The Spirit of The Age – Fear and Loathing in Bris-Vegas

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To anyone not in the know Brisbane is called ‘Bris-Vegas’ by southern states for various reasons. Some suggest it might be an ironic term since Brisbane is a far smaller capital city than others in Australia and more like a country town. That may have been true 40 years ago, but we have grown up since then. Others have suggested it stuck after we installed a casino in the historical Treasury Building in the city, yet others because of the reputation of the neighbouring Gold Coast for crime and fast living. I have never heard anyone from Brisbane refer to us as such and it is only a recent moniker. Frankly, it never made much sense to me and whoever coined it was probably drunk at the time.

The reason I chose this title, apart from its catchy post-modern connection to the novel by Hunter S. Thomson (irony alert), was because of what the Spirit of This Age is producing in our fair city. Like the novel, which I have never read by the way, I was chasing a dream and at the same time recognising that the world is not what I thought it was.

There was no drug-induced haze involved in my own coming-to-terms with my own generation’s failure to make a difference. What I have seen, clearly and without prejudice, has been that the world around me is becoming a maelstrom of immorality, insanity, harsh attitudes, and a marked lack of the kindness of strangers which used to occur as a matter of course when I was a child.   As a mature woman, what I see frightens me, yet as I cling ever more tightly to my God and my faith in Him. I know He will provide protection and guidance as I seek His wisdom to face an uncertain future.

Over the last ten years in particular I have come to the conclusion that it is indeed a spirit which is producing the changes we are seeing. There are of course a number of different spirits affecting the world. Every man is accountable for his own actions, and I don’t believe we are being brain-washed or controlled irresistably by some outside force which compels us – other than the force of the law of sin and death of course. But the changes which are happening are very specific, and they have been documented by many others on the internet. What I wanted to do was give it the benefit of my own perspective which is perhaps unique to some degree.

Since I really only have my own neighbourhood to gauge real-time changes I figured I should stick to what I know. Of course I can compare it to what the Google monster knows, but even he doesn’t tell me everything. I can also compare the changes in Brisbane to those I have seen in places like New Zealand, my husband’s country, and in other states in Australia. Overall, I think, there has been a shift, seismic in proportions, but slow to move like a creeping flow of magma, bubbling and steaming and grinding down everything in it’s path.

So what is the Spirit of The Age?

I believe it to be the Spirit of Lawlessness which of course has its genesis and seat of power in the purposes of Satan himself. ( 2 Thessalonians 2:7 and 1 John 3:4). There is no ‘spirit of the age’ mentioned specifically in Scripture either by Jesus, Paul or any of the prophets. The closest we can get to this is in 1 Corinthians 2:6: “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing”.

It is a phrase which, according to Wikipedia (not a reliable source but it will do for the purposes of this post), is taken from the German word ‘zeitgeist’ or time spirit, and has been attributed to the philosopher Hegel, from whom we get the very interesting ‘Hegelian Dialect’ theory of politics and social reform. Hegel was a contemporary of Karl Marx but apparently did not actually use the term ‘Spirit of the Age’, he used the words ‘de Geist seiner Zeit’ or the spirit of his time. He is echoing other philosophers such as Voltaire and Thomas Carlyle.

In Christian terms, the phrase became popular when in the 80s the Christian singer Michael Card wrote a song entitled ‘Spirit of the Age’ in a song about abortion. Some of the lyrics read:

Now every age has heard it, the voice that speaks from Hell

“Sacrifice your children and for you it will be well”

