conversing on ‘Revival’

A visit to the Desiring God web site(see link in Blogroll) the other day took my thoughts off to consider several layers of response I have to the word ‘Revival’.  John Piper quotes from his book ‘A Godward Life’ (p.111)

Revival is the sovereign work of God to awaken his people with fresh intensity to the truth and glory of God, the ugliness of sin, the horror of hell, the preciousness of Christ’s atoning work, the wonder of salvation by grace through faith, the urgency of holiness and witness, and the sweetness of worship with God’s people.”

I forwarded the quote to a number of friends for consideration and encouragement and received the following response from a good friend: 

Yeah, but….
most of what I’ve seen is “revivals” being used to create an emotional frenzy of sorts (frenzy is probably too extreme a word) that goes away in a relatively short period of time.
To that extent, what good is it?
True revival should not have to be repeated on an anual (or more) basis.

Is he right?  Is ‘revival of any good?  I’d be interested in your thoughts…responses.  There are also some good blog posts I’ve enjoyed a bit of over on ‘Cavman Considers’ blogsite (see Blogs I Enjoy link and do a search under revival).  I haven’t read all of what Cavman has blogged but it may be helpful context for you. 

Here was my reply to my friend and perhaps I will be able to add to it as the quote from John Piper continues to stir me up.

I think your observations are right on…    when man is doing his thing apart from God for his own prideful end…emotional frenzy is likely the only lasting outcome…though God will always use His word regardless of who is proclaiming it.
Now go back and read John Piper‘s quote again.        Whose work?  Who is doing the working?
Revival, depending on definition and context, may simply be my daily coming to God in His word for refreshing and renewal from the nourishment of the Truth empowered and given by the Holy Spirit.  It may also be an event where God providentially takes the Word preached and opens many eyes in one time and place to magnify and glorify Himself.  It may also be the word we might assign to something taking place in a church body that has been neglecting the Word and walking in disobedience (such as Israel did time and again) and God, by His faithfulness alone intervenes and catches that body up once again to see His glory and worth and true beauty…we can then only respond in loving obedience because of what He has shown us.
And then sadly, there is the truth that few will enter the gate…many will say in that day, but we did this and that in your name…tares among the wheat.
Have I died to myself?  Am I a living sacrifice?  Has God saved me and is that truly borne out in a fruit-bearing evidence of His life in me?  in you?
It is not a prayer or profession that saves…but rather conversion…regeneration by the Spirit of God and our subsequent confession in word and action.
So, I agree with you….Yeah, but…  to what extent is it true (God) or counterfeit (man) revival.
Have you thought about revival lately?  Does John Piper’s quote resonate with you or would you perhaps have a “Yeah, but…“.  Go ahead and weigh in…it won’t cost you a dime.



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2 Responses to conversing on ‘Revival’

  1. TimWitten says:

    (a friend who couldn’t get access to the blog submitted the following…)

    If “Revival” is HIS work, then who are we to “Yeah, but…”? Are we talking about the work of Gd as John Piper describes it, or are we talking about some phenomena of western chrch culture? I think our “Yeah, but…” friend is thinking of the latter. That is of man, and you can always say that about work of men. But questioning what is essentially the work of HS in us to work and to will His purposes, making us more like His Son… Well, to question that is like saying we should throw out the Lrd’s Pryr because of man’s tendency to throw the heart out and settle into empty ritual… Did our Brother or did He not say, “This is the way you should yarp…”? (And yes, I’m sure He meant, “in this style, along these lines” rather than “use exactly these words”, but the fault still lies in man’s heart, not in the practice itself.) Let’s not fall into straw man arguments where we throw out the whole principle as long as we can find even one situation where someone has managed to abuse it. That’s the way the Pharisees argued, and our Brother condemned them. Arguing like that falls right into the trap of legalism.

    This discussion reminds of a lecture of Beth Moore’s from the Bel Gd study we’re doing here right now. She was talking about miracles and addressing the question of “Does He still do them?” (Her short answer – “YES!”) She talked about the two extremes – cessationism and sensationalism. She described the latter as very “me-centered” – it’s all about what I can get from Gd, and that strikes me as the essence of some of the revivalism going on in some places. However, the other extreme is no better, taking the glory out of Gd and trying to make Him safe, predictable. (Make no mistake – He’s not ‘tame’, as CS Lewis reminded us.)

    There’s my two cents… Blessings!

  2. cavman says:

    Revival often gets confused with revivalism in our minds. Piper talks about revival as understood biblically and theologically prior to about 1800. What usually creates the ‘yeah, but…” is revivalism which began around 1800, and derives from a very different source, and is supported by a very different, dare I say unbiblical, views of humanity, the extent of the Fall, work of Christ and more.
    Piper is trying to point us back to the real deal.

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