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John Greenfield
Power From On High


2. When the Spirit Came

(Complete Text)
 
 
 
"That astonishing prayer meeting beginning in 1727
went on for one hundred years...."

INTRODUCTORY THOUGHTS

"The glorified Christ is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. When the Lord Jesus Himself was baptized with the Spirit, it was because He had humbled Himself and offered Himself to take part in John's baptism of repentance-a baptism for sinners-in Jordan. Even so, when He took upon Himself the work of Redemption, He received the Holy Spirit to fit Him for His work from that hour till on the Cross "He offered Himself without spot to God." Do you desire that this Glorified Christ should baptize you with the Holy Spirit? Offer yourself then to Him for His service, to further His great work of making known to sinners the love of the Father. God help us to understand what a great thing it is to receive the Holy Spirit with power from the Glorified Jesus. Have you laid hold of it? The abundant life is neither more nor less than the full life of Christ as the Crucified, the Risen, the Glorified One, who baptizes with the Holy Ghost, and reveals Himself in our hearts and lives, as Lord of all within us."-Andrew Murray in The Prayer-Life

"Before we go to our knees to receive the Baptism of Fire, let me beg of you to see to it that your souls are in harmony with the will and purpose of the Holy Spirit whom you seek. See to it that the channel of communication, by which the baptism of the Holy Spirit must be received, be kept open. I heard of some people the other day who could not get any water. They turned the tap repeatedly, but no water came. They sent to the office of the company, who sent a man to examine the connections and fittings, but all was right. Plenty of water in the reservoir; pipes, taps and connections all right, but no water. At last they pulled up the pipe and found a mouse in it. It is no use turning the tap, praying, singing or even believing, if there is something you are holding back or refusing to do-some idol, something about which you feel condemned, but which you refuse to give up, something in the pipe. Perhaps some trumpery, contemptible thing. Out with it; give it no rest; give it up. Destroy your idols and hindrances and stoppages, with an everlasting destruction. Let there be free communication between you and God. Let all go, and you shall be flooded before you rise from your knees; the world shall feel the power of it, and God shall have all the glory." -Salvation Soldiery, by William Booth
 

"WITNESSES UNTO ME"

YE shall receive power when the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Acts 1:8.

One mark of a genuine baptism with the Holy Ghost is the exaltation of Christ. "He shall glorify me," said Jesus with reference to the promised Paraclete. (John 16:14.) One result of Pentecost in apostolic days was the determination "to know nothing among men save Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (Acts 2:23; 3:15; 4:10; 1. Cor. 2:2; etc., etc.)

This is exactly what happened two centuries ago in Herrnhut. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and became witnesses of Christ and Him crucified. Their theology became Christology. Their creed was in one word, "the Cross." One of their number, John Cennick, truly set this forth in the stanza:

"Christ is our Master Lord and God,
The fullness of the Three in One;
His life, death, righteousness and blood,
Our faith's foundation are alone,
His Godhead and His Death shall be
Our theme to all eternity."

The Baptism with the Holy Spirit caused the Renewed Moravian Church to see no man save Jesus only. Their spiritual vision became so keen that they could "see Him who is invisible." (Heb. 11:27). The form in which He appeared to them most frequently was when He was "led as a Lamb to the slaughter, wounded for their transgressions and bruised for their iniquities."

In this divine presence of their bleeding and dying Lord they were overwhelmed with their own sinfulness and with His more abounding grace. Hushed were their controversies and quarrels; crucified were their passions and pride as they gazed upon the agonies of their "expiring God." With the Apostle they learned to die daily unto the world, the flesh and the devil, and to live for Him who died for them. Henceforth their one passion was to gaze upon the King in His beauty and to proclaim the "slaughtered Lamb" as the "chief among ten thousand and the one altogether lovely." They did exactly what they sang:

"Then will 1 tell to sinners 'round,
What a dear Saviour I have found;
I'll point to the atoning Blood
And say 'Behold the way to God.'"

Their prayers, their litanies, their hymns, their conversation and their sermons had one theme, viz., the wounds, the blood and death of Jesus. Their great leader, Count Zenzendorf, set this forth most clearly in his famous hymn:

"The Saviour's blood and righteousness
My beauty is, my glorious dress;
Thus well arrayed, 1 need not fear,
When in His presence I appear.


