Where is revival? Is it hiding from individual Christians and churches? Maybe it will happen next spring at the revival meeting! Revival may or may not come, but one thing is for sure, it will not come because of extra church services, or because an out of town preacher is a silver tongue talker, or any method that man may devise. When revival comes, you can be sure that it is by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Revival is a work of God’s Holy Spirit, but it shows itself through the vitality and renewal of what Jonathan Edwards calls “Religious Affections.” He describes revival as a “renewed interest in the things of religion” [and a] vigorous upsurge of revivalism at the level of personal religion.” Revival is not theoretical. It is an experience, not merely from emotionalism, even though the emotions are affected, but more importantly the religious experience is visible and believable. The manifestation of these criteria seem to be absent among the majority of evangelicals at the beginning of the 21st century.
Reformation (the recovery of biblical truth) will always precede revival. First, one must acknowledge the authority of Scripture. The central teaching of Scripture states that a right standing with God comes by faith alone and that faith is a gift of God, as salvation is a gift from God. What is the primary means for announcing this gift from God? The primary means is preaching the Word of God and preaching is the instrument of reformation and revival.
Richard Hofstadter in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, points out that “sermons are not producing any noticeable change in the lives of Christians in North America.” In comparing sermons today with the sermons preached 200 years ago in this country Hofstadter said, “Puritan sermons combined philosophy, piety, and scholarship. . .The clergy assumed responsibility for a literate culture. Such an assumption shows the gulf between the profound substance of Puritan sermons and some of the modern inspirational pep talks which pass for sermons.” Preaching has moved from substantial reflections on the character and nature of God to a forum on “How to do things, have things, and be successful.” The “How to Gospel” has bankrupted the evangelical church. The biblical gospel is almost extinct and is certainly offensive to the ears of most evangelicals. “Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him” (Isaiah 30:18). It is time to demand “sound preaching” as you long for God and He will grant reformation and revival in your life.