A Brief History of and Explanation of Sanctification

The idea of sanctification (the process of becoming holy or being transformed into holiness, or eliminating intentional sin) as a work of the Spirit was first propagated by John Wesley in the mid to late 1700′s.  “Wesley held that, in this life, Christians could come to a state in which the love of God, or perfection, reigned supreme in their heart.” (1)  Wesley held that this was an additional work of the Spirit secondary to the salvation experience.  Thus. It was coined the “second work of grace.”  This view remained prominent throughout Christianity until the early 1900’s.  It was emphasized during the great Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles.  William Seymour, the leader of the revival, writes in his newsletter, the Apostolic Faith, “Ten here have received sanctification, and five are filled with the Holy Ghost and speaking in tongues.” (2)  They saw sanctification as an event rather than a process and many would, “pray through to sanctification.”  This view was challenged in 1910 by William Durham, who had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Azusa Street.  Durham developed the “Finished Work” theology.  “Durham emphasized that sanctification was a matter of identification with Christ and that by faith in what was accomplished on the Cross, the Christian could live victoriously.  As the believer identified in faith with Christ’s death and resurrection, the sin nature was crucified and the resurrection power was made available.  For Durham and others who adopted his views, sanctification was progressive and ongoing transformation in contrast to an emphasis on a crisis experience.” (3)  This teaching, which is embraced by most Protestants today, while it’s rooted in scripture, it tends to de-emphasizes the need for sanctification.  From the time of Wesley to the early Pentecostals, Christians pursued sanctification.  They prayed for it and many actually received an impartation of the love of God.  In modern times, this need has been de-emphasized by “finished work” theology.  The reality is that both positions, Wesley and Durham, have benefit for today’s Christians.

It is absolutely biblical that Jesus purchased, on the cross at Calvary, our justification (forgiveness of our sins), our sanctification (the power for us to move to holiness), and our baptism in the Holy Spirit (empowerment for ministry).  Nothing else is required by God for us to move into all three of these areas traditionally known as the “Full Gospel.”  It is absolutely possible for a believer to experience all three of these at the time of salvation.   It happens and it is biblical.  However, more often than not, the three are received over time as the Christian continues to grows in Christ.  The concern, in our time, is that Christians have stopped pursuing an experience where they are so filled with the love of God that they desire to stop intentional sin.  Many times the identity crisis of Christians will be solved with an infilling of the love of God.  This infilling of love is a work of the Spirit.  It is recommended that Christians suffering form the identity crisis pursue it.  It has transforming effects.  Worshipers form the Azusa Street revival would encourage us to “press-in” for it.  It will only come from the Spirit and we should put ourselves into a position for the Spirit to impart to us all that Jesus purchased for us.

Endnotes

1.  Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wesley.

2.  Hyatt, Eddie, Fire on Earth, Creation House, Luke Mary, FL, 2006, page 97.

3.  Hayford, Jack; Moore, David, The Charasmatic Century, Warner Faith books, New York, NY, 2006, page 116.

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Revival is a Mess

“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” (Pro 14:4 ESV)

     Revival is messy business. So many issues are bound to arise out of a movement of God. There is no coincidence that John Wesley prayed, “Lord, send revival without all the defects, but if this is not possible, send revival anyway. We must have revival.” (1) Wesley, knew all to well, that revival brings out issues. I think there is an obvious spiritual reason for it.

     The last thing that the devil and the demonic hordes of hell want is for revival to take place. Why? Because a true revival develops multitudes of people that remain faithful to God because of their experiences in revival. Revival raises up ministers for the Kingdom of God that have a lasting impact on the world. We could quote numerous sources from Azusa Street and the Toronto revival where this point is amply illustrated. (2) Nevertheless, revival changes people. It changes the most notorious sinners into saints, and it changes saints into anointed and powerful men and woman of God. Obviously, this is something that hell would like to avoid. Hence, it does all that it can to prevent it from occurring. Some of us may be experiencing this now, in this present time. We must, however, press on. Revival is going to come, so we must press on in prayer. ( Please see my post from last year about praying for revival. Many great revivals have been birthed in prayer, Red River, Azusa Street, and the Welsh revival.)

