A friend named Arthur Burt once told me a story of a farmer who found an eagle with a broken wing. The farmer rescued the eagle and put it in a chicken pen. Because of its injury, the eagle was forced to live like a chicken. But it wasn't a chicken; it was an eagle with a higher destiny.
One day after its wing was healed a visitor came by and noticed the eagle. He asked the farmer for permission to return the bird to its natural habitat. With the farmer's consent, he took the bird and headed for a nearby mountaintop.
The man's first attempt to set the bird free was disappointing. The eagle flapped its wings but didn't try to take off. It still saw itself as a chicken.
Recently Charisma magazine reported on a crusade in Nigeria that was hosted by German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke. During the six days of the crusade, a record number of people--3.4 million--made decisions to receive Christ.
In a television interview not long after the crusade Bonnke said:"The tide is coming in! The immovable is now movable; the impossible is now possible; the incurable is now curable!"
I believe Bonnke's comment was a prophetic statement about the spiritual atmosphere in the world today. Many leaders, both Christian and secular, have sensed a turning of the spiritual tide. Related to the recent change of leadership in our nation, a secular newscaster declared that "God is in," and U.S. News & World Report raised the question, "Is America undergoing a spiritual awakening?"
Recently my husband, Steve, and I visited Argentina, where revival has been taking place for several years now. Over and over again we heard the same message proclaimed: God is pouring out His fire to purify and prepare a bride who is without spot or wrinkle. This message is based on the declaration John the Baptist made about Jesus, "'He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire'" (Matt. 3:11, NIV, emphasis added).
One of the results of being baptized in fire is holiness, a characteristic that was the primary focus of the Spirit in the late 1800s. It defined the Holiness movement and set the stage for the Pentecostal movement that followed at the turn of the century.
But gradually the emphasis in the Holiness movement changed from seeking to develop a pure heart to simply following a set of rules, and true holiness--taking on the nature of God--was lost. We settled for a doctrine of partial holiness: one that allowed a watered-down purity to coexist with carnal hearts full of compromise, competition and division.