Friday, February 10, 2006

Is this Genuine Revival?

Theologian J.I. Packer defines revival as "a work of God by His Spirit through His word bringing the spiritually dead to living faith in Christ and renewing the inner life of Christians who have grown slack and sleepy." In light of recent news coming from Asbury College one must ask, "is this what is happening there?"

The college has reported that for three days large numbers of students were found in the chapel praying, worshiping, and confessing. One student remained until 4 a.m. and returned again at 7 a.m. “God continues to move across the campus,” said Dr. Paul A. Rader. “We have had students in Hughes Auditorium continuously since Monday at 10 a.m. when God came in such power and blessing during our Student Chapel. Last night at midnight there were several hundred in Hughes." What does this mean?

It's hard to say at this point. For years Asbury has lived in the past, desiring to re-duplicate the revival that broke out on their campus in 1970. Students are bombarded with the news of this historic occassion and pressured to bring it about again. This fact alone puts such current events into doubt. Yet one cannot rule out completely God's working these events by His Spirit for true revival. Jonathan Edwards, one of the key figures God used in the Great Awakening, gave a concice listing of the marks of true revival. Packer labels them as follows:

-Awesome sense of the presence of God and the truth of the gospel
-Profound awareness of sin, leading to repentance and love of Christ
-Uninhibited witness to the power and glory of Christ
-Joy in the Lord, love of His people, and fear of sinning
-A speeding up of the work of grace so that men are struck down by the Word and transformed by the Spirit in short order

If these marks are occuring at Asbury then perhaps we are seeing true revival break forth on that campus again. Most likely only time will tell if what is occuring here is genuine. If there is lasting fruit that comes from this we praise God- if, however, we see another case of Charles Finney's "burned-over districts" then we will regret to pronounce this highly unlikely as a work of the Spirit.

For now we wait with anticipation, pray for our brothers and sisters at Asbury, rejoice with them in love of the Lord, and trust that God, in His sovereignty, will use this to sanctify people as He pleases.


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