Awakenings and Revivals
In this article, I will focus on the last millennia and the moves of God. We will go into more depth on these revivals and many of these heroes of faith as the Lord wills. Our goal is to document as many as we can. I will discuss the primitive church and the moves of God during the first millennia another time. The goal is to give an overview of revivals since the 14th century. It is far from an all-inclusive list.
The heart of our research can be summed up in the words of Edwin Orr,
“There have been instances in the history of the Church when the telling and retelling of the wonderful works of God have been used to rekindle the expectations of the faithful intercessors and prepare the way for another Awakening.”
With each move of the Lord, we saw truths reestablished and the church returning to its original purpose. I feel the need to start by quoting this…
“But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the Head, even Christ, from whom the whole Body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
Ephesians 4: 15-16
Heroes of Faith
Just like in the history of Israel, the Church has seen seasons of walking closely to the Lord and being a voice for Him. Then, we see seasons of slow compromise until finally, we find a Church oppressed and in the need of a fresh visitation from heaven. During these seasons, God raises up a hero of faith, “for he cannot turn off the burden of the Holy Ghost as one would turn off a faucet. He insists upon being a Christian all the time, everywhere; and again, that marks him out as different,” as explained by A. W Tozer. He further adds, “to such men as this the church owes a debt too heavy to pay. The curious thing is that she seldom tries to pay him while he lives, but the next generation builds a sepulcher and writes a biography, as if instinctively and awkwardly to discharge an obligation the previous generation to a large extent ignored.”
We must not forget that as the church goes, so does the world. Leonard Ravenhill wrote, “the Church began with these men in the ‘upper room’ agonizing- and today is ending with men in the supper room organizing. The church began in revival; we are ending in ritual. We started virile; we are ending sterile. Charter members of the Church were men of heat and no degrees; today many hold degrees, but have no heat! Ah, brethren, flame-hearted men are the crying need of the hour!”
“In this end time the rockaby-baby attitude of many conference preachers is a tragedy. The cry should be ‘Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly…let the priest, the ministers of the Lord, weep!’ (Joel 2: 15-17).
We the church need to return to the Cross. Every awakening and revival brought men back to the Cross. The cross opens the veil to the Holy of Holies. I believe the heroes of faith – those whose names we know and those who we don’t know, all dared to go into the Holy of Holies.
The way in is to honor the blood. You are qualified not because of your denomination, your works, your religious status, but the blood of Jesus.
Spirit of Religion
Revivals seek to translate men out of the domain of darkness into the kingdom of Jesus. Here one is set free by the Spirit and they are free indeed. Religion seeks to steal your attention from Jesus and His Word. Religion demands you obey and honor the man. He must be put on a pedestal and given quadruple honor. He must be obeyed, after all. He provides great spiritual benefits. The same spirit constantly declares you are unworthy or if you dare stand up you are full of pride and building your kingdom. They will attack you with great hatred but declare you are the angry person. This spirit did the same to the heroes of the past. It did the same to Jesus. You can expect nothing less if you stand up for Jesus.
Spirit of God
The Holy Spirit always comes and brings conviction of sin. The first thing He does is convict of sin. But He does so in great mercy and for those who repent and turn to Jesus, He convicts of righteousness, declaring what the blood has done for you.
We are called to walk in obedience to the Lord by the Holy Spirit. Absolute obedience to Him and not a man. We must walk in submission, but submission is a heart thing.
We must, like the early church, agonize in prayer for the lost. When no one is looking, seek His face. When people are looking, be true to who we are in Him. Our boast must be in the Cross. We must be able to say like John that we bear witness to what we have seen and heard regarding the Life. Heroes of Charles Finney and Evan Roberts, spoke of meeting the Lord one night and talking to Him as a friend talks to a friend. God is no respecter of persons, what He did for them, He will do for you. Are you willing to pay the price?
You and I today, enjoy the benefits of previous moves of God, both spiritually and in every area of our life. It is time we stood up boldly, and declared, “If you moved in a previous generation, you can move in ours!”
