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Friday, 26 December 2008

The restoration of prophecy in the Latter Rain revival

by Archibald Thackeray

The Latter Rain revival that began in North Battleford, Saskatchewan in February 1948 was refreshing and restorative. Pentecostal historian Vinson Synan explains,
The Pentecostal movement was at a low ebb in 1948, with a growing dryness and lack of charismatic gifts.  Many who heard about the events in Canada believed that it was a new Azusa Street, with many healings, tongues and prophecies (emphasis mine; quote is from An Eyewitness Remembers the Century of the Holy Spirit).
Ernest Gentile
Ernest Gentile is a veteran author, pastor, and prophet (M. D. Beall referred to him as "a seer"), and summarizes well what is meant when we read about prophecy in the New Testament:

"Explained simply, prophecy occurs when a prophetically inspired person extends his or her faith like a spiritual antenna, receives some divine thoughts from God and then speaks them forth by the power of the Holy Spirit to an individual or group for the glory of God" (from Your Sons & Daughters Shall Prophesy: Prophetic Gifts in Ministry Today).

Gentile's book is a tremendous resource. In the book's foreward, the late C. Peter Wagner wrote, "Your Sons and Daughters Shall Prophesy is one of a kind - a book that anyone who wants to be thoroughly informed about prophetic ministry today should read and digest. It is loaded with excellent research on biblical foundations, prophecy through Church history and the prophetic movement today."

Gentile, who co-pastors in New Mexico with his wife Anna, has also helpfully made available free of charge a 10-page compendium of prophecy references in the New Testament. That document can be accessed at this link.

"Local church prophecy springs from the same anointing and inspiration that causes a person to speak in tongues," Gentile writes in Your Sons & Daughters. "Fluency in personal, devotional 'spiritual language' greatly facilitates the ability to experience inspiration and speak with prophetic unction. Tongues and prophecy are closely allied and have an overlapping effect, since they are both inspired utterance."

Many Christians have been taught to be wary of the type of prophecy that was restored in the Latter Rain revival - the type that Gentile is talking about. Their teachers have told them that it is dangerous because, among other things, it is an attempt to add to God's Word, the Bible. In the following three-paragraph passage from Your Sons & Daughters, Gentile pastorally corrects this erroneous thinking,
I contend (here and throughout the book) that we should expect actual prophecy - that is, direct statements of God's immediate thoughts for a given situation and people, delivered under the impetus of the Holy Spirit. The prophetic anointing brings an electrifying, edifying effect not achievable with ordinary preaching and teaching.
Prophecy comes as a "now word," the present expression of a contemporary God who is truly present and concerned. The truths and principles of the Scripture suddenly focus on a specific audience at a specific place at a specific time. This was brought home to me when a teenage girl told me after a prophetic service in her Oklahoma City church, "Although I've gone to church, I never realized before that God was really that interested in me...."
Prophecy is not meant to replace or supersede the Bible, but when used properly it does make Bible truths more relatable by awakening people to realize God is interested in them, both now and in their future.
Charles Green speaking a Word
A prophecy I heard back in the mid-1970s in New Orleans, Louisiana illustrates perfectly what Gentile is saying. It was at a convention at Word of Faith Temple, pastored by Charles Green.

The prophecy was not a recitation of the events of Luke 5:1-11, but the prophecy's theme was based in that Biblical passage. With many pastors present in the large gathering, Green prophesied to the effect that: many ministers had toiled all night and were discouraged ... and wondered if they should give up their nets ... but the Word of the Lord was coming to them that they should launch out into the deep and let down their nets ... because the Lord was going to give them a great catch (I have not put any part of my greatly-abbreviated account of the prophecy in quotes, and have had to make use of ellipses because four decades later I cannot quote it verbatim, but its highlights, eloquence, and dynamism remain with me to this day - and, no doubt, also to any pastors who came to the convention discouraged but went home and experienced a "harvest" of souls).

In that prophecy, Pastor Green was not in any way adding to the Word of God, but the Spirit was inspiring him to link Luke 5 to the situation of discouraged pastors present. In effect, the same words that motivated Peter to "launch out into the deep [waters]" were now being used to motivate and re-energize a specific group of 20th-century pastors for their task.

