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About eight months ago, I heard a talk by Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Tim was speaking to an auditorium full of church-planters, during a conference focused on methodology. His first words were, “I want to talk to you about 16 qualities of revival.” My mind went into overdrive.

Here are my notes from that his talk – which formed the basis of a sermon preached last Sunday at Hope Church in Tupelo.

First 3 are instruments God uses to bring an awakening. We can partially control these.

1. Recovery of the difference between religion and the gospel.

2 kinds of people in every church – gospel people, religious people. Both read Bible, pray, give, come to church. What is the difference?

Religion: I obey, therefore, I am accepted

Gospel: I am accepted, therefore, I obey

Religion: Motivation – fear and anxiety

Gospel: Motivation – desire to delight and please God

Religion: I have rights – I’ve lived a good life – he can’t just let anything happen. Feel God owes them – they’ve paid their dues.

Gospel: I have free grace – there is nothing he cannot ask of me

Religion: Try to control God – if life doesn’t go well, freak out

Gospel: Delight in letting God be God. Make Jesus your personal president, in this time of elections. Flow with whatever God brings their way.

Religion: Feel superior to those who are living right, critical

Gospel: Feel stunned at being a child of God, do not feel superior at all – know non-believer can be more moral than XN.

Churches are filled with religious people. In awakening – gospel is grasped, grace is grasped. Result – XNs get saved. Secular people less certain of secularity.

2. Extraordinary prayer –

This is almost always a given.

Not devotional prayer, personal prayer – united, corporate prayer, brokenness.

One thing to pray, repent for own sin. Another for family, your small group, entire church, churches of city to cry out, “O God, intervene in our life, in this crisis. Have mercy on us, stretch out your hand of power as you promised.” Massive corporate repenting of lovelessness, selfishness, passionlessness and prayerlessness. Like giving birth.

Ps 77:2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted.

Rom 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

3. Radical creativity –

Every awakening similar, different. Worst thing -look at past to see what God do in future – Revival not about methodology. God is creative, “never get back into Narnia same way twice.” Don’t look for God to do things the same way twice.

Ill. 1st great awakening in America – outdoor preaching. 1857 – 10% Manhattan converted – prayer meetings at noon. Layman’s revival. Church in Wales – declined under those touched by revival, would not change.

There are some things we have no control over – like next three

4. Nominal church members are converted.

5. Sleepy XNs awaken to the love of God, God’s loving presence.

This is the heart of revival.

What I fear – inoculate people to gospel = been there, done that, old hat.

In revival, people understand what Jesus did, who HS is, lot of deadness goes away. Many know Jesus is savior, but look to family, job, things as their practical savior. Then, like they waken.

“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Eph 5:14

Outside revival, assurance is often inferential – inference. Bible says do this, I did it, therefore, I know. In revival, assurance is direct, intuitive. God comes and says, “I love you.”

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:16-17

6. Non-believers are attracted


#s and ways programs cannot produce.

Average non-XN comes into evangelical church, can’t wait to get out. Suffocating, feels manipulated, made fun of. Not in revival.

Next 6 are partly controllable – We build altars, God sends the fire. We provide the environment, God sends the Spirit.

7. Unique kind of worship – edifies believers, outsiders feel welcome.

8. Strong emphasis on preaching and teaching

Truth oriented. Purpose of good sermon – not just to make the truth clear, but to make it real. Sings, stings. Makes afflicted comfortable and comfortable afflicted.

9. Major emphasis on life-changing community

Life changes among the people you hang out with – in context of small groups. Spiritual growth is a community project. Love, generosity, unity, passion for each other. Wesley organized this –

10. Evangelism – outward focus –

Not program or campaign, but attitude. Churches become outward-focused rather than inward focused. Unbelievers feel respected in their questions, ideas – we care what they think. Humility toward unbelievers, not arrogance – we are right and you are wrong, we have the truth and you don’t, we are better than you – we don’t mean that but often portrayed – humility, and boldness toward non-believers

11. Cultural engagement – How can we make an impact? How can we integrate faith and work?

In revival – revived churches almost all look the same – HS doing a uniting work.

4 results that cannot be controlled –

12. Looney fringe – immaturity and pride


n revival, can’t grow leaders as fast as converts. Between revivals, grow leaders.

13. Backlash.

From denomination, other churches, leaders are threatened by growth, by confessions of honest sin, emphasis on evangelism, kind of people coming into church. Sometimes physical, emotional phenomena. People are afraid.

14. Lots of new churches are planted –

Send people out and know God will replace them.

15. Real social healing – abolition of slavery, abolishment of child labor laws

England avoided a French Revolution because of Wesleyan Revival.

Misc quotes –

I believe God may have more revivals up his sleeve.

Can have mini-revivals – a class, a small group, an individual, a family.

There is a great revival coming, when Aslan gets here, and the trees of the forest wake up. Revival is spring after winter.



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