Category Archives: Revival

George Whitefield by Arnold Dallimore

There may be no person who spoke directly in person to more people in the history of the world as George Whitefield. If just for this single fact, a biography of his would be a must read. However, during the 40 years of his preaching ministry, the western world (and by its effects the entire globe) changed immensely during the movement known now as the Great Awakening. This period has wide ranging effects including the establishment of major denominations, the push for the abolishment of slavery, the development of media, the rise of democracy, and the establishment of the United States. The central figure of this time was George Whitefield.

This volume by Arnold Dallimore is an abridgment of his much longer comprehensive biography of Whitefield. I highly encourage you to read the unabridged version if you want a full perspective on the evangelist’s life. But, if you need a quick yet substantive overview of the man’s life, this book will fill your needs perfectly.

Whitefield was converted in his early college years, and from a short time afterwards, he began preaching evangelistic messages in England. His eloquence and power displayed in his sermons quickly had many flocking to hear him. Seeking to maximize hearers for the gospel of Christ, he turned to “field preaching” in London parks. Tens of thousands began to turn out to hear his messages. There may never have been larger crowds that have ever been able to hear a single man unamplified. The force of his message to turn to Jesus and to follow His will quickly began to have great effects in reforming London society. But only after a few weeks, Whitefield left on his first of 13 Atlantic crossings to take the good news to America.

His life is filled with many ups and downs. The love of America for him, his support of orphans, the influence he had on British nobility contrasted with his constant illness, his skewering by the press, his troubles with the Wesleys. Through it all, he kept a singlemindedness that nothing could make him stop from extending the invitation of Christ’s love for sinners. The relating of his climbing out of bed to preach from a balcony to eager listeners the night of his death shows the power Whitefield had 40 years after he spoke for the first time.

Revival literature should encourage and strengthen the seeking heart. This book does both. Whitefield’s life is a testimony of God’s keeping grace even in light of extremely difficult pressure. If men thought he was too proud, he humbled himself further; if others wanted control, he submitted to them; if though completely spent of all strength a one would ask for a word about the Living God, he would share and not rest. He talked to millions 300 years ago. A man used by God can change the world, and George Whitefield is the proof.

7.5 stars out of 10

photo: National Black Robe Regiment

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Invasion of Wales by the Holy Spirit through Evan Roberts by James A. Stewart

I recently read The Awakening of Wales by Jessie Penn-Lewis who was an eyewitness of the Welsh Revival of 1904 and 1905. After talking to some friends about that account, they loaned me James Stewart’s attempt to document the times from a perspective of a couple of decades. For the most part, Stewart succeeds in capturing the essence of God’s work in Wales by compiling many firsthand anecdotes and including more personal information about Evan Roberts than he allowed in his lifetime. While not as fresh as Penn-Lewis’ recounting, this short book still has the life of the revival on it.

The book concentrates on the preparation that had been done in the country through many prayer groups in the years leading up to the outpouring. There were numerous groups of three or four people whose hearts burned for a moving of God among the people. When it finally came, the society was transformed. Sports and entertainment lost their appeal. Businessmen and tradesmen alike found their way to the packed meetings. The young and the old would remain at worship until well past midnight. Stewart documents not only how rapidly the country transformed but how peacefully it did as well. All things were in order.

A great benefit to this book is the transcription of one of Evan Roberts’ actual sermons. This gives the reader a vivid picture of what was being taught more than a hundred years ago in Wales. While not to be emulated without the life that the Spirit had given the man, the salient points of the life of the cross and complete reliance upon God are lessons for all ages. The prayer to Jesus was always being made – “Bend the church. Save the world!”

5.5 stars out of 10

The Awakening in Wales by Jessie Penn-Lewis

Revival literature is a genre all its own. Surely it resembles other Christian writings in its main focus on Jesus and His work in the earth. However, no author – no matter how hard they try – can capture the tone that an eyewitness of a great moving of God can relate. It’s simply because the experience of seeing revival firsthand turns knowledge into understanding. Thankfully, Jessie Penn-Lewis was an eyewitness to the Wales Revival of 1904 and 1905. This little treatise on the movings of the Spirit is a well documented ledger of the awakenings that took place all over this small country. She is able to spread just a little ember of that fire that burned so brightly there; and maybe, this flame of hers will reignite again.

I have a special place in my heart for stories of revival. Maybe it’s because I’m looking for one for the world, or maybe it’s because I need one so badly for myself. Either way, to read tales of how Christ moved with power among the world bringing honor to Himself is glorious. I love missionary tales too (you’ll probably notice plenty on this site as time goes on), but seeing the church on a mountain top is always a precious encouragement. There’s a reason why we read Nathan Cole’s George Whitefield Comes to Middletown every October. We’re looking for fresh fire to fall from heaven.

This tract is a relatively basic overview of places, times, and events. There’s a short description of the call of Evan Roberts to the position of primary evangelist for this time. Christian conferences and town prayer-meetings are described. The words she uses are plain, but there is an authority in them. God’s Spirit moves in among the humdrum recollections of this and that. What a lesson for Christian writers who try to write an intriguing yarn or catch readers with a salacious hook. The simple truth is good enough. Penn-Lewis knows that and delivers it without decoration.

It is hard now a hundred and ten years later to see all the fruit that came from this shaking of Wales. The most obvious are the songs. The 1905 Wales revival is known as a “singing revival”. Many of the Welsh tunes are still with us today. They capture the pre-eminence of the message of Calvary and being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Dyma Gariad

Here is Love, vast as the ocean

Loving kindness as the flood,

When the Price of Life our ransom

Shed for us His precious blood;

Who His love will not remember?

Who can cease to sing His praise?

He can never be forgotten

Through Heaven’s eternal days.

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On the Mount of Crucifixion

Fountains opened deep and wide;

Through the floodgates of God’s mercy

Flowed a vast and gracious tide;

Grace and love, like mighty rivers,

Poured incessant from above,

And heaven’s peace and perfect justice

Kissed a guilty world in love.

7.5 stars out of 10