Thoughts On The Asbury Revival

For over two weeks there has been a “revival” at Asbury College. What started out as a normal chapel service has turned into a worldwide phenomenon. Fox News reported, “The movement began after students refused to leave following a chapel service last Wednesday, and the services have since grown to pack the school's chapel with worshipers from all over the country, according to Christianity Today. The event is being held at Asbury University — a small Christian college — and has seen participants fly in from across the country to participate as it enters its tenth straight day of worship.”
This has brought about a lot of attention to the event. For something to go on for this long non stop can’t help but garner some attention. With so many people trying to get into the chapel there is now a line stretching nearly a half of a mile long of people waiting for their turn of the experience. Is this a real revival? Is God pouring out His spirit in the town of Wilmore? Or is this just a man made event? Is this just a very long praise and worship concert? Or is God making inroads in Kentucky?
To start, we have to look at what the word revival means. People can have a bunch of different ideas and definitions yet still be using the same words. While the word itself never shows itself in the Bible, we can still see some clear guidelines by accounts given to us in the Word.
Revival is when a large group of people in a community repent and turn to Christ to be saved. When an abnormal amount of people over the course of a certain amount of time transform from darkness into the light. When in one moment there seems to be an absence of God in a community, then in the next God’s presence is everywhere. There is an awakening to Him and this transforms the area. What we see on the day of Pentecost is a perfect example of revival. It is a lot of people all at once becoming saved. This then spreads outward to other people and communities. Another example of this is what happened in England involving the revival work of John Wesley. In his work England Before & After Wesley By Donald Drew, he notes that, “England, after Wesley, saw many of his Century's evils eradicated, because hundreds of thousands became Christians; their hearts were changed, as were their minds and attitudes, and so the society, the public realm, was affected.” This is true revival.
Over the last week I have seen many different definitions of revival and the vast majority are not biblical.  Many will give definitions that sound very good and Christian-like, but fall short of talking about the transformation of the heart. So this means the Gospel has to be present. If you have a lot of singing, dancing, healing, performances, praying and casting out of demons, but not Gospel, then that is not a revival.
The next thing to keep in mind is that a revival is something done by God. It is His Spirit that breaks through and convicts many hearts to repent. It is not man made. You can not hold or plan for a revival. Some churches will schedule revivals on their calendars. They then will bring in a preacher from out of town and have them preach evangelistic messages for a solid week. While this may lead some to be saved, this is not a revival. A revival is something done purely by God alone because salvation is by God alone. To borrow from Martyn Lloyd-Jones; revival is something that happens to the church, not done by the church.
Something else to consider is that a lot of good things could happen in a church without it being a revival. Could God be praised? Yes. Could there be people that get saved? Yes. Could there be giving? Yes. Could there be self-sacrifice? Yes. Could the sacraments be conducted? Yes. Are all these things good and Godly? Yes. Does that mean it is a revival? No. Usually time is what is needed to tell if something is a revival. But in our day and age we don't want to give anything time. We are likely to quickly label something before waiting for it to develop. And It appears that many are quick to label something a revival that is way too early to tell.
Now after having revival in its proper context, let's turn to what is happening in Kentucky. I have read and watched a lot in regards to peoples reports of what is going on in the chapel. After sitting back and thinking about it I am hesitant to call this a revival. There are a few concerns that I have in regards to this. 
  1. The Gospel is absent. There have been no reports of a clear Gospel presentation throughout the many hours this has been going on. There have been short references to seeking forgiveness for our sins but that is it. Even the original chapel message that started all of this did not have the Gospel message. It is hard to say revival is happening when God’s way of reviving someone is not even mentioned. 
  2. Casting out demons. There have been reports of people having demons exercised out of them recently at the event. This is not anything we are commanded nor given the power to do in the bible. Usually when activities like this are happening, then there is a false religion to go along with it. 
  3. More and more music. While there is nothing wrong with Chrisitan music, it does say something about this “revival” when it is mainly music and hardly any preaching or teaching of the word. A verse may be read here or there, but for the amount of time that this has been going on (over a 100 hours!) you would think they would have a lot more. Not only is it mainly music but there has been a lot of vain repetition, which the bible warns us not to do (Matthew 6:7).
  4. False teachers. There have been a handful of false teachers that have been endorsing and attending this event. People like Kenneth Copeland, Todd Bentley and Tim Whitaker, to just name a few, have attached themselves to this. Whenever this happens this should send off red flags instantly. 
 5. LBGTQ+ While the college itself claims to endorse and teach biblical sexuality, there is some      evidence to the contrary. Samuel Sey writing on the revival has found out: “Moreover, [Tim          Whitaker] says LGBTQ students at the school told him the university protects them from              “conversion therapy”. According to Whitaker, the LGBTQ students who were “worshiping” at         the chapel also say they’re especially hopeful the “revival” will create (progressive) change at         the school. That lines up with what one student said to me: “Unfortunately, I have first-                 account experience and conversations with people who are attending and speaking on the         ‘greatness’ of revival who are actively living in sin (to be blunt).” If this is the kind of revival             that is being manufactured, could this be biblical? 
Having said all of this, I am not trying to rain on anyone's parade. The bible is clear that we are to test anything claiming to be of God (1 John 4:1-6). And while there are a lot of questionable things happening, I would still say we need to wait and see. Anything we may read or listen to about this revival is only a snippet of the whole thing. I watched a report on the revival by someone who went there to stay in the chapel for over two hours. Yet that is still barely 1% of the whole time this has been going on.
Also, this doesn’t mean that there can not be some good that comes from this. It is possible that someone may become saved through it all. God can do anything to reach a lost soul. Songs are being sung to God. But that still doesn’t mean a revival is happening. 
What we need to do is pray. Pray for the souls of those there attending that they do become saved. Pray for revival. Pray against the enemy. Pray for the wolves in sheeps clothing that he will send to hijack this event. Pray that people are not just stirred with emotions. This would be short lived and not genuine. Pray for instead that they will develop a deep love and conviction for the Lord. Pray for the people in Asbury.

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