Summary: Let’s take a look at the roots of the pentecostal movement here in the US...

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Lessons From Azusa Street

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tonight I want to give you a brief overview of the beginnings of the Pentecostal movement within the United States.

This month we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Azusa Street Revival. And though there were a few earlier expressions of the Pentecostal revival here in the U.S., this was by far the most influential and far reaching. It literally changed the landscape of the Christian faith.

Now, let me begin by stating that what I am going to share with you is a very thin version – a really scaled down retelling of the climate surrounding the refilling of the Church with the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The first outpouring of the Holy Spirit took place in Jerusalem in 33 AD. We find this account in the second chapter of the book of Acts. Here, Luke – a student of the Apostle Paul, is writing a documentary of beginnings of the church…under the inspiration of the God’s Spirit. Look at this with me.

Acts 2:1-21

1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

5Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11(both Jews and converts to Judaism Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" 12Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"

13Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine."

14Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17" ’In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Now let me share with you the roots of Pentecost here in the U.S.

In 1901 a Pentecostal revival much like what we read about in the 2nd chapter of Acts erupted at the Bethel Bible School in Topeka, Kansas. A minister by the name of Charles Parham was leading and teaching as this revival broke out among his students. When this happened, many were filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues. (Charles Parham has been affectionately called the Father of the modern day Pentecostal movement).

Well, one of his students – a black man who had been restricted to the hallway for his education because of the color of his skin – began to soak up the teaching of professor Parham. And in just a few weeks was able to accurately proclaim the gospel and teach this doctrine of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit without struggle. This young preacher was a man by the name of William Seymour.

The unique issue about all of this was that William Seymour had the knowledge of – but lacked the experience of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Never the less, he proclaimed it’s truth without apology.

As the months moved forward, Charles Parham invited William Seymour to travel with him to Houston, Texas where he was able to hold meetings and preach about this wonderful new expression to the faith.

While Parham was preaching to the white men and women, Seymour was holding meetings for the black men and women. Together they were helping people to understand this revival that was beginning to touch many across the U.S.

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