top of page

Revival and awakening in Tasmania

desiring revival

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

'If I have any understanding of the times, if I have any understanding of the biblical teaching concerning the nature of the church, and the work of the Holy Spirit, I do not hesitate to assert that the only hope for the church at the present time lies in revival.' Stage 1: Realising the Need, Confronting the Sin (Ex. 32:30–33:3) Moses had to come face to face with the true spiritual condition of the people. He takes responsibility for their spiritual state and collective sin, and he stands in the gap and preaches truth—even if they don’t react favorably. This is exactly what Lloyd-Jones sought to do in the first seven sermons of his revival series. He began with a sermon on Mark 9:28–29, since he believed the disciples’ failure to heal the demon-possessed boy illustrates the present failure of the church. They don’t realize this kind can only come out through prayer and fasting. The demon is in too deep. Methods and strategies that brought ministerial success in previous generations will not meet the need of the present case. Stage 2: Mourning the Sin (Ex. 33:4) The second stage is when the people begin to mourn God’s absence. Once they realize their situation—once they’re confronted with their sin and threatened by God’s absence—they mourn. They will not settle for the promised land without God. They’re awakened to the seriousness of their sin and become convinced all his blessings are useless without his presence. For what good would outward prosperity and affluence be without God? “If you don’t go with us, we don’t go from here,” becomes their cry. We can build an altar, but only God can send the fire. The key questions at this stage are “Do we know God? Is he with us? Will God go with us into the land? If he is not really among us, then no matter how lavish the land of milk and honey is, we don’t want it. We don’t want God’s gifts without God’s presence.” Throughout the series, Lloyd-Jones calls on people to mourn the current state of the church, which is marked by “defective orthodoxy” and, worse, “dead orthodoxy.” Stage 3: Urgent Prayer and Intercession (Ex. 33:7–17) That leads to the third stage of revival, which is a season of extraordinary prayer and intercession. Lloyd-Jones breaks down this stage into three steps. Step one (v. 7) is to set up a “tent of meeting,” a place outside the regular camp to seek God’s face. He saw this as a place of prayer, normally established by only one or two individuals—outside the camp, outside the regular life and rhythm of the church—where they seek God’s presence on behalf of the people. Lloyd-Jones believed that God would often bless those efforts with early indications of his favor. There’s a renewed spiritual warmth, freedom, expectation, and tenderness marking the ordinary means of grace. There’s a new note of urgency in the preaching and agony in the praying. But that was only step one. Step two would be when more and more people return to the tent of meeting—and begin to plead for more grace and more of God’s presence. They’ve tasted it, but now they want more. What specifically do they want more of? Moses points the way (v. 13). First, he wants more personal assurance. He’s not content with the knowledge that he’s accepted by God and has found favor in his sight. He wants more. He wants a personal and direct manifestation of God’s love for him. Lloyd-Jones saw this as a common aspect of all revivals; there’s a hunger for deeper knowledge of the personal love of God. Second, there’s a desire for more power. All the intercessors who are seeking God’s presence are deeply aware of their weakness and powerlessness in the face of the Enemy before them. In real revivals, there’s an intense awareness that apart from Jesus, we can do nothing—and a deep desire not to be apart from him. Third, he prays for a special authentication of the church’s mission (v. 16). The deep motive for seeking revival is the glory of God displayed in the splendor of the church. And they cry out to God to make the church who she was meant to be: separate, unique, holy, glorious, powerful, and beautiful. She was meant to display the glory of God and embody the gospel so the nations marvel. She is not. She’s weak, battered, broken, and ineffectual. And so they cry out. The final step of “altar building” is urgent intercession. Moses’s prayers are a model: he’s bold and specific, “arguing” with God and pleading his own promises to him. Stage 4: Show Me Your Glory: When the Fire Falls (Ex. 33:18–23) But stage three isn’t the final stage of revival. In fact, you don’t have revival until the fire falls. Moses’s cry “Show me your glory” is the cry of all seeking revival. And the gift of God in response is the gift of what all true revivals are. Moses is only given a partial view, a brief glimpse of God’s glory. But that’s enough, and that’s revival.

What is Revival?

Prof. Stuart Piggin

Revival is the sovereign work of God and won't happen unless the Spirit is present. Revival is usually preceded by things such as extraordinary prayerfulness, exceptional expectation, and unprecedented unity among Christians.  Revival is waking up to reality - the world as it is perceived by God: - God is far more concerned about sin and the Devil than we are. - In God and through the wonderful agency of His Son Jesus and the power of the Spirit, people's potential is far greater than we realise for influence and greatness. - ​Revivals change our focus from thinking about ourselves to thinking about who God is and His glory. Revivals tend to occur in response to situations of great anxiety, resetting the situation and moving us forward into a better future.

