THE PREACHING IN THIS REVIVAL
There is no command in the New Testament given to the churches of that day to pray for revival. The reason is that they were in revival. The New Testament is an account of the FORMER RAIN REVIVAL. In the Old Testament, when God's people were not in revival, they were to pray for it. We now are living in the days of the LATTER RAIN REVIVAL. We, therefore, do not need to pray for revival, but only to be sure we are participating in the revival available.
The apostles prophesied in a revival time similar to the one we can be having today. The Bible likened the revival periods to the harvest season. Just as in our area, spring rains come that give the seed the start that it needs to germinate properly. In the Bible lands this was called the FORMER RAIN. At the end of the growing season, another rainy time comes that helps the crops to finish harvesting so the reaping can be completed before the winter arrives. This is called the LATTER RAIN.
When the church first started they were in need of a FORMER RAIN REVIVAL to get the church growing. Now as we are in the last days before the return of the Lord Jesus, the church is in vital need of the LATTER RAIN REVIVAL to complete the harvest of souls before the tribulation begins.
The teaching of the early church was vitally important, as it is in these last days.
"...THEY CONTINUED STEADFASTLY IN THE APOSTLES' TEACHING."
The early church knew the importance of correct doctrine and teaching. The apostles insisted that members be well instructed. There were regular teaching sessions. The words - "CONTINUED STEADFASTLY" - shows the idea or perseverance.
The emphasis on correct doctrine was one of the stabilizing factors of the EARLY RAIN REVIVAL. Revival needs proper doctrine. Proper doctrine spurs revival. Improper doctrine kills a revival.
The Colossian church was congratulated for good order (Col. 2:5). Yet, Paul warned them about legalism (Col. 2:20-23). Improper doctrine could kill the revival at Colossa, in spite of good order, and organization. Still, in these days, the proper doctrines are vital to sustaining a revival movement.
The Montanist movement began in the last half of the century after Christ. The leader was Montanus. His message had a strong emphasis on manifestations of the Spirit. His message demanded personal holiness. There was also eager anticipation of the second coming of Jesus. They even pushed away from the growing worldliness within the churches. The tragedy of this movement, that despite many good points, the utterances from the prophets and prophetesses carried more weight than the Bible. Thus dangerous error became a possibility. Another problem was that the demand for holiness became oppressive bondage. The loss of the Bible as the final, and supreme authority against which all other things must be tested, was lost. Revival was lost.
The Word of God must be our authority:
II Timothy 2:15-16
"STUDY TO SHEW THYSELF APPROVED UNTO GOD, A WORKMAN THAT NEEDETH NOT TO BE ASHAMED, RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH. BUT SHUN PROFANE AND VAIN BABBLINGS."
II Peter 1:21
"FOR THE PROPHECY CAME NOT IN OLD TIME BY THE WILL OF MAN; BUT HOLY MEN OF GOD SPAKE AS THEY WERE MOVED BY THE HOLY GHOST."
The Holy Spirit will not contradict Himself. What He said in the Word of God is what He meant. The final authority for all doctrine is the Bible. All spoken prophecies of the FORMER RAIN or LATTER RAIN REVIVALS need to be tested by the Word of God.
I Corinthians 14:29
"LET THE PROPHETS SPEAK TWO OR THREE, LET THE OTHERS JUDGE."
It is clear that the apostles regarded the authority of the Bible as final. In Luke 24, as Jesus walked with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, He "OPENED TO THEM THE SCRIPTURES." In the upper room, the Scriptures had prominence. The church of the FORMER RAIN REVIVAL governed themselves , their preaching, their praying, and their decision making by the Scriptures. The Word of God was used in the choosing of the successor for Judas (Acts 1:16). Peter used the Scriptures to explain what had happened on the day of Pentecost (Acts 4:24:26). The Scriptures were also used in the admitting of the Gentiles to the church (Acts 15:5).
The early church were Bible students. They encouraged all converts to study the Word, hold fast to the Word, and test all things by the Word of God.
"AND NOW, BRETHREN, I COMMEND YOU TO GOD, AND TO THE WORD OF HIS GRACE, WHICH IS ABLE TO BUILD YOU UP."
From this intense study of the Word of God, the apostles' doctrine emphasized JESUS.
"...CEASED NOT TO TEACH AND PREACH JESUS CHRIST."
