What is an Awakening?

During this week, we’ll take a break from our study of the Gospel of Matthew and focus on the subject of awakening and revival. In recent months, there has been much discussion concerning what are the characteristics of a true revival? Is it simply about emotion or is there something more?

A biblical awakening means a stirring, a recognition, realization and a revival in desiring for, and following the truth of, God. The true of God is found in the Scriptures. An awakening is the believer’s initial, or renewed, passion for God: intellectually, emotionally and volitionally.

The individual’s initial awakening the Bible refers to as justification or conversion. Subsequent awakenings that follow conversion the Bible calls sanctification or consecration. All true revivals are a work solely of the Spirit of God.  

“The terms ‘revival’ and ‘awakening’ properly refer to works of the Holy Spirit that cannot be coerced or brought about through emotional manipulation,” explains Dr. Keith A. Mathison. “If you are a Christian, He (God) has awakened you by bringing you out of darkness and into the light.”

A spiritual awakening is at the very heart of the Christian faith, and it is the reason we are believers in Christ. An awakening is the powerful work of our sovereign and gracious God. When God awakens us, He doesn’t simply awaken us from sleep, but from spiritual death (Eph. 2:1-5). He gives sinners new life by grace alone, through faith alone, and in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone (Rom. 3:21-26; Eph. 1:3-14; 2:8-9). Awakening is the Holy Spirit’s glorious work of regeneration, revival, and reformation.

There have been several false awakenings in church history. One of the most notable would be the revivalism by Charles Finney in early 19th century America. Finney did not believe in the biblical doctrine of original sin, the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, or justification by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. Additionally, Finney invented several manipulative methods and revivalist techniques that are used in churches today. Finney sought to humanly accomplish what only God can do in bringing an awakening of the soul. It marks the difference between a revivalism by man and a true revival by the Lord.

“At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the West is once again in a period of darkness as various forms of secularism have come to the fore, and yet the church continues to advance. We are witnessing massive numbers turning to Christ in Africa, Asia, and South America. According to some estimates, China is on course to have the highest population of Christians anywhere in the next two decades. In 2010, Protestants in China numbered approximately 60 million. By 2030, some estimate there will be 250 million,” states Mathison.

“God sovereignly moves when and where He wills, and just as He brought the light of the gospel into the darkness of pagan Rome, medieval Europe, and communist China, He can bring light into places currently shrouded in darkness. He can bring an awakening to the Islamic world. He can bring an awakening to the secular West. And as He did many times in the Old Testament, He can bring an awakening to unbelieving Jews. If you are a Christian, He has awakened you by bringing you out of darkness and into the light. Pray that by His Spirit He would move mightily to awaken many more.”

How do believers in Christ distinguish between a true or false awakening? That is what will be considered next time. Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

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