Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Carey Conference 2013 01

The Carey Conference is here again and the opening (Tuesday afternoon) session this year was on praying for revival and the speaker was Jonathan Bayes.
It was noted that one of the objections to the doctrine of revival sometimes made is that it is based so often on Old Testament Scriptures not New Testament ones. The point was made that although the word revival is nowhere in the Bible, the New Testament flows out of the Old and is based on it and so Old Testament passages were considered that speak to the subject of revival as well as focusing on the New Testament.
First, we looked at Psalm 89, which was written at a time when the great promises of David's son and his throne seemed to have stalled. The prayer is not for the final heaven or for personal growth in grace but for the manifestation of Messiah in the world. We are to pray that the kingdom will spread all over the world.
When we come to the New Testament we find calls such as that of Jesus in Matthew 9 to pray to the Lord of the Harvest that labourers will be sent out so that the harvest will be brought in. We can be very pessimistic and become closet liberals if we are not careful allowing our perceptions to dictate our understanding of Scripture rather than the other way round.
Acts 4 gives an example of how the early church responded to the call to pray for the advance of the kingdom. The prayer uses Psalm 2 and this suggests that the church was praying with great hope despite the situation. We should be praying above everything for the exaltation of the name of Christ. Revival is not always easy. It can come hand in hand with persecution even. It exalts Christ and that is what matters.
Albert Barnes calls Acts an inspired description of ongoing revival. He says
This book is "an inspired account of the character of true revivals of religion." It records the first revivals that occurred in the Christian church. The scene on the Day of Pentecost was one of the most remarkable displays of divine power and mercy that the world has ever known. It was the commencement of a series of stupendous movements on the earth to recover human beings. It was the true model of a revival of religion, and it is a demonstration that such scenes as have characterized our own age and nation especially are strictly in accordance with the spirit of the New Testament. The entire Book of the Acts of the Apostles records the effect of the gospel when it comes fairly in contact with the minds of people. The gospel was addressed to every class. It met the Jew and the Gentile, the bond and the free, the learned and the ignorant, the rich and the poor, and it showed its power everywhere in subduing the mind to itself. It was proper that some record should be preserved of the displays of that power, and that record we have in this book. And it was especially proper that there should be given by an inspired man an account of the descent of the Holy Spirit, "a record of a true revival of religion." It was certain that the gospel would produce excitement. The human mind, as all experience shows, is prone to enthusiasm and fanaticism; and people might be disposed to pervert the gospel to scenes of wildfire, disorder, and tumult. That the gospel would produce excitement was well known to its Author. It was well, therefore, that there should be some record to which the church might always appeal as an infallible account of the proper effects of the gospel, some inspired standard to which might be brought all excitements on the subject of religion. If they are in accordance with the first triumphs of the gospel, they are genuine; if not, they are false.
This book shows that "revivals of religion are to be expected in the church." If they existed in the best and purest days of Christianity, they are to be expected now. If, by means of revivals, the Holy Spirit chose at first to bless the preaching of the truth, the same thing is to be expected. still. If in this way the gospel was at first spread among the nations, then we are to infer that this will be the mode in which it will finally spread and triumph in the world.
We were urged to pray for boldness, the sort of boldness we see in Acts.
To close he drew attention to two parables that encourage us to pester God with regard to revival. The first is in Luke 11 where we are urged to pray not for what we fancy but for the giving of the Holy Spirit, for spiritually starving friends all around us. The second is in Luke 18 and is designed to help us not to grow weary in praying. Widowhood is used in Isaiah and elsewhere to describe spiritual dearth. We are like a needy widow today, we need someone to gain justice for us against our adversary Satan. Too often our prayers are unenthusiasitc and we do not really want what we ask for. The final question is not so much about the Second Coming or suggesting faith will be very  low before the end. Rather, the question is a real one and is intended to challenge us.
Jonathan's paper grows out of the concert for prayer movement based in Yorkshire. See here and here. Also see here and here.

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