Early this morning I was provoked by a quote of Bill Johnson's about the possibility of separating power and order in the ministry of apostles. This theme seems to be occuring again and again in the Christian world at the moment and I am at a loss to understand why - and more importantly what we can do about it. You can't deny it is a present tension. Terry Virgo sparked it off recently again ending a blog post talking about inviting Mark Driscoll to be the main speaker at Brighton by saying;
"It seems very good to me, therefore, having had Rob with us for the last two years, now to welcome Mark Driscoll whose emphasis on the Word of God will do us enormous good. That is not to say, of course, that either of these men represents a stance of exclusively Word or Spirit, but I guess you know what I mean".
Well ... no I don't really know what he means. I think I know what he is trying to say but I wouldn't place bets upon it. Is Terry suggesting that Rob Rufus carries more emphasis on the Spirit of God whereas Mark's "emphasis on the Word of God will do us enormous good"? Suggesting that for the last two years we have been missing out on an emphasis on the Word of God? We can only speculate. But I digress. My heart for this post was prompted by the launch of yes ... yet another blog. C J Mahaney has joined the blogging world (HT: Between Two Worlds) and he advertises his blog as;
"C.J. Mahaney's view from the cheap seats".
"Without a doubt, in recent months, I have become more concerned about gospel issues than charismatic ones".
It sounds quite applaudable doesn't it? But there is the tension again it seems to me. "Gospel" rather than "Charismatic". 2 years of "Spirit" now "an emphasis on the Word of God doing us tremendous good". And of course Peter Cockrell is quite welcome to his views about his hero but I was listening to a Rob Rufus sermon in the shower and he quoted 1 Corinthians 4:20;
"For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power".
Where am I going with this? Surprisingly (for me) it leads back to the Cross. Julie wrote a wonderful post on; "Should We Be Cross Centered?" and commented that we are in danger in "never moving beyond the Cross" in turning the Cross itself (i.e the two pieces of rough wood) into an entity in and of itself in the same way that the Israelites did with their snake pole. She summed up; "We can end up putting our focus on the means of salvation rather than the person who saved us". I think that is spot on. Rather than speaking of a Living Person, we are speaking of a dead icon. Rather than drawing on power from an empty Cross and an empty tomb, we are reflecting emotionally on an event ("The Father killed Jesus") that occured 2, 000 years ago.
The best - absolute best - worship song that sums up the correct balance for viewing the Cross is a wonderful song from Hillsongs;
"Now ALL I know - Your forgiveness and EMBRACE! ... Worthy is the Lamb SEATED on the Throne!". The Cross must lead us into first and foremost a recognition that it was love that constrained Him to go to Calvary and the end of that is that we enter into full intimacy with Him! The Cross should lead us to worship the Reigning One! "For the joy set before Him - He endured the Cross".
Julian Adams said; "Our expectation is God's invitation and what you expect is what you will get". Rob Rufus said; "Don't you know that your attitude governs your altitude?". In other words if your expectation - if your attitude is limited to a memory of a historical event and your Christianity is shaped around two pieces of wood then your Christian life will be shaped by that (even if your doctrine sounds orthodox).
But if your expectation and your attitude is that all heavenly power and life flows from the empty Cross and the empty tomb through the Person of the Holy Spirit then we will surely be equipped to change the world. Let me close by quoting Doctor Lloyd-Jones (a "Word" man surely if there was ever one?!);
"Orthodoxy is absolutely essential. But orthodoxy alone is not enough. A church can be perfectly orthodox and perfectly useless. The Apostolic message was orthodox but there was something else. Our Gospel came not unto you in word only but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance ... you see the Apostle always relied on the power of the Holy Spirit".