The early church, often called the primitive church, was a living organism. Each person was a valuable and key part. The people were priests. We were told that we were a kingdom of priests unto our God. A people changed by His Word and His love. They understood the depth of their sin and the even greater depth of His mercy and love.
Over time religion replaced the Word with traditions and teachings of men. The holy fear of the Lord that was seen in the primitive church was replaced by a holy fear of men. The spirit of religion crept in and twisted doctrine, and blinded men from the truth. The passionate relationship every believer was to know and have with Him was replaced by a mediator, a prelate. These men were placed on thrones and made equal to and sometimes greater than God. So, the light of the Gospel grew dim. The people went back into bondage and serving task masters.
But God always reserved a remnant for Himself, those who refused to bow. At the right time, He would take one of these heroes of faith a raise them up as a voice. Those who heard and received the truth they preached, once again discovered the liberty and joy of salvation. And so, we see seasons where God moved once again on the earth. Each move restoring back truths that religion had stolen. But religion would always seek to step back in and gain control. It would quench the moves of the spirit, kill the heroes of faith, and bring men back in bondage. But God in His mercy would always respond.
The First Great Move- early 1300’s to 1560
Even before Wycliffe took the stage, men were already in England beginning to stand up and speak out. In 1815, in Bohemia, resulted in over 80,000 witnesses for Jesus. Wycliffe (1820’s to 1384), would be the morning star of the reformation. His bold stand would result in the seeds being sowed abroad that would lead to the reformation. In 1381, the marriage of Richard II to Anne of Bohemia, resulted in Bohemian students coming to Oxford, and even though studying anything on Wycliffe was banned, these students discovered his works and Jerome of Prague brought them back to Bohemia. Here the Lord had a people ready, and a hero called John Hus, a friend of Jerome, would step to the plate. He would pay the ultimate price but he proved a mighty influence and thus the glory of the Gospel was seen again. Many would be won for Christ.
In 1483, Martin Luther along with his coadjutors dared to shake off that spirit of religion, and challenged it to its foundations. Then other heroes would arise. They brought back foundational truths on salvation by grace through faith. The consequence of their daring to stand for the truth, shock the known world and everything would be changed. The Gospel spread throughout Germany, France, Switzerland, Holland and of course the British Isles. We would see heroes like Tyndale, Patrick Hamilton, John Fox, John Laski, and many others.
Many were tortured and martyred but like the early church, their “blood was seed.” Nations were changed and transformed.
But just as things began to fade and the Gospel began to decline, God visited the earth again with a fresh move.
Short History of Bible in Reformation Years
- Wycliffe Translation 1384
- Gutenberg invented printing and first Latin Bible printed 1450’s
- Erasmus Of Rotterdam produced Greek-Latin Parallel New Testament 1516
- Martin Luther printed German Pentateuch in 1523
- Martin Luther Printed German New testament in 1529
- William Tyndale printed the New Testament in 1530’s
- Myles Coverdale printed first complete Bible in English in 1535
- Matthew-Tyndale Bible 1549
- King Henry VIII hired Myles Coverdale to print the “Great Bible” 1539
- Geneva Bible (New testament 1557) and complete Bible 1560
- Great Bible revised and called Bishop’s Bible 1568
- King James 1 has Bishop’s Bible revised and created King James Version 1611
- Noah Webster produced his Bible in 1833
Erasmus sought to go back to the original Greek and Hebrew to correct what he saw as a corrupt Latin Vulgate. He printed the 1516 Greek-Latin Parallel Bible. William Tyndale was the first to print the New Testament in English. Tyndale who was forced to flee England and had bounty hunters chasing him, fled to Martin Luther and using the Erasmus text, printed his New Testament in 1525-26. The later versions were elaborately illustrated.
These were confiscated and burnt, but an actual copy ended up in King Henry’s VIII’s bedroom. However, the more the king and bishop came against them, the greater the curiosity grew by the public. The Catholic Church declared they were full of errors. Anyone caught with a Tyndale Bible risked death by burning. Tyndale was burnt at the stake in 1536. However, Tyndale’s prayer was “Oh, Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.” Three years after his martyrdom, King Henry VIII allowed and funded a printing of an English Bible called the Great Bible.
