How big is God?
We are created beings (finite in power and understanding)
Satan is a created being of great power and beauty (finite in power but very able to deceive)
God is infinite, Maker of Heaven and Earth
Revival is when the infinite God "visits" His creation and His creation
responds in repentance to Him
Example of the infinite: Use of language and why we have glossolalia
If your vocabulary was the word "and", could you order a meal at McDonalds?
Could you order meals for three busses?
The Spirit of God helps us with language; groanings are when even language won't work.
How big are His Manifestations:
If we seek manifestations, that is what we will get: from self, from satan.
If we seek Jesus, we may get manifestations from an infinite God.
During revival, we are seeking Jesus. MORE JESUS
Seeking "revival" may be different from seeking Jesus: it may be manifestations oriented.
Do you get prayed for to get "slain in the spirit"?
Do you jump and shout because others are jumping and shouting?
Three spirits are at work here: Holy Spirit, spirit of man (self), satan
one is not wanted
one should be minimized
One is all we need
How do we judge the manifestations:
In light of scripture, yes, but there may not be a scriptural precedent:
Moses' burning bush
Balaam's talking donkey
Upper room's wind, flame and tongues
God is infinite and can do what He wants. We must apply the gifts He has given the church to ensure the manifestation is from Him: Discernment of spirits, Knowledge, Wisdom.
Paul Cain: "It is good to look for precedents in Scripture and in church history, but many of the things that God will do in the days ahead are truly unprecedented."
The Greatest Revival: 120,000 in days by Jonah preaching
Message: repent because judgment is coming (40 days) [this seems to be before 722 BC]
Result: everyone repented (sackcloth and ashes)
beasts covered with sackcloth indicating their entire life/society/commerce
He didn't want to deliver the message
He was mad when God showed mercy
Conclusion: revival is NOT dependent upon the messenger or the motives of the messenger. Revival is dependent upon repentance of the people (individually and collectively) and the visitation and mercy of God.
Affect: Nineveh was spared judgment for about 100 years (612 B.C).
Was there a manifestation?
Did the storm and the ride in the fish enter the sermon?
Did Nineveh know about it before Jonah came to town?
Was Jonah bleached white as some who have been in whales for a while, claim?
What about the vine afterward?
WAS THE SUPERNATURAL INVOLVED?
First Manifestation at/after Pentecost
Peter's first sermon: Acts 2
PRAYER MEETING: the church was meeting together for prayer and had been
"all together in one place" (Acts 2:1)
MANIFESTATION FROM GOD:
wind, flames, tongues in recognizable languages?
Spoke after he had received the filling of the Holy Spirit
Explanation of manifestations with scriptural context
Presentation and explanation of Jesus; who, what, why, when, where
people said "what must we do?"
"Repent and be baptized...so that sins may be forgiven."
AFFECT: 3000 added to the church ("for all whom the Lord our God will
call" Acts 2:39)
Were filled with the Holy Spirit in the same way as the 120.
Usually considered the beginning of the church.
Suggested supplemental reading: From Holy Laughter to Holy Fire, Michael L. Brown
What was the church like at first? What were "services" like? What was Christian life like?
Repent now--and be baptized and you will be filled with the Holy Spirit
Were there Christians that were not filled with the Holy Spirit?
Yes, but not for long.
In the early church, if you were not filled with the Holy Spirit as
evidenced by speaking in tongues, you were not considered part of "this
Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:9-24)
Apollos (Acts 18:24-26)
Were they ministering?
OUR LINK TO REVIVAL
Revival is frequently spread by individuals visiting where God is working and bringing some of that blessing back to where they live. This is how the early church spread--people traveling--apostles, deacons, business people. Wherever they went (or escaped) they worked signs and wonders and presented Jesus to people with the message of repentance: the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent.
People visited Brownsville A/G; people in contact with Hutchinson, MN, revival with Jesse Norwood; secondary contact with Argentine revival with Freidzon and Annacondia
Brownsville [June 18, 1995] several visited Airport Vineyard church, Toronto [Brenda Kilpatrick, pastor's wife; Lindell Cooley visited in April 1995]
Toronto [Jan 20, 1994] pastor visited Argentina [Claudio Freidzon, late 1993 ]; Randy Clark, St. Louis; Vineyard churches [John Wimber]; Rodney Howard-Browne; Benny Hinn
Vineyard churches: Founded by John Wimber, 1981, who after becoming a Christian, visited a church and finally asked when they were going to do the stuff (signs and wonders). Taught classes on Signs and Wonders for Fuller Seminary. New pentecostal experience considered to be the third wave. Vineyard has had powerful prophetic ministry. Has produced:
Music (much of the contemporary praise choruses)
Cooley (Brownsville) introduced Vineyard music just weeks before revival broke June 1995. "I was scheduled to return to the Ukraine for a short missions trip in June, but before I left I began to teach the worship team, the choir, and the music team some Vineyard worship choruses. I had done away with most of the hard-driving, lively praise songs I favored before." pg 120, A Touch of Glory
Scholarly Books about the pentecostal experience, practice, and history
Argentina : A new surge of spiritual power with Claudio Freidzon; preceded by Carlos Annacondia (business man) [1980s] mass crusades; 3 million conversions in 12 years; half a prison supports the revival with constant prayer--1500 inmates.
Rodney Howard-Browne Evangelist from South Africa. April 1989, Clifton Park, NY, revival initially breaks out.
Fuller Seminary C. Peter Wagner, evangelical, as missionary in Bolivia, discovered that only the Pentecostals had the power needed to combat the pagan religions. Invited John Wimber to teach.
Pentecost visited by Individuals that experienced Azusa revival 1906; late-nite cottage prayer meetings with Evangelist Mrs. McGill in 1913; trips to Duluth for revival meetings.
This group of pentecostals organized into a church, but the corrupt leadership 60 years later asked the founders to leave under questionable circumstances and it was prohesied "Ichabod" over the doors. In the 1990s, Holy Spirit again moved with contemporary revival, but the even newer leadership stopped the move of God and supported the licentious errors of Thyatira, forcing all members of more than three years out of the church. Some of those forced out have started a new work associated with another pentecostal fellowship of ministers. Some of them have history linked directly to the McGill meetings.Menzies and Linquist meetings in local area. Founders of pentecostal church  joined Assemblies of God Denomination [formed 1914].
Assemblies of God  came out of William Durham (Chicago) [progressive sanctification] [1910; Church of God in Christ (COGIC) Mason; Azusa revival 
Church of God in Christ [before 1906] came out of Holiness movement; changed because of Azusa; Mason (COGIC), Seymour (Azusa), Parham (Topeka) 
Holiness movement [1865...] came out of Methodism
Methodism [mid 1700] came out of Anglicanism
Anglicanism came out of Roman Catholicism
Roman Catholicism traceable Apostle Peter
Supplemental reading: A Touch of Glory, Lindell Cooley, Revival
Press, Destiny Image Publishing
An infinite God is capable of doing anything He wants.
What did Jesus do? What did He tell us to do? [John 14:12]
The first "pentecostals" in the modern sense appeared on the scene in 1901 in the city of Topeka, Kansas in a Bible school conducted by Charles Fox Parham, a holiness teacher and former Methodist pastor. In spite of controversy over the origins and timing of Parham's emphasis on glossolalia, all historians agree that the movement began during the first days of 1901 just as the world entered the Twentieth Century. The first person to be baptized in the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues was Agnes Ozman, one of Parham's Bible School students, who spoke in tongues on the very first day of the new century, January 1, 1901. According to J. Roswell Flower, the founding Secretary of the Assemblies of God, Ozman's experience was the "touch felt round the world," an event which " made the Pentecostal Movement of the Twentieth Century."
It was not until 1906, however, that pentecostalism achieved worldwide attention through the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles led by the African-American preacher William Joseph Seymour. He learned about the tongues-attested baptism in a Bible School that Parham conducted in Houston, Texas in 1905. Invited to pastor a Black holiness church in Los Angeles in 1906. Seymour opened the historic meeting in April, 1906 in a former African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church building at 312 Azusa Street in downtown Los Angeles.
What happened at Azusa Street has fascinated church historians for decades and has yet to be fully understood and explained. For over three years, the Azusa Street "Apostolic Faith mission" conducted three services a day, seven days a week, where thousands of seekers received the tongues baptism. Word of the revival was spread abroad through The Apostolic Faith, a paper that Seymour sent free of charge to some 50,000 subscribers. From Azusa Street pentecostalism spread rapidly around the world and began its advance toward becoming a major force in Christendom.
The Azusa Street movement seems to have been a merger of White American Holiness religion with worship styles derived from the African-American Christian tradition which had developed since the days of chattel slavery in the South. The expressive worship and praise at Azusa Street, which included shouting and dancing, had been common among Appalachian Whites as well as Southern Blacks. The admixture of tongues and other charisms with Black music and worship styles created a new and indigenous form of pentecostalism that was to prove extremely attractive to disinherited and deprived people, both in America and other nations of the world.
The interracial aspects of the movement in Los Angeles was a striking exception to the racism and segregation of the times. The phenomenon of Blacks and Whites worshiping together under a Black astor seemed incredible to many observers. The ethos of the meeting was captured by Frank Bartleman, a White Azusa participant, when he said of Azusa Street, "The color line was washed away in the blood." Indeed, people from all the ethnic minorities of Los Angeles, a city which Bartleman called "the American Jerusalem," were represented at Azusa Steet.
The place of William Seymour as an important religious leader now seems to be assured. As early as 1972 Sidney Ahlstrom, the noted church historian from Yale University, said that Seymour was "the most influential black leader in American religious history." Seymour, along with Charles Parham, could well be called the "co-founders" of world pentecostalism.
Agnes Ozman spoke in tongues on January 1, 1901. Parham year end revival meetings
Parham established the "initial evidence of tongues" concept
Seymour accepted and learned by sitting in the hall (segregation)
Azusa Street; interracial visitation
Church of God in Christ, formed by Mason who accepted Azusa style of worship
Assemblies of God, resulted from progressive sanctification doctrine and desire for white pentecostal credentials
World Bible Way Fellowship resulted from the need for restoration of various ministers from several denominations.
Section 1. Reminder of What's First
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in
your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it
is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your
mouth that you confess and are saved.
Hub with spokes; geographic locations; "as you go" mentality
Supernatural manifestations; visitation of God
Extreme conviction; spreads in unusual ways
Imminent return of Jesus emphasized
Impacts the entire community
Unity of churches (for whom do we pray?)
New music and worship
Sometimes a "champion" however, it all comes from Jesus
VOLUME FOUR \ JOURNAL FROM SEPTEMBER 4, 1782, TO JUNE 28, 1786. \ Page 329
It is chiefly among these enormous mountains that so many have been awakened, justified, and soon after perfected in love; but even while they are full of love, Satan strives to push many of them to extravagance. This appears in several instances: -- 1. Frequently three or four, yea, ten or twelve, pray aloud all together. 2. Some of them, perhaps many, scream all together as loud as they possibly can. 3. Some of them use improper, yea, indecent, expressions in prayer. 4. Several drop down as dead; and are as stiff as a corpse; but in a while they start up, and cry, "Glory! glory!" perhaps twenty times together. Just so do the French Prophets, and very lately the Jumpers in Wales, bring the real work into contempt. Yet whenever we reprove them, it should be in the most mild and gentle manner possible. nothing higher in religion; there is, in effect, nothing else; if you look for anything but more love, you are looking wide of the mark, you are getting out of the royal way. And when you are asking others, 'Have you received this or that blessing?' if you mean anything but more love, you mean wrong; you are leading them out of the way, and putting them upon a false scent. Settle it then in your heart, that from the moment God has saved you from all sin, you are to aim at nothing more, but more of that love described in the thirteenth of the Corinthians. You can go no higher than this, till you are carried into Abraham's bosom.
VOLUME ONE \ JOURNAL FROM NOVEMBER 1, 1739, TO SEPTEMBER 3, 1741. \ Page 271-272
Fri. 9. I was a little surprised at some, who were buffeted of Satan in an unusual manner, by such a spirit of laughter as they could in no wise resist, though it was pain and grief unto them. I could scarce have believed the account they gave me, had I not known the same thing ten or eleven years ago. Part of Sunday my brother and I then used to spend in walking in the meadows
and singing psalms. But one day, just as we were beginning to sing, he burst out into a loud laughter.
VOLUME ONE \ JOURNAL FROM NOVEMBER 1, 1739, TO SEPTEMBER 3, 1741. \ Page272-273
Wed. 21. In the evening such a spirit of laughter was among us, that many were much offended. But the attention of all was fixed on poor L-a S-, whom we all knew to be no dissembler. One so violently and variously torn of the evil one did I never see before. Sometimes she laughed till almost strangled; then broke out into cursing and blaspheming; then stamped and struggled
with incredible strength, so that four or five could scarce hold her: Then cried out, "O eternity, eternity! O that I had no soul! O that I had never been born!" At last she faintly called on Christ to help her. And the violence of her pangs ceased. Most of our brethren and sisters were now fully convinced, that those who were under this strange temptation could not help it. Only E-th B-and Anne H-n were of another mind; being still sure, any one might help laughing if she would. This they declared to many on Thursday; but on Friday, 23, God suffered Satan to teach them better. Both of them were suddenly seized in the same manner as the rest, and laughed whether they would or no, almost without ceasing. Thus they continued for two days, a spectacle to all; and were then, upon prayer made for them, delivered in a moment. Mon. 26. S-a Ha-g, after she had calmly rejoiced several days, in the midst of violent pain, found at once a return of ease, and health, and strength; and arose and went to her common business.
