John G. Lake was a man who experienced apostolic ministry according to first century standards and changed the world every place that he went. His life and ministry was a representation of a vessel yielded to God as a habitation for His manifest presence. Through him the Holy Spirit was able to heal the sick, cast out demons, save the lost, and manifest the very nature and character of Christ. He demonstrated Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
By every Biblical definition, the life of John G. Lake represented true apostolic ministry. Through him the great commission became reality and the Kingdom of God was manifested on the earth. Great lessons can be learned from his life revealing the keys to his power with God. Careful examination of his life and ministry can help the Church for the coming visitation and restoration.
HAVING THE LORD’S POTENTIALS
When the time came for the Lord to be glorified through the sacrificial offering of His life, He made it clear that His life was likened unto a grain of wheat. When this grain of wheat dies it is for the purpose of bringing forth multiplied grains of wheat LIKE THE ORIGINAL GRAIN.
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. (John 12:24)
The Bible teaches, when the Lord returns we are to be like Him. The Holy Spirit residing in us will reveal the same attributes through us He did in the Lord Jesus Christ. This belief formed the cornerstone for the life and ministry of John G. Lake.
Lake believed the Lord would not commission us to do the works He did without adequately equipping us to do those works. He once commented, “We need to set our sights high and refuse the traditions of men who say that it is impossible to do as Jesus instructed us”.
True apostolic ministry is simply the extension of the ministry begun by the Lord, our ultimate example. The power of redemption is so great that sinners saved by grace and filled with the Holy Spirit are given the opportunity of carrying on the very ministry of Christ, doing the works He did. Lake is a token of this reality given to the 21st century. Our sights should be set equally as high.
HIS DEFINITION OF THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH
During the years preceding and following the turn of the twentieth century, Lake made a very notable and revealing observation. During those years there had been a tremendous outpouring of the Holy Spirit with great manifestations of power, signs and wonders. Their generation realized they were given an extraordinary opportunity of seeing the return of genuine apostolic ministry through the revelation of His Kingdom.
Lake later discerned his generation missed the mark by not realizing the true definition of the Apostolic Church. Some attempted to build an apostolic ministry around the doctrine and manifestation of healing power. Others aspired to establish the apostolic Church around the restoration of the gifts and speaking in tongues. Others endeavored to create and establish the apostolic order around the doctrine of holiness.
All of these qualities are attributes of the Holy Spirit and essential to the Church, yet do not singularly sustain apostolic ministry. Lake observed the people were absorbed in the phenomena of God and not the Person of God.
According to Lake, the truest definition of the apostolic Church can be expressed in the awesome and reverential experience of union with God and becoming One with Him. He believed the Church of his day did not regard the fullness of the Holy Spirit with the reverence due an experience so sacred and so terribly costly.
For this gift the Lord lived in the world, bled on the cross, entered the darkness of death, hell and the grave, grappled with and strangled the accursed powers of darkness, came forth again and finally ascended to Heaven in order to secure it for His Church.
He believed apostolic ministry is defined and realized through individuals becoming the habitation of God. The Holy Spirit literally manifested in the spirit, soul, and body of the believers taking total possession of His Church, bestowing upon her His qualities, attributes and potentials. This process was not merely a reformation; it was a renewal and transformation. Men and women renewed by the Spirit of God and transformed by the Holy Spirit, becoming One Spirit with Him.
Union with the Holy Spirit was not merely a gift of power but of God Himself. Out of necessity, Lake became acquainted with the healing power of God through the ministry of Alexander Dowie. During the later years of the nineteenth century he was miraculously healed of terminal illness along with his brother, his sister, and his wife. In addition, another sister was literally raised from the dead through the ministry of Dowie.
This introduction to the power of God began a quest in him to not only know the healing of God…but the God of healing. His desire was fulfilled, he describes, when he became the habitation of God in a powerful encounter with the Lord and His Glory.
At the age of sixteen John G. Lake came to know the saving power of Christ. His salvation experience was a very real one as displayed in his changed life. Many around him observed this transformation and said, “You are baptized in the Holy Ghost”.
While friends around him were saying he had been filled with the Holy Spirit, Lake experienced a hunger for more of God that was almost unbearable. He began to pursue the Lord and came to know the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit through the ministry of a layman named Melvin Pratt.
This precious brother introduced Lake to the washing of the water by the Word producing in him a much richer and anointed life. Those around him acknowledged that surely he had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Yet Bro. Lake hungered for more.
