“And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh.”—Acts 2:16
“And He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain and the latter rain.”—Joel 2:23
People often associate Pentecostals as the source for the belief in the latter rain of revival in the last days before the 2nd Coming of Christ. The early Pentecostal movement emphasized the latter rain of Joel. The revival in Canada beginning in 1948 was called the Latter Rain Movement. However, the belief in a latter rain end time revival was taught by evangelicals before the Pentecostal movement.
The great 19th century Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon declared that we should expect to see an increase of the supernatural:
“If at the commencement of the gospel we see the Holy Spirit work great signs and wonders, may we not expect a continuance—if anything, an increased display—of His power as the ages roll on? If there is not a miraculous spiritual power in the church of God today, the church is an imposter. Only let men come back to the real gospel and preach it ardently, not with fancy words and polished speech but as a burning heart compels them and as the Spirit of God teaches them to speak it; then will great signs and wonders be seen. We must have signs following; we cannot otherwise answer the world.”
Spurgeon was once a cessationist who did not believe in the gifts of the Spirit today, but he changed his mind.
Spurgeon’s friend, pioneer missionary J. Hudson Taylor, declared we are supernatural through and through: “We are a supernatural people born again by a supernatural birth, kept by a supernatural power, sustained on supernatural food, taught by a supernatural Teacher from a supernatural Book. We are led by a supernatural Captain in right paths to assured victories.”
Another 19th century evangelist who changed his mind was Dwight Moody, founder of Moody Bible Institute. He admits he was wrong: “I believe Pentecost was but a specimen day. I think the church has made this woeful mistake that Pentecost was a miracle never to be repeated. I have thought to the Pentecost was a miracle that is not to be repeated. I believe now if we looked on Pentecost as a specimen day and began to pray we should have the old Pentecostal fire here.”
His ministry influenced another Baptist, A.J. Gordon (founder of Gordon College and Seminary), who saw people healed in Moody’s meetings. Quoting German professor Theodore Christlieb, Gordon declared, “In the last epoch of the consummation of the Church she will again require for the final decisive struggle with the powers of darkness the miraculous interference of her risen Lord; and hence the scriptures lead us to expect miracles once more for this period.” As the church approaches the end of this present age, he reasoned, so the church will need the supernatural powers of God to combat the supernatural powers of darkness.
A.B. Simpson, friend of Gordon and former Presbyterian minister who founded the Christian and Missionary Alliance, also anticipated this latter rain revival:
“We are to expect a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in connection with the second coming of Christ and one as much greater than the Pentecostal effusion of the Spirit as the rains of autumn were greater than the showers of spring. There is no reason whatever to suppose that the great prophecy of Joel was fulfilled in any complete measure by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and in Apostolic times. We are in the time when we may expect this latter rain.”
In spite of the chaos and ungodliness in the world around us today, let us expect a greater outpouring of the latter rain. Let us anticipate a supernatural revival!