Digging the Wells Again
As you read and study what has been
written here, do not just blindly accept it. Please check the Scriptures and ask
the Holy Spirit to reveal to you His truth. The Scriptures quoted here are from
the King James' version with the words of Jesus in red.
One of the first things Abraham did after he entered into the new land which God had given him was to dig wells. These wells produced the water necessary to sustain life. After Abrahams death, the Philistines invaded that land and one of the things they did was to fill those wells with earth. For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them with earth. (Genesis 26:11)
Isaac dug again those wells his father, Abraham, had earlier dug to furnish water for his crops, livestock and people. And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their name after the names by which his father had called them. (Genesis 26:18)
Water is the major component of our physical body. We need a continuing supply of water to remain alive. Without replenishing the water in our body we soon become dehydrated, leading to physical death.
In a like manner, spiritual water is needed to sustain our life in the spirit. The most important "spiritual water" is the Word of God. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word (Ephesians 5:26) This is stated a little differently in the Contemporary English version. He made the church holy by the power of his word, and he made it pure by washing it with water.
Another important source of this "Spiritual Water" can come from those wells our forefathers dug in the past during times of revival and refreshing. Much of what the Church had during the first century has been restored, but mostly forgotten by the church today.
Martin Luther is a name remembered by most people, but few really understand what he brought back to the church. There are many God used to restore pieces of the original church who are less known. Even fewer people know what these restorations have provided for us today.
These old spiritual wells have been "filled with earth" and made useless by our failure to remember them. By digging again these old wells we can have the refreshing spiritual water so needed by many of us.
There is much we can learn by studying history. When we know what has happened in the past we then are able to avoid making the same mistakes others have made. We can also build upon the good things our forefathers discovered. These things hold true when we look at the history of the church as well as secular history.
As we read our Bible, we see that God often reminded Israel to build a memorial in remembrance of certain events. One of these was for the twelve men, selected by Joshua, to each pick up a stone out of the dry river bed they had just crossed.
And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying, Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night. Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man: And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever. (Joshua 4:1 - 7)
Memorials are a method of remembering the past. God instructed Israel to build memorials so that later generations might ask their forefathers what they were and thereby learn of their history. Digging again the spiritual wells our forefathers dug will allow us to learn about the rich inheritance God has given us. The history of what God has done through our forefathers are memorials to remind us of the many things He has done.
Martin Luther has already been mentioned as one of the forefathers God used to bring about a piece of restoration of the of the original Church. Some others of these forefathers are John Wesley and George Whitfield, anointed for outdoor preaching; George Finney and Maria Woodworth-Etter, whose anointing brought conviction to many even in the near vicinity of their meetings; George Fox, Watchman Nee, John Darby, T. Austin Sparks, Essick W. Kenyon, and A. J. Gordon, each had a rich personal relationship with God; F. F. Bosworth, John Dowie, and John Lake were endued with a great anointing for healing.
Some of the notable moves of God were the Great Awakening, The Holiness Movement, The Welsh Revival of 1904, Azusa Street of 1906-1908 and the tent healing meetings of Amy Semple-MacPherson, William Braham, Kathryn Kulhman, and Oral Roberts in the 1950's and 1960's.
The following pages provide a small "snapshot" of the history of the Church. The information written on these pages has been compiled from too many locations to be able to give individual credit for its source. It certainly is not a complete picture but perhaps enough to whet your appetite for additional information. There are many sources you can use to research this further. Libraries and the internet are two good resources to begin this search.
One thing you should keep in mind as you read the history of the Church is that most who brought new ideas or interpretation in contrast to the "tradition of man" were persecuted by the established church system. This began with the ministry of Jesus and continues even unto this present day.
The First Century (1 - 99)
The birth of the church occurred during the early part of the first century. The Mosaic Law had been handed down from one generation to another with many rules and regulations added by the Scribes and Pharisees. Scripture refers to these as "the traditions of the elders." Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? (Matthew 15:1 - 3)
Christ came to fulfill the law, not to abolish it, but was rejected by those He came to redeem. For the law was given by Moses: grace and truth subsists through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)
Some of the important people of this period who are mentioned in the Bible are the disciples: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Stephen, and Paul. Much of the New Testament is believed to have been authored by Paul. While Paul never met Christ in person, he had a very real and personal relationship with Him. The revelation of the character of Christ that Paul describes for us is worthy of our full attention that we may know Him as Paul did.
