Marks of Revival Movements for Leaders

In 2014 current SBC President Ronnie Floyd issued a call entitled  Pleading with Southern Baptists  calling for a focus on revival prayer. Last fall Dr. Floyd asked me to address almost 100 SBC leaders about the need for and nature of revival. I shared with them five marks of awakenings gleaned from past movements. These do not represent an exhaustive list, but in my mind are critical for our times. The first two marks would surprise no one familiar with God’s work in past revival movements. The next two may surprise some, and the final mark surprised me, as it represents an aspect of awakening I missed in my years of study but saw clearly in seasons of real revival in my own experience and in that of friends.

1. Deep, burdened, desperate prayer. Matthew Henry said, “When God begins a work, He sets His people to praying.” John Knox prayer, “Give me Scotland, or I die.” As a boy, Jonathan Edwards made a booth in the woods and prayed five times a day. No wonder he wrote a treatise on prayer in the middle of the First Great Awakening.

Baptist pastors Stephen Gano and Isaac Backus sent a circular letter in 1795 to pastors of all denominations in New England calling for a concert of prayer, using Edwards’ treatise on prayer in their exhortation. Within a few years the Second Great Awakening came. A group of college guys prayed under a haystack in 1806; as a result the first movement of global missions on American soil was born out of this “Haystack Revival.” Jeremiah Lanphier experienced a prayer revival out of a prayer meeting in 1857 in New York City. On and on the examples go.

Leonard Ravenhill said when it comes to praying for revival, God does not answer prayer, He answers desperate prayer. For what are you praying in holy desperation?

2. A radical passion to win the world to Jesus. Movements of revival send believers into the culture to win people at all costs. John Wesley, a proper, Oxford trained Anglican, wrote in his journal that he doubted whether a person could be saved outside a church building. But when revival came he found himself reaching a whole population by preaching in the fields. Edwards noted that when rescuing people from a burning house, they had no time to fight one another. In the same way, when we focus on advancing the gospel, we build each other up instead of tearing each other down. In the Jesus Movement, a trio of pastors in their pressed suits came upon some Jesus freakish hippies sharing Jesus on the street.

“What are you doing?” A pastor asked a young man. “Sir, we are doing what you just talk about,” the young believer replied. Ouch. When is the last time you were so broken for a lost person you became less concerned about methods or being proper and more broken to show and share Christ?

3. Youth play a vital role. Jonathan Edwards said the Great Awakening was mostly a youth movement. I’ve read countless primary accounts of revival movements from history; youth figure prominently in around 90% I have read. Spurgeon preached to thousands in London in his early 20s. Whitefield preached across the colonies at 25. Brainerd and McCheyne died before they turned 30 yet we remember well their valiant ministries.

If you are middle aged or older, be aware: you and I are not likely to be the people who start a revival, but we certainly have the influence to kill one. What are you doing to involve young people and to allow them to lead?

4. Social justice: in awakenings, people are reach, churches are planted, and orphanages are established. Whitefield spread the Great Awakening across the colonies. He also founded an orphanage called Bethesda in Georgia. Spurgeon, Spener, and others had orphanages as well. Numerous other social enterprises had their genesis in revival movements.

Millennials love causes. If we want to impact a younger generation note this: before they will join in our causes we have to care about theirs. What are you doing about the brokenness in our land and in your community?

5. Here is the one I missed: in revival, leaders get right. Isaiah was the most godly man in the land, yet he was ruined by his own sin. Edwards wept in his church as Whitefield preached. Brainerd lay in the snow, coughing up blood from tuberculosis, begging God to save the Indians.
Leaders can so easily isolate themselves from accountability and thus from confronting their own sin.

Who is in your life that can call you out? Note: you can be in the middle of the activity of God and miss Him. I know I am experiencing revival personally when I stop confessing the sins of others and look in my own heart. When is the last time you were broken personally and sought God to revive your heart? God is stirring the hearts of many. Let’s join together, seek the Lord, and be available for His Spirit to use us.

Note: I’ve written a bit on this topic.  See Firefall 2.0 and Revival Revived.

