Friday, August 24, 2018

Evan Roberts: The Translation Message, Part 13 of 22

Evan Roberts believed and taught many other ideas denied in or absent from the Bible.  Following Boardman, Murray, and many other Keswick leaders and exponents, Roberts taught that believers could escape physical death and become immune to disease by faith.  The “missionary who is in a district where there is malarial fever . . . becomes immune by recognizing that he must not be a victim to the enemy—death. . . . He goes into the midst of it, but in faith it cannot touch him.”[1]  While living with the Penn-Lewis household, Jessie and Evan practiced “binding Satan,”[2] while “Evan Roberts . . . spent about eighteen sleepless hours a day in prayer.”[3]  Mr. Roberts’s “prayers,” out of which were birthed the book The War On The Saints, “were,” they claimed, “Divinely inspired.”[4]  The doctrines in War on the Saints show how a believer who has experienced an alleged post-conversion Spirit baptism “can have the authority to bind Satan” and even “co-work with God in the last defeat of Satan and all his hosts.”[5]
Thus, after Evan Roberts and Jessie Penn-Lewis had, they affirmed, bound Satan, and while practicing Throne Life prayer and experiencing a great mystic Higher Life, as Evan Roberts allegedly “entered into the sufferings of the Saviour/High Priest” and thus obtained a “position” from “which he could intercede continually for Christ’s servants and witnesses who were exposed to deception,”[6] Roberts received in a vision “the Translation Message given in October, 1913,”[7] in which he predicted “The Coming of Christ . . . the descent of the Lord to meet His Bride . . . the great procession of the King Bridegroom, the Son of the Most High, the Lord of Hosts . . . in 1914.”[8]  This prophecy came after Roberts heard Penn-Lewis preach that Revelation 12:4 was about “Satan’s all-out attack on the ‘Man-Child Church,’ which would occur just before Christ’s coming to rapture His people away from this last warfare.”[9]  Or, more accurately, according to Jessie Penn-Lewis, Evan Roberts, Otto Stockmayer, and other Keswick leaders, the Rapture would be partial, taking away only those who had taken the third step of conquering death by faith.  Those who merely believed in justification by faith alone and had trusted Christ would certainly be left behind.  Indeed, even those who had received post-conversion Spirit baptism and the second blessing of sanctification would not be ascend in the Rapture.  Not only the new birth and the Second Blessing, but a Third Blessing was necessary to partake of the Rapture.  The doctrine of these Keswick leaders was the Ratpure only of the “‘man-child’ born of the church”:
By the simple expectation that the Lord may come any day to take away the Church, whether ready or unready, we shall never come to be translated.  That is not the way.  Justification is by faith, and is received by faith; sanctification is by faith, and is received by faith; and equally TRANSLATION CAN BE OBTAINED BY FAITH.  Believe then . . . [that] Christ . . . is able, by the Spirit, to form a group of those to whom the Lord can manifest His salvation, full and entire, and whom He may take away before others, without dying, to His throne.[10]
After all, at the heart of the Keswick theology is the idea the blessings of Christ’s death are inactive until they are especially appropriated by a distinct act of faith.  Thus, since “all the fruits of the sufferings of Christ ought to be obtained by faith,” the believer who has entered into the Highest Life of the Higher Life rises up and is “CONQUERING DEATH BY FAITH,” guaranteed not to suffer physical death but to be raptured by a specific act of faith to that end.[11]  Only when, being already justified, one exercises a specific act of faith to activate sanctification does he receive this second blessing.  (To affirm otherwise is to return to the despised orthodox, non-Higher Life doctrine.)  In exactly the same fashion, one will not partake of the Rapture without a specific, post-sanctification act of faith toward that end.
