Greater Concern for Spiritual Matters

An important reminder and reproof from E.M. Bounds,

If it be contended that the work of God is progressing, and that we are growing in holiness, then some perplexing questions arise which will be hard to answer. If the Church is making advances on the lines of deep spirituality—if we are a praying people, noted for our prayer habits—if our people are hungering after holiness—then let us ask, why do we now have so few mighty outpourings of the Holy Spirit on our chief churches and our principal appointments? Why is it that so few of our revivals spring from the life of the pastor, who is noted for his deep spirituality, or the life of our church? Is the Lord’s hand shortened that He cannot save? Is His ear heavy that He cannot hear? Why is it that in order to have so-called revivals, we must have outside pressure, by the reputation and sensation of some renowned evangelist? This is largely true in our larger charges and with our leading men. Why is it that the pastor is not sufficiently spiritual, holy and in communion with God, that he cannot hold his own revival services, and have large outpourings of the Holy Spirit on the Church, the community and upon himself? There can be but one solution for all this state of things. We have cultivated other things to the neglect of the work of holiness. We have permitted our minds to be preoccupied with material things in the Church. Unfortunately, whether designedly or not, we have substituted the external for the internal. We have put that which is seen to the front and shut out that which is unseen. It is all too true as to the Church, that we are much further advanced in material matters than in matters spiritual (E.M. Bounds, The Essentials of Prayer, 33).

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2 thoughts on “Greater Concern for Spiritual Matters

  1. This is deep. What are revivals? Who is saying that the pastor is not sufficiently spiritual, holy in communion with God, and that he cannot hold his own revival services, and have outpourings of the Holy Spirit on the Church, the community and upon himself.

    Why is it that so few of our revivals spring from the life of the pastor, who is noted for his deep spirituality, or the life of our church? Is the Lord’s hand shortened that He cannot save? Is His ear heavy that He cannot hear? Why is it that in order to have so-called revivals, we must have outside pressure, by the reputation and sensation of some renowned evangelist? This is largely true in our larger charges and with our leading men. Why is it that the pastor is not sufficiently spiritual, holy and in communion with God, that he cannot hold his own revival services, and have large outpourings of the Holy Spirit on the Church, the community and upon himself?

  2. Hey Chris,

    I’m sorry about my delayed reply. I appreciate your questions.

    Revivals have historically been times of spiritual awakenings. Some of the better known revivals are:
    The First Great Awakening (1726-1756)
    The Second Great Awakening (1776-1810)
    The Third Great Awakening (1857-1895)

    Most of these were trans-Atlantic, occurring on both American and European soil.

    Spiritual awakening occurs when a person repents of their sins and places their faith in Jesus Christ according to the Bible. For instance:

    “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30)

    “testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).

    “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9)

    During the third great awakening “revivalism” was introduced. The effects of revivalism are still found in many conservative churches. To encapsulate revivalism, it seeks to generate spiritual change through methodological and emotional manipulation. Revivalism was not a good development for evangelicalism. So this is where the second part of your question comes in. When the author I cited above, E.M. Bounds, says, “Why is it that in order to have so-called revivals, we must have outside pressure, by the reputation and sensation of some renowned evangelist?” He is referring to a result of revivalism, namely that a man who specializes in generating spiritual “decisions” must be the catalyst for revival (though more often than not these are faux-revivals). Bounds is challenging the notion that an evangelist is necessary to generate revivals; he is seeking, in part, to refute revivalism by his string of rhetorical questions. He is advocating that in the end, revivals cannot be humanly manufactured. Genuine revivals are always a work of God. Consequently, a praying and godly pastor and church can experience God’s outpouring of His Holy Spirit when they have a genuine God-ward orientation.

    Clear as mud? Hope this helps and thanks again for the questions.

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