Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Revivals Through Revelation

14.21 Revivals through revelation – the Gospel of Grace

There is a powerful revival that has been sweeping across the world – which started a decade ago. This is the revival of the Gospel of Grace, where the Church is returning to the truths of the gospel as presented by the Apostle Paul.

If we study church history, we will see that the church had a tendency to depart from the gospel of Christ back to the system of law under the Old Covenant. Frequently, the church mixes the two covenants, which result in confusion.

This is something that I do not take for granted. For most of my Christian life, I did not understand the gospel; I did not understand what Jesus accomplished on the cross. I grew up in denominations, and there was little emphasis of Jesus in the Sunday sermons. It was usually about what we had to do, but always felt lacking in empowerment.

I did not understand the Bible for myself. But when I truly understood the gospel in all its beauty, I did not want anything less. I have met many people who have been so thrilled to understand the gospel after decades as a Christian. It usually brings about a personal revival. It helps us to see the Bible in a different light. Our lives become energized by the reality of Christ living in us.

This powerful revival came through a revelation of the gospel as explained in the Epistles of Paul. It is a revival of BRINGING THE CHURCH BACK TO THE FINISHED WORK OF CHRIST – BACK TO JESUS.

Every revival which I have shared is really a progression in our REVELATION and EXPERIENCE of Jesus – in an exciting relationship. It is about a daily progression – living in a constant state of revival with Jesus inside you. It is about growing deeply rooted in Christ.

It is not about living in a revival experience of the past. It is not about praying hard enough for God to move again with some external phenomena. It is not about getting stressed up waiting for God to move in the next revival. It is about living each day with a fresh revelation of Jesus – and if we do so, we are already in the midst of revival!

I believe that this revival of the Gospel of Grace is the revival that will prepare the church for the Rapture. If Christianity is about Christ, then this is the greatest revival that will bring us back to the knowledge and experience of the person of Christ.

Therefore, we conclude that in the New Covenant, the quest is THAT WE MAY KNOW and EXPERIENCE the finished work of Christ. Every revival has demonstrated this truth, and we are now in an exciting revival. We encourage you to be a part of this revival.

14.20 Revivals through revelation – the Word of Faith

Kenneth Hagin was raised from his deathbed in 1934 at the age of 17 in Texas and commissioned by God to “teach my people faith.” He is regarded as the father of the Word of Faith revival in the 1970s and 1980s, and his teachings have established the faith of countless believers in God’s Word.

Hagin was born premature, with a heart deformity and a blood condition. Both were incurable. As a teenager, Hagin lay paralyzed for months on his bed and five doctors gave him up for death. A visiting pastor gave him little comfort saying, “Son, it will be over soon.”

But he wanted to live and he knew by the inner witness that the answer was in the Bible. As he read Scriptures on healing (James 5:15) and faith (Mark 11:22-24), he had no one to guide him except the Holy Spirit through the inward voice.

When he lamented that no pastors came to pray for him, the still small voice told him that he could pray the prayer of faith for himself. When he prayed and nothing happened, he was discouraged.

Being bedfast, he had a lot of time to pray and to read the Word. After struggling for some time, Hagin stumbled upon Mark 11:22-24, and RECEIVED A REVELATION from the Holy Spirit. He prayed the prayer of faith and believed God for his healing but nothing happened. He told God that he had prayed and believed according to Mark 11:22-24. The Holy Spirit told him that the last clause of the Scripture said, “Believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” He suddenly realized that he had to believe he had received the healing in spite of the circumstances. He had wanted to receive his healing first, and then believe it.

After receiving the revelation, he began to thank God for his healing. After thanking God for 10 minutes, the Holy Spirit said that healed people should not be in bed. He answered, “That’s right; I’m going to get up.” Faith takes the answer now.

He had no feeling from waist down. He pushed himself to a sitting position and pushed his feet off the bed. They were lifeless like chunks of wood. He grabbed hold of the bedpost and struggled to stand up. Immediately, his mind was filled with doubts and negative thoughts. He hung on to God’s Word; he declared to God that the Word of God is true, and that he was healed. The room seemed to be spinning. He continued thanking God for his healing. Then he felt a warm sensation flow down from his head. When it reached his waist, feeling began to return to his legs. He received his healing by faith.

