THE THREE “R’s” OF REVIVAL:
Repentance, Reconciliation, and Restoration
Two major aspects of revival are the spiritual awakening of the lost and the restoration of backsliders to holiness. Both aspects require the three “R’s” of revival: Repentance, Reconciliation, and Restoration.
In the book of Jonah, we see the three “R’s” of revival manifested in the life of the prophet Jonah, the spiritual awakening of the sailors, as well as among the people of the city of Nineveh.
Nineveh was a great city established by Nimrod when he invaded Shem’s territory. Nimrod means ‘rebel’, and the city followed its leader. The sin of the city was so great that it required divine retribution. God commissioned Jonah to preach to the city about the judgment that was coming because of their sin.
But Jonah rebelled against his assignment and set sail for Tarshish. So judgment came in the form of a storm at sea. Jonah landed in the belly of a whale, where he repented of his sins. God extended grace and mercy, overcame the enmity between Jonah and himself, and restored Jonah to favor as a prophet. He was recommissioned to preach in Nineveh.
The sailors on the ship discerned that Jonah was the problem behind the storm. They called out to God to forgive them, and threw him overboard as Jonah had commanded them. “Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made a vow,” Jonah 1:16. They had a spiritual awakening. They repented of their sins and come into right relationship with God.
The heathen city of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah. As they heard the word of the Lord, they put on sackcloth and ashes. Every person, from the beggars to the king, as well as all the livestock, fasted from food and water.
God saw their repentance and was gracious, merciful, and kind to the people of Nineveh. He didn’t bring judgment upon them as he had planned. He overcame the enmity of sin and brought them into relationship with himself.
God demonstrated the three “R’s” of revival with Israel. Many times they drew back from their close relationship with him to serve idols. As they removed themselves from his love and care through sin, their enemies would multiply and overtake them, resulting in their bondage.
Then they would cry out to God in repentance, cleansing their hearts before him. Their attitude would change from rebellion to obedience, as they put away their idols and returned to serving the living God.
When they came into agreement with God about their sin, He forgave them and wooed them with His love. He reconciled them to Himself, overcoming the enmity that was caused by sin.
Then he restored them to their place of favor. They were once again His people, and He was their God. They rested in His love and protection, and he provided for their needs.
Paul’s letters to the Corinthians demonstrate that the Apostles implemented the three “R’s” of revival in the early church. The church at Corinth had become infected with division and sin. Paul wrote to confront them with their need of repentance, 1 Corinthians 1:11 and 5:1-2. They were instructed to remove the sinners from the fellowship of the church. The epistle and his prayers had the desired effect. They repented of their complacency and excommunicated the sinners.
In 2 Corinthians 2:6-11 Paul encourages the church to reconcile with their wayward brethren. He says, “…..sufficient to such a man is this punishment….” Paul had been in the spirit, and he knew that a change of heart and attitude had taken place. When true repentance has taken place, the ministry of reconciliation must advance the cause of Christ by extending grace and mercy. “And all things are of God who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation,” 2 Corinthians 5:18. Forgiveness and friendship were extended and accepted.
The penitents were restored to fellowship with the body of Christ, and Paul admonished the church as a whole to shun sin and evil, so that no one else would have to be disciplined in like manner, 2 Corinthians 13:1-10.
There can be no true revival without repentance, reconciliation, and restoration. When you see these three “R’s” manifesting in people’s lives and among cities and nations, you can be sure that Revival has begun.