Is the Asbury Revival for Real?

Is the Asbury Revival for Real? LIVE Q&A with David Guzik - February 16, 2023

Is the Asbury Revival for Real?

Asbury University is a small Christian college in Wilmore, Kentucky. It’s different from Asbury Seminary, though they are located next to each other. It’s a school with Methodist, Wesleyan, Holiness Movement roots.

Following a morning chapel service on Wednesday, February 8, there was a call to confession of sin and at least 100 people fell to their knees and bowed at the altar. Some students stuck around afterward, and by evening more and more had trickled into the sanctuary creating something special. Since then, it has turned into a Holy Spirit outpouring that shows no signs of stopping.

For days, people have been giving testimonies, reading scripture, worshipping God, and praying in the ongoing revival. Students, professors, and local church leaders have taken part. Another student said, “Chains were broken, confession happened, and God was praised as holy, holy, holy.”

As of yesterday, the hashtag #asburyrevival had 24.4 million views on TikTok.

This last Tuesday night capped the largest crowd yet: 3,000 worshipers piled into the college chapel and four overflowed facilities throughout the college town. At least two-thirds of the attendants are from out of state.

What Is Revival? Some Characteristics of Revival and Spiritual Awakening

  • A remarkable sense of the presence of God. This is sensed by the converted and unconverted.
  • An unusual interest in the things of God, to the neglect of otherwise normal activities and duties.
  • An evident urgency for getting right with God – sinners seeking the evangelist more than the evangelist seeking sinners.
  • A great work of conviction of sin and cleansing among God’s people.
  • A high level of experience and participation from “laypeople.”

As for Asbury, when people come together for prayer, worship, seeking God, hearing His word, for seven days straight – the meeting never ending – it shows something is happening. When people claim an increased sense of God’s presence, a sense that the Holy Spirit is being poured out, something is happening.

Some Biblical Examples of Revival or Spiritual Awakening

  • In Genesis 4:26, men began to call on the name of the LORD.
  • Exodus 33 is special example of personal revival that impacted a nation. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones used Moses’ experience of the glory of God as the basis for a powerful series of sermons on revival.
  • 1 Samuel 7 is great example of revival in the days of Samuel the prophet.
  • One well-known Old Testament example of revival was under the reign of King Josiah (2 Kings 22-23).
  • By any measure, what happened in Nineveh was a remarkable example of revival (Jonah 3).
  • The work of John the Baptist was an example of revival and spiritual awakening (Matthew 3:1–17).
  • The Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 was a great example of revival. 3,000+ converted at one time is a remarkable outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
  • Acts 19:17-20 is an example of revival. You see God’s people getting right with God and then it really affecting the community in a remarkable way.

Objections Some Have

  • “They aren’t preaching the gospel” – but there is a distinction between revival and spiritual awakening.
  • “There are strange people joining up with it” – that’s something to keep an eye on. If it becomes “The Todd Bentley Revival,” that’s a big concern.
  • “It’s not translating into social action” – good heavens, give it time.
  • “It’s not like certain previous revivals” – true, but that’s in the nature of revival. It isn’t always the same.
  • “There are not many people coming to salvation” – again, I would point to the distinction between revival and spiritual awakening. Both are responses to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit but have different impacts.

Things to Like About What I’m Hearing from Asbury

  • It seems spontaneous, not orchestrated.
  • It seems sincere, not for show.
  • As of yet, it hasn’t been “taken over” by some Christian celebrity.
  • It reportedly began with the confession of sin.
  • It’s happened there before, and I’ve spoken with some people who were present at Asbury in 1970 when there was a wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Things to Remember

  • Revival isn’t always the same. The First Great Awakening, the great move of God under Whitfield and Wesley, had prominent preachers and vast preaching meetings. The great revival in 1857-58 in the US and 1859-60 in the UK were more “prayer meeting revivals,” without preachers as prominent as Whitfield and Wesley were in the 18th
  • There are long works of revival and shorter works of revival.
  • There are big works of revival and smaller works of revival.
  • There are broad works of revival and narrower works of revival.
  • God works through the extraordinary and God works through the ordinary – neither should be despised.

