The Laws of Revival - James Burns
CONTENTSFOREWORD AND INTRODUCTION
1. LAW OF PROGRESS
2. LAW OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH
3. LAW OF PERIODICITY
4. LAW OF EBBING TIDE
5. LAW OF THE FULLNESS OF TIME
6. LAW OF ADVENT OF THE PROPHET
7. LAW OF AWAKENING
8. LAW OF VARIETY
9. LAW OF RECOIL
10. LAW OF THE THEOLOGY OF
11. LAW OF THE COMING MOVEMENT
Revivals, the Law of Spiritual Growth
Revivals are the method by which progress occurs in all other realms of human expression. In light of this, we can approach their recurrence in religion free from bias, and even scorn, Which has been popularly considered the right attitude. It is in this area that the word revival gains a new intensity, for religion deals with the awesome and unmeasurable. It goes deep into men's and women's spiritual consciousness. As interesting as other revivals may be, they are shadows when compared with the importance of revivals in the individual and the Church. Though they occur in this mysterious realm, they are not necessarily erratic or arbitrary. The supreme discovery is that nothing is erratic in God's universe. Characteristics common to all revivals may be found.
When we examine revivals in the spiritual lile, we are confronted with a mass of interesting material. Revivals are used of God to stimulate individual and corporate spiritual life and to advance spiritual education and progress. They are characterized with the same frequency and fluctuations as revivals in other areas.
First, we discover fluctuations in the common experience of men and women before decisions about Christianity are made. Let's remember back before your conversion. There were times when you were conscious of definite, spiritual influences moving you powerfully to Him. Then there were long periods in which you seemed to have no consciousness of any spiritual pressure. After months —or even years— of spiritual lethargy, the influence would return.
This ebb and flow of spiritual experience is still characteristic in life after conversion. No life is maintained at the same level. The Psalms reveal the varying nature of the divine life in the believer's heart. Caught by the inflowing wave, the writer's heart rejoices in God. Then in the trough of the wave, the Psalmist cries out for help, with his heart in despair. From this, God rescues him. He is then carried forward on a new tide of joy.
This same experience characterizes all Christian church life. The spiritual life within any congregation is never constant. Each church has times of being a spiritual desert, followed by times of awakening and revival. Even in the first century Church the believers longed for greater manifestations of God's word and power (Acts 4:23-31).
Progress never occurs in an unbroken sequence. The pressure of the Holy Spirit upon the life of an individual and the Church is never uniform. The reason is not difficult to discover. A constant pressure becomes a mere condition Of our life. We adjust to it, without its attracting our attention, but a pressure that is occasional and variable captivates our attention. The Holy Spirit demonstrates His sovereignty in nurturing change in us and captivates our interest by varying His influence at different times, for it is by this method that the conscience is reached and the heart is won.
In the influx of the tide, there are not only tiny ripples, but also tumultuous waves and mighty breakers. In the inflowing tide of human spiritual progress there is the same variety of waves. There are revivals which affect the individual. There are larger movements which affect separate congregations, and even larger ones that affect whole geographical areas and spread beyond.
This history of revivals reveals large movements, infrequent in their appearance, but monumental in their character. They change life's conditions and deeply alter the history of the world. In looking at some of these movements, we discover certain laws which govern their activity. How they work becomes more apparent, the effect more convincing and overpowering. For what is common to all great movements is present in small ones.