The Latter Rain of the Spirit

IX.—Office and Work of the Holy Spirit

By TAYLOR G. BUNCH, Pastor, South Lancaster, Massachusetts

The following statements were quoted in the previous article : "The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the gospel. are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close." "The outpouring of the Spirit in the clays of the apostles was the 'former rain,' and glorious was the result. But the latter rain will be more abundant." This "more abundant" doubtless means in extent and results, and the results in apostolic days were "glorious."

The latter rain, like the former rain, will come in answer to prayer. "Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them show­ers of rain, to everyone grass in the field." Zech. 10:1. The latter rain will fall only on praying believers who are pleading for the promised blessing as did the disciples in the upper room. It will come when it is due, "in the time of the latter rain," and there is abun­dance of evidence that this is the time. In fact, it is long overdue.

The promise is that the Lord will send "showers of rain"—not a single shower in one part of the world field, but showers on praying believers in all parts of the world. "To every one grass in the field" indicates that the bless­ings fall on the individuals who are ready, and to each is promised a harvest in "his field," or "his farm," according to other translations. The early and latter rain, according to the prophecy in the second chapter of Joel, comes to minis­ters and people who are so much in earnest that they are praying and fasting in an effort to bring to an end the spiritual drought in the church.                                                

"Repent, therefore, and reform your lives, so that the record of your sins may be cancelled, and that there may come seasons of refreshment from the Lord, and that He may send the Christ appointed beforehand for you—even Jesus. Heaven must receive Him until those times of which God has spoken from the earliest ages through the lips of His holy Prophets—the times of the reconstitution of all things." Acts 3:19-21, Wey­mouth.

According to Early Writings, page 86, the latter rain and the "refreshing from the pres­ence of the Lord" are the same. The place of prayer in the revival that brings the latter rain is pictured in Christ Our Righteousness:

"A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work. There must be earnest effort to obtain the blessing of the Lord, not because God is not willing to bestow His blessing upon us, but because we are un­prepared to receive it. . . . It is our work, by confes­sion, humiliation, repentance, and earnest prayer, to fulfil the conditions upon which God promised to grant us His blessing. A revival need be expected only in answer to prayer."—Page 546.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit in latter-rain showers is the paramount need of the church at the present time. "What we need is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Without this, we are no more fitted to go forth to the world than were the disciples after the crucifixion of their Lord." —Review and Herald, Feb. 18, 1890.

"As the disciples, filled with the power of the Spirit, went forth to proclaim the gospel, so God's servants are to go forth today. . . . Why has the history of the work of the disciples, as they labored with holy zeal, animated and vitalized by the Holy Spirit, been recorded, if it is not that from this record the Lord's people to-day are to gain an inspiration to work earnestly for Him? What the Lord did for His people in that time, it is just as essential, and more so, that He do for His people today. All that the apostles did, every church-member to-day is to do. And we are to work with as much more fervor, to be accom­panied by the Holy Spirit in as much greater measure, as the increase of wickedness demands a more decided call to repentance. . . . A work similar to that which the Lord did through His delegated messengers after the day of Pentecost He is waiting to do to-day. At this time, when the end of all things is at hand, should not the zeal of the church exceed that of the early church? . . . Should not the power of God be even more mightily revealed to-day than in the time of the apostles?"—T estimonies, vol. 7, pp. 32, 33.

Results of Latter Rain

Note the following: "It is impossible to give any idea of the experience of the people of God who shall be alive upon the earth when celes­tial glory and a repetition of the persecutions of the past are blended. They will walk in the light proceeding from the throne of God."

"I saw jets of light shining from cities and villages, and from the high places and the low places of the earth. God's word was obeyed, and as a result there were memorials for Him in every city and village. His truth was proclaimed throughout the world."— Testimonies, vol. 9, pp. 16, 28, 29.

"In visions of the night representations passed before me of a great reformatory movement among God's people. Many were praising God. The sick were healed, and other miracles were wrought. A spirit of intercession was seen, even as was manifested before the great day of Pentecost. Hundreds and thousands were seen visiting families, and opening before them the word of God. Hearts were convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit, and a spirit of genuine conversion was manifest. On every side doors were thrown open to the proclamation of the truth. The world seemed to be lightened with the heavenly influence. Great bless­ings were received by the true and humble people of God. I heard voices of thanksgiving and praise, and there seemed to be a reformation such as we witnessed in 1844."—Ibid., p. 126.

"The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the gospel, are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close. Here are 'the times of refreshing' to which the apostle Peter looked forward. . . . Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration, will hasten from place to place to pro­claim the message from heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers. Satan also works with lying wonders, even bringing down fire from heaven in the sight of men. Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand.

"The message will be carried not so much by argu­ment as by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God. The arguments have been presented. The seed has been sown, and now it will spring up and bear fruit. The publications distributed by missionary workers have exerted their influence, yet many whose minds were impressed have been prevented from fully com­prehending the truth or from yielding obedience. Now the rays of light penetrate everywhere, the truth is seen in its clearness, and the honest children of God sever the bands which have held them. Family connec­tions, church relations, are powerless to stay them now. Truth is more precious than all besides. Notwith­standing the agencies combined against the truth, a large number take their stand upon the Lord's side."—The Great Controversy, pp. 611, 612.