It was early in this century that persecution of the Church began. Christ and His followers, were persecuted by the established religious leaders such as Saul of Tarsus who later was converted and became the disciple Paul.
The Second, Third and Fourth Centuries (100 - 499)
John was the only disciple still living as the Church entered the second century. He had been exiled to the Isle of Patmos where he wrote what we know as the Book of Revelation. A new generation of saints was now beginning to take up the torch, carrying Christianity forward. Among these were Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna.
The Church continued to experience growth even with increased persecution and heretics bringing in false beliefs.
It was during the fourth century that Emperor Constantine made the Church the Official Religion of the Roman Empire. With this change it became beneficial to be known as a Christian. By joining the newly establishes official religion you "became a Christian" and were therefore protected by the Roman government. Many become church members but few were actual disciples of Christ.
The Fifth through Sixteenth Centuries (400 - 1599)
The Church continued to grow during these twelve hundred years but man's wisdom, rather than God's, became more prevalent in its administration. The establishment of the "Official Church of the Roman Empire" brought many pagan influences into the Church. It also brought a clergy/laity form of control by man into the Church.
Early in the seventh century an Arabian named Mohammed supposedly heard from the Angel Gabriel, who he said dictated to him the book we now know as the Koran. It is believed this is the beginning of the Muslim Religion. These Muslims, followers of Mohammed, soon spread out converting much of the then known world by the sword. If you didn't convert to their belief, they would kill you by the sword.
Martin Luther ignited a spiritual firestorm when he posted his ninety-five Theses on the church door. His complaint was about several things, especially the payment of indulgences. He desired for that corruption to be removed from the church. His protest brought about a reformation that questioned the infallibility of the Pope and general councils. In actuality, he restored the doctrine of "justification by faith." For this, the Church excommunicated him in 1521.
The Seventeenth Century (1600 - 1699)
It was during this time that King James I, of England, commissioned the translation of what we now refer to as the "King James" version of the Bible. The early years of this century also marked one of the bloodiest periods of persecution of the Church in modern times.
One of the people that God moved upon during this century was George Fox. In 1647 he heard an inner voice that told him: "There is only one, even Jesus Christ, who can speak to thy condition." George Fox called it the "Inner Light" and it became the central doctrine of a new group that he founded, known as the Society of Friends. These later were also known as Quakers. This name was applied to them because George Fox warned a judge, who was about to pronounce sentence upon him, that he should "tremble at the Word of God."
Fox spent large portions of his adult life in jail because of his teachings. Among these was the "centrality of Christ" teachings, and that ordained ministers, sacraments and church buildings were unnecessary. He also advocated that the Bible forbade oath-taking which was a primary reason for his many months in prison.
The Eighteenth Century (1700 - 1799)
This century ushered in the First Great Awakening in North America in the New England Colonies. It was part of a larger awakening taking place in England, Scotland, and Germany. A Presbyterian minister, William Tennent, and his four sons initiated this movement in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the 1730's. They were joined in this by Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield as the revival began to spread to other areas of New England.
John Wesley (1703-1791) was a preacher who was so radical that he was not allowed to preach in churches so began to preach outdoors.
Charles Wesley (1797-1788), brother to John Wesley, was also a preacher who wrote many of the great hymns of the church.
George Whitfield (1714-1770) was another preacher who like John Wesley, preached to large crowds outdoors.
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was an evangelist who also preached outdoors. He was one of the primary forces of the "Great Awakening" of the eighteenth century in New England.
John Wesley, George Whitfield and Jonathan Edwards were gifted by God with a voice that had the ability to be heard and understood by thousands of people outdoors without benefit of any form of amplification. Often the people who came to hear them preach were numbered in the thousands.
It was the preaching of George Whitfield and Jonathan Edwards that helped bring about the Holiness Movement in America in the mid1700's.
The Nineteenth Century (1800 - 1899)
John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) was educated as an attorney but then became an Anglican Priest. As he studied the Bible he realized there were areas of the Anglican church that didn't line up with scripture. After leaving the priest-hood he began to meet with some other men in the town of Plymouth, England who had similar views. This group of men became known as "The Plymouth Brethern" which later became a denomination of the same name.
