On Doubt and Revival

So often the premise of revival is doubt. “Are you really saved?” “Have you changed enough in order to prove salvation?” “Do you actually believe?” “Growing up in church isn’t enough – you have to have a transformed life. Is yours transformed?”

Having witnessed something of this nature up close recently, I have my found myself angry. These techniques are not designed to shore up a listener’s faith, to assist them in making their calling and election sure, but to toss gasoline on the smoldering fire of doubt. The goal is to challenge non-Christians who mistakenly believe they follow Jesus to reconsider that assumption, but the effect is to undermine the assurance of salvation of the believer. Particularly since revival is aimed at children and teenagers, these techniques plant a seed of doubt in their hearts about whether or not they’re really saved in ways that Satan must love. Since assurance is grounded on the finished work of Christ, and revivalist techniques appeal to the work of man, this fire burns at the faith in fullness of the person and work of Jesus. The revivalist is a peddler of doubt.

“And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” 2 Corinthians 1:21-22.

“This infallible assurance is not so essential to faith that a true believer may not have doubts and conflicts about it, possibly wait some time for it, and grow into it.10 But since the Spirit enables believers to know the things which are freely given to them by God, every believer may come to a full assurance of salvation by the ordinary working of the Spirit without unusual revelation…The assurance true believers have of their salvation may be shaken, lessened, or interrupted for various reasons…Nevertheless, they are never completely without God’s seed, the life of faith, the love of Christ and of other believers, and the sincere heart and obedient conscience, out of which the Spirit may revive this assurance in due time.”  WCF 18.3-4.