Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"Grace to You".

I got up about 5am this morning with the hope of going on a prayer walk but unfortunately it was thundering and raining. So I started flicking through the Bible and felt a desire to re-read Ephesians. My attention was grabbed by the introduction in verse 2 that so often gets overlooked.

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ".

What does "grace to you" mean? I've been thinking about this all day also bearing in mind Terry Virgo's powerful urge to, "Keep yourself in the love of God". It was really interesting to see that I am not alone in thinking about the subject of God's lavish grace! Jul has been convicted by Rob Rufus's powerful preaching and has come to the same realisation that I have - that I don't really know what it is to live in the grace of God. That is despite a lifetime growing up in Church and a dynamic conversion decision and a subsequent powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit. So I would agree with Julie I think, that "grace to you" has, "something to do with the Holy Spirit doing something we don't actually have the power to do ourselves".

I wonder if the key is dual - a dynamic encounter with the Holy Spirit but founded on the living Word of God. Fuel and fire. Logic and power. Word and Spirit.

Here is an awesome statement of logic and truth from the wonderful John Piper.

"Therefore your adoption is not based on your fitness, your worth, or your distinctives. It is rooted in God’s eternal purpose and grace. And that means that your adoption is not fragile or tenuous or uncertain. God will not adopt and then find out that you are not worthy and unadopt. He knows we are unworthy. And he chose us and predestined us for adoption. This is firm and sure and unshakable".

Now that statement is glorious and true. Yet as both Jul and I know, the experience of devastating guilt and failure sometimes seems to cast a dark cloud over the truth of the Word of God. It is here, I believe, that it is only the wonderful ever-present Holy Spirit who can draw near and "shed abroad the love of God in our hearts". The evangelical church is very proficient at proclaiming truth but remarkably (despite the last century of charismatic life) still poor at being efficient at walking with the Spirit of God.

(v13) of the first chapter of Ephesians deals with the wonderful truth of the sealing of the Spirit which again is something frequently neglected. Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was absolutely firm that the sealing of the Spirit was synonymous with the baptism of the Spirit. John Piper unpacked what the sealing of the Spirit means in practice for us:

"So what did Paul mean in Ephesians 1:13 when he said that believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit? No matter which of these meanings you use the basic truth is the same.

1. If the Spirit seals shut, the point must be that he seals in faith and seals out unbelief and apostasy.

2. If the Spirit seals us as a sign of authenticity, then he is that sign and it is the Spirit's work in our life which is God's trademark. Our eternal sonship is real and authentic if we have the Spirit. He is the sign of divine reality in our lives.

3. Or if the Spirit marks us with God's seal, he protects us from evil forces which won't dare to enter a person bearing the mark of God's own possession".

The dynamic of Word and Spirit is far more than just simply a title or a form of ecclesiology. It's more than a conference or a single doctrine. I do believe it applies throughout every area of the Christian life and particularly here in the vital area of grace. Maybe it is why so many of us as believers are bound up with legalism because we are to some degree or the other neglecting the "form or the power".

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Dales Bible Week 1977 - Angels Among Us!

I was excited to find this website - the Harrowgate New Life Church - who are an apostolic church under Derek Brown's fathering. They have a page called "Re-digging the Wells in Harrowgate" which is of special interest and excitement to me detailing the incredible spiritual heritage of the area. Truly it seems to be a gateway to heaven! Harrowgate of course was the site of the Dales Bible Weeks and they included a clip from a magazine which I suspect was a "Restoration" magazine. It will interest those of us who are spiritual children of that era.

The point about re-digging the wells is that the water is still flowing and is present there. It is the rubbish of the Philistines that has prevented a desperate and thirsty people from being satisfied. I for one would love to hear angels moving and singing among us in our churches and at our up-coming conferences! Oh, that the Brighton Town Council has to lodge a complaint because there is singing heard from the Brighton centre in the middle of the night during the "Together on a Mission 2007" week!
Do it again Lord! Visit us again!

Monday, February 26, 2007

A Spot of Blogspotting, Updates and News ...


What better way to wile away the morning hours of a night shift when all is quiet than to dive into the rich, deep, awesome Christian blogs that are out there? I must confess I have been robbing myself by not searching more fervently for the gold that is there! So here goes:


Ern Baxter on MP3!

For those friends who have followed my story and this site for a while, you will appreciate what a big deal this is. I have successfully mastered the procedure for getting my dusty Ern Baxter audiotapes onto MP3! So over the weekend I have been recording non-stop and can now offer the following ministry messages on MP3 to anyone who would like them.





Enjoy!

Dr John Piper at Phoenix Seminary with Professor Wayne Grudem.

For any like-minded fans of these two scholarly, passionate, gifted academics like me, the idea of them being together in any forum is enough to make ones mouth water. Well it is now available on DVD and mine is on order! Here's the information:

"The Happy Necessity of God-Centeredness in the Pastor's Feeling, Thinking, and Preaching

Man-centeredness pervades our world. Even in the church, a gospel is often preached that makes man the focus and puts God at the edge. People become God and he becomes their lackey. Into this context, the Bible levels a radical challenge to feel, think, and preach with absolute God-centeredness.

In these three messages from the 2006 Phoenix Seminary Pastors Conference, John Piper preaches to preachers, urging them to lead in a way that keeps God where he belongs – the center. Also featured is an hour of Q & A with John Piper and Wayne Grudem".

I think this DVD is going to be a gold-mine of information, motivation and a must-have in any personal theological library. We in the UK especially seem starved of men such as Piper and Grudem in the present spiritual climate so this DVD will be like manna from heaven.

John Piper on Prayer.

I sent Terry Virgo a copy of Ern Baxter's awesome sermon, "Ditch Diggers Revival" and made reference to how stirred I was by his book, "The Tide is Turning". Terry has the unique gift of being able to respond warmly and graciously to someone like me while probably being one of the busiest church fathers around in the world (a gift not many church leaders seem to have). Terry is one of the few heroes of mine who seems to be able to make a passing comment that can just reach out and grab one. Writing about the upcoming "Together on a Mission 2007" he said,

"Let's pray fervently for God to visit us in power".

We cannot simply passively wait! So John Piper's "Desiring God" blog has provided a gem of a tool that will be helpful for any who are ready to join in with Terry's fatherly urge. One of the Desiring God team wrote about a recent seminar that Piper held at Bethlehem Baptist Church on prayer and they have provided a 35 page document of notes, examples and comments that Piper used in his address.

It's here.

Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce

Another gem from John Piper! For many years Piper has demonstrated his gift of being a biographer at his Bethlehem Conference for Pastors. I love collecting the "Swans are not Silent" sets that are such an inspiration. So it is clear that Wilberforce had slightly bigger impact on Piper that some of the other men he has studied because he has written a short book on Wilberforce's amazing life - one of battle through adversity and glorious triumph by the grace of God. Want to change the world for the glory of God?
It is available online here to read.

The Days Are Coming!

Prophet Jon Cressey has expanded his wealth of resources into a new blog; "The Days are Coming" - prophetic encouragement for weary hearts. And encouragement it is! Take a load of this;


Feeling tired and worn out like me? It's the kind of stirring encouragement that you need to read and hear!

And Finally a Report on the Newfrontiers Student Worker Day!

My friend Luke is back writing with a vengance and it is great! His reports are here:





The final thought from Luke which I also agree wholeheartedly with:

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Are the Church's Resources Competent to Change the Face of the Earth?

My friend and co-worker Pete has written an excellent post called, "The Power and Empire of Christ". I was going to leave a comment on what is to follow but as usual my thoughts grew and grew. My attention was grabbed by an awesome quote that he closed the post with from Iain Murray's "The Puritan Hope". The exact
quote was this:
"Let the Church be in earnest after greater holiness in her own members, and in faith and love undertake the conquest of the world, and she will soon settle the question whether her resources are competent to change the face of the earth."

But I found myself asking the question, yes - ARE the church's resources even close to being competent to changing the face of the earth? We are praying fervently for God to come and visit us in power this year and we are believing hopefully that the signs are good. The tide, it seems, is turning. But I find myself faced with the question again - if the tide is turning, are we actually prepared for what is coming? Is our wineskin adequately flexible enough to cope with the flood of new wine that is coming?

