From the Back Cover
What will it take to bring genuine revival to the church? To our culture?
Why does God seem to work powerfully and supernaturally in some places and not in others?
In When God Comes to Church, Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. explores what the Bible teaches about revival. He explains what God can do to revive his people and what we must do to prepare ourselves for revival. Ortlund's conclusions provide solid guidance for church leaders and lay people who long for renewal and revival from God.
"These juicy explorations of Old Testament passages by a gifted scholar-pastor add a new breadth and depth to the ongoing evangelical discussion of revival. Disciplined, passionate, lucid, and convicting, Raymond Ortlund serves us well." -J. I. Packer, professor of theology, Regent College
"Here we learn no new techniques about how to snap our fingers to make God come down. We learn to bow down before the wisdom of God and trust that personal revival will precede cultural revival in God's time and by God's Spirit." -Bryan Chapell, president, Covenant Theological Seminary
"Fresh air to Christians who desperately need to be reminded of God's love and action in and through his people. Read it. You'll be glad." -Steve Brown, author and Bible teacher, KeyLife Network
"A rich store of fresh insight and hope. . . . This outstanding work offers a penetrating analysis of modern-day 'churchianity,' as well as a solid theological framework for understanding and promoting revival." -Nancy Leigh DeMoss, author and editor of Spirit of Revival magazine, Life Action Ministries
"A balanced and refreshing book on revival. . . . Intellectually stimulating and spiritually illuminating." -Lyle W. Dorsett, professor of evangelism and spiritual formation, Wheaton College Graduate School
About the Author
Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. currently serves as senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia. He formerly served as professor of Old Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Ortlund, who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, is the author of several books as well as numerous essays and articles.
If I could summarize this book with a word, it would be "Wow." Raymond Ortlund takes the reader on a tour of a number of passages in the Old Testament prophets as he builds a case for what revival is, and what it isn't. Mixed with his outstanding exegesis are illustrations from noted revivals of the past, and the comments of good pastors and theologians who were contemporaneous with those events. In this exploration Ortlund takes advantage of a clear-headed historical hindsight.
Part one of the book is arranged under the theme of "What God can do." The chapter titles summarize Ortlund's directions: God comes down to us; God reinvigorates us; God heals us; God pours out His Spirit upon us; God raises us up; God restores us. In this part Ortlund celebrates the sovereignty of God, unfolding it not as something which frustrates our efforts, but something that gives us ultimate hope even as it preserves the purity of revival itself.
Part two moves to the next step: "What we must do." Again his chapter titles tell the tale (and by the way, they deliver what they promise): we return to God; we seek God; we humble ourselves. Ortlund again returns to surgically-precise exegesis to show us what the text actually says about these things. The last chapter, on humility, is probably one of the best pieces of literature I've read on the topic.
Here is what distinguishes this book from many other modern works. All too many modern books, for all the great intellectual commitments of the authors to God's glory, remain essentially man-centered. You've typically got one or two verses that are followed by a chapter of illustrations and ten points of how to apply what you've learned (presumably, what you've learned from those one or two verses).
This is where Ortlund shines. He exegesis complete passages of Scripture, he's not tossing a few verses on the salad as garnish. The power of the book rises from the power of the biblical text. His exposition is accurate, context-sensitive, and flat-out convicting. By the time Ortlund himself applies the text (which he does do, make no mistake), the Holy Spirit has already beaten him to the punch. Ortlund's applications are firmly anchored in responsible exegesis.
I am convinced this is the best way to teach and preach, and it protects the reader/hearer from applications that go askew, the accumulation of which could potentially lead into more serious error. The topic of "revival" has seen its share of these problems in American Christianity. Ortlund's work in "When God comes to Church" restores a proper, biblical view of revival. I recommend it thoroughly. - C. H. Cobb