Revival & Revivalism Then
This article offers an introduction to revivalism. In short, it persists on a host of wrong assumptions and faulty premises. Do you see any of these marks today?
What did Spurgeon want his people to understand about God’s work in revival?
Pastors need to understand that a change occurred among American Baptists in the nineteenth century. This change has shaped our intuitions about conversion, membership, baptism, and what it means to practice regenerate church membership.
Why not gather with a few other pastors in your area once a month or once per quarter to pray for God to send revival? He has answered those kinds of prayers before.
In 1876, Washington churches partnered together to host a 105-day-long revival meeting in the National Capital. This event illustrates the extent to which modern revivalism impacted American evangelicalism.
By naming the entire Second Great Awakening a result of man-made revivalism, we fail to recognize many examples of true revival between 1798 and 1820 that we can rejoice in and learn from.
Revival & Revivalism Now
We might say that revival is the unstopping of the pent-up energies of the Spirit of God breaking down the dams which have been erected against his convicting and converting ministry in whole communities of individuals, as happened at Pentecost and in the “awakenings” which have followed.
How many non-Christians sit in your pews every Sunday, hardened in their unbelief because they’ve been given false assurance?
We must labor to excel in establishing the necessary conditions for revival, all while remembering that our triune God has predetermined the sufficient conditions for revival in eternity past.
If you drape your vine over a simple trellis with structural integrity, then its fruit is far more likely to mature without bruising.
God has a big plan for his whole world, and God will accomplish his work in the world. Sometimes he may do that through us. Sometimes he may do it through the church down the street.
Revivalism and Ministry
What pastors, missionaries, and campus leaders need is a vision for church-driven ministry, not movement-driven ministry. This is how we build for the long-run, not for the sprint.
Understanding dependence on the Word and Spirit would have reoriented my entire approach to and practice of pastoral ministry. But instead, I struggled to make sense of the man-centered revivalism I’d been taught.
To illustrate our problem, in 2018, one beloved historic Southern Baptist Church whose name most Baptists would recognize claimed 30,000 members and an average of 6,801 attending.
Revivalism’s bold promises remain alluring to missionaries. But let the missionary beware.
Passing the faith from generation to generation is both simpler and more difficult than revivalists prophesy.
If God really doesn’t care what we do when we gather and it’s up to us to design a “worship experience,” then everything is on the table.
Does Paul’s requirement that an elder be “above reproach” act as its own qualification, or does Paul mean for it to qualify all the other qualifications?
To be above reproach is, arguably, the most general of all the elder qualifications, so it has to be defined more generally.
These men, though imperfect, were above reproach. I knew that. And now they were unified in confronting me for my foolish pride.
By God’s grace, you want shepherds who live with such obvious Spirit-dependence and fruit that false accusations fall flat.
In the church of Jesus Christ, character matters for leadership. No character, no qualification to lead.
Book Review: The Heart of the Gospel: A.B. Simpson, the Fourfold Gospel, and Late Nineteenth-Century Evangelical Theology, by Bernie A. Van De WalleBy Kevin Niebuhr | 9Marks Journal: Pursuing Revival While Avoiding Revivalism | 06.14.2022
While I’m not an admirer of all the positions and practices Simpson had throughout his lifetime, I am grateful for Van De Walle’s scholarly work.
Book Review: Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism, 1750-1858, by Iain MurrayBy Bobby Jamieson | 9Marks Journal: Pursuing Revival While Avoiding Revivalism | 06.14.2022
I commend Iain Murray’s classic book to all present and aspiring church leaders, and to any Christian who likes to ask, “How did we get here?”
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