This is Part 4 of some of the reports that were first published in 1925, under the title, “How Pentecost Came to Los Angeles.” Bartleman put the book together from his journal, written during the days of the revival, as well as from news articles. Later he condensed these articles, and his diary notes, into that book.
He wrote numerous diary like articles for a number of the holiness, and later Pentecostal, magazines, starting in 1905, documenting the stirring that led up to the revival, then documenting the progress of the revival. Over his life Bartleman authored six books, at least four pamphlets, and according to one source, he authored over 550 published articles and over 100 tracts.
Frank Bartleman (pictured left) lived his life in a constant expectation of the soon return of Christ. He was not afraid to tackle the social issues of his day or topics which might be unpopular. While he was originally licensed to preach by a Baptist church, pastored a Wesleyan Methodist church for a year, pastored a couple other churches for short periods, and just prior to his European tour he was ordained as a Pentecostal minister, for most of his life he operated independent of any organization.
Here are other insightful reflections from Bartleman about the Revival and our relationship with God:
The Reformation and Subsequent History
Out of the Dark Ages came the great politico-religious, ecclesiastical, Roman hierarchy, which in time dominated the whole world, both political and religious. And the same condition has developed out of every fallen movement. An illegitimate, hybrid monster has come forth. This was the condition of the formal church in Martin Luther’s time. However, the living seed of the true Church had remained buried in this mass, even through those long dark centuries. This seed now began to spring up and germinate—the Church within the Church. The prodigal backslider began to come to himself at last and desire to return home. The Church had fed on swine long enough.
Through the labours of such men as Hus, Wycliffe, Luther, Foxe, Wesley, Darby, Muller, Moody, Evan Roberts, Wigglesworth, and a host of others, the prodigal Church has been coming home. But each company that God has been able to bring forth and give a fresh deposit of the Spirit and of the truth once lost has sooner or later stopped short of the full goal. Although often gaining much ground and experiencing tremendous blessing, each group has ceased to go forward as a body and completely return to the early New Testament standard and realization.
Again and again the Church climbed from the depths of some sectarian stranglehold, with its various stages of formalism and spiritual darkness, only to fall again, within perhaps only a generation, into sometimes an even worse state. Fortunately, each time, some new light and understanding of truth and God’s ways was given upon which the next revival company could build. But in it all, it is the failure of man, not God’s failure. Each company has only gone so far. It was certainly God’s desire to fully restore the early Church to her first estate and love at once, as it is true with every backslider.
To think otherwise is to charge God with sin. But the church would not…..Today we look back and see the different companies that, in the line of restoration, God has brought out in the Church since the Middle Ages. We can see where they ceased to go forward with God, where they began to mill around in a circle, and where their carcasses fell in the wilderness as a body—Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Salvation Army, and so forth. They ceased to be a forward company.
Wherever we cease to go forward and keep on the offensive for God, we stop and die as a people. In fact, a movement is no longer a movement when it stops moving—be it the Holiness movement, the Pentecostal movement, or any other movement. It may continue to increase both in numbers and in wealth, but that is not necessarily a sign of life and power with God.
All anti-Christian movements can show that kind of growth. No movement has ever recovered itself, as a body, when it has once gone on the skids…..The great mistake has been to stop with sectarian, partial, abnormal revelations. We must keep our eyes on God, not on a party. Keep free from party spirit. That is respect of persons. Seek only God and His plan as a whole, His Church as a whole. Every company, in time, repeats the experience of the early Church. They compromise to escape the cross and accept positions, salaries, titles, and ecclesiastical power. An ecclesiastical hierarchy arises, just as it did in the early Church during the second and third centuries.
The backslidden Church is still in an abnormal condition. It will continue to be so until it becomes fully restored to the first standard of apostolic Christianity from which it fell. No experience or revelation in the line of gradual restoration has been perfect in itself. All is abnormal, both in understanding and experience, until the perfect whole is realised and restored.
We need a readjustment of all our doctrines to the full, clear light of God in the Word. All past experiences must be examined and redefined in the light of the perfect whole.
