WAS ASBURY REVIVAL REAL?
Many of you have reached out to me to ask my thoughts on the recent supposed Asbury Revival. For those unaware, recently in a small town in Wilmore, Kentucky, a group of 20 students gathered to begin to worship and pray on the Asbury College campus. Eventually over 9 days, several thousand gathered and joined them. A video of some of it has been viewed now, over 100 million times on TikTok. The question I will address today is, was it real? Was it a genuine revival?
Let me start by saying this. None of us can get inside the hearts and minds of every individual there, and know what was actually going on in their soul. God alone knows. It is very possible God was there amongst them, moving in their individual lives. But I want you to consider the genuine qualities of real revival, which would actually be called repentance in the Bible. When God stirs and awakens our hearts, it always leads to immediate repentance.
I have worked with young people almost my entire ministry life. They can be far more emotionally moved than older adults. They are far more fervent, emotionally zealous, and confessional. They can easily sing and worship for hours and even days, with tears streaming down their faces. That is just a fact. I have been to these kinds of meetings and conferences.
When I was first asked about the Asbury revival, a few passages of scripture immediately came to mind.
2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Matthew 3:8 NLT
Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.
I recalled the words of John the Baptist to the crowds who came out to be baptized, “Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God.” Then John told them to go out and change the way they actually lived their lives. To share what they had, and share their possessions with others. Stop robbing people. Be honest in your lives and in your dealings with others. Don’t falsely accuse other people. Be content with what you have.
Many years ago, I was speaking to a group of young people. We had just finished a long extended time of worship and singing. There were many tearful faces. People on their knees, a room filled with exuberant, worshipful, emotional young people. As I walked to the stage to begin to preach the Spirit of the Lord prompted me to say this. “It’s easy when we gather several hundreds of young people together like this, to sing passionately, to worship fervently, to be zealous and fervent for our Savior. But do you know what the real test is of your genuine faith, zeal and love for God? How do you treat your little brother and sister when you get home from this conference? How do you treat your mom and dad when you get home from this conference? What will be the real fruit of your supposed awakened, repentant heart?“ You could have heard a pin drop.
I am reminded of the time in Ephesus when the spirit of God moved greatly among the people in Acts 19:18-19. “Many confessed their sinful practices. A number of them who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at the public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars.”
As I heard about the supposed Asbury revival, I asked myself, I wonder how many threw their smartphones away? How many gave up porn? How many quit wasting time on social media? How many threw away all their secular rap music? The average teenager today spends 10 hours a day on their phone and internet-connected devices, not including TV.
I wondered how many went home or wrote a letter to their parents apologizing for their rebellious, disobedient, disrespectful behavior and asked for their forgiveness? How many wrote to their siblings, or went to them in person and apologized to them for the hurtful things they have said and done and asked for their forgiveness? How many students broke up with their boyfriend or girlfriend and ended an immoral relationship, or immoral practices? How many have changed their lives and behaviors and personally seek the Lord now every day in prayer, earnestly read God’s word every day, and serve and love their college roommate?
How many will devote their lives to Christ in Christian service? How many will take up their cross daily, deny themselves and follow Jesus Christ?
In the 70s when God moved in so many of our hearts, there was a tremendous spirit of repentance that accompanied God’s mighty awakening and conviction. I immediately ended my ungodly relationship with the gal I was dating. The next morning I apologized to my mother for my rebellious, disrespectful behavior and humbly asked for her forgiveness. I did the same with my father. I went to my siblings and acknowledged my mean treatment of each of them, and asked for their forgiveness. I began to share everything I had with each of my brothers and sister. I began to eagerly and willingly serve my parents around the house. I began to spend time with the Lord in prayer and read his Word ferociously every single day. I immediately changed the way I treated people around me in the town where I lived. I went and sought out some of my former teachers from school, whose classes I had been so disruptive in, and apologized to them for being so disrespectful. I sought out a few other people who I had wronged and asked for their forgiveness. I began to lay my life down for lost people, practicing deeds of kindness, striving to win others to Christ. I stopped listening to all the secular music that once consumed my free time, and filled my mind with garbage. I gave up my dreams and desire to build a cabin and live in the mountains. I zealously pursued and embraced God’s will and God’s calling on my life. I zealously devoted myself to serve my heavenly master, knowing one cannot serve God and money.
Friends I could go on and on, but let me say this. When God genuinely moves in our hearts, we repent! We bring fruit with that repentance, and it is clearly seen and demonstrated by how we live now.
My life of repentance has continued on for almost 50 years now, as has my wife’s, and many others I have known from the 70s. We have kept seeking and passionately serving the God that we love, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ!
As Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, “People can sound religious but not be godly. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven!!“
Let me urge and encourage each of you reading this. Live a life that demonstrates repentance! This is a true revival of the soul and spirit! Turn to God with all your heart, love him fervently, serve him devotedly, and seek the Lord with every fiber of your being. Then You will experience the mighty working of God in your life!
What’s God’s earnest desire? That Christian’s repenting goes viral!!!
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling