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Miracles and the Gifts of the Spirit All Through Church History

Historian Jeff Oliver has written a three-volume series on how the gifts of the Spirit have continued all through Christian history. speaks with Jeff about his series and how we should expect God to do supernatural things through his church today. Tell us some of your story. What Christian traditions influenced you growing up and how did you become interested in the renewalist movement of Pentecostals and charismatics?

Jeff Oliver: I was raised in the Dutch Reformed Church in Schenectady, New York. My family moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, when I was a teenager. There we joined a Methodist Church (since there were no Reformed churches). At the Methodist Church, I was exposed to a Spirit-filled evangelist. I prayed, “Lord, whatever it is that this man has that I don’t have, I want it!” A few weeks later, a friend invited me to a downtown storefront charismatic church. I thought it was a bilingual church because one pastor spoke in a foreign language and another interpreted what he said in English. The Holy Spirit fell on me, as on the day of Pentecost, and I raised my hands and spoke in tongues. I have been a Pentecostal-charismatic ever since. You have written the three-volume book Pentecost to the Present. How did you become interested in writing about the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts?

Jeff Oliver: While serving as a Christian Education Director for a large independent Pentecostal church in Lakeland, Florida, the senior pastor kept teasing me saying, “Jeff, if only you were a Pentecostal, you’d be all right.” Or, “Jeff, we’re going to make a Pentecostal out of you yet!” This led me to research the nuances between Pentecostals and charismatics and the origins of Pentecostalism. But it seemed no matter how far back I went, there was always more. Finally, the Lord challenged me one day saying, “Why don’t you go back to the day of Pentecost and study church history in the order the events actually took place?” I did, and what I found was nothing short of shocking and amazing in light of an abbreviated Pentecostal history. Then I learned there was this whole pool of Pentecostal scholars who knew all this, studied and wrote books to each other about it, while the rest of the church remained largely ignorant. Someone had to tell the church. Briefly tell us what is contained in each volume.

Jeff Oliver: Book One: Early Prophetic and Spiritual Gifts Movements covers the period from the early church through the Middle Ages when much of Northern Eu­rope was converted through miracle-working missionary monks. Book Two: Reformations and Awakenings covers the period from the Middle Ages to the early twentieth century, including the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and how they affected Christianity both in Europe and in the New World. Book Three: Worldwide Revivals and Renewal brings us up to the present day, sparked by the 1904-05 Welsh Revival and the Azusa Street Revival in 1906 followed by the charis­matic renewal and the global rise of Pentecostalism.

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Category: Church History, Winter 2018

About the Author: Jeff Oliver is an inspirational speaker and author of Pentecost to the Present: The Holy Spirit's Enduring Work in the Church. This three-volume (Book 1: Early Prophetic And Spiritual Gifts Movements, Book 2: Reformations And Awakenings, Book 3: Worldwide Revivals And Renewals) series traces our Spirit-filled heritage to ancient times and gives documented historic evidence of signs, wonders and miracles continuing in the church to this present age. Jeff is also founder and president of Global Wakening, a ministry that is inspiring and equipping a new generation with a supernatural Christian worldview to help ignite a global wakening of God's church.

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