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The Legacy of John Robert Stevens

June 7th, 2011

John Robert Stevens passed away on June 4, 1983.

A few days ago, I was thinking about Stevens on the anniversary of his passing, and I realized that there is a difference between talking about legacy and talking about history. A legacy intimates that there is something real that can be passed down from generation to generation. A history, on the other hand, is just a knowledge of past events.

I believe that John Robert Stevens left behind a legacy, which can be seen, felt, touched.

Personally, I know that I stand in Stevens’ legacy. My father received great things from God through Stevens. And I believe that I continue to receive great things from God through my father, through Gary Hargrave, and through the Word that John Robert Stevens left behind. That’s a legacy, not a history.

I searched in Stevens’ messages for that word legacy. That’s how I found the previous quote I posted, in which John discusses the legacy of victory that we have in Jesus Christ. I love the use of that word here, because the authors of the Bible—and therefore, God Himself—seem to place a great emphasis on legacy. The entire New Testament opens with the genealogy of Jesus!

There is something tangible in the concept of a legacy. Jesus Christ lived on this earth and changed the entire history of this universe by his decisions and actions. How incredible is it to think that Jesus includes us in that legacy! If all we have is a history of Jesus, that knowledge does nothing to spur us to live our lives differently. If we see the legacy of Jesus, then we feel a first-hand inclusion into a different reality that He opened up for us to walk into. As II Corinthians 5:17 tells us: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” That’s an experience of legacy, not history.

And in following the example of Jesus, there are many men and women of God who have left us a legacy. Hebrews 11 is known as “the roll call of faith,” because it lists all the ones who left a legacy of believing God and His Word. There are also great men and women in the history of the Church who have left us a legacy of wisdom and understanding. These are the ones who created the spiritual realities that we stand in today. They are also the ones who left us some legacy items which are true problems, but that’s a different topic!

If we choose to open our eyes, the proof of the tangibility of legacy is all around us. This is very different than history.

So in reflecting upon the death of one great man of God, John Robert Stevens, I cannot help but sit in awe of the things I’ve inherited through his legacy. This even connects me to the ones whose legacy Stevens drew upon in his lifetime, including those who ushered in the outpouring at Azusa Street.

If all we have is a history, then we lack the true impact of the lives of those who built what we stand in today. However, if our eyes are opened to see a legacy, then we carry the purpose and effectiveness of those— like Stevens—who followed God’s voice in their lives and created the ongoing fulfillments that culminate in the Kingdom of our Heavenly Father.

And now excuse me while I figure out how to change the name of this blog…


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