Well, another RRF Conference is over, sadly. But what a time of blessing! Let me
whet your appetite and then you can go on to the page at pastconferenceaddresses.html
where you can listen to or save the addresses, as well as enjoy more material on
the subjects of Reformation and Revival. Alternatively, CDs are available for each
session at £2.50 each from: Jim Lawson, 12 Rutherglen Walk, Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees,
TS16 9HE Tel.: 01642 648512 Email: email@example.com
The Conference started with a Conference Sermon from Geoff Thomas, who drew our attention
to Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 7:11. He reminded us that affections ought to be
stirred in revival as well as understanding increased when people hear the Word of
truth. A resulting holiness should inevitably follow repentance when the Spirit works
in the heart. He highlighted seven marks such new affections rouse.
1. 'What earnestness' (v.11). This is not fanaticism that burns people at the stake
or sends them on crusades or initiates people into cults. Rather it is taking God
seriously so that He affects their behaviour and how they impact others.
2. 'What eagerness' (v.11). Paul's correct assessment of their cynical indifference
to sin and grieving of the Holy Spirit was heeded and acted upon! They acted with
eagerness to clear it out of the life of the church. The Spirit of God motivated
them through a letter - and the effect was a purified church that honoured God.
3. 'What indignation' (v.11). Geoff asked Q.89 of the Heidelberg Confession and the
answer could have been spoken by the Corinthians as they realised the immensity of
the sin that was accepted in the church. They were angry with the son who took his
father's wife, with the woman for breaking her marriage vows, and themselves for
tolerating it and even being proud of the church for accepting it. “The great sin
of rejecting Jesus Christ as Saviour is often repeated”. Feel the indignation of
4. 'What alarm' (v.11). The Greek word is the root of our word phobia, fear, or alarm.
They were asleep spiritually and the alarm has woken them. The fear of God has come
upon them. Here, in Corinth, was a local religious awakening, when the Holy Spirit
worked powerfully in the church with long-lasting results. The presence of the Lord
causes worship and awe (Acts 9:31). This is what we are praying for!
5. 'What longing' (v.11). Similar to homesickness, the Corinthians have that longing
for that close relationship with God. No longer is He outside the church but is the
Guest and Head. Are our churches full of activity and no-one has noticed the Lord
has left? Where is the longing for Him that only a spirit-filled preacher of the
Word satisfies as he presents the crucified, risen, ascended and exalted Lord Jesus?
6. 'What concern' (v.11). Paul is speaking of their zealous concern to be real Christians.
Once they were lukewarm but now they want to be living sacrifices, to be filled with
the Spirit and involved in the warfare. So it must be with all Christians: we should
be alive with the new life of Christ and bring glory to God in all things.
7. 'What readiness to see justice done' (v.11). This is to do with vengeance, but
not that of the vigilante gang going through the congregation. Rather they accused
themselves, as Paul had done when he cried out “O wretched man that I am ...”. What
an example of this we find in Zacchaeus who made reparation and restoration for his
sins. We, too, should be ready to see justice done in the Church where Christ reigns!
Here are seven signs of revival in the church at Corinth. The Spirit and the Word
brought it then. May they do so to us today.
Kenneth Stewart's first session began with a question, “What do you think of when
you hear the word 'Reformation'? Most Christians would point to 'The Reformation'
of the Sixteenth Century affecting doctrine, worship and church government. But there
were national reformations (including revival) in the Bible under Hezekiah and his
He took us through 2 Chronicles chapters 29-32 over four sessions, beginning with
29:3-19. We were shown how God prepared king Hezekiah to lead the way in bringing
the nation under God's rule, for his father, king Ahaz had led them into spiritual
apostasy. Hezekiah lived for the Lord from his earliest days and he took his faith
to work with him. He believed God and obeyed His Word, therefore he knew God's presence
and power. By it he and his nation prospered. Note though, we are not promised that
everything will go well (remember Joseph in the dungeon in Egypt?) But God loves
those who trust Him.