The subtle serpent’s lying, His dark and ruthless rage

Behold, it is revealed to be the spirit of the age

The Spirit of the Age is most definitely an evil spirit. It is not the Holy Spirit, because scripture tells us that ‘The whole world lies under the sway of the evil one”. (1 John 5:19). And while some worldly philosophers may generalise and say that each ‘age’ has its own spirit or culture in which certain actions and thoughts are encouraged, in a global and also an eternal sense, all is overseen by Satan himself. God is over all and controls everything of course. But He has allowed Satan power over the air and power over men. The ‘Spirit of The Age’ is the embodiment of the effects of the machinations of the principalities and powers which have been unleashed before the final return of Jesus Christ the King. We are not in the tribulation, there will be no doubt as to what triggers that event, and no Antichrist has yet arisen, so we can be sure that we are simply in the labor pangs. We all want to know how long it will be, whether in our lifetime or not. Since I have been through three labours, I can tell you that it always takes longer than you think. I was always the last one left in the labor ward while everyone else had given birth. In my oldest child’s case, it took three days, in and out of hospital, before he finally arrived. So, I know what it’s like to be groaning in anticipation of the end.

Paul warned us that in the end times:

“……….perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

2 Timothy 3 1-9 (NKJV)

I have only really recognised this spirit in the last few years. It may have something to do with turning 50, or it may be that times really have changed more rapidly in the last ten years or so. It may also have something to do with exiting a cult in which we were immersed for 15 years. 15 years is a long time to be asleep, and when you emerge from your slumber, Rip Van Winkle-wise, you realise that everything around you has changed. It is this wakening which gives the effect of seeing everything for the first time. The changes are more marked because of the time lapse. In one sense it gives you a unique perspective, but is that perspective true or is it a perspective warped by memory? Is it the clarity of vision which God gives to those who haven’t been embroiled in the pot slowly being killed by the steadily rising temperature or is it that we are outsiders now who will never truly see things the same way again? I think that we have recovered enough, and had our minds transformed enough, to realise that it isn’t just us. If you look on the internet, you will find many Christians from many countries and many walks of life who are all commenting on the rapid demise of our societal morals and standards and concepts of right and wrong.

I should point out that the quote from Timothy was talking about the church. If in the last days, and we are in the last days, things will get that bad in the kingdom of God how much worse will it be on the earth?

I wanted to cover a lot of ground with this discussion and so I thought I would break it up into different areas. The Spirit of The Age affects relationships, work, church and issues such as morality and worldliness. Christians have been just as badly affected by this as the unsaved, and while we can’t change the world, we can be aware of what it is that is stirring in the universe. It has been there since creation and it will continue until the end of the Age, but its activity is increasing and I believe if we take the time to look and ask God to open our eyes, we will be able to recognise its effects in our lives and pray for wisdom and discernment.

The Spirit of This Age affects everything we do and everywhere we go. You can’t drive down the freeway without encountering dangerous driving and hostile attitudes. When I first went for my licence at the age of 19, over 30 years ago, there were rules which everyone abided by. Things like the ‘give way’ rule for example. If there was an intersection and you didn’t have the right of way, you had to wait for oncoming traffic to clear before you either drove across the intersection or turned left or right. Nowadays I have noticed that driving down a main road is more like negotiating a synchronised driving team. People will wait until you are seconds away and then suddenly pull out in front of you and drive across the intersection. There will be nobody behind you, and all they needed to do was wait a few seconds for you to pass, but this is apparently too much to ask. The life-threatening nature of this kind of behaviour is breathtaking, and it isn’t just the young who are driving like this. I have seen more middle-aged and older-aged men driving huge 4WD vehicles taking these kinds of risks. And quite a number of women in the same types of cars. You would think they would be more careful rather than less, having passed the age of reckless abandon, but it is no longer the case.

The same thing applies in shopping centres or when walking down the street. People who, I am absolutely convinced, a few decades ago used to walk in such a way as to get out of other people’s path or at the very least be aware of other people’s presence and avoid bumping into each other now walk as though they were the only ones on the planet. They simply fix their eyes on the middle distance and walk expecting that everyone else will get out of their way. I have encountered very few people who walk around aware that they are one of many, and look up and try and avoid bumping into others. It is almost as though a simple walk through a shopping mall now becomes a dodgem car ride in which you must protect yourself and walk defensively.

I could go on about the rudeness of people out in public, or the complete lack of civility encountered from public servants or shop assistants. There seems to be a corresponding lack of general common sense in the population at large.