Excerpts from:

EARLY EVANGELICAL REVIVALS IN AUSTRALIA

Robert Evans 

The first Wesleyan missionary to visit Hobart was the Rev. Benjamin Carvosso from the Cornwall area of England, who was appointed to the New South Wales Mission by the Conference of 1819. While he was in Cornwall many conversions occurred as his work progressed. He preached at a place called Gunwen. "Toward the close of the sermon, when I began to invite hell-deserving sinners to partake of a free and present salvation, the Spirit of the Lord descended as a mighty rushing wind. The people sobbed and wept and cried aloud. I never but once before witnessed such effect on the congregation while preaching. O Jesus. to thy name alone be the praise, for thou only canst save thy people from their sins." His ship arrived at Hobart on 25th April, 1820. Carvosso immediately called upon the civil authorities and gained permission to preach in the street outside the Court House at four o'clock that afternoon. The Rev. Robert Knopwood also readily supported this proposal. ​"With the help of Mrs C., I commenced the worship by singing a part of one of our hymns. I preached from Ephesians 5:14 and had a very orderly and attentive audience. As circumstances appeared so favourable, I ventured to publish again for the following evening, when nearly the same number attended and behaved well. The next morning being the Sabbath, [at a meeting in the gaol of] about 150, after singing and prayer, I addressed them closely and affectionately from the parable of the prodigal son. The sight of so many persons in double irons was to me strange and truly affecting. They heard very quietly; and, after preaching, I distributed among them many tracts, for which they were apparently thankful. His ship left Hobart on the 4th May, 1820. The Rev. Ralph Mansfield paid a similar short visit to Hobart on the 20th August, 1820, on his way to Sydney. The Governor fully supported Mansfield's desire to preach, granting him the use of the Court House for preaching, and a guard of constables to prevent disturbances. Mansfield advertised his meetings by spreading handbills, and he preached to crowded congregations. The Rev. Samuel Leigh arrived in Hobart on the 8th August, 1821, with a mission party, to analyse the situation, and to see what more could be done to promote the work of God. "Depravity, profaneness, adultery, drunkenness, backbiting, idleness, dishonesty, malice, quarrelling, misery; every tongue had learned to swear, and, amongst the lower classes, every hand to steal. The houses were surrounded by fierce dogs, to guard them against nocturnal depredations." Toward the end of 1822, the Rev. Nathaniel Turner was in Hobart for several months, with the intention of helping layman William Horton to spread the work around the island, and the momentum of the work started to pick up. The Rev. Ralph Mansfield was appointed to take the place of William Horton, and arrived in Hobart Town on the 25th July, 1823. "We had much conversation on the means of promoting a revival of the work of God and adopted the following resolutions: ​We solemnly engage to give ourselves afresh to God. At our noon-day closet prayer every Friday during the present quarter, we resolve to make special intercession with God for the outpouring of His Holy Spirit on ourselves, on our Society, and on our congregations. Let us be more faithful in watching over each other with godly jealousy, and in affectionately exhorting, admonishing or comforting each other, as circumstances may require. Let us pay particular attention to the regular members of our congregations, and endeavour by all prudent means to bring them to our Class meetings. Convinced of the great good which frequently attends the distribution of religious tracts, we resolve to adopt this means of diffusing religious knowledge amongst the inhabitants of this town." Carvosso returned to Hobart in 1825. Soon he began to see some conversions as a result of his work, but not the deep moving of the Spirit that he was looking for. But the most notable answers to prayer happened in a totally different area of his work, namely amongst the convicts, and especially amongst those who were condemned to death. Carvosso said, "Who could have expected to have seen all the concomitants of a glorious revival of religion, in a gaol in this country, among the desperadoes of England's first-born sons of crime.! When I first visited them, though they made no objection to being instructed, in almost every countenance I beheld something so forbidding and so indicative of radical wickedness of heart, that nothing but faith in the Divine power of the gospel could present sufficient motive to repeat our visits. But from that faith alone, we derived quite encouragement enough to proceed in our labour of love. While speaking of the love of Jesus and of a free salvation, I soon found a way was made for "Those humble contrite tears, which from repentance flow."