Myles Coverdale was a disciple of Tyndale and moved forward with the translation and printing of the Bible in English, and in 1835, the first complete English Bible was printed, “The Coverdale Bible.” John Rogers in 1537, printed the second English Bible, though he translated it from the original Hebrew and Greek.
In 1539, per King Henry’s request, Coverdale was hired to print the first official English Bible, the “Great Bible.” King Henry had done this to defy the pope. After the death of King Henry VIII, King Edward VI took the throne and after him, Queen “Bloody Mary.” She sought to return the nation of England to the Catholic Church and in 1855, she had John Rogers and Thomas Crammer burned at the stake. She burnt many reformers at the stake causing many to flee (Marian Exile), from England. They found favor in Switzerland, and here John Foxe and Myles Coverdale joined together and printed the Geneva Bible in 1560. It was the first Bible to have chapters and number verses added to it. This Bible became the Bible of choice for over a hundred years. It was the Bible of the Puritans and the first one taken to America.
When Queen Mary died, reformers could return to England and under Queen Elizabeth I, it was tolerated to print and distribute the Geneva Bible. In 1568, The Great Bible was revised and printed as the “Bishop’s Bible.” When Queen Elizabeth died, King James I approached the Protestant clergy and announced the desire for a new Bible to replace the Bishop’s Bible. The King James was finally published in 1611. It would take decades for this new translation to overcome the popular Geneva Bible. The King James version ultimately became the most printed book in history until the year 1881, with over one billion copies in print.
In America, the first Bible printed was in the native Algonquin Indian language, and was printed by John Eliot in 1663. The first English version was printed by Robert Aitken in 1782 and it was a King James Version. His Bible was the only Bible ever authorized by the United States Congress. In 1833, Noah Webster, after finishing his famous dictionary, replaced the King James with the English Revised Version, in 1880.
All These Bibles, up until 1880’s, contained 80 books and not the current 66! They contained the “Apocrypha” which were books written hundreds of years before Christ.
The Second Revival Period from 1600-1688
In 1598, the Edict of Nantes by Henry IV, was promulgated, which secured religious liberty to the French believers. The Lord so often begins to arrange circumstances as He prepares to move on the earth. During the revival period, we saw such heroes as Richard Baxter, Robert Leighton, John Milton, John Bunyan, Philip James Spencer, John Howe, John Livingston, Brice, Blair, etc.
The revivals would come with holy conviction. We saw revivals in Ulster (1625), Scotland (Kirk of Shotts- 1630), England, and throughout Europe. Prayer meetings broke out everywhere as people so heavily convicted sought His face. People were found broken by their sins, and then beautifully restored in the joy of salvation. People would worship in the streets. Churches could not contain the crowds as the Lord moved. We see the Lord move and sinners so convicted they fell to the ground as dead and lay there often for hours, only to arise full of joy and free. These people truly comprehended their wretched state and the power of the Gospel.
The Third Revival Period from 1730- 1750 First Awakening In America
This awakening was a worldwide movement. The Americas had been discovered and many had fled to America in hope of religious freedom. But once again religion had stolen the beauty of the Gospel and people went back to salvation by works, family and church. However, God would raise voices of truth. The heroes who stepped up to the plate included:
- Jonathan Edwards
- David Brainerd
- John and Charles Finney
- George Whitefield
Prior to the move, it was said of Britain by Dr. Increase Mather, “We are the posterity of the good old Puritan Non-conformists in England, who were strict and holy people. Such were our fathers who followed the Lord into the wilderness. Oh New England, New England, look to it that the glory be not removed from thee, for it begins to go. Oh, degenerate New England, what art thou come to at this day! How are those sins become common in thee that once were not so much as heard in this land!”