VOLUME THREE \ JOURNAL FROM OCTOBER 29, 1762, TO MAY 25, 1765. \ Page 144-145
Mr. Evans now gave me an account from his own knowledge, of what has made a great noise in Wales: --- "It is common in the congregations, attended by Mr. W. W., and one or two other Clergymen, after the preaching is over, for any one that has a mind, to give out a verse of an hymn. This they sing over and over with all their might, perhaps above thirty, yea, forty times.
Meanwhile the bodies of two or three, sometimes ten or twelve are violently agitated; and they leap up and down, in all manner of postures, frequently for hours together." I think, there needs no great penetration to understand this. They are honest, upright men, who really feel the love of God in their hearts. But they have little experience, either of the ways of God, or the
devices of Satan. So he serves himself of their simplicity, in order to wear them out, and to bring a discredit on the work of God.
VOLUME FIVE \ THE LIFE OF THE REV. JOHN WESLEY \ Page 514 - 515
The extraordinary manner in which some persons were frequently affected under Mr. Wesley's preaching, as well as that of his coadjutors, now created much discussion, and to many gave great offence. Some were seized with trembling, under a painful conviction of sin; others sunk down and uttered loud and piercing cries; and others fell into a kind of agony. In some instances, while prayer was offered for them, they rose up with a sudden change of feeling, and testified that they had "redemption through the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." Mr. Samuel Wesley, who denied the possibility of attaining to a knowledge of the forgiveness of sins, treated these things, in a correspondence with his brother, alternately with sarcasm and serious severity, and particularly attacked the doctrine of assurance. In this controversy, Mr. John Wesley attaches no weight whatever to these outward agitations; but contends that he is bound to believe the profession of an inward change made by many, who had been so affected, because that had been confirmed by their subsequent conduct and spirit.
Although the Pentecostal movement had its beginnings in the United States,
it owed much of its basic theology to earlier British perfectionistic and
charismatic movements. At least three of these, the Methodist/Holiness
movement, the Catholic Apostolic movement of Edward Irving, and the British
Keswick "Higher Life" movement prepared the way for what appeared to be
a spontaneous outpouring of the Holy Spirit in America.
Perhaps the most important immediate precursor to pentecostalism was the Holiness movement which issued from the heart of Methodism at the end of the Nineteenth Century. From John Wesley, the Pentecostals inherited the idea of a subsequent crisis experience variously called "entire sanctification,"" perfect love," "Christian perfection", or "heart purity". It was John Wesley who posited such a possibility in his influential tract, A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (1766). It was from Wesley that the Holiness Movement developed the theology of a "second blessing." It was Wesley's colleague, John Fletcher, however, who first called this second blessing a "baptism in the Holy Spirit," an experience which brought spiritual power to the recipient as well as inner cleansing.
This was explained in his major work, Checks to Antinominianism (1771). During the Nineteenth Century, thousands of Methodists claimed to receive this experience, although no one at the time saw any connection with this spirituality and speaking in tongues or any of the other charisms.
In the following century, Edward Irving and his friends in London suggested the possibility of a restoration of the charisms in the modern church. A popular Presbyterian pastor in London, Irving led the first attempt at "charismatic renewal" in his Regents Square Presbyterian Church in 1831.
Although tongues and prophecies were experienced in his church, Irving was not successful in his quest for a restoration of New Testament Christianity. In the end, the "Catholic Apostolic Church " which was founded by his followers, attempted to restore the "five-fold ministries" (of Apostles, Prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers) in addition to the charisms. While his movement failed in England, Irving did succeed in pointing to glossolalia as the "standing sign" of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, a major facet in the future theology of the Pentecostals.
Another predecessor to Pentecostalism was the Keswick "Higher Life" movement which flourished in England after 1875. Led at first by American holiness teachers such as Hannah Whitall Smith and William E. Boardman, the Keswick teachers soon changed the goal and content of the "second blessing" from the Wesleyan emphasis on "heart purity" to that of an "enduement of spiritual power for service." Thus, by the time of the Pentecostal outbreak in America in 1901, there had been at least a century of movements emphasizing a second blessing called the "baptism in the Holy Spirit" with various interpretations concerning the content and results of the experience. In America, such Keswick teachers as A.B. Simpson and A.J. Gordon also added to the movement at large an emphasis on divine healing "as in the atonement" and the premillenial rapture of the church.
ACTION ON EARTH (INTERCESSION)
RESULTS IN ACTION OF GOD (WILL IN HEAVEN)
RESULTS IN ACTION ON EARTH (WILL ON EARTH)
Elisha lying on dead person
Brownsville intercessors did same to prayer requests
2-3 weeks later, Kilpatrick did same thing.
Jonathan Putman's car won't start; he prays for it; nothing happens; he asks God; God says," Do you believe that you car is healed even if it doesn't start?" They jumped the car and it started every day after that until they brought it in to be worked on. The mechanic informed them that the car couldn't start because there were no brushes in the motor.
A car of worshipers passes an imaginary red line on a road and the glory falls on them.
Moses arms get weary and the war goes the wrong way. The arms are held up and the war goes fine.
A person picks up the phone and is knocked across the room with the power of God; gets saved; and is impressed that God would select him for some great work or something. God tells him later, "no, a lady was worshipping me so much that I asked her what she wanted and she said, Wayne." It had nothing to do with you.
A couple wanted this lady to come to revival--her husband resisted. After much, they were successful and learned about praising Jesus. They tried it on the way back home with the request for the husband. The resistant husband's words, " I was in the garage minding my own business when the power of God came over me."
Jesus to apostles, "Could you not pray with me one hour?"
Man told to go to Berlin Wall and say, "In the name of Jesus come down." Months later it did.
More people have been saved in the last ten years than all of the rest of history.
PRAYER AND FASTING facilitates our being able to handle what God wants
WHAT HAPPENS TO ISRAEL IS A SIGN OF SOMETHING IN THE CHURCH
1880s small group of Jews go to Israel to live, they couldn't make it and left
1880s, small town in Russia receives pentecostal experience, it is limited and doesn't last
1900s Jews immigrate to Israel--these are founding fathers such as Ben Gurian family
1900s to 1906 --new pentecost, spreads to world in short time; Azusa
1930s More Jews immigrate to Israel
1947-8 and following; Jewish migration to Israel, Israel becomes a nation again with Hebrew language.
1950s Healing revivals, Billy Graham crusades
1967-6 day war, new land taken
1967 and later- style of worship changes to praise choruses; charismatics; Jesus people
1982 invasion into Lebanon against PLO
1980s Prayer movement and aggressive prayer for complete cities
Romans 11:13-15 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
During the long years of Roman Catholic domination, things became progressively less biblical and more mystical, with the common people sunk into either traditions or superstitions. Without the plain teaching of the Bible to keep them straight, religious people sought ways to find God that conformed to the Church's dogma but introduced at least some form of personal release from sin and shame. It was a situation absolutely wide open for gnosticism, for firstly the hermits, then the monks and nuns of the middle ages spent hours in meditation seeking enlightenment. They practised mortification of the flesh, trying to spiritualise their existence by retreating from the world.
Teresa of Avila (1515-82)
This well-known and now rediscovered lady was the Spanish founder of the religious order of the Barefoot Carmelites. In 1555, after many years marked by serious illness and increasingly rigorous religious exercises, she experienced a profound awakening, involving visions of Jesus Christ, hell, angels, and demons. This eventually involved a "mystic Sacred Marriage" in which Teresa experienced divine union with Jesus, (as she believed) with blissful sensations, manifestations, levitation, and trances. Teresa of Avila is now being promoted through the Toronto movement as an example of one who experienced manifestations of the Spirit, though it is much more likely that she fell in love with a deceiving spirit. Teresa never abandoned the teachings of the Catholic Church.
John of The Cross, (1542-91)
St. John was a Spanish mystic and poet. He experienced what he felt was an awakening of the spirit by renunciation of the world and flesh. He, like Teresa, thought he had achieved "Union with the Divine". The themes of his poetry concentrate on the reconciliation of human beings with God through a series of mystical steps that begin with self-communion, and renunciation of the distractions of the world. One of his books was called: "Living Flame of Love".
The French Prophets or Camisards of 17th and 18th Centuries
The Camisards (from the French dialect word camisa, "shirt"), was a name applied to the French Huguenot (Protestant) peasants of the Cévennes mountain region of France who rose in rebellion in 1702 against King Louis 14th. The Camisards, so called because of the black smocks they wore during night raids, had sought refuge in the Cévennes after Louis 14th in 1685 had revoked the religious freedom granted to them by the Edict of Nantes. Though not all were violent, a portion of the Camisards conducted guerrilla warfare from mountain strongholds against the royal troops. Roman Catholic churches were burned, and their priests were killed or forced to flee.
However, they saw themselves as a prophetic group, a millennial manifestation, bringing in the kingdom of God on earth. They experienced many spiritual manifestations similar to the Toronto believers. Here is a description of their prophetic power:
"The first occurrence [of revolt] grew out of the prophetic utterance of a ten year old girl...she called for repentance...soon children all over the Cevennes were seized by the spirit and prophesied. Children as young as three were known to have exhorted the people in religious discourses. Adults, too, were seized by the spirit and spoke in tongues - their physical actions were quite excessive. They fell backwards with the body extended at full length on the ground, their bodies went through contortions including heaving of the chest and inflation of the stomach - afterwards they would prophesy, exhorting the people to repent and denounce the RC Church"
This sounds familiar to us. The manifestations are identical to those seen under the Toronto spirit. Was this of God? Plainly not. For all the exhortations to denounce the Catholic Church, the result was to stir up rebellion, armed warfare and bloodshed. Hardly the work of the true Spirit of God.
The book "Occult Theocracy" by Lady Queenborough quotes sources who call the Camisards "theomaniacs" and says:
"It is certain that all the armed troops never took to the field except at the instance of some inspired celebrity. And it is certain that the words of the prophets were listened to as if they had emanated from the mouth of the Holy Spirit; that the inspirations from them habitually decided either the life or death of the Catholics who fell into their power"
This means, the spirit motivating the inspired prophets decided your fate according to prophecy! If you were a Catholic, this spirit could inspire somebody to kill you! The above account goes on to state that the same person would be both a prophet and an army commander.
The Camisards were early "Restorationists". They believed the Church would be triumphant over the world system and would reign in power in the endtimes. They were calling in their prophecies for Christians to rise up like a mighty man and to defeat their enemies, in their case by killing the priests and burning down their churches! They felt they had a right to do that. They believed God have given them the authority to defeat their enemies! This is a sort of Liberation Theology that you see in Africa today. It's OK to kill people as long as it's in a good cause.
The group known to us as the Shakers was influenced both by the Quakers and the Camisards. They give us a good example of a group who had plenty of physicaland spiritual manifestations, but entirely the wrong doctrine! They were led by Mother Ann Lee, who. believed she was the second coming of Christ as a female principle.
The Shakers began as a sect first heard of about 1750 in Great Britain. They were then called the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Coming. The first leaders were ex-Quakers James Wardley (or Wardlaw), a tailor, and Jane his wife, dropouts from the Society of Friends who had come under the influence of the"French Prophets." (The Camisards)
In 1774, Ann Lee of Manchester, England, introduced the sect in the United States, having been influenced by both the Quakers and the Camisards. She was known as Mother Ann Lee to her followers. She taught that the Church was in the endtimes; the gifts of the Spirit were being restored; and she had been sent by God to set up a millennial rule, which would lead to Christian perfection.
The group organised themselves into close communities that held property in common, practised asceticism, and honoured celibacy above marriage. (Gnostic beliefs)
They experienced tongues, healing, visions, prophecies, and all sort of manifestations. However, as can be seen from their beliefs, they were heretical. (It is interesting to note how many times throughout history a deceiving spirit has tried to introduce the ideas of restoration to an earthly millennial perfectionism.)
The Friends were the followers of George Fox, an English lay preacher who in about 1647 began to preach the doctrine of "Christ within"; this concept later developed as the idea of the "inner light." (It was not just Christ!).Quakers thought that the Divine Spark of God exists in everyone. Thus all persons may receive revelation if they try.
Quaker meetings are intended to help members to feel God's presence as a guiding spirit in their lives, not to read the Word. Early Quakers also experienced spiritual manifestations, which is how they got their name. They shook as the spirit of revelation hit them. Quakers like many other gnostic cults practised withdrawal from this evil world (asceticism) and they emphasised simplicity in dress, manners, and speech.
WIMBER AND SPIRIT VERSUS WORD:
John Wimber came from Quakerism. Is this why he has traces of the belief in the supremacy of the inner revelation over and above the written word? In his book,"Power Evangelism", Wimber explains:
"God uses our experiences to show us more fully what He teaches us in scripture, many times toppling or altering elements of our theology and world view".