Hezekiah didn't have it easy, even though he was king. When he acceded to the throne,
the nation was in cultural bondage, much like our nation with its secular bias in
television, political ideology, and educational philosophy. Even the church is sick
because it has absorbed the prevailing world-view. It cannot bring God's message
to the world because there is no power, no life, no truth, and no conviction. But
things can change! The priests should have been teaching the people the Word of God
but at one stage the “Levites were more conscientious” than the priests (29:34).
We are to fulfil the calling the Lord has given us conscientiously and steadfastly,
like Archippus in Col 4:17.
Hezekiah only reigned for 29 years, a reminder that God's men and women of faith
can accomplish a lot in a short time! His early progress was commended in 2 Kings
18:5 but sadly, he also finished poorly. We are to serve God with all our hearts,
and make sure we finish well. Don't worry about what others think of us, what's God's
verdict on us?
In our second session we looked at 2 Chronicles 30:22 – 31:5. Hezekiah was greatly
used by God because his aim in life was to “believe, cleave and obey.” Before he
came to the throne there was no worship of the true God in the temple at Jerusalem,
even though they were the people of God. No sin offerings, no burnt offerings and
no thank offerings had been made for years. The nation had sinned and God's hand
was heavy upon it. Hezekiah recognised the problem and set about rousing the Levites
and priests to action, to cleanse the temple. What about us? Do we recognise the
problem and are we interceding with God, that He might cleanse His church, glorify
His name and spare our apostate nation? How did Sodom become like Sodom? Sinful behaviour
was left unchecked, then tolerated, and even propagated, much like our nation now,
resulting in God's heavy hand upon us.
Hezekiah's devotion meant he wanted to worship God according to His directions. He
didn't want to repeat the mistake of Aaron's sons or David with the Ark. The worship
used the words of David and Asaph (v30). Any reformation today must deal with worship,
to bring it into conformity with New Testament practice.
Once the temple was cleansed, Hezekiah called for the Passover to be kept by the
people. But not everyone was able to keep it because not enough priests had consecrated
themselves. So Hezekiah uses the provision in Deuteronomy that allows for a second
Passover and even Israel is invited, but while the messengers were generally ridiculed,
some responded. So it is with us today: many might be “taken away” in their sin like
the Northern kingdom, but others will respond. Whether our contacts are “warm” with
some previous spiritual input, or “cold”, not all will reject the message. So keep
Note the zeal of the people (30:15). The priests and Levites were rightly ashamed
because they'd let the people down. But there's a spiritual hunger among their people
(v23), just as there is among ours and we, likewise, should address it. Revival does
that. When God comes in power you want to extend it and prolong the time together
worshipping God. A small zealous prayer group can turn a nation. Does it not challenge
us to pray?
In the third of Mr Stewart's addresses our attention was drawn to 2 Chronicles 30:1-8,
with reference made to 2 Kings and Isaiah. Hezekiah, we were told, used all he was
and possessed for God's glory; so what was he like as a man and what effect did the
reformation he instigated have on the lives of his people?
At this point in history Hezekiah was 39 years old and had reigned fourteen years
during which the spiritual condition of the nation had greatly improved. But it's
a life-changing year for him because he is told to put his house in order as he is
going to die. In response to his supplication (Isa. 38:17-18) God gives him an extra
It's also the year the Assyrians invade his kingdom. In fact they invaded twice but
the first time he 'bought them off' - which incurred God's chastisement because Hezekiah
hadn't sought Him over it. We too can expect the same response when we do wrong (Heb.
12:7 -10). Sometimes the higher up you are, the greater the chastisement e.g. Moses.
Sadly, we can lose ground so easily, having worked so hard to gain an inch. Hezekiah
compromised with the world, but did he really think a one-off payment would keep
evil at bay? Hezekiah's response to God's chastisement was in direct contrast to
how his father Ahab had reacted.