Here are links to two more prophecies given by ministers with Latter Rain revival backgrounds (just as Gentile and Green have):
In addition to congregational prophecy, personal prophecy (as in I Timothy 4:14) was restored during the Latter Rain revival. Commenting on the initial Latter Rain outbreak at the church M. D. Beall pastored (Bethesda Missionary Temple), the pastor's daughter, Patricia Beall Gruits, wrote, "Although there had been a revival that began years earlier at Bethesda, this Sunday [December 5, 1948] marked the beginning of what would be known as a Latter Rain Revival - a revival marked by a new sound of worship and the laying on of hands with prophecy" (included in her mother's memoir, A Hand on My Shoulder).

Two examples of this type of prophecy, delivered in prophetic presbyteries, are included below:

Charles Green and David Schoch both delivered prophecies at Bible Temple in Portland, Oregon back in 1973 that dramatically underscore the validity and blessing of prophecy (today, Bible Temple is known as City Bible Church).

Dick Iverson was senior pastor of Bible Temple and president of Portland Bible College at the time and in his book, The Journey: A Lifetime of Prophetic Moments, he recounts how Green had prophesied that Bible Temple should begin a much-needed building project. However, Iverson and his congregation did not seem to be able to get the project off the ground. The following lengthy quote from the book picks up the story where Schoch arrives and was prompted to give a follow-up prophecy to Green's.
David Schoch came to Bible Temple for our "prophetic assembly" in April, 1973, and one morning when he began to prophesy, his word was almost a rebuke to us. "Rise up and don't profane my word. Knock out these four walls and build as I said." Then he prophesied that we should go back and listen to what the Lord had already said to us.
Even as he spoke I thought to myself, "There's no way we can knock out these four walls." We had attempted to buy the remaining land behind us and to the side of us but it was not available. Now the Lord was saying to rise up and knock out the four walls.
Brother Schoch continued, "Even now the walls are falling." I thought to myself, "I sure hope you are in the Spirit, Brother Schoch, because there's no way we can build any more here." Also, I worried that what he'd said would bring confusion to the people who had supported my efforts to buy out in the suburbs.
The very same day of the prophecy, one of the Bible college students came to me and said, "You know, the home that joins our property in the back of the building?" I said, "Yes," knowing it quite well as that particular piece of property was critical if we were ever to build more in that neighborhood. The house was on a very large lot and I'd tried to buy it many times. However, since the owners hated the church, they had absolutely refused to sell.
"Well," the student went on, "last night something strange happened. We heard this loud crash like a car wreck and when we went outside to investigate, we discovered that the retaining wall on that property had fallen down."
The full length of that retaining wall which had stood in front of the house for probably fifty or sixty years had fallen over onto the sidewalk for no apparent reason. Suddenly I remembered the prophecy, "even now the walls are falling." And, of course, the prophet had spoken with no knowledge of what was going on outside.
I went back into the office and asked our administrator, Warren Steele, to write a check for ten thousand dollars. He looked at me with amazement and said we didn't have ten thousand dollars in the bank. I told him to write the check anyway and I would make sure it was covered. I knew the Holy Spirit had spoken to us and that God was doing something supernatural.
I walked over to the neighbor's house and knocked on the door. I'd talked to him many times in the past, and he'd always mocked the church while refusing to sell. This time, though, when he came to the door and I asked him again he agreed to sell. Of course, he wanted more than it was worth - fifty thousand - but I gave him the ten thousand as earnest money and within thirty days we'd raised the additional forty thousand from among the congregation. The wall falling down as confirmation of the prophetic word was a rather dramatic testimony as to what the Lord wanted us to do.
Brother Schoch had also prophesied that we were to go back and listen to what God had previously said, and, when we did go back to Charles Green's prophetic word we found it very interesting. The word of the Lord that came through Brother Green was that we were to rise and build for the Lord was going to make us a praise in the city. We then realized our searching for acreage outside the city limits had not been intended by the Lord. We were to be a praise in the city! So we committed ourselves to building where we were.
We immediately launched a fund raising project and began to buy up other properties in the general area, both for parking and for the Bible college. We also began to draw up plans for a new auditorium to seat fifteen hundred people (in The Journey: A Lifetime of Prophetic Moments).
Finally, in the video below, David Cannistraci gives a teaching entitled, "The Prophetic Stream."

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