Sunday, August 13, 2006

"2nd Discourse" - Part 1 - between Earl Paulk and Dr Ern Baxter.

Earl Paulk: The overall topic is the "King, the Kingdom and the Holy Spirit" inseparably joined together to accomplish what we cannot accomplish so you sit here and say, "Well how can these things be, back in the little community church or city or town where I am?". And what is the answer? The Holy Spirit. So Who must we get to know very personally? The Holy Spirit. I'm going to put a question here in the last 10 or 15 minutes that we've got and go through a few things. We think sometimes that we can do things by our own ingenuity and our intelligence and ability to counsel and so on when it is the work of the Holy Spirit many times through His sacramental church that is able to do the things we are trying to do in our own flesh.

One of the worst things we can do is continue to attend conferences and never do anything. Because it is the Holy Spirit once we are brought to the knowledge of the doing of it. So in the light of that, the question that I want to ask brother Baxter in the light of the Holy Ghost being a doer (these are just practical points but I know that his mind and spirit will pick up on it) - after what you have been saying, what should a pastors day look like, in light of the Holy Ghost's work in the pastor? I know you can't give us a schedule but what should be his priority? What should his day or week be like if we are talking about the Holy Ghost being a doer? And I will just preface that by saying many times I fear that Satan is planning our agenda with things that we think we are doing instead of what the Holy Ghost wants to do.

Ern Baxter: Twenty five years ago as I travelled around the country and was entertained by pastors and sat in their studies and looked at the libraries, I realised that a pastor's library tells you an awful lot. And I look a lot of these pastoral libraries and there were more books on psychology than there were on theology. And I think that psychology has been the great seductor. I think that we have found a substitute for the Holy Spirit in our borrowed ability. I think that when I was a boy, the word "counsel" wasn't there. Now it's a good word but it is almost like the pastor's office has become the psychologist's couch. And we are pandering to people's problems in terms of the psychology. And I have to admit I started out in my ministry being somewhat seduced by Freudian psychology and found out that most Christian books on pastoral books on pastoral counselling followed Freudian patterns. And I realised that what I was doing was helping a lot of lame people stay lame.

And God dealt with me one day and said, "I need to help you". I said, "I sure need it!". But He said, "The problem with these people is that their foundations are bad". So I started when people would come to me for help and they would want to tell me their problems and all about their problems. And I would say, "Now just a minute before we talk about your problems I want to ask you a question. Tell me about your conversion". Well I'm a great believer in the basic oracles of God in Hebrews 6 - repentance from dead works, faith towards God, baptism, laying on of hands, resurrection life and moral government. And so I had that paradigmatic thing in my mind and I would say, "Now tell me about your conversion". "Well I raised my hand in a Billy Graham meeting and went forward". And that was it! I found invariably that there was no indication of repentance. You can't out talk Jesus. You can talk about a Great Teacher! Now He knew how to use a great illustration. He finished His sermon on the Mount with an illustration about two men that both came to Him, they both heard His Word and they both went away to build their houses – apparently according to His Word. The one guy said, “Ah I can build my house on the sand and I have a nice house and it’s nicer than my neighbour. Look you can’t see him because of the dirt coming up”. One man (and I like the alliteration of the King James – it says he “digged down deep”). Three d’s. Digged down deep. He removed all the dirt that was between him and the rock. And then he laid his house down. Now when he’s still down there digging dirt, this guy is putting up his Christian house.

I have found that a lot of people have never repented. I was amazed at how two people had obeyed God in the God-ordained way you express your faith. Baptism is not optional. He that believeth is baptised. The apostle Paul wants to trace the origin of Christians whether its in Romans, Corinthians or wherever he says, “Know ye not that so many of us were baptised”. Paul had a point of reference. He didn’t say so many of you have raised your hands or whistled or whatever – he says so many of you were baptised. That is the theological apostolic point of reference for the beginning. I have found all kinds of people have never been baptised. After the Holy Ghost – they didn’t know anything about the Holy Ghost. To say nothing about resurrection life and moral government. I don’t know where they were but they had some kind of bad birth if they were born at all! Some of them looked to me like they were still born. Now I think that we as pastors (and this is not a totally adequate answer) but we have got to resist the seduction of thinking that we can mentally solve problems. We have got to as pastors (I have a little liturgy that I go through – a little ritual before I come to any service and sometimes do it in the restroom). I will say “Father I take the blood of the covenant against any impediment in me. I resist Satan steadfastly in the faith. I accept my gift for whatever it is and I ask You to release it to the blessing of the people and grant me Your Holy Spirit”.