When the Assyrians came a second time, Hezekiah knew how to react – showing the chastisement
had worked. Hezekiah acted practically by stopping up the springs, thereby denying
fresh water to the enemy, by reinforcing the existing wall and building a second
wall. He acted spiritually in that he encouraged his captains by pointing to the
Lord and telling them to fight because God was on their side. “God doesn't do numbers”
we were told; He often works through minorities. The state of our nation will not
be changed by normal Christian living but by extraordinary prayer and fasting. King
Sennacherib sends Rabshekah with a message for Hezekiah, who promptly relays the
message to Isaiah. Hezekiah is fearful the people don't have the faith to stand against
the Assyrians. Isaiah's response is found in 2 Kings 19:6-7. Sennacherib needs to
meet a threat from Egypt and, trying to frighten Hezekiah into submission, sends
a letter which Hezekiah takes into the Temple and spreads before the Lord. God's
response to this dependence on Him is for the Angel of the Lord to go through the
Assyrian camp killing 185,000 men resulting in the withdrawal of the Assyrians. This
Angel of the Lord is the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus, the One before whom we tremble
in reverential fear. We need to be a people who believe in God and trust in the salvation
He has provided through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
Having looked in the third session at the man behind the reformation and how was
chastised and recovered from a terminal illness, our fourth session centred around
2 Chronicles 32.31. The Assyrian threat had gone but a Babylonian envoy came in response
to the amazing recovery Hezekiah had made and the astronomical phenomenon God had
provided in response to Hezekiah's request. God had prospered Hezekiah in every way
but now tested him with the Babylonians. Note: Babylon will always come back; it
was there in Genesis and is there in Revelation. God withdrew from Hezekiah in order
to test him. Out of pride Hezekiah shows this envoy everything, and when Isaiah comes
to ask the who, what and why, his response is found in Isaiah 21. He tells Hezekiah
that the Babylonians will take all this wealth and even his as-yet unborn children
into captivity. Why? Because self-exaltation is an ugly thing in the sight of God,
taking credit for what God has done for us. It was Satan's downfall.
And pride is an ugly thing in Christians – it was found in the Corinthian church,
confronted and dealt with. That is also why new Christians should not be leaders.
We are to “beware when all speak well of us.” The antidote is self-examination and
is all-important in the Christian life. Whether God blesses us in the physical realm
with wealth or in the spiritual realm with spiritual fruit and many converts we must
be careful to give the credit to Him. “Vanity is pride on display.” God through Isaiah
showed him his fault and it was dealt with (2 Kings 20:19).
What could have protected Hezekiah from this – a more careful walk, proper gratitude,
cultivated thankfulness for getting what we don't deserve. And do it every day. Hezekiah
promised he would walk carefully all his days – but it didn't last. We should seek
God's help to hate pride over everything else.
Some are critical of Hezekiah but 2 Chronicles describes him as good, meaning just,
fair, and right. Our sins have consequences on others: David's illicit child with
Bathsheba and Eli's sons. Hezekiah took the bad news knowing that God was acting
justly, but also knowing the work of God will go on. Hezekiah, under God, brought
thirty years of reformation. It may not seem a lot but “if God brings thirty years
of spiritual reformation today, I'll take it!” May God grant it for His glory and
In the first of Philip Eveson's papers on Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones' thoughts on revival,
he said revival was vital because spiritual forces of wickedness have captured the
minds of the young and old, and the times are desperate. He called for earnest supplication
to Almighty God. The title of his first paper was 'Revival - an obsessional trait?'.
It was his response to the psychological analysis made by Gaius Davies who argued
that Dr. Lloyd-Jones over-emphasised revival on account of a obsessive-compulsive
disposition. Davies' conclusion was that Dr. Lloyd-Jones was obsessed by revival.
Philip would readily admit Dr. Lloyd-Jones was certainly concerned for revival, in
line with the Bible's concern (Is.62:6-7). But this concern was never at the expense
of his normal, weekly activities in the local church or his many interests in evangelistic
and missionary agencies, both in the UK and overseas.
Philip related some of the background that influenced Lloyd-Jones' burden for revival:
1) His Calvinistic Methodist roots;
2) The 1904-5 revival in Wales;
3) The Works of Jonathan Edwards;
4) His personal experiences of God's glory e.g. in 1925 and 1949;
5) His ministry at Sandfields, Port Talbot, “where they experienced a glimpse of
Philip said the Doctor was very concerned that evangelical churches were putting
lots of faith and effort into organising big evangelistic campaigns, with true revival
teaching either ignored or opposed. Dr. Lloyd-Jones also saw that only a special
intervention from God could change the desperate state of the nation and called men
to fervent, importunate prayer. From all his reading and preparation, Philip was
convinced that the Doctor's belief in revival and its necessity was a settled conviction
throughout his ministry and not something that came to him in fits and starts or
through any late development in his thinking. May it be so with us.