     Even after revival begins, hell does all that it can to destroy and stop it. Again, the historical references here are too numerous to list. We can begin with Clara Lum stealing William Seymour mailing list after his marriage. Prior to that, Evan Roberts was deceived by the Lewis-Penn couple and locked away for years ending the Welsh revival. The recent Brownsville, Florida revival was ended over division that originated from a so-called prophetess. Lastly, the events of the Lakeland revival with Todd Bentley are all obvious examples that the forces of hell move violently to stop revival. Therefore, we must be prepared.

     We must remain transparent with one another and maintain lines of communication. We must remain connected to each other in covenant relationships. We must have humility to allow God to control everything that is happening. We can not allow doctornal issues to separate unity of the Body. What matters most during revival is that people are experiencing the Presence of God in such profound ways that it changes who they are as individuals. Nothing should ever be done to hinder this work of the Holy Spirit. This is what matters most. We must be flexible to allow God to change our own religious paradigms. Revival happens when God works outside of the box of how we feel He should operate. We must be open to God doing things that make us somewhat uncomfortable without attempting to control or change what is happening. The Holy Spirit must have complete control to change any order of any service regardless of who the speaker or worship leader might be. We must never allow pride to justify harboring an area of sin.

     Humility, above all else, is key to revival. My dear friend, Brian Vandiver, had a wonderful experience where humility became a living entity to him. I believe this is huge. This is what is necessary for the continuing of revival. Humility and a spirit of repentance. Frank Bartelemann Of Azusa street once wrote that, “the depth of revival will be determined exactly by the depth of the sprit of repentance.”(3) We must be willing to be convicted about stuff and be able to confess that to each other without a fear of judgment or condemnation. Neither of which exist in the Kingdom of Christ. When the power of God shows up, it will change the saints. We must allow the presence of God to convict us and bring us to repentance about whatever issues might exist. Randy Clark, one of the leaders of the Toronto revival wrote, “Revival is not just abut power. It is not even primarily about power. More importantly, it is about love and humility. Are we willing to allow the Holy Spirit to do whatever it takes to break us of our pride, our need to control, out of self-seeing motives in ministry? Are we desperate enough for Him to let Him completely have His way in us.”(4) Revival has a transforming effect on people and transformation can get real ugly. Can we please remember that each of are human beings and are fallible. Let us operate out of a spirit of love, mercy, and grace.

      It is important to remember that persecution will follow revival. Again, there are too many historical examples to site. The Los Angeles Times blasted the Azusa Street revival. Fox news blasted the Lakeland Revival. In old days, drunken mockers would come to disrupt services. During revival, hell ramps up its efforts to instill in us the “fear of man” so as, to shut down the revival. We must not allow this to happen. It can be combated by being transparent about our fears and discussing them with one another and with God. Through our relationships with each other and with God, we can overcome them.

     There will also be different manifestations of the Spirit. We must be willing to accept this while praying for discernment to see where demonic spirits may be attempting to operate during a meeting. However, we must allow an environment that permit’s the unique expression of a person individuality and their relationship with God without prejudice. Frank Bartlemann writes, “But we can be cautious without being critical. We can be discerning without being destructive. Oh, let us have an open mind lest we be among those who cling to tradition and miss God.” (5)

     We must also take care of each other and watch for potential burnout. When revival fires are burning, people don’t get much sleep, and they tend to eat poorly. I remember Todd Bentley’s doctor telling him that he had the body of a sixty year old man, when Todd finished revival. We must watch each other and take care of each other. Roberts Liardon has some good advice in this arena, He writes, “Mature revivalist much learn to care for their physical bodies. You can live out of your spirit, operate in the anointing, and get the rest you need. If you don’t disaster is pending…A revivalist must know how to lead and rest in order to remain a vital instrument of God.” (6)

 Endnotes

1. Clark, Randy, There is More! Reclaiming the Power of Impartation, Global Awakening, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2006, page 123.

2.  Here the reader is referred to the above mentioned book by Randy Clark. Suffice it to say here that Heidi and Rolland Baker powerful movement in Mozambique has roots in the Toronto Revival. Secondly, the reader is referred to a book which is a collection of William Seymour’s newsletter that came from the Azusa Street revival: Hyatt, Eddie, (editor) Fire on the Earth, Creation House Publishing, 2006.