“the Spirit of God began extraordinarily to set in and wonderfully to work among us”
Moravian Revival 1727
During this period, we also saw the Holy Spirit fall with power on a Bohemian colony, known as the Moravians, who had settled in the estates of Count Nicholas Zinzendorf, in Herrnhut, Germany. This powerful revival resulted in 100 years of nonstop prayer, and more than 100 missionaries being sent forth (more than the other Protestant denominations combined.)
The Fourth Revival Period from 1790-1842 -Second Great Awakening in America
Just prior to the awakening, many key events happened worldwide. The American Revolution, The French Revolution, the war between France, Britain and Spain. All these wars had done much to corrupt the people. The spread of rational thought and deism had weakened the church. Paine’s “Age of Reason” along with Voltaire’s assaults on Christianity had stolen the hearts of many from God. But something was stirring in the Spiritual realm, and just when the enemy thought he was winning, God came in like a flood!
But God began to move on the hearts of new heroes and in this move we saw a strong missionary drive. During this awakening, we saw the British and Foreign Bible Society formed along with the London Missionary and the Church Missionary Society formed.
Heroes of this move included:
- Robert and James Alexander Haldane of Scotland
- Charles Finney
- Hannah Moore
- Andrew Fuller
- Rowland Hill
- Charles of Bala
- Griffin, Emmon
- Lyman Beecher
- Robert Murray M’Cheyne
- Andrew Bonar
- William Carey
- James McGready
- Timothy Dwight (grandson of Edwards)
- And others
Some of our most liberal states were once places the Lord visited mightily in revival. In the 1790’s, Boston’s First Baptist Church was graciously revived. “The revival in the First and Second Baptist churches was the first in that series of revivals wherewith God blessed Boston in the present generation. The tide of error with which this city had been for half a century flooded then began to run.”
I am going to go into details on these revivals in another article. The purpose here is to give a brief history. Dr. Griffin wrote, “in 1799, I could stand at my door in New Hartford, Litchfield County, and number fifty or sixty congregations laid down in one field of divine wonder, and as many in different parts of New England.”
Incredible revivals spread in 1802 throughout the western and southern states. Dr. Nettleton wrote, “during a period of four or five years, commencing with 1798, not less than one hundred and fifty churches in New England were favoured with the special effusions of the Holy Spirit; and thousands of souls, in the judgment of charity, were translated from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.’”
Kentucky Awakening of 1800
Led by Barton W. Stone and Alexander Campbell. Through a series of camp meetings
Hawaii’s Great Awakening
On December 5th, 1825 Queen Ka’ahumanu and her new husband, along with five chiefs, received Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Queen announced, “It was her determination to attend to the instructions of the missionaries, and to observe God’s laws herself, and to have her people instructed in letters and in the new religion.” By 1825 many of the islands had church services with 600 to 1000 natives attending. In Honolulu, there were between 3,000 and 4,000 people every Sunday in church. By the end of the 1820’s crowds of 10,000 natives would gather to hear the Word, and in the islands there were six churches which had over 12,000 members.
Fifth Revival Period was from 1857-1860- The Third Awakening in America
Once again, prior to the revival there was great unrest on the earth. We had seen the first global economic crisis. The failure of the Ohio Insurance and Title company impacted many mortgages and the downturn of the world economy along with other factors caused a financial crisis. But God once again had been preparing His people. Revivals come from “upper room” prayer sessions and the Day of Pentecost preaching.
I will point out that at the peak of this awakening, Charles Darwin issued his most significant publication. The enemy, the devil, went on a powerful counterattack of this incredible awakening.