My Concerns About Revival in the Modern Age

  • What affect will social media have on revival?
  • Will the pursuit of fame, influence, or money kill off this work?
  • Will people try to “take over” the work for their own advantage?
  • False humility, looky-loos – observers who are there to make their name prominent in some way.
  • This began in a non-programmatic, non-orchestrated way – take care that it continues that way.
  • There’s a danger in saying, “Look’s what’s happening there, let’s make it happen here.” The problem is that it didn’t start there by someone saying, “Let’s make it happen.” It’s not going to happen anywhere else by someone saying, “Let’s make it happen.”
  • Yes, seek the Lord. Yes, ask Him to move. But we should be allergic to the “Let’s make a revival happen” kind of attitude.

Recommended Resource on Revival and Spiritual Awakening:

Why does David in the Psalms seem to think that God’s blessings come because of his own righteousness (Psalm 18:20)?

Psalm 18:20 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.

That’s a great question. First of all, remember that David related to God on the basis of the Old Covenant, the covenant that God made with Israel at Mount Sinai. As a descendant of Abraham, David was of course genetically a part of the Abrahamic covenant. Spiritually speaking, David was a member of the Abrahamic covenant, because he believed God, and God credited it to him for righteousness. But David was still very much under the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant. As a part of that covenant, God said to Israel, “I will bless you if you obey Me, and I’ll curse you if you disobey Me.” Under the terms of the Old Covenant, David had every right to say, “Lord, I’ve obeyed You; I expect to be blessed.” God gave Israel that choice.

There are three main aspects to the Mosaic Covenant: the law, the sacrifice, and the choice. David never thought of himself as being sinlessly perfect. But under the terms of the Old Covenant, he really could come to God and say, “You said in Your covenant that I would be rewarded if I obeyed You. Well Lord, I have obeyed You in faith, and I expect to be rewarded.” This first aspect about David under the Old Covenant doesn’t really apply to the believer today under the New Covenant. We don’t have that same dynamic in our relationship with God under the New Covenant.

But the second aspect does apply to us under the New Covenant. The basis for blessing under the New Covenant is not the obedience of the believer. Under the Old Covenant, the basis for blessing was “earn and deserve”: earn by your obedience and, in some sense, you’ll deserve a blessing from God. Under the New Covenant, the watchwords are “believe and receive.” As believers we say, “Lord, I believe Your Word, and now by faith, I receive what You promised to give me in Jesus Christ.” It’s not a system of “earn and deserve,” nevertheless, because sin carries its own consequences, there are often bad things which result from sin and good things which result from obedience. That’s how it relates to a believer under the New Covenant, in the inherent blessings that come from obedience, and the inherent curses that come from disobedience.

Could you explain Sheol in Psalm 139:8? God’s presence is not in hell, correct?

Psalm 139:8 – If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

I believe that the presence of the Lord is in hell. The Scriptures teach us that God is omnipresent. God is everywhere. There is nowhere in the universe, in all of creation, where God is not present. Understanding that, if there’s nowhere in the entire created order where God is not present, then He is present in hell, in Sheol.

When David spoke of Sheol, he was speaking of the grave, a place about which he had a cloudy understanding, and not necessarily the lake of fire, but the place where people exist in the afterlife. Because God is omnipresent, He’s everywhere.

But I would say this. God is present in hell, but God is only experienced in hell, in terms of His divine justice and His divine righteousness. In hell, there’s no experience of the love, the goodness, the grace, the kindness, or the mercy of the Lord. The Lord is present, but only in the sense of His righteous judgment, not in the sense of His love and grace and goodness. But there’s no corner of this entire existing universe where God does not inhabit in some way or another. He is omnipresent.

I am seeking an expository style church, but the only ones in my area are Calvinist. I am not a Calvinist. Should I even try it?

Here is my general recommendation: choose the best church you can in your area. Choose within the geographical region where you’ll actually make the effort to go, and then find the best option.

