In 1859 and then again in 1904 a deep and penetrating work of the Holy Spirit engulfed the country of Wales. Wales had already seen many other periods when God had moved in revival—perhaps more than any geographical location in the history of Christianity. But these two spiritual awakenings were two of the most significant. In both cases, the Holy Spirit produced a profound increase of love for God among professing Christians and moved in the hearts of tens of thousands of people who did not know Christ, bringing them to repentance and a relationship with God. But there was a striking difference between the two revivals.

Collin Hansen and John Woodbridge compared the two awakenings and commented about Evan Roberts, the best-known preacher of the second: “Roberts, a gifted exhorter who led meetings filled with prayers, singing, and testimonies, did not prioritize Bible teaching. Compared to the 1859 revival, fewer Welsh preachers taught biblical doctrine. Instead, many new converts sought mystical experiences.”[1]

The positive effects of the first revival both for the church and for society persisted for many years. The second revival, lacking an emphasis on the Bible, was “gone as quickly as it came.” Hansen and Woodbridge remarked about the second awakening: “After several years, Wales returned to its previous state of religious indifference.” The second revival was like a sparkler that spouted brilliant colors for a moment, sputtered, then grew suddenly dark.

The difference between the two revivals was the Bible.

God’s people today talk about the need for revival as they have at other times when love for God and passion for Christ has waned. I deeply long for it myself. In fact, when God grabbed hold of my heart as a teenager, one of my deepest yearnings, and the prayer from which God would not release me, was that God would do a work of revival during my lifetime. This past year I have been reinvigorated in my desire and prayer that God would do this. Who can question that we need a revival of the Holy Spirit? But it is my conviction that we will never see anything that lasts—that is, we will never see anything worth calling a revival of the Holy Spirit—unless we recommit ourselves to the Bible. We need a revival of the Bible if we desire to see a spiritual awakening that lasts.

[Excerpted from Kenneth Berding's book, Bible Revival: Recommitting Ourselves to One Book.]

[1] Collin Hansen and John Woodbridge, A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 115, citing Earle E. Cairns, An Endless Line of Splendor: Revivals and Their Leaders from the Great Awakening to the Present (Wheaton: Tyndale, 1986), 196-97. The two quotes in the paragraph following the citation marker are from Hansen and Woodbridge, 114 and 116.

This post and other resources are available at Kindle Afresh: The Blog and Website of Kenneth Berding.