Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Book Review: The Welsh Revival


What wouldn't we give to see hundreds of souls saved? Our churches, of all denominations, packed with people and overflowing into the streets? A renewed and serious commitment to prayer, both public and private? 

What wouldn't we give to see the worst of sinners transformed by the grace of God? The coldest Christians warmed with new zeal? Entire communities turned upside down by the gospel? 

What wouldn't we give for a fresh outpouring of the Spirit of God? To feel His presence in a unique, real, and palpable way, like we'd never felt before? To see God so clearly at work that even the greatest skeptic must throw up their hands and confess, "Truly, this is the finger of God!"?

This was the experience of the Welsh Revival of the late 1800's. 

And this is the experience that the Church of our day so desperately needs. 

As I read this little work, my heart stirred with unquenchable longing. It awakened in me a desire that has often lay dormant... a desire to see God work in mighty and miraculous ways, too often squelched by my unbelief.

Thomas Phillips writes as a contemporary of the revival, offering an accurate account from personal correspondences and experience for the benefit of the English who wondered, "What on earth is happening in Wales?!?"

Several distinctions marked this great and widespread revival:

Prayer. The revival began and was sustained with a spirit of prayer. God's people implored Him, sought Him, and struggled with Him in serious, lengthy, set apart prayer. Prayer meetings were conducted daily; morning, noon, and night, often continuing for hours and hours. People were so moved, and so concerned, that they could not go home. They were compelled to continue in prayer. As I contrasted this to our present day, I was grieved. Many churches have cancelled prayer meetings all together because no one comes. The few prayer meetings that remain are sparsely attended. We have seriously neglected this most crucial means of grace.

The Felt Presence of God. Multiple accounts express the delight of communing with God in a way never experienced before. His presence was so near, so strongly felt, that congregants dared not to end worship services or leave the house of God, for fear that "the Divine influence" be "marred." I long to see God working among His people in such away that all doubts of unbelief are erased.

Unity Between Denominations. Wesleyans, Calvinistic Methodists, Baptists, Anglicans... not a single group was left untouched by the revival. Congregations could be found joining other denominations for prayer and worship. Irrelevant distinctions blurred, and sweet love of the brethren was felt among all. This is a tough one for me. I tend to take pride in the differences between my theological understanding and others- such wickedness on my part! Oh that God may humble and unite His people!

Family Devotions. Once converted, every believer made a point of leading their family in Scripture reading and prayer. Children with unbelieving parents asked permission to do so, and often this resulted in the salvation of entire families. Mothers with unconverted husbands undertook this high task. Why do we see family worship as optional? I was convicted of our need to press on in making such a commitment. Our family devotions are somewhat sporadic, but God can so use those special times, and it is important to persevere in them!

Sabbath Observance. One of the greatest joys experienced by pastors during the revival was seeing parks and recreational activities cease and close on the Lord's Day. People devoted Sunday to the Lord's will: rest and worship. This is another area in which the Church has been sadly influenced by the culture. Not only do Christians fill restaurants and shopping malls on Sunday, congregations have opened Saturday night services so that members can conveniently get worship "out of the way" of their weekend. In all of Church history, this has only been acceptable among believers for the last 50-100 years. May God bring us back to honoring Him on His day in the way He intended.

Drastic Conversions. No class distinctions- rich and poor alike were saved in mass amounts. Hundreds of souls were added to the Church, even in small, rural communities. The worst drunkards were converted and made sober, the worst scoffers and skeptics came to believe. This encouraged me- no soul is out of the Lord's reach! What a sight it would be to see our Churches filled with family and friends we never thought could be saved! 

In case if you couldn't tell, I highly recommend this book ;). 

May God once more favor His people with a special outpouring of His Spirit, as in the days of Pentecost!


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