Do It Again Lord – Thoughts On Revival
What have Jim Packer and Tony Campolo got in common?
The question is relevant as I will explain when I get to my review of the book: “Do It Again Lord” by Gordon Pettie, who I have earlier come across (approvingly) as one of the presenters of Revelation TV, but first let me provide some of the context and background and explain why I am keen to share my thoughts as I am about to do …
I am grateful to my friend Paul Slennet, owner of Southend Christian Bookshop, who presented me with the book but the deal was I needed to read it and (optionally) review what I read. I have just read the book and I will share my findings because I want to – the book makes important points on an important subject.
I have long been interested in revival and wanted to see it happen in my life time but like the hymn writer I can say: “Showers of blessing Showers of blessing we need Mercy drops round us are falling But for the showers we plead”. In my recent studies of the Old Testament especially, there were examples of God showing His glory, when there was little doubt He, the great and awesome God, was doing the wondrous things, we have been led to believe would happen – and while we are grateful for the mercy drops, we don’t see the showers (at least that has been my experience) and the fear of the Lord, even among believers, is absent. In my early days in the church I belonged to, I took the older people to task, who had seen God move in power in days long ago and I was summarily dismissed for asking the provocative question why not now?
Of course, God is sovereign and it really is up to Him how He acts and when He does so. But to give a more Arminian response to this quintessential Calvinist position, the great nineteenth century evangelist and revivalist, Charles Finney, argued that we (God’s people – even if only a tiny fraction of them) need to do our bit (so to speak) and fundamentally that involved repenting of sin (of both commission and omission), including a lack of prayer and laying hold of the Almighty to act. The Book majors on revivals in history, which I was mostly aware of, and back in the day this had quickened me to want God to do what is the title of the book: “Do It Again Lord”. I write at a time I have had to do my own repenting, some of it to do with things that had its roots in early childhood hurts that carried into adulthood, leading me to one of two conclusions: forget about all this God stuff altogether or to be deadly serious about God. I suspect a good deal of the pain is a consequence of my early prayers on the lines “Do It Again Lord” as well as “and if need be – do it through me … but if you do it through brother X or sister Y who I may not even see eye to eye with, that is fine because the important thing is you get all the glory” and God taking me at my word. For God wants to do great and wonderful things and act in revival, but wants to do it through His prepared through suffering etc. Church, who He want’s as His Son’s pure, radiant Bride.
So back to Jim and Tony. In the first few pages, the author talks approvingly about both Jim Packer and Tony Campolo. Several years ago, the two men came to my town to speak in the same week. Only a few listened to Jim Packer, despite him being imho the greatest Bible expositor of my time, whose doctrine was decidedly divine. On the other hand, many listened to Tony Campolo, with his focus on social justice issues (something I too was getting into), despite his doctrine being decidedly dodgy. This was the writing on the wall for what was to follow as I saw the wider professing church go down the path of doctrinal error and grieving the Holy Spirit, manifest in many cases with an attitude that is more awoke than awake to what is needed when it come to proclaiming the Gospel and through being taken in by official lies, e.g. re. Covid-19, having an attitude more like the Laodicean church (Revelation 3:20).
But Pettie’s book was a helpful corrective and reading some of his preamble made me think this is a book for all of us (awoke or awake) and for such a time as this – starting with me, or to give another later example: baptised in the Holy Ghost or not, or whether or not the church we attend is alive or sound or not. for one of the lovely lessons he draws from history is God can use the least likely, and often does, and does it His way. The book was very readable and very well researched. While the situations covered by each of his examples (America 1857, Ulster 1859, Wales 1904, Azusa Street 1906, Korea 1907, Hebrides 1949) were a lot different, there were a lot of similarities. The one thing in common was that something extraordinary was happening, people were seriously and full out seeking after God and having their lives changed in incredible ways, in ways and in numbers that did not happen when there was no revival, and the affect was to change to the whole fabric of society. While human instruments were present, it was God who was doing the work. Often the beginnings are found when people of little consequence in worldly terms prayed, and those who led the revivals were usually not big named people, and in any case were more like catalysts because it was the Holy Spirit who was convicting people of their sin and need to turn over their lives to God. The book did not just discuss how revival was manifest but also the hindrances to the work of revival, including opposition by the established churches and those who felt threatened because of what took place. Signs and wonders happened but also did not happen; churches were used but also by-passed, but in all cases lives were radically changed.
The book is a worthwhile read for any who wants to see the Lord “Do It Again”, offering many valuable lessons. There is no doubt we live in extraordinary days and the only hope for humankind is the Gospel. I suspect we are seeing early signs of a worldwide revival e.g. THE GREATEST TENT CRUSADE IN OUR HISTORY. Just as the baddies want a Great Reset that will enslave humanity, I am wanting and believing in a Great Awakening when people turn to God wholeheartedly. It is encumbered upon us to seek the Lord on these matters. I recommend this book as an encourager to do so.