Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Write What You See!

Yesterday I spent a happy few hours in a second-hand Christian bookshop near my parents house and I found a pile of charismatic books written around the 1970s-80s that I got for about £1! It has been incredible reading them because while none of them maybe renowned theologians or academics, they were prophetic visionaries writing down what they saw God was doing in the nation and what they felt God was speaking to them. Because those books are still around, we have a record of those remarkable days in the 1970's so we can learn from their mistakes but grow through their desire and passion for God.

On Thursday 19th January 2006, I wrote a short post reflecting on the differing contributions that audiotapes and books have to make to the Christian church. Derek Prince's biographer noted that; "The Charismatic Movement grew on the power of recorded speech" and went on to suggest that the cassette tape actually defined charismatic culture. However I felt that while audiotapes have a great blessing in that they are affordable and accessible - they can be easily forgotten, easily lost and easily destroyed. Books on the other hand are a different matter. C H Spurgeon had a great deal to say about books and their vitality to the church.

"Some of our very ultra-Calvinistic brethren think that a minister who reads books and studies his sermon, must be a very deplorable specimen of a preacher. A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot, and talks any quantity of nonsense, is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men's brains — oh! that is the preacher.

How rebuked are they by the apostle! He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, "GIVE THYSELF UNTO READING."

The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains, proves that he has no brains of his own".

Why do I repeat this? I am so excited about the charismatic resurgence of blogging - because I don't think ever before in the whole of church or human history has so many people been writing! Tim Challies made what could be a prophetic statement although he wouldn't call it that. He said;

Can it be true that the church truly is moving away from the clergy/laity divide so that while we still deeply appreciate the gifts of the ascended Christ and look to them, we as a general Church are beginning to write more and document more what we are seeing that God is doing?

Let me quote as an example some awesome statements that Gerald Coates wrote in his book; "Divided We Stand?" on the subject of apostles today.

"'That they may be one' will always on the heart of an apostle who cares for what God cares about".

"The apostle would attract other people who would intuitively feel their future was tied up with his ministry. Eventually they would be developed and released through his ministry. It must therefore be expected that without apostolic ministry, many who have a strong desire to serve God will never find ultimate fulfillment or release".

This seems to me to have been realised in the example of prophet Julian Adams (who will be speaking at Together on a Mission). He felt called to spend some time with Terry Virgo - and clearly is ministering with him as both Julian and Terry prayed for Rob Rufus at Prayer and Fasting. This is exciting! These concepts aren't just words or dreams but are being worked out in practice in New Testament Church - TODAY!

"Apostles are people of revelation. Others receive and live off that revelation ... living with people of revelation often makes the shadows larger!".

So let's continue to "write what we see!". God is on the move in our nation and the momentum is surely going to grow and grow. Let's ensure that this coming move of God is not forgotten in history like previous revivals because the people in it didn't write down what they saw. Let us set down a pile of stones as a memorial for coming generations to testify that our God is an awesome, great and powerful God who speaks and acts today and is more than capable of turning the tide into a massive tidal wave of power!
And speaking of writing ... the Charismatic Resurgence post has been updated with three very important new blog posts!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"Ultimate Triumph" Part 1 - Published!

I am thrilled to be able to make Part 1 of the "Ultimate Triumph" - "Prophesied in the Old Testament" - series available by Dr Ern Baxter. It is a series of 3 sermons that he preached in the USA but it is touching on a subject that, like the baptism of the Holy Spirit, is in danger of being swept under the ecclesiastical carpet for the sake of some form of unity. A secondary subject it may be - but Dave Holden is right when he said that our "eschatology governs our ecclesiology". How we look to the future and view the end times shapes how we live in the present.

I love what Jesse Phillips wrote in his post; "Post-millenial golden age". He said;

"We don't know how the world will end, but I believe that we should be ambitious and faith-filled with respect to the effect that the gospel can have if we are faithful to preach it".

There is a part near the end of the message that utterly thrilled me and I must make mention of it. Ern Baxter noted Ezekiel 47 - where the river of God flows out from the altar (the Cross) to the nations. He noted firstly that there is movement in the river of God! No stagnancy! Then he notes the deeper and deeper progression of "action" words;

"What have we got here? The river starts and it is to the ankles. Then the knees. Then the loins. Then its waters to swim in. This is the progression since Christ’s redemptive act in history and before it is over, the whole earth will be redemptive waters to swim in. You say I like my pessimistic view better. Well go live with it then. I like the Bible view! Ultimate Triumph! Jesus shall reign where’er the sun doth its successive journeys run!".

There is nothing wrong in and of itself about singing "Jesus keep me near the Cross". But if we never realise in our church life what the Cross was designed and intended for - namely to bring a host of sons to glory - and simply rest misty-eyed around the Cross, welling up every time a song about the "old rugged Cross" is on the song list - then surely we have missed the point? Christ endured the Cross! It wasn't a pleasant thing or a romantic thing! He endured it - what for? The JOY set before Him! What was that joy? Surely the vision of a whole earth covered in the glory of the Lord - a whole earth shining with the results of His redemptive sacrifice. Every tribe and tongue singing "Worthy is the Lamb!".

Next in the Series: Ultimate triumph inaugurated in the Gospels and Acts.

“Ultimate Triumph – Prophesied in the Old Testament” by Dr Ern Baxter

Part 1 – Ultimate Triumph Series.

For the sake of congregational folks that are here, I hope that what I have to offer will be acceptable to you. I am first of all thinking about those delegates and am going to be speaking to them, so you will forgive me if I speak about a few technical things – not too many. Those who were here last night will probably hear some faint echoes of Pastor Frank’s thunder. Last night was an amazing assault on us. He rapid-fire bombed us with an arsenal of material. It was awesome! Most preachers would take a year to say that. Toward the end I was getting exhausted from just assimilating it. I expected him to drop any minute from sheer weariness. He did a masterful job. There is a little bit of jealousy in there of course but … Now in these night services I am going to talk to you on what is in your advertisement – the theology of victory. I have called it “Ultimate Triumph” – just to be ordinary. I am going to deal with it under the following 3 headings. Tonight I am going to deal with ultimate triumph as it is prophesied in the Old Testament. Tomorrow night – God willing – I am going to talk about ultimate triumph inaugurated in the Gospels and Acts. Then on Friday night I am going to deal with ultimate triumph consummated in the Epistles and Revelation.

Now obviously what I am doing here is a Bible survey on the whole question of God’s intention in history. Not our intention or our reading of events or our political forecasts or evaluations but God and what He is saying. In the morning sessions I am dealing with the Apostle Paul. One of the things I said this morning about Paul was that his own miraculous and dramatic conversion was basic to his eschatological outlook in his writings. Paul realised that as God had arrested him on the Damascus Road – dramatically and unexpectedly – Paul says that God is the one who is going to arrest mankind. God is the One who will bring men to Himself. We must go and we must respond and we must be people who are mentally alert to what brother Frank was teaching on “Harvest Theology” – that was excellent. We must understand that God hasn’t left us to do the harvest alone. Jesus Christ said, “Lift up your eyes and look to the fields – they are white unto harvest”. He didn’t say everyone grab a sickle and start to hack away. You will notice what He said next; “Pray ye the Lord of the harvest and He will send labourers”. Unless this whole harvest thing is bathed in prayer and a recognition that if God doesn’t send us and if God doesn’t go with us then we labour in vain. We mightily need God! So I felt what I heard in the offerings of the musical group tonight and came through to me in the Spirit saying, “We need you Lord – we need You!”. I felt that was the most authentic thing I had heard in all of that. We need You! The history of revivals has got a sovereign touch to it. God is there to provide that dynamic.

Now I am going to deal with a technical aspect before we go into a kind of canonical appreciation of the Old Testament references to ultimate victory. I want to deal with what brother Frank last night called “the hermeneutic”. Some of us are very acquainted with this. I think the first theology class I ever did was on hermeneutics and that is a lot of years ago. Hermeneutics is based on the Greek myth of “Hermes”. Hermes was the messenger of the gods. He had wings on his feet and carried messages for the gods. When we are talking about hermeneutics, we are talking about the message from God and rightly interpreting that message for we are all godly “Hermes”. We have to take a message from God and understand what that message is and not get our own message mixed into it. So hermeneutics becomes the study of the principles of interpretation that will guard against the imposition of ourselves, our thinking, our philosophy and so on into God’s message. Now I may not understand His message. God says “Go tell them 1-2-3-4”. I say “God I don’t understand that”. He says, “I didn’t ask you to understand it – just go tell it”. Now many times when men are interpreting the Bible they abandon a principle of hermeneutics – that we are here to carry God’s message and not create our own. The principle here won’t mean anything to some of you but I hope you delegates will hear this. I hope you will hear this because I wish I had known this years ago. It is a principle of hermeneutics – should the New Testament influence the way the man interprets the Old Testament? Brother Frank answered that last night and made it very clear – it was excellent. He said that a proper way of interpreting the Bible is that everything in the Old Testament must come through the grid of the Christ event. How Christ and His apostles interpret the Old Testament is how we understand it.

