Thursday, February 28, 2008

Baptism in Holy Spirit and Resurrection!!

Yesterday was a powerful day for me because I finished transcribing "Invading the Impossible 6 - the Grace Revolution has BEGUN!!". The prophecy that formed the stimulus for the message given to Rob Rufus is here. I want to draw attention to a prophetic word that Pete Day had in response to Rob's prophecy (I love the way that the prophetic stirs more prophetic!). Pete actually texted me and told me about this while I was in bed - but what an awesome thing to be woken up for! He felt this:

"The powers of Europe trembled because of the French Revolution, fearing their societies would be overturned by revolutionaries copying the French.The powers of the West trembled because of the Russian revolution, fearing that communism would spread all around the world.The powers of religion in all its forms, all over the world will tremble because of the grace revolution, because people everywhere will be set free, and all powers and authorities of religious bondage torn down."

The key element for me in all of this is that if power and illegitimate government of control, legalism and religion is to be torn down, then surely the element characterising the Grace Revolutionaries (if that is what we are!) - is legitimate, God-given, God-authenticated power. It seemed very appropriate then that just before I went to bed I read this in the "Jonathan Edwards Blank Bible";

On 1 Corinthians 15:17;

"And if Christ is not risen, your faith is in vain; ye are yet in your sins". Because His not being risen; 1. Would be an argument of His insufficiency as a Saviour. If He were unable to deliver Himself from death, it would have been an argument that He was not able to deliver us. If He was a physician that could not heal Himself, there would be cause to apprehend that He was not sufficient (for those) whose diseases were so much worse. And then this was the appointed way of His restoring us, by His restoring Himself. We were to be saved no otherwise than in Him and with Him as members of Him, and so to be justified in His justification, which was His resurrection, to be delivered in His deliverance, to have victory in His victory, to triumph with Him, to be raised together with Him, to be raised with Him and made to sit together in heavenly places win Him.

And then if God the Father had not opened the prison doors, it would have been an evidence that He was not satisfied. And besides if He had not risen, He would not have been alive to intercede for us and fulfill the work of salvation He had laid a foundation for in His suffering in His kingly office. So these things were to be done by Christ as God-Man and the head of human nature. And 2. If Christ were not risen, it would be an evidence that He was an imposter for the grand evidence of His mission and appointment as our Saviour was His resurrection, which Christ foretold as sucha nd the determination of that grand point was put on the issue".

It really really matters how we view the image of Christ in our minds. If He is still hanging on the Cross in our thoughts and minds as we worship then; He looks insufficient as a Saviour, we too are still hanging with God's wrath over us for we are with Him and if He be not raised, then our faith is in vain - we have no hope. If He is still hanging on the Cross then God the Father looks as if He is not satisfied and He indeed is an imposter and surely no better than other dead gods for the evidence of His mission and appointment is His glorious resurrection.

How can we know real vital evidence of His resurrection? Terry Virgo makes that very clear - we must know the glorious outpoured Holy Spirit!



If the Holy Spirit is not actively being received in your church, in your life - then we do not have any vital evidence of the wonderful fact that JESUS IS ALIVE!! And if we do not have vital evidence within ourselves, if we are not crying out; "ABBA! FATHER!" then how are we going to be true "Grace Revolutionaries"? We need power from on high! We need to know that our Beloved is seated and reigning in heavenly places this morning and we reign with Him!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Illustrating Grace and Legalism!!

When Rob Rufus was closing his main session at "Together on a Mission 2006", he brought a very graphic illustration of the difference between grace and legalism and the results that grace and legalism bring in our Christian life. It was side-splittingly funny because he acted it out very enthusiastically but it also carried a weighty message.

Here is the clip;



How many of us can testify to the truth of that? Don't you feel - like me - sometimes that the Christian life is such hard work? That the so-called "spiritual disciplines" are just a burden that just cannot be carried, and yet we feel obliged to? Don't you feel sometimes that you wish you could scream at everyone in church to drop the masks and stop smiling toothily and telling everyone that life is "fine" when you can't stop hurting?

The wonder of true grace is that you CAN stop trying and you CAN stop striving. Grace is represented in the Old Testament as cool linen that the priests wore on their inner garments. Linen doesn't make you sweat or itch - it is comfortable and wonderful to wear. "Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh". Such ease! John Piper speaks about "dancing away from temptation". No longer will we have to whip ourselves metaphorically and bemoan a fight that we will never win or see over.

Grace - true grace - has come in the wonderful work of Jesus Christ and the outpoured Holy Spirit!

The Grace Revolution has BEGUN!!

