Friday, June 30, 2006

Strategies for our Church Planting Mission to the Nations.

I want to tie together a few threads of thought following on from Mark’s excellent post on “The Results Driven Church” and my few notes on “Apostolic Ministry and Apostolic Extension”. I had a very profitable coffee yesterday with a very wise man who shared a picture that blew me away as we were discussing these things.

He is quite a fan of mountaineering and had read a book by Chris Bonnington about climbing Mount Everest. Apparently there are two possible ways. One can climb Everest in about 10 days on their own by travelling lightly and at great speed. But the other way is to climb it quite strategically. You gather a sizeable team at base camp at the foot of Everest and ensure that you have sufficient provisions and equipment. The team then begin to move up the mountain in stages bit by bit carrying equipment, supplies and provisions up to higher up camps. Once the team reach what is called “Ascension Camp”, some are then appointed to make the summit and then they leave carrying exactly what they need to make it up to the top and get back down again. The whole strategy of this relies on every man being in the right place at the right time with the right equipment. If anything is out of place then the mission will fail and the summit will not be reached.

The question burning in my mind is – can this picture be effectively applied to what I have been addressing in the essential relationship between the primacy of church planting and the primacy of the Ephesians 4 ministries? I have to ask this – are we acting like the first man and heading out to plant churches travelling lightly and at great speed but alone? Or are we prepared to think through seriously the second, more strategic way of reaching the goal. A word like the “1000 churches” word that John Kpipi brought at Stoneleigh Bible Week is extremely exciting and stirring but I wonder if there is a danger that we rush to plant the 1000 churches too quickly and with little preparation. But John Kpipi’s prophecy didn’t carry a time limit! Are we prepared to plan and to work in such a way that will ensure greater success? So how would such a strategy work?

My limited knowledge of the Ephesians 4 Ministries are that each are given by the ascended Christ, equipped and gifted for specific and certain goals and we expect the wrong ministries to fulfil the wrong tasks to our peril. In my blog on the apostle, I quoted Mark Heath’s useful breakdown of the Ephesians 4 Ministries that I think is a very useful summary;

The apostle loves to build the church through church planting and overseeing the early stages of growth.

The prophet loves to build the church through hearing God's word of encouragement and guidance in season and passing it on.

The evangelist loves to build the church through proclaiming the gospel and seeing people saved and added to the church.

The pastor loves to build the church through caring for each person individually, seeing that they are helped in times of trouble and protected in times of danger.

The teacher loves to build the church through grounding them in the word of God, bringing them to maturity”.

If that is the case and this summary is accurate, then are pastors equipped to plant churches? Is it a sensible and safe policy to allow men who are clearly gifted as pastors to “go out” and plant new churches in fresh harvest ground and expect them then to succeed?

If we apply the picture of our strategic ascension of Everest, then the strategy that presents itself to me is that it is the apostle who is gifted to see a new area ripe for a church plant that has been perhaps spied out by the prophet and confirmed as of God. He should then move into that area with his team – especially the evangelist who is specifically equipped to blow open the unreached people groups in whatever area they have gone and to see the lost stream into the new church. Yet there is no biblical mandate for the apostle and his team to then race on to the next plant or national conference! As Terry Virgo wrote so rightly – the apostle has other duties too.

Dave Holden’s definition of the apostle still remains the best that I have found;

"1. To ensure that the church is moving on to ‘regions beyond’.

2. To care for all the churches they serve – this may include laying foundations or fathering a church through all kinds of challenges.

3. To define doctrine that will help shape a church in what she believes and will result in practice that glorifies God. This doctrine, of course, has its authority in God’s Word alone and will prevent the church from being blown about by new doctrinal trends.

4. To impart the Holy Spirit. This could be introducing people to the baptism in the Holy Spirit, or enabling a church to have fresh encounters of the Holy Spirit. It may also be signs and wonders. Apostolic ministry is far more to do with impartation than administration.

There is a desperate need for the apostle to see the new converts that have been reached by the evangelists to be baptised in the Holy Spirit! This is a must if the church is to become a community that is alive in the Spirit. John Hosier wrote in his excellent “Christ’s Radiant Church” that the apostle is there to see the church becomes well established.

There are a number of similarities between the picture of Everest and of church planting. Both are extremely hard! I don’t think that should be undermined at all – this could be a danger if the thrust is to achieve 1000 churches and churches of 1000s. We are in a spiritual battle. I realise that Newfrontiers view of spiritual warfare may be slightly more conservative than my own, but Ephesians makes it absolutely clear that spiritual principalities and powers are opposing us as we strive to plant churches and establish those communities among people groups that are opposed to us. In fact – I would go one step further; I think that ascending Everest could be actually easier than planting a church! Both require absolute determination and commitment to a vision. This is where my belief that Dave Holden is absolutely right by saying “Your eschatology affects your ecclesiology” comes in. If we do not have a vision that the gospel will absolutely be successful and that Jesus’ enemies will be made His footstool before He returns, then our church planting and church foundation will be affected.

Now please understand me – this is not a criticism or a critique of Newfrontiers. I love Newfrontiers. And I am not privy to the inner circle of church planting planning that I have no doubt goes on. Please let me make that clear. Maybe this all happens! But I wanted to share what I think it a vital God-breathed picture of strategy and care in the fact that there is a parallel between climbing a high mountain and planting a new church. And I have seen again that the link between church planting and the Ephesians 4 Ministries is absolutely vital – both are of primacy!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Eschatological Autobiography by Dr Ern Baxter.

I feel that there is an amazing symmetry between what I am thinking through on this blog and what Mark is writing about on his blog. His latest post, "The Results Driven Church" really hits at the heart of something I have been concerned about for ages. Mark summarises his post by saying; "Existing churches will also be reminded that they don't just exist for their own benefit as they release people to be part of a wider global mission, and new people are raised up to serve in their place". One must ask - a mission for what? I think David Holden summed it up excellently in his address at the Brighton Leadership conference in 2000 where he said; "Your eschatology will affect your ecclesiology".

Dr Ern Baxter didn't write much of an autobiographical nature, but in an unpublished book he wrote on the subject of Israel, I found a fascinating piece where he detailed how he moved through all the major eschatological positions in his ministry and how he ended up where he did. Here is the transcript:

"I have been on a journey over fifty years in the Word of God. I've divided that journey into three periods which I've called my dispensational years, my amillenial years and my victory years.

After a dynamic, dramatic experience of God, I was brought, in the providence of God into the company of an unusal and unique group of men who really don't have any paralell apart from some in Charismatic areas in recent years. These were men, many from seminarian, theological backgrounds who had, by the grace of God, been brought to see the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but due superficially at least to their seminary and theological training they were quite unable to embrace classical Pentecostalism. This posed a real problem because in those days, the only people who talked in tongues were the Pentecostals. For their survival anybody who talked in tongues outside of the Pentecostals had to join the Pentecostals or else go it on their own and probably have no where to go.

This was the situation for me. I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit among these men, but I also imbibed their doctrinal background. They were probably what you might call dispensational Spurgeonic Baptists; that would be the most accurate definition that I could give. I was steeped in reformed theology and in the Calvinistic tradition and I had the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I was young, zealous and very evangelistic. Actually when we brought St Giles Presbyerian Church in Vancouver we renamed it, 'Evangelistic Tabernacle' because that was my thrust. I had a two pronged programme; one was to teach God's people, the other was to save souls.

It was a struggle to get there. I watched my contemporaries - those without sufficiently strong ministries to make it on their own or those with ministries sufficiently strong as to be attracted to denominational allurements - many of whom were assimilated back into the denominations. Dr John Mitchell eventually started Mount Noma School of the Bible in Portland, Oregon. Simon Forsberg was assimilated into one of the big denominations. All these were men of stature in the Word, who had been baptised in the Holy Spirit. Dr John Wesley White who is probably Billy Graham's right hand man in many ways, sat under my ministry as a young man, and personally credits me with being the one who inspired him to become an Oxford graduate and thus, the best educated associate that Billy Graham has. He always comes to my meetings in Toronto. When I see him, he tells me he listens to my tapes and still talks in tongues privately. But he has been assimilated. Many of them went that way.

I couldn't. I wanted to! The Anglicans made overtures to me; the Presybterians made overtures to me. Of course the Assemblies of God made overtures to me and I yielded because for a time I felt that was the only answer. I took one of their Churches but it became obviously impossible for me to work with them. I disagreed with them on almost everything. Because I spoke in tongues after my ministry, I became fairly well known. I was sought by Classical Pentecostals on a different level. No longer did they want me to join them. They just wanted me to come and speak at their conferences (which I did).

