Is the Asbury Revival really a revival?
Well, many people define the term revival differently. However, the bible has several examples of people coming to faith in Jesus that we can use to examine this event.
To begin with, the biggest enemy of any “revival” (or whatever you want to call a movement within the church) is other Christians. We see this all over the bible. Many times, the Pharisees, the leaders of the religious people in Jesus’ day, would look down on anyone claiming to speak for God. Like John the Baptist (John 1:19-28). Or Jesus (Matt 22:15-22). In our times, many people in the church react the same way whenever something new comes along: a new song, a new teaching, a new translation of the bible, or a new movement.
One example of Jesus acting in a way that is at odds with the people of His day is the story of the woman with the alabaster box, Luke 7:36-50. A Pharisee, whom we think Jesus should stay away from (they were enemies of Jesus) invites Jesus to dinner. Jesus accepts the invitation, and, while eating dinner, a woman described as “a sinner” comes in, falls at His feet, weeps, and anoints His feet with oil. This is as much a revival as anything we have seen, but it is just her (at that point). So, what happened?
The Pharisee giving the diner saw this and reacted. “Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, this man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.” Luke 7:39. Jesus, who is God, knew what the Pharisee was thinking and answered him. Jesus knew EXACTLY what kind of woman this was. He was not afraid of her sin and welcomed her into His presence because of her repentance.
We see this in a lot of places in both the Old and New Testaments. The woman at the well in John 4, the entire book of Ruth (she was a Moabite and therefore not allowed in the assembly, but she became an ancestor of King David, and of Jesus! See Deuteronomy 23:3). The Gerasene demoniac in Mark 5:1-20. Jesus even sent these people out as ministers of the gospel! Jesus sent the woman into the city to speak with the leaders. He only went into the city once the leaders came out to speak with Him. He also sent the demoniac in Mark 5 to his own people with the gospel. Jesus did not go Himself.
All these people would be heavily criticized today, both inside and outside the church. How should we react? When people repent, turn their lives around, and follow Jesus, we should rejoice. Why? Because God rejoices! (The so-called prodigal son’s return causes a party, which annoyed his older, more faithful, brother).
This is the mark of a true move of God. When we repent God comes into our lives and we are changed by Him. If we fail to repent, we remove ourselves from God. If people repent and turn away from their sin, they are changed and the culture around them is changed. Failing repentance, nothing changes.
No sin can survive the presence of God. That is the test the people in the Asbury revival (or movement), and everyone who calls themselves a Christian too, must pass. Some will, some will not. It does not matter what the sin is: whatever is carried into the presence of God that is not sanctioned by God will either be destroyed, or the carrier of that sin will leave God’s presence.
Let us look at this movement like God looks at it-He tells us to rejoice when people rejoice. So let us celebrate what God is doing. No person is perfect; no church is perfect; no movement is perfect. We do not have to wait for a perfect revival. But we do have to have grace when people turn back to God! So, as it says in Philippians 4:4 and Romans 12:15, Rejoice!