David Livingstone (1813-1873) was born on March 13, 1813, in Blantyre, Scotland, where he spent the first twenty-three years of his life. His parents, who were devout Christians, played an important role in his life by introducing him to the subject of missions.
As a young man he worked in a local mill, but refused any thought of this becoming his destiny. By the time he turned twenty-one, Livingstone had accepted Christ and made up his mind to become a medical missionary.
He heard Robert Moffat, a missionary to South Africa, tell of the work going on in Kuruman. Within eighteen months, Livingstone saved enough money to continue his education. After completing medical school, he accepted a position with the London Missionary Society in South Africa. On December 8, 1840 he set sail for Kuruman.
Upon his arrival there he was disappointed by the small population of Africans living in the region. He was determined to reach a larger population. A year later, he was granted permission to move 700 miles into the African interior to establish another missionary station. Livingstone wasted no time setting things up at Mabsta.
In 1845, he returned to Kuruman where he met and married Robert Moffat's daughter, Mary. Their marriage lasted eighteen years and witnessed the birth of four children. Livingstone often took his family with him while crossing the African wilderness. Still, there were many times when they could not be together. The longest period of separation was for three years between November of 1853 and May 1856. Livingstone completed one of the most amazing journeys ever undertaken - a coast to coast venture that covered four thousand miles of unexplored land, most of which was located along the Zambezi River.
After an extended visit to England, Livingstone and his wife began their last journey together. It was during this adventure that Livingstone faced the severest trial of his life; Mary died in 1862 from complications related to African fever.
Sorrow and discouragement plagued Livingstone. He wrote this in his journal:"It was the first heavy stroke I have ever suffered and quite takes away my strength. I wept over her, who well deserved many tears. I loved her the more."
After several failed attempts to set up mission stations in the interior and along the coast, Livingstone concluded God was leading him in another direction. No European had ever ventured into North Africa. This would be his next goal and his greatest accomplishment for future missionary work. The charts and maps he left us changed the way we view Africa. "I am a missionary, heart and soul," wrote Livingstone. "God had an only Son, and He was a missionary and a physician. A poor, poor imitation of Him I am, or wish to be. In this service I hope to live; in it I wish to die." No other person has done more to further mission efforts than David Livingstone.
Marching inland in 1866, Livingstone reached Lake Nyasson on August 8 and began journeying north toward Lake Tanganyika. He wrote: "O Jesus, grant me resignation to Thy will, and entire reliance on Thy powerful hand...The cause is Thine. What an impulse will be given to the idea that Africa is not open if I perish now!..."
Livingstone was often weakened by bouts of African fever. Months rolled by and then years without the outside world knowing where he was. This is when a New York reporter, Henry Morton Stanley, accepted the challenge to "find Livingstone."
On November 10, 1871, Stanley's caravan, loaded with supplies, reached Ujiji, Africa. A thin, frail Livingstone stepped out to meet him as Stanley bowed, took off his hat, and spoke the now famous words, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume."
Livingstone was beloved and honored by the world. Yet when Stanley found him, he was weak and undernourished. The two quickly began a friendship. After Livingstone's death, it was Stanley who diligently worked to see missionaries serving in the land his friend had opened.
Death came to David Livingstone on April 30, 1873, after a long illness. His African companions reported they found him kneeling beside his bed where he had said his last earthly prayer. His body, along with his belongings - papers and maps - were transported to Bagamoyo on the coast and then sent to England, where he is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) was born in Malden, Mass., August 9, 1788 and died at sea on April 12, 1850. He was the son of a Congregational minister and a graduate of Rhode Island College. His thoughts turned to missions soon after entering Andover Seminary in 1808. He and several other Andover students petitioned the General Association of Massachusetts for advice as to how they might realize the desire to take the gospel to "the heathen." This Congregational group responded in 1810 by organizing the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The first foreign missionaries to be sent from the United States came from this organization.
Adoniram Judson married Ann Hasseltine on February 5, 1812 . Shortly thereafter they sailed for India as missionaries of the Congregational board. During the sea voyage he studied the New Testament method of baptism. After arriving in Calcutta, India in February of 1812, he and his wife were baptized by William Ward, an English Baptist missionary.
Shortly thereafter the Judson's wrote to Baptists in America to offer themselves as missionary representatives in India. In less than a year the Judson's were forced to leave India and relocate in Burma. While in Burma he began to translate the Bible into the Burmese language. In 1826 his wife, Ann, died. The work of translating the Bible took him many years but was finally completed in 1834. That year he also married his second wife, Sarah Boardman who was the widow of another missionary.
