Saturday, May 06, 2006

Revival Forum

This will be a thread dedicated to the subject of revival.

-What is revival?
-How does revival happen?
-Examples of revival?

Post any questions or comments that pertain to revival and let's discuss this rationally, reasonably in the Spirit of grace. May God add His blessing!


Brother Paul said...

"Before the great revival in Gallneukirchen broke out, Martin Boos spent hours and days and often nights in lonely vagonies of intercession. Afterwards, when he preached, his words were as flame, and the hearts of the people as grass." D.M. McIntyre

Stuff like this makes my heart leap for joy, for it shows that God does not honor Phds and M Divs, but rather men who weep and groan in agony in protracted periods of prayer and intercession.

Anonymous said...

Amen to what Paul West said!!!
God is near to the broken and contrite in heart, and He sees and hears the cries of people who are willing to stand in the gap on behalf of those who are separated from Him!
I recently heard a definition of revival being the coming alive again of something that was dead (thus what was once living). In fact, the Gage Canadian Dictionary defines revival as "1. a bringing or coming back to life or consciousness. 2. a restoration to vigour or health. 3. a bringing or coming back to style, use, activity, etc. 4 an awakening or increase of religious faith. 5. special services or efforts made to awaken or increase religious faith."
It was suggested that revival is what takes place when those who have once believed in and been vibrant for Christ are re-awakened, re-kindled, and renewed so they can in turn bring in the harvest of hungry, waiting souls!

Psalms 80 and 85 are two chapters of the Bible that I believe give a picture of the need for, the cry for, and the result of revival...

"Will you not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?"

Anonymous said...

While prayer is certainly a necessity for a revival, there are many implications to revival. If we study one of the major revivals in history, the Great Awakening, we find that there are many reasons for why this revival occured. It is easy to attribute this revival to the work of one or two men (Jonathan Edwards or George Whitefield) but we would be at fault not to recognize the other aspects of the movement!

Socially, the distinction between classes created a tension to which Whitefield's theology would address. The lower classes worked the hard earth of colonial New England and, thus, created a mindset of virtue through achievement. This could also be attributed to the popularity of Arminianism. It is interesting to note the new freedom that colonialists were experiencing could be the cause for Arminianism. Freedom from political absolutism (the crown) gave rise to freedom from spiritual absolutism (Calvinism). It was a mindset. Some scholars have gone as far to suggest that the Great Awakening was the one of the first steps towards the American Revolution.

So there was a disatisfaction amongst the classes that Whitefield would address when he began to preach. He did preach a Calvinistic message, but that message told the lower classes that God had chosen them despite their rank in society. This gave them a sense of acceptance - something they had not received in their daily lives, especially since they struggled with upper classes. And so, the words of Whitefield "hit home" when it came to the acceptance of the Gospel.

This also speaks to the economic, psychological, and cultural situation that defined colonial New England. The issue is this: Did God prepare every aspect of life to fit the words that he would equip Whitefield with? Or, did society perceive the need for God and prepare for it?

To assume that a revival is purely spiritual is to not take into account all aspects of what a revival is. Revival is societal change. This includes everything that a society needs. I would be so bold as to suggest that a society will never experience a revival until the Gospel becomes relevant to that society. How the Gospel becomes relevant is the issue that we must examine.

Preachers have desired revival for some time and have employed methods that mimic other revivals they have read. This is a falicy and usually amounts to nothing. Take for example the Apostle Paul. Being well versed in Roman and Greek culture, he did not try to make the Gentiles see the Gospel as if they were all Jewish. This is shown in the words "Theos" (Greek) and "Deus" (Latin). These two words were used to describe the supreme diety in the two cultures, respectively. Instead of trying to make the Gentiles understand God as "Yahweh" (Jewish term), Paul told them that God had the same power as Zeus but with different characteristics. Basically, he explained Yahweh in their terms.

Methods that work in one culture will not always work in another. A smart preacher will do what Whitefield and Paul did and learn the demographic and speak the Gospel to the needs of that demographic. This isn't changing the Gospel or watering it down, as some may suggest, but it is showing the timelessness and power of the Gospel to apply to all people at all times. Whether we realize it or not, we place God into a box by assuming that issues are black and white. God is bigger than that and he works in ways far beyond the comprehension of men.