Now I have done that for years and I think we have to start today. Ruth and I find that if we don’t start the day together even if we are under pressure, then we are off track. While I am dressing she is reading the Word of God and when she has finished we get in touch with God. We have got to get in touch with God. I have got to start that day (and I’m not being legalistic about it if you have got a better answer – you got for it) but man we have not used our resources. We leaned on the bowed crutches of a poverty-stricken intellectualism. Paul said, “I speak with tongues more than ye all”. And yet when it came to the church he was the severest Bishop Paulk on having order in his church! But he understood that privately God had given him glossalalia as a means for him to build up his spirit and I find that as I speak in an unknown tongue – in fact right now my spirit is speaking in an unknown tongue while I am speaking to you in English – and I could switch at any time! Sometimes when I am preaching I get so excited that I switch gears. I know I’m wrong – I am not supposed to speak in tongues while I’m preaching. But I get a dispensation from the Lord. (*laughter*).

Earl Paulk: Praise God! You hear what the man said? I hope you heard that. If you don’t start the day right it doesn’t end up right does it? Praise God. My shower is my most sacred place in the house. Another question, I am having the time of my life – I think you must know that. Getting to pick this man’s brain right in front of you. I heard you talking about the call of a prophet to call people to covenant. I think probably we might (and this is a little editorial before I ask the question) maybe we are a little afraid to call people to the covenants. We want to patronise them not press them about tithing or baptism etc. What is the tension or balance between a pastor calling his people to covenant and his priestly office? Or his office of comfort? His office of caring or is that a way of caring? You know what I’m asking?

Ern Baxter: I think that a certain cowardice has crept into our Christian life largely because of the existential relativism that is abroad. I am daily nauseated. I watched the TV last night on the whole drugs thing and given out fresh needles and so on. Now I understand the rationale but I don’t hear anyone in authority in the church addressing the moral issues involved in abortion or in drugs. Does no one have the guts to get up and say that you can’t violate the moral code without reaping? Romans 2 is clear on that! Now Campbell Morgan … I am indebted to Campbell Morgan while I don’t read him much anymore but in the days of my youth he blessed me greatly. Campbell Morgan made a point that helped me. He said that if you read all of Paul’s epistles, the epistles are addressed to churches in cities that are marked by a certain kind of cultural sin. The city of Corinth was marked by debauchery. In the world of that day if you wanted to talk about going on a weekend bender, you simply said ‘I am going to Corinthianise’. Now what happened in the church? The church in the city of Corinth did not establish it’s prophetic and covenantal walls and the cultural filth of the city filtered through until Paul had to say, “Within the church it is reported that there is fornication among you”. The cultural mess, the fumes from the cultural sewer seeped through the walls of the church. Now whether it was Corinth with moral corruption or Ephesus with the demonic influence of Diana or Thessalonica with the moral conversativism of a military town or whatever it was. Every epistle indicates that the church had not insulated itself against the infiltration of the culture and we are the same. The relativistic indifferent culture has got in! Now that doesn’t mean you get up and cuss your people and thunder at them. But start to teach solidly the culture of the Kingdom – the way of God and have a people who understand covenant and understand the nature of prophetic warning and so on. We just need to restore Christianity to its roots.

Earl Paulk: One of the things we keep hearing as pastors from our critics within the church when they have a chance to express themselves is that we need to be more palatable. That we need to be sure we are palatable. I feel sometimes I sense what you are feeling when you are ministering. There is an anger – you are angered at the fact that he has so blinding minds and sit there and wondered why they don’t get blessings. It could be as simple as the fact of tithing yet ignore Malachi and the prophets for saying you are a thief and a robber in the house of God. How can we join ranks with people who are thieves and robbers and think we can accomplish the work of the Holy Ghost in the city? I guess there is something new coming up in me that almost needs to be a cutting away – a circumcision properly understood of the heart as a cutting away. Sometimes we are in ranks with people who have never allowed that cutting away and so we are automatically frustrated and give up in the ranks because they have built everything on an emotional experience that maybe an inappropriate desire and a personal agenda and then we wonder why we are not successful. So to me what I hear Brother Baxter saying is that there is seepage in from the world that we don’t set the standard from the pulpit. We don’t call to covenant because we are so afraid we are going to lose our people! What I am going to say is lose a few but gain the work of the Holy Ghost properly and we will gain what God wants us to do.

