from Anchor for the Soul
I’ve already posted a few thoughts about the Asbury Revival in my stories but I want to cover it a bit more thoroughly. Whether you agree or disagree with it, I think this revival is of greater consequence than most of us realize. I’m going to do my best to show you how and why that is. I want to be clear that I’m not judging the motives or hearts of the people involved in this revival. I’m sure many of the people involved have true faith and are simply caught up in the excitement. And I hope that there are some students who have truly been saved or changed. God can use anything but that doesn’t make it right and good. I simply want to look at the idea of revival (specifically as represented at Asbury) as a whole.
In order to fully understand, I think we need to take a step back and look at church history over the past century. There has been a massive paradigm shift within Christianity over the past 100 years. It’s been slow and subtle but it has completely transformed how Christianity is both viewed and practiced. We have unequivocally shifted from true, Word-based Christianity to an experience-based, false Christianity. It is a direct result of Charismatic and Pentecostal beliefs slowly but purposefully permeating every mainline denomination. I’d like to share the details of how that happened historically but it will have to be in a separate post.
A Word-based, Biblical paradigm is actually very simple. We read the Bible, we believe the Bible, and we obey the Bible. That is true faith in a nutshell. God, in His grace, opens our eyes to the truth of the Gospel and His Word and we submit to it. Trust and obey. The Holy Spirit changes us through God’s Word, the church preaches God’s Word, we share God’s Word with others, and we sing songs that reinforce the truths of God’s Word. Notice the common denominator?
But to the world, that’s boring and pointless. Why? Because they don’t have true faith. They don’t want to obey the Word of God but they still want God. They want to feel connected to Him. How do you do that without the Bible? Through an experience. They want to feel good, to have that spiritual high, to experience God. And this is what the Charismatic movement has specialized in providing.
And so here we are. Christianity has shifted to an experience-based, unbiblical paradigm. We have a Christianity that is basically charismatic in practice if not in name. God’s Word takes a back seat and experience reigns supreme.
This shift has manifested itself in 5 ways and all find their beginning in the Charismatic movement.
𝟏. 𝐃𝐢𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧: Everyone, everywhere has heard from God. He gives dreams and visions for your life. God’s Word isn’t sufficient, we need more. And ironically, His message is often about us and this world rather than His glory and His kingdom.
𝟐. 𝐄𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧-𝐝𝐫𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩: Worship is all about the experience. Songs are purposefully written to evoke a sensual and emotional response. Man is exalted. We sing to feel good. Who cares if the songs come from false churches and contain bad theology. They make us want to cry, dance, raise our hands, or jump up and down.
𝟑. 𝐄𝐜𝐮𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐦: “Unity at any cost” is their mantra. It’s all about the breaking down of doctrinal barriers. As my Uncle says, it can be summed up in this: “We all love Jesus, group hug!” We no longer unite around doctrine but around a common experience.
𝟒. 𝐋𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐑𝐚𝐢𝐧: This is the idea that there will be a great revival or great awakening before the Lord returns. Though slightly different than the Latter Rain movement, Dominionists (otherwise known as post-millennials), and the NAR also believe we are being used to prepare the world for the return of Christ. They are all looking for an end-times revival.
𝟓. 𝐎𝐮𝐭𝐩𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐇𝐨𝐥𝐲 𝐒𝐩𝐢𝐫𝐢𝐭: There are times of a “great outpouring” of the Holy Spirit. Many believe that we usher in this special outpouring through worship and prayer. There are spiritual manifestations of His presence that include emotional or physical responses, speaking in tongues, healing, miracles, and even weirder things at places like Bethel.
All 5 of these are unbiblical and one could easily write a whole post on each topic explaining why. But I’ll attempt to refute them simply. I would also encourage you to look up the passages and study it for yourself.
𝟏. 𝐆𝐨𝐝’𝐬 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐝 𝐢𝐬 𝐬𝐮𝐟𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐭. The canon is closed and there is no direct revelation. If you want to hear God speak then open up your Bible. (2 Timothy 3:14-17, Revelation 22:18-19, 2 Peter 1:3)
𝟐. 𝐄𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧-𝐛𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟-𝐟𝐨𝐜𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩. Singing praise to God is a good thing! But our worship must be done in truth from a heart of faith and according to God’s Holy Word. (John 4:24)
𝟑. 𝐄𝐜𝐮𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐦 𝐢𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐒𝐚𝐭𝐚𝐧. He will use it to gather all the world under a one-world religion. The Bible is clear that we find unity with those who stand on God’s Word alone and separate from those who don’t. (Romans 16:17, Ephesians 4:11, Galatians 1:8, 2 John)
𝟒. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐁𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐥𝐬𝐨 𝐜𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐋𝐨𝐫𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐬. We should not be expecting some worldwide end-times revival. (Jude, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13)
𝟓. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐇𝐨𝐥𝐲 𝐒𝐩𝐢𝐫𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐮𝐬 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐒𝐚𝐥𝐯𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐇𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐮𝐬 𝐚𝐥𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬. The book of Acts is descriptive and not prescriptive, therefore any notion of “the manifest presence of God” or “a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit” is unbiblical. We don’t need to travel to Asbury to experience His presence. He works through the Word of God to convict and transform us. (John 14:15-17 & 26, 1 Corinthians 6:19, Romans 8:9)
Unfortunately, the revival matches up with all 5 of these unbiblical shifts.
