In the preface to his masterful book on revivals, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, Richard Lovelace says the following:
Concentration on reformation without revival leads to skins without wine; concentration on revival without reformation soon loses the wine for want of skins.
He’s dead on. Spiritual vigor (revival) apart from the truth (reformation) isn’t spiritual. Truth (reformation) apart from spiritual vigor (revival) is dead. Even the demons believe and they tremble. (James 2:19)
I came across this quote as I was thumbing through my notes on his book while searching for sermon material, and I want to add something to the quote: reformation must precede revival. The altar must be built according to God’s commands before he will honor the altar with his fire. By reformation, I don’t mean you need to hold to the specifics or Reformed theology. No, I simply mean that you need to preach what was the central doctrine of the reformation– justification by faith. This is one of the common threads through all true revivals. Regardless of the denomination (pentecostal, presbyterian, baptist). True revival is built on justification by faith– a focus on faith in what God accomplished in the cross of Christ.
If there is to be any wine of the spirit it will only be contained in the wineskin of a true understanding of justification.