Renewal or Revival?
For over 40 years in the Spirit filled camp, the battle has raged as to whether we are looking for renewal or revival. Strong advocates lobby on both sides. This debate came to a great head during the Toronto Blessing in the mid 90’s. Some wanted it called a revival while others insisted it was only a renewal. As I will point out in the article, the debate actually misses the point.
Thinking Too Small
While no one would argue against renewal or revival, those have never been the end goal. Those are simply stepping stones to God’s plan. Unfortunately, because so much energy has been devoted to the debate, we’ve lost sight of the true prize—the fullness of Christ and His great Kingdom.
Restoration of Original Design
God is in the process of putting things back to the original design. This is spoken about repeatedly through scripture and is becoming common place in our thinking during this timeframe in Christianity. It involves the complete restoration of all things (people, places, things) as God originally designed them to be. A great reference point is Acts 3:19-21 which speaks of Christ being in heaven until the restoration of all things.
First Stage: Renewal
Now let’s go back to our original debate. Yes renewal is an important aspect of Christianity. It is essentially the re-awakening/re-firing of the church itself. It is helping them see who they are, who Christ is, and how the plan works together.
Second Stage: Revival
Revival has traditionally been defined as those moments when we see the renewal spill outside the church building and begin touching those who are unsaved. While I realize this is hard to always quantify, I believe it is helpful in our thinking to see it outside the building vs. inside.
Third Stage: Reformation
Revival and renewal are ultimately to bring a reformation in the lives of the people who it touches. If it is simply an emotional experience that leaves no permanent change, we have no real reformation. On the other hand, true reformation sees a real change in people’s focus and the use of their time, energy and money. When transformed people begin to transform the communities in which they live—reformation begins to happen.
Fourth Stage: Restoration (Of Original Design)
This is the deepest revelation we can gain from the Bible. Here—God is restoring all things back into His original design (purpose). It takes a reformed people to bring this about as it impacts every aspect of society—each person, each family, each business, each city, each state and even nations.
Putting It All Together
There’s an old saying “we become what we pursue”. If we simply pursue renewal and revival, we may achieve momentary surges. However, if our ultimate goal is the restoration of original design, we will see renewal and revival as simply necessary stepping stones to the ultimate end. Let’s begin to ask God to enlarge our thinking, our vision, and our strategy to include His idea of restoration so that we can live lives that glorify Jesus Christ, make Him the hero of our society in every way. May God teach us all how to pursue His plan of the restoration of His original design!