My friend Gavin picked up on a key point in the last part of this discussion and wrote: "Reading this ... I was challenged once again about writing and making sure that I always have a clear reason for the hope that I profess. This has to be founded in the life of God's word and his Holy Spirit at work in my life for it to make a radical impact on the world that I live in". Amen! It is my absolute longing that the ministry of Ern Baxter does exactly this - inspires a greater vision of the Church - the hope of the world! So onto part 3.
Earl Paulk: One last question and if that was a curve, I guess this is a sinker. I heard you in your message say something that rang a bell in my spirit that maybe you could just comment on and I am sure we will come back on in other sessions. You spoke about man's culture. Today I believe we are in probably the greatest battle that America will have - the amalgamation of cultures and the arising again of cultural distinctions and try to make that religious. Your definition of culture interests me because we are in many integrated situations, whether it be Hispanic, the Oriental and the black and the white. Is there anything you can say to the danger of us mixing our cultural roots and talking about that survival over against our new order in the Spirit?
Ern Baxter: I think so. I have my culture. My human culture. But as a Christian I am committed to the trans-cultural culture of the Kingdom. And I think that as long as we want to drag our ethnic and linguistic cultures into Christianity and make a point of reference of them, we do harm to the transcendental culture. When John sees the aggregate of the redeemed in the Book of Revelation, they are from every tongue, tribe and nation but they have this in common - that they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. They have all moved out of their cultures to become that great host with Messiah on Mount Zion. I think that the danger is the perpetuation of an ethnic or linguistic culture on into a Chrstian culture. And that we need somehow to find a combing factor. You are not going to change the fact that my roots are in Scotland or his roots are in Mexico or his roots are somewhere else. You won't change that - that is our humanity. But the culture that we are reaching for is the culture of a transcultural integrated Christ reality.
Earl Paulk: You see I think that is the concept that will show the diffence in the church. Some of these cultural groups that are arising with one stroke have they knocked in the head the New Age movement. The diffence being a glorified human as over against the Godhead. What you are hearing here and I don't want to overdo this but I wonder if we have underestimated the value of it. What you are hearing here are the concepts and values of the imbalances and critical problems in the Christian church today and one of the reasons why we are not influencing the world. They see our imbalances. They see our foolishness. They go away laughing. And they will laugh until they see a real change in our lives - affecting a society - that you are making a difference in the drug culture, in the homeless etc.
And I pray that in the course of this week that you will see that there is a deep working of the Holy Spirit and we are committed to leave here and say "Lord, let us be sure that we are hearing the right things and giving the right signals. That we are winning people to Christ on the right basis who will survive". If you bring some people in at one level, you have to maintain them at that level. There is nothing new taking place today that has not been in the Pentecostal and Charismatic groups since the turn of the century. And once you see that there are phases they go through - like they get mass crowds to go out and blow them here and blow them there - that is nothing new! But that does not change society. It becomes a very selfish thing. What I hope we come out of this conference hearing and I believe God is doing through Brother Baxter, is giving foundational truths that won't be shaken by the fancies of people.
And I pray that God will anoint our ears so that we don't miss that because built into these things ... you may think my goodness I would rather be shouting and jumping up and down and having the singers come- that is all wonderful but when you face the new generation that is coming along, they want some answers! And they want you to answer not just in their emotions but in their spirit. And they are laughing sometimes becasue they are not seeing that we are many times giving them not only the intellecutal answers that they need but the spirit that comes with them. And I am committed to believe (and Ern Baxter can correct me anytime he likes) but I am commited that the church is in a transitional position to form a new kind of approach that is not old but original but going back to the restoration of how it all works. Don't miss the fact that Brother Baxter defined the local church for you last night. The local church is not Chapel Hill.
How do we address this concept of the local church that the Spirit sees the church in Atlanta? What is the outgrowth of that? Now these are some of the questions that we are going to address in these sessions. You understand the meeting that we are in. We didn't invite the religious people. What we said is lets come apart and get into the mind and spirit of a man who has spent 60 years going through these things and lets share some of the demonstration that we may be able to provide. But to get the foundational turths and join it with a demonstration - that's what I see this conference being.
Ern Baxter: I feel I need to say this to you as members of Chapel Hill and associated ministries. That my contacts across the nation by my deliberate choice are men whom I discern as combining Word and Spirit. I just spent eight weeks in one of the great Pacific coast churches where I was associating with a pastor and his staff who have the courage to address the oddities of a non-controlled charismaticism. And I honour these men. And when the Bishop comes out and says the things he does, he is being a courageous pastor.
Let me put this in historical context. I was raised and followed my parents from Protestantism to a Holiness church and into Pentecost. And I watched Pentecostals misbehaving. Taking over meetings. One person taking over 60 minutes to run the aisles or shake their hair down and the preacher is sat impotent. And I said if God ever makes me a minister, I am going to address that. When God allowed me to start to build a church, I would not allow people to run rampant and say it's the power. The sacred cow was that you don't put your hand on the power. Paul gives you the right to put your hand on the power! Paul put his hand on the power in Corinth and said, "You don't all talk in tongues and don't all prophesy at the same time". He said, "When you receive the Holy Spirit as life and power you didn't receive Him as intelligence". How many people know that spiritual people at the beginning do dumb things? How can a man full of the Holy Ghost do dumb things? It's because he has got the energy and the life but he hasn't got the brains yet.
The Word of God is the brains of the Holy Ghost. And this is the Holy Ghost's permission for you to govern His activity in the church and when the Bishop addresses such things as blowing on people and blowing coats, that is courage - that doesn't full within the rubric of how people behave in the church - Paul said "I am writing these things to tell you how to behave and how to handle your gift".
When I received the Holy Spirit I just knew that everybody wanted to hear me talk in tongues and I was in a big conference much like this. I got filled with the Spirit at twenty to four in the morning and the next morning I went to the conference and all the Bible teachers were there and the leaders and here was this young freckled long legged kid and I just knew that these people wanted to hear me speak in tongues so - the first opportunity I did it! Away I went. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder and a voice, "Son would you please sit down". And I said, "What a lack of appreciation!". The man said, "After the service I will tell you why I did that". After the service he gently and kindly took me aside and opened up 1st Corinthians 14 and he showed me - and I never did it again! Now was that the Holy Ghost? Yes. Were those tongues real? Yes. Was that demonic? No. What was it? It was me misusing the power of the Holy Spirit apart from His brains. This is why God gives us elders and leaders to address how we behave in the house of God.
Earl Paulk: Praise the Lord! I'm going to let you get some rest now.