There is something else I have seen grow in intensity over the years, and that is the prevalence of something psychologists call narcissism. Some suggest that narcissism is a trait which we all possess to some degree, but I am talking about a set of characteristics which comprise an actual personality disorder called Narcissism, or in extreme cases Malignant Narcissism.

Narcissism is a disorder which causes the individual to act in very unpleasant ways. It is more than ordinary selfishness, there is something which even worldly psychologists have described as evil. In fact, this disorder has encouraged many in the mental health world to discuss the very nature of evil. There is a great deal of debate about the nature of Narcissism; whether it is genetic in origin or whether it is a result of abuse in childhood. The thing is, many people have been abused as children but not all of them become Narcissists.

Narcissism is described as having a grandiose image of self. Narcissists see themselves as special, beyond the lot of mere mortals. They create in their own minds a fantasy of themselves and then genuinely expect everyone else around them to act as though it was true. Narcissists are characterised as having no empathy for others and wanting all the attention of everyone they know all the time. But there is a great deal more to Narcissism than the clinical diagnosis. Narcissists have destroyed their own families and children and even continuing generations. They are destructive and sadistic and find great glee in being the centre of chaos which erupts around them. They happily watch as those closest to them fall into despair trying to deal with the pain of the trauma which the Narcissist has created, and are at their worst when everyone else is happy. To have to grow up around a person like this, or worse, to be raised by one as a parent is the most debilitating childhood anyone can have. These children become neurotic and panic-stricken adults who never develop into maturity and until the Narcissistic parent dies they are tied to their whims and needs for the rest of their lives. It is commonly held by victims and psychologists alike that Narcissists don’t change. The trouble is, in order to change they must first acknowledge their actions. Since a Narcissist thinks that they are perfect they can’t recognise their problem. Or worse, if they do go to a psychologist it will be to use the information they gain from the visit in order to cause further havoc in their interpersonal relationships. Of course a one-on-one visit with a therapist is the perfect way to talk legitimately about onseself at length.

If you read stories from victims or children of these people you will wonder if they are all talking about the same person. Narcissists vary in their style and presentation, some quieter and more subtle, others obnoxious loud and aggressive, but they all use the same tactics. Often they employ such behaviours as ‘gaslighting’ which uses all kinds of tactics to mess with the heads of others. They will cause the other person to think something is wrong with them when it is the Narcissist who is causing all the trouble and playing dumb. So good is the Narcissist at projecting the image of the caring saint that their victims will often have nervous breakdowns believing themselves to have real mental problems or even think they are going insane. These people are the closest I have ever seen to being demon possessed, yet there is no picture in Scripture of somebody being possessed and acting like this. Narcsissists are the most self-possessed and confident people I have ever known. They convince everyone else around them that they are the nicest and friendliest people around, yet if you know their language and behaviour, it doesn’t take much to be able to detect that they are not quite right. It is hard to describe, but if you have been raised in a home with a Narcissist, you will know what I am talking about. I have encountered many Narcissists, and in fact the man who ran the religious cult we were part of was a fully fledged Narcissist. He was probably closer to being a psychopath in fact, since there appears to be something of a sliding scale with this sort of behaviour. Psychopaths are generally considered to be capable of criminal activity such as mass murder etc. Yet studies have shown that there are psychopaths in the community who present as successful likeable people who act normally and seem perfectly sane.

The thing with these sorts of people is that they are not insane at all. They are perfectly in touch with reality in the sense that they can interact with others and say and do all the acceptable things. In their own minds, there is something else going on. They are special, extraordinary, and great. So everything that happens to them is construed with this in mind. In a Narcissists family, if a child is successful it is because the Narcissist has made it happen that way. If the child is unsuccessful the Narcissist makes it all about them and how the child’s actions affect them and their unblemished record as a great parent. The Narcissist will punish indiscriminately and disproportionately and arbitrarily. A man I knew in the religious cult spanked his very small child of less than 2 years for some minor indiscretion. My husband and I were in the living room and we heard him lay into the child. He didn’t just spank his child once or twice, he kept going. In fact, I can’t remember the number of times he hit him, and we were way beyond uncomfortable when he decided to stop. It could not have been construed as anything but excessive force, yet this father, a Narcissist, was so sure of his right to do what he wanted with his own child that he was not to be reasoned with. Not even his own wife would have been able to stop him. Narcissists often choose partners who are compliant and come from abusive backgrounds themselves and have low opinions of themselves as a result. These ones will be overawed that they were chosen for marriage by anyone let alone such a person as a Narcissist and will therefore be involved in a kind of cultish relationship before they even reach the point of having children. Once they are there however, little can be done to discuss the matter with them. There is a kind of mental trap which is sprung in which neither partner is able to see the damage that is being done.

