Last week while reading Pentecostal Outpourings, I went back and reviewed this video where D.A. Carson and Tim Keller discuss the topic of revival. Here are some notes from my Evernote file on the video, which is certainly worth 12 minutes of your time.
In the video Carson mentions that he has two personal resolutions should he ever encounter real revival in his own experience:
- Have as little to do with the media as possible, and
- Funnel the energy of the revival into good, systematic preaching and teaching rather than endless recounting of experience. This is because the experience itself can become an idol that is detached from Scripture.
Shortly after that, Keller contrasts about the Reformed view of revival with “the other view.” He describes the Reformed view of revival as an intensification of the ordinary operations of the Spirit. These include conviction of sin, conversion, giving assurance, sanctification. The other view defines it as the extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit. When a sleepy Christian wakes up, they become more humble because they are more convicted of sin, and also more confident because they’re less concerned about what people think about them. This makes a potent evangelist. While he describes this view, Carson chimes in to observe that true revival is not something that your organize, or turn on according to a predetermined set of criteria. However, God does bring revival, and he can do it again.
So what should we do? As many others have pointed out, Keller notes that revival is sought through prayer. He compares it to building an altar and asking God to send fire. This is done by faithful preaching of the gospel, extraordinary prayer, leaders who model a renewed life, a few converts who are willing to open their mouths. Sometimes the fire comes in big ways, sometimes in small ways. Usually revival starts well, but ends poorly. However, we should still be seeking and asking for true revival.