But it meant that I raised an independent work in Vancouver which was unique in this respect. The Evangelicals were attracted to me because I was a strong teacher. I taught a big Bible Class every Sunday morning. My Sunday morning message was teaching; my Sunday night message was teaching Evangelism. My Thursday night Bible study which consistently went through the Pauline epistles was attended city-wide by over 1500 people. I had training classes and I had over 300 young people in a systematic Monday night Bible school. The Evangelicals came because I offered, in some ways, an incomparable teaching programme better than most Evangelical churches.

The Pentecostals came because they heard that I spoke in tongues and they wanted to know what it was all about. The Evangelicals came for the Bible study and stayed to get the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Pentecostals came because of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and stayed to hear the Bible study. So my Church grew up out of a combination of Evangelicals and Pentecostals.

Dispensational Eschatology.
I was a dispensationalist. The first thing that was put into my hand when I came into this group of men was a Scofield Bible. I imbibed it, footnotes and all. "Thus saith God" in Scofield. I would deny that I put those notes on the same level of Scripture but when I turned to a passage I would probably read the notes and then the Bible. I preached to tremendous crowds on great prophetic themes. Mussolini was still alive and Hitler and Stalin - tremendous candidates for a full Church. I rang the changes on that area while, at the same time giving very sound evangelical teaching. That went on for some time but a number of things started to happen. Two or three of my close friends started to change their eschatological posture. William Booth Clibborn was one. I wasn't about to change. We had some toe-to-toe confrontations that almost ended in blood, but we loved one another and we stuck it out.

At that time I was proposing to do a study on the book of Hebrews. I did all my background work but I became suspicious that whoever wrote the book of Hebrews (and I think it was Paul) wasn't saying the things that Scofield would have him say. It was what he didn't say that was concerning me. There was nothing about the millenium, about the great tribulation or about the restoration of the Jews to political ascendancy. There was really nothing in there. I was also teaching a class on Revelation. I was going to teach it in a good dispensational way but when I got to the end of chapter 6, and the end of the world and the wrath of the Lamb, everything was finished and I had all those chapters left over. I told the congregation that I felt led to discontinue that for the present until I found the right key to the Book of Revelation. I was in bad shape!

So I decided to stop teaching on eschatological subjecst until I could document what I believed from the Bible. For six months I never mentioned a word about eschatology. I lived, night and day in the Bible. I realised to my embarrassment that my whole eschatology was based on what I had been taught, what I had read in books and what I gleaned from Scofield's Bible. I had never read the Bible to find out what God said eschatologically. When I did that I came to one conclusion - Jesus is coming again the second time. That's all I knew! My charts were all gone. My dates were all gone. And I didn't know anything about the seventieth week of Daniel. My entire past doctrine had evaporated. From there I started to build.

Amillenial Eschatology.
That brought me to my amillenial years. I saw the Jews as a nation, totally finished. Israel was now a new covenant people of God and the word "Israel" covered the entire redeemed community of Jew and Gentile. The Gospel was only to be relatively successful and I had virtually the same future in this age as the premillenialist without any future Jewish evangelism. I wouldn't have conceded it at that time, but amillenialism was as pessimistic as premillenialism. Amillenialism teaches much the same as premillenialism concerning this age; it is going to finish up in pretty bad shape; the judgement is going to come and eternity is going to begin. There isn't too much emphasis on any kind of ultimate success of the gospel.

Victory Eschatology.
Then I began to make a further shift. I didn't make the shift to my present position of what I call "Victory Eschatology" on the basis of the prophetic scriptures. I made my shift on the basis firstly that the gospel is the power of God and if God is going to be successful in history, it has to be through the gospel. Secondly if Jesus Christ must reign until His enemies are made His footstool that's to be done in history because I no longer have any room for a future millenium. Therefore the gospel and Christ must finish out this age with the kind of success that makes Jesus Lord of all in very deed, that makes His enemies His footstool and it is accomplished through the gospel. That's my present position.

The question is often raised and I've been accused of it - am I a postmillenialist? I don't even know what that means! And I don't want to be marked that way. If you say you are a premillenialist and if you have any understanding of historical premillenialism and modern dispensational millenialism you will know that there are a number of brands of premillenialism. Which are you? Are you a pre-tribulation rapturist? Are you a mid-tribulation rapturist? Are you a post-tribulation rapturist? There are probably at least a dozen brands of dispensational premillenialism.

Postmillenialism has it's departments too and I don't want to be identified. I simply don't believe that there is a theological, eschatological category that can handle adequately what I believe God is saying and doing today. Therefore I simply say; I believe in the victory of the gospel. I call these my victory years and my eschatology is victory eschatology.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Apostolic Ministry and Apostolic Extension ...

It has been a continuing deep joy to read the outstanding Newfrontiers Magazine that has just recently been brought out. I wrote of Terry Virgo's writing of his time together with Charles Simpson and Bob Mumford a few days ago, and Mark Heath drew attention to the forth-coming publication of Newfrontiers Theological papers on the website. That mention was very interesting as Mark and I had a discussion some months ago about the possible need for a growth in ministries if Newfrontiers were to effectively manage such a large church planting mission.

I am not sure whether Mark and I are prophetic or whether Terry Virgo is an avid reader of our blogs, but I noticed another section in his Firstline that again directly related to something I addressed in that discussion on my blog! Mark Heath had raised the valid question "Are we ready to take over (from parachurch organizations) ... at the moment I doubt it". Bearing in mind Newfrontiers' passion for church planting, he said; "But this means many churches with small memberships. There is no way that they can sustain a fully comprehensive set of ministries".

This I absolutely agreed with and so went on in my blog, "The Fields are White for Harvest but the Labourers are Few", to ask the question whether through the apostolic we should be learning from other strategic centres such as Dr Yongi-Cho's church in South Korea. And secondly whether more attention must be given to raising up of Ephesians 4 ministries in 'Antioch' style Newfrontiers churches - for the specific purpose of supporting and sustaining the church planting to which we are committed.

Well ...

Terry wrote of the recent Newfrontiers International Apostolic Forum:

"It had been my concern that most thought about apostolic ministry in recent days has been focused on what we might call ‘apostolic extension’, church planting and general expansion. It seems vital to me, at a time when others are also increasingly into church planting, that we take seriously the Biblical role of the apostle, not only in terms of multiplication but also in ensuring integrity of doctrine. If the Acts of the Apostles is largely about multiplication, the epistles of the Apostles demonstrate the urgency of wholeheartedly understanding and embracing genuine apostolic doctrine".

All I can say is ... awesome!

Let the two run hand in hand! Let us not spread ourselves too thinly but pursue a powerful church planting ministry that is supported by the fully active Ephesians 4 Ministries - apostles planting and preparing a foundation of sound doctrine and imparting the Holy Spirit, prophets acting as watchmen - seeing where God is moving and leading us there, evangelists to blow open unreached people groups (by the way make sure you read this outstanding article by David Devenish in the magazine!) and bring the message of the gospel and pastor/teachers to care for and raise the planted churches. All working together in the unity of the Spirit till we all come to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Best of Kate Simmonds.

Those who know me well will know that those things I love, I love with all my heart, and that which I hate, I hate with all my heart. So it is no surprise to any who follow this blog with some regularity that I have a deep love and appreciation for Kate Simmond's ministry in worship. We've had a horrible few nights at the hospital with some very sick kids which has been quite upsetting. Tonight is quieter and so it has been great to work through some of Kate's lyrics to her beautiful songs and to read some of the background behind the inspiration for those powerful songs that have so affected Newfrontiers and indeed a wider sphere. Here's some of my favourites. It's interesting to note the influence that Terry Virgo has had over each of them.


We want to build the house of God
We want to be all
You've made us to be
To live as children of promise, to fulfil our destiny
We want to be a house of mercy
To love the lost and the broken and poor
Increase our love for each other and bless our unity,
Lord Train us to be a mighty army
Standing shoulder to shoulder, as one
Filled with the power of your Spirit, standing on the Word of God

We are a church of the nations
As we reach out to the ends of the earth
Taking the light of Your gospel, making disciples of Christ
Build Your house, O God, let Your will be done
Build Your house, O God, let Your kingdom come

Lord, fill our lives with Your passion And fill this house with the worship of God
A fragrance lifted to heaven, an offering pleasing to You
Make this a gateway to heaven
Where the people come in and declare,
"Surely God is among you, surely God is in this place!"