Someone has said that every reformation is at its best and highest tide when it comes forth. This would seem to be so, but at the same time the true Church is ever moving on to maturity. I speak of the Church within the Church, the kernel in the shell, not the surrounding movement. Just as the individual believer who goes on with God gradually matures, so the Church within the Church is maturing toward the end of the age when she will be a full-grown Church. The goal is not just the standard lost by the early Church but that toward which they themselves were pressing: “fully matured man,” even “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13 KJV)
Apostasy and Recovery
As with Israel in the Exodus, the “mixed multitude,” the exterior shell of every movement with which it loads itself and in which it later becomes buried, falls to lusting for “flesh.”One can usually judge the progress of this process by the things the movement comes to demand. Instead of delight in the pure Word, prayer and worship, a love for souls and zeal for good works, there comes entertainment, programs, musicals, sensationalism, and oratory. These things have no place in essential true Christianity, but are professionalism –flesh! Oh, God, deliver us from fleshy substitutes for the Spirit. Most meetings can only be kept alive now continuous entertainment, professional evangelism, and a strong social spirit.
All this is true in Pentecostal, Holiness, and interdenominational circles, as well as in older denominations. Where is the Life itself to draw the people and bring God to them as in the beginning? This is not New Testament. It is abnormal, grieving and limiting the Holy One in Israel in our midst….It was never God’s decree that the experience of the Church should be so long and drawn out in recovering the normal standard and going on to fullness. But we have ever sought to call our present abnormal understanding and experience normal.
We must see that all has been abnormal since the early Church fall. Experiences, understanding –everything has been partial, unbalanced, and abnormal. Nothing has been perfectly understood, and all the different truths and experiences have only been parts of the whole…. The sin of the Jewish high church in Jesus’ time was the same. They refused to go further themselves, and set themselves in their backslidden condition to oppose all who wished to go forward. That spelled their doom, and it will bring down the judgements of God on any denomination, movement, or a group who follow in their steps.
The End is Nearing
But a Gideon’s band is forming again today. Faith is rising. Another visitation from God is coming. It is only the Gideon’s band that can ever bring or receive it—only a praying, consecrated, pilgrim band. They of the “mixed multitude” will not be in it, for they are too many and too fleshy. “Upon the flesh of man,” the Lord said of the precious anointing oil in the tabernacle, “it shall not be poured” (see Exodus 30:32). God usually has to work with little things, the weak things—the small, consecrated groups…We are rounding the corner toward complete recovery.
God is again pressing His full claims upon His Church and upon the world in this, the end of the age. But the devil is also pressing his claims with great vigour. Whom will we serve? It is either 100 percent for God or for the devil—there is no neutral ground. We are nearing the awesome climax of this deadly war between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Each must be at his best for his side.
A normal Church is always 100 percent for God. There can be no flirting with the enemy. The Church has no other business than to carry the gospel to the world and press the claims of God upon His own. All its energies and resources should be used with that one object in view—“Then shall the end” (Matthew 24:14 KJV). God waits for this.
Nothing but the zeal and the 100 percent consecration of the early Church, both in labouring for the salvation of the nations and in building up the one true worldwide Church, will or can satisfy God. He will accept no substitutes or compromise with our ideas and fleshy plans. There simply must be an utter abandonment to His full will and His great eternal purpose in His own children! Nothing short of this can clear our conscience and responsibility in the day of judgement. We could have done this long ago—if we had willed to do so—but we have not. Oh, let us not delay longer, but at once go right up and storm the enemy’s citadels, vowing never to withdraw our sword until Jesus comes and the whole land is ours!
We are rapidly approaching the last days. I am convinced that God is going to put the Church through the fire to destroy the dross. Judgement begins at the house of God. And, believe me, nothing but 100 percent reality will remain! A theoretical salvation will not do.
We are reaching the culmination of this age, and nothing but a practical application of the gospel can hope to survive. All else will be destroyed by the fires of worldwide persecution. God can only defend obedience to His Word. Never fear—He is going to have a Church without spot or wrinkle. But do you and I want to have a part in it? A sectarian, competitive, selfish, self seeking Church cannot survive.
The church must return to the spirit of the early Church in the Book of Acts. She must yield to God and press into His “present truth” for this last hour or perish in the fires of persecution and in her own blood. Our God is a consuming fire! Let us go on!
For the Azusa Street part of this study, I borrowed heavily from Frank Bartleman’s own account of the revival in his classic work, Frank Bartleman’s Azusa Street, First Hand Account of the Revival, compiled by Roberts Liardon, and now published by Destiny Image Publishers. This book contains important insights on the nature of the revival and can be found in many Christain bookstores or anywhere books are sold.
Photo Credit: Back To The Bible