Expect a Supernatural Revival!

“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!

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Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”            —2 Timothy 2:15, KJV

Some people have used this verse to claim that the Word of God needs to be divided rightly—that some verses apply to Christians, some only to Jews; some only to the apostolic age, some for today.  This has especially been touted in the hyper-dispensational and hyper-grace movements.  However, it is a gross misunderstanding of Scripture.  The terminology of the King James Version of the Bible, “rightly dividing” is imprecise and gives the wrong impression that the Word of God is to be divided.  Nothing can be further from the truth.

In fact, the opposite is true:  The Word of truth is not divided; The Word divides.  Jesus declared, “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).  This means it cannot be unbound, untied. Scripture is all tied together, not a piece here for some, and a piece there for others.

The word translated as “rightly divide” (orthotomeo) does not mean to divide in to parts.  Rather, it means, “accurately handling, making a straight cut, precisely dissecting with.” The New American Standard Bible thus translates it more accurately:accurately handling the word of truth.” The Scripture uses the image of the Word of God as a sword:

  • “Take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”—Ephesians 6:17
  • “The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”—Hebrews 4:12

A sword cuts; it is not cut. The Word of God, as a sword, divides and is not divided. To “rightly divide” the word of truth is not to cut the Word into parts, but rather to use the sword of the Spirit accurately.  Swordsmanship is an art. One does not just flail a sword, but rather employs skillful techniques of thrusting, jabbing, guarding, etc.

Ironically, dispensationalists claim to “rightly divide the word of truth,” by dividing Scripture and church history into dispensations.   Norweigan evangelist Armin Gesswein warns about dispensationalizing away the power of the Holy Spirit, explaining how man’s traditions and reasonings have truncated the gospel:

“Those who taught us the combination key of dispensationalism say, ‘God doesn’t do those things now. God doesn’t work like that any more.’. . . Dispensationalism does not open the book of Acts and the power of God; it closes them. . . . it is arbitrarily superimposed by man. . . . Wherever dispensationalism gets in, it kills the deep spirit of prayer and revival. . . . But how bracing in this day of need to know that we are still in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit just as in the Acts, and that God can baptize and fill believers with His Spirit, set churches on fire, and through them bring sinner to repentance and to Christ. . . . For neither the promise of the Holy Spirit nor the promised Holy Spirit has been withdrawn, except where men no longer want Him as the first Christians did.”

A.W. Tozer also warns about wrongly dividing the word of truth:

“In view of much of today’s dispensational teaching about Bible interpretation, the apostles, miracles of God, and the fullness of the Spirit, I must remind you that the Lord Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. . . . There is nothing that Jesus has ever done for any of His disciples that He will not do for any other of His disciples! Where did the ‘dividers-of-the-Word-of-Truth’ get their teaching that all the gifts of the Spirit ended when the last apostle died? . . . When some men beat the cover off their Bible to demonstrate how they stand by the Word of God, they should be reminded that they are only standing by their own interpretation of the Word.”

Let us wisely wield the Word as the sword of the Spirit and keep the whole Word of God intact, not try to divide it into pieces.

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Truth Has Two Wings

“Let your moderation be known to all” (Phil. 4:5).

“No longer tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine. . .” (Eph. 4:14).

 When a tire is out of balance, our car shakes and shimmies. The same is true about our life and biblical truth. The nature of truth is elliptical, that is, truth tends to revolve around distinct polarities (e.g., God’s sovereignty vs. man’s free will). Neither pole possesses the totality of truth. Rather, a divinely-designed dynamic tension exists between the two focal points. A.W. Tozer explains it in the motto, “Truth has two wings.” Both wings are needed to make truth fly properly:

 “Truth is like a bird; it cannot fly on one wing.

The second text must be placed over against the first

to balance it and give it symmetry,

just as the right wing must work with the left

to balance the bird and enable it to fly.

Truth has two wings.”

 He gives the example of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Satan told Jesus to throw Himself off the pinnacle of the temple, quoting Scripture from Psalm 91, that the angels would protect Him. Jesus replied, “Again it is written, you shall not tempt the Lord your God.” Tozer notes, “The whole truth does not lie in ‘It is written,’ but in ‘It is written’ and ‘Again it is written.’”

Rather than a contradiction, the seeming paradoxes are really the two wings of truth, two sides of the same coin. We see this in many of Jesus’ teachings: we must lose our life to save it; a grain of wheat must die to bear fruit, and so on. A.J. Gordon, the 19th century Baptist pastor who founded Gordon College and Gordon-Conwell Seminary, cited William Lincoln’s insightful commentary on the need for balancing polarities of truth:

“The only way for a believer, if he wants to go rightly, is to remember that truth is always two-sided. If there is any truth that the Holy Ghost has impressed upon your heart, if you do not want to push it to the extreme, ask what is the counter-truth, and lean a little of your weight upon that; otherwise, if you bear so very much on one side of the truth, there is a danger of pushing it into a heresy. Heresy means selected truth; it does not mean error: heresy and error are very different things. Heresy is truth; but truth pushed into undue importance to the disparagement of the truth on the other side.”

Certain teachings and their critics represent contra-polarities. Each holds elements of truth, but also elements of error, and thus each breaks the dynamic tension between the focal points of truth. Often it is not a case of “either-or,” but rather “both-and,” as Gordon expressed the dynamic tension: “Because we find both sides of this truth distinctly expressed in Scripture, we must be sure to emphasize both.”

Gordon’s contemporary, Charles Spurgeon, likewise wrote, “The man believes one doctrine, perhaps, and that is so delightful that it swallows up every other. Then he gets hold of another, and he swings that way like a pendulum; no doctrine can be true but that one. Perhaps in a little time he swings back like a pendulum the other way. He is unsteady because, while his faith perceives the truth, it does not perceive the harmonies of truth. He is half-blind, and cannot see far.” Tozer gives us sound counsel for such issues today:

 “Many of the doctrinal divisions among churches are the result of a blind and stubborn insistence that truth has but one wing. Each side holds tenaciously to one text, refusing grimly to acknowledge the validity of the other. Lack of balance in the Christian life is often the direct consequence of overemphasis on certain favorite texts, with a corresponding under-emphasis on other related ones. Let’s use both wings. We’ll get farther that way.”

 

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The Enjoyed Presence of God

“You will delight yourself in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the high places of the earth.”—Isaiah 58:14

Throne Experience Delights in God’s Presence

 In the last blog, I shared about “throne experience,” actualizing throne life in our lives.  Tozer calls this throne experience, “The interior journey of the soul from the wilds of sin into the enjoyed Presence of God.” He explains:

“Though the worshipper had enjoyed so much,
still he had not yet entered the Presence of God.
Another veil separated from the Holy of Holies
where above the mercy seat dwelt the very God Himself
in awful and glorious manifestation.
It was this last veil which was rent
when our Lord gave up the ghost on Calvary,
and the sacred writer explains that this rending of the veil
opened the way for every worshipper in the world
to come by the new and living way
straight into the divine Presence.

Ransomed men need no longer pause in fear
to enter the Holy of Holies.
God wills that we should push on
into his presence and live our whole life there.
This is to be known to us in conscious experience.
It is more than a doctrine to be held,
it is a life to be enjoyed every moment of every day.”

 Tozer invites us, as ransomed people of God, to realize that we can live in the Divine Presence of Almighty God! Not just visit, mind you, but LIVE in His presence. This is what the old monk Brother Lawrence called “Practicing the Presence of God.” We abide in His presence in the heavenlies moment-by-moment, day-by-day. Daniel Whittle expresses this thought well in his 19th century hymn:

 Moment by moment I’m kept in His love;

Moment by moment I’’ve life from above;

Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;

Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

 Life from above—moment-by-moment—this is throne experience, gaining our life, our strength, our enablement day-by-day by being connected to the Vine—by having the life of Jesus flow through us.

 Abba Father—Experiencing Intimacy with God.

 To many of us, God the Father is like a stern old man difficult to get to know, distant from us. The concept of God as the “numinous,” the “wholly other,” though true, often keeps us from realizing that God is not only transcendent, awesome and fearful, but that He is also personable, approachable, and desires a close personal intimate relationship and fellowship with Him.

 A.W. Tozer calls that intimacy of the Holiest “the sacred gift of seeing, the ability to peer beyond the veil and gaze with astonished wonder upon the beauties and mysteries of things holy and eternal.” Fanny Crosby understood personally that throne intimacy with God, relating it in her classic hymns “Draw Me Nearer” and “Blessed Assurance”:

 “O the pure delight of a single hour that before Thy throne I spend.

When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God, I commune as friend with friend.”

“Perfect submission, perfect delight,

visions of rapture now burst on my sight.

Angels descending, bring from above,

echoes of mercy, and whispers of love.”

May your eyes be opened to see into the heavenlies today and to enjoy the manifest presence of God!

Excerpted and adapted from Come Up Higher by Paul L. King (available at paulkingministries.com)

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Experiencing Throne Life!

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know. . .” (Eph 1:18)

Paul’s prayer is not that we would intellectually know in our mind. Rather, it is that we may experience. The word Paul uses for “know” means to know by experience, by acquaintance. Paul is praying that we might experience the hope of His calling, the riches of His inheritance in our lives and the surpassing power of resurrection life.

If we are seated in heavenly places with Christ positionally, then positionally and legally we have everything in Christ. Positionally and legally, we are healed. Positionally and legally, we have victory. Positionally and legally, we have everything provided for that we need. Positionally and legally, we have every blessing in the heavenly places. It is a matter of making what is positional and legal then also experiential. As we more and more realize our position, we can more and more actualize our position—live it out experientially in our lives.