I have come across a great many ‘christian’ narcissists and I remember having a conversation once on a blog on narcissisim in which I debated whether it was possible for a narcissist to even become a chrsitian. I say again what I said there, and that is that with God all things are possible. If God opens the Narcissist’s eyes and allows them to see the depths of their depravity, then of course they will be able to repent and be saved. However, in practicality, I have not seen any Narcissist ever admit to being wrong in any way whatsoever, and therefore the ability to repent of their sin becomes academic. It seems to me that whoever becomes enmeshed in this hideous character deformity enjoys being there and sees no need to change.

I have read articles in which Christians who have recognised the Narcissism trait then go on to describe it as being the spirit of Jezebel. I am wary of calling any spirit by a name, and there is really no biblical precedent for this other than a few incidents in the book of Daniel when titles such as the Prince of Persia are called into play. No actual names are used to describe demonic entities, and while I agree that there are principalities and powers at work, I don’t believe it is wise to become to sure of one’s footing when going into great detail describing demonic powers. The name Jezebel is mentioned in the Old Testament, and in Revelation but this name is used to describe a person whom God is angry with for their rebellious behaviour and use of witchcraft. There is a great deal too much made of the ‘spirit of Jezebel’ which is then used to refer to women in general. In one church I attended, the ‘prophet’ who preached at the church used to go on and on about the ‘Jezebel spirit’ which produced controlling and manipulative women. He claimed that unless every woman in the place had been delivered of a ‘spirit of Jezebel’ then they were under it’s power. Since control and manipulation are really the fruit of the flesh and can manifest in anyone, male and female, then it is really drawing a long bow to suggest that firstly women are the only ones who are affected and that every woman is therefore being influenced by an evil spirit. I have seen far too many controlling and manipulative men who were clearly narcissistic in nature using this ‘spirit of Jezebel’ to control the women around them. It is a common ploy in churches. What amazes me is the numbers of women who will flock to men of this type and sit in thrall as they speak about their fellow sisters with such ignorance and disprespect. They mouth the words of these so called ‘prophets’ and believe God has given them ‘words’ to confirm the nonsense which is preached. They truly are an example of the 2 Timothy verses above where men like this creep into households and make captives of gullible women. I am afraid I have been one of those gullible women at one time, but fortunately I grew up and out of the gullibility. I suspect that the misfortunes I have experienced were actually the means by which God helped me to change and become a tad wiser.

To be continued…

 

Anita Brady

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“War On The Saints” Jesse Penn-Lewis (excerpt)

From sermon-index
From sermon-index

Revival Dawn and the Baptism of the Spirit

We have seen that the period in the believer’s life wherein he receives the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the special time of danger from the evil supernatural world, and the Baptism of the Spirit is THE ESSENCE OF REVIVAL. Revival dawn, is, therefore, the great moment for deceiving spirits to find entrance into the believer by deception through counterfeits, resulting sometimes in the possession dealt with in preceding pages.

The hour of Revival is a time of crisis and possible catastrophe. A crisis in the history of every individual, as well as in the history of a country, a church, or a district. A crisis for the unregenerate man, wherein he settles his eternal destiny, as he accepts, or rejects conversion to God; a crisis to those who receive the fulness of the Holy Spirit, and to those who reject Him; for to the believer who bends and receives the Holy Spirit, it is the day of the visitation of the Most High, but to others it means the decision whether they will become spiritual men or remain carnal (1 Cor. 3: 1); whether they will elect to remain in defeat in the personal life, or determine to press on as overcomers.