Now I want to show you that there is a contrary hermeneutic abroad and I am going to deal with that right now. Back in the last century a prominent scholar by the name of Benjamin Jawett who was then Regis Professor of Greek in the University of Oxford published a famous lecture in which he came against that principle of interpretation. He said in essence that whatever the prophets said at the time is the meaning of that prophetic word. So you must go back – pick up the historical milieu – pick up the historical context and the geographical environment, the social and philosophical environment, the national and international, tribal and intertribal environments. You must understand that what that prophet was saying at the time and that’s all it means. The result was that men became Old Testament scholars as they searched for the historical meaning of many of those things. Now how many of you have read the Old Testament and acknowledged when you are through reading something that you don’t know what it means? In fact the Old Testament isn’t your favourite sector is it? That is because much of what they said in language and in situations that were designed to be interpreted.

Now in more recent times – and I am quoting from an excellent article by Bruce Waltke (who is an outstanding scholar and at the time he wrote it was Professor of Old Testament at Regent College in Vancouver). Dr Waltke is an expert in Old Testament and coming from him it carries more weight than from someone who isn’t acquainted with Old Testament material. But he goes on to show that while Benjamin Jowett established that as a hermeneutic that many brought into that it also has a modern supporter in the person of Dr Walter Kaiser. None of this is said pejoratively. It is dealing with scholarly factors. Dr Walter Kaiser – academic dean of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School – came close to concurring with Jowett. Now here’s what Dr Kaiser says; “In no case must later teaching be used exegetically or in any other way to unpack the meaning of the individual text which is the object of our study”. Now he is agreeing with Jowett – what he is saying is that you can’t take an Old Testament Scripture and interpret it from a New Testament standpoint. You have got to move yourself back – watch now. I am sure this isn’t what Dr Kaiser means but I have read many of his works. This is where it ends up. That you may your way back through the grid of the Christ event and you come back and you stand in the milieu where this thing has been said and try to find its total meaning there. Now what that does is it makes the Bible flat and wooden and it takes away the whole Biblical concept of progression. The Bible is not a flat book. The Bible is a ramp-like book. It starts here and it finishes up here. It doesn’t finish down. It is progressively unfolding as I will show you in a moment. When we get into our Scriptures it is progressively unfolding. So Dr Waltke in a very scholarly proper way in this article which was published about eight years ago said, “I want however to defend the Church’s traditional view”. Notice – the Church’s traditional view. The New Testament has priority. Now why did Dr Waltke call it the church’s traditional view? Because to any of us who think about post-apostolic Christianity our starting point is St Augustine. Augustine was the one who coined the couplet; “The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed”. Even in our limited material tonight we are going to talk about things in the Old and give them a meaning that we wouldn’t have arrived at if you stayed right with the text because it was concealed. It was there but it was latent and dormant and waiting for the reign of the New Covenant insight. So Dr Waltke says;

“The New Testament has priority in unpacking (that’s a theological slang word) the meaning of the Old Testament according to the Reformers the way the whole Scripture interprets parts of Scripture. If the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church fulfil the promise of the Old Testament as the New Testament affirms then these promises expressed in terms appropriate for the earthly form of God’s Kingdom in the Old dispensation find their literal form of the Kingdom in the New dispensation”.

Things that were literal in the Old – when they come through the grid of Christ – blossom out to have a much larger meaning than they have when they were birthed. For example when David as a prophet represents the Lord as saying about His royal son; “I have installed My king on Zion, My holy hill” (Psalm 2). According to the New Testament the text points to the ascension of Christ. Well you go back to Psalm 2; “I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion” – if you stay in the Old Testament (and I have spent a lot of time in Psalm 2) and have read everything from extreme liberalism to agnosticism to legalistic evangelicalism. I have run the gambit in investigating Psalm 2. There are a whole bunch of scholars that want to say that what was being talked about in Psalm 2 was some Oriental kind talking about his son and He was going to set his son – all very local and historical and very mundane – located in history and finished. Well if you stay back in Psalm 2 then you probably have some grounds for that kind of thinking. But when you come into the New Testament and the New Testament says in essence; “Let me tell you what Psalm 2 meant” and you say, “I don’t want to know – I’ve been in Psalm 2 for 20 years and I have studied it backwards and forwards and I know the geography. I know the history. Don’t tell me what the New Testament says. I have been in Psalm 2”, then, oh you are forsaking your own mercy. You have to admit you don’t know what Psalm 2 is talking about. You don’t know what Father is talking to what Son. Now wake up and go to sleep right. The New Testament says that when Yahweh said, “I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion” – that God the Father was saying, “I have set My Son Jesus Christ at My right hand to reign over the people and reign over the nations”. How many understand where I am going with this? Okay I will leave that – but it is a hermeneutical principle that you interpret the Old Testament from the New. It’s not all that open and shut because the question is what comes through the grid and what stays on the other side? The priesthood doesn’t come through, the animal sacrifices don’t come through, a lot of the civil laws don’t come through – so what comes through? You have to decide what comes through.

Someone says the 10 Commandments don’t come through. That’s true – they don’t come through as the 10 Commandments but nine of the ten are reiterated in the New with one notable omission. The Sabbath law doesn’t come through. Why? Because the Sabbath law was a dispensational law – don’t abandon that word completely. There are two dispensations – the Old and the New. The Sabbath was for the Old and was fulfilled in Christ because Christ finished the work of redemption and we now live in constant Sabbath. We have entered into His rest! So nine came through – you say well the 10 Commandments don’t come. No – not as a block. Nine are repeated here. Alright what is our hermeneutic? Whatever the New Testament says about the Old – that is what is valid. Now I could go on but let’s start now. That was just a gratuitous preamble. (*laughter*).

Our subject tonight is

I. “Ultimate Triumph as Prophesied in the Old Testament”.

That is Roman numeral 1. It is the only Roman numeral you will get tonight. All the rest are capitals so subtle;

God’s Original Plan.
I suppose in the last ten years I have spent more time in Genesis that I have in all the prior years of my life. Somehow I have begun to realise that God said an awful lot of things in Genesis that He didn’t intend should be changed. While they had to go through some kinds of historical changes, He has never changed His mind. I want you to listen to Genesis 1:26-28. Genesis 1:26-18 expounds or at least declares God’s original intention for His earth and that intention has not changed. The process of it has been interrupted by sin, displaced by disobedience, substituted by human expediency, played around with by humanism, all fouled up in modern scientism but at the end of the day these verses will be fulfilled. Let’s read them; “And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness and let them have dominion (rule)”. Let me say something about that. It doesn’t mean bullying the creation. That doesn’t mean God granting blind, selfish control over everything. When I hear about man taking wild animals and locking them in a compound and for ten dollars a shot some wealthy guy who haven’t got the time or the energy or the guts to go out and hunt in the wild, to then come and shoot that animal – that is not responsible dominion. You may disagree but we will probably have to face that act on the Day of Judgement as an irresponsible ward that God gave him to govern – not to abuse.

“Have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the foul of the air and of the cattle and over the earth and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them”.

It wasn’t Adam and Bruce He created.

“And God blessed them and said unto them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it”.

That came out in the eighth chapter of John when Satan’s seed among the Jews came to Jesus and taunted Him. Jesus spoke sharply to them and said, “You are of your father the devil” – the serpent’s seed. But now notice now the change in the pronoun. “It” – singular. Or the American Standard Version (which is one of our most accurate versions) says “He”. It is possible to say “He” given the Hebrew noun there. “He shall bruise thy head” – that is singular. “And thou shalt bruise his head”. Genesis 3:15 becomes the beginning point for the getting back to the Genesis 1:26-28 purpose. God had started now the long historical journey where there will be enmity between the divine seed (plural and corporate) and the demonic seed (plural and corporate). That journey will only be interrupted when one called “He” – the seed singular – who Paul in Galatians underscores when he said, “It was said not the seed many but the seed as one even Christ”. He won’t fool around with enmity. He will call a crisis at a place called Calvary and He will put His heel on the head. The only way you can kill a snake is to smash its head. You can cut it in half and it won’t die. Cut it in ten pieces and it will still wriggle. You must hit the head. At Calvary Jesus Christ crushed the head is final – biting the heel is an incident. The victory is guaranteed here – it is guaranteed to be the seed of the woman. The struggle is not to be is not to be indefinite. It does end in the complete defeat of the serpent. Remember our struggle – ultimate triumph.