Terry Virgo preached an outstanding message on Gideon at the Brighton Leadership Conference and he commented on Gideon's question to the Lord; "If the Lord is with us, where are the signs and wonders?". In Terry's eyes - this is a good question because the following verse said that the Lord turned and "looked at him". Terry urged us to ask similar faith-demanding questions. While many churches dread and fear these questions, Terry promised that within Newfrontiers - such questions would be welcome. So here is my question - "Are the Church's Resources competent to change the face of the earth?".

As I said I really do think that the signs are hopeful but thinking about the context of Newfrontiers, if the tide did turn and the tidal wave did hit and each Newfrontiers church experienced an awesome revival of the Holy Spirit and each church saw at least 500 new converts come into their ranks, are there enough Alpha courses set up with experienced leaders to disciple the new converts and get them into the church family? Is the eldership team open enough and secure enough in their authority to begin allocating new roles and responsibilities and delegating to allow the church to mobilise sufficiently to cope with the doubled or trebled membership?

I really do believe that Greg Haslam's prophecy that he gave at Brighton 2003 is key. Greg prophecied:

"A large hemispherical crucible over a flame and in it the Lord is pouring quantities of filings of metal which are evidently Newfrontiers people and ministries into this crucible. But strangely other filings are being poured in alongside it in heaps ... What are we doing in such close proximity to these people and what they stand for and represent? ... I believe the Lord is saying by this that Newfrontiers particularly is to expect a divine action – a corporate divine action in the life and experience of us all with unforeseen and unpredictable elements being brought by the Lord in very close proximity and in large numbers to us".

In the monumental, prophetically strategic series, "The King and His Army", Dr Ern Baxter pleaded against becoming exclusive as the "Heart Man" of the coming Kingdom of God. I think Ern Baxter's plea fits in with Greg Haslam's prophecy. If the Church is to gain sufficient resources to change the face of the earth then we absolutely must welcome into our ranks and among us like-minded visionaries (such as Rob Rufus or George Kouri). Men who share the passion that the world is actually meant to be affected by the Church! A commitment to the ascension gifts - apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor/teachers is vital. These men - these gifts - are the resources that we need, the catalyst for mobility to get about our great task of changing the face of the earth.

Just a closing thought ... "Changing the Face of the Earth" ... it sounds very familiar to "Changing the Expression of Christianity around the World" doesn't it?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The King and His Army Available Online!!

I am thrilled to report that after months of typing, writing and listening, Dr Ern Baxter's monumental series at the Lakes Bible Week 1975 is being made available online! Ern's spiritual son - George Kouri - is doing this wonderful job. For those who haven't heard of Brother Kouri before, he heads up an apostolic movement of men and here is a brief biography;

"Brother Kouri has been in the ministry for more than fifty years, and is recognized as an apostolic father and teacher. He is the head of Apostolic Ministries International, the Presiding Apostle of the Communion of Apostolic Churches, the President of The Ern Baxter Institute of Apostolic and Prophetic Studies and The Apostles Theological Seminary".

He has made the "King and His Army" transcripts available primarily for his theological students at the Apostles Theological Seminary but fortunately we can all benefit from them - so many thanks to him. I believe he will be making them available over time so for now here is the opening foreword to the transcripts that I wrote and the first message Ern gave in the series. In introducing the "King and His Army", Brother Kouri wrote;

"THE KING AND HIS ARMY is series of strategically important prophetic messages preached by J. Ern Baxter in the UK at the Lakes Bible Week in 1975. As one of Brother Baxter’s sons in the faith, I had the great joy and privilege of being with him, my life and ministry forever impacted and shaped by the profound and powerful Word of the Lord proclaimed. This series of messages places before us one of three major prophetic models found in the rich typology of the Old Testament for the Apostolic Reformation of the Church today.

Brother Ern used to say: "Four men speak to the Church typically from the Old Testament today. Adam speaks to us racially; Abraham speaks to us redemptively; Moses speaks to us congregationally, and David speaks to us regally or royally!" David’s long and difficult journey from Ziklag to Zion speaks prophetically today about the stages in the strategic journey of reformation that the Church must make, if we would move from our present subnormality and ineffectiveness to maturity and the fulfillment of mission and destiny!

Dan Bowen, my friend from the UK, is involved in that journey. Because of his sensitivity to the Spirit, his appreciation and respect for Brother Baxter, and his diligent labor in faithfully transcribing these messages from the Lakes Bible Week, we are able to present this strategically important prophetic series. But before presenting Ern’s first powerful message, “The Head and Shoulders Man” I present Brother Bowen’s tribute, “A Prophet - One as Untimely Born”

And here is Message 1: "The Head and Shoulders Man".
Enjoy. More to come. :)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

"The Wealth of the Nations Will Come!".

I do apologise for the lack of posting over this week but I hope that this entry will show that I haven't been idle! I have been absolutely amazed as I have typed up the two transcripts that I am making available for you today at the connection between the outpoured Holy Spirit and the great calling that is upon us as a church. Again and again the promises come, the Holy Spirit is poured out and the emphasis is that we are meant to go in the power of what we have received.

Firstly before I give you the two links to the transcripts I am very excited to draw attention to a new blog that my friend Mark Heath has begun. I have never been part of a team blog before! It's called "Underlined Bits" and Mark has devoted it to gathered quotes from our reading. I think over time it will become a treasure trove for pastors, preachers, teachers and anyone who could use it. Dave B is also on the team so the orthodoxy of quotes is assured although I will do my best to keep the charismatic quotes pouring in ...

The first transcript is; "What On Earth is God Saying About Discipling the Nations?". It is a sermon by Dr Ern Baxter that he preached some time ago. Although it is quite long (it stretched to 25 pages of text!) the quality of the material is outstanding. I have never heard Ern sketch out with such Biblical backing his fervent belief in the coming end-time glorious Church. The quantity of Biblical texts deserve reading and answering and I do believe it is a statement that needs to be read, particularly when men like Sam Storms are sending out emails trying to argue that Jesus was an amillenialist.

The second transcript is hosted on my "Spirit of God!" blog and it is; "Receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit" by Terry Virgo. He preached it at a seminar at Stoneleigh Bible Week 1999. I was at the seminar with a number of my friends including Mark from Dunstable and God used Terry mightily to persuade many of us as to the importance of receiving the Spirit in this way. Again the text is quite long but it is my fervent prayer that God will use the format of this material to persuade many of the free gift that is available from God. Jesus said, "If anyone is thirsty, come to Me and drink!". I have no doubt that there are many thirsty souls longing after God and I hope that you will let Terry persuade you of God's passion to meet that thirst.

Enjoy. May these two transcripts be used in some small way to further the kingdom of God.

“What on Earth is God Saying About Discipling the Nations?”

By Dr Ern Baxter.

My assignment tonight is to speak about discipling the nations and I am going to try to keep myself within certain boundaries and not yield to the temptation to get too involved in preaching because I have a presentation of biblical material that I want to offer to you tonight. So I hope it will not be so much a preachment as a presentation of biblical data. Some of the things that I will be saying from the Scripture will be impossible of being true or coming to pass if they are received only within human context. So I want to speak to you tonight out of revelation and into faith. I want to speak into your faith in the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresence Almighty. I will not address you primarily intellectually although I must address your intellect. But if you do not have a faith faculty tonight then you cannot respond to revelation. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned. If you don’t have a spiritual faith factor in your spiritual constitution then you cannot receive revelation. You can receive ideas and you can compare them with other ideas on a natural level but you cannot embrace them as ultimate reality.

So tonight I warn you that I am speaking to faith out of revelation. As we talk about the nations we need to know the prophets. We need to know something about the prophets. I am going to choose Jeremiah tonight as a representative prophet and I am going to ask you to keep your Bibles handy because this may be more of a Bible drill than a sermon. A prophet incidentally is one who speaks for another.

God who at sundry times and in diverse manners in times past spake unto the fathers by the prophets hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son”.

Jeremiah, one of the prophets and a representative prophet, because what is said of Him is true of the other prophets, has delivered to him a commission. In chapter 1:4;

Now the Word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. And before you were born I consecrated you. I have appointed you a prophet to the nations”.

Now I want you to receive that. The prophets of the inscripturated Word of God are the divine voice of ultimate authority to the nations of the earth. (v10);

See I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the Kingdom to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant”.

