There have been many great men of God who were used mightily by the Lord, especially when it came to birthing a new move or a revival. These mighty men of God all had this one understanding; they all knew the importance of the Early Church Fathers and strove to return to the power the Early Church walked in and teach what they taught.  These mighty men of God recognized the Early Church had something that the church significantly lacks today.

 

John Wesley was one of these powerful men of God, who started the Methodist move in England and came to America to minister to the English settlers in 1735, which helped shape the beliefs of Christianity in America. Wesley helped build a foundation that was later known as the Great Awakening, in which he was praised by George Whitfield for the basis set for him to build on. So, what was it that Wesley taught and understood? What was the foundation on which he built?

 

“Can any who spend several years in those seats of learning be excused if they do not read the Fathers, the most authentic commentators on Scripture, as being both nearest the fountain, eminently endued with the Spirit by whom all Scripture was given. It will be easily perceived, I speak chiefly of those who wrote before the Council of Nicea.”

~John Wesley “Advice to the Clergy” 1756

 

Wesley also wrote letters defending the Ante Nicene Fathers, mostly from men who didn’t understand what they were reading. Often these men just read a few words out of context and couldn’t show evidence of their claims. One of John Wesley’s writings he gives a treatise on “The Character of a Methodist” which he admits was influenced by reading Clement of Alexandria writing about being a perfect Christian. He was misunderstood in this treatise and replied to an editor of a Christian Magazine of his time who was attacking him. Here is an excerpt from his own writings:

 

“The occasion of his late attack is this: Five or six and thirty years ago, I much admired the character of a perfect Christian drawn by Clement of Alexandria. Five or six and twenty years ago, a thought came into my mind of drawing such a character myself, only in a more scriptural manner and mostly in the very words of Scripture: this I entitled, ‘The Character of a Methodist,’”

“To the same effect I speak in the conclusion, ‘These are the same principles and practices of our sect; these are the marks of a true Methodist’; that is, a true Christian, as I immediately after explain myself: ‘by these alone do those who are in derision so called desire to be distinguished from other men.’”

~ Excerpt from Wesley’s Journal, March 5, 1767

 

Smith Wigglesworth was another man of God who knew of the Early Church Fathers. Being a patriarch of the Pentecostal movement, he grew up going to Anglican and Methodist Churches. As we see above the Methodist and Anglican churches were heavily influenced by the Early Church Fathers. In one of Wigglesworth’s sermons, which was about grace in the church, he speaks of the purity and power the Early Church moved in.

 

“When I think about the first Church, how God favored her, how He burst thru her, how He definitely spoke, how He transformed Christians and made them move with the power of apostles, that wherever they went they transformed lives-God did such wonderful things, and when I think of it, I think, that we should have something far in advance, and say: ‘Look up; your redemption draweth nigh!’ I want to take a perspective of what they were, and we must be. I am inwardly convinced of the power that awaits us, the installation of God’s movement right in our hearts.

I notice in the first Church it wasn’t possible for a lie to live, and I want you to keep in mind that there is a time coming when nothing of uncleanness will be able to remain in His little flock. The first Church was so pure God overshadowed it; He nursed it, brought it thru, and He has His hand upon us at this time. How do we know? The Lord hath laid the foundation which is an immovable foundation. It is built upon the prophets; it is built upon the apostles; it is built upon the Word of God, and the church will yet come into the fullness of the manifestation of the body of Christ.”

~Smith Wigglesworth “Great Grace Upon the Church” Sermon October 31, 1922

 

In the same sermon he begins to convey the pattern we need to follow in receiving the Holy Spirit:

 

I cannot conceive of anything else but what the Early Church all received the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. And I believe today that we should press home to every soul the necessity of meeting the conditions and being filled with the Holy Ghost.

~Smith Wigglesworth “Great Grace Upon the Church” Sermon October 31, 1922

 

Wigglesworth also teaches about the gifts of the Spirit. He explains it not good enough to just read the Early Church Fathers, but to have the Baptism of the Spirit. He knew that being a Christian wasn’t an education. It was important to understand these teachings and have a strong understanding of the Word, but it was to coincide with being led by the Spirit.

 

We read that in the early church they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. It is important for us also to continue steadfastly in these same things. For some years I was associated with the Plymouth Brethren. They are very strong on the Word, and are sound on water baptism, and they do not neglect the breaking of bread service, but have it every Lord’s Day morning as they had it in the early church. These people seem to have everything except the match. They have the wood, but they need the fire and then they would be all ablaze. Because they lack the fire of the Holy Spirit there is not life in their meetings.”

~Smith Wigglesworth “Concerning Spiritual Gifts”

 

Wigglesworth understood that our Christian walk had to be more than just studying the Word. You can be in the Word and be following the Word religiously, but have no life because it’s not done through the Holy Spirit. Notice however that Wigglesworth didn’t discredit being strong in our understanding of the Word, but he understood there was another element that is absolutely essential to our walk; namely the Holy Spirit. John 4:24 tells us that those who worship the Lord must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

 

John G Lake was an apostle whom God used to start a Pentecostal move in South Africa. After his time in South Africa he primarily preached on the West Coast and started the “healing room” movement. He was longing for an intimacy that the Early Church Fathers had with God. He was striving for a relationship and revelation that the Fathers had. He very well knew that they were more knowledgeable of the advance teachings of Christ after the resurrection.

 

“Not so with the Son of God. Not so the Lord Jesus. Why, Christianity began where philosophy left off. The crucifixion of Jesus was but the entrance into the greatest of His divine revelations. Jesus not only rose from the dead, but He determined in His own soul to take captive that power that had been captivating men and subjecting them to death’s control. So, Jesus entered into the grave. The early church was much more conversant (familiar with or knowledgeable about something) with this phase of the Lord’s victory than we are.

