Greater Awakening: When Revival Becomes Awakening

Asia Minor Awakening

According to Luke’s records of the Ephesus-Asian Minor Awakening in Acts 19 and credible sources from history, the city of Ephesus went from being the center of queen of heaven worship for both Greek and Roman cultures to the center of Christianity. The transformation took about forty years. Paul came into the area and laid hands on twelve believers. This started a move of God that went from revival to “revival and riot” in just over three years. The move of God affected the culture and economy profoundly, and God’s purpose took control of the spiritual atmosphere over the region.

“In this manner” refers to the process of spiritual awakening that moved from twelve disciples of John the Baptist to a regional “revival and riot.” Three words of spiritual power and authority are used in this verse: “kratos” means “dominating mighty;” “exousia” means “authority;” and, “ischuo” means “supernatural power” attributed to angels and God. Putting these words together has been a challenge for translation because some assumptions are made about “the word of the Lord.”

One translation says, “the word about the Lord.” Another, “In such ways it became evident that the Word of the Master was now sovereign and prevailed in Ephesus.” The true sense of the wording speaks more about God’s revealed purpose for Ephesus as place and people. The word of the Lord was what Jesus said about this region, including the word of personal and region redemption. Paul was bringing more than a personal salvation word to Ephesus. He was bringing a kingdom word of personal, kingdom, and regional transformation.

“In this way, the Lord’s word, through supernatural power, sovereignly dominated in Ephesus.”

Through the subsequent decades, the revival had some ebb and flow, the Ecclesia struggled through the aftershocks of revival, so to speak, but history tells us the Apostle John came into the region and the mystic idol fell over and the temple to Diane or Artemus fell down. It was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, but it fell down in a day. The worship of that god disappeared but the Ecclesia continued for about two hundred years in Ephesus as the center of Christianity.

American Awakening

According to a general reading of American history, our awakenings followed much the same pattern. The move of God would reach a crisis point of opposition within the first three to five years, revival would become some form of “revival and riot” because of this opposition and confrontation. Then, this conflict would leave the move of God with aftershocks of division, distinctives, and discussion while mini-movements bounced off “the kingdom resets” that revival brings. The existing church would have to decide how to respond, and remnant groups would emerge that captured the spiritual essence of the reset Jesus made in the revival.

Then, as the rising tide of these mini-movements would hit the general population forcing culture shifts, the root issues of the nation would reach a point of confrontation with “the word of the Lord,” or the purpose of God for America.

Our first awakening began in the 1730’s with revival that shifted the church in historic ways. The spiritual tide rose as the general population felt a new experience of God, and mini-movements produced sweeping cultural changes. The first Great Awakening produced the cultural climate for the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War. The word of the Lord had something to say about a king who thought he could own the church. This revival and riot resulted in the greatest experiment in religious and personal liberty in the history of mankind: the United States of America.

Our second awakening began when the relaxation of conflict produced a social relapse much like David staying home from battle. America fell in love with alcohol and passivity. Drunkenness and sloth engulfed the nation; a new wave of the revival was working, however, that hit a new high point at Cane Ridge, Kentucky in 1801. This Great Awakening produced exponential growth for mini-movements that became evangelical denominations. The expansion continued well into the 1850’s, and the resulting kingdom advancement challenged the wickedness of slavery that had blighted the great American experiment from the beginning. The second great awakening produced the Civil War, and a generation of economic expansion and cultural “settling.”

Another Awakening began in the 1890’s and made the history books at an empty warehouse on Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California in 1906. This international level move of God continued through 1915 and lived on in new mini-movements of amazing kingdom expansion and growth until the 1930’s. The roaring twenties were spiritually and morally volatile, but the underlying character or soul of America came through depression and desperation, and reset the national focus. It produced a nation prepared to stand up to Hitler in World War 2, and another period of great economic expansion began.

We could probably identify other awakenings, as many as six depending upon your definition of “awakening,” that began within the church and expanded into the culture in ways that challenged the prevailing spiritual issues of that generation. Revival and riot challenge the giant of a generation. Revival is never quiet or neat; neither is revival random. Each awakening confronted the prevailing spiritual climate and condition of the time and manifested in cataclysmic change. At the same time God was awakening His people, hell was awakening new forms of the spiritual conspiracy against Jesus Christ, and a cultural clarification was made.

