Signs of a true Revival according to the bible.
In order to test if the holy spirit is working, we can simply look at scripture. There are plenty of places we can look but let’s just look at some of the more obvious ones.
We are born walking in the flesh. The flesh is set against the Holy Spirit and one sign we can see through a revival is an individual changed and walking in the spirit more and the flesh less. I do not mean they will be fully sanctified and sinless but that they will day by day grow to look more like the one that follows and you will either see them look more like the flesh as the days go or more like the spirit. Revivals are not something you can judge immediately like some do. You cannot know for certain in a lot of cases until time shows the fruit of the movement. Time will show the spirit that was at work. Though sometimes it is more obvious than others if it is not of God.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.“
There is a true call away from the flesh in a real revival. Man is shown his sin, his need for a savior and his means of salvation.
“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.“
There will be a call to holy living. A call to look more like Christ. Every true revival has this in common. The preaching of the word and in that the preaching of the full gospel. A call to repentance and faith in Jesus.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:16-26
There is a humbleness that comes with true revival. An acknowledgment of our own sinful nature, a want to be rid of that and a desperate clinging to God and his word.
1 John 4 is another great place to look at to see the spirit that is at work and how to be able to distinguish if it is of God or not. In Fact Jonathan Edwards talks about it when he spoke on revival.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.”
We are told to test every spirit and in testing them we can look to see if they believe Jesus is who he says he is. To confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh from God is to confess that Jesus is the Messiah. It encompasses his deity, his birth, his human body, the salvation that comes through him, his death, burial and resurrection. The Holy Spirit leads men to Jesus. It leads men to the Jesus of the bible and no other. Any distorting of the character or person of Jesus is pointing to one that cannot save.
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”
Overcoming the world looks like repentance of Sin. Changing from the way of the world to the ways of God. In some it is instantaneous and with others it takes time. But a turning from sin is huge in revival because The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin.
“They are from the world; therefore, they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
With revival comes the preaching of the word. The Law and gospel are prominent. It shows the need for repentance, the need for a savior and how it is that we are saved and forgiven. This is the means of which we are saved, delivered and redeemed. Scripture is what shows us who God is and how we ought to live the Holy Spirit will help us see truth through it and hear the very voice of God in its pages. Those who cherish its words are being guided by the Holy Spirit and those who distort and twist it are guided by a spirit of error.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
The love of God was manifested in us through salvation, though redemption, reconciliation, sanctification. Not ecstatic outward signs but through a change in us. A new heart of flesh replacing the heart of stone.
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” 1 John 4
What we should see in Revival is a call to repentance, a call to purity, a call to Jesus. We should see hearts changed and lives changed. Sin left behind at the foot of the cross. Will there be emotion? Yes, and amen. When the Demoniac was freed in Mark 5 he went from being out of control to clothed and in his right mind. Coming to God brings us into our right mind.
“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” 1 John 2:3-6
There are many who claim to know God, claim to love him and yet continually sit in, and relish in sin. They excuse it and do not obey the word of God. There are many who twist the word of God and teach it in a way that says many things that go completely against what he has said and by that we see the fruit of the spirit working within them. Anyone who has the Spirit of God will love his word and want to keep it. They will fear perverting it and be diligent to speak rightly of it. For it is the very word of God.
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” 1 John 2:15-16
This is just another view of turning from our sin, isn’t it? Do not love the world or the things of the world. It is interesting how the Holy Spirit works in us and convicts us, changing our hearts to want the things that he says are good and right and true. That is not always instantaneous though. Oftentimes it is day by day changes. However, in a true revival we will see the law being shown used as a mirror to reflect man’s sin back at him. You will see them speak of the need for Jesus and our absolute depravity and damnation apart from him. A call to repent from sin and turn to Jesus to be saved. Without that I cannot say it is a revival.
1. Return, recall or recovery to life from death or apparent death; as the revival of a drowned person.
2. Return or recall to activity from a state of languor; as the revival of spirits.
3. Recall, return or recovery from a state of neglect, oblivion, obscurity or depression; as the revival of letters or learning.
4. Renewed and more active attention to religion; an awakening of men to their spiritual concerns.
A true revival will point to scripture in its purity. I dare say a false revival would point to a twisting of God’s word, new revelation over scripture, feeling over truth and experience over change.
Jonathan Edwards said, “even if their bodies are affected and they cry out or scream or faint, yes even if they go into fits and are affected in other dramatic ways those things do not count at all.”
Hope this was helpful.
Until Next Time
Take Me To Eternity.