Several years later, Lake was introduced to the healing power of God through Alexander Dowie. After experiencing first hand this great power, he moved to Zion, Ill. and associated himself with Dowie. He received from the Holy Spirit a tremendous impartation of the healing anointing of God. Many miracles and manifestations of the Spirit followed him. Those around him again tried to convince him he had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
By the turn of the Century Lake had realized a powerful salvation experience, an even more powerful sanctification encounter and an impartation of the ministry of healing. At each juncture those around him tried to convince him he had received the fullness of the Holy Spirit, yet his heart burned for more of God than ever before.
As a result he began a season of fasting, pray and waiting upon the Lord for a nine-month duration. During this time he desperately searched for the place in God that would satisfy the longing of his heart. At the end of the time of separation, Lake had an awesome experience with the Lord. In it, Lake found himself surrounded in a cloud of glory. Volumes of virtue and power surged through his innermost being with waves of glory.
Lake later spoke of this experience saying, “the glory of this experience remained in my soul. I found that my life began to manifest in the varied range of the gifts of the Spirit. Healings were of a more powerful order. My nature became so sensitized that I could lay my hands on any man or woman and tell what organ was diseased, and to what extent”.
He knew he had been immersed in the Holy Spirit and become a dwelling place of God. His heart and soul were now satisfied the Holy Spirit was residing in him speaking through him and saturating every fiber of his being.
It was during this season that science even testified to the healing and re-creative power of the Holy Spirit. Lake would visit hospitals and begin to diagnose cases the doctors were unable to analyze. The physicians later testified his diagnosis was correct.
On another occasion he submitted himself to the scrutiny of microscopes and x-ray machines so doctors could witness the Power of God as he prayed for individuals. They would actually attach the instruments to patients and watch through the most powerful instruments of science as tissue began to be restored and human cells responded to the power of prayer.
Finally his heart was satisfied he had received the fullness of the Holy Spirit producing the nature and character of Christ within him. He believed, as the Scriptures teach, this indwelling experience now equipped him to carry on the ministry of Christ as did the early Apostles.
During the winter of 1913, Lake presented a teaching to the Church of England entitled, “Triune Salvation”. This teaching revealed a key secret to his power and intimacy with God.
So significant was its content that the Bishop of London wrote of it saying, “It contains the spirit of primitive Christianity and reveals the distinction between the Christian soul of the first and twentieth century, the Spirit of Christ’s domain, by which Christianity attained its spiritual supremacy…It is one of the greatest sermons I have ever heard and I recommend its careful study by every priest”.
In this study, Lake reveals the important significance of our complete redemption on all three levels of human life. Complete redemption of our spirit, perfect deliverance of our soul (mind) and complete freedom of our body.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
Lake taught it was the tendency of the average Christian to cease in their quest for God at the atonement of their spirit. He believed it was equally as important for the believer to allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify the soul and the body in order for the individual to become the habitation of God.
The sanctification of the soul literally involved the impartation of the mind of Christ. John Wesley defined sanctification as “possessing the mind of Christ and all the mind of Christ”. This level of consecration was essential for our thoughts to be perfectly in tune with the Lord’s thoughts and our ways consistent with His.
Complete sanctification of our soul and mind also involved the renewal of our emotions. Many believers are trapped in the tyranny of grief over the past. We are a new creation and all things have become fresh, past failures have been erased by the blood of Christ.
Grief will ultimately lead to bitterness and bitterness will defile. Consequently, it is essential we allow the Holy Spirit to thoroughly consecrate and sanctify our soul, mind, and our emotions in order to become the tabernacle of the Holy Spirit.
Complete triune salvation also involved the separation of the believer from all that would defile, recognizing our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and should be consecrated accordingly. Romans 8:11 declares, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.”
The Lord’s imparted life granted through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit will provide divine health and freedom from the lusts that are the result of man’s fallen condition.
Lake taught that the genuine Christian is a separated person. Alienated forever unto God in all the departments of life; his body, his soul and his spirit are forever committed to the Lord. This absolute abandonment to God or “triune salvation” is the real secret to the successful Christian life and essential to becoming the habitation of God.
Unconditional consecration makes the Christian, according to John G. Lake, a Christ-man and reveals the secret of life and communion with God through the Holy Spirit secured within our entire being.
NOT WITHOUT HOLINESS
Without holiness the complete purposes of the Church cannot be fulfilled. A Holy God can only dwell in a pure vessel. John G. Lake once said, “Think not that thou shalt attain the highest in God until within thine own soul a Heavenly longing to be like Him who gave His life for us possesses our own heart.”
Holiness and sanctification are sometimes used interchangeably in the Scriptures. A holy and sanctified condition can only be realized when our own fleshly nature is first revealed to us. Once the tares of our human soul are uncovered we then call upon the grace of God to separate us from all that is ungodly and purge our spirit, soul and body from every worldly tendency.
Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will seeThe Lord. (Hebrews 12:14 )
As Lake once put it, “There arises in the heart the desire and prayer for the Spirit of God to eject, crucify and destroy every tendency of the opposition of the Holy Spirit”
The heart of man must be purged by holy fire and washed from every stain by the cleansing blood of Christ. Those who desire to be a partaker of the nature of Christ must ever feel the purging power of Christ within. Once the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us, there is a release of power through the indwelling Spirit lifting us above the lusts and desires of this world allowing the believer to live a holy and consecrated life.
This desire for the purity of God’s nature reveals a vital ingredient in the life and ministry of John G. Lake. As he put it in 1916, “Holiness is the character of God. The very substance of His being and the essence of His nature is purity”. The purpose of God and the salvation of mankind is to produce in man a kindred holiness, a radiant purity like unto that of God Himself.
CLOTHED IN A SPIRIT OF HUMILITY
Another important attribute in the ministry of Lake was his commitment to living in a spirit of humility. Lake often quoted:
You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (I Peter 5:5)
If we are to return back to the future, our true apostolic heritage and Kingdom example, we must adhere to the qualities demonstrated by our apostolic fathers.
In Acts 20:19, the Apostle Paul acknowledges his commitment to humility in his service to the Lord. The resolution to humility by the first century apostle burned equally as bright in the heart of John Lake, a twentieth century apostle.
Lake desired to follow the example evidenced in Moses and seek to be the most meek man in the land. By virtue of this commitment to humility, he was able to say “the Spirit of God ran through my person like a river of Heavenly fluid. Cancers withered under my touch, cripples of every type were instantly restored and works of creation in the bodies of men took place as a result of humbling myself under the mighty hand of God”.
Like Moses, he desired to not only see the acts of an awesome God but to understand His ways. As a result, he discovered the Lord’s way is through servanthood and a spirit of humility clothing the believer.
It is only through amazing grace the nature and works of Christ can be exhibited through us. God gives His grace to the humble. Humility is truly a key ingredient to the restoration of true apostolic ministry and the return of the shekinah glory to the Church.
Alexander Dowie, a mentor of Lake, once said of humility, “in becoming an apostle, it is not a question of rising high, it is a question of becoming low enough. It is not a question of becoming a Lord over God’s heritage, but it is a question if a man shall be called to be an apostle whether he can get himself low enough to say from the depths of his heart as did the Apostle Paul, “it is a faithful saying, worthy of all acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners of whom I am chief.”.
THE EMPOWERING PRESENCE
As with the first century apostles, Lake would not attempt full-time ministry until he had been endued with power from on high.
Even though the early apostles had received an anointing from the Lord for casting out evil spirits and healing the sick, they had not yet become the dwelling place of God until the day of Pentecost had fully come. It is one thing to receive anointings or gifts from the Lord, yet altogether another to become the literal dwelling place of the manifest presence of God.
Lake knew the reality of the empowering presence of God abiding within, anointing and equipping him to, not only minister healing and salvation to a lost world, but to also express the radiant presence of a Holy God. As he expressed it, “becoming a Christ-man having all the potentials through the Holy Spirit that resided in Christ Himself”.
His indwelling presence makes the believer a master over every power of darkness that is in the world. He is to be God’s representative in the world. His presence in a Christian is to be as powerful as the Holy Spirit was in the life of Christ. Consequently, fear of evil spirits and demonic opposition is out of the question. Not because of any merits of our own but because of the Lord’s dominion and victory.
Lake spent a season of prayer and fasting precisely seeking a special anointing for casting out demons. The Lord graciously responded to the request of his servant by imparting a powerful authority and boldness necessary when dealing with evil spirits. As a result, people traveled to his meetings from all over the world to be delivered and set free from demonic opposition. Tremendous testimonies are on record as evidence of this ministry.
The Lord’s empowering presence also carried Lake to substantially broadened understanding of the Scriptures. Powerful and revelatory sermons emerged from the apostle of faith as he allowed the Holy Spirit to unfold the mysteries of the Kingdom. According to numerous reports, he had the capacity to inspire faith in the hearts of those who heard him.
Lake was a man without compromise when it involved the Spirit’s revelation of the Word. He utterly refused to jeopardize the true revelation of the Word for a false unity that he believed resulted in spiritual weakness. He believed “principle” is better than unity and the ultimate end of “principle” would result in the true unity of the faith as described in Ephesians 4:13.
Lake believed the secret to Christianity is not in DOING but in BEING. It is in being the possessor of the divine nature of Christ and His empowering presence. We are to be the reflection of Christ’s character and our message should be in the demonstration of the Spirit and power. It is by becoming one with the Father that we know peace in the midst of storms. It is through the Lord’s abiding presence we find the secret place of the most High and abide under the shadow of the Almighty.