Friday, July 8, 2011

BRC: A God-Sized Vision, week 8

This week we read chapter 8, the final chapter of the book on revival. It dealt with the Evangelical Boom that took place in North America in the 1940s and 1950s. Much of this revival story is told with Billy Graham at the center of it. I know some people have some negative thoughts or feelings about the way in which Graham ran his evangelistic crusades. I am not dealing with that here. All I will say is that he used his gifts and impacted more people for the Kingdom than I will ever dream of doing.

The 1940s in America was a down time. War had influenced so many people. But it was also a time when the foundations of Christianity were being tested, particularly the authority of the Bible. Seminaries had allowed the methods of Higher Criticism to influence the way they saw the Holy Scriptures. And it was in this time, that we see the major turning point in the life of Billy Graham. He was torn between the "intellectual" view of the Bible (how can it be reconciled with science, how do we know it's true, etc...) and simply believing it was from God. This would be the crucial point of his life. He finally came to the conclusion that would impact everything that he did when he prayed:
"Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word--by faith! I'm going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word." (162)
The major revivals started when he preached for eight weeks in Los Angeles and continually thundered "We need revival!" Next came a revival in Boston. Thousands of people gave their lives to the Lord during these revivals. The response in the cold-hearted Boston was such a surprise that Harold Ockenga, the pastor of the famous Park Street Church, said:
"We call the entire Christian public of the nation to prayer for if Boston and New England can receive such a shaking of God under this stripling who like David of old went forth to meet the giant of the enemy, then we believe that God is ready to shake America to its foundation in revival." (166)
Ockenga went on to say,
"I believe that 1950 will go down in history as the year of heaven-sent revival . . . You do not have to next year. You don't have to wait ten years. You don't have to pray anymore, 'Lord, send a revival.' The revival is here!" (169)
What can happen when a few men start to pray that God would change a nation? What could happen when a few people get serious about their calling to preach His Word and trust it to do the work? What would it be like to say, we don't need to pray anymore, "Lord, send a revival" because it is happening all around us? Lord, bring that to us today!

Next Friday, I will give some final thoughts about this book and what I have learned about revival as I have read this book.

What did you learn from this chapter?

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