Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Monday, December 25, 2006
New Wine Interviews Ern Baxter – New Wine Magazine – December 1978
During the years immediately after World War II, the United States and the world in general witnessed a widespread move of God that came to be known as the ‘healing’ revival,” in which the ministries of such men as William Branham, Oral Roberts. Gordon Lindsay, and T. L. Osborn became prominent.
In my opinion, the whole supernatural element in pentecostalism generally was very low. There were pockets of blessing, but there was no widespread revival. One of the reasons for the impact which the healings accompanying the healing movement made, was that there had not been a wave of healings for a long time. In 1933 at a big pentecostal conference, much of the delegates’ time was spent discussing reasons why people weren’t getting the baptism in the Holy Spirit anymore and the lack, of healings and conversions. Consequently, I would have to say that the spiritual climate was very low. This provided a backdrop, then, for the advent of the healing revival.
Then when Branham broke in on the scene with the quality of supernaturalism that he demonstrated, it was newsworthy because of its relative novelty.
I was with Branham from 1947 until I had to leave him, in about 1953 or 1954. F. F. Bosworth joined up later than I did and shared in some of the meetings.
Branham also probably introduced deliverance in its form at that time. He cast out spirits. This made the large congregations very sensitive to the presence of demonic powers. There was a lot of primitiveness about it. For instance, he would insist the audience bow their heads during exorcism lest the spirits get in another person! The whole ministry was so new and so powerful that, when I met him in 1947, his mail was enormous.
I was with him in South Africa at a time when a large number of religious people rejected the ministry of healing, creating real pressures. There was a man in the meeting who was interested. He was of a denomination that was coming down on us very heavily. On the way home from the meeting, this man felt a hand on the back of his shirt. He turned around and there was no one there. But when he got home, he took off his shirt and found a handprint there - just as if a hot iron had left its imprint on his shirt. The shirt was shown in the next day’s newspaper.
But these men were really significant. They were a type of bridge.
I think it also points up the need of having responsible community to receive the fruits of this kind of evangelistic ministry. If the converts are not brought into a New Testament biblical community or church, they become followers of a man who cannot develop them into maturity.
I believe these principles are very basic. In addition, man does not live by miracles alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Miracles and signs arid wonders are not food. They are signs to tell you where the food is. If you try to live on the signs, you get unbalanced nutrition.
In the healing revivals quite a few received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but healing was the feature. In the charismatic renewal, the baptism in the Spirit is a feature. Healings were to attract attention. The baptism of the Holy Spirit was to empower and initiate into a dimension of supernaturalism. Now we have to find the intention of God for the corporate. God intends to equip a people corporately. So I think our next step is for maturity and the corporate expression of Christ to the world.
If we, as a people, don’t hold that position, we’ll have to go through the same judgmental processes that have been experienced by rebellious people for centuries. Israel came up to times of awareness of their prophetic place in the earth, and they missed it. The Church has done it from time to time. Now, I think the charismatic movement is in serious danger of ebbing again, and God is going to have to do something else. But the something else will always be moving toward the Lord’s intention as expressed in John 17:21 - that we may be one, so that the world might believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
Friday, December 22, 2006
I have missed an abundance of good, truly Reformed/Charismatic websites that hold the tension between Word and Spirit in balance so I am thrilled to report that after much persuading, bullying and prayer - my best friend Pete Day has joined the blogsphere!
His site; "The Best is Yet to Come" - was launched yesterday.
Ever since I began my blog, I have been accountable to him for much of what I wrote and published and has been very much a behind-the-scenes partner in what I have been trying to do. He has never been keen to begin to write his own blog due to true humility but I have been convinced that his ministry is so anointed that it deserves a wider audience that the church he pastors in West Norwood, South London.
I had a prophecy for him from Numbers 10 where Moses speaks to his father-in-law and says the famous plea, "Come with us and we will do you good". Terry Virgo mentioned at CCK, Brighton that the father-in-law wasn't just a bystander. He was to be "their eyes" as they went through the wilderness. I felt that God wants Pete to take much of a leading role in helping to keep Ern Baxter's unique ministry alive while I carry on my simple scribing work.
I urge everyone to keep an eye on his blog. There will be some excellent material coming out that cannot be found elsewhere!
