My wife and I lived in England for a number of years and often spent Sunday afternoons in London visiting the
historic sites. London is one of the most fascinating cities in the world with its magnificent Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben Clock Tower, and the world-renowned London Bridge.
The story is told of a poverty-stricken beggar who sat at the end of the London Bridge many years ago, scraping away wretchedly on an old violin. The poor old man was futilely attempting to solicit a few pennies from passersby, but no one seemed to care about the old man’s music—if you could call it music. The beggar’s sad countenance only revealed the sadness of his heart.
A well-dressed stranger passed, but suddenly halted and returned to listen to the old man, whose weary eyes searched the stranger’s face for a trace of charity. Instead of the penny the old man hoped for, the stranger asked for his violin and said he would help him out with a tune. The stiff, numb fingers gently passed over the old instrument. The skilled hands carefully tuned the instrument and began to play a magnificent melody. Soon people stopped to listen. The crowd was small at first, and then grew larger. The music was irresistible. The dense crowd now thronged the end of the London Bridge and stopped traffic. One silver coin after another was dropped into the old man’s open violin case. Louder and louder, higher and higher, the music came from the old violin until it burst forth in rapturous melody. Word quickly passed through the crowd, “It is the hand of the master. It’s Paganini playing on the old beggar’s violin!”
I want to respond as that old violin in the hands of the Master so my life will be one of heavenly music. When the Holy Spirit takes control of our lives, He does amazing things. As an instrument in the Master’s hands, the Spirit will do more through our lives than we can possibly imagine.
The Bible predicts that there will be a mighty spiritual revival in the last days. The Holy Spirit will be poured out in Pentecostal power, and the gospel will be proclaimed rapidly all over the world. God will work rapidly to finish His work.
God has given us these two powerful promises:
Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations and then the end will come.”
Romans 9:28: “For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth.”
The devil understands these prophecies, so before the second coming of Jesus he will work with all of his power. He will introduce his greatest deceptions. Through a counterfeit religious revival of signs, wonders, and miracles, the devil will mislead millions. But unusual power from beneath will call for mighty power from above. Satan works, but God will work much more powerfully.
The last book of the Bible describes God’s final revelation of glory in these words:
Revelation 18:1: “After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory.”
In this last, great revival the Holy Spirit will be poured out in full power. The gospel will spread rapidly around the world, and multitudes will respond to the preaching of God’s word. Thousands will share the words of life with their neighbors, and find responsive hearts waiting to receive the truth.
The Bible refers to this mighty revival as the outpouring of the latter rain. The terms early and latter rain were part of the agriculture cycle of Israel. The early rain watered the seed that had been planted and helped it germinate. The latter rain fell at the end of the agricultural cycle to ripen the grain and bring it to harvest. Without the latter rain there would be no final harvest. Water is one of the Bible’s symbols of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the last days to empower God’s people to complete the task of preaching the gospel to the entire world before Jesus comes.
The apostle James puts it this way in James 5:7, 8: “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
The Old Testament prophet Joel adds in Joel 2:23: “Be glad then, ye children of Zion and rejoice in the Lord your God; for He hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former and the latter rain.”
Historically, the former or early rain fell at Pentecost. Three thousand converts were baptized in a single place in one day. God’s word says that number is moderate in comparison to what is coming in the future. If I saw three thousand people baptized in one day in one place in North America I don’t think I would call that a moderate outpouring of the Spirit! But the point here is that the early rain is moderate in comparison to what is coming in the latter rain.
We can expect the Holy Spirit to do some absolutely incredible things at the end of time.
We know the outpouring of God’s Spirit in the latter rain to finish the gospel work on earth will be far more powerful than anything God’s church has ever seen before. Pentecost will be repeated on a much grander, larger scale.
Ellen White adds this thought in Great Controversy, p. 611: “The work will be similar to that of the Day of Pentecost. As the ‘former rain’ was given, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the opening of the gospel to cause the upspringing of the precious seed, so the ‘latter rain’ will be given at its close for the ripening of the harvest. 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.”
On page 612 she continues: “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.”
What a thrill to be living at a time when God desires to pour out all of heaven’s power in the closing work. What a privilege to be a channel for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Friends, if we see the false manifestations of Satan in counterfeit revivals all around us, shouldn’t we long for the genuine manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain? Shouldn’t we be seeking God to send us that true manifestation? It is one thing to recognize the counterfeit, but it is another to receive the genuine gift of the Spirit.