From "Testing The Fruit Of The Vineyard" By John Goodwin, Former Pastor of Calvary Chapel San Jose , who travelled extensively with John Wimber:
It is a common statement of Wimber's that "God is greater than His word" This means two things. First, that there is essential truth in extra-biblical sources, and secondly that the phenomena experienced by attendees of Vineyard seminars and church services do not need to be validated by Scripture. They could, according to Wimber, contradict God's Word and still be "from the Lord"(3). A fact sheet on the Vineyard, published by Christian Research Institute (CRI)states:
"There appears to be little emphasis on teaching the Bible per se. This lack stands in contrast to the very strong Bible teaching at Calvary Chapel, a church with which The Vineyard was once associated . . .. While Bible teaching is not emphasized enough, the role of experience in the Christian life appears to be somewhat over-emphasized. People in the Vineyard frequently seem to be willing to allow their spiritual experiences to be self-authenticating".
My design [for this book] ... is to show what are the true, certain, and distinguishing evidences of a work of the Spirit of God, by which we may safely proceed in judging of any operation we find in ourselves, or see in others. And here I would observe, that we are to take the Scriptures as our guide in such cases.
Section I - Negative Signs; or, What are no signs by which we are to judge of a work - and especially,
What are no evidences that a work is not from the Spirit of God. (This is a confusing use of double negatives. I believe that for cultural reasons, Edwards wanted to avoid using a positive statement to describe the outward manifestations that he saw in the revival he was a part of. Ed.)
I. Nothing can be certainly concluded from this, That a work is carried on in a way very unusual and extraordinary; provided the variety or differences be such, as may still be comprehended within the limits of Scripture rules. What the body of Messiah has been used to, is not a rule by which we are to judge; because there may be new and extraordinary works of God He has brought to pass new things, strange works; and has wrought in such a manner as to surprise both men and angels. And as God has done thus in times past, so we have no reason to think but that he will do so still. The prophecies of Scripture give us reason to think that God has things to accomplish, which have never yet been seen.
... Therefore it is not reasonable to determine that a work is not from God's Holy Spirit because of the extraordinary degree in which the minds of persons are influenced. If they seem to have an extraordinary conviction of the dreadful nature of sin ... or extraordinary views of the certainty and glory of divine things, - and are proportionably moved [with] ... fear and sorrow, desire, love, or joy: or if the apparent change be very sudden, and the work be carried on with very unusual swiftness - and the persons affected are very numerous, and many of them are very young ... these things are no argument that the work is not of the Spirit of God.
... There is a great aptness in persons to doubt of things that are strange; ... [things] which they have never been used to in their day, and have not heard of in the days of their fathers. But if [this] be a good argument that a work is not from the Spirit of God [since] it is very unusual [then what about] ... the apostles' days. The work of the Spirit the, was carried on in a manner that, in very many respects, was altogether new; such as never had been seen since the world stood.
... And we have reason from Scripture prophecy to suppose, that at the commencement of that last and greatest outpouring of the Spirit of God, that is to be in the latter ages of the world, the manner of the work will be very extraordinary, and such as never has yet been seen ...
II. A work is not to be judged of by any effects on the bodies of men; such as tears, trembling, groans, loud outcries, agonies of body, or the failing of bodily strength. The influence persons are under is not to be judged of one way or other by such effects on the body; and the reason is because the Scriptures nowhere give us any such rule. We cannot conclude that persons are under the influence of the true Spirit ... nor on the other hand, have we any reason to conclude ... that persons are not under the Spirit of God ...
III. It is no argument that an operation on the minds of people is not the work of the Spirit of God that it occasions a great deal of noise about religion. (This point reflects Edward's era. Because people were boldly speaking about what happened to them, some suggested that in a true work of the Spirit they'd be quieter. Ed )
IV. It is no argument that an operation on the minds of a people is not the work of the Spirit of God that many who are the subjects of it have great impressions made on their imaginations. That persons have many impressions on their imaginations does not prove that they have nothing else. It is easy to be accounted for, that ... a people, where a great multitude of all kinds of constitutions have their minds engaged with intense thought and strong [emotions] about invisible things; yea it would be strange if there should not.
... It is no argument that a work is not of the Spirit of God that some who are the subjects of it have been in a kind of ecstasy and a kind of visions, as though they were rapt up even to heaven and there saw glorious sights.
V. It is no sign that a work is not from the Spirit of God that example is a great means of it ... [or] that means are used in producing it; for we know that it is God's manner to make use of means in carrying on his work in the world ... (What Edwards is talking about here is the use of human means to facilitate the works of revival. God has made it this way. He uses human preachers, teachers, workers, and intercessors in any work among the body of Messiah and in work among those who don't know him. Ed.)
VI. It is no sign that a work is not from the Spirit of God that many who seem to be the subjects of it are guilty of great impudences and irregularities of their conduct. We are to consider that the end for which God pours out his Spirit is to make men holy, not to makethem politicians. It is no wonder that in a mixed multitude of all sorts - wise and unwise, young and old, of weak and strong natural abilities, under strong impressions of mind - there are many who behave themselves imprudently... A thousand imprudences will not prove a work to be not of the Spirit of God ... . We have a remarkable instance in the New Testament of a people that partook largely of that great effusion of the Spirit in the apostles' days, among whom there nevertheless abounded imprudences and great irregularities; viz., the church in Corinth.
... It is no evidence that a work is not of God if many who are either the subjects or the instruments of it are guilty of too great forwardness to censure others as unconverted. For this may be through mistakes they have embraced concerning the marks by which they are to judge of the hypocrisy and carnality of others; or from not duly apprehending that latitude the Spirit of God uses in the methods of his operations; or from want of making due allowance for that infirmity and corruption that may be left in the hearts of saints; as well as through [not realizing] their own blindness and weakness, and remaining corruption, [and] ... spiritual pride ... (Here Edwards admits that in a revival, people might get out of hand and operate in the flesh. Though he understands that this can have a negative effect, he suggests that one can't use it to judge whether there's a move of God's Spirit. Ed.)
VII. And if many delusions of Satan appear, at the same time that a great religious concern prevails, it is not an argument that the work in general is not the Work of God, any more than it was an argument in Egypt, that there were no true miracles wrought there, by the hand of God, because Jannes and Jambres wrought false miracles at the same time by the hand of the devil.
VIII. If some, who were thought to be wrought upon, fall away into gross errors, or scandalous practices, it is no argument that the work in general is not the work of the Spirit of God. That there are some counterfeits is no argument that nothing is true: such things are always expected in a time of reformation. If we look into church history, we shall find no instance of any great revival of religion, but what has been attended with many such things.
IX. It is no argument that a work is not from the Spirit of God that it seems to be promoted by ministers insisting very much on the terrors of God's holy law, and that with a great deal of pathos and earnestness. (It seems that a characteristic of this particular revival was the preaching of a strong message about Hell. This must have been different from the norm of the time and aroused attention. In most revivals there will be criticism that something is deficient or over-emphasized in the teaching associated with it. Ed.)
Section II - What are the distinguishing Scripture evidences of a work of the Spirit of God?
I. When the operation is such as to raise their esteem of that Yeshua ... [and] seems more to confirm and establish their minds in the truth of what the gospel declares to us of his being the Son of God, and the Savior of men; it is a sure sign that it is from the Spirit of God. This sign the apostle gives us ... , "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God; and every spirit that confesseth that Yeshua the Messiah is come in the flesh is of God ..." ... So that if the spirit that is work among a people is plainly observed to work so as to convince them of Messiah, and lead them to him - to confirm their minds in the belief of the history of Messiah as he appeared in the flesh - and that he is the Son of God, and was sent of God to save sinners; that he is the only Savior, and that they stand in great need of him; and if it seems to beget in them higher and more honorable thoughts of him than they used to have, and incline their affections more to him; it is a sure sign that it is the true and right Spirit ...
II. When the spirit that is at work operates against the interests of Satan's kingdom, which lies in encouraging and establishing sin, and cherishing men's worldly lusts; this is a sure sign that it is a true, and not a false spirit... So we may safely determine, from what the apostle says that the spirit that is work amongst a people after such a manner as to lessen men's esteem of the pleasures, profits, and honors of the world, and to take off their hearts from an eager pursuit after these things; and to engage them in a deep concern about a future state and eternal happiness which the gospel reveals, and puts them upon earnestly seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness ... must ... be the Spirit of God. It is not supposed that Satan would convince men of sin, and awaken the conscience; it can no way serve his end to make that candle of the Lord shine the brighter, and to open the mouth ... of God in the soul. It is for his interest, whatever he does, to lull asleep, and keep it quiet.
III. The spirit that operates in such a manner as to cause in men a greater regard to the Holy Scriptures, and establishes them more in their truth and divinity is certainly the Spirit of God... Would the spirit of error, in order to deceive men, beget in them a high opinion of the infallible rule, and incline them to think much of it, and be very conversant with it? Would the prince of darkness, in order to promote his kingdom of darkness, lead men to the sun [when he] has ever shown a mortal spite and hatred towards [the] Bible ...?
IV. If the spirit that is at work among a people operates as a spirit of love to God and man, it is a sure sign that it is the Spirit of God... There is a counterfeit love that often appears among those who are led by a spirit of delusion ... arising from self-love, occasioned by their agreeing in those things wherein they greatly differ from all others, and from which they are objects of ridicule of all the rest of mankind. ... The surest character of the true divine supernatural love - distinguishing it from counterfeits that arise from a natural self-love - is that the Christian virtue of humility shines in it; that which above all renounces, abases, and annihilates what we term self... When, therefore, we see love in persons attended with a sense of their own littleness, vileness, weakness, and utter insufficiency; and so with self-diffidence, self-emptiness, self-renunciation, and poverty of spirit; these are the manifest tokens of the Spirit of God.
... We may be sure that these marks are especially adapted to distinguish between the true Spirit and [Satan] transformed into an "angel of light," because they are given especially for that end; that is the apostle's declared purpose and design, to give marks by which the true Spirit may be distinguished from that sort of counterfeits.
How did Lutheranism Originate?
Lutheranism originated when Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk and Professor of Theology at Wittenburg University, began to raise his voice against many of the religious abuses of the Roman Catholic Church of his day. On October 31, 1517, Luther posted his "95 Theses" to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany. These 95 Theses were an invitation to debate the practice of the sale of indulgences which were certificates which could be purchased to forgive sin or reduce the time a soul had to stay in purgatory. Luther had learned from his study of scripture that forgiveness of sin could not be purchased nor could it be earned through the performance of meritious works. Full forgiveness of sin came only through faith in the mercy of God revealed in Christ Jesus. This central idea led Luther to criticize many of the teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.
Luther, despite his theological disagreements, was a devote Roman Catholic priest who loved the church and had no intention of separating from it. He only intended a reform of the existing abuses. However, when he was excommunicated by the Pope for his writings and teachings, his break with the Roman Catholic Church was inevitable.
What Distinguishes Lutherans from other Protestant Groups?
You don't hear Lutherans say, "It doesn't matter what you believe, just so you live right." Lutherans think that a way of living is a by-product of a way of believing.
Since Lutheranism developed from Luther's intense experience of salvation through faith, it has been marked by concern for faith as the essential part of religion. So Lutherans, more than most of the other Protestants, emphasize doctrine. They insist on unusually thorough education of their pastors and require young people to engage in a long period of study of the Lutheran Catechism before being admitted to full Church membership.
Lutherans do not stress prohibitions or blue laws. They think of the Christian life as a grateful response to a loving Father rather than as obedience to a stern monarch. Such life should achieve a high ethical level without emphasis on rules and regulations. In this, Lutheranism is sharply different from some other forms of Protestantism.
Since Luther had been an ardent Roman Catholic before his excommunication, he was less drastic than some later reformers in abandoning Catholic forms of worship. These are retained among Lutherans in a simplified form.
Lutherans observe the festivals and seasons of the historic Church year. In their Churches, they have the altar, cross, candles, vestments, and other equipment of worship that most other forms of Protestants discard as "too Catholic." Lutherans believe that these forms of liturgy are not required but are valuable because of their beauty and because, through them, we share in the experiences of the family of Christian worshipers of all ages. Lutheran music is world famous, especially the compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Presbyterianism is the form of church government in which elders, both lay people and ministers, govern. The name derives from the Greek word presbuteros, or "elder." Approximately 50 million Protestants around the world practice Presbyterian church government. Substantial numbers of Presbyterians are found in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and its former colonies, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Hungary, France, South Africa, Indonesia, and Korea. The largest Presbyterian body in the United States is the 2.8 million-member Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), formed in 1983 by the union of the United Presbyterian Church and the (Southern) Presbyterian Church in the United States. A number of other Presbyterian and Reformed denominations in America trace their origins to Europe or to secessions from the larger American bodies. (The older name REFORMED CHURCHES remains prevalent among groups of continental European origin; "Presbyterian" is generally used by churches of British origin.)
Presbyterianism emerged in the 16th-century REFORMATION as an effort by Protestant reformers to recapture the form as well as the message of the New Testament church. Lutherans were content to adapt the Roman Catholic episcopacy and medieval connections between church and state to their Protestant needs. Other reformers in Switzerland, the Netherlands, and south Germany were more radical. They noted that in the New Testament "elders" had been appointed to rule the early churches (Acts 14:23) and that the term elder had been used interchangeably with the word bishop, Greek episcopos (Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5-7). These reformers argued that although a hierarchy among elders could be observed in New Testament times (1 Tim. 5:17), it was not the sharp division between bishop and priest (a contraction of presbyter) that characterized the Roman Catholic church. From his study of the Bible, John CALVIN, the Reformed leader in Geneva, concluded that Jesus Christ himself is the sole ruler of the church and that he exercises that rule through four kinds of officers: preachers (to exhort, admonish, and encourage), doctors or teachers (to instruct), deacons (to aid the poor), and lay elders (to guide and discipline the church). Calvin felt that church and state were parallel authorities, sovereign in their own spheres, which should aid each other. Today the Church of Scotland is the only Presbyterian body that retains even the vestige of a governmental connection.