By the way ... In my previous post, "Ern Baxter Correcting the Balance", I spoke of three heroes - men of God who had impact on my life. One of these was Peter Cockrell, the pastor of Grace Community Church in Worthing. Peter is also on the "Life in the Spirit" Committee. Yesterday I discovered that he has a blog that he began in May called "Already but Not Yet". He has only posted twice so it may be that it is a dead link and he doesn't have time to carry on but what he has written is worthy of a read. He says; "This blog site is dedicated to the convergence of Reformed theology and charismatic experience". Like Peter Day, he is another gifted anointed preacher who I hoped would preserve his ministry in the written word for future generations to benefit from.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The Westminster Conference was started by Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones and addressed something of the revival of interest in the Puritans alongside the awesome work of the Banner of Truth. I have been once in 2001 when my former pastor Dr Stanley Jebb was speaking on the subject, "Richard Greenham and the Counselling of Troubled Souls". I was unable to get to the Westminster Conference this year although I desperately wanted to, because Dr Jebb was speaking again.
I have been unable to get this whole manhood/womanhood issue off my mind for the last couple of days. For those who have just joined the discussion, the whole thing has been sparked off by the publishing of Dr Wayne Grudem's latest book. In it he seems to be drawing the line in the sand - no longer can we remain safely in the "radical middle ground". He claims that if you hold an egalitarian position then you are starting on a road that will end in accepting homosexuality as a lifestyle. My good friend Jul has written an excellent response to my thoughts called, "Feminism - the greatest threat to the church?". I am grateful for this. It seems to me that the loudest voices in this are on the one hand the egalitarian feminists and on the other the complementarian men (i.e Grudem). We need to hear from complementarian women!
For my part I said that I don't really have much to contribute to the debate. After all I am no Grudem. But what I do think we can do is to begin to fill the internet and the discussion forums with positive teaching on how men should really be men. Maybe if Christian men started behaving how God intended, then Christian egalitarian women might follow suit. Has anyone stopped to consider the fact that it seems women often rise up to do men's jobs when weak ineffectual men seem to fill the earth? That's how Deborah became a Judge in Israel. That's how Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in London.
So here's my contribution to beginning the positive drive for real Christian men. This is an extract from Dr Ern Baxter's book, "The Chief Shepherd and His Sheep".
"A Shepherd's Characteristics.
In 1 Timothy 3:2-7 God tells us specifically what a shepherd should be. (These characteristics also appear in the paralell passage of Titus 1:5-9).
A shepherd must be above reproach - irreprehensible, unassailable. He is a man whose life cannot be spoken against. Enemies may bring all manner of accusationss, but these charges are proved to be empty whenever fair methods of investigation are applied.
The Husband of One Wife.
This requirement is restrictive not imperative. It is not necessary that a shepherd be married but if he is, he should be married to only one woman. This requirement may have some special significance in Paul's day because the pagans to whom he preached were coming out of polygamy.
The lexical definition of this word is "temperate" or "circumspect" and it connotes that a shepherd be filled with spiritual and moral earnestness. He is not given to excess but is moderate, well-balanced, calm, careful and steady. This pertains to his physical, mental and moral habits.
This means "sound-minded". The self-controlled or sensible man is a man of sound mind. He is discreet and sane. As a result he is not swayed by sudden impulses over which he exercises no mastery. A shepherd must be an example to the flock. He must represent, as it were, Jesus Christ the Chief Shepherd. He must reflect the character of Jesus Christ in such a way that the sheep will see His character and in turn want to have the same kind of character. This is a high calling.
Of Good Behaviour.
A shepherd must have a disciplined life that consists of inner moral excellence and outwardly orderly behaviour.
Given to Hospitality.
At the time when Paul wrote this, Christians on a journey could not stay at public inns because these places were often ribald drinking houses and houses of ill fame. Nor could they resort to the houses of the heathen if they wanted to walk in holiness. Staying in the home of a pagan meant exposing himself to all the crudities of ungodliness. Therefore the home and help of any Christian was welcome. An overseer was thus to be an example of hospitality always keeping his place open in his home for visitors. The principle still holds. A shepherd, in his desire to care for people, must know the pleasurable inconvinience of showing much hospitality.
Apt to Teach.
A shepherd must be a capable and qualified teacher. He must have a gift for teaching. In the Amplified Bible, the paralell passage Titus 1:9 says that "he must hold fast to the sure and trustworthy Word of God as he was taught it, so that he may be able to give stimulating instruction and encouragement in sound (wholesome) doctrine and to refute and convict those who contradict and oppose it - showing the wayward their error". The implications of a shepherds office extend beyond giving practical advice and spending recreational time with those in his care to the serious business of maturing the people of God and withstanding the inroads of wickedness into the body of Christ, the ultimate goal being to disciple the nations. This can only be accomplished as the shepherds in the church are careful that they themselves are champions of the faith and that they are able to teach.
