Why have the children of Protestantism abandoned their reformers’ foundational doctrines when their fathers and mothers died to institute it? Why did early Christianity apostatize, which Christ and the apostles worked so untiringly to establish? Why did the wonderful revivals of Ezra and David, Moses and Elijah die out?
This is a very pertinent question because we have a big revival on the way—the Loud Cry and the Latter Rain of the Holy Spirit. The Early Rain in the apostles’ day died; will the Lord risk the same result on His final harvest before He returns? I would say, No, He won’t. We will not even begin it until He is satisfied that He has people who will not let it slip away as did the following generations of the apostolic church.
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip
For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him;
God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will?” (Heb. 2:1-4). Shouldn’t we take this to heart?
How long must we wait for the Latter Rain? As long as it takes for us to become faithful enough with the light we have of His grace and law that He can trust us to hold fast the greater light of Revelation 18’s 4th angel until He comes.
Jesus told a parable regarding why revivals fail. It came as a warning to that generation and has heavy overtones for ours, as well. “When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and He shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:
Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and Thou hast taught in our streets.” (Lk. 13:25,26).
No doubt Christ created a stir everywhere He went. It sounds like He was invited into many homes and got the royal treatment, especially toward the end of His ministry, when He was expected to announce Himself king. He’d show up and teach and mingle to gain the confidence of the people and reach their hearts, He'd eat with them and teach in their own towns. And the crowds would have a jolly good time with this. What excitement with such a well-known person in their midst! But, they were having such a good time that they had no time for His words to take effect in them
Joy is a sure result of being in the Lord’s presence. David said, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:11). And Isaiah’s messianic prophecy indicated that His followers would have much occasion to rejoice. “They joy before Thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For Thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.” (Is. 9:3,4).
We should never try to dampen joy—Satan will do enough of that without our help. “Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the Bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the Bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.” (Mk. 2:19). Matthew’s version equated fasting with mourning. “Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the Bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the Bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.” (Matt. 9:15). If we can rejoice, we should. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Neh. 8:10).
“Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them. The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.” (Ps. 126:2,3). Like a mother thrills to be surrounded by her beloved children, the Lord loves to inhabit the praises of His people.
But there is laughter from joy, and laughter from a source other than joy. And evidently Israel in Jesus’ day had the wrong kind. Otherwise He wouldn’t have ended His parable like He did. “But He shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity.
There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.” (Lk. 13:27-29).
One laughter is pure and is derived from love to God and man; the other is casual and empty of love. The first is humble and founded on faith; the second is proud and comes with unbelief. The former attends helplessness and dependence on Christ; the latter needs nothing and is worldly, sensual, and only needs a small cause to be devilish.
Why do revivals fail? Jesus gave the answer up front. “Strive to enter in at the strait gate
: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” (Lk. 13:24). Those who heard His wonderful truth-filled messages but lost them did not strive to enter the strait gate. What is a strait gate? “Enter ye in at the strait gate: ...Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:13 14). The strait gate is the narrow gate. It’s so narrow that few ever find it.
Why do few ever find it? Because it requires too much to enter. Too much of what? Good behavior? Morality? Never doing anything wrong—in public, that is? No, this is not the strait gate. All these things the Pharisees seek. Except our righteousness exceed this we can never enter through the strait gate into the kingdom of God. Doing those things, we will never find the strait gate—because we will already have what we think we need. We will be confident that God is pleased with our performance.
So what do we strive for if it’s not about good behavior and being proper and conforming to all the latest taboos? “Then said they unto Him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” (Jn. 6:28).
Jesus’ answer that got to the real meat of His mission, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” (Jn. 6:29). Believe on, depend on, lean on Me. He was talking about an intimate friendship—the stuff that trust and love are made of.
“The common people heard Him gladly.” (Mk. 12:37). A battle was raging in Christ’s day. Jesus was all about friendship and the natural obedience that comes out of friendship. He knew how important it was to read the hearts of the people. That’s why He invited the people to come unto Him. And His invitations awakened a new life in the people, and they began to respond. They began to see that the old religion of just going through the motions and formalism was not conducive to true obedience. They were experiencing a new freedom to love and goodness from the heart.
All this aroused Satan to stop love and liberty—a force greater than his cold bondage. The agents of the devil to prevent Christ were powerful individuals in the crowd who were big on good behavior and heartless perfectionism, but small on love and obedience.
So we see something interesting in the devil’s attack as Jesus. “And He was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered.
But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils.” (Lk. 11:14,15).
Matthew gives us a clearer view of this situation. “Then was brought unto Him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and He healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.
And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?
But when the Pharisees
heard it, they said
, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” (Matt. 12: 22,24). What we see is that the common people initially wanted to accept Jesus. The people loved what they heard and saw and felt from their Messiah. But they were too easily influenced by the Pharisees. The religious leaders moved the whole crowd against Christ. Under the spell of the Pharisees, in the perception of the multitudes Jesus went from the Deliverer to a deceiver.
Why were they were so easily influenced? Because they didn’t strive for the message Jesus was bringing to them—the message of faith and love and obedience. Christ gave joy and loving conviction to His listeners. They got the laughter and excitement from Jesus’ joy and wit, but His spiritual lessons from scripture and arrows of conviction were not getting to their hearts. They were not wrestling over the truth Christ was presenting or striving for the certainty of God’s acceptance which His Son so wonderfully was providing them.
They were not cooperating with the Holy Spirit by hanging on Jesus’ words in meditation, rejoicing in Him, as His disciples did. The multitudes would not put pride aside enough to reconcile with His love and beautiful righteousness, so that they could receive Him. Subconsciously, with Satan’s subtle assistance, they were keeping Him away with a ten foot pole. They wouldn’t strive to involve their hearts with their Messiah; they wouldn’t do the first work.
“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.” (Is. 30:15). They wouldn’t. They wouldn’t
. He beckoned, but they refused. Even if politely turning down the invitation, it was rebellion.
Likewise, after the Messiah ascended to heaven and His movement started, the church wouldn’t continue striving to keep His love and beautiful merits first and foremost. So, persecution separated them from Him and they lost their first love; yet, the good, proper behavior continued. The honeymoon with their heavenly Bridegroom was over and the apostolic revival came to a screeching halt.
And Christ would say to His beloved church what He said to His beloved Cain, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” (Gen. 4:7). “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Rev. 2:5).
But the church neglected this divine warning, and darkness of the blackest hue engulfed Christ’s work on earth. Christianity was turned into a beast “having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. …And the dragon [Satan] gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.” (Rev. 6:6-8;13:1,2).