When Calvin's Genevan church order was carried to Scotland by John KNOX, it evolved into the Presbyterianism that, in essentials, is still practiced today. Individual local congregations elect their own elders, including the minister, who together govern the church as a session (or consistory in certain Reformed churches). The minister (or teaching elder), who is called by the local church and who usually serves as moderator of the session, is, however, ordained and disciplined by the next level of church organization, the presbytery (or classis), which administers groups of churches in one area. Presbyteries select delegates to regional synods, and also to the General Assembly (or General Synod), a national body that is the final judiciary of the church. Traditionally, presbyteries, synods, and general assemblies have consisted of equal numbers of ordained ministers and lay elders. From the precedent set by the Scottish Barrier Act of 1697, Presbyterians have made major changes only after approving them in two different general assemblies and in a majority of individual presbyteries.
The Westminster Assembly, held in London at the behest of the English Parliament (1643-49), produced doctrinal and ecclesiastical standards that have been foundational for Presbyterians. The Westminster Confession, along with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, made CALVINISM teachable to the English. Even recent Presbyterians who have modified the theology of Westminster in many particulars continue to honor its doctrinal pro-nouncements. Westminster's Form of Church Government and Directory for Public Worship set standards for ecclesiastical practice. Although the Westminster documents were never adopted in England itself, they became official standards in Scotland and have shaped Presbyterianism in America and other English-speaking areas of the world.
Presbyterian worship is simple and orderly. It revolves around preaching from the Scriptures. Presbyterian hymnody is indebted to the Calvinistic tradition of singing paraphrased Psalms. Two sacraments are recognized: the Lord's Supper, which is usually celebrated monthly or quarterly; and baptism, which is administered to the infant children of church members as a sign of God's covenant of mercy. The discipline of the local church is not as rigorous as in Calvin's Geneva. It is, nonetheless, still the responsibility of the session, whose decisions, as also those of presbyteries, can be appealed to synods and the General Assembly.
What is a "Baptist"?
The term "Baptist" was not one that Baptists chose themselves--it was one that those outside of their numbers pinned on them. They were also called "dunkers," "dippers," and various other derogations. Somehow, the word "Baptist" seems to have stuck. Just as is the case today, Baptists were greatly misunderstood by outsiders.
Today's Baptist denominations (yes, there are several!) have their roots among the English Baptists of the 1600s. They have a complex history, but modern Baptists can be traced to a group of seven churches that came together in 1644 to write The Confession of Faith of those Churches which are commonly (though falsely) called Anabaptists. Even the title of that document says much. First, they had not (as yet) been tagged with the label "Baptists," that word appearing nowhere in the confession itself. Secondly, Baptists have always been "confessional," in nature, rather than a people seeking to exclude others through creeds. Thirdly, these seven churches wanted very much to say to the world around them that they were not Anabaptists, a group whose members were still being burned at the stake in England at that time. In point of fact, the Baptists and the Anabaptists (now mostly represented by the modern Mennonites) are doctrinally very close--but these men who signed The Confession in an effort to receive some degree of tolerance in seventeenth century England were not stupid, and wanted to distance themselves as much as possible from the Anabaptists that were being persecuted even more vigorously than they were themselves.
To understand the Baptists, one must start with a single fundamental: Baptists are a people who want to strip away the changes to Christianity that took place beginning with Constantine's advent of the state church. When that emperor raised the church from its suffering, underground status, the Church took on an exaulted place among kings and despots that was in tension with Scripture. Politics, power structures, and the like had become the order of the day, and something important had been lost.
Just about all the aspects that distinguish Baptists from our other Christian brothers and sisters can be traced to that simple motive--to recover first century Christianity and to find the right way to practice it in contemporary culture. "Believers' baptism" is just one of the Baptist "distinctives"--although the most important aspect of the way Baptists view baptism is not its "mode" (that is, how the candidate comes into contact with the water), but the fact that Baptists only regard baptism as legitimate when it has been received by an adult (or child old enough to understand the importance of the life-long commitment to Christ and His church that baptism represents). Put another way, Baptists are never Baptists by accident or through the actions of their parents, the state, or any other agent; Baptists are Baptists because they choose to be Baptists. The fact that Baptists have adopted the mode of immersion (rather than pouring or sprinkling) is quite secondary, arising from their belief that the New Testament baptisms recorded in the book of Acts appear to have been performed that way and through the prophetic symbolism found in Romans 6. Also, the Greek word (baptizo) rendered "baptism" in the English New Testament, actually means "immerse"-- King James insisted that the word be transliterated rather than translated to disguise its real meaning from the masses. So the word "baptism" entered the English language, and the Baptists would get their name.
A Brief History of the Baptists by the late Norman H. Wells
The history of the ancient churches is very obscure. Much of the early recorded history was either lost or destroyed. A great part of the history that remains was changed to suit the interests of the Roman Catholic Church. All of church history has been involved in much controversy and was subject to the whims and fancies of each particular age.
In a very broad outline we want to look at the history of the church.
The First 300 Years of Church History
Jesus Christ, during His earthly ministry, founded the first church in Jerusalem in approximately the year 30 A.D.
This first church was commissioned to go forth preaching the gospel, winning the lost to Christ, baptizing and teaching the converts and establishing new churches.
On the pages of the New Testament we find the record of the growth of Christianity and the founding of many New Testament churches.
Nero, the Roman Emperor, blamed the Christians for the burning of Rome in 64 A.D. and began the first of ten persecutions the Christians were to receive at the hands of the Romans.
Despite all the persecution, Christianity grew. At the end of the first 300 years the religion of Jesus Christ was established all over the then known world. There were churches in every town and community.
The Progress of Error During The First 300 Years
In the first two centuries the individual churches rapidly multiplied and some of them became very large. The church at Jerusalem had possibly as many as 50,000 or more members!
These large churches each had several preachers or elders. Some of these bishops or pastors began to assume authority over smaller churches. This corrupted the original democratic policy and government of the churches and led to the kind of hierarchy we see in the Roman Catholic Church today.
In the first two centuries the false teaching of "baptismal regeneration" began to spread. This error led to infant baptism and many other errors.
It has to be remembered that these changes did not come about all in a day, nor within a year. They came about slowly and never within all the churches. Some of the churches vigorously repudiated these errors.
About the middle of the third century the lines were clearly drawn. Those churches that remained loyal to the Scriptures were now clearly separate from those that had gone into error and apostasy.
Constantine ruled as Emperor of the Roman Empire from 306 to 337A.D. and his reign was to mark one of the great turning points in church history.
During a battle in 312 A.D. Emperor Constantine believed he had a vision of a flaming cross and above it the words, "By this sign thou shalt conquer."
He decided to fight under the banner of Christ and Christianity came into favor in the Roman Government.
In 313 A.D. Constantine gave a call for all the churches to come together and pronounced himself as the head of the churches.
Many, but not all, of the churches came. The true churches would have no part in this error.
This hierarchy or body of church rulers, that Constantine formed was the definite beginning of the Roman Catholic Church. Many of the errors of Catholicism had already had their beginning but now they were organized into a definite system.
Constantine made "Christianity" the "State Religion." Up until this point the persecution of the Christians had been done either by Judaism or Paganism. Now came a change. Christians (in name) began using the law to compel all Christians to join the organization. The true churches that refused were persecuted.
The division was now complete. The true churches refused to line up with the errors of the "state church." The church of Constantine became what we know as Roman Catholicism. Baptists were never part of Roman Catholicism. They remained true to the Scriptures and rejected the error.
After the organization of the churches into a hierarchy and their acceptance as a "State Religion" the true, loyal churches that rejected this error were identified by various names.
It is not to be understood that each of these groups was entirely free from error or entirely embraced the truth. Through these groups can be traced the people called Baptists. In these groups is to be found the true church -- not in Catholicism.
Montanist ... Paulician ... Novationist ... Paterines ... Donatist ... Albigenses ... Anabaptists ... these were some of the names used to identify those who refused to identify with Rome.
The Dark Ages
The period from 426 A.D. to 1628 A.D. is called the "Dark Ages."
With the establishment of the new Catholic temporal power a bloody persecution began. Loyal, New Testament churches, by whatever name they were called, were hunted and hounded to the utmost limit by this new Catholic power.
The now established Catholic Church began a war of extermination upon all who opposed her.
It is reliably reported that 50,000,000 died of persecution during the Dark Ages.
During the bloody times of persecution, as Catholicism tried to exterminate the true churches, many of the false doctrines of the Catholic church of today began to take place.
The Inquisition 1198-1700
The Inquisition was instituted by Pope Innocent lII and perfected under Pope Gregory IX. It was a "Church Court" established by the popes for the trying and punishing of "heretics" ... a heretic being anyone who did not agree with Roman Catholicism. The Inquisition lasted for 500 years and was a time of indescribable horror.
During all this persecution Baptist churches continued to exist.
The conditions within the Catholic Church had become so corrupt that many voices were raised within the church in protest. Among these voices was that of John Wycliffe (1320- 1384), John Huss (1373-1415), Savonarola (1452-1498), Zwingli (1484-1531), John Knox (1505-1572), John Calvin (1509-1564), and Martin Luther.
The combined effort of these men, along with many others, brought about the Reformation.
All these Reformers started new churches. This was the beginning of Protestantism. All Protestant churches had their beginning in the period of the Reformation or since that time.
Baptists continued to exist through the Reformation as they had since
the time of Christ. Since the Reformation the Baptists have had a glorious
history. There are over 23,000,000 Baptists in the United States and they
are also found in over 100 different countries.
The modern graduate of our government-controlled schools knows little about the Puritans of the 17th century (except of course that they were a cheerless and superstitious folk who dressed in black, persecuted witches, and once invited some Indians to Thanksgiving dinner). This ignorance is emblematic of our present difficulties. What is "known" about the Puritans serves only to reenforce the perception that serious Christians are strange and dangerous people who ought to be kept in cages and never let out without strict supervision.
Unaccountably, the view of the Puritans is not much more complementary in many "Christian" history books. It would not be at all surprising if some readers of this magazine have latent suspicions of things "Puritan." Together, these realities demand that we take a fresh look at the Puritans.
Although Spain and France had far larger land holdings and vigorously sought out volunteers to settle their new lands, neither country had much success in finding those willing to come to America. By contrast, the English did not attempt settlement of the land until over one hundred years after Columbus' discovery. Yet, by the year 1700, there would be more English settlements in this country than those of Spain and France combined. Why was this so? The answer lies in the Reformation.
England was more thoroughly affected by the Reformation than any other country. One obvious result of the gospel (i.e., "the true Reformed religion," as the Puritans would say) is to increase the desire for political liberty. Men wanted the liberty to follow the dictates of the Scriptures in the church as well as the state, in private as well as public life.
For this reason, over one thousand Puritans left England for America in 1630 (following the earlier, smaller groups who came in 1607, 1620, and 1628). In the twenty-year period between 1620 and 1640 over fifteen thousand people left England to come to these shores. Not all came for the same reasons, but the vast majority shared a common vision. The Puritans, whether they settled in Massachusetts Bay or the Jamestown colony had a vision inspired and molded by the Reformation of the sixteenth century. The central theme of the Reformation, "Sola Scriptura," drove them to seek reformation in all areas of life. Christ was Lord of all and thus all things must be conformed to His Word. The "crown rights of King Jesus" demanded a reformed society.
When it became apparent that England was going to oppose thorough reformation, many Puritans left to seek to establish the "crown rights" of Christ in a foreign land. They preferred, they would say, "a wilderness governed by Puritans to a civilized land governed by Charles I."
What were the driving motives of those who came to America in the early 17th century? Remember, the central fact in the history of a people is the faith or theology of that people. This is the case here. There are six great Reformation truths that formed the Puritan vision and made up the foundation upon which this country was built. For the next couple of articles, I want to consider each of them in turn.
1. THE COVENANT OF GOD
The Bible teaches that God in His rich mercy has voluntarily entered a living relationship through Christ with His people and so obligated Himself to be their God. This gracious act in turn meant that the redeemed are bound to Him to be His people. This, in short, is the covenant and this doctrine had a molding influence on Puritan thought and life. "These Puritan settlers conceived of themselves as bound by the terms of a divine covenant. If they pleased the Lord by living according to scriptural law, they knew they could expect to see more of God's 'wisdome power goodness and truthe then formerly wee have beene acquainted with.' The colonists were on a special mission, and each was personally responsible for its success or failure." (T. H. Breen, The Character of the Good Ruler, pp. 35, 36)
The covenant involves not merely a responsibility to worship God, but to live faithfully before Him in all areas of life. It was not merely freedom to worship according to their consciences which moved the Puritans to come to this continent, but the desire to found a Biblical culture. They wanted to build not merely a church, but "a city on a hill." Freedom to worship according to the Scriptures was to be the centerpiece of a culture patterned after the Word of God. This (and nothing less) was the demand of God's covenant.