Seven Marks of Revival

Ajith Fernando

While we cannot dictate to God what he will do, history shows us that there are some things that happen before and when revival comes that are worth noting. 1. Faithful Preaching As all the revivals in the history of the church show, the preaching of God’s word is a key ingredient. The Holy Spirit often lights the flames of revival when pastors systematically and faithfully preach the word. Often, pre-revival preaching is characterized by a call to total commitment to God, repentance, and the extolling of the beauty of holiness. 2. Unceasing Prayer The great historian of revival J. Edwin Orr has made famous the statement, “No great spiritual awakening has begun anywhere in the world apart from united prayer — Christians persistently praying for revival.” This is what the disciples of Christ did before the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 1:14). People with a burden recognize others with a similar burden, so they join in and pray. Many of the great revivals were preceded by united, persevering prayer by people who shared a similar burden for revival. 3. Precious Unity Unity is often the trigger for revival, and sometimes the result of revival. Once, when Ugandan Bishop Festo Kivengere was preaching in South India, his interpreter, Samuel Ganesh, felt convicted of the need to make peace with a person in the audience. He took leave from the preacher, went to the audience, and made peace. This triggered a process of person after person making peace with each other. Revival had come; there was no need to complete the sermon. Bishop Festo left room for the Spirit to do his work. The Bible speaks of the urgency of believers being united (John 17:21, 23; Ephesians 4:1–3). One of the most important callings of leaders is to yearn and pray for unity and do all they can to facilitate it. The Holy Spirit can use a leader’s yearning to trigger revival. Those who pray for revival should make sure that they have done all to be at peace with others. 4. Earnest Seeking The famous revival prayer, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:6) suggests a tone of earnest desire. Revival is preceded by people seeking God with all their heart and wanting to see God’s glory among his people. My favorite example of such praying is the students at Pandita Ramabai’s school in India. The students prayed fervently, and God answered by reviving them and many others through them. The young Evan Roberts, whose ministry triggered the Welsh Revival, often prayed, “Bend me, O God.” We are open to whatever it takes for God to be totally in control of our lives! 5. Pervasive Repentance Some so-called revivals have been characterized by exotic experiences without much emphasis on repentance. People go like tourists to such places to see what is happening. I wonder whether we could call that revival. After the revival at Asbury College and Seminary in 1971, many students came to the bookstore to return things that they had taken without paying. That is a powerful sign that they had become right with God. Preaching against sin before the revival often contributes to revival and influences what sins are confessed. In the history of the church, there were times when some sins were neglected in revival preaching — like sexual impurity; exploitation; and race, class, and caste prejudice. This has resulted in revived churches perpetuating sins that the revival should have addressed. In other revivals, like the eighteenth century Wesleyan revival in the UK, revival helped influence social reform and attack injustice. 6. Spectacular Phenomena The revivals associated with the Wesleys and Jonathan Edwards had people falling down with somewhat violent reactions under deep conviction of sin. We need to be open to God’s surprising works and be careful about stifling them. But we also need to remember that, after some time, these phenomena can become rituals that have lost their original meaning. Sometimes these phenomena can be taken to extremes that make them unbalanced and unbiblical. 7. Effective Evangelism While revivals usually result in the awakening of Christians, they are also accompanied by a powerful witness to those outside the church. Unbelievers see the power of God at work in the revived Christians, and these Christians are emboldened to share their faith. The result is that large numbers of people are saved. So, effective evangelism generally accompanies genuine revival. Surprising Beginnings In Wales, it was a group of young people under seminary student Evan Roberts, who came home from seminary to seek God, sensing that he had lost his fire. Roberts started a prayer group that grew and grew and became a nationwide movement, resulting in about 100,000 people being converted and joining the church. In the Hebrides Islands of Scotland, two single, housebound ladies in their eighties prayed earnestly for revival. At the same time, in another part of their island, seven young men met regularly to prevail in prayer until revival broke. In Korea in the early 1900s, God spoke to the leaders of the church and revived them first, which then led to a national awakening. In an Indian girls’ school, it was the prodding of a devout leader, Pandita Ramabai, that fired up students to prevail in prayer and trigger revival. Five university students in the United States gathered at a haystack and prayed for missions and helped give birth to the great missionary movement of that nation. Do not lose heart, dear friends. Keep yearning for a great visitation from God. The seven young people in the Hebrides Islands made Isaiah 62:6–7 their watchword as they prayed for revival: “You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.” Let us take no rest, and give no rest to God until he sends revival to our people.

distinctives of the Great Awakenings

Douglas Sweeney

Quotes by Johnathan Edwards

1. Urgent, vivid, preaching framed by the doctrines of grace. 2. Preaching to people’s hearts. “[it is] my duty to raise the affections of my hearers as high as possibly I can, provided that they are affected with nothing but truth, and with affections that are not disagreeable to the nature of what they are affected with. ... Our people don’t so much need to have their heads stored, as to have their hearts touched.." 3. Testimonies matter. News of the work of God and the spread of the gospel [is] central in spreading the revival. 4. Prayer matters even more. 5. The importance of preaching what the apostle Paul called the whole counsel of God — even the parts about hell and the consequences of sin. 6. Modelling pastoral wisdom in the midst of signs and wonders and spiritual intensity, teaching the distinguishing marks of a work of the Spirit of God. 7. Word and Spirit always go hand in hand - call for real conversion and walking with the Spirit. 8. Modelling evangelical ecumenism - avoid spiritual rashness and judgmental attitudes toward serious Christians. All denominations can work together for the gospel. 9. Do not let anyone despise you for your youth [(or advanced years], as Paul said to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:12). 10. Demonstrate the crucial importance of “social religion”: Christian fellowship, Bible study, testimony, prayer, and spiritual singing in small-group contexts.

bottom of page