In the list of gifts in Ephesians 4:11, shepherds and teachers are placed together in a way that the other three are not, leading many scholars to believe that a shepherd-teacher is one ministry. It certainly seems that way considering that shepherds must be apt to teach. They must each feed the portion of the flock under their care.
As an aside the only difference between an elder and a deacon is that the elder is able to teach. Deaconing like shepherding is a high calling. While deacons do handle much of the material side of church activities, they are involved in more than sweeping floors or handing out the bulletins. They work with people too and are probably the ones who have the most involvement with the indigent and others who need such practical assistance. Deacons also attend to such essential and demanding services as finance, administration and other practical matters requiring specialised skills. Because of this they must be "full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit".
Not Given to Wine.
Shepherds must set an example for a sober community. The church of God does not need the false stimulus of alcoholic beverages, for the Bible instructs us to "be not drunk with wine wherein is excess but be filled with the Holy Spirit". Admittedly wine was and is a common beverage in Bible lands and it cannot be proven from the Bible that a man has no right to drink wine. Yet it can be proven that a man is not permitted to abuse wine so that the normalcy of his abilities and judgement is affected. How many people can drink much before this happens? There is certainly no place for the misuse of alcohol in the Kingdom of God - especially by elders. Furthermore in this day when alcohol and drugs are ravaging our nation, it is a tragedy for Christians to indulge at all; and for a person who may prove unable to handle alcohol to get his first drink at an elder's house is a double tragedy.
A shepherd must not be a violent man, one who is ever ready with his fists. "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal". We must understand that there is more than one way to strike someone; a vicious tongue can strike blow after blow. A shepherd cannot be a man who lashes out with his tongue as though it were a fist, nor with his fist itself.
Not Greedy of Filthy Lucre.
A shepherd cannot be a lover of money, one with an insatiable appetite for wealth, one who is even ready to obtain it by questionable means.
This quality is the opposite of a striker. It causes a person to be yielding, lenient and courteous. Though never compromising with respect to the truth of the gospel, a shepherd must yield when it comes to his own rights.
Not a Brawler.
A shepherd cannot be an obstreperous man who is quick to anger, contentious and quarrelsome. He must not always be wanting to fight, but on the contrary must be adverse to doing so. Even if he were not physically violent by being disputatious he would still be lacking one of the characteristics needed to be an overseer.
One that Ruleth Well His Own House.
A shepherd must rule his own household well, keeping his children under control with true dignity, commanding their respect in every way and making sure that they stay respectful. The father's firmness makes it advisable for a child to obey, his wisdom makes it natural for a child to obey and his love makes it a pleasure for a child to obey.
Not a Novice.
A shepherd is not one who is newly planted. He must not be, says one translation, "a beginner in the faith for fear of his becoming conceited and sharing the devil's downfall". Never put a new convert in a place of authority for he cannot handle it and was not meant to.
Must Have a Good Report with Them Which Are Without.
A shepherd must be known even to wordly people as a man of character, a man against whom it is not possible to level any just charges of moral turpitude. It must be said that he conducts himself properly with respect to outsiders.
We need a revival that will restore us to the essence of Christianity where God says, "Be ye holy for I am holy", a holiness that is not just external but that springs up from within. Godliness will not come about by preaching "Be godly" but people are going to want to be godly because they want to imitate the godliness that they see in their elders. What they see, not just what they hear will stimulate them to holiness. The greatest incentives are those that are seen in the examples of respected elders and those elders must take care to set a good example.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Scripture is quite clear on the importance of vision. "Without vision the people perish" or to put it another way, "Without vision the people grow stagnant". So I've been giving some thought over the last few days to looking foward and asking what exactly is my vision. Any regular reader will know that I speak much of a longing for revival or for a turning of the tide but what can our expectations be if God truly does move in power. Where is He taking His Bride - the Church?
I have always been profoundly stirred being in stadiums whenever that has happened and have always felt that they were destined for something more than football matches or pop concerts. Hence when I read Paul Cain's famous "Stadium Vision" - something within me said, "That's it!". Here is an extract;
"It is a vision of the last days when sports stadiums all over the United States are filled with thousands of people. In this vision, people are being healed and miracles are happening to thousands in the name of Jesus Christ. People are turning to the Lord in droves and the whole nation is in revival. It seemed the whole earth was turning to Christ.