At the very darkest moment of human history when Adam and Eve and the serpent stand trembling in the Presence of a holy God and the earth is already starting to wilt and the trees are bowing their heads and the earth is starting the long sob of lostness – in that awful dark moment God lights a hope and says that the seed of the woman will crush the serpent’s head. There will be ultimate triumph! Now I hope you can hear me with your internal ear – ultimate triumph is not in the future. Ultimate triumph accomplished when Christ conquered principalities and powers and made a show of them openly triumphing in His Cross and rose from the dead and ascended into the Presence of God to take over the reigns of cosmic government. That’s where we triumphed. We are working out the triumph now! The triumph doesn’t wait for the Second Coming – we are living in the triumph – we are walking in the triumph! That is the theology of harvest. There is nothing in the Old Testament prophecies that doesn’t throb with hope and throb with the ultimate intention of triumph. So let’s hurry on. You say – you hurry. I’m trying! (*laughter*). Alright.

This is the great covenantal source. Genesis 12:1-3;

“Now the Lord said unto Abram, ‘Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred and from thy father’s house unto a land which I will show thee and I will make of the a great nation and I will bless thee and make thy name great and I shall be a blessing and I will bless them that bless thee and I shall curse them that curse thee and in thee all the …”. Jews shall be blessed? All the rich shall be blessed? All the poor shall be blessed?

No. No categories. “All the families of the earth”. Let’s say it together! Notice how God categorises the human population. Into families. Why? The essential unit of social structure is the family and we have heard that and therefore understand why there is such an onslaught in biblical relationships between male and females and the structure of biblical families. Satan knows that if he can strike the family then he can strike the fundamental unit of God’s social intention. What does God say to Abraham? “All the families of the earth will be blessed”. God is a word Person – He is not an ethic Person. He is not a God of the blacks or a God of the whites or a God of this or that. He is a God of the whole earth. Abraham says, “Will not the Judge of the earth do right?”.

Moses and Israel.
Exodus 19:3-5; “And Moses went up to God”. Now this Scripture is the great foundation stone of Israelite ethnic significance. But the Jews misread it. Listen to what it says.

“And Moses went up to God and the Lord called out to him out of the mountain saying, ‘Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob and tell the children of Israel saying I have seen what I did unto the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagles wings and brought you unto Myself. Now therefore if you will obey My voice indeed and keep My covenant then you shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people for all the earth is Mine”.

Now what is God saying? God said, I don’t want you to misunderstand what I am saying to you, you are going to be special. But you are going to be My missionaries because all the earth is Mine and I am giving you this place in the nations and I will give you the oracles of God and I will give you the priesthood and I will give you a special revelation not for you to hog but to export. What did Israel do almost from the beginning? “Jehovah belongs to us. The Gentiles are dogs – have nothing to do with Gentiles. He is our God. Canaan is our land. It’s ours”. We do it in the church. God never called you and me into redemption to be introverts. He called us to be His messengers. I tell you one thing the Southern Baptists have over a lot of us – every new convert from the moment he comes in understands that he must take what he’s just got to someone else and he must tell them the same thing. It goes on and on and it’s a principle in God that we have frustrated. We have to bring our sinners to church to get them saved. Sinners don’t go to church – very few of them. God didn’t say “I want sinners to come to church”. He said to us, “Go out into the world and get them”. We say, “Lord we will pray for 3 weeks for sinners to come in”. He says, “You can pray until your ears fall off – I told you to go. You are not going to reverse My verdict by your prayers. Now you go out and get them!”. That is what we were singing about tonight. Go get them!

I don’t want to go get them – I will pray or I will give. No – you go! Where do I go? Well go where they are! Paul got edgy down in Athens because he was alone and didn’t have his friends with him and he went around kicking idols and didn’t know what to do so he thought I will go down to the marketplace. So he went down to the Greek marketplace looking to get a word in somewhere. Now people went to the market to buy meat and vegetables but it was also the meeting place of the common people – they went there to talk. So they would buy their groceries and join a group and fuss away. The philosophy of the Greeks was divided into two major philosophies; Epicureans and Stoics. So Paul was wandering around in the market and said, “Well I will go and join these fellows”. They are talking about the Epicureans and the Stoics and someone said, “Mister, do you have any comment on this?”. So Paul said, “Yes let me tell you about my philosophy” and started to tell them about Jesus. They said, “This guy is cracked! What new thing is this? Let’s take him up to Mars Hill where our big philosophers are always in dialogue”. So they dragged Paul up to Mars Hill and he stood among the philosophers and preached one of the greatest sermons of his life – whatever some people say. Acts 17 is one of the most neglected passages in the New Testament and yet it spells out the divine philosophy of history. Where did it all start? Down in the vegetables. (*laughter*).

The Psalms.
“Why do the heathen rage” (Psalm 2) “And the people imagine a vain thing? Kings of the earth take counsel against the Lord and His anointed saying, ‘Let us break their bones asunder and cast away their cords from us’. He that sitteth in heaven shall laugh and then shall He speak to them in His wrath and vex them in His sore displeasure. Yet have I set My king upon My holy hill of Zion!”.

Now this is a marvellous Scripture – I haven’t got time to go into it – but this is a marvellous Scripture. Do you know what we are permitted to do? We are permitted to sit in on a conversation with the Trinity. We are allowed to sit in on something the Father said, and the Son is telling us what the Father said. The Son says, “I will declare the decree. The Lord said unto Me …”. Now in your Bible if it is correctly capitalised, whenever ‘Lord’ is spelt with capital letters that is Jehovah. Whenever it is spelt with small letters that is Messiah and you must remember that.

“I will declare the decree – the Lord Jehovah said unto Me, ‘Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee – ask of Me (Jehovah) and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession”.

Is that ultimate triumph? Do you think Jesus asked? He not only asked – He got! Listen to the response of the Father to His asking. Matthew 28:18; “All authority is given to Me in heaven and on earth”. Someone said, Jesus is up in heaven. What’s He doing in heaven? He is reigning over the earth! Someone might say that He can’t reign until He sits in Jerusalem over there with all the trouble. I don’t think He can reign better in that Jerusalem than He can in the eternal Jerusalem! All depends where your Jerusalem’s are. The Jerusalem down here is in bondage with all the children but the Jerusalem which is above which is the Mother is always free.

Psalm 22:27-28; “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto the Lord”. Let’s say, ‘All the ends of the earth’. “And all the kingdoms of the earth shall worship before Thee for the kingdom is the Lord’s and He is the Governor among the nations”. Let’s say He is the Governor among the nations. That makes Him Boss doesn’t it? Someone says, oh won’t it be wonderful when Jesus Christ comes back and reigns? Well what’s He doing now? Someone may suggest that He is sitting in a vestibule waiting to be crowned. You are crazier than a coot! You haven’t read your Bible! We see Jesus crowned with glory and honour! Hallelujah! Psalm 45:4-5, 17. Oh this is beautiful. It is repeated in Hebrews 1:8 and therefore underscores the hermeneutic principle I gave you in the beginning. “Thy throne oh God is forever and ever”. Let’s say it together! For how long? For ever and ever! So He is reigning now!

“The sceptre of Thy Kingdom is a right sceptre – Thou lovest righteousness and hated wickedness therefore God thy God hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows”. Listen now. “I will make Thy name to be remembered in all generations therefore shall the people praise Thee forever and ever”.

