“Almost all persons of all ages were bowed down with concern together, and scarcely one was able to withstand the shock of this surprising operation. Old men and women who had been drunken wretches for many years, and some little children not more than six or seven years of age, appeared in distress for their souls, as well as persons of middle age. It was apparent that these children, some of them at least, were not merely frightened with seeing the general concern, but were made aware of their danger, the badness of their hearts, and their misery without Christ, as some of them expressed it. The most stubborn hearts were now obliged to bow.
“A principal man among the Indians, who before was most secure and self-righteous, and thought his state good because he knew more than the generality of the Indians had formerly done, and who with a great degree of confidence the day before told me he ‘had been a Christian more than ten years,’ was now brought under solemn concern for his soul and wept bitterly…
“Me thought this had a near resemblance to the day of God’s power, mentioned in Joshua 10:14, for I must say I never saw any day like it in all respects: it was a day wherein I am persuaded the Lord did much to destroy the kingdom of darkness among this people.”
May God come and change us deeply.