Television news reporters are broadcasting stories of resurrections and miracle healings. None of the secular reporters could get near the men on the platform. They did not know who the men were. Paul described them as "almost faceless men." He hears a TV anchorman saying, "There are no sporting events to report tonight because all the stadiums, ball parks and arenas are being used for large revival meetings and are filled with people crying, ''Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Lord."
Surely the awesome work that Hillsongs are doing in filling stadiums in Australia is a precursor to this! But what about the worship that will be taking place in these stadiums? Do we really know what we are doing yet? Are we really worshipping God as fully as He deserves? Or to put it another way; "If the tide is turning what should our response be?".
A week or so ago I asked the unanswered question; "Is worship truly worship if your heart isn't stirred" - this came fresh from a stimulating coffee and chat time with a friend. My suspicion is that it isn't. But what I am utterly persuaded is that worship plays a huge role in what God has in store for the glorious end time Bride. It must do!
Revelation 5:11-12 (NASB) - "Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." And take special note of verse 13: "And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever".
I worry that if worship isn't married closely to our vision of revival then we may be unpleasantly surprised when God does indeed come. But when I say "worship", I mean "worship" that flows like a living river out of a heart stirred with wonder and amazement for all that God has done through His Son.
"So when Jesus says that true worshippers worship the Father "in spirit" He means that true worship comes only from spirits made alive and sensative by the quickening of the Spirit of God. This "spirit" is essential in worship. Otherwise worship is dead. Or to use Jesus' phrase, it is "in vain" ... A heart (and spirit) alive and engaged with God is essential" ... What makes it authentic is not only that the worshipping mind grasps the truth of Jesus but also that the worshipping spirit experiences awakening and is moved by the truth that the mind knows" - Dr John Piper - "What Jesus Demands from the World".
Or to put it another way in one of his smaller books, Piper wrote; "Throughout Scripture we are commanded to feel not just to think or decide. We are commanded to experience dozens of emotions not just perform acts of willpower".
How on earth does that compare with something like this; "Should dance be permitted during the worship service? - This is an element. There is no place in Scripture where dance is permitted as an element of worship. Thus dance should not be permitted during the worship service" or "When church music directors lead congregations in singing contemporary Christian music, I often listen stoically with teeth clenched".
Lines are being drawn in the realm of biblical manhood and womanhood to be sure, but lines have been drawn in the sand about worship far before this. And I do believe that worship is an area where we simply cannot remain neutral, for in eternity the issue of whether or not we allow women to preach will be mute. Worship will go on in greater and wider and broader waves than we can ever dream of. Let's devote our attention to getting ready for eternity and something that will last forever. Let's learn how to truly worship in spirit and in truth. Hopefully this quote will make you realise how serious I am about this - because I rarely quote him agreeing with me. Yet I couldn't agree more with this tension. Bob Kauflin writes;
"May we all proclaim the beauty, authority, and truth of Jesus Christ with our lives, remembering that neither passion nor propositional truth is out of place when we worship God. They were meant to go together".
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
"We Protestants place a lot of importance on the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Sometimes we neglect the other aspects of the finished work of Christ in order to keep the cross central, and we minimize the incarnation. Taken to the extreme, our theology might suggest it is always Easter and never Christmas ... If the work of Christ was only the cross, He could have done his job in 3 days. Without the incarnation, we would not understand what Jesus meant when he said "As the Father has sent Me, so I send you".
Does that explain why Christmas is such an unbearably nauseating time in relation to church? David Holden asked the excellent question why as so-called charismatics, the Presence of the Holy Spirit seems to go on standby over Christmas. To great laughter he described the unusual experience of finishing singing "Once in Royal David's City" at his home church in Sidcup and then hearing a tongue break out! Oh for more of the manifesting of the Spirit this Christmas!
I'm a fan of Wayne Grudem.
Let me get that out of the way first. I hugely admire his intellect, his fierce devotion to truth and his openness to the Holy Spirit in an theologically academic world that remains suspicious of anything subjective. Let me state also for the record that if put on a lie detector I would agree with his position on biblical manhood and womanhood - simply put that the role of a teaching elder is for men. So I will be buying his latest tome; "Evangelical Feminism - a New Path to Liberalism?" and look forward to reading what he has to argue.
But the whole issue is not one that I am particularly passionate about and it certainly isn't a "hill that I would die upon" (as I heard C J Mahaney once declare at an SGM Leadership Conference). I've read the response to Piper and Grudem's magisterial book that Gordon Fee helped co-edit - "Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy" - and was impressed by some of the arguments. By the way keep an eye open for Fee's new large book coming out called; "Pauline Christology - An Exegetical-Theological Study". Very exciting! I guess I would call myself a moderate complementarian.
