What Does Revival Transform?
Posted at Reformation Scotland:
Many people pray and long for revival. But what do we mean by it? Perhaps this is assumed to be rather obvious. It is a special outpouring of God’s blessing when His people are spiritually renewed and many others are converted. Revival includes this but it is in fact much more besides. In its totality, it is a deepening and strengthening of God’s whole work not just in the lives of individuals. But what do we mean by God’s whole work?
John King (d. 1679) answers this vital question in a sermon on Habbakkuk 3:2 about God reviving His work. He observes that there are times when God’s work may be near ruin but not quite ruined. The church and people of God may not only be near ruin but may experience much deadness on their spirits. This may be true and yet we may not have a true sense of it. All of us need to pray for reviving. This condition may continue for years, or a considerable time. This is why Habbakkuk prays for revival “in the midst of the years” i.e. during the Jews’ long exile in Babylon.
King was preaching in times of great persecution. This is the only sermon that survives of the many that he preached in the fields. It was preached in 1678 in the district near to Loch Lomond. He had a powerful voice that could easily carry for a quarter of a mile. Frequently hunted down and imprisoned for preaching “illegally”, King was executed in 1679 together with another minister, John Kid. The last words of his written testimony are significant. “The Lord visit Scotland with more and more faithful pastors, and send a reviving day unto the people of God…Farewell all creature comforts, welcome everlasting life, everlasting glory, welcome everlasting love, everlasting praise; bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me”.
In applying his text, King says that we must be greatly taken up with God’s work and its need for reviving. Sadly, many pray for revival without a sense of our woeful lack of obedience to God. The Bible makes it clear that we cannot expect to enjoy God’s blessing if we are willfully disobedient to Him. This relationship between obedience and God’s blessing is important to understand. King focusses on our role, are we willing to fulfil our responsibility in relation to the work that we are looking for God to revive? What is the responsibility we must discharge in relation to God’s work? He identifies the following areas. ...