Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Lord our God is Breaking Out!

I have been transcribing a sermon that Dr Ern Baxter preached at my home church, New Covenant Church in Dunstable back in 1983 called "Sovereign Surprises". It is my hope to put it in its entirety on the blog for your use.

But I just couldn't resist giving a preview of some awesome quotes.

"A lot of Christian life is very plebeian and ordinary and mundane and unexciting and uninteresting and it shouldn’t be so. There should be an area of valid excitement that comes from having faith".

"We don’t have the option to get off the bus; for the simple reason that we are the ones who carry the mandate to change the world. It’s not the Conservatives, its not the Liberals, or the Progressives or the Communists or anybody else. We are the People of God! We are the new nation! We are the leavening agent! We are the light of the world – the salt of the earth! We are the people! Now in the light of that – look at yourself in the mirror and drop dead!"

"All through the Word of God there runs a line of information that tells us about God surprising people with His intervention"."Now in the burning bush, Moses got comissioned and is comissioned to deliver the children of Israel. Are you ready for a bush? If God suddenly breaks into your life and you see a pheneomenon like that, are you ready for it? Is it in your thoughts at all, this whole dimension of divine intervention? Or is tomorrow going to be like today?".

"Are we just going to go on in a kind of hum-drum existence - or do we have the biblical right to expect that God historically engaged in a process of divine intervention that gives us hope?".

I hope that gives a good preview! It really is a fantastic sermon that just had me riveted as I listened to it. This whole concept of God "breaking out" is one that isn't often spoken about. Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones seemed to touch on the same concept in his great sermons on "Revival" which I am reading again at the moment.

He said;

"We must ask ourselves how we can succeed if we do not have this authority, this commission, ths might and strength of power. We must become utterly and absolutely convinced of our need . We must cease to have so much confidence in ourselves and in all our methods and organisations and slickness. We have got to realise that we must be filled with God's Spirit" (p19)

"Are you really concerned about the present position (of the Christian church)? Are you desperately concerned about it? Are you praying about it? Do you ever pray for the power of God in the Church today?" (p19).

"(We must believe) the truth concerning the sovereign, transcendent living God who acts and who intervenes and erupts into the history of the Church and of individuals. I must start with that!" (p37).

The two sound very similar! I love that. We must believe in a sovereign, transcedent living God who acts, intervenes and ERUPTS into the history of the Church! I must finish by quoting this outstanding song that we sang at Stoneleigh Bible Week 2000 that really captures this essential concept of God "ERRUPTING" into history.

"Our God is strong and mighty, He's lifting up a shout,
It's rolling down like thunder, can you feel it shake the ground?
And every stronghold trembles, as we hear the Lion roar.

He's breaking out! The Lord our God is breaking out!
He's rising in this nation, He's coming into view.
Go tell it in the city, what Jesus' power can do.
We're losing our religion, He's even greater than we thought!
O God of mercy, God of love, come show us the glory of Your Name,
We're touched by the passion of Your heart, and nothing will ever be the same!".

Article Reference List of this website available here.


Don said...

Keep this stuff up, Dan!

In 1975 or 1976, I remember clearly CJ Mahaney saying, "God does not have 'Plan A' -- the Church -- and 'Plan B' -- somebody else! He only has 'Plan A!"

That's exactly what Baxter is saying here:
"We don’t have the option to get off the bus; for the simple reason that we are the ones who carry the mandate to change the world. It’s not the Conservatives, its not the Liberals, or the Progressives or the Communists or anybody else. We are the People of God! We are the new nation! We are the leavening agent! We are the light of the world – the salt of the earth! We are the people! Now in the light of that – look at yourself in the mirror and drop dead!"

Ha Ha -- I love that last sentence. A hard saying, and few can receive it! Open my ears, Lord!

Hugh Griffiths said...

Great post Dan! Christians should be living 'A Life Less Ordinary' that requires the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit in and through the believer. Our spiritual walk must be a dynamic, purposeful engagement with God - reality of experience as well as correctness of belief.

Look forward to the rest of the message ....

Ollie said...

Thanks so so much for this. To me THIS is the heart of why we seek so fervently for the Presence of the Spirit in our meetings. Not the gifts for gifts sake but that He may be present!! That He may be welcome!! That He may move among us!! Break out Lord!! Do it again!!

