Preparing for the Latter Rain

We living in thrilling days. It is the time of the latter rain which Peter described as the "times of refreshing" which should come from the presence of the Lord just prior to the return of Jesus.

R.A.A. is an associate editor of the Ministry

We living in thrilling days. It is the time of the latter rain which Peter described as the "times of refreshing" which should come from the presence of the Lord just prior to the return of Jesus. We have looked forward to this time with keen anticipa­tion. We have prayed for it. We have worked for it. Now that it is here, there is danger that we may not recognize the significance of what is happening.

From all parts of the world reports bring us glorious evidences that God is beginning to pour out His Spirit in mighty power. He is commanding the rain to fall, and the showers of divine grace are bringing great refreshing to the church of God. These are days that call for complete consecration. However, we read :

"Unless we are daily advancing in the exemplifica­tion of the active Christian virtues, we shall not recog­nize the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. It may be falling on hearts all around us, but we shall not discern or receive it."—Testimonies to Min­isters, p. 507.

As overseers in His church, God expects us to lead out in a work of thorough reformation. To do this, we ourselves must be willing to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, for only Spirit-guided men can meet the demands of these times. We have been much moved as we have met with our workers in country after country. There is, thank God, a definite reachine, out for something greater than they have known before. Some with more than fifty years of service behind them have told us through their tears that they have never seen anything like it before. What we have witnessed among our worker groups is also being experienced in some of our colleges where our youth are in preparation for service. A spirit of revival has gripped our youth, a spirit altogether unusual and unheard of. There is no noise, no ostenta­tion, no outward show, but withal a deep, quiet, earnest heart searching on the part of all. Note this stirring recital in the Pacific Union Re­corder of May 2, 1949:

"One of the most remarkable occurrences in the his­tory of Pacific Union College took place on Friday, April 22, at the end of the spring Week of Prayer. In a perfectly spontaneous movement, virtually every one of the thousand students and teachers present par­ticipated individually in a personal consecration dur­ing a service which lasted for four and a half hours.

"Members of the faculty who have been teaching for. twenty-five years at Pacific Union College and elsewhere, report that never have they seen anything of such power and magnitude. Elder E. W. Dunbar, who has conducted the Week of Prayer, observed that nowhere in the United States had he encountered such positive evidence of the presence of God's Spirit...

"After a short, simple talk, Elder Dunbar offered his listeners an opportunity to come to the platform and to speak over the microphone their testimony and reconsecration. From that moment, just after ten o'clock in the morning until two fifteen in the after­noon, without further invitation and with almost no further word from the speaker, students, faculty, and members of the College community passed in an un­broken stream across the platform.

"The nature of the testimonies was indicative of the spirit controlling the meeting. Dozens of students spoke who confessed that they had never before testi­fied. Many confessed that they had been fighting the Spirit of God and in broken voices told of their com­plete surrender. Students, seeking to escape the in­fluence of the place, left the chapel and fled to their rooms only to be drawn back an hour or two later, by a seemingly irresistible power, to make their testimo­nies of surrender. Married students, veterans and vil­lage residents, hurried home to bring their wives. Brothers brought their sisters—sisters their brothers.

"Lunch time passed unnoticed. . . .

"Strong men—men of careful and critical judg­ment, both students and staff members—came to the microphone and found themselves so overcome with tears that they could speak only a broken word or two. . . .

"When the last speaker had finished and Elder Dun­bar called for the Doxology, everyone sang. Persons who would ordinarily explain that they 'can't sing' joined the chorus—many of them with tears still on their faces. It was from great fullness of heart that the words arose : 'Praise God from Whom All Bless­ings Flow.'"

Experiences similar to this are reported from other places. They are not confined to one coun­try or one continent. This spirit of revival is worldwide. God is going before His people, and they are movine, into line, responding to His call, fulfilling the scenes described by the mes­senger of God in Testimonies to Ministers, page 552.

This revival is being accompanied by a real reformation. The workers in this remnant church are determined to be on the Lord's side. They are eager to triumph over all sin. With contrite hearts they are praying that God will unseal the fountains of grace and give power to their ministry. They are pleading, as we all must do, for the perfecting latter rain.

But unless the former rain has done its work, unless there has been a complete surrender of our hearts, unless we are living lives wholly conse­crated to God, we cannot be partakers in this experience of the latter rain. If our spiritual growth is stunted, and we have not entered into the blessing of the former rain, then that lack will never be made up by the latter rain. We were told long years ago that at such a time as this some will be expecting to enter into the Pentecostal experience; but because they have not prepared their hearts by a continual daily growth in grace, they will be bitterly disap­pointed. Only those who are walking in fellow­ship with God day by day, and who are living up to all the light they have, will receive the latter rain.

