Thursday, August 24, 2006

Greg Haslam - "Can These Bones Live?" Part 2 - from Together on a Mission 2006!

As my notes continue from this such vital sermon, I noted a strong parallel with Ginny Burgin's amazing prophecy to the church that I have just transcribed. The call to the church from the world is "Wake up! Prophecy! Call on your God!". Once again Terry Virgo has got it spot on when he said, "This is no age to advocate restraint". The church's sin is lethargy not excess.

2. The vital need for the prophetic word.

The prophet is overwhelmed but commissioned. Into this scene of devastation hope is birthed. Hope is birthed through the agency of a prophetic preacher but of course the major initiative is God’s. Ezekiel didn’t start anything. We are either part of the problem or part of the solution. Walter Bruggeman defines prophecy in this way; “The task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us”. In other words it’s to get us to think differently from the way the world would have us think about ourselves. We must rediscover our divine identity. God’s solution in hopeless situations is always to raise up human agents to remedy the disaster in partnership with Himself.

Can God do it again like He used Martin Luther, John Calvin, and George Whitfield? In every case the experience of these men and women is not dissimilar from Ezekiel’s here. How does it happen? It is a journey of six steps.

a. God put’s His hand upon you.

“The hand of the Lord was upon me”. There is a sense of the immediate Presence of God that comes. It is tangible, arresting. You must make the resolution, “I will do whatever you tell me to do Lord – I am ruined – I can’t go back to what we had – I can’t live with what we are presently learning to live with”.

b. A burden in the Spirit.

Prophets spoke regularly with a message that needs to be conveyed until it is discharged. You start to feel with God’s heart – aghast at what is being tolerated. “In the Spirit and set me down in a valley”.

c. Your eyes are opened to examine a scene of great distress.

“A valley full of bones”. There is no life in this valley. You feel yourself in a situation of strangeness. You begin to care, maybe wanting to go away but compelled to stay. 600 babies are killed every working day. We have the highest divorce statistics in the world. It’s an atmosphere of hopelessness in love with death. This is abnormal! You know that there is nothing man can do to remedy this.

d. You are asked questions by God.

Questions designed to engage you fully spiritually, emotionally and psychologically. “Can these bones live?”. Faith is beginning to stir and you open to the possibility of change, renewal and resurrection. “Oh Lord you alone know”. He is asking for positive confession from us. What comes out of your mouth is what you really believe. Things can change! You may never be the same again.

e. You are told what to do about it.

“Prophesy to these bones and say to them”. That’s a rather odd thing to do! We have to preach. P T Forsyth said; “The church rises or falls by her preaching”. In church life, you get what you preach for – and if you don’t preach it, you won’t get it. God begins to specifically commission His servants to engage in this clear direction of preaching. The prophet is called a seer and a sayer in the Old Testament – a visionary and a spokesman. It means both visual and verbal date come to the mind of the prophet and they say what they see in the Holy Spirit. You can’t hold it in even if you try. You have to speak! We have to recover a spirit of no compromise. Thousands of church leaders have settled for compromise.

What is compromise? Settling what less than you hoped for and learning to live with what you don’t like and doing what you don’t really believe in because you lack the courage to do what you really do believe in.

It is time for a spirit of no compromise! We are too silent. We dare not speak in case we are accused of political incorrectness, or intolerance. We are the only voice this nation needs to hear and we are the silent voice of the people of God. So we must do whatever the Lord commands us.

f. You begin to speak out what you have seen and heard.

“So I prophesied as I was commanded to do. And as I prophesied there was a sound”. How do we begin? It doesn’t matter – just begin! A hopeless mess of a graveyard won’t do anything – yet we are seeing what others dare not see, and saying what others dare not say. Prophetic ministry is a kind of shotgun ministry. There is so much content in prophetic ministry. Have you spoken to any dry bones recently? The Spirit longs to flood in and bring life. The most important agent for change is the Holy Spirit acting on His own prophetic word. Preaching the Word in the power of the Holy Spirit will not only turn bones into skeletal frameworks, but it will turn skeletal frameworks into corpses and corpses into people and people into armies!

3. Our dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit.

Notice the way God goes to work –

a. He began on individuals.
He assembled the skeletal remains of individual slain soldiers. God knows each of our identities and make ups and He will begin revivals in us. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. God starts from the inside out – a shocking sight! God often does things to shock and offend – He offends the mind to expose the heart. God changes our attitude first before anything else. “Don’t despise the day of small things”. Inner changes take far longer than outer changes. Proper foundations take a while to build.

b. And then finally puts power into them and they became alive.

(v9-10) Amazing things happened. “Prophesy to the breath”. We expect things to happen where we didn’t before. We are praying like never before! We are giving like never before. Funds are released! God joins us together in true unity. We must cease being loners and find friends and family in God’s glorious worldwide church. God’s Spirit is moving all other the earth to foster relationships and armies. The devil isn’t scared of us at the moment as we are scattered. Yet when unity – vitality – militancy and power then he will fear.

Unanimity rather than uniformity and it is certainly not just of man’s organisation. It is unanimity of truth because the prophets have spoken the truth and we have all believed it. And we are all fully alive with the Holy Spirit’s power. From a bone yard to a battalion by an amazing move of the Holy Spirit.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The views of the church seem remarkably divided on this issue.

Some seem to think we are doing "okay" and that things are actually encouraging. But isn't this being guilty of what Haslam identifies as "compromise"? Settling for less than we need to?

The others look to the Acts of the Apostles and times of revival and long and strive for more than we have. It surely is only be setting our standard by Scripture that we will cultivate a deep hunger for more of God than we have at present.

Dr S A J Burgess

Baxter's Boy said...

Right.

I have been extremely fortunate in my life - that two of the few most gifted and influential teachers in my life - Stanley Jebb and Martyn Lloyd-Jones - made much of church history. When Dr Jebb led the church, we actually went through a church history course in our All Age Bible school before morning church! Great days.

Church history isn't equal to the canon of Scripture but it is one of the most valuable teaching tools that God can give us and I think it's a foolish man who locks himself into his group of churches, puts up his feet and settles for the status quo - that all's well as long as we stay orthodox, speak to a few non-Christians and read the Works of Jonathan Edwards before we die.

The Bible seems full - chock full to me of cries to God to intervene in time and space and come down! How can we ever ignore them?

James B said...

Agreed. I think it was Don Basham who said; "Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it's mistakes".

If Greg Haslam is right and we are the generation to go on to experience things that our forefathers only dreamed of then we just cannot make their mistakes! We have to learn! And not settle for just restoring the 70's! Or Azuza St! But nothing short of Biblical values and biblical life will do!

thebluefish said...

the quote is George Santayana (1863-1952) isn't it?

nonetheless we must know our history - mistakes and heresies rise again and again... almost every issue has probably been faced before, and resolved...

Baxter's Boy said...

Yes it was - I think Basham was quoting in that particular article James was thinking of.

thebluefish said...

its a useful reminder though.... maybe its an evolutionary thing that makes us ignore the past... maybe its a sin thing.

James B said...

I'd opt with the sin thing. I think the devil knows that the Church is onto a good thing once we start learning from our foolish mistakes of the past!! :) And he doesn't want that.