Adoniram Judson returned to America in 1845, shortly after his second wife, Sarah, died. This was the only time he was to leave the mission field. While in America he married for the third time, to Emily Chubbuck in 1846. They returned to Burma where he continued to work on a Burmese-English dictionary. He died while on a sea voyage which had been prescribed as a cure for the chronic illness that had plagued him for several years. He was buried at sea in the Bay of Bengal on April 12, 1850.
Charles Finney (1792-1875) was educated as an attorney. He left the practice of law after he became convicted of sin in his life when he was nearly thirty years of age. Charles Finney used his training as a lawyer in his ministry in the same way as he would have presented a case before a jury. Most of his evangelistic meetings were in the area of upstate New York and some of the other eastern states. It has been estimated that over 250,000 souls were converted as a result of his preaching. He is considered by many to be the most noteworthy revivalist of the nineteenth century. It is also said of him that most of those souls who were convicted of sin in their life were already church members.
D. L. Moody (1837-1899) is well known for the Moody Church and the Moody Bible Institute he founded in Chicago.
In his early adult years he worked as a clerk in a large wholesale shoe store in Chicago and became the most successful salesman there. At night he worked as a missionary among the destitute of the city. He was successful in this endeavor also and eventually devoted his full time to it by working with the YMCA of that area.
Although he was never ordained as a minister his missionary work resulted in the establishment of the Moody Church in Chicago which is still in service today. He also established the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and it is still operating today.
Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) never attended theological school but by the age of twenty-one he was the most popular preacher in London. He preached to crowds of ten thousand at Exeter Hall and the Surrey Music Hall. After the Metropolitan Tabernacle was built, thousands gathered every Sunday for over forty years to hear his lively sermons.
He also founded Sunday schools, churches, an orphanage, the Pastor's College, edited a monthly church magazine and promoted literature distribution. He denounced error both in the Church of England and among his own Baptists while also deploring the trend of the day toward Biblical criticism.
James Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) was a missionary to China who was born in England. His Christian parents had prayed, before his birth, for a son that would work for the Lord in China. That prayer was answered in 1854 after he had spent several years studying medicine and theology. He spent six years in Shanghai and Ningpo and then returned to England to work on translating the New Testament into the Ningpo dialect.
He returned to China in 1865 and remained there as a missionary until his death in 1905. During this 40 year period he worked to meet the needs of the spiritually and physically impoverished people of China. It took Hudson Taylor numerous years to come to the place where he learned to "rest in Him" where he began to realize his oneness and identity with Christ. The reality of the message Paul wrote to the Galatians finally made sense to him. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20) Unfortunately, this is a message far too many of us today have yet to comprehend and put into practice. So many of us tend to "do it all ourselves." If we could fully realize it is "Christ in us" that makes it happen we would live a much more victorious life.
William Booth (1829-1912) was born in Nottingham, England in 1829. At the age of thirteen he was put to work as an apprentice in a pawnbroker's shop to help support his mother and sisters. This experience made him fully aware of the poverty in which people lived and the degradation it caused them to endure. It was during his teenage years that he became a Christian and he spent much of his spare time trying to convince others to also become Christians.
After completing his apprenticeship he moved to London to work in another pawnbroker's shop. While in London he joined a local Methodist church and later decided to become a minister. He married Catherine Mumford in 1855 and spent several years as a Methodist minister, traveling all over, preaching and sharing God's word to all who would listen.
Later he returned to London where he resigned his position as a Methodist minister. In 1865 while he was preaching to the crowds of people on the streets of London some missionaries were so impressed that they asked him to speak at a series of meetings they were having. Those meetings were being held on an old Quaker burial ground in Whitechapel in the poor section of London's East End.
It was while he was speaking at these meetings that he realized his mission in life. He formed his own movement which he called "The Christian Mission." The early days of this new work brought tiredness and frequent bruises to his physical body from the many urchins who threw stones at him. In 1878, after many discouraging years of meager results, he changed the focus and name of the endeavor to "The Salvation Army." This new name caught the imagination of the people and the "Army" began to grow rapidly. By the end of his life, in 1912, the Salvation Army was at work in 58 different countries.