It is possible to become so focused on the counterfeit we fail to recognize what God longs to do through His people today. It is possible to become so fearful of the false that we miss seeking for the showers of the latter rain in our own lives. My heart longs for the genuine outpouring of the Holy Spirit in my own life and in the life of the church. It is only as God’s Spirit is poured out that the gospel message will go to the ends of the earth. Zechariah the prophet reminds us in Zechariah 4:6: “‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
But some very important questions remain:
- How can I personally receive the abundance of the Spirit that God has promised at the end of time?
- What are heaven’s prerequisites for receiving this latter rain power of the Spirit?
- Why hasn’t God poured out His Spirit in all of its fullness yet?
- What is heaven waiting for?
There is nothing more important for us personally, or for the church as a whole, than receiving everything Jesus has for us.
LeRoy Froom reported that the bankers of Scotland are said to have forty million pounds in unclaimed deposit. Depending on the fluctuating exchange rates, this could be a whopping seventy to eighty million dollars unclaimed! It seems difficult to believe, but the riches of all heaven await our demand and reception. We need not wait for others to claim them. Oh, the tragedy of our poverty! Are the unlimited resources of the Holy Spirit often unclaimed by us?
Let’s study some of God’s prerequisites for receiving the fullness of the Spirit. If we want to receive latter rain power, here is what God’s word says in Zechariah 10:1: “Ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain.”
God’s messenger to His last-day church adds, in the Review and Herald, August 25, 1896: “We should pray as earnestly for the descent of the Holy Spirit as the disciples prayed on the day of Pentecost.”
Luke also records the earnestness of the disciples’ prayers at Pentecost in Acts 1:14: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”
The disciples sensed they were powerless without the Spirit. They realized the task was just too daunting without the mighty outpouring of the Spirit. Without the Spirit’s presence in their lives, in the fullness of power, they could not defeat the forces of hell.
The first prerequisite for receiving the Holy Spirit is earnest prayer.
The latter rain power will come only in answer to the prayers of God’s people. We are counseled in Testimonies, Vol. 8, p. 23:
“My brethren and sisters, plead for the Holy Spirit, God stands back of every promise He has made. With your Bibles in your hands, say: ‘I have done as Thou hast said, I present Thy promise, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”’”
Are you seeking God daily for the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Are you praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your own life? God always keeps His word. He has said, “Ask, and ye shall receive.”
The second prerequisite for receiving the fullness of the Spirit is an undivided heart.
Jesus’ life is the model of a life filled with the Spirit. Luke 3:21 describes the scene at His baptism. “And while He prayed the heaven opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him
There is a fascinating comment by the Father at Jesus’ baptism that opens new vistas of understanding regarding the reception of the Spirit. At the baptism, the Father spoke from heaven, declaring in Luke 3:22, “You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
In Luke 4:18 the Savior replies, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.”
The Holy Spirit is poured out from heaven on those with whom the Father is well pleased. Jesus affirmed His heart’s undivided loyalty in John 8:29: “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” Jesus was totally committed to pleasing His Father. Nothing else in life mattered as much as doing the Father’s will. The Father honored His Son’s commitment by sending His Spirit without measure.
Ask God to give you an undivided heart. Ask Him to teach you to live a life of absolute dependence upon Him. When God has a group of people with the main desire to please Him, seeking for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, He will then pour out His Spirit in abundance. Jesus longs for us to come to Him with humble hearts, putting aside our own desires and interests, saying as in Matthew 26:39, “… not as I will, but as You will.”
Day by day Jesus allows different spiritual tests to come to us. Each test is an opportunity to discover what is in our heart. He reveals things we never knew about ourselves, and His great desire is that these tests will drive us to our knees, saying, “Lord, I never knew that was inside of me. I never knew that was part of my nature. Please deliver me from the bondage of that specific habit or attitude. I willingly confess it and surrender it to you.”
God invites us to connect with the source of all power, that through His word and through opening our hearts to Him in prayer our minds will be in harmony with His mind, our wills in harmony with His will, and our hearts will be one with His. And if our power line to heaven is connected, we will be recipients of a full measure of His power.
Did you read about the woman a number of years ago who bought a new refrigerator, and soon everything she put in it spoiled? The milk soured, the lettuce wilted, the fruit and vegetables rotted, and the ice cream melted. She couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Everything seemed to be in working order. Then, to her absolute surprise, she discovered the plug had come out of the socket. The refrigerator was not plugged in. It was not connected to the source of power. Spiritual power comes when you are connected to the source of unlimited power.
Testimonies, Vol. 8, p. 19 reads: “There is no limit to the usefulness of the one who, putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart and lives a life wholly consecrated to God.”
God has limitless plans for your life. There are no limits to what the Spirit can do in and through your life if you have an undivided heart and are wholly consecrated to God.
The third prerequisite for the reception of the Spirit is saturating our minds with the word of God.