All generations. Let’s say all generations. The people call this a post-Christian era right now. There may be a bit of a lull but there is no post-Christian era. There is a lot of good things going on right now but we always want to look at the negative. The only place that there isn’t much going on right now is America! God has got everything in charge. America got all excited when communism fell. Who will get excited when America can’t pay its deficit? I recently got a new book by Moises Silva – a very brilliant professor at Philadelphia/Westminster seminary. He is a linguist and deals in languages. It is a wonderful book but I was reading it and I came to this chapter where he started out with a scenario. The year is 2750 A.D. The leading world power that is in Africa has just made a decision about languages (and of course Great Britain and America no longer exist). I thought to myself, “My God, I never thought of that”. Then I thought that I should think about it because as a boy in Canada I went to school every morning and up on the front wall was a map and the bulk of it was in red – the British Empire ruled. We sang songs like “The sun never sets on the British Empire” and “Britannia rules the waves”. Those were the days when they could send a gunboat up the river into China and get a British citizen who was held, wrap him in a Union Jack and ride him back down the river. No one could withstand the powerful fist of the British Empire. Now what is the British Empire? A whimper at best. Britannia rules the waves? Britannia scarcely rules the English Channel!

I can still hear Winston Churchill growling; “I am not about to sit by and watch the dispossession of the British Empire in my day” – but he did! (*laughter*). Do you know how young you are in world influence? Post-World War 2 and we can no longer wrap Union Jacks around ourselves and say that we are here forever. Hey we have scarcely arrived and we may be leaving soon! (*laughter*). You say I don’t like you talking like that. I’m sorry about that. I have got my airplane out of here. Let’s not feel obliged to export our culture. Let’s preach the Gospel and produce Kingdom culture! Psalm 72:8-11;

“He shall have dominion also from sea to sea”. Say it! From sea to sea. “And from the river to the ends of the earth”.

Is that ultimate triumph? It may not happen till 2750 A.D. I can wait. (*laughter*). You know there is something inherently proud and boastful about every generation that thinks itself is the end-time generation. Who do you think you are? I get so fed when people talk about the end-times. I think it’s a gimmick! The whole age is the end times! God now at the end of the age – this whole age is the end times! It’s all the last days! We’re in the last days, the best days, the great days, and the messianic days – days when He is going to rule from sea to sea! Jesus shall reign where’er the sun doth its successive journeys run. We don’t sing kinds of hymns anymore. We sing snappy little ones like; “God get me out – oh God get me out!”. (*laughter*). Let’s drop down quickly to (v11). Psalm 72. “All kings shall fall down before Him – all nations shall serve Him”. Does that sound like ultimate triumph? You bet it does. Alright quickly – Psalm 89:3-4;

“I have made a covenant with My chosen – I have sworn unto David My servant. Thy seed will I establish forever and build up Thy throne to all generations”.

How many? All generations. You say, “We are the generation!”. Really?

I remember I was speaking in Michigan when I was travelling with William Branham and I had the afternoon meeting and it was packed in a beautiful auditorium with a great centre aisle. I was just finishing my teaching and suddenly there appeared coming through the door with several thousand people watching – about 12 people all garbed in white robes. As I finished my message, they came sweeping down the centre aisle and approached me. One woman with some teeth missing and in terrible need of some Listerine said, “We are the glorified sons of God”. (*laughter*). I will never forget my answer. “Oh” I said, “I had expected so much more”. When I hear people talking about this being the end time generation I just think of the woman with teeth missing and in need of Listerine and keep thinking, “I expected so much more”. I am being mischievous tonight. (*laughter*).

Psalm 110:1-2 – oh boy I could get bogged down here. This is the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament. “The Lord said to my lord, ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Thy enemies a footstool for Thy feet”. Is that ultimate triumph? You say why are you doing this? Because if you don’t live and breathe and move in ultimate triumph, then you are in danger of dying in despair because all kinds of it is being sold in Christianity today. I won’t buy it! I must get away from Psalm 110. (v2); “The Lord shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion and rule thou in the midst of thine enemies”. Whose ruling? Come on – whose ruling? Christ is ruling!

The Prophets.
Frank dealt with this last night. Isaiah 2:2-4;

“And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established at the top of the mountain and it shall be exalted above the hills and all nations shall flow unto it”.

Say it! All nations shall flow unto it. Someone says well that hasn’t happened yet. There is a little phrase that you need to be aware of that the prophets keep using and they say “In that day”. How long is a day? This day has already lasted 2, 000 years! Paul christened this day in his Corinthian epistle and said, “Now is the day of salvation. Now is the hour of the accepted time”. What is this day? The day of salvation. Now what does a day have? It has a morning, an afternoon and an evening. Benjamin Warfield, the great Princetonian theologian said, “We may yet be in the infancy of this age”. It could be instead of 11:59pm as prophecy mongers suggest so you get frightened, it could be actually 9:00am!
Now the heavens must retain Him until the time of the restoration of all things spoken of by the prophets. The prophets have said a lot of things that haven’t come to pass in that day! But if it is 9:00am then who says it can’t happen at noon? Or at 3pm? You say, well what am I going to do if this isn’t the end times? You do what David did if you have got any brains – you save your generation and then fall asleep. I had hoped to get out of it, you might moan. Well you will get out of it but in a different way to that you had planned. (*laughter*). Isaiah 9:6-7. I am going to wind this down. I am not finished with it but I never will be. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given and the government will be upon His shoulder”. There is a delightful play on words here. The government shall be upon His shoulder. Do you know that Jesus Christ governs the universe with one shoulder? That’s all the nations get. “And when He has found it (the lost sheep) He puts it upon His shoulders”. I am much more important to the Great Cosmic Shepherd than the nations. A shoulder for them – both for me. Someone said, who do you think you are? It’s just what I am saying. No more – no less. I require two shoulders!

“The government shall be upon His shoulder and His Name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace and His government shall be in great trouble and start to decrease and humanism shall drive it out of existence” … Oh I am sorry. (*laughter*). Wrong translation! “Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end”. There shall be no end!

Isaiah 11:6, 9-10; “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid”. That’s the way with the Garden of Eden. “The calf and the young lion. They shall not destroy each other for the earth (not heaven) shall full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. In that day there shall be a root of Jesse which shall stand as an end sign for the people to which the Gentiles seek and His rest shall be glorious”.

Ultimate Triumph. Let me give you some Scriptures and then I must stop. Isaiah 42:1-4, Isaiah 49:5-6, Isaiah 52:13-14. Oh I would like to take a few moments on Ezekiel 47. I want you to notice two things here – firstly that there is movement. I will be dealing with this tomorrow with the principle of gradualism. But Ezekiel is a tremendous book – it is highly symbolical. It is a big book and it is the symbolical representation of the ideal government of God. Notice “afterward he brought me again to the door of the house and behold waters issued”. There is nothing turgid or stagnant about God in history. God never becomes a place for producing mosquitoes. If you get in the flow of the issue of the water of God through history you will never grow barnacles on your bottom! A ship metaphor there. Waters issued! They are coming out from under the threshold of the house for the forefront of the house which stood towards the east and the waters came down. They issued and they came down. “They came down from the altar”. What altar? The altar of Christ’s cross and redemptive act. All these life giving waters are flowing from His life giving work 2000 years ago and they are issued and they are coming down. Watch these action words! “Behold they ran out waters on the right side … issued … came down … ran out”.

“Behold the waters were to my ankles … to my knees”. What is happening? The waters are getting deeper! “… to the loins … a river that I could not pass over for the waters were risen”. Issued – came down – poured forth – a river that could not be passed over and on and on. “Many trees” which equal fruitfulness. “Down into the desert and behold the waters shall be healed”. What waters? The Dead Sea – salt seas. This water comes down into the depths of our lost ness and suddenly it comes alive. Oh it is a tremendous story. (v9); “There shall be a great multitude of fish; everything shall live whither the river cometh”. What have we got here? The river starts and it is to the ankles. Then the knees. Then the loins. Then its waters to swim in. This is the progression since Christ’s redemptive act in history and before it is over, the whole earth will be redemptive waters to swim in. You say I like my pessimistic view better. Well go live with it then. I like the Bible view! Ultimate Triumph! Jesus shall reign where’er the sun doth its successive journeys run!

Let me make one quick exegetical comment and I will let you go. How many of us have quoted John 7:37-39, “In the last days … out of his belly will flow rivers of living water”. We always thought that if I drink out of Him, then out of me will flow rivers of living water. Let me suggest that it is possible with good scholarly exegetical work to read it another way. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me thirsting and who believes in Me as the Scriptures say shall flow rivers of living water”. Now the one from whom water flows is not the one who receives but the One who is the source. Jesus Christ is saying I am the source – out of Me will flow rivers of living water. The minute you see that you think of Ezekiel’s river. What’s flowing out of it? Water destined to fill the earth. I believe in ultimate triumph. Live in it! Never buy despair again!


