History’s Greatest Revival: The 1904 Revival — 1904
The New Testament began with an incredible new phenomenon of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and has become the basis of all successive future revivals. This was the greatest outpouring of God on His people, because everything else rests on what happened that day on Pentecost.
“According to the late Dr. J. Edwin Orr, former professor of Awakenings at Fuller Theological Seminary, history’s greatest revival took place in the early years of the Twentieth Century, including the Welsh Revival, the Asuza Street Revival, the Korean Pentecost, the Manchurian Revival, and the Mizo Outpouring” (THE TEN GREATEST REVIVALS EVER by Elmer L. Towns & Douglas Porter)
Earlier in my post, I mentioned that “a Calvinistic-Methodist is simply a person who loves solid Reformed theology and seeks genuine Christian experience in the Spirit.” On the one hand we have a solidly dead, formal, institutional intellectualism, and on the other a superficial, entertainment-oriented, man-centered emotionalism which has often been promoted as Christian revival. My journey in charismatic experiences and reformation theology is a mid-way between these two extremes, i.e: between evangelical compromise on the doctrine of the Spirit on the one hand and careless charismatic extreme teaching on the other. As Lloyd Jones argues:
…Calvinistic Methodism saves Methodism from degenerating into mysticism. There is always this danger. Put your emphasis on feeling, upon the ‘felt’ aspect, and you are already in danger of degenerating into mysticism, or into a false asceticism, or into a kind of ‘illuminism’. And all these, of course, have made their appearance in history. But Calvinistic Methodism saves us from that because of its great emphasis upon the doctrines. Here, you have got the doctrines, but in addition you have got this other element, the ‘felt’ element; It is a perfect combination of both. Not only does it guarantee our doctrinal correctness, it also saves us in the realm of experience itself from many aberrations, which have often ended in what seems to me to be nothing but a kind of Spiritism. Calvinistic Methodism saves us from that. So I argue that Calvinistic Methodism is true Methodism. (Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones 1968).
Bear with me on my miscellaneous ramblings as I go on.
Primarily because my home-church was planted by Welsh Presbyterians (formerly Welsh Calvinistic-Methodists) people began to grow in their hunger for God-centered revivals throughout the years. Calvinistic-Methodism (as opposed to Wesleyan Methodism) eventually became a part of our DNA altogether. Joe Carter, who is an editor for The Gospel Coalition kindly posted an item about the story of our Church on their blog. I hope the “two mites” are worth your time. As a result of mighty consecutive and successive revivals in the past, our home state is now one of the biggest Christian populations in modern India, with 95 % Christian. Just recently on January 11th 2012, ‘Chanchintha Thlenni’ “popularly known as ‘Missionary Day’ was observed all over Mizoram by different church denominations to commemorate the first arrival of Christian missionaries in Mizo soil 118 years ago.” We owe everything we are and do to God’s sovereign grace in Christ.
In the previous post, I also raised a concern regarding Lloyd Jones being called the “last of the Calvinistic Methodist preachers.” However, I also insisted that “Calvinistic Methodism not only survived in North East India, it flourished among the Presbyterians in Aizawl, Mizoram where God has brought about mighty revivals through the sovereign work of the Spirit. “ As a result of the Spirit’s work among our people, the Mizoram Synod Presbyterian appointed a group of evangelists specifically assigned for the task of preaching when the whole Church seeks Gospel renewal. These men are often used mightily of God during the revivals as they combine the Word and Spirit or “Logic and fire” as Lloyd Jones calls it. They have both “depth in Biblical doctrine and depth in vital spiritual experience.” In this respect, it might be safe to say that the Calvinistic Methodist preachers have not ceased to exist in North East India. But as there has been no media exposure; and due to language barriers and unpublished accounts of these revivals, the Mizos have not been heard much by the rest of the world to this day.
In describing the “great characteristic of Welsh Calvinistic Methodism” Lloyd Jones also writes:
“The other thing that one must mention, because it is of such vital importance, is that they had a succession of revivals. I trust it is not necessary for me to define and describe the word ‘revival’. I know that in some countries the word ‘revival’ has now come to mean the holding of an evangelistic campaign. This is not revival! In a sense I cannot think of anything that is further removed from revival than just that – a man-made, man-organized series of meetings. That is not it! Revival is ‘a visitation from on High’, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They had a whole succession of them” (Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones 1968).
And these outpourings of the Holy Spirit were succeeded in the Indian sub-continent among many other places. In THE TEN GREATEST REVIVALS EVER, Elmer L. Towns & Douglas Porter wrote:
“When news of the Welsh Revival of the early nineteenth century reached India, many Christian missionaries began praying for a similar outpouring on their own field of service. As a result, a significant revival broke out in the Khasi Hills which eventually brought an end to paganism in that region. It was news of that indigenous Indian revival that first stimulated interest in revival among the Mizo Christians in Lushai, India.“
Words are rare to describe the effects of historic God-centered revivals. There is nothing that Gospel-centered revival does not leave untouched. It touches all spheres of the society, i.e education, politics and socio-cultural and economical issues as people’s heart are changed by the power of the Gospel. I am, personally, a by-product of one of these consecutive awakenings that took place in the year 1995. I still remember that experience. I had witnessed an alcoholic man dying, several chairs from where I sat to hear an evangelist preach the Gospel. As the man died on the spot, fear and awe came upon everyone present in that hall. Many more people were drawn to the revival meetings to hear the Gospel preached as news about the dead man spread across the other towns. Many from those “times of refreshing” still walk with Jesus faithfully to this day.
Revival is one of the major factors that makes the Mizos passionate about sharing the gospel with others. As one Mizo theologian writes:
“The ‘Spiritual Revivals’, which had their origins in Wales, UK, in 1904-5, and which came to Khasi Hills (Meghalaya) in 1905, also spread to Mizoram in 1906, and inspired enthusiasm in mission endeavours. It reoccurred in series, one after another, in 1913, 1919, 1930, and occasionally later, but in different forms. Whenever there is revival, the awareness of the need for and urgency of mission seems to be felt by Mizo Christians. For instance, after the 1913 revival in Mizoram, a number of Mizo Christians who were influenced by the revival movement visited Manipur voluntarily with the purpose of evangelising those who are “closely related to them ethnically.” This seems to be not a rare case, of course, for it is said to have happened even in different places that revivals bring about both awareness of and interest in missionary endeavours.” (Mizoram Journal of Theology Vol. I No. 1 January–June, 2009, pg. 41).
“IF my people who are called by my name
1) humble themselves, and
2) pray and seek my face and
3) turn from their wicked ways,
THEN I will hear from heaven and
will forgive their sin and heal their land”
(2 Chronicles 7: 14).
Wherever you’re from, if you’re reading this, we invite you to join us in praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Japan. We meet every 3rd Friday of the month and the last time we met people could not stop praying as they were led to pray in the Spirit. Pray that God will heal this land of the rising sun as His people turn to Him.