George Muller (1805-1898) is the man who was responsible for a spirit-led ministry to homeless children. His home for children operated with funding which depended totally upon the Lord to supply. George steadfastly refused to ask others to help or to even let them know of their needs. God supplied their every need. This is a real testimony of how God supplies the need of those who are following His direction.
John Alexander Dowie (1847-1907) came to America from Australia. Many miracles of healing occurred in his meetings in Chicago after he had preached the Word of God. He endured much persecution because of the healing miracles and was put in jail several times for "practicing medicine" without a license. He later founded the town of Zion, just to the north of Chicago, where every one living there was required to be a Christian. It is unfortunate that in his later years John Dowie was to begin to believe what people were saying about him being "Elijah." This led to his eventual destruction.
John G. Lake (1870-1935) was educated as an attorney. He had been divinely healed as a young man and later became a preacher of the gospel. As a young married man he and his family departed for Africa as missionaries. Africa had a requirement that people entering the country must have a certain amount of money, which John Lake did not have nor did he have any idea where the needed money would come from. He felt the Lord had instructed him to go to Africa and that He would supply the need when it was the right time.
A woman, who John Lake did not know, met him as he arrived and gave him the necessary money required for entry into Africa. She said to him that "God told me to do this for you." While in Africa, John Lake established 650 congregations, trained 1,350 preachers and added 100,000 converts to Christianity. There was also a great cost to John Lake for his time in Africa as he lost his wife to death from malnutrition while they were there. She had been sharing her meager food supply with those they were ministering to which brought about her eventual death.
In 1913 he returned to America and opened the "Divine Healing Institute" in Spokane, Washington. There he trained "healing technicians" who would pray for people to be healed. So successful was this undertaking that by 1924 there had been 100,000 documented miraculous healings recorded in just five years time. That claim was backed up by a report from the U. S. Surgeon Generals Office that said "Rev. Lake, through divine healing, has made Spokane the healthiest city in the world, according to United States statistics." During this time John Lake also established over 40 churches and missions in the United States and Canada.
T. Austin Sparks (1888-1971) was the preacher who founded Honor Oaks Baptist Church in southeast London, England. He is best known for his constant emphasis on the centrality of Christ, something he shared with many other preachers of his time. It is also something that caused him to be called a dissenter, someone who emerges outside the institutional system, bringing new things into the church. These "new things" were in evidence in the Church of the first century and had fallen by the wayside in later years. Many in the denominational institutional system still refuse to read the many books he authored.
Essick. W. Kenyon (1867-1948) was a preacher who also taught on the centrality of Christ. It was A. B. Simpson and the "Holiness Movement" of the 1890's that were the greatest influences in his life. Kenyon authored many books and manuals during his lifetime. Some of these were not published until after his death in 1948 when his daughter took control of the Kenyon Gospel Publishing House. Most of these writings taught on the subject of Christ being our healer, source, justifier, advocate with the Father, and most of all our Saviour. Many of his critics have said he was influenced by the "new age" movement. Much of this criticism is based upon the work of one individual who never actually read any of Kenyon's books. If you take the time to read his writings you will discover they teach truths firmly based upon scripture. His books will help you understand from a scriptural standpoint what Christ has purchased for us.
Fred F. Bosworth (1877-1958) as a young man moved, with his parents, to the city of Zion near Chicago that was founded by the healing evangelist John Alexander Dowie . He worked with Dowie for a number of years before embarking upon his own healing ministry.
He had great faith for healing and was able to generate that in others as he preached the Word of God. Usually, people were healed while listening to him as he preached. Seldom did he need to "lay hands" on them and pray for their healing.
F. F. Bosworth authored a book titled "Christ the Healer" which was first published in 1924 that has become a "must read" for any who desire to see divine healing in their own ministry.
He and Essick W. Kenyon were close friends who were very much like-minded in their view of Bible teaching and divine healing. In fact, Bosworth often recommend Kenyon's books to those desiring to learn more about the subject.
A. B. Simpson (1843-1919) authored over 70 books, wrote many gospel songs and poems. He also edited a weekly magazine for nearly 40 years.
He founded two evangelization societies: the Christian Alliance and the Evangelical Missionary Alliance which later were combined to become the Christian Missionary Alliance. Another of his accomplishments was the founding of the Missionary Training Institute which later became Nyack College.
