Jump Start # 3274
Jump Start # 3274
1 John 4:1 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into this world.”
Asbury College revival—it’s the talk of the nation. Young people interested in Jesus. Nonstop, around the clock praising the Lord. Prophecies fulfilled, some claim. Demons reported being cast out. YouTube is filled with videos about the Asbury experience. Many are comparing it to the great Cane Ridge revival of 1801. Many are flocking to Asbury just to see with their own eyes what is taking place.
It’s time to mention some things about this in our Jump Starts.
First, one is not a bad guy for wanting to examine such events Biblically. Far too many, even among brethren, are blindly hopping on the bandwagon of excitement and are critical if anyone dare raises some concern. Yes, it’s great to see young college students interested in Jesus. And, yes, they could be out drag racing in the streets as they are in other cities, or sitting behind college dorms smoking dope. I’m all for people being passionate about Jesus. Zeal and enthusiasm are a part of our worship. Dull lifeless songs, dry sermons and dead prayers are not the answer.
However, as our passage says, as the Bereans in Acts did, we must look at things through the eyes of Scriptures. As Paul praised the Bereans for searching the Scriptures to see whether what they heard was true, he did not accuse them of being arrogant, judgmental or always condemning what was different. They were praised for being diligent to search the Scriptures. We are not being judgmental when we do the same. We are not jealous nor full of pride if we do what the Bereans did. To put a “Hands off” qualifier on what happens is neither Biblical, smart nor helpful. Our very passage today warns of false prophets. Try the spirits is what John tells his readers. There are false prophets circling around and the only way to know is to test what they say. Truth will never suffer under investigation. I want young people, old people, little people, big people and all people to follow Jesus. But a counterfeit Jesus doesn’t help. Getting close doesn’t help. A false religion doesn’t help. This should not be a choice between boring but accurate or excitement and inaccurate. We need to passionately follow Jesus as He wants us to.
So, we need to stop throwing darts at those who want to take a look at things. Those who are pointing out things are doing so to help us be right with the Lord.
Second, the historical picture. What is happening at Asbury is not what happened at Cane Ridge. Some modern historians have shown similarities, such as fainting, barking and unusual activities that happened at Cane Ridge. But the major difference is the absence of the Bible at Asbury. Video after video that I have seen has shown gospel music, hand waving, crying, testimonials, confessing sins, but very, very little turning to the Bible. The hallmark of the Cane Ridge movement was the preaching of God’s word. And that is what sustained and propelled the drive to return to the Bible. Preaching God’s word became central point of the American Restoration Movement. Without that foundation of the Bible, emotions and feelings become the central focal point. The comments and the statements made from Asbury praise the Holy Spirit for what’s being done. How does one know that it is the Holy Spirit doing this? How would one know? And, when religious movements are based upon emotions and feelings, they quickly place those feelings above what the Scriptures teach. The “experience” becomes more important than the what the Bible says.
At this same college, in the early 1970s a very similar “revival” took place. A lot of excitement. A lot of Holy Spirit moving among the people it was claimed. But it wasn’t founded upon Scriptures and it soon died out. Kids have to get back to classes. People have to go back to their jobs. People move on. And, without a foundation, these feelings and emotions soon fade away. It is a system that needs others to sustain it. This is why so many are flocking to Asbury. They are looking for something that is missing. But what they do not realize is that they can’t live at Asbury. And, unless faith is founded upon the Jesus in the Scriptures, and not an emotional feeling created by others, this experience will not last long.
Our faith is not lived through others. Our faith is not sustained by the worship experience. Our faith must be directly tied to the Lord. If it is not, then whatever happens in worship and whatever happens at the church house directly impacts our faith. If things are off one day in worship, then my faith is off. If things are stressful among brethren, then my faith takes a hit. That’s not how it ought to be. Our faith is directly in the Lord. We are to have a relationship with the Lord that is not based upon others, the weather, the circumstances or my location. This is why Paul sitting in a Roman prison could rejoice in the Lord. His faith was linked directly to Jesus, and not his surroundings. One doesn’t have to travel to Asbury, Jerusalem, Rome or any other place to have a close and deep faith in the Lord. One doesn’t have to be baptized in the actual Jordan River in order to feel connected to Jesus.
I fear that when people eventually leave Asbury, after a few weeks they will feel defeated, deflated and empty. The energy and the emotion of the music and the crowd will die away once they leave. Then, how will they come to terms with the Holy Spirit? When faith is built upon Scriptures and tied directly to the Lord, in a crowd, or alone, one continues on in faith and love and character as Jesus wants.
Third, without a foundation in the Bible, anything and everything is possible. Is God sending prophecies today? Some have said, even among brethren, “Well, He could.” What does the Bible say? Are demons being cast out today? “Well, they said it happened at Asbury.” What does the Bible say? Does God work miracles today? Can anyone do a miracle? What was the purpose of miracles?
All fair questions to ask. In all the hype and the excitement, one must not forget what we know about the Bible. We cannot toss out what the Bible teaches and what we know. And, those that don’t know the Bible, will say anything and everything.
So, do I wish the Asbury Revival would go away? I wish among the young people there, that they’d stop the video taking on their phones and open up Bible apps and start reading what God said. I wish the movement to continue but be lead by the Bible and not emotions or young people who do not understand.
Some of the things that happened at Cane Ridge continue today. The drive for unity among all believers and the appeal to follow the apostolic way is at the heart of our preaching today. More than 220 years after Cane Ridge, the impact is still being felt. And, the reason for that is because it was based upon the preaching of God’s word and the spirit that longed to return to apostolic way.
What can we take away from the Asbury experience?
First, don’t give up on young people. There is a deep desire among them to know the Lord. Preaching answers to questions no one cares about anymore is not the solution. Hiding from their deep concerns won’t help. Listen to them. But take them to the Scriptures. Let them know the Lord, as the Lord has revealed Himself to us. Use their energy in a positive way that honors the Lord as it Biblically follows Him.
Second, it’s time to kickstart, or better yet, in the frame of this blog, Jump Start, more thought, more passion, more joy into our worship services. Sunday ought to be the best day of the week. Yet when we drag in at the last moment, half asleep, and go through the motions, we not only insult the God of Heaven and Earth, but we show our young people that we don’t mean any of this stuff. Now, this is not a call to jump pews, turn out the lights, and burn candles. It is not an excuse to ignore what the Bible teaches and introduce innovations that are not part of God’s pattern. But song leaders, think about what you are doing. Put energy into you leading. Preachers, preach with passion. Pray your heart out. Get to the church house early. Be excited to be there. One doesn’t need a rock band to create a atmosphere of love and devotion to the Lord.
Third, it’s time we moved our faith back to our own hearts where it ought to belong. Take ownership of your faith. Pray often. Be a servant of Christ. Build a character that is shaped by Scriptures. Stop playing church and let Christ dwell in your heart.
Revival begins within. Revive us again, one of our hymns, that maybe we ought to dust off and sing again.