Unfortunately, in each subsequent move of God, the Ecclesia malfunctioned in terms of kingdom establishing and became enamored with the development of peculiar distinctions about doctrine and demonstration. The growth and expansion, instead of producing a vanguard to restore America’s redemptive purpose, settled into subcultural denominational skirmishes that distracted God’s people from taking and possessing the land. Great effort and energy were invested in maintaining something that clarified why each group should be distinct from the others. No prevailing spiritual condition was established, and few of these moves of God held any of the original fire after the second spiritual generation.

A new revival hit the church in the 1980 and 1990’s that is cresting toward another spiritual awakening for America. This wave has already produced new mini-movement manifestations, a spiritual counterculture to how people experience God that will contrast the plastic perceptions of political church-anity with more authentic kingdom and Ecclesia functions, power, and authority. It features the starkest contrasts between darkness and light in history, and will confront the wayward culture again to challenge this nation with “the word of the Lord” for America. Jesus is calling America to join a coalition of revival nations with the backbone to face down the tyranny and oppression of Islam as she did Hitler in World War 2. And, this awakening may well produce the greatest “revival and riot” America has ever seen.

Awakening Analysis

It generally takes thirty to forty years from when the first experiences of revival hit the church until a fuller influence and impact of this kingdom reset crests into a greater awareness of God throughout the general culture. During this time, the original leaders of revival may suffer rejection, have their integrity and legitimacy questioned, and enjoy having their original revival experiences analyzed by the prevailing status quo of the church. As revival matures, the mini-movements expand the reset through shared spiritual experiences in their testimonies and writings, and the move of God matures more than it grows. Revival will manifest in various types of mini-movements, some of which will fall upon error or overemphasis of one aspect of how they experienced God. The institutionalized church will distance itself from the new in order to preserve and maintain its status quo. Yet, a remnant remains that has matured the original fire to an international level of leadership, a level at which it can influence and impact a nation.

The Awakening influence and impact of the move of God will be seen when the spiritual power and authority of the kingdom begins to “lay the axe at the root of the tree,” exposing the core issues of darkness that plague the nation in that generation. These issues are the work of hell to distract the nation from preparing the culture to confront its enemies. The greater the revival, the greater the riot, and spiritual escalation continues. Unresolved cultural issues are exposed in bold, brash ways, extreme behaviors like those that occurred in Ephesus when the rejection of Diana crashed the silver market. The very fabric of culture is stressed to the breaking point just as America is today.

In each cultural confrontation that revival and awakening has produced in America, we say, “Why did it take so long for the colonies to declare independence? Why did it take so long for the states to stop slavery? Why did the US take so long to enter World War 2? And, why is there hesitation about breaking the back of Islam’s effort to enforce its darkness on the world now?

As each season of revival becomes awakening, we could say, “Why didn’t all the believers understand what God was doing? Why did the leaders so often face terrible rejection? Why did the institutional church resort to unchristian behavior in any attempt to destroy what God was doing in order to preserve and maintain what man was doing?” And, “why does the fresh experience of God that comes in revival seem so foreign to God’s own people?

Every revival has had recorded manifestations of God’s power that were extremely difficult for believers to understand, and demonstrations that were so new to the general population that they were nearly always misunderstood and mocked? People shook like a leaf in the wind, screamed and laughed with loud volume, fell onto the ground or floor and lay there for hours or even days, experienced prophetically the reality of spiritual things through visions, speaking in spiritual languages, singing spontaneous songs of worship, and people saw God’s presence and power demonstrated in very different ways as people were healed, restored, set free, and born again.

Nearly every revival created questions that the prevailing spiritual climate simply could not convincingly answer; God has a way of revealing who is with Him and who is against Him when it comes to purpose. Revival creates the greatest distinction of “Lord, Lord, didn’t we do great things in Your Name?” and “He who does the will of My Father in heaven.”

