Author lectures on revival in ministry

Riverside, Calif. (Sept. 30, 2021) – Speaking on the ministry of the gospel, Dr. Ray Ortlund asked California Baptist University audience members, “is there a revival dimension in your ministry?”

“The Bible calls [revival] times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord,” Ortlund said. “I believe that God loves to give new beginnings that we don't deserve and we cannot cause. We in our weakness, we in our failure, we in our impasse are met by God with new mercies.”

Ortlund is the president of Renewal Ministries and a council member of The Gospel Coalition. He also served as lead pastor at Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and is the author of multiple books. He spoke as part of the School of Christian Ministries Lecture Series at CBU on Sept. 28.

Quoting theologian J. I. Packer, Ortlund urged audience members not to neglect the revival dimension in their ministry. He also expounded on Psalm 85, which says in verse 6, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” 

“I define revival as the ordinary ministry of the gospel under extraordinary divine power, liberating believers and compelling the attention of the world,” he said.

Ortlund said he believes ministry flows in two ways. The first is the ordinary yet powerful and fruitful gospel ministry. The second is God giving the privilege of extraordinary ministry, called revival.

“Revival is the normal ministry of the gospel just going into warp speed,” Ortlund said. “Revival is not a matter of us being superior. Revival is God himself coming down and pushing the fast-forward button.” 

The difference between ordinary and extraordinary ministry is not a different kind of power but in the degree of power, Ortlund said. 

“We're always on this ministry continuum of amazingness,” Ortlund said. “Revival is when God, for his own glory, moves us along the continuum of amazingness into astonishing amazingness. He comes upon us and upon our churches and our ministries, so that our churches accomplish in three months what we thought would require 30 years.”

God is able to surprise us, Ortlund said. He is able not only to bless our work, but He is able to take up the work in His own hands so He alone gets the glory.

“What we see all over the Bible from cover to cover is God simply being God to us. Involving but outperforming us,” Ortlund said. “The Bible is the story of our weakness, our need, our inadequacy, our defeat met by the life-giving mercies of God.” 

Ortlund told the students in the audience that revival is for them.

“You have no right to settle for a vision of your life that is inconsequential. Jesus did not die and rise again for you not to matter,” Ortlund said. “The risen Christ is upon you. All these promises are yours. Go get it.”

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