Copyright Kate Simmonds 2002 Kingsway's Thankyou Music

In the sleeve notes to 'Heart & Soul', I dedicated this song to Terry Virgo, who heads up the New Frontiers International (NFI) group of churches. My husband Miles and I have known Terry for many years. He heads up a great work around the world and many times I have felt so privileged to be leading worship at large NFI events where people have gathered from around the globe, and to sit under his teaching. I really am passionate about building the house of God - Jesus is coming back for His church so it is of the utmost importance to Him! I wrote this song - it's really a prayer - in about five or ten minutes, these words just came straight out. I dedicated it to Terry because I realised that my values about God's church and His kingdom had been built deeply into me over the years - through many great ministries, but Terry Virgo's in particular. "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain" [Ps 127:1] When Jacob awoke, he thought, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it. … How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven." [Genesis 28:16-17]


In Him I have believed, on this my hope now rests
That Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!
The all-surpassing joy of knowing Christ my Lord
The former things, I count them all as loss
Called out of darkness into Your goodness
We are Your children, chosen in Christ!
Now in Your family, heirs of the promise
To Your purpose on the earth I give my life

A people born of God, united by Your call
One faith, one Lord, one Father of us all
Joined with bonds of love, and planted in Your house
We worship You with hearts and lives poured out
Let us go on in the power of Your Spirit
Taking Your gospel to all the world!
Declaring Your wisdom, our great commission,
That Jesus Christ has come to save the lost!

Whatever trials may come, in faith,
Lord, help us stand For righteousness and justice in our land
What fear can hold us now?
We run toward the prize
Our lives already crucified with Christ
Through every nation, Your kingdom advances
Who can extinguish this spreading flame?
Through tribulations, we’ll stand on Your promise:
‘I will build My Church and hell will not prevail!’

And on that final day, the citizens of heaven
Called out to be the new Jerusalem
In multitudes will bow before the throne of God:
One nation called from every tribe and tongue
Great celebration! The glorious union:
The Lion of Judah and the pure, spotless Bride!
All of creation waits for this moment
All your promises fulfilled in Jesus Christ!

Kate Simmonds 2004 Thankyou Music

I wanted to write a song about the Church and the Kingdom of God. Verse three, in particular, was inspired by teaching given by Terry Virgo from the book of Acts. Christians in many nations of course already endure terrible persecution but for Christians in the UK this has not yet become our day to day reality. However, in days when people increasingly feel that truth is 'whatever you want it to be', it will become more of a challenge for us to stand us for what we believe in. Within the lyric as a whole I tried to encapsulate the many different aspects of what the Church is, for example, that we are called and chosen people who came as individual converts but now realise we are part of Christ's worldwide body, a community of faith with a great mission and an incredible destiny.


Numbers 23:19; Deuteronomy 7:9; Matthew 19:26; Mark 9:23

Holy God, generations know Your promises
Your covenant of love
Lord of all, every promise made
You remain faithful to fulfil
For Your ways are holy
And Your name is worthy:
All honour and glory belong to You

For You are Faithful, mighty, glorious
Awesome and victorious
Beautiful and wonderful,
Lord Now are hearts are resolute
Our confidence is all in You
Everything is possible, O Lord, my Lord

When troubles come, when life overwhelms
You are Lord, You are in control I trust in You, for in my darkest day
You remain worthy of my praise!
For Your ways are higher
And Your arm is stronger
And Your rest is sweeter than any other You are ...

Kate and Miles Simmonds 2003 Thankyou Music/MCPS

This song is all about trusting God. It had quite a long 'gestation' and I started writing it during a period when we were trying to sell one property and buy the house we felt God had promised us. This all took a hugely long time, but we were strengthened in our faith when we kept returning to scriptures about what God is like and His promises and His ability to do what seems otherwise impossible. As I was finishing the lyric, I came across a prophetic word that Terry Virgo had brought in our church a while ago, encouraging us to "Be resolute in your spirit. Glorify Me by your confidence in Me. Put stakes in the ground and don't keep going over old ground, or old thought patterns..." "God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfil?"

Numbers 23:19 "Know therefore, that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands." Deuteronomy 7:9 "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him" Jeremiah 17:7 "With God all things are possible" Matthew 19:26 "Everything is possible for Him who believes" Mark 9:23

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Mountaintop Experiences with God ...

The Brighton Leadership Conference is just a week away! I think Terry Virgo really set the tone for the anticipation for this conference when he said:

"We, therefore, come full of anticipation of outstanding Bible teaching and the potential for glorious encounters with the Holy Spirit’s power".

Glorious encounters with the Holy Spirit's power! I was in two minds as to whether to write what was on my heart here. I have been mocked and told off for being too "conference-orientated" in the past, but in thinking about the excitement and the anticipation as to what God might do and accomplish in Brighton, I decided I really don't care. Those who mock and tell me off really clearly haven't experienced conferences like Brighton before obviously! So here goes:

An Apologetic for Mountaintop Experiences.

Isaiah 40:9 - "Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion bearer of good news. Lift up your voice mightily ... lift it up - do not fear".

Exodus 24:12 - "Now the Lord said to Moses, 'Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there'".

1 Kings 19:11 - "So He said, 'Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord'".

In his sermon on Jeremiah 33:3, C H Spurgeon wrote the following;

"We may not, whilst on earth, dwell in heaven; but; who can tell how much of heaven may dwell in us whilst we are here? ... Yet you know not but that you may climb where these men did; the steps of the mountain of piety may be steep to look upon, but they are accessible to the feet of diligence. Go on, and you shall yet stand where Moses stood, and behold Canaan from the top of Nebo. Remember that you are as yet upon the lowlands; be not ashamed to acknowledge that you are desirous to climb upwards. Bend your knees, and God will show you in experience "great and mighty things" that you know not yet ...

If any man is content with his own experience, it is entirely through ignorance".

The Observer Magazine has some useful tips for climbing mountains that can, I think, be applied to preparing for a mountaintop experience with God. I've added a few thoughts of my own.

1. Don't rush your build-up.

2. Understand it won't be easy.

3. Picture yourself on the mountain, succeeding.

4. Be prepared for lots of 'down time'.

5. When you reach the summit, you will see far.

However the Word of God is even more insightful as to what can be accomplished when one is up a mountain.

1. God Speaks On Mountains.

- Exodus 19:3 - "Moses went upto God and the Lord called to him from the mountain saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel".

I think we can come to Brighton fully expectant that God will speak powerfully through the preached Word of God and through the words given by the prophets. The people have come apart for one reason - to be with God! And it is exciting to consider that He will be faithful and will speak to His people.

2. God Reveals Himself on Mountains.

- 1 Kings 19:11 - "So He said, 'Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord'. And behold the Lord was passing by!".

Terry Virgo spoke of "glorious encounters". This is the ultimate goal as to why I am so looking forward to Brighton! That I might encounter Him and have my life changed forever! Could it be that the Lord passes by (or what Dr Lloyd-Jones called 'revival') when we are together united in worship at Brighton?

3. God Shows Visions On Mountains.

- Numbers 27:12 - "Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go up this mountain ... and see the land".

Newfrontiers is a stimulating people to be among because the visions that God has given them corporately and as individual churches are numerous. In the four Brighton conferences I have been to and the two Stoneleigh Bible Weeks, I have seen God reveal progressively more dynamic, more glorious and more daring visions to Newfrontiers. This in turn has raised faith and expectancy for more of God! Could it happen again this year?

4. God Commands Mobility on Mountains.

- Deuteronomy 1:6 - "You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance".

Brighton will indeed be a glorious week. I have absolutely no shadow of doubt of that. But over the years I have noticed that the feeling of regret, nostalgia and sadness as the conference draws to a close has diminished. And the excitement that I am returning to my home, to the city in which I live (for now) and the church to which I belong - equipped and armed with the fact that I have met God - is quite an amazing transforming truth. I long that when I return from Brighton, a week Friday, I will indeed have this word burning in my heart. "Break camp and advance". I shared a while back that I feel God has told me I have been in Bristol long enough. I desperately hope that God may reveal His plans for me, the next steps in my walk with Him.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

"The Springs of Restoration - Final Part" by Arthur Wallis.

There are a number of very interesting and telling points in this final section. Note Arthur Wallis' unhappiness with the Pentecostal movement. They called it revival - he wanted it more. The second point which encouraged me greatly was Wallis' discovery that there were others who felt similarly to him as God began His work. This is so like God! He told Elijah that He had other prophets hidden. Rarely is one of God's servants alone.

A Little Turbulence.

