It has been over a week since reports from Asbury University broke, suggesting that there was a revival happening among the student body.
I addressed it at our prayer meeting on Wednesday evening. You may find it helpful as you navigate all that is being communicated.
Responses: gullible, cynical, indifferent, hopeful without shedding discernment (where we should be).
Should we expect errors? Of course. Consider the Exodus or the revival in Samaria.
- Controlled behavior
- Emphasis on the confession of sin
- Lots of singing and prayer
- There are reports of staff keeping hyper charismatic leaders from co-opting the happenings
- A lack of solid Bible teaching. However, no sermon contains all truth.
- Women preaching. However, the Faith Mission pilgrims.
- Repetitious singing of contemporary songs
- Not enough time has passed to call it a revival
- Not enough influence has occurred to be called a revival
- Not enough bad fruit has appeared to dismiss it altogether
Is it raising their affections for the person and work of Christ, and increasing their hatred of sin?
Is this happening? I don’t know. But this should, at the very least, excite your heart. Students are, for hours on end, calling upon God, worshipping the Lord. Contrast that with the other issues normally filling the headlines.
Additional thoughts (not in the sermon)
What is the categorical evidence that dismisses any professed work of God? It does not elevate the person and work of Christ as the only ground of man’s justification before God, it does not elevate man’s affections towards this Christ, and it does not make sin more heinous in the eyes of believers.
If none of that is happening at Asbury, it will become evident. But I am not yet dismissive of it altogether. I would love to see our young people worshipping, praying and confessing their sins to God for hours on end. And I would love to protect them from excesses.
- I expect an immature, less developed faith among 18–22-year-olds. When they are the ones largely involved in a professed work of God, I expect that immaturity to be evident in ways I wish it wasn’t.
- I expect Satan and his minions to try to co-opt any work of God. The fact that certain people are there or trying to get involved, is not surprising at all.
- I expect inexplicable manifestations during any work of God. I may not encourage them, or want them, but historically they are nearly always present during spiritual awakenings. Just read a little and you will discover the most unusual things occurring in historic protestantism. Even in Presbyterianism. “If many delusions of Satan appear, at the same time that a great religious concern prevails, it is not an argument that the work in general is not the work of God, any more than it was an argument in Egypt, that there were no true miracles wrought there, by the hand of God, because Jannes and Jambres wrought false miracles at the same time by the hand of the devil.” – Jonathan Edwards
- I expect that, if this is a work of God, Asbury as a school will be positively affected. Perhaps transformed. From my book: “Reformation without revival requires coercion. Revival without reformation lacks direction. We need a reformation that flows out of a genuine spiritual revival, where people willingly embrace all the Word of God for all of life.” If there are Romanists, maybe they will be dismissed. If there are LGBTQ folks, maybe they will be brought to genuine repentance. Perhaps many changes will occur to get them more in line with the Word of God. Time will tell.
The Church is great at getting herself into a mess. Sometimes it is moral, sometimes it is doctrinal, and sometimes it is devotional (see the letters to the churches in Revelation 2–3). Ask yourself, in which way are you a mess? Repent, and plead for a move of God in your church and community. Because whatever is happening in Kentucky, I know we need a move of God in South Carolina.
I also know that God is more likely to use the humble and misguided than the proud and precise.