Jesse's Spirit Baptism Paper is Available!!

Just a brief update as I hope to be publishing Part 1 of the "Ultimate Triumph" series by Dr Ern Baxter later on today.

I have updated the "Charismatic Resurgence Resource" post to include this landmark day! "Prophetically Speaking" author Jesse Phillips has blessed the entire internet by sharing numerous hours of work and sweat I am sure - by making his paper on the baptism of the Holy Spirit available.

It is here and it is called: "Subsequence: a biblical-theological defense of Pentecostal pneumatology". What I love about this paper is that it isn't exclusively devoted to defending the orthodoxy of the classical Pentecostal position. Jesse's conclusion is really a prayer;

"May the church continue to suffer the influence of Pentecost".

Go visit! And congratulations Jesse!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Update to the Charismatic Resurgence Post and some Blogspotting!!

Charismatic Resurgence.

I've updated the "Charismatic Resurgence Resource" post with a couple of new additions as well as adding my favourite "Baptism in Spirit" quotes to the "Underlined Bits" blog. I have also tried to tidy up the "Spirit of God!" blog a bit by dividing my links (which I now call "Hot Coals of Fire!" - inspired by this guy and his lightening rods!) and a link to the cumulative post above. There is some awesome material coming through thanks to my friends - especially Julie. My other awesome friend Luke Wood is vowing to write daily so it looks like I am going to have my work cut out for me trying to keep up with what the Holy Spirit is doing across the nations!

So with that in mind, I am thrilled that Pete Day is going to be joining me as an author on the "Spirit of God!" blog so he can have the freedom to add posts as he discovers them. I hope that by doubling the work force, I can ensure that this post becomes a useful resource again for anyone like me who is desperately hungry for the Spirit to come like a tidal wave across our barren nations and flood us in revival power!

For anyone who doesn't believe the Holy Spirit really does that anymore - let me re-quote Sarah's description of what happened at Prayer and Fasting;

"I have never been so aware of the Spirits touch on my life, as Rob (Rufus) requested the 'fire of God' waves of his presence filled the room...again...and again...and again...!!"

And in Other News ...

For any who are like me and have missed "Prophetically Speaking" it is a thrill to know that Jesse will be posting shortly! He writes that he has now graduated from SGM Pastor's College and will be moving back home. His wonderful mother makes a comment that was news to me ... apparantly moving from Maryland to Florida is not "cross-country". It highly amused me as it is exactly something my mum would say. Obviously home-schooling mother's across the globe make observations in a similar loving fashion! Although my mum wouldn't know how to leave a comment on my blog. I'm not sure she would know how to find my blog actually ... Anyway his first post looks set to be key;

"My first post will be to report on a class I attended at the church, "Leading your children in the baptism in the Holy Spirit." It was excellent. Details forthcoming".

This is a vital issue! One of the seminars I am most looking forward to at Together on a Mission in July is Terry Virgo preaching on "How to Lead People into the Baptism of the Spirit". Those of us who hold a classical Pentecostal position on this are in danger of spending so much time defending the "When" question that we could be abandoning actually praying for those close to us to receive this awesome experience of the assurance of sonship.

Janelle is live-blogging from the New Attitude Conference (the youth SGM conference) and reports on an important sounding session by Mark Dever. It was called; "Discern Your Doctrine". I think in light of Julie's challenge about Christians not constantly being at each other's throats, this sounds like very wise pastoral advice on how to decide what's worth fighting over and what isn't. His points;

"1) How clear is it in Scripture? 2) How clear is it to others that we trust? 3) How near is it to the Gospel? 4) What would the effects be if we allow disagreement?".

Luke Wood is making it big in the blogging world! A comment from Tim Challies and a mention from Adrian Warnock - can you make it any further?! Seriously I am going to try and follow his advice as far as possible and blog more regularly.

New Community Church in Sidcup pastored by Matt Hosier and where Dave Holden is based have been running a blog this month. It seems that Matt and Dave Holden both contribute to it. While it is obviously primarily aimed at their church with local news, as one would expect that is some awesome writing, news and stuff worth reading there. Dave Holden wrote a great deal about his time out in Africa supporting the churches there. This quote of Matt Hosier's really challenged me;

"The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.”Let’s be people with good attitude. While we will never coach a football team to European glory we can all make a decision to approach life with a winners attitude, giving thanks to God for his amazing love, grace and mercy".

And finally ... the photo is of my newest beautiful niece. I am a very proud uncle and think my sister is just absolutely wonderful! I found myself marvelling at God's awesome Creation all over again!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Ultimate Triumph Is Ours!!

Here is a portion from the "Ultimate Triumph" series that I am transcribing by Dr Ern Baxter. It was a completely outstanding sermon where Ern verbally sketched out the fact that God wasn't caught off guard by the fall of man. A divine remedy has always been at the centre of His heart, and as surely as He lives ALL the earth WILL be filled with the glory of the Lord! Surely the very heart of Word and Spirit is the bringing of the nations to His Lordship. Smith Wigglesworth prophesied that the coming together of Word and Spirit would result in a mighty revival that will see the ends of the earth covered with the glory of the Lord. That's the centre of what we believe as Reformed Charismatics! R T Kendall said that when Word and Spirit come together there will be "spontaneous combustion!".

So to Ern Baxter:

"At the very darkest moment of human history when Adam and Eve and the serpent stand trembling in the Presence of a holy God and the earth is already starting to wilt and the trees are bowing their heads and the earth is starting the long sob of lostness – in that awful dark moment God lights a hope and says that the seed of the woman will crush the serpent’s head. There will be ultimate triumph! Now I hope you can hear me with your internal ear – ultimate triumph is not in the future.

Ultimate triumph accomplished when Christ conquered principalities and powers and made a show of them openly triumphing in His Cross and rose from the dead and ascended into the Presence of God to take over the reigns of cosmic government. That’s where we triumphed. We are working out the triumph now! The triumph doesn’t wait for the Second Coming – we are living in the triumph – we are walking in the triumph! That is the theology of harvest. There is nothing in the Old Testament prophecies that doesn’t throb with hope and throb with the ultimate intention of triumph".

The full series will be published soon!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Charismatic Resurgence Resources Updated!!

Thanks to my good friend Julie, the "A List of Online Resources for the Charismatic Resurgence!" has had it's first update. I've added a link she pointed me to of an excellent looking blog by a Pentecostal pastor. It has the word "Thunder" in it - so the hairs on the back of my neck stood up instantly! As I said when I launched the blog post, I don't have the time to scan the whole internet for blogs which will add fuel to the flame - so please, please keep sending me links and I will add them and credit you for them. Let's together make this cumulative post a helpful resource for anyone hungering for the turning of the tide and the coming of the Spirit of God!

I won't say anymore in case I receive another observation about my error in writing things on "Life on Wings" not pertaining to Ern Baxter from my faithful lady-friend!

Thanks Jul!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Get Your House in Order!

I've been challenged that I'm getting my blogging confused in the excitement of the "charismatic resurgence" we are seeing. My reason for setting up the oft-neglected "Spirit of God!" blog was as follows;

Sunday, July 09, 2006 - "Those who follow "Life on Wings" with any regularity know that every now and then I have diverted from the aim of that website - which is to publish as much of the ministry of Dr Ern Baxter as I can humanly manage - into waxing lyrical about my passions of the Holy Spirit, His Person and Ministry. I hope by running this blog, I can free up more space there for more of Dr Ern Baxter's ministry - and write here without guilt!"

The lady-friend concerned informed me (in an effort to serve me of course in the context of the local website) that I was publishing blogs about the Holy Spirit on "Life on Wings" NOT on the "Spirit of God!" and felt therefore that I was forgetting what each blog was about.

So in an effort to put this right, I have drafted the following post; "A List of Online Resources for the Charismatic Resurgence!" on the Spirit of God! blog. It is based on the "Charismatic Pillowfight" blog and is intended to be cumulative. I aim to add to it every time I read a blog from a charismatic website that adds to this groundswell that I feel - that faith is being stirred and our expectations are growing.

I would deeply appreciate comments pointing me to blogs and posts that I have missed, as I would love this to become a resource for anyone who, like me, desperately wants God to come visit His Church and our land in power once again.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Case for being a Charismatic!!

