A Spiritual Awakening

“And My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

In the settling of the New World the early pilgrims who were mostly puritans by faith and came with a fervent faith and vision to establish a godly nation. As the years of their labor to build their colonies their zeal for the cause had slipped to a concern for wealth and a comfortable life than establishing a Kingdom of God. This spiritual sickness spread throughout the colonies of America. What once was founded on strong spiritual principle was being rationalized philosophically and its influence was spreading to the educated classes, and the others in the population were preoccupied with the things of this world.

Theodore Frelinghuysen, a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, began his pastoral work in New Jersey in the 1720’s. As he began his ministry he was shocked by the spiritual deadness of the Churches in America. He saw the great need for conversion to a life-changing commitment to Christ. The Church itself was only preforming its perfunctory duties in religious matters. The Presbyterian minister Gilbert Tennent believed that the deadness of the Churches was in part due to the fact that many of the pastors had not been converted themselves. (Christianity.com)

In the 1740’s Jonathan Edwards came upon the scene in America. Jonathan Edwards was an early American philosopher and minister who was involved in the 18th century religious revival known as the Great Awakening. His sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God warned sinners that they were going to Hell unless they repented and asked Christ for mercy.

The Great Awakening caused a rebellion against authoritarian religious rule which spilled into all life in the colonies. Along with Jonathan Edwards and other charismatic personalities as Whitefield and Tennent who rolled through the colonies delivering their messages fueled the flames of the Great Awakening. The movement caused repercussions in both cultural and political arenas. The Great Awakening changed the mindsets of the populace as never before.

Through this religious movement, the Awakening had repercussions in cultural and political spheres as well. Customs of civility and courtesy, the governing norms of life in the colonies, had been set aside in favor of a more quarrelsome age. Practices and mind-sets were changed by the Awakening changed these attitudes. The thinking of religion and politics changed from believing that Monarchs and Bishops interpreted scripture to the colonist interpreting scripture for themselves. The chain of authority was no longer God to ruler to people but God to people to ruler. (Great-Awakening.com)

Before the American Revolutionary War the country was divided by many denominations of faith. In 1776 when the revolution began Americans united under the banner of religious freedom. The Evangelicals and Deist formed an alliance to defend their right to worship freely. This unlikely alliance fought together for religious liberty and won their battle against British tyranny. (Thomas Kidd)

Since the end of the third Great Awakening, 1850-1900 America has been in moral decay. At the foundation of any society is the family and today the family in America is in decline. Children who grow up in families have a happy environment which protects them from mental, physical, educational, and social problems. Today the divorce rate is 40 to 50% leaving children raised by single parents and child care facilities.

As a result we have seen declines in education, the end of gender association, no guide to right and wrong, and at the root of the problem an end to faith in the one and true God. America is in dire need of a spiritual awakening. The spirituality of America is as Theodore Frelinghuysen found in America in 1720, dead. The spirit life of the American is in a state of dormancy, a stagnation of where true life is found in the life of a believer. A spiritual awakening in America will ignite people’s need to love God. To appreciate His holiness and have a passion for His Word. To reform the bonds of a loving fellowship with fellow Christians in His Church. To Hear His Word in the conviction of our personal and corporate sin. Approach our Lord with a humble spirit and a desire for true repentance form this world and seek His righteousness of the world to come.

By turning from are wicked ways of this world our faith would be invigorated and deepened in the truth of God’s Word in a new and greater way. Put away our obedience to old and false paths and make our steps on the narrow path of obedience to God’s commands which were given for our good. Spiritual Awakening brakes the chain of power the world has over us and strengthens us to live in the world and not be a part of the world.

A spiritual awakening restores the experience of when we first accepted Christ as our Savior in response to the prompt of the Holy Spirit. It comes from an awareness of knowing that something is wrong in our walk of faith that can only be righted by God. It is our willingness to respond with the honesty of our heart our need to renew our personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It is then the Holy Spirit tares the veil the world has blinded us with to cover the truth and allows us to see ourselves in the light of God’s majesty and holiness. This brings us to a great humility and awe of God’s all sufficient and amazing grace. The Prophet Isaiah wrote of this experience, “Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)

The Spirit calls us to a spiritual awakening in a number of ways. We can see examples of this by the letters that Jesus wrote to the seven Churches in Revelation. Here Jesus reveals some situations that would necessitate revival. To the Church of Ephesus Jesus praised the congregation for their perseverance and discernment but they had forsaken their first love. “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:4-5) Many times we allow the excitement of knowing Jesus to grow cold. We will lose the zeal that we first had. In Churches we can become bogged down in rituals and just go through the motions of religion and lose the joy of knowing and serving Christ. Spiritual awakening restores our first love and passion of Jesus.

The Church of Smyrna was suffering intense persecution. As Christians in a hostile world we will all face persecution in one form or another. These cares a worries can wear us down and leave us emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. Spiritual awakening can lift us up to a new hope and stronger faith. “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.” (Revelation 2:10-11)

At times we fall into the trap of compromising our principles to the lax world standard. We incorporate their values into our own belief systems. Anything less than the truth is a twisted truth and a lie. A spiritual awakening will help us to rightly discern the values that we should stand upon. “But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. ‘So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.” (Revelation 2:14-15)

We must always test the teaching of our teachers against the Word of God. Sadly, there are many in the Church, in society, and in the marketplace who teach false doctrine. Many of the apostles warned us of the increase of this in the end times. We worship God in the Spirit of truth and spiritual awakening will help us to discern the truth. “But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. ‘I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. ‘Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. ‘And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.” (Revelation 2:20-23)

Some of us may be members in a Church that is dead spiritually. I have been in Churches as that and I remained. I remained because my father found himself in a similar situation and remained that there would be the truth taught to revive that Church. There are Churches that just go through the motions outwardly but there is nothing of substance inwardly. There is plenty of activity and a display of good works for the community. A Church full of religious activity but devoid of spiritual life and power. They are spiritually dead and in need of a spiritual awakening. “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. ‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:1-6)

There is clear evidence when a Church is experiencing a spiritual awakening, there is clear evidence when a person is having a spiritual awakening, and that evidence is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the believers and the visible change in human lives. When the Churches revive the communities around them all will reap the benefits. Spiritually awake people express great movements towards righteous living. They go out from inside the doors and evangelize the people around them that they too may experience the joy of the Lord. This results in social justice for the neighbors.

Where does spiritual awakening begin? Does it begin with the Pastor? It could. Does it begin with the Church? It could. But in truth it begins with you, it begins with me, as it begins with the people who are called by His name. It begins in prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) A prayer of true repentance God will answer, as He is the Faithful and True One for it is for His glory. “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, October 13, 2016

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