"The holy, spotless Lamb of God,
Who freely gave His life and blood,
For all my numerous sins to atone,
I for my Lord and Saviour own.

"In Him I trust for evermore;
He hath expunged the dreadful score
Of all my guilt; this done away,
I need not fear the judgment-day.


"Therefore my Saviour's blood and death
Are here the substance of my faith;
And shall remain, when I'm called hence,
My only hope and confidence."


How many thousands have been brought to Jesus by this hymn, eternity alone can reveal.

Moravian sermons were just as full of Christ and His atonement as were Moravian hymns. In one of Count Zinzendorf's letters we find the following declaration:

"Our method in proclaiming salvation is this: To point out to every heart the Loving Lamb, who died for us and although He was the Son of God offered Himself for our sins, as his God, his Mediator between God and man, his throne of grace, his example, his brother, his preacher of the law, his comforter, his confessor, his Saviour, in short, his all in all; by the preaching of His blood, and of His love unto death even the death of the cross; never, either in the discourse or in the argument, to digress even for a quarter of an hour from the Loving Lamb; to name no virtue except in Him, and from Him and on His account; to preach no commandment except faith in Him; no other justification but that He atoned for us; no other sanctification but the privilege to sin no more; no other happiness but to be near Him, to think of Him and do His pleasure; no other self-denial but to be deprived of Him and His blessings; no other calamity but to displease Him; no other life but in Him."

It was of such Christo-Centric preaching that Prof. Binnie in a series of lectures in St. George's Free Church, Edinburgh, recently declared: "Count Zinzendorf preached the gospel himself with remarkable simplicity and power to an age which greatly needed it-an age which needed to be called off from unprofitable controversies that were wasting its vital energies, and to be roused to open its heart to the message of reconciliation through Christ. This evangelical message Zinzendorf not only preached in person to men of all ranks in half the countries of Europe and amongst the colonists in America, but he sent it out to the heathen also for whom no man cared. He was a great Evangelist and Missionary."

Of Zinzendorf as a preacher we have the following pen picture by one of his contemporaries, Count Schrautenbach:

"He hardly ever read any books besides the Bible. He never wrote his sermons; but their effect was very great. His discourses resembled soliloquies uttered in the presence of an auditory. Never have sermons afforded a truer reflection of the character, genius and innermost thoughts of the speaker. When we hear him, we see his whole soul laid bare before us. His personal convictions could be felt in all his words. His voice was robust, pleasant, sonorous and capable of fine modulation and expression, both when he spoke and when he sang. Life, soul and harmony pervaded all he said and did. His countenance was sublime and capable of great expression. His forehead was broad and ample; his eyes dark-blue, full of fire and in constant motion; his lips were well-formed and calmly closed, and his glance was quick and penetrating. He was respectful towards everyone with whom he had to do; although all felt and acknowledged his superiority."

As a soul-winner the Wachovia Moravian well says:

"There never lived a man since the days of Christ and the Apostles who had more gift in dealing with souls than Count Zinzendorf. He was a great believer in sudden grace. We've just come across a brief quotation of what he said upon this subject. It runs thus:

"When the Spirit of God has at some time enlightened us with a sudden lightning flash, we must afterward not extinguish the flame nor destroy it nor hide it."

"His own experiences and those of others bore out the truth of the saying. His own purpose in life was fixed in a moment. In a picture gallery he was looking at a Christ head with a crown of thorns and a bleeding face and underneath he read the inscription, 'This I have done for thee; what hast thou done for Me?' and in an instant his mind was made up as to what he would do for a lifetime. And a very fruitful life it was because by direct or indirect influence millions of souls have been brought into the kingdom of God."

Count Zinzendorf knew very well that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer opposition and persecution. No one experienced this in modern times more than he. As one of the chief disturbers of the devil's kingdom he was singled out as a shining target by the enemy of souls. But none of these lies, slanders, trials and tribulations moved him in the slightest. On the contrary he encouraged and exhorted his brethren in the ministry and fellow-workers to be awakening preachers at all costs of personal popularity. In one of his addresses he told them:

"Let every minister rest assured that if he desires to enjoy ease, and have things go on smoothly in his congregation, revivals and conversions dare not take place. For as soon as these occur, the devil is loose, no matter how decently and in order everything may be conducted."

"In an Apostolic church a gentle mode of teaching is appropriate. But if, in a mixed congregation, there are no sons of thunder, no Elijahs, the people go to sleep."