Just found this excellent post on Sam Storm's blog and it's worth a read. It shows what happens when theology and academics are used in the right way to defend what we believe in with regards to life in the Spirit! I must apologise ... he called it "Case for Continuationism" but as I mentioned before, I don't really like that word. I think it's one step away from "functional cessationism". So Dr Storms begins with 12 bad reasons for being a cessationist. Most of them are good but for obvious reasons I took umbridge with this one;

"... a fourth bad reason for being a Cessationist is the belief that to embrace the validity of all spiritual gifts today requires that one embrace classical Pentecostalism and its belief in Spirit-baptism as separate from and subsequent to conversion, as well as their doctrine that speaking in tongues is the initial physical evidence of having experienced this Spirit-baptism".

There's nothing wrong with classical Pentecostalism and it's belief in Spirit-baptism as seperate from and subsequent to conversion! Just had to state that for the record. This comment kind of reiterates my concern that the Third Wave position is a sort of mediating go-between in an attempt to make the gifts of the Spirit more acceptable to cessationists.

This next point was excellent;

"A sixth bad reason for being a Cessationist is the fear that to acknowledge the validity today of revelatory gifts such as prophecy and word of knowledge would necessarily undermine the finality and sufficiency of Holy Scripture".

I am so grateful to men like Wayne Grudem, Storms himself and Terry Virgo who have devoted a lot of time to proving why a belief in the revelatory gifts DOES NOT undermine the finality and sufficiency of Scripture. And just because we believe in the revelatory gifts as stated in Scripture and accept that as the Scripture says, God can and will speak to His people outside of, but never in contradiction to His Word, that we are moving areas outside of the canon of Scripture. We seek the gifts of the Spirit because 1 Corinthians 14:1 commands us to. Not because we just fancy it.

This next point is key:

"Eleventh, it is a bad reason to be a Cessationist because of the absence of good experiences with spiritual gifts and the often fanatical excess of certain TV evangelists and some of those involved in the Word of Faith or Prosperity Gospel movements (as well as the anti-intellectualism often found in those movements)".

It is my suspicion and fear that many cessationists and ex-charismatics believe the gifts of the Spirit have ceased with the closing of the canon for this reason alone. I've read cessationist book after cessationist blog and without fail you will find after a few paragraphs, "Well I heard Benny Hinn did this ... you won't believe what I heard Kenneth Copeland said ... did you know about the Tortilla Lady that John MacArthur heard about?". I encourage everyone to listen to this podcast of Jesse's. He deals very well with this issue and suggests that using this reason to be a cessationist is to be guilty of the same experientialism as charismatics who say "I did it because it felt good".

Then the 12 good reasons for being a continuationist. The first one is excellent;

"The first good reason for being a Continuationist is the 12 bad reasons for being a Cessationist".

Need more be said? The second reason is worthy of note as well;

"A second good reason for being a Continuationist is the consistent, indeed pervasive, and altogether positive presence throughout the NT of all spiritual gifts".

Another reason that Storms didn't actually cite as a bad one for being a cessationist but one I have heard regularly and even recently is; "Well you only find the gifts of the Spirit in Acts and 1 Corinthians 12-14 - it isn't anywhere else much in the New Testament". Not true! As Dr Storms states, there is an altogether positive presence THROUGHOUT the New Testament of all spiritual gifts. My favourite example of this is:

"This command I entrust to you ... in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that BY THEM you fight the good fight" - 1 Timothy 1:18 (NASB).

By what? By the prophecies made concerning you. The suggestion being if you don't have prophecies made concerning you, or you don't believe such prophecies exist, your fight of faith could be compromised.

Reason 10 is very challenging to me;

"A tenth good reason for being a Continuationist is because the Holy Spirit in Christ is the Holy Spirit in Christians. We are indwelt, anointed, filled, and empowered by the same Spirit as was Jesus. His ministry is (with certain obvious limitations) the model for our ministry (cf. Acts 10:38)".

We mustn't forget that while Jesus was 100% God, He was and is still 100% man (as Luke pointed out so well). His ministry is to be something of a model for ours. "Greater things shall you do". And finally of course;

"The twelfth and final good reason for being a Continuationist is the testimony throughout most of church history concerning the operation of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit".

Amen! So let's continue to earnestly seek them and pursue them (especially prophecy) for the building up of our churches. Scott was speaking to me recently about our hopes for going to Brighton and he said he would really love to be given a spiritual gift and asked me what one to pray for and ask for. I said that if he asked for the gift of prophecy he would be on good Scriptural grounds!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Amazed by the Apostolic ... Again!!

Terry Virgo's latest blog proves yet again what a vital resource his regular writing in this fashion will be to the Church at large. I read his post with interest as to "what he had been up to" as Luke mentioned. But I was dramatically and emotionally touched by something which he felt led to do in the Newfrontiers Northern Europe Conference he had been attending. Before I quote what he wrote, led me share the context as to why this apostolic word so profoundly touched me.

I have had a really rubbish day today. We've just moved out of the house we have been living in Bristol and my flatmate has moved on up to Birmingham whereas I have had to move home with my parents as I haven't got a confirmed job in Birmingham to go to yet - hence I am still nursing down in Bristol. This is quite frustrating as in between night shifts, I have spent a lot of time on the phone trying to impress on Human Resources Departments why I really would like to start work soon! I had to go straight from a night shift to my old house as the estate agents were doing the "check out inventory". I spent all Friday vigorously cleaning the house as I hope to use the deposit money from the house to get our website - Ern Baxter dot com - up and running. The woman was horrid and told me quite frankly she thought I had done a rubbish job and will be recommending the house gets professionally cleaned - hence a loss of deposit - hence no website (yet)! And that on top of a desire I have to give money away to some people and churches I feel deeply about.

So with that day in mind, imagine my excitement and encouragement when I read this:

"I felt impressed by the Holy Spirit to pray for the many present who had walked forward with their offering in serious obedience to the previous evening’s sermon and invitation. I felt that God showed me that as Jurjen had been released from pain, so that they had stepped into a new dimension of confident commitment to giving and that God was dealing with their previously ‘brittle’ faith, imparting new grace and to many the gift of giving (Romans 12:8).

Many stood in response to my invitation and I felt that God told me to declare Paul’s confident promise, ‘My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus,’ over them, not simply as a wonderful Scripture (Phil. 4:19) but as a prophetic blessing and affirm that they would go on to experience God’s provision in the same way that our brother had experienced God’s touch.

To my surprise, at that very moment, one lady in the meeting experienced sudden and strange spiritual and emotional distress and cried out publicly. After prayer she felt released and set free. We were later informed that serious financial problems had blighted her life".

Can God use prophetic words from apostles to bless people who weren't at the conference at the time? I am open to being corrected but my feeling is that a vast amount of prophetic promises in the Bible that haven't yet been fulfilled (as Simon Pettit reminded us at Stoneleigh 2000) are of huge encouragement to the church, even though we weren't there when they were originally given! So I feel quite comfortable in welcoming this prophetic word warmly. My finances aren't sorted out yet. The deposit woman didn't suddenly ring me up and relent and ask forgiveness. I haven't seen a cheque come through my parents door covering the set-up fees for Ern Baxter dot com. But I am HUGELY blessed by the promise applied by the prophetic here;

"My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus ... not simply a wonderful Scripture but as a prophetic blessing and affirm that they would go on to experience God's provision in the same way that our brother had experienced God's touch".

What an AWESOME God we serve in, believe in, hope in and trust in! One who is not simply limited to history and to words on a page - but a God who is alive and who intervenes in time and space to pour out countless blessings upon His children - knowing EXACTLY the right time to encourage and to bless! Surely here is another classic example of how blogging can be used to bring about the "charismatic resurgence" that Jesse P spoke of!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Baptism in Spirit Evidenced by Gifts

I had the tremendous joy of listening to all of Jesse's podcasts on "Prophetically Speaking" yesterday while I was preparing the Sunday lunch for my family. If anyone hasn't visited them yet - I urge you to go do it! Of particular interest to me was his session reporting on Brent Detweiler's day at the SG Pastor's College on the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit". It occured to me that since the Charismatic Renewal days of the 1970's - the issue of the baptism of the Spirit seems (to me anyway in the UK) have dropped off the Christian radar. I wonder if it is because of the increasing interest in the Third Wave emphasis on the gifts of the Spirit or maybe a desire for unity with cessationist brethren hence ... "let's not discuss it".

