Wrote Professor-Emeritus Rev. Dr. Harold J. Whitney: "Perhaps the greatest feature of the Reformed Church life [in South Africa], is its annual ‘Pentecost Meetings’ — which begin with Ascension Day, and go on for ten days…. People are invited by…their Ministers to ‘hear the infallible Word of God’ — before the Scriptures are read…. Thousands of people attend these ‘Pentecost Meetings’…. The message of Pentecost is proclaimed. The Holy Spirit is honoured. The [South African] Reformed Church is opposed to the 'Tongues Movement' — but is not afraid to preach about the blessing of Pentecost! Andrew Murray's well-known writings on the Holy Spirit are still the standard for many Reformed people."
"This feature of [South African] Reformed Church life each year, should be publicised abroad! I doubt if anywhere in the world such a spiritual phenomenon could be found. Here is a people…dedicated to belief in an infallible Bible, of strongly Calvinistic leanings, with widespread emphasis on discipline at both ministerial and lay levels — holding annual ten-day 'Pentecost Meetings' where the results challenge the entire Church!"
"If keen Evangelical Ministers or laymen could make their way to Stellenbosch during these ten days of 'Pentecost Meetings' — it could furnish them with inspiration, and challenge them to go home and seek to reproduce in their own country what they had seen in South Africa…. I came back to Australia more convinced than ever, that if we wish to see revival in our country — we must believe the Word of God and honour the Holy Ghost! My prayer is that we may increasingly do both!"
Summary of Holy Harvests: Annual Revivals at Whitsuntide
1. Adam was probably filled with the Holy Spirit right at his very creation before the fall. Presumably, even if he had never fallen — he would have kept on being filled increasingly. Indeed, he would perhaps also have celebrated Annual Harvest Feasts to Jehovah — even in the state of rectitude (if the latter had continued). Gen. 1:14; 2:7; 8:20-22; Luke 2:40,52; 3:33,23,28; I Cor. 15:22,45; Eph. 4:23ff.
2. After the fall, man needed to repent and to believe in the coming Christ. This was the essential pre-condition for again being indwelt and infilled by the Holy Ghost. Gen. 3:15-21; 4:1,26; 5:21-23; 6:3,8,9; Heb. 11:3-7.
3. God republished His Ten Commandments to man on Mt. Sinai, with wind and fire, at the inauguration of the first Israelitic Annual Feast of Pentecost. This probably further built upon the prior foundations of the Noachic Harvest Feasts. Gen. 8:20-22 & Acts 14:13-17 cf. Ex. 16:1; 20:1f; 22:29; 23:16-19; 34:22-23.
4. The Old Testament Harvest Feasts were thenceforth celebrated yearly. This foreshadowed the then future great Pentecost Sunday, fifty days after Calvary. Lev. 23:1-22; 25:5-10; Deut. 18:4; Neh. 10:24-39; 13:31; Acts 2:1.
5. The Holy Spirit would be poured out once-and-for-all into the New Testament Church Visible on Pentecost Sunday. This was frequently predicted in Old Testament times. Num. 11:16-25; Ps. 68:9,18; Prov. 1:23; Isa. 32:15ff; 44:3; Ezek. 34:26; 36:25ff; 39:29; Hos. 6:1-3; Joel 2:23-32.
6. Jesus Himself also predicted a unique and irrepeatable coming down of God the Holy Ghost from heaven. This would occur shortly after His own departure thence, and during that very same generation. Luke 24:49; John 7:37- 39; 14:26; 15:26; 16:7-15; Acts 1:4-8.
7. After Christ's departure for heaven, the apostles — together with many other Christians — spent the ten days of the Pentecost Harvest Feast (between Ascension Day and Pentecost Sunday) in serious prayer and meditation upon the Word of God. At that time, they also recollected the Psalms predicting the important events of those times. Luke 24:49; Acts 1:3,13,14; 1:15-26.
8. The apostles were Spirit-ually re-filled — when the Holy Ghost was dramatically poured down into the newly- born Church Visible, once and for all, on that Pentecost Sunday fifty days after Calvary. This fulfilled, terminated and magnified all Old Testament ceremonial harvest festivals. Acts 2:1-11; 11:15; I Pet. 1:12; West. Conf. 7:5-6; 19:3-4; 20:1.
9. Christ's apostles and His other disciples in Jerusalem were (re-)filled with the Spirit on the Pentecost Sunday fifty days after Calvary. They were frequently again (re-)filled with the Holy Ghost, thereafter too. Acts 2:4; 4:8,31; 6:3-10; 7:55; 9:17; 11:24; 13:9,52; Gal. 5:16-25; Eph. 3:16-21; 5:18ff.
10. Even after the unique descent of the Spirit on that Pentecost Sunday fifty days after Calvary at the birthday of the New Testament Church Visible, that Apostolic Church frequently commemorated that final 'Old Testament' Pentecost Harvest Feast — at subsequent Annual 'Whitsuntide' Festivals. However, this was done only in a non- ceremonial alias a New Testament way. Acts 18:21; 20:16; 21:17-20; I Cor. 16:8-9.
