The Asbury Awakening and Us

Photo credit: Bill Elliff Graceful Truth blog.

Something special happened on February 8th in the student chapel at Asbury University when the Holy Spirit began to move in the lives of students.

Some are calling it a revival. Others call it an awakening. Craig Keener, Professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, said, “Some voices in social media are hotly debating whether this should be called a revival or not. Since the term is an extrabiblical one, my thinking is, ‘Who cares what we call it? Let’s celebrate what God is doing!’ I agree.” 

So, what is God doing? Based on what I’ve read about what has been happening, here are three of my personal impressions.

1.  It began unexpectedly and spontaneously. Zach Meerkreebs, the chapel speaker that day, simply invited students who wanted to pursue God and learn more about how much they are loved by him to stay after chapel. Only 20 students stayed. As time went on, the 20 were joined by dozens more, then hundreds, then thousands of students focusing on Christ. This continued throughout that first day, into the night, and for the following days and nights.

2.  The students have responded in quiet, humble submission to the Lord. There haven’t been fiery sermons and outbursts of emotion. The students have been moved to humble themselves, repent of sin in their lives, reconcile with God and with one another, worship and focus on Christ, and reverently read the Scriptures. This is significant because those who resist God’s work in their lives tend to do just the opposite. They are proud, they excuse their sin, they refuse to try to mend broken relationships, they focus on themselves, and they neglect reading and obeying God’s Word. But the response of these Asbury students has been very different.

3.  Campus staff and other leaders have been wisely moderating things in the chapel. They’ve kept the focus on the students even though others have been attending. During open-mike times, they instruct people to observe three simple ABC’s: All glory to God alone. Brief. Current. They’ve continued holding classes because they believe the work of the Spirit needs to impact normal daily life.

What will be the long-term effects? Time will tell, of course. I pray that there will be profound and long-lasting effects on the Asbury students, the wider community, our country, and the nations of the world.

What About Us?

God has sovereignly chosen to move in this place, at this time, and among these students. It’s certainly proper to pray and ask God to do a similar work at Westside even though movements like this throughout the history of the church have been relatively rare 

What is not rare is the daily work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of individual Christians. Before Jesus was crucified, resurrected, and ascended to heaven, he promised to send the Holy Spirit to indwell each believer and have a powerful role in their lives.

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment . . . ” (John 16:7-8)

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-14)

Jesus did send the Holy Spirit, and his ministry is to convict us of sin, guide us into truth, and direct our attention to Christ.

We don’t have to wait for the Spirit to work in some dramatic way like he did at Asbury. It’s significant that Galatians 5:25 teaches us to “walk by the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit personally indwells every believer today and wants to individually awaken every one of us spiritually on a daily, moment-by-moment basis.

Our proper response should be to repent of all sin, seek truth from the pages of Scripture, desire to know more of Christ, and humbly allow the Holy Spirit to do his work in us. As we do this, the Spirit awakens us spiritually.

I deeply want to experience this in my daily life, and I want you to experience it. Let’s join together to pray to this end.

Written by Dick Papworth


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