“The spiritual reparation for a worldwide awakening began in Britain seven years before the outpouring of the Spirit there. Believers of one denomination after the other, including the evangelical minorities in the Church of England and Church of Scotland, devoted the first Monday evening of each month to pray for a revival…this widespread union of prayer spread to the United States within ten years and to many countries, and the concert of prayer remained the significant factor in the recurring revivals…and the extraordinary out-thrust of missions for a full fifty years, so commonplace it was taken for granted by the churches.” Edwin Orr, Fervent Prayer, Moody Press, Chicago, 1974
Heroes of this move:
- Jeremiah Lamphier
- William and Catherine Booth
- Henry Beecher
- Jacob Knapp
- W. Alexander
- Phoebe Palmer
- Andrew Murray (South Africa)
- Hudson Taylor
- David Livingstone
- Adoniram Judson
“But the changes wrought in character, speech, and conduct, soon became too demonstrative to admit a doubt as to the Higher Agency that had produced them; and when God had made Himself known as the Author of the moral transformations…Such a time as the present was never known since the days of the Apostles, for revivals. The prostration of business, the downfall of Mammon, the great god of worship to the multitudes in this land, both in and out of church, the sinfulness and vanity of earthly treasures, as the supreme good, have come home to the hearts and consciences of millions in our land with a power that seems irresistible. Revivals now cover our very land, sweeping all before them, as on the day of Pentecost, exciting the earnest and simultaneous cry from thousands, ‘What shall we do to be saved?”
The crowds were so large that church buildings were concerned that the building itself could not bear the weight or hold the masses, that multiple meetings were held in the open every day.
Transylvania Revival- late 1800’s
A revival broke out in the Hungarian Baptist church with many thousands coming to the Lord
Australia Revival 1858-59
The Methodist church saw growth of 72% alone. We will discuss this revival in more depth in another article
Revivals on the 20th Century
During the late 1900’s many heroes of faith arose. They would be pioneers, boldly challenging the lethargic spirit of the church. Great power was seen in many of their ministries, as thousands were brought to the knowledge of Jesus worldwide. Many of these heroes spanned the late 1900’s into the early 20th Century and include:
- Alexander Dowie
- Marie Woodworth Etter
- Charles Parham
- William J. Seymour
- G Lake
- Smith Wigglesworth
During the last decade on the 19th Century, church membership was in decline in Wales, with all denominations suffering. Dean David Howell, wrote just before his death, “Take notice If it were known that this is my last message to fellow countrymen before being summoned to judgment- the chief need of my country and my dear nation at present is a spiritual revival through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”
Seth Joshua, who had been converted by the Salvation Army sent off to minister and impact south Wales. He met great resistance so set himself to private prayer and study. Edwin Orr wrote of him, “afraid of the prevailing emphasis on intellectual qualifications rather than spiritual attainments, he began to pray to God to take a lad from the mines or fields of Wales, to revive His work in Wales.” Little could he have imagined that the Lord would answer, with a young miner called Evan Roberts. Evan Roberts was a man who after an encounter with the Lord becomes broken for his country and commits himself to continual prayer. In 1904, a revival broke forth that would impact the world. Its influence reached not just evangelicals, but Pentecostals. We will discuss this revival in more detail in another article.
American Awakening of 1905
As more converts from the Welsh revival traveled abroad, so did the fire of revival. In 1905, Welsh Pennsylvanians started a fire that caused a revival in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas. The revival spread to Philadelphia, and New Jersey.
Azusa Street, 1906
Led by a black man, William J. Seymour, the Holy Spirit fell in Los Angeles, and out this revival came four Pentecostal denominations including the Assemblies of God and Church of God.
The Stone Church Chicago 1910
In 1910, a Worlds Missions Conference was being held in Edinburgh. As a delegation from America planned to set sail, a group gathered at the Stone Church on the South Side of Chicago. “From May 15-29, a group of God’s dear children assembled daily in Chicago for meetings that pressed ‘the claims of the world field upon the young and old for prayer, for giving and for going.” The Stone Church became a key center for revival in Chicago.
Healing Revival of the late 1940’s 1950
This move started after the war in America as the healing movement associated with Oral Roberts, and as the latter rain movement in Canada in the 40’s and 50’s. American Charismatic leaders such as Oral Roberts, William Branham, Jack Coe, Kenneth Hagin, came to prominence during this move that swept America. It brought a greater acceptance in divine healing in a post war America.
Mid Century Resurgence (40’s-60) and the Billy Graham Crusades–started in 1949
Billy Graham, a man with an incredible heart to see souls won for Jesus, began his crusades in 1949. He insisted on integration of blacks and whites in his meetings as he traveled the country. Billy Graham’s message was powerful and he has lead countless hundreds of thousands to the Lord. We will have an article dedicated to Billy Graham.