Ern Baxter: Can I just address that for a second? I was sitting in a conference where I was invited to address some leaders a couple of years ago. And I was listening to some other leaders – it was all ministers – and I was disturbed. Because what I heard coming through these ministers was “We have to be relevant”. Relevance was the talk. I have to be relevant – I have to address God’s people so that they are relevant to the world. I sat there disturbed and I wrote at the top of my paper “Authenticity”. Now I have a whole message on authenticity. I have to be authentic before I am relevant because I have to bring what is now called relevancy to authenticity. That is my job as a servant of God. Not to bring authenticity and have it monitored by relevance. And I dislike relevance. Because God never called me to be relevant to the devil or to religious moralists or to backsliders or to sinners – He called me to prophetically confront them with authenticity. What is authentic? (*applause*).


jul said...

There are some great points in there. My husband and I were just talking about our tendency to equate being intelligent and having a lot of knowledge about Scripture and theology with being truly spiritual. The truth is, some of the most godly and Spirit-filled believers are the most simple and child-like in their thinking. And conversely, some of the most intelligent and intellectual people can be shamefully arrogant and far from God in their hearts (though I'm sure they don't know it). We have truly allowed our culture to influence us this way. I'm all for learning and reading and educating Christians, but what does it really reveal when you need to bring a dictionary along to help you understand a sermon? Who in the world are we trying to impress? This also reminds me of the whole worship song debate a bit. Content is always important, but just how wordy and heady do our songs need to be? Sometimes I think we are in real danger of missing the heart of God when it comes to this.

One of my favorite verses is "For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even the things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God." (1 Cor. 2)

It helps me to remember just what kind of person I would be apart from grace(utterly deceived and impressed with myself), and also helps me love others as I see them in light of God's preferences instead of the world's. Why do so many of us spend our lives trying to prove to the world that we really are wise and powerful, noble and self-sufficient? Do we really think that people will be impressed with our amazing intellect and come running to lay down their lives before God?

I love that Paul says it clearly a few verses later "...(I)did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom...I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."

Frankly, I don't buy into all this emphasis I've seen in so many churches on "excellence", this idea that we're really trying to do our best for God because anything less wouldn't be true worship ect... I think most of it is plain old-fashioned man pleasing. That stuff doesn't mean anything to God, so give the poor sound guys a break haha. It's so easy for me to slip into this kind of mindset if I don't really know God daily. When any kind of legalistic duty mindset begins to take over in my life, then all these arrogant ideas creep in dominate everything I do. I just want His his real and tangible presence back. I think at this point I would opt for a continual vegetative state if I was sure I would continually experience God's presence and know for certain that he truly was with me every single second.

Baxter's Boy said...

The "excellence" issue is a difficult one and should be held carefully I think. I've heard it a lot too. Interestingly enough back in my SGM days I once transcribed an interview at a Worship Conference between Mahaney and Bob Kauflin. They talked about how in Celebrations, only those who had a given and proven ministry of excellence would be up front - and how they did not see Celebrations as a time for people to develop in preaching, or in spiritual gifts or in worship.

I've heard it spoken of in Newfrontiers circles as well - although I think their take on "excellence" is more that the world might sit up and take notice.

But I think I would have to agree with you Jul. Has "excellence in ministry" been developed simply because we do not have His "real and tangible Presence"? While I love and appreciate proven ministries like Kate Simmonds and Stuart Townend and Lou Fellingham, can we by any stretch of the imagination say that God's real and tangible Presence will not rest upon small groups of people gathered together to hunger and seek His Presence?

But in the same breath I don't think that there's anything particular special in bad musicians - or bad preachers! Surely God does actually get glory from everyone in His church striving to make the absolute most of the gifts that He has given and to perform and minister for His glory.

jul said...

I guess I wasn't thinking about doing things terribly. I completely agree with you about making sure everyone is functioning and contributing according to their gifts, not according to prideful desires (which is often a motivation for people wanting the 'spotlight'). I'm definately for auditions when it comes to worship ministries. Dave Fellingham always says you need three components: character, gifting, and annointing. If any of the the three are lacking, it's not going to work. But is our motivation in redirecting 'bad' singers or preachers elsewhere to impress the world with our amazing abilites or to build the church and help people discover their place in the body of Christ? I still think we justify and rationalize our fear of man by imagining we are concerned about bringing glory to God.