However having read a recent interview that Wayne Grudem gave on the subject, I'm not sure that we will have the luxury of having feet on both sides of the fence. He seems to me to be arguing that to hold an egalitarian position will result in the denial of anything uniquely masculine then progressing to a call to address God as our Mother resulting in the gradual approval of homosexuality. In his own words; "The arguments of evangelical feminism are leading people to deny the authority of Scripture and to move to theological liberalism including the approval of homosexuality". He names and shames Dr Roy Clements as proof of his deductions.
What can we say and what can we do in such a concerning position as this? I guess we can most certainly buy Dr Grudem's books on this topic and reassure ourselves that we are doctrinally correct. Maybe we could pay out and go to conferences like Together for the Gospel 2008 where this doctrinal position is part of their statement of faith. We can argue about it - One bold lady called Suzanne from Vancouver has taken Grudem on and is debating with him and being persecuted for it by the complementarians. But is this achieving anything? Is it advancing the Kingdom of God? What does the world make of this - if they even care?
Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones identified two problems with the evangelical church. Orthodox we are - but the two errors can be "Defective" and "Dead". Much concern is given, it seems to me, to the "Defective" aspect of our orthodoxy. A concern for the truth! Adherence to various statements of faith! And this is true and right and good. Dr Lloyd-Jones wrote of this concern:
"It is the condition of people who believe the truth and know that they believe the truth. There is no question about that. You question them, you catechise them and you will find that they are correct and orthodox. There is no fault to be found with their creed or their belief".
It's interesting to me that in the various sweeps of church history there is a glaring problem that we don't like to talk about very much. God, for some reason known only to Him, doesn't seem to always respect the fact that we have got our creeds and beliefs spot on. Annoyingly He has often brought revivals upon those who quite frankly might be liberals, Arminians or just those who we don't agree with. Is this an excuse for liberalism in our orthodoxy? Of course not. But I am just wondering whether in our passionate pursuit of truth - we are forgetting that we need life too. Dr Lloyd-Jones said;
"And therefore I come finally to this point. There is nothing vital in the religion and worship of such people. They expect nothing and they get nothing and nothing happens to them. They go to God's house, not with the idea of meeting with God, not with the idea of waiting on Him, it never crosses their minds or enters into their hearts that something might happen in a service".
"But the idea never even enters their imaginations that God may suddenly visit His people and descend upon them, the whole thrill of being in the Presence of God and sensing His nearness and His power . The whole thing is formal, it is this smug contentment".
"We must examine ourselves. Do we go to God's house expecting something to happen? Or do we go to just listen to another sermon and to sing our hymns and to meet with each other? How often does this vital idea enter our minds that we are in the Presence of the living God, that the Holy Spirit is in the Church, that we may feel the touch of His power?".
"The question is, are we giving the Holy Spirit an opportunity? Are we so tied down by our programmes that He is excluded? Why this formality? Why this tying down of everything? What if the Spirit should suddenly come? I do commend this matter to you very seriously".
"But in the name of God, quench not the Spirit, despise not prophesyings, and let us come to God's house in freedom, ever expecting the power to descend upon us and to have an experience of God and of Christ that will melt us and move us and break us and make us forget ourselves".
So I think for now I will leave evangelical feminism to Wayne Grudem. God has gifted scholars who have the liberty to devote themselves dogmatically to their key concern and I'm grateful for them. For myself I would rather restrain myself from irritating and offending evangelical feminists by writing and instead seek to demonstrate the joy, power and life in truth by living as a truly Christ-obsessed man doing what Christ told me to do and loving as Christ told me to love. Maybe if we stopped talking and starting living then people might start taking notice.
After all I can't change people's minds - neither can Wayne Grudem for that matter. But what I can take notice of is my expectation of God and the Spirit when I come to church. And I can pray and plead for a "coming down" of the Spirit where I live. That will make people sit up and take notice! Life! Isn't it the Holy Spirit who can change people's minds?
So back to where I started: oh for a drenching of the Spirit! Let the tidal wave arrive soon! Dr Lloyd-Jones said once that revival was the only hope for the Christian church. I think it is still the only hope.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
I am so blessed to have met another new friend - a guy called Jeff from Canada. We have begun emailing and share the same passion to not allow the ministry of Dr Ern Baxter to die. He has managed to obtain and has sent me a sermon of Ern Baxter's from October 1952! Ern was preaching on the William Branham crusade in Canada. I haven't yet heard it - but I intend to transcribe it and make it available in audio format as this to me is an exciting rare find! Watch this space ...