Oh, For a Mighty Gale of the Blessed Spirit!
The title is from a sermon by George Whitefield on Is. 54. Last year I read George Whitefield’s journals detailing his first years preaching in England and the American colonies. I just finished Arnold Dallimore’s first volume of his biography “George Whitefield – The Life & Times of the Great Evangelist of the 18th Century Revival.” The book fills in the context of his journals providing historical background and details about his ministry. Whitefield was an amazing servant of the Lord, preaching with power to thousands in his early twenties without the help of mikes, amps, worship bands, pyro-technics or light shows up & down the eastern seaboard and establishing an orphanage in GA. Whitefield held to the power of the gospel to save and to the necessity of regeneration and the Holy Spirit’s power. He was a dedicated Anglican yet would preach to anyone and anywhere he was welcome. While for the most part rejected & ridiculed by his own church he built relationships with Baptists, Presbyterians, and Quakers. He believed in unpopular doctrines such as election and predestination. While he did not major on these subjects in his public preaching, he did not shy away from their defense as is seen in his controversy with John Wesley. He was not interested in starting a new movement or denomination of his own brand name – he wanted people to meet, find and know Jesus Christ.
How different from preaching and what passes for revival today! Today, piercings and tatoos, big shows and big bucks, and rambling content-less messages with a notable absence of exegetical foundation or Bible reference and a few weeks of hype and adrenaline are the supposed “marks” of an evangelist. However, as we have seen in months past in Lakeland, questionable morals, questionable teaching and questionable methodology do not add up to revival but point to its absence. Why does the church accept such a pale, tepid, substitute? It only leads to disappointment, disillusionment and a discredited gospel.
I still believe in revival – as the prophet Habakkuk prayed, having heard of God’s mighty acts in the past – “in our day make them known.” I still believe he will – it is desperately needed! God’s revival of his church does not have to be dressed up in the garb or the language of the 18th century but it will be marked by God’s consistent pattern – his word proclaimed in power, deeply held repentance, and the power of the Spirit to transform people’s lives and the tangible fruit of conversion – changed lives, new disciples, & fruitful congregations founded and thriving because of the living word of God.
O, Lord, Send such a Mighty Gale!