The Deeper Significance of Pentecost (Part Two) by Frank Bartleman

As promised…

APOSTASY AND RECOVERY
As with Israel in the Exodus, the “mixed multitude,” (Ex.12:38) the exterior shell of every movement with which it loads itself and in which it later becomes buried, falls to lusting for “flesh.” One can usually judge the progress of this process by the things the movement comes to demand. Instead of delight in the pure Word, prayer and worship, a love for souls and zeal for good works, there comes entertainment, programs, musicals, sensationalism, and oratory. These things have no place in essential, true Christianity, but are professionalism – flesh! Oh, God, deliver us from fleshly substitutes for the Spirit.

Most meetings can only be kept alive now by continuous entertainment, professional evangelism, and a strong social spirit. And this is all too true in Pentecostal, Holiness, and interdenominational circles, as well as in the older denominations. Where is the life itself to draw the people and bring God to them as in the beginning! This is not New Testament. It is abnormal, grieving and limiting the Holy One of Israel in our midst.

Each movement seems to run its course faster than the one before it. Like the Niagara river, it flows downwards more swiftly as it approaches the falls, the end of time. These are the last days of apostasy.

The fight gets harder as we get higher up in our restoration from the early Church’s fall. When Adam fell, the Satanic powers intervened between the fallen race and God. God removed the seat of His presence with man from earth to heaven. So when the early Church fell, she again lost the image of God which had, in a sense, been restored in New Testament days when the body of believers became the Temple of the Holy Spirit. In a higher sense than Adam had known, the “spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph.6:12) intervened between the Church and God again. Now, the prodigal Church, coming up out of the Dark Ages, has had to fight her way back through these evil powers. Each movement, as we go higher toward full restoration, has to meet a higher order of these wicked spiritual powers and intelligences and hence must fight harder.

Each step forward necessarily requires a deeper preparation and greater spiritual equipment for a greater measure of restoration. It was never God’s decree that the experience of the Church should be so long and drawn out in recovering the normal standard and going on to fullness. But we have ever sought to call our present abnormal understanding and experience normal. We must see that all has been abnormal since the early Church’s fall.

Experiences, understanding – everything has been partial, unbalanced, and abnormal. Nothing has been perfectly understood, and all the different truths and experiences have only been parts of the whole.

We have not understood these truths and experiences, just as no machine is properly and clearly understood in detail except as we understand the whole. We have been recovering the whole, in parts, without seeing the whole – thus we so often distort and overemphasize the truth or experience that our particular movement has recovered. I trust you grasp this, for it is very important.

The New Testament church in the Book of Acts entered normally into the fullness of the Spirit immediately at its inception, as for instance at Cornelius’ household in the tenth chapter of Acts. The different phases of our salvation were all viewed as just so many parts of one glorious, normal whole. But all the various movements in the restoration, since the early reformers, have ceased in their turn to go forward to full realization. They have established their party standard of a partial, abnormal revelation, putting a part for the whole. Then, in human vanity, they have each contended they had it all.

This is sectarianism, and it is like a lot of dams holding back God’s people from flowing on toward the vast ocean of God’s fullness. God cares little for these partial standards of men – their names, sects or parties, slogans or standards. All is only partial distorted light which finally becomes the enemy of the real truth as the Lord marches on to glory.

Each oncoming wave of the sea toward high tide must fight its way through the last receding one. So it is with the different movements toward a final restoration of the Church. The immediately receding one especially hates and opposes the next oncoming one. What fools the devil has made of us! Oh, that we might see it! However real and good, as far as they have gone, these past revivals and movements are each but faltering, uncertain steps toward the final goal.

LET’S GO ON!
God has but one Church, whether in heaven, where most of it is, or here on earth. And there is yet very much land to be possessed before we realize the Divine purpose to which we are destined. We must recognize the whole body of Christ. In our human thoughts, we fail to recognize God when we meet Him. Those who dare to go further with God toward the full restoration are denounced and opposed by others as if they were of the devil. And this was not just true of Luther and the Catholic Church – it was also true of Wesley and the Anglican Church, of Booth and the Methodist Church, and so on. And it is still true today. But, beloved, we must face it – the backslider has not yet been fully restored, the prodigal has not yet reached home. We must keep moving on!