Few go through the crisis without deception by the enemy in more or less degree, and only those who cling to the use of their reasoning faculties at this time, can hope to be saved from the catastrophe of becoming a victim to the subtle workings of evil supernatural powers. If the believer does become deceived by evil spirits at the time that he is baptized with the Spirit, almost immediately after the highest point of his experience, he begins through deception to descend into a pit which ultimately means depth of darkness, bondage and misery, until he is undeceived and returns to the normal path. Those who do not discover the deceptions, sink into deeper deception, and become practically useless to God and to the Church.

REVIVAL THE HOUR AND POWER OF GOD

Revival is the hour and power of God, and of the devil, for the descent of the Divine power brings the accompanying onslaught of evil supernatural powers. It means MOVEMENT IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM. Revival itself is the hour of God, when heaven is opened, and the power of God works among men, but when the Divine power appears to pass away, and evil supernatural powers manifest their workings in a man, or a church, or a country, then men marvel that the devil’s work should be where God had been so manifest, not knowing that the devil was planting his seeds, and DOING HIS WORK, FROM THE DAWN OF REVIVAL. Revival ebb began with its flow, but all unseen. In the hour and power of God in Revival, the “Tempter” appears to be absent, but he is present as the Counterfeiter. Men say there is “no devil,” and yet it is his greatest harvest time. He is netting his victims, mixing his workings with the workings of God, and beguiling the saints more effectively than he was ever able to do with his temptations to sin. As a counterfeiter, and deceiver, the ever watchful foe uses his old methods of deception and guile on new converts, who, having victory over known sin, think the Tempter has left them, not knowing his new ways. His absence is only apparent, and not real. Satan was never more active among the sons of God.

WHY REVIVAL STOPS

The Devil’s great purpose is to stop the Revival power of God, and every Revival that has been given of God to awaken His people, has ceased after a time, more or less short, because of (1) the Church’s ignorance of the laws of the spirit for co-working with God;note 1 and (2) the insidious creeping on of the powers of darkness, unrecognized, and yielded to by the people of God through ignorance. Those who are born of the Spirit at such a period of the manifested power of the Holy Spirit emerge into a spiritual world, where they come into contact with spirit-beings of evil, OF

WHOSE EXISTENCE THEY HAVE NO EXPERIMENTAL KNOWLEDGE. They become conscious of spiritual forces and things which they think must be of God, and they do not know of the possibility of workings mingled by wicked spirits with the things of God. This is the reason why Revival, which quickens the Church, and for a period manifests to the world the regenerating, uplifting power of God, produces as an aftermath a number of genuine Spirit-born believers who are said to have “religious mania,” or are called “cranks.” And this is why “Revival” is sooner or later checked and discredited, the testimony to the world destroyed, the sober section of the Church dismayed, and made fearful of its effects. To put it in bluntest language, the Revival hour is the occasion for evil spirits to obtain “possession” of spiritual believers, and REVIVAL CEASES BECAUSE OF SUCH POSSESSION. The most spiritual

believers, baptized with the Holy Spirit, and most fitted to be used of God in Revival service, may become deceived and possessed by evil spirits in their outer being THROUGH ACCEPTING THE COUNTERFEITS OF SATAN. Believers who are not so abandoned to the Spirit escape the acute “possession, ” but in their contact with hitherto unknown workings from the spiritual realm, are equally open to deception which is manifested in a less recognizable way.

