“From Holiness to Pentecost”
In the postscript of his book entitled, A Survey of 20th-Century Revival Movements in North America, Richard M. Riss makes the following comments:
A resurgence of Evangelical Christianity has been coming about in America since the late 1940s…If the current resurgence continues, it will provide a milieu conducive to the incidence of an awakening of far greater statistical significance and considerably more extensive societal impact than the earlier revivals of this century…
Should God raise up sufficient intercessors for revival, there is a real possibility that a momentous ‘Third Great Awakening,’ not only in North America but throughout all Christendom, will explode on the modern scene.
Many are alluding to a spiritual awakening in Christendom. I, for one, agree with Mr. Riss and believe that ministers who are calling for a spiritual awakening, especially in America, are right on with their prophetic insight.
I believe that the coming spiritual awakening in America alone will surpass the impact of the American first and second Great Awakening(s) of the 18th, 19th, and 20th century revivals. If God can intervene in the affairs of man as He has done throughout recorded history, then He will have no problem bringing about the greatest revival in the history of man. I believe this.
In continuing my series entitled, “An Awakening is Coming,” I’d like to conclude the series by documenting some of the important features of the American Holiness movement that began in the middle 19th century, up to the time when it separated from the Pentecostal movement.
One of the important features about the American Holiness movement was the foundation it served for the revivals of the 20th century. It was John Wesley’s teaching on “entire sanctification” that started the American Holiness movement. In simple, Wesley’s doctrine spoke of a divine work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, subsequent to salvation. From this teaching came many seekers searching for a greater depth to their salvation experience. Because they came seeking, the Lord blessed them with much more.
It was during this time that ministries of Divine Healing came into existence. Also at this time Phoebe Palmer, the wife of a prominent physician in New York and a leading teacher in the Holiness movement, labeled the doctrine of ‘entire sanctification’ as the ‘Baptism of the Holy Ghost.’ It seems the Holiness movement was okay with the new Holy Spirit moniker as well as embracing other spin-off movements, which included healing ministries and Pentecostal “experiences,” but when the issue of “tongues” was recognized by Pentecostals as the initial evidence of being Baptized in the Holy Ghost, the Holiness movement went its own way.
The American Holiness movement that started in the middle 1800s continues to this day but has fractured into various denominations that cover the globe.
Another important feature of the American Holiness movement was the number of major revivals that branched from its teachings and continued into the 20th century. For example, the Healing revivals of the 1940s were rooted in the Holiness movement. The 1940s healing revivals brought to prominence men like Evangelists Oral Roberts and TL Osborn. Also the decade spawned other movements like the Latter Rain movement and Salvation crusades such as the Billy Graham Crusades. It seems that God linked revival movements together, sustaining the second Great Awakening in America to the end of the 20th century.
If you remember, the second Great Awakening started in the midnight hour of the 1700s, and continued through the 19th and 20th century with pocket revivals, the Holiness movement, and many other works of grace right up to the end of the 20th century.
The 1960s and 1970s were the years of the Charismatic Renewal, Jesus Movement, and the Word of Faith Movement. Dr. Bill Hamon said recently, while being interviewed on TBN, that the decade of the 1950s was the decade of the Evangelist. The decade of the 60s was the restoration of the Pastor. The decade of the 70s was the restoration of the Teacher. The decade of the 80s belonged to the Prophets and the 1990s the Apostle. Now that the Five-fold ministry has been restored to its place in the Body, the new millennium will see the ministry of the Saints. The laity will be equipped to do the work of ministry.
I believe that God is raising up a united front of believers (no names) and bypassing solo ministers who try to go at it alone, for the “Third Great Awakening.” This unified front is the laity who will minister in large teams as one, for one purpose.
I believe they are being positioned now by the Holy Spirit. The baton is being passed to a new generation of people who will walk under great anointing to preach the gospel in the “Third Great Awakening.”
Could the third Great Awakening come in the beginning of the new millennium? It certainly could. The spiritual environment of America is ripe for it. In the past, Awakenings came about as the result of widespread spiritual complacency in the nation. It appeared that God brought these great movements of the past to ready men’s hearts for coming national tragedies (Revolutionary war, War of 1812, Civil War, WWI, WWII, and etc.). The 20th century was a century of evil and blood shed. It has been said that it was the century of the devil. There were two world wars, many smaller wars, ethnic cleanings in European nations, death and property destruction by race riots in America, an attempt to exterminate an entire race of people by Hitler, and much, much more evil.