As a people, we have received great light on the subject of personal sanctification. Are we heeding God's message? It was to Israel's shame that at the very borders of Canaan the people and many of the leaders were unprepared to enter. They were longing for the fleshpots of Egypt. They were in sight of Canaan physically, but spiritually they were still in Egypt. They were indulging in the very things from which God in love had separated them.

Habakkuk's prayer, "O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years," might well be ours today. The marginal rendering is "preserve alive" Thy work. This ancient prophet was witnessing the collapse of empires. It looked to him as if everything was going to pieces. He opens his heart to us in the first chapter of his prophecy as he expresses his doubts that there could be any divine purpose in the frightful happenings of his day. It looked as if God had surely forsaken the world. He propounded some problems, then went into the watchtower to await God's answer.

In that place of prayer two great convictions were borne in upon Habakkuk. First he saw that, after all, God was still running the world; that He had the destiny of the nations as well as the affairs of His church in His own charge. Then he received a clearer revelation of the great truth of righteousness by faith. Lifting his eyes from the sordid scenes of earth, he saw that "the just shall live by his faith," that ma­terial comforts are not the measurement of spiritual success. He saw the Lord high and lifted up, and a reverent hush came into his soul, which he expressed in these words: "The Lord is in His holy temple : let all the earth keep silence before Him."

This materialistic, warring world needs to hear that message today. Even the people of God need to ponder that truth. It is so easy for us to put our trust in men and institutions, in plans and budgets. We need a new vision of God, "the high and lofty One, whose name is Holy." We need to sense anew that this Holy Being wants to dwell "with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit," and that He longs to "revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Isa. 57:15.

We live in a world where men are unsettled, unhappy, and ungodly. Many are spiritually hungry. Only a great revival can meet the need of this hour. And that revival has already begun. With it has come also a great upsurge of evangelistic fervor. The church is moving into line, ready for the last great battle. She is facing the greatest, the most diabolical, and the most satanic opposition in all her history. But her triumph is assured if she will but keep her eyes on the Captain of her salvation. He is leading His people in this great, final assault, and they that are with Him are called and chosen and faithful. Compromise is unthinkable in this crisis.

The famous wall of China was built more than two hundred years before Christ. It was designed as a defense against invasion by hostile forces from the north': It is a massive thing, two thousand miles long, built of solid masonry. It is about fifteen feet wide at the top, with an average height of more than twenty feet. Surely China would be safe behind such a wall. But during the first hundred years after its com­pletion the country was invaded three times. And not once did the attacking army scale the walls or attack the towers. They bribed the gatekeepers and walked right through unop­posed. China's defense was not a strong wall, for no wall can be strong when the gatekeepers are traitors. A nation's defense or a church's defense is no stronger than the character of its people.

When French resistance collapsed in 1940. Marshal Petain expressed in a few words the real reason behind the nation's humiliation. His words read like a requiem. Looking back over the tragic defeat of his great nation, he said, "Our spirit of enjoyment was stronger than our spirit of sacrifice. We wanted to have more than we wanted to give. We tried to spare effort and met with disaster."

In this desperate hour God calls us to serve and to sacrifice. It is a wonderful privilege to be in God's service. But are we giving spiritual leadership to our people? Is the latter rain re­freshing our own souls? Are we loyal to the principles that make us a people?

Lord Nelson's words to the British Navy in an hour of crisis might well come home to the heart of every worker in God's cause today. These words were spelled out from the flagship : "England expects every man this day to do his duty." And God expects nothing less of us today ! He has matched us with this hour. And the church's triumph is largely bound up with a spiritual leadership. Not our theology, not our labored arguments, not our organizational abil­ity, not even our devotion to the cause, but rather the surrender of our individual hearts and the absolute consecration of our lives is what will bring the promised blessing of the latter rain. The control of the Spirit of God alone will give us victory.

This is the day of destiny. A great work is just before us, the greatest work in our his­tory. The whole earth is about to be lighted with the glory of the message we love. The loud cry of the third angel is already sounding in some places. The greatest work of the ages is now going forward and gathering momentum. "The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep movings of the S,pirit of God." By the power of that same Spirit, God is going to cut His work short. And it will be cut short in righteousness. The power will not be in our plans and policies but in the right­eousness of Christ. Years ago the Lord's mes­senger said that "our churches are dying for the want of teaching on the subject of right­eousness by faith."—Gospel Workers, p. 301. Have we improved since those words were penned? Is His Spirit moving our hearts to full sanctification of spirit and soul and body? Are we victorious Christians, or are we indulging the desires of the flesh? God wants a blameless and harmless ministry, men who are real ex­amples of the believers.

It is while the Bridegroom tarries that the virgin church slumbers and sleeps. It is during the waiting hours that men begin to smite their fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken. Nevertheless, there will be some that will be standing with loins girded and lamps burning in readiness for their Lord when He shall return from the wedding. God help us to be among them.                                            

R. A. A.

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R.A.A. is an associate editor of the Ministry

August 1949

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