The Asbury revival has sizzled the internet with exciting sounds and images, and claims and counter-claims of an authentic spiritual outpouring from heaven. The debates generated seems to me to stem partly from semantics. When I am asked, “What do you think of the Asbury revival?”, I find myself at “PAUSE”. I pause because of there are a few definitions of revival.
The word “revival” carries a range of different meanings. In the United States, it can mean an organised series of meetings with the goal of awakening God’s people to the gospel and outreach to the unsaved in the community. To others, it refers to the awakening and quickening of believers who have grown cold, apathetic, and indifferent in their love for God and people. This can happen in private prayer, in a worship service, retreat or prayer meeting. For others, it has to be a prolonged, wide-scale outpouring of the Spirit that is unplanned, with definitive signs of the Spirit’s power and transforming activity, resulting in lasting spiritual fruit and social transformation.
The Asbury revival is unplanned, so the first definition is out. The second definition may be the closest to what has been happening at Asbury. For the Asbury revival to pass muster with the third definition, what is required is observation over a longer period, and this uncertainty is multiplied because the Asbury University announced a decision to end the revival gatherings on the 24th of February 2022. While looking at the Asbury University website, I chanced upon the term they officially used to describe the services: “spiritual renewal”. Interestingly prudent!
The Asbury revival began suddenly when students in the chapel service continued to pray on after the service ended. Repentance and tears flowed and the presence of God was unusually palpable. That service would continue for about 16 straight days of non-stop worship, prayer, confession of sins, repentance, testimony and social media uploads. It would draw an estimated total attendance of 50,000 to 70,000 participants, drawn from the university and all over the United States.
Videos & Articles
Type in “Asbury revival” on YouTube and a list of videos and commentaries on the revival would appear. There are gainsayers and doubters giving their opinions with video titles like, “The Asbury Revival is not of God”, “Asbury revival is very dangerous” and “Fake Asbury revival worship is being led by Homosexuals and Queers”. There are other videos that feature warm hearted testimonies of believers who experienced a healing encounter with God in prayer. Then there are simple quick videos of scenes of the revival services. Lastly, there are those news reports by TV networks both Christian and secular. Two good YouTube videos I have watched are “Seven Days Straight at Asbury Revival” and a lengthier, heavier discussion “Is Revival Happening?”.
Google “Asbury revival” and you will see a list of interesting articles about it. The one article I would highlight now would be “The Aftershocks of the Asbury Revival” where the spiritual-socio-political factors that made young people ripe for such a move of the Spirit were described: a longing for deeper sense of connection with God and each other; political polarisation and social fragmentation including racial injustice; global pandemic, economic uncertainty and wars; the acute hunger among young people for hope, for the real, the authentic.
Preach and Teach About Revival
If you are a pastor or preacher and you want to talk about revival to your church or audience to help them make sense of what has been happening in Asbury revival and in the Revival of 1972’s in Singapore, what would be a good text to use? There are quite a number of them that can be used for preaching or meditations:
Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Ps 85:6
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. Ps 19:7
I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isa 57:15
The valley of dry bones passage. Eze 37:1-14
The river flowing from the temple passage. Eze 17:1-12
O Lord, I have heard of the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy. Hab 3:2
For anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Eph 5:14
(If there are other passages you have used in preaching about revival do add a comment. Share the blessing with other readers).
Acts 2 : Distinct Features of A Revival?
The one passage that has the most insights and inspiration would be St Luke’s description of the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Here is a possible outline you can use. It is from two chapters of Arthur Wallis’ book titled “In The Day of Thy Power” (subtitle “The scriptural principles of revival”). I read this book and this in his Acts 2 outline listing and explaining the distinctive features of a revival. I hope this will be helpful to preachers and pastors. They can do it in a two-part or three-part series with invitations to the front to pray for revival in their souls, churches and nation.
The Sovereignty of God: “When the day of Pentecost arrived…” (verse 1)
Spiritual Preparation: “they were all together in one place” (verse 1b, 1:14)
Spontaneous Working: “…there came from heaven..” (verse 2)
God-consciousness: “…a sound like a mighty rushing wind…divided tongues as of fire appeared to them …” (verse 2,3)
Anointed Vessels: “…they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…” (verse 4a)
Supernatural Manifestation: “..began to speak in other tongues ..” (verse 4b)
Divine Magnetism: “…the multitude came together…”(verse 6)
Apostolic Preaching: “But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted his voice” (verse 14)
Supernatural Blessing: “…there were added that day about three thousand souls” (verse 41)
Divine Simplicity: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers” (verse 41-45).
To read the full script of Wallis’ exposition of this text go HERE and HERE. I trust this has been helpful and if you have anything you would like to express about the Asbury revival feel free to comment. The comment box you need to click on is below the title of this post.
If you are curious about a definitive Singapore revival go HERE to watch a video done by Salt & Light about the Revival of 1972.