"Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?" (Psa 85.6 ESV)You know what concerns me? Not "business as usual" but "church as usual":
* Talent-driven worship services that are well scripted but don't have the Spirit's touch to move anyone to worship God in fear and awe.
* Doctrinally correct sermons that are well delivered by popular preachers but are devoid of the Spirit's unction to stir anyone to repent with tears.
* Impressive church buildings that are comfortable and modern but aren't locations where the Spirit is known to congregate powerfully, thus faithful church attenders who go to worship services each week but don't show evidence of being changed by the Spirit.
Do you see the problem here? Without marked change, something is terribly wrong.
I'm much less concerned with style and much more concerned with the Presence of the mighty ocean of the Holy Spirit that transforms the congregation swept up in his current.
The Holy Spirit is the X-Factor, the catalyst of all revival. You can't order him to move through a congregation. You can't bribe him to come. You can't bargain with him into a visitation. You can only pray and prepare for his arrival, leaving his operations and sovereign counsel to himself.
On Friday, October 19, 1739, Wesley recounts a sermon in his Journal:
At four I preached at the Shire Hall of Cardiff again, where many gentry, I found, were present. Such freedom of speech I have seldom had as was given me in explaining those words, 'The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.' At six almost the whole town (I was informed) came together, to whom I explained the six last beatitudes. But my heart was so enlarged I knew not how to give over, so that we continued three hours.This spontaneous move of the Spirit, evidenced by Wesley, is either there or it is not. I want change; thus, I want revival.
We will look at the biblical theology of revival in the next blog entry, but let me emphasize this point at the outset: We can pray and prepare for the Spirit's arrival.
But we must leave his operations and counsel to himself.