The Heart of Prophecy – Part 2 (Two brief historic examples)

December 1st, 2008 by

In my previous article, we took a look at the role and function of Prophets & Prophecy in the New Testament context. As promised in that article, I want in this second part to follow on by giving some historic and personally witnessed examples of the above.

We will look specifically at two examples of what I feel to have authentically and powerfully demonstrated some of these things – The Welsh Revival (and the ensuing Apostolic Movement) & the Latter Rain outpouring.

I want to reiterate some things before getting into specifics of these moves. Firstly, these examples are both born in the fires of revival. Therefore, they are God initiated rather than human ideas coming to the fore. Secondly, mistakes WERE made due to their pioneering nature, yet this does not invalidate the fruit that remains. Thirdly, they bear the Divine hallmark and testimony of Jesus Christ at their core. Finally, not all that has happened since in the name of these moves should invalidate the original saints devotion and integrity, and the authenticity of the original outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (Remember the sons of Sceva in Acts 19)

So, I would like to deal with the two moves in chronological order, as the two are connected by order of events, as well as certain personnel, not to mention the continuity of the work of God.

The Apostolic Church.

The 1904 Welsh Revival is one of the most famous, if not the most famous revival of relatively recent times. The scope of its impact is huge, not to mention incalculable in terms of lives affected. Without getting into too much detail, many of us are aware of the supernatural nature of the visitation, and how it literally gripped churches, saved and unsaved alike, even entire communities, regions and a nation came under the influence! God’s tangible and manifest presence came in an unprecedented and deep way. To say this is quite remarkable in the light of the fact that Wales in the 1700s & 1800s would have seen regular revivals of a potent nature, sometimes on average in every 15 years! But 1904 – 1905, was peculiar in that it went beyond visitation of a place, to the producing of nation shaking ministries. I could mention the names of Evan Roberts, Stephen & George Jefferies, Rees Howells, Alexander Boddy of Sunderland, plus countless 100s more, who were directly born out of the fire or touched by it in some way.

However, there are two men directly saved and impacted in the ‘04 revival who are less known, but equally as impacting. They were known as D.P. ‘Dan’ Williams and his brother, W. Jones Williams. Time doesn’t permit to go into all the details but suffice to say that these two men were carriers of the fire for an entire generation after. (In my mind the revival went beyond that which historians recognize.) These men not only were saved and later baptized in the Holy Spirit, but were gripped by a revelation/vision, which for its day was literally ‘revolutionary.’ D.P. Williams was gripped by an ‘Apostolic Vision,’ which entailed a revolutionary movement of powerful, Christ–centered ‘foundational ministries’ that would manifest a restoration of the function of the Apostle & Prophet, as was seen in the Acts Church, and the ministry of Paul in particular. At this point I want to emphasize something very important: The vision these young men had was not about creating a hierarchical, tier system of offices. It was not as some do today, about laying a claim to the office or a title which actually only produces ‘renamed Bishops’ without function. It was not about ‘super–apostles’ or ‘lone ranger prophets’ dishing out unchecked words about everything and everyone. For them it was to do with Gospel & Missionary Enterprise, as demonstrated by Paul in the NT. It has been commented by many that these pioneers came into such a revelation of NT Scripture concerning these ministries, that when they expounded about them or selflessly demonstrated them, listeners and onlookers were left astounded as to the quality/humility of character, and powerful depth of Biblical revelation these men conveyed. These men deeply believed that Jesus had given these gifts to the Church in order to build her, mobilize her and mature her into the stature and image of Christ. They were above all, Christocentric in substance and Christ revealing in character.

In particular regard to prophecy, a teenage Jones Williams, began to be stirred from the Welsh Revival onward. They both witnessed powerful prophetic utterance in the years of 04 – 05. In one instance it is noted that the 04 Welsh revivalist, Evan Roberts, regularly went to their home village to visit a lady in a local Church, upon whom he recognized the prophetic spirit. She was remarkably used, so much so that Roberts (a non–Pentecostal) had great reverence for the depth and power of the gift at work within her. So you see, the Revival was more than a ‘soul saving’ awakening, rather it was God birthing revelation of deeper issues in young lives for future ministry. It was not just understanding of NT revelation theologically, but experientially, breathed by the Holy Spirit with freshness in the midst of a great revival.