The other stream in the confluence was the Pentecostal. In addition to ministries whom we have mentioned, who brought a distinctively charismatic flavour or faith emphasis to the early conventions, we began to hear of ‘Henry’s Glory Meetings’ being held in a Full Gospel Fellowship at Tatworth (now known as South Chard Fellowship). People said they actually danced! Unheard of! They were only half an hours ride across the Somerset border – much too close to be comfortable. It was some years before I dared investigate and have my fears allayed. The turbulence I spoke of earlier was not such as to disrupt fellowship, as to prevent a real flowing together. It was getting the emphasis right. People like myself who were strong on the revival message and on the NT church were no doubt over-cautious about the Pentecostal extremes and imbalance. We didn’t want to go ‘overboard’ and so prevent others from getting ‘on board’. On the other hand the distinctly Pentecostal brothers could see no point in pleading for the outpouring of the Spirit. ‘He has come brother. Can’t you see we’re in revival?’. I’m afraid I couldn’t. If this was revival I was a very disappointed man. That was not what we had been asking God to give us. Where were the signs and wonders? Where was the powerful impact on the community? Where was the mighty harvest? Where was the awe and majesty of God? I could only say, ‘Brothers there is more – much more yet to come’. This may be starters but starters doesn’t make a banquet.

Then some of our brothers found it hard to embrace the vision of the NT church. Sometimes one felt that they acquiesced with what we were saying without being actually convinced. Were we sometimes guilty of biblical semantics or theological hair-splitting? Were forms and structure so important? Is it not more important to be men of faith and power, moving in the Holy Spirit? David and I felt it was not either or, but both. My own study of the history of revivals had convinced me that their effects were ephemeral unless accompanied by reformation of the church. Concerning the Lewis Revival, I wrote in ‘Rain from Heaven’ that, “In less than a decade you could visit those very churches where God had worked so powerfully and never suspect that they had ever tasted revival”. The history of the now declining charismatic movement provides further confirmation. The old structures will restrict if not preclude the maturing of the believer and of the body of which he is a part. In the long term, the need of the new wineskin is as vital as the need of the new wine.

Another Witness.

Towards the close of the 50s there came into our hands a magazine called, “A Voice in the Wilderness” edited by John Myers. I could not say that there was much in the magazine that was new to us but coming out of the blue, having no connections with ourselves it was saying the same things. God used it to confirm that He Himself had initiated and was controlling the movement towards restoration. “To how many others of His servants all over the world was He saying the same thing?” we wondered. Our confidence was that if He was initating the vision then He would also fulfil it.

Terry Virgo's Firstline ...

I was very excited this morning to receive my copy of the Newfrontiers magazine that Luke spoke of a few days ago. The articles are absolutely excellent as is the review by John Groves of Terry's forthcoming book, "The Tide is Turning". However it was Terry's Firstline that caught my eye. He wrote the following about his attendance at the Charles Simpson Leadership Conference that I mentioned a while back:

"Another website which will soon be releasing some excellent material is that of Charles Simpson Ministries. It is their intention to make the text of the classic magazine of the 1970's and 80's "New Wine" available on line.

It was my priviledge recently to be invited to speak at Charles Simpson's pastors' conference in Tennessee, where Bob Mumford was the other guest speaker. These two remarkable men, together with Ern Baxter, Derek Prince and Don Basham, had formed a formidable team of ministries some years ago whose influence spread far and wide.

Hundreds of pastors gathered from across the USA joined by some from Europe. It was the first time that Charles Simpson and Bob Mumford had stood together on the same platform for twenty years. The title of the conference was 'Reconciliation'. Charles and Bob were open about differences formerly held but now forgotten. It was a very instructive time where I learned much, and felt honoured to be invited to speak.

Charles with characteristic humour, made several references to their advancing years and the forgetfulness that comes with age. He informed us that reconciliation is much easier when you get older - you can't remember what the problem was! he also had advice for those who admit that they might forgive but they would never forget; "Just give yourself time!".

It was good to make new friends, to enjoy personal fellowship with Charles, Bob and Ken Sumrall, who spoke at a communion service and to renew contact with some whom I had met in earlier years.".

I am sure that Newfrontiers will make this excellent magazine online soon. It's a must read!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Church of Christ the King, Brighton Updated Website!

CCK, Brighton have updated their website ... finally! I visit the site regularly particularly to access their sermons and it has been 'under construction' for some time. So the new improved format looks absolutely AWESOME. I can't wait to browse through it and benefit yet more from this amazing church.

Their history page is particularly worthy of a visit. It is so inspiring to read of how God has worked among these people to make them a mighty influence among the nations. And as always the God-breathed question running through my mind as I read this is, "Why not again?". I found a possible secret to the success of CCK when I was reading a page on the much-loved Kate Simmonds. It said; "CCK has a history of giving away from among its best". Kate is an obvious example. It occured to me - maybe that's why God continues to give to them.

And of course there is the sermons that can be podcasted onto an Ipod. I'm going to buy one just for the CCK sermons alone ...

Go visit!

HT: The amazing Luke Wood!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"The Springs of Restoration" by Arthur Wallis.

This is a short break from my series; "The Kingdom of God only becomes reality by the Holy Spirit". Why does a historian research and write? Why do we need books at all that recall history? Could it be that we need books that recall history because the human tendancy to forget is sometimes quite frightening? This is even more true in the Christian church. The days of the Charismatic Renewal are only 40 years ago and not even two generations old, and yet I feel that there is a serious danger of forgetting the truth that was preached and revealed during those days of the moving of the Spirit. Part of the reason for this is due to the fact that most of the teaching and truth was captured on audiotapes as opposed to books, and audiotapes are dying out.

With regard to Restoration, it is interesting to note that Terry Virgo was asked a few years ago, "Does anyone still believe in Restoration?". Clearly it was not clear, even within Newfrontiers ranks so the team devoted a whole magazine to that subject showing that they most definately still do.

However the 'Restoration' magazine was an excellent tool with some outstanding articles in it, as Hugh has argued. This particular article was by the Bible teacher who it seems most respected and admired - Arthur Wallis. What he has to say is most definately worthy of dusting off and being read again. This is Part 1.

Springs of Restoration.

My wife and I now live in beautiful Wharfedale, Yorkshire. One day we decided to trace the Warfe river to its source. The trouble is that rivers tend to have more than one source. We found ourselves asking 'Which is the river and which is the tributary?'. Looking back over 25 years it is impossible to pinpoint one source, for there were many springs to the Restoration stream. I speak of those that touched my life. There were many others.

First a little about my own background. My parent's routes were in the Christian brethren and when I was a child we worshipped with them as a family. When God called my father into itinerate ministry he broke away from the Brethren finding their outlook too sectarian and restrictive. For over 15 years he gave himself to evangelism and Bible teaching till he was laid low with a terminal illness. I was then 17, and deeply devoted to him. His death shook my spiritual life to it's foundations. It was then that God laid His hand on me and I knew that somehow I had to step into the breach though some 5 years of war service in the army was to intervene.

Vision of the Church.

In the early days of my ministry, my views about the church were unformed. Only the Brethren seemed to have strong convictions about this, and I was not overly impresssed with what I had seen of their performance. I guess something of father's views had rubbed off. He was happy to work with any church or denomination provided it was not narrow-minded. I felt that all the Brethren talk about 'assembly life' was much-ado-about-nothing.

In 1974 I met one of 'God's irregulars' whose writings and teachings were to have a profound influence on me. G H Lang must have been in his 70's. Here was a man who knew God. That imrpessed me even more than his phenomenal grasp of Scripture. I also liked the fact that, though aligned with the Brethren, he toed no party line. His mind was captive to the Word of God One of his pamphlets, 'Church Federation' shook me out of my complacency and neutrality concerning the church and convinced me that there were some clear principles laid down in Scripture.

A quiet revolution was taking place in my thinking and the direction of my ministry was consequently shifting. It was no longer my aim to be a great preacher like father, or to recieve like him, an invitation to address the Keswick Convention. I would still love and respect my many friends in denominational churches and work with them as far as is possible but my heart was no longer sympathetic to denominational systems. Only in NT settings could I see God's people coming into personal and corporate maturity. I could not consent to ecclesiastical traditions, however ancient which made biblical principles of none effect. The first seeds of restoration were sown.

A little later when many of us were being stirred to pray for revival, I could not support the aims of Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and other Revival Fellowships that seemed to be dedicated to pray for revival in their own denominations. As God had never authorised the sectionising of His church into denominations I could not see that He would be interested in their being perpetuated and revived. In the event most of these organisations petered out.

The Hope of Revival.

I cannot recall what triggered it off but in the second year of our married life (1950/51) Eileen and I began to seek God for revival. Perhaps it was the paper 'Herald of His Coming' that came to us from the USA. In East Devon where we lived the spiritual situation could hardly have been more bleak. Small churches struggling for survival without life or vision. We began to fast and pray.

Early in 1951, my colportuer friend, Oscar Penhearow, shared with me his concern for an 'enduement with power for service'. He had been reading R A Torrey. We decied that we would seek God and search the Scriptures. I went right through the New Testament on this subject and within 3 weeks, we were both filled with the Spirit. For me it came alone on my knees and without any contact with the Pentecostals. The experience was revolutionary. It changed my prayer life, my preaching and my witnessing, though it was not till much later that I was to experience spiritual gifts.

