When writing the previous article entitled "Attributes of the Holy Spirit" the focus was on the goal of receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit for the ultimate, millennium goal of ruling and reigning with Jesus at a future time. But there is a more pressing need right now in these last days here on earth before Jesus comes. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is crucial for every believer, especially these days as we see so many signs of economic and natural disasters, wars and rumors of wars, persecution of Christians and a satanic new world order being put in place. Matthew 24 records the words of Jesus when he warned of the end of the age and the signs of his coming.
“For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-- and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of he ELECT those days will be shortened. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the ELECT-- if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time” Matt. 24:21-25, NIV.
The word “ELECT” is capitalized in the above scripture to make a very important point. Only the elect who have been baptized in the fire of the Holy Spirit will be able to survive what is coming on the earth in the last days. All other people who call themselves “Christians” but have failed to crucify their carnal flesh through the power of the Holy Spirit will be part of the great falling away from the faith. Only the Holy Spirit's enabling, indwelling power will keep the elect from being deceived, from being tempted by evil and from denying their faith in Christ.
Richard Wurmbrand, 1909-2001
Richard Wurmbrand, founder of The Voice of the Martyrs wrote an inspiring book entitled, Tortured for Christ. He was a Romanian Christian minister of Jewish descent who endured months of solitary confinement, years of periodic physical torture, constant suffering from hunger and cold, the anguish of brain-washing and mental cruelty during the fourteen years he spent in Communist prisons. He was arrested for preaching the gospel message to the Russian soldiers when they invaded his country in 1944. If it had not been for the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, he would never have survived and lived to write about it. After the Communists came into power and took over the Church, Wurmbrand personally witnessed four thousand pastors, priests and ministers of all denominations pledge their allegiance to Joseph Stalin as the new, honorary president of their congressional assembly.
Both orthodox and protestant church leaders yielded to Communism and even became officers of the secret police. The deputy bishop of the Lutheran Church began “to teach in the theological seminary that God had given three revelations: one through Moses, one through Jesus, and the third through Stalin, the last superseding the one before” (Wurmbrand, 1998, p.16). Those who became servants of communism, instead of Christ, eventually began to denounce the Christian brethren who did not join them. It was at this time that the Underground Church of Romania was formed in homes, basements and in the woods.
Is it possible that this tragedy could happen in America? Unfortunately, ultra liberals and atheists with humanistic and socialistic policies have been succeeding at their plan to influence our culture for decades now. They have already managed to get the Bible and prayer removed from our schools, as well as legalized abortion and same sex marriages. They are a real threat to our freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Being a born-again, Spirit-filled Christian is not as popular as it used to be in America even 25 years ago due to the influx of non-Christian religions, far-left liberal agendas and the abandonment of the United States Constitution. In God We Trust is no longer accepted as our national motto and many want to remove it from the walls of our courts and our currency. Now is the time to pray and to get prepared for whatever the future holds.
The problem with the modern, westernized Church in America is they view Jesus' command to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit as an option they don't particularly want or think is needed. Believers who love God and serve Christ have come to the mistaken conclusion that they don't think it important to have their own personal, Pentecost experience. They have fallen for Satan's delusion, are not discerning the signs of the times and are putting their time and energy into careers and personal achievement ahead of their devotion to Christ. According to Jesus' warning in Matthew 24, they will be the very ones who end up denying Christ and attacking the Church in America for holding on to outdated, irrelevant morals and biblical standards.
The Azusa Street Revival was a historic Pentecostal revival meeting that took place in Los Angeles, California, and is the origin of the Pentecostal movement here in America. Led by William J. Seymour, an African American preacher, it began with a meeting on April 14, 1906, and continued until roughly 1915. According to a recent internet post by Andre Lefebvre, founder of www.soaking.net, "The downstairs area was set up as the assembly room. Another upstairs room was designated as the “tarrying room.” It was the place where persons went who desired to be baptized in the Holy Ghost. The tarrying room contained a sign that read, “No talking above a whisper.”
