The bottom line: A sober, balanced assessment of the biblical basis of revival.
In short, this timely book is well worth reading, especially if you are a church leader and/or a Bible teacher. Why? Because it provides clarity on an often-misunderstood subject: revival, a word that refers to the reality of the church experiencing larger measures of the Holy Spirit. This outpouring bestows grace and produces new spiritual life in the church and brings many of the unconverted to Christ. Accordingly, Pentecost Today? equips people with a thorough education on the subject of revival while considering alternative views (e.g. those of Charles Finney). This is done with careful balance so that overall, Murray’s analysis is neither zealously fanatical nor is it rigidly restrictive. Murray asserts that revival is biblical but ultimately is not conditional on human works, cognizant of the sovereignty of God.
Many other books talk about revivals (which give some peripheral information) but do not get to the core of the matter. The main thrust here gets to the heart of things by establishing a biblical theology of revival that explains and justifies the phenomenon. In doing so, the doctrinal focus of the book is predominantly on pneumatology with much crossover into Christology and ecclesiology.
Pentecost Today? proceeds in logical fashion: it begins by discussing what revival is (“How Do We Understand Revival?). It then discusses how theology affects understanding of revival, and reveals how extreme understandings either way can lead to disastrous errors. The author ultimately concludes that God is sovereign in revival, but this never supplants human responsibility. As with anything else in the Christian life, what prepares the way for revival is God’s truth and a recovery of knowledge and faith in God. Murray then expounds upon how Spirit-inspired preaching is the usual means by which revival happens (“The Holy Spirit and Preaching”) and how to ascertain if revival truly is the real thing (“The Interpretation of Experience”). The author ends the book explaining six things revival will bring and draws heavily on accounts from church history. He also draws out the practical implications of incorrect views of revival.
So the book’s title asks, “Pentecost Today?” The short answer is no because Pentecost is a historical event. Revival, on the other hand, is a Spirit-mediated reality possible for God’s people at all times when they earnestly seek divine truth.
Rev. Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal
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