Now I want to deal for a moment with the literalism of this passage. “I have set” literally means, “I have made you an overseer” or a “vice-regent”. I am not going to bother you with my reasons for saying that other than to say they have been soundly researched. “I have made thee an overseer” and this Hebrew term corresponds to a New Testament Greek word, “Episkopos” or “Bishop” and what God said to Jeremiah was I have made you a Bishop or an overseer or a delegated authority over the nations. I am sure that there are many nations that didn’t know anything about Jeremiah. Many kings and princes and rulers and governors didn’t know who Jeremiah was. There are an awful lot of people around the world tonight who don’t know who you are. They don’t know who I am. But God knows who you are and God knows who I am and God knew who Jeremiah was and Jeremiah carried a commission from God which made the whole matter of ultimate importance. God said to Jeremiah – and we are back to the old question of why did God say it to Jeremiah and why didn’t He say it to Peter Jones? God says what He wants to whom He wants to say it because He is the sovereign God who has the infinite right to choose whatever vessel He wants. He said to Jeremiah of all of the sons of the earth at this moment Jeremiah, I have chosen you to be a Bishop over the nations and I am going to channel My Word to you and through you so that what you say will be the ultimate destiny of nations because you are My delegated voice in the earth.

This is where you have to receive revelation by faith. We are very impressionable people. We are impressed by armies, we are impressed by buildings, we are impressed by the sight of our eyes, we are impressed by the things that are registered by our five senses but I am afraid that we are not impressed as we should be which are more real than the things we are impressed with by our senses. For the things that are unseen are eternal and the things that are seen are temporal. Tonight I want to draw back the curtain of ultimate reality and let you see what God is saying about the nations and how God intends to deal with the nations and we are starting by pointing out that in the beginning is the Word. The Word was before worlds, the Word was before time and space, the Word is co-equal and co-existent with the very Being of God. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God” and because it was with God and it was God it lay within the distinctive province of God to deal with that Word in moving out into the time space world in which He had created. It lay within His province to dispense that Word as He pleased and He chose a man by the name of Jeremiah and He chose a man by the name of Peter. He knocked the little bow legged rabbi off a donkey on the way to Damascus and said “I’ll take you”. He chose Andrew and Matthew and all kinds of people for no other reason than that was His design that He chose them. In choosing Jeremiah He said some things to Jeremiah that if you do not receive revelation into faith sound ludicrous. God said to this man – just a man – Jeremiah I have by putting My word into your mouth made you a bishop over the nations. Therefore the prophetic word to and about nations is the authoritative, governmental word of the God about whom the prophets speak. The nations then are ultimately subject (oh I want you to hear this) to the predictive, ethical, redemptive and judgemental word of God’s delegated vice regents the prophets, of whom Jesus is Chief. The final authority in the earth tonight is not the United Nations, its not the Vatican or Westminster Abbey, or Number 10 Downing Street it is not any of the headquarters of earthly rule. The headquarters of ultimate authority tonight is the Word of God which God by His own infinite independent choice channelled through men of His own infinite independent choice which words are the ultimate facts about the nations and you and I have to receive that revelation by faith.

Now let’s see the sequence here very simply. “In the beginning was the Word”. “God who at sundry times and in diverse manners in times past spake unto our fathers through the prophets”. The Word – the Prophets. But what did the Word through the Prophets create? The Word through the Prophets created a people and that people became a prophetic community governed by the prophetic word. And that people became the instrument of the prophetic word to exercise God’s authority in the earth in a literal governmental way. I am not here tonight to talk about their failures. We can all talk about their failures. I am here tonight to say that simply before history winds down God will have a people who will do His will and who will fulfil that Word as the ultimate prophetic community that will so obey Him and respond to the authority of His ultimate Word as to bring the world into obedience to Jesus Christ for every knee must bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Now when you take that text in the New Testament and run it back into its Old Testament context it is a Gospel context. It’s not a Second Coming context! It’s not in a context of the ultimate judgemental coming of God but it is joined to another text that you probably know well – “Look unto Me all ye ends of the earth and be saved for every knee shall bow and every tongue confess”. It is God’s purpose through the Word that is in the beginning transmitted through chosen men – revelatory apostles - to create a community of prophetic authority which community will be the delegated authority of God in the earth which must speak to the nations, minister to the nations, heal the nations, bring the nations under the rule of Jesus Christ and prepare a condition in a time space world where God will be pleased with what He sees and Jesus Christ will offer it up to Him and He will receive it gladly as the work of His hands.

I am concerned tonight that we are a responsible part of that prophetic community informed by the Word, instructed by the Word and inspired by the Word. I hope that you’ve got the sequence because tonight the Word is ultimate. The Word is the final court of appeal in all matters pertaining to doctrine and conduct. The Word is the final authority in all matters as to what God is like, what man is like, what nations are like, what time is about, what space is about, where history is going. The Word is the final authority on all of these things. Tonight I want to present simply the Biblical date on nations so that we can hear from God how He estimates and considers nations.

1. First of all I want to look at it providentially.

I want to look at it from the standpoint of God’s sovereign right to all of His creatures. “The earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof, the world and all that dwell therein”. The world belongs to God. God creates nations – they don’t just happen. God is back of the existence of nations and so I want us to take a look at these things and we will turn first to Genesis 9:18;

Now the sons of Noah who came out of the Ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth; and Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah and from these the whole earth was populated”.

Chapter 10:5;

From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations”. (v20) of the same chapter please; “These are the sons of Ham according to their families, according to their languages, by their nations”. (v31); “These are the sons of Shem according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, according to their nations”. (v32); “These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, by their nations; and out of these the nations were separated on the earth after the flood”.

Now to Psalm 86:9;

All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee O Lord, and they shall glorify Your Name”.

Now hear the opening words of that verse; “All nations whom Thou hast made”. God has creatorial and proprietorial rights to all nations because He made them. They didn’t come about from a fortuneous concurrence of atoms. They are the product of God’s creative, providential purpose. I want you to turn to a passage that is often neglected but probably contains the finest account of the divine philosophy of history that we have in the Bible. Acts 17:26 (just the early part of the verse);

And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation”.

This declares categorically that God has not only made the nations but He has historically determined their geographical boundaries and their time period. God made the nations. In all of this He made His sovereign choice. He made the sovereign choice of one nation and I want to refer to Deuteronomy 32:8. I want to take the liberty of reading from the New English Bible and it gives a little different emphasis to the Authorised and this is shared by several versions. It also seems to be more accurate that the King James. So let me read to you from the New English Bible;

When the Most High parcelled out the nations, when He dispersed all mankind, He laid down the boundaries of every people according to the number of the sons of God. But the Lord’s share was His own people. Jacob was His allotted portion”.

Now what He is saying is that when He made the nations, He made them in terms of some kind of angelic oversight which the rest of the Bible seems to bear out. There is an angelic authority involved with all of the nations. This was done by God’s deliberate creative and administrative policy. What He says here is that while He created the nations, some 58 of them in Genesis 10, while He created the nations and put them under angelic oversight, He reserved for His own immediate oversight the nation of Israel which nation He chose. Not because they were greater or better but out of the sovereign good pleasure of His purpose. He chose them to be the instrument of His communication and purpose to the world. What advantage then have the Jews then said Paul? Much every way because unto them was committed the oracles of God. They became the vehicle of God’s communication into the earth. So that God made the nations and He even tells us about the distinctiveness of one nation. We will return to that in a moment. He tells us some interesting things. He said that there are angels. The Living Bible tells us that every nation has guardian angels. God made the nations and said to His angels, “Now I want you to look after that nation and you to look after that nation”. Someone said, “Well who’s going to look after Israel?” and God said, “I will look after Israel Myself”. That was God’s distinctive sovereign purpose and for those of us who are in the redeemed community tonight – we also have that kind of distinction that God has reserved for His own possession the people who have been purchased by covenant blood.

God creates the nations. God determines space and history. I would like you to turn to Job 12:23;

He makes the nations great, and then destroys them; He enlarges the nations and then leads them away”.

