The Latter Rain

Charlie Parham had a little Bible school in Topeka, Kansas he called "Bethel." In the winter of 1900, he gave his students an assignment - use the Bible to discover the initial evidence of the Baptism in the Spirit. The students went to the task, and concluded that speaking in tongues was found in just about every instance of Spirit Baptism in the Bible. Then at midnight on the first day of the 20th century, January 1, 1901,

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The Latter Rain

In his sermon recorded in Acts 2, Peter predicts that the prophesied revival had broken out beginning with the pouring out of the Set-apart Spirit right there in Jerusalem on the Feast of Pentecost. He repeats the prophecy of Joel 2:17-18 to bring home his point. After his sermon, signs and wonders began to break out all over the place in Jerusalem. Eventually, the whole world was turned upside down by what happened then and there: conversions, baptisms, healings, infillings, tongues, exorcisms and corrections of false doctrine. The miraculous signs led people to the Spirit of Elohim and the Spirit led people back to the Law of Elohim, which Elohim had promised to write on their hearts.

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But the prophecy of the Spirit being poured out on all flesh could not have been completely fulfilled in the time of the disciples of the Bible, for most of the world had not even been discovered yet. It has only been in the last 100 years that the part about "the Spirit being poured out upon all flesh" could possibly come to pass, owing to the increase in knowledge, transportation and communication of the last century. Indeed, there is another prophecy in Joel that indicates two outpourings -- the one at Pentecost and another right before the return of the Messiah 2000 years later.

Joel 2:23. Be glad, O sons of Zion, and rejoice in Yahweh, your Elohim; for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before. (RSV)

Another prophet, Hosea, said that Elohim actually was to be that rain:

Hosea 6:3 Let us know, let us strive to know Yahweh; that he will come is as certain as the dawn. He will come to us like a shower, like the rain of springtime to the earth. (NJB)

The early rain was that of the winter wheat seeding time, which would be September to November. The early rain was essential if the plants were to get a start. The latter rain was to come in the springtime, between March and May, just before the wheat harvest. The wheat could not mature without the latter rain. James, Yahshua’ brother, also mentions these rains in conjunction with the return of his brother at the harvest-time of souls.

James 5:7b. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. 8. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Thus the ‘latter rain’ was to be the greatest revival of the Gospel Age, in which Yahweh himself would be poured down. And the latter rain was prophesied to occur in the century just before the return of the Messiah. I believe that the 20th century was the century of the latter rain. Let’s look at some signs leading up to the Latter Rain.

19th Century Revival

After the Revolutionary war, at the beginning of the 19th century, the American Methodist Episcopal Church split off from the Church of England. Most Methodist preachers at that time were circuit riders and had little education, but they had great enthusiasm and tongues of fire to preach salvation and sanctification, which they did all over the territories that were to become the United States. Tremendous revivals broke out on account of these circuit riders, and many revival movements came into being, including the Nazarenes, the Free Methodists, the Holiness groups and Adventists. By the end of the 19th century, thousands upon thousands had been saved, thousands had been sanctified, and many Methodist-type groups who preached the second blessing and the imminent return of the Lord were exploding. And so were missions societies with the intention of taking the doctrine of Holiness to the ends of the earth.

The revival movements of the 19th century emphasized personal holiness, reverence for the scriptures, Biblical Sabbath-keeping, temperance and Christian Perfection. 19th century revival services consisted of the enthusiastic singing of revival songs, fiery preaching, and unusual manifestations like being ‘slain in the Spirit’ and prophetic utterances. Today, Methodists are often called "Dead Methodists," but in those days, Methodists were known as "Shoutin’ Methodists." But some holiness ‘professors’ wondered, if the latter rain had come in the 19th century, where were the ‘tongues’ of the book of Acts?

Bethel Bible School

Charlie Parham had a little Bible school in Topeka, Kansas he called "Bethel." In the winter of 1900, he gave his students an assignment - use the Bible to discover the initial evidence of the Baptism in the Spirit. The students went to the task, and concluded that speaking in tongues was found in just about every instance of Spirit Baptism in the Bible. Then at midnight on the first day of the 20th century, January 1, 1901, 120 Bethel Bible School students were present for a watch-night service, just like at Pentecost. In the light of coal oil lamps, a 30-year-old Bible student, Agnes Ozman, asked her teacher and fellow students to lay hands on her to be baptized in the Set-apart Spirit. Rev. Parham later recalled the event. He said,

I laid my hands upon her and prayed. I had scarcely repeated three dozen sentences when a glory fell upon her. A halo seemed to surround her head and face and she began speaking in the Chinese language and was unable to speak English for three days. When she tried to write in English to tell us of her experience she wrote the Chinese, copies of which we still have in newspapers printed at that time.

