Years ago when I was in seminary, one day in class we were studying Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. No one there was impressed with Edwards’ work. The professor made fun of it. One of the seminarians suggested that if he preached it at his church the head pastor would fire him for sure. None of us could figure out how the sermon became so influential and could launch any kind of ‘Great Awakening’.
If reading the sermon does nothing for you, read the accounts of those in the congregation that day. When Jonathan Edwards was preaching ‘Hell Fire’, those in the pews say that their feet were dangling over the fires of hell and they were actually experiencing it: heat, smoke, and feelings of complete hopelessness and terror. The alter call was particularly popular that day.
I have read all sorts of modern ‘psychological’ explanations of what really happened there. I’ll tell you what really happened -God showed up!
Most of the time during the Welsh Revival they didn’t even have sermons as such. They sang and prayed & God was there in their midst and everyone knew it.
Why did hundreds of people crowd into a barn on Azusa Street in LA? Believe me there were plenty of fine stone and brick churches downtown that had plenty of room; but the Spirit of God was in the barn.
When people talk about revival they talk about all the stuff that happens. Cities and nations changed, people healed, thousands coming to Christ. Bars closing, police with nothing to do, society and culture overhauled.
Bill Johnson Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California in an article- “Ignite the Fire” (Charisma Mag. March 2007) talks about living in a ‘Revival culture’ with the expectation that God is already there. In regards to revival he says:
“(Revival is) happening, It’s just on a small scale. People are asking for something to happen that’s already been released, and you have to cooperate with what he’s already given.”
In another article- “Watch for the Next Great Awakening” in the same issue, Robert Heidler & Chuck Pierce define ‘Revival’as:
“God visiting His Church”
It is true that God is really always there with us, however when God visits His church in a special way, everyone knows it.