The covenant concept, bound these men together as one body. Their political and social structures were profoundly influenced by it. As those in covenant with God, they were obligated to conform their civil order to His Word. Their individual accountability to God would restrain their own native rebelliousness as well as that of their rulers. If either citizens or rulers failed to keep covenant, they would suffer God's just judgment. John Winthrop would say, "Thus stands the cause between God and us: we are entered into Covenant with him for this work, we have taken out a Commission. The Lord hath given us leave to draw our own Articles. We have professed to enterprise these Actions upon these and these ends [and] will expect a strict performance of the Articles contained in it. But if we shall neglect the observance of these Articles which are the ends we have propounded, and dissembling with our God, shall fall to embrace this present world and prosecute our carnal intentions, seeking great things for ourselves and our posterity, the Lord will surely break out in wrath against us [and] be revenged of such a perjured people and make us know the price of the breach of such a Covenant." (A Model of Christian Charity, 1630).
2. THE ABSOLUTE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD.
God's sovereign rule over all things is a fundamental element of the covenant. Because of He is Lord, His Word is law for all men and the authoritative rule for all of life. Every area of life (family, church, and state) is to be governed by His Word. This had quite obvious and far reaching implications for Puritan political views as Dr. Gregg Singer has noted,
"It was the sovereign God who created the state and gave to it its powers and functions. The earthly magistrate held his position and exercised his power by a divine decree. He was a minister of God under common grace for the execution of the laws of God among the people at large, for the maintenance of law and order, and for so ruling the state that it would provide an atmosphere favorable for the preaching of the Gospel. He was to so rule that the people of God, the elect, could live individually and collectively a life that was truly Christian. In Puritan political theory the magistrate derived his powers from God and not from the people . . . His powers did not come from the people, nor was he primarily responsible to them for the stewardship of his office . . . it must never be forgotten that both the voters and the magistrates were to look to the Scriptures as a guide for the general conduct of their government. The rulers and the people were thus subject to the revealed will of God, and the will of the people could never take precedence over the divinely ordained powers and functions of human government." (C. Gregg Singer, A Theological Interpretation of American History, pp. 13, 14)
The rulers were the guardians of the covenant. T. H. Breen has noted, "The rulers of New England saw themselves as the keepers of the Lord's covenant, citing Moses as their political ideal. They claimed that God had armed them with a sword to defend the First and Second Tables and to preserve the New Israel from moral decay. Cotton called the magistrates 'The Ministers of God,' since their principal task was the administration of 'things wherein God is most directly and immediately honored, which is promoting man's Spiritual good.'" (Breen, op. cit., pp. 37, 38) Rulers, as the ministers of God, were to be bold, self-conscious advocates of righteousness and defenders of God's honor.
For this reason, the Puritans placed greater weight on a man's spiritual condition than anything else when considering his fitness for public office. John Cotton wrote that rulers ought to be "men so well acquainted with matters of Religion, as to discern the Fundamental Principles [of godly rule]." (John Cotton, "The Bloudy Tenent, Washed, and Made White in the Bloud of the Lambe") A man who was ignorant of the Scriptural directives for godly rule or who was indifferent to these directives, was unfit for public office (good looks and winsome rhetoric only became prerequisites for successful politicians in this century).
Further, the form of civil government was not to be patterned after anything but the Scriptures alone (we should especially shun, according to the Puritans, the examples of Greece or Rome). For many Puritans, Greece and Rome were most inappropriate models. "Governor Winthrop, for example, criticized an election day speaker simply because that minister had grounded 'his propositions much upon the old Roman and Grecian governments, which sure is an error, for if religion and the word of God makes men wiser than their neighbors, [then] . . . these times have the advantage of all that have gone before us in experience and observation.'" (Breen, op. cit., p. 39) Though there would be those later, who romanticized the "glories of Greece and Rome," the Puritan fathers were not among them.
The idea that the state should be "religiously neutral" was inconceivable to our forefathers. If God is sovereign, the State cannot be neutral religiously. If God is sovereign, no neutrality is possible! You are either submitting to the King or in rebellion against Him.
3. THE TOTAL DEPRAVITY OF MAN.
Man was not only created after the image of God and accountable to Him but he was also a sinful creature, totally unable in and of himself to do the will of God. In fact, man is a rebel against God's purposes. Apart from God's grace, man will never submit to God's word or love His creator or his fellow man. This reality influenced not only their preaching and their understanding of the nature of salvation, but also their view of the necessary structure of society. The implications of this doctrine for society are manifold:
Man's depravity makes civil government necessary. Sinners, left to themselves will not respect the rights of others. Society is impossible without some form of civil government to enforce laws for the protection of all.
Civil government must however, be strictly limited in its authority. Sinful man cannot be trusted with unlimited power. All authority among men must be carefully limited. John Cotton, in his essay, "Limitation of Government," says, "Let all the world learn to give mortal men no greater power than they are content they shall use, for use it they will."
Further, all laws must take into account this reality of man's nature. If man is basically sinful, the policies you adopt (political, social, and economic) will be drastically different from those you would adopt if man was basically good. This explains the failure of our modern social programs. The basic problem with these policies is not their cost or inefficiency, but that they are based on a heretical view of man. They are all grand exercises in seeking sanctification from the wrong source. Thus, for example: Urban renewal is motivated by the theory that man's basic problem is his environment, not his heart. If these young criminals had not grown up in the slums, they would be good, moral citizens. Without adequate housing we are told, children will almost inevitably be drawn into a life of crime.
The welfare system is based upon the assumption that poverty is the source of evil. If all were given a "minimum standard of living" they would not be tempted to steal, kill, and destroy. The inherent "unfairness" of the distribution of capital provokes men to evil deeds. We cannot expect an enlightened and civilized citizenry without a government-coerced redistribution of wealth.
The modern prison system is even founded upon this heresy. The "penitentiary" was originally intended to be a place where a man, isolated from his evil companions, might be brought to repentance (or penitence) over his meanness. Get him away from his bad companions and evil environment and he will come to his senses. Sadly, but not surprisingly, prisons have succeeded only in becoming universities for crime (the only difference being that in prison, as opposed to most universities, you do actually learn something). Novice criminals learn from the experts and come out far more savvy than they were when they went in. No restitution is made to the victim. Instead, he is further penalized by being forced to pay for his assailant's upkeep in prison.
Because the Puritans believed God they did not have to conjure up all manner of fanciful solutions to the real problems caused by sin. They believed God's Word and therefore not only understood the nature of their problems but the only real solutions as well. Because unbelievers refuse to accept the scripture's teaching, they end up fighting all manner of phantasms. Seeking to beat up your enemy's shadow may show a great deal of zeal but it is not likely to do much harm to your opponent. Though you can get pretty worked up in such an exercise, the only one you are likely to injure is yourself.
Such is the sad spectacle we see today. The damage caused by our "solutions" is often far worse than the problems they are intended to resolve. It is ever so in the culture of unbelief. All our efforts serve only to increase our difficulties. In the name of solving the endless array of crises around us, we are only succeeding in killing ourselves.
When a society rejects the doctrine of total depravity, wickedness and corruption multiply. The denial of sin leads only to its proliferation. Only when we face the reality of sin is there hope of seeing sin diminish. For only when we see sin in all its terrible ugliness and wickedness are we moved to seek the only real remedy for it -- the blood of Jesus Christ.
4. THE PREEMINENCE OF THE LAW OF GOD.
Since God is King, all areas of life must be ruled by His law. The Puritans dealt honestly and realistically with God's Word. Since it is God's Word, it must be true and righteous altogether. It cannot be evil or mischievous to follow it. Further, since God's Word is "truth," it must be the only standard of truth and error, justice and injustice, and good and evil that we have.
The Word of God teaches us not only what we are to believe but how we are to live in every area of life (as individuals before God, as members of families, churches, and as citizens of the State). The Puritans therefore opposed all forms of theological and political antinomianism.
Democracy was despised and condemned. Democracy ("rule by the majority") was opposed because it displaced God's infallible wisdom with the opinions of fifty-one percent of the population. Since the majority could theoretically establish anything as lawful (regardless of what God had declared in His Word), the voice of the people in effect became the voice of God. To people steeped in the authority of God's Word as the sole rule of faith and life, this was blasphemy and idolatry rolled into one. The Puritans referred to democracy as "the devil's own government" since it allows men to "determine for themselves good and evil" according to the devil's temptation to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:5).
Theocracy was viewed as the only proper form of government. Contrary to the shrieks of modern egalitarians, theocracy does not mean "rule by the Church" (that would be "ecclesiocracy"), but "rule by God through His appointed representatives." All the institutions of society ought to be "theocracies" in this sense. The home is ruled by God through the husband and father. The Church is a theocracy ruled by God through faithful elders. The State is a theocracy ruled by God through faithful magistrates who operate as His ministers (Rom. 13).
Under the theocratic form of government, the Church and the State were legitimately separate (each having different jobs and roles in society), but both were under God's sovereign rule and both were bound to operate according to His Word. Dr. Greg Singer has observed:
"The Church and State were to cooperate in the attainment of their respective goals, for they were both subject to the same God. It was for this reason that the State was to punish blasphemers and heretics. The magistrate, in the discharge of his office, was a steward unto God and he was to be found faithful in this responsibility. It was not the role of the magistrate to proclaim the Gospel, but it was his duty to establish such civil conditions as to enable the Church to perform this function. Neither was it the responsibility of the Church to manage the civil life of the people, but a faithful preaching of the Law of God was bound to have a healthy influence on the community at large." (A Theological Interpretation of American History, pp. 15,16)
John Cotton wrote that Theocracy was the best form of government and defined a theocracy as having the Lord God as our Governor and where "the laws by which men rule are the laws of God." In 1636, Cotton was appointed to the constitutional committee charged with drafting laws "agreeable to God's word" for "the new plantation" (the Massachusetts colony). His work, Moses and His Judicials, was influential not only in Massachusetts, but throughout New England. On Dec. 10, 1641, the colony adopted a civil code, The Massachusetts Body of Liberties, which specifically provided that no law was to be prescribed contrary to the Word of God. The Body of Liberties applied this principle -- as can be seen in the listing of capital crimes: idolatry, sorcery, blasphemy, murder, premeditated manslaughter, bestiality, homosexuality, adultery, kidnapping, and perjury in a capital trial.
"An Abstract of the Laws of New England As They are Presently Prescribed" originally printed in England in 1641 and written by John Cotton, shows the same concern to uphold God's law. Though not everything here is worthy of approval, it does serve to illustrate how the Puritans viewed the applicability of God's Law. In the 1655 reprint of this work, William Aspenwell writes in an "Address to the Reader":
"This Abstract may serve for this use principally,...to show the complete sufficiency of the word of God alone, to direct his people in judgment of all causes, both civil and criminal..." (quoted in Greg L. Bahnsen, "Introduction to John Cotton's Abstract of the Laws of New England", Journal of Christian Reconstruction, vol. V, no. 2, p. 81)
The Reformational concept of the law which was first applied in Geneva came to its fullest expression in Puritan America.
What has not been sufficiently chronicled however is the fact that this view was not held exclusively in New England. The same thing is obviously reflected in the legal structure of the Southern puritans of the Virginia colony. For example: The instructions drawn up in 1606 for the Virginia Company required that the "true word and service of God be preached, planted and used." That is, it was the Word of God which was to be the sole rule of faith and life.
The Articles, Laws, and Orders, Divine, Politic, and Martial for the Colony in Virginia (1611) also evidence this concern to follow God's Word. They require that everyone who then resided in Virginia, or who should thereafter arrive, "should make profession of religious belief, and if found deficient, should repair to a minister for instruction." They forbid the colonists to "speak any word, or do any act, which may tend to the derision, or despite of God's holy word." They follow the Scriptural punishments by making sodomy, adultery, and rape (of "maid or Indian") capital crimes.
The Virginia colonists, like their Puritan brethren in New England, passed laws ordaining universal church attendance, and mandatory Sabbath observance as well as a law against public profanity and blasphemy. There was also concern for the well-being of the Indians. In the laws Enacted by the First General Assembly of Virginia (1619) there is a provision for Christian education to be given to the Indian children: "Be it enacted by this present assembly that for laying a surer foundation of the conversion of the Indians to Christian religion, each town, city, borough, and particular plantation do obtain unto themselves by just means a certain number of the native's children to be educated by them in true religion and civil course of life." Plainly, the vision which dominated puritans both North and South was the establishment of a Christian culture in this country.
5. THE NECESSITY OF REDEMPTION BY GOD'S GRACE.
Man the sinner not only needs a government of law to restrain him, but also stands in need of redeeming grace to save him. Only sovereign grace was sufficient to save a man and make him a profitable member of society and a blessing to those around him. The Puritans never expected their political views, educational institutions, social or economic ideas to usurp the place of the Gospel. Salvation could not be found in law, social activity or man-made institutions, but in the Gospel alone.
Unlike modern conservatives, the Puritans placed little faith in politics, "John Winthrop also reminded his fellow-citizens of Massachusetts that a doctrine of civil rights which looked to natural or sinful man as its source and guardian was actually destructive of that very liberty which they were seeking to protect. True freedom can never be found in institutions which are under the direction of sinful men, but only in the redemption wrought for man by Jesus Christ." (Greg Singer, op. cit., p. 19)
Though we must certainly labor to see righteousness exalted in our laws, we must not fall into the trap which has ensnared liberals and leftist from the beginning. Liberty is not preserved by political means but by faith and obedience to Christ Jesus the Lord. Christ, not man, is the sole source and guarantee of true liberty.
