Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"The Springs of Restoration" by Arthur Wallis.

This is a short break from my series; "The Kingdom of God only becomes reality by the Holy Spirit". Why does a historian research and write? Why do we need books at all that recall history? Could it be that we need books that recall history because the human tendancy to forget is sometimes quite frightening? This is even more true in the Christian church. The days of the Charismatic Renewal are only 40 years ago and not even two generations old, and yet I feel that there is a serious danger of forgetting the truth that was preached and revealed during those days of the moving of the Spirit. Part of the reason for this is due to the fact that most of the teaching and truth was captured on audiotapes as opposed to books, and audiotapes are dying out.

With regard to Restoration, it is interesting to note that Terry Virgo was asked a few years ago, "Does anyone still believe in Restoration?". Clearly it was not clear, even within Newfrontiers ranks so the team devoted a whole magazine to that subject showing that they most definately still do.

However the 'Restoration' magazine was an excellent tool with some outstanding articles in it, as Hugh has argued. This particular article was by the Bible teacher who it seems most respected and admired - Arthur Wallis. What he has to say is most definately worthy of dusting off and being read again. This is Part 1.


Springs of Restoration.

My wife and I now live in beautiful Wharfedale, Yorkshire. One day we decided to trace the Warfe river to its source. The trouble is that rivers tend to have more than one source. We found ourselves asking 'Which is the river and which is the tributary?'. Looking back over 25 years it is impossible to pinpoint one source, for there were many springs to the Restoration stream. I speak of those that touched my life. There were many others.

First a little about my own background. My parent's routes were in the Christian brethren and when I was a child we worshipped with them as a family. When God called my father into itinerate ministry he broke away from the Brethren finding their outlook too sectarian and restrictive. For over 15 years he gave himself to evangelism and Bible teaching till he was laid low with a terminal illness. I was then 17, and deeply devoted to him. His death shook my spiritual life to it's foundations. It was then that God laid His hand on me and I knew that somehow I had to step into the breach though some 5 years of war service in the army was to intervene.

Vision of the Church.

In the early days of my ministry, my views about the church were unformed. Only the Brethren seemed to have strong convictions about this, and I was not overly impresssed with what I had seen of their performance. I guess something of father's views had rubbed off. He was happy to work with any church or denomination provided it was not narrow-minded. I felt that all the Brethren talk about 'assembly life' was much-ado-about-nothing.

In 1974 I met one of 'God's irregulars' whose writings and teachings were to have a profound influence on me. G H Lang must have been in his 70's. Here was a man who knew God. That imrpessed me even more than his phenomenal grasp of Scripture. I also liked the fact that, though aligned with the Brethren, he toed no party line. His mind was captive to the Word of God One of his pamphlets, 'Church Federation' shook me out of my complacency and neutrality concerning the church and convinced me that there were some clear principles laid down in Scripture.

A quiet revolution was taking place in my thinking and the direction of my ministry was consequently shifting. It was no longer my aim to be a great preacher like father, or to recieve like him, an invitation to address the Keswick Convention. I would still love and respect my many friends in denominational churches and work with them as far as is possible but my heart was no longer sympathetic to denominational systems. Only in NT settings could I see God's people coming into personal and corporate maturity. I could not consent to ecclesiastical traditions, however ancient which made biblical principles of none effect. The first seeds of restoration were sown.

A little later when many of us were being stirred to pray for revival, I could not support the aims of Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and other Revival Fellowships that seemed to be dedicated to pray for revival in their own denominations. As God had never authorised the sectionising of His church into denominations I could not see that He would be interested in their being perpetuated and revived. In the event most of these organisations petered out.

The Hope of Revival.

I cannot recall what triggered it off but in the second year of our married life (1950/51) Eileen and I began to seek God for revival. Perhaps it was the paper 'Herald of His Coming' that came to us from the USA. In East Devon where we lived the spiritual situation could hardly have been more bleak. Small churches struggling for survival without life or vision. We began to fast and pray.

Early in 1951, my colportuer friend, Oscar Penhearow, shared with me his concern for an 'enduement with power for service'. He had been reading R A Torrey. We decied that we would seek God and search the Scriptures. I went right through the New Testament on this subject and within 3 weeks, we were both filled with the Spirit. For me it came alone on my knees and without any contact with the Pentecostals. The experience was revolutionary. It changed my prayer life, my preaching and my witnessing, though it was not till much later that I was to experience spiritual gifts.

Within a few months a brother from Exeter called on me and made himself known. David Lillie after recieving the baptism of the Holy Spirit a few years before had to leave the Brethren assembly so we had much in common. He and others had commenced a NT type fellowship on the outskirts of Exeter. David had come to his own clear convictions about the church and God used him to temper the fires of my revivalism with the NT church vision. I also saw that without a widespread restoration of the power and gifts of the Spirit to make it come true, the vision would always remain a vision.

Meanwhile news had come of a spiritual awakening in the Scottish Isle of Lewis through the ministry of Duncan Campbell. Though limited in its scope it was powerful in its effect. The news was fuel to the fires of our revival praying. In the Autumn of that year the way was opened for me to visit Lewis, meet Duncan Campbell and see for myself what God had done.

A Prayer Movement.

