How should we report about Justin Bieber, Kanye West and other cases of well-known personalities who are considering the Christian faith?
Wll Graham's praise report from Spain.
I am excited. I really am. I am extremely encouraged at what I see going on at the moment on the mission field in Spain.
I’ve been serving the Lord in Spain for the best part of a decade and I’m beginning to see signs of what could be called a mini-spiritual revival. Let me explain what I mean.
By mini-revival I’m not referring to emotionally-charged multitudes running to the altars in order to “take their decision for Christ”. Nor do I have in mind senseless paranormal manifestations such as Bill Johnson-style “glory clouds” that mesmerize the audience into spiritual stupor. I’m alluding to something a whole lot deeper, sounder and more substantial than all of that. I’m taking about a return to the big guns of historic Evangelicalism.
It has been in the last few years as I have preached itinerantly around the Iberian Peninsula that I have encountered more and more young men passionate about sound doctrine. Just last Sunday, for example, I came across in a young man in a local church in Andalusia (southern Spain) who was reading Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ exposition on Psalm 51. In the same church there was another couple of twenty-something-year-olds who were immersed in John MacArthur.
This is happening almost everywhere I go now. There seems to be a return to solid theology amongst the youth. It gave me great pleasure to attend the annual Editorial Peregino Conference back in May for the first time. Peregino is a Spanish publishing house under the management of the English missionary Matthew Hill which majors upon Reformed and Puritan literature.
It was such a joy to see the conference packed as well as the number of young men present there. We all sat for two hours under the teaching of Andrew Birch upon the blessed Spirit of God and returned home thoroughly edified in the Word.
So I am excited. I really am.
The names I hear most mentioned as I chat to the youth are John Calvin, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, David Brainerd, Robert Murray McCheyne, J.C. Ryle, Martyn Lloyd-Jones and the most commonly-cited preacher of all, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
With regards to contemporary ministers, two Latin American preachers on many lips are Sugel Michelen and Miguel Nuñez. Michelen will be preaching at the nationwide Pasion por el Evangelio [Passion for the Gospel] conference at the end of October in Madrid whereas Nuñez ministered at the 9Marks conference in Barcelona in November.
Then there are the good old Americans such as Tim Keller, John Piper, D.A. Carson, David Platt, J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul and, of course, John MacArthur. Paul Washer too is very widely respected within Evangelical circles. He has a huge following amongst the youth in Spain.
All this means that there is a growing interest in what the Protestant Reformation was really all about. After preaching, I almost invariably find myself explaining the five solas to some enthusiastic group of young people or answering questions about the doctrines of grace. This simply didn’t occur when I began preaching in Spain little under a decade ago.
So why now? What is making the difference?
Firstly, the Internet is revolutionizing the Evangelical world. It’s far easier to download good biblical material due to the growing popularity of the Net. Sound teachers are in high demand and, although the Internet may be dangerous in some ways, it is proving to be extremely beneficial in others. It has never been so easy to have so much access to unadulterated biblical teaching. Most preachers upload stuff to their Facebook pages, Twitter/ Youtube accounts or even to their personal blogs.
Secondly, and somewhat ironically, false gospels have inspired this turn back to the old paths of pure Evangelicalism. I don’t need to convince young men who have spent years under perverted teaching about the absolute necessity of sound doctrine. In Spain we have a little bit of everything on display in the Protestant market: authoritarian mini-popes occupying the pulpit; the Prosperity Gospel and Word of Faith; legalistic currents whereby justification is made out to be Christ plus good works; the mystical glorification of dreams, visions and prophecies in detriment to the teaching of Scripture; and even a pro-Judaic movement which puts all of its focus on national Israel rather than Christ. Such deviancy urges people to get acquainted with what the true Gospel is all about.
Thirdly, I think the crisis has a lot to do with the return to authentic Protestantism. I’m not only thinking about the economic crisis that kicked off back in Autumn 2008 but also the whole question of family crisis and the spiritual crisis through which the western world is currently passing. Today, more than ever, there is a generation of broken young men who have gone through the harshest of trails.
Many of them have experienced terrible ordeals in their own families –divorce, drug abuse, sexual abuse and even suicide- so it’s not a bit of wonder they take refuge in the totally sovereign Lord of the pristine Evangelical faith. God gives them strength, solidity and stability in the midst of life’s multiple anguishes.
So I am excited. I really am. That’s why.