21 February 2015


By John Ollis

Many of you know I love Church History, especially from and including the Reformation. Virtually every Biblical truth has been lost by the dark Ages, or been so enshrouded with ceremony and tradition it was almost unrecognisable. God was gracious to restore TRUTH to His Church starting with “The Just shall live by faith”, that a person MUST be BORN AGAIN if they are to spend eternity in heaven.
Soon after baptism by immersion was restored, and then Holy Living through men like John Wesley teaching what they called “The second blessing”. Sadly the previous group that received a truth often rejected the new truth and for example many Anabaptists were killed. We living in the 21st century can clearly see the truths the Lord has restored to the Church (never forget the truths were always in the Word of God). I am sure glad I am living in this generation.
Each time a truth was restored to the Church it inevitably produced a new denomination that placed special emphasis on that truth. Generally they simply added the truth to their belief structure, but some groups so spotlighted the truth that everything got out of balance.
We are all a product of our church roots and the truths they taught, and almost unconsciously these teachings have influenced our lives. I was saved as a 10 year old in the Salvation Army which is part of the Holiness movement which includes the Wesleyan Methodist Church and the Church of the Nazarene. Surely because of the teaching I received and the Holy Spirit working in my life I hungered to live a holy pure life, sadly I have failed many times. In all honestly it is only in the last few years have I really got to fully appreciate my inheritance in Christ. Just as the Lord restores truth to His Church, truth is also progressive for the believer too. Jesus said, The Holy Spirit will lead us into ALL truth. We of course must have ears to hear, and a heart to respond when this happens. We must do what the Bereans did in Acts 11 and search the Scriptures.
As a young man whilst attending Salvation Army Youth Councils I met some young people from a regional city and decided to move to that city for work and to be involved in the Salvation Army there. Soon after I started attending there, two ladies came into the corps and were very friendly with me. They gave me a small book written by William Booth-Clibborn the grandson of the Salvation Army. The book was entitled “The Baptism of the Holy Spirit” this was the same language used by the Holiness movement, but early in the 20th century many Christians came to see that to if you were filled with the Holy Spirit the evidence was that a person spoke in tongues. The Booth-Clibborn branch of the Booth family had become “Pentecostal”. So I began to seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit and this experience changed my life. Although I had become Pentecostal in my doctrine because of the call of God on my life I enrolled as a student at the S.A. College, by my 2nd year I knew that I had to move on and minister in the Pentecostal part of the Body of Christ. I Pastored churches for 22 years, then a further 25 years in teaching in Bible Colleges. It is only 2 years ago I retired from ministry and that was because of the staph infection. I am hoping to return to Asia this year.
So I am the product of two church traditions, the Holiness Movement and the Pentecostal Movement. I have already mentioned the danger in some groups to overemphasise a particular truth. In the Holiness movement in the past, individuals for example, took scripture out of context like “Come out from among them and be ye separate says the Lord and touch not the unclean thing” so would seek as little contact as possible with “the world” some not even eating with unbelievers, or say go to the movies etc. We must remember we “are in the world but not of the world”. We must be salt and light, how will the unsaved hear unless we spend time with them?
So the beautiful emphasis of the Holiness Movement is CHARACTER, that through Chris’s work on the cross, we can be more and more changed into His image.
Sadly, parts of the Pentecostal Movement have majored on CHARISMA or power,and highlighted things like healing the sick, casting out of demons, THE Gifts of the Spirit etc. Now Jesus said to the disciples in Acts 1.8 “You shall receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes upon you”. Some in the Holiness Movement neglected the power of the Holy Spirit and Pentecostals often did not emphasise enough CHARACTER and holy living.
If there is anything I have learnt in almost 50 years of ministry and 63 years a Christian is to seek to hold TRUTH IN BALANCE. It is not either CHARACTER OR CHARISMA but we need both in balance.
Another thing I have learnt is that God is still speaking to His Church and His people through the Word of God and through His servants, and in my time I have seen Him bring fresh emphasis on many things through great teachers like:
Praise & Worship
Faith and the Word of Faith
The Grace of God.
Sadly, I have seen rejection of these truths and overemphasis that has caused many problems in the Body of Christ.
Let us never say, we know it all, or there is nothing new to learn, Jesus said to the 7 churches in revelation HE THAT HAS AN EAR TO HEAR LET HIM HEAR. God is still speaking, may we always be listening.
This has been a lengthy blog, I trust it has stimulated your thinking and been a blessing to you. Will you respond and give me your comments please.