All I am interested in at this point is that He makes the nations, He makes them great, He destroys them, and He enlarges the nations and then leads them into error. What am I saying? I am saying that God is a God who determines history. History is not happenstance! To the Christian history is tied in with the Alpha and the Omega. The Beginning and the End. God said, “I started this thing, I will perpetuate it until I am ready to stop it but I want you to know that I do not offer it to anyone else’s jurisdiction. I, God am the God of space and time. I create nations. I bring them down. I enlarge them. I lead them astray. Behind history is My unerring purpose and I who am the Alpha will also be the Omega. I who began it will be the One who finishes it. Tonight I am comfortable in the arms of God’s sovereignty. I am comfortable in the arms of a God who is alone. Beside Him there is none other, before Him and after Him there shall be none. He is the incomparable, singular only God. He sits on the circle of the earth. There is none that counsels Him or informs Him. He is the God who creates and sustains and brings a successful end and when I hear Him speak I rest on every word because I know that if God has spoken then so shall it come to pass. The Alpha will be the Omega and history will wind up in terms of His purpose. (*applause*).

I refer then to Acts 17:26. “God hath made of one all nations for to dwell on the face of the earth and hath determined their habitation and their time cycle”. Men are tampering with history tonight. Men are re-writing history. Men are trying to adjust history but for you and I as Christians, the philosophy of history that we must embrace if we are going to be sound is a philosophy that sees God as a God of history who works all things after the counsel of His own will. I don’t believe in second causes tonight. I believe that when this whole thing winds up the entire universe will join in a symphony of praise that will echo throughout the corridors of infinity and declare that God is God and beside Him there is none other and that He has done all things according to His will. That gives me comfort tonight. Someone said to me before the election, “Who do you think will be President?”. I wasn’t trying to be na├»ve or smart but I said, “Whomsoever God wills”. I believe that God works through the choices and decisions of men but He works within terms of His purposeful oversight. Mr Reagan was not chosen as President of this country primarily by the electorate but the hand of Almighty God reached down and wrote upon the sands of history his name. So it was. My interpretation of that I reserve to myself. I have one. All I need to say to you is that as Christians we need to look much more soberly at what goes on throughout the world for the earth is the Lord’s! He is the God of the earth, the God who sustains it, administers and He has a purpose at the back of all that He is doing and when history winds up through all the latter perplexities that historians have wondered, they will look back with wonder as they see a pattern of infinite intricacy that God has woven through the centuries for He is the Alpha and the Omega.

He governs nations. Psalm 22:28; “For the Kingdom is the Lord’s and He rules over the nations”. I believe that tonight. How many believe God rules the nations tonight? If you don’t believe that God rules the nations then there is not much use in you trying to respond to the Great Commission. What I am doing tonight is trying to lay a foundation for you to believe that you are the prophetic community who share in the anointing of Jeremiah and the college of prophets – the bishopry, the overseers, the pastoral care of the nations! We here tonight are not a bunch of slaves and underlings wandering through life aimlessly – we have the dignity and poise of the sons of God. We are the delegates of high heaven! We stand and minister in His courts daily and go forth from His high Presence to walk the highways of earth and speak into history and those who have been inspired in the prophetic community by the prophetic voice! We are the elect! We are the People of God! We are co-rulers with King Jesus! We are the men and women who under God history is going to be made! We are the People of God! We are important! (*applause*).

Psalm 66:7 – I like this one, oh I like this one! – “He rules by His might forever! His eyes keep watch on the nations”. Man He has got His eye on us! Let not the rebellious exalt themselves. I don’t know if you see what I am doing but I am trying to give you a feel of largeness tonight! I want you to start to stretch your spirit and stand up right in your spirit. I want you to feel that we are in the direct purpose of God. You didn’t choose yourself! When you were converted to Jesus Christ, you were called like Lazarus was called from the tomb. Mr Moody said that if Jesus hadn’t said “Lazarus come forth” then the whole graveyard would have come forth. (*laughter*). Every man and woman in this room tonight who names the Name of Christ – you are the result of a direct sovereign recreative, regenerative command of God who stood at the tomb of your spiritual deadness and cried your name and you came jumping out in your grave clothes and stood there mumbling through your face cloth until godly men came and let you see light. Hallelujah! (*applause*). When Lazarus came out of the tomb he had life. He didn’t have much light but he had life. When Jesus said “Come forth” and he said “Mmph”. There he stood bound with his face under a cloth and there is an interesting point here. Jesus didn’t go up and unwind the cloth off his face. He turned to His disciples and said, “You loose him”. It is our job to take off the face cloth and unwind it. Loosen him and let him go! He had life but he needed light and liberty – that is our job.

What I am trying to do tonight and I feel it is so important – I want to liberate you to a sense of your destiny as something more than a little knot of people waiting to die and go to heaven. You’re here to light the earth and salt the world and under God make history more so than anybody else! Did we deal with 67:4? No. Psalm 67:4; “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy for Thou wilt judge the people with uprightness and govern …”. That word is also “govern” I believe in the King James. God tonight is governing the nations and I am just chaffing to get to the closing paragraph but I am holding on. Psalm 82:8; “Arise O God judge the earth for it is Thou who dost possess all the nations”. Haggai 2:7;

And I will shake all the nations and they will come with the wealth of all nations and will fill this house with glory says the Lord of hosts”.

How does your faith latch onto that? Do you receive that from the Lord? How many receive that from the Lord? Remember I said I want to speak out of revelation to your faith. You say, Baxter you are asking too much. We are just an bunch of little people here and you are talking all that grandiose talk. No it is not grandiose talk – I am telling you about the Word that was in the beginning, the inScripturated word that was given to us by holy men who were chosen by God to form a community of that Word that would become the moulding force of God in history and you are that people. Acts 14:16; “In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own way”. He permitted them to go their own way. Someone said well if God is governing the nations then why doesn’t He crack the whip? Why don’t you mind your business? (*laughter*). God governs by permission. God governs by acts of judgement. We all want to reduce God to a nice orderly sequence that we can understand and God refuses to fit into our mould. Even in dealing with sin, He said men’s sins go beforehand and others follow after. Someone said well why doesn’t God deal with that? God does deal with it. What He isn’t doing is dealing with it the way you want to. Again that is none of your business. What we have to see tonight is that there are times when God permits the nations to do things that are unseemly. That is part of His programme to let them fill up their cup and as they are filling up their cup and thinking they are getting away with it the enemy is already below ground coming in under their palace. As the ancient king sat drinking wine from the ancient goblets of the sanctuary, he looked up and saw handwriting on the wall. His knees smote together and he wanted to know what it meant. But even as he was reading the handwriting on the wall, the enemy was coming through secret tunnels under the city walls to take his kingdom. You and I don’t know how God does things and that is entirely His business. The thing that I want you to do tonight is to become a living vital exciting participatory part of the prophetic community that gets excited at everything that happens in the world because it is God exercising His rulership over the nations and nothing happens by chance but by His grand design that happened before the world began and all things are operating unto the counsel of His will and whatever is happening you can get exciting about it because back of it is the God of time and space and the God who judges the nations.

I wish I had time to take many Scriptures tonight from the Old Testament to show you the manner in which God providentially judges the nations. The Bible is full of it. It isn’t the kind of exciting reading that you like. Much of it is found in those portions that you don’t read in the morning. It is kind of stodgy history and it has a lot of names and things that don’t bless you. It would bless you however if you knew what it was about. If and when God lets me get my book out on the nations I am going to list them so that you can look across the world as a member of the prophetic community and say that is how God dealt with a nation once before – that is how God dealt with a nation once before. God can do it through your crops, storms, through circumstances, through economics, through any means that is within His sovereign right and He will. He will keep you guessing as to how He is going to do it which means that the only thing you and I are supposed to do is to keep close to Him and not have to guess how He will lower the boom on us.

2. Moving from Providence, I want to look at Redemption.

I hope that providence did something for you. It is something dear people – if I may say this for a moment, please lend me your ears. Reference has been made to it today and I will make reference to it again to the fact that in the past we have been inclined to preach a gospel of individual salvation which is very proper but it is not total. Because of the higher criticism which began to arise in Germany towards the latter part of the last century good evangelicals began to ring the changes on the gospel of the grace of God towards individuals as they came against the liberals and the apostates who were starting to tamper with the Word of God. But in the process they lost something. They were so busy getting people saved that they forgot that God is the God of the whole earth and they lost the providential dimension so that many evangelicals think that the only people in the earth that God pays any attention to are the Church. They think that He is really not interested in the sinners out there because they are all going to hell anyway and He is not interested. That is just not so. God is interested tonight in what goes on in Washington because He has ordained the men that are in there. God is interested in what goes on in Russia, in China. It’s God’s world and He is responsible for it! God is running it! Someone said well what about the devil? Well he is God’s scullery maid who does what he is told when he is told to do it. But back of it all is God the supreme. I refuse to let the devil pull up a chair and sit alongside God and somehow govern with Him. That’s the ancient heresy of dualism. When Jesus ascended on high, He took Satan by the scruff of the neck and hurled him down! People have got the devil running into God all the time about us. He hasn’t got in and tattled to God for 2, 000 years. When Jesus rose on high, He kicked him out and he is out for good! (*applause*).