Within a few months a brother from Exeter called on me and made himself known. David Lillie after recieving the baptism of the Holy Spirit a few years before had to leave the Brethren assembly so we had much in common. He and others had commenced a NT type fellowship on the outskirts of Exeter. David had come to his own clear convictions about the church and God used him to temper the fires of my revivalism with the NT church vision. I also saw that without a widespread restoration of the power and gifts of the Spirit to make it come true, the vision would always remain a vision.

Meanwhile news had come of a spiritual awakening in the Scottish Isle of Lewis through the ministry of Duncan Campbell. Though limited in its scope it was powerful in its effect. The news was fuel to the fires of our revival praying. In the Autumn of that year the way was opened for me to visit Lewis, meet Duncan Campbell and see for myself what God had done.

A Prayer Movement.

Following my return I gathered a group of some 8 men together on New Years Eve to pray into the New Year (1952) for revival. It was revival after the Lewis pattern that we still had in mind at that time. From then on there was a prayer meeting in our home on the first Friday of each month which continued for many years. There was a marked upsurge of expectation and prayer for revival in a number of churches, partly through the ministry of Duncan Campbell and also through news of a revival that had broken out in the Congo as Zaire was then called (1953).

At one of David Lillie's early conventions at Exeter I first heard tongues, interpretations, prophecy and had an instinctive witness that they were genuine. A speaker that came quite often to those early conventions with a strong message on faith, healing and deliverance was Cecil Cousen He had been a pastor in the Apostolic Church. Through the Latter Rain movement in Canada, God had touched him and he came home to bring the blessing he had received to his own denomination but it was not received. Cecil then formed his own undenominational fellowship in Bradford. Edgar Parkyns from Exeter also left the Apostolic Church at that time. He and Cecil brought to those early conventions a charismatic dimension that would otherwise have been lacking.

Commingling Streams.

At the confluence of 2 or 4 streams there is always turbulence. In the movement of the Spirit at this time there were 3 commingling straems. There was a revival emphasis, a NT church emphasis and a Pentecostal emphasis. The revival emphasis, stimulated by news of what God had done, found expression in prayer movements such as the Nights of Prayer for Worldwide Revival and the League of Prayer as well as through the creation of numerous prayer groups, mostly in homes. My own ministry over those years had a strong revival emphasis. Though I had never written anything before, I felt that something on revival was needed and though I might manage a 20-page booklet. The writing flowed from the spoken ministry. As the ministry grew, 'Topsy' grew too. Three years later (1956) "In the Day of Thy Power - the Scriptural Principles of Revival" appeared as a 250 page hardback. It went into a number of editions before recently being re-written under a new title, "Rain from Heaven - Revival in Scripture and History".

As for the NT church emphasis, David Lillie was the leading protagonist. We called together our first "Restoration" type conference in May 1958. Exmouth was the venue and the them was, 'The Church of Jesus Christ - its Purity, Power, Pattern and Programme in the Context of Today'. Quite imposing and not a little ambitious you may feel, for a 3 day conference! Cecil Cousen was among the speakers. Among the 25 invitees were 2 students whose convictions had led them to leave their Bible College in South Wales. One of these was Graham Perrins, who edits the magazine 'Fullness'.

A second conference was held near Okehampton in 1961 on 'The Divine Purpose in the Insitution of the Church'. Some 40 leaders came to this. In the convening letter we asked where the true church was that could face the challenge of the hour. 'Must it continue to be obscurred and dishounoured by all the imedimenta of denominationalism - its unbelief, its divisions, its worldliness, its apathy?'. It was our conviction that such a church must arise in this end time, endued with power from on high, equipped with the manifold gifts of the Spirit and with a much fuller understanding of her proper function and purpose in the divine plan.

The third in the series came in September the following year at Mamhead Park near Exeter attended by 80 or more. The following year was to see the outbreak of the charismatic movement in Britain (1963). No wonder we were led to the theme, "The Present Ministry of the Holy Spirit". There were Bible Readings on 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 and ministry on the believer's personal need of the Holy Spirit and on the Spirit's power for witnessing. Nearly all were leaders and many came into the baptism of the Spirit.

Two things in that conference stand out for me. Hearing the exciting news of the outbreak of the Spirit in California that was later recognised as the beginning of the charismatic movement. The other was my first meeting with a young Welsh evangelist whose ministry brought a touch of revival to a number of villages in the neighbouring county of Cornwall. His boyish appearance made him look even younger than he was. His name - was Bryn Jones!".

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The ESV Journal Bible.

For those who are fans of the English Standard Version (and I'm not a huge one), this new Journal Bible could be a very useful addition to their study of the Word of God. I have always been absolutely fascinated by the accounts of Jonathan Edwards study bible that he made himself and can still be found, I believe, full of his scribbled notes against every verse of the Bible.

This could be worth getting, especially if it promotes active study of the Bible.

(HT: Justin Taylor).
The Holy Spirit as Wine by Dr Ern Baxter.

Establishing the Symbol.

- Ephesians 5:18 - "Be not drunk with WINE wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit".
- Weymouth - "Do not indulge in much WINE - a thing in which excess is so easy - but drink deeply of God's Spirit".

1. Wine Gladdens Life.

- Eccl 10:19 - " ... WINE maketh merry".
The word rendered "merry" is a compound word in the Hebrew (sameach-chayim), meaning "to gladden life". "Wine maketh glad the life" (ASV). "Wine gladdenth life" (Rotherham). The "New-Wine" Christian knows a perpetual joy for the "kingdom of God is ... JOY in the Holy Ghost" (Romans 14:17).

2. Wine Makes Good or Pleasant.

- Esther 1:10 - " ... the heart of the king was merry with WINE".
It would appear at first that this Scripture is synonymous in meaning with the one above. The word rendered "merry" however, is a different word (TOB) and means "good" (it is translated 356 times), better, good, well and pleasant.

3. Wine Makes Joyful.

- Psalm 104:15 - "WINE maketh glad the heart of man".
The word "glad" is a rendering of the most common word for this emotion in the Hebrew (SAMEACH). It means "to shine, rejoice, joy, be glad". It is translated "rejoice" in the following Scripture, but gives a very significant meaning when translated "shine". "They of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall REJOICE (SHINE) as through wine; yea their children shall see it, and be glad (same word)" (Zech 10:7). Moses had this holy "shine" (2 Cor 3:7), more we who have the "glory that excelleth" (2 Cor 3:10).

4. Wine Makes to Flourish and Grow.

- Zech 9:17 - " ... corn shall make the young man cheerful, and NEW WINE the maids".
The word translated "cheerful" (NUB) means "to grow, be fruitful (in words)". The ASV, Rotherham and others translate it "flourish" Here we see in symbol that "corn" (type of the Word) and "New wine" (type of joy in the Spirit) are the necessities of a good "spiritual diet". These two are always together - "the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God" (Eph 6:17).

5. Wine Revives the Fainting.

- 2 Samuel 16:2 - " ... WINE that such as faint in the wilderness may drink".
How often in the "wilderness journey", we need reviving! Then we need to be "strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man" (Eph 3:16).

6. Wine Overcomes.

- Jer 23:9 - "I am like a man ... whom WINE has overcome, because of the Lord and because of the words of His holiness".

What utter abandonment to the Holy Spirit's power is here described. To be so utterly under the Spirit's sway as to be overcome is the divine intention for every believer.

7. Wine Stimulates Speech. - another argument against C J Mahaney's literalism is found here.

- Song of Solomon 7:9 - " ... the best WINE for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak".

Only the Holy Spirit can make to speak those who are spiritually sleepy. A mighty visitation of the Holy Ghost can do more to restore backsliders to a place of fellowship and witness than anything else.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Dr Jack Deere - a Man of Word and Spirit.

I highly recommend checking out Dr Jack Deere's revamped and impressive website. Jack Deere's two books; "Surprised by the Power of the Spirit" and "Surprised by the Voice of God" have been monumental in concreting my theology of the Spirit with particular reference to the gifts of the Spirit. He is a household name to many charismatics so it was always a puzzle to me why he seemed to keep a somewhat low profile while other men of Word and Spirit such as Dr Sam Storms seemed to be raising theirs.

His website has what seems to be the beginnings of a blog but I think he comes under the same pressure that other men in full time ministry have - that of having the time to write daily. There are also some links to some of his sermons and what I hope will develop into an itinerary. I wasn't even sure where Dr Deere was based so it was fascinating to find out that he is the senior pastor of a church he founded in Texas called; "Wellspring Church". I found his reason for founding it challenging and stimulating (although I expect some will accuse him of arrogance).

