Friday, April 13, 2007

Willing in the Day of Thy Power?

My favourite post of the quarter arrived today – the Newfrontiers magazine! I must admit to being excited and surprised by the theme: “Healing – the L-plates are on”. I’m sure it will offend some, excite others and hopefully bring the majority to see the possibility of healing in a new light. Terry Virgo made it abundantly clear that the theme wasn’t chosen lightly; “I have wondered very seriously about the appropriateness of publishing an issue on the subject of healing. We are such novices. Our experience is so limited”. But Terry remains adamant; “It is no time for us to keep silent about such a theme”. Indeed it isn't! If the tidal wave is coming then God wants us exercising corporate healing in the Church. So the step of faith has been taken and it is absolutely key that this is one of the pre-Together on a Mission Conference 2007!

In writing about the great Healing Movement of the 1960s and in particular his friendship with William Branham, Dr Ern Baxter wrote;

The existence together of spiritual gifts and sin can cause great disillusionment for the naïve in Christ. I had seen numerous supernatural manifestations but I had also seen gross irregularities in the midst of these impressive charismatic events … It is sad to see the ebb of a movement but I believe that until we learn the lessons that God is teaching us and has taught us, through past moves of the Spirit we will continue to grieve the Holy Spirit and see movements suffer the same fate. The gifts of the Spirit must not be divorced from the Word of the Spirit!”

I suspect that it has been God’s intention to withhold the dramatic demonstrations of His healing power until He has been confident that we will not make the same mistakes as the healers from the 1960s. Ern Baxter spoke of them as being; “Stars shining in their unilateral glory – until they came down like shooting stars”. Has it ever been God’s will to have anything but a community – the Church – exercising the supernatural gifts of miracles and healings? We know He uses men to pave the way – such as William Branham, Paul Cain, Rob Rufus, Lex Loizides or Terry Virgo. But surely these men are examples to us, to encourage us and spur us to step out in faith also?

So here is a summary of the April-June 2007 Newfrontiers magazine! This is becoming something of a tradition with me now. The summary of the Jan-March 07 Newfrontiers magazine is here (Theme: Authority) and the summary of the Oct-Dec 06 magazine is here (Theme: The Tide is Turning)!

1. A Foundation of Faith - Terry Virgo's Frontline.

As always Terry’s Frontline carries weighty truth to impart and it is always the first thing I read and read again. I have already quoted from him as to the dilemma between feeling inadequate in this great area of the miraculous but also knowing without a doubt that our fathers in the movement must speak out. He goes on to speak quite rightly about faith – and I was so challenged by the Lord’s anger not with weakness but with unbelief. Terry wrote;

God delights in faith. Jesus seems staggered at the disciples unbelief when He asks, “How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40) … Jesus was weary of His unbelieving followers. He could not be indifferent or complacent. He could not passively accommodate their failure … When Jesus rebuked their unbelief it was a revelation of His heart … He expected better from them! He wanted better from them! He found their unbelief unacceptable! His anger was pure, holy and appropriate! If their unbelief was not worthy of His reproach, Jesus would not have given it”.

I wonder how often today what I do or more importantly do not do for the Kingdom of God is linked to the statement, “It can’t be done”. Having written quite a bit on “Going into the Land” recently, I keep thinking of the account of the spies bringing back a bad report. It was not that the Israelites were incapable of going into the Land that stopped them. It was the fact that they said, “It can’t be done” and they contradicted God Himself who said, “You can”. Terry wrote;

Jesus served His Father with red hot zeal and holy passion. He looked for the same in His disciples. When in Mark 9:28 the disciples asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”, Jesus replied “This kind can come out only by prayer”. Notice that He didn’t say, “This kind only come out if it is God’s will”. He said that they only come out if you pray. IF you pray it will happen. If you don’t – it won’t!”.

I would rather be accused by fellow Christians of being a fundamentalist and a maverick, than have to face the holy wrath and disappointment of God Himself on Judgement Day when He asks, “How is it that you have no faith?”.

2. “A Journey into Healing” by Terry Virgo.

I was extremely challenged and stirred some years ago at a Brighton Conference when the apostolic team began to speak of Terry moving out in faith into praying for the sick. With his usual characteristic true humility, Terry has said virtually nothing publicly about praying for the sick – he has just got on and done it! And the fantastic, faith-stirring, vision-enhancing testimonies speak for themselves. Here’s how Terry accounts for beginning to step out in faith;

I felt that God had freshly commissioned me to pray for the sick, and instead of being confused by the rather strange and narrow area of confidence, I should simply press through it. I immediately began to offer to pray for people with back problems at the end of nearly every meeting and witnessed scores of people being healed.

One day I was laying hands on a number of people at the end of the meeting. Many testified to immediate relief. Then a young man asked for prayer for his knees both of which were damaged. This was a new frontier for me but I laid hands on his knees and he was immediately healed. He started jumping on and off chairs to celebrate his new-found freedom. The next guy said, “My shoulder blade is broken in three places”, adding that he had a metal plate in his shoulder and experienced severe pain. I laid my hands on him and the pain immediately disappeared”.