What is called the “fanatical” spirit, which in some degree, follows Revival, is purely the work of evil spirits. At Revival dawn the ignorant are teachable, but through their “spiritual experiences,” later on they become unteachable. Pre-Revival simplicity gives place to Satanic “infallibility,” or an unteachable spirit. Dogged, stubborn obstinacy in a believer after Revival is not from the source of the man himself, but from evil spirits deceiving his mind, holding his spirit in their grip, and making

him unbending and unreasonable. The scheme of the powers of darkness in Revival dawn, is to drive, or push to extreme, what is true. Their “push” is very slight and imperceptible at the beginning, in suggesting thoughts, or impelling to actions a very little contrary to reason, but as the “push” is yielded to, and the use of the reason is silenced,note 5 those who are thus deceived in due course become fanatical. The

judgment of those believers impelled to unreasonable actions, may be against, and even resisting the things they are supernaturally urged to do,note 6 yet they are unable to stand against the supernatural power driving them, which they think and believe is from God.

REVIVAL AND WAR ON SATAN

All this, and much else already dealt with in preceding pages, together with the after history of all Revivals of the past, shows that REVIVAL MINUS WAR ON SATAN AND HIS WICKED SPIRITS, must always appear to end in partial failure through the mixed results, consequent upon Satanic counterfeits of the working of the Holy Spirit. The Church, therefore, sorely needs believers equipped with knowledge and discernment, to meet the Satanic counterfeits which invariably follow the advent of Revival, knowing the symptoms of Satanic deception and possession, and able to

resist the powers of darkness, and teach the children of God the way of victory over them, as well as the aggressive warfare upon them.note 7 War upon the attacking spirits of evil is indispensable for maintaining the health, sanity and spiritual power of those who are revived. A PURE REVIVAL–free from the usual aftermath–IS POSSIBLE if the Church understood the truth about the powers of darkness, as well as the way of co- operation with the Holy Spirit. Apart from this same knowledge of the workings of Satan and his wicked spirits, so as to be able to recognize their presence under any guise, no one can with safety accept all the supernatural manifestations which accompany Revival, or believe all seeming “Pentecostal power” to be of God. A PURE Revival is Divine power in full operation, minus sin and Satan. It is not cold “belief,” but life, and it has to do with the spirit, not the intellect.

PRAYER FOR REVIVAL

Apart from this same knowledge, those who pray for Revival do not clearly understand what they pray for, nor how to act when their prayers are answered; for they are not prepared to meet the Satanic opposition to their prayers; nor even the dangers attendant upon prayer for Revival. Why is there not yet world-wide Revival in answer to world-wide prayer? For the same reason that Revival subsides when it has begun, and that prayer meetings for Revival may end in catastrophe,

or powerlessness. The check to Revival, both when it has begun, and in the prayer preceding its advent, is caused by the spirits of evil deceiving or hindering the praying ones. The hindrance to Revival, at the present time lies, not only in this opposition of the powers of darkness, but in the PRESENT CONDITION OF THE MOST SPIRITUAL SECTION OF THE CHURCH, through whom alone God can work in Revival power. These are the believers who know the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and were liberated in spirit in the Revivals of the last decade, but who are now

driven back into themselves by the pressure of the enemy in the atmosphere, or else are in captivity to the foe through his counterfeits. Let these quenched or deceived believers be liberated once more, and THOSE WHO ARE NOW USELESS WILL BE PRICELESS IN VALUE for teaching and strengthening others when Revival is once more given.

INSTRUMENTS FOR REVIVAL

The Holy Spirit is still in those who were baptized with the Spirit, during the last Revivals. The mistake at the time of the Revival in Wales in 1904 was to become occupied with the effects of Revival, and not to watch and pray in protecting and guarding the cause of Revival. The Spirit baptized souls, at present locked up in spirit, or side-tracked through Satanic deceptions, are still those who would be the instruments through whom God could work, were they but set free. Useless

now, but priceless in maturity, and experience and knowledge for the guiding and guarding of a Revived Church, when they are once more liberated for true co-working with the Holy Spirit of God. How, then, should the Lord’s praying ones pray at the present time? They should pray:

(1) Against evil spirits now blocking and hindering Revival.

(2) For the cleansing and delivering of those who became possessed through deception during the time of later Revivals.

(3) That when Revival is once more given it may be kept pure, and

(4) For the preparation of instruments for Revival, trained and taught of God to guard against further inroads of the powers of darkness.