A few years later, Dan Williams began to minister with his brother Jones Williams, in an Apostle & Prophet ministry. This was not a self-certified thing, but a function in the Church they demonstrated, and were as a result recognized by others in the Body. They weren’t the only ones at the time, they recognized others with them in that kind of function, but they certainly pioneered this ‘functional/missionary type’ vision, operation and understanding of the ministry gifts.

So what were the hallmarks of their ministry? Not to mention the general acknowledgment of Christ–likeness in these men seen by others, there was powerful lasting fruit. DP’s apostolic vision was to see the Apostolic Gospel ‘belt the globe’ – the nations coming into the revelation of the mystery of Christ were at his heart – through the Apostle & Prophet ministry together. And secondly, to see out of that, Apostolically minded churches planted in the nations of the earth. With him, his brother the prophet, along with others of various gifting, they would travel to new places in the UK, and other nations, as Apostolic missionary teams, and stay there some time to see what would come of their visit. Today, Nigeria stands as a witness in that it has 4.5 million apostolic church members radically following Christ, including one Church of 100,000! All this because men of years ago were obedient, selfless, and Christ glorifying in the pioneering years! Also, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, Denmark, Latvia, Mexico, Brazil, among many others, are now places bearing fruit from the labors of these pioneers of years ago.

So what typified DP’s brother – Jones Williams’ ministry? He in his function as a prophet, would be seen to play a foundational role in the establishing of new churches, and building up of already established ones. They (he and his brother) would only function together rather than in isolation, due to the nature of Paul’s teaching on the subject and from what they believed to be the Divine pattern of wall-builder & watchman. DP’s preaching and teaching would be Scripturally based, foundational, expositional, Gospel centered and revelatory; whereas his prophetic brother, would compliment this ministry with the prophetic word. PLEASE – when I say ‘the prophetic word’ try not to link that with any particular thing you may have witnessed or heard about in recent times. It was noted by onlookers, that the depth of prophecy coming from this uneducated yet devoted young man was extraordinary and deeply searching in way people had never witnessed before. He prophesied in such a way that it would bring the revelation of Jesus and the fear of God to those who were not right with Him. It would bring the light of revelation to hungry hearts, and it would reveal the wisdom and intent of God to bear upon the people, as a ‘now word’ for their situation. The prophecy through this man was more than the gift, rather he  (the man) was seen as the gift itself, carrying a ministry deeply impacting to all who heard.

Jones Williams had been so impacted by the burden of God on one occasion, that it is recorded that he prophesied under an intensity and anointing of God for hours at one time! Please again understand, these were Godly, Jesus centered, holy men, deeply affected by revival, who had such a thorough repentance at conversion, such a deep work of the Spirit thereafter, that to liken it to anything today would not do it justice. Jones would prophesy powerful revelation into the Body, through forth-telling and foretelling. People would literally be changed after hearing this Spirit infused ministry, along with the other ministry of the team they functioned with. Yet despite the clear anointing upon this life, his words were to be judged by those with whom he worked. Yes, mistakes were made at the time both in the judging and handling of words, such is the nature of a fresh visitation and it’s pioneering nature. However, correction has come and lessons have been learnt over the years since.

The prophecy heard was also ‘apostolic’ in content and nature. It went beyond words of encouragement or blessing, and rather came in a way that it would provide an ‘apostolic word’ to the direction of the Church and the mission teams. Sometimes it would concern strategy for missioning new communities, direction to the places/people of God’s choosing, and comfort for those to whom it was foretold would be leaving for foreign soil and not return home alive (we don’t hear that too much today!). From this ministry it would not have been uncommon for the prophet to have signaled God’s intention for a young man or woman, and upon the collective Amen of the brothers, the vessels would be ‘sent out’ and see the most remarkable signs of God’s grace among them, as confirmation of the prophetic revelation. The sent vessels would see souls added to the Church, new churches planted, lives deepened, and in some instances further revivals breakout on foreign soil. (How we need that today!) And yes, those to whom the Spirit spoke of paying the ultimate sacrifice, would have to pay that price for the Gospel.

