The Spirit of Burning
"God save these people!" This was the loud cry of a young American revivalist named Peter Cartwright as he found himself in the midst of a dancehall on a cold winter's night in the 1800's. The Holy Spirit had directed this young man to go to this pub in order to share the Gospel with all that would be in attendance. Standing in the corner, overwhelmed by the fire that burned within him, he had lifted his voice and released a decree for God to demonstrate His power in that dancehall.
This declaration for salvation was not one of condescending, but of desperation from a man to his maker for mankind. A true hearts cry into the realm of eternity for change. What transpired at that moment was a true expression of God's glory. What followed was an outpouring of revival. Suddenly, all over the room bodies began to hit the floor many began jerking uncontrollably followed by cries of repentance, tears, and wild laughter. In a moment that dark sin sick pub was filled with the light of God as people began to call upon the Lord for salvation. This young preacher had turned a bar into a crusade and had released all of heaven on people that were living in total hell. This was not another Christian meeting this was an awakening; a reformation that would in turn cause a second great awakening not among the church, but among the lost.
We have all read the books and heard the stories about past revivalist and the ways that God used them to change cities and shake nations. What about today, where are the revivalists? Where are the nation shakers of this hour? Sure we have big ministries that are preaching the gospel, but where are the men who turned the world upside down? For far too long the world has seen a powerless church that lacks the answers for its generation with all of our mega churches that can fill ten thousand seat sanctuaries, fancy television studios that reach the far ends of the earth, and seeker sensitive Sunday morning services that shy away from the power of God in order to make new comers feel at home. What do we have to show for it? The world for the most part stays unchanged. The truth is that we are in desperate need in this hour for some twenty first century revivalist that carry God's glory. Religion keeps us waiting on a sovereign outpouring from God all the while the world is perishing in front of us. In this hour God is not in search of seasoned professional preachers, but rather raw and rugged pioneers poised on Kingdom glory. Those that have had God lay hold of them much like the revivals of the past. A demonstration generation that has no need for titles or accolades of man, their only purpose is to please their Father in heaven. Their speech and preaching carries demonstration and power and many in the world will turn to Christ not because they are good orators but rather mighty demonstrators. As we begin to truly awaken to the reality of what we have on the inside of us no darkness will be able to stay in our midst. The streets should be our playground for the miraculous. God never called us to simply have a revival, but he called us to carry and release revival everywhere we go. With all the power that has been placed within us it is high time to engage and challenge those that are living in darkness with pure power from on high.
What we must understand is that something had taken a hold of young Peter Cartwright that caused him to lift up his voice that night at the dancehall. He had lifted up his voice in desperation for those people to encounter the creator. What compelled him was not a belief system, a doctrine, or a chance to make a name for his ministry. It's the same thing that has absorbed every revivalist down through the centuries and compelled them to shape and change their generation for God. It's the seal that burns and brands a man for life. It's a mystical encounter with a living God that causes you to, by most people's account, lose your mind. It will cause a man to go anywhere and to say anything. It is a Spirit of Burning. Isaiah 4:4 speaks of the Spirit of Burning,
When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.
What many have failed to realize in our generation is that true revival is not a look or a style. It is a Spirit. You can't hype it or control it. Revival is wild and cannot be tamed, harnessed, or used to build an empire. Revival is unpredictable and only comes through those that are the same. The ministry machine loves the concept and idea of revival, but hates anything that it cannot control with its' hand and that is why it can never see a true genuine outpouring. Charles Finney once wrote of his experience with this Spirit when it touched his life, "No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; and I didn't know what I should say, I literally bellowed out unutterable gushing's of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after the other, until I recollect I cried out, "I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me." I said, "Lord, I cannot bear any more;" yet I had no fear of death." Is there any wonder why this man carried and released what he did to his generation? This encounter with the realm of eternity left him altered for life. He had been baptized into the fire and in turn spent his life not building an organization, but releasing a Spirit. God is looking for men like this. Wild manifestation would break out in Finney's meetings that if he were alive today would get him cancelled from almost every conference, but like Finney the revivalist of the past were after much more than the next great meeting. They were after the next great awakening.
Young Peter once wrote about his encounter with the spirit of burning that caused him to answer the call of God on his life, "Divine light flashed all round me, unspeakable joy sprung up in my soul. I rose to my feet, opened my eyes, and it really seemed as if I was in heaven; the trees, the leaves on them, and everything seemed, and I really thought were, praising God." Peter later went on to help preach in the second great awakening that came to America. He was a wild, unpredictable preacher that carried a passion for Christ. More often than not people; sinners and saints would breakout into wild manifestations where they would jerk uncontrollably in his meetings. To him it was an amusing sign of God's presence. He pursued ministry not as a profession, but as a divine calling. He wrote of his call into ministry, "A Methodist preacher, when he felt that God had called him to preach, instead of hunting up a college or Biblical Institute, hunted up a hardy pony, and some traveling apparatus, and with his library always at hand, namely, a Bible, Hymn book, and (Methodist) Discipline, he started, and with a text that never wore out nor grew stale, he cried, "Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world." In this way he went through storms of wind, hail, snow, and rain; climbed hills and mountains, traversed valleys, plunged through swamps, swollen streams, lay out all night, wet, weary, and hungry, held his horse by the bridle all night, or tied him to a limb, slept with his saddle blanket for a bed, his saddle-bags for a pillow. Often he slept in dirty cabins, ate roasting ears for bread, drank butter-milk for coffee; took deer or bear meat, or wild turkey, for breakfast, dinner, and supper. This was old-fashioned Methodist preacher fare and fortune." These men lived on the edge of eternity! Consumed by the fire that burned within them to release heaven on everyone they came into contact with no matter the cost.
The Pearl of Persecution
Controversy is nothing new to the move of God and many that we hale as pioneers of the past such as Finney, Wesley, and Whitefield were highly controversial in their day, but they restored back to the church the office of the evangelist. The same is going to be said of this generation. Those that will come forth in the coming days will push the envelope of what some consider acceptable. And while many in public ministry have prophesied the restoration of the Apostolic ministry the truth is that when it arrives much of what we think it should look like and those that are used to restore it will most likely stretch our spiritual wineskins. We better get ready…….To be continued.