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 happiness.
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.
Sometimes we 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 liquid fire.
What happened 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 subsided.
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.
Dr. Lloyd-Jones 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.
To 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 it.” Really?
We must 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.
Because the 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 anointing.
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 anointing.
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 unfeigned obedience.
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.
The fresh 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.
(Excerpt 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.)
R.T. Kendall 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.
Let Him Who is Without Sin…
By Denise Siemens
A woman had been caught in adultery, and the religious authorities brought her before Jesus. Picture the scene: a frightened, cowering woman fearful for her life; angry men with stones poised in their hands shouting for her death; a crowd of onlookers curious to see what was going to happen (John 8:1-11).
The scribes and Pharisees were testing Jesus, looking for reasons to accuse Him. They referred to the Law as they told Him that anyone caught in adultery should be stoned.
In response to their challenge, Jesus said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (v.7). Of course, everyone present soon disappeared from the scene. When we get to this point in the story, we remind ourselves that neither are we without sin.
However, there was one present who, indeed, was without sin. Jesus was the one, and He could have cast the first stone. In doing so, He would have been confirming the continuation of the Law. Instead, He points out to the woman that no one was present to condemn her and that He didn’t condemn her either. He then asks her to go and sin no more.
The Pharisees were not mistaken in demanding that this woman be put to death. When we read this story, we may see the woman as a victim of those mean, old Pharisees. However, she was guilty, and the Law said she should be stoned. So why does Jesus pardon her?
We read in John 3:17 that “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through Him.” Jesus revealed his mission to the world in the way he responded to the woman caught in adultery, and He showed us how we are to respond to mankind in the same way.
If the very Son of God, He who is without sin, didn’t come to judge the world, why are we so quick to pass judgment on non-believers and fellow believers as well?
One reason is that we forget that it is by grace that we have been saved (Ephesians 2:8) and brought into fellowship with God. We get used to our place at the Father’s table, and we start to think that somehow we’re special or better than others are. We forget that it is by no work or effort of our own that we have this place (Titus 3:5).
Jesus tells a story in Matthew 18:23-35 of a slave who was forgiven a great debt. Some commentators compare it to about $10,000,000. This same slave had a debtor who owed him only about 100 days wages, but he had no mercy on his fellow servant. At $20 per hour, he was owed about $16,000. Needless to say, his master was extremely angry when he found out about the lack of mercy his slave showed to another, especially since he had been forgiven so much more in comparison. The unmerciful slave was thrown into prison. Jesus then says, “So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart (v. 35).
This story illustrates the absolute necessity of granting forgiveness and extending mercy. We are to forgive others because God has forgiven us so much more, and in the same way, we are not to judge others because He has been merciful to us. I once heard mercy as defined as “not getting what I deserve.” We are all deserving of eternal punishment and separation from God, but we have been granted mercy because of Christ’s death on the cross. If we who are deserving of death have been shown mercy, how much more should we not judge others whose sins are certainly of no more consequence than our own?
Sometimes, what we call discernment is really just passing judgment on another while using religious language. It’s all in the motive. Do you talk about individuals, churches, or institutions with an attitude of “I know what’s wrong. If only they would have done this”? I once had to repent to the Lord because I had a judgmental attitude towards a denomination (no, it wasn’t Lutheran). Although I still believe that I was right in my discernment of what they had done, my attitude was one of blame towards them and self-righteousness on my part. Instead of praying and asking God to have mercy on them, I was content to sit smugly and judge them for what they had done. We’re often in more danger of being judgmental when our discernment is correct.
In Galatians 6:1 Paul told us what our attitude is to be when we see sin in another. He wrote, “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness…” What a difference from the Law! Instead of passing judgment, we are to bring restoration. Instead of throwing stones from a distance, we are to draw near to the one who has sinned in a spirit of gentleness.
We’re not smart enough, or spiritual enough, to be judge and jury. Have you ever heard one person’s story and have been totally appalled at what happened, only to hear the other side and then realize that maybe you didn’t have all of the facts? We don’t see the whole story, and we don’t have absolute, correct discernment to be able to pass judgment. I see partiality in myself from time to time. If it’s a good friend, I may make excuses for the behavior more than if it was a stranger who had done the same thing.
The Pharisees showed this same tendency when they brought only the woman caught in adultery. They were half-right in their application of the Law, but where was the man? The Law stipulated that both the man and the woman should be stoned (Leviticus 20:10). Was the man a friend of theirs, or was he an important person in society that was able to buy protection? Whatever the reason, they were not consistent in their application, and neither are we.
Do we want to join forces with the defense or with the prosecution? We’re given a picture of what Jesus is presently doing in Hebrews 7:25. The writer states, “…since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Jesus is on one side of the courtroom pleading that we would be granted mercy because of His death on the cross. He stands between us and judgment, interceding so that we do not get what we deserve.
The devil is on the other side. He is called the “accuser of the brethren” (Revelations 12:10). In fact, “devil” comes from the Greek word, “diabolos,” which means “the accuser, the slanderer.” When we judge and accuse another, in essence, we are joining our adversary’s side, agreeing with him that the accused is deserving of punishment. I don’t know about you, but I want to be on Jesus’ side in this case.
Phrases like, “Power Evangelism” and “Servant Evangelism” have been around for a while. I’d like to introduce you to what I call “Mercy Evangelism.” I sometimes wonder why there isn’t more revival in the world, much less in our own congregations, and then I look at the Church and wonder how the lost see us.
When we lived in Fresno, CA we had neighbors who were also friends. One morning our neighbor started his car that was parked on the street and then left it so it would warm up. For some reason, it rolled backwards and then hit our car. It dented in our front fender. We found out that they couldn’t afford car insurance. I then went inside the house, made a batch of cookies, carried a plate over to them, and told them not to worry about the damage. They were on the defensive when I first knocked at the door, but they relaxed when they saw the cookies. (It’s amazing what chocolate can do!) Now, we’re not saints; our car was a few years old at the time, but I hope that we would have done the same thing if our car had been brand new. Because we weren’t adversarial, they remained our friends and even came to church with us.
When we extend mercy to an unbeliever, we are accomplishing more in the Kingdom than when we hand out hundreds of religious tracts. I’ve done my share of knocking on doors and standing on street corners. I’m an extrovert, and those methods are easy, and even fun, for me.
The next time you’re in a large group, take a poll. Ask how many became believers by a stranger knocking on their door and talking about the gospel, or by someone handing them some religious literature on a street corner, or by a large evangelistic crusade they went to on their own, or by a religious TV program. You’ll see just a small smattering of hands. Then ask how many became believers because of someone who befriended them-who extended warmth and mercy instead of judgment. The majority of the hands will go up at that time. Mercy Evangelism will bring more of your family and friends into the Kingdom than any of those other methods.
I’m not saying that we should stop doing those other things, but let’s recognize that those methods are not nearly as effective compared to what you can accomplish in your own backyard by extending mercy.
Consider, again, the woman caught in adultery. That’s you-that’s me. We deserve death, but Jesus does not condemn us; he intercedes on our behalf. Let’s join Jesus’ side the next time we’re tempted to criticize or judge another. Let us not ever again pick up a stone.
Denise Siemens, along with her husband, Dan, is on staff at Lutheran Renewal. In addition to her administrative duties, she speaks at retreats, churches, and conferences. She also travels for Alpha, teaching on prayer and prayer ministry. In her spare time she enjoys making cookies.