I want to talk about redemption now as it relates to the nations. Please turn to Psalm 67:1-2. Listen I wonder if you will pick up the relationship between verses 1 and 2.

God be gracious to us and bless us and cause His face to shine upon us that Thy way may be known upon the earth and Thy salvation among all nations”.

Tuck that away in your minds as in a few moments we conclude our presentation. God’s saving way among the nations must come out of the blessing that rests upon the redeemed community. The prophetic community is the instrument of God to bring about the salvation of the nation. This is based on promises. Genesis 18. God is speaking to our forefather Abraham. Genesis 18:17;

And the Lord said, shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed”.

In him all the nations of the earth will be blessed. 22:18 is further confirmation of that same thing. “And in your descendents all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because you have obeyed My voice”. Amos 9:11-12. I am having to pass over numbers of Scriptures.

In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David and wall up its breeches – I will raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old that may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My Name, declares the Lord who does this”.

Now there is a very interesting thing there – he talks about the nations who are called by “My Name”. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and all that dwell therein. I believe God in those times spoke through Israel as a prophetic nation. I believe God today is speaking through the people of God in His congregation through them. And I believe that He is speaking through them to nations over which He has propertorial and creative rights and in who in a very real sense He calls His Name. I have a hard time people in handling some of the exclusivism coming from evangelicals. I have a hard time handling in light of the Gospel record. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. For He is the propitiation for our sins and not ours only but for the whole world. Jesus Christ tasted death for every man. When Jesus Christ bled His life out on Calvary and went down into Sheol and pronounced good news to the prisoners of hope and ascended into the Presence of God and sat down at the right hand of God as a Prince and a Saviour, He reached down and wrote His signature large across the earth and said, “It is Mine, I have redeemed it, they belong to Me – I place My Name over every nation! I claim every nation!”. And we will find in a moment that was His perfect right for the Father had said to Him, “Ask of Me Son and I will give you the nations for Your inheritance”. He ascended into the Presence of God and said, “Father I will take that one” and He put His Name on a nation and He said, “I’ll take that one” and put His Name on another nation. He put His Name over every nation because the Father gave Him the right to ask for the nations as His inheritance – the uttermost parts of the earth are within the redemptive reach of His purpose! Jesus Christ tonight is not Saviour of a small select group – Jesus Christ has written His signature in characters of redeeming blood over every nation and He will not be content until the earth sings in unison an anthem declaring that Jesus Christ is Lord!

When there was some problem with this kind of exclusivism in the early Church when the provincialism of even some of the apostles such as Peter and others was seeming to thwart the purpose of God, note that it is an amazing thing. Peter preached things that he didn’t even hear! On the day of Pentecost he said, “For the promise is for you and your children and to all that are far off even as many as the Lord our God shall call”. Then he promptly seemed to have forgotten what he preached because he became a restrictive provincial Christian Jew. So God Almighty had to do something a little short of hitting him on the head. He came down on the rooftop at Joppa, spoke to him and sent him off to Cornelius’s household where he went with some trepidation and continuing prejudice. When he walked into the house he said, “You know it’s not a usual thing for a Jew to come into the house of a Gentile – now what do you want?”. Cornelius said, “Well an angel came to me and said that if I sent for you then you would come and tell ways whereby we could be saved”. Peter said, “Alright if that’s the way it is line up and I will talk to you”.

Now there doesn’t seem to be any great passion in Peter’s heart to get those Gentiles converted. God knows His servants real well and God knew what Peter was up to. Peter was going to give a 20 minute special, do the benediction and get out of there. So while Peter yet spake the Word, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the Word and they began to speak with tongues and Peter said, “My God”. (*laughter*). Now Peter had sense enough to bring six of the Christian Jewish brethren from the synagogue at Joppa with him. He thought well it looks pretty hopeless to me but maybe these guys will have some way out of this. He turned to them and he said, do we need to baptise them? He knew that this may be a freak that maybe they had got the Holy Ghost but if he baptised them and put the covenant seal upon them then that was it. The Jews said, “Well since they have received the Holy Ghost the same as we, we can’t keep it from them”. So he commanded them to be baptised.

Now God Almighty had to impose universalism on the first Pope! (*laughter*). So at the Council in Jerusalem in chapter 15 you remember that they were fussing about whether the Gentiles didn’t have to come in through the Jewish door? The verdict was given in the quote of the passage that we have just read;

After these things I will return and rebuild the Tabernacle of David which has fallen and I will rebuild its ruins and I will restore it in order that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord and all the Gentiles who are called by My Name says the Lord who makes these things known from of old”.

The Tabernacle of David was rebuilt when King Jesus sat on the throne in response to the promise that God made to David that of his loins would raise One to sit on His throne. Peter said that these things were fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When Jesus Christ rose from the dead the promise God had made to David was fulfilled and when He ascended into the Presence of God and sat down at the right hand of God the restoration that Amos spoke about had taken place and a residence was built for the reception of the rest of mankind. Now let me say something to you and I am going to reach out way ahead of what I am saying. It is my firm belief and I want to share this with you carefully – it is my firm belief that you cannot interpret the New Testament by the Old Testament but the Old Testament by the New Testament. The New is in the Old concealed and the Old is in the New revealed. What is written in the New Testament on any subject is the most up to date insight that there is on that subject.

When Paul wants to speak about the future and the place of Israel in terms of the Gospel and this whole economy of grace he tells us that he is revealing for the first time in Romans 11 a mystery – a sacred secret which up until now has been held in the secrecy of God. It’s now being revealed! And what is that secret? That God is going to visit the Gentiles with such a great revival as will sweep the earth and the nations will come to God and we will see discipling the nations – now just winning a few souls to Christ – but discipling of the nations. When that happens by revelation of the unfolding of the mystery in Romans 11 which you can read for yourself, God will take away the mask and the veil that has hidden Israel from a vision of their Messiah and they will see the truth of the Gospel as it comes forth from the heavenly Zion and in that great moment all Israel will be saved and will become a member of the redeemed community and God says it will be like resurrection from the dead. The nations then will have no alternative but to bow to the ultimate wisdom of God who brings Jew and Gentile into the community of redemption, the prophetic community of redemption. This is ahead of us people and it is the revelation of the mystery. (*applause*).

Matthew 24:14; “This Gospel of the Kingdom shall preached in the whole world as a witness to all the nations and then the end will come”. Matthew 28:19; “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptising them in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you and lo I am with you always even to the end of the age”.

God’s purpose is to save the nations. You doubt that and you cannot obey the Great Commission. If you don’t believe that it is God’s purpose to save every last man and woman in the earth then you and I are not fit vessels to bear the gospel proclamation. It is God’s purpose to exercise His sovereign election and selection – it is not mind. It is my business to speak to the nations and tell them to come under the Lordship of Christ. The purpose of God is to save the nations. The promise of God from the beginning through Abraham is that in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed. The provision for that is the witness bearing of the prophetic community. You and I are the prophetic community that is to haul the nations to the feet of King Jesus. We are the corporate Jeremiah. We are the community of the prophetic Word. We are as a community is what Jeremiah and the other prophets were to God. A prophet is one who speaks for another. A prophet of God is a man who stands in the counsel of God and speaks for Him. A prophetic community is a community of people who stand in the tradition of the prophetic word and speak that word and act that word and example that word on behalf of God.

We are a prophetic community. Now what is the projection of this redemption? So many Scriptures come to mind so let’s just take a few. Isaiah 2:2;

The word which Isaiah the son of Amos saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as a chief of the mountains and will be raised above the hills and all the nations will stream to it”.

