What are the spiritual requirements for a true Christian revival, and could it happen here in Rockford?
This is the premise of Dr. Bob Griffins book, Firestorms of Revival, subtitled How Historic Moves of God Happenedand Will Happen Again (Creation House, ISBN No. 10: 1-59979-064-5). Griffin and his wife, Connie, have served in ministry for more than 40 years and founded Rockford Renewal Ministries, a ministry committed to the historic revival of the church and citywide transformation.
In a positive, but challenging, way, Griffin makes no bones about what he believes or where hes coming from. Though he notes the need for unity in the Christian church, his is a biblically-based faith that in no way embraces a general ecumenism where one belief is as good as another.
Rockford Renewal Ministries was instrumental in establishing Rockfords participation in citywide Concerts of Prayer for revival, which began in 1995. These were patterned on David Bryants Concerts of Prayer, begun nearly 20 years ago. Griffin also recounts how his organization stirred up some controversy (and even got some negative publicity in the Register Star) when in October 2002, they declared Jesus Christ as King over Rockford. Griffin recalled that accusations of arrogance, exclusive religion, and intolerance of other religions were expressed in…the local newspaper. It was a great opportunity to respond with editorials that spoke biblical truth in love.
Griffin tells how he and his wife stepped out in faith to begin the RRM, and how God responded to their needs, sometimes in surprising ways. They also connected with other local Christian leaders who wanted to partner with them.
Following this introduction, Griffin takes the reader on a historic tour of revivals, both in biblical times and in the earlier years of this nation. His book includes a bibliography, and where appropriate, he makes reference to other writers who have addressed a particular topic. For example, he quotes from Rhonda Hugheys book, Desperate for His Presence, and asks, Is God present or absent in the church today? He agrees with Hughey when she says, Religion is the counterfeit of real biblical faith. He explains how the First Great Awakening (1726-1756) flamed up first in Europe and then spread to the American Colonies. The Second Great Awakening (1776-1810), like the first, was transatlantic; it was also Protestant and Anglo-Saxon and found its most common setting in the camp meeting. This great move of the Spirit saved America from the rationalism, spiritual decline and apostasy that was spreading through France and Great Britain. Other, more localized, revivals followed in its wake.
Griffin defines the word revival beginning with the Hebrew word chayah, meaning to live and includes the definitions quicken, recover, restore, revive. He cites the striking example of Pentecost in the book of Acts, which gave birth to the Christian church, and goes on to list 10 characteristics of revival. He notes how the European nations, once bastions of Christianity, had fallen into paganism, and sees ominous warnings for Americas future.
In Chapter 7, he zeroes in on prayer as the keythe priority it is given in Scripture and how it relates to the promises of God. Just as in biblical times, blessings are based on obedience to God. In Characteristic No. 4, he focuses on biblical preaching as the bellows that fans the flame of revival. He sees the Word of God as an amazing strategic weapon in a very real war with Satan and his demonic forces. This spiritual warfare has been going on for ages, but became more intense when Jesus was born.
Griffin is convinced the church needs to return to the Word of God, to the truth that sets people free (John 8:32). He goes on to list Characteristic No. 5equipping the saints to serve Gods purpose; No. 6the church aflame returns to worship; No. 7the cleansing, purifying work of Gods refining fire; No. 8a fresh understanding of Christs redemptive work; No. 9the thrill of revivalgreat celebration and joy; and No. 10the testimony of social transformation.
On rare occasions, he slips in personal political statements you may or may not agree with. Example: The 2004 national elections placed an outspoken Christian president in the White House for four more years and gave him a strong majority in the Congress. I believe it reflected the prayers of the church across the nation and the world.
The sincerity of George W. Bushs avowed Christianity will be left to God to judge. But, to avoid misunderstanding, this is not a political book. It is an inspirational catalyst for change, a how-to manual on spiritual renewal. The author freely recommends other writers who might be helpful to people who sincerely want to put their faith into action. Any evangelical Christian church would find this book a welcome addition to its library.
Firestorms of Revival is available from Creation House, A Strang Company, 600 Rinehart Rd., Lake Mary, FL 32746, or see the Web site www.creationhouse.com.
From the Feb. 14-20, 2007, issue