The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Recipe for Revival

By: Thomas F. Booher

I have been reading a book by Iain Murray called Revival and Revivalism. It chronicles the time from 1750-1858. During this time, especially beginning in the early 1800's, a shift took place in the minds of many regarding revival itself. What was once understood to be a work of the Spirit became a work of man. The call for sinners to repent of their sins and trust in Christ as Savior turned to something more like what we see in Billy Graham Crusades. Free will theology replaced the Spirit's sovereign work, and the result was a scheduling of revivals rather than a praying that God would send one.

John Knox Witherspoon, a President of Princeton and signer of the Declaration of Independence, said that piety was most key for a minister of the gospel to possess. He said this would give the minister experimental knowledge of the Word of God, since he felt it in his heart. He also said this would help the minister study with greater enthusiasm and also know what he needed to study the most to benefit himself. What I think is most important, however, is what Witherspoon said in point five. This, I believe, is a recipe for revival, not because man can schedule one or make the Spirit blow, but rather because I think if ministers have this, it is evident that the Spirit is already blowing:

"True religion will give unspeakable force to what a minister says. There is a piercing and a penetrating heat in that which flows from the heart, which distinguishes it both from the coldness of indifference, and the false fire of enthusiasm and vain-glory. We see that a man truly pious has often esteem, influence, and success, though his parts may be much inferior to others, who are more capable, but less conscientious. If, then, piety makes even the weakest venerable, what must it do when added to the finest natural talents, and the best acquired endowments?"

Indeed, ministers should aspire for both theological acumen and personal piety. Too often we find one or the other, or neither. God's grace alone can give men either, and when He does, I believe a congregation under such preaching will be cut to the heart by the Spirit and conversions will begin to flow. When we remember that it is pastors whom God has called to be shepherds on His behalf for the flock, the members of His body, we can see why pious pastors who are gifted to exhort and who know the Word are used by God to bring revival and refreshing to the church. While many today try to blow false fire that is not from the heart but is rather a charade trying to appeal to man's enslaved will, other ministers have settled for a dry orthodoxy that they themselves do not know from the heart. Let us pray that God would send men set on fire by the Word they preach, and that their fire would catch others on fire as well.

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