"I started Wellspring because I wanted a church that was worth getting up for every Sunday and for me that means a church that is real not religious. A church that takes risks rather than plays it safe. A church that trains people rather than offers them a place to sit, and a church that is filled with laughter rather than judgement. Wellspring lets me be me, and hopefully lets you be you".

I think that's what church should be like! Worth getting up every Sunday for. I hope that this website will develop and will be worth following - because Dr Deere's ministry most certainly has benefited many and I hope will continue to do so.
Additional References to Rivers by Dr Ern Baxter.

Part 2 - Building on Ern's key work on Ezekiel 47:3-5.

Rivers are Peaceful.

- Isaiah 48:18 – “O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! Then had thy peace been as a river and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea”.

This is not the peace of stagnation but the peace of certain and directed progress. It is the peace of a spirit-ordered life and not the peace of death and inactivity. “To be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). Here is a renewed mind dominated by the Holy Spirit and trained and ordered in the Word of Truth. How wonderful to know where you are going and to be able to go without the feverish uncertainty so characteristic of the directionless worldling. The course of this great Holy Spirit River is certain.

Rivers Gladden.

- Psalm 46:4 – “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God”.

Psalm 46 is very rich in consolation and encouragement. It opens with a heartening word. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”. Well it might, for the next two verses depict a scene of disruption and chaos that challenges the most impressionable imagination. In symbolical language all the turmoil, distresses and catastrophes of human life are painted in a solemn word-picture; “the earth removing … the mountains carried into the midst of the sea … the waters roaring … mountains shaking”. It is in the midst of all this upheaval that we are told about the happy streams which, undisturbed and unimpeded by the “trouble” surrounding, flow quietly laden with their life and treasures of help into the “city of God”. And so the river of the Holy Spirit flows into the believing heart carrying its cargo of grace treasures while all around is distress, perplexity and uncertainty.

Rivers Refresh.

- Isaiah 32:2 – “A man … shall be as rivers of water in a dry place”.

The man spoken of here is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ, and the river referred to is doubtless the Pentecostal outpouring which has come as a result of the exaltation of this wonderful Man. This world is indeed a “dry place” and the ONLY genuine refreshing offered to man is that which comes by the Holy Spirit. Philosophies but lure man into doubts, fleshly pleasures into disillusionments, human religions into hypocrisy. “This is the refreshing” (Isaiah 28:12).

Rivers Satisfy.

- Psalm 36:8 – “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasure”.

Man is everlastingly seeking satisfaction. However the “eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing … neither is his eye satisfied with riches” (Ecc 1:8, 4:8). What measure of satisfaction is procurable is limited in both quality and duration. It is subject to the ever-changing standards of human value. Surely there must be something available to man which will abundantly satisfy. Praise God there is. This wonderful Holy Ghost River flowing from the throne of the Eternal carries to the believing heart that form of satisfaction and pleasure which knows no fluctuation and is eternal in its duration.

Rivers Make Great.

- Ezekiel 31:4-9 – “The waters made him great, the deep set him on high with her rivers running about his plants, and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field, therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field”.

This is the story of God blessing the nation of Assyria. It was this blessing that made Assyria great. The prophet likens it to a river irrigating the plants and spreading out in lesser rivers to carry its life-giving qualities to the trees of the field. So it is the Holy Spirit that makes us great as He waters our lives and makes us “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Ezekiel 47:3-5 - "The River of the Spirit" by Ern Baxter.

"He brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came upto my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came upto my waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed".

Establishing the Symbol.

- John 7:38-39 - "He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow RIVERS of living water. But this He spake of the Spirit ...".

Headquarters Passage - Ezekiel 47:1-12.

1. Sanctuary Waters.

- vv1, 12 - " ... at the south side of the ALTAR ... their waters issued out of the SANCTUARY".

The River of the Holy Spirit blessing must flow from the place of sacrifice. Sin must first be dealt with before God can pour out His Spirit. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law ... that we might receive the promise of the Spirit" (Galatians 3:13,14).

2. Running Waters.

- vv1, 2 - " ... ISSUE out from ... and CAME DOWN ... RAN OUT".

Stagnant waters are a curse. The motionless, evil-smelling swamps and sloughs serve as breeding places for a thousand ills. The Holy Spirit life is one of activity. "Out of his belly shall FLOW rivers of living waters".

3. Increasing Waters.

i) "Waters were to the ankles" (v3). Strong ankles enable one to walk. We read concerning the lame man at the Gate Beautiful, that "his feet and ANKLES" received strength. And he leaping up STOOD and WALKED (Acts 3:7, 8). The submersion of the ankles in this River of Blessing doubtless refers, in the language of symbolism, to "walking in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16).

ii) "Waters were to the knees" (v4). The "KNEE" symbolically considered stands for WORSHIP and SUBMISSION. "Let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord" (PSalm 95:6). "Every knee shall bow!" (Phil 2:10). "They that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit" (John 3:24).

iii) "Waters were to the loins" (v4). Loins speak of fruitfulness. God speaking to Jacob said, " ... kings shall come out of thy loins" (Genesis 35:11). We are urged to be fruitful in every good work (Col 1:10). The Christian's very character is referred to as the FRUIT of the Spirit (Gal 5:22).

iv) "Waters to swim in" (v5). Just as a swimmer almost totally submerged in water, moves freely about in the water so is it possible to enjoy a "more abundant life" (John 10:10). And a "Liberty in the Spirit" (2 Cor 3:17). Note these waters are to swim in. Here is progress. We are "changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor 3:18).

4. Productive Waters.

- vv 7, 12 - " ... at the bank of the river were VERY MANY TREES ... trees for meat ... the leaf thereof for medicine".

The righteous man is "like a TREE planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit in his season" (Psalm 1:3). These trees were not for beauty only but to provide food and healing. So the Holy Spirit not only makes holy in character but all gives divine energy for service. The world finds Christ through the Spirit-filled child of God.

5. Living Waters.

- v9 - "Everything shall LIVE whither the river cometh".

"It is the Spirit that giveth LIFE" (John 6:63). All flesh endeavour, such as human religious performance, "Do the best you can" etc, is enacted in the realm of death. For the "flesh profiteth nothing" (John 6:63).

6 Directed Waters.

- v8 - " ... towards the EAST .. down into the DESERT .. into the SEA".

There is nothing aimless or uncertain about the Holy Spirit. The EAST is the direction from which God manifests Himself (Hos 13:15, Jonah 4:8, Matt 2:2). It is the direction associated with Christ's return (Matt 24:27, Mal 4:2). This river of blessing bears steadily towards the glad day of Christ's second coming. The DESERT speaks of the world as a place of desolation and more especially of the world as a place of testing for God's people (Matt 4:1, Heb 3:8). How welcome is the Blessed River here! (Isaiah 43:20). The SEA is symbolic of the world of wicked men (Isaiah 57:20, Jer 6:23). For 2000 years the river of God's grace by the Holy Spirit has been pouring into the world torrents of salvation and blessing until the entire world in some measure has felt it's blessed influence.

7. Healing Waters.

v8 - "the waters (Dead Sea) shall be healed".

What a scope this word takes in! Whether it is the broken heart, the fear-laden mind, or the diseased body, these refreshing soothing and healing waters flow from the sanctuary to run their gracious errand.

Next: Addition References to Rivers.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Where Are We Going?

This question was one that seemed to characterise Dr Ern Baxter throughout his life. It was of course the name of his monumental series that he preached at the Dales Bible Week in 1976 but I think he would approve applying this question to this series that I began inspired by his statement; “The Kingdom of God Only Becomes Reality Through the Holy Spirit”. I wanted to get to know this Holy Spirit. Who is He? What does He do? How does He act? And above all how can we get to experience and know Him deeper?

So far using Ern Baxter’s archive notes, we have seen:

- "The Kingdom of God becomes Reality Through the Holy Spirit" Series - Part 1 and Part 2. A series designed to understand the Holy Spirit in greater depth and detail using notes from Ern Baxter's Archive.

Part 1 - "The Gift of Prophecy" - We are told to earnestly desire ... especially this gift!

Part 2 - "Sealed with the Holy Spirit" - A vital subject. Misunderstanding it is the reason the Church is in the mess that it's in according to Dr Lloyd-Jones.

Part 3 - "The Holy Spirit as Dew" - A beautiful picture of the way the Holy Spirit may fall!

Part 4 - "The Holy Spirit as a Dove" - Showing how easily He can be quenched and grieved.

Part 5 - "The Holy Spirit as Holy Anointing Oil" - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3. This most precious of substances used in the Old Testament in great mystery. Here Dr Baxter applies it to the Holy Spirit.