Anonymous said...


Excellent post! That certainly gives us some food for thought. I especially like your example of Paul working within the context of classical pagan religion to spread the Gospel to the gentiles. When he preached to the Athenians in the Agora (I think this is in Acts 18, but I don't have a Bible handy), he begins not by slamming them for their paganism, but instead tells them about the "unkown god" to whom they had dedicated a shrine. I think that's a wonderful scriptural example of appealing to a specific culture in a specific time and place. Good stuff!


Eli said...

When revival occurs unbelievers get saved, but the error is to thus say that revival is when unbelievers get saved. Revival is when the Church gets revived or awakened, and in filling the role of the Church in it's true form (vibrant, alive and full of the Spirit) multitudes get saved. The salvation of the lost is a by-product of revival.

I believe the key to revival is the ever familiar verse: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

The first thing that has to happen is the Church needs to recognize the need for revival and stop saying, "I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing." (Revelation 3:17)

Brother Paul said...

Revival is a sovereign move of God's Spirit that cannot be intellectualized, hypothesized, formularized or explained in terms of setting up the right demographical conditions. This, brothers, is specifically why the church is the lamentable condition it's in today. It's not about Arminianism or Calvanism or any other kind of 'ism' - it's about dead fundamentalism. We're looking for methods; God's looking for men to will weep and fast and pray and travail, and like John Sung, throw all their degrees and Phds and doctorates and empty theological presuppositions into the sea and fall on their faces with sackcloth and ashes.

Leonard Ravenhill said this:

Revival cannot be organized (The wind bloweth where it listeth)
Revival cannot be subsidized (It does not need financial backing)
Revival cannot be advertized (There is nothing more self-advertizing as a fire, and revival is fire from heaven)
Revival cannot be computerized (God alone knows the extent of His power)
Revival cannot be regularized (We cannot lay a theological track for it to operate on)
Revival cannot be rationalized (It is a divine mystery beyond finite minds)
Revival cannot be denominationalized (It leaps over doctrinal barriers)or nationalized.

In light of this, do we really understand what true revival is? Have any of us ever seen true, hell-shaking revival? You here who consider yourselves theological-savvy...did your seminary teach you how to weep and groan in unutterable agony over the lost? This, and this only precludes revival! Demographic-this, demographic-that - it's all nonsense and man's ineptitude . When true revival comes (I am reminded of reading accounts of Finney's amazing revivals) demographics CHANGE, secular schools and universities shut down. Bars and pubs go out of busines. Jails empty out and cops are laid off because there's no one left to arrest.

Brother Paul said...

I think this quote from Ravenhill sums up everything nicely:

"True revival is God's coming to aid of His sick church. Evangelism is that revived Church's going to a world dead in sin and, under divine power, pulling down the strongholds of Satan."

Eli, this confirms what you posted, about how revival is NOT about saving the lost; revival, rather is reviving a dead church so the church can then go and win the lost for Christ. Well done, brother.

Adam, I meant no disrespect by my last post. I just truly believe we can't brainstorm or "set the stage" for any sovereign move of God, by either studying demographics or anything else. When you speak of Paul reaching pagaistic Gentiles, he wasn't stirring a revival (for they must have been Christains previously for this to happen); Paul was instead planting a church. This is missionary work, this was frontier evangelism - not revival. When Revivalist John Sung travelled to China, he was visiting the already-established underground church - and full-scale revival broke loose. The same with Evan Roberts and the Welsh revival, and Finney in the 1800's. These men couldn't care a hill of beans for demographics; they were saturated in prayer, the Spirit of the Lord was upon them, the fact that they were Calvanist and Arminian didn't matter to God (even Finney, who, admittedly, had some whacked-out ideas) didn't matter. Roberts was an uneducated coal-miner, the men used by God to start the Azusa Street Revival were rejected, Spirit-Filled ex-Baptist and Methodist pastors run off by their congregations, Wigglesworth coudn't read till he was 26, John Sung had 3 different doctorates in German and English and Chinese. Moody was a shoe salesman who took God at His word and embarassed Alexander Whyte, the then king of the pulpit in England. Finney went into a village and just preached (two weeks prior, his "armor bearers" would enter the village, rent out a small, basement room, and fast and pray for the unction).

