Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God

God gave us Jonathan Edwards years ago during the time of a great awakening in America. Edwards himself has been heralded as arguably America's greatest intellectual, but it is his dedication to seeing things as God sees them that really sets him apart. He gave us an incredible work on revival entitled The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God.

RC Sproul summarizes these Marks in the following way in his book, The Spirit of Revival:

Negative Marks (those marks that are not necessarily marks of revival):

  • Bodily effects wrought by the Spirit of God upon those under his influence including the presence of tears, convulsions, jerking, laughter, etc.
  • The presence of much noise about the Christian faith
  • The stirring up of imaginations and emotions.
  • Arguments proved often from example rather than from careful reasoning during a strong visitation of the Spirit of God.
  • Rash and unconventional conduct.
  • New converts puffed up and exhibiting an overconfidence with his or her boldness.
  • The true work of God may be intermixed with errors in judgment and delusions of Satan. The enemy will counter-attack and movement of God.
  • The errors or practices that attend true revival may be gross and scandalous, but such things may be expected in any time of reformation.
  • Ministers may terrorize people by insisting on the reality of hell and the dreadful judgment of the holy law of God.

Positive Marks (those marks that indicate true revival):

  • The elevated level of people's esteem for Jesus.
  • The Holy Spirit operates against the interest of Satan's kingdom. Revival helps to check and curb sin, though it cannot eliminate it.
  • Greater regard for the Holy Scriptures.
  • The words used in addressing the opposite spirits. In other words, how people speak out against what is contrary to God's word.
  • A spirit of love to God and to man.

This summary is helpful (though for full context you need to read Edwards's complete text). At the very least, this gives a starting lens with which to see things. What is God doing? What do I see? What do I not see? Be always on the lookout for revival. Yearn for it. Trust God for it.

What if God were to move in your church, in your city, maybe even in your own heart in a new way? Why not pray for that blessing?