I want to say also that these pioneers experienced persecution; some lost or had to leave loved ones for the Gospel due to the travel limitations of the day; people spoke evil of them, and yet they never manifested a spirit of retaliation against those who were opposed to them (even from within ‘Christian’ circles). They were in their day called a ‘sect’ by fellow believers just for pioneering the truth of Ephesians 4:11. (Hardly heresy is it?) Yet in the context of their day it was a huge development in the overall progress of the Church, and as with every revolution, upheaval comes.

Finally, one instance comes to mind, where these two brothers were in prayer together seeking the face of God. Jones the prophet, began to prophesy that the Spirit had prepared an unknown family in a given locality and at a specified address, (which was previously unknown to the two brothers, except by revelation!). The Spirit signaled that they were to go there with the Apostolic grace and Gospel, as God had opened a door. So they went, and upon arriving at this unknown address were amazed to find that the Spirit had already visited the home during a family prayer time, foretelling of the visit of these two men to bring truth to them. (Yes this is true, accounted for, and very Biblical) Upon entering the home the ministers were greeted with an accompanying, ‘we’ve been expecting you…’ due to the fact that one of the children of the house had prophesied their visit. From there a local church was planted, established and grew in the grace of the Lord Jesus.

Because of time I cannot tell of the hundreds (literally) of stories that are similar to this, but hope that the little taste will have whetted your appetite for a genuine manifestation. I do believe that there are authentic expressions today of such things, even if they are unseen by most. God is bigger than any one of us, so is His Church. God is faithful in glorifying His Son through these ministries today. Those who come into ‘revelational’ understanding of such things are not licensed to hold exclusive rights on the matters but to share it with the Body. In as much as God visited young men in a powerful revival to restore truth and pioneer it aboard, He can take up vessels today and do the same, if not more! However, my feeling is that the popular claims today in Christian media, of a ‘new wave of Apostolic reformation’ would do well to be checked against a proper investigation of history, and a learning of what God revealed in that visitation from 1904 onward, and other similar moves. From that, perhaps we should again with prayerful hearts search the Word. That way, we can learn from past mistakes and successes, and remain on course for an equally deep and anointed manifestation of it today. Today, I don’t want to experience the seemingly shallower versions, when Scripture and history set a higher and deeper standard! And more importantly, I don’t want some of the obvious dangers of much of today’s ‘prophetic’ talk, without the plumb-line of Jesus and that which He formed in the early church, and that which He poured out through humble, pure servants of God who served in times of revival.

Today, I can testify that whilst not personally part of the UK branch of the movement, I do know of many Godly men and women still serving the Lord working within that structure. They have been over my lifetime and continue to be a people with a powerful revelation of true NT prophecy, both in understanding and practice. You probably won’t have heard of any of them, but that perhaps is a good thing. They have not sought to make their prophetic calling one of ‘Christian mediums’ thus filling large arenas for the sake of those seeking to have their fortune told. Rather they have grasped their obligation to Jesus and the forth-telling of His heart for His people – the Church, expressed in a given locality to proclaim the Gospel of God.

The Latter Rain.

As with many God initiated movements, with the dying out of the pioneering vessels, the Apostolic Church became somewhat institutionalized. After D.P. Williams’ death, and that of his brother, organization was deemed as key to maintain, rather than organic growth from life in the Spirit. It is probably no coincidence then that within a couple of years of the death of the pioneering figures in the UK, came the deluge of God in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada. During this season, many established Pentecostal groups had become hungry for a new touch of revival, due to the growing frustration of institutionalized denominations that had been “over-constitutionalized” after the outpouring in UK and America.

A small group of believers and Bible School students from Sharon ‘Orphanage & Schools’ had been intrigued by the visit of William Branham and Ern Baxter to their region. The two men of God were contemporaries of the eventual LR Revival but in no way instigators or involved in it. After witnessing the incredible sense of God’s presence at these meetings, the believers of Sharon began to seek the Lord earnestly for a fresh visitation in their local context. Praise God – the Lord responded to their desperate cry.