A. J. Gordon (1836-1895) was a Baptist minister, educator, and author. He founded a school for training missionaries for home and foreign service to assist pastor's which later became Gordon College and its Divinity school. His book, "The Ministry of the Spirit" is a classic handbook on the Holy Spirit. It is an absolutely necessary read for any who want to enter into a deeper walk with God.
Andrew Murray (1828-1917) was born and lived most of his life in Africa. He held pastorates in several different churches but also was an itinerant evangelist. Andrew Murray is probably best known for the over 240 books he wrote. Many of these books are well known and revered writings on deepening the spiritual life of Christians.
John Dowie, John Lake, E. W. Kenyon, A. B. Simpson, A. J. Gordon, F. F. Bosworth, and Andrew Murray are all nineteenth century preachers who had significant healing and teaching ministries.
Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844-1924) was a very anointed evangelist. God used this yielded vessel as many dramatic healings of the most incurable sick occurred in her ministry. Hundreds of thousands are reported to have been saved through her ministry and there are many recorded occurrences of supernatural protection against those who tried to physically harm her.
Often the Holy Spirit would bring conviction upon sinners while they were still some distance from her meetings. There are only two other circumstances that I have been able to locate where this same phenomenon has occurred. One is during the revival in Wales with Evan Roberts in 1904. The other is with Charles Finney's ministry.
Smith Wigglesworth (1859-1947) is known for raising the dead but it is only one amazing fact of his ministry. He walked in such astounding measure of God's anointing that miraculous occurrences happened whenever he preached. He is said to have had an extraordinary teaching anointing that produced countless salvations and miracles every day.
Shyness was the one aspect of Smith Wigglesworth makeup that caused him to beg others to preach in his place at the beginning of his ministry. After he had received the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" his shyness disappeared the first time he preached after this experience. That brought 50 new converts to Christ.
The Twentieth Century (1900 - 1999)
This time period saw five major moves of God which have created much debate within the Church. Each of these has been identified as heretic or cults by their critics. There has also been wide-spread acceptance of these movements by many. The intent here is not support either view but only to make you aware they existed. It is up to you to ask God for the Holy Spirit to reveal His truth to you. These are:
1. The revivals in Wales in 1904-08 and Azusa Street in California in 10906-1908 which some have called "Pentacostalism."
2. The "Latter Rain" in the late 1940's and into the 1950's which have generated sub-movements of "Word of Faith", "Prosperity", "Manifest Sons of God", and some others.
3. The miraculous healing tent meetings of the 1950's.
4. The "Jesus People" of the 1960's 1970's, and early 1980's.
5. The charismatic movement in the 1970's,1980's and beyond.
Naturally, there were also many other smaller local moves of the Holy Spirit during this time period.
The revival in Wales began early in this century when Evan Roberts, who was a college student, was led to began praying for revival. His prayer time soon interfered with his studies so he left school and returned to his home town to hold prayer meetings in his church. These prayer meetings became more intense as others joined him as they continued to pray for revival. When revival did come it soon spread to other parts of Wales.
There were so many convicted of sin that taverns soon had to close because there were no people coming in to drink. It was reported also that the mines had to shut down because the mule skinner's language no longer included cuss words. Without the cuss words, the mules didn't understand commands to go, stop, and turn so they just stood waiting for instructions they did understand.
Among the many manifestations present during this revival was the conviction coming upon individuals who were some distance away from any meeting where there was preaching or prayer. The influence of the Holy Spirit extended far beyond the immediate area of the meeting in progress.
Azusa street was the next place where revival appeared. It began with a black preacher named William Seymour who went to Los Angeles to start a church in 1906. He rented a run-down warehouse on Azusa street and began to hold meetings. Often, he prayed and preached with a paper bag over his face. He also did not use or have a pulpit or platform in the front of the room. Occasionally, he would hide his head inside a box as he prayed or preached.
As more people began to attend his meetings and to join in the prayers, the Holy Spirit began to show up also. There were convictions, conversions, and miraculous healings occurring at regular intervals until a full-blown revival was in progress. This continued until 1908 when the meetings were taken over by others who "hung a sign with a name on it" over the door. At the same time those now in charge of the meetings installed a "platform and pulpit" and the atmosphere changed dramatically including the exodus of the Holy Spirit.