I am in the middle of transcribing Rob's 1st of 2 sermons from last Sunday (what a church! 2 sermons!!). The whole sermon is intensely stirring and it is impossible to miss anything out in my notes that I am making - but I wanted to highlight one particular truly earth-tremouring word that Rob shared. The word is essentially a prophecy that God gave Rob last Friday while he was preparing to preach.

Here it is:

"This is what God said to me on Friday afternoon;

There is rapidly occuring across the earth a division between Law teaching and Grace teaching. God Himself is doing it. Some of those who still preach a mixture of Law and Grace will first try to be diplomatic and reasonable but under the surface they will carry hatred and envy. They will seek to disguise this in a form of godliness and theological reasoning but God in these days is going to expose the true state of their hearts. This is not a gentle reformation. This is a true revolution. Those that do not understand this will be utterly dismayed at how quickly this revolution is about to spread. In this revolution the gospel of Grace revealed in the New Covenant will spread like wildfire - there will be unhealthy extremes on the left and the right in reaction to this.

There will be voices that will attempt to gain advantage by appearing to be balanced diplomats calling for calm but I will sweep these self-appointed voices of reason aside and silence them swiftly, says God. Those with secure, pure hearts will steward this revolution, not panicking at the unhealthy extremes or trying to prematurely balance everything. For you see, it is not the message of grace that is causing the extremes or imbalance but it is the result of entrenched deeply established legalism and man's control surfacing because of the intensifying pressure of the Grace Revolution.

This revolution will force the mask off every form and appearance of godliness that denies the power of the New Covenant. This gospel revolution is not to be blamed for the ugliness that will appear in some. It is simply forcing the true nature of legalism out into the open and stripping it of all it's disguises so that even the naive and the deceived will see how truly hideous, HIDEOUS, it's face really is. The camoflauge of legalism is being removed so that it can no longer harress from hidden positions that have an appearance of godliness.

The people in these days who fearlessly embrace grace and remain pure-hearted and faithful enduring hardship and refusing to be polluted by bitterness during persecution will be partners with the Holy Spirit in seeing entire nations birthed into revival. So rejoice!".

Monday, February 25, 2008

How We View Who's Inside Us Really Matters!!

Last week I published a post called; "How We View Ourselves Really Matters" and said that only recently the whole issue and debate of "indwelling sin" (or not) is becoming increasingly important to me in the glorious light of the Gospel of grace and how God views us as totally and 100% righteous in His Son Jesus Christ. Personally I always found a familiar theme in Romans 7 and secretly hoped that this passage was actually Paul's confession of his struggle with on-going sin. But when I heard the Gospel spelled out clearly for the first time from Rob Rufus, I realised that actually this view is an excuse to not deal with sin as clinically as it deserves. We are DEAD to sin! And we should behave as such.

I posted a glorious quote by Rob in response to a rather distressing comment by an SGM preacher who stated that in the New Covenant; "uncompromised righteousness is demanded from us". Sounds very Old Covenant and Law-ish to me. I was therefore very encouraged to find a comment by Dr Martyn Ll0yd-Jones who added his considerable exegetical weight to removing any excuse I have that there is some sort of "old man" inside me requiring yet further "killing". He argues;

"If you are a Christian then the Spirit of God and of Christ, the blessed Holy Spirit dwells, takes up His home in you; and because He is there, the Father and the Son dwell in you also ...

Do we normally think of ourselves as Christians in this way? When the devil attacks you and comes to you to depress you, when you are weary and tired, and when you are persecuted and everyone seems against you, and you begin to wonder whether there is much point in being a Christian, this is the answer. Just remember Who is dwelling and residing in you. When you are tempted to sin, remember your body is 'a temple of the Holy Ghost'.

We approach these matters so negatively and for that reason we fail so frequently. People come to me and say, "I am praying God to deliver me from this sin ...". But what they really need is to realise that the Holy Ghost is dwelling in their hearts. That is the way to meet the devil. We must not be negative, we must not merely pray to be delivered. Realize Who is dwelling in your body, and then you will find it difficult to abuse or misuse that body.

Let us meditate more on these things, let us contemplate them, let us spend time with them, let us remind ourselves of them daily. It is the real secret of assurance, and of enjoying the Christian life and of being 'more than conquerors' and of being such that God can use us to attract others to a like knowledge and a like privilidge".

When it is spelled out as clearly as that, I cannot really believe that the Holy Spirit would allow some "old man", some "indwelling sin" to share His temple - my body! Is the problem really that in our legalistic tendancies we find it hard to actually accept that while Jesus Christ may have died for us on the Cross, God the Holy Spirit has come down and made His habitation with us!? With me?! Maybe we need to do as Dr Lloyd-Jones says and contemplate more on Who is living within us - Who walks with us daily - Who sees our innermost thoughts - and above all Who longs and waits to have fellowship and deepest intimacy with us and enable us to live as "more than conquerors" rather than the "chief of sinners".