Elijah’s rain came out of a clear sky, without even the sign of a cloud to begin with – the result of faith alone. So the Pentecostal outpouring came in 1906. And this has been the case with every revival. Revival is the property of faith, not sight. There is nothing for sight to see in fallen nature but hopelessness. Revival and restoration must come from God, out of a clear sky. We are earthly and fleshly, but God is Spirit. God’s Word is “spirit and life,” (John 6:63) and faith in that Word brings the living God on the scene regardless of circumstances or outward prospects.

Will God visit His people again? Why not? As surely as He has done it in the past, He will do it again. God’s skies are full of Pentecosts. He only waits for us to claim them. Do we not need one? Then we can have it, when we are willing to pay the price of obedient faith.

The Church is not fully restored. No past group, after it has waned, has had the faith and vision to move God to visit them again. If they had, they would not be strewn along the way as more or less dead movements, their bones bleaching in the wilderness. None of them had future faith. They stopped short of the goal. None of them went clear through. “They limited the Holy One of Israel,” (Ps.78:41) just as we do today. They would not pay the price. That was the trouble.

But worse than this, they justified themselves in their abnormal standards and opposed and condemned others who would go further … and still they do so.

The sin of the Jewish high church in Jesus’ time was the same. They refused to go further themselves and set themselves in their backslidden condition to oppose all who wished to go forward. That spelled their doom, and it will bring down the judgments of God on any denomination, movement, or group who follow in their steps.

But a Gideon’s band is forming again today. Faith is rising. Another visitation from God is coming. It is only the Gideon’s band that can ever bring or receive it – only a praying, consecrated, pilgrim band. They of the “mixed multitude” (Ex.12:38) will not be in it, for they are too many and too fleshly. “Upon man’s flesh” the Lord said of the precious anointing oil in the tabernacle, “Shall it not be poured.” (Ex.30:32) God usually has to work with the little things, the weak things – the small, consecrated groups.

“I will pour water upon him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground.” (Is.44:3) Dryness is a condition that invites rain. At such times men cry for rain. It is a cause for encouragement when we thirst for God. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst, for they shall be filled. (Matt.5:6) It was after an awful drought that Elijah’s rain came. The rain is ready, beloved – when we want it, and when we are in a condition to receive it.

We must have the spirit of Caleb and Joshua, a different spirit from the multitude. They “wholly followed the Lord,” (Num.32:12) therefore, they entered Canaan with the next company to go forward. They had their portion in it, while the old crowd died in the wilderness. No movements, as a movement, has ever gone all the way through to full restoration for the reasons I have explained. Hence, we must never become the property of or limit ourselves to, a party or a movement. Worship only God. Join God in His great movement. Keep moving!

THE END IS NEARING
We are rounding the corner toward complete recovery. God is again pressing His full claims upon His Church and upon the world in this, the end of the age. But the devil is also pressing his claims with great vigor. Whom will we serve? It is either one hundred per cent for God or for the devil – there is no neutral ground. We are nearing the awesome climax of this deadly war between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Each must be at his best for his side.

A normal Church is always one hundred per cent for God. There can be no flirting with the enemy. The Church has no other business than to carry the Gospel to the world and press the claims of God upon His own. All its energies and resources should be used with that one object in view. “Then shall the end come.” (Matt.24:14) God waits for this.

Nothing but the zeal and the one hundred per cent consecration of the early Church, both in laboring for the salvation of the nations and in building up the one true world-wide Church, will or can satisfy God. He will accept no substitutes or compromise with our ideas and fleshly plans. There simply must be an utter abandonment to His full will and His great eternal purpose in His own children! Nothing short of this can clear our conscience and responsibility in the day of judgment. We could have done this long ago – if we had willed to do so – but we have not. Oh, let us not delay longer, but at once go right up and storm the enemy’s citadels, vowing never to withdraw our sword until Jesus comes and the whole land is ours!