Part 6 - "The Holy Spirit as the Dynamic of the New Covenant" - Ern Baxter agues that we have become side-tracked on the blood.

Part 7 - "The Holy Spirit as Fire" - The Holy Spirit alone can produce spiritual fervency.

Bearing all this in mind the 'joyful hope' I spoke of yesterday, it is my passionate desire to know more of God. It is a month or less till the Brighton Leadership Conference - "Together on a Mission" and I want to be prepared for it when the time comes. It was for a good reason that I decided to book the training tracks with the amazing sounding Rob Rufus that are described thus so:

"Living Daily Under The Miraculous Mantle Of God’s Increased Power And Presence For The Greater Works - Speaker: Rob Rufus.

These 3 sessions are about the simple secrets of how anyone can be used to manifest the awesome power and glory of God’s wonderful presence. This is about how God moves us by His anointing into the greater cloud of His glory for increased intimacy and increased signs and wonders".

The account in Ezekiel 47 seems very appropriate. At the present time I would describe my experience of the Spirit of God as 'dipping my toe' in. I want to go deeper! I hope this serves as a rationale for why I want to transcribe Ern Baxter's notes on "Rivers" next.

Ezekiel 47:3-5 - "The River of the Spirit"

"He brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came upto my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came upto my waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed".

Friday, June 16, 2006

How to Live in the 'Day of Small Things'.

"For Who Hath Despised the Day of Small Things?" - Zechariah 4:10.

I got up this morning with every intention of continuing with my series on the Holy Spirit. But something was different. I just felt ... weak. Nothing had changed. That email I was hoping that would change my life wasn't there and my inbox was full of junk as usual. The letter I was longing for that would bring commission to my life wasn't there and it was just ... bills - as usual. God didn't meet me in power in my time with Him - it was silence from heaven. But as I was driving into work, a thought occured to me. It's very easy to have faith in God and believe in Him and walk with Him when He is manifest in power. What about the day of small things? Could it be that Zechariah is talking about me? In that case, what can I learn and do in the day of small things so that I do not waste it while waiting and praying for God to manifest Himself in reviving power? Here's some characterics that occured to me that one can pursue:

1. Joyful Hope.

Keathey defines hope as; "Hope may refer to the activity of hoping, or to the object hoped for—the content of one’s hope. By its very nature, hope stresses two things: (a) futurity, and (b) invisibility. It deals with things we can’t see or haven’t received or both". He said that hope is never a static or passive thing rather a dynamic, active and life-sustaining thing! I have been playing the beautiful song from Stoneleigh 2000 which carries the line; "Fill my gaze with things as yet unseen - give me faith to move in works of power". Hope for what?

Simon Petit preached a marvellous sermon at Stoneleigh 2000 and said; "Our hope is this - there are many prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled!". The Word of God is full of promises that are yet to be fulfilled. How about hope in this promise; "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts" - Haggai 2:9. Or my favourite verse in the Bible; "For as surely as I live all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord!".

2. Patient Submission.

The word 'submission' is usually used in the context of biblical manhood and womanhood. I wonder if those complementarians who so vigorously champion their cause are prepared to submit in the manner they expect their womenfolk to, after the example of the Lord? In the Garden of Gethsemane, when He knew perfectly well the horrors of the Cross that awaited Him, He could still say "Not My will but Thine". Can we do that? Are we prepared to sacrifice the deepest desires of our hearts and say "Not my will"?

It is easy to say yes to that if the cost is not high. But what about if it concerns our own persecution ... or dare I say it martyrdom? Can we say then, "Not my will but thine?". I am constantly amazed by the all encompassing peace that pervades the Word of God.

"Though He slay me, I will hope in Him" - Job 13:15.

3. Bold Faith.

To conclude, it is important to note that verse from Job doesn't finish there! It goes on; "Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him". It seems to me that the trend in churches today tends to follow the famous text in Joel. Young men see visions (Joyful Hope) and old men dream dreams (Patient submission). I was told by an elder in my home church that I would grow up one day and "calm down". I still don't think that's biblical. I would argue that there is a third and unifying characteristic that can be ours in the day of small things.

"But he said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me" - Genesis 32:26.

There is, what Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones called, "daring faith". It was this daring faith that drove Moses to intercede before God and intercede until he said, "Show me Your glory". Tomorrow I am going to move on to examine the link between the Holy Spirit and rivers ... a famous charismatic picture! Rivers are found in Ezekiel 47 and I would argue that it was daring faith that drove the man to move deeper into the river, and just as similarly it is daring faith that will drive us to move deeper from glory to glory in our experience of the Holy Spirit and our relationship with God. God Himself said it!

"Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you do not know" - Jeremiah 33:3.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Holy Spirit as Fire.

The last post began to to get to the heart of what I was hoping I would unpack from this series. One of my favourite quotes from Dr Wayne Grudem's "Four View; Are Miraculous Views for Today?" comes from Grudem's summary. He wrote; "I think what people really want is to be in the Presence of God. They want to have a deeper personal experience of God". This 'being in the Presence of God' is accomplished by the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost it was totally significant that "tongues as of fire rested on their heads". Why fire? I want to know why! It is essential to the series statement; "The Kingdom of God only becomes reality by the Holy Spirit".


Establishing the Symbol.

- Isaiah 4:4 - " ... the Spirit of BURNING ... ".

- Revelation 4:5 - " ... and there were seven lamps of FIRE BURNING before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God".

- Acts 2:3 - " ... cloven tongues like as of FIRE ...".

1. Fire Purifies.

- Isaiah 6:7 - "And he laid it (a live coal) upon my mouth and said, Lo this hath touched thy lips; and thine inquity is taken away and they sin PURGED".

- Numbers 31:23 - "Everything that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and it SHALL BE CLEAN".

Malachi 3:2, 3 - " ... He is like a refiner's FIRE ... He shall PURIFY the sons of Levi ... that they may offer ... in righteousness".

2. Fire Illuminates.

- Psalm 78:14 - "He LED them ... all the night with a light of FIRE".

Despite man's boasted culture, the Word of God declares him to be "darkness" (Eph 5:8) and all his deeds to be the "unfruitful works of darkness" (Eph 5:11). God declares the world to be dominated by evil beings called the "rulers of the darkness of this world" (Eph 6:12). How necessary then is light in the midst of all this darkness! The Holy Spirit will light our way safely through the blackness of this world's night.

i) He will lead in the events of daily life - Matt 4:1 - "Then was Jesus LED UP of the Spirit into the wilderness".

ii) He will lead you in the acquistion of truth - John 16:13 - " ... the Spirit of truth ... will GUIDE you into all truth".

iii) He will lead you into the experimental privilidge of sonship - Romans 8:14 - "as many are LED by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God".

iv) He will lead you out of law bondage - Galatians 5:18 - "If ye be LED of the Spirit, you are not under the law".

3. Fire Warms.

- Isaiah 44:16 - "Aha I am WARM, I have seen the FIRE".

To ascertain the symbolical meaning of WARM we will consider it's opposite COLD. Cold has at least two meanings; i) Being without love (Matt 24:12 - "the love of many shall wax cold"). ii) Spiritual lethargy (Revelation 3:15 - "Thou art neither cold nor hot").

We may conclude then, that warmth is a symbol of christian love and SPIRITUAL FERVENCY. The Holy Spirit alone can produce this. The Colossians were commended for their "love in the Spirit" (Col 1:8). The Apostle urged the Romans to be "FERVENT" in spirit" (Romans 12:1). The word "fervent" means "to boil, be hot, fervid". We read of Apollos being fervent in spirit (Acts 18:25). Peter combines both thoughts by saying, "Love another with a pure heart FERVENTLY" (1 Peter 1:22).

4. Fire Unites.

- Luke 24:32 - "Did not our heart BURN within us while He talked with us by the way?".

It does not say "hearts" but "heart". As we "hear Him" the Holy Spirit can fuse our hearts. Not freeze but fuse! There are denominational unions, and social unions etc but the only union God wants is the "unity of the Spirit" (Eph 4:3). "Fuse" means to "melt with intense heat, blend into a whole by melting". All hearts must be melted to have a "Fusion". One melted heart may attempt to unite to a cold heart and the result will be what is called "adhesion which is not near as strong as fusion.

In Conclusion:

"The verb 'to baptise' is 'baptizein' which ordinarily means 'to dip'. There is a vivid picture here! The Christian is a man who is dipped in the Holy Spirit! The verb 'baptizein' can be used of dipping garments to dye them. A Christian is a man who is dyed through and through in the Spirit! He is a man whose whole life is soaked in the Spirit, a man the colour of whose life is changed by the Spirit. The Christian is a Spirit anointed, Spirit dipped, Spirit saturated, Spirit dominated man. And the drabbness of life, and the inadequacy of life, and the futility of life, and the earthboundness of life which characterises so many of us all come from the failure to submit to that baptism of the Spirit which Christ alone can give". - William Barclay

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Holy Spirit as the Dynamic of the New Covenant.

