The Coming Revival
In late January, we were trying to get in touch by telephone with three PCA ministers, located in three states (Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia). All three of them, their wives told us, were at the renewal conference, with its theme, "From Embers to a Flame." More than 100 PCA pastors and elders gathered to be challenged by staffers from the denominational MNA Committee and Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, NC.
Host pastor Harry Reeder held his audience spell-bound by illustrating, through the lives of Christian generals from the War for Southern Independence, his concern for developing leadership in the congregation. One participant described Pastor Reeder's sermon on total depravity at the Sunday morning worship service as the best on that topic he has ever heard.
Utilizing insights from Jonathan Edwards, the emphasis of the MNA's Archie Parrish is prayer. He also encourages the pastors in their leading the congregation in praying for the work of the gospel ministry, and for protection for the pastor from spiritual attack. Mr. Parrish believes that a revival is coming, and he is desirous that PCA pastors and congregations be prepared for it.
All of this has led us to reflect on the meaning of revival and what it would look like.
Without a doubt, revival means an increase in personal piety: an improvement in our prayer lives and the other spiritual disciplines.
Revival would also result in an increase in church attendance and membership. Instead of the church having an overabundance of candidates for ministry, seminaries would not be able to keep up with the church's demand for preachers.
Revival would imply a deep commitment to the Word of God. People would flock to church to hear solid exposition of Scripture and the pointed application of God's will to their lives.
But revival, if it is genuine, would affect more than merely private piety or church success in terms of numbers. It would have an impact on society in terms of morals and ethics, as the world looks to the place where judgment begins-the church.
True revival would manifest itself in church judgments that are more than piously-phrased decisions. True revival would bring an increased honesty to our church courts along with a sincere consultation of Scripture before making a pronouncement. True revival would mean that when a theological argument is being made on the floor of Presbytery or General Assembly, the commissioners will be willing to listen politely, intently and patiently.
Revival would mean that officers who take ordination vows would, first of all, have read the Constitutional documents ahead of time; secondly, have understood them thoroughly; and thirdly, be whole-heartedly committed to them.
Revival means an eschewing of entertainment and sensualism in public worship. Revival would result in worship that is truly God-centered and Spiritual.
Revival would lead to denominational institutions operating in full accord with the Confessional Standards. No longer would seminary professors or conference speakers be allowed, under the church's auspices, to contradict points of doctrine in the Westminster Standards or to make fun of or ignore those who do adhere to those theological points. In a period of revival, those who believe historic Presbyterianism would be welcomed to present the truths of our faith to a large audience.
We applaud the efforts of the leaders of this renewal
conference in their desire for revival-a desire which we are sure
is the yearning of every converted soul. Let us, however, keep
in mind that such a heaven-sent event would shake things up in
the world, and in the ecclesiastical world; and that it is only
when we see sweeping change (as illustrated above) that we can
be certain that we are experiencing the genuine article.