Amy Semple-McPherson (1890-1944) was an early twentieth century evangelist who later founded the Foursquare Church Denomination. She experienced a profound religious conversion at the age of 17 while attending a series of meetings held by Robert Semple in the Canadian town where she was living.
Robert Semple later asked Amy to marry him and she agreed because her desire to minister to the Lord seemed to be a perfect fit. They embarked on a missionary trip to China shortly before her twentieth birthday. Three months after arriving in China Robert's life ended in a tragic death. This left Amy with a three-month old daughter and no income so she returned to the United States. Shortly thereafter she met and married Harold McPherson and tried to settle down to a normal home life. The call to Christian service continued to lay heavily upon her heart as she became weaker and weaker from the illness that plagued her. Finally, as she was on her deathbed she said yes to God's call on her life and was almost immediately healed of her sickness.
She began to hold evangelistic meetings and tent revivals along the eastern coast of the United States. She later held meetings all over the rest of the United States and even the world. Her messages tended to show the face of a loving God rather than the "fire and brimstone" that many of her contemporaries preached. She is credited with being the first woman to preach a sermon on the radio. This new medium intrigued her so much she purchased a radio station which she used to preach from.
In 1918 God called her back to Los Angeles telling her He would build a house for her there. God not only built her a house as promised but He also built one for His people with the money Amy Semple-Mcpherson raised through her continuing to travel the country holding meetings. On January 1, 1923 the Angelus Temple was dedicated. This was a 5,300 seat facility which was filled to capacity three time each day, seven days a week to hear Amy Semple-McPherson preach. Her messages usually were summarized into four major points known as "The Foursquare Gospel." She later founded a denomination called the Foursquare Church.
Kathryn Kuhlman (1907-1976) was born on May 9, 1907 on a farm just outside Concordia, Missouri. She was saved at the age of 14 and two years later left home to travel with her sister and brother-in-law who were holding revival meetings. She traveled with them until she was 21 when she then set out on her own. Some five years later she settled down in Denver to open Colorado's highly successful Revival Tabernacle.
Her promising ministry was compromised when it was discovered that she had married a divorced man. Burroughs Waltrip was still secretly married to another woman when he first met Kathryn. He divorced his wife to be able to marry Kathryn. The concept of a preacher being married to a divorced man had a decided adverse effect upon her ministry.
She is reported to have said "I died to the flesh the day that I decided to leave Waltrip in 1944 and to put aside the desires of my heart so I could fully serve God." In 1946 she landed in Franklin, Pennsylvania where she started a popular radio program and a church. The ministry that followed included miracles, signs and wonders after personally discovering the power of the Holy Spirit and the miracle of divine healing.
In 1948 she moved to Pittsburgh where she spent the remaining years of her life. Carnegie Hall's great auditorium was filled to capacity each time she held services there. She also traveled extensively, holding "healing crusades" during the 1940's and up the 1970's. Her televised "I Believe in Miracles" programs were aired nationally during the 1960's and 1970's. She died in 1976 and is buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
William Branham (1909-1965) was born on April 6, 1909 in the hills of Kentucky. He was the first of nine children born to his parents who lived a life of deep poverty and hardship. He was considered quite odd as a young boy because of the "visions" and a "voice" which spoke to him out of a wind saying, "Don't ever drink , or smoke, or defile your body in any way. There will be work for you to do when you get older."
He came to know the Lord and was filled with the Holy Spirit in 1931, at the age of 22. This experience caused to him put Jesus Christ at the center of his existence and it became the focus of his life. A year later he was ordained to the ministry by the Missionary Baptist Church.
His life continued to be controversial because of the manifestations surrounding his ministry. As he was baptizing people in the Ohio River near Jeffersonville, Indiana a bright light suddenly appeared over his head and a voice spoke out, "As John the Baptist was sent to forerun the first coming of Jesus Christ, so are you sent to forerun His second coming!" This event was reported in the newspaper with the title "Mysterious Star Appears Over Minister While Baptizing."
In 1946, William Branham claimed to have had a "visitation of an Angel" who he said told him "that he, Branham, would travel the world with a healing ministry praying for kings and rulers." This later was fulfilled when King George VI of England and a United States congressman were healed as he prayed for them.
