A Review Article -- By: John H. Armstrong
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A Review Article
Pentecost Today? The Biblical Basis For Understanding Revival, Iain H. Murray. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth (1998). 226 pages, cloth, $19.99.
Rarely is a new book on revival published which merits almost universal consideration by serious evangelical readers. This book is the exception! Iain Murray, who has long studied the history and theology of true revival, has given us what is, simply put, the very best argument available, both biblically and theologically, for what true revival is and why we need it in our time.
Arguing from a biblically balanced understanding of Pentecost, Murray demonstrates that the gospel is able “to win sudden acceptance despite the strongest opposition.” But is Pentecost still a reality for today? For nearly a century large numbers of evangelicals have argued that Pentecost was a one-time “birthday” for the church and therefore has little, if any, abiding importance for us in the present age. Murray’s arguments have value in several areas but none more important this this—he demonstrates that we can and should expect, and pray for, Pentecostal showers upon the church in every age and in every region.
How do you explain epochs in church history where men and women were powerfully filled afresh with the
RAR 8:4 (Fall 1999) p. 208
knowledge of God and the love of Christ? How do you explain gospel advances which parallel the accounts we read in the book of Acts? Murray calls such epochs, which have plainly occurred in redemptive history since the era of the apostles, revivals. He also argues, convincingly to me, that Scripture is clear on what is actually given to those who seek a more abundant measure of the Spirit’s ministry in this age—stronger faith in the truth and hearts enlarged with love for Christ and others.
Murray probes the meaning of revival deeply. He shows how confusion regarding the actual meaning of the term “revival” has brought about untold harm. He argues that the difference between normal seasons and revival seasons is primarily “one of degree and measure” (31). He adds, “If revival be, in the first place, a larger giving of the Spirit to Christians, it must mean that they receive more of what they already possess” (31). What this means, practically, is that every alleged revival must be “Judged by the same tests by which the genuineness of all Christianity is to be tested (31). It is for this very same reason that this reviewer is not greatly impressed, overall, with the present hype and continual claims for great revival which presently come from places like Smithton, Missouri, or Pensacola, Florida.
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