Anonymous said...

Yes this seems to me to be another vast chasm in the cessationist argument. They allow no room for the intervention of God into time and space. After all God has given us the Word of God and closed the canon - no more interventions allowed! Or is that unfair? I would be interested to hear from cessationists who yet do have a fervent belief in God coming and moving in revival. It just seems that once one begins tying God down and saying what He doesn't do and won't do, who knows and gives us authority for when He does?

What does Mahaney's hero MacArthur believe re: revival? Would he expect and pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to come?

Dr James M White

Anonymous said...

The Stoneleigh song is great apart from that line "We're losing our religion" - I know what it is trying to say but that line has put me off introducing/recommending it in church for fear of people getting wrong idea, particularly newcomers!

Baxter's Boy said...

Just to let you know that I have re-published the last couple of blog entries for two reasons. One, I was informed that by putting the Article Reference List at the top of each blog, it was making it take longer to load. And secondly a rather unsavoury spam comment was left which I wanted removed.

I do apologise again. As I have repeatedly said, I am an IT-ignorant! But I'm doing my best, so thanks for bearing with me, and thanks for letting me know if things are going wrong!!

Love to you all.

scotty said...

What an AWESOME concept!! I love it! And indeed it is true - it is there throughout the Bible! God breaking out again and again and again!!

Anonymous said...

I feel that there is an inherent danger in this "expectation" of God "breaking out" to use your terminology. Doesn't the Bible say that we should be "content in all things"? Surely to adopt this constantly looking mentality will create a restlessness in a local church that is not healthy.

Don said...

"You have not because you ask not."

Contentment should come from a growing delight in God as He is being revealed in teaching, worship and personal prayer. But contentment does not mean standing still or simply defending the status quo. The Kingdom of God must be always advancing.

The past century began with Wales and Azusa Street, and ended with concerted prayer toppling European Communism, and the '90s revival. Between the two, God was on the move constantly throughout the Earth.

The 24-7 prayer movement began in 1999-2000 (read and weep over RED MOON RISING, by Pete Greig!) and is sweeping the world. There are more healings being done now, than ever before. The Chinese Church is growing at an estimated 100,000 new believers PER DAY -- and signs 'n' wonders are commonplace. Last month there was a fresh revival at Asbury College in Kentucky. In the Muslim world, thousands are having personal visions of Jesus. In Africa, Christianity is quickly overcoming animism and Islam -- even the New York Times recently admitted that!

There is no reason to settle for the status quo, when God is so clearly showing His own restlessness with it. We need to beg him to sweep us up in the current waves of His Spirit, and make us participants -- not spectators -- in what He's doing around the world today.

" much more will He give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him."

jul said...

I was recently thinking along these lines, particularly the idea of praying for revival in an already healthy church. I was wondering if God intended us to be content with what we had, in the context of a very open and growing group of believers. Is it wrong or unnecessary to ask for more? This is the scripture that came to my mind as I was inwardly debating this concept:

"For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." (Matthew 25:29)

Once we have experienced God even a little bit, it is an insult to him if we do not eagerly desire more. He is infinite, and it is true worship and love that wants to know him more and more. We are to go on being filled. So while we are content in one sense, not needing or desiring anything else but God, should he allow us to lose everything as Job did, he never intended us to be so satisfied with our present experience of him that we should stop looking forward to future experiences of him. No earthly relationship would flourish under this kind of 'contentment' and neither will our relationship with Christ.


Baxter's Boy said...

Yes this is absolutely the cry of my heart. I have been reading much of C H Spurgeon on this and he asks the question concerning the river in Ezekiel - "How deep can we go?" - and the answer is so so challenging - "How deep do we want to go?".

I know the river commonly got associated with Toronto but it still stands as a valid illustration of experiencing God today I think. So many of us are just dipping are toes in. Or even just lapping from stagnant pools by the side of the river where it has splashed over. But we need to plunge in and just go for it!!

Don said...

Thanks, Jul! Yes, we must eagerly desire "more!"

CJ Mahaney used to say quite regularly, "Once the Holy Spirit gets hold of you, you're ruined for anything less."

More, Lord!

