Revival Fires Burn New Fields
"I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division; For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the Father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against the daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law (Luke 12:49, 51-53."
The general trend of people under the present day ministry is to think that the workings of God should bring no disturbance in a city or country or among families. But this is a great misunderstanding of the Scriptures. For this reason, a controversy is brought about by which even supposedly Christian people, themselves, knowing the nature of God, are offset from the true course for the lack of understanding.
A revival just closed, conducted by the General Overseer of the C.M.A., James Kent, in Williamston, South Carolina, was one of the most successful revivals conducted since the beginning of the Reformation. Young boys and girls gave their hearts to God and dedicated themselves to serve Him. It has also been reported that a young man who had served a term in jail was released during the revival and on that same night came to the tent and gave his heart to the Lord and led a large number of other young men to the revival and to Christ. The total saved was 43.
Here is where we find the reality of what Jesus said. A few church members of interdenominational groups rose up against the revival and threatened to burn the tent. Some of the children's parents were disturbed. The persecutors went so far as to buy the property from the owner, and then had the sheriff of the county to order the evangelistic crew to move the tent or else be taken to court. Some interdenominational, so-called Christians would say this is a disturbance. But if you will read the words of Jesus, you will know that any time you find a person or group persecuting a soul-saving meeting, they are of their father, the devil. Jesus made this clear in the above Scriptures.
I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that such a condition could exist in your very home, among parents, children, daughters in law and fathers in law. It all sums up to be an opposition to Jesus and the true course of salvation. All men will pat you on the back and call you a good man if you only claim to be born again and do not shout or make any ado over your religion or disturb anyone with what you have. Satan does not want his agencies disturbed. Jesus made it clear that when these agencies are disturbed, there will be reactions and persecutions following. But, revival fires continue to burn in new fields and leave only stubble.
Another coincidence was reported to me a few weeks ago from Auburndale, Florida. Even the mayor and the city officials joined the disturbed group like those to whom Jesus referred. The battle became hot, but the State Bishop and others held their feet to the fire. These dignitaries persecuted young men because they rode motorcycles in the city and because they began Christian work. It looked as though the officials would have been pleased with young men and women being Christian workers, rather than their being safe-crackers, shoplifters, and other types of evil doers. But, note, as Jesus said, it happened again.
There is no such thing as Christianity bringing peace on earth as long as Jesus is in heaven, but, on His return to earth, there will be a peaceful world, which will be ruled in righteousness, according to the Scriptures. There is, however, a baptism with which we must be baptized on this earth. This is of persecutions and trials of oppositions. Jesus said it must be accomplished as in His day.
At a recent revival in Norfolk, Virginia, many of the Mennonites came to the Church and saw the light on the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Some of them received it and joined the Church. On the night on which they joined, groups rode by the little church house mocking, making fun, and throwing glass and drink bottles through the windows, breaking them, and scattering glass over the people. Why did they (supposedly church members) do this? Paul said in his writing to Timothy, 'Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.' Here the words of Jesus are again fulfilled.
A few days ago, I rolled into Atlanta, Georgia, for a Seven-day Council. I had bothered no one. (It was here in the year of 1939 that I was unmercifully beaten with whips, mobbed, and tried in court. The enemy determined to destroy me in that year because I had had hundreds saved and an estimated over 200 baptized with the Holy Ghost at a revival in Egan Park, Georgia. Many of them and my persecutors came from interdenominational churches). I had no more than arrived into the city of Atlanta with the Highway Gospel Caravan when the devil rose up with the authorities of the city and tried to close the meeting. Other church groups throughout the city applied their words against us. One group went so far as to advertise in the paper that they were not in any way connected with us. Yet, they claim to be Holy Ghost filled people. So do we, and so are we.
What do you see in all this? Here is what Jesus said, and I believe His words to be correct, don't you? Luke 12:54-57, "And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is. And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass. Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it ye do not discern this time? Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?"
While we were in Youngstown, Pennsylvania, we met such persecutions. Carloads of people rode the streets at midnight screaming out, 'Where is Jesus?', 'When is His soon coming?' They even drove up to the door where I was staying and said, 'Where is Jesus?' Their mocking could be heard 3 or 4 blocks away. We stirred that city with the Caravan and the soon coming of Jesus.
If I were to relate even the conflict that we, The Church of God, have had in Cleveland, Tennessee, in the past six years with various church groups in the exploration of this great revelation, it would be so confounding that you would think it a nightmare. Even at this present time, we are mocked, persecuted, bleated at like goats, and lied upon. We bear false reproaches, are falsely accused, are shoved aside, and the people are frightened at our coming. These persecutors claim salvation. They do this because we have introduced to the world the greatest light of all ages, the Vision of All. It is described in Habakkuk 2:2-3. It is pointed out throughout the Bible and the Book of Revelation. It is destined to speak at the end. Just as Jesus' day was the acceptable day of the Lord, now is the acceptable day of the Lord, now is the acceptable day of the Vision of all. Can we think for any less opposition or persecution for ourselves in the winding up of God's eternal program than the Early Church suffered? No! But we, with our beards, with our staves, cloaks, and righteousness, do hold our heads high and declare that we have had a Reformation and are reforming the Vision of all which was given by Jesus Christ in the 1st Century. These persecutions and oppositions only add fire and make steam so that we are able to travel on to the higher victories until we have rocked the world with the impact of the preaching of the Vision of All as referred to by James, the early Chief Bishop, in Acts 15 and Amos 9.
It is astounding to see the many people in Cleveland, Tennessee, amazed as they learn the reality of what we are really doing. Young and old men and women come to the knowledge of the Word as we bring Christian activity unto its reality.
Dear Reader, be encouraged through your persecutions, for it is like Jesus has stated, and Stephen also, 'Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.' But you know, in spite of that, these things must come. We must be baptized. At any time, true righteousness is exalted or makes any advancement, it must suffer persecutions according to the Word of the Lord.
There are a number of great revival fires now blazing throughout the country. They must be tested, for this is the will of the Lord. It is very easy to be deceived by enticing words of men's wisdom, words of flattery, and cunning craftiness. Some men would have you to believe that true Christianity does not consist of anything of this kind. Some would have you to believe that Christianity gives you a greater abundance of the materials of this world. But, never, never was this promised by Jesus. Our harvest day, our reaping day, our reward is when we shall inherit the earth and when Jesus shall reign 1,000 years. Until then, I am not promised anything, only my necessities of life so that I can pilgrim through this world to that day.
So, in all our sufferings and hardships an embarrassing financial circumstances, remember if we suffer with HIM, WE SHALL REIGN WITH HIM.
* Article Written By: The Late Grady R. Kent, St. John II, Chief Bishop of The Church of God, 1957-1964. This sermon was taken from The Vision Speaks, Volume 6 : Number 4 : October 1963.
[i] All grammatical and typographical errors have been corrected except for direct quotations from the Author. Thought content of said article has not been changed.