Anyhow I am extremely grateful to Jesse for putting it back on the agenda, and in the interests of our "Charismatic blogging resurgence" I have been reading a book by Professor Howard Ervin called "These are not drunken as ye suppose". I think it's out of print but I found it in a second hand bookshop in Bristol for 10p! There is a lot of vital material in there, and I might post a full book review later but for now I wanted to post this quote because he touches on something quite obvious that I haven't thought of before and it will fit in perfectly with Jesse's slogan; "the conduit of earnest desire". So here's the quote from Professor Ervin;

"We have argued from Scripture that the baptism in, and the fulness of the Spirit are synonymous; and furthermore, that a charismatic dimension is evidence of the Holy Spirit's fulness. Consistency dictates then that the continuing manifestations of this charismatic dimension are abiding evidence of the Spirit's fulness in Christian experience. Consequently the nuture of these charismatic manifestations "edifies", that is to say, maintains the charismatic flow of the Holy Spirit's fulness. Nor have we improved upon Paul's simple formula; "stir up the gift of God, which is in thee through the laying on of my hands".

I think what he is arguing is that while the classical Pentecostal position of "baptism evidenced by tongues" isn't quite accurate - it IS correct to expect that when a believer is baptised in the Spirit he will utter some form of charismatic manifestation - i.e the gift of tongues, prophecy, word of knowledge and so forth. But what struck me about Ervin's quote is that consistency demands that the evidence of continued fulness of the Spirit then surely is - continued exercise of the charismatic gifts that the sovereign Spirit has bestowed upon that believer.

And that makes sense to me! If the Spirit of God gives a gift such as prophecy to the believer to edify the church and if the "gifts and calling of God are irrevocable" then we cannot attribute the downgrading of that gift to anything but slackness and worse, quenching of the Spirit. So the question is - have we received any gifts from God? Have we received the baptism of the Spirit? When was the last time that you or I shared that gift in the local church for their corporate edification? Let's be about it!! And if it has been a while since you or I last prophesied or spoke in tongues or gave a word of knowledge, then let's heed Paul's command in Scripture to "stir up the gift that is within you through the laying on of my hands".

PS: The picture is a very wonderful shirt which I will be buying when I get paid from Jesse's merchandise store! I am thrilled that he has agreed to ship international - so if anyone wants to come in on a bulk buy then let me know! I love it. Let's be proud of our charismatic heritage - but let's make sure it isn't just a heritage but a living, daily experience of God!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Coming Charismatic Blogging Resurgence?!

One of the things I love about fellow like-minded Christian bloggers is that they frequently express what I have been thinking about and wondering - but perhaps am sometimes too timid to write. Jesse's latest post had me jumping about the room!! (Well I am a charismatic after all ...). It's called "Charismatic resurgence through the blogosphere" and he has this awesome thought;

"... if blogs could contribute to a reformed resurgence, could not the blogosphere also contribute to a charismatic resurgence, particularly by increasing people's faith for gifts such as prophecy, faith, miracles or healing?".

Another thing that constantly amazes me is the similarity in mind and vision between some of the charismatic blog sites that I read - and again with my own train of thought. Pete Day quoted from Terry Virgo's book, "The Tide is Turning" and presented the challenge that faces those of us who long for more of the demonstration of God's power. Note this in particular (quoting Terry):

"On the whole we too have grown up in a generation that has not seen the mighty acts of God as our forefathers did. We have not seen revivals during which thousands flock into the churches to get right with God. Unlike our fathers we have not known whole towns change, with demonstrations of power and incredible manifestations of the glory of God. The majority of our generation knows nothing of these things so we may closely identify with the Israel of Gideon's day".

So it seems to me from what Jesse has written that the challenge is to raise people's faith and expectation in our blogging. To commit to posts that search the Scriptures and the whole host of church history so that we can point anyone who reads what we write and say "Look! This is that ..". But we have a difficult task ahead if Terry Virgo is right. Most of us (and especially Jesse, Pete and my generation) haven't seen the revivals, the miracles that he spoke of. So we do not have personal experience (yet) to draw on.

What then can we do? Here's a few suggestions that came to my mind.

1. Continue to believe in a God who intervenes in time and space.

2. Continue to believe in a Word of God that is applicable today.

3. Continue to pray and fast for the turning of the tide and the coming of the tidal wave of revival.

4. Continue to search church history through the vaults of libraries to find great men of faith.

5. Continue to write on these things and resist the temptation to write controversy that will attract hits and comments just for the sake of it. Pete Day writes quite rightly; "Are we guilty of spending so long defending reformed doctrine at the expense of living in the good of it?".

6. Continue to report on conferences, churches and news that will build faith and "fan into flame the gift that is in you". For example, the awesome Rob Rufus is going to be at the Newfrontiers Prayer and Fasting Weekend in Derby. I imagine it's going to be a pretty significant time and will set the tone for the coming "Together on a Mission" conference in July! By the way - have you booked in yet? You won't get to go to another conference that fires your faith more!

7. Make use of the internet blogs and go read the blogs of people who long for God to move in our day!! My favourites and my daily reading list includes; Pete Day, Jul Morris (Newfrontiers), Jesse Phillips (SGM), Luke Wood (Newfrontiers), Jon Cressey (Newfrontiers), Gavin White (MwB), Mark Heath (Newfrontiers), Janelle Phillips (SGM) and of course Terry Virgo himself. None of them would claim to be any theological heavyweights but the one factor that I love and appreciate about each and everyone of them is that they are HUNGRY!! No, DESPERATE for God! And that alone is faith inspiring!

Here is my contribution for today! It's an interview I have published before but feel I must draw attention to again with the great Dr Ern Baxter and it is on the subject of William Branham. Controversial he may have been - but no one could deny the signs, wonders and miracles. Go read it! These things happened less than 100 years ago!! And they can happen again today!! Here's a quote from the interview to give you a taster;

"Branham had a tremendous word of knowledge. Before praying for a person, he would give accurate details concerning the person’s ailments, and also details of their lives - their home town, activities, actions - even way back in their childhood. Branham never once made a mistake with the word of knowledge in all the years I was with him. That covers, in my case, thousands of instances ... to try to remember or to pick out a few outstanding supernatural occurrences with Branham is somewhat difficult because it was just a parade of the supernatural".

Let me close by agreeing deeply with Jesse's comment:

" ... if those who sense this expectation and anticipation for God to begin to move in more powerful ways through the reformed-charismatic church could begin to perpetrate the blogosphere with faith-filled perspectives on what the Holy Spirit is capable of doing, and wants to do, then we may have a broader influence throughout our churches. That, in turn, may raise people's expectations, and we may begin to see God responding to our faith in a way that scripture indicates He likes to".

Amen!! Let it be so Lord! And let's be about seeing the resurgence come!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Can You Trust Me?

I remain very stirred by a quote that Jesse Phillips posted on his blog from Brent Detweiler;

"This is what we need and this is what we can experience in our day. God, may we see the book of Acts rewritten at the end of the age!”

Yet I don't know about anyone else, but I constantly find my heart switching from faith to fear. I hope so passionately that God will come and move upon our nation in power as I dreamt. But I was walking and praying this week and I heard the still, quiet voice of the Spirit point out that He didn't actually put an impending date on that dream. He went on to ask whether I could allow myself to trust His sovereignity. And here I found myself in the "Charismatic Calvinist" dilemma! Trusting God and His sovereignity - yet "giving Him no rest until Zion is made a praise in the earth".

How do we get the balance right?

I have just transcribed what I think is an God-send article by Bob Mumford called; "When the Heavens Turn to Brass". Once again it shows the sheer value of the New Wine articles that were produced in the late 70's and early 80's. They addressed issues which we are still facing in the church today. He began by echoing the "earnest desire" that Jesse writes of, but notes that so often God is reluctant to use us because of our maturity or lack of. Here's a few quotes;

"The same thing happens in the realm of the Spirit. I say, “God I want that which belongs to me. I want the anointing. I want the power. I want the authority. Lay it on me!”. He says, “Son if I do, its going to get you into trouble”. And I say, “Just try me. Go ahead”. He does and I get into trouble. Proverbs 20:21 says, “An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning, but in the end thereof shall not be blessed”. That is what happened to the prodigal son".

"God is a Father. He knows better than to give us things we can’t protect, which is why His provisions are given to us as promises; Salvation is a promise, healing is a promise, baptism in the Holy Spirit is a promise, deliverance is a promise, financial provision is a promise. 2 Peter 1:4 says we are given “exceeding and great precious promises”. By the time we have the faith to claim the promise, we should have the maturity to protect it’s provision".

