I have been reading ‘How Green Was My Valley’ again after many decades. Totally different reading this as a mature married mother and wife. Below is a bit of a quote from the Father of the family in the novel. Huw, the youngest son has just seen a neighbour woman give birth, he wasn’t supposed to be there, being only about 12 at the time. I love that this family are deeply committed church-goers, although not born again Christians. I also love that the pastor of the village, Mr. Gruffydd is also a man of action who takes care of the poor and needy, detests unfairness and immorality and is able to stand up to an abusive and Pharisaical elder with gusto. This book is a tear jerker in more ways than one.
“Right then,” my father said “Listen to me. Forget all you saw. Leave it. Take your mind from it. It had nothing to do with you. But use it for experience. Now you know what hurt it brings to women when men come into the world. Remember and make it up to your Mama and to all women.”
“Yes Dada”, I said.
“And another thing let it do,” my father said. “There is no room for pride in any man. There is no room for unkindness. There is no room for wit at the expense of others. All men are born the same, and equal. As you saw today, so come the captains and the kings and the tinkers and the tailors. Let the memory direct your dealings with men and women. And be sure to take good care of Mama. Is it?”
“Yes Dada”, I said.
“God bless you my son”, he said, “sleep in peace”.
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.
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:
The great assembly listened with close attention, particularly to a notedcharacter— “an old man, remarkable looking—; a dealer in rags would not have givenmore than sixpence for all the clothes he had on his person; he bore the marks and tokensof a confirmed drunkard.” Tremblingly, this aged brother gave his earnest testimony: —
“Gentlemen, I appear before you this day as a vile sinner. Many of you know me, for you have but to look at me and recognize the profligate of Broughshane; you know I was an old man hardened in sin; you know that I was a servant of the devil, and he led me by that instrument of his, the spirit of the barley. I brought my wife and family to beggary more than fifty years ago; in short, I defy the townland of Broughshane to produce my equal in profligacy, or any sin whatever; but gentlemen, I have seen Jesus! I was born again on last night week, and am therefore ‘a week old’ to day. My heavy and enormous sin is all gone, the Lord Jesus took it all away, and I stand before you this day not as a pattern of profligacy, but a monument of the perfect grace of God. “I stand here to tell you that God’s work on Calvary is “perfect. Yes, I have proved it His work is perfect. He is not like an architect who makes a drawing of a building, and then takes out this line or that, or alters “the whole, and even while the building is going up makes some further change. No, but God drew out the plan of salvation, and it was complete, and He carried it out with His blessed Son Jesus, and it is all perfect, for had it not been so, it would not have been capable of reaching the depth of iniquity of myself, the profligate of Broughshane.”
From “The Ulster Revival of 1859” by William H Harding.
Below is an excerpt from ‘The Life of Hudson Taylor’ which can be found in its entirety at www.truthnet.org
It was the exchanged life that had come to him — the life that is indeed “No longer I.” Six months earlier he had written, “I have continually to mourn that I follow at such a distance and learn so slowly to imitate my precious Master.” There was no thought of imitation now! It was in blessed reality “Christ liveth in me.” And how great the difference! — instead of bondage, liberty; instead of failure, quiet victories within; instead of fear and weakness, a restful sense of sufficiency in Another. So great was the deliverance, that from that time onward Mr. Taylor could never do enough to help to make this precious secret plain to hungry hearts wherever he might be. And there are so many hungry hearts that need such help today that we venture to quote at length from one of his first letters on the subject. It was to his sister, Mrs. Broomhall, whose burdens with a family which grew to number ten children were very real and pressing.
So many thanks for your dear, long letter…. I do not think you have written me such a letter since our return to China. I know it is with you as with me — you cannot — not you will not. Mind and body will not bear more than a certain amount of strain, or do more than a certain amount of work.
As to work — mine was never so plentiful, so responsible or so difficult, but the weight and strain are all gone. The last month or more has been, perhaps, the happiest of my life, and I long to tell you a little of what the Lord has done for my soul. I do not know how far I may be able to make myself intelligible about it, for there is nothing new or strange or wonderful — and yet, all is new!…
Perhaps I may make myself more clear if I go back a little. Well, dear, my mind has been greatly exercised for six or eight months past, feeling the need personally and for our Mission of more holiness, life, power in our souls. But personal need stood first and was the greatest. I felt the ingratitude, the danger, the sin of not living nearer to God. I prayed, agonized, fasted, strove, made resolutions, read the Word more diligently, sought more time for meditation — but all without avail. Every day, almost every hour, the consciousness of sin oppressed me. I knew that if only I could abide in Christ all would be well, but I could not. I would begin the day with prayer, determined not to take my eye off Him for a moment, but pressure of duties, sometimes very trying, and constant interruptions apt to be so wearing, caused me to forget Him. Then one’s nerves get so fretted in this climate that temptations to irritability, hard thoughts and sometimes unkind words are all the more difficult to control. Each day brought its register of sin and failure, of lack of power. To will was indeed “present with me,” but how to perform I found not. Then came the question, is there no rescue? Must it be thus to the end — constant conflict, and too often defeat? How could I preach with sincerity that, to those who receive Jesus, “to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (i.e., Godlike) when it was not so in my own experience? Instead of growing stronger, I seemed to be getting weaker and to have less power against sin; and no wonder, for faith and even hope were getting low. I hated myself, I hated my sin, yet gained no strength against it. I felt I was a child of God. His Spirit in my heart would cry, in spite of all “Abba, Father.” But to rise to my privileges as a child, I was utterly powerless.
