“In all our efforts to cure the disorders of the mind, or what is the same thing, to produce or promote a revival of religion, we are to depend chiefly on the means which God himself has appointed.”
W. B. Sprague, Lectures on Revivals of Religion (Edinburgh, 1978), page 117. Italics added.
I will not take time to qualify Sprague’s wording here about producing revival. He was theologically kosher. I have another interest at this time.
I am struck by how Sprague equates revival with curing the disorders of the mind. True revival is not just an emotional catharsis, though that will be included. But true revival cures the disorders of our minds – the wacky assumptions that have always held us back, but we’ve never seen how defunct they are or that there could be an alternative. Invariably, these disorders are forms of self-exaltation. Their cure always includes, primarily, the repentance of God-exaltation.
The Beatitudes can help us objectify the disorders of our self-referential minds. Let’s flip the Beatitudes into their opposites:
Congratulations to the entitled, for they grab what they want.
Congratulations to the carefree, for they shall be comfortable.
Congratulations to the pushy, for they shall get ahead.
Congratulations to the greedy, for they shall hoard.
Congratulations to the vengeful, for they shall be feared.
Congratulations to the sneaky, for they shall look good.
Congratulations to the contentious, for they shall be called winners.
Congratulations to the popular, for this world lies at their feet.
Doesn’t that pretty much sum things up? But what happens in revival is this. The gospel is divinely applied to our minds with such clarity and force that God is exalted again in our deepest thoughts and feelings. It shows:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3-10
That is what revival looks like. It changes how we think, and it’s not a small change. May God raise up multitudes of Beatitudes-thinking churches the whole world over.