In brief, let all who pray for Revival, pray for light to reach those who HAVE BEEN ENSNARED INTO BONDAGE TO THE DECEIVING POWERS OF DARKNESS, that they may be set free, and once more become usable in Revival service; then will the forces of evil be beaten back from the ground they have regained, which still belongs to God. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the essence of Revival, for Revival comes from a knowledge of the Holy Spirit, and the way of co-working with Him which enables Him to work in Revival power. The primary condition for Revival is, therefore, that believers should individually know the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. This term being used as a convenient expression for describing a definite influx of

the Holy Spirit which thousands of believers throughout the Church of Christ have received as a definite experience. Such an infilling of the Spirit was the cause not only of the Revival in Wales in 1904-5, but of all other Revivals in the history of the world. The fact that the counterfeiting work of Satan follows Revival through such an opening of the spiritual world as enables the evil spirit-beings to find access to believers under the guise of the Divine Spirit, must not hold back the children of God from seeking the true flood tide of the Spirit, for the bringing about of pure Revival, and the emacipation of the Church of Christ from the bonds of sin and Satan.

The Sewing Lesson

The Sewing Lesson Bernard Jean Corneille Pothast
The Sewing Lesson
Bernard Jean Corneille Pothast

“I was sitting alone in the twilight,
With spirit troubled and vexed,
With thoughts that were morbid and gloomy,
And faith that was sadly perplexed.

“Some homely work I was doing
For the child of my love and care;
Some stitches half wearily setting
In the endless need of repair.

“But my thoughts were about the building,
The work some day to be tried,
And that only the gold and the silver,
And the precious stones should abide.

“And remembering my own poor efforts,
The wretched work I had done,
And even when trying most truly,
The meager success I had won:

“‘It is nothing but wood, hay and stubble,’
I said; ‘it will all be burned;
This useless fruit of the talents
One day to be returned;

“‘And I have so longed to serve Him,
And sometimes I know I have tried;
But I’m sure when He sees such building,
He will never let it abide.’

“Just then as I turned the garment,
That no rent should be left behind,
Mine eye caught an odd little bungle
Of mending and patchwork combined.

“My heart grew suddenly tender,
And something blinded mine eyes
With one of those sweet inspirations,
That sometimes make us so wise.

“Dear child! she wanted to help me,
I knew ’twas the best she could do;
But oh! what a botch she had made of it,
The gray mismatching the blue!

“And yet, can you understand it?
With a tender smile and a tear,
And a half compassionate yearning,
I feel her grow more dear.

“Then a sweet voice broke the silence,
And the dear Lord said to me,
‘Art thou tenderer for thy little child
Than I am tender for thee?’

“Then straightway I knew His meaning,
So full of compassion and love;
And my faith came back to its refuge,
Like the glad returning dove.

“So, I thought, when the Master Builder
Comes down this temple to view,
To see what rents must be mended,
And what must be builded anew;

“Perhaps as He looks o’er the building
He will bring my work to the light;
And seeing the marring and bungling,
And how far it is all from right;

“He will feel as I felt for my darling,
And will say as I said for her,
‘Dear child! she wanted to help me,
And love for Me was the spur;

“‘And for the great love that is in it
The work shall seem perfect as Mine;’
And, because it was willing service,
Will crown it with plaudit Divine.

“And there, in the deepening twilight,
I seemed to be clasping a Hand,
And to feel a great love constraining,
Far stronger than any command.

“Then I knew by the thrill of sweetness,
‘Twas the Hand of the Blessed One
Which should tenderly guide and hold me,
Till all the labor is done.