Postmillenialism is the belief that before Christ returns, there shall be a great revival and Christianity shall spread throughout the world -- with the result that the majority of the world shall be saved. This faith was pervasive in 17th century Christendom. Earnest Tuveson observes, "[I]n the seventeenth century a revolution in thinking about eschatology had already begun: the idea that God predicted the defeat of evil before the conflagration, and is redeeming that promise, began to be taken seriously throughout English-speaking Protestantism. God, it began to be thought, is redeeming both individual souls and society in parallel course; and, in the next century, a new nation in a recently discovered part of the world seemed suddenly to be illuminated by a ray of heavenly light, to be at the western end of the rainbow that arched over the civilized world." (E. L. Tuveson, Redeemer Nation, pp. 12,17)
God's people began to realize that if God's purpose to fill the earth with His glory in history (i.e., in time and on earth) did not come to pass, Satan have a legitimate claim of victory over the Almighty. "In 1654 the leading Independent preacher Thomas Goodwin preached a sermon setting forth the reasonableness, one might almost say the aesthetic as well as moral propriety, of the conception that God's kingdom will come as the end of the historical process. If the millennium is no more than an allegory of the age after Christ, if conditions are to continue in their old way up to the last judgment, the triumph of God lacks completeness, and history ends in an unsatisfactory way: the devil has a kind of victory after all, if he is able so to frustrate the will of God that a miraculous intervention is necessary to bring him down." (E. L. Tuveson, op. cit., p. 32, emphasis added)
Thomas Shepard, in his sermon, The Clear Sunshine of the Gospel Breaking Forth upon the Indians in New England, notes it is essential, "that after all the Kingdoms of the world have had their time and their date, by which the Saints have all along been opprest and injured, there is, even on earth, a Kingdom to be given unto them, when all Nations shall be converted unto God, and the Saints in them be the prevailing party in this world."
In the preface to the published edition of this sermon Shepard writes, "The utmost ends of the earth are designed and promised to be in time the possessions of Christ . . . This little we see is something in hand, to earnest to us those things which are in hope; something in possession, to assure us of the rest in promise, when the ends of the earth shall see his glory, and the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of the Lord and his Christ, when he shall have dominion from sea to sea, and they that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him (Psa. 22:27; Rev. 11:15; Psa. 72:8-11)." (The Preface to Thomas Shepard's The Clear Sunshine of the Gospel Breaking Forth upon the Indians in New England, 1648, quoted by Iain H. Murray, The Puritan Hope, pp. 94,95)
It was this desire to see the world converted together with the confidence in God's promises that He would bring it to pass which drove the vast majority of English Puritans to come to America. They were a "covenanted people" -- a people who had entered into a solemn covenant with God to form a nation that honored Him. They had, according to Cotton Mather, "an errand in the wilderness" and that was to establish a mission station from which would sound forth the gospel to the ends of the earth.
America was to be "the city set on a hill," displaying the glories of a nation ruled by the Living God. They would be a living model (like Israel of old was intended to be) of what all the nations would one day become. This faith changed their whole view of the world. This world is not a condemned wreck from which individual souls must escape; rather, it is the property of Christ, to whose kingdom the earth and the fullness thereof must belong.
It was this faith which would stir the fires of independence later on. Rushdoony has observed that the War of Independence would never have happened apart from postmillenialism. Had they not believed in the ultimate success of God's righteous cause, they would have submitted to tyranny rather than take on a fight against such overwhelming odds.
These are the truths which molded our nation at its beginnings (the covenant, the sovereignty of God, the depravity of man, the preeminence of the law of God, the absolute necessity of God's grace, and the certain victory of the gospel). These things form the foundation for liberty. Slavery increases to the degree we drift away from these dominant realities. If we are ever to see true liberty restored to our land again, God's people must once again embrace these truths and live in the light of them.
Books to read: Let No One Deceive You, Michael Brown
The patterns for revival are seen in the Old Testament and the Tabernacle and its furnishings.- Dick Reuben
curtain (50 + 100 + 50 + 100)x5 cubits separates the tabernacle area from the camp (1500 approximate age to Moses)
bronze altar - sacrifices
laver - washing before entering Holy Place
Holy Place 10x20x10 (2000 years of church age)
Lampstand - light of Holy Spirit - 66 books in Bible indicated
Table of Showbread
Golden Altar - incense - worship and prayer offered up continually.
Exodus it is in Holy Place but Hebrews it seems to be in Holy of Holies?
Holy of Holies 10x10x10 (1000 year millenial reign)
Ark of Covenant
wood box covered with gold containing
law - written on our hearts
Aaron's rod that budded - resurrection life
gold bowl of manna - Jesus, the bread of life
Mercy seat with cherubim covered the box
Priestly garments: white linen, robe of ephod, ephod
Pesach (Passover) - Pesach celebrates the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. The festival lasts eight days, from 15th to the 22nd of Nissan.
Seder - A Jewish ritual service and ceremonial dinner for the first night or the first two nights of the Pesach.
Haggadah - The tale of the Exodus read on Pesach night.
Passover is a celebration of freedom, in particular the celebration of God's deliverance of the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, but as we shall see, a Jew named Yeshua gave the celebration new significance. As you may recall from the story of the Exodus, the last of the ten plagues used to persuade Pharaoh to let the people go was the smiting of the firstborn. In the twelfth chapter of Exodus, the Israelites are instructed to sacrifice a perfect lamb, and smear its blood on their lintels and door posts. When the destroyer saw the blood, he would "Pass over" that house. This is a type, or foreshadowing, of a greater redemption to come. The Passover celebration itself centers around a ceremonial meal called a Seder, which consists of eating symbolic foods and drinking symbolic wine, interspersed with a stylized narrative of the Exodus, according to the Seder liturgical manual called the Haggadah (which means "narration"). It is not a passive ceremony, but involves everyone present. Passover is a time of celebration, so the table is set festively.
1. Search for chamatz (Exodus 12:15) Preparation for Passover: removing all leaven from the house
No leaven is to be consumed during Passover, nor in the seven days that follow. No yeast or leaven of any kind is even allowed in the house during this time. In preparation for Passover, a thorough housecleaning is undertaken to be certain there is not so much as a crumb of leavened bread (or leavened anything else) anywhere in the house. Even the children become involved in this process, as parents deliberately hide crumbs of bread behind furniture, on bookcases, etc., for the children to find and bring to the head of the household for destruction by fire.
2. Lighting the Candles by a Woman
There are candles, which must be lit, by a woman, by nightfall. A special blessing is pronounced in connection with the lighting of the candles. (Here again we see something interesting; few things in Judaism require a woman to perform them, but it is a woman who lights the candles to get everything started. So it was necessary that the Savior of the world should be born of a woman, without the involvement of a man.)
3. The Kiddush: First Cup of Sanctification
When everything is ready, a glass of wine is poured and the Kiddush recited. This cup is called the "Cup of Sanctification," and signifies that everything is "in order" (the word "Seder" means "order" in Hebrew). On the table will be symbolic foods which will be eaten at the appropriate time as the story of the Exodus unfolds.
4. The Urchatz -- Ceremonial washing of the hands
The host puts on the Kittel and Kippah, and washes hands in the bowl of water. The kittel is worn on occasions of solemnity. It may be worn on a wedding day, or for burial, and on Passover. It is a symbol of purity, gladness, freedom and, on Passover, freedom from human misery. It is white, for that's the color for royalty in Jewish tradition. It is the father who wears it.
5.Karpas: Dipping a green vegetable into salt water
Everyone takes some parsley and dips in the salt water. "Baruch attah Ah-don-noy Elo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam Boh-ray pree ha-adamah" (Blessed art thou, O Eternal, our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruits of the earth.) As wine (or grape juice) is red and represents the blood of the lamb, the greens represent the hyssop which was used to place the blood upon the door posts and lintels. The salt water represents the tears shed by the people while in bondage.
6. Yachatz: Breaking the middle matzah
Also on the table are three matzos, wrapped in white linen. The head of the household takes the middle matzo and breaks it in two and hides half of it! This hidden matzo is called the afikomen.
7. Ma Hishtana: Four Questions
The youngest child present who is old enough to read will then ask "the Four Questions," which he or she has memorized (often in Hebrew) ahead of time. The gist of the questions in English is: 1.On all other nights we eat bread or matzo, but tonight only matzo. Why? 2.On all other nights we eat vegetables and herbs of all kinds, but tonight only bitter herbs. Why? 3.On all other nights we do not dip vegetables even once, but tonight we dip twice. Why? 4.On all other nights we eat in an upright or reclining position, but tonight we recline at the table. Why? The child's questions are answered in the form of a series of readings from the Haggadah, in which everyone present can participate. The symbolic foods are eaten as the events they symbolize are mentioned.
8. Avadim Hayinu: "We were slaves in Egypt"
"We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt and God took us out of there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. If God had not brought our forefathers from Egypt, then we, our children and our children's children might still have been enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt"
9. The Four Children
The wise child, the wicked child, the simple child and the child who does not know how to ask. Each must be taught the meaning of the Passover seder in a way that matches his attitude and aptitude. The wise child asks, "What is the meaning of the testimonies, statutes and judgments commanded by God?" To him we explain every aspect of the seder, down to the last detail.
The wicked child distances himself from the proceedings, asking, "What is the meaning of this service to you?" We exclude him in the reply, saying "Because of what God did to me, in taking me out of Egypt." To the simple child, who just wonders, "What is this?" we say that "with a strong hand, God brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." And to the child who does not know how to ask a question, we "open" him, saying, "This is because of what God did for me when I came out of Egypt."
10. Maggid: Telling the Passover Story
In telling the Passover tale, the traditional Haggadah avoids the direct story of the Exodus, instead recounting rabbinic texts.
11. Ten Plagues (second cup of wine)
The Ten Plagues are commemorated with the second cup of wine. As each plague is named, each participant drops another drop of wine into the saucer. This is to be a solemn reflection on God's judgment, and not an occasion for gloating. (See Proverbs 24:17)
A piece of matzo is broken into small pieces and distributed to each participant. The matzo is blessed with the following words: Baruch ata Adonai Elohenu, Melech ha-olam, ha motzi lechem min ha-aretz. which means, "Blessed art Thou, oh Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth." It was at this point in his Seder with his disciples that Jesus took the bread, and blessed it, and gave it to his disciples saying, "This is my body which is broken for you." (Matthew 26:26).
"If God had brought us out of Egypt, and not made judgments on them, dayenu -- It would have been enough!"
So begins the song that concludes the Passover story, praising the miracles God bestowed on the Jewish people from the time they fled Egypt to the construction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
13. Maror: the bitter herbs
After beginning to recite the Hallel psalms, (Ps 113-118) a second cup of wine is drunk and then we come to the Seder's central foods: matzah and maror, the bitter herbs. Maror is usually horseradish, or in some households romain lettuce. The bitter maror is followed by the "Hillel sandwich" made of matzah, maror and -- sometimes -- sweet haroses, symbolizing the mortar used by the Israelites to build the cities in Egypt.
14. Shulchan Orech: The festive meal
After the long seder, the "let's eat" is often greeted with a sigh of relief. Some families start the Passover meal with a boiled egg dipped in salt. The festive meal is a chance to talk further about the Passover story, or just to enjoy the company of family and friends. When there was still a temple in Jerusalem, this meal centered around the Paschal Lamb which had been sacrificed at twilight. The New Testament frequently identifies Jesus with this sacrificial lamb as our ultimate substitutionary sacrifice.
After the meal comes the hidden matzo or afikomen. It is usually left to the children to find it, and once it is found, the head of the house may have to buy it back with money. The Seder cannot continue without it. Once it is retrieved, a small piece is given to each participant. The wine goblets are filled, and grace after meals is recited. To one who has trusted in Jesus as Messiah , the significance of the afikomen is startling. The three matzot suggest the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The middle matzo would then be the Son (Jesus), whose body was broken(crucified) , wrapped in white linen and hidden (buried) and found (resurrected), to be partaken of by all who will. The matzo is a fitting picture, as it is: 1. without leaven, signifying sinlessness, 2. pierced with holes (John 19:37 - "they shall look on him whom they pierced") and 3. Striped (Isaiah 53:5 - "By his stripes we are healed.")
15. Cup of Redemption
After the afikomen comes the third cup of wine, which the Jews call the "Cup of Redemption." About this cup Jesus said "This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." The traditional Jewish blessing for wine is then recited: Baruch ata Adonai, Elohenu melech ha-olam, boray peri hagafen, which means "Blessed art Thou, oh Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine." Jesus had earlier spoken of himself as the vine, and called his disciples "the branches." The fruit of the vine is all who believe in him, and so become a part of his body.
16. Cup of Praise
The fourth cup of wine is called the "Cup of Praise," or Elijah's cup. In many homes, not only a cup of wine but a full place setting is left, in case Elijah the prophet should come (Malachi 4:5). The youngest child is sent to the door to see whether or not Elijah has come this year. When the child does not find Elijah at the door, it is assumed that another year must pass before Messiah can come, and so the head of the family will say "Next year in Jerusalem," in hope that Messiah will come next year.