11. The Patristic Church commemorated Whitsuntide each year. It did so in a specifically New Testament way, and with much blessing. Thus: Hippolytus; Tertullian; Origen; Eusebius; the Apostolic Constitutions; Chrysostom; Augustine; Leo; Schaff; etc.
12. Later, in the Mediaeval Church, the Feast of Pentecost fell into ritualism. This led to its stagnation and decline. Thus: Zoeckler; Loetscher; etc.
13. Calvin — "The Theologian of the Holy Ghost" — resurrected the importance of being (re-)filled with the Holy Spirit. See his 'Commentaries' and his 'Sermons' on Romans and Ephesians, etc.
14. The Holy Spirit figures greatly in the Calvinistic Westminster Confession of Faith. Cf. W.C.F. 1:1- 10; 2:3; 8:8; 10:1-4; 12:1; 13:1-3; 14:1; 16:3-5; 18:3-5; 19:5-7; 20:1; etc.
15. The Calvinist Rev. Dr. Andrew Murray was moved by Rev. Wm. C. Burn's Revival Meetings at Aberdeen in Scotland. Murray then returned to South Africa in 1848.
16. Murray evangelised with some success for ten years. Then, in 1858, he and his ministerial associates started praying — and kept on praying — for Revival.
17. Also in 1858, Murray and other Reformed Ministers issued a Circular for Revival to the churches. When nothing happened, they did so again, in 1859.
18. The South African Reformed Theological Seminary at Stellenbosch in 1859 then organised a Revival Conference at Worcestor in the Cape Province. This was just before Pentecost, in 1860.
19. Anticipated and prayed-for Revival broke out at Montagu, Paarl and Worcestor. This occurred at Whitsuntide, in 1860.
20. Next, Rev. van der Lingen of Paarl organised special 'Pentecost Prayer Meetings.' This was for Whitsuntide 1861.
21. Optional outlines were issued early in 1862 by the denominational newspaper, for Whitsuntide Services alias 'Pentecost Prayer Meetings.' These were to be held, and were so held, throughout the Church nation-wide and beyond. They were used for the ten days of Special Services between Ascension Day and Whitsunday in 1862.
22. New outlines were similarly and subsequently published again before Whitsuntide in 1863. This has since continued every single year, right down to the present!
23. The Church's Synod or State Assembly warmly promoted these blessed endeavours. Later, after Union in 1910, the National General Assembly did the same. All State Assemblies as well as the National General Assembly still do so, every year! Other denominations have followed suit, even in certain other countries.
Conclusion: How to Harvest a Holy Spirit Revival!
In conclusion, the present writer (Francis Nigel Lee) would himself humbly yet urgently today make the following suggestions to all Christians everywhere.
* As in 1858 in South Africa and elsewhere — let all godly Christians and especially Ministers, world-wide and right now, start praying privately and from time to time corporately: for revival! Ezra 9:1,4,8ff cf, Acts 13:1-4.
* As in 1858 and 1859 in the Reformed Churches near Cape Town –let our Ministers, and even the Courts of the Church themselves, issue Circulars urging all Christian congregations to pray that God might again visit us too, with power! Cf. Acts 15:20-21.
* As in 1859 and in 1912 at Stellenbosch — let especially the Presbyterian Theological Halls and the Reformed Theological Seminaries world-wide organise Ministers' Conferences for Revival! Cf. II Kgs. 2:3 – 9:4.
* As in 1860 and each year subsequently, in the Reformed Churches of South Africa — let the various denominational newspapers or church magazines world-wide issue 'Pentecost Prayer Meeting' outlines for those Special Services: alias "decrees for to keep!" Acts 16:4. For even in the Apostolic Age — "so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily!" Acts 16:5.
* Let each congregation in the world-wide Church of our Lord Jesus Christ — regardless of denominational affiliation — pray on, regularly, for Holy Ghost revival! Cf. Ps. 85:4-6.
* Let each set aside at least every evening between the next anniversaries of Ascension Day and the Day of Pentecost, for ten days of Whitsuntide Harvest Meetings! Cf. Acts 1:4,9,14ff.
* Let this be done every year from now on, till the end of world history. May it then continue, until Jesus comes on the clouds just as He went: on Ascension Day itself! Acts 1:11.
* Let also the Theological Halls and Seminaries help take the lead — in assisting to plan such Pentecost Prayer Meetings! Cf. Ex. 19:1ff; 23:19; 24:1-14.
* Let folks prepare for these 'Harvest Feast' Meetings, many weeks ahead — starting right after Easter! Cf. Lev. 23:5-22.
* Let all members of the congregation — including the children! — attend these ten days of special meetings. Cf. Neh. 8:2ff & Acts 2:17ff. Let them expect God to revive them. Cf. Acts 1:4 -2:1f!