God commissioned Hagin to “teach my people faith”. God used him in the Word of Faith Revival in the 1970s and 1980s, where God restored important truths about faith and the importance of God’s Word in the Christian life. The teachings restored the revelation of JESUS THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF FAITH. It also restored the truth of FEEDING ON THE WORD (JESUS THE BREAD OF LIFE) to grow in faith.

Hagin wrote many books in his “Faith Library” collection. These books have impacted many believers around the world. It has taught believers to stand on the Word instead of walking by sight, bringing stability to their Christian lives. He taught the Word until a ripe old age and fulfilled his divine calling. His testimony and teachings inspired many other anointed Bible teachers, whom God raised during the revival.

Some of the fastest-growing churches and ministries in the world today are churches that grew out from the Word of Faith Revival.

14.19 Revivals through revelation – the Charismatic revival

In the later half of the 20th century, many evangelical church leaders and members embraced and experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in their own churches. Unlike the Pentecostal Revival which saw Spirit-filled members moving out of their churches, the Charismatic Revival was a renewal within the mainstream churches that had earlier rejected the move.

God raised many leaders within the evangelical churches to play important roles in the Charismatic Revival. One such person was Dennis Bennett, an Episcopalian rector who wrote the book Nine O’clock in the Morning. He heard about this new experience and started on a journey to find the answers. God used him and his book as a catalyst of the Charismatic Revival.

Dennis Bennett was a rector of a large conservative Episcopalian church in Los Angeles. In those days, the non-Pentecostal churches had little understanding of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. One day in 1959, Frank, a young Anglican priest who visited his home told him that a young couple in his church had received the baptism in the Spirit and even claimed to have spoken in tongues, whatever that was. Bennett said that they must be one of those mixed up people.

As Bennett tried to sidetrack the issue, Frank said, “I can’t just brush it away – I have to understand what is going on. I am supposed to be the spiritual leader of the church.” He challenged Bennett to meet them but Bennett didn’t want to get involved in this “emotionalism” business.

Due to Frank’s persistency, Bennett and his wife, Elberta, agreed to meet the couple. With suspicion and apprehension, he told the couple, John and Joan, “What’s it all about? What has happened to you people?” With glowing faces, they shared that they had received the baptism in the Spirit. He asked, “What does that mean?” They answered, “Just like in the Bible.” Bennett wrote:

It was a low blow! As a minister of the gospel – with 16 years’ experience and a graduate degree in theology from a well-known university, I was supposed to know what was in the Bible. Yet as John and Joan talked, I realized that there were some very important things I’d somehow missed.

After the meeting, Elberta said, “I don’t know what these people have but I want it!” Bennett realized he was spiritually dry and hungry deep inside. Could a lack of experience with the Holy Spirit be the reason why Christians today don’t show the same joy, power and assurance that we see in the New Testament? He decided to DO A RESEARCH on the Holy Spirit, which had up till then been a vague, theoretical Being to him.

It was the beginning of a journey to DISCOVER NEW REVELATIONS from the Word of God. He had to struggle to overcome his deep-rooted prejudices against tongues. He had been told by his professor in the seminary that it was emotionalism and offensive. After three months of researching, he said to John and Joan:

“Look here, I’ve been reading my Bible, my Prayer Book, my theological books, my church history, and as far as I can see, this experience you’re talking about is in them all. I want what you’ve got!”

After John and Joan prayed for him for about 20 minutes, he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. He experienced the reality of God’s presence that he had hungered for. Elberta received shortly after and they began to enjoy a newfound intimacy with God. Though he kept his experience at a low profile, the fires of revival began to spread and many members of his church also experienced the baptism.

On 3rd April 1960, he announced publicly to his church that he had received the baptism in the Spirit and had spoken in tongues. He faced immediate opposition from a minority who did not understand this divine experience and he decided to resign as their rector. His controversial story was carried on TV, Time and Newsweek. Soon, he received numerous invitations to share his story both within and beyond his denomination. He also authored a number of books which became one of the catalysts of the Charismatic Revival. It all started with a REVELATION that came through researching the Bible.

(Reference: Nine O’clock in the Morning by Dennis Dennett, Bridge Publishing, Inc.)

14.18 Revivals through revelation – the Pentecostal revival

When the truth of baptism in the Holy Spirit and tongues was lost during the dark ages of Church history, the Church believed that tongues had ceased. Some groups believed that baptism in the Spirit was one and the same experience, as salvation or sanctification.

