By Dr. R. T. Kendall
I was brought
up in the Church of the Nazarene, a denomination that was born in revival.
There was an unusual anointing of convicting power on that church in its early
days. They had what its founder, Phineas Bressee, called "the glory." What was
that? It was the anointing that transcended their lack of education, money,
refinement, and prestige; the presence of God was at times so powerful that it
seemed almost impossible for lost people to enter their services without
getting converted. People who came to laugh and scoff ended up smitten and on
their knees in tears before God. The services were frequently characterized by
shouts of joy and people waving their handkerchiefs with inexpressible
In my hometown
of Ashland, Kentucky, we were called "Noisyrenes." It was a stigma I felt in
school when classmates knew where I went to church. But it was my church's
genius. In his last days old Dr. Bressee would preach from church to church
one message: "Keep the glory down." Why? He knew that if they ever lost it
they were finished. They had nothing else going for them at the time-money,
schooling, prestige. But they had the "glory"-the anointing.
This shows yet
another aspect of the anointing. It is when the Holy Spirit Himself comes down
on a people. It is when the Spirit Himself is allowed to take over. He
bypasses education, culture, and prestige. It is when one's refinement
virtually counts for nothing. The Spirit, in a word, is himself. The result is
that people do things and feel things they had not expected. It is what Dr.
Bressee meant by the "glory." It convicts sinners who had not wanted to be
convicted. Or converted. It may bring great joy-when people laugh, shout, or
fall to the floor having lost strength. Jonathan Edwards called it "swooning."
It happened at Crane Ridge. It happened with the early Nazarenes.
sing the hymn in our church: "Have Thine own Way, Lord, have Thine own Way." I
wonder if God looks down on us incredulously and says, "Really?" If he has his
way indeed, what would happen? I don't know. I know how He has worked in the
past. The trouble is, our education, culture, and refinement stand in the way
of the Spirit having His own way. Old Dr. Bressee feared that Nazarenes might
one day become like this and lose the "glory."
But there is a
problem with this. Should the anointing lift and the glory fade away, there
are always those who sadly won't admit to this withdrawal of the Spirit. And
they "work it up"-creating the shouting and manifestations that become pale
imitations. Once this happens the glory becomes yesterday's anointing-in two
ways. First, God may not necessarily want His glory to be manifested in
precisely the same way as it had been unveiled in a previous era. Yesterday's
anointing was real enough, but it was for yesterday. Second, those who "work
it up" are trying to keep yesterday's anointing alive and the flesh becomes
all too obvious. They are trying to relive what God was doing yesterday but
may not have chosen to do today.
I was converted
on Easter Morning in 1942, aged six and a half, at my parents' bedside. At the
age of nineteen I felt the call to preach and became the pastor of a small
country church in the mountains east of Tennessee. What I described above came
a year later-31 October 1955-when I was also a student at Trevecca Nazarene
College. I was driving in my car from Palmer to Nashville, when the glory of
the Lord filled the car. I felt that surge of the Spirit go into my chest like
was this. I had turned off my car radio and decided to pray for the rest of
the journey. I had an extreme heaviness in my chest and stomach but had no
idea at the time that God was at work. I felt the opposite. God seemed a
thousand miles away. Two Scriptures, however came to me at once: "My yoke is
easy and my burden is light" (Matt.11:30), which was the opposite to the way I
felt, and "Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you" (I Peter 5:7
KJV), which I pleaded to be able to do. All of a sudden, I saw the Lord Jesus
interceding for me at God's right hand. It was powerful, almost overwhelming.
The next thing I remember was hearing the voices of the Son and the Father,
which issued in the sweetest peace and rest of soul. It was incredible. It was
even physical-that, I felt the warmth of the Spirit in my chest.
The Lord Jesus
was more real to me than anything or anyone else. An anointing came on me that
opened the Scriptures in a powerful but lucid manner. My theology changed. I
had a series of visions. I saw that I would one day have an international
ministry. The peace and joy and sense of God in those days were extraordinary.
I have no doubt that it, together with things I had seen in my old church,
prepared me to be open to the Spirit at the present time.
What I have
described above are two examples of yesterday's anointing: what my old
denomination and other revival eras were like and what once happened to me.
The anointing on my former denomination was very real and powerful. But the
possibility remains that it is but a memory. There is no guarantee that it
will continue. What happened to me on 31 October 1955 was very real and
powerful, but a year later it was largely a memory. I could never forget what
happened to me, and the memory of can be very edifying. In fact I can almost
relive the experience when I ponder it. However, the truth is that bitterness
came in within a year, and the peace and joy were no longer real and powerful.
It is not
always easy to know why the Spirit subsides after a while. One cannot blame
Dr. Bressee for wanting to "keep the glory down," for when it lifts things are
not the same. I only know that the manifestation of God's glory in this life
will tend to be temporary. Revivals end. Why? I go back to the aforementioned
reasons. First, me. Us. We grieve the Spirit. The chief way we grieve the
Spirit seems to be bitterness. Because right after Paul said, "And do not
grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of
redemption" (Eph. 4:30), he added, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger,
brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and
compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God
forgave you" (Eph. 4:31-32). I do know that in my own case bitterness and an
unforgiving spirit crept in, and the powerful sense of God's presence
But the second
reason is the sovereignty of the Spirit. He chooses to stay for a while, but
not indefinitely in the sense He has been manifesting himself. Why? You tell
me. I only know that the Holy Spirit is sovereign and, whether He is grieved
or if it belongs to His inscrutability, He doesn't stay around indefinitely.
Sometimes it is for years, and sometimes it is for days. One hopes the
immediate sense of His power will last, but eventually the Holy Spirit seems
to withdraw the feeling of awe.