17. The Great Hillel
The Gospels say that Jesus and the disciples went out to the Mount of Olives, after they had sung a hymn (Matthew 26:30). In Jewish practice, Passover songs are joyful and festive, so it seems reasonable to imagine that the hymn Jesus and the disciples sang had a triumphant tone.
"Doing It" without the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
"Doing It" without the foundation of the Old Testament's "shadow" of things to come.
"Doing It" without repentance--holiness.
"Doing It" by works.
CHRISTIANITY SINCE CONSTANTINE
After Constantine made Christianity legal in 313 AD, the faith continued to grow under the protection of the Roman Emperors. Monks started monasteries and from these centres of work and prayer, missionaries went out to convert the people of northern Europe, including Britain and Germany. In the East, the church was also growing. In 410, the Persian Church (later called the Nestorians) broke with the Roman Church and began 1000 years of missionary work in Persia, Central Asia, India, Mongolia and China.
As the Roman Empire weakened, political power moved east to Constantinople and the Eastern Orthodox Church began to develop separately from the Roman Church. With the final fall of the Roman Empire in the seventh century, Europe moved into the Dark Ages. After the death of Muhammad in 632, the armies of Islam conquered much of the Christian world, including the Middle East, North Africa and Spain. In 1054, years of bad feelings between the Western and the Eastern Church resulted in the Roman Pope (leader of the Catholic Church) and the Byzantine Patriarch (leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church) excommunicating each other.
The Pope called on European Christians to capture Jerusalem from the Muslims and, from the eleventh to thirteenth centuries, many went off to fight in the Crusades. Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, fell to the Turks in 1453. At the same time, the Spanish Inquisition was busy torturing people who did not agree with the Catholic Church. It was one of the darkest periods in the history of Christianity.
However, there was some light in the darkness. The Slavs of Russia converted to Orthodox Christianity in 987. In the East, the Nestorians continued to make converts among the Turks, Mongols and Chinese. St. Francis of Assisi lived a life of service to the poor and started the Franciscan order of monks. In the fourteenth century, early reformers like John Wycliffe of England and John Hus of Bohemia taught that people should live according to the simple teachings of the Bible, not the traditions of the Catholic Church.
Two centuries later, this challenge to the Roman Catholic Church continued under reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin, who taught salvation by faith, not religious works. Under their leadership, the Protestant Reformation took place, resulting in the Lutheran, Reformed and Presbyterian churches of today. In England, the Anglican Church was started when the Pope refused to grant King Henry VIII a divorce. At the same time, the Anabaptist movement (meaning "Rebaptizers" because they did not accept infant baptism) gained many followers in Europe, resulting in the Baptist and Mennonite churches of today. The Catholic Church responded to the Reformation with the Counter Reformation. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, there were a number of wars between Catholics and Protestants, such as the Thirty Years War in Germany.
Christianity spread to the New World with the explorers and early settlers. Catholicism was brought to Central and South America by the Spanish and Portuguese and to North America by the French. The Non-Conformists, English Christians who did not wish to be Anglican, journeyed to America, beginning with the Pilgrims in 1620. During the eighteenth century in England, John and Charles Wesley led a renewal movement within the Anglican Church which eventually became the Methodist Church. At the same time, the First, Second and Third Awakenings brought spiritual revival to many in America.
During the nineteenth century, Protestants began to send out missionaries, spreading the gospel to Africa, China, India, Japan and Southeast Asia. The nineteenth century was also when the Evangelical movement began to develop in England and some Christians in America began to call themselves Fundamentalists, because they wanted to return to the "fundamentals" of the Christian faith.
The twentieth century began with religious revivals in various parts
of the Western world, which led to the establishment of the Pentecostal
Church. During the 1960s, the Roman Catholic Church continued its reformation
with Vatican II and the Charismatic Movement attracted large numbers of
people to both Protestant and Catholic churches. Today, about one-third
of the people in the world call themselves Christians, including over one
billion Catholics, nearly 450 million Protestants, nearly 175 million Orthodox
believers and almost 200 million others.
A religious revival among Aboriginal people in a remote northwestern Australian town, once labeled the "arrest capital of Australia," has forced the lessee of the local pub to go broke. Nullagine's Conglomerate Hotel, leased by Mr. Gary Marshall went into receivership last month after most of the 100 to 150 Aboriginal people in the town, 184 kilometers north of Newman, turned to Christianity in November. Police in Nullagine claim drunken fights have virtually disappeared since the residents gave up alcohol and labeled the hotel "the devil's place."
The Aboriginal community has reduced the number of arrests to just a handful and there have been no persons put in jail. Instead of going to the hotel each night to drink, they sit in circles under the stars, praying and singing gospel songs at the Yirrangkaji community on the outskirts of town. The only local to suffer is the hotel which used to keep six staff busy.
Mr. Marshall, who leased the hotel and an adjoining shop for two years,
said the arrival of religion spelt disaster for his business, but he was
not angry. "I couldn't sit here and say it is a bad thing," he said. "If
they are better off, then it's a wonderful thing. I sincerely hope it stays,
but I have my doubts. I think the answer is responsible drinking."
A Bible Society team is currently delivering 140,000 Children's Bibles,10,000
Scripture study books and 115,000 Scripture calendars to churches throughout
Iraq. The shipment left the Bible Society in Jordan (BSJ) in a large truck
for the Iraqi border on January 21 and it was estimated that the trip would
take two to three weeks. So far the team has visited churches in Baghdad
as well as other cities, providing the Scriptures in response to a great
hunger for the Word of God. "Despite all the problems the Iraqis are facing
on a day-to-day basis, the demand for Bibles and biblical material there
is increasing every day," said BSJ general secretary, Jamal Hashweh.
How to get to the dark ages from here:
True Revival services present Jesus and the need for genuine holiness.
Next comes baptism, Bible, Holy Spirit and the gifts, Kingdom work.
Hebrews 6:1-2. Foundation of:
2. THERE IS A GOD... (Hebrews 1:1-4)
3. WHY BAPTISM
Why was Jesus baptized? (Matthew 3:13-15)
Why are you baptized? (Matthew 3:11)
Acts 2:38, 41; 8:12-13, 16, 36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 11:16; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16; Romans 6:1-14
What is the "formula"?
Mikvah: Jewish pool used for ritual immersion when natural water
A mikvah must be built into the ground or built as an essential part of a building. Portable receptacles, such as bathtubs, whirlpools, or Jacuzzis, can therefore never function as mikvahs. The mikvah must contain a minimum of two hundred gallons of rainwater that was gathered and siphoned into the mikvah pool in accordance with a highly specific set of regulations. In extreme cases where the acquisition of rainwater is impossible, ice or snow originating from a natural source may be used to fill the mikvah. As with the rainwater, an intricate set of laws surrounds its transport and handling.
The casual observer will often see only one pool-the one used for immersion. In reality, most mikvahs are comprised of two, sometimes three, adjoining pools. While the accumulated rainwater is kept in one pool, the adjacent immersion pool is drained and refilled regularly with tap water. The pools share a common wall that has a hole at least two inches in diameter. The free flow, or; kissing,; of waters between the two pools makes the waters of the immersion pool an extension of the natural rainwater, thus conferring upon the immersion pool the legal status of a mil vain.(The above description is one of two methods sanctioned by Halachah to achieve this goal.) Modern-day mikvah pools are equipped with filtration and water purification systems. The mikvah waters are commonly chest high and kept at a comfortable temperature. Access to the pool is achieved via stairs.
In many ways Mikvah is the threshold separating the unholy from the holy, but it is even more. Simply put, immersion in a mikvah signals a change in status-more correctly, an elevation in status. Its unparalleled function lies in its power of transformation, its ability to effect metamorphosis. In both, the person is stripped of all power and prowess. In both there is a mode of total reliance, complete abdication of control. Immersion in the mikvah can be understood as a symbolic act of self abnegation, the conscious suspension of the self as an autonomous force. In so doing, the immersing Jew signals a desire to achieve oneness with the source of all life, to return to a primeval unity with G-d. Immersion indicates the abandonment of one form of existence to embrace one infinitely higher. In keeping with this theme, immersion in the mikvah is described not only in terms of purification, revitalization, and rejuvenation but also-and perhaps primarily-as rebirth.
There were numerous types of impurities that affected Jews-regarding both their life and Temple service and a commensurate number of purification processes. Mikvah immersion was the culmination of the purification rite in every case. Even for the ritually pure, ascending to a higher level of spiritual involvement or holiness necessitated immersion in a Mikvah. As such, the institution of Mikvah took center stage in Jewish life.
4. THE LAYING ON OF HANDS
The Bible consistently uses the laying on of hands and the anointing of oil to transfer authority and the power of God. (Lk 4:40; Ac 8:18; 1 Ti 5:22; 2 Ti 1:6; Ja 5:14; Ex 30:30; 1 Sa 9:16; Ps 23:5). WHAT IS THE DOCTRINE OF THE "LAYING ON OF HANDS" ? It is the belief that divine power or qualities can be transferred from one believer to another by laying hands upon the other individual.
WAS THIS DOCTRINE PRACTICED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT?
A. The Priest laid his hands upon the scapegoat as a means of transferring personal guilt (Leviticus 1:4; Leviticus 16:21, 22).
B. Jacob placed his hands upon Joseph's children to convey blessings (Genesis 48:14-16).
C. Moses imparted a portion of his wisdom and authority to Joshua (Deuteronomy 34:9).
WAS THIS DOCTRINE PRACTICED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT? By both The Anointed One and His followers. It was Jesus' means of transmitting life or "Virtue" both in blessing and healing.
1. In healing (Matthew 8:3; Mark 5:23; Mark 7:32; Acts 5:12).
2. Blessing Children (Mark 10:13)
B. His Followers (The early church):
1. Healing (Acts 28:8).
2. Receiving the Holy Ghost (Acts 8:17, 9:17, 19:6).
3. People were set apart for specific ministry (Acts 6:6).
4. Was accompanied by prophecy at times (Acts 9:17; Acts 13:2, 3; 1Timothy 4:14).
The "laying on of hands" was not mere ceremony or ritual, but a means of imparting life or blessing.
5. THERE ARE TWO RESURRECTIONS DEFINED... (Revelation 20:6, 13-15)
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (John 5:28-29).
"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
"For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body" (Philippians 3:20-21).
"We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).
"They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4-6).
"And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works" (Revelation 20:13).
More References: Job 14:14; Luke 20:35-38; Job 19:25-27; John 11:24-25; Psalm 17:15; 1 Corinthians 15:12-23; Daniel 12:2-3; I Corinthians 15:33-58; Matthew 22:29-32; Philippians 3:10-14; Mark 12:24-27; Colossians 3:4; Luke 14:14; I John 3:2
6. ALL WILL BE JUDGED. (Revelation 20:13, 2 Cor 5:10)
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.... Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:31-34, 41).
"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire" (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Corinthians 5:10-11).
"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).
"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it.... And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:11-15).
More References: Matthew 12:41-42; Matthew 25:14-30; Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:24-29; Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31; Acts 24:25; Romans 14:10-12; 2 Timothy 4:1; 2 Peter 2:4-9; 2 Peter 3:7; Jude 14-15
MEANWHILE: November 1997: Hi, Wes! What can I say? Argentina is unbelievable. There is such a freedom to minister the Gospel there and to have God show up at meetings! It's unreal. People are so hungry for God. I was in a couple of meetings where God showed up in ways I never had experienced before. I have been in some intense meetings but nothing like this. When I got the materials for the conference, I noticed an "impartation" track where the workshop entailed being prayed over. So many of the others looked interesting, but the Lord kept saying "That's head stuff--you know the head stuff--you go get prayed for." So that's what I did, and I tried to get prayed for for any and all things. There were a few nights when I woke up in bed and my body felt on fire--top of my head to the toes just tingling. And I'd walk around without a jacket when everyone else had a sweater or coat on. I was constantly sweating around my neck, but literally all over. It was the weirdest thing. We got almost no sleep all week (4-6 hours a night) but we had energy to keep going, and got by with little naps now and then. Would you believe that the revival in Argentina is being fueled by the prayers of prisoners in a maximum security prison near LaPlata, 1500 out of 3000 of whom are believers, not just believers, but prayer warriors and mighty men in the Spirit? We got to go to Los Olmos prison and attend a service with them--a service where they minister to us. The presence of the Spirit in that rundown chapel was so thick you could cut it with a knife! Then when you find out what is going on there, you almost cannot believe it! I could go on and on, but I won't. Before I left, I had this sense that Argentina was a chapter in the next book! So I'm trying to get all my impressions and facts of the trip down now while they're fresh.
NINO (early 4th century) Missionary to Georgia
As a young girl, Nino was carried away from her Roman home by Cappadocian raiders and made a slave in Iberia (now eastern Georgia). Frightened and lonely, Nino turned to her faith for solace, spending hours in prayer and reflection. When acquaintances asked her to explain her faith, she simply replied that she worshiped Christ as God.
According to the Palestinian priest Rufinus (whose accounts are difficult to verify), Nino healed a sick child through her prayers. Word of the healing reached the Georgian royal court, and the queen, who was seriously ill, visited Nino. The queen was healed, and , impressed by the slave girl's faith and the apparent power of her God, she and the king converted to Christianity.
