Rev. Maurice Roberts (Inverness) and Rev. William Macleod (Glasgow) were guest speakers at the Salisbury Conference, held at Emmanuel Church, Salisbury, from 2-3 October 2015, on the theme of revival.
Mr Roberts opened the conference, speaking on ‘God’s astonishing work in revival’, with special reference to the revival of 1859. Outlining that revival, he observed how it was distinguished by urgent prayer, powerful preaching and many conversions.
From Canada, the revival spread to America, Ulster and mainland Scotland; and then, in a second wave, it greatly affected Wales and England.
Before then, there was much deadness and very few conversions, but Christians were moved to pray. Reading 2 Chronicles 7:14, Mr Roberts said, ‘Is this not a summons to us to gather and pray that God would come down and revive us?’
Next, Mr Macleod spoke on ‘The ministry of the Holy Spirit in revival’, stating that revival is the Spirit’s work, not man’s. He told how Adam spiritually died at the Fall when the Holy Spirit left him.
Only when the Spirit returns in grace and gives faith to a man to believe in the Lord Jesus, is the soul restored to enjoy communion with God.
Biblical and historical examples
He gave an enlightening overview of the Holy Spirit’s work in the Old and New Testaments, demonstrating that the Spirit gave revival under the Old as well as under the New Covenant. ‘We need God to help us to pray for him to work. Prayer inspired by God, God will surely hear’, he said.
Then Mr Roberts examined the ‘Marks of a genuine spiritual revival’. He emphasised Jonathan Edwards’ definition of revival, that ‘revival is entirely the work of the Spirit, without the cooperation of man’.
He noted that revival is ‘cyclical’, in that God revives his work to great spiritual prosperity; then, sadly, declension sets in, bringing grievous loss, which is followed by a further outpouring of the Spirit to the recovery of blessing; and so it goes on. He exposed the erroneous views of C. G. Finney (revivalism) and Edward Irving (restorationism).
The final session was taken by Mr Macleod on the ‘Effects and results of revival’. He examined the greatest revival of all, Pentecost (Acts 2). He referred to later revivals, including the 16th century Reformation, 17th century Puritan and Covenanting times, Great Awakening of the 18th century and missionary movement of the 19th century.
He also mentioned revivals of the 20th century, such as on the Island of Lewis and in Korea and China.
Numbers attending the conference were higher than in previous years, reaching more than 200 on the Saturday. The congregations were richly blessed, and people left with recovered hope in God’s promise and Spirit (video recordings available at www.salisburyemmanuel.org.uk).