It happened that a few days ago I came across a YouTube video “Rumours of Revival” presented by a Facebook friend, Gerald Coates, a well known Christian leader who has been going longer than I have, which contained a powerful, pertinent message.
This particularly resonated with me for a variety of reasons. As a young Christian, I often encountered old codgers (like I now am) who in surveying past and present were of the view that we were desperately needing revival and hoping it would come. Although they had seen raindrops around them falling were pleading (or so they said) for showers of blessing. It became a subject that exercised me. The montage I produced, included below, encapsulates some of my thoughts I have had over the years on the subject. I suppose, like many who have experienced the rain drops, I have yet to experience the showers and fear my yearnings for these to fall could well have waned and can’t help wondering if I would see this in my lifetime, even though some will say the showers are falling all around me.
What fascinated me about this 90 minute, well worth watching video, produced 26 years ago, was how many blasts from the past featured besides Gerald, some of which still operate on Facebook or in the public arena, representing a broad spectrum of Christian thought (sometimes opposing), all of which brought back lots of memories and brought out various emotions, many of which were positive. The video was based around the Toronto blessing, which was associated with people laughing and being slain in the Spirit. Those interviewed gave different takes on what was taking place at the time, most of which were positive. I couldn’t help smiling listening to a young Rodney Howard Browne, one of leaders of the Toronto movement (although some would argue the real leader was the Lord) as I came across him a year ago on the Alex Jones show, when he presented Alex, the host, with a gift of a gun and gave a complimentary commentary on Donald Trump (which I agreed with). An associate of another of the persons interviewed, Terry Virgo, recently defriended himself from me on Facebook for my expressing similar pro Trump, as well as pro Brexit views, as did another interviewee, Stephen Sizer, for my taking him to task on his Israel replacement theology. Three further names of note (and there are others) was Stanley Jebb who became associated with a teenage mentor, Clive Calver who once led an evangelistic outreach at my church when I was a teen and R.T.Kendall, who is as close as any to my way of thinking on where the life and word balance lies.
I say all this, not in order to name drop but to make two important observations. Firstly, most those who were interviewed could largely be seen as leading lights among Christian leaders, then and now, but are also imperfect and different. Secondly, I wonder how twenty six years on, they would reflect on what was taking place then and whether in their opinion the hoped for revival has taken place, and if not why not? I ask these questions not because I want to be controversial, or re-open old wounds which sadly is what holds many Christians back from the real thing but because the video strangely stirred me in my desire to work toward revival, and for me to go beyond being a passive commentator to that of an active participant. One of the positives from the video wasn’t about the “Toronto blessing”, for the jury is still out as far as I am concerned, but listening to the testimony of those who have been transformed in their Christian walk. It was quite evident that most of those who shared their testimony had been touched by God and revived. As I look at the world around me and lament on the state of my own country with its Brexit confusion and manifold examples of anti-God sentiments and actions, which can extend world wide, I realize how much we need revival and we need it now. All of which brings me to a montage that relates to a lot of the nitty gritty regarding revival …
Why Revival Tarries: this was a book that influenced me as a young man and stirred me at the time to put into the practice of the being serious with God message the author Leonard Ravenhill presented, and encouraged readers to work toward.
Sinners in the hands of an angry God: was the title of a sermon, much on the hell and need for repentance theme, delivered by Jonathan Edwards, which had an amazing affect on his hearers.
The Welsh Revival: took place 1904-1905, featuring evangelist Evan Roberts, and had a remarkable affect on the moral tone of Wales (for example, it emptied pubs and police cells), bringing dissolute sinners into the Kingdom in their thousands.
Tongues of Fire: is what fell on the Day of Pentecost when the first ever Christian revival took place and we are told in Acts 2 that 5000 people were added to the church that day
Revival Lectures: by Charles Finney, a mid nineteenth century American evangelist, instrumental in leading many to Christ as he traversed the country. His theme was based around the idea of practical holiness and the need to be fully sold out to a holy God.
The Hebridean Revival: featuring the Rev Duncan Campbell and two old dears, limited physically but devoting themselves to prayer, which broke out in 1949, affecting many, including Donald Trump.
Revival in China: taking place right now and right now there is severe government crackdown on Christians. Yet despite the persecution Christians now number toward 100 million persons.
Wesley and Whitefield: two of the great evangelists of the late eighteenth century, who were instrumental in bringing many to faith in Christ and significantly affecting the direction of a nation.
Revival is a huge subject and one where I am poorly qualified to wax lyrical on. What I do know is there is good evidence the real thing has happened throughout history and is happening today. I doubt there is a precise formula to what must be applied for it to happen and when it comes to Calvinist and Arminian (leading revivalists can be found in both camps: e.g. Whitefield / Edwards (Calvinist) and Wesley / Finney (Arminian) the elements of God’s sovereign grace and God acting in response to the prayers, dedication and activism of His people are usually all present. But the time is not for old men to sigh that it ain’t happening now yet needs to happen, but to seek the Lord, encourage the young and pray for showers of blessing.