Every so often Pentecostals tend to 'specialise' in one or two scriptures, and will hold them dear for a long time. One year it will be this verse, the next year it will be another. This inherently has grave dangers, for everything said, thought and done in a particular period will automatically be viewed against the current favourite text. This inevitably leads to 'self fulfilling prophecies' where people bring about their own results, based on the deliberate working-out of their own desires. This has become prevalent in present day charismatic circles.
In the 1940's the favoured text was Isaiah 43:18,19, which says, "Remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth, shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert."
It is true that a huge number of texts in Isaiah are capable of two streams of interpretation - one for the contemporary Jews and one for the farther future, sometimes involving Gentiles. The above text can easily bear more than two 'interpretations' if we are determined to make it so! William Branham fostered the idea of 'new things', which appeared to be the working-out of the text. But, as we have already shown in the Article on Branham, he was a spiritualist, and so his activities must be seen in that light. In other words, he was a fake; his miracles and teachings were false and he misled early Pentecostals (and still does).
In 1947, a Pentecostal pastor, George Hawtin from North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada, attended a Branham meeting and was clearly very impressed, thinking that the signs and wonders of God were upon the people. So, they were interpreted in terms of Isaiah 43. But, if Branham was a spiritualist and a fake, it means that all the signs and wonders were fake also. And if they were fake, then so was the interpretation of the text, and the whole thing collapses like a pack of cards! (Note: Satan can bring about healings and many signs and wonders. To the casual observer there is no distinction between true and false healings... they are NOT false because they do not happen, for they DO; they are false in the sense that they are not of God, but the practitioners insist they are).
Branham's work seemed to support the erroneous belief that the Pentecostal movement 'restored' the 'baptism of the Holy Spirit'. This is, of course, nonsense, for God would not leave His beloved Church without such a vital blessing for nearly 2000 years! There is no second blessing or special, post-salvation 'baptism' of the Spirit, so what Pentecostals 'restored' was certainly not a genuine, Biblical blessing. Besides, no man or movement can 'restore' something of God if He has not decreed to do it.
In 1946 a Pentecostal book fanned the flames of this 'new day' idea: 'Atomic Power with God, Through Fasting and Prayer' by Franklin Hall. Hall taught that if we control our appetites we would be translated into a supernatural, miraculous lifestyle. Note the similarity with Buddhism and other mystical cults, and note how this kind of spiritual life is completely dependent on works.
Hawtin made some pretty weird claims for the book and its ideas 'for those who would receive it' (a phrase common today amongst charismatics): prayers would be answered, they would experience signs and wonders, immortality, and a release from gravity!! (‘Weighed and Found Wanting' by Bill Randles). Al Dager says that although the book was wildly odd, it influenced many of the faith healers of the day (faith healing itself being unbiblical). Obviously, this led to the influencing of modern day healers.
In 1948 a woman 'prophesied' to Hawtin's group in North Battleford that a great revival was soon to come. Toronto Blessing observers should note that Hawtin claimed God's power fell in awesome measure, and many travelled to his fellowship to receive the same thing. By 1948 people were coming from overseas, too, to receive and see this 'new thing', and this became the 'Latter Rain' movement. The movement pushed such texts as James 5:7: "Be patient, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain". (Also see, for example, Hosea 6:3; Joel 2:23).
The 'latter rain' was defined by Peter as what happened on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, the activity of the Holy Spirit necessary for effecting 'the harvest'. Pentecostalists, though, say the former or 'early' rains came in Acts 2, and so we still have the 'latter rains' to look forward to. This links with what is happening in the late 1990's, for charismatics claim God's power will be so strong in the last days that the whole world will turn to God in one day. This opposes scripture and turns true interpretation on its head!
Are things getting better? Are charismatics repenting and living in true faith, according to scripture? No, they are not. Rather, they live as Branham lived, in total ignorance of truth and light, preferring their own interpretations to those of God's word. Just as the Jews still wait for what has already come (Messiah), so charismatics still wait for a 'latter rain' that has already fallen! Does this kind of 'faith' honour God or please Him? No, for it is not the faith given by God; their faith is rooted in unbelief and humanistic ideas.
God will not bless such unbelief. Instead He will do what He is already doing: allowing Pentecostalists/charismatics to labour under their own delusions, in a spiritual void without God's Presence! Sadly, they see their signs and wonders and many activities as proof of God's Presence, when He is actually far from them. Theirs is a virtual, not an actual, reality! Things are not getting better as they fondly think (and feverishly teach), but getting worse.
The Latter Rain idea includes the theory of Restoration. According to Pentecostalists, they 'restored' baptism of the Spirit to the Church (via the Azuza Street revival). They also believe that different movements throughout history 'restored' other truths: Luther restored salvation by faith alone, etc. They believe that Davidic worship, apostles, etc., are yet to be restored (although many of these supposed things are already with us, so they say, giving us self-proclaimed prophets, apostles, etc.). Added to this error is the worse heresy and blasphemy, that Jesus Christ CANNOT COME BACK to earth UNLESS we first restore all things!!
Latter Rain advocates (modern day charismatics) teach the 'restoration' of the 'five fold ministry' of Ephesians four, because these - especially the apostles and prophets - will usher in unity of the churches that will perfect the Body of Christ. It is this heresy that underlies the work of the Evangelical Alliance and explains its unholy rush to join together with anyone and everything, whether or not they believe scripture as it is written. It is also behind the concept of 'Churches Together' and ecumenism, and the unholy link with Rome (and finally with all other faiths, cults and occultic movements). Imparting of gifts by hand-touch is a feature of this restoration, a cultic activity and very Hindu in style.
The belief calls for the breakdown of denominations (in itself a good thing, but not in the present context of false unity). Unfortunately many Pentecostals broke away from denominations and formed 'independent' churches, under the watchful eyes of self-glorified 'apostles'. At one time this led to 'heavy shepherding' where 'apostles' told individuals what to do every second of their lives. This faded away, but is soon to return in force to police the growing movement.
The restoration idea leads to a belief in evolution: that for 2000 years the Church did not have everything that was necessary, but that today's Believers are the centre of the final, ultimate manifestation of God's power and spirituality. A new spiritual elite, including 'Joel's Army', the 'new-seed, new-breed', etc., has thus taken over from Christians who were previously spiritually incomplete! My friends, if modern day charismatics are an example of this new breed, then God help us all. They are trying to restore what has never been lost, and are remaking the Church in their own image, without repentance, true salvation or genuine gifts and fruit. Do not be dazzled by false wonders. Listen to them at your peril.
© July 1996
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