Keep in mind that nobody likes everything about a church. Nobody. The pastor of a church doesn’t like everything about his church. He wishes some things would change. He’s working on those things, hoping to God that some things can change. So, nobody likes everything about their church.

I think our responsibility is to choose the best church we can. Maybe the best option for a church is Calvinistic. Although I’m not Calvinist, I would still go there. Maybe the best church we can find has a style of worship that doesn’t really click for me. I understand. But again, I would make the commitment to go there just because there’s not a better alternative.

I don’t say that to make people hop around from church to church. But I would say just select the best church you can. Sometimes that’s a difficult decision based on balance. You might have two imperfect churches to choose from. Prayerfully make a decision between the two. God will give you the sense of what’s best for you in this season.

I’m glad that it’s a high priority to you to be part of a church with expository preaching, where they genuinely teach through the Word of God verse by verse, word by word, chapter by chapter. It’s a good thing for a church to take the Word of God seriously.

How can a new pastor develop a passion for God’s work?

I’m a new pastor. How can I develop a passion for God’s work? Don’t get me wrong, I love to preach and look after people, but it feels like more is missing.

I would have to know more about your personality to answer this question better. If there are things that you’re really passionate about which you really get excited about, but the work of the ministry is not one of those things, that’s a red flag to me. But maybe you have a personality where you don’t get really excited or passionate about a lot of things, or maybe the way you express passion or excitement isn’t necessarily like other people express it. That’s really the question I would ask you.

If other things are a lot more satisfying, engaging, and fulfilling to you than the ministry, maybe ministry isn’t the right place for you. But there’s a trap to beware of. It might be the case that what you’re really saying is that you don’t seemto be as excited about ministry, or aspects of ministry, as other people do. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Consider this issue based on how your own particular personality.

I have talked to preachers about this a lot. I think it’s important for preachers to communicate a sense of zeal and passion in their preaching, but a zeal and a passion that is appropriate for their personality. You shouldn’t have to feel like you have to put on a different personality. What might be zealous in expression for one person might not seem very zealous in expression for another person, but that’s okay. Your own zeal or excitement should be expressed according to your personality.

God bless you. Continue on in ministry. And ask God to help you figure this out. I hope you’re not in the ministry just because you think you have to, or because you think other people expect you to be. I hope you genuinely sense that it’s a calling, even accepting the inevitable bumps and bruises and difficulties that happen in serving the Lord. Those things are there, make no doubt about it. Nevertheless, I hope you find ministry to be fulfilling and something that you are zealous about according to your own personality, at least in some sense.

Can women be professors at Bible schools or is that a breaking of the command for women not to teach and have authority over men?

Here’s how I understand it. I would be okay with a woman being a professor at a Bible school. I believe the command given in 1 Timothy and throughout the New Testament is relevant to congregations. A Bible school isn’t a congregation in the same sense. So, although it might not be particularly common, it shouldn’t be prohibited.

There are people who disagree, and I understand that they disagree. I’m not offended by their disagreement. I don’t really care if they would disagree with me or think that I’m out of line with this opinion. I believe that God has commanded male leadership, the leadership of qualified men in the church. But by no means would we ever say or think that being a man qualifies you for leadership in the church. God has ordained male headship or leadership in the church and the leadership of husbands in a marriage, but I don’t think God commands it outside of those spheres. Although a Bible school or seminary is related to the work of God and the church, it’s not the same thing as a congregation. I’m comfortable drawing the line there.

I haven’t read a lot of women Bible commentators, but there’s one woman Bible commentator whose work I have really appreciated. Joyce Baldwin has written some really good commentaries on the Old Testament. I would be okay with taking a Bible college class from Joyce Baldwin, but she has since passed away.

That’s the distinction I would make. I am pretty firm on the importance of male headship, of qualified men in congregations, but not necessarily outside of that.

Is “Savior” a title only used for Jesus, or can it apply to the Father and the Spirit?

