April 12, 2024

Revival at Auburn and UGA? Maybe.

A recent headline from The Christian Post reads, “A move of God: Thousands of students attending revival events, hundreds baptized.” The story that follows details recent events at Auburn University and the University of Georgia. This is the kind of news I enjoy reading. Yet, I also hesitate to declare these gatherings as revival movements. In such a dark culture any significant response to Jesus might be seen as a God movement. Is there genuine revival at Auburn and UGA? Maybe. I want it to be. So, what’s my hesitation? Past revivals share several characteristics that show their authenticity.


Characteristic #1: Preceded by Prayer

In past revivals, either an individual or group of individuals were already praying for a move of God. They prayed that saints would awaken and draw the lost to repentance. These people aren’t usually well-known. Still, God raised them up for the purpose of His work. They wearied themselves with cries to Heaven, specifically for revival. These folks weren’t seeking an event or an experience, but an encounter with God. They desired that the greatest personality be Jesus and the greatest work be that of the Holy Spirit.


Characteristic #2: Genuine Repentance

Secondly, there’s usually a profound recognition of sin that leads to godly sorrow and genuine repentance. The Bible describes this as a piercing of the heart (Hebrews 4:2). Biblical repentance starts with recognizing sin, then stimulates a resolve to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. Anyone who’s had a true encounter with a holy God can no longer be satisfied with the ways of the flesh.


I’m not saying some don’t go back. I am saying that those who turn back didn’t have a true encounter with God. That’s because Christians cannot be comfortable while living contrary to the truth of Scripture. The winds of revival blow hardest against all shelters of sin, refusing to negotiate with any justification for their existence in the life of a believer.


Characteristic #3: Hunger for God’s Word

Hunger for God’s Word is how you tell the difference between an encounter with God and an emotional experience. Paul cautioned the Thessalonians to “examine everything carefully” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) for a good reason. And John told believers to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1).


So, I’m skeptical when people claim that a movement of God is happening, but then act contemptuous when someone wants to validate it biblically. Scripture is the tool that allows us to test such claims. It provides the spiritual nourishment to sustain a genuine move of God.


This was a leading indicator in the first revival, “They continually gave themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). So if God’s Word is minimized or marginalized, then it cannot be a move of God.


Characteristic #4: Influences Change

While I could name several other characteristics, I’ll end with this one. True revival influences change in its community. This change is not only recognized by unbelievers but is often rejected and attacked. You see, genuine revival is never neutral. People will either be enthused or enraged by it. That’s because revival brings fresh resolve to worship a king and kingdom that aren’t of this world.


Revival also challenges believers to live at peace with everyone but never at the expense of denying Christ, betraying His Word, or dividing His church. In other words, Christians stop compromising. When this happened in past revivals there was a decrease in both crime and divorce rates within their communities. Bars shuttered, athletic fields emptied, and churches filled as believers sought the presence of a holy God while leaving the pleasures of a passing world.



So, is there genuine revival at Auburn and UGA? Maybe. I’m certainly not criticizing what’s happened on their campuses. I have a hopeful caution that desires to see genuine revival. My prayer is that these events are of good soil, and will produce abundant fruit that’s unmistakably Holy Spirit sewn and heaven grown.