The Means of Gospel Renewal
While the ultimate source of a revival is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit ordinarily uses several “instrumental,” or penultimate, means to produce revival.
1. Extraordinary Prayer
- A request for grace to confess sins and to humble ourselves.
- A compassion and zeal for the flourishing of the church and the reaching of the lost.
- A yearning to know God, to see his face, to glimpse his glory.
2. Gospel Rediscovery
- Heterodoxy finding the gospel truth
- Dead orthodoxy experiencing the gospel power
- Defective orthodoxy finding the gospel balance
3. Gospel Application
- A church recovers the gospel through preaching.
- A church recovers the gospel through training of lay leaders who minister the gospel to others.
- A church recovers the gospel through small group ministry.
- A church recovers the gospel through personal, informal gospel “conversations.”
- A church recovers the gospel through using the gospel on people’s hearts in pastoral counseling.
4. Gospel Innovation
- Creativity and innovation serve as contributing factors in movements of gospel renewal
- The Spirit of God can and does use these ordinary means of grace to bring about dramatic, extraordinary conversions and significant church growth.
- Public, outdoor preaching and extensive small group “society” meetings during the Great Awakening.
- The printing press during the Protestant Reformation.
- While the core means of revival are theological (rediscovery of the gospel) and ordinary (preaching, prayer, fellowship, worship), we should always be looking for new modes of gospel proclamation that the Holy Spirit can use in our cultural moment.
Preaching for Gospel Renewal
1. Preach to distinguish between religion and the gospel.
2. Preach both the holiness and the love of God to convey the richness of grace.
3. Preach not only to make the truth clear but also to make it real.
4. Preach Christ from every text.
5. Preach to both Christians and non-Christians at once.
The Signs of Renewal
- Cross over from thinking faith to living faith.
- Conversion of nominal Christians.
- Conversion of sleepy Christians.
- Conversion of non-Christians.
- Vibrancy of a church’s worship.
- Increased interest in an expression of biblical theology.
- Authentic experiences of community with others.
- Every believer becomes a natural evangelist.
- Churches have a broad effect on the culture.