I thought that holiness, practical holiness, was to be gradually attained by a diligent use of the means of grace. There was nothing I so much desired as holiness, nothing I so much needed; but far from in any measure attaining it, the more I strove after it, the more it eluded my grasp, until hope itself almost died out, and I began to think that — perhaps to make heaven the sweeter — God would not give it down here. I do not think that I was striving to attain it in my own strength. I knew I was powerless. I told the Lord so, and asked Him to give me help and strength. Sometimes I almost believed that He would keep and uphold me; but on looking back in the evening — alas! there was but sin and failure to confess and mourn before God.
I would not give you the impression that this was the only experience of those long, weary months. It was a too frequent state of soul, and that towards which I was tending, which almost ended in despair. And yet, never did Christ seem more precious; a Savior who could and would save such a sinner!… And sometimes there were seasons not only of peace but of joy in the Lord; but they were transitory, and at best there was a sad lack of power. Oh, how good the Lord has been in bringing this conflict to an end! All the time I felt assured that there was in Christ all I needed, but the practical question was — how to get it out. He was rich truly, but I was poor; He was strong, but I weak. I knew full well that there was in the root, the stem, abundant fatness, but how to get it into my puny little branch was the question. As gradually light dawned, I saw that faith was the only requisite — was the hand to lay hold on His fullness and make it mine. But I had not this faith. I strove for faith, but it would not come; I tried to exercise it, but in vain. Seeing more and more the wondrous supply of grace laid up in Jesus, the fullness of our precious Savior, my guilt and helplessness seemed to increase. Sins committed appeared but as trifles compared with the sin of unbelief which was their cause, which could not or would not take God at His word, but rather made Him a liar! Unbelief was I felt the damning sin of the world; yet I indulged in it. I prayed for faith, but it came not. What was I to do?
When my agony of soul was at its height, a sentence in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to remove the scales from my eyes, and the Spirit of God revealed to me the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never known it before. McCarthy, who had been much exercised by the same sense of failure but saw the light before I did, wrote (I quote from memory): “But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One.”
As I read, I saw it all! “If we believe not, he abideth faithful.” I looked to Jesus and saw (and when I saw, oh, how joy flowed!) that He had said, “I will never leave thee.” “Ah, there is rest!” I thought. “I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I’ll strive no more. For has not He promised to abide with me — never to leave me, never to fail me?” And, dearie, He never will. Nor was this all He showed me, nor one half. As I thought of the Vine and the branches, what light the blessed Spirit poured direct into my soul! How great seemed my mistake in wishing to get the sap, the fullness out of Him! I saw not only that Jesus will never leave me, but that I am a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. The vine is not the root merely, but all — root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit. And Jesus is not that alone — He is soil and sunshine, air and showers, and ten thousand times more than we have ever dreamed, wished for or needed. Oh, the joy of seeing this truth! I do pray that the eyes of your understanding too may be enlightened, that you may know and enjoy the riches freely given us in Christ.
Oh, my dear Sister, it is a wonderful thing to be really one with a risen and exalted Savior, to be a member of Christ! Think what it involves. Can Christ be rich and I poor? Can your right hand be rich and your left poor? or your head be well fed while your body starves? Again, think of its bearing on prayer. Could a bank clerk say to a customer, “It was only your hand, not you that wrote that check”; or “I cannot pay this sum to your hand, but only to yourself”? No more can your prayers or mine be discredited if offered in the name of Jesus (i.e., not for the sake of Jesus merely, but on the ground that we are His, His members) so long as we keep within the limits of Christ’s credit — a tolerably wide limit! If we ask for anything unscriptural, or not in accordance with the will of God, Christ Himself could not do that. But “if we ask any thing according to his will… we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”
The sweetest part, if one may speak of one part being sweeter than another, is the rest which full identification with Christ brings. I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest position He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient. It little matters to my servant whether I send him to buy a few cash worth of things, or the most expensive articles. In either case he looks to me for the money and brings me his purchases. So, if God should place me in serious perplexity, must He not give me much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength? No fear that His resources will prove unequal to the emergency! And His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me. And since Christ has thus dwelt in my heart by faith, how happy I have been! I wish I could tell you about it, instead of writing. I am no better than before. In a sense, I do not wish to be, nor am I striving to be. But I am dead and buried with Christ — ay, and risen too! And now Christ lives in me, and “the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
And now I must close. I have not said half I would, nor as I would, had I more time. May God give you to lay hold on these blessed truths. Do not let us continue to say, in effect, “Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above).” In other words, do not let us consider Him as far off, when God has made us one with Him, members of His very body. Nor should we look upon this experience, these truths, as for the few. They are the birthright of every child of God, and no one can dispense with them without dishonoring our Lord. The only power for deliverance from sin or for true service is Christ. And it was all so simple and practical! — as the busy mother found when she too entered into this rest of faith. “But are you always conscious of abiding in Christ?” Mr. Taylor was asked many years later. “While sleeping last night,” he replied, “did I cease to abide in your home because I was unconscious of the fact? We should never be conscious of not abiding in Christ.”