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This September Join the Movement #30daysofgoing

The first week of June this year I had the joy of joining with some of my colleagues at Southeastern and about 130 of our great students–along with scores of students from other schools–as part of Crossover Baltimore. This evangelism effort before the annual SBC gave our students a chance to share Christ daily for six days. We had a remarkable time and saw much fruit.

Sharing Christ every day––even in a culture like ours filled with people who do not know our Savior––can prove to be quite daunting. The Great Commission of our Lord does not in its text give such daily specificity to the call to make disciples; but if we are a great commission people, and in particular if Southeastern Seminary is a great commission seminary with every classroom being a great commission classroom, the idea of taking the gospel to the nations should not negate our passion to reach our neighbors, should it?

Last week at opening convocation our president Danny Akin exhorted us at the start of our fall semester on the importance of sharing Christ personally. We are a Great Commission school. This is why at Southeastern we will embark on an effort this fall to bring to a sharp focus the importance of sharing Christ personally. We call it “30 days of going.” You will see the hashtag #30daysofgoing on a variety of twitter feeds in the coming days. What do we mean by this?

WHAT IT IS:

September has 30 days. We look to see faculty, students, staff and administrators praying, seeking, and attempting to share Christ daily for these 30 days. It’s a call for everyone at Southeastern (and anyone else who wants to join) to ATTEMPT to SHARE CHRIST with at least ONE PERSON DAILY for 30 days through the month of SEPTEMBER. The focus is an attempt to share Christ; some days you may not be able to share Christ (we are not encouraging you to force the gospel on someone for a goal) but by consciously attempting to share Christ daily you will have many opportunities throughout the month. We are confident a more gospel-focused daily perspective is a good thing.

WHAT THIS MEANS:

—A daily awareness of our call to fulfill the great commission;
—Thinking strategically of people and places we can communicate the gospel, such as:
–Social media
–Setting appointments with friends we know who are not believers to speak to them about Christ
–Local church outreach
–Sharing Christ with those we meet daily—servers in restaurants, neighbors, coworkers, etc
–Planning specific times to reach out individually or with another believer
—Developing the daily mindset of seeing the lostness around you and taking advantage of opportunities to seek divine appointments
—Going door-to-door with another believer
–Praying with those we meet
–Giving out evangelistic literature

WHAT THIS DOES NOT MEAN:
—You have to share the whole gospel every day with someone (but we pray that most days you will!)
—You have to radically alter your days; instead, simply see your day through the eyes of Jesus (Matt. 9:35-38)

PRACTICAL HELPS:

–Carry gospel booklets with you like The Story or the LIFE: 3 Circles Conversation Guide to give to those you meet
–Each morning utter this 3fold prayer: “God, today give me an opportunity to share Christ, give me the wisdom to see it, and the courage to take it.”
–Remember the definition of boldness from my friend Preston Nix: Going one step beyond my comfort zone for Christ. This month’s commitment may be just that!
–Look for opportunities to ask to pray for someone, to share your testimony, or to have conversations you can include the gospel
–Think of people you know who do not know Christ and with whom you have not shared Christ lately and speak to them
–Post your testimony online; engage someone online in a gospel conversation
Just Imagine:

Imagine what classes will be like as we enter and share together about opportunities we have seen that week?
Imagine the worship in chapel (which is already great) when come in buzzing with gospel stories?
Imagine how simple things like prayer at the start of class can come alive as our hearts break for those around us?
Imagine how God might use this to heighten our focus as SBC President Ronnie Floyd joins us on September 18 for a day of prayer?

I know this: without fail, every time in my life I set aside days like this to focus on soul winning, God does something in my heart.

There is no sacrifice of academic or scholarly pursuit to focus on simple obedience to our Lord’s clear command. There is on the contrary something thrilling, something stirring about being part of a movement like this.

Join the movement. 30 Days of Going. And, hey, you can start today!