Philip's second paper was entitled “Lloyd-Jones' Theology of Revival”, however he
admitted it was difficult to formulate.
1. What is Revival? Dr. Lloyd-Jones was certainly concerned about revival early in
his ministry and once he'd arrived at a Biblical view of it, there was very little
development over the years. Peter Master's says he abandoned orthodox views but Tony
Sargeant says there is a remarkable consistency. According to Dr. Lloyd-Jones every
person born again of the Spirit of God has the Spirit in them but there are further,
sometimes extraordinary, experiences of the Spirit that are subsequent to conversion.
To the Doctor, the baptism of the Spirit was not regeneration but an experience of
the glory, reality and love of the Father and the Son. The filling of the Spirit
was that enabling, or power for service (Acts 2 and 4) that can be often repeated.
Revival was a sovereign act of God whereby He poured out His Spirit to awaken His
church. This tremendous outpouring on numbers of believers at the same time is the
greatest need of the church today. At first he didn't distinguish between the actions
of the Holy Spirit in Acts and what was commanded in Ephesians 5:18. But he later
said that we are responsible for being filled with the Spirit and we cannot be filled
by the Spirit without being baptised by the Spirit. He referred to the way the Holy
Spirit came upon Howell Harris and Jonathan Edwards in a quite exceptional way. Lloyd-Jones
was not using the term Baptism of the Spirit in the same way as later Pentecostals
used it but he was constantly concerned about Christians quenching the Spirit, for
we need this baptism of power or we fail!
2. General Characteristics of Revival. They may vary in how and when they start,
who is involved, the context (prayer meeting, evangelistic outreach, etc.,) the physical
phenomena, and the impact (local or countrywide). What never changes is the arousing
of God's people to the power of spiritual realities. The sense of sin, the love of
God, and zeal to pray and evangelise follow upon such an outpouring.
3. The Significance of these Characteristics. Lloyd-Jones maintained that such characteristics
cannot be produced by humans or explained by humans, except that it is miraculous.
In fact when revival comes, God uses unlikely people and acts sovereignly in time
and place and circumstances. In this he counteracted Finney's teaching that you can
produce revival if you fulfil certain criteria.
4. Results of Revival. Lloyd-Jones was particularly thinking of the effects of revival
on the world. In a sermon on Acts 2 he said the amazement of the world was due to
them seeing the mighty hand of the Lord at work. Revival might be accompanied by
strange happenings but we should fix our sights on higher things and leave the phenomena
to God. Explanations of the phenomena included brainwashing (but failed to explain
the beginning – how they started); mass hysteria (which again fails to explain the
origin) and the work of the devil (refuted by Jesus). The Doctor warned that intellectualism
can be a barrier to accepting such things are from God.
5. The Purpose of Revival. In his sermon on Joshua 4:21-24 Lloyd-Jones gives two
reasons for revival: i) the Glory of God and ii) that God's people might fear the
Lord. Revival makes people more aware of God and humbles them.
6. The Hindrances to Revival. From Genesis 26:17ff the Doctor points out that just
as Isaac had to clean out the wells to get the water, so in revival God cleans out
the rubbish and the dross in the doctrine and practice of His church. He believed
that evangelicals at that time were so confident of their ability to organise the
big evangelistic campaigns that they didn't depend on God. His firm belief was that
all preaching should promote revival.
7. Desiring Revival. The church has not realised it is too self-confident so the
power is not there. The desperate need of power and prayer in the church hasn't been
recognised or taken up. Prayer is vital and urgent and any burden for revival ought
to result in God's people meeting together to pray.
Conclusion. Lloyd-Jones was always stressing the importance of history. He saw the
basic problem for the church as unbelief and opposition to God in the world, and
self-dependence in the church that meant there was little power or prospect of evangelical
renewal. He always believed that nothing but a great outpouring of the Spirit of
God on the Church (which is what he meant by revival) could retrieve the situation.
Recognising this ought to drive the church to pray to God for revival.