Monday, January 09, 2006
"Where Are We Going?" - The Land According to Dr Ern Baxter.
From the Dales Bible Week 1976
I wrote a reflection last month about the dizzy heights of the Charismatic Movement in 1975-77 and wondered why it died out, suggesting that the blame lay in part with the pastor/teachers who attended the Bible Weeks and did not carry the vision presented by Ern Baxter and the other apostles back to their local churches. Someone commented and asked what exactly IS the land? Traditionally hymns and some sermons have argued that the land of Canaan symbolises heaven and the passage through the Jordon River signifies death. C H Spurgeon would have backed Ern Baxter up in arguing not so - after all there were giants in Canaan! The land therefore represented something else that is extremely significant for Christians today. So here is an outline of his keynote address at the Dales.
The Land, Located and Described.
Ern based his sermon and indeed the series on a principle of interpretation put forward by the great Saint Augustine: "The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed" (1 Corinthians 11:13, Romans 1:20) or "that which is natural is first, that which is spiritual is second".
He said; "In the building of the Tabernacle, God projected and materialised what He was lik in His native element - He put it into a physical thing so that people could recognise what they saw was what God was like".
If we accept that the Red Sea may symbolise baptism in water and that Manna may symbolise Christ, the bread of life and that the Tabernacle has a fulfillment in the church and the the High Priest has a fulfilment in Jesus then we may ask - what is the land?
The Land is - according to Romans 4:13 - the world or the earth.
Ern said; "This race can only come about by a huge reproduction that means there is going to be a Gentilic reproduction of such dimensions that there are going to be more Gentiles saved in this period than in the whole of history. The curse on ethnic Israel will be lifted and they will see the Deliverer coming out of Zion - what is Zion? The people of God".
"There is coming a time when the bulk of Christian believers will far outnumber the non. The Bible doesn't say men are going to get worse - it says the wicked are going to get worse. But as the wicked get wickeder, the rightous get 'rightouser'. As the wicked get fewer, the rightous get more. As the light shines into the darkness, the darkeness cannot arrest it".
The Land is divinely prepared for us.
(Exodus 23:20) "The place I which I have prepared". Our evangelical theology has for far too long been redemptive - we are saved and going to heaven. We have forgotten the doctrine of PROVIDENCE. God isn't the God of just Christians (Psalm 24:1). So can it not be within the scope of His authority to claim what is rightfully His? "Ask and I will give you the nations".
Who's world is it? The meek shall inherit the earth! Who's world is it? Ours!
The Land is the Place of God's Personal Presence.
Initially God said to Moses that He would allow the people of Israel to go into the land but He would not be going with them because they were "an obstinate people". Moses pleaded with God in a famous intercession and in the end God appeared to relent. The basis of Moses argument was that the people are NOTHING without the Personal Presence of God.
Ern paid particular reference to the Kansas City Shepherds Conference where 5, 000 pastor/teachers came to hear God's Word preached. He said that the atmosphere was outstandingly powerful and many testified that the whole conference was full of angels. "Something brushed by me". The high praises of God rose unrestrained and it was a never to be forgotten experience of the Presence of God.
He said; "It is not our clever theologies or our human abilities but the Presence of God that will make us different and enable us to go into the land and destroy the giants. We are going to win this warfare by coming against the already defeated principalities and powers, and paralysing them in such a manner that we will release mankind to the gloriously redemptive power of Jesus Christ".
In conclusion - God is putting the world into confusion while at the same time getting His people in order. Then there will come a sound from heaven - the blast of a silver trumpet and we will rise up and go over the Jordan and into the land!
Next: I will put this sermon in the context of Ern Baxter's series at the Bible Week.