my last post with one titled such as this and focusing on the negative. Yet I am scared (a righteous fear I hope) that once again the people of God will blow it and we will miss the moving of God (should He decide to move) because of the reasons why we have ALWAYS resisted Him.
Ern Baxter was and remained to his death, the most open man I know to the moving of God and the coming down of the Spirit of God. He always hoped for more - always looked for more and always asked, "Is this it?". So this blog reproduces a large chunk from Ern's book; "The King, the Kingdom and the Holy Spirit". It's warning must be heard and held in tension with the excitement and hope that the New Year holds for us all. We can be open to what Ern wrote and said because his ultimate longing was that the Holy Spirit would be able to find a people who will not quench Him or resist Him or turn from Him through fear of excess yet at the same time stay safely within the bounds of the Word of God and not fall into doctrinal error. May this post contribute to avoid us making the same fatal mistake again. Over to Ern Baxter:
"We have examined an important historical principle; God is an active, changing, transforming God. On the other hand we are ... well from a historical perspective, we're simply not so hot. In Acts chapter 7 Stephen is talking to the religious leaders of Israel who had engineered the death of our Lord Jesus. He tells them, "Oh you stubborn people, hard of heart and hard of hearing. You are forever resisting the Holy Spirit. Your ancestors did it and you're doing it still" (Acts 7:51).
What were they resisting? Actually who did they resist? They said, "The Holy Spirit? We never saw the Holy Spirit". "But you did and you didn't recognise Him. You resisted Him in Isaiah. You resisted Him in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Obadiah and Zechariah. You resisted Him in Malachi and Zephaniah. You resisted Him in Moses and you resisted Him in Joshua. You resisted Him. Every time He spoke through the servants of God you resisted Him". "We didn't know that was the Holy Ghost. We thought that was Isaiah". "That's not the problem. You didn't resist Him because you didn't like Isaiah. You resisted the Holy Ghost coming to you through Isaiah because there was something in you that wouldn't have heard the Holy Ghost even if the Holy Ghost had been manifested in a personal form with a big sign over His head saying, "I'm the Holy Ghost". You would have still resisted Him because it wasn't the form of His coming. It was what was in you".
A brief glance through the Scriptures or at Stephen's speech to the religious leaders of his day clearly demonstrates the historical habit of man with God. Now let me give you the historical reason. It's very important to have a sense of history and learn from it's example. Why? Many of us don't realise we are resisting the Holy Ghost now.
"Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 'Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? ... Jesus replied, 'And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? ... Thus you nullify the Word of God for the sake of your tradition". (Matthew 15:1-3, 6 - NIV).
That didn't mean the disciples ate with dirty hands. It means they didn't go through the religious ablutions that were purely symbolic. Jesus responded to them with another question; "Why do you, yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?". Your tradition empties the commandment of God of all it's meaning. This is a difficult issue for me to teach.
I remember being invited to address a denominational convention a few years ago. I spoke from this type of scriptural base. I told them, "So the time has come for us to find biblical, documented evidence to support the things we are doing. We have built up a system of traditions, rites and ceremonies that are not biblically based. And we are so dedicated to keeping our traditions that when we hear the pure Word of God we can't attend to it because we are busy handling the substitutes".
I remember the leader of that denomination who drove me to the airport after the convention. I knew I hadn't been heard for with a smile he said very simply and dispassionately, "Ern I've always considered you to be one of the outstanding Bible teachers of our day and I've always enjoyed hearing you. But I need to tell you that I disagree with what you taught at this convention. I cannot document 50 percent of what I do in my church and I have no intention of changing".
One of the last things I heard about that man came from a friend who said he'd been in that leader's church one Sunday morning and watched the man standing behind the pulpit with tears streaming down his face saying, in essence, "Where is God?". I'm not that man's judge but as far as I was concerned that day while we were driving to the airport that man served notice on God that he had no intention of changing his traditions for the commandments of God. I am not trying to push something hard on you, but at the same time I am not willing to withold for my own sake or comfort what I feel the Holy Spirit is saying. I know men who would cut my throat from ear to ear simply because I may suggest that one of their traditions cannot be biblically documented.
I heard once that there are 942 individual acts you have to perform as a Jew, rituals that the rabbis laid down as things that must be done every day. That is the goal of religion. Religion wants to burden you down with a lot of rites and ceremonies that appear very religious but the general aim is to keep you from hearing and receiving the life-giving voice of the Holy Spirit. There is a difference between religion and relationship. What I want you to do is examine everything you are doing. Find out if you are engaging in a tradition or if you are obeying a command of the Father.
The treachery of tradition comes from a satanic source ... (John 8:44) Jesus told those religious leaders, "The source of your disobedience and hatred of Me, the fact that you challenge Me at every turn of the road and the reason you hang onto your traditions and won't submit them to the commandments of God rises from a deeper problem within you. You are of your father the devil. You are being driven by a satanic spirit".
The title of this teaching is "Restoring the Balance between the King, the Kingdom and the Holy Spirit". I have called it that because the people of God seem to tend to stop short of becoming the people God created them to be".
Let us hear Ern Baxter's plea from beyond the grave! He may be dead but he still speaks and would have us learn from the mistakes of church history! God has great things in store for His people! He will have us become a praise for Him in the earth! Lets conform to His desire and allow His Spirit free reign to take us where He will and do with us what He will!