            Indeed, on this Keswick view, God is so unable to Rapture those who do not specifically exercise faith in this regard, that after the first group ascends, other groups will be left for Tribulation-period Rapture—but only as they enter into the Translation plane of the Throne Life.  First, at the initial Rapture, those with the Highest Life will rise “in the air just above our planet,” where they will be judged while the Tribulation proceeds on earth.  Those believers who were left behind would then “ascend to Him” in little “after companies” as they finally grasped, as the Tribulation period continued, the truths taught in the inspired writings of Mrs. Penn-Lewis, and were purified enough to ascend to join their brethren in the air above the planet.  A group would go here, and a group there.  As one explanatory article in The Overcomer magazine relates, the “Parousia of Christ means His Presence in the air just above our planet, where His saints will gather unto Him . . . in successive Translations during the period of Tribulation on earth which will culminate in Armageddon.”[12]  That is, as believers who missed the initial Translation enter into the Throne Life, “[f]rom time to time various companies of saints who were not ready for the first Rapture [will] disappear from the earth and join their fellows.”[13]  Since to be raptured it was essential to have the Translation Faith truths taught by Mrs. Penn-Lewis, and nobody could discover these truths simply by reading the Bible, Mrs. Penn-Lewis wrote an article describing how one was to enter into the blessing of Translation faith.  In it she described “how to get it, use it, and keep it,” so that Highest Life Keswick Christians do not fall back to the lower plain of the non-elite people of God, all of whom miss the Rapture.[14]
            It was also essential to note that the Translation Message was only for those “who understood that, like Enoch,” Evan Roberts “walked daily with God.”[15]  People like Jessie Penn-Lewis and other followers of the Higher Life “find the witness in their own spirit” to Evan Roberts’s prophecy, so that “they believe his message.”[16]  When “his family [did] not believe his present messages,” he “did not want to meet [them] anymore,” and so he “rejected every attempt by [his] family” at restoration, recognizing that his “special vision and . . . burden message”[17] required “the absolute isolation of his spirit from those who d[id] not believe his testimony.”[18]  He refused “to meet or correspond with his closest relatives,” and when “his father went up to see him . . . Evan . . . would not talk.”[19]  His “family [was] shown the door” so that he could, every moment, give himself to prayer.[20]  He persisted in this rejection of his family to the extent that he did not even attend his mother’s funeral.[21]  Believing that the world would end in 1914, Roberts and Penn-Lewis ceased to publish the Overcomer magazine in that year—there would be no more need of it once the return of Christ took place.[22]  As Roberts and Penn-Lewis knew from the spirit world, “the End-Age of the Son of Man was dawning,”[23] and The Overcomer would no longer be necessary; for as Evan Roberts prophesied, “Translation is at hand!  We know in the spirit that our ministration to the Church is ended! . . . WE AWAIT TRANSLATION.”[24]  However, a permanent literature trust was set up, since Mrs. Penn-Lewis’s writings would be “needed by others after the departure of the watching believers”; that is, those Christians who missed the partial Rapture would need her works to find out what went wrong.[25]  Penn-Lewis, Roberts, and others “were all in high spirits . . . and decided to celebrate the end of the spiritual warfare[.] . . . All went out in raincoats and galoshes to the rocks where Mrs. Penn-Lewis dashed a bottle of eau-de-cologne on the rock, saying, ‘In the Name of the Triune God I dash this bottle against the rocks in honour of the finished warfare with the Prince of Death.’”[26]

[1]              Pg. 10, Overcomer, 1914.
[2]              Pg. 166, Overcomer, 1914.
[3]              Pg. 167, Overcomer, 1914.
[4]              Pg. 189, “The Prayer Ministry of Evan Roberts,” The Overcomer magazine, December 1914, elec. acc.
[5]              Pg. 174, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.  Commanding Satan was practiced in the Welsh Revival, as recorded by Jessie Penn-Lewis (pg. 66, The Awakening in Wales).
[6]           Pg. 191-193, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.  Roberts continued in his “gained position of intercession” in which he “entered into the sufferings of the . . . High Priest” for “nine years.”  Happily, Jesus Christ, the real High Priest, ever lives to make intercession for His own, and He does not stop after nine years, nor does He sleep, have indwelling sin, or the vast number of other sins and imperfections of fallen men—nor does the real High Priest need anyone else to enter into His sufferings, as His sufferings on the cross were sufficient once and for all (Hebrews 10:14).
[7]              Pg. 190, “War  on   the  Saints:  A  brief review of its dispensational significance,” in The Overcomer magazine, December 1914.  The Translation Message was specifically given on October 19, and its public proclamation was commanded by the same spirits that gave the message in the first place in November (pgs. 183-184, The Overcomer, December 1913).
[8]              The Overcomer, December 1914.  At first Roberts was less specific, simply prophesying that Christ would return in his lifetime (pgs. 196-197, An Instrument of Revival, Jones) and then predicting that Christ would return in under a decade (pg. 177, The Overcomer, December 1913).  Finally, 1914 became the specific year in which the Translation would take place.  Perhaps Roberts believed he had an “intimation of the summons” to heaven in the Rapture that G. A. Pember spoke of (pg. 195, Earth’s Earliest Ages), although such an intimation is Biblically impossible (Matthew 24:36).
                Pentecostals were reprinting Evan Roberts’s prophecy—the earlier version that Christ would come in his lifetime—for decades (cf. the reprint of Roberts’s false prophecy on pg. 5, The Pentecostal Evangel, 1681 (July 27, 1946).  The Pentecostal Evangel was the official periodical of the Assemblies of God denomination.).  For obvious reasons, Roberts’s prophecy that Christ would return in his lifetime was more easily propagated after 1914 than were his date-setting prophecies.
