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Whatever Happened to---

"This is That"?

Commemorating Pentecost Sunday and

Centennial Year of Azusa Street Revivals


Whatever Happened To ‘This Is That’?

In late February or early March, 1906, William Joseph Seymour accepted the invitation to go to Los Angeles, California and pastor a small Nazarene church.  He had just attended a two-month Bible Training School in Houston, Texas where, being a Negro, he was not allowed to sit in class but listened through an open door.

The rest is history.  From that small beginning revival fires broke out across the nation and the world.  One is reminded of the Biblical account recorded in the first couple of chapters of Acts.

The question, “What meaneth this?” was asked by observers of the revival that began a hundred years ago.  The answer would be the same as the one Peter gave his questioners:  “This is that.” 

“That” being the fulfillment of the prophesy of Joel (Acts 2:16) who prophesied that “…in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy…And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:17-21).

The command had been given to His followers by Jesus:  “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).  The clarion call was resounding again in 1906.  People came from all over the United States and even the world to investigate what was happening at Azusa Street, just as they marveled at the early phenomenon that happened on that early Day of Pentecost.

“This was that!”

What followed is Biblical history.  The disciples went out, preaching the gospel with the signs that Jesus said would follow them:  “…In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; [not for a show of power as some have misinterpreted, but as Paul did at Melita when he shook off the biting snake into the fire and destroyed it!]…and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” Mark 16:17-18).

They met with opposition, persecution and even death for obeying the commission that Jesus had given them.  History was repeating itself in California.  A Los Angeles newspaper reported this about the meetings there:

"Disgraceful intermingling of the races, they cry and make howling noises all day and into the night.  They run, jump, shake all over, shout to the top of their voice, spin around in circles, fall out on the sawdust blanketed floor jerking, kicking and rolling all over it. Some of them pass out and do not move for hours as though they were dead.  These people appear to be mad, mentally deranged or under a spell.  They claim to be filled with the spirit.  They have a one eyed, illiterate, Negro as their preacher who stays on his knees much of the time with his head hidden between the wooden milk crates.  He doesn't talk very much but at times he can be heard shouting “Repent," and he's supposed to be running the thing...  They repeatedly sing the same song, 'The Comforter Has Come.'" - A Los Angeles newspaper (September 1906).


Persecution followed those who were involved in the renewal of Pentecost in the early years of 1900.  You can find records of rotting vegetables being thrown at preachers in their pulpits, shots fired at them and at others who followed them, their churches were torched and their families were endangered.  But they persevered.   And Pentecost has been repeated over and over again since the one recorded in Acts.


Move forward from Azusa Street about a hundred years.  Observe “worshippers” in many Christian churches.  You have to look intently to find remnants of the first Pentecost in Jerusalem and the one that began at Azusa Street. 


Whatever happened to “This is That?”  Has God changed?  He said not, not even a shadow (on the sun dial) of turning.  He said “For I am the Lord, I change not…” (Malachi 3:6). 

So, “Whatever happened to ‘This is That’ “? 

Where are the revival fires burning?  Where are sinners feeling conviction of their lost condition and turning to God for deliverance?  Where are the sick being healed?  Where are those enslaved by addictions being set free?  Where is “This is That”? 


This is not to say that it has disappeared from the earth!  No!  There are still those who hunger for God, who weep for the lost, who carry the burden of reaching those who don’t know God, who don’t know that Jesus died to save them.  It’s just that you have to look hard to find them. 

In this centennial year celebrating the “latter day Pentecost” we must examine ourselves and see if we have slipped away from the shore so far that we can’t see the fire, the flame of Pentecost?  Have we settled at the stern and fallen asleep allowing our boat to drift so far from the shore that we have lost contact with the ministry of rescue and are in need of being rescued ourselves?

Jonah jumped on board a ship and headed for Tarshish instead of Nineveh where God had assigned him.  He “went down” into the ship and fell asleep.  Perhaps he was exhausted from running away from God, or maybe he had dulled his sensor that heard from God and became content living in rebellion.  We don’t know just why he was able to fall asleep in his backslidden condition, but we have the record of his awakening—in the belly of the fish!  He left the shore and the flame that had burned in his heart for God and was cooling in the ship of rebellion far from shore.  When he found himself floundering in sea water and whale stomach acid with seaweed wrapped around him, he became quite willing to head back to shore and pick up his torch.  God accommodated him by having the fish become so sick of him that it vomited him up on the shore near Nineveh. 


It wasn’t too late!  God was still the “hound of heaven’ chasing him, wooing him to return and obey.  What about us?  Will we have to be thrown overboard into the mires and traps of Satan who preys on lukewarm Christians to awaken us out of our slumber?  It need not be.  We can stir ourselves by returning to “This is That” and allow the dying embers of our torch to be fanned by the Winds of the Holy Ghost, bringing renewal.  Buds of the fruit of Spirit are just waiting to burst open in our lives if we will but return to our Spiritual roots planted in the rich soil of obedience.

If you would like to know more about “This is That,” I invite you to return to the Bible, God’s record of His dealings with those who choose to obey, those who are willing to re-ignite their torches with the fire of the Holy Ghost and carry out the “Great Commission.”  It's a fact that we will not all always agree on doctrinal points, practical commitments, etc., but we can unite with the primary goal and the purpose of seeing that the gospel is freely being distributed to the world, not bound by warring factions of Christ's Body but united on battlefronts against the enemies of the Gospel.  It is the only hope this world has! 

May we see torches burning brightly in 2006 in every corner of the globe from representatives of every Christian Body, even brighter and more numerous than those who gave us this rich heritage in years past.  They would be happy, God would be pleased and eternity would reveal rewards for faithfulness and obedience.

"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all WITH ONE ACCORD [emphasis mine] in one place" (Acts 2:1).

"Let's roll!"


For more on Azusa Street, visit this link http://www.sendrevival.com/history/azusa_street/news_clipping/september_1906.htme







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