What is being said? What is the projection? Can I just pause here for a moment? When the prophets say, “In that day” they are talking about Messiah’s day which was inaugurated with the coming of Jesus Christ and prophets say that certain things are going to happen “in that day”. Peter in Acts 3 said that the heavens must retain Jesus until the time of the restoration of all things spoken by the prophets. Or in other words Jesus must retain there among other things until His enemies are made His footstool but also until the things the prophets said would happen in that day happen! Someone said, “Boy I read things in the prophets and they haven’t happened and we are 2, 000 years into that day”. Well let me talk about “a day”. If I said I will see you tomorrow then you would say what time? Well I will see you at 4:00pm. You leave and say, “I am going to see Ern Baxter tomorrow”. So you see the same friend in the morning about 11:00am. You’ve seen Ern Baxter then? No. You said you would see him tomorrow! Well it’s today now. Yes but it’s not the time of today that I am going to see him. I don’t see him until 4:00pm but it is still today.

Now a day is as a thousand years with the Lord. God has said a lot of things are going to happen in this day but the prophet gives us a little hint – he says that at eventide it shall be light. There is going to be some phenomenal things happen towards evening. I don’t know where we are in this age. I am not that perceptive even if the information was available. But I do know that within the scope of what is called “this day” – the day of salvation, the accepted time. Within the scope of this day the prophet has said, “In that day – in that day – in that day!” and so I go to the prophets and say, “Look we are 2,000 years into that day now and these things haven’t happened”. Ah the prophets say – the day isn’t over yet. Everything the prophets said are going to happen in that day are going to happen in that day and when we come to the New Testament we get inestimable help especially when we read the revelation that God made through Paul in Ephesians, Romans 11 – this is an exciting day! This is the most exciting day! This is the end of the ages! This is the wrap-up of history! This is the time when King Jesus is going to bring in ultimate rule! God who at sundry times and in diverse manners in time past spake unto the fathers by the prophets hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son. There is no better day coming up! There is no better day coming up than there can be better Person than His Son to bring it up. Jesus has out-propheted all the prophets! If we have another day beyond this day then has God got another Son beyond His Son? Of course not.

The Bible says now once at the end of the ages has He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. We are in living in ultimate days. Those days are years – they may be centuries! They already are centuries but I am speaking to your faith out of revelation tonight! As sure as the God who makes history, as sure as the God who’s signature is out there that Omega lives, that which He spoke through the prophets unerringly and infallibly (for God can’t speak a fallible word) and He said He would put His government at the top of all the other governments and the nations will fall unto it – as sure as the Queen of Sheba came from the uttermost parts of the earth to see Solomon grow corn, so God will bring nations to bow their feet before King Jesus at the triumphant voice of the prophetic community of God’s redeemed people. This is part of what God is going to do simply because He is God and He is going to do it.

One more. Isaiah 25:6-7;

And the Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain, a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine. And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, even the veil which is stretched over all nations”.

God is not only going to remove the veil from Israel. There not only will be a mass ethnic salvation of the Israel people but there will be a vast salvation of the Gentile nations. Someone said, “But Baxter you don’t read the papers”. Yes I read the papers. I don’t get my theology from the papers though. I don’t get my theology from the economic or the news analysts. I turn from their squalid confined conjecture to the brilliant revealed declarations of the God who makes history. I wish I had time tonight to run through some of God’s surprises. Do you think that Moses read somewhere in the Bible that God was going to divide the Red Sea for him? I wonder if he said somewhere, “Hallelujah. I read a book that said that when I come here He will open the Red Sea”. No there was no Scripture verse but he did have the promise of God that God would deliver Israel. God said to him, “I said that I would get you out. Now stand still and watch Me do it”. Moses said, “I don’t have very much option”. (*laughter*). I’m not sure if that is the way that God always does it! I think God brings us to the place where we must stand still and He can say, “Now I will show you something!”. Moses said, “Well that’s fine and I hope you will do it soon. But what are you going to do?”. God said, “Stand still, shut up and I will show you”. (*laughter*). “Well alright but could you hurry up please?”. (*laughter*). The book of Hebrews says that we must come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. I think it is Bishop Lightfoot who translates that’s that as finding grace to help in “the nick of time”. (*laughter*). God never arrives early. He is never waiting in the vestibule of your problems. He always comes along when you have one foot over the cliff and you have written your last will and testament. Then a big hand comes from somewhere just in the nick of time.

I can understand the little peasant virgin as she stood before that great imposing angel and she was afraid. The angel said, “Fear not Mary I have been sent from God to bring you word that you will be the bearer of the Son and you will have a child”. Mary responded very normally and very naturally and she said, “How can these things be seeing as I have not known a man?”. Mary was a well informed little orthodox Jewish girl. She knew where babies came from and knew how important it was to take her virginity to the marriage bed. She protected her virginity as every fine virtuous Hebrew girl would do. She stood in the presence of that angel and the transparency of her virginal purity stood out and was articulated in her beautiful words as she stood there innocently as she said, “Sir I am not doubting you but what you have said goes against all of the biological records”. There is nothing and nowhere in time where that has happened and I want you to know Sir that I am a virgin. I have walked uprightly before my God and my parents and I have kept my body pure for the one who shall sire within me children. How shall these things be? And the angel said, “The power of the Holy One shall overshadow you – the power of the Holy Ghost”. Mary still didn’t understand the mechanics of it and neither do you or I. Nor does anyone else but she stood there and let revelation speak to faith. She looked back over history to the degree that she knew history and she couldn’t pick a single instance out of history for no one had a child apart from cohabitation with a male. But because she had a faith factor in her constitution she responded to revelation and she said, “Be it unto me according to Thy word”.

I could give you instance after instance where God has moved in to confirm His Word by supernatural intervention and invasion and when I talk to you tonight out of revelation to faith - I am saying to you if God says He will bring the nations and I stand there and say I don’t know how You’re going to do it and He says, well I will tell you. I will perfect My prophetic community until their voices are like a trumpet and their example is as pure as crystal and the power of the Holy Spirit will come upon them and there will be a time in history when I will do a work and there will be light at eventide and the nations will come flooding and I will put the government of God in. I believe it. I don’t know how it’s going to happen but I believe it. I am excited that this whole world will see that in God. There are whole lot more Scriptures but I want to wind this down. I want to talk once more about the model nation. I want you to turn to Exodus 19:5;

“Now then if … now then if … now then if”. “Now then if you will obey My voice and keep My covenant then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples for all the earth is Mine”.

Now what did He have to stick that in there for? He is talking about Israel. Why did He have to stick that universal thing in there for? Because His purpose in Israel was that they should be the prophetic corporate voice to the world. And they blew it. “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation; these are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel”. Now will you turn to Deuteronomy 14:2: “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God. The Lord has chosen you to be person for His own possession out of all the people’s who are on the face of the earth”. As a covenant nation God walked with them as He stood over them overlooking Jerusalem and He said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how oft would I have gathered you?”. How oft? In those two little words is written page after page of heartbreaking history. How many times did God stand back and watch the darling of His heart go whoring after every green tree? How many times did God see the nation turn it’s back on Him and rear up sticks and stones as idols and worship them in place of Him. Yet patiently like a lover who wouldn’t give up He said, “How oft would I have gathered you”. Again and again I would have brought you back but now the time has come when My patience is exhausted and My moral obligation demands that I do something and your house is left unto you desolate. Matthew 21:43 and we read those awful words for a nation that had been so privileged – awful words but so true. “Therefore I say to you the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruit of it”. Without further ado I want to turn to 1st Peter 2:9 as some of you have already done in your minds.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession”.

Please take time to read Matthew 23. Now what I am not saying tonight – and I am labouring under a burden to be clear – what I am saying tonight is that God’s covenant with ethnic Israel has been set aside. But what I am saying is that the fulfilment of that covenant is not probably as we think. I want to deal with that just for a few moments. When Jesus turned to the representatives of the people and the leaders of apostate Jewry when this is recorded and said, “The kingdom – the divine government – that was given to you as the prophetic community in the earth is being given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” that nation is clearly defined as the redeemed people of God who are brought into being by believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That gospel will never change and there will never be a gospel to put alongside it. There will be another gospel that will be an extension of it. The good news about Jesus Christ is the ultimate gospel. It is the final gospel and there is no other gospel and Paul says that if anyone comes preaching another gospel then let him be accursed. Jesus Christ is God’s ultimate gift. Jesus Christ is God’s ultimate Word. Jesus Christ is God’s ultimate Redeemer and whether Jew or Gentile come to God they will come to Him through Jesus Christ. When God formed a new nation and formed it out of Jews and Gentiles alike breaking down the middle wall of partition, making one new body out of the Headship of Jesus Christ – that has become the nation with which God is dealing redemptively and prophetically and it is into that nation that ethnic Israel will in that hour of her destiny will come through salvation – for Israel shall be saved with the same kind of salvation that you and I have. They will repent, they will baptised, they will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and they will come pouring into the predominately Gentile People of God and the whole world will be enriched with the combination of these two ancient entities who are now bound together in Jesus’ blood, who are anointed by Jesus’ Spirit, who are prophesying Jesus’ Word and who become as trees from whom the nations can pluck healing fruit. Our destiny is brilliant with promise because God has said that in this day the nations will flow unto Him!

