Repentance

Evan Roberts, one of the central figures in the Great Wales revival had a simple formula. First, we must repent of every known sin. We must be ruthless with sin. Second, we must stop every doubtful habit. Third, we must go public with our witness. We cannot hide our light under a bushel. We cannot be clandestine Christians. Fourth, we must follow the gentle promptings, the leading of the Holy Spirit.

The Wales revival is considered the driving force behind the Azusa Street awakening. Within six months of the first spark of awakening, Wales was in the grip of the Almighty, and 150,000 people came to faith in Christ. It changed that nation. Public drinking houses became almost empty – and many closed. Giving to Christian causes increased. Men began to care for their families. Drunkenness virtually disappeared from public view, stealing and other offenses declined. The Magistrate came to court, found few or no cases to try. Many began to wear white gloves as a symbol of society purified by the revival. Jurors prayed with those convicted of crimes, declaring sin to be their root problem. Filthy language disappeared. The pit ponies used to haul ore from the coal mines were so used to being cursed and sworn at that they couldn’t understand the miners new kind and clean words! The dark, coal laden tunnels, now echoed with the sounds of prayer and the singing of hymns, instead of oaths and nasty jokes and gossip. God was everywhere. Bills that had been written off as uncollectible debts were suddenly paid. Reconciliations took place. Evan Roberts insisted that there could be no blessing on those who had unkind thoughts towards others. Love abounded – and so did truth.

A nation was changed and renewed, awakened – and it all began with repentance.

Repentance is the one thing that the church desperately seems to avoid. An aberrant view of grace can dismiss the importance of repentance, “What’s to repent of – God forgives all, all the time; and all of us sin, all the time”. A tightly held perspective of personal holiness, warped by pride, hides sin or reclassifies it, avoiding repentance. Both are dangerous. One is cavalier, the other conceited. One is the embrace of a dwarfed goal of spiritual maturity; the other, an achievable piety that is less than the fullness offered in the Christ-life. Both produce miserable representatives of the kingdom. Both resist repentance.

This is an excerpt from the Praying Church Handbook, Volume II. This publication can be ordered at alivepublications.org.