Revival Is a Baptism of the Holy Spirit
From the beginning of his life Martyn Lloyd-Jones was, in a sense, a cry for depth. If I were to sum up, I almost titled this “A Cry for Depth.” If I ever do anything with it I might title it that. A cry for depth in two areas—1) in Biblical doctrine and 2) in vital spiritual experience, so Light/heat. Logic/fire. Word/Spirit. Again and again he would be fighting on two fronts: he would be fighting against dead, formal, institutional intellectualism on the one side, and he would be fighting against superficial, glib, entertainment-oriented, man-centered emotionalism on the other side. He looked out over the world and thought it was in an absolutely desperate condition and he saw the church as very weak and impotent. He said one wing of the church was straining out the gnats of intellectualism and the other was swallowing the camels of evangelical compromise and careless charismatic teaching (The Sovereign Spirit, 55-7). and for Lloyd-Jones the only hope was historic, God-centered revival. which is really what I want to talk about this morning.
So my aim is this: to talk about the meaning of revival as Lloyd-Jones’ understood it—the sort of power he was seeking, what he thought it would look like when it came, and how he thought we should seek it. And then I’m going to be really risky at the end and ask if he practiced what he preached.
More than any other man in this century, I think, Lloyd-Jones has helped recover the historic meaning of revival.
A revival is a miracle … something that can only be explained as the direct … intervention of God … Men can produce evangelistic campaigns, but they cannot and never have produced a revival (Revival 111-2).
And Lloyd-Jones felt it to be a tremendous tragedy that the historic sense of revival as a sovereign outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church, had been virtually lost by the time he preached about revival in 1959 on the 100th anniversary of the Welsh Revival. He said in those lectures, “During the last seventy, to eighty years, this whole notion of a visitation, a baptism of God’s Spirit upon the Church, has gone” (The Fight of Faith, 385). And then he gives this explanation and with this he begins to part ways with almost the entirety of mainline evangelicalism.
The main theological reason that he said there was a prevailing indifference to historic revival and crying out for it is because people had begun to equate what happened on the Day of Pentecost with regeneration. Now let me read the key quote where he describes this view:
Yes, [Acts 2] was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But we all get that now, (it’s not him talking, he’s quoting the view) and it is unconscious, we are not aware of it, it happens to us the moment we believe and we are regenerated. It is just that act of God which incorporates us into the Body of Christ. That is the baptism of the Spirit. So it is no use your praying to God for some other baptism of the Spirit, or asking God to pour out His Spirit upon the church … It is not surprising that, as that kind of preaching has gained currency, people have stopped praying for revival” (FF, 386).
Revival is when the Spirit comes down, he says, is poured out. And he’s crystal clear that it’s not the same, the baptism with the Holy Spirit is not the same as regeneration. Here’s the quote, key quote:
And so he laments that by identifying the baptism with the Holy Spirit with regeneration we have made the baptism of the Holy Spirit wholly non-experimental – as the Puritan’s would say — that is unconscious. You don’t know when it happens, you only can see perhaps some later-on moral results from it. That is not, he says, the way it happened in the books of Acts or the way it was experienced in the early church. (JU, 52). So he spoke with strong words about such a view. This is very powerful now, knowing where he’s coming from and who his friends were:
Those people who say that [baptism with the Holy Spirit] happens to everybody at regeneration seem to me not only to be denying the New Testament but definitely to be definitely quenching the Spirit” (JU, 141).
Now just ponder that statement. Therefore he would say, by implication, virtually the whole evangelical church is quenching the Holy Spirit. That would be Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s opinion. Dana told me last night that Warren Wiersbe was told by Martyn Lloyd-Jones that he asked these sermons not to be published before he died. Well, there’s some real clear reasons for that, I think. He founded the Banner of Truth publishing house. It is emphatically cessationist. Now I don’t know how he felt about that, but in 1972 after he had retired, they published B.B. Warfield. He’s going to emphatically disagree with this book, in a moment. And Walter Chantry, The Sign of the Apostles. His biographer does not do him justice, in my judgment, in the chapter on Cross Winds. He does not own up to what Lloyd-Jones is saying. You won’t get the straight picture. You must read Lloyd-Jones.