Some four years later a photograph of Branham, as he stood speaking to a crowd, showed the image of a "halo of fire" above his head. This was investigated by a noted expert on photography, George J. Lacy, who declared the photograph to be authentic. The original of the photo is stored in the archives at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
Throughout his life, William Branham publicly brought forth a number of prophecies and all but one of them has come to fulfillment. The one yet to be seen is "the falling of a large part of California into the Pacific ocean."
During the latter few years of his life William Branham began to imagine himself as Elijah. His life came to an end in a tragic automobile accident in 1965 caused by a drunken driver.
The life and public ministry of William Branham created much controversy over whether or not he was indeed a messenger sent by God. While some of what he preached was less than scriptural the record does reveal that many were healed during his meetings.
George R. Hawtin (1909- 1994) has often been referred to as the "Father of the Latter Rain Movement." He authored numerous articles illuminating many kingdom concepts which he published in a monthly publication entitled "The Page." These were written in a manner that made them easy to understand.
Critics of George Hawtin claim him to be responsible for several beliefs which are considered occultic such as "New Age", "Faith Movement", and the "Prosperity Movement."
Oral Roberts (1918-) was one of the pioneers of the "Tent Healing Meetings" which were held in the 1950's and 1960's. He was the fifth and last child born to his parents. His father was a pastor and his mother a one-fourth Cherokee Indian.
He was divinely healed of an incapacitating disease and from that went on to become a preacher/evangelist who is named by many as being among the spiritual giants of the twentieth century. One of his many accomplishments is the founding of Oral Roberts University.
Billy Graham (1918-) was ordained in 1939 and is probably better known than almost any other modern day evangelist. He has preached in nearly every country of the world in his crusades. He also has had audiences with most of the worlds leaders at one time or another.
Rex Humbard (1919-) is credited with being one of the pioneers to use both radio and television media, beginning in 1952, to reach a larger audience. Many others have since followed his leading in the use of media to reach remote audiences.
Reinhard Bonnke (1940-) is an evangelist who has concentrated his focus on the nations of Africa. He reports there are many thousands of conversions at each of his ministry crusades. It has been reported that a dead man lying in a coffin in the basement of the building where Bonnke was upstairs preaching suddenly began to come back to life. This account has been supported by a large number of people who claim to have personally witnessed it.
He is one of the few evangelists who report tens of thousands attending their crusades with large numbers of people being converted to Christianity.
Benny Hinn (1955-) is probably today's most watched televangelist. His programs are aired on many stations around the world every day through the use of satellite televison. His ministry is one with many supporters and also severe critics. The news media have produced several "documentary stories" on his ministry that portray the healings at his meetings as being "fake." Benny Hinn responds by saying "each healing is investigated by medical doctors and are well documented."
Throughout the history of the Church there have been those who have been critical of many of the things being experienced. The availability of rapid mass communication methods has given today's critics greater means of sending their message to more people more quickly. As a result there is a greater level of confusion among the peoples of the Church world. Today we desperately need the discernment only the Holy Spirit can provide to separate fact from fiction to arrive at what is truth.
The history of the Church is rich with people God has used to bring about the restoration of what took place in the early days of the Church. There is still much restoration needed to bring today's Church up to the glory experienced by the early believers. The Church today certainly is not the one Paul describes in Ephesians that Jesus is coming back to. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:27)
The entire fifth chapter of the book of Ephesians gives us a wonderful plan for individually becoming that glorious Church. I strongly encourage you to read and study it in whatever version you prefer. I think the Message Bible does a better job of expressing it in today's language so it is included here.
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. Don't allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, Christians have better uses for language than that. Don't talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn't fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect. You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them--the usual variations on idolatry--will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God. Don't let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don't even hang around people like that. You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You're out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true--these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it. Don't waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It's a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don't live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants. Don't drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ. Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another. Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church--a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor--since they're already "one" in marriage. No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That's how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become "one flesh." This is a huge mystery, and I don't pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.
To those who would say we are not to change or discard any of what the church is today, I say we must remember that Jesus is the same today as He was and will be. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever (Hebrews 13:8)
Therefore we ought to be studying the Bible concerning the Church during the first century to see why we are not seeing the discipleship, unity of believers, miracles and growth that occurred in the early Church. What things are we doing that we need to change? How do we restore the passion to follow Christ in the believer today?
Father, we ask for the Holy Spirit to speak to us about how we might become the Church Jesus is expecting to find when He returns. Amen
July 28, 2006
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