Friday, August 04, 2006

"1st Discourse" between Bishop Earl Paulk and Dr Ern Baxter.

Earl Paulk: So today in your message on the relationship between the Cross and the Resurrection - whatever the tension maybe or whatever the imbalance maybe - it is obvious to me, or it is to me and I'm sure it is to us - that there is an imbalance maybe in our preaching, maybe in our studies, particularly for the pastors and young ministerial students and people that are here. Could you give us some steps that you think we could take in moving away from this imbalance? What are the steps? Is it in elders like you that are correcting us which is taking place here? Is there any particular thing that you could suggest?

Ern Baxter: I have found that the most useful thing in presenting the kinds of things that I am trying to present here, is the word "Transition". That we who live now after the finality of redemption and read the Bible don't walk through the transition from Incarnation to Enthronement and outpoured Holy Spirit - and one of our tendancies is to plug in at some point that we maybe like. And apparantly some people like to talk about the Cross. I need to say - and I don't want to be offensive - but there's an awful lot of sentimental and emotional stuff about the Cross. In fact the most popular hymn in America is the "Old Rugged Cross" and anytime a drunk gets into his cups, he wants to go to the Salvation Army and sing "The old rugged cross". And it's sentimental - there's a lot of incense about it.

But everything about the Cross is legal - there is no functional dynamic in the Cross! The Cross is where Jesus Christ made the legal arrangements for the release of the functional dynamic of the Holy Spirit. It is the Resurrection that gives positive meaning to the negative of the Cross. But the Resurrection is incomplete without the Ascension and the outpoured Holy Spirit (and I'll be coming to that as we move along). Because the bottom line of Christianity is not the Incarnation, it is not the impeccable life, it is not the vicarious death, it is not the victorious resurrection or the glorious enthronement - it is the outpoured Holy Spirit. So on the day of Pentecost, Peter said, "Repent, be baptised and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit". He ran through the entire transition of the salvific life of Jesus to the ultimate point where you and I plug in. You and I plug in at the point of the outpoured Holy Spirit. That's where the whole transition becomes effective for us.

Earl Paulk: Now let me press - for those of us that are pastors. This may be a guessy question but out of your experience, if one centralises his message primarily in the Cross and spend their time primarily bleeding all over their people instead of the power of the Resurrection and the on-going work of the Holy Spirit, how does that affect the local church? Do you think it has anything to do with the character of the local church?

Ern Baxter: Yes. I think a church that is resurrection/Holy Spirit orientated can be as sound doctrinally as anybody can be - but it has LIFE. Again comparisons are odious I know, but you have to look at a large part of evangelicalism and it doesn't have enough power to blow the fuzz off a peanut (*laughter*). And if you trace it, you trace it to the fact that they have not embraced (let me come to the bottom line here) they have not embraced the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Now you and I sat in a situation in Washingtonand you remember I leaned over to you and said, "These opponents need to be filled with the Holy Spirit". And I am a reformed theologian - I love reformed theology. With some adjustments. But I look at reformed theology and unless they break a little into some kind of life - well ... there just isn't much life!

Earl Paulk: There is no life! They have the truth! There is no question about that, but it's the truth so boxed in so much that it's not exciting and you don't share it with your local church and they come in again to glory in the Cross instead of knowing that there is the power of the Holy Spirit that has now been released. I know Brother Baxter is going to get into that and the ongoing work of the Spirit in us. Now I think it makes all the difference in the world the kind of response you get. I think it develops attitude in the church and it has to do with motive for service and all of that is what you are hearing. It would be a crime to miss any of the sequence of what the Lord is speaking to us through Brother Baxter. I want to come back to one other statement that you made and this may be a pet thing of mine, because I was reared in it, but you said, "Pentecostals don't have to be numbskulls". What is the tension between studying to show yourselve approved and following the Holy Ghost?

Ern Baxter: It's the tension between the Word and the Spirit. I started out in a Pentecostal dimension which was rather unique. In fact you wouldn't think of it in terms of what I am going to present it with. A group of Reformed seminary trained men received the gift of the Holy Spirit but didn't want anything to do with Pentecost. They didn't believe in the latter Pentecostal things. They were primarily Calvinists of course. And I came into that - so right from the beginning I was baptised not only into the Spirit, but I was baptised into Reformed theology, which was to me a great blessing. And right from the beginning I realised that I had to walk in the tension between my head and my spirit. The Holy Spirit can't work through an empty head! Somebody said, "Open your mouth and the Lord will fill it". With what?! (*laughter*). A stream of hallelujahs? I'm a great hallelujah fellow but you've got to put something for the Holy Spirit to fill your mouth with. So if you labour in the Word and doctrine, then you submit it to the anointing.

Let me say something to you- you can treat the Bible as a compendium of information like a doctor studying medicine and referring to case studies or a lawyer studying legal books and refers to case histories. You can create a theology from the Bible and not be a Christian. And my dear friend Dr E W Kenyon used to say rather tongue in cheek, "You know son, Systematic Theologians aren't born again". Now what he was saying was that they had taken the Bible and they had taken all of the subject matter just like you do with research material and they had subjectivised it and they had put it into compartments and said, "Now here is our intellectualised finished product - we have worked this out systematically for you and here it is". Well thank you - I value that and I can do that, but I would like a little dew on the manna! See when the Israelite went out in the morning to gather the manna, he gathered it with dew on it. You need something to wash it down!


jul said...

I love this post. So much to consider and it explains so much. It's so helpful to hear him talk about the implications of focusing too much or exclusively on one part of the gospel to the detriment of living in the Spirit. The most obvious things lacking in this kind of church will be life and power. It also gives me food for thought in my own personal life, since lately I've been complaining to God about my lack of power. Why don't amazing things happen when I pray for people? Why do I often feel like all my strength and energy is used up just trying to survive? I think there are some answers in here. Thanks once again for all your hard work.

Baxter's Boy said...

Yep Jul that's absolutely my thoughts also! I am puzzling over exactly why we focus exclusively on part part of the Gospel to the detriment of living in the Spirit? Is it as Ern said, as simple as sentimentality? I.e - that's the part of the Gospel which most floats our boat or scratches where we itch? Or that's the part of the Gospel that makes us cry or laugh the most?

I know that my danger would be to focus on the Resurrection. I love everything about the Resurrection! Morning has come. A new beginning. Fresh starts. An empty cross and an empty tomb! Exciting! But Jesus isn't walking around the Easter Garden still, saying softly "Mary, Mary" or "Dan, Dan". He is now seated, exalted, enthroned and anointing with the Royal Anointing Oil of the Holy Spirit!! And He is involved actively in interceding for us! For US His people!

So my temptation must be to remember that I am not addressing someone who looks like the Gardener and is here. But a King! But I think the same principles can apply to whatever aspect of the Gospel is focused upon and isolated. We mustn't do it!

The power and amazing things that you refer to Jul, I am positive come from a "whole counsel of God" grasp of the Gospel and an active encounter with the Risen Lord through the outpoured Holy Spirit! That's why Ern called the Spirit, the bottom line of the Gospel for us! That's a "NOW!" word! That's where we plug in! We are post-Pentecost!

Ooh I could go on and on there!