Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ways & Means

From a great article by Tim Keller on Revival Ways and Means:
The primary means-of-revival that everyone agrees upon is extraordinary prayer. That’s the clearest of all and so I won’t spend time on it. The second means is a recovery of the grace-gospel. One of the main vehicles sparking the first awakening in Northampton, Massachusetts was Edwards’ two sermons on Romans 4:5, “Justification by Faith Alone,” in November, 1734. For both John Wesley and George Whitefield, the main leaders of the British Great Awakening, it was an understanding of salvation by grace rather than moral effort that touched off personal renewal and made them agents of revival. Lloyd-Jones taught that the gospel of justification could be lost at two levels. A church might simply become heterodox and lose the very belief in justification by faith alone. But just as deadly, it might keep the doctrine “on the shelf” as it were and not preach it publicly in such a way that connects to people’s hearts and lives.

The third factor I would mention is renewed individuals. Sprague points out how certain church leaders can be characterized by the infectious marks of spiritual revival – a joyful, affectionate seriousness, and “unction” – a sense of God’s presence. In addition, often several visible, dramatic life-turnarounds (“surprising conversions”) may cause others to do deep self-examination and create a sense of spiritual longing and expectation in the community. The personal revivals going on in these individuals spread informally to others through conversation and relationship. More and more people begin to look at themselves and seek God.

A fourth factor I will call the use of the gospel on the heart in counseling. Sprague and John Newton in his letters do a good job of showing how the gospel must be used on both seekers, new believers, and non-growing Christians. The gospel must cut away both the moralism and the licentiousness that destroys real spiritual life and power. There must be venues and meetings and settings in which this is done, both one-on-one and in groups. See William Williams, The Experience Meeting, a leaders’ manual for revival-promoting small group meetings in Wales during the first great awakening
 Read the whole think at the link. I agree with what he says about Charles Finney. And BTW - Have I mentioned lately that I really like Tim Keller's stuff?!!!