Spiritual Awakening and the Kingdom of God
I do not ever remember seeing the terms “Spiritual awakening” and the “Kingdom of God” mentioned together and I am not sure why.
The Kingdom of God and Spiritual awakening, terms which I will capitalize in this article, are actually inseparable. Any valid Spiritual Awakening is a moment when the Kingdom of Heaven invades the earthly realm to serve God’s ultimate purpose, which is expanding His Kingdom. I base my conclusion on scripture and personal experience.
The Kingdom of God is everything.
In Isaiah, chapter 9, the prophet speaks of the King and His Kingdom:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. And the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign over David’s throne and over his King Establishing and upholding it with judgment and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
In other words, the Kingdom of God is everything, and it is the only thing we have anything to do with that is eternal. This Kingdom will remain unshaken after everything that is shakeable is removed. Anything that is not connected with the Kingdom is temporary and subject to human instability.
As wonderful as is a time of spiritual renewal or awakening, it will prove to be of no more eternal value in the long run than its connection with the eternal Kingdom of God. Any work, which is truly of God, carries within it the seeds of the Kingdom of God. The words describing the Kingdom, “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end,” will prove true of anything connected to the Kingdom.
This is why any “renewal” or “awakening” that is not Kingdom-connected will soon suffer from forms of human corruption such as celebrity consciousness, materialism and division. Although a genuine awakening may never remain totally free from all these forms of corruption because people are involved, if the leaders will remain Kingdom-conscious and Kingdom-focused, it will lengthen the time period of that awakening in human history.
Spiritual Awakening is an invasion of the Spirit of God, a supernatural infusion of God’s life into the earth and is a tangible expression of God’s Kingdom. Spiritual Awakening exerts a powerful influence not only on individuals and people groups but on the society where it occurs. It produces the fruit of repentance and causes God’s people and those who have never known God to turn to Him forsaking their old lives.
For example, the Great Awakening in New England in the 1730’s serves as a model for more recent awakenings. Jonathan Edwards, an unpretentious, humble pastor in New England during that period, is the leader we now associate with this period of awakening. Although Edwards was somewhat devoid of pulpit excellence, the Awakening filled him with such power that when he preached his congregations often fell into deep misery and panic over their sins.
Since that time, there have been many “mini awakenings” across America and elsewhere. In the 1850’s economic instability and division had weakened America over the issue of slavery. A simple prayer meeting in the month of September of 1857 marked the beginning a great time of spiritual renewal over much of the nation prior to the Civil War.
Another prominent awakening occurred when the Holy Spirit also shook Wales in the early 1900’s. The nation was drifting from its spiritual roots when divine intervention came. As a result of the awakening, bars closed and coal miners gave up ungodliness.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Whereas Spiritual Awakening belongs to time, the Kingdom of God belongs to eternity. The ruler of the Kingdom of God is God. His domain is both heaven and the earth and its people. His “rules” govern the relationship between the King and His subjects.
The Kingdom of God is the rule of God over everything and everybody everywhere for all time and eternity. It is both present and future, now and not yet. And while it is present in time, it really belongs to eternity. It is without beginning and without end.
In all my years of relating to renewals, revivals and others venues that move toward Spiritual Awakening, I have not known of many that have continued beyond a few short months or years at most. I have also known of several cases where the revival was followed by a time of spiritual decline that brought a time of conditions worse than those existing at the time of the coming of revival.
"I knew that what I was feeling was the presence of God."
The clearest case of a Kingdom-connected move in my mind and memory is the one often referred to as the Toronto Blessing, which began in January of 1994. My frame of reference at that time was the awakening that had come to my own life and church over twenty years before as the Spirit of God swept through. Our congregation witnessed many occurrences of healings, deliverances and salvation.
So when I walked into the little building where the church was meeting at the end of a runway at the Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto, I knew that what I was feeling was the presence of God. I attended again a few months later, taking a number of friends with me.
After that, I began to respond to invitations to preach in the meetings related to the Toronto Blessing. It would be impossible for me to assess the measure of spiritual influence and blessings from this relationship across the years.
As I evaluate the Toronto Blessing, I have to say that it is still going on, with people coming to conferences from all over the world and the meetings of the saints still enjoying the benefits of the presence and anointing of God. Every time I have been there, whether as an attendee or a conference team member, I have experienced both the presence of God and the anointing of his Spirit.
When people ask me why the Toronto Blessing has continued while others have either faded or died, I believe the answer simply lies in its relationship with the Kingdom of God. It was not connected to personalities or denominations.
“When a Spiritual Awakening, ... is kept under that Kingdom and His rule; it will remain until what people talk about is no longer the awakening but the King and His Kingdom.”
Within three years of the beginning of the meetings, Toronto’s leaders held a conference whose theme was “The Kingdom of God.” In doing this, John Arnott took a step which pointed what God began in Toronto to the Kingdom of God. No celebrities arose in the midst of the movement and John and Carol Arnott, without hype or hysteria, humbly pastored this mighty work, honoring the presence of God and giving Him the glory.
They never claimed what was happening was because of them and they never took ownership. Though some strange manifestations marked the beginning days of this work, the Arnotts never felt it was necessary to take a defensive position against their critics. They simply praised the Lord for what was happening that was obviously from Him and lovingly gave the results away. For this reason there are churches and people all over the world that point back to a time within the past fifteen years when their lives were revised and redirected by what was going on in Toronto.
I know there have been significant movements that I could not mention here, and I salute these; but what God did and is doing in Toronto demonstrates for us rather clearly what happens when we experience the connection between Spiritual Awakening and the Kingdom of God.
We have seen heaven touch earth and earth touch heaven and the spiritually observant still see it.
Spiritual Awakening is God’s means to the end, which is the glory of the King and His Kingdom. Failing to understand this causes people in the movement to drift toward pride, greed and other toxic influences that extinguish revival fire until what is left is cooling ashes, the human monuments to men and movements.
This happens because without a strong Kingdom influence, an awakening can become a financial enterprise making its leaders wealthy. While I believe that a workman is worthy of his hire, there is often an inordinate amount of money connected with an awakening, particularly in our day with the ability to have worldwide media exposure.
The governing influence of God is the last guard against the greed that hovers around such gatherings of people in spiritual renewal. As we maintain a Kingdom focus, God protects what is His in order to guard it against the constant danger of corruption and decay present in us all.
If the people affected by the Awakening maintain a Kingdom focus, it will continue to resemble God’s Kingdom, which is a regime of love, an expression of the very nature of God, and it will last.
Someone has said, “God never revives a revival.” Like everything else God does, every special era, move or happening bears God’s DNA in a unique way. In other words, Gods always produces an original.
Therefore, any present or recent move of God cannot and should not be judged by a previous or ancient one.
The only certain way to evaluate it is by whether or not it exhibits God’s character.
While it is true that God never changes, His surprises are without number when it comes to His methods. We will never be able to predict Him, and if we could, it is likely that we would easily produce something similar to revival that would prove shortly to be of human flesh.
When a Spiritual Awakening, which is truly born of the Kingdom of God, is kept under that Kingdom and His rule; it will remain until what people talk about is no longer the awakening but the King and His Kingdom.