Raise the Standard!
In yesterday's post I spoke of young, prophetic revivalists being raised up in this season. (“Young” is getting older as I “mature.”) I mentioned my friend, Larry Sparks, as being one of these voices. In today’s post, I want to share from Larry’s great book on revival, entitled Pentecostal Fire. This is truly one of the best books I’ve read on this subject. I can’t recommend it strongly enough. In Chapter 2, Larry says:
“‘Tell My Ekklesia to raise the bar, and I’ll raise the anointing. Raise the bar, and I’ll pour out a fresh, new Pentecost greater than Acts 2.’ (1)
“This is a prophetic statement that the Holy Spirit communicated to Pastor Tim Sheets (Oasis Church, Middletown, Ohio). Pastor Bill Johnson emphatically states that ‘Pentecost is the standard for church life.’ (2) When we deviate from the standard, we rob believers of walking in their supernatural Holy Spirit inheritance…
“Scripture tells me that ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8). It tells me that it is possible for someone’s shadow to heal the sick, for anointed pieces of clothing to deliver the demonized, and for extraordinary miracles to be performed by the hands of ordinary people (see Acts 5:15; 19:11-12). It tells me that it’s possible for entire cities and regions to come to repentance (see John 3:6, Acts 8:8). Jesus Himself provokes us to believe for ‘greater works’ (John 14:12). But there is one thing the Bible does not tell me: ‘God stopped moving in power.’ I cover this extensively in my book Accessing the Greater Glory, but in short, there is no solid theological argument to legitimately affirm the ceasing of the supernatural power of God (commonly called cessationism). Often, critics of the continuing move of the Spirit, especially through power gifts of tongues, healing, and prophecy, cite that these unusual demonstrations of God ceased when the canon of Scripture was closed, and the last apostle died. We are not claiming any additions to the canon of Scripture, nor do we assert that any leader today, especially those who don the title ‘apostle,’ come anywhere close to the uniqueness established by the original twelve apostles. We simply believe that Jesus established a timeless model that the early church boldly demonstrated and the church today has an invitation to step into.
Doing Things God’s Way
“‘If we want a genuine revival, we will have to do things God’s way,’ says John Kilpatrick (3)
“We have tried Christianity our way, and it hasn’t worked. My friend, revivalist, and author Jessi Green encourages people to perform an honest evaluation on their faith and ask: ‘Is your Christianity working?’ When I consider where we are right now in history, I am convinced that contemporary Christianity hasn’t performed up to the standard set in the Book of Acts. God has graciously blessed us with a level of success, seeing people genuinely converted. He is so kind, gracious, and merciful. I celebrate all the true progress that has been made. But as the world grows darker and society continues to plummet into unspeakable depths of chaos and depravity, we become increasingly aware that the solution is not trying to repackage the world using Christian jargon. They simply don’t want it.
“Isaiah 60:2 speaks of people who are under the influence of ‘deep’ or thick darkness. This certainly speaks of the innumerable souls who wander through life without Christ, without hope. They are bombarded with darkness day after day. When they cross the threshold into our churches, they do not want Hollywood or Broadway. They don’t want Christian leaders to insult them by trying to give them a worldly church. We have been entrusted with the otherworldly in the Person of the Holy Spirit; let’s freely give as we have freely received. I repeat, people who don’t know Jesus, or have moved away from Christianity, are not seeking entertainment; they groan to encounter the real and living presence of God…
Pentecost Looks Like Something
“The Lord is calling us to raise the standard so that we can witness a greater demonstration of Holy Spirit anointing and power in our day. If we have low expectations for Christianity, we will continue to settle for a low demonstration. But what if we actually believed that the Book of Acts gave us a standard for what life should be like? What if Pentecost was the standard for Christianity throughout all periods in history, not just the first-century Church?
“This book is a journey back to the priorities of the early Church, the priorities of Pentecost, as I am convinced Pentecost will serve as a prophetic blueprint for the end-time Church. We must recapture the fire that burned in the first three hundred years of Christianity if we are going to step into the greater works that Jesus announced would be possible to those filled with the Holy Spirit.