“So my thoughts are never more gloomy,
My faith is no longer dim,
But my heart is strong and restful,
And mine eyes are unto Him.”

from ‘The Spirit-Filled Life’ by John MacNeil (Chapter 11)

John MacNeil the Father of Australian Revival

A shot of Webster & Co's establishment from South Brisbane circa 1902
A shot of Webster & Co’s establishment from South Brisbane circa 1902 (to the right of the photo, mid shot)  Bonzle Collections

 

I have been reading the book “The Spirit-Filled Life” by John MacNeil. It is an amazing book, written in 1894, by a Scots Presbyterian preacher and evangelist who was born and educated in Scotland but lived and worked in Australia. He was instrumental in the Melbourne revival of 1909, and was deeply interested in the deeper life Keswick movement. His book is interesting in many ways, mainly because for a Presbyterian minister he was an anomaly. He was seeking the blessing of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and taught and preached on the infilling of the Spirit in a way which seemed to separate him from the many who were influenced by the Welsh Revival of 1904 and the American Revivals which followed it. He is not interested in manifestations of strange incoherent ramblings or odd behaviour at meetings. His preaching is sound and biblically based and his teaching is filled with discussions of original languages and the meaning of the words used to describe the experience of being filled with the Spirit.

One of the reasons I wanted to honour John McNeil was that he began a preaching and evangelism tour in Queensland and died en route. He was at the end of his tour and died suddenly while in the shop of a Mr. Webster , a portmanteau maker, in George street, Thursday, August 27th 1896, almost 120 years ago. It is sad that he died so suddenly and away from his family, but his life was devoted to God and the furtherance of God’s Kingdom and People. I feel strangely honoured that he died in my home town even though it seems a morbid thought. It was his love of his brethren and the lost that brought him here and reading his works and seeing the heart of love he had for us here in this city causes me to rejoice that we can continue the work God began in him.

I was deeply impressed with his sensible and easy to read discussion of a subject which for many reformed or other conservative denominations is a very touchy subject. Yet you could hardly fault Macneil for his very thorough yet passionate entreaty for believers everywhere to avail themselves of this most important imparting of power from God.

I include a transcript of his death notice in the Brisbane Courier of August 28 1896.

 

REV. JOHN MACNEIL

SHOCKINGLY SUDDEN DEATH.

The Rev. John MacNeil, the well known evangelist, who has been conducting a series of services at the City Tabernacle, died with terrible suddenness yesterday. Shortly before noon Mr. MacNeil went to the shop of Mr. Webster, portmanteau manufacturer, George-street, in connection with some work, and had only been there a few minutes, speaking to Mr. Webster, when he dropped on to the floor, apparently dead. The Ambulance Brigade and Dr. Dixon were both summoned immediately, but on their arrival the body was found to be quite lifeless. The Ambulance Brigade handed the re- mains over to the police, who, pending other arrangements, had them removed to the morgue.

Mr. MacNeil was a vigorous, active man, in the prime of mature manhood, being between 45 and 50 years of age. He leaves a wife and five children at Sandringham, near Melbourne, and had a brother In West Australia. Mr. McNeil was in West Australia last year, and was all through the Coolgardie district on his bicycle. Of the life history of the evangelist we have been able to gather but few particulars, and they have been kindly furnished by the Rev. W. Whale, of the City Tabernacle, and Mr. D. M’Nab, with the latter of whom Mr. MacNeil was a guest during his stay in this city. Mr. MacNeil first held a charge at Waverley, near Sydney, and afterwards at Melbourne, and was very well known at Ballarat. He went out as an evangelist in connection with the Presbyterian Church in Victoria, and in that capacity visited Queensland last year, conducting mission services in the Enoggera-terrace, Fortitude Valley, and other churches in and about Brisbane.

Since his last year’s visit Mr. MacNeil had resigned his connection with the Presbyterian Church of Victoria and deoted himself to special mission work. Recently he has been through the Northern districts of Queensland carrying his message, and conducted mission services at the City Tabernacle on Sunday morning, afternoon, and evening. Even yesterday and today were set apart for his work at the Tabernacle. Sunday next he was booked to preach at Bundaberg, on Monday at Childers, and on Tuesday he was to have left Queensland by the mail train for his home.

Mr.MacNeil’s death has naturally come as a great shock to his friends here, and the deepest sympathy is felt with his bereaved family.

You can read more about John MacNeil at these links:

Revive Us Again O Lord; Lessons from the Melbourne 1902 Revival

Marvelous melbourne and Spiritual Power