The Characteristics of a False 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.

What are the characteristics of a true, or false, spiritual awakening? Are their ways in discerning if a true awakening from God has occurred? Let us begin with false, or inconclusive signs, that an awakening is from God.

First, there is the issue of intense emotions. “Simply because someone has powerful impressions of God’s love or overwhelming feelings of sadness over sin doesn’t mean a conversion, or a consecrated re-commitment to Christ, has occurred,” explains Dr. Sean Michael Lucas, professor of church history at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Miss.

Individual’s emotions can be heightened by the Super Bowl, or when a supported candidate for a political office wins an election. A young man once said to me that he received the same spiritual high watching a professional football game as he did when he went to church. Amplified emotions do not mean anything spiritual is happening.

Second, an individual’s readiness to speak about their spiritual condition offers little proof of a true awakening. In fact, publicly speaking about one’s faith in God may not mean they have experienced in their soul what they say with their mouth. They may be filled with spiritual pride and ambition. How many celebrities, after professing faith in Christ, are immediately signed to a book deal and placed into the public arena as a spokesperson for biblical Christianity. These who have very little opportunity to grow in their faith instantly become mini-messiah’s that people flock to see; and just as quickly are abandoned for another new Christian celebrity. However, they filled a lot of auditoriums and sold a lot of books.

Thirdly, the ability to quote Scripture. Much too often, spiritual counterfeits quote Scripture at length but ignore the historical, grammatical and cultural context of the Scripture passage they are quoting. By proof texting, they fail to follow the instruction from 2 Timothy 2:15, which says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

Fourth, having dreams or visions and attributing these experiences as an awakening from the Lord. An individual sees in a Christlike image in a dream, or at the foot of their bed or in a tortilla, and they sense that God has spoken to them.

“Someone might even experience a sense of deliverance from sin or Satan and yet not truly be converted. There might be a situation where someone has experienced deep spiritual concern about his liability to eternal judgment and is feeling deep despair; perhaps he is experiencing significant spiritual—even demonic—oppression,” states Professor Lucas.

Then, immediately and seemingly miraculously, he feels delivered all at once, as though the devil has been cast out, the oppression ceases, the addiction comes to an end. This might happen through a dream or vision, perhaps of a person of great beauty with wounds in his hands or side that the individual takes to be a vision of Christ. And yet, even with such an experience, it does not mean that the individual is truly saved. The Bible nowhere teaches that such things provide a solid ground for assurance of conversion or for genuine revival”

Finally, fervent worship does not mean an awkening has occurred.While going to worship services, disciple’s classes, or even events like Winter Jam may elicit excitement and enthusiasm for God, it does not mean a true revival has happened.  

Simply because there are large crowds in worship services or that people are highly participatory doesn’t mean that revival has come,” concludes Dr. Lucas.

Then what are the characteristics of a true awkening or revival? That is what we’ll examine next time. Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

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