“Jesus had a clear vision of what the Church should look like prior to His return. Paul articulates this to the Church in Ephesus by giving us this beautiful picture of what the Son of God is searching for at His Second Coming: ‘So that He might sanctify her [the Church, His Bride], having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, that He might present to Himself the Church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless’ (Ephesians 5:26-27 NASB). Meditate on that one stunning phrase: ‘the Church in all her glory.’ Wow! He is not coming back for something that is breaking down and falling apart. Pastor Kim Owens boldly declares that ‘Jesus is coming back for a Church that’s in revival.’ On the basis of Ephesians 5, I would agree with that statement. He is coming back for a people that are filled with glory!
“We need to define Pentecost clearly if we are going to use it as the standard and model for Christianity today. After all, many hear the word Pentecost and think of either a denomination or a certain ‘flavor’ of Christianity. Pentecost is not a personality. Pentecost is not a preference or style of church. Pentecost is not a denomination. Pentecost was not a dispensation or era. Pentecost was not in the back room; it was front and center. Pentecost was the way of life for the early Church. And Pentecost introduces us to the more of God that is available now.
“Many believers today are living like the disciples in Acts 19. They simply do not know there is more of God for them to experience:
‘And it happened while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples, he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit”’ (Acts 19:1-2).
“By using the phrase ‘there is more,’ I am not encouraging you to go outside the confines of Scripture to seek for some unbiblical experience. Far from it. For too long we have read the Bible at a distance, thinking such supernatural experiences were exclusive to the Bible days. The canon is closed, but God has not changed. When did we officially exit the so-called Bible days?
“Francis Chan wrote in his prophetic book Letters to the Church that ‘We have become too easily satisfied. We are content if a person leaves [church] pleased. God wants them awed.’ (4) It’s time for a generation to experience a God who leaves us undone in breathless awe and wonder. Perhaps we have not seen more of these kinds of experiences in our present day because we have not even considered them as an option. Thus, we have comfortably resigned ourselves to a status quo spiritual existence, all the while longing inside for someone to provoke us to pursue the more.
“The great British preacher and orator Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones poignantly reminded us that ‘We were never meant to be content with a little.’ My friend, there is more. It’s available, and it’s accessible!”
Pray with me:
Father, as Larry makes clear in his book, revival is not off somewhere in the distance; it is here now. Help us to catch up with You. Turn up the revelation dial, enabling the church to recognize the times and seasons. Awaken our faith to embrace the opportunity before us. Break us out of comfort zones, preconceived ideas, religious routines, and hesitancy to change. Renew our wineskins, making them flexible and ready to receive Your “now” words and activities. We decree now what You have stated prophetically to us, “It is time!”
We ask for the fire to intensify, the revival fires we spoke of in yesterday’s post…the fires You showed in a dream, beginning in Florida and going all the way up the East Coast of America. But others have seen this fire spread westward, and also from the west coast back to the east. It is clear that You want Your revival fire everywhere in this country. We call forth this fire with our declarations of faith and in agreement with Your words. Send it now, we pray.
Raise up many prophetic revivalists in our day. Do it here in America and around the world. May the greatest generation of revivalists in history be unleashed. Give them great wisdom, boldness, revelation, power, and zeal. Perform great miracles through them, extraordinary miracles, and use them to produce shocking deliverances. Save a billion souls through them! May it be said of them as it was the early church, “They turned their world upside down.” We pray and decree these things in the most powerful name in heaven and earth, Yeshua, our Messiah. Amen.
We decree that Pentecost fire is springing up in the earth and will not be quenched.
Today’s post was taken from the book Pentecostal Fire written by my friend Larry Sparks. You can find out more about Larry here. His book is available on Amazon.
Tim Sheets, Angel Armies on Assignment (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny image, 2021), p 7.
Bill Johnson, Open Heavens (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2021).
John Kilpatrick, When the Heavens Are Brass (Shippensburg, PA: Revival Press, 1997), p 6.
Francis Chan, Letters to the Church (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2018), p 89.
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