3. Bartlemann, Frank; Azusa Street; Whittaker House, New Kinsington, PA, 1982, page 19.

4. Clark, page 186.

5. Bartlemann, page 173.

6. Liardon, Roberts, God’s Generals, Whitaker House Publishing, New Kensington, PA, 1996, page 88-,89.

The Kingdom of God: Repentance

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent…‘” (Acts 2:38)

Jesus emphatically states that one must be “born again” if he is to see the Kingdom of God.  God is Spirit (John 4:24) and His Kingdom is of the spiritual realm.  Jesus describes His Kingdom as not “being of this world” (John 18:36).  This tells us that the kingdom of God is not a physical place in the physical realm.  It is not a place that one can travel to, not a destination, it doesn’t have a current address.  The Kingdom is of the spiritual realm or the invisible realm around us.  The physical realm we experience with our five senses but the spiritual realm requires a spiritual re-birth in order to experience.

Humans are born into a natural fallen selfish and sinful condition that is generally incapable of spiritual insight.  Paul writes, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” ( I Corinthians 2:14)  In order to see into the spiritual realm, one needs the Sprit of God living inside of them.  The only way to receive the Spirit of God is through the remission of sin.   God is Holy and cannot live in the presence of sin.  Therefore, sin must be atoned for in order for the presence of God to take up residence and remain.  The only way to atone for sin is through the shedding of blood. (Leviticus 17:11)  Hence, a sacrifice is required.  A sacrifice that is powerful enough to change the inner man to allow humans to become the dwelling place of God.  There is no greater love for a human than for one person to lay down their life for another.  Consequently, the willful sacrifice of Jesus qualifies to minister the Spirit of God unto us.   Upon the belief that Jesus was fully God and fully man, that he died for ones sins and that He has risen from the grave, a person may begin to sow into the spiritual Kingdom.  With this faith, in the person and work of Jesus, confession of sin can be made and the supernatural work of repentance begin inside of the soul.  The Spirit of God invades the persons heart and takes up residence making them a “new creation”.  Once this happens, we have entered into and can now see, the Kingdom of God.  The invasion of the Holy Spirit causes this “born again” experience.  We have become sons and daughters of the Royal Family and our now heirs with Christ.

The pre-requisite to receiving the Holy Spirit, is a conviction of sin that leads to a heart change with a subsequent impact on lifestyle.  This change is called repentance.  The word repent, in Greek, is actually a combination of words that mean “after” and “to think”.  Repentance is a decision that results in a change of mind which in turn leads to a change of purpose and action.(1).  Repentance is the ultimate act of humility.  It is admitting to oneself and God that my thinking and my lifestyle have been in error and I recognize this and desire to change it.  It’s the admission that my mind, thoughts and opinions are not great sources of edification but actually are a source of stumbling.  It is both a supernatural act (One that is driven by the Spirit) and an act of the will.  .  Benny Hinn writes, “Repentance is a daily experience.  And it‘s supernatural experience, not something you can humanly accomplish by yourself.  It‘s a gift of the Holy Spirit…That‘s the true meaning–not only confessing, but also forsaking.  Have nothing to do with it anymore.  You get on you knees and you say, ‘Lord, never again‘ and you don‘t walk out until the thing is dealt with.” (2)  Having a repentant heart is essential for growth in the kingdom.  Jesus says, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17)

The degree to which we have a repentant heart, is the degree that we move into the deeper things of God.  Frank Bartleman of the Azusa Street revival writes, “the depth of revival will be determined exactly by the depth of the spirit of repentance.” (3)  Christians will continue to go deeper into the kingdom so long as we are willing to have the Spirit show us and remove areas of sin from our character.  Any revival, either corporate or individual, will cease growth when the repentance of the heart ceases.

Endnotes

1.  Hayford, Jack, The Spirit-filled Life Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN page 1407.

2.  Hinn, Benny, “The Anointing”, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1992, page 130.

3.  Bartlemann, Frank, “Azusa Street”, Whitaker House, New Kensington, PA, 1982,  page 19.