Monday, February 13, 2023

Why I'd Prefer to Hear the Spiritual News from Your Household (or Congregation) than the Spiritual News from Asbury University

I spent a few minutes with my children this morning describing my own experiences in 24+hour religious fervor times in which there was much class-skipping. I attended a sister school of Asbury, for 2.5 years. This occurred, triggered by a chapel service that suddenly wouldn't end, in two of the three springs that I was there. 

I wish that I had recorded it. We talked about what revivals looked like in the Scripture. We talked about how God worked them, and how people responded. We talked about the real holiness that believers live in real life. And we talked about what real worship is: Who defines it, Who leads it from heaven, by whom He leads it on earth, what the singing in it should be, what the speaking in it should be, etc.

We were just about to begin family worship together, and I wanted my children to bring to bear upon our worship the concluding applications in yesterday's morning sermon (an application about the genuine knowledge of God in worship and life) and evening sermon (an application about how we come to Him in worship and how we conduct ourselves in worship).

Since then, I've been bothered all day as I work, and sometimes check FB, by many folks' really wanting this to be a reviving work of the Holy Spirit (or even outright saying that it is). Nothing in any of the accounts encourages me to think that way at all. Even intense religious feelings and great sadness over one's sins is not necessarily a sign of regeneration. Maybe there are things that are indicative of the new birth that are occurring. But if so, it hasn't been in accounts that I have read. 

Revival is marked by the Word preached in the power of the Spirit and heard by the power of the Spirit.

And it results in holiness of life as described by the Bible. Holiness in ordinary things like doing your chores, working your job to the glory of God—and yes... going to class and doing your homework—in between worship times that are a meeting with God in which He declares Himself via the means which He has appointed, by which also He graciously works in us for doing our duty in a godly manner in the rest of our life.

We would expect much telling about Christ Himself. Yes, theology. Who Jesus is. What Jesus has done. Who our Triune God is. What our Triune God has done. Praising Him for the demonstration/application of it in our lives may be included, but personal testimony isn't worship, and it isn't evangelism. There will be much more of God expressing Himself in the Word than of man expressing his personal experience of God.

Finally, if it rampantly violates the 2nd, 4th, and 8th commandments... it's a violation of the 3rd commandment to attribute it to the Holy Spirit.

Forgive the brevity. I'd really like to write/say more. If something is somewhere between the Second Great Awakening Ensleepening and the Toronto Blessing, rather than more in the direction of Whitefield and Edwards (not Wesley, please; read Dallimore's two-volume biography of Whitefield), then we have no business thinking of it as an outpouring of real, spiritual life.

And forgive the skepticism of someone who has "been there" during a similar season of life to these  probably/mostly well-meaning kids. I was among the well-meaning kids once. And my alarm over how, some months later, the "revival" had produced zero actual conversions on campus led to a later determination to evangelize my hall in the dorm. That also led to zero conversions that I know of. But it became a means by which the Lord gave me my wife. Maybe I'll write about that here one day, or if you know me, we can sit down and share it. She really enjoys telling it together.

I'm much more encouraged when I hear about a dad whose commitment to family worship is renewed, and a family whose children are now doing their school and chores out of grateful love to the Redeemer Whom they trust to help them. This is revival in a Christian home.

I'm much more encouraged when I hear about a congregation whose worship has been reforming back to Scripture, that is more and more delightedly keeping the Lord's Day, and is experiencing powerful new understanding of Christ from the Scripture and conviction about Christ from the Scripture. This is revival in a Christian church.

I'm much more encouraged when I hear someone attest that he has gone from loving sin and hating God to loving God and hating sin. This is the New Birth, and is the only revival that an unbeliever can experience.