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Revival without excess?


During the First Great Awakening many insisted they would rather wait until a revival came in which no excesses or fanaticism or stumbling blocks were present. To which Edwards replied:

"If they wait to see a work of God without difficulties and stumbling-blocks, it will be like the fool's waiting at the river side to have the water all run by. A work of God without stumbling-blocks is never to be expected. . . . There never yet was any great manifestation that God made of himself to the world, without many difficulties attending it" (133).

Clearly, Edwards did not condone excess or difficulties or stumbling-blocks. As much as is humanly possible, with the help of divine grace, we should work to eliminate anything that might hinder or bring reproach upon the work of Christ. His point is simply that when the Spirit genuinely moves in extraordinary power, there will always be a mess, and that we cannot afford to sit idly waiting for a revival that is free of them.


Revival consist of a number of things: dead men en masse being made alive through the Gospel; passionless believers regaining a bold new fervent passion for their Lord; a manifestation of the gifts in ways a congregation has never experienced.

All of those things wreak havoc. All of those things can be messy. As they should be. We need to be shaken from death to life, from latency to action, and yes even from an absence of the gifts to an abundance of them. But putting importance on one above the other would be us creating the mess, not God.

We should eagerly await the messes God brings while striving not to make any of our own.

We are conditioned and comfortable with orchestrating everything in our meetings that we don't even notice when God "doesn't show up": the music is still great, the preaching eloquent and the chairs stay neatly in a row.

It's a scary thing to ask for revival, but anything less is playing games in a sandpit, while the construction site is waiting for labourers.

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