Nearly all revivals produced new mini-movements that turned into denominations with distinctives that demanded them to separate from other believers because of principles, personalities, programs, and purposes. Nearly all revivals expanded the kingdom through new methods – notable the Methodists so-called because of new methods of doing church. Whitefield and Wesley preached outside the church building in the open air, and circuit-riders rode around preaching as many as seven or eight times a day. Protracted meetings became a way of experiencing revival and would continue night after night for weeks, months, or years. New venues opened for preaching and ministry occurred in tents and warehouses, or church buildings unlike any seen before.

God seems willing to change the sights and sounds of the ecclesia to shatter the “sound barriers” and allow the light to punch holes in darkness. It is unnerving to leaders who refuse to change. It is a season of blending existing leaders transformed by experiencing God in new ways with emerging leaders who are experiencing God for the first time.

Awakening Atmospheres

Ephesians 19:20 is a singular picture of the atmospheric adjustments that come when the kingdom functions the way Jesus designed. “In this way” denotes that a strategy was at work that would do more than “accumulate believers.” Then, terms Luke uses here in this verse, loading it up with words that speak of spiritual power, dominion, and authority, make it clear that the “word of the Lord” intensifies and expands through something more than human marketing and machinery.

The phrase, “the word of the Lord,” in this verse certainly does not speak of the Bible in the sense that “the Bible expands and intensifies through spiritual power to take dominion of the region.” Paul is certainly preaching and teaching the written Word of God as well as his apostolic revelation of the kingdom Gospel, but “the word of the Lord” the revelation of God’s redemptive purpose for Ephesus and Asia Minor. Paul speaks God’s Word with God’s authority, the authority of his assignment, and challenges the prevailing claim of hell on this place and people to redeem the culture and establish kingdom.

Such apostolic assignment and authority is available today to alter atmospheres and awaken regions! God wants everybody, but He never starts with everybody. He begins with an authorized, empowered remnant that can receive and release what God wants everybody to experience. This is the beginning of revival that explodes into awakening exponentially when the atmosphere opens and blinding veils of darkness are removed.

Perhaps the most important issue at stake in revival and awakening is the purpose of God for a people and place. Revival is off-track immediately it becomes more about accumulating believers than establishing kingdom. Those who begin the move of God must mature in leadership so they can champion “the word of the Lord” the will of the Father, for the culture. All transformation is restoration: the goal is to redeem and restore purpose of God for the place and people.

In this process of revival and riot, a cultural identity crisis will occur as traumatic for the culture as Jacob wrestling with God. The upheaval is necessary to provoke a fuller surrender in God’s people and the fuller restoration of the what-God-wants for the region. People being born again is a mark of revival and awakening, but the tendency to move that glorious beginning into some form of maintenance mode, to simply glory in the size of the crowds or even the number of people who become believers, is to miss or ignore the greater purpose of revival and awakening, and to empty the move of God of its authority of assignment.

That is to say, revival and awakening come to return a nation to their assigned purpose. Establishing the kingdom gets this done, and the kingdom has already assigned that place and people as kingdom purpose.

Jesus will build His Ecclesia from the kingdom, calling together in assembly people who can fulfill specific assignments that strategically work together to restore a purpose. The “sight and sounds” of the kingdom are a blend of these various “called together assemblies.” The whole of this restoration will reveal a preserved and reserved kingdom inheritance that fits an international strategy for dominion.

To see revival as an end is an error. To see awakening as an end is an error. To see people born again as an end is an error. To see God’s people do great things, miraculous and notable in history, as an end is an error. These are means to an end that can only be realized by making Jesus King. This does not require every person to be born again because Jesus “reigns in the midst of His enemies.” It requires the remnant to continue pursuing purpose during a generation of spiritual growth and maturity.

Revival and awakening increase the pressure of God’s purpose against the prevailing substitutes of hell. The pressure will be immeasurable and uncontrollable at some point before the breakthrough. And, at the tipping point, what-happens-next will not be about what the world does, but what the people of the kingdom do. Taking the land is not the same as possessing the land.

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