Throne Life Actualized

Andrew Murray declared, “The more a man lives in heaven, the better fitted he is to live on earth.” Throne position is intended to become throne experience. It is not merely theological or academic. It is not abstract and ethereal; it is meant to be experienced. George Peck explains that throne-experience occurs “when the believer’s enlightened faith successfully claims his associated position and privileges with Christ.”The Holy Spirit imparts “to us a consciousness of union with Christ (John 14:20; 1 John 4:13), . . . whereby we realize that we are ‘complete in Him which is the Head of all principality and power’ (Col 2:10).”In other words, the Holy Spirit enlightens us.

Throne Experience Feels Vibrancy of Life. We have actualized Throne Life, or made it real, when our “association with Christ in heavenly places becomes vivid and habitual” and our “experience grows correspondingly victorious.” He mentions three qualities of throne experience. First, our intimate connection with Jesus becomes “vivid.” We have an “ah-hah!” experience in which we see clearly, brightly, vividly. We really envision ourselves in the presence of Christ. It is no longer just an abstract thought; we see Jesus like we have never seen Him before.

Throne Experience Becomes Habitual. Secondly, our association with Jesus is “habitual.” It is abiding with Christ, staying in close contact with Him. No longer going up and down, back and forth, in the Holiest of Holies and out, but rather a consistency and a constancy of communion with Christ. When something becomes habitual, it becomes second-nature. We don’t have to think about it. When we have actualized Throne Life, it becomes natural. We become naturally supernatural and supernaturally natural.

Throne Experience Is Victorious Life. Third, throne experience becomes a life of victory. It is then, Watchman Nee describes, “When eyes are really opened to see Christ as our victorious Lord, then our praise flows forth freely and without restraint. . . . Praise that is the outcome of effort has a labored and discordant note, but praise that wells up spontaneously from hearts at rest in Him has always a pure, sweet tone.”

Personalize Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:16-19 and make it your daily prayer:

“Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, grant me, according to the riches of Your glory, to be invigorated with might through Your Spirit in my inner being, that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith, that I, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to grasp with all the saints the width and length and depth and height—to know by experience the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge; that I may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Adapted from Come Up Higher! by Paul L. King (available at paulkingministries.com)

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Are You a Prince or a Pauper? Understanding Throne Life

“God . . . seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6)

Understanding our throne position determines our attitude and disposition in life. If we do not realize or cannot conceive what it means to be seated on the throne of God in Christ, we cannot soar. We cannot experience the heights God has intended us to reach. We can only see life from the valley. However, once we view our lives from our position at the throne of God, we have a whole new perspective on life—a mountaintop view.

The Believer’s Position in the Heavenlies

George Peck, classic author of Throne Life, explains the two dimensions of our throne: 1) future—“On his future throne we shall be personally with Him; and 2) present—“on His present throne we are with Him representatively, in God’s purpose and thought; generically, as we are born of Him; and spiritually, in conscious communion with Him, through His indwelling Spirit.” Peck further distinguishes between three aspects of present throne position:

  • Throne ways of being—since we are born of God and we are united with Him—Christ is in us and we are in Him, and we are God’s royal children.
  • Throne ways of thinking—as we sit with God on His throne representatively in God’s purposes and thought, we begin to think throne thoughts—thinking as God thinks.
  • Throne ways of living—as we are in constant awareness of His presence and fellowship through the Spirit, we experience intimate communion with Him and the life of the throne.

Throne Ways of Being—Throne Union

“Throne union” is based on the union of the believer with Jesus Christ. As A. B. Simpson declares, “The Man who is in you now is a Heavenly Man.” A.W. Tozer explains, “When God infuses eternal life into the spirit of a man, the man becomes a member of a new and higher order of being.”

Princes, Not Paupers. Simpson declares, “We have ceased to be paupers and have become princes.”  A century later, Neil T. Anderson captures Simpson’s thought: “Do you see the incredible kindness of our Lord in saying to a beggar who has known only rejection, ‘Come, sit with me at my right hand’?”  Kris Vallotton and Bill Johnson have also expanded upon Simpson’s vision in their book The Supernatural Ways of Royalty, writing chapters about “The Plight of Pauperhood” and “Castle Tramps or Palace Princes.”

Because we are in Christ and Christ is in us, we are identified with Him in His death, resurrection, and ascension. Christ in us is the hope of glory (Col 1:27). We are united with Christ, bonded together with Him. By virtue of identification with Jesus Christ, we are seated with Him in heavenly places on the throne of God. A.B. Simpson describes Throne Life in this way:

  • “This is much more than resurrection. It is ascension. It is taking the place of accomplished victory and conceded right, and sitting down in an attitude of completed repose, from henceforth expecting with Him until all our enemies be made our footstool. It is throne life. It is dwelling with Christ on high, your head in the heaven even while your feet still walk the paths of the lower world of sense and time. This is our high privilege.”

As redeemed humanity, we are raised up to His level. Because we are His body, we are where He is; we ascend to where He ascends. We are dwelling on high with Christ. We are royal children of the King with full access to the throne.  Throne Life is the Christ Life. Are you experiencing Throne Life? Are you living the Christ Life?

Excerpted from Come Up Higher by Paul L. King (available at http://www.paulkingminstries.com)

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