Thoughts on Praying for the Latter Rain and Revival

Fred Bischoff

 

Our greatest need is the Holy Spirit, to be under His constant guidance, ever sensitive to His promptings, ready to die to our fallen nature that continually resists His gentle, omnipotent power.

The Spirit of God, as it comes into the heart by faith, is the beginning of the life eternal. What promise is less fulfilled in the church than that of the endowment of the Holy Spirit? Here is our greatest need. Let the spirit of controversy be put away, and let us seek for the living testimony of the Spirit of God. The teacher must be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Then the mind and spirit of Christ will be in him, and he will confess Christ in a spiritual and holy life. He will give evidence that the truth he has received has not been merely in theory, but that he has been sanctified through the truth. He can talk of Christ and him crucified in language that savors of heaven. He can present the will of God to man because his own heart has been brought into submission, and has been glorified by the Spirit of God. The sun of righteousness is risen upon him, that he may reflect its brightness to the world.  {RH, February 9, 1892 par. 21}

 

When speaking of praying for the Holy Spirit and revival, I am always reminded of the lessons from the disciples' experience in the light of the Advent movement. Briefly put, we must understand the preparation necessary for the outpouring of the Spirit.[1]

The experience of the Advent believers paralleled in an amazing way the experience of the disciples of Christ. Both were led by God to proclaim a message of the coming of the kingdom, based on a time prophecy in Daniel.[2] One preached Christ's first coming, and the other, His second. Neither understood fully the message of truth they were presenting, and when the event arrived of which they preached and to which they looked, they were sorely disappointed.[3] Both were led back to Scripture for a deeper understanding of what had actually occurred, and both were dependent upon personal instruction from Jesus to enable them to understand Scripture correctly.[4] Both needed to see and enter into what was presently occurring in their day as prefigured in the sanctuary system.[5] And both could follow Christ in His present work only as they experienced true repentance and genuine faith.[6]

However, the parallel experiences diverge at this point. The disciples accepted the testimony of Jesus, which involved seeing Him and themselves in a clear light, and they entered into repentance and remission of sin, were thus united, and then received the outpouring of the Spirit, which empowered them to take the gospel to the world.[7] The Advent believers in contrast lost their experience of earnestly searching for present truth, of following the Lamb wherever He went, and became Laodicean, the essence of which was the inability to accept the testimony of the True Witness regarding their condition. For a while a revival occurred when the message to the angel of the church of Laodicea was presented in the 1850's.[8] But the work was not deep.

All of God's work for His end-time church since then can be seen to be in the context of His attempt to take them through the completion of that preparation experience, so that the Spirit can be poured out to enable a finished work.[9] This reality does not mean His people should stop evangelizing and focus on their own needs. No, for Christ Himself sent His disciples out to preach, teach, and heal while they were still struggling with "who is the greatest."[10] But He did clearly say that their empowerment for a yet-unseen work awaited a time of preparation, which Luke 23 & 24 records.[11] After this experience, they were able to enter into genuine worship[12] and unity.[13] Then, and only then, could the Spirit's power be poured out to amplify their witness. If God had "turned up the volume" on their lives before Luke 23, what would the world have heard? Can we see what He is facing, when we plead for His Spirit without the necessary preparation?

To pray for the outpouring of the Spirit while resisting the preparatory work of the Spirit, make us vulnerable to receiving a false spirit. This is the explicit warning of Ellen White's February 1845 vision.[14] It appears to me that Seventh-day Adventism has become extremely vulnerable to a counterfeit "holy spirit" due to this on-going situation. This explains many of our modern worship trends, which are taken directly from the experience of Christians who corporately have not accepted the most holy place ministry of Christ. The practical meaning of not following Christ into the Most Holy Place is not to enter into the experience that Israel was to have on the Day of Atonement, namely, to humble themselves, to trust totally in God's atoning sacrifice in Christ, to cease their own works to save themselves, and to press together corporately in this focus on Christ in His final heavenly work.[15]

Consider again the parallel in light of Luke 24. To fail to follow Christ into the Most Holy Place is experientially equivalent to the disciples' failing to move from the type to the antitype. This we know most Jews refused to do.[16] However, His remaining disciples were finally willing, after the cross destroyed their own self-centered plans and ambitions, to accept Christ's diagnosis of their condition[17] and His explanation of His current mission with it core character.[18] They then were able to enter into it experientially. Again, this is what Christ has attempted to do with His second-advent people repeatedly.[19] It must happen before the genuine Latter Rain is poured out "without measure."[20] Will we submit to it?

 


 

Appendix

 

EGW Statements Speaking of Preparation (all emphasis supplied)

 

Every individual must realize his own necessity. The heart must be emptied of every defilement, and cleansed for the indwelling of the Spirit. It was by the confession and forsaking of sin, by earnest prayer and consecration of themselves to God, that the early disciples prepared for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The same work, only in greater degree, must be done now. . . .  {FLB 333.5}

 

The third angel, flying in the midst of heaven and heralding the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus, represents our work. The message loses none of its force in the angel's onward flight, for John sees it increasing in strength and power until the whole earth is lightened with its glory. The course of God's commandment-keeping people is onward, ever onward. The message of truth that we bear must go to nations, tongues, and peoples. Soon it will go with a loud voice, and the earth will be lightened with its glory. Are we preparing for this great outpouring of the Spirit of God?  {5T 383.2}

 

