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The Modern Pentecostal Revival

Pentecostalism represents a fourth major strand of Christianity, alongside Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. It accepts the orthodox Protestant beliefs, but insists that baptism in the Spirit can and must be experienced today by believers, just as the disciples experienced it at Pentecost. Therefore this baptism must be accompanied by the initial evidence of "glossolalia," or speaking in tongues.

The disciples were not only promised power for witnessing when the Holy Spirit came upon them, but also that these signs would follow them: the driving out of demons, the speaking in new tongues and the healing of the sick. [1] Paul speaks of many gifts of the Holy Spirit which were operative in the Apostolic Church of the first century, [2] and Pentecostalism has proved that God never meant these gifts to cease with the death of the apostles, as claimed by the traditional churches.

Pentecostal outpourings in history

Since apostolic times, whenever people sought God earnestly, the Holy Spirit has been received just as at Pentecost, with the accompanying manifestation of speaking in tongues. In fact, Apostolic Fathers such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen and Augustine all testified to the presence of spiritual gifts in their churches. Even during the middle ages in southern Europe, and especially among groups like the Waldenses, [3] there were revivals with accompanying glossolalia. This phenomenon reappeared now and again in times of special spiritual revival, and was present for example among the Huguenots of the 17th, the Methodists of the 18th and the Irish revivals of the 19th centuries. It is therefore not true to assert that "wonders and miraculous signs" [4] ceased after the apostolic age.

The 19th Century

Wesley defended baptism in the Spirit with accompanying glossolalia against criticism, and can be regarded as the great-grandfather of Pentecostalism. The early Methodists taught that sanctification was a second work of grace after justification. The Holiness movement accepted this teaching, but sometimes referred to it as the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

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During the 19th century revivals took place in various parts of the world, gradually increasing in volume. In 1873 there was a revival in New England during which the gifts of the Holy Spirit were manifested. In the same year D.L. Moody visited Great Britain, and the Holy Spirit was poured out on young men at the Y.M.C.A. in Sunderland. In 1875 there was a Pentecostal outpouring in Providence, Rhode Island, where many were healed. In 1892 a revival which lasted several years started in the Swedish Mission Church of Moorshed, Minnesota, and spread to surrounding towns.

Three developments in America towards the end of the 19th century gave rise to Pentecostalism as such: i) The Holiness movement, with its stress on sanctification and the 'higher life,' started within the traditional churches. When these increasingly opposed Holiness teaching, several separate Holiness churches were formed. ii) Because of the increasing frequency of Pentecostal revivals, belief in Spirit baptism as a third blessing became widespread. iii) These revivals were accompanied by manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, eg. the healing of the sick and even the raising of the dead, so that believers started "eagerly desir(ing) spiritual gifts." [5]

The 20th Century: 1 America

In the year 1900, at the Bethel College in Topeka, Kansas, a number of students started searching the Scriptures and concluded that speaking in tongues was the biblical evidence for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. After a period of time spent in prayer, the Holy Spirit was poured out on them. They spoke in tongues and glorified God, interpretations were given and healings took place. The following year these students moved to different cities, and the revival began to spread throughout the state of Texas. In 1905 a Bible school was held at Houston, and about 50 workers were sent out.

One of these workers, a Holiness preacher, was invited to preach at Los Angeles. Thereafter he prayed nightly with a small group in a private house. On April 9 1906, the power of God fell, so that those gathered were baptized in the Spirit. By the next morning the whole city was stirred. People came from everywhere, the sick were healed and sinners were saved. They moved to a large, empty building on Azusa Street and held meetings day and night for 3 years. Thousands of people from all over the country attended the meetings. Upon their return home, they witnessed to what they had seen and heard, with the result that hungry souls began to wait before the Lord, and they also received the same Pentecostal empowerment.

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From the first these people realized that the Lord had come to them as the "latter rain" spoken of by Hosea. [6] They recognized that they were indeed "living in the last of the last days foretold by the prophet Joel" and quoted by Peter. [7] Therefore there were 2 outstanding characteristics of the revival in America: i) From the beginning it was evangelistic, so that "they went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed His word by the signs that accompanied it." [8] ii) It was also missionary, in that they went "into all the world and preach(ed) the good news to all creation." [9] Many missionary societies were established so that the revival spread to every part of the world.