My point is this. We need to come to terms with what may suddenly become
yesterday's anointing. It will do us no good to pretend that what happened
yesterday is happening today if it isn't.
told me this story. In his former church in Wales a man stood up to read the
Scriptures in a Monday evening prayer meeting. The Spirit came on him in an
extraordinary manner. It seemed as if the meeting would go on and on into the
night, it was so wonderful. But Dr. Lloyd-Jones eventually closed the meeting
(he told me he worried for years that he shouldn't have). The following Monday
night the same man tried it again. Dr. Lloyd-Jones said, "I knew he'd try to
do it again, and I knew what would happen." It didn't happen. You cannot make
yesterday's anointing today's anointing if the Spirit isn't willing.
I have had to
come to terms with yesterday's anointing at more than one level. Church
history, speaking generally, is like a graph on a chart going up and down!
There are high-water marks and times when the situation was bleak. One of the
more important lessons for us is to see that God does not always repeat
Himself when manifesting His glory. God was powerfully at work in men like
Luther and Calvin in the sixteenth century. He was powerfully at work in men
like Wesley and Whitefield in the eighteenth century. But the manifestations
of His glory were quite different, when you compare the two eras.
oversimplify, what God did in the sixteenth century was largely cerebral: that
is, glorious doctrines were rediscovered-justification by faith alone,
assurance of salvation by looking to Christ alone. Not that people didn't
experience these truths-they did, and the world was turned upside down. But
the preaching of Wesley and Whitefield was largely experiential. The immediate
witness of the Spirit accompanied conversions. Some manifestations included
falling to the ground. "Swooning" or "losing one's strength" was Jonathan
Edwards's way of putting it.
The Welsh Revival (1904-1905) was quite different. There was a lot of singing,
many people giving testimonies, and great joy. There was not a lot of
preaching, however. But the power present was undeniable. Dr. Lloyd-Jones also
told me this story. A coal miner came home from work only to find that his
wife had gone to church without cooking his meal. He was angry. He said to
himself, "I will go to that church and break up that meeting." When he arrived
he couldn't get in because the place was packed and people were crowded at the
door. He was sufficiently livid and not to be put off. He managed to push
through the crowded doorway and get inside. The next thing he remembered was
finding himself on his knees in front of the pulpit with his hands in the air,
crying to God for mercy! The people who witnessed the scene said that once he
got inside he walked on the tops of each pew making his way to the front where
he was gloriously converted.
I call that
power. Anointing. What memories came out of the Welsh Revival! But when it was
over, it was over. It became yesterday's anointing. Sadly, some people can
only conceive of revival in terms of the anointing that was in Wales in those
days. One London pastor wrote me a firm letter rebuking me for my openness to
a particular man's ministry. He said, "When revival comes to London, I'll know
recognize that yesterday's anointing was momentous. When God turned Saul into
another man it was momentous, and when Saul prophesied it was momentous. They
said, "Is Saul also among the prophets?" (I Sam. 10.9-11). It was a wonderful
moment in Israel and a pivotal moment for Saul.
But often what
is momentous doesn't last. While reminding one of the glory of yesterday, it
can become but a bare resemblance of yesterday. In the case of King Saul he
could still prophesy after the Spirit of God departed from him. He was
coasting along on the momentum of yesterday's anointing. Certain
manifestations of an authentic work of God can repeat themselves somehow after
the anointing has in fact diminished.
gifts and calling of God are "irrevocable" (Rom. 11:29) a person who had a
tremendous anointing yesterday can continue to see the momentum of that
anointing continuing to manifest itself. He or she may hastily conclude that
the "anointing is still with us" when it is but the momentum of yesterday's
This explains how a TV evangelist can preach against sin (and the people stand
in awe and give their contributions), and be living in sin himself the whole
time. Until the minister is found out his anointing blesses people. It is a
genuine anointing, mind you. It is real and powerful. But it is yesterday's
What is wrong
with that? A lot. God knows what is going on, and after a while He may decide
to blow the whistle on us. Not that He isn't interested in our ministries or
in our being a blessing to people. He is. But He is also jealous of that
anointing, and if it is not replenished by a fresh anointing that comes only
from a life of intimacy with Him, total obedience, walking in all the light,
and seeking His face daily, He is unhappy. After a while He may decide,
"enough is enough," and put us in the category of yesterday's man or woman.
That is what
happened to King Saul. He became yesterday's man but continued to wear the
crown. He was yesterday's man-a has-been-but continued to prophesy. He was
yesterday's man but still had influence and power. He was coasting on
yesterday's anointing. But he forfeited the fresh anointing that comes from
It is sad to
see those in places of power who are almost certainly living on the prestige
of yesterday's anointing. It can happen to a pastor, a bishop, a preacher, or
any church leader. One may have the ear of thousands but not the ear of God.
One may have a great mailing list and exert influence but not be the
mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit.
anointing is the essential thing. It is what replenishes the irrevocable. If
our irrevocable anointing (Ro.11.29) is not replenished by a fresh touch of
God, we are depending on yesterday's anointing.
taken from the book, The Anointing: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, by R.T.
Kendall, copyright 1999. Used by permission of Charisma House Publications-A
Strang Communications Company. To order a copy of the book, please go to:
will be with us again at our August 4-7, 2004 Holy Spirit Conference. We were
so blessed by his ministry and messages last year that we invited him back on
the spot! R.T. pastored Westminster Chapel in London for 25 years, and is
currently residing in Florida. He is the author of more than 30 books,
including The Word and the Spirit, The Sensitivity of the Spirit, Total
Forgiveness, and the newly-released The Anointing, all from Charisma House.