We are rapidly approaching the last days. I am convinced that God is going to put the Church through the fire to destroy the dross. Judgment begins at the house of God. (1Pet.4:17) And, believe me, nothing but one hundred per cent reality will remain! A theoretical salvation will not do.

We are reaching the culmination of this age, and nothing but a practical application of the Gospel can hope to survive. All else will be destroyed by the fires of worldwide persecution. God can only defend obedience to His Word. Never fear – He is going to have a Church without spot and wrinkle. (Eph.5:27) But do you and I want to have a part of it? A sectarian competitive, selfish, self-seeking Church cannot survive. The Church must return to the spirit of the early Church in the Book of Acts. She must yield to God and press into His “present truth” (2Pet.1:12) for this last hour – or perish in the fires of persecution and in her own blood. “Our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:29)!

Let us go on!

Frank Bartleman – 1925

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Waiting For Jesus

Message Outline – January 21, 2017

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. (1)Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, (4)That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, (3)And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them. But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. (2)While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”(Matthew 24:42 to Matthew 25:13)

Personally, I am thankful for the prophetic tone of recent messages. Prophetic messages are necessary to guide us into the times ahead.

God has promised to speak to us prophetically so that we know the times, just like “the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” (1Chronicles 12:32)

Waiting for Jesus is really watching (as our text states repeatedly). Jesus taught that we must watch for his return.

Verses 45 to 47 (1)reveal that watching for Jesus’ return brings authority to the believer, and provision through the believer for the family of God and for those outside Christ. (Refer/compare to when Jesus questioned Peter three times, “Do you love me?” When Peter answered yes, Jesus replied,”…feed my sheep”. (see John 21:15-18).

But while waiting for Jesus, the church has become just like the people and religious leaders of Jesus’ day, waiting for the King of Kings to establish an earthly government and rule the nations with a “rod of iron”.

However this fails to account for the true nature of the everlasting Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God will crush every kingdom of this world, (see Daniel 2:35), but this happens one person at a time as God reaches you and me with his everlasting message of mercy and salvation, replacing all other “kingdoms,” erasing all other nationalities, and ending all other loyalties. The kingdom of God is an inward kingdom, of the heart. The rebellion of the nations, led by Satan at the end of one thousand years of perfection (see Revelation 20:7-9) proves that the everlasting Kingdom of God must rule the heart.

Be reminded that God calls us to seek him with our whole heart (in parallel with Pastor Jon’s message – that we love the Lord with all of our heart), because when we seek him with our whole heart, then we will find him (see Jeremiah 29:13).

But in contrast to this, the parable of the ten virgins reveals that the whole church has fallen asleep(2), and many are double minded (double mindedness is better understood in the original languages as “having two hearts,” or literally, “a heart, and a heart” (see Psalm 12:2), and ultimately being double minded results in not being ready for the Lord’s return. This is revealed in the fact that the wise virgins could not “give” their oil to the foolish – and as a result the foolish were left outside.

In the parable, the oil had to be purchased at a price, it was not free. The ten virgins represent the church, and the “price” of the oil is our life that we forsake in order to truly learn Christ inwardly. We cannot be his disciple unless we forsake all, and in particular forsake our life and our will in order to truly follow Jesus. Otherwise we are merely imitators of Christ, walking in the flesh, having a form of godliness but not bearing his image naturally as a result of his Spirit (resurrection) flowing through (quickening) us. In verse 51 (3)Jesus calls that hypocrisy. (A hypocrite is someone who is not what they say they are).

However to those who forsake all, Jesus says, “Verily I say unto you, that he (God) shall make him (the believer) ruler over all of his goods”(4). In other words, all of the riches of the Kingdom of God are available to those who seek God, and whose hearts are not divided. The result today is the same as in the parable, the wise have oil in their lamps, meaning that all authority, discernment, and limitless power of the Holy Spirit is ours when we seek him with all our heart.

This message today is a call from God to wake up from sleep. There is no finger pointing in this message, because all of the virgins, the wise and the foolish, all slept. Today we all need to wake up and watch. It is a desperate hour.