Some seem not only to get healed but at the same time have beautiful encounters with the Holy Spirit. I know that when I was healed from my back pain I was also very emotionally moved by the sense of God’s amazing kindness and love in healing me. One girl testified that she was baptised in the Holy Spirit at the same time and subsequently found that she was speaking in tongues

Terry doesn’t skirt around the difficult issue of the fact that not all seem to get healed. He writes with compassion;

Do all get healed? That is not my experience … I prayed with another woman who began to sob because nothing had happened. What do you do? I told her that I was so sorry. I hate it but I still feel that I must press on”.

He ends the article with some points that he has learned through his ministering;

I have noticed how faith seems to grow among a group of people where healings are happening … As I approached one lady and asked what the problem was, she said, “I have back pain but I won’t have it in a moment”. She was right – she was immediately healed.

I have noticed a greater intensity of Holy Spirit power on some occasions where it just seems to be “easier”. One lady testified, “It’s okay I have just been healed while you were praying for others”.

I am convinced that faith comes from hearing the Word … I know that for many years I have spoken with faith to inspire people to receive the Holy Spirit and also to be free and released to give large sums of money in faith. I want to learn to do that effectively with regard to healing also".

Note this one. We stand convicted!

I have noticed that the English are more cynical than most and that in my experience healings seem to happen more readily, for instance in the USA”.

And finally;

I love to enjoy the Presence of the Lord Jesus who promised us that He would not leave us as orphans but would Himself come to us. All the time that I am laying hands on the sick, I am aiming to enjoy His Presence and make room for the Holy Spirit’s activity”.

3. “Expecting the Miraculous!” by Lex Loizides.

I loved what Lex wrote; “I’m convinced that I am a charismatic, not because of my nature but because of the nature of God! I believe in miracles because I believe in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity!”. His whole article is deeply theological yet deeply faith-stirring (as the whole magazine is).

He wrote;

Note three things:
1. The incredible patience of God in the way He deals with Moses reluctance. Stunning! Similarly God doesn’t accept our reluctance to step out in faith either! Fears, vulnerability, nerves – none of these seem to deter Him from leading us into more of the supernatural. There is a world to be reached and suffering to be relieved.

2. Moses reluctance should encourage everyone who feels he is an unlikely candidate to minister in the miraculous. But if God is speaking to you, turn aside to Him and hear His voice”.

3. When God desired to “authorise” His purpose, He decided (not Moses) to use supernatural means. Who thought of a stick becoming a snake? Why the leprous hand? Or water becoming blood? Why a demonstration of the Spirit’s power rather than wise and persuasive words? God’s desire is that our faith rests not on men’s wisdom but on His power

4. “A Healing King and a Healing Kingdom” by John Groves.

This article was probably the most powerful theologically-based resource in the magazine. Terry himself wrote; “I have been impressed by the Biblical arguments of John Groves’ excellent study which I asked him to include as our Leader’s article in this magazine”. What thrilled me is how he bases it within our foundational belief in restoration. He writes;

God is restoring New Testament principles of church life that have been lost over the years. This process of “restoration” which has been going on for centuries has accelerated over the last 100 years or so. We are building on the basis of what others have restored and in some areas the church has become very strong, but in other areas are still in process, and one of these is the restoration of healings, signs and wonders”.

Thanks to a tip-off by Luke Wood, I sent John Groves a copy of my most recent transcript – Ern Baxter’s series “The King and His Army”. He was incredibly gracious and kind enough to reply and made mention of; “The Heavenly Game Plan – Renewal, Restoration, Revival”. God renewed His church through the Charismatic Movement among other outpourings of His Spirit. He is restoring His Church as John wrote and we are longing for and expecting and praying for a tidal wave of revival to come set the Church ablaze and bring millions of non-Christians in. I love it!

John Groves goes on;

We have benefited from previous phases of restoration in church life. Often big battles were fought that cost men of God dearly at the time. Yet the things that were restored would have been happening in New Testament times when the church was first born. They had simply been lost through human frailty or demonic attack. We can take for granted some “restored” things that the church generally accepts today”.

He then goes on to ask some significant questions that deserve an answer;

Are our senses the final arbiters in all that goes on around us? How much do we trust in science and medicine as opposed to prayer and the Holy Spirit? … What do we make of the Faith Theology that would encourage us to name it and claim it? How does this fit in with a Kingdom Theology which teaches us that the kingdom of God has a “Now” and “Not Yet” expectation? What about the sovereignty of God and human responsibility?”.

