Pastor Lloyd Longfield and the ‘Tent Mission’, Australia, circa 1950s
This same experience, with the Bible sign of speaking in other tongues is still how people join the church today.
Revival Centres history
We began to be called “revival centres” from around 1958 and went ‘official’ with “Revival Centres of Australia” in the mid 1980′s. This label was just in time to be inaccurate, as our overseas missions also began around this time. Soon we had to change to “Revival Centres International”.
A lot of things have happened along the way: some good, some difficult, some amusing, some exciting.
We are still trying to get a photo of the infamous Melbourne Truth headline: “Woman in Bath on Stage” (referring to, but not stating, that this was a baptism). Any help appreciated.
Fifty years on…
The Revival Centres (although not called that at the time) began in Melbourne, Australia, just over 50 years ago when just a few people were filled with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Relatively little was known about this experience, but it engendered respect for God’s word in those of us who received it, as well as the desire to keep the message simple and scriptural. We soon found that we were being challenged to move outside the dictates of the Bible, but we chose to remain within the confines of scripture.
As we continued to preach the simple salvation message, our assemblies spread throughout Victoria and Australia. We chose to ignore the many unscriptural extravagances that were being introduced into the pentecostal scene. The challenge to the simple, scriptural way was that almost any unrestrained behaviour was acceptable if given a biblical name. We were expected to conform with the majority or risk failure by standing alone. Our experience was then, and still continues to be, that the Lord’s blessing and response are dependent on obedience to His scripturally specified requirements, not on an emotional display that has no Biblical premise.
The Revival Centres maintained a simple approach and rejected the principle of unity that was achieved by agreeing to differ. The practice of claiming to be united while promoting profound differences of behaviour and doctrine does not correspond with the message of the Bible.
Today we still believe that the teaching of the Bible embraces repentance, water baptism, and the receiving of the Holy Spirit with signs following; the relevant scriptures are well known. The true Church – and there is only one – began on the day of Pentecost. The Bible demands the experience of receiving the Holy Spirit that was initiated on that day, but many pentecostal groups do not. Doctrine must conform with scripture.
A particularly important area in which we were confronted with significant divergence from Bible teaching was regarding moral issues. The Bible gives explicit instructions about action to be taken in cases of immorality. The Bible states: “… let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints” (Ephesians 5:3). There are Spirit-filled groups that overlook this biblical guidance.
Many books, claiming personal and private gifts and revelations that are not identified in the Bible, have been published. As a result of such claims, the gift of knowledge has become a series of guessing games about the health problems or misdeeds of members of many pentecostal congregations. This gift is the knowledge of God as a result of receiving the Holy Spirit – it is not knowledge about each other.
The discernment of spirits referred to by the apostle Paul in the book of Corinthians has been taken out of context. Attempts to identify devils and demons in Spirit-filled people are the result, and in many cases the work of the Holy Spirit has been undone by fanatical demonology.
The truth about salvation has been undermined, and the operation of Spiritual gifts falsified, by flagrant misappropriation of God’s promises. Pentecostalism has compromised the true meaning of new life in the Lord by using the parable of the prodigal son to allow continual forgiveness for behaviour that is denounced in the Bible and therefore is unacceptable in the Church.
Thousands of people searching for the truth have been deceived into believing ideas that sound reasonable and loving, but which contravene scriptural requirements. Thousands of people have become disillusioned as a result of trial and error ministry. Sin is being condoned, and those wanting to uphold the truth of the word of God are being condemned.
We agree that the only Christian (anointed one) is one who has received the Holy Spirit, but we do not accept the compromise and extravagance that many groups have adopted. When we began 50 years ago, Spirit-filled people did not fall over in the prayer line, dance in the Spirit, nor wave their hands in the air during prayer times and chorus singing, to name just a few of the behavioural extremes that have become common among pentecostal groups. They have changed; the gospel has not. If you can quote a scriptural reference to substantiate these practices we will conform. One of the latest fads – laughing in the Spirit, also known as the “Toronto experience” – was reported in Time magazine. It is no wonder that many people regard God and His offer of salvation with contempt!
The gospel of salvation is simple and the Church of the Bible must be spiritually and morally responsible. I personally hope that every Spirit-filled believer will rise to meet the Lord in the air when He returns. However, we are commanded in the Bible to resist anything that discredits the scriptures. Those who accommodate compromising attitudes and practise unscriptural extravagances are taking a very big risk.
For these reasons alone, we believe that we must remain autonomous. The Revival Centres will continue to keep the Bible pattern as directed, and are there for those who will accept the basic fundamentals of salvation as the Bible presents them. It is as simple as that.
This is the message in our Jubilee year and continues to be so until Jesus comes again.
Pastor Lloyd Longfield (1998)