Now remember, many of those crying out to God at that time had witnessed the previous Pentecostal outpourings, which were very powerful, and had seen countless thousands of conversions, baptisms in the Spirit and more. Yet, they had become unsatisfied at what man had made of it. Upon God’s visitation in 1948, they began to realize that God was adding further truth and bringing further reform to His Church. These hungry believers were about to come into further revelation regarding the role of the local Church (autonomy & body ministry) laying on of hands, spiritual singing, Apostolic and Prophetic ministry, the Churches role in carrying the Kingdom now, and the return of Jesus to consummate the end time revival.

Let me give you an insight from an eye-witness, George Hawtin, of what took place:

“During the past six weeks we have enjoyed a great visitation of the Spirit of God. Some of us have been praying for twenty years that the nine gifts of the Spirit would be restored to the Church. The Spirit of fasting and prayer has rested upon the whole School all winter. Finally the great ‘breakthrough’ came and the spiritual gifts began to operate among us… The revival is spreading all over the province… A new era is dawning.”

Then another one of the leaders in the movement, Reg Layzell, BC, Canada, gives his account:

There was no religious hysteria present, but much sincere worship and praise. Jesus was the centre of attraction. His presence was desired, cultivated and felt. The laying on of hands was regarded by all as a solemn holy ministry: holy to those ministering and to those being ministered to… In those days it was necessary to fast. There was no such thing as a wholesale invitation to all who wanted hands laid upon them… You will see by this that this was no hard and fast rule, but a sincere attempt was made to follow the indication of the Spirit as was first given by the revelation of the laying on of hands. In the beginning (of the LR) God said: ‘I will indicate from time to time upon whom hands are to be laid.’ All ministers did not take part in the laying on of hands – only those whom the Spirit indicated had such a ministry (generally apostles and prophets) When hands were laid upon a brother or sister in the beginning it was something solemn. All in the meeting entered into the ministry of the Spirit. God was present in such a spirit of unity. It was easy to prophesy and the prophesies were very accurate. The prophets sincerely sought God – they were almost fearful lest they say something that was not God. The utterances were not just ‘nice things’ – many hearts were sought.

WOW! How refreshing to hear of such intense and fearful, Spirit led and anointed ministry. Again, time does not permit me to include all the stories of this beautiful visitation. But as well as the above mentioned brother I will mention those other (unknown to some) but powerfully used servants of God. (Some were directly involved at the time, some were touched indirectly, and some today are spiritual sons of what God did then.) Some of you may have heard of Dick Iverson, who has been instrumentally used of God in teaching on Body ministry, team ministry and some of the LR truths; he also helped build a wonderful local congregation known as Bible Temple, which birthed an entire NT network of strong Biblically balanced and anointed ministries. Iverson is one who was affected greatly by the likes of Reg Layzell, David Schoch, Ernest Gentile (still alive) George Evans – servants who were all in some way touched by the LR revival. Some of these men by all accounts (and from my personal witness) were and are some of the most powerful prophetic ministries in modern times, and would function in the same way as the account given by Layzell.

Also, you can also include Kevin Conner with Iverson, as another respected NT teacher, instrumental in proclaiming truth regarding the Body’s ministry today. Not to mention many others used at the time like George Warnock etc.

I hope that I am conveying to you something of God’s hand at work here, despite many critics back then and today. We must learn to speak to those directly involved in any move of God, to know the truth from rumor. As one writer has rightly said:

The movement itself should be distinguished from those whom it ultimately influenced. Some branches of the movement ultimately led to cult like groups, some parts of the movement remained orthodox, and other parts of the movement moderated the doctrine and ultimately had positive effects on the Charismatic and Pentecostal churches at large.

Many today have claimed influence from the LR, and yet have brought grief to those originally touched and raised up in that time, due to bad teaching and practice, or worse still, heresy in some cases!

Thank God though that what He does is glorious and pure. Such as what Reg Layzell also wrote in another testimony of the revival:

The revival continues. Hallelujah! It is a wonderful thing when the revival partly leaves the revival with you when you go…. I have seen more souls saved in the last two months than I saw in two years of ordinary church life in Toronto… People were healed! There were many outstanding healings and thanks to God they are lasting… Saints were baptized in the Holy Spirit as hands were laid upon them and were prayed for. Great liberty in the Spirit was among the people and the singing in the Spirit was heavenly…’

Out of this great move of God a restoration of Biblical practice was taking place, marked by the solemnity mentioned by Layzell in the paragraphs above. One practice birthed was where young men and women with the call of God on their lives for service would fast for 3 days, along with the ‘presbytery’. Those gifted along the lines mentioned above would then solemnly gather with the saints, and after this time of seeking God would lay hands on the candidates for prophetic confirmation of God’s desire for those to whom they ministered. (See 1 Timothy 1: 18, 4: 14 & 2 Timothy 1: 6) After that they would be sent on their way in an Antioch fashion.