But when the time was ripe, the truth of the baptism in the Spirit as a separate experience with the evidence of speaking in tongues was restored to the Church in the 20th century Pentecostal and Charismatic Revivals. Today, the majority in the Christian Church uses this prayer language. The largest and the fastest-growing churches in the world today embrace the full workings of the Holy Spirit.

Two men played important roles in the Pentecostal Revival. Just before Christmas in 1900, Charles Parham gave 40 Bible school students an assignment – to find the New Testament evidence of being filled with the Spirit. Three days later, when Parham returned, his students informed him that the only consistent evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit was speaking in tongues. The STUDENTS HAD RECEIVED A REVELATION ON THE BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT BY STUDYING THE WORD.

At almost midnight, New Year’s Day 1901, a student, Agnes Ozman, asked to have hands laid on her to receive the baptism. As other students did so, the Holy Spirit fell and she began to speak in tongues. Three days later, Parham himself received. Persecution came almost as quickly as the baptism.

William Seymour, a black preacher, approached Parham and sat under his teaching. When Seymour started TEACHING THE REVELATION that speaking in tongues is the evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, he was locked out from his church.

Seymour then began to preach in an abandoned church at 321 Azusa Street. After about six months, revival broke out. In 1906, worshippers in Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, United States, experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues and falling under the power of the Holy Spirit. News of the Azusa Street Revival spread and Christians from all over the world flocked to Azusa Street to experience the move. They then carried the fire with them wherever they went.

The established churches rejected the revival of the Spirit that was gathering pace as it challenged the established beliefs and practices of their day. They did not fully understand the phenomena because they thought that tongues had ceased. For several decades, this Pentecostal Revival flourished outside the established denominations. Every Pentecostal group today can trace its lineage directly or indirectly to the Azusa Street Revival.

It all started with a revelation from the word that restored the experience of JESUS THE BAPTIZER IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. In the 1990s, the Lutheran church that I attended experienced a revival through the revelation of Jesus our Baptizer. As the youth president, I got the youths baptized in the Spirit by showing them the revelation of the baptism in the Spirit from the Word of God.

14.17 Revival through revelation – the Reformation Revival

I trust you had a Blessed Christmas – and a renewed revelation of Jesus who came to be the Lamb of God for us. Today, we shall resume Daily Rhema.

Recap - True revival is about RECEIVING A NEW REVELATION ABOUT CHRIST that leads to a new experience of CHRIST WITHIN US. Remember that Paul prayed THAT WE MAY KNOW. When we know a new revelation of Christ, we start to experience revival. It is not about self-performance and human effort in moving the hand of God. It is about KNOWING CHRIST.
We will share demonstrate this truth as we walk down Church history to study some major revivals – starting with the Reformation Revival.

In the dark ages of Church history, the Church became corrupt and lost sight of the gospel. Ordinary people did not have the Word of God and were in bondage. There was no revelation of Christ.

They tried to reach God through their human efforts, like beating themselves, kneeling on rocks, fasting and praying. The Church even taught that indulgences (pieces of paper bought with money) could secure forgiveness of sins. This was a convenient way for the corrupt Church to raise money from the people.

Martin Luther was a monk who did all these yet the guilt of sin hung over his conscience. The turning point in Luther’s life came while he was a lecturer of Theology at Wittenberg University. As he studied the Bible, he was fascinated by the Apostle Paul’s Epistles, especially Rom 1:17, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’ ” He HAD THE REVELATION that the righteousness of God is through grace and received by faith. It was a revelation of JESUS AS OUR LAMB OF GOD – a truth lost in the dark ages.

Luther began teaching the doctrine of justification by faith alone in direct contrast with the prevailing teaching that one is saved by faith and good works. On 31st October 1517, Luther nailed the famous 95 Theses (or arguments) on the door of the church in Wittenberg. He argued strongly against the abuse of indulgences and invited a debate.

For his unwavering stand on the authority of the Bible and justification by faith, he was expelled from the Church and declared an outlaw by the emperor. He almost lost his life for the gospel. The teachings of Luther caught on and resulted in the Reformation movement in the Church. It was a revival that brought the revelation of JESUS THE LAMB OF GOD back to the Church, which resulted in a deeper experience with Christ.

Today, the Church of Christ believes in the doctrine of salvation by faith rather than works, and that Christ’s own righteousness is imputed to those who believe.

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