Laying a Foundation for Revival - Part III

by Rev. Sterling M. Durgy

Parts and Contents

Part III is contained on this page. Click below to view:

Part I:


What is Revival?

Do We Have to Wait for Revival?

Developing a Strategy to Prepare for Revival

Footnotes for Part I

Part II:

Goals and Evidences of Revival

A) Devotion to God as King

B) The Personal Knowledge of God

C) The State of the Soul of the Person in Fellowship with God

D) The Outward Manifestations of the Presence of God in the Life of the Believer

Footnotes for Part II

Part III (this page):

Pulling It All Together

Footnotes for Part III


Copyright and reprint information.

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

Go to menu of articles available here.

Go to menu of Bible study and commentary.

Go to The American Night Watch home page.

Laying a Foundation for Revival - Part III

Pulling It All Together

Our examination of revival suggests this course of action for us to follow:

Start with prayer. Pray that God will awaken others, taking away the veil Satan uses to darken their minds, revealing Christ and the meaning of His Word. Pray for wisdom and boldness in your outreach and ministry, and in the faith that God wants to work in the lives of those who seek Him.

Secondly, become continual seekers after God. It will be difficult to call others to make this their goal if we aren't convinced that it should be ours. What is lacking to improve our walk with God? Our personal righteousness? Our relationship to others, especially our own families? Do this, not as an extraordinary spiritual exercise or as if "preparing for the olympics," but as a consistent part of everyday life, recognizing both our human limitations and our human potential in the Lord. Prepare to serve God "in the long run," as if life were a long distance race (Hebrews 12:1ff.).

Thirdly, study and share the Word of God. Be certain that our people know who God is and what their situation is without Him. Make sure there is a good understanding of the basic doctrines of the faith. For instance, we can examine our lives from the four perspectives of the presence of the Kingdom of God in the life of the believer written above. By doing so, we can gain some understanding of the needs that must to be addressed.

But these needs cannot be discovered by knowing true doctrine alone, we must come to know the people we are seeking to minister to. Ask God to help reveal their unique strengths and needs, then minister to them accordingly. However, be careful not to address their needs in an accusative fashion -- minister to them as a fellow seeker of God (I Peter 5:3, Galatians 6:1, I Thessalonians 3:13-15). When possible, use expository teaching and Bible studies to address areas of ignorance or disobedience. Or study books with them, Christian biographies or devotional works that help you and the people you are seeking to minister to understand God and His Word.

Often we will find that people need motivation in addition to understanding (Hebrews 12, I Corinthians 9:24). Jesus and the apostles exhorted people to action both by pointing out the danger of spending eternity apart from God and by describing the love of God and the price God paid in Christ for their salvation.

Finally, we should seek out people personally. The manner of this ministry will depend upon the people you seek to minister to and their personalities. It may be through individual discipleship or small group meetings, special times of prayer, Bible study, youth meetings, or classes. The important thing is to reach out to other people so that they can get to know you and you can communicate your faith and concerns to them.

Perhaps the best pattern of preparing for God's work, apart from New Testament times and the work of the apostles, is given by the Wesleyan revival in England and America. Not only did God work through the Wesleys and other Methodists over a number of decades to bring hundreds of thousands of people to Jesus Christ, God changed the histories of England and America through this work.

Methodism began, not as a denomination, but as an attempt to bring spiritual renewal to Christians in a number of denominations. Although Wesley did not hesitate to argue for his understanding of the teaching of the Scriptures, he respected the worship of those who differed with him as long as they maintained the central doctrines of Christianity. His sermon "Catholic Spirit," which called for respect for people of different views on secondary doctrines[Footnote 5] within the body of Christ, was one of fifty-two sermons considered to be a standard for the practice of Christianity for all Methodists. It is in the spirit of early Methodism that we look at it here, not in a sectarian sense, but in the sense that it represented a desire to renew all of Christians, a desire that God honored in many ways.

Methodism was an attempt to recapture New Testament Christianity or, as Wesley called it "Scriptural Christianity." This is the same goal pursued by Luther, Calvin, and others in the Protestant Reformation. The core teachings of the Methodists were, therefore, consistent with the other doctrines of Protestant churches.