No doubt about it, the century we just left was a nightmare. But one must remember that God was not asleep during the 20th century. He raised up a standard against the satanic onslaught of the 20th century. During this time, God brought forth some of the greatest movements in the history of the church. For example, Evan Roberts in the early 1900s cried out for revival in his country of Wales, and God heard him and sent a worldwide explosion. The revival that turned Wales upside down spread to America and was the forerunner to the Azusa outpouring in Los Angeles, California. From the Azusa outpouring, the revival spilled over America and to the uttermost with the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Moreover, another feature of the American Holiness movement, as it jumped into the 20th century, was the unique opposition it faced. What am I referring to? I’m referring to an unusual opposition, which can be identified as a particular Western mindset that had been developing since the Renaissance. For example, from the fourth century onward, Western culture as a whole held to a Christian concept that regarded natural disaster, such as earthquakes or floods, as judgments from God. Such calamities were considered a call to all people everywhere to repent from evil and turn to faith in God.
Somewhere along the line a predominate number of people began to see natural disasters as accidental or irrelevant to God’s purposes. From this mindset came the belief that God was no longer Sovereign. He no longer controlled the events of history. Also, miracles didn’t happen any more, and it was foolish to believe such nonsense. When revivals brokeout in the 20th century, they were opposed by this mindset. Because of the prevalence of this attitude, the 20th century would not see the restoration of cities and economies like it did in the First Great Awakening.
The Bible says that we are to believe Him for who He is—Almighty God. Because He is Almighty, He can do anything but fail. As long as we have a heart to believe that God is still the same miracle working God that He has always been, we will experience the miraculous in our lives; however, if we think God has lost control and is weaker than He was during Pentecost, we will miss many supernatural events that are soon coming.
There are two secular movements—one of the 18th and one of the 19th century that stripped God of His Sovereignty. In his book that he co-authored with Peter Bocchino, Unshakable
Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith, Norman Geisler talks about the secularization at work during the 19th century.
One powerful force that opposed Christianity and is still affecting lives today was a philosophy propounded by a German atheist, Friedrich Nietzche. He’s the intellectual that coined the phrase, “God is dead and we have killed him.” In simple, Nietzche asserted that the myth of God’s existence, which was once widely believed, died, and that the myth of objective values died with him.
He believed that there was no meaning to life, except the meaning man gave to it. Hitler was influenced by this philosophy. Another secular force at work during this time came about in the middle of the 19th century. In 1859 Charles Darwin published his book on macroevolution, On the Origin of Species. People were ripe for the godless theories it stated. They readily embraced Darwin’s teaching and man was lowered to the level of animals.
One final feature of the Holiness movement, was its split from the Pentecostals because of their belief that “tongues” was the initial evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. When the Azusa outpouring began, people came from around the world to receive the gift of “tongues,” and then carry the gift back to their part of the world.
Typical of what happens when great moves of God break out, the explosion happens first, and then men try to explain the explosion by doctrines later. When one of Charles Parham’s Bible students, Agnes Ozman, received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and began speaking in tongues, Parham made an assignment for his students. He wanted them to study the Bible, and list every occurrence of Holy Spirit Baptisms in the New Testament. They were then instructed to list the one thing that manifested with it.
Overwhelmingly the students reported “tongues” to be the initial evidence of the Holy Spirit Baptism. Later when the Azusa outpouring was going strong in Los Angeles, California, the Reverend William Seymour, a Holiness preacher who led the early Azusa outpouring, came into conflict over the doctrine of sanctification with William Durham. Durham said that sanctification was a progressive work of holiness being worked out in the believer by the Holy Spirit. He said that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues was not the work of sanctification but an experience subsequent to salvation.
Sanctification was a work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, which continued the entire lifetime of the believer. Seymour, being a true Holiness preacher who had received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with tongues, disagreed. He said that salvation was first, then entire sanctification, and then the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with tongues, last. They never resolved the issue and eventually went separate ways.
The issue has never been settled. The Holiness churches that teach “entire sanctification” still believe that sanctification is a Divine work of the Spirit to seal the Salvation experience with power. They are opposed to “tongues” being the sole or initial evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
And, then again, there is a group of sincere Christians that believe the Reformed doctrine of Martin Luther. They believe sanctification is a progressive work of the Spirit, continuing throughout the lifetime of the saint. They do not teach "entire sanctification" nor the Pentecostal experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.
However, some groups in the Reformed tradition believe there is first Salvation, then the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues, and then progressively sanctification of a believer is worked out a believer “walks in the spirit and not the flesh.” Nevertheless, no matter how you pronounce potato, it’s still a potato. If one is hungry for God and seeks a deeper walk, one will find a more intimate, a more satisfying experience of Him if they keep searching for Him.
So, I’ve given you some of the important features of the Holiness movement from its inception in the middle 19th century to its split from the Pentecostal movement of the 20th century. One important point to remember from this document is God’s desire to use simple prayers and insignificant people who simply have a burning and passion for God, to reach their community and nations. The Bible warns us against sneering at small beginnings. No matter how big the move, it started with a seed. Once again, I believe that God is stirring up revival winds. The wind of His Spirit is getting ready to fan the flames, until revival is burning out of control. Are you ready?
Pastor of Faith Fellowship Church
Broken Arrow, OK
(Sources cited are available)
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