Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Praying for Revival

I wanted to comment on a posting by Dr. Alvin Reid, but I am going to post it here.

I admire Dr. Reid greatly, but I have a foundational disagreement with the way we think about revival and even salvation. You see, Dr Reid stated that revival happens when we do something. Whitefield preached in fields and they reached out to miners and blue collar people and there was a revival. There is lots of talk about what they did and what we did and what we will need to go and what will happen. God is completely outside of all of this.

The problem is we can't control God. We have no authority, no responsibility and no control. God will do what God will do. That is why we don't like Calvinism. We lack control. We have no ability to shape it, influence and control it, outside of simply prayer and trust. Prayer we like. Trust (or faith) we need to work on. Makes me realize that Jesus meant when He said that if we had the faith of a mustard seed, we could move mountains. Instead of having faith the size of a seed in Jesus, we try to have faith that we have the faith to be able to do it ourselves. We don't trust Jesus to move the mountain, we in essence try to earn the mountain moving through our own efforts.

So you ask "what's wrong with doing good, what's wrong with putting your faith into action". Nothing, that's not the issue. The issue is not who does the work, the issue is who gets the glory. We, probably without thinking, begin to take the glory for God's work. Salvation is God's work, but we give honor to Whitefield, Spurgeon, Edwards, Luther, Graham, Warren and on and on. We say "I" or "we" or "our church" did this or that. We don't do it intentionally, but we end up as prideful and sinful as Satan when he said 'I will ascend above the Most High'. We are prideful and arrogant because we take credit and glory for God's work.

We don't do it on purpose. We have grown up in this American culture, the self made man, and we have learned this behavior. For hundreds of year, we have learned that we need to "do" this or that. The problem is, we still take God's glory for ourselves. We use our programs, our outlines, our strategies, and in the end, we take the credit. It's a subtle thing that has come into our Christian culture. We celebrate those who we see preaching and people coming to Christ. We slowly turn and begin to give them the glory, and God becomes and outsider.

Think about it, in many churches, we give an alter call. The pastor says "if you want to accept Jesus as your savior, come forward". A person comes forward, they say "I want to give my heart to Jesus" so the pastor has them recite a form prayer and then we celebrate the decision this person made, what they did, their decision, their faith. Does God even need to be present for this experience? Where is God? Where is His work? Where is His call?

Here is what I see in Acts. Someone preaches that Christ was crucified for sin. That is all they do. The people respond, asking what to do to be saved. The person preaching says "repent and be baptized". In Acts, chapter 10:44, is seems to be the people were saved without giving an alter call. Peter was preaching, the Holy Spirit fell on these Gentiles. They were saved, the Jews were amazed, they were Baptized. That is God at work. These people that we convince to come forward and say a form prayer, how many of them fall away? That is not true salvation. Those people I know who have been radically changed, it was God moving in their hearts and they were saved. These people were radically saved by God, not by Paul.

Think about it, the 3,000 were moved by God to salvation. The Ethiopian, the Gentiles, the Roman Guard. No one can take credit for any of it. God moved, God did the work. So, in response to Dr Reid, to see revival, we need to give up control and stop relying in ourselves. We need to fall on our face before God, realizing that nothing we can do will bring revival. Nothing. The prayer won't do it, the preaching won't do it, the alter call, the seminary classes, the books and charts and plans and outlines. We can schedule revival, we can will it into existence. We must be dependent and humble before God, and if it give Him glory, then, if He wills, He will bring revival.


  1. I have read and reread this blog many times and I still have questions. I would very much like to ask you them if that is ok but probably just one at a time or I get overwhelmed.

    Do you think 'alter calls' are wrong?

  2. No, I don't think alter calls are wrong, when I preach, I will give one. What I think is dangerous is when we push people too hard to make a "decision". I don't believe salvation is merely an act of human free will. If we push people, and they make a decision because of guilt, coercion or because they want to make us happy, God is not involved. If God is not involved, is it salvation? I would argue no, because Salvation is Gods work. When the Holy Spirit comes upon a person, then salvation happens. An alter call is a chance for someone to publicly acknowledge what God has done in their lives. I believe that by the time someone reaches the alter, they are already saved, and are simply sharing their decision. I see this confirmed numerous places in the book of Acts, as well as my own testimony and the testimony of others. I believed in my heart that Jesus was my Savior long before I walked the isle. It's not because of anything that I did, but what God did in me.