At the start of the 20th century, Wales was known for its music and entertainment, its independent spirit and its rich sports heritage, but something was terribly wrong. The bars flourished while the powerless and passionless churches dried up.
Gambling and greed were beginning to dominate virtually every activity and captivate the nation's middle class. Violent crimes increased so quickly that there were not enough police officers in the entire country to restore order.
According to noted revival historians, as the hunger for personal pleasure began to dominate the culture, Evan Roberts, then a coal miner, would carry his beloved Bible into the mines with him. For 13 months Roberts cried out to heaven in intense prayer and intercession as God birthed a desperate need for revival in his heart.
In 1904, God unleashed fiery Roberts on Wales, along with a small ministry team. This young preacher, who delivered an unusual message of "praying in the Spirit," had a vision in which 100,000 souls would come to Christ.
Six weeks into what became known as the Welsh Revival, as many as 20,000 people had come to the Lord. Revival began breaking out in other countries as people read newspaper accounts of what was happening in Wales.
Many of the greatest preachers and Christian leaders of that day, including Rees Howells and G. Campbell Morgan, came to witness the revival. The impact was felt around the world, and qualifies this as the greatest revival in history.
Jesus' Power Remains on the Earth
Roberts was one of the early pioneers who released God's power like a fire in the dry timber of human hearts. But the real fire was ignited thousands of years ago when the One called Immanuel—God with us—invaded the earth and changed the course of history.
His mission was to turn the direction of the human race away from hell and toward the God of heaven. And when Jesus Christ ascended on high, He made provision for His supernatural presence to remain on Earth in even greater measure.
Many Christians are fond of quoting John 14:12, and I include myself in that number: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father" (KJV).
The only problem I see is that we don't put enough emphasis on the agency of that promise, described by Jesus: "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever" (v. 16).
I'd love to be part of a church that does even greater works than Jesus did in His lifetime. We know this isn't happening; but it could. Jesus can do more and greater works because He has the opportunity to multiply His miracle-working power through millions of hands instead of using just His own.
God gave us the supernatural baptism of the Holy Spirit to continue the supernatural work of Christ on the earth (Acts 2:1-4). So why isn't the church demonstrating supernatural power the way Jesus did?
The believers of the first century made such an impact on their societies that they transformed entire nations. Today our churches often don't have enough power to transform the sinners in their own pews, let alone reach their cities or nations. Why?
I'm convinced that today we have greatly reduced and undervalued the role of the Holy Spirit. According to the theory called cessationism, the supernatural work of the Spirit (apart from regeneration) ceased with the passing of the original apostles. But the Holy Spirit was given to everyone, not just to the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul, among others in the New Testament, wasn't one of the original 12. Yet he demonstrated the power of the Holy Spirit and operated in supernatural gifts that can be attributed only to Him.
Acts 13 recounts the story of a gathering of the church at Antioch. Here people without reputations as apostles heard the voice of the Holy Spirit and were authorized to lay hands on Barnabas and Saul and send them out as apostles.
This speaks of apostolic authority totally separate from the original 12 who were based out of Jerusalem. But none of this makes much sense if you see the Holy Spirit as a powerless entity.
The Problem With the Spirit
The greatest difficulty for those who would discount the Holy Spirit is the number of Old and New Testament passages dealing with His character, mission and power in the latter days. In other words, the problem with the Holy Spirit is that He is so supernatural.
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