Be blessed; this is an awesome thread! Peace, my brothers!

Erin said...

"In light of this, do we really understand what true revival is? Have any of us ever seen true, hell-shaking revival? You here who consider yourselves theological-savvy...did your seminary teach you how to weep and groan in unutterable agony over the lost? This, and this only precludes revival!"

I love this... Break us Jesus..

Anonymous said...

Paul West said:

"It's not about Arminianism or Calvanism or any other kind of 'ism' - it's about dead fundamentalism."

Does anyone else notice the blatant self-contradiction within this statement? If it's not about an 'ism' as Paul suggests, it's not about fundamentalISM either.

"throw all their degrees and Phds and doctorates... into the sea and fall on their faces with sackcloth and ashes"

I'm curious as to why Paul West thinks that people with PhD's should not use their education to engage the culture. Surely he does not mean to suggest that people with an education do not have a unique ability to reach certain people in the intellectual community. Obviously those with PhD's have the potential to be a Christian voice in secular research journals, and be a strong influence in secular universities.

I am disturbed by the negativity launched against education by certain individuals. None of us who actually are educated ever said you need an education to be effective in the advance of Kingdom of God. We have merely pointed out that education does one good(i.e. can be a useful tool), and can actually make one's ministry more effective.

To preach the Gospel, one does not need an education. To speak on theological issues, one does. It is clear by the theological issues discussed who has the education and who does not. The recent debate over the word 'amuse' provides an example where the uneducated comment on something and reveal their ignorance on the topic.

When certain individuals who do not have a theological, philosophical, or historical education speak about such things as though they are experts, they only reveal their own ignorance and lose credibility. This is why, as you may have noticed, I do not try to give historical, sociological, or linguistic commentaries - that is not my expertise.

It is wrong to suggest that the uneducated are well equipped to discuss topics that require an education. I find it amusing how so many claim to be experts in theology, history, or philosophy, without having education, and believe their claims are true. Yet they never assume to have expertise in science and mathmatics.

So, my challenge is this:

if you think you're experts on theology, at least be consistent and claim that you're experts in science as well, as though God has qualified you for this.


Anonymous said...


You said, "Revival is a sovereign move of God's Spirit that cannot be intellectualized, hypothesized, formularized or explained in terms of setting up the right demographical conditions. This, brothers, is specifically why the church is the lamentable condition it's in today."

Paul, my question concerning this statement is this: do you think that God doesn't understand those things? Why can't God use those things to affect people? Why can't God alter culture in order to lead people to himself?

My comments on the Great Awakening are from a historical perspective. Since I, or anyone else, was not there, we are at the mercy of historical records. We can only make educated guesses as to why certain things happen. When I looked at the Great Awakening, I could not help but notice certain trends in society. My thoughts are not mine alone, but shared with other scholars (I learned from them, I mean). It is undeniable that certain psychological and sociological movements affected the success of the Great Awakening - saved or unsaved.

Paul, I understand you weren't trying to be negative with me. It's all good. I don't, however, think that we can attribute revival to man's efforts in prayer when God is sovereign. There is a reason why prayer and zealousness affect the church. What I mean by that is God does something before hand to cause his people to start praying. Perhaps this is sociological or psychological. It's lovely to say that revival is an incredible change within the church. This doesn't answer the question. What has to happen before hand to cause the church to desire God's out pouring?

I'm also not sure how you can state that "The same with Evan Roberts and the Welsh revival, and Finney in the 1800's. These men couldn't care a hill of beans for demographics". That is to suggest that those people did not care about who made up their congregations. Every pastor HAS to know his demographic.

I will also agree that God doesn't care for Calvinism or Arminianism. Those are human terms attempting to understand God's nature and really have nothing to do with God himself but rather our interpretation of how God acts. And so, from our perspective those terms matter. From God's, they do not.

