By “latter rain” I mean that the best is saved for last. I mean that the prophetic picture of a harvest rain falling that brings what was planted and watered by early rains to a fuller harvest by a latter rain applies to the present circumstances of the kingdom of God. The rain that fell in the spring after planting will fall in the fall as we approach harvest. In the fullness of time by the fullness of Spirit, we will experience the fullness of the Ecclesia.
After Azusa Street and the attendant moves of God during that spiritual generation, a moment became a mini-movement that gave birth to a movement. The movement continues today in many, many different manifestations. Critics of spiritual gifts and the Pentecostal, Charismatic, and movements that reject cessationism, tend to lump together every strain of this movement and use the craziest distractions and malformations to discredit the entire movement. That is pretty poor analysis and pretty lazy criticism, but it is an easy way to dismiss a billion or so believers who don’t believe what you think they should.
The pundits who spend a great deal of time policing the ministries of people who don’t agree with them to “warn the saints” are often intellectually dishonest and mentally challenged with their understanding of what people mean by their words. They jump to odd conclusions sometimes and make hasty generalizations with a “bad root, bad fruit” process: “if it is based upon anything but my take on the Reformation, it is bad doctrine.” In this way, they allow themselves the lazy luxury of attributing what a nut case means by “latter rain” with the simple idea that the kingdom isn’t getting weaker in the end times as their charts and teachings demand.
In this way, they get really worked up about “the great falling away” as a means of lumping everyone who doesn’t agree with them into a “that fruit comes from a bad root.” Then, they work really hard to prove their hypothesis with “facts.” I know this by experience because they lump me into thinking that I don’t have and have never entertained, putting words in my mouth and thoughts in my teaching, reaching conclusions about the meaning of my words that are not there.
I Can’t Chase Down Every Critic
Of course, defending one’s critics would become a full time job that would negate one’s assignment. The distraction of critics can become an end within itself that focuses upon the critics. So, I don’t wish to waste time working on every silly idea that every silly person produces. On the other hand, I want to be clear about the consequences of my thinking, intellectually honest with myself, because every thing I do and say should stand up to scrutiny.
There is a Biblical basis for believing things that reach opposite conclusions. People reading the same Bible conclude very different things about end times, spiritual gifts, women in ministry, and church. They can disagree about nearly everything! Often, they disagree by saying that everybody else is a heretic for not agreeing with them. God seems able to have several streams going at the same time, however, and does more in spite of this penchant of humanity than through it. A whole bunch of the energy and emotion of churchanity has nothing to do with what God is doing at all!
So, few leaders have an assignment to clear up all the thinking problems of the modern form of christianism. To understand what my assignment is, I need to be able to define my function from Scripture, God’s way of leading my life, and the scope of my leadership. I should know what the Bible describes as normal. I should know what my life’s work is. I should know the scope of my responsibility, whether or not I should speak words that communicate to a personal, regional, national, or international level of leadership. Some stuff just isn’t any of my business.
This is clear: I do have a responsibility to properly represent God. Jesus has always been and always will be God, and when He was here representing God in the flesh, He responded to His critics upon this basis. He responded based upon His assignment and the function of His leadership. He responded in the way God was leading His life. He responded at the level of His scope of leadership and life’s work.
His Assignment and Leadership Function
Jesus didn’t take on all critics, but He did confront the leadership and assignment accusations. He knew what they were thinking, saying, and planning. He made a “defense” of His assignment by appealing to His Father’s work to confirm and validate Him and His Message. He didn’t just ignore them. He didn’t defend Himself, but He did defend His assignment.
“Receive Me and You receive the One who sent Me.”