Revival, Then and Now

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The New Testament reminds us that though Paul may plant and Apollos may water, it is God who gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:6). Perhaps nothing demonstrates this quite like the history of revivals throughout the world…As God sovereignly gave the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, so He sovereignly commands the blessing that attends the gospel and that is used to convert sinners and revive saints. At Pentecost, the Lord added souls to His church, and He continues to do the same.

This is no mere academic point; it has the most profound consequences of our attitude toward church growth and revitalization.It is a point well made by Donal Macleod: “Even in revival situations, every single instance of blessing is a sovereign gift resulting from the loving discretion of God. This is why all programmes for church growth–the ecclesiastical equivalent of ‘management by objectives’–are virtually blasphemous…So far as real and abiding blessing is concerned, we remain totally dependent on the ebb and flow of divine power.”

Perhaps there is a reason why in the Lord’s Prayer that “Hallowed by thy name” comes before “Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:9-10). Unless we give God the primary place, we will find ourselves at the mercy of our own schemes and efforts and plans, all of which will lead ultimately to frustration and failure. If revival teaches anything, it teaches that Christ is, indeed, building His own church (Matt. 16:18).

– Campbell, Iain. Pentecostal Outpourings: Revival and the Reformed Tradition. Editors Robert Davis Smart, Michael A.G. Haykin, and Ian Hugh Clary. Reformation Heritage Books, 2016. p. 127.

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