The biblical pattern of God’s mercy in a desperate hour is that he first sends his (prophetic) word to awaken his people. When that does not work, judgments follow. In an effort to awaken more and more of his people, judgments escalate.

God is so patient, and it is not his will that any should perish. But ultimately he will thrust the church into the position of providing or being left outside.

It is the promise and the will of God to give “every spiritual blessing in heavenly places with Christ” to his church (see Ephesians 1:3). Plainly stated, when we awake to Christ and give him our whole heart, there will be no lack, God will be plainly seen in us, and those in the world seeking light will come to us.

“Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:14 to 5:16)…

…(Quoted from Isaiah 60:1 to 60:3)
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”

Jesus is coming. God is calling.

“And what I say to you, I say to all. Watch.” (Mark 13:37)

Prayer and Fasting

Immediately after filling Jesus, the Holy Spirit led him into the wilderness to fast and pray. Fasting, as a biblical discipline, is practiced primarily to increase faith (or dissolve unbelief, see Mark 9:29), and is mentioned repeatedly in scripture for that reason.

When fasting is ignored, a great disservice is done. Since our battle is against principalities, powers and spiritual wickedness, we need every spiritual weapon offered to us. The amount of scriptural evidence for fasting should convince Christians everywhere to practice it.

I have encouraged you in previous posts to allow the word of God to wash away all of your doubts. But now, also let the word of God completely transform your view of things. We see men, and the effect of their unbelief as sin dictates their actions. But we need to see beyond that, to spiritual realities. The forces who originated this rebellion against God must be dealt with, we cannot avoid it. And whether or not we understand how power over Satan is obtained through prayer and fasting, we need it, and should trust and follow Jesus’ example and instructions.

In my experience, practicing fasting is far more important that understanding fasting. You don’t need to answer every question regarding how and why. Simply believe, Jesus said. Every example of prayer and fasting in the Bible demonstrates that faith increases, power increases, and victories are won. And that is all you need to know.

It should be acknowledged that fasting is easy for some individuals, difficult for others, impossible for some people, and also impossible in certain circumstances. No one should ever be proud of their ease, or embarrassed by their struggle when fasting. Neither should anyone feel guilty if they simply cannot fast. Although it is very valuable, fasting is not obligatory. God gives different abilities to each of us, and His plan includes times and seasons for everything. And fasting has absolutely nothing to do with punishing or buffeting the flesh, there is enough adversity in everyday life for that.

So, learning to fast one meal or two in the beginning, and extending the length of time as spiritual hunger increases is recommended. Keep in mind that God is more than patient while we learn, and if we think we have mastered anything, we have not. God looks on the heart, sees our spiritual hunger, and guides us every step of the way. Learning the faith building, power producing practice of fasting is no exception.

Fasting is by definition, “to not eat food,” and there are two main types of fasting in the bible.

  1. A Public or Proclaimed Fast called for in times of national or spiritual crisis and entered into by the entire, repentant, congregation.
  2. A Personal Fast performed simply out of an individual’s hunger for God, with the power obtained having a great variety of personal and corporate manifestations.

Then there are three methods of fasting.

  1. Partial fast – John Wesley (for example) would eat nothing but bread for various periods of time. In captivity, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego ate only pulse and water. At the end, the king of Babylon “found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” There are no health concerns restricting the length of a partial fast.
  2. Normal fast – Luke 4:2 “And in those days he did eat nothing.” Jesus had no solid (or liquid) food, only water. A normal fast should not extend beyond 21 days (the time when excess fatty deposits are all used up and the body starts to convert protein and muscle, harming the body).
  3. Absolute Fast – In the Book of Ester they fasted from food and water for three days. An absolute fast should never extend beyond three days.

Although Moses, Elijah and Jesus experienced miraculous 40 day fasts in the bible, a normal fast should never extend beyond 21 days.

Fasting, like praying and giving, should be a private matter between you and God. (Matthew 6:18)

A highly regarded, expert resource for biblical fasting is Arthur Wallis’ book, “God’s Chosen Fast.”

And an excellent video teaching is available at http://media3c.tscnyc.ws/2016/04/10s2/20160410s2.mp4

Fast and pray… you will not be disappointed.