In addition, in terms of the four perspectives from which we have viewed spiritual life in this discussion, early Methodists had the following emphases:

A) Methodists took the claims of God's Lordship seriously. Their recognition of the authority of the Scriptures flowed from their recognition of the sovereignty of their Creator and Savior, and their belief that the Scriptures were God's Word to them. They honored the Scriptures, then, because they honored God. In order to help them obey God, they took upon themselves strict standards of behavior and established authority through pastor's and class leaders. These leaders made everyone accountable for the manner in which they lived. This was not an arbitrary organization of human authority, but an attempt to live as people under the authority of their God. If their behavior did not show that they were serious about following God, Methodists lost the right to attend meetings and were no longer considered members.

B) Methodism stressed fellowship with God through a Savior, Jesus Christ. The first requirement to join a Methodist society was "the desire to flee the wrath to come." Methodists were people who took seriously the separation of man from God. They knew that mankind was on a path that would lead to Divine judgment, a judgment which could lead to an eternity without God. Along with the Protestant reformers, they stressed salvation through Christ and by faith alone. Therefore, on the basis of Scripture, they also emphasized that believers could experience the assurance of salvation, in other words, that believers could trust God's Word and know that they could look forward to the mercy of God if they trusted Him and served Him. They taught that the believer could go boldly (not rashly) before the throne of God as God's child. Fellowship had been restored!

C) Methodism took seriously the affect of salvation upon the soul of the believer. Not only did Methodists believe that the Christian could rest in faith upon a relationship with God that came by faith in Christ, they believed that God's victory over sin was real in this world. Therefore they believed that God could cleanse His people from unrighteousness and empower the believer to live for God in this world. They were realistic enough to recognize that human beings still had many physical and psychological weaknesses after salvation. But, they believed that redemption could touch people in this age, and re-organize a person's character around God and the service of God. They considered the most important characteristic of God to be His love and, therefore, they saw the most important component of holiness as true affection toward God and other members of the Body of Christ, and genuine good will towards everyone outside the Body of Christ.

D) Methodism took seriously the outward manifestation of the salvation of the soul. Methodists reached out aggressively to bring the message of the Gospel to others. They stressed a Christianity that manifested itself in good works, not ecstatic manifestations of God or spectacular miracles -- though they did not deny God's ability to answer prayer in miraculous ways. Not only did Methodists have a doctrinal statement, they were the first denomination to develop a social statement. They set about helping the poor, building schools, taking care of orphans, and even changing society. They believed in living simply, not only to avoid the temptations of pleasure and wealth, but also to give what they saved to help meet the needs of others who were less fortunate. Early Methodists encouraged their members to support their local churches and, when Methodists became a denomination, to support their own, giving attention to attendance at public worship, the taking of the sacraments, public prayer, and the preaching of God's Word.

Finally, Methodism stressed personal work. Through pastors and class leaders and, in the United States, circuit riders, Methodist leaders maintained a personal relationship with their people and a line of accountability. Through this personal work, Methodists were disciplers of their people.

A ministry of discipleship can be challenging in many ways, but it is also rewarding. The influence of the discipler upon the discipled cannot be underestimated. Disciples learn how to live in the real world as they observe their disciplers. Even when the disciple leaves the discipler, the disciple is aware of the discipler's abiding love and concern. This is a strong incentive to remain faithful to Christ, since the discipler will be proud of the disciple's faithfulness, and deeply disappointed and concerned if the disciple stumbles. To the person being discipled, things in life are important because someone cares, and that person who cares represents the very real love and concern of God in that person's life. The disciple also knows there is someone on his or her side if trouble comes or the disciple stumbles; and can count on prayers, guidance, and encouragement to see the disciple through the crisis.

No one can form a close relationship with everyone. The person concerned with personal ministry may often find that it is more appropriate to match an individual to someone other than themselves. Even under the best of conditions, it takes time to build a relationship. As circumstances change, there may need to be changes in the manner in which meetings take place. Sunday school students or youth group members move on to other classes and to adulthood. When a congregation is resistant to personal ministry, a pastor may need to begin to work outside the church to find individuals who are receptive, and this can take even more time.

However, we must be careful to avoid the attitude that because we are investing ourselves in a few that we have no obligation to others in Christ's church. Jesus had ever widening circles of those He ministered to: the three, the twelve, the seventy, the five hundred, people He spent the most time with and invested Himself in the most. But, still, He found time to minister to strangers and the masses. We must be careful to encourage and support everyone we can. We must also be careful, in this form of ministry, to avoid thinking that we "own" the people we minister to, that we can dictate to them or "take over" their lives.[Footnote 6] Even when we have "disciples," it is only so that they can become better disciples of Jesus. Our purpose is always to help them toward Christian maturity so that they can walk with us, not as dependents upon us.

