Much has been written in
the last fifteen years or so on the subject of "renewal" and "church growth."
This has resulted in much division and discouragement because it has tended
to turn our attention away from biblical principles. Instead it has turned our
eyes to Madison Avenue hype, business management techniques, and pop-psychology.
No one can deny the necessity of real revival and a resurgence of good gospel
It should be noted that
revival and gospel preaching are two different things. Revival is the bringing
back to vitality that which once had life. Gospel preaching is the proclamation
of the good news of salvation to sinners who are dead in trespasses and sins.
We preach the gospel to those dead to God--separated from Him forever unless
born again from above by the operation of the Spirit and Word of God. Revival
is a necessity of the church, resulting from personal restoration.
Mr. David Long has written
a book on the subject of revival, entitled Revival--A Study in Biblical Patterns.
He argues that true revival must be based on principles which are stated in
the Scriptures. These principles are demonstrated in each revival of Israel,
thus providing a pattern for revival. The three basic principles found in these
passages are 1) revival is the sovereign work of God; 2) it begins with the
acknowledgement and confession of that sin; and 3) it will be furthered by complete
obedience to the Scriptures. Tracing these principles through the Old Testament
in the life of Israel, Mr. Long has done careful research and brings to bear
on our hearts and minds the plain teaching of the Scriptures. One of the things
that impressed me about this book was the many Scripture references and Mr.
Longs' assumption that you were reading the Scriptures along with him. To get
the drift of his argument, you must read the Scriptures as you are reading the
book. He seems to say, "To the law and to the testimony:" ( Isa. 8:20
). In this
way he is not asking you to believe him but to follow the Scriptures. And that's
the way it should be. This has been our problem of late--we are prone to follow
a man or his ideas which can lead us astray from the Word of God. The Bereans
were complimented on searching the Scriptures to see if the things spoken by
Paul were right.
One of the marks of an assembly
of Christians who are following the Word of God is a vigorous gospel outreach.
If the Christians are happy and enjoying the Lord, they will want others to
experience this same joy. Thus each one will be wanting to reach out to others,
and bring others under the sound preaching of the gospel. In this day of "church
growth," the gospel is being watered down and the sinner is made to feel comfortable
in his sins. That may make for large crowds, but the broad way that leads to
destruction is crowded, too.
If we will do the sinner
good, we will bring to bear upon his mind the claims of Christ as presented
in the gospel. It is the Word of God that the Spirit of God uses to bring conviction
of sin and the enlightenment of the gospel. To present the gospel clearly, we
need to have a good understanding of its message and doctrine. A book written
a number of years ago is The Gospel and Its Ministry by Sir Robert Anderson.
Originally written to answer the "Textual Criticism" of the late nineteenth
century, this book is vital today when the cry for tolerance and acceptance
clouds the clear presentation of the gospel. The truth concerning faith, grace,
the cross, election, reconciliation, justification and other doctrines surrounding
the gospel are found in the Scriptures, not in some man-made system; this needs
to be understood in order to present the gospel in its clarity. This is a passionate
call to preach the gospel and to do so in accordance with the teachings of Scripture.
We need soul revival and
we need a revival of the clear preaching of the gospel. May these two books
stir us to a scriptural answer to both needs.
Both books available
from Gospel Folio Press