I was raised on a diet on John Macarthur’s “Charismatic Chaos” and Hank Hanegraff’s “Christianity in Crisis” and “Counterfeit Revival” and Alan Morrison generally – so I am well aware of the dangers and errors inherent in the Faith Movement. Yet I cannot escape a genuine admiration for their ardent faith in the fact that God has promised in His Word that healing should be expected. When Rob Rufus was preaching at Together on a Mission last year, he mentioned receiving from God during a Kenneth Hagin meeting. There were some people behind me who made distinctly loud and derisive comments. Clearly the mention of Hagin upset them. But is our faith so closed that we cannot believe or accept that God can work through men such as Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland? Rather than deriding them, judging them and writing books “exposing” them, why don’t we make it our mission to pursue the same levels of faith and expectation – and pray to exercise the same level of supernatural ministry that they have – yet with the Reformed doctrines that we love and cherish?

John presents ten important facts from the Word of God regarding healing;

1. There is a lot of healing in the Gospels. 90% of Jesus miracles are healings or exorcisms for wholeness.
2. In the gospels Jesus appears to treat sickness as an enemy. It seems pretty clear that God is for healing and against sickness.
3. Jesus appears very willing to heal people. The fact is that we know sickness is bad and we want it to go. We want to be healed. This is not unreasonable and it is also not out of harmony with the heart of God.
4. Jesus relates healing to the message of the Kingdom.
5. Compassion was a strong motivation in Jesus healing ministry. Out of His infinite compassion He brought answers to the agonies of human life. Surely this is still the heavenly view of sin-sick humanity?
6. Jesus cares for individual needs.
7. Jesus never condemns people for being sick.
8. Rejoicing in suffering generally refers to persecution.
9. Healings are glorifying to God.
10. Jesus has already won our deliverance from sickness. The truth is we can taste the powers of the age to come now and we are encouraged to do so in the New Testament. The truth is the risen Lord passed on His authority to His disciples including the authority to heal in His Name

I cannot do better than close with the encouragement from John Groves;

As disciples we are to go into all the world with the good news of the Kingdom of God. We are to assault the dominion of darkness in all its manifestations including demonic oppression and sickness of body. Let us determine to keep laying hands on the sick with an increasing faith and expectation that they will get well”.

The title of this post is; "Willing in the Day of Thy Power?". I'd like to present that as a statement but having been an evangelical most of my life - I'm not sure it is. I think we have become so obsessed with discernment that we quite frankly are not willing. This is the question that has been on my heart all today since I got the magazine through the post. "Are you willing?". Are you willing to step out? Are you willing to take a leap of faith? Are you willing to lay hands on that person and risk "nothing happening"? Are you willing to look foolish for My Name? Are you willing to just trust Me? Are you willing to give the money you saved for that holiday? Are you willing?


Anonymous said...

Dan I followed your insistence via email and I listened to the Ken Gott seminar at Stoneleigh Bible Week 1997 and I was particularly struck by a point he made concerning himself. It ties in beautifully with your theme - are you willing?

Ken said that the Lord told him that one thing that He loved about Ken was that if there was a river then Ken would jump in it first and ask questions later. And the point KEn Gott made was:

God is more in love with the things in us that delight Him than the things that disappoint Him.

Beautiful! I am so stirred by this post and the magazine.


Jason said...

What encouarges me immensely about Brighton this year is that there is no "big name" celebrity scholar or speaker in the theological sense to draw people. I don't mean that offensively. But I wonder how many turned up last year "because it was Grudem"? Surely then the danger is that we come to hear "a man" rather than to meet with God. Now while there are many able and awesome theologians, teachers and preachers in the lineup this year, I beleive passionately that there is an awesome prophetic/apostolic thrust that is going to cause massive waves across all who hear. This year we are coming to meet with God!! And meet Him we will!! I believe it! And I can't wait!! Roll on July!!

jul said...

Yes yes and amen! I love this post and can't wait to read the new magazine. God is affirming over and over that Newfrontiers is where we belong. He's doing the same thing in us even though we're not there yet. I've used Eva as a practise for healing, getting her giggling in my incessant attempts to command her eyes to straighten up. And now that they're straight, I keep checking them as if I expect them to go wrong again. Why am I so surprised that God would heal? Anyway, Rob Rufus says we have to practise, so I'm going to start practising on everyone I know. My mom has one leg shorter than the other and has hip and back problems, she had polio when she was young. I'm so excited to see God move in more and more power through us! All of us. I know it's what he wants.

Baxter's Boy said...

I love that concept of "Practicing"! I haven't really thought of that before but absolutely and why not!? The way that we were always taught was that absolute accuracy and Isaiah-like prophecying MUST be achieved otherwise keep your mouth shut - but actually what is wrong with stepping out in a safe place with someone you trust and just seeking God together?!?

It's incredible you mention that because I was talking to Scott about healing and I asked him, "Do you think God could heal you at Brighton of your skin condition?". He gets a bit of eczma. And he said straight away, "Of course!". I LOVE LOVE LOVE the straight forward faith of the new Christians!!

So I am encouraged by you! I think I might start praying with him and just seeing what God does!! How awesome would it be, if he got healed through the prayers of just me?!?!