“A religious revival unparalleled in modern history is sweeping like a prairie fire across the English- speaking world. It is a spiritual awakening in which millions are turning to God… I have talked with hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children in America, England, continental Europe, and Asia. Everywhere I have seen evidence of this groping for spiritual foundations.” Bill Graham 1954
In the late 40’s and early 50’s we saw revivals break out in many schools and colleges including Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1949-50, Bethel (MN), St. Paul’s College, Northwestern College, Wheaton 1949 and many more.
Edwin Orr wrote of this midcentury resurgence, “By no means reached the effectiveness of either of its predecessors in the eighteenth century or the nineteenth.”
During this time, several parachurch ministries were started-
- Young life 1942
- Youth for Christ 1944
- The First Urbana gathering of Intervarsity 1948
- The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association 1950
- World Vision 1950
- Campus Crusade 1951
- Compassion International 1952
- Fellowship of Christian Athletes 1954
- Operation Mobilization 1957
- Youth with a Mission 1960
The Charismatic Renewal Movement 1960- mid 1970’s
In April of 1960, Dennis Bennet, an Episcopal minister in Van Nuys, California, saw the Holy Spirit poured out in his church. It caused an uproar that gained national attention. Bennett chose to remain an Episcopalian minister in the hope of seeing renewal within his denomination. This move would touch almost every denomination. Over time its influence faded as religious denominations sought to take control over the move of the Spirit.
Heroes of the 20th Century
- Bill Graham
- Kathryn Kuhlman
- Aimee Semple McPherson
- A. Allan
- David Du Plesis
- Oral Roberts
The twentieth century was often defined as the century of the Holy Spirit. The Pentecostal movement saw rapid growth during this time. Its impact worldwide was incredible. By the end of the century more than 25% of Christians identified themselves as Charismatic.
Impact of revivals- Divine Assaults on Society
The impact of a great awakening and revivals are like the impact of a world war, in that they are widespread and have long term effects. It impacts everyone’s lives, demanding change. Like a war, it takes people out of their comfort zone and people do things that they would never do. The demands of a revival, just like war, require public actions, that outside of the event the normal person would never do. It has impacts on all areas of life, from your spiritual walk to social issues. Life is no longer the same, and the way, people see things is changed.
Revivals have brought correction to the church and a renewed fire for the things of God. They demand a heart change. Not just an encounter with the Lord, but a true rendering of the heart and consequent change.
Orr, Edwin, J. “The Faming Tongue, The Impact of 20th Century Revivals.” Moody Press, Chicago, 1973
Orr, Edwin, J. “The Fervent Prayer, The Worldwide Impact of the Great Awakening of 1858.” Moody Press, Chicago 1974
Orr, Edwin, J. “The Second Evangelical Awakening in America.” Mood Press, Chicago, 1952
Liardon, Roberts. “God’s Generals, Why They Succeeded and Why Some Failed.” Albury Publishing, Tulsa, 1996
Y Cyfail Eglwsig, December 1902; cf. Missionary Review of the World, 1905, pp. 163ff
Fish, Henry, C. “Handbook on Revivals.” Countedfaith.org. 1874
Hayford, Jack W. “The Charismatic Century: The enduring Impact of Azusa Street.” Warner Faith, New York, 2006
Wylie, James. “The History of Protestantism (A Complete History of the Christian Church). Delmarva Publications, 2013
“Narratives of Revivals of Religion in Scotland, Ireland and Wales.” The Revival Library
McDow, Malcolm, and Reid, Alvin L. “Firefall 2.0.” Broadman and Holman, Wake Forest, CA. 2014
Backholder, Mathew. “Revival Fires and Awakenings, Thirty-Six Visitations of the Holy Spirit.” ByFaith Media, 2016
“Ravenhill, Leonard. “Why Revival Tarries.” Bethany House, Minneapolis, MN. 1959