Joh 20:13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
The only thing worse than being lost is amnesia. If you don’t know who you are or where you came from, how can you possibly find your way out of the woods or move with any discernible purpose? This question has led us to throw ourselves into finding out the answer, at any cost and no matter who the answer offends. I want to speak to you about the beginnings of what we have seen.
The obvious beginnings for the Spirit-Filled Church would have to be John Wycliffe, John Hus and The Moravians.
The Moravian Church was once a lightning rod for the power of God here on earth. The path that started with John Wycliffe, was picked up by John Hus, was passed on to The Brethren and solidified at Herrnhut, was the boldest stand by true believers in 1500 years. This group of radicals lived in an intentional community, instituted 24/7 prayer, perfected missions and exemplified service to God in an age when the church had grown heretical, fat, lazy and insular. They exemplified love and unity and perfected cross denominational service, believing that the church was one body made up of many different parts.
They were the tools that God used in the salvation of the Wesleys and the subsequent move of God that shook England and America.
And this wonderful church, with all of its powerful traditions and its rich history has been co-opted.
Tragically, this has culminated just as we have come into a moment in history when the fire of the early Moravian church could have had an enormous impact on a new generation of leaders. As we turn from the religion of the boomers and seek truth in the ancient traditions of our Fathers, we look to an anchor in these times, something lasting and concrete and proven and their pulpits are silent, except for the compromised bleating of their unbelieving hirelings.
At the edges of the Kingdom, we are seeing the rise of leaders who are fed up with the half-truths of Christianity-Lite, leaders who would gladly stand on the bow of a boat heading to St. Thomas and yell to their families that they may very realistically never see again in this life, “May the lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!” And here, at this moment of history, at the literal turning of the tide, the Moravian church has grown so compromised and accommodating to the will of unbelieving theologians that they no longer have a voice, as the worm of Modernist Theology has eaten through the protections of tradition and history and those who should never have forgotten, have given place at their very head to the enemy of our souls and his campaign to destroy the church from within.
In the Moravian Church, they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him.
The obvious child of the Moravian movement would have to be the Methodist church. On a ship’s journey to America, John Wesley was powerfully affected by a Moravian missionary. This culminated in his conversion experience in a Moravian meeting back in England, after a failed ministry attempt in Georgia.
The early Methodists had nowhere to preach, being banned from the Anglican pulpits in England. And so the Wesley’s took the message of the cross to the open air outside of coal mines as the workers changed shifts. The era of open air evangelism was born. These radicals ordained lay people to take the Gospel to the isolated areas of Kingdom and called them circuit riders. Francis Asbury had to be tied to his horse as he got older and untied when he arrived at his destination as he could no longer physically hold on to it and being thus tied, this fearless man would cross mountains, deep snow and driving rains to preach the message that God had burned on his heart.
The campmeetings held at the Red River Meeting House in Kentucky saw the majority of that regions population get powerfully saved, in the open air. Thousands descended on the site and it is reported that up to six preachers would preach simultaneously as the crowds were too large for just one person to cover. People who were resistant to the message of the cross found themselves being shaken by the Spirit of God and they would fall on their face, knowing absolutely that God was real and the message that they were hearing was deadly serious.
The Methodists led the call to holiness and world missions and their zeal caught the world on fire.
Today, is there fire in their pulpit at all? Are the people shaken by the majesty of God? Or has third-generation religion replaced first-hand experience as the un-Gospel of the theological elite has eroded this towering monument to the power of God among normal people and lowered it to a man made exercise in religious bureaucracy and carnal religiosity?
They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him in the Methodist church.
From the Methodists, the Pentecostals burst onto the scene in 1906 at Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California. Tired of the staleness of religion and sure that there was something more, this small group of nobodies huddled together and earnestly sought God to move fresh in their day. They were not disappointed. When the fire fell at Azusa, it spread like wildfire in the California hills and worldwide. Despite the racism that plagued the early church and forced the split that eventually created the Assemblies of God and Church of God in Christ, the movement flowed until Spirit-Filled believers comprised the second largest Christian group in the world, just behind the Roman Catholics.