[9]           Pg. 195, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.  See also pgs. 194-199.  Revelation 12:4 speaks about Satan’s attempt to kill Christ when He was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16-18); the verse has nothing to do with events in early twentieth century Great Britain.  Mrs. Penn-Lewis similarly allegorizes the “Man Child” as the church in Chapter 11 of War on the Saints.  Compare Charles Parham’s allegorization of the “Man Child” described on pg. 85, Vision of the Disinherited:  The Making of American Pentecostalism, Robert Anderson.
[10]            “Prepare!”  by Otto Stockmayer, pg. 185 in The Overcomer, December 1913.  Mrs. Penn-Lewis had Stockmayer’s article printed immediately after her record of Evan Roberts’ Translation Message.
                Penn-Lewis’s argument for the partial-Rapture of the “Man-Child,” so that to “have part in the rapture we must be sanctified and holy and live the life of a full overcomer,” was proclaimed in almost identical language by Pentecostalism (cf. the detailed exposition on pg. 2, The Apostolic Faith I:12 (Los Angeles, January 1908), reprinted on pg. 50, Like As of Fire:  Newspapers from the Azusa Street World Wide Revival:  A Reprint of “The Apostolic Faith” (1906-1908), coll. Fred T. Corum & Rachel A. Sizelove; see also pg. 4, The Apostolic Faith I:10 (September 1907), reprinted on pg. 44, Like As of Fire:  Newspapers from the Azusa Street World Wide Revival:  A Reprint of “The Apostolic Faith” (1906-1908), coll. Fred T. Corum & Rachel A. Sizelove & pg. 1, The Apostolic Faith I:11 (October-January 1908), reprinted on pg. 45, Like As of Fire:  Newspapers from the Azusa Street World Wide Revival:  A Reprint of “The Apostolic Faith” (1906-1908), coll. Fred T. Corum & Rachel A. Sizelove).  The identification of full overcomers who are ready for the Rapture with only those who have spoken in tongues (pg. 2, The Apostolic Faith I:5 (January 1907), reprinted on pg. 18, Like As of Fire:  Newspapers from the Azusa Street World Wide Revival:  A Reprint of “The Apostolic Faith” (1906-1908), coll. Fred T. Corum & Rachel A. Sizelove), however, would not be followed by Penn-Lewis.
[11]            “Prepare!”  by Otto Stockmayer, pg. 185 in The Overcomer, December 1913.  Italics and capitalization in original.
[12]            Pg. 203, “The Overcomer Literature Trust Fund,” The Overcomer, December 1914.
[13]            Pg. 193, “The Change of Dispensations,” The Overcomer, December 1914.
[14]            “The Spirit of Translation,” pgs. 201-202, The Overcomer, December 1914.
[15]            Pg. 196, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.
[16]            Pg. 184, The Overcomer, December 1913.
[17]            Pgs. 203-204, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Brynmor P. Jones.
[18]            Pgs. 182-183, The Overcomer, December 1913.
[19]            Pg. 170, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.  His “nervous condition” was also the stated reason for why “when his mother went seriously ill, the news was not passed on to Evan” (pg. 170, Ibid.).
[20]            Pg. 193, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.
[21]            Pg. 210, Review of “Glory Filled The Land, A Trilogy On The Welsh Revival Of 1904–1905. Richard Owen Roberts, ed.; H. Elvet Lewis, G. Campbell Morgan and I. Neprash. Wheaton, IL: International Awakening Press, 1989,” Jim Elliff, in Reformation and Revival 8:2 (Spring 1999) 206-213.
[22]            “An Accomplished Ministration,” by Evan Roberts, in The Overcomer magazine, December 1914, pgs. 178-181.  As Jessie Penn-Lewis declared:  “God Himself will speak to His watching saints to make ready for His Coming; for if the Holy Spirit is preparing to withdraw from the world, we may reasonably expect that He who so definitely led His servants in the past, has now as clearly led to the closure of their service in the Overcomer, as a work completed, ere the Church ascends” (pg. 186, The Overcomer, December 1914).
[23]            Pg. 201, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.
[24]            Pg. 179, “An Accomplished Ministration,” The Overcomer, December 1914.  Capitalization retained from the original.
[25]            Pg. 176, The Overcomer, December 1914.
[26]            Pg. 247, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Brynmor P. Jones.  North Brunswick, NJ:  Bridge-Logos, 1997.

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