Tag Archives: Jessie Penn-Lewis

Opened Heavens by Jessie Penn-Lewis

In the autumn of 1900, Jessie Penn-Lewis gave a series of addresses at the Quiet Days for Christian Workers gathering in Peekskill, New York. Seven of these talks were collected into the pamphlet Opened Heavens. An additional lecture received its own printing known as Much Fruit. The focus of talks was the need for “Visions of God” to be given to the church to rightly see how one should live. These “visions” were not some height of ecstasy or prophetic dream, but rather they are to be a right understanding of the Scriptures as they pertain to God. In summary, if we rightly perceive the Lord in the Bible, then we will rightly know how to live.

The pamphlet is probably pretty heavy to those who are familiar with the easily accessible Christian writings of today. It starts with a call to the Christian to seek revelation about the persons of the Trinity. It then leads to an urging forĀ a complete denial of self and total service to the will of God. Finally it ends with an exposition on the work of Christ and how the reader should endeavor to partake in it. The language is lofty but the teaching cuts to the quick of an open heart. It has become increasingly harder in a day of instant self-gratification to lay your desires down for others – even more so for a God that calls for your whole life. Penn-Lewis does not ask for a casual faith nor does she want mediocre acknowledgments of the need. Her message is for a total life laid down.

I had the slightly uncanny experience of reading this book on the beach in Puerto Rico during an anniversary trip. Living the high life in the midst of beautiful, rich people gives a perspective to the thrust of this book that was a little unsettling. I was able to relax and get some well-deserved rest, but I was also encouraged by this tract to push deeper in my spiritual life – to get to the point where I could say with Ezekiel, “The heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.” (Ezekiel 1:1) A stern but ultimately encouraging read for those looking for a clearer grasp of the Godhood.

5 stars out of 10

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The Awakening in Wales by Jessie Penn-Lewis

Revival literature is a genre all its own. Surely it resembles other Christian writings in its main focus on Jesus and His work in the earth. However, no author – no matter how hard they try – can capture the tone that an eyewitness of a great moving of God can relate. It’s simply because the experience of seeing revival firsthand turns knowledge into understanding. Thankfully, Jessie Penn-Lewis was an eyewitness to the Wales Revival of 1904 and 1905. This little treatise on the movings of the Spirit is a well documented ledger of the awakenings that took place all over this small country. She is able to spread just a little ember of that fire that burned so brightly there; and maybe, this flame of hers will reignite again.

I have a special place in my heart for stories of revival. Maybe it’s because I’m looking for one for the world, or maybe it’s because I need one so badly for myself. Either way, to read tales of how Christ moved with power among the world bringing honor to Himself is glorious. I love missionary tales too (you’ll probably notice plenty on this site as time goes on), but seeing the church on a mountain top is always a precious encouragement. There’s a reason why we read Nathan Cole’s George Whitefield Comes to Middletown every October. We’re looking for fresh fire to fall from heaven.

This tract is a relatively basic overview of places, times, and events. There’s a short description of the call of Evan Roberts to the position of primary evangelist for this time. Christian conferences and town prayer-meetings are described. The words she uses are plain, but there is an authority in them. God’s Spirit moves in among the humdrum recollections of this and that. What a lesson for Christian writers who try to write an intriguing yarn or catch readers with a salacious hook. The simple truth is good enough. Penn-Lewis knows that and delivers it without decoration.

It is hard now a hundred and ten years later to see all the fruit that came from this shaking of Wales. The most obvious are the songs. The 1905 Wales revival is known as a “singing revival”. Many of the Welsh tunes are still with us today. They capture the pre-eminence of the message of Calvary and being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Dyma Gariad

Here is Love, vast as the ocean

Loving kindness as the flood,

When the Price of Life our ransom

Shed for us His precious blood;

Who His love will not remember?

Who can cease to sing His praise?

He can never be forgotten

Through Heaven’s eternal days.

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On the Mount of Crucifixion

Fountains opened deep and wide;

Through the floodgates of God’s mercy

Flowed a vast and gracious tide;

Grace and love, like mighty rivers,

Poured incessant from above,

And heaven’s peace and perfect justice

Kissed a guilty world in love.

7.5 stars out of 10