Personal ministry also requires much patience. The work is more like farming than pulling rabbits out of hats! We become the cultivators of human souls -- a work of faith and selfless love, denying ourselves a more spectacular role that receives more instant approval from a society that demands "instant success."

But if there is a correct path to laying a foundation for revival, then certainly it includes this personal approach to ministry. Early Judaism depended upon the family to sustain community and faith (Deuteronomy 4:9, 6:7-8, Psalm 78). It is the family and the synagogue that have helped to maintain the Jews as a distinct people even when they have been scattered, separated, and persecuted. For Christians, the family, and its counterpart, the "family of faith," have the same advantage. The personal communication of faith, from parents to children, from pastor to people, from experienced, mature Christians in the church to those newer in the faith, that serves as the most basic component of the propagation of our faith and, thus, the life of God in the Christian community. That, coupled with prayer and sound teaching, lays the groundwork upon which God can build and mature the living Body of Christ.

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord" (I Corinthians 15:58).


[5] Primary Christian doctrines are those teachings on spiritual matters that are central to Christianity and upon which there is general agreement among all Christians. Secondary doctrines involve matters of church government, the manner of observing the sacraments, and so on, that are not central to the faith and concerning which Christians have a right to take differing opinions.

[6] Any teaching or concept taught in the Scriptures, can be misinterpreted, and Christian "discipleship" is no exception. There is a special danger in discipleship when the discipler or "mentor" takes too much authority over the life of the disciple. The discipler should not make decisions for the "disciple," but should help the disciple make decisions by modeling correct decision making and by helping the disciple to understand Scriptural teachings and principles that apply to each decision that must be made. This should be more of a teaching than a governing relationship (I Peter 5:1-3). If there is to be rebuke or discipline, it should involve the clear teachings of Scripture, not the whim of the person who leads the group, it should involve the clear teachings of the Scripture concerning major doctrines and Christian morality, and it should be done in a manner consistent with Scriptural teachings about discipline. Early Methodism had an advantage here, for members of Methodist societies had clear and Scriptural guidelines of conduct that were to be followed by all members and all members were aware of them from the start. In other groups, the standards might be those members of a denomination agree to follow when they join the church or some discipline voluntarily agreed upon by all members in a discipleship group.

A discipleship situation becomes suspect when the disciple is expected to reveal very personal information to the discipler (like private details of one's marital relations with one's spouse or the details of personal finances) or when the disciple is expected to make all decisions under the supervision of the discipler. Likewise, the situation becomes suspect when the discipler refuses to refer the disciple to others for teaching and counseling when the situation warrants - whether it be to a more experienced Christian, a pastor, or a Christian counselor.

There is also cause for deep concern when a discipler attempts to sever the disciple's relationship with other people, whether friends, family, or other spiritual leaders. The exception here, of course, is when the discipled individual is encouraged to break ties with someone who has a very destructive influence - perhaps a drug pusher or someone who is trying to force or entice the discipled individual into serious immorality or crime. But this would be an extreme situation, not a normal occurrence. In general, the discipler should teach the disciple how to relate to others in a redemptive, loving manner, not to cut off relationships.

In a similar manner, those being discipled should be those serious about following Christ, respectful of the rights to privacy of those who disciple them, and not attempt to avoid responsibility by getting their mentors to make decisions for them.


Coleman, Robert E. Dry Bones can Live Again: Revival in the Local Church. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, Third Printing, 1969.

Mantey, Julius R. and Turner, George A. The Gospel of John (Volume IV, The Evangelical Commentary on the Bible). Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, n.d.

Oden, Thomas C. John Wesley's Scriptural Christianity: A Plain Exposition of His Teaching on Christian Doctrine. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994.

Purkiser, W.T. and Taylor, Richard S. and Taylor, Willard H. God, Man, and Salvation: A Biblical Theology. Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1977. Distributed by Baker Book House.

"Laying a Foundation for Revival" is Copyright 1999 Sterling M. Durgy. All Rights Reserved.

Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible, Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968,1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

The American Night Watch is a trademark of the Christian ministry of Sterling M. Durgy.

Permission is granted to reprint "Laying a Foundation for Revival" or any portion as long as all copyrights are included, this statement is included, the text is not altered in any way, and the text or reprint is not sold to the recipients.

Go to top of page.

Go to menu of articles available here.

Go to menu of Bible study and commentary.

Go to The American Night Watch home page.

Click here for Sterling Durgy's e-mail address.

This page was last updated October 23, 1999.