When God does a new thing it will always offend tradition and take us out of our comfort zone. Are we ready for it?
Take the 1906 Azusa revival for example. Frank Bartleman, evangelist, had been handing out gospel tracts in Los Angeles when He grew hungry for more of God. He asked Evan Roberts how his city could have a move of God like the 1904/05 Welsh revival. Here’s what Evan Roberts said:
“Congregate the people who are willing to make a total surrender. Pray and wait. Believe God’s promises. Hold daily meetings. May God bless you is my earnest prayer.”
When God hit Azusa Street Bartleman testified about receiving what he described as a “heavenly chorus” entering him, and receiving a supernatural gift. Here is part of his documented testimony about this new thing:
“It was a spontaneous manifestation and rapture no earthly tongue can describe. In the beginning this manifestation was wonderfully pure and powerful. We feared to try to reproduce it, as with the “tongues” also. Now many seemingly have no hesitation in imitating all the “gifts.” No one could understand this “gift of song” but those who had it. It was indeed a “new song” in the Spirit. When I first heard it in the meeting a great hunger entered my soul to receive it. I felt it would exactly express my pent up feelings. I had not yet spoken in “tongues.” But the “new song” captured me. It was a gift from God of high order, and appeared among us soon after the “Azusa” work began.
No one had preached it. The Lord had sovereignly bestowed it, with the outpouring of the “residue of oil,” the “Latter Rain” baptism of the Spirit. It was exercised, as the Spirit moved the possessors, either in solo fashion, or by the company. It was sometimes without words, other times in “tongues.” The effect was wonderful on the people. It brought a heavenly atmosphere, as though the angels themselves were present and joining with us. And possibly they were. It seemed to still criticism and opposition, and was hard for even wicked men to gainsay or ridicule.
Some have condemned this “new song,” without words. But was not sound given before language? And is there not intelligence without language also? Who composed the first song? Must we necessarily follow some man’s composition, before us, always? We are too much worshippers of tradition. The speaking in “tongues” is not according to man’s wisdom or understanding. Then why not a “gift of song?” “
In Azusa there was barely any focus on ministers and on people. No focus on the preacher, worship musicians and songwriters. Even the Pastor William Seymour covered his face with a shoebox. There was a level of humility that recognised that “no flesh should glory in His presence.” 1 Corinthians 1 29
People were that desperate for God, and would pay any price for more of Him. God sovereignly visited them in a way that has changed the world.
Most of us want to be blessed materially and God wants to bless us in that way, but there is a higher prosperity in the Spirit that has not had enough emphasis. There is great danger, especially in Western affluent culture of insouciance, complacency, and pride. We can get satisfied and comfortable with the status quo and not even realise how much we need Him.
God is ready to do a new thing (Isaiah 43 18-19) but are we ready for what that “new thing” is?