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Revival Today: A Calvinistic-Methodist Perspective


Today, a love for Calvinistic theology and the Holy Spirit is found in a growing worldwide movement.  In the west Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, and other men such as  C. J. Mahaney or Terry Virgo, has greatly contributed to this blending of the best of what is Calvinistic and Charismatic so that people’s minds are engaged and their hearts are ignited for the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Being in cross-cultural missions for the last ten years,  I have come across Christians who genuinely long for revival in their day.   However, much of what we witness as ‘revival’ sometimes do not have the lasting effects that we desire would produce.  If you saw a sign in front of a church that says, “Revival here next week,” you can be sure there won’t be a revival there next week.  This is because revival cannot be programmed; and we cannot control God.  We can pray.  But genuine revival is a sovereign work of the Spirit.  Much of what we see in our day are sometimes evangelistic campaigns often confused by enthusiastic Christians as revival.  When Christians arrive at such a conclusion, often times it is because they have not yet witnessed a true revival themselves.  Revival, as Lloyd Jones (a Calvinistic-Methodist preacher) puts it,

is a miracle … something that can only be explained as the direct … intervention of God … Men can produce evangelistic campaigns, but they cannot and never have produced a revival (see here).

He says revival (rather bluntly) is a “direct..intervention of God” and men “cannot and never have produced a revival.”   However, he also agrees elsewhere that God uses instruments, not so much always the prominent church leaders, but common and ordinary people.  He says:

God often acts in a most unusual manner and produces revival and promotes it and keeps it going, not necessarily through ministers but perhaps through people who may have regarded themselves as very humble and unimportant members of the Christian Church.  The Church is so constituted that every member matters, and matters in a very vital sense (source).

During the revivals in Mizoram, it is always remarkable to note that God’s instruments were not always prominent individuals (although He uses them) but common everyday people who hungered for God-centered revivals and continued whole nights in fasting and prayers.  I’ve often been part of such gatherings during my time with the Synod revival team.  And it has been joyful to see the sovereign move of the Spirit as whole communities are revived.  Revival, of course, cannot be programmed.  God cannot be manipulated through methods, although he may use methods should He desire.  Lloyd Jones is helpful here.  He says:
“Of course…..various methods, the apologetics and the others may indeed lead to individual conversions. We are all aware of that. Almost any method you like to employ will do that. Of course there are individual conversions, but my question is this – what of the situation, what of the bulk of men and women, what of the working classes of the country, are they being touched at all, are they being affected at all? Is anybody being affected, except those who are already in the Church or on the fringe of the Church?  What of the spiritual and religious condition of the country? What of the whole state of society? Is this being touched at all by all our activities? (reference).
According to Lloyd Jones, the whole notion of a God-centered revival is much larger than a particular denomination or network or certain brand of Christians experiencing times of refreshing as an isolated event.  It is God’s work and therefore is not limited to our immediate sphere of influence; but it goes far beyond us.  The Holy Spirit will not be confined to a particular geographical location or time or place.  The Welsh Revival (1904) actually crossed cultures – all the way to my hometown in India.  Shortly after, pagan people groups, like the Khasis and the Mizos, experienced awakenings that would transform them into a vibrant Christian population.  This is massive and historic; and such revivals have lasting impact.  Mizoram is now the largest sending missionary hub in India with over 1800 full-time cross-cultural missionaries (that’s in the Presbyterian Church of Mizoram alone).  “It is the only Presbyterian Church in the world to have originated in the Methodist revival rather than from the Calvinist Reformation” (see note below).  And the state has the highest literacy percentage,second only to Kerela in South India.  This is wrought by the sovereign work of the Spirit; and such Gospel-centered revivals touches all spheres of the society and therefore it is transformational.
A revival, by definition, is the mighty act of God and it is a sovereign act of God.  It is as independent as that. Man can do nothing. God, and God alone, does it … A revival is something which, when it happens, leads people to say, as the townspeople said in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, ‘What is this? What is it?’ It is something that comes like a tornado. It is almost like an overflowing tide, it is like a flood. Astounding things happen, and of such a magnitude that men are left amazed, astonished …(AdrianWarnock- post).
Here’s a sneak peak into one of those revivals as recorded by Welsh missionaries:

“Some sank so deep into a coma that it was impossible to detect either their pulse or their breathing. They seemed as though dead and at first we were greatly perturbed by this. It seemed as if they had crossed into the spirit world. But we were assured similar events took place in the Khasi Hills, and that there was no danger nor any need to worry. When they regained consciousness they confidently related the visions they had seen during their trance. There were prophecies of things which had been told while they were in that condition and which were later fulfilled.” (translation from Welsh)

More to come.  Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Related articles from the previous posts:

Revival: Its Impact on The Society & The World.

Revival: The Word & Spirit!

REVIVAL: Calvinistic-Methodists & The Reformed-Charismatics Today?

Revival: Drunk With Wine vs Filled With The Spirit!

NOTE:

The Presbyterian Church of Wales, also known as The Calvinistic Methodist Church, is a denomination of Protestant Christianity. It was born out of the Welsh Methodist revival and the preaching of Howell Harris in the 18th century and seceded from the Church of England in 1811. It formally formed itself into a separate body in 1823 with the drawing up of its Confession of faith and produced its own monthly periodical Y Cenhadwr. It is distinguished from the Methodism of John Wesley by the Calvinistic nature of its theology. For the history of the church, see Calvinistic Methodists. It is the only Presbyterian Church in the world to have originated in the Methodist revival rather than from the Calvinist Reformation.

At present, the Presbyterian Church of Wales has around 30,000 members who worship in around 700 churches. Most of these churches are in Wales, but due to strong historical links between the Welsh and certain English cities, there are churches using both the English and the Welsh languages in London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool.  The Church offices are located at the Tabernacle Church, Merthyr Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff.  (Source: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia)

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2 comments on “Revival Today: A Calvinistic-Methodist Perspective

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