The same Spirit that inspired the Bible inspires us as we read it. The same Holy Spirit who filled the lives of Bible writers as they wrote the sacred words of scripture fills our lives as we read their words. Facing the powerful temptations of the enemy while in the wilderness, Jesus emphatically declared in Matthew 4:4:
“… Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from of the mouth of God.”
The Master added in John 6:63: “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
The Holy Spirit flows through God’s word to fill up our lives. To be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with the word of God. Spirit-filled lives are:
- Guided by the word of God
- Instructed by the word of God
- Empowered by the word of God
- Sanctified by the word of God
- Transformed by the word of God
When we accept the teachings of God’s word, we give the Holy Spirit permission to fill our lives with His presence and power.
A fourth prerequisite for receiving the Holy Spirit in the fullness of His power is to put away all dissension between you and anyone else.
When the disciples were battling for the highest place, the Holy Spirit’s power was limited. When they were arguing among themselves, harboring ill feelings toward one another, the Holy Spirit’s power was limited. It is only by removing the roadblocks of dissension that the Spirit can be poured out upon our lives. At Pentecost the disciples “were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). The New Testament Greek word for one accord means “together.” The disciples were not only physically together, but for the first time they were truly together in a harmonious unity. They still had their different personalities, but they were united in their commitment to one another. They were one in their desire to bring the gospel to the world.
Ellen White gives us this practical counsel in Testimonies, Vol. 8, p. 21: “Let Christians put away all dissension and give themselves to God for saving the lost. Let them ask in faith for the promised blessing, and it will come. The outpouring of the Spirit in the days of the apostles was ‘the former rain,’ and glorious was the result. But the latter rain will be more abundant.”
Is there anything in your life that stands between you and someone else? Could it be that this wall is also a barrier to God giving you the fullness of His power? Do you need to forgive someone for hurting you so no barriers will stand between you and them?
Corrie Ten Boom survived one of Hitler’s death camps. Her sister Betsy was not as fortunate, and she died in the brutality and disease of the camp. After the war was over, Corrie traveled throughout her beloved Holland and Germany, sharing a message of reconciliation and peace. One evening, after a presentation in a church in Germany, she saw him. The image of this short, stocky, steel-faced German Gestapo prison guard was etched in her mind forever. His inhumane treatment of her sister Betsy led to Betsy’s death. But now this man stood before Corrie with his hand stretched out, asking, “Will you forgive me?” It took all of the grace possible to take this man’s hand in hers, look him in the eye, and say, “Yes, I forgive you!” Corrie recognized this vital truth. The Holy Spirit cannot fill an unforgiving heart. The Holy Spirit and bitterness do not go together.
The fifth prerequisite for receiving the latter rain is active labor for others.
Remember, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit gave the disciples power to witness. God sends His power so that we can proclaim His message and bless others. Many people are looking to the future for some great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but that outpouring can begin in our lives today! True, it will increase in the future, but note this insightful statement in Testimonies to Ministers, p. 511: “The dispensation in which we are now living is to be, to those that ask, the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. Ask for His blessing. It is time we were more intense in our devotion.” Then, on the very next page, Ellen White states, “It is the time of the latter rain, when the Lord will give largely of His Spirit. Be fervent in prayer, and watch in the Spirit.”
Now is the time to seek God for a spiritual revival. If this revival is to begin, it must begin in the heart of each of us. Now is the time to share Jesus’ love and grace with others. The more we share His love with others, the more the Holy Spirit fills us up with God’s grace to share more.
Why would God pour out His Holy Spirit on us to witness to others if we have no interest in witnessing? Why would God empower us to share our faith if we are not interested in sharing it?
The Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus. When we are interested in what the Holy Spirit is interested in, His power will be poured out on us in all of its fullness. It is now time, with consecrated hearts, to seek for the mighty power of God. Hosea the prophet cried out in Hosea 10:12: “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy, break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you” (emphasis supplied).
The Welsh Revival
The world still feels the influence of the great revival that flamed across the tiny country of Wales in the beginning of this century. However, few remember how this mighty spiritual revival began. It was at a simple church gathering in a little town in Wales where a tiny girl arose. She was so nervous she could stammer just one short sentence: “Oh, I do love Jesus.” Then she sat down. The Lord used that short but earnest testimony to light a fire in other hearts. The Holy Spirit came down. Young and old people confessed their sins and testified to a new life in Christ. The revival spread through the church, across the town, and throughout Wales. Newspapermen traveled from London to report firsthand about this mighty revival. On their arrival in Wales, one of them asked a policeman where the revival was. Drawing himself up to his full height, the policeman laid a hand on his heart and said, “In this
When revival comes, it must begin inside of us.