Friday, 2 July 2010

What is Revival?

Readers of this blog will be aware I've been working through, 'The Story of Toronto', by John Peters. There are inevitable questions which follow any discussion on the Toronto Blessing - What was all that about? Where is it leading? Was it revival or some kind of renewal?

Peters attempts a response to these questions by asking another - How is revival defined? In doing so, he shares some great definitions which are worth repeating here for our stimulation.

'Revival is God coming down in life stirring power amongst His people. It takes place when the church is spiritually low & ineffective.' Dr Eifon Evans, Fire in the thatch & the Welsh Revival.

'Revival is a visitation from God that restores life to the church & produces lasting moral change.' Richard Booker

'Revival is a movement of the Holy Spirit bringing about a revival of New Testament Christianity in the church of Christ & the related community.' Dr J Edwin Orr

'Revival is always the action of God. It is not man. It is God pouring out His Spirit. It is something quite out of the ordinary, something special, unusual, exceptional.' Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival

'Revival is God revealing Himself to men in awesome holiness & irresistable power.' Arthur Wallis, In the Day of Thy Power.

'Revival is a season in the life of the church where God causes the normal ministry of the gospel to surge forward with extraordinary spiritual power.' Dr Raymond Ortlund

'Revival is a community saturated by God.' Brian Edwards.

For those of us who remember the thrill of the early Toronto outbreak & spread, our joyful assumption was that this blessing anticipated a great revival. That we have not seen such a breakthrough is no cause for dismissing Toronto. The reasons why this river did not develop into such a flood are too numerous for a few paragraphs here. However, the overall impact on the church has been to raise the bar across the board in terms of our expectations of intimacy & breakthrough.

By these historical definitions, Toronto has brought revival to isolated places. The impact of the blessing in the lives of Roland & Heidi Baker ticks every box. However high you set the revival bar, the Baker's work in Mozambique jumps it with ease - 6000 churches planted, multitudes saved & healed, the hungry fed.

Ironically, Toronto itself is the more normal example that the rest of us have followed. They have not seen their city saturated with Kingdom power in the way that they might have expected early on as trhe birthplace of the movement. However, their hunger has aroused a response around the world which leaves us healthier & hungrier still.
Sixteen years may have passed but we are learning to cry 'More Lord' again!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Another Toronto Ten

Yesterday I listed 10 Revival Characteristics from John Peters book, 'The Story of Toronto.' Here is another of his lists which highlights some of the key qualities of the Arnotts. These simple, key factors may go some way to explaining the development of the Toronto Blessing.

1/ They place a high value on the teaching of the scriptures. Peters argues that the Arnotts exhibit a quality of character which exalts Jesus. Essentially, they are the same in private as they are in public.

2/ They have a clear understanding of salvation. Expecting salvation to be worked out in daily life in a practical & demonstrable sense.

3/ Both are products of brokenness, devastated by the experience of divorce from their first partners, stripped of pride & self confidence. Frank Damazio comments, 'Anything that is broken is deemed by man to be unfit, & he ends up throwing it away. But to God, only that which is broken is useful....So the vessels of God are ready for revival only when they are broken. God's vessels, the ones He uses, are broken vessels.'

4/ They have a strong marriage, operating out of a relationship which is devoid of striving or competitiveness, now able to trust one in a way they thought they would never trust a partner again. In their calling, Carol is no adjunct to John's ministry, they serve together.

5/ They are keen to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, & go after where He leads tenaciously.

6/ They maintain a disciplined lifestyle of reading the scriptures & prayer. Before the outbreak of the Toronto Blessing, they had devoted their mornings for the previous 18 months to worship, prayer & study together.

7/ They take absolutely seriously the question of Forgiveness. Frequently referring to Isaiah 61.1, they believe the Lord has come to set captives free, that prison doors are opened when forgiveness is given a free reign. This too is rootetd in their experience of broken marriages, unforgiveness, bitterness & judgements.

8/ They have cultivated some core values which seep into everything. An understanding of the Father's love, the intimacy we can all enjoy with Him, the restoration of the heart, & the equipping of the Holy Spirit for all of life. The acronym FIRE sums them up well.

9/ They have a high view of accountability, first to God, to one another & to their church, but also holding themselves open to advice, to comment, & to other leaders.

10/ They love people. They love their local church, they love those they travel to serve.