Revival And The Unregenerate Church Member -- By: Jim Elliff

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 08:2 (Spring 1999)
Article: Revival And The Unregenerate Church Member
Author: Jim Elliff


Revival And The Unregenerate Church Member

Jim Elliff

When George Whitefield, the prominent English-born evangelist of the First Great Awakening, was asked why he so often preached, “Ye must be born again,” he replied, “Because, ye must be born again!”

Regeneration, or the new birth, was the prevalent issue of the Great Awakening of the 1740s in America. Joseph Tracey, in The Great Awakening (1842), said:

This doctrine of the “new birth,” as an ascertainable change, was not generally prevalent in any communion when the revival commenced; it was urged as of fundamental importance, by the leading promoters of the revival; it took strong hold of those whom the revival affected; it naturally led to such questions as the revival brought up and caused to be discussed; its perversions naturally grew into, or associated with, such errors as the revival promoted; it was adapted to provoke such opposition, and in such quarters, as the revival provoked; and its caricatures would furnish such pictures of the revival, as oppressors drew. This was evidently the right key; for it fitted all the wards of the complicated lock.1

This doctrine has repeatedly been at the heart of awakenings. The more objective doctrine, justification, has also played significantly in revival. Edwards, for instance, was preaching a series on justification by faith alone in Northampton when God came to that village. A correct

understanding of both is needed in our day. My focus is on the former and the dilemma that has been created (and is exponentially growing) due to the unregenerate church members among us. I wish to emphasize that preaching regeneration in the style and comprehension of the former preachers of revival is precisely what must be done immediately in order to “awaken” a professing church, drunk with the silliness of entertaining our unregenerate souls to hell.

By regeneration we mean the giving of
life to dead souls by a sovereign work of the
Holy Spirit. Berkhof says it is “that act of
God by which the principle of the new life
is implanted in man, and the governing
disposition of the soul is made holy.”

By regeneration we mean the giving of life to dead souls by a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. Berkhof says it is “that act of God by which the principle of the new life is implanted in man, and the governing disposition of the soul is made holy ... and the first holy exercise of this new disposition is secured.”2

This doctrine was pre...

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