Saturday, February 04, 2006
Drink ... Or the Nations Will Not Come.
I have been so impressed all today with the quote of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones that I included in my writings yesterday. Let me remind you - he urged:
The responsibility of Christians is very great. We have to start with the Church, not with the world outside. The chief trouble is in the Church. The masses are outside largely because we who are inside are not attracting them."We are failing to give the impression that we have the most glorious of all possessions. We give an impression of lethargy, of slowness and of dulness, there seems to be more life outside. The church should be the most exciting and thrilling place in the world and if she is not, we are somehow or other, "quenching the Spirit" - from the CD of his sermons on "Quenching the Spirit".
It is gradually dawning on me more and more that the grace of God through His Spirit is not just an "option". A useful extra that we can access if we so wish! It is far more than simply calling one's church; "Grace ...". Some of the most legalistic churches can hide under the banner of grace! No - enjoying God's grace, benefiting from and drawing on God's grace through the life in the Spirit and the filling - the drenching of the Spirit is the ULTIMATE IMPERATIVE!
We simply must do it! Or the nations will not come! And why should they?! As I was walking home from work, I felt God gave me a picture of our current experience of the Spirit. That we are lapping from stagnant pools of water where He poured out His Spirit in the past. We may be lapping from the stagnant pool of the 1970's. Or from the stagnant pool of 1994-95. But the horror is that the risen and exalted Lord Jesus stands at the right hand of the Father - the keeper of an everlasting Spring of Living Water that will quench us and flood us and change us forever! After all - isn't that what He said? "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink ... this He spoke of concerning the Spirit".
I worry that in our effort to protect the validity of the baptism of the Spirit, we neglect to focus on the ultimate imperative - that of drinking of the Spirit. Terry Virgo spoke on the relative ease (dare I say it reverently) of drinking of the Spirit - at Stoneleigh Bible Week 1998. His message was: "Gathered Together as One Man". Here is a transcript of that section:
"I've been continually recommending Gordon Fee's bok about "God's Empowering Presence" and again this one; "The Spirit and the People of God". I have found working my way through these books a terrific revelation of the place of the Holy Spirit and it has done me such good, studying the Word about this subject and the key place of the Holy Spirit. The enjoyment of the continual flow of the Holy Spirit is so very important to us - keep receiving, keep receiving.
Didn't you love Ken Gott last year? There was a phrase he used - I won't ever forget it, I think. I've been living in the good of it. There are some people, he said, who are what he calls; "Serious drinkers". And he was talking about the alcoholic types. And serious drinkers, he said, have got bottles everywhere. And that image stayed with me, because I have known people who in their filing cabinets in their office - you pull out the 3rd draw and there it is! So serious drinkers have got bottles everywhere. And really really serious drinkers have a hip flask anyway!
And he was talking about, "Dont be filled with wine, but be filled with the Spirit". And that really stayed with me - yes, I can be a serious drinker. I can stop anywhere and say; "Oooh thank you Lord! Oooh!". I have found that such a blessing - I have been in a situation and just put my hand on the door and stepped back and thought - serious drinkers would have that hip flask out now. I thought; "Right, I'm a serious drinker - here we go! Ooh thank you Lord!". We need to keep on drinking! Keep on receiving! It's very important that we do that!".
For those more serious readers who wince at that, I read again the clauses for receiving and drinking of the Spirit. Thirst. Is anyone thirsty? Then come. It didn't say; "Is anyone rightous?" or "Did anyone get up at 5 o clock this morning to read their Bible?" (thank God!!) - it said is anyone THIRSTY? Do we really know true thirst for the Spirit of God? Or have we deceived ourselves that the stagnant pool of some decades ago quenches our thirst and will suffice. That is NOT acceptable! With all due respect, I believe that what Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones could have been suggesting is that the world won't come into the Church because they look at us and see an emaceated people who are struggling in the wilderness - yet are foolishly ignoring the torrent that is streaming right near them. Why should they come!? I wouldn't!
I must close with a quote from Terry's awesome "God's Lavish Grace" that is so undergirding everything that I experienced last weekend when he brought that prophetic bombshell on my wilderness life:
"Don't walk in the shadows when you could be in the sunshine. Don't wander into uncertainity, vulnerability and condemnation when you could be enjyoing the privilidges of grace and expressing continual appreciation to God for His amazing favour.
Don't question or doubt God's love or constantly ask Him to prove it by repeated "Gideon's fleeces". Take responsibility for keeping yourself in God's love. Plunge into its depths and soar to its heights. Explore its breadths. Contemplate its everlasting length. He has loved you with an everlasting love. He has always loved you and will never stop loving you".
And then Terry draws the connection close between God's lavish grace and the Spirit of God:
"Paul engaged in Holy Spirit inspired activity, deliberately enjoying God's empowering Presence in His personal life on a regular basis. He knew that his body was a temple of the Holy Spirit where Spirit-inspired worship could regularly take place".