TACF's Robert Critchley has an absolutely lovely and haunting song called Waterfall (by Wayne Drain & Nathan Fancher) on his album, Keep Coming Holy Spirit (1999). It's one of those songs that makes the spirit within cry out to God:

In these last days, the rains will come
Early & late, the streams will run
Down to the sea, on to distant shores
The love of God will flow once more.

I read it in my Father's book
Now every day I run, I run to take a look
Is this the day He'll hear me call?
And let the rains pour over me.

Like a waterfall, wash over me
Above my ankles, rising up past my knees.
From head to toe, I want it all
Hear my cry, oh Lord
Let the waterfall.

Water falling with the sound
Of a thousand angels' wings
Stirring, healing deep within
With honest hearts
These songs we'll sing.

[repeat verse & chorus]

Baxter's Boy said...

That's a beautiful song. I do fear that the one thing we are losing from worship is a sense of "lingering" (a Piper-ism). What is it with the church!? We swing from one extreme to the other!! What the Charismatic Movement brought was a beautiful renewal of worship, and then we suddenly get all fearful that we are getting too "chummy" with God, so we switch back to intellectual, theological hymns and songs (if they've been written by Kauflin or Townend).

Why can't we do what John Piper envisaged and begin yes with the intellectual declarations of who God is, but then move into the lingering and enjoying of His Presence and His Name? I think it was TACF who have "Soaking Meetings" - I love the sound of them!!

Don said...

I agree, Dan, and in my experience some of the best soaking-type worship experiences come after singing praise and worship songs stuffed with high concentrations of biblical statements, about the greatness of God, what He's done for us, and how we love Him in return.

The Holy Spirit is a push-over, so to speak, for such loving worship -- when our hearts are bursting with gratitude, awe and wonder over God, He loves to make His presence and delight known to us!

(A number of Vineyard songs from the 90s focused on the joys of such experiences -- no doubt causing irritation in some who think God must be kept at a respectful distance. Oh, and did you know He's also not "my boyfriend?") ;-D

Baxter's Boy said...

He isn't!?!? Drat ... out go a whole heap of my theology books and my song books!! ;D Who came up with that bright idea then!?!

jul said...

As a worship songwriter, I am sensing the need and desire for more intimate songs. The problem with this whole "God is not my boyfriend" stuff is that we are taking words and concepts that more rightly belong to our relationship with God and letting the world steal them away from us. Why should we be careful to use words like 'beautiful' because we also use it to describe other things or people? If women are the standard of beauty, so that we can no longer contemplate what must be the vastly superiour beauty of our Creator, then we have a terrible problem on our hands. If any reference to intimacy conjures up ideas of sexuality in the middle of our worship, then we have serious issues to deal with. I don't think this is a problem for most people. I don't understand people who have a problem with more personal descriptions of our experience with God. It is probaly a sign of some deeply rooted misunderstandings about the nature of God and his desire to have a truly real and personal relationship with us. God is so big, that is is essential for us to focus on all the revealed aspects of his nature if we want to bring him true and spiritual worship. Then we will begin to relate to him more and more in the way he desires us to. Since we are into posting songs, I'll put one of my old ones here.

You've brought me into your house
And welcomed me into your arms
I cannot understand this love
It's not what I deserve

You paid for all my sin so great
And draw me close to you

I delight in you
All my heart wants is just to see you
I delight in you
I'm living just to hear your voice again

I'll find my every happiness
In waiting here for you
What ever you may ask of me
Is my greatest joy to do

You paid for all my sin so great
And draw me close to you

I delight in you...

I wrote this after the best dream I've ever had. I dreamt I was living in Jesus' house and can still remember the feeling of Him walking into the room where I was. This amazing feeling of his nearness and love stayed with me all the next day, and I've been praying for another of these dreams ever since!

Baxter's Boy said...

That is a truly beautiful song. You have a special gift there that I trust God begins to use in a special and powerful way more and more. I think you have touched on something that really stirs me and bothers me.

I don't like the touch of intimacy being robbed from us - hence my concerns with the Song of Solomon matter.

Yes of course there is a balance to be held and we must not become overly "chummy" with God - He is God! Yet the Son of God DIED that we might be able to call Him "Abba .. Daddy!". And I fear that those who most avidly defend the Cross are shying away from the intimacy that has been rightfully won for us because of it.