Realities of Revival by E A Johnston; published by Gospel Folio Press, 2005; available from John Ritchie Ltd; price £7.95.
Some books about revival are historical - quite detailed accounts of remarkable movements of God in different places. Others are analytical - extracting principles from revivals, especially in the Old Testament, to apply today. Yet others are more practical - seeking to stir up Gods people and encourage revival within us and where we are. This book of twenty-five short chapters is an interesting blend of these. The language is clear and concise, and very pointed - it does stir you if you will allow it to!
The basic premise in the book is scriptural - that revival is a sovereign work of God by His Spirit (Jn 3.8), unconstrained by anything which man may or may not attempt. But alongside of this there lies heavily the responsibility of man, particularly Gods people, that they might actively pray about this matter and live appropriately and expectantly for God to work. The author argues that the majority of Christians in the USA and the UK do not do this.
The practical thrust of the book is towards sincerity before God, being what God wants us to be. So do not be surprised at the emphasis upon prayer, holiness, separation from the worlds ways, standards and objectives. Also expect that due attention is given to spending time alone with God and of being filled with and guided by the Holy Spirit - no charismatic excesses here but essential preparation, especially for preachers. The short piece on stewardship of our time, our money and our bodies is very searching, as is the section on forgiveness and relationships with others. Johnston argues that attention to these matters will characterise a people who are serious about revival.
It is good to be reminded about men like Whitefield, Wesley, Finney, Moody, Roberts, and the revivals in their day. There is real food for thought, and deep incentives for life, in many of the very telling quotes given at the start of each chapter. Altogether this is a book which if read and heeded would transform the lifestyle of many professing Christians, and set the scene for the longed for fires of revival to burn once again. Highly recommended!
Christ in all the Scriptures by A M Hodgkin; published by Christian Heritage; available from John Ritchie Ltd; price £6.99.
Despite a few doctrinal errors, Christ in all the Scriptures is a delightful book. The author knows his Bible and the One he finds revealed in all the Scriptures. Throughout he speaks well of Christ as to His eternal glory as Gods eternal Son, His redeeming work, His ascension and glory. He is clear that the Lord will come again "in power and great glory, accompanied by His Church, to execute judgement on the earth", but confuses at times Israels earthly portion with our heavenly hope. Thus he identifies "the kings palace" of Psalm 45 with the Fathers house of John 14, in the belief that Psalm 45 "is the key to the Song of Songs and a foreshadowing of the marriage supper of the Lamb".
However, the author is respectful of inspiration of Scripture. On several occasions he reproaches those who deny aspects of inspiration, and delights in finding fulfilled prophecies in Old and New Testaments. He surveys the books of the Bible to find Christ from Genesis to Revelation. In a small paperback of 335 pages, he is not able to do so in any great depth but does provide many pointers that diligent readers will follow up. He treats the classic passages from Genesis 3.15 onwards, but also the sufficiency of Christ in contrast points to the many things that Solomon tried "under the sun".
Christ in all the Scriptures is clearly a reprint. The Publishers do not provide the date of its first publication, which, judging from the sources given was probably in the early twentieth century. A number of authorities are cited, not all of whom will be known to readers and, as no bibliography is provided, will remain out of reach to them. Nevertheless, saints young and not-so-young will gain greatly from reading and re-reading Christ in all the Scriptures. It will warm the heart and strengthen faith. It will also provide material for private study of Christ in all the Scriptures.