Apples and Oranges?: Why I Have Not Changed My Mind on Homosexuality

By: Dr. Chuck Quarles (Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, SEBTS)

On February 11, Danny Cortez preached an hour-long sermon to the congregation of the New Hope Community Church. The title of the sermon was “Why I Changed My Mind on Homosexuality.” In the sermon, Cortez argued that the clear prohibitions of homosexual conduct in the New Testament do not really apply today. He claimed that he attempted to immerse himself in ancient homoerotic literature “with a latte in hand.” In the process, he discovered that ancient homosexuality involved violence, abuse, and domination of a subordinate (boy, slave) by a superior (older man, master). By contrast, modern homosexuality is genuinely loving and does not involve such abuse. Using the New Testament to condemn homosexual conduct is wrongheaded. It is simply comparing apples to oranges.

Cortez is certainly right to oppose abuse. But he is wrong in claiming that this is the driving concern of Romans 1:26-27 and terribly wrong is his charge that the traditional Christian rejection of homosexuality is paramount to the very abuse that Paul condemned.

I am puzzled by Cortez’s portrayal of ancient homosexuality and by his interpretation of the New Testament. I admit that I have not chosen to immerse myself in ancient homoerotic literature like Pastor Cortez says that he has. On the other hand, I majored in Classics at a state university and remain a student of the history of the New Testament era preserved in the writings of the ancient Roman historians like Tacitus and Suetonius. Many ancient texts and quite a few ancient artifacts portray homosexuality in Paul’s time quite differently from what Cortez would lead us to believe.

To find an example of a homosexual who willingly adopted both dominant and passive roles in homosexual relationships, one need look no further than the infamous emperor Nero. He castrated a boy named Sporus (not to torture him but to prevent the onset of puberty and thus preserve Sporus’ femininity) and then publically married him in a ceremony with dowry, bridal veil, and all the trappings. After the wedding, Nero had Sporus dress as an empress and treated him in every way as one would a queen. But this is not the entire story. Later Nero later fell in love with an adult free man named Doryphorus and publicly married him. Yet this time Nero chose to act as the bride and have Doryphorus act as groom. Then Nero played the feminine role in their homosexual acts (Suetonius, Nero, 28). Suetonius portrays Nero’s relationship with these two men as characterized by genuine affection. Nero’s willingness to marry the men publically and confer royal privileges on them suggests that the relationship had remarkable similarities to the relationships of gay couples today. It certainly shows the fallacy in Cortez’s claim that in ancient homosexuality “The dominant would penetrate the passive, but it would never be reversed” (c. 36:00 mark).

One might also mention Aristotle’s description of the relationship between two Corinthian men. Aristotle described Philolaus, a famous philosopher and political thinker as “a lover of Diocles, the Olympic victor.” The two homosexual men lived together until the day that they died. They even chose to be buried side by side (Politics, Book 2). These are only two of a plethora of ancient depictions of homosexual relationships in the Greco-Roman world demonstrating that Cortez’s portrayal of such relationships is mistaken.

The error of Cortez’s argument should be obvious to any careful readers of Romans 2, even if they are not familiar with ancient descriptions of homosexuality. Cortez interprets the text as if Romans 1:27 referred to men committing shameful acts with boys or abusers performing shameful acts on victims. But Paul actually wrote: “Males committed shameful acts with males” (HCSB). The translation in the HCSB is very accurate and precise. The sexual act was a shameful act because it involved two people of the same gender, two males, and was thus a perversion of the Creator’s intention for sexual relationships (Gen. 2:24). Paul was not making assumptions about the act involving violence, abuse, or domination. The preceding statement in the verse actually implies that one male was not imposing his desires on another male, but rather the males “were inflamed in their lust for one another.” The reciprocal pronoun translated “for one another” implies mutual desire and reciprocity rather than violence, force, and abuse.

I share Cortez’s concern for comparing apples to oranges. Things that are vastly different should not be equated. When I consider Cortez’s interpretation of Romans 1 and then read what the Apostle wrote under the inspiration of God–that’s when I see apples and oranges. Cortez’s interpretation is vastly different from what Paul wrote. I suspect that the Apostle Paul would be appalled by it. I hope Southern Baptists will be too.rpg mobile online