Program #182 “RevivingAmerica (2)” – 5/26/2015 – Synopsis
Program #182 is the last in my series on the Evangelical understanding of how America
was founded, what went wrong, and how we can fix it.
Circulating in Evangelicalism is an “ism” called “revivalism.” It can be defined as a belief that there is a special movement of God whereby God spiritually revives a nation. For some it has become an additional ordinance or sacrament for the church. However, there is no doctrine of revival taught in the New Testament as it is described by some Christian leaders. The only instruction we have in the New Testament is to evangelize, plant churches and disciple believers. Therefore, we must be careful not to develop an extra-biblical doctrine of revival.
After warned about the dangers of revivalism thinking, I go on to look at the passages in Scripture that are cited as evidence of national revival. I explain that most of the so-called revivals in the Old Testament were merely examples of how turning back to the law in times of trouble could not change the hearts of men because the law makes nothing perfect.
We must use discernment to distinguish between true conversions and man-made religious events in the Old Testament accounts. The real work of God was rarely in spectacular mass evangelism. We must also be careful not to speculate about the causes of revival. I reference Jonathan Edward’s warnings against those who try to find “a priori” reasons and causes for revival. In this regard Edwards cites, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) and “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counselor hath taught him?” (Isaiah 40:13)
I conclude by pointing out that our prayers for revival in America don’t guarantee the physical saving of America. National judgment and collapse may be the very thing we need to bring more souls into the Kingdom of God. In ancient Israel the people hated the prophet’s message that exile and destruction would be the way God would “heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14; Isaiah 4:4). No chastening for the moment seems to be joyous (Hebrews 12:11). My final example is a piece from a 4th century bishop named Salvian. The Christians at that time were hoping and praying for collapse of the Roman Empire. We may get to that point in our own country.
Scripture References: Judges 2:15-19; Hebrews 7:19; Romans 3:20; 1 Kings 8; Romans 8:3; Jeremiah 3:10; Zechariah 11:4,9; Jonah 4; Acts 2:21, 4:4, 19:20; John 3:8; Isaiah 40:13; Hebrews 12:11