Testing the Genuineness of a Revival

From the post titled: “Sample of 76 Revivals,” we listed over 76 historical revivals, all of which were filled with physical manifestations, such as; weeping, shaking, crying out, falling down, becoming deeply convicted of and remorseful for sins, jumping, laughing, singing, shaking terribly, being filled and drunk with the Spirit.

Throughout history, beginning on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:13), these physical and emotional manifestations have always been fodder for opponents as they look for anything they can to discredit and ridicule a move of the Holy Spirit. God created us with emotions, and revivals bring out the emotions of worshipers like nothing else, as Donald Gee succinctly states:

“Don’t come to me with your rubbish that there is no emotion in religion. You cannot have real religion without emotion. In Scotland they are crying for a revival, but they want a revival without emotion, and they will never get it. There never has been a revival without emotion and there never will be.”

Manifestations such as those described above will take place when the holiness and power of God comes into contact with humanity. These manifestations have been recorded as having taken place during New Testament revivals and in each subsequent revival down through the ages. The problem with these manifestations is that they can be imitated, or as some describe it, “polluted by the flesh.” Satan is also well adept at providing his counterfeit manifestations, which has introduced many problems, even in the midst of genuine revivals.

To combat the counterfeit manifestations, we need to know how to judge a revival so we can determine if the manifestations are genuine or not, and at the same time provide us with a sound guide so we do not “quench the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19).

The below list is a compilation of a number of different authors, who through their books have provided lists that can aid us as we judge manifestations—“test the spirits” (1 Jn. 4:1).

How to Test Manifestations in a Revival

The authenticity of God’s hand in revivals can be proven by comparing it with scripture—What is the Fruit?

1. Is Jesus being exalted and held in high esteem? Is He proclaimed as God incarnate, virgin born, having lived a sinless life, death being vicarious, was resurrected, ascended to the Father and coming again?

2. Are the people hungry for the Word of God and is there a greater honor given to it?

a. Are the scriptures being proclaimed with power, and is there a demonstration of that power through the deliverance from sin and into victorious living (1 Thess. 1:5-6)?

b. Is the church guarding against spiritual gullibility that creeps in when personal experiences are exalted above clear biblical truth (Eph. 4:13-15)?

3. Are people in a committed relationship with a disciple-maker (spiritual mentor), who is helping them in their personal spiritual development?

a. Are these disciple-makers helping people discover their unique spiritual gifts, and are they teaching them how to use their gifts to serve others (Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:1-11)?

4. Are people committed to supporting their local church with their finances and other possessions? Are they giving generously (Acts 2:44-45; 2 Cor. 8-9; Mal. 3:10-11)?

5. Are hearts set on fire with a new love for Jesus (Lk. 24:32)?

a. Are believers living their lives in submission to Jesus as Lord (Lk. 14:25-35; 9:23-25)?

b. Is this renewed passion being displayed by people spending more time in prayer privately, as well as gathering in corporate prayer times (Col. 4:2)?

c. Have people been filled with the Holy Spirit, or are they seeking this baptism (Acts 1:8)?

d. Are the people burning with a renewed desire to serve God and win others for Christ—to share their faith openly and boldly (1 Thess. 1:6-10; Acts 1:4-8)?

e. Is there a renewed world vision with a passion to see resistant and hostile countries opened up for the Good News  (Mat. 9:36-38; 28:16-18; Acts 1:4-8)?

6. Is there a deeper desire for holiness?

a. Is there deep sorrow for sin, and is confession, repentance, and restitution being carried out (Zacchaeus’s example—Lk. 19:8)?

b. Are people yielding to the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work, overcoming the self-life  (Lk. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-10)?

c. Does the church makes personal holiness a serious objective, especially sexual purity (1 Thess. 3:13; 4:1-8)?

7. Are family relationships being renewed and revitalized (Col. 3:18-21; Eph. 6:1-2)?

8. Are the believers wisely following proven leadership (1 Thess. 5:12-13)?

9. Is the church firmly resisting the infiltration of the surrounding idolatrous culture (1 Thess. 1:9)?

10. Is there a renewed love for God and man (1 Jn. 3:10-15)?

Is this love for man being carried out via ministry to the community’s poor (Jms. 2:14-17)?

Don’t Quench the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19)

Revivals should be judged by its center, not by its extremes. If the revival is producing what we see in the above list—its center, we shouldn’t become overly concerned about the extremes. It isn’t always easy to determine what is of the flesh, of Satan, or what is genuine. Some have said that if the ultimate results are being produced (what is listed above), it may be safer to let the “tares grow with the wheat.” John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, indicated something quite similar:

“Lord, send us revival without its defects, but if this is not possible, send revival, defects and all.”

Frank Damazio, in his book Seasons of Revival, commented on John Wesley’s above statement by saying:

“This is the perspective of a man who had experienced revival with all its confusion, excitement—and fruit. May we be so wise as to tolerate some excesses and defects without rejecting revival itself.”

Andrew Murray, in his book Revival, indicated when he first experienced emotionalism and apparent disorder, he sought to bring it to a quick end. It was then that he was warned by a stranger: “Be careful what you do, for it is the Spirit of God that is at work here.” With that Murray identified with the revival and defended it against the criticisms of skeptics.  In response to critics who pointed out the “defects,” Murray would respond with a quote from George Whitefield:

“If you try to stamp out the wildfire and remove what is false, you will equally and simultaneously remove what is real.”

There should still be an effort made to train ushers and altar workers, etc., in how to discern a genuine manifestation from a fleshly manifestation (or satanic), and how to deal with disruptive people, but they should also be taught to be cautious about quenching the Spirit of God by placing undo restrictions on people.

For instance, tremendous conviction (which is very common in true revivals) will often bring extreme distress over sin (wailing, weeping, etc), ‘trembling’ with Godly fear, people falling face-down before God, etc. At the same time, the awesome presence of God will often cause those who have experienced His cleansing and forgiveness to be filled with indescribable joy and thanksgiving to God, resulting in demonstrative, unrestrained worship and adoration of Him.

It should be stressed, however, that a true revival will involve giving, serving, and not always be seeking ‘touches’ or ‘blessings’ from Him all the time. True worship is an act of pure and holy ‘sacrifice’ to God. It’s usually when people begin to seek after experiences from God, rather than seeking Him for His own sake, that counterfeit manifestations or soulish excesses begin to enter in.

The Last Word on Physical Manifestations

It must be understood that the physical manifestations are outward, short-lived, and passing in nature. They are of little lasting importance. The real test is fruit that lasts (Jn. 15:16). There may be immediate changes in a person’s life following a physical manifestation, but the real test is six or twelve months later. How different are they then? Is there continuing growth and change in their lives? Is Jesus now the central desire of their heart? Nothing else counts in the end, and that is the final test of any manifestation and any true move of God.

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The following books were used to compile the above list of “10 Fruits”:

Feast of Fire: by John Kilpatrick

Seasons Of Revival: by Frank Damazio

Prepare the Way for Revival: by Ian Malins

Quenching The Spirit: by William DeArteaga

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