𝟏. 𝐃𝐢𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧: This is the reason there is no preaching at this revival. They may quote a few verses but it’s not the focus and the full Gospel message hasn’t been shared. It’s all testimonies and sharing their “word from the Lord.” Someone in support of the revival rejoiced that this revival is not “preaching laden [but] it seems almost preaching averse.”
𝟐. 𝐄𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧-𝐝𝐫𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩: This revival is all singing, singing, singing. It feels good. It pleases the senses. Which one among us would not be tempted to be caught up in the emotion of singing with thousands of people? Who cares if it’s repetitive or if it contains false theology or comes from a false church. This revival is satisfying people’s need for an experience, to feel connected to God, and to have that spiritual high. Contemporary Christian music is created to do exactly that.
𝟑. 𝐄𝐜𝐮𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐦: Check out twitter. People at this revival are talking all about how it’s tearing down doctrinal divides. “God is bypassing denominational differences to rest upon anyone seeking and longing for Him.” They’re welcoming Catholics and all sorts of denominations along with those in the LGBTQ community. It’s being praised by Mormons, Catholics, Conservatives, and Liberals alike. We all love Jesus! Jesus is exalted! But which Jesus? (hint: it’s not the Jesus of the Bible)
𝟒. 𝐋𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐧: People are grabbing onto this because they are looking for a great awakening and a great revival before the Lord comes back. We’ve seen this lingo increasing over the past few years among Dominionists, Post-millennials, the NAR, and the Christian nationalists. This revival is what they’ve all been waiting for! Even if some are not supporting this revival for Biblical reasons, their theology has set up the Christian community at large to be expecting something like this.
𝟓. 𝐇𝐨𝐥𝐲 𝐒𝐩𝐢𝐫𝐢𝐭 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐟𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬: Check out the lingo surrounding the revival on social media. “We feel a wave of the Holy Spirit” and the “manifest presence of the Holy Spirit” and the students are crying out for a “mighty visitation from the Spirit.” People are traveling from every state to “feel the presence” and “experience the mighty move of God.” It all comes back to one thing. Feelings. I wonder if they’d experience the presence of God in the same way if someone got up and preached for hours from His Word? Somehow I doubt it.
This revival embodies this paradigm shift perfectly. There is no Word of God and nobody seems to care! There was no complete Gospel presentation. But we know that God works through His Word. How could it possibly be a true revival without it? The fruit of true revival would see people hungrier and hungrier for the Word of God, not the emotional experience of “His presence”. And yet we’ve come so far from Biblical Christianity that we’re labeled cynical and judgmental for pointing that out.
I’ve heard many people claim the validity of the revival because there’s supposedly repentance going on. But how can there be true repentance if the Word of God has not been shared? An article online stated that there was repentance and prayer for “reconciliation, sexual healing, renewed identity, forgiveness, and love.” Just because there’s repentance doesn’t automatically mean that there is Biblical repentance.
Listen. The Bible is clear that we are looking for an end times apostasy. A falling away. A rebellion. Read the book of Jude. It is the description of the church in the last days. Apostates run the show. And what do they do? Turn the grace of God into LICENSE. They aren’t denying the deity of Christ or that He died for our sin or that He rose again. No, they are subtly promoting a Christianity that in sensual and after the flesh. It is devoid of the Spirit while they act like they are full of the Spirit. We’ve arrived. It’s Christianity today.
Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. He isn’t going to show himself as all evil and bad and darkness. He will look like light and righteousness. He is setting himself up to look like he’s battling the corruption of the government and the evil of the leftist, woke agenda. He’s working both sides. It’s a false light and a fabricated battle of good versus evil. Because then the antichrist can swoop in and save us from all the evil, corruption, and darkness. Satan is setting up the whole world to follow the experience-based, mystical, one-world, one-religion antichrist system. And this revival shows just how quickly the “Christian” world will fall for it.
So what’s our job? To contend for the faith. These students don’t know the Word of God because they’ve never been taught the Word of God or the importance of studying it. Most probably don’t know what true faith looks like. We can judge the revival as a whole but we need to have compassion on the Gen Z generation and pray that their eyes are opened. That the Holy Spirit will use the “ordinary” preaching and sharing of the Word to reach into their hearts and transform them from inside out.
Please note that I’m not saying that all emotions and feelings are wrong. But they cannot guide us or be what we seek. They must be an expression of true faith that’s rooted in the Word of God. The Bible is preeminent and our emotions take the backseat. instead of vise versa. Sometimes there’s no emotion or feelings and we still choose to be faithful in our walk, knowing His promises are true not matter how we feel.
We must cling to His Word in a Christian world that’s left it behind. And look up, for our redemption draws near!
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