Forerunners and God’s Timetable
Outpourings of God’s Spirit are what move His people forward towards a predestined place marked out for them before the foundations of the world. Our destiny is to be conformed to the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. One of the main points of the virgin birth is the union of God and mankind, which in turn produced Jesus. If you can receive it, the purpose of creation is God’s children.
God is not random; His actions always have reason and purpose. Revivals are not random either and each new move of the Holy Ghost is meant to accomplish specific goals in the general church body though achieving them first in individuals. We should earnestly seek to understand the methods and purposes of God so that we can more easily yield to what He is trying to accomplish.
In every new move of God there are those that progress far beyond the main group and complete a greater amount of the journey back to the garden than the rest. The majority usually view these people as fanatics or heretics. These forerunners, being few in number, are ahead of their time and are usually the subject of intense persecution by the larger group. Some survive while others die either physically or spiritually due to persecution. Remember, there were twelve that went before the majority into the promised land but only two survived the experience. Joshua and Caleb epitomize this type of forerunner. They were men of faith who suffered the fate of the unbelieving majority even though they did not themselves personally dwell in unbelief. But be of good cheer, if you sometimes feel like a Joshua or a Caleb, know that God is raising up a new generation that will need the benefit of your wisdom and leadership to finally posses the promise of their Father.
In every move of God it is theoretically possible to complete the intended journey back to the garden provided that those who comprise the move keep progressing on as God leads. Consider the nation of Israel in the wilderness. It was possible that they could have possessed the Promised Land directly after being delivered from Egypt. However, through unbelief, they refused to take what God had fully made available, and instead wandered forty years in the wilderness. We can deduce from this example of Israel’s wilderness experience a fundamental principle of how God deals with mankind.
“God’s plan is for us to catch hold of His Spirit and to enter into the Promised Land in short order. It is only our unbelief as a people and as individuals that, at times, causes foreseen interruptions in His plan.”
I fully believe it was possible and that it was God’s will for the Protestant reformation to produce a perfected church. Yet, like Israel, because of their unbelief they stopped short of the promise and failed to enter into His rest. This is a true saying,
“In every true move of the Holy Spirit is possible for the church to enter into Gods rest if we will believe.”
With each new wave of revival people speculate that it may be the beginning of the “Latter Rain”, the final revival before Christ’s return. I believe that such revivals have the potential to be that latter rain, but if we fail through unbelief the timetable of God will again be re-calibrated on our account. He will then begin again with a remnant of believers at a future date. A biblical example of this type of re-calibration of God’s plan is seen in the book of Deuteronomy,
“Furthermore the LORD spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people: Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they. So I turned and came down from the mount, and the mount burned with fire: and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands. And I looked, and, behold, ye had sinned against the LORD your God, and had made you a molten calf: ye had turned aside quickly out of the way which the LORD had commanded you. And I took the two tables, and cast them out of my two hands, and brake them before your eyes. And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the LORD was wroth against you to destroy you. But the LORD hearkened unto me at that time also.
These passages teach us that even though God selected Israel as His chosen people it did not mean that He could not change the timing and method of achieving His plans when the children of Abraham sin in unbelief.
The fulfillment and fruition of the plan of God for man is dependent not upon some unalterable timetable, but rather it is dependent upon the willingness of His people. I have been told, and I believe it is a true word, that the indicator of the nearness of the return of Christ in this present church age is not current world events, but rather the condition of His church. The fact is that without a perfected bride to draw Him, Christ will simply not return.
Given these understandings how does one prepare a church to survive and move on when revival comes? The answer to this question is deceptively simple.
“Teach your people to know, trust, and follow the voice of God as individuals.”
Only by teaching your people to know the voice of God as individuals will your flock be able to navigate the swift waters of a true outpouring of His Spirit.
God does not wish to bring order as man would bring order. In fact, many times Gods order is to the natural man great disorder. Remember the hubbub of the day of Pentecost? It was pandemonium, yet each individual was connected to God and in perfect harmony with the expression of His will through His Holy Spirit. Just as the human body is ordered by the head through the nervous system so God desires to bring order to His body through the individual leading of the Holy Spirit. The hand does not control the fingers but the head controls both. Likewise, a pastor does not control the congregation but the Holy Spirit controls both. The leadership and congregation are to work together in unity to bring about the will of the Father.
At present Satan has contained the church within a prison of legalism and tradition. The Devil is not afraid of them because they refuse to obey God’s voice and choose rather to fight Him through the mind of the natural man. This is why the church in America receives so little persecution; because Satan has us just where he wants us. In actuality, the church has become Satan’s first line of defense against the manifestation of the sons of God.
In the coming days what many perceive to be the God ordained structure of the church will dissolve as God takes control of individual lives. Like the wind, the force of the Holy Spirit moving upon individuals will seemingly come from nowhere yet His effects will be felt everywhere. This will in turn greatly upset Satan and persecution will ensue. Christ’s unified body, which is lead by His Fathers Spirit, will inflict great damage to Satan’s demonic kingdom.
It is probable that the fully matured body of Christ will be radically different than the church we see today. We need to be prepared for this reality and embrace it. We should further realize that not all those who name the name of Christ will be willing to undertake this journey to the end. Those who preach and teach the word of God must make any theology elastic enough to prepare for the inevitability of the revelation of further truth. Just consider how much change was required of the Pharisees who wished to follow Jesus. We must realize that our theological understanding is only partial and will mature as we draw closer to Christ. To do this we must teach and prepare our people to know God’s voice and to follow it at all costs.
The fullness and the stature of the body of Christ will surely come. The only question is “who among us will dare reach it?” When God comes to our churches we must be prepared to hand over control to the Holy Spirit and then be willing step out of the way except as His Spirit leads. Remember that no matter how long you have been in the vineyard of God you do not own it. Make a commitment now that you will follow the Spirit of God no matter what and purpose in your heart to, if necessary, lead the remnant on if the majority will not follow. A church that will not follow the Spirit of God is not Christian. We must choose substance over form. 10 people who are willing to follow God’s Spirit are better than a 10,000 who will not. We are at war and in such a conflict not all will survive. This is a hard truth but Jesus said that straight is the gate and few there be that find it. It is our job to prepare and to equip the people of God with the necessary training and tools to best survive this struggle. The best gift we, as leaders, can give our people is the understanding that it is vitally important to hear God’s voice as individuals and to know and follow the leading of His Holy Spirit.