"The style of preaching, to which many congregations are forced to listen, is entirely too philosophical, cold, logical, abstruse, cautious and reserved. A preacher, in order to be truly successful, must be bold, mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and to the bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. He must bear down all opposition, tear down the fair but false fabrics of formalism and self-righteousness; overturn, burn, and destroy every wrong foundation, together with its superstructure, ere it is possible to build up a spiritual house unto the Lord."

The sum and substance of the Gospel which these Spirit-filled Moravians preached in all parts of the earth may be learned from the following sentences taken almost at random from Zinzendorf's sermons:

"Christians are God's people, begotten by His Spirit, obedient to Him, enkindled by His fire; His blood is their glory."

"In order to preach aright, take three looks before every sermon; one at thine own sinfulness; another at the depth of human wretchedness all around thee; and a third at the love of God in Christ Jesus; so that empty of self, and full of compassion towards thy fellowmen, thou mayest be enabled to administer God's comfort to souls."

"I am, as ever, a poor sinner, a captive of eternal love, running by the side of His triumphal chariot, and I have no desire to be anything else as long as I live."

"The whole earth is the Lord's; men's souls are His; I am debtor to all."

"It is not enough to rely upon God's grace in general; we must build upon the grace of God in the blood of Jesus."

"In every degree and phase of our spiritual life and growth and service the blood of Jesus is indispensable."

"The blood of Christ is not only the sovereign remedy for sin; it is also the chief nourishment of the Christian life."

"The Spirit comes to us by the way of the blood for full salvation."

"Our preaching of the wounds and blood of Jesus may not produce many sudden conversions, but they will be thorough and lasting."

This was also the Gospel which the young graduate of Jena University, Peter Boehler, preached in England which resulted in the conversion of many Oxford students and professors as well as ordained clergymen of the Church of England and Scotland. Nearly one century later that prince of Scotch preachers, Dr. Thomas Chalmers, wrote a long article in the Eclectic Review on The Moravians in which he put the stamp of his approval on their theology and Gospel in the following striking sentences:

"The efficacy of the Bible alone upon simple and unfurnished minds is a fact; and the finest examples of it are to be found in almost every page of the annals of Moravianism. When the Apostle Paul went about among Greeks and Barbarians, charged with the message of salvation to all who would listen and believe, he preached nothing but Jesus Christ and Him Crucified. Neither do the Moravians; and the faith which attends the word of their testimony, how foolish and fanatical soever it may appear in the eyes of worldly men, proves it to be the power of God and the wisdom of God unto salvation. It is another evidence of the foolishness of God being wiser than men, and the weakness of God being stronger than men. However wonderful it may be, yet such is the fact, that a savage, when spoken to on the subject of his soul, of sin and of the Saviour has his attention more easily compelled, and his resistence more effectually subdued than when he is addressed upon any other subject of moral or economical instruction. And this is precisely the way in which Moravians have gone to work. They preached the peculiar tenets of the New Testament at the very outset. They gained converts through that faith which comes by hearing. It is well that the Moravians have risen into popular admiration. This will surely give weight to their own testimony about their own matters. One of their members, Bishop Spangenberg, has published an account of the manner in which the United Brethren preach the Gospel.

We shall subjoin a few extracts:"

(Here follow many pages of quotations from Bishop Spangenberg's book, one of which is the following:)

"About thirty years ago, when I lived in North America, I sometimes got the brethren together that were in the service, in order that I might converse with them about their labors. Johannes, an Indian Chief, who had formerly been a very wicked man, but was now thoroughly converted and was our fellow laborer in the congregations gathered from among the heathen, happened to be just then on a visit with us, and also came to our Conference. He was a man that had excellent gifts and was a bold confessor of what he knew to be true. As we were speaking with one another about the heathen he said, among other things:

