The names of George Whitefield, John & Charles Wesley, Howell Harris, Jonathan Edwards, William Grimshaw, William Romaine, John Fletcher and Thomas Walsh stand immemorial. Yet these men but represent only a few who were suddenly prepared and called to carry the Gospel of salvations to great multitudes.
This army of preacher's came from different nations and regions. They came from different family backgrounds and were of different ages and social standing. They were not trained in a college but commissioned from Heaven with unction. They differed in theological points of doctrine on issues like church government, communion, style of preaching, and even on Calvinism and Arminianism. But what bound them together was the truths of the Evangelical Gospel. An Everlasting Gospel forged in Heaven but given to men to preach. They differed at times to the point of conflict yet they were bound together on the essential fundamentals of the Gospel. Their doctrine was pre-eminently the person of Christ. They counted each other fellow-labourers in the harvest fields for the Master.
None of these diverse, unique and gifted men denied that there was a literal, eternal fiery Hell which sinners would go to unless saved by the power of the Gospel. None of them doubted the inspiration, authority, perfection and power of the written Word of God. They took it literally, simply and believingly. None of them doubted the literal account of Genesis. None doubted that a big fish swallowed Jonah. None doubted that God sent a Flood to destroy a wicked generation in the days of Noah.
These men believed that Christ had borne the wrath of God on their behalf. They believed that the Blood of Jesus Christ shed at Calvary was personally shed for them. They believed that by faith in that Blood they were justified from all sin and accepted in Christ Jesus with His perfect imputed righteousness. These preachers of the Gospel believed that through repentance and faith men received the new birth, a new heart, a new spirit, a new name and a new inheritance.
They not only preached the old apostolic Gospel of the Apostles but they also communicated it in the same fashion, form and method. As oracles of God. As herald's of God. Like town-criers. Like prophets of old.
These men believed in preaching. Preaching with conviction, preaching with unction, preaching with clarity, preaching with authority. They preached in homes, they preached in church buildings, they preached standing on grave stones, they preached in the open streets, they preached in the open fields, they preached to few, they preached to great multitudes which could not be numbered, they preached against heresy, they preached against hypocrites, they preached against unbelief, and they preached against sin.
They preached Christ in all His fullness, depth and breadth, making Him central in all things. Their consuming love for Christ and proclamation of Him held whole nations back from bloody revolutions. They preached the cross in all its glory and power without obscuring the judgement of God poured out there, the sin of man atoned for there, and the horror of suffering endured there. The authority of all their preaching, methodology and order was the infallible Scriptures. They again carried forward the work of reforming the Church to a more Biblical pattern.
The revival of the 18th century that swept Great Britain and America was thoroughly Evangelical. There was no Romanism, Liberalism, Modernism or Ecumenism in it. This was a true Evangelical Revival birthed of God, sent from Heaven and owned of the Holy Ghost.
If we follow the pathway of true Evangelical doctrine where these truths were held to and preached we find the path is heavily marked by Divine Visitations of the Lord from Heaven. All the various ism's cannot claim such. A departure from sound doctrine and an Evangelical Gospel is a departure from genuine Heaven Sent Revival. It would be impossible to summarise these mighty outpourings even since the days of the First Great Evangelical Awakening.
Two nations which can claim to be 'The Land of Revivals' are Scotland and Wales because of the amount of and regular continuance of revivals, but they can also claim to have been lands of The Book - saturated with simple but sound Biblical doctrine and knowledge. The Church of any nation which compromises over or that casts aside the simple Gospel truths of the Bible is saying "No" to Heaven Sent Revival. Is it any wonder then that amidst the present hour of compromise over simple traditional Biblical truths there are so few genuine, mighty, widespread national revivals. Our Evangelical Fathers believed that the hope of regular revivals was a Biblical doctrine.
Just think of the 1830's revivals in Scotland under the ministries of McCheyne and Burns and in America under Asahel Nettleton, and in England under Irish born James Caughey.
Then The Second Great Evangelical Awakening which began in the 1850's in America, Ulster, Wales, Scotland and England. The Welsh Revival of 1904. The Azusa Revival of 1906 which was but one of numberless outpourings across the world bringing the church back to real Pentecost. And the Hebrides revival in the 1940's. It is impossible to summarise.
The vessels which were raised up in each of these, men like Evan Roberts, William Seymour and Duncan Campbell had one thing in common, they held to the same pure Evangelical Gospel and to the fundamentals of the faith. Yes they were very different indeed but they were joined to the same Christ, part of the same body, of one faith, preaching the same simple Gospel of Blood redemption.
Again my friends in this hour the answer for Evangelicalism is not a new, united, sound Evangelical alliance. The answer is not a new style, a new strategy, a change or revamping of old biblical truths, a creating of a new ecumenical compromised third way. Oh no, the answer is always the same. Let the Lord again pour our His Spirit as on the Day of Pentecost and revive His wearied saints who will again arise and preach this Everlasting Evangelical Gospel to the ends of the earth to bring in a last harvest of souls before the Lord pours out His terrible judgement on the nations.
Let us pray and believe for a Third Great Evangelical Awakening like that in the 18th and 20th centuries and Evangelicalism will again be as Christ-centred, Biblically sound, holy, prayerful, vigorous and as fruitful as ever it has been in history. We care not for names, titles or creeds. Let the name Evangelical crumble into a misrepresentation and be forgotten but let us stand four-square on the written
Scriptures as a people in revival whatever men may call us.