Signs of Genuine Spiritual Awakening
Spiritual awakening produces a fresh recognition of the holiness of God and the simplicity of mankind. As the great Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it in his essential work on Revival: “The essence of a revival is that the Holy Spirit comes down upon a number of people together, upon a whole church, upon a number of churches, districts, or perhaps a whole country. That is what is meant by revival. It is, if you like, a visitation of the Holy Spirit” (Lloyd-Jones and Packer).
Spiritual awakening creates a healthy sense of introspection leading to the discovery of or confession of pockets of sin and consequently sinful behavior.
Spiritual awakening causes the individual or the community to cry out to God for forgiveness.
Spiritual awakening cultivates a supernatural and visceral need for prayer: private prayer, family prayer, prayer in public worship, and prayers throughout the days of one's life.
Spiritual awakening stirs a burden to reach others with the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the First Great Awakening that stirred the Colonies from Vermont to Virginia, from New Hampshire to North Carolina, missionary movements began to emerge in New England. Under the vision and guidance of men such as Jonathan Edwards and his protégés, David Brainard, waves of missionary groups fanned out across the British colonies, testifying, witnessing, and preaching the holiness of God, the sinfulness of Man, and the only way to God through His Son, Jesus Christ. No less than the U.S. National Humanities Center had to admit the enormous sway that the spiritual awakening had upon a People who would, in only a few decades, forge a new nation:
These early revivals in the northern colonies inspired some converts to become missionaries to the American South. In the late 1740s, Presbyterian preachers from New York and New Jersey began proselytizing in the Virginia Piedmont; and by the 1750s, some members of a group known as the Separate Baptists moved from New England to central North Carolina and quickly extended their influence to surrounding colonies. By the eve of the American Revolution, their evangelical converts accounted for about ten percent of all southern churchgoers.
Another mark of true spiritual awakenings is the emphasis on right doctrine. Genuine spiritual awakenings advocate for doctrine that is proved by the Scriptures rather than the doctrines that are approved by the human mind. Spiritual awakenings recover the right use of doctrine for the purposes of spreading more truth which subsequently brings more glory to God and greater liberty to God’s children. However, an authentic act of revival from on high that leads to spiritual awakening always—always—seeks the truth of God in God’s Word, the Holy Bible.
Genuine spiritual awakenings elevate biblical truths and thereby bring about great emotional responses. However, true spiritual awakenings do not spring from passions but rather from the supernatural intervention of Almighty God in the lives and affairs of human beings.
Spiritual awakenings often initiate movements to repent and remove injustices, public displays of immorality, and even correct unjust laws.
It should be added that genuine spiritual awakenings attract demonic opposition. This has often appeared in the form of excess as noted in the phenomenology of “Spontaneous Spiritual Awakenings.” Barking like a dog, climbing a tree like a squirrel, or laughing uncontrollably are not signs of God’s visitation but of devilish or human perversion. Yet, each act of genuine spiritual awakening has often attracted parasitic phoniness. Do not be duped into believing that the work of God produces hysteria or insanity (Albanese). The devil despises spiritual awakenings, for such times of refreshing can undo centuries of diabolical activity in one day.