Why think about revival?

Dr. Tim Keller’s recent posts on revival here and here, which I so appreciate, brought me back to William B. Sprague’s Lectures on Revivals of Religion of 1832.

In his first lecture Sprague proposes four reasons why we need to think about revival, and think correctly.

One, the subject of revival is relevant to the times. Sprague saw Christ being honored through churches growing by conversions. This took place “in the more copious and sudden effusions [outpourings] of the Holy Spirit” in his day. In our own day, clearly, the Lord is newly at work. The Gospel Coalition is evidence of this. In other wonderful ways as well, he seems to be laying a foundation for even greater blessing five and ten and twenty years from now, if we will steward the blessing wisely.

Two, revival matters for the future. Sprague, the clear-eyed pastor, noted that whatever views of revival we have today we will surely pass on to those who come after us. We can, by God’s grace, build a tradition of revival to bless the future, or we will build a tradition of something else, something less.

Three, however we understand revival carries impact. The sovereign God involves us. How we think, preach, write and speak makes a difference for good or ill. It is possible to “grieve away the Holy Spirit, or confirm multitudes in fatal self-deception.” We can both neglect revival and pervert it.

Four, every church member is needed in revival. As more and more people are startled by Christ and see him in a new way, we need churches where all the members know how to help them. Sprague: “One right direction, in certain circumstances, may be the means of saving a soul. One wrong direction, in similar circumstances, of ruining it forever.”

Revival deserves to be a matter of ongoing conversation and prayer among us.