I want to talk about the ultimate victory. Psalm 2:8; “Ask of Me”. This is Jehovah speaking to His Son. “Ask of Me and I will surely give you”. What? I will give you what? Say it. “The Nations”. Now do you believe that when Jehovah said to His Son, “Just ask Me and I will give You the nations”, do you think that there is any chance that the Son didn’t ask? If He asked, do you think He is going to get them? I will give you the nations for your inheritance and the very ends of the earth as Thy possession. Jeremiah 10:7;

Who would not fear Thee O King of the Nations? Indeed it is Thy due for among all the wise men of the nations and within all their kingdoms there is none like Thee”.

King of the Nations. I haven’t time to give you all the Daniel passages but read them for yourself. Daniel 2:44, 4:45, 7. Read it. Now let me suggest to you some practical action. I believe that when Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth … go ye therefore in view of My all authority and make disciples of all nations”. I believe He meant just that. It is a crying shame for you and me to bring that high mandate down to a place where it becomes handing out a few tracks to solve our conscience. There is a mandate resting on us tonight as the prophetic nation that requires that we disciple the nations of the earth that belong to Him. I can understand when the spies went in to spy out the land and saw what they saw that they saw men twice as tall as they are – walled cities that they hadn’t imagined – chariots with human size projections from the wheel hubs that would cut them off at the ankles. They came away from the land and said, “We can’t go in there – they will eat us”. God said, “You don’t understand – I have put the fear of you in them”. I told you that I have given you the Land. You don’t understand – I don’t care if they are three miles tall. I don’t care if the walls are six miles wide – I am telling you that I, God am speaking out of My ultimate authoritative Word into what should be a faith receptacle. I am saying to you that you must look at My Word and go in and take that Land. If you look at those giants and walled cities instead of looking at My Word then you will come up with ten thousand rationalisations as to why you shouldn’t go in. But if you go in on the strength of My Word and one of those big fellows comes up to confront you then look up and blow and he will fall over – I assure you! You say well God I don’t know I never saw a giant fall over when I blew on him. That’s the problem isn’t it.

It is hard for us to respond in faith to a revelation of God if we don’t have a precedent to support it.

Now here are some practical suggestions – six of them.

1. I would ask you not for my sake but for God’s sake to think biblically of the nations. Not politically or economically or culturally or sociologically but biblically. Amass in the storehouse of your treasure all those Scriptures that tell you how God esteems the nations and start to think biblically of the nations.

2. Contribute to the unity of the witnessing prophetic community. Let me give you a Scripture for that. Jeremiah 4:1-2; “If you will return Oh Israel declares the Lord, return to Me. If you will put away your detested things from My Presence and will not waver and you will swear as the Lord lives in truth, righteousness, justice then the nations will bless themselves in Him and in Him will they glory”. Let us do everything in our power to bring about the restoration of the redeemed community. Let’s work avidly and industriously at breaking down the causes of disunity because it is only as the redeemed prophetic community is functioning in the purity of it’s calling that the nations will hear the trumpet call of the Gospel.

3. Consider ways to address the nations. Psalm 2:10; “Now therefore oh king show discernment, take warning oh judges of the earth”. I remember we were sitting with a group of brothers one day and Brother Charles Simpson said something and I will never forget the way it was said and what happened. He said, “Brothers we need to consider how we will speak to the leaders of nations”. There was a nervous laughter that went through the group. It seemed like a suggestion from outer space. Had Brother Charles taken leave of his senses? After all we were just a little group of nobodies. I am not a little member of a group of nobodies! I stand in the tradition of Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel and Amos and Zechariah and Malachi! I am a member of the prophetic community who is destined to speak to nations and Charles’s question was valid! It is a shame that we laugh nervously when the suggestion is made that we need to seek God as to how we will address the leaders of nations!

I want you to know that when I was in South America recently two little Ecudorians (I called them fire-eaters) came to me. One was a former Roman Catholic priest and the other a former Communist organiser and they came to a four day retreat that I had with 80 leaders in Argentina and those two little men were annoyed that the other leaders didn’t see their vision. They were already taking Ecuador! Had they not already got the Vice President under their belt and they were going for the President! What’s the matter with you guys? Why aren’t you taking Argentina? We’re taking Ecuador so the least you can do is take Argentina! (*laughter*). I don’t want you to think tonight that I’m trying to bamboozle you with big thoughts if I didn’t believe that this was God’s truth. I just turn it all in. I believe God is the big God that I read about in the Bible. I believe tonight that we must consider ways tonight to address leaders of nations. Now that falls to us leaders primarily but it falls to all of us. I want you to start to pray for your leaders that they will start to know how to speak a word into the totality of international life. We have given altar calls for years on Sunday nights with ones and twos dribbling up to the altar while the nations have become further entrenched in darkness. That brings me to;

4. Proclaim truth as it relates to every area of human life. Not just the soul – but every area of human life. I am glad to see that we are speaking into the economic area and into the educational area and into the cultural area and into every area. The Lordship of Jesus Christ is not just over a soul that was going to hell! It is over an entire being that needs to function under the government of God in a time-space world! Let’s proclaim the truth as it relates to every area of life, not just the soul.

5. Remind the nations of what they have forgotten. Psalm 9:17; “The wicked will return to Sheol even all the nations who forget God”. It then becomes our responsibility to remind them of what they have forgotten. I am glad for men that are doing that today. They are reminding nations of what they have forgotten! I am glad that there are men with moral courage in the last election who stood up and under the fire of critics boldly and straightforwardly said to America, “You have forgotten”. This is what you have forgotten – the sanctity of human life, the sanctity of the human body, God’s right to declare His own laws, you have forgotten … you have forgotten … you have forgotten. I dare say tonight that this nation hasn’t gone the way it could have because there were enough men who have stood up and said, “You have forgotten!”. We are hated for it! We are programmed and pillared for it! We must remember that when we call a nation to what it has forgotten then we stand in the true tradition of the prophetic community.

6. Finally invade your community with unceasing prayer for all men and leaders. We are deeply indebted to Derek Prince for putting these things in a book. I am only disappointed that book didn’t have a wider circulation. I am here to say to you tonight that you may reject the major parts of what I have said tonight but you can’t reject an apostolic word that comes to us tonight as the prophetic witnessing community and it says that the first thing we must do when we come together under our leaders in response to apostolic rule is that first of all and most important of all we pray for all men everywhere, for those in authority over us that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness – for God would have all men to be saved. Until we start to respond to that apostolic mandate then we have no right to criticise a nation, or to point a finger of scorn at a rotten politician. We have no right to scorn conduct in high places until we have wrapped them around with the prayer of an authoritative prophetic community, until we have importuned God to release righteousness into high places and we haven’t got the right to lift our voice in one single syllable of criticism. The time has come for us to be more than a soul saving force – the time has come for us to be a nation saving force. A world saving force! To become the community that represents the prophets and back of the prophets the God of the prophets and that in God which is called the Word of God. The Word of God tonight says that ALL nations will come and we are the prophetic instrument to bring it to pass.

~ End of Transcript ~

Friday, February 09, 2007

If The Tide is Turning, What Then Should Be Our Response? ... Okay I Submit!

Anticipating the arrival of the Newfrontiers magazine is becoming a 3 monthly exciting treat for me! The package from Brighton makes a wonderful change from bills ... bills ... bills. As always I am sure that it will be made available online here so panic not if it doesn't arrive at your church for mass distribution. I must confess that my excitement waned somewhat when I looked at the front cover and saw the theme. Suddenly a wave of tiredness swept over me ...

Authority.