I actually came across this particular manuscript quite by chance. It wasn't in Ern Baxter's section on the Holy Spirit - it was in a very detailed unpublished book he wrote on Israel. However it couldn't be more relevant (I would argue) for this series I am putting together on; "The Kingdom of God only becomes reality through the Holy Spirit". Here he examines the foundation for everything we believe in - the Cross but moves on to argue that we need desperately the vitality that the Holy Spirit brings to make it life. It is a short but powerful piece.

The Holy Spirit - the Dynamic of the Covenant.

That is another of my present emphases: the manner in which we treat the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, not the blood, is the dynamic of the New Covenant. I am legally saved by the blood but I am functionally saved by the Spirit. I think we have become side-tracked on the blood. Whoever said that there is power in the blood? I don’t want to be irreverent here. I want to be drastic.

The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ does not have an active ingredient but the blood releases the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts me, converts me, regenerates me, illuminates me, heals me, leads me, guides me, quickens me and eventually will translate me, all on the basis of the blood. But if we talk about the power in the blood and are all taken with the blood, we are taken up with our legal release but we haven’t entered into our vital release. The vital release comes by the Spirit. The Spirit is the dynamic of the New Covenant. When He promised the New Covenant, He said, “I will put My Spirit in you; I will write My laws in your heart”.

Many people who are theoretically correct on the New Covenant are dynamically impotent because they have rejected or neglected or ruled out the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the One who makes the Covenant work and it is in the blood. In the New Order, the New Covenant replaces the Old.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Front Cover of New Wine Magazine - July 1983!

I've got this framed and on my wall ...

Terry Virgo - Brighton 2005 - On the Holy Spirit.

In conducting this series on "The Kingdom of God becomes Reality Through the Holy Spirit" - I was reminded of the powerful conclusion that Terry brought to his 1st message in his two-part series on Gideon at the Brighton Leadership Conference in 2005. It is available from Newfrontiers here. In listening to it again I decided to transcribe the relevant section. It fits in beautifully with what Dr Ern Baxter is arguing for!

"It says in verse 34, "So the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon. He blew a trumpet and the people were called together to follow him". The Spirit of the Lord! The book of Judges is really about people who are distinctive because they are clothed with power. That's what made them stand out - there was a "coming upon" them of the Holy Spirit. It wasn't because their father was king before them. The only thing that marked them out was the clothing of the Spirit upon them. The Spirit came upon Samson and the Spirit came upon Jephtha. The Spirit came upon and clothed Himself. He clothed Gideon - there came that energy from heaven! And we mustn't lose our longing and expectation of clothing with power from on high!

We mustn't get confused. We mustn't say "Well we're charismatic because we have an overhead or a guitar". We need to know that energy factor. We need to make sure that people are experiencing the "coming upon" of the Holy Spirit - God's Spirit falling upon us and energising us and strengthening us. And God wants you to make you to make sure that you know that the Spirit of God has come upon you. That God has met with you. That you're not vague about this. This is God's wonderful provision for His church! In the Old Testament, isolated individuals - a king, one of the judges, a priest, a prophet - they're just isolated rare individuals who knew this high privilidge. But in our generation, in the last days, "I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh - your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions". God is expecting to clothe a whole community with power from on high. So that as we gather, as we go with Him, we can see phenomenal things taking place so that we can give evidence that God is amongst us! His Presence is with us!

Let's not water down our anticipation of the Spirit of God in our life and experience. And even as we're here together to know what it is to have the power of God amongst us in our church lives, in our individual lives. To know what it is to be clothed with another power, another force - nothing to do with us. This which has come down out of heaven is God's gift to us. This is a thing that marked out those judges and it marked out Gideon".

Monday, June 12, 2006

Pastor Stephen Simpson asks help from Hugh!

My friend Hugh - who helps lead the New Covenant Church in Swansea - and blogs here, has had a request! Pastor Simpson wrote;

"We are interested in acquiring other messages by Brother Ern, if anyone would like to contact us".

And he wrote again,

"We would sincerely welcome visitors at the Ern Baxter Memorial Library".

So ... get contacting them if anyone has tapes! I've sent the list of mine. It's a tremendously exciting prospect - that they will be able get the ministry of Dr Baxter out far more efficiently than most. Thanks Hugh for this link!

While we're on the subject ... I would be ever so grateful to hear from someone who is a wizz at the art of getting audiotapes onto CD's and videotapes onto DVD's. This is NOT an area of my gifting and I am very keen to do this to help preserve Dr Ern Baxter's extraordinary ministry. Please do email me!
The Holy Spirit as the Holy Anointing Oil - Part 3.

Prohibitions Regarding the Holy Anointing Oil.

The three-fold prohibition with regard to the Holy Anointing Oil is most significant and is comprehensive in a general way of every misuse of the Holy Spirit. What is here displayed in type is in the New Testament repeated in doctrinal teaching.

1. "Upon man's flesh shall it not be poured"- (Exodus 30:32).

The holy anointing oil was not to be "poured upon man's flesh". It was poured on Aaron's head AFTER the mitre and holy crown had been placed on him. There seems to be an intimation of another priesthood given in this precept which was not to be in the flesh but in resurrection. Flesh is sinful and corrupt. "I know that in me, that is in my flesh, there dwelleth no good thing" (Romans 7:18). The Holy Spirit anointing is not intended to further flesh ambition or flesh activity of any sort. Scripture abounds in passages which clearly teach that not only will the Holy Spirit not use or co-operate with the flesh but that He cannot fully manifest Himself until the flesh is reckoned dead and it's deads mortified. Thus christian character is not spirit-blessed good works of the flesh but the "fruits of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22). Nor are the unique ministrations of Christian ministiry but spirit-blessed human talents, they are gifts, empowerings and enablements of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:7-11; 1 Corinthians 12; Romans 16:6-8). The baptism with the Holy Spirit is not intended to glorify the flesh but the Christ. How often we formulate our plans and make our programmes and then ask God to bless them. This is equivalent to pouring the anointing oil upon man's flesh and is strictly forbidden. The flesh is in opposition to the Spirit (Galatians 5:17) and there is congeniality between them whatsoever. When flesh is permitted to express itself in the christian, there can be nothing but conflict for the Holy Spirit is in opposition to the flesh in all it's various aspects of manifestation. In the light of this clear-cut prohibition, how important to a proper appreciation of the Holy Spirit becomes our utter denunciation and repudiation of the flesh.

2. "Neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it"- (Exodus 30:32).

There must be no imitation of the Holy Spirit. What a solemn warning is this. The work of the Holy Spirit is divinely ordained and an inspired record of the manner of this work faithfully preserved for us in the Word of God. To imitate this work either by the cold, formal and in my cases meaningless ritual of apostate christendom or by the fanatical uncontrolled and fleshly gymastics of uninstructed extremists is the modern form of imitating the holy anointing oil. How many have had the hands of noted ecclesiastics laid upon their heads and after the mumblings of certain words, have been told that they have just received the gift of the Holy Ghost? Compare this with the New Testament where the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost was experienced in a very different manner. And then, going over to the other extreme what a disappointing substitute is the attempt on the part of over-zealous but ignorant people to super-impose upon seekers by human methods what they feel the seeker should have. What unfortunate and far reaching effects this has had on many honest, seeking hearts. There must be no imitation. Let us be true to the Word, and what the Word commands and permits, to this let us be faithful.

3. "Whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall be cut off from his people"- (Exodus 30:33).

The stranger was one who was outside the pale of Israel's blessing, hence all Gentile Christians are reminded that they were strangers to the covenant of promise (Ephesians 2:12). A stranger in a typical sense is one who is unsaved. Christ says of the world in relation to to the Spirit, "whom the world cannot receive because it seeth Him not, nor knoweth Him" (John 14:17). One has well said; "It was not owing to any arbitrary actions, that on the morning of the day of Pentecost the Spirit descended on 120 persons only and not on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the former only had undergone the indispensible preparation". The baptism with the Holy Spirit is only for those who have already received life by the new birth.

There may be a further imitation in this prohibition and that is that no unconverted person ought to be allowed to take any part in the service or worship of God. He does not belong to God's people. He is a stranger and until he is washed from his sins in the blood of Christ, and is a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus he can have no part or lot in anything connected with the true worship of God. "They that worship Him, MUST worship Him in Spirit" (John 4:24).