In the last three articles we discussed the history of the parallel restoration of Israel and the church. We saw that in each case where there was an impasse between the plan of God for the Jewish people and the agenda of the nations, either a world war or a Mid-East war ensued. Now here we are again. Israel is being surrounded by radical terrorists and ostracized by the nations. A Middle-East war is already underway and Israel will be drawn into the conflict any day with devastating results. Likewise, the nations of the world plan to squeeze and boycott the only democracy in the Middle-East and force them to accept a Palestinian State by the end of September – coinciding with the last Blood Moon on the Biblical Feast of Tabernacles. Thus there is potential for this to be become a world war as well. With the number of nations already involved many believe we are already there. One thing is clear however; there will be no ceasefire or armistice with ISIS. These radical Islamists will continue their march until they are stopped by force. Nevertheless, when it is all over the Middle-East will be rearranged and the status of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount will have changed. Having drawn this conclusion then with regard to the Middle-East struggle, we will now focus on what God is doing with the church.
Looking back on the history of revival we have seen that where the End-Time prophetic plan for Israel was advanced, there was a simultaneous or subsequent restoration in the church. Thus there is an uncanny connection between war and revival. However it is not the war itself that is parallel to revival but the outcome. For instance, there is no direct corresponding revival to World War 1 or World War 11 but the outcome of these wars was the establishment of the State of Israel and with this there is a corresponding revival. In other words it’s not the war itself but the outcome that coincides with revival. Therefore, since the next phase of Israel’s restoration has to do with the Holy Place this war will likely produce the merger of the two and will almost certainly coincide with a major revival or restoration in the Christian Church. However, to learn more about this revival that is about to come it is important to see it in the context of the overall restoration of the last centuries and see what patterns have emerged.
There is much clamor about revival today which often misrepresents and redefines its meaning and purpose. Many are proclaiming revival as a national repentance of Western nations and societies and even world submission to the Lord. But that is not revival it is the Millennial Reign of Christ. Revival, as it has been understood for generations, is restoration to the church of the power and presence of God as well as the truth of His word. It is restoration of experience and truth that has been either lacking or lost. Only Christians or Christ-centered people can experience revival. Those who are not believers are not offered revival but the gospel of salvation. Can they be touched and affected by revival? Yes of course, and many of them are due to the revived state of the church. Nevertheless this is a consequence of revival rather than the purpose of it. Some would argue that revival is about changing culture. They cite stories of how towns and villages in New England or Wales or other places were transformed as revival came. However, what is often missing from these stories is that the places mentioned had in them at the time a majority population of Bible believing Christians either backslidden or lukewarm. They were not people unaware of Christ or His teachings but were mostly churchgoers of some sort. And when revival came to the churches many were stirred and convicted of their need for a renewed experience and relationship with God.
Another fallacy about revival is that it is temporary and need driven. This is the notion that revival comes time and time again just to bring us back to life. When it comes we are good for a few years and then we need another boost to get us back on track. While it is true that desperate people are more likely to receive revival, this mindset has kept us from seeing the big picture and the purpose of revival which is restoration. Church history does not record a series of emergency interventions of God to save the church from extinction but rather a five hundred year acceleration of Biblical restoration. From the Reformation to the Charismatic Movement and the Toronto Revival the church has been experiencing the wave train of a massive Holy Spirit Tsunami intended to restore and prepare the Bride for the end of the age and the return of Christ. And like all tsunamis it is not a single wave but a series of waves that crest and break with increasing intensity until the last one arrives which is usually the strongest. So too since the Reformation, revival has been a series of waves of increasing intensity and acceleration that have restored Biblical experience and truth to the church. They are not random Holy Spirit happenings meeting the need of the moment but phases of restoration following a heavenly pattern. This is not to say that our responses and prayers don’t matter, but somehow our Sovereign Lord works the necessity of our participation together with His Divine plan.
Some believe that the church progressed after the early centuries and has continued to do so reaching an intellectual maturity in our day. They often speak of the church in the Book of Acts as the “primitive church.” However, the majority of us accept that the church fell into decline, losing the fundamentals of the faith and practice and became, by the Middle-Ages, heretical and barely recognizable as Christian. Then in the midst of this sea of corruption and spiritual depravity the Reformation broke like a massive earthquake sending shock waves around the world. Since that time wave after wave of revival has rocked the Body of Christ bringing much freedom and needed understanding. Each one of these waves, which we have come to know as revival, left behind a restoration of truth that had been lost. None of these truths that have been restored are new doctrines or teachings but the same ones found in Scripture and taught and practiced by the early church. Therefore as we look back at revival history, we have the benefit of knowing the outcome of these movements and their lasting effect on the church. From this we can see a heavenly pattern of restoration that seems to be following closely with the seven foundational doctrines given to us by Paul in Hebrews Chapter 6.
“Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of (1) repentance from dead works and of (2) faith toward God, of (3 & 4)instruction about washings, and (5) laying on of hands, and (6) the resurrection of the dead, and (7) eternal judgment. And this we shall do, if God permits.” Heb 6:1-3 (Emphasis Mine)
Each of these foundational doctrines was lost to the institutional church over the centuries in the reverse order beginning with the expectancy of the soon return of Christ to the necessity of repentance and faith toward God for salvation. However with the reformation and consecutive revivals God has been restoring them and making them part of our understanding and practice. Let us examine then this pattern of restoration and see how it enlightens us as to the days we live in and the next revival wave that is about to wash over us.
Reformation – Repentance from Dead Works (1500’s)
The primary revelation of the reformation was salvation by faith and not by works. The church had been so steeped in religious ritual and reliance upon works that the bishops were actually selling salvation to the highest bidder. Also there was no salvation apart from works that were sanctioned and approved by the priest or bishop and ultimately the Pope. Then God broke through to the monk Martin Luther while reading Romans and the revelation flooded his heart that salvation was through faith alone and not by works. And as this truth pierced him the reality that Scripture alone is the foundation for all faith and practice came with it. And while it is true that others had discovered this truth previously, it was Luther who was used by God to shake the church. After him a host of others rose up and the Protestant movement spread throughout the world. Thus the doctrine of repentance from dead works and faith in Christ’s work alone as the means of salvation was firmly established.
Anabaptists – Instruction about Washings 1 (1600’s)
Anabaptists or “Re-baptizers” were the followers of the reformer Ulrich Zwingli who believed that Luther had not gone far enough. Zwingli believed that babies could not be baptized since they could not choose to follow Christ. Thus they were given the name “Anabaptists” as Catholics and Lutherans were re-baptized. There were other emphases of the Anabaptists, such as; the separation of church and state, however, water baptism by immersion for adults was the primary revelation and the first part of foundational doctrine number three.¹
Holiness Movement – Faith Toward God (1700 & 1800’s)
Though it is clear the reformers were teaching faith in God, it was more focused on justification than sanctification and there was still a lot of reliance upon ritual, sacramentalism and hierarchy. The Holiness Movement however, brought believers into a deep personal conviction of sin and revelation of their need for Christ. While the Reformation seemed to major on the mind the Holiness Movement stirred the heart and the affections of the believer and was often accompanied by manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s presence. The Methodist Movement under John and Charles Wesley and George Whitfield, the First and Second Great Awakenings in the American Colonies, and of course the ministry of Charles Finney, are all part of what became known as the Holiness Movement. It lasted from about the 1730’s to the 1840’s and perhaps the most significant legacy of the movement is the restoration of faith in God for salvation and sanctification and the operation of the work of the Holy Spirit in the church.
The Pentecostal Revival – Instruction about Washings 2 (1906)
Though the Holy Spirit was always active among Gods people and His presence was well-known to the adherents of the Holiness Movement, there was not an understanding of being filled with the Spirit or the Baptism in the Spirit. However, a hunger for this experience was created and in Los Angeles California in 1906 the Pentecostal Revival began. It lasted for three and a half years and when it was over there were millions of Pentecostals throughout the world. It was a powerful revival indeed and despite all the schisms and problems that emerged the truth of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was restored to the church.
Latter Rain/Healing & Evangelism Revival – Laying on of Hands (1940’& 50’s)
The Healing and Evangelistic Revival of the post-War era in the United States was a broad movement of mega tent preachers and miracle workers and stadium evangelists such as the beloved Billy Graham. Then in 1948 a revival, which came to be known as the Latter Rain, broke out in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada. As with all of the previous revivals there were extremes and errors associated with the Healing Revival and the Latter Rain Revival among Pentecostals, yet these were powerful moves of God. And though there were many things preached and practiced, all generally agree that the laying on of hands for impartation (Foundational doctrine # 4) was the greatest legacy of the movement. Believe it or not, before this period people were more inclined to wait on the Spirit or “tarry” for the empowerment of God rather than lay hands on each other. But after those revivals, especially Latter Rain, Laying on of Hands became commonplace and normal.
As we consider the fruits of these revivals the pattern of restoration follows the list of foundational doctrines found in in Hebrew Chapter 6 quite closely. Is this purely coincidental or is there a divine plan? And since its been true so far why would the subsequent revivals not also follow the remaining doctrines on the list? Next time² we will follow the trail and see what was the result of the Charismatic Movement and The Toronto Revival and perhaps discover what the next tsunami wave will bring!