Hi Pastor Guzik, I know that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all have a role in our salvation. However, is the title “Savior” in some sense the unique title we give to the second person of the Trinity who, of course is Jesus?

The title “Savior” is most commonly given to Jesus, God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity. But at least the equivalent of that term is given to Yahweh in the Old Testament. Yahweh is the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I don’t know if there’s ever a completely adequate human explanation of the Trinity. But one way the Trinity can be explained is to say that there is one God, Yahweh, which is the name God revealed Himself as to His covenant people Israel. Throughout the entire Bible, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all claim to be Yahweh. Yahweh is the one God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Because Yahweh is called Savior, that title applies to each member of the Godhead. I wouldn’t have a problem with calling the Father or the Holy Spirit “Savior,” but I have no problem recognizing that it’s primarily a title given to Jesus, God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity in the Scriptures.

Both 1 Corinthians 1:18 and 2 Corinthians 2:15 use the phrase, “are being saved.” Can you explain that wording? Does this contradict instantaneous justification by faith?

Both 1 Corinthians 1:18 and 2 Corinthians 2:15 use the phrase, “are being saved.” Can you explain that wording? Does this contradict instantaneous justification by faith at the moment of conversion?

1 Corinthians 1:18 – For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

2 Corinthians 2:15 – For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

Our salvation is presented in all three aspects of time: past, present, and future. The Bible speaks about us having been saved. It’s accomplished. It’s done. We are saved. It’s in the past tense. The Bible also talks about our salvation being in process, such as in the Scriptures you mentioned: “to those who are being saved.” Finally, in a few places in the New Testament, the Bible also talks about this idea that we will be saved. There’s some sense in which our salvation is not yet complete.

I think it’s very meaningful that the Scriptures speak of our salvation in all three tenses. Yes, there is a sense in which we have been saved. It’s an accomplished fact, and we need to receive it and rest in that. There is a sense in which God’s work of salvation in us is ongoing, it’s in process, it’s being worked out right now. And there’s also a third sense in which our salvation is not yet complete, but it will be completed.

To assign terminology to these three aspects of our salvation, there’s justification, which you rightly mentioned is in the past tense. It has been accomplished in Jesus Christ. The believer has been justified by the righteousness of Christ. Sanctification is the ongoing process of being saved in the present. The future tense is called glorification, which yet remains for the believer. There is a genuine sense in which our salvation will not be complete until that final glorification. I don’t mean that it’s not certain, or that it’s not real. I just mean that it’s not finished, until we are in heaven, and glorified.

All three aspects are valid. We shouldn’t pretend that any one of those aspects cancels out the other. I have been saved, but that doesn’t cancel out the fact that I am still being saved, and that ultimately I will be saved. All three of them work together in God’s great plan and in God’s great way.

Does the Bible say anything about forbidding abuse of children or women?

In principle, it certainly does, although maybe not in our present-day terminology. The Bible commands us to love, and commands parents to not provoke their children. There is a command that tells me that I should not be violent or strike my neighbor applies to family members. My child is my neighbor, and my spouse is my neighbor. The commands that would prevent me from being violent and abusive towards my neighbor, are the very same commands that tell me not to be violent or abusive towards my child, my spouse, or anybody else. Sometimes we forget that. Sometimes the best marriage seminar that Christians can have is to read how we should treat one another in the body of Christ, and apply that in our home. It is very sad and even tragic that in some Christian homes, the people are treated worse than they would treat other people in the church. What a sad testament that is.

So, in a very general sense, the Bible mentions it in that way. But we are also given specific commands about these things. The husband is commanded to cherish his wife, to love her, and to care for her. To do the opposite would be to break that command. The father is commanded to love his children, and to not provoke them. To do the opposite would be to break those commands.

While some of the modern terminology of abuse may not be included in those commands, the principle is certainly included. To anyone who is abusing their children or abusing their spouse, you need to stop. If you claim to be a Christian, in the name of Jesus, you need to stop. You’re sinning terribly. You need to repent and make that right first with God, and then with your family. That’s what the word of the Lord says to us.