2002-04-24 - The Great Awakening
Psalm 119:88 Revive me according to Thy lovingkindness, so that I may keep the testimony of Thy mouth.
Before we begin today, several of you have asked about materials that might be useful in the study of Revival. There is a lot out there on the subject. There is a six -volume set called the Revival Library. There are many individual volumes in print, and even a Christian biography on someone who was prominent in a revival can be a good source of information. The best single volume in print right now is, in my opinion, Iain Murray's book titled Revival and Revivalism. The order number (ISBN #) would be 0-85151-660-2. I don't get any kickbacks for recommending them, but www.cvbbs.com is the cheapest place that I have found, to purchase modern Christian books.
The Great Awakening has been called the first national event in American history. It is the first event that touched every settlement and had a unifying aspect that helped lead to the Revolution three decades later. The basic dates for this movement of God are 1730-1745. It touched down overseas in Ireland, Scotland and England also, but the real thrust of the movement was in the United States. Leaders such as George Whitefield, the Wesleys, the Tennents, and Jonathan Edwards experienced remarkable effects in the churches when they preached.
It is in this revival that Jonathan Edwards preached his famous sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." This sermon gives an excellent window into the true nature of revival. It is brought about by the Holy Spirit and this sermon shows this in a very great manner. Edwards preached this sermon in Enfield, Connecticut on July 8th, 1741 and there was a remarkable outpouring of the Spirit. However, this sermon shows us something about revival. Some claim that the preachers would manipulate their audience to get them to respond. However, Edwards preached the very same sermon six months earlier and not a single soul was stirred. The same sermon in one place was listened to with interest, but elicited no real response. However, when the Spirit came and visited the congregation at Enfield six months later, the people were greatly affected.
When I was in Seminary, a friend and I were walking across the campus and a young woman approached us and begged us to pray for her church. We asked why, and she responded, "we are having a revival this weekend." My friend and I looked at each other and one of us said, "Really, how do you know?" To which she replied, "We have one every six months." his is a fundamental misunderstanding of what revival is. Revival, and Edward's' sermon is a great example of this, comes when the Holy Spirit brings it. We can't plan a revival any more than we can plan who our parents are.
I would like to close with a quote from the book I suggested above on revival, "...the Holy Spirit has appointed means to be used for the advancement of the gospel, preeminently the teaching of the Word of God accomplished by earnest prayer. Yet no human endeavors can ensure or guarantee results. There is a sovereignty in all God's actions. He has never promised to bless in proportion to the activity of his people. Revivals are not brought about by the fulfillment of 'conditions' any more than the conversion of a single individual is secured by any series of human actions. The 'special seasons of mercy' are determined in heaven. Thus for a modern biographer of Davies to say that Blair, 'began a revival ofreligion in 1740' is to assert the opposite of what they believed."
Soli Deo Gloria,