She was the only one in the group that had this experience, but it was so real and convincing, that now the Bible students and their teacher had a new message, that the latter rain had fallen, and with the evidence of speaking in tongues. This was not the ‘prayer language’ kind of tongues - this was Chinese, for the evangelism of China, the most highly populated and Elohimless nation on the earth. Within the next few days, all the other students experienced gifts of various languages, so they could go forth and evangelize the world. And in the next five years, 25,000 more people were baptized in the Set-apart Spirit, and spoke languages that they hadn’t learned.

Azusa Street Mission

In 1906, one of the Bethel students, William Seymour, accepted an invitation to preach at a tiny mission the Congregation in the Los Angeles slums called Azusa Street Mission. Seymour never spoke in tongues; nevertheless, he preached that tongues was the initial evidence of the Baptism in the Set-apart Spirit, and that the Congregation should be open to receiving whatever the Spirit had for them. The Set-apart Spirit did fall at Azusa Street and the revival lasted day and night for three years. Here is a typical newspaper report of an Azusa Street meeting:

Demons are being cast out, the sick healed, many blessedly saved, restored and baptized with the Set-apart Spirit of power. Heroes are being developed, the weak made strong in the Lord, men’s hearts are being searched as with a lighted candle. It is a tremendous sifting time not only of actions, but of inner, secret motives. Nothing can escape the all-searching eye of Elohim. Yahshua is being lifted up. The blood magnified. The Set-apart Spirit is honored once more. There is much slaying power manifest. Strong men lie for hours under the mighty power of Elohim cut down like grass. The revival will be a world-wide one without a doubt.

It did become world-wide revival, and people came from everywhere to the little mission the Congregation on a back street in Los Angeles to experience the Baptism in the Set-apart Spirit. This was especially significant because Seymour was black and the mission was a ‘colored’ the Congregation. From Los Angeles, the latter rain began to fall all over the world - hardly a geographical area was missed - and the Spirit fell on all who committed themselves to a Elohimly life and opened themselves to the power of the supernatural, regardless of denominational affiliation - Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Church of Elohim, Mennonite, Adventist - every Protestant group.

Charismatic Renewal Movement

Sixty years passed. Then in 1967 at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, the Set-apart Spirit was poured out in like manner on a Catholic prayer group observing a midnight vigil. Catholics were hardly thought to be Christians, much less candidates for the latter rain! This was the beginning of the Charismatic Renewal Movement which you have probably heard of already. The Spirit began baptizing people in the Congregation denominations - Catholics, Episcopals and Methodists - then keeping them there to help the Spirit bring revival to their denomination. (To be a Charismatic now means to believe that the Baptism in the Set-apart Spirit as recorded in Acts 2:1-4 is still for today and that the charismatic believes he or she has been baptized in the Set-apart Spirit and that signs and miracles did not pass away with the death of the Apostles.)

My Experience

I was in a the Congregation that believed that the Set-apart Spirit had passed away with the death of the Apostles. When I heard that people were being Baptized in the Set-apart Spirit at a the Congregation across town, I immediately began attending there and learning about it. I saw many people who tarried at the altar of the Congregation, some for months, before they received the Baptism of Power. It was very evident when this happened, and often they would be healed or speak in tongues. In every case, their life was completely turned around.

From the preaching and Sunday School, I learned that one must accept Yahshua as Savior, but that it was only the beginning. One needed to live a holy life in imitation of Yahshua and keep the commandments of Elohim. One needed to be in prayer without ceasing and in the Congregation every time the door was open for worship.

I decided I wanted to be Baptized in the Set-apart Spirit; I had already accepted Yahshua and had been baptized in water. I tarried in prayer at the altar in most services, and asked Elohim over and over for the gift of tongues and interpretation. I never felt that I was worthy of any special gifts from Elohim. I felt I was not holy enough; not fervent enough; did not pray enough.