Now in Seed-sowing Time

Here we are told that when the latter rain falls the arguments have already been presented and the seeds of truth have been sown. We are now living in the seed-sowing time, when through many agencies the arguments in behalf of the truth are being presented to the world. The purpose of the latter rain is to bring con­viction and conversion to those who have heard but not obeyed. Many have been prevented from accepting the message because of family and church ties, making it difficult, if not impossible, to reach them. But these bands, including the iron curtain of prejudice, will be snapped asun­der, and all honesthearted souls will take their stand. Of this time we read :

"Almost unconsciously barriers have been erected in the strait and narrow way ; stones of stumbling have been placed in the path; these will be rolled away. The safeguards which false shepherds have thrown around their flocks will become as nought ; thousands will step out into the light, and will work to spread the light. Heavenly intelligences will combine with the human agencies."—Evangelism, pp. 692, 693.

We are promised that during the latter rain "every truly honest soul will come to the light of truth."—The Great Controversy, p. 522. There are multitudes of honesthearted souls in the world who have not yet accepted the mes­sage. Among these are many ministers, just as "a great company of priests," who became obe­dient to the faith during the early rain. (See Acts 6:7.) It is for this reason that we are urged to make friendly contacts with these min­isters, and thus break down their prejudice. Those who have endeavored to carry out this instruction have been rewarded beyond their anticipation.

"Notwithstanding the wide-spread declension of faith and piety, there are true followers of Christ in these churches. Before the final visitation of God's judg­ments upon the earth, there will be, among the people of the Lord, such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His chil­dren. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has sup­planted the love for God and His word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time, to prepare a people for the Lord's second coming."­Ibid., p. 464.

This great ingathering of souls during the latter rain will include some rulers in fulfillment of Isaiah 49 :23 ; 60:1-3.

"Many of the rulers are those whom Satan controls ; but I saw that God has His agents, even among the rulers. And some of them will yet be converted to the truth. They are now acting the part that God would have them. . . . Thus the work will go on until the third message has done its work, and at the loud cry of the third angel, these agents will have an op­portunity to receive the truth, and some of them will be converted, and endure with the saints through the time of trouble."—Testimonies, vol. I, p. 203.

The honesthearted who will accept the mes­sage then will include some of the great leaders among the Jews as well as many of their peo­ple. "When this gospel shall be presented in its fulness to the Jews, many will accept Christ as the Messiah. . . . Among the Jews are some who, like Saul of Tarsus, are mighty in the Scriptures, and these will proclaim with won­derful power the immutability of the law of God. The God of Israel will bring this to pass in our day."—Acts of the Apostles, pp. 380, 381. This is the true Zionist movement. (See Isa. 3510.)

Many backsliders, who have drifted from, rather than been shaken out of, the church, will return to the fold when they see that God has visited His people.

"When the storm of persecution really breaks upon us, the true sheep will hear the true Shepherd's voice. Self-denying efforts will be put forth to save the lost, and many who have strayed from the fold will come back to follow the great Shepherd. . . . Then will the message of the third angel swell to a loud cry, and the whole earth will be lightened with the glory of the Lord."—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 401.

The great ingathering will also include hon­esthearted heathen who have never heard the gospel except as it is revealed in "the illus­trated edition of the Bible," the book of nature, and through the work of the Holy Spirit. But they walk in the light available, and "do by na­ture the things contained in the law." Christ is "the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." John 1:9. Many will learn of the cross of Calvary for the first time after they get into the kingdom. (See Zech. 13:6.)

"Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God."-The Desire of Ages, p. 638.

In the chapter in Prophets and Kings en­titled "Hope for the Heathen," we find the fol­lowing:

"Among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, He sees men and women who are praying for light and knowl­edge. Their souls are unsatisfied. . . But they are honest in heart, and desire to learn a better way. Although in the depths of heathenism, with no knowl­edge of the written law of God nor of His Son Jesus, they have revealed in manifold ways the working of a divine power on mind and character. . . . The Holy Spirit is implanting the grace of Christ in the heart of many a noble seeker after truth, quickening his sym­pathies contrary to his nature, contrary to his former education. The 'Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,' is shining in his soul ; and this Light, if heeded, will guide his feet to the kingdom of God. ... Heaven's plan of salvation is broad enough to embrace the whole world."-Pages 376, 377.

The best days as far as the work of God is concerned are still future. This message will close in a blaze of glory with the greatest har­vest of souls in the history of the church, com­parable to, but even greater than, the ingather­ing following the Pentecostal outpouring during the early rain. Such a vision will greatly encourage the hearts of leaders and members, and will also increase their gifts and zeal for the finishing of the divinely appointed task of world evangelism.

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By TAYLOR G. BUNCH, Pastor, South Lancaster, Massachusetts

June 1949

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