However as with many other potentially distasteful subjects, Newfrontiers writers seem to have the knack of making it exciting and motivational by soaking it in lavish grace. When one reads the amazing articles contained in the magazine, you cannot help but begin to let down the barriers of defence and hear what they say.

What struck me especially was two themes from the last Newfrontiers magazine. The first was a question that Terry Virgo asked; "If the tide is turning what should our response be?". I tried to answer that question here and here. But Rob Rufus makes the link between the turning of the tide in our land with authority. What is it so essential? What is authority a non-negotiable part of our corporate life?

"This is the time to prepare for this visitation by building proper Biblical government and pattern into the church. A Biblical wineskin embraces three elements: Biblical authority structures which is proper government, based on what the Bible teaches, not on democracy".

So here is a brief review of this must-read.

1. Terry Virgo's Firstline.

As always this is my first point of call. As Newfrontiers grows it is to be expected that we will see Terry less and less as his apostolic call takes him to regions beyond, hence anything he has to say is important to me!

I was fascinated to read Luke's report from the recent Prayer and Fasting. Luke said that Terry reported that friendships were growing from within Newfrontiers across boundaries, not simply with other charismatic churches but with increasing respect within the Reformed evangelical world. Again I must confess that it didn't initially thrill me. Other efforts to cross boundaries often seem to result in compromise and it usually tends to be the charismatic dimension of church life. I have commented on this elsewhere.

Hence Terry's Firstline writing was a major reassurance that in his eyes the crossing of boundaries does not (for him) involve any compromise whatsoever on the importance of emphasis on the Holy Spirit's ministry. He wrote;

"The challenge remains for us to be enthusiastic in our embracing of the activity of the Holy Spirit and to be through in our commitment to Biblical truth".

Luke too wrote that Terry emphasised the same thing at Prayer and Fasting; "But other things have not changed: our devotion to Word and our devotion to Spirit". We don't have to choose! Terry said in an interview on God TV that for many of us there is no conflict between Reformed theology and Charismatic life. For me it is not a question of being 50% Reformed and 50% charismatic. If for example I go to a charismatic conference then I have to compensate the next year by going to a hyper-reformed one. Or if I happen to read an author like Benny Hinn then I do not have to reflect that by reading a diet of staunch cessationism! Rather I like the idea of being 100% charismatic and 100% Reformed! I love the Word of God! For in it I find the release and the authenticity to go for God and experience Him in ways I could not even dream.

2. "Okay I Submit!" by Terry Virgo.

Terry followed up his Firstline by writing an excellent article on the subject of authority. With his typical warm and fatherly candour he acknowledges all the hangups that I have had in my personal walk with authority. "We hate people telling us what to do!". But then he begins to relentlessly dismantle those hangups with Scriptural truth and example. He wrote;

"God's purpose is to bring us back to obedience not by imposing His will upon us, nor even by placing us under law, but by a gospel of grace that brings about obedience from the heart based on faith (Romans 5:17). God should be obeyed ... he wanted to win converts and establish communities of believers who gladly chose to obey God from their hearts because they had been fully restored to God. Having received a revelation of God through Christ and His Cross and His work of redemption, they would joyfully trust and obey Him".

However the article does not focus purely on the theology of obedience to God but gets intensely personal and direct:

"He (Moses) recklessly risked everything on trusting God. He genuinely believed that God knows best and it makes sense to live God's way. Let me invite you to the same adventure. Will you try it and then consistently live out such a lifestyle for the glory of God? Why don't you obey Him and prove Him absolutely trustworthy in the midst of an unbelieving world that has been lied to? That's what Jesus did. Let's run after Him!".

3. Three International Articles on Authority!

The magazine demonstrates the awesome privilidge of being in an international family of churches. It is to my shame that much of my theological upbringing and experience has been exclusively Western and I believe this has robbed me of much. Pete mentioned his recent acquisition of the "Africa Bible Commentary" and how he hoped this would benefit his devotions. Here again is the same principle.

Mbonisi Malaba from the River of Life Church in Zimbabwe wrote an excellent (Ern Baxter would call it "cosmic") article on "The Authority of God". He said that in some African cultures many king's huts are built with entrance doorways that are waist height. This is to ensure that noone can come into the king's presence without bowing and acknowledging his authority to rule.

David Fernandes from Living Word Church in Mumbai wrote a culturally relevant piece on how to honour authority at work without compromising your beliefs. He reminds us that it is God who places our bosses over us and our responses should be that of respect, fear, sincerity of heart and serving wholeheartedly.

Finally John Kpikpi from City of God Church in Ghana used another Ern Baxter-favourite word. "The Authority of Government". He reinforces David Fernandes article in helping to ensure that we do remain culturally relevant but without compromise. John wrote;

"The message here is this; the gospel holds priority of place in the heart and mind of our sovereign God. All that He had created and established (including governments) has been put in place to facilitate the delivery of this most precious of messages to all people everywhere".


4. "Spiritual Authority in the New Covenant" by John Groves.


This article was the most helpful on authority for me in a corporate sense. While Terry's article was vital for understand authority personally, we must admit and confess that a Christian can mentally affirm authority but remain out of church and resolutely independent of authority - despite the fact that John Stott calls this an abberration. It could only be a gifted prophet/teacher like John Groves who can address this - again soaked in lavish grace - but unashamedly with convicting truth.


John began with the death and resurrection of Christ as that is where the New Covenant was inaugurated. The curtain has been torn in two! Access is accomplished! The way is open! (Matthew 27:51). By sitting down ath the right hand of His Father He has won the priesthood for all believers. This foundational start was vital because John made the point that while we do believe in authority in church, we are NOT creating a "special" class of leaders who will stand between us and God. He wrote this;


"New Testament leadership is about gifting. The Holy Spirit gifts people to perform a function of serving the church through leadership and government".


So with that foundation in place, John then moved on to two principles on leadership that I found so helpful.


i. "Leaders are a gift from the risen Christ to His Church (Ephesians 4:7-11). The church, the people of God need to recognise them as this, namely a gift ... to bless and build up His Church".


ii. "Leadership is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:6-8). Spiritual leaders have to be gifted and called by the Lord Jesus, the head of the church ... We need to find ways of recognising who Jesus is anointing and appointing".


He deals with how spiritual authorities should behave towards the church and vice versa - how we should behave towards the spiritual authorities. Once again I felt so lovingly challenged and corrected on my cynicism and suspicion towards these men. This point in particular was helpful;


"Obey them whenever possible although it should be noted that submission is an attitude of respect towards authority but it doesn't always mean that you obey".


He ended by summing up in this way;


"The New Covenant is the covenant of the Spirit. We are always looking to submit to His work and His gifting in people ... God has distributed gifts according to His will just as He wants. Therefore He has given apostles, prophets, teachers, elders, deacons and numerous other ministries defined by gifting rather than any Biblical term. In the end all spiritual authority is to build up the church, bring her to maturity and make her effective in her mission in bringing the good news of Jesus Christ and His kingdom to this sin-sick world".


This quote in particular marries the subject of authority to the longed-for turning of the tide and prayed-for coming move of God. Spiritual authority is not put in place for the exalting of man's ego or for human recognition. "Riches I need not nor man's empty praise". Church leadership should not be viewed as a career where the ultimate promotion is speaking on a conference platform! Why else would the Bible say "Be not many teachers brethren for theirs is the greater judgement"? God has given and placed these ministries to take the good news to the ends of the earth and ensure that the Church becomes what she is meant to be.


5. Interview with Dr John Stott.

I need not say much about this interview because it might probably dominate the issue and that would be a shame. John Stott has long been a hero of mine and I was so honoured to meet him when he preached once at All Souls, Langham Place. Although he had a massive line of people eager to meet him, Dr Stott had the ability to make me feel like he was individually interested in me and delighted to meet me. I shall never forget his kind penetrating eyes.

As Terry said in his Firstline - there is sort of Papal feel to meeting the great man!


So what? While the theme of this issue of the Newfrontiers magazine may not excite me as themes like the Holy Spirit, His gifts, His work and Presence or Revival or Worship - I think that somehow it is going to have a beneficial effect in my life like no other. I remember once that Terry Virgo said, "Condemnation is a work of darkness - it accomplishes nothing!". That has been a helpful benchmark to me in realising that even some so-called Christian leaders are masters of condemnation and their counsel achieves nothing. This magazine did not leave me feeling condemned once but rather determined to throw myself into Church life and submit to leaders who I can trust and love.