But after six months of seeking the Baptism in the Set-apart Spirit fervently and seriously, I went to the Congregation for a Sunday evening service and was sitting with my brother in the balcony. We were the only ones up there (in the upper room, so to speak), and we were cutting up while the service was in process. When we least expected it, it was just like the wind blew down and through us -- it was like our minds opened up for the first time. For me, it was like an awakening. All of a sudden I felt wonderful, like an ecstasy. I watched my brother’s face light up with the Spirit -- like a halo around his face. We tried to talk, but what came out of our mouths was a language we never learned nor understood. We left the Congregation that night wonderfully blessed, and now, 34 years later, we both made the service of the Almighty our life’s work -- he as an author and missionary and me as a musician and pastor. And we have been able to use the gifts we received so many years ago in evangelism and worship ever since.

Today and Tomorrow

By 1990, 373 million people on the earth considered themselves either Pentecostal or Charismatic. And of the 9 million Methodists today, 20% consider themselves to be Charismatics - that is, one Methodist in 5. That means that perhaps some in this room consider themselves Charismatics, baptized in the Set-apart Spirit and filled with power to command miracles! All these hundreds or millions of people Baptized in the Spirit in only 100 years, and that doesn’t count those who have gone on.

The pouring out of the Spirit on the Methodist Church made such a stir in the 60s and 70s that in 1976 the Bishops had to get together and make policy about it!

And, in this last century, we have also seen the greatest outbreak of warfare, breakdown of Righteousness and revival of occultism in history. The events of the last century, particularly the latter rain outpouring of the Set-apart Spirit and the horrendously evil wars, are certain indications that the Messiah is on the way.

Friends, the Bible deals with 7,000 years of salvation history, with the last thousand of these seven reserved for the reign of Yahshua Christ called ‘The Millennium." Anyone that can count knows that 6,000 years have passed since Adam, and that last year we moved into the last thousand years - which is supposed to be the Millennium. These are incredible times, and the Almighty has an incredible job for each one of us to fulfill, and soon.

I hope you will make up your mind if you haven’t already, to dedicate your entire life to the service of the Messiah, who may already be here, to keep the commandments of Elohim and work at becoming perfected in love. And of course, seek out the Baptism in the Set-apart Spirit if you haven’t already. Pray for the best gifts. Pray through at the altar until you do. And, as the Disciples were commanded, "Tarry until you are clothed with power from on high." You might find yourself in the unexpected position where such power will be useful in performing an important act of ministry.

Phoebe Palmer

I wish that receiving the second blessing or Pentecost - the Baptism in the Set-apart Spirit - was as easy as an altar call at the end of an anointed service. Sometimes it is that simple, if a person is prepared through holy living, prayer and service. But more often than not, Pentecost becomes a time when we learn about what Elohim has for us in the spiritual realm, then start our journey toward the fullness of it.

In the meantime, I can offer you some advice on how you might prepare yourself to receive the infilling of the Spirit: be devout, determine to lead a life according to the law of Elohim, be dedicated to the community of faith in service, prepare your heart for communion on those Sundays. And most of all, live daily every minute in expectation that this minute might be the one when you receive. You might choose the time and place where you give your heart to the Lord in salvation, but Elohim chooses the time and place of your Baptism in the Spirit.

One Methodist saint that was a very popular evangelist in the 19th century was a lady named Phoebe Palmer. Mrs. Palmer was in demand as a speaker on the Baptism of the Set-apart Spirit. Her idea about it, which became very popular, was that if you had not received the infilling of power like at Pentecost, just proclaim that you had anyway, and live like you had it, and before long, you will find that you do have it. That is the best advice I can think of to leave you with tonight.

Affirmations: Repeat after me on each line.

We have a double portion anointing upon us as we flow;
Effectual doors open wherever we go.
Angels are protecting us with great care;
Signs and wonders follow us everywhere.
Favor surrounds us on all sides;
We’re walking in meekness and not in pride.
We’re on the razor’s edge preaching Your word
With great boldness proclaiming what we’ve heard.
We have wisdom to know and discernment to see;
We are led by you, Set-apart Spirit, totally.
We are financially blessed abundantly;
We are free from the curse permanently.
We are strengthened in all areas of life;
We are abiding in peace, not in strife.
We have ears to hear and eyes to see;
We are flowing in your perfect will continually.
(Stephen D. Johnson)

 

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