Following my return I gathered a group of some 8 men together on New Years Eve to pray into the New Year (1952) for revival. It was revival after the Lewis pattern that we still had in mind at that time. From then on there was a prayer meeting in our home on the first Friday of each month which continued for many years. There was a marked upsurge of expectation and prayer for revival in a number of churches, partly through the ministry of Duncan Campbell and also through news of a revival that had broken out in the Congo as Zaire was then called (1953).

At one of David Lillie's early conventions at Exeter I first heard tongues, interpretations, prophecy and had an instinctive witness that they were genuine. A speaker that came quite often to those early conventions with a strong message on faith, healing and deliverance was Cecil Cousen He had been a pastor in the Apostolic Church. Through the Latter Rain movement in Canada, God had touched him and he came home to bring the blessing he had received to his own denomination but it was not received. Cecil then formed his own undenominational fellowship in Bradford. Edgar Parkyns from Exeter also left the Apostolic Church at that time. He and Cecil brought to those early conventions a charismatic dimension that would otherwise have been lacking.

Commingling Streams.

At the confluence of 2 or 4 streams there is always turbulence. In the movement of the Spirit at this time there were 3 commingling straems. There was a revival emphasis, a NT church emphasis and a Pentecostal emphasis. The revival emphasis, stimulated by news of what God had done, found expression in prayer movements such as the Nights of Prayer for Worldwide Revival and the League of Prayer as well as through the creation of numerous prayer groups, mostly in homes. My own ministry over those years had a strong revival emphasis. Though I had never written anything before, I felt that something on revival was needed and though I might manage a 20-page booklet. The writing flowed from the spoken ministry. As the ministry grew, 'Topsy' grew too. Three years later (1956) "In the Day of Thy Power - the Scriptural Principles of Revival" appeared as a 250 page hardback. It went into a number of editions before recently being re-written under a new title, "Rain from Heaven - Revival in Scripture and History".

As for the NT church emphasis, David Lillie was the leading protagonist. We called together our first "Restoration" type conference in May 1958. Exmouth was the venue and the them was, 'The Church of Jesus Christ - its Purity, Power, Pattern and Programme in the Context of Today'. Quite imposing and not a little ambitious you may feel, for a 3 day conference! Cecil Cousen was among the speakers. Among the 25 invitees were 2 students whose convictions had led them to leave their Bible College in South Wales. One of these was Graham Perrins, who edits the magazine 'Fullness'.

A second conference was held near Okehampton in 1961 on 'The Divine Purpose in the Insitution of the Church'. Some 40 leaders came to this. In the convening letter we asked where the true church was that could face the challenge of the hour. 'Must it continue to be obscurred and dishounoured by all the imedimenta of denominationalism - its unbelief, its divisions, its worldliness, its apathy?'. It was our conviction that such a church must arise in this end time, endued with power from on high, equipped with the manifold gifts of the Spirit and with a much fuller understanding of her proper function and purpose in the divine plan.

The third in the series came in September the following year at Mamhead Park near Exeter attended by 80 or more. The following year was to see the outbreak of the charismatic movement in Britain (1963). No wonder we were led to the theme, "The Present Ministry of the Holy Spirit". There were Bible Readings on 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 and ministry on the believer's personal need of the Holy Spirit and on the Spirit's power for witnessing. Nearly all were leaders and many came into the baptism of the Spirit.

Two things in that conference stand out for me. Hearing the exciting news of the outbreak of the Spirit in California that was later recognised as the beginning of the charismatic movement. The other was my first meeting with a young Welsh evangelist whose ministry brought a touch of revival to a number of villages in the neighbouring county of Cornwall. His boyish appearance made him look even younger than he was. His name - was Bryn Jones!".

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is very stirring stuff. I wasn't fortunate enough to collect the "Restoration" magazines in my day - I was more a fan of New Wine. But this article by Arthur Wallis has deeply stirred me.

I think that when something as established as the Charismatic Movement is about, we tend to forget the small beginnings - God starts to move in ones and twos. And Wallis clearly was one of those ones! How exciting.

Why? Because its so easy for God to DO IT AGAIN!! All it takes is for God to stir some ones and twos and before we know it there are prayer meetings happening. And mini-conferences with 10s and 20s. Full of passionate people.

I would challenge the young who read this blogsite to think carefully. What are you doing to make yourself available for God to move upon again? Are you holding prayer meetings? Could you be? And don't forget us oldies! We are NOT exempt! Joshua and Caleb went into the land with the younger generation and we are by no means excluded. Are we encouraging? Are we sharing? Are we stirring passion whereever we see it?

Or are we like the sad example of our anonymous friend (who I suspect is older) and is maybe guilty of quenching the Spirit in the name of truth?

Dr S A J Burgess

James B said...

Wow thats a good comment Dr B. Thanks for having a quite unique attitude towards the young. So many older people in the church despise us, see us as immature, or even worse use the hated phrase "the church of tomorrow". It's really great to read that.

I think thats one of the reasons why I love Newfrontiers. What other family of churches would deliberately combine the youth with the Leaders Conference?

There is an amazing opportunity that is summed up the way that Ern Baxter expressed it. That the young see visions and the old dream dreams and the two are amazingly designed to complement each other.

Can we include this combination in our amazing vision of the church?