I have a holy dread that I will miss out on promises that God has got lined up for me because I won't learn the lessons He wants me to. Let us run away from the charismatic fatalism and the functional cessationism that has characterised too many so-called "Reformed Charismatics" of our day - but let us pursue the greater anointing and power that God longs to pour out on His Church by being responsible sons and daughters - above all hungry and desperate for Him and His Presence!

“When the Heavens Turn to Brass” by Bob Mumford

From New Wine Magazine – August 1986

I once fasted for a long period of time for the gift of miracles. During my fast, I prayed, “Where is the God of Elijah?”. If I ever heard God speak to me, I know it was then. He said, “Where are the Elijahs?”. God had been reluctant to use me and I finally understood why. It was because of my spiritual immaturity. I was no Elijah. God couldn’t use me the way I wanted or even the way He wanted, because it would probably destroy me! The Apostle Paul understood that problem. He stayed in Ephesus for three years, gently opening the Scriptures and teaching the Ephesians the good things of God. In his farewell address he said;

“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God which He hath purchased with His own blood” – Acts 20:27-28.

Then he began to warn them of trouble ahead;

“For I know this that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch and remember that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now brethren I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” – vv29-32.

Paul was saying, “Now that I have taught you all these good things, they are going to get you in trouble!”.

Waiting for Us to Mature.
It is so difficult for Christians to understand that it is the good things that God shares with us that get us into trouble. If we don’t hear anything or know anything, then we are not as responsible. But the minute we begin understanding the fullness of God’s purpose, we face one complication after another. I used to read stories about men like D L Moody and I’d think; “Oh Lord would I like to have what they had! What an inheritance!”. I have since found that God wants to give us such an inheritance – it belongs to us – but if we receive it before we are able to handle it we get into trouble. He holds our inheritance, waiting for us to grow up so we will not abuse it or lose it. In Luke chapter 15, the prodigal son went to his father and said, “Father give me my inheritance. I want that which belongs to me and I want it now!”. The Father could have said, “Son the minute I give you your inheritance its going to get you into trouble”. He probably knew that once he gave his son that which belong to him, he would get into trouble because he was neither old enough nor mature enough to handle it. Sure enough as soon as the prodigal got his hands on the money he began to misuse it.

The same thing happens in the realm of the Spirit. I say, “God I want that which belongs to me. I want the anointing. I want the power. I want the authority. Lay it on me!”. He says, “Son if I do, its going to get you into trouble”. And I say, “Just try me. Go ahead”. He does and I get into trouble. Proverbs 20:21 says, “An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning, but in the end thereof shall not be blessed”. That is what happened to the prodigal son.

Jesus Had to Wait.
At age twelve, Jesus understood the purposes of God for His life, but He had too had to wait on God’s time. When Jesus was thirty, God revealed Himself to Jesus and as He did, Jesus began coming into His inheritance. But before He received it, He spent forty days in the wilderness and was tempted by the devil. Only after that did He get up in the synagogue and say;

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor, He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favourable year of the Lord” – Luke 4:18-19.

The scriptural method of receiving our spiritual inheritance is that God comes to us and reveals Himself so that what He wants to give us doesn’t injure us or hurt us. Jesus once said to the disciples, “I have yet many things to say unto you but ye cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). A good way to shake people up is to say, “I have some things I want to share with you but you are not mature enough to receive them”. We all have the kind of spiritual pride that says, “Maybe others aren’t mature but I am!”. Many Christians insist, “God I want my inheritance now!”. And so they force Him. They fast and pray and claim their inheritance. Sometimes, God gives it to them but then instead of a stable life in Christ, they become what I call a “shooting star”. Three months, six months or a year later they are gone. But that’s not what God wants for us. He wants us to find our place in the body of Christ, grow in our understanding of His will, reflect His glory and keep right on shining.

Grievous Wolves.
The kind of maturity that God is looking for in us is that which will enable us to protect what He has given us. I have heard it said that the wolf only howls at the door where there is food. It’s the same with the powers of hell. They know where the food is. They know where God is moving. They know where things are happening and they come to stir up trouble. Paul told the Ephesians;

“For I know this that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them”.

But Paul did not say, “Because I know that I am going to stay here and protect you”. No, he said;

“I commend you to God and to the word of His grace which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified”.

He was saying, “I have delivered to you your inheritance. Now it’s up to you to learn how to protect and defend it”. One aspect of our inheritance is healing and I have seen many people healed by the power of God. But then after they get home, they call me and say, “I’m sick again”. They got healed on my faith but didn’t have enough maturity to defend their inheritance on their own. Healing isn’t automatic. It must be received from God and then defended and that takes maturity. We have to learn to defend our place in God. We have to learn to defend our calling in God. We have to learn to defend our finances in God. When I say, “Lord I believe You are going to supply”, He does, but then I struggle to keep His provisions.

That happens to us all the time. I give my son his lunch money and he starts out for school. But before he gets there two kids meet him and shake him down. They say, “Boy give us your lunch money!”. So he comes back to me and says, “Dad every time I go to school two boys are waiting for me and they take my lunch money”. I say, “Son one of two things must happen. Either you’ll learn to protect your fifty cents or you will go hungry”. My son has to grow up; he has to get mad enough and bold enough to say, “You’re not going to get my lunch money!”. When Christians finally get provoked enough, they will rise up in holy boldness and say, “Devil get off my back! In the Name of Jesus leave my child alone!”. It happens and then we ask why it didn’t happen a year ago. It was because we weren’t mature enough or bold enough.

Great and Precious Promises.
God is a Father. He knows better than to give us things we can’t protect, which is why His provisions are given to us as promises; Salvation is a promise, healing is a promise, baptism in the Holy Spirit is a promise, deliverance is a promise, financial provision is a promise. 2 Peter 1:4 says we are given “exceeding and great precious promises”. By the time we have the faith to claim the promise, we should have the maturity to protect it’s provision. It isn’t only receiving the provision that counts; we have to protect and defend it. God called me to preach while I was still in the Royal Navy. Being na├»ve I went to some buddies in the Navy and said, “God called me to preach!”. They almost took my inheritance from me before I even got started. “You? Preach? Who are you kidding?” they scoffed. And I thought, Maybe God didn’t call me after all. But when I got alone with God and asked Him about it, He zapped me with His Holy Spirit!

I then said, “Okay God called me to preach”. I learnt that I needed to protect the word God had spoken to me. God speaks healing, financial provision and spiritual usefulness to us. He says, “If you will obey Me I will bring you into a life of usefulness so that your life will affect others”. But it’s a promise that has to be worked, cultivated, brought to maturity and then defended. As we learn to defend our inheritance, God gives us more. As Jesus had to defend His inheritance in the wilderness, so we have to defend ours through a time of struggle. I heard a story about a man who was sitting on a dock fishing. As he was fishing he saw a cocoon attached to a nearby post, and in the cocoon a butterfly was struggling to get out. After a long time, the butterfly got out two feet and the first section of its wings. But its struggle was so great that the fisherman couldn’t stand it. He took his fishing knife and cut the cocoon all the way open. When he did, out on the wharf fell this little butterfly half born. The first section of his wings and two feet were all fully formed with the colour and all the beauty of a mature butterfly. But the bottom half was all emaciated, the wings still folded back and the legs still folded in. The butterfly staged around on the wharf a little while and then died. I must confess I have cut a few cocoons in my life. I’ve cut some for my own children and when I was pasturing, I cut them for my people.

Some of the gospel we have preached has been the instantaneous kind that says, “Push, push, click, God will do it for you”. He will do it for us. But as He does, don’t complain about elements of the struggle. I have seen too many Christians who have had their cocoons cut for them. Few of them ever come around to the new birth the proper way. When God seems to leave us alone in the middle of a struggle and we have to battle our way through on our own, its because He wants us whole. He hides from us simple because the struggle we’re going through is essential for a proper birth into the realm that God wants us in.

One night a man had a dream that he went to heaven. When he got there he met Paul and Peter and some of the martyrs of the Middle Ages, and John Wesley and D L Moody. Then he woke up. Later he said, “The thing that bothered me was that I didn’t feel like I belonged in the company of men who through great struggle had achieved what they had”. An inheritance quickly gained is not profitable in the end. There is an inheritance that belongs to the Church. But it isn’t something God gives capriciously or without thought, for giving it too soon would get us into trouble. We need to grow up. For us to do that, sometimes God must hide Himself!

“I commend you to God and to the word of His grace which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all of them which are sanctified”.