Keep in mind that our study of revivals help us understand how God workED. Why wouldn't we want to know about how God interacts with his people?

About your quotes from Ravenhill, I think I actually agreed with him in one of my last statements that God doesn't act with the mind of men.

My points about Paul were to back up my statements about revival and a preacher knowing one's demographic. Even after conversion, Paul would still speak to a Greek or a Roman in Roman or Greek terms, respectively. A pastor has to speak to their congregations where they are at. Otherwise he's just spewing hot air. Whitefield would have also had to speak with Christians first and then to non-Christians as they flocked to hear his words. He knew people in their WORLD SITUATION. So the problem doesn't lie in your definition of 'revival', but in a congregation's demographic nature and in relation to the rest of the culture to which it belongs.

Anonymous said...


your grammar is brutal



Eli said...

Brother Adam,

QUOTE: "What has to happen before hand to cause the church to desire God's out pouring?"

That is a good question. Do you think it simply MUST be a move of the Lord upon the heart of men to pray, or do you think they themselves can simply read the Word, see the situation and get desperate?

I tend to believe it is both in some unexplainable way, much like a covenant is an act of will from both parties. God does in fact move on people, but they must themselves choose how to respond to God's drawing.

It's very much similiar to the Calvinist/Arminian debate. I believe both sides are right: sovereignty and choice.

Anonymous said...


I agree with you. There is a relationship between Free Will and Determinism that we simply cannot fully comprehend. The Bible, I believe, teaches both equally. I think the danger lies in us neglecting to do "our part" since we "wait for the Lord to move." Very interesting discussion.


Eli said...


"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1)

Haha, God bless brother.

Anonymous said...

that is a good question! I seem to think it is both as well. If it is entirely God, he moves in such a way as to make us think we are making a choice. But I am not certain about that. As Logic has said before, God doesn't dictate whether we put mismatched socks on in the morning. There certainly seems to be a level of choice!

So the question does remain: does God change society to receive him or do we change ourselves to receive him?

Anonymous said...

Hi guys,
I've just found out about this site and have been trying to catch up on all your discussions from the past year. I've seen some, pretty good insights, some mean-spirited & humble comments, and some genuinely great questions. I just wanted to tell you all that, after starting to read from older entries, I've seen a huge difference in the amount of love and respect that you all seem to be showing one another.

Yes, I realize that sounds cheesy, and you are probably rolling your eyes at me, but I'm serious! Keep it up, strive for peace, and don't stop loving as Christ loves:

1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil.2:1-4)

Keep up the preaching Eli, may God be glorified by it and through everything on this site.

With so much love to you all,

Anonymous said...

Hey Sears,

About free-will and determinism...

I think I understand what you're trying to say, but I may be wrong. My interpretation is that you mean to say that God's sovereignty works in conjunction with man's free will such that God and man each have a role in how things work out, and each is responsible for different things. I do agree with you, if this is what you meant. Althought, I actually think it is fully comprehendible eventually, even if we do not fully comprehend it yet.

If I am incorrectly interpreting you, feel free to clarify yourself.

[Before reading on, I do not believe you were trying to raise a philosophical debate... but since I know how much we all love this topic, I thought some discussion might be fun]

I do think you ought to be careful in claiming there is a relationship between free will and determinism in a metaphysical sense. It is generally understood in most philosophical circles that 'determinsism' and 'libertarian free-will' are mutually exclusive. Often a move of the determinist is that of 'compatibilism' (sometimes called 'soft determinism'), that claims free will and determinism are compatible. Compatibilism is actually a modified determinism, and is also mutually exclusive with libertarian free will.

I think, as Christians, we have to aknowledge libertarian free will (that we have the capacity to have done otherwise even if the prior history of the universe was identical). I do not believe that moral responsibility can be explained properly without free will.

However, many Christians believe this conflicts with the sovereignty of God. I, however, believe that when the sovereignty of God is understood as God's unlimited potential to act in all circumstances (in accordance with his nature of course), the sovereignty of God and free will, in the libertarian sense, are compltely consistent and harmonious.

Just a few thoughts.