The Toronto Revival in Canada during the 1990s had hugh crowds attending their services to hear the preaching of the Word each evening in the main sanctuary. During the day they also had “soaking rooms” for quiet meditation, reflection, worship and prayer. Ministers were available to pray with anyone who wanted to receive more of God, or experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands.
The Brownsville Revival (also known as the Pensacola Outpouring) was a widely-reported religious phenomenon that began on Father's Day June 18, 1995 at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida. Our family was living there during this time and visited the services numerous times. It is reported that over 2.5 million people attended the Wednesday through Saturday evening services which ran uninterrupted until the year 2000. People came from all over the world to spend time “on the carpet” receiving a touch from God. When the altar call was given people literally ran down to the front of the sanctuary to be prayed over by Pastor John Kilpatrick, evangelist Steve Hill or other trained and designated prayer team ministers. Our teenage daughter and her friends spent many Friday evenings there until midnight having carpet time so they could experience this modern-day outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Thanks to modern internet technology, you can see a video taken at the Brownsville Revival in 1995 where Charity James sings the now famous song, Mercy Seat. This will give you a sense of what it was like for those five years while the Holy Spirit was poured out in this place. Click the link or copy and paste it into your internet browser. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTj3c4pDsfM
Today many churches around the country, such as The International House of Prayer in Kansas City (also known as the IHOP), have regular services where worship teams take turns providing intimate worship music for ushering in the Presence of God. Scripture tells us that God dwells in the praises of his people. Christians come expecting the Holy Spirit to show up and reverently sit in chairs, or lay on the floor soaking in God's love while they have extended “carpet time.” They still their minds and bodies so they can soak in His Presence and perhaps hear His still small voice, receive a word of encouragement or receive a prophetic vision from the Lord.
Even young children have felt God's Presence there and fallen passionately in love with Jesus at the IHOP. We are friends with a family in Hattisburg, MS who take the trip up to Kansas City periodically to enrich their walk with God. Many have experienced healing and deliverance during this quality time with the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord is only being poured out like this in select places around America today, and not many churches experience this kind of refreshing.
Perhaps you would like to see a more recent worship service featuring Misty Edwards on the keyboard recorded on October 2, 2012 at the IHOP. As you will see, people again come to wait on the Lord, to tarry in His Presence so that they may receive a greater measure of the Holy Spirit. Once you have experienced such a supernatural phenomenon like this, you are changed from the inside out. You are addicted to His love. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqqJRSQR-HM
Jesus praying in Gethsemane, Heinrich Hofmann, 1890.
Matthew 26: 36- 46 records Jesus' last night on earth while he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. He asked his disciples to, “Stay here and keep watch with me.” Essentially, he was asking them to “tarry” with him and spend the night in prayer. Going a little further, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (NIV). When he returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping. “Could you not keep watch with me for one hour?” He said to Peter, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
The Body of Christ still has the same problem now in these last days as the disciples had. The spirit maybe willing, but the body is weak. And that is exactly why it is so crucial we obey Christ's command as it is written in Acts 1:4-8. “Do not leave Jerusalem, but WAIT for the gift my Father promised...in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit... you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem...and to the ends of the earth.”
[Inserted later on 12/13/12. "During the last days no person will be able to serve the Lord in his own strength. Only those saints who are filled with the Presence of God in Christ will be able to offer deliverance to the peoples of the earth who flee from the ungodliness of Antichrist." a quote from Dr. Robert Thompson, Word of Righteousness newsletter].
By the Spirit of God, I implore you today-- make it a spiritual priority in your life to wait in prayer for God's precious gift, ask Jesus to baptize you in the Holy Spirit and receive power to stand with Christ in these last days no matter what kind of tribulation or temptation may come your way. Be filled with the Spirit so that you will not fall away!
Wurmbrand, Richard. Tortured for Christ. Living Sacrifice Book Company, Bartlesville, OK, 1998.
Photos in this article were obtained from www.wikipedia.org. "Soaking" was from Facebook, 10-10-12.