The literature of the early church fathers is full of the wonder of what took place in the life and ministry of Jesus after He was in the grave.” 

~John G Lake July 15, 1920 Chicago, Illinois of Pentecostal Assemblies (Collection of his teachings).

 

Lake spoke of the healing power that the Ante Nicene Fathers walked in just before Constantine came in to power and began introducing paganism into the church.  To revive and restore the church, it is essential to know where it went wrong. Lake took it upon himself to find how the church lost its way.

 

It is also well known that the church fathers testified to the vast extent of the miracle-working power of Christ through His followers until the days of Constantine. The early Christians accepted Jesus as a Savior of spirit, soul, and body. His consecration of Himself to God as the pattern consecration for all Christians for all times is declared by many of the Christian writers.”

“With the establishment of Christianity as the state religion under Constantine, a flood of heathendom poured into the church, and the vitality of the faith in Christ as Savior and Healer disappeared. Hordes of unbelievers came into the church with a very slight knowledge of Christ, bringing with them many heathen customs and practices, some of which quickly predominated in the church. Among these was trust in man rather than Christ as Healer of the body.”

~John G. Lake- On Healing Ch. 17

 

Lake was well aware of the status of the church and the reasons why it had come to such a fallen state compared to what it once was. It appears that all these revivalists had taken notice of the condition of the church and wanted to restore it back to its proper place of authority it once had. Lake goes on to discuss in the same writing the authority the Ante Nicene Fathers had and how much weight they held to the formation of the New Testament. As a matter of fact, he refutes those who have tried to say that God doesn’t heal anymore, and those who have even gone so far to argue that Mark 16:17-18 where Jesus says that “these signs will follow those who believe” is a interpolation (adding words, phrases, or, entire sentences) and don’t agree with the original bible the Early Church had put together.

 

 “And these signs.” These are God’s own mark and endorsement of the faithful preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We know that the goods by the trademark that they beat. These sings are God’s eternal trademark, issued the Son of God, and sealed in His own blood. The devil has tried to rob us of it telling the preachers and teachers that the verses are an interpolation, and not found in the Sinaitic manuscript of the New Testament. The Sinaitic manuscript was, however, only written in the fourth century. That these verses are authentic has been proved from the writings of the church fathers, which were written prior to the Sinaitic manuscript, and less than two hundred and seventy years after Christ.

This is a matter of history. Lord Hailes, an eighteenth century Scottish writer, is our authority. He tells us that at a dinner at Edinburgh, it was decided that a compilation of the New Testament be made from the New Testament references and quotations found in the writings of the church fathers, previous to ad 300. The whole was completed some years ago and found identical with our present edition, except that it lacked seven verses in Hebrews, and these have since been forthcoming. Preachers and teachers of God’s Word, don’t make any more infidels with such an excuse, but rather confess that the faith to get results is lacking, that the Word is true, that the failure is on the human side.

Have you noticed how frequently church officers and members say, “Oh, I don’t believe this or that portion of God’s Word!” Why don’t they? How could they when the Word of God is continually twisted out of its original sense and meaning by those whose vocation should be to guard it as a sacred deposit? This wresting of the Scriptures is responsible for the unwarranted belief that the gifts of the Holy Ghost have been withdrawn.

~John G. Lake- On Healing Ch. 17

 

William Branham was another powerful man of God who was used for revivals in the 1950’s. He gave very accurate words of knowledge to people, telling them their names and home addresses, and great healings were manifesting during his ministry. Branham had angelic visitations and was given revelations about future events that would take place, including how the end time move would happen. He knew that the Early Church Fathers had to be restored to the church before the second coming of Christ. Not only that, in his own sermons he taught from the Ante Nicene Fathers. In his sermon on the seven churches in December of 1960 he read Irenaeus from Volume 1 of the Ante Nicene Father and he wanted to make sure people took note of it.

 

“I might read from The Ante-Nicene Fathers, volume one, page 412, just a little quotation; if you want to put that down, volume one of The Ni–ice–Nicene Fathers.” And on page twelve, and it’s the… If you want the volume, it’s the last part of volume three. You could might read the whole thing; there’s several chapters of it, or several sentences. Now, I begin to read right at the last, about the last twenty, thirty verses of it. I won’t read it all, but just part of it.”

~William Branham Sermon on “The Smrynaean Age”

 

He had a revelation reading their writings that the Early Church Fathers were manifesting all the gifts of the Spirit because of the apostolic teaching that Irenaeus was releasing.

 

“It was in Irenaeus’ time that most of the apostolic church of France had all the gifts of the Holy Ghost.” That was from him teaching. See? “Irenaeus’ church members at Lyons (That’s Lyon, France.) spoke with tongues. It was not uncommon to see someone dead brought back to life. Healing was–healing was an everyday occurrence in all the evangelistic–evangelical churches everywhere. (That Irenaeus knowed how to teach.) Miracles were frequent. In fact, those churches were never without a miraculous manifestation of God’s Presence either by vision, super-extension of the elements of nature, and a miracle, to remind the evangelical Christians of that day they were His beloved disciples.”

~William Branham Sermon on “The Smrynaean Age”

 

In summary, we see a pattern that these revivalists all had something in common. John Wesley, Smith Wigglesworth, John G. Lake and William Branham all understood the importance of the Early Church Fathers in current day Christianity. These men of God came out of a Methodist background and converted to Pentecostals. We see the impact studying the Early Church writings had in John Wesley’s time.  Because of their influence new moves occurred, denominations were birthed, and revivals broke out. If all of that happened back in the 1700’s, what can we expect to happen in this end time move that we are stepping into?