Although the Pentecostal revival came to practically all the churches, it became so universal in the Holiness Church that it was renamed The Pentecostal Holiness Church. Other Pentecostal churches were formed, but then they divided into several denominations under the influence of 3 controversies: i) From 1910 onwards many felt that sanctification and justification were both part of the finished work of Christ on Calvary, and that therefore the baptism in the Spirit was the second and not the third blessing. These views led to the establishment of the Assemblies of God in 1914. ii) Some started teaching that the apostles had baptized only in the name of Jesus and became unitarian in belief. They became the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. iii) Although Pentecostalism started out as an interracial movement, it soon split into eg. a white Assemblies of God and a black Church of God in Christ.

The 20th Century: 2 Britain

The Welsh revival made such a deep impression upon the British people, that prayer groups in various parts of the country started praying for revival. In Sunderland, after a visit of a Norwegian minister in 1907, a Pentecostal revival broke out. By1910 it had spread even as far as Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

At Preston in 1908 a small prayer group started searching the Scriptures. They became convinced that the gifts of the Holy Spirit had been lost to the church through unbelief and that simple faith would bring about a restoration of the gifts. The resultant Pentecostal revival in Preston also led to the founding of the Congo Evangelistic Mission, through which agency thousands of people have been saved and baptized in the Spirit.

The outstanding features of this great outpouring were: the worship, adoration and praise given to our Lord and Saviour, the prominence given to the atoning blood of Christ, and an amazing love for the Word of God. Thousands of people were saved, baptized in water and in the Spirit, and many miracles and healings took place. During World War I the revival abated somewhat, but after 1922 it continued in full strength.

Two Welsh brothers, Stephen and George Jeffreys, were mightily used of God throughout the British Isles. A campaign which started in 1927 at Victoria Hall, Sunderland, drew such crowds that the police had to step in to control them. Probably never before in England have such services and such mighty demonstrations of the power of Calvary been witnessed.

For a few years Pentecostalism remained a movement within the established churches. In 1916 the predominantly Welsh Apostolic Church was formed, and in 1920 the Elim Alliance and the Assemblies of God.

The 20th Century: 3 South Africa

The first Pentecostal message was brought to S.A. from the U.S.A. in 1908. Johannesburg became a revival centre with thousands of people attending meetings every day, and many were saved. The gifts of the Holy Spirit operated and miraculous healings took place. David du Plessis reported years later that the revival had continued unabated, so that by 1940 the Apostolic Faith Mission in S.A. had about 150 established assemblies.

A former Baptist minister from the U.S.A., Mr R.M. Turney, formed a group of baptized believers in Pretoria into the first of the Assemblies of God fellowships. Here many workers were ordained and soon 177 assemblies were established in S.A. A Bible school was started at Nelspruit. A.H. Cooper, who had been involved with Pentecostal work in S.A. since 1908, held some tent services in Durban. Before long he was able to baptize 14 Zulus, and within a few years there were 4000 believers along the coast of Natal.

Conclusion

The growing influence of Pentecostalism on world Christianity has been marked by several significant developments. Early in the 1960s Pentecostal experiences started manifesting in the established Protestant denominations, and became known as neo-Pentecostalism or the charismatic movement. A few years later Catholic Pentecostalism developed. The acceptance of Pentecostalism by the leaders of the World Council marks the first time that more traditional Christianity has welcomed this enthusiastic brand of faith and worship as a valid and important expression of Christianity. The charismatic movement is increasingly breaking down barriers on both sides and bringing about a reconciliation by removing misconceptions.

References:

1. Mark 16:17-18
2. eg. 1 Corinthians 12-14
3. The Waldenses believed and practiced only what is written in the New Testament
4. Acts 2:43
5. 1 Corinthians 14:1
6. Hosea 6:3
7. Acts 2:16f
8. Mark 16:20
9. Mark 16:15

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Bennett, D. The Holy Spirit and You, New Jersey, U.S.A.: Logos International, 1971.

2. Dowley, T. (ed.) The History of Christianity, Herts, England: Lion Publishing, 1977.

3. Frodsham, S.H. With Signs Following, Missouri, U.S.A.: Gospel Publishing House, 1946.

4. Renwick, A.M. The Story of the Church, Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1958.

5. Walker, W. A History of the Christian Church, 4th ed., Edinburgh, U.K.: T + T Clark, 1985.

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Posted in: Bible by on October 23, 2010 @ 12:56 am

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