"Brethren, I have been a heathen and am grown old among them. 1 know therefore very well how it is with the heathen. A preacher came once to us, desiring to instruct us, and began by proving to us that there was a God. On which we said to him, 'Well, and dost thou think we are ignorant of that? Now, go again whence thou camest.' Another preacher came another time, and would instruct us, saying, 'You must not steal, nor drink too much, nor lie,' etc., etc. We answered him: 'Fool, that thou art: Dost thou think we do not know that? Go and learn it first thyself and teach the people thou belongest to not to do these things. For who are greater drunkards or thieves or liars, than thine own people?' Thus we sent him away also. Some time after this, Christian Henry Rauch, one of the Moravian Brethren, came to me into my hut and sat down by me. The contents of his discourse to me were nearly these: 'I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Heaven and Earth. He acquaints thee that He would gladly save thee, and rescue thee from the miserable state in which thou liest. To this end He became a man, hath given His life for mankind and shed His blood for them,' etc. Upon this he lay down upon a board in my hut and fell asleep, being fatigued with his journey. I thought within myself: What manner of man is this? There he lies and sleeps so sweetly. I might kill him and throw him out into the forest Who would care? But he is unconcerned. However, I could not get rid of his words. They continually recurred to me; and though I went to sleep yet I dreamed of the blood which Christ had shed for me. I thought 'this is very strange,' and went to interpret to the other Indians the words of Christian Henry. Thus, through the grace of God, the awakening among us took place. I tell you therefore, brethren, preach to the heathen Christ and his blood and death, if you would wish to produce a blessing among them."

Shortly after publishing this famous article on The Moravians in the Eclectic Review, Dr. Chalmers wrote to a dear personal friend: "I beg you to dwell much and affectionately on the great peculiarities of the Gospel-Christ our propitiation, Christ our sanctification, and Christ in us the hope of glory."

Count Zinzendorf put the same exhortation into poetry and sang:

"A messenger of peace
No higher pleasure knows,
Than to direct the human race
To Jesus' Cross;
He points to Jesus' wounds,
And precious cleansing blood;
The source, whence life to us redounds,
The fount of good."

Witnesses for Jesus and of Jesus was what every Moravian was in those great revival decades. The secret of Methodist success as given by John Wesley applies equally to the Moravians, viz., "We are all at it, and at it always."

The following editorial in the Wachovia Moravian shows us a typical Moravian of that Pentecostal age:

"There was a Countess several generations ago who had led what the world calls a very merry life. She was highly situated in society, connected in close friendship with kings and emperors and princes. She was a welcome center on brilliant occasions of dance and festivity in view of her brilliant gifts and witty conversation, and yet she became afflicted with an incurable melancholy. None of her amusements and recreations satisfied her any longer and everything before her and around her seemed dark indeed.

Unhder the old custom of measuring shoes for the feet of their wearers, an humble Moravian shoemaker was one day invited into her presence. As he opened the door, she was struck by the remarkable cheerfulness which shone forth from his face. She watched him closely while he knelt at his humble task of measuring for the shoes and was deeply impressed by the unaffected happiness written upon his very looks. She was led to say to him, 'You seem to be a very happy man.' 'Yes,' he said, 'I am very happy all the time.' 'You are very different from me,' the high-born lady said. 'I am just as miserable as anybody could be. Would you mind telling me what makes you so happy?' 'No,' the Moravian shoemaker said, 'I'll be glad to tell you. Jesus has forgiven my sins. He forgives me every day and He loves me and that makes me happy through all the hours."

"The job was finished and the man went away. But the Countess thought over what he said. Thought led to prayer and prayer to conviction and conviction swiftly introduced her into a joyful faith in the shoemaker's Saviour. She became a great witness for Christ among titled people and especially at the court of the emperor of Russia, Alexander I., her intimate f friend.

"It was this joy of their faith suddenly born in their souls by the gift of God's Spirit in the communion hour, Wednesday, August 13, 1727, that made the Moravian brothers and sisters glad to come to this country (America) and many others, facing all the hardships and difficulties of a new, strange land. It was this joy that led them willingly into the deep forests of Indian abode and made them so successful as missionaries among the very wildest savages.

"It is this Christian joy to which even some preachers have not yet attained and many members have not yet reached, upon which the Moravian Church must depend for its future influence everywhere and thus the Word of God be fulfilled in a new century, as it was two centuries ago. 'The joy of the Lord is your strength.'”

"It was the sight of this joy which the Moravians had in the midst of the hurricane when the vessel was on the point of sinking into the wild sea that so impressed the Brethren John and Charles Wesley as to lead to that deep personal experience of grace upon which the Methodist Church was founded: and the impression that this Christian joy has made upon them it has made even upon countless savages in darkened heathen lands and is the ultimate reason why the Moravian Church among the many larger denominations still continues to exist."

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