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How do Great Awakenings get started?

The following article is what was cut from my introduction to The Boston Awakening magazine.

The traditional view is that Great Awakenings are sovereign moves of the Holy Spirit in specific regions at set times. First Great Awakening leaders such as Jonathan Edwards called these phenomena “surprising” and “supernatural.” They often quoted the words of Jesus regarding personal regeneration, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8).

Although leaders of the First Great Awakening, such as Edwards, John Wesley, George Whitefield and Gilbert Tennant, did not claim to have originated the move of God known as the First Great Awakening, their names are so associated with the event that historians often imply that they were the cause of it.

In the 19th century, Christian leaders leaned away from a Calvinistic perspective and took a stronger “free will” approach claiming that under the right circumstances mass conversions could be produced by revival preaching and “new measures.” Revivalist Charles G. Finney once preached that “Revival is no more a miracle than a crop of wheat.” In his opinion, revival was simply the “natural” and expected outcome when the right “measures” were used. Non-religious historians and sociologists explain that Great Awakenings are the product of various convergent conditions that produce a mass religious phenomenon. Religious movements appear to occur in waves, not because of “surprising” or “supernatural” causes, but because of the cyclical flux of historical trends. If this were the case, then we ought to be able to predict when revival and spiritual awakening will occur by simply observing the trends.

Another problem is that the definition of “revival” has changed over the years. We tend to apply “revival” to individuals rather than to the Church. Individuals are not revived; they are regenerated. Being born-again is a sovereign act of God given by grace to people who were spiritually dead in their sins. A Christian who has lapsed into serious sin needs repentance.

Sometimes this is called “personal revival.” However, from a sovereign grace perspective, “regeneration” is for unconverted sinners, “repentance” is for Christians, but “revival” is for the Church. Revival is needed in the Church whenever there is a large number of unconverted church members and Christians who have fallen into habitual sin. In the 1700s, “revival” was associated with mass conversions that led to a complete transformation of society.

Toward the end of the 1800s, “revival” began to become associated with the evangelistic meetings held by men such as D.L. Moody and Billy Sunday. Some critics have pointed out that although these “revivals” have met the criteria of mass conversions and remarkable church growth, these could be considered normal activities of any generation of Christianity. Further, none of the so-called “revivals” of the late 19th and 20th centuries have affected the cultural landscape to the same degree as did the 18th century Great Awakening.

One thing is certain: if a Spiritual Awakening can be produced by human beings, no one has been able to produce one for at least 100 years. In light of this, why would a movement call itself: “The Boston Awakening”?

There are several possibilities from a biblical perspective:

1. There is nothing unusual going on in Boston.

2. The growing number of committed Christians is explainable by comparing it to the religious demographic of the rest of the country. As more students and immigrants move to Boston, they bring with them their normal spiritual experience. Boston is simply “catching up” with what is happening elsewhere.

3. The growing interest in spirituality is actually the beginning stages of an Awakening. Only time will tell if this movement will grow to the impact of the 18th century Great Awakening

4. A type of an Awakening is already here. It is the responsibility of existing Church ministers and leaders to transform the current pietistic “revival” into a Great Awakening – a cultural reformation that will impact the entire region and the world.

I believe that the fourth possibility is the current situation. There is never any shortage of opportunity. How do Great Awakenings get started? As the Apostle Paul preached, “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26,27). If God chose the places and times we should live, then each one of us is responsible for recovering His testimony in our own life, church, city and generation.

Your comments are welcome!

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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

“Here I stand … I can do no other!”

With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.

The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Running time: 105 minutes

Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.

Watch a clip from Martin Luther.

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The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

Who is the Real Jesus?

Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.

Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.

The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.

Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.

Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!

Running Time: 130 minutes

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(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.

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(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.

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The Abortion Matrix: Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death (DVD)

Download the free Study Guide!

Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?

This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.

Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.

The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?

As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).

Speakers include: George Grant, Peter Hammond, RC Sproul Jr., Paul Jehle, Lou Engle, Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham, Janet Porter and many more.

Ten parts, over three hours of instruction!

Running Time: 195 minutes

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information

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The Abortion Matrix DVD: Update

The Abortion Matrix:
Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death

is a 195-minute presentation that traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God has produced. You can order this series on DVD, read the complete script and view clips on-line...
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