What’s my take on Asbury? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
The big news going around in many areas today is what’s going on at Asbury Seminary with a revival breaking out. There are some people who are absolutely convinced that this is a move of God. There are some people who are convinced it’s more a state of high emotion.
There are actually dangers to both sides. Many of us understand the dangers of saying “This is not of God.” After all, if God is behind it, isn’t it dangerous to deny His work? Could that be an idea in our minds that is really opposed to miracles and questioning anything that could be of God?
Certainly that possible, but we also forget that it can be a danger to go the other way. I always get cautious when I am in churches and I hear people say what God has done in the life of the congregation. I have heard this in Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox churches. Who are we to think we have secret insight into the throne room of God to know what He is and isn’t doing?
So my suggestion here at the start will be to go with caution.
However, there’s another reason for that. I don’t think we’ll be able to tell what has happened until after what has happened has passed. After all, how many of us have seen marriages that we thought on their wedding day would last forever and then a few years down the road, we find that they are divorced? (Yep. People said that about my case as well.)
When things are exciting and fresh and the emotions are high, it’s easy to claim that God is behind it. If you want to know if a couple truly loves each other, you don’t ask on their wedding day. As Sam Allberry said at Defend here last month, anyone can make a promise, but keeping one is something different.
Wait and see what happens when they are in financial straits. Wait and see what happens when one of them gets seriously sick. Wait and see what happens when children come along and the relationship gets taxed. In other words, you don’t see if they love each other when times are good. You see if they love each other when times are bad.
In His parable of the sower, Christ spoke of those who receive the word with great joy and then fall away when times get hard. In other words, if you had looked at the start, you would have thought these people were in it for the long haul. Look at their joy! However, when trouble and temptation came, they fled.
Now keep in mind, I am not saying that this is definitely the case at Asbury. I am explaining why I have caution. Also, I want to bring up an article I read yesterday from NotTheBee. One part stood out for me.
The Asbury “revival” started after a 10 am chapel service last week Wednesday when a group of about 20 students and the worship team said they felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to continue worship past the end of the chapel service.
According to one of the students I talked to, a few hours later, the president of the seminary sent an email to the students encouraging them visit the chapel to join the 20 students on what he described as an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Apparently 200 students arrived for worship at the chapel soon after, and there has been non-stop worship ever since.
The student maintains the “revival” wasn’t planned. But it’s worth noting that Asbury University is part of what is known as the revivalist movement — a group of Charismatic Christians who consistently attempt to produce revivals.
No. It’s not that last paragraph. What stood out is what happened in the first two where things were immediately attributed to God. Readers here know I get cautious when I hear someone talking about how they feel the Spirit is leading them to do XYZ. Yet after that, the president immediately attributes this to the Holy Spirit. Sorry, but it sounds like jumping the gun a bit to me.
However, I agree with much of what the author says in the NotTheBee article about this. It’s easy to say that a revival is going on when people are excited. The way to know revival has truly happened will be what happens when persecution comes their way.
As a boy growing up in the Methodist church, I used to see kids come back from an event called Resurrection. The kids would be excited and put on a show during the worship service yet even in my pre-apologetics days, I noticed something. It didn’t last long. Give it a couple of weeks and these kids would go right back to not coming to Sunday School and not really caring about their faith.
That emotional high can feel good, but it will not last. The question is what will happen when it is done. If you go back to the way you were before, then you were not having joy over the Holy Spirit’s work. You were just having some joy for a feeling.
What I am saying then is we cannot know if this is from God yet or not. We will know when we see the results months or even years down the road when the fervor has died down. As long as we are in the high season, we cannot tell.
You see, your faithfulness to Jesus is not measured by how excited you are about Jesus. It is not measured by what kind of experiences you are having. It is measured by how much you are living a Christlike life.
That will also be measured by how you will handle persecution and challenges. Will these people involved in this be better able to handle persecution coming in our country from groups like the LGBTQ community? Will they be willing to take a hard stand against the evil of abortion when it gets hard? Will they be more likely to go back to their dorms and resist the urge to watch pornography? Will they be loving their neighbors as themselves?
That’s why we have to watch to see what happens next. What will happen when someone gets cancer and isn’t miraculously cured of it? Will they and those around them remain faithful? What happens if a disaster hits the community, like if something that was an offshoot of the disaster in Ohio comes? Will they remain faithful?
Some of you might think it’s scandalous to raise the question of if this is of God or not. It isn’t. It’s testing the spirits. It’s doing my due diligence.
“Well, if these people are faithful when persecution comes and this lasts, won’t you be embarrassed?”
No. I will be thankful. I hope the people involved go out and change their societies for the better. I hope they live more faithful lives to Jesus. I hope that for myself and all other Christians.
I am also not saying that emotions and experiences are bad things. I am saying these are not the indicators of a Christian life. The ones who deny Jesus in the end in Matthew 7 have a lot of experiences. What they do not have is faithfulness.
So is this of God? Time will tell.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)