Tuesday, 25 September 2018

General Means of Producing and Promoting Revivals

This may seem like an unusual blog post title. But, as Calvinists, we should believe that we must be much on our "knees in prayer". As the preacher Augustus Montague Toplady wrote in one of his hymns: "Thou must save, and thou alone". If it is the Lord who saves and him alone, which indeed this is true, then how can we promote a revival?

We are going through a book, over a period of time in our midweek meetings in Sheffield; one by W. B Sprague called "Lectures on Revivals". It is a highly recommended book founded on biblical orthodoxy. This is no Charles Finney erroneous author promoting revivalism. Far from it! The fifth lecture in this book (page 115-152) is delightful and a very thought provoking one, with the title of this blog post.

Sprague highlights five directions to promote and sustain a revival. His chief text is: "With one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel" Philippians 1:27. He carefully emphasises that "we are to depend chiefly on the means which God himself has appointed; and we are to expect the greatest and best effect from them".

Sprague teaches five areas that should characterise the administration of the means of grace:

1). Seriousness: That is gravity, soberness. Levity is revolting in a revival of religion. There should instead be deep solemnity. Irreverent attitudes neutralise the message of the gospel and its claims.

2). Order should characterise the church's work

"But all things should be done decently and in order", 1 Cor 14:40.

3). Simplicity

4). Honesty

5). Affection: That is biblical emotions of heartfelt joy and love for the Triune God. It may seem like seriousness and joyful affections seem strange companions but Scripture joins them together.

These blog posts are to whet people's appetite to read further. Let us pray earnestly for a work in our churches that is characterised by the administration of the means of grace in the five directions and manner above. Let us pray that the Lord would raise up labourers who desire such an attitude in the house of God.

Then he [Jesus of Nazareth] said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38

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