They taught about the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. They taught that Jesus wanted to be Lord of their lives. Yet, they also greatly emphasized the SECOND COMING OF THE LORD JESUS.
"CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY."
Any doctrine or teaching that obscures Jesus is wrong, and out of place. The apostles were greatly anxious for the return of the Lord Jesus. They taught that the whole of creation, not just Christians longs for the second coming.
"FOR THE EARNEST EXPECTATION OF THE CREATURE WAITETH FOR THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SONS OF GOD. FOR THE CREATURE WAS MADE SUBJECT TO VANITY...THE CREATURE ITSELF ALSO SHALL BE DELIVERED FROM THE BONDAGE OF CORRUPTION INTO THE GLORIOUS LIBERTY OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD. FOR WE KNOW THAT THE WHOLE CREATION GROANETH AND TRAVAILETH IN PAIN TOGETHER UNTIL NOW."
The suffering that this world is beginning to see, is not death throes, but are the birth pangs that were forewarned. The second coming of Jesus embraces the whole purpose of God. The reason for salvation is to be ready for His return. The reason for the church is to win souls, worship the Lord, and to teach others why we expect a returning Savior. The reason for the Bible is to tell us that our Savior has died for us so that He could conquer death for us. In that conquering of death, He has provided us the hope of the rapture and resurrection. We are to be ready for the final triumph of Jesus when we return with Him at the second coming and begin ruling and reigning with Him on this earth.
The more you examine the early church, and its teachings, the more you will find that PROPHECY was its emphasis. Their teaching showed that they knew Jesus to be Savior, King, and Coming Lord. The motives for their evangelism was to get others ready for the second coming. The deeds they showed illustrated the fact that they knew that they would have to give an account to the returning Lord. Even the Lord's Supper showed the emphasis - "TILL HE COME." (I Cor. 11:26)
Prophecy is the revelation of God's original plan:
I Peter 1:20
"...WAS FOREORDAINED (proginosko, to know beforehand) BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, BUT WAS MANIFEST IN THESE LAST TIMES FOR YOU."
Before God created Adam and Eve, God knew what would befall them, and their subsequent need of a Savior. He had planned a Savior and the defeat of the devil through the cross. This plan was not fully manifest till Jesus came and died for our sins. In pictures and in types, we saw the Lamb of the Passover, the burnt altar, etc. as types of what Jesus would do. Now we can fully understand. The apostles could see the unfolding of the plan. They were excited about its message. They proclaimed its message. The early church was persecuted, and held to the prophetic teachings as comfort in the midst of their suffering. The revival of the early church continued until the emphasis of the second coming was lost when the church came to power. In that time the church decided they didn't need to be so anxious for the Lord's return for things weren't so bad now. When the teaching of the second coming slacked, revival ceased, and the dark ages arrived. We need the teaching emphasis of the prophetic message of the Bible.
II Peter 1:16-18
"FOR WE HAVE NOT FOLLOWED CUNNINGLY DEVISED FABLES, WHEN WE MADE KNOWN UNTO YOU THE POWER OF THE COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, BUT WERE EYEWITNESSES OF HIS MAJESTY."
Here Peter calls the teaching of the second coming the "POWER" of the message, but he also links the second coming to the Mt. of Transfiguration. (Matt. 17:1-8, Mk. 9:2-13, Luke 9:28-36) To understand one, helps us understand the other.
"TRULY, I SAY UNTO YOU, THERE ARE SOME OF THOSE WHO ARE STANDING HERE WHO SHALL NOT TASTE DEATH UNTIL THEY SEE THE SON OF MAN COMING IN HIS KINGDOM."
What did He mean? The answer came on the Mt. of Transfiguration. Jesus was transfigured into the way in which He will look as He personally returns at the second coming. Moses was there to represent those who died before the resurrection. Elijah was there to represent those who have not died before the resurrection. Jesus appeared as He will be seen on the day of the second coming. They saw the glory and majesty of the coming Savior. They remembered this as they went out to teach others about the return of Jesus. This inspired them to teach it fervently.
Now in the LATTER RAIN REVIVAL, we must also emphasize the second coming. If it was important to the apostles' teaching in the first 100 years, how much more important is it now in the last days? We're so much closer to the return of Jesus, we should be anxious and ready!!