Arthur Wallis, a British “elder statesman” in the Kingdom wrote a fascinating foreword to a book by Frank Bartleman called Another wave rolls in: (formerly) What really happened at “Azuza Street?” The book describes from a first-hand perspective, the events at Azusa Street–the beginning of the Pentecostal Movement. In this foreword, Arthur described how the life of the early church quickly degenerated and was nearly extinguished during the Dark Ages. But then God began recovering waves of truth.
- In the 15th century, the Bible was put into the hands of ordinary people (Wycliffe and Tyndale).
- In the Reformation, through people like Luther and Calvin, the truth that salvation is by faith and not by works was recovered.
- In the 17th century, the Congregational Movement recovered the truth of the autonomy of the local church, and the Baptists also stood on this ground while adding baptism by immersion.
- In the 18th century God raised up Wesley and Whitfield. The Methodist movement emphasized salvation by faith as a work of the Holy Spirit, holiness, and the fact that neither ordained preachers nor sacred buildings were necessary to preach the Gospel.
- In the 19th century, the Brethren taught that the Bible is sufficient for running the church and the priesthood of all believers. The Salvation Army looked at the social implications of the Gospel. The deeper life movement recovered the potential of a victorious Christian life through union with Christ’s death and resurrection.
- In the 20th century, the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements characterized the church.
Each of these waves of recovery built upon the previous wave, like a tide coming into the shore. The waves may break and recede, but the tide itself moves inexorably forward.
- His ordinary people will engage with him in the harvest, following the Holy Spirit as he leads them on mission with God to make disciples. It’s no longer the DL Moody’s, John Wesley’s or Billy Graham’s, extraordinarily effective though they have been, but all of us–“an army of Billy Graham’s” that will usher in the final harvest.
- Church, too, will be in the hands of ordinary people, and therefore will become simpler and more organic, again following the Spirit’s leading. This won’t be limited to house/simple/organic church, but will increasingly be recognized across the denominations.
What other waves do you see?