The Characteristics of A True Evangelical Revival

Acts 4:31
       And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): There is clearly taught in the Scriptures, and in history―an unusual and an extraordinary, a special work of the Spirit―it is called revival.

CHARLES G. FINNEY (1792-1875): A revival of religion is not a miracle―something above the powers of nature. There is nothing in religion beyond the ordinary powers of nature. It consists entirely in the right exercise of the powers of nature. It is just that, and nothing else.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: That is not it! Revival is a “visitation from on High,” an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

CHARLES G. FINNEY: It is not a miracle, or dependent on a miracle, in any sense. It is a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means―as much so as any other effect produced by the application of means.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): Did not the prophets, did not Christ, did not the apostles use the proper means judiciously, diligently, and faithfully, and did a revival invariably follow? What say the Scriptures? Isaiah says, “Who hath believed our report?” Jeremiah says, “Oh, that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” When Ezekiel thundered, the people cried, “Ah! Lord God, he speaketh in parables.” We read that even Jesus did not many mighty works at one place, because of the unbelief of the people, Matthew 13:58. And no one is found of sufficient effrontery to assert that, under Christ’s ministry, any such extensive outpouring of the Spirit of God occurred as to justify the remark that whenever He preached there was a revival; yet Jesus spoke as never man spoke.

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843): It is God who must revive us again. It is not a human work. It is all divine. If you look to men to do it, you will only get that curse in Jeremiah 17, “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.”―Every means will be in vain until He pours the Spirit down (Isaiah 32:15).

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The honour and the glory must be given to Holy Ghost. Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord…
      A revival, I would say, is a repetition in some degree or in some measure of that which happened on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem―It is a pouring out, or a pouring forth of the Spirit of God upon a number of people at the same time. Sometimes it has been one church, sometimes it’s been a district or a neighbourhood, sometimes it has involved a whole country. Now that is what is meant by revival. And the effect of it in general is this: that the church is lifted up to a new level of experience and of understanding, and at the same time many outside the church, or who are only nominally in the church, are convicted and converted and are brought into a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): That is a miracle of divine grace—not a work of human industry.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: What are features and characteristics of a revival?

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): When God works a revival one of its most prominent features is to cause His people to return to the written Word. Let us note this carefully. A heaven-sent revival consists not so much in happy feelings and spasmodic enthusiasm and fleshly displays, nor great crowds of people in attendance—those are not the marks of a heaven-sent revival—but when God renews His work of grace in His churches, one of the first things that He does is to cause His people to return to the written Word from which they have departed in their ways and in their practices.

CHARLES J. BROWN (1806-1884): The symptoms of a revival [are] an unusual thirst for the preaching of the Word, and unusual meltings of soul under it; the prevalence of anxious enquirers about salvation; an earnest general desire to give vent to feelings in prayer, secret and social. The fruits are these: profound sorrow and shame in the view of former estrangement from God; hearty renunciation of sin, and dedication to God; a high and loving esteem of communion with God, and all divine ordinances and means of grace; a spirit of charity and mutual forbearance, of tenderness and brotherly love; zeal for the conversion of others, and especially relatives and domestics; a tender concern to adorn the Gospel by an upright and conscientious discharge of ordinary duties.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: And, of course, when Reformation and Revival come they have always led to great and notable periods of the greatest preaching that the Church has ever known. As that was true in the beginning as described in the book of Acts, it was also true after the Protestant Reformation. Luther, Calvin, Knox, Latimer, Ridley—all these men were great preachers. In the 17th century you had exactly the same thing—the great Puritan preachers and others. And in the 18th century, Jonathan Edwards, Whitefield, and the Wesleys, Rowlands and Harris were all great preachers. It was an era of great preaching. Whenever you get Reformation and Revival this is always and inevitably the result.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): It would be very easy to prove that revivals of religion have usually been accompanied, if not caused, by a considerable amount of preaching out of doors, or in unusual places. The first avowed preaching of Protestant doctrine was almost necessarily in the open air, or in buildings which were not dedicated to worship, for these were in the hands of the Papacy. True, Wycliffe for a while preached the gospel in the church at Lutterworth; Huss, and Jerome, and Savonarola for a time delivered semi-gospel addresses in connection with the ecclesiastical arrangements around them; but when they began more fully to know and proclaim the gospel, they were driven to find other platforms. The Reformation when yet a babe was like the new-born Christ, and had not where to lay its head, but a company of men comparable to the heavenly host proclaimed it under the open heavens, where shepherds and common people heard them gladly. Throughout England we have several trees remaining called “gospel oaks.” There is one spot on the other side of the Thames known by the name of “Gospel Oak,” and I have myself preached at Addlestone, in Surrey, under the far-spreading boughs of an ancient oak, beneath which John Knox is said to have proclaimed the gospel during his sojourn in England.


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