We should be often in prayer. The outpouring of the Spirit of God came in answer to earnest prayer. But mark this fact concerning the disciples. The record says, "They were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." They were not assembled to relate tidbits of scandal. They were not seeking to expose every stain they could find on a brother's character. They felt their spiritual need, and cried to the Lord for the holy unction to help them in overcoming their own infirmities, and to fit them for the work of saving others. They prayed with intense earnestness that the love of Christ might be shed abroad in their hearts. This is our great need today in every church in our land. For "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." That which was objectionable in the character is purified from the soul by the love of Jesus. All selfishness is expelled, all envy, all evil-speaking, is rooted out, and a radical transformation is wrought in the heart. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." "The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.  {RH, July 22, 1890 par. 15}

 

It is the privilege of every earnest seeker for truth and righteousness, to rely upon the sure promises of God. The Lord Jesus makes manifest the fact that the treasures of divine grace are placed entirely at our disposal, in order that we may become channels of light. We cannot receive the riches of the grace of Christ without desiring to impart them to others. When we have the love of Christ in our hearts, we shall feel that it is our duty and privilege to communicate it. The sun shining in the heavens, pours its bright beams into all the highways and by-ways of life. It has sufficient light for thousands of worlds like ours. And so it is with the Sun of Righteousness; his bright beams of healing and gladness are amply sufficient to save our little world, and are efficacious in establishing security in every world that has been created. Christ declares that Our Heavenly Father is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him, than earthly parents are to give good gifts to their children. The day of Pentecost furnished a wonderful occasion. In the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, what a testimony was given to the abundance of the grace of Christ! Why is it that those who claim to believe advanced truth, live so far beneath their privileges? Why do they mingle self with all they do? If they will cast out self, Jesus will pour into the thirsty soul a constant supply from the river of life. How can our ministers become the representatives of Christ, when they feel self-sufficient--when by spirit and attitude they say, "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing"? We must not be in a self-satisfied condition, or we shall be described as those who are poor, and wretched, and miserable, and blind, and naked.  {RH, August 26, 1890 par. 3}

 

Every truly converted soul will be intensely desirous to bring others from the darkness of error into the marvelous light of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The great outpouring of the Spirit of God, which lightens the whole earth with his glory, will not come until we have an enlightened people, that know by experience what it means to be laborers together with God. When we have entire, whole-hearted consecration to the service of Christ, God will recognize the fact by an outpouring of his Spirit without measure; but this will not be while the largest portion of the church are not laborers together with God. God cannot pour out his Spirit when selfishness and self-indulgence are so manifest; when a spirit prevails that, if put into words, would express that answer of Cain,--"Am I my brother's keeper?" If the truth for this time, if the signs that are thickening on every hand, that testify that the end of all things is at hand, are not-sufficient to arouse the sleeping energy of those who profess to know the truth, then darkness proportionate to the light which has been shining will overtake these souls. There is not the semblance of an excuse for their indifference that they will be able to present to God in the great day of final reckoning. There will be no reason to offer as to why they did not live and walk and work in the light of the sacred truth of the word of God, and thus reveal to a sin-darkened world, through their conduct, their sympathy, and their zeal, that the power and reality of the gospel could not be controverted.  {RH, July 21, 1896 par. 2}



[1] See additional statements in the Appendix speaking of this preparation.

[2] Mark 1:15; Matt. 10:7; Dan. 9:25; compare Rev. 14:7; Dan. 8:14; 7:9-11.

[3] Matt. 16:22; Luke 22:24; 24:21; John 20:19; compare Rev. 10:8-10

[4] Luke 24:27, 32, 44-46; compare Rev. 12:17; 19:10

[5] The early disciples were transitioning from the sacrifice in the courtyard into the ministry of Christ in the Holy Place in heaven. The second-advent believers were at the transition from Christ's Holy Place ministry into His final Most Holy Place cleansing.

[6] Luke 24:25, 47; compare Rev. 3:18, 19

[7] Luke 24:47-49, 52, 53; Acts 1:8, 14; 2:1-4

[8] For example see EW107

[9] As the three message before October 22, 1844 (First Angel's Message, Second Angel's Message, and Midnight Cry) were designed to prepare the Advent people to see that Christ would enter the Most Holy Place (EW260), so the three message since then (Third Angel's Message, Laodicean Message, and Loud Cry) have come to us from the Most Holy Place, inviting us to enter there to prepare for the storm. (EW254, 256, 277, 278; RH12/22/1896). The work these messages do for God's people, they are then enabled to do for others. (EGW 1888 Materials, p. 267).

[10] Luke 9:34, 46; 22:24 Note this last instance was right after Christ washed their feet and instituted the Lord's Supper to symbolize the self-sacrificing nature of Him who is truly the greatest. For a distinct parallel to the Advent Movement, see the "marvel" EGW observed after a decade of amazing church growth (GCB, April 3, 1901 par. 3).

[11] Luke 24:49

[12] Luke 24:52, 53 (worship, joy, praising and blessing God)

[13] Acts 1:14; 2:1

[14] EW54-56

[15] This is how I understand Lev. 23:27, 28 to apply in the anti-typical day of atonement.

[16] See GC430, 431 for this explicit parallel. See also EW244, 261.

[17] "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken" (Luke 24:25)

[18] I hear Him saying, "True greatness is giving, not taking; I have just given My life for the world. We are not at the end of the Day of Atonement, but are back in the Courtyard. The Lamb of God has just been slain. I am about to take my blood to the Holy Place in heaven." They finally understood where they were in the process, "present truth" for them.

[19] One of the most powerful parallels is drawn for us in EGW 1888 Materials, pp. 26, 27, which cast the whole Minneapolis experience into this paradigm. That light, after all, she was shown was the beginning of the final message, the Loud Cry (EGW 1888 Materials, p. 166).

[20] See RH, July 21, 1896 par. 2 (final statement in Appendix)