Much in the accounts of Nino's life must be considered legend, but it is certain that Nino did exist and that she spent considerable time preaching the gospel and building a church. One legend tells how, when her church was being built, one large stone column could not be moved. But when Nino prayed, the pillar raised itself upright and floated through the air to is correct position.
That Nino did convert the monarchs is confirmed in a letter of 334 sent by King Mirian, asking Emperor Constantine for trained clergy to build up the church. Nino was allowed to preach openly for Christ and, like Gregory, against Zoroastrianism. The rest of Georgia eventually followed the royal family's lead.
Hebrews 6:1-2. Foundation of:
2. THERE IS A GOD... (Hebrews 1:1-4)
3. WHY BAPTISM (Matthew 3:11-15) Acts 2:38, 41; 8:12-13, 16, 36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 11:16; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16; Romans 6:1-14 4. THE LAYING ON OF HANDS (Lk 4:40; Ac 8:18; 1 Ti 5:22; 2 Ti 1:6; Ja 5:14; Ex 30:30; 1 Sa 9:16; Ps 23:5).
5. THERE ARE TWO RESURRECTIONS DEFINED... (Revelation 20:6, 13-15)
6. ALL WILL BE JUDGED. (Revelation 20:13, 2 Cor 5:10)
When visitors arrive at the church, they are first impressed by the friendliness and efficiency of church volunteers. With limited space, parking is always a chore, but well trained workers direct the flow of traffic and place more cars than is humanly possible on such a small piece of ground.
Gail Collins, the head greeter, and her capable assistants make sure everyone is personally welcomed to the revival. "What's your name? Where are you from? Is this your first visit to Smithton?" On this night, guests had arrived from Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, New York, Iowa, North Dakota, Oklahoma, California, Alaska, Kansas, Indiana, Michigan, Canada, and of course, Missouri. Because of the wintry blast, guests were spared the normal waiting in line. Instead, they were escorted into the overflow room. Before revival began, this older building was the sanctuary. Now services are held in the church's gymnasium.
Anticipation was building as the hungry guests listened to the shouts of victory coming from the "members only" prayer meeting down the hall. When the doors to the "new" sanctuary were opened at 6:45 P.M., the building was filled in minutes. The ushers, who are also well trained and well equipped, help each group find a seat. Soon there are no more chairs and the rest of the crowd is turned back into the overflow to view the services on giant screen television. The 40 by 70 foot sanctuary is literally filled beyond capacity. As many as 425 are packed inside.
This is a typical crowd for the winter but during more pleasant weather the crowds have grown to 650 or more—a hundred more people than the entire population of the town. The crowd does not wait until service time to worship. As soon as the building fills, the group begins praying, singing, praising, and even bouncing. A pastor's wife from Minnesota testified that on her first visit to Smithton she was most impressed by the fact that "Hungry people were praising God before they had to." It reminded her of how "unhungry" she was. Since January over forty people from their church had visited Smithton.
Before the service begins, an elder talks to the congregation about some "do's and don't's." Personal prophecies are permitted only when approved by an elder. A word from the Lord must be written down and presented to the elders. Only church members with badges are allowed to pray for guests. "Smithton Community Church," he assures the crowd, "is a safe place."
At 7:00 P.M. the place comes alive. To simply say that the music at Smithton is loud and fast is vastly understating both the volume and tempo. To borrow an expression from pop culture, "It rocks!" Suddenly the floor begins to shake under the feet of 400 jumpers, shouters, and dancers. This is revival! When Pastor Steve Gray says, "This church is intense," he, too, is employing an understatement. "Hyper" might be a better word. Why not?
What God is doing in Smithton is exciting. Kathy Gray, the pastor's spouse, and Eric Nuzum lead the worship. They are accompanied by a band and praise team that would be the envy of most churches. The music is a blend of Integrity, Vineyard, hymns, and a number of songs composed by Gray and Nuzum. During the worship, Pastor Gray makes his way to the platform, almost unnoticed by the raptured congregation. As the music continues, he ministers to a few guests who find themselves worshipping on the floor, overcome by God's power. Next, time is taken for testimonies—the pastor's wife from Minnesota, an Air Force pilot from Wichita Falls, Texas, who "loves Jesus 10,000 times more" than before he found the revival, and a young woman who told of a miraculous healing. There is a low-key, no-pressure offering.
After a short break, Gray goes to the keyboard to sing some more of his original compositions. "Hosanna," he announces, "is interested in our music and plans to come here and record." The crowd is as excited as the pastor. Gray's sermon is from Phillipians, Chapter Six. He preaches on "Faultless Religion." The preaching is expository and more confrontational than evangelistic. Gray's style could be described as "teaching with an attitude." He is an excellent communicator. No one leaves Smithton wondering what Gray said or what he meant. He admits that though "sinners" come to the revival and are touched, the revival ministry is mostly to hurting church people. Those who Gray says, "God has got a hold on, but they don't know why." Gray closed his sermon at 10:15 P.M. and those needing a touch from God were invited to the front. Nuzum led in a corporate prayer, followed by another song, "I Will Never Be the Same Again."
While the music continues, individual prayer ministry begins. Gray prays for very few people. The emphasis is on body ministry and the entire church body becomes involved. The prayers of the people are "intense." Gray labels it "prophetic praying" as prayer team members pray for specific but previously unknown needs in the lives of guests. Those praying do not practice "laying on of hands" and seldom touch the one receiving their prayers. Gray feels there has been too much abuse and too many people in too many places have been pushed to the floor. If you fall on your back in the floor at Smithton, it will be the power of God that pushed you down. And, by the way, following prayer most people have a good view of the ceiling. As the crowd begins to disperse—some weeping, some shaking under God's power—they are reminded to leave quietly and not disturb the neighbors, a final reminder that God is doing a really big work in a really small country town. Most who leave will want to return for more. Like Smithton Community Church, they will never be the same again.
Loving God is the greatest commandment and the greatest gift that a man can possess. The second great commandment is to love our neighbor. Keeping these two positive commandments to love will enable us to fulfill all of the negative "do nots" of the Law.
Jack Deere once said, "Passion for the Son of God will conquer a thousand evils in our hearts, and is the most powerful weapon against evil in our lives." Because loving God is our highest goal it must be the primary focus of our lives. That is why one of the enemy's most deceptive and deadly attacks upon the church is meant to divert us from our ultimate quest. It is his strategy to keep us focused on the evil in our lives, knowing that we will become what we are beholding (see II Corinthians 3:18). As long as we keep looking at the evil it will continue to have dominion over us. This is not to imply that we excuse and overlook sin and error in our lives. In fact the Scriptures command us to examine ourselves and test ourselves to be sure that we are still in the faith. The issue is who do we turn to after iniquity is discovered? Do we try to make ourselves better so that we will then be acceptable to God, or do we turn to the cross of Jesus to find both the forgiveness and the power to overcome sin?
A primary strategy of the enemy is intended to keep us focused on the evil, partaking of the Tree of Knowledge, and away from the glory of the Lord and the cross. This tactic comes in the form of a religious spirit. This spirit is the counterfeit to the true love of God, and true worship. This evil spirit has done far more damage to the church than anything the New Age Movement, and all of the other cults combined have been able to accomplish.
A religious spirit is a demon which seeks to substitute religious activity for the power of the Holy Spirit in the believer's life. Its primary objective is to have the church "holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power..." (II Timothy 3:5). The apostle completes his exhortation with "avoid such men as these." This religious spirit is the "leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Matthew 16:6) of which the Lord warned His disciples to beware. A religious spirit keeps us from hearing the voice of God by having us assume that we already know God's opinion, what He is saying, and what pleases Him. This delusion is the result of believing that God is just like us. This will cause even the rationalization of Scripture, having us believe that rebukes, exhortations and words of correction are for other people, not us. In fact, if this is a problem in your life, you have probably already begun to think about how badly someone you know needs to read this. It may not even have occurred to you that God put this into your hands because you need it. In fact, we all need it. This is one issue that each of us is probably battling to some degree. It is imperative that we get free of this devastating deception, and stay free.
SOME WARNING SIGNS OF A RELIGIOUS SPIRIT
1. The tendency to see our primary mission as tearing down what we believe is wrong.
2. The inability to take a rebuke, especially from those we judge to be less spiritual than ourselves.
3. A philosophy that will not listen to men, but "only to God."
4. The inclination to see more of what is wrong with other people, other churches, etc., than what is right with them.
5. Overwhelming guilt that we can never measure up to the Lord's standards. This is a root of the religious spirit because it causes us to base our relationship to Him on our performance rather than on the cross. Jesus has already measured up for us; He is the completed work that the Father is seeking to accomplish within us. Our whole goal in life should be simply to abide in Him.
6. The belief that we have been appointed to fix everyone else.
7. A leadership style which is bossy, overbearing, and intolerant of the weakness or failure of others.
8. A sense that we are closer to God than other people, or that our lives or ministries are more pleasing to Him.
9. Pride in our spiritual maturity or discipline, especially as we compare to others. True spiritual maturity involves growing up into Christ. When we begin to compare ourselves with others it is obvious that we have lost sight of the true goal---Jesus.
10. The belief that we are on the cutting edge of what God is doing.
11. A mechanical prayer life.
12. Doing things in order to be noticed by men.
13. Being overly repulsed by emotionalism. When a person who is subject to a religious spirit encounters the true life of God it will usually appear excessive, emotional and carnal to them. True passion for God is emotional and demonstrative, such as David demonstrated in bringing the ark into Jerusalem.
14. Using emotionalism as a substitute for the work of the Holy Spirit. This would include requiring weeping and wailing as evidence of repentance or "falling under the power" as evidence that one has been touched by God. Both of these can be evidences of the Spirit's true work; it is when we require these manifestations that we are beginning to move in another spirit.
15. Keeping score on our spiritual lives.
16. Being encouraged when our ministry looks better than others. We could include being discouraged when it seems that others are looking better or growing faster than we are.
17. Glorying more in what God has done in the past than in the present.
18. The tendency to be suspicious of, or to oppose new movements, churches, etc.
19. The tendency to reject spiritual manifestations that we do not understand. True humility keeps us teachable and open, patiently waiting for fruit before making judgments. (I Thess. 5:21)
20. The overreaction to carnality in the church. The critical person will want to annihilate those who may still be 60% carnal, but were 95% last year and are making progress, instead of helping them along the way.
21. The overreaction to immaturity in the church.
22. Being overly prone to base evidence of God's approval on manifestations. This is another form of keeping score.
23. The inability to join anything that they do not deem as being perfect or near perfect.
24. Becoming overly paranoid of the religious spirit.
25. The tendency to glory in anything but the cross of Jesus, what He has accomplished, and Who He is.
In an unlikely church on the edge of the city, God has birthed what we believe to be a major revival. At Rehobeth Christian Assembly in Greensboro, NC, for the last five Sundays, God has been taking over the services during the praise & worship. People have been running to the altar, crying out to God, falling out in the Spirit, healings, deliverance, baptisms, etc. I have only preached one time in five Sundays.
On Thursday night, April 2, a 13 Baptist girl received the Holy Spirit in one of our youth home meetings. She was so shy prior to this she would hardly look up in church. On Sunday, April 5th during another powerful manifestation of God's presence, this young girl started laying hands on everyone in the congregation. As she did, each one went down or out in the Spirit.
On Easter Sunday, prophet Bill Alsop showed up at church and said God told him to come to Rehobeth. As this 13-year-old girl walked by him, he sensed the awesome power of God all over her. When she reached her pew and sat down, she started trembling all over. Boom, the power of God was unleashed on the congregation like Pentecost before we could open the service. The Holy Ghost came in and arrested the people. The manifestations lasted til late Sunday night.
A revival has started nightly and we believe the power of God is going to shake the city. There have been visions of flames licking across the sanctuary floor, water falls flowing from the ceiling, demonic spirits cast out, healings, salvations, deliverance from alcohol, ministry confirmations and various emotional healings. In my 20 years of pentecostal ministry, I have never seen anything or experienced the power of God like this. Pray for us and believe God for your fresh anointing in the Supernatural.
Pastor Terry Lineberry. Rehobeth Christian Assembly, 1709 Vernondale Rd., Greensboro, NC 27406;
Saddam Hussein's wild son Uday, whose lifestyle of debaucheries has been creating headlines for years, was bedridden for some time last year after being shot. We have now heard from a reliable source that a young Christian called Rahkma (name changed) "saw herself explaining the gospel to Uday in a dream." The dream made such an impression that she immediately set off on her way to Uday's office in Baghdad. "I have a message for Uday from Jesus Christ, which I can only give him verbally," she told the security guards, who initially suspected an unusual joke, but Rahkma persisted. "Jesus Christ is a well-known person." One of the guards said, "so perhaps we should let the woman in," and spoke with Uday. "There's a woman here who claims to have a message for you from Jesus Christ. We can't get rid of her. What should we do?" Uday told his secretary to send Rahkma to him in his limousine. She spent two hours with him, and could not only explain the gospel to him but also pray with him to invite Jesus into his life. According to the report, Uday was crying as he prayed. "What can I do for you or your family?" asked Uday. "Nothing," replied Rahkma, giving him a Bible. "I'm simply your sister now." Observers consider it unthinkable that Uday will publicly speak of his experience with Jesus in Iraq's current religious and political climate. However, during a televised speech some days later, he spoke out for increased tolerance toward Christians.