* Let them not — any more than they expect a re-incarnation of Jesus at Christmastimes! — expect an impossible repetition of the unique phenomena of Pentecost Sunday itself. Acts 2:2-11. However, let them indeed expect — yes, expect! — a great advance in their own permanent holiness before the Lord, during and after those days of prayer and supplication. Acts 1:8-14 cf. II Cor. 3:18.
* Let the Ministers, then — for ten successive days, on and between each Ascension Day and each Whitsunday annually — preach prayerfully and in the power of the Holy Ghost! Cf. Acts 1:14-20ff.
* Let the Ministers then preach a series of ten successive sermons — one each day — on the Person and work of the Holy Spirit! They might well do so, on subjects such as the Holy Ghost's empowerment of the seventy Elders. Num. 11:16-29. Or on: the Spirit's anointing of the judges of Israel. Judg. 3:10 -15:14ff. Or on: the Spirit's sevenfold Messianic unction. Isa. 11:2ff. Or on: the Spirit's promise to refresh on Pentecost Sunday. Joel 2:16,23-28ff. Or on: the Holy Ghost's multiple Spirit-ual gifts. I Cor. 12:28ff. Or on the Holy Ghost's manifold Spirit-ual fruit. Gal. 5:16- 25. Or on the Spirit's ongoing domestic infillings. Eph. 5:18 – 6:18ff. Or on the Spirit's re-conversion messages to His backslidden churches. Rev. 2:5 – 3:22.
* Let the meetings be well-watered with the spirit-ed singing of melodious psalms and hymns! Eph. 5:18ff; Col. 3:16ff; Heb. 13:15; Jas. 5:13. Let the people publically respond to the preaching of God's Holy Spirit-ed Word — with fervent prayer; with personal testimonies; and with enthusiastic singing! However, by all permissible means: O Lord — let there be real revival! Hab. 3:2.
* For, as this present writer said in his own message to our Queensland Ministers on the occasion of Rev. Prof. Dr. Whitney's eightieth birthday in 1986, we must all "keep on being filled with the Spirit…of the Lord." Eph. 5:18ff. This means "we are to keep on turning away from sin…. We are to keep on following God…. We are to keep on giving thanks for everything…. We are to keep on studying the Scriptures…. We are to keep on making melody in our heart…. We are to keep on submitting ourselves to one another in love…, [and] to keep on loving and caring!" Cf. I Cor. 12:13ff & 13:1-13.
* To keep on being filled with the Spirit, also means "to keep on being strong in the Lord." It challenges us "to keep on putting on the whole Spirit-ual armour of God." It urges us "to keep on wrestling against principalities and powers" — and even against the politics of neo-paganism! It obliges us "to keep on withstanding evil." It enjoins us "to keep on girding ourselves with truth." Indeed, it requires us — filled with the Spirit –"to keep on going forth into battle!" Eph. 5:18 cf. 6:10-14.
* This also means we must further "keep on preparing our Spirit-ual war-boots." We need to "keep on marching forth to proclaim the Gospel of peace." We are to "keep on taking up the Spirit-ual shield of faith." For we are impelled to "keep on wielding the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." Indeed, it is imperative that we "keep on praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit; keep on being watchful; and keep on making bold utterance of the Gospel!" Eph. 5:18 cf. 6:15-18.
Let us then keep on — keeping on! Let us ever continue — to be filled with the Spirit! We therefore urge the following measures be taken in all Christian churches world-wide, as soon as possible:
# May Christians everywhere carefully study points 1-14 in the Summary above! May their congregations then decide to implement its points 15-23!
# May they then consider the asterisked (*) suggestions immediately above in this Conclusion — as to effective possible ways in which a programme of annual Pentecost Harvest Feasts could be implemented each Whitsuntide!
# May God soon lead all the Courts of our own denomination, and of every other Christian denomination, to do likewise! May they thus all experience the full faithfulness of the unchanging Almighty God of Noah, Moses, Jesus Christ, the Apostles, the Early Church, John Calvin and Andrew Murray!
For Jesus the Saviour of the world has come already; indeed, He was then anointed King; so even now, He reigns! Isa. 11:2,9ff –cf. Luke 3:21ff & 4:14-21. Indeed, "the Spirit of the Lord shall remain[!] upon Him — the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might…. For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord — as the waters cover the sea…. He shall stand up as an ensign of the people! For Him shall the nations seek; and His rest shall be glorious!"
The prophet Habakkuk — 2:4,14,20 & 3:2 — also gives us the same blessed assurance: "The just[ified] shall keep on living by faith." For ultimately, even "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord." Meanwhile, especially since Pentecost Sunday, "the Lord is in His holy temple" — alias His Spirit-indwelt Christian Church! Therefore, "let all the earth be silent before Him!" However, before this occurs, His Spirit-grieving Church first needs to be stirred up to repentance! Accordingly, "in the midst of the years — revive Thy work, O Lord!"
This material may be reproduced and circulated, providing written credit is given to its author, Rev. Prof. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee.