You cannot revive something that never was alive to begin with. The revival will be in the Church.
For many years now, maybe too many years, we have been talking about a great end-time revival and although there have been great moves of the Spirit in some places, we have not seen that which we have been looking for.
Revival is about reviving something which was before, not a new thing but bringing back things which once were.
It’s past time that someone asked: Just what IS it that needs to be revived?
As Apostolics, we likely have not seen in our Churches what the early Church experienced.
Many of us are old enough to remember when miracles, signs, wonders and healings were probably much more common than they are today.
The deep and mighty demonstration of the power of God in the early days of the Church in this country is something most of us have not forgotten.
Many of us were eye witnesses to things we seldom talk about today. There are some who have had real apostolic results in their ministries with signs following but not on the level we expected, not like before.
What DID we have back then that we do not have now. Just what is it that was alive in the early Church that must be revived today if we are to see the move of God we are longing for.
We can only speak from our own experience.
On the day of Pentecost, they were “in one mind and one accord.” They had all things common. In the early days here, so did we.
There were no cliques and no division. Many of us didn’t have much and we shared what we had.
Many can remember when “poundings” were brought to the Church for the pastors family and visiting ministers.
I want to list some of the things I recall that perhaps are different now, things that may need to return.
1. We were taught to “try the spirits and see if they be of God.”
We learned about “sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.” We were told as believers that we could discern what was of the Spirit and what was of the flesh.
There was a certain sound we could hear with that which was genuine and we could detect if something or someone didn’t sound quite right, if it was a little bit off we could hear it and sense it.
Those who operated in the flesh were not appreciated and at times asked to take a seat. Everyone with the Holy Ghost could tell who was in the Spirit and who was not.
It was our right and duty. All knew who had the real anointing and who did not. It was so obvious. No doubt about it.
This was not seen as being judgmental but simply discernment that came with being Spirit-filled.
2. We were also taught that “God is no respecter of persons” and neither were we to be.
We should not esteem some higher than others, honor yes, but not placed on a level above everyone else.
Politics in the Church was considered out of order. There was no who’s who list. Ministers were known by their prayer life, not by who they knew.
It was in order for anyone in the congregation to lift their hand anytime during the service or sermon and ask for “chapter and verse” for what was being said.
No one was offended by that, it was an honor to back up what you were saying before all the people.
3. Often, when some saint or family member was seriously ill, many from the Church would go to that person’s house, have a real prayer meeting and stay all night in prayer in that home and with that person until God moved and they were better.
They didn’t leave until some kind of relief was accomplished. We were taught that when our people were sick, we were to call for the elders of the Church, have them anointed with oil and The LORD would raise them up. He did, in so many miraculous ways and all the glory was given to God.
Many of us saw these things and we are not telling it as we once did. Just what was it that caused our faith to go weak in this area.
What did we do then that we are not doing now? We do have healings now, but not on the same level we once did.
We didn’t run to the doctor for every little ailment back then, we couldn’t. We have and should use good doctors and all the advancement in medicine that is available, but what happens when there is nothing else the doctors can do?
Whom do we turn to then and why must we just accept that it is the way it is; that what once worked does not anymore?
Who can still pray that prayer of faith and why could people do it then, and not now?
It’s happening all around us in many ways but nothing like we once knew or what we expect in this end-time revival we have been clamoring about.
Jesus Christ is the same, but maybe we are the ones who have changed and if so, why have we changed?
Why do we accept less than what those before us had?
There are Gifts (plural) of Healing. Do we even know what that means or what these Gifts are?
The Apostolics in the early Church were persecuted and suffered greatly because of this power that had been given to them, with beatings and even imprisonment.
Many of our early leaders in the Church here in this country also went through many of the same things.
Is it that we are not willing to pay such a price for being used of God in this manner today? We were once ready to do whatever it took and go through anything to be used of God.
Why did we back away and will be get to that place once again?
4. The Gifts of The Spirit were given much more room to operate.
Anyone with a Word of Wisdom or Knowledge was free to speak to whomever or in the service.
It wasn’t relegated to the pulpit only. The moving of the Holy Ghost was the most important thing in every service or special song.
The Holy Ghost could interrupt any service or meeting and there were many more times when we actually stopped the singing or whatever, and tarried or waited on the Spirit to move as He chose, however long it took.
Everyone could sense and recognize the awesome presence of the Spirit and a reverence, fear and awe would come upon us and there were many tears.
It still happens at times in some places, but not on the scope it once did.
Whoever was gifted had the freedom to use their Gifts, decently and in order of coarse, because the least of the saints as well as the pastor knew who was in the Spirit and who was not.
No one felt threatened, not even the pastor, if others had deeper insight or power in some things. He knew his job and position, what he was called to do and the more people that could help get the job done, the better.
There was no such thing as just doing what you were told and not asking questions, even to those in leadership.
Asking in the right spirit changed everything. The Gifts of the Spirit were not only given to the leadership. They were distributed to the saints as well, as He willed, not as we decided.
You’d think the people today are expected to forget what we were once taught, that the scripture plainly says that some people are not called of God. The Bible says, “they called themselves.”
Most of us today won’t dare approach that subject. Jesus warned us of these people and so did the Apostles, especially in the time we live in today.
What do you mean, “Don’t ask questions?”
We are not to be dumb sheep who just follow anything we’re told. We are gifted men and women who have likely paid a dear price for what we have.
The Holy Ghost is the greatest teacher of all and many of us sitting in Churches were taught by the Spirit in the same manner many in leadership were.
This backward way of thinking was not so in our earlier days. The leaders were humble people. They didn’t mind you questioning them.
They taught us to be wise and watchful, not to be ignorant. They did not want us to be unaware of the enemy’s ways or people’s ways either lest we be led astray or become powerless in our walk with God.
Some of our most anointed speakers in these past years were teaching and preaching and giving prophecy about this return of the Gifts in camp-meetings and conferences and we were stirred to new desire and expectation and greater faith but at least one of our overseers expressed fear that the district leadership might have to answer to God because these messages were perhaps not being taken back to the local Church level.
We were taught that, “where the Spirit of The LORD is, there is liberty.” That included liberty to exercise the Gifts of God without fear, favor or suppression by those who did not have them.
The fear of The LORD was upon us all and there were few fakes. It was worth the risk.
5. The 5-fold ministry, as we have called it so long, was in full operation. Each had their job to do.
They would overlap, if needed, but they complimented one another and were subject to one another.
We taught that the scripture was worded the way it was for a reason. First apostles, secondarily prophets, and thirdly teachers, in that order, in that manner.
The pastor was not the head of the five-fold ministry. First is first. In another place the order was apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher.
Everyone was subject to reproof — no one had all the answers.
It seems that the writers of the New Testament knew that we would one day have this all turned around wrong and that the order set up in the early Church would somehow get turned around.
The prophet was to be free to move about and speak as God led him to speak even without an invitation. All could discern.
The scripture says that God speaks to His prophets first, before He speaks to anyone else. God said that.
It is so, whether we like it or not. It seems He had his own good reason. The evangelist was also free to speak directly to the Church, to the saints and not just to the sinners.
All of these offices were for the perfecting of the saints. Those of the Spirit could speak what God had told them, or shown them, without any prior knowledge of problems or error going on, and awe would come over the people.
The pastor was often relieved of having to deal with things in the Church family. The Spirit working through the other offices did it for him.
The pastor had no need to try to be all five offices in one. A pastor is called to be a pastor. There is no one like him, or her if you please, and no one can take their place.
The entire five-fold ministry would fall apart without that office and one must have the true heart of a shepherd to live with people on a constant basis and tend to them as a real shepherd.
But the Church also cannot function properly without the other four. The entire system will eventually collapse or maybe become weak and unable to perform in the might and power it was intended to.
You cannot control the Spirit and these offices cannot control one another. Envy didn’t mix in this.
The Teacher was an office once used more widely in the Church and in some of our earlier days these people went from Church to Church teaching prophecy and the deeper things of the Spirit, not just at a camp or special event.
Everyone learned and grew and again, no one felt threatened. They were called to teach, that was their office and position and the anointing of the Holy Ghost was upon them.
No one was bored. The work of God progressed so much easier. The abuse of Gifts by extremists in the time that followed caused many of our people to withdraw and skepticism took root.
Even dancing before The LORD became questionable for a time and was considered operating in the flesh.
It seemed some thought it was better to squelch this Gift thing than have to work through the problems with those who may have been over-zealous.
Few realized the Church could not operate in full apostolic power without all of the Gifts and offices operating as God had designed.
6. There was much casting out of demons.
Devils were always presenting themselves in front of the minister, among the saints and in so many services, just like they did in Jesus’ time.
When the genuine anointing is present and the Gifts are operating, demons will cry out. It was a common thing and many were delivered.
There was absolutely no fear in this unless you were not “prayed up” and then you were taught to stand back.
Why is it not seen so much in our services today?
There is certainly no shortage of devils today and times are not that different; if anything, they’re worse.
We have laughed and made jokes about the devil being the first one to every Church service and that he could sit on the front row, shout and even talk in tongues. Didn’t he once do that and are we so sure he’s not still doing it?
The enemy got smart. He learned to keep quiet and because the Gift of Discerning of Spirits was not encouraged or exercised, most people could not tell he was there.
He could bind up services, hinder growth and prevent The Flow of the Spirit needed to accomplish the work.
Saints in the Church could once discern something wasn’t quite right, even if they could not see the spirit. They still can.
7. We knew God used everyone, not just the best preacher or singer.
God could and did often move through the less talented speaker, singer or musician. Having talent was great but God was interested in vessels that could be used by Him, as He wished in the way He wished.
You were known by how The Spirit could move through you, not by the best voice or keyboard player.
If you had great talent and truly operated in the Holy Ghost at the same time, you became great in God’s eyes and in the eyes of his people.
No one dominated the music or the pulpit. We wanted the Spirit and we got it. The least and the best.
8. Manifesting The Fruit of The Spirit was more important than your doctrine.
We were well taught that the scripture said all of your Gifts were useless and you were nothing if you did not love one another.
We knew that the apostles acted like “nurses” among the people, giving reproof and rebuke when necessary but with love and compassion.
In our day gone by, there was actually a glow, a shine on peoples face who were full of the Holy Ghost.
Everyone could see it, even the neighbors and when they went to the grocery store. Their was a certain love that emanated from them that made them easy to entreat, not haughty or arrogant, but humble.
You could see it. We taught in our Churches and meetings how to feel about people that did not believe exactly as we did or may not have some understanding or truth we felt we had.
Our elders taught us that those who had gone on before us, who didn’t know what we know, or even those living around us in our time, likely “walked in all the Light they knew” and God himself would judge them, not us.
Those before us and around us would be judged for how they treated their families and their neighbors and how well they lived by the things of which they did know.
There was not this harsh, “We have it,you don’t!” attitude and “If you don’t believe like we do, you are going to hell!.”
We knew we could never win anyone to The LORD with that spirit. And besides, NO one knew that but God.
The Spirit we had, the Jesus in us, drew them, not our dogma.
The way we dressed and how we were baptized were very important, but we learned that there was so much more to God and the deeper things of the Spirit than just these two issues.
We were told to humble ourselves to all people and remember the pit from which we were dug.
We also were told that in the last days, that many would have a form of godliness but would not have the power that went with it.
We knew about the cups being washed on the outside, but not on the inside, and about whitened sepulchers.
We were given scripture saying we should cleanse ourselves not only from filthiness of the flesh, but that we could have a filthy spirit also and that there would be many things about ourselves that we had hidden inside, that only the Holy Ghost knew about it.
We might never see these things unless we asked The Spirit to search us and reveal it to us. We even sang about it!
9. We were told that it didn’t matter how many times we went to Church, how much we shouted and ran the aisles, or even talked in tongues, it’s what we were at home, that was real.
If we did not have our own home in order, we couldn’t possibly be telling someone else how to manage theirs.
We were also taught that regardless of who people thought we were at Church — minister or otherwise — if our own children or companion did not want to be around us, something was terribly wrong.
The Fruit of The Spirit must be manifested at home. If there was no peace at home, there likely was no Holy Ghost.
10. Jealousy and envy could not be allowed in our homes and certainly not in the Church.
Jealousy was considered very cruel. If you had it, you had to confess it to God, repent and keep praying until you got rid of it.
Left unchecked, it would destroy you and those around you who loved you. We knew that envy could creep up anywhere, anytime and often in the Church.
We were taught to confess it and make it right to the other person. You were to confess your faults one to another, not to everyone else, and work out your differences between yourselves before you went running to the pastor.
In tough disputes, it was to be brought before the whole Church and let others help and know the truth about what was really going on. “Get it out of your heart lest you become bitter.”
These things were called what they were and had to be dealt with honestly. All of these things would hinder the moving of the Spirit in any service whether in the Music Depart, Ladies Auxiliary or Sunday School.
We, as human beings, all had these things from time to time, even the ministry. Those in ministry had faults and shortcomings just like everyone else because they were men and women just as we were.
That’s another reason why we all knew to pray for them and lift them up before The LORD.
We knew that they were often attacked more than others. Forgiving others was much easier then because we knew we had all said things at times we shouldn’t have.
We had been taught that self-righteousness was as filthy rags to God.
“Preferring your brother” was something we all understood and it was the code of conduct we wished to live by.
Some of our overseers did warn us in years following that our people were becoming full of jealousy and envy, but I suppose most did not believe this and it seems their words went unheeded.
“Thus saith The LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for you souls. But they said, we will not walk therein,” Jeremiah 6:15-17.
First published: January 14, 2010.
~ Robert Blackburn