Saturday, July 15, 2006

Arthur Wallis on 'Rain from Heaven' ...

While I don't think we should look back on the past with nostalgia and rose-tinted spectacles I earnestly believe that we can learn much from the great men of the past. Since Brighton, Terry Virgo echoed the longing of many, saying that he wants to experience on-going, life-changing impact from the Rob Rufus seminars. If we are to do this, we must get to know the Spirit of God personally. Arthur Wallis has much to teach us in this interview. It was conducted just before the release of his best-seller "Rain from Heaven". The interview was in March 1979 yet I feel has a prophetic significance for us who feel the tide is turning.

Q. I am delighted to hear that your latest book is being published this month. Tell me about the book and what led you to write it.

Arthur Wallis: It is in fact a re-writing of the first book I ever wrote, which was entitled, "In the Day of Thy Power - the Scriptural Principles of Revival". This was published in 1956 and went into four editions. More recently the publishers were keen to produce it in paperback but I discouraged this as I felt the book needed to be brought upto date. So I settled down to revise it. In the end I actually re-wrote it, hence the new title; "Rain from Heaven".

Q. So this is virtually a new book. Would you care to outline the basic differences, as you see them, between "In the Day of Thy Power" and "Rain from Heaven"?

Wallis: Both set forth the same basic message concerning revival and the outpouring of the Spirit. Obviously the spiritual or scriptural principles remain the same. But I now see the whole thing in the light of what God has been doing over the past 22 years and so the emphasis has changed. I have omitted some of the chapters in the earlier book as not strictly relevant to the theme of revival and I've introduced two or three more other chapters which I believe emphasize much of what the Spirit of God is now saying to the churches on this subject. The book is in fact about half the length of its predecessor.

Q. Of course the phenomenon we call the charismatic movement has taken place during that period of 22 years. Has this had a bearing upon the way you have rewritten your book?

Wallis: Yes it has. I cannot view revival in isolation from what I believe has been the most significant spiritual event to take place over these last years, which I believe to be the charismatic movement. It has enabled me to see revival in a different light and I praise God for what we see the Spirit of God doing today. Obviously one has to harmonize what the Word says and what we see the Spirit of God doing. Hence the subtitle of the book, "Revival in Scripture and History". One needs to see biblical principles illustrated in church history, and so link the scriptural with the experiential.

Q. In this magazine as the title clearly shows, we have a strong emphasis on Restoration. Do you see Restoration as the same thing as revival?

Wallis: No I don't believe they are quite the same though I believe there is overlap. Revival I see as a visitation of the Holy Spirit, quickening the spiritual life of the church. Various results may come out of that quickening such as reformation, restructuring and a restoration of God's plan and purpose for His church. So I see that restoration is the fruit of revival and provides a vehicle for containing revival as history bears out.

Q. And you deal with this topic in your book?

Wallis: Yes I think that perhaps is the major difference between the older message of "In the Day of Thy Power" and the new message, "Rain from Heaven". There's a far stronger emphasis on restoration and recovery in the new book.

Q. I know there are many people who would view the charismatic movement as revival. Is that a view you would support?

Wallis: I'm sure the charismatic movement has been in the purpose of God, but I can't personally subscribe to this view that it is revival. Such a view of course, is held by many who are in the charismatic movement, and denied widely by those who are not. But there are some like myself who are in the movement and who see in it, what could well be the preliminaries of revival and certain facets of revival but not the full-scale thing. The reason I say that is because there are certain essential features of revival that seem to be missing in the charismatic movement. For example, one characteristic feature is a powerful impact on the unconverted community as at Pentecost. And I don't see that happening at the moment. I am sure when God pours out His Spirit, the unconverted will not need to read the Gospel Gazette to find out that revival has come. They will sense and see and know that God is truly amongst us. I do not yet see the evidence of that in the charismatic movement in this country.

Q. You said a few moments ago that you feel restoration came out of revival but you have just implied in saying that the charismatic movement is a preliminary to revival, that the opposite is true - that revival comes out of restoration.

Wallis: Yes I agree. There seems no fixed position here. Sometimes revival comes out of restoration and sometimes restoration comes out of revival. And sometimes you have revival without any definate restoration. There can be, for instance, a local powerful mvoeemnt of the Spirit that has the marks of revival upon it, but because because of a failure to move into all that is implicit in that revival, restoration does not come. And undoubtedly sometimes the Spirit of God breaks into a situation in revival without any restoration preceding it. So it's not possible to be dogmatic here. The Spirit of God is sovereign and the "wind blows where it wills".

Q. There's a great deal of debate in our day about the end times and how restoration and revival bear upon that whole question. Is this something your book touches on?

Wallis: Yes particuarly in the last chapter. The them there is "Revival of the Future" and I lay strong emphasis on what I feel God is preparing for His people in these last days. I believe there in the Word of God is a clear prediction that in the last days God will pour out His Spirit and will bring His Church to a place where it is fit to receive the Coming Bridegroom. That He is to appear a Second Time for "those who are eagerly waiting for Him" (Hebrews 9:28). This seems to make revival more than a vague possibility.

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