Saturday, April 01, 2006

A Return to Greatness

American evangelicals seem very interested in revival. I live in New England and you can't go long around here without hearing from somebody about revival. Maybe it's our heritage of revival here that drives us to long for revival - Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, the Second Great Awakening, D.L. Moody etc., or maybe it is the sad awareness that every evangelical Christian in New England has of being a culturally non-existant minority. Regardless, I for one think there is nothing wrong with longing for revival. The only question I have is, "What are we longing for when we say, 'revival'" ? Are we longing for merely an intensified and more populous version of what we already experience in 21st American evangelicalism? More passionate worship? More relevant sermons? More fruit in evangelism? Greater impact on the culture? Growing churches? Political reform? Are these at the core of what we want or is it something deeper and closer to the heart of true revival? I submit that at the core of revival is the glory of God. Revival is a renewed knowledge, desire for and experience of the glory of God - the glory of God manifest in and through Jesus Christ and known by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Listen to what our forefather Jonathan Edwards reported of those thus affected in the Great Awakening:

"They speak much of their sense of excellency in the way of salvation by free and sovereign grace, through the righteousness of Christ alone; and how it is with delight that they renounce their own righteousness, and rejoice in having no account made of it....The supreme attention of their minds is to the glorious excellencies of God and Christ; and there is very often a ravishing sense of God's love accompanying a sense of His excellency. They rejoice in a sense of the faithfulness of God's promises, as they respect the future eternal enjoyment of Him....The unparalleled joy that many of them speak of, is what they find when they are lowest in the dust, emptied most of themselves, and as it were annihilating themselves before God; when they are nothing, and God is all; seeing their own unworthiness, depending not at all on themselves, but alone on Christ, and ascribing all glory to God."
Jonathan Edwards , A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God

May God bring such revival. May we long for this, pray for it and live for it. Let us return to the core of revival - God himself in all his glory as shown in awesome Son, Jesus Christ. Bring this sort of revival O Lord! Start with me. Start with my family, my church. Whatever the cost. More of You and less of me!

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