Saturday, January 5, 2008

Is there a "key" to revival?

Another passage from David Clotfelter's excellent book "Sinners in the Hands of a Good God":

"We have attended conferences and learned to market our churches. We have imitated the cell-church movement. We have spoken in tongues, listened to self-proclaimed prophets, and pursued signs and wonders. We have changed our worship styles to cater to our culture's impatience with doctrine and its desire for immediate emotional gratification. We have studied the art of communication and learned to craft sermons that provide well-balanced doses of humor, insight, and comfort. We have incorporated drama and multimedia presentations into our worship, taking at face value the claim that only by doing so can we minister effectively to modern, visually oriented, television-conditioned church attendees.

"But it seems to me that there is one thing we have not generally done, and it is the most crucial thing of all. We have not, by and large, exerted great effort to make sure that the message we are preaching is really the gospel. We are good marketers and good moralists, but too often we are shallow theologians. We are fearful of preaching the doctrines that offend, in part because we don't wish to drive people away and in part because we have never felt the power of those doctrines ourselves.

"God, as David Wells has argued, seems 'weightless' in the modern world and even in teh modern evangelical church. His hatred of sin does not pierce us. His wrath does not terrify us. His sovereignty does not humble us. And so, instead of presenting His truth in all of its shocking angularity, we massage the gospel to smooth its way in our world. Instead of giving people strong doctrine, powerfully presented and closely applied, we give them tips for succesful living. Instead of confronting them with the hard fact that they are headed for perdition, we flatter them that they are very fine people who lack only faith to make their lives full. And yet, in spite of this failure to understand and proclaim the gospel, we continue to hope that somehow, by means of some new insight or book or technique, we will 'release' God's power for revival.

"The truth is that there is no key to revival. Charles Finney and all who have followed him have been utterly mistaken: Revival is not something we create or even something we 'pray down': it is a sovereign work of God, given in His timing and for His purposes and glory. We are more likely to produce rain by dancing than to produce revival by the use of our methods and techniques. If we really desire revival, we must turn to God. And that means both that we must pray to Him earnestly and humbly, recognizing that there is no power in our prayers but only in the God to whm we pray, and that we must be certain that it is the gospel we believe and the gospel we preach."

3 comments:

barb michelen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
casebo said...

Aww shucks! I didn't get here in time to see the juicy comment before it met it's timely demise....

Todd Pruitt said...

It was a strange comment. It was actually a link to some product that someone was selling. I hope that doesn't mark a trend.