It was made up primarily of the poor and the outcast, the exact same group that the Methodists abandoned as they sought acceptance among the cult of respectability. And these saints, who had nothing to lose, did as they have always done; they gave up everything for the God who knew their “nobody” name. As it was true in the Moravian Church, the spiritual mother that they came from, they easily and joyfully gave up their lives to spread the Gospel.
As it was true in the Methodist church, their direct relative in the flow of the Spirit of God, it was the uneducated, the lay leaders that provided the energy and the zeal to see the work accomplished. And like their ancestors, it was their desire to be accepted that caused the fire to flicker and die.
Today, the Pentecostal church is only a shell of its former self. In isolated area of America and the world there are still holiness Pentecostals but they have grown so isolated that their message affects no one any more. I attended one of these places recently and came away from the experience knowing that what I had witnessed was merely the smoke from a billows that has burned itself out attempting to refine silver that refuses to yield.
In other places, Pentecostal is now synonymous with Oneness Pentecostals only and the child of the Moravians is no longer there and only the shell remains.
In the Pentecostal church, they have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him.
After the First Wave, which was Azusa and the subsequent Pentecostal explosion that occurred, we had what they call the Second wave. This was the era of Oral Roberts, A.A. Allen, William Branham and Jack Coe. The healing revival and Latter Rain Movement spread worldwide and they saw the greatest move of God focused on a sign-gift that the world had ever seen. Huge tents holding 20,000 believers criss-crossed the country and saved millions of souls.
The era ended in tragedy for most, the power has been lost, the fire gone. This was the day of my parents and in it, the power of God was not only real but expected.
Today, there is nothing left of any of it, except the old stories and the edifices of ORU and Rhema speaking volumes about what once was and no longer is. The Second wave transformed into hyper prosperity and hyper grace and their anchor of the past was left somewhere far behind as the individual, humanistic Gospel of ME came to be all that a people, left in their flesh and unconverted and worldly state could hear.
The Third Wave or Prophetic Movement has sought to distance itself from history from its inception. They embraced what they called Primitivism, which was to throw out everything but the Book of Acts. Sadly, Primitivism quickly became Make-stuff-up-ism as they even threw out the whole counsel of the Word, rejecting the Word of God and preferring subjective personal experience.
The modern church has taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him.
I have grown so tired of it all that I would rather quit than be a part of any of it any longer.
For us, we have been forced to ask why we do what we do. Where did we get the order of service? Who defined praise and worship? Why do we do any of the things that we do?
That question has resulted in us throwing out everything that we knew or thought that we knew and starting from scratch. We have gone back to Wycliffe, Hus and the Moravians and asked of them, “What moved you?” What caused you to be in unity, or to gladly burn at the stake for your convictions? What caused you to leave hearth and home and take the Gospel where no one had ever taken it before? To this end, we have gotten rid of our services and began to adopt their practices as the Spirit makes them clear to us. Prayer before service, putting people’s needs before our dog and pony show. The lovefeast and the command that to be a part of it you must love everyone present, forgive all trespasses against you and absolve anyone of any debt that is owed you inside the room.
We have begun to stress love and unity, corporate prayer and sacrifice, the rejection of individualism and the importance of the Social Gospel. We embrace structure, order and the heart religion of Count Zinzendorf. And the fruit has been immediate and gratifying. We have had people rocked at our services, calling me and asking why they can’t eat or sleep. We have watched strife and backbiting disappear and genuine love begin to flow. We have seen our Wednesday night study stretch for three hours as the people will not leave and beg for more Word.
And we have watched those studies culminate in the Wind of the Spirit blow in and leave the room on their face on the floor, some crying loudly and all praying.
God has begun to move again.
Where do we go from here? I am not sure but as we learn the lessons of the ancient Moravian church, we have found our anchor in these troubled times. And we are a generation of seekers, of questioners, be assured. A generation that is comfortable with Monasticism and white martyrdom. A generation that doesn’t care what the status quo does, we just want to know the truth. We are the spiritual descendants of Zinzendorf and the Brethren, of Wesley and his circuit riders, of Seymour and the wonder of Azusa. And what we are seeing may well be the beginnings of a genuine movement here as more and more of ur generation tune in, turn on and drop out, not to drugs and the counter-culture of Evangelicalism but to the clear and loud call of our Fathers in the faith, back to Christianity and the religion of Holy Spirit Revival Fire.
They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him but by our life or by our death, we will find out.