What to make of the Asbury Revival?

What to make of the Asbury Revival?

Part of my daily watchman routine is to check out the likes of Bitchute for news on what is going on in the world, which is often grim and foreboding, yet often culminates in new articles on my blog. Today, I came across this report: “Asbury Revival: Why it’s unique & what’s next?” and I was encouraged.

According to Wikipedia: “The 2023 Asbury revival is an ongoing Christian revival at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. The event was prompted after students spontaneously stayed in Hughes Auditorium following a regularly scheduled chapel service on 8 Feb. 2023. News of the phenomena was quickly spread on social media and in Christian online publications. The revival has been compared to similar revivals at Asbury, notably one that occurred in 1970, which had far-reaching consequences in Methodism, US culture, and in the growth of the Jesus movement. The revival is noted for its use of social media, as the participants are mainly members of Generation Z.”

As an old dodderer who has been there, seen much and got the tee shirt, along with the scars, battle fatigue and memories of false dawns to go with it, and now being put out to pasture as having had “my day”, finds besides reflecting on the fulfillment of end time Bible prophecy, I like to study past accounts of Holy Ghost revival, and long for it, while mindful not to dismiss that which is purported to be revival if it doesn’t fit the pattern I had been led to believe was the case in the past or should be in the future. Again, in the interest of cutting to the chase and not wanting to tread on the toes of those who have waxed holy and lyrical on the revival that is being claimed to be taking place at Asbury, I refer to something I wrote just a month ago: “Revival or Revolution, which is it going to be?” and something I wrote three years ago: “Rumours of Revival” should readers be interested in more of my thoughts on revival.

In my earlier revival blog, I referred to a 90-minute video that was made in 1995, titled: “RUMORS of REVIVAL” that was presented by the popular charismatic preacher, Gerald Coates, who died last year (see here for my “Remembering Gerald Coates” tribute). In preparing for this article, I listened again to this presentation that I found to be salutary, powerful, authentic and moving. I noted, many well known Christian leaders across the ecclesiological spectrum, a number, 28 years on, still around. The focus was on what has become known as the Toronto blessing and the question posed was whether this was a genuine move of the Holy Spirit. While concerns were raised, most thought it was and gave reasons why this was so. In my own lifetime, while noting outbreaks of what has been seen as revival across the world, besides the Toronto movement which spilled over in the UK and world-wide, there was the charismatic renewal and Jesus movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Without going too deep into my reasonings, I believe both were authentic moves of the Holy Spirit along with much that was false and shallow, and too often after revival there was stagnation as I often saw in this recent age of Corona and woke, with instead of a remnant church prepared to pay the price, a conformist one that is wanting to please man. As with Old Testament equivalents, too often revival alternated with ruin, and we seem even further now from the glorious church expectation of Jesus’ John 17 prayer.

“Ruin” is perhaps too strong a word, but it was a term used by J.N.Darby, founder of my own Plymouth Brethren movement concerning the church of his day. In my depressed state, licking the wounds inflicted, knowingly and not, by those purporting to be spiritual, feeling betrayed and let down by Christian leaders, including some who featured in Gerald’s video, and even by God, I feel hurt and disappointment bordering on despair. This is based on personal observation and sadness that hopes of a prolonged, powerful move of the Holy Spirit that would have been the logical continuation of the charismatic and Toronto movements did not happen. Yet it is not about me; it is all about HIM. It is not just me that feels the way I do, but many, who back in the day were enthusiastic for the things of God, perhaps as a result of these two “moves of the Spirit”. For all of us, what is happening at Asbury could and should serve as a wake-up call for revival.

The first thing I would like to do as we consider how best to respond is to pass on what one anti-charismatic elder in my PB assembly said to me when I was a student and I spoke positively concerning the charismatic movement, back in 1972, knowing that friends of mine had been profoundly impacted. His point was it was more important to be faithful than successful and strange manifestations, e.g. laughter (as cited by Gerald) and, in those days, speaking in tongues and being baptised in the Spirit post conversion, were contentious issues, and should be looked upon with skepticism. He was right but he was also wrong. It is not for us to tell the Almighty how He should work and who He should use. I found the left overs from the charismatic renewal, the new churches, have often since lost their way, as much as did the traditional churches before them – both believing, since God once worked, often powerfully, in their set-ups, He would do so again and not bypass them for other avenues.

What I can say, God is great healer and is entirely trust worthy. His purposes won’t be thwarted and His Church is His instrument. Sometimes we have to go through experiences of rejection and disappointment etc. as character building exercises. Sometimes we look without when we should look within at our own foolishness and rebellion. More important than without or within is to look up to the living God, a clear feature of revival. We need to do as I am finding I must do, to be of a humble and contrite Spirit, living in the fear of God as well as His love. While some may feel, like me, mistrustful of many Christians, especially those in “leadership”, we can and must trust, thank and worship God because of His intrinsic nature and, notwithstanding heresies, schisms etc., must still work toward that great goal for the Church, expressed in Jesus’ High Priestly prayer.

I take heart from the “Asbury Revival”. It seemed that the Devil through all His wiles and deceptions had taken over the hearts and minds of our young people, but the truth is HE HAS NOT. The revival looks set to spread and continue and there is a place for us all in God’s great work, but we must heed past lessons! There is a danger; Satan is a past master at orchestrating the counterfeit, and as I have pointed out elsewhere we are living in a time when the very elect may be deceived. We are in a spiritual war for the souls of men and rather than jumping on any bandwagon, we must engage in that war and speak and live consistently with biblical truth. We should ask God to search our hearts and pray for revival starting with me.

The crux of the matter is what we are witnessing at Asbury is that people are hungry for God and God is responding. Let us rejoice then that we are seeing mercy drops round us falling, and I haven’t even begun to consider what is happening world-wide where God is indeed working and, for those of us looking on, let us desire for God Himself with an expectation for His showers of blessing.


One thought on “What to make of the Asbury Revival?

  1. Paul Saunders says:

    I am pleased to say that I have met so many people who became Christians in times of refreshing and have stood the test of time (many now with Lord).

Have your say

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s