Blueprint for Revival: Introduction (Part 1) – Gospel in Life

Blueprint for Revival: Introduction (Part 1)

Tim Keller |  July 29, 1990

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  • The Holy Spirit
Acts 2:37-47
RS 212-02


Revivals have spanned nations and denominations. Distorted views of revival, such as heterodoxy, dead orthodoxy and emotionalism, become obstacles to an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. When a church has an assurance of God’s love, reflects a theological and intellectual balance, exemplifies understanding, participates in anointed worship, exhibits compassion, and reaches out through evangelism, it can become spiritually dynamic and inspire revival.

Acts 2:37–47

When Peter gave a sermon in Acts, a lot of people felt guilty about their sins, got baptized, and received the Holy Spirit. This event really helped the church to grow. To keep a church healthy, it’s important to understand what happens inside people’s hearts and minds. This includes understanding how to bring about a spiritual renewal (or “revival”), how to communicate personally with God, and correcting the misunderstanding that a revival is all about getting more people into the church. Each church is unique in its own way.

1. Negative view of revival

Some churches think that revivals are too emotional or too extreme. They believe they’re doing just fine without any special encounters with God. Mainstream churches often have this viewpoint. They think it’s narrow-minded to focus too much on Jesus, and instead, they want to give people room to connect with Jesus in their own way. These churches usually avoid talking about revivals.

2. The fundamentalist or methodological view of revival

There’s a small town in Virginia with 53 churches and 20,000 people. They hold revivals every year, but their idea of a revival is a bit off. They think that if they do lots of evangelism, play the right kind of music, and advertise well, then lots of people will come, and the church will grow. But this approach is flawed because a true revival isn’t something we can create; it’s something only God can do.

3. The charismatic view of revival

Some people think a revival is when lots of miraculous signs and wonders happen. But actually, revivals are usually marked by the Holy Spirit doing its normal work of making people aware of their sins and showing them how wonderful Jesus is. It’s not about stirring up emotions. It’s about experiencing God’s love and gaining the power to help others. While we can’t plan or program a revival, we can prepare for one by dealing with any problems or weaknesses in our ministry.

1. Heterodoxy

The Holy Spirit isn’t attracted to churches that don’t hold to the basic teachings of the Bible, like the authority of the Bible, God being in control, and salvation coming only through faith in Jesus. Some churches pick and choose what they believe, which often leads to them rejecting these teachings and therefore missing out on a revival. But God doesn’t play favorites. He gives spiritual awakenings to all kinds of Protestant groups, showing that our differences aren’t that important when it comes to living a holy life and doing ministry.

2. Dead orthodoxy

Dead orthodoxy is when believers know the basic teachings of the gospel but don’t live them out in their everyday lives. This often happens because they’re confused about being declared righteous (justification) and becoming more holy (sanctification). They might wrongly think they need to become more holy in order to be declared righteous, which can make them feel insecure and always in need of reassurance. But a revival is sparked by a real belief in justification by faith alone and a recognition that we depend on God’s grace, not our own efforts.

3. Defective orthodoxy

Defective orthodoxy is when a church focuses too much on debate, certain teachings, or organizing things. This can prevent the Holy Spirit from working. It can be made worse if there’s hidden sin within the church. To welcome a revival, we need to correct these imbalances and be ready and open for God to move.

4. Emotionalism

A healthy church should stir up emotions by teaching the truth. This separates real worship from just getting emotional. A church where God’s Spirit is present will have deep teaching, heartfelt worship, close fellowship, active evangelism, and a concern for social issues. But a revival can also bring division and stress. We need to be careful to avoid going to extremes and be ready to face opposition.



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