Question No. 12:—Being told to pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, thousands upon thousands have earnestly done so, but to no avail. Why?
From time to time many zealous individual and group Christian Movements have launched impressive prayer-marathons in a determined, persevering effort to bring about the fulfillment of the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit, even the “latter rain.” Because, though, these periodic efforts have invariably ended in heartbreaking disappointment and frustration, thousands of souls have become confused and bewildered, given up their faith completely, and perhaps sunk into infidelity.
Yet no student of the Scriptures will deny that the Bible does definitely hold forth the promise of a singularly dynamic manifestation of the Holy Spirit, to bestow upon all believers a special outpouring of power such as the apostles received on the day of Pentecost,–yes, even greater.
Then the answer to the question, Why do we not now receive It? inescapably is, Because the conditions for receiving it have not as yet been met. When they are met this sure promise of God will be instantaneously fulfilled, even as it was with the apostles.
Therefore, whatever is now keeping the Christian from receiving this greatest of the gifts, the hindrance must lie with him and not with God.
There is a promise of the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth (John 16:7-13), and a promise of the “latter rain.” Joel 2-23, 28. This promised Comforter, the apostles received on the day of Pentecost, and It was to abide with them forever; that is, even with their successors. But as in the apostolic succession, men of the primitive apostolic caliber ceased, the Comforter gradually disappeared. And though He has at different times reappeared in the form of the Spirit of Truth, His Pentecostal power and presence have never since been re-imparted. This manifestation of the Spirit in Power (Joel 2:28) should not, however, be confused with the manifestation of the Spirit in Truth (Joel 2:23).
The very title, “latter rain,” itself shows that this particular manifestation takes place in the “latter days”–our time. And through Zechariah the prophet, Inspiration in pointing out that there is a set time for the latter rain, urges: “Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.” Zech. 10:1.
The related passage of Joel 2:23, marginal rendering, makes clear that “the latter rain,” the last message, is “a teacher of righteousness,” bringing to the recipient full knowledge of Truth, righteousness. Therefore while Christians are urgently requested to pray and agonize for the Spirit of Truth at all times, they are even more urgently instructed to pray for it now!
As in the natural state of things, the latter rain comes not only to make the wheat grow but also to bring it to its full maturity, so, by spiritual analogy, this Teacher of Righteousness must bring the saints to the full stature of men in Christ Jesus (Eph. 4:13)–fit them for the Kingdom.
But the second phase, that promised power (Joel 2:28) which comes “afterward,” after “the latter rain,” is that for which most Christians are praying without considering that there is a first phase (Joel 2:23)–the “teacher of righteousness,” a final outpouring of Present Truth-which must be obtained before the final outpouring of power can be realized.
It is evident that the part which comes “afterward,” the Pentecostal power, comes to enable the receiver to proclaim the latter truth; and this power will not come until the church as a body “every one grass in the field” (Zech. 10:1), not a group here and a group there, has joyously assimilated for its spiritual growth all the rain that the Teacher of Righteousness, who has now come, has brought.
But the great question here confronting us is: When can “every grass” every church member receive this glorious Truth and power? Shall saint and hypocrite share them alike? Inspiration answers:
“By fire and by His sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many….and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations….and they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles….they shall bring all your brethren…to My holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord.” Isa. 66:16, 19, 20.
So in the time between the “latter rain” of truth and the “outpouring” of the Spirit’s power, there will be sealed a consecrated number who will escape from among the “slain of the Lord.” In other words, at the first-fruit harvest, when all the sinners have been taken out of the church, and the righteous left by themselves as were the 120 disciples in the upper room, then and only then can the Lord finally pour out His Spirit’s power upon all, so that all (all the “escaped” ones) shall prophesy, dream dreams, and see visions.
“And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defense. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.” Isa. 4:3-6.
Only after this great purge in the church (described also in the ninth chapter of Ezekiel) will the remnant be equipped to carry their fully blazing, lighted torch of Truth to all the Gentile world. Out of Zion will then go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. The work will then be finished, “cut short in righteousness,” and the Lord will then appear in glory–seen by every eye (Rev. 1:7).