Now please understand, that because of today’s abuses, because of the strange teaching of men, even if they lay claim to origins or influence of a movement, it does not necessarily invalidate the original work and those sincere saints who continue to walk with God. Did you know today that there are some still alive, powerfully transformed in the LR revival, who are now ashamed to use the name or tell of their links to it, due to the heretical abuses of people today who have tarnished it somewhat by claiming involvement!

Today, I know some of the spiritual sons of those genuinely affected in the LR, and they are some of the most Godly and anointed people I know. They are always welcome among us here to minister in their way because we see their Godly lifestyle, we know their Biblical teaching and anointed ministry – not to mention the fruit they bear for Christ.

I want to finally mention one other prophet who is perhaps a bit more well known. He came into the LR revival and was transformed. He is Stanley Frodsham formerly of AOG UK, friend of Smith Wigglesworth, later on was used powerfully in the prophetic during the LR and in the subsequent Elim Bible Institute, which also was affected by the LR.  Frodsham himself also had to endure persecution from his former colleagues in the faith, because of the ‘new thing’ that was happening, yet it is recorded he remained gracious.

During his time in the Elim Bible Institute, he brought a remarkable word. I cannot for space sake write the entire ‘word’ given a number of years ago by this man, but it is easily accessible online through the link below. I hope it demonstrates to you the kind of depth, anointing and purity of genuine NT prophecy that both the above movements have witnessed over the years and sought to hold as a Divine standard.

The word is found at:

http://brothermel.com/sfprophecy.aspx

Another interesting point to note is that some of the Apostolic UK missionaries who had began serving in Canada and the USA during the time of the LR, came back to Wales and reported the great things God was doing in restoring truth and bringing revival. Unfortunately, the unaffected ministers at home in the UK, like the AOG, said God could not endorse it, despite their brethren’s positive reports. They pointed to ‘unscriptural practices and teachings’ as their cause for concern, and eventually publicly withdrew any connection with the revival. Interestingly today, there are many old saints in the Apostolic Church UK still alive, who all recognize the hand of the Lord in the early years of the LR, and wish that the Apostolic movement UK had opened to it. They felt it would have brought the needed refreshing and reform. Maybe there was a perceived threat due to the similarity of the works among peers. Back then however, the Apostolic UK missionaries were not disheartened totally that their report had been rejected by the establishment. They knew God was moving and returned to their labors in the countries where they served and continued to be used and enjoy the ‘new thing’ God was doing. Glad to say that recently, the previous national leader of the UK movement has led the people in repentance for the previous generation’s rejection of the LR.

So we see that history teaches us valuable things. It teaches us that there is a higher standard of ministry for us today. God does not want us to go back ‘to the good old days’ – which the Scriptures tell us not to say, but He wants us to learn from the saints of old. Hebrews encourages us to learn from their way of life, the consecration, separation and the depth to which they moved. See the fruit of their lives. Listen to their written wisdom, and upon that build for a future work of God’s grace, which will restore further truth from the Word and make it a glorious reality among us for today’s generation. May God’s people aim higher and deeper, for the ministry of prophecy and prophets to be fully recognized in the Body again, but for all the right reasons, AND in their right setting. So that when we hear ‘Spirit utterance’ in the future, people coming in will say: ‘God is among you’. (1 Corinthians 14: 24 & 25)

Unfortunately, I am not able to duplicate the pictures of the people mentioned above, but below are some links with pictures, and far more detail of the history than I have time or space to convey.

http://www.apostolic-church.org/AboutUs/OurHistory/tabid/235/Default.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latter_Rain_Movement

Also, there are valuable publications available on the two movements:

1. Your Sons & Your daughters shall prophesy – Ernest Gentile

2. Born in the Fire (Biography of D.P. Williams) by Tom Davies & Peter Yeoman

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