PS: It need hardly be stated that because I fervently agree with this comment of Dr Lloyd-Jones, I still believe there is a massive difference between the Holy Spirit being "IN" you and being "ON" you as Rob Rufus explains so clearly. Adrian Warnock quoted one of my favourite statements of Dr Ll0yd-Jones on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in his latest post - to claim that we have "got it all" at conversion is to quench the Holy Spirit for we are telling God Himself when He shall come upon us in power. I find the Doctor's comment very provocative when he speaks for such evangelicals;

"‘Ah well, I am already baptized with the Spirit; it happened when I was born again, at my conversion; there is nothing for me to seek, I have got it all’. Got it all? Well, if you have ‘got it all’, I simply ask in the Name of God, why are you as you are? If you have ‘got it all’, why are you so unlike the Apostles, why are you so unlike the New Testament Christians?".

Let us be careful how we argue from Scripture! Does our lives live up to those claims?!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The hovering wave

Before Together on a Mission 2007, Dan shared a vision of a tidal wave. During the conference itself, we felt a real sense of the presence of God growing and were looking for wave to hit us powerfully. Our expectation was highest during Rob's final session.

And yet, as some have observed, there did appear to be a holding back of the presence of the Lord right at the end that session. Why? To be completely honest, at the end of his message and during the ministry time, Rob Rufus began to sing a couple of "secular" ditties. I can't remember what they were, but I do remember thinking that this was extremely flippant, and that perhaps Rob had "moved into the flesh" (my thoughts at the time) so the Spirit had been grieved and the tidal wave had withdrawn.

Over the last couple of days, Dan and I have corresponded by e-mail over this issue and we both feel deeply challenged and want to share what we believe the Lord has shown us. Here is my e-mail from last Tuesday:

"There is something I have been thinking over for a few days. During one of the Grace and Glory 2007 sessions they started singing a song that went “I can’t help falling in love with You.”

Now – maybe you are too young to know this (hee hee!!!!), but the lines come from the end of a love song by Elvis Presley!!! A secular song!!! And yet I was totally overwhelmed by it – totally amazing just to declare loves songs to Him!

Then, as I was lying in bed, my mind was taken back to Rob’s final session when we felt touches of the Lord’s glory but then I think we all felt (and others have testified to this) that something was holding back the tidal wave.

At the time I (and I think you agreed, although maybe you were just being polite) attributed it to Rob moving and singing some “secular” ditties. I thought the Spirit had been grieve by a move into the “flesh”. We noticed that some of the Newfrontiers leadership didn’t know what to do when Rob started singing like that, and others were distinctly uncomfortable.

But I think I have had clear revelation over what happened….

Yes, the Holy Spirit was grieved and so held back. But He was not grieved by Rob, but by me and all the others that were thinking in their hearts ‘what is Rob doing, why is he singing songs like that?’ I believe the Spirit was grieved by a subtle legalism that had crept into the hearts of the gathering. WE were offended by this “secular singing”. The Holy Spirit wasn’t. He loves our joy, and freedom. There is nothing “secular” to Him. Some of us (and I include myself in that) had slipped into think that what Rob was doing was wrong, and unrighteous. We had slipped into thinking that this was offensive to God, and that once again He would only come if we were righteous, that the atmosphere was right. And yet He comes because the righteousness of Jesus Christ, not by ANYTHING we have done, not by ANYTHING we sing or any “spiritual” worship. And He is grieved SO MUCH by legalism that even the hint of it upon us caused Him to hold back His fullness. Yes, He WAS there and He DID bless and He DID heal some, but we didn’t see the fullness of the glory, and the breaking forth of the tidal wave as we could have done.

One could question, was Rob wise to sing those songs? I don’t know, maybe?? I think he is so used to living in the glory that sometimes he might forget how sensitive we all are to things that don’t fit with our view of spirituality. I don’t know. But one thing I do know, Rob’s songs did not grieve the Holy Spirit AT ALL.

I am realising more and more how horrible legalism is, and how bound up even charismatics are in religious ideas. Praise God, He is setting us free. More and more. I am seeing legalism everywhere, which is good, because I am learning to run from it. I don’t want there to be a hint of law in me or this church, or anything we do through our publishing ministry.

The tidal wave is still waiting, and it WILL come as we move more and more into grace. I still pray it will hit in Brighton as you saw in your dream, but if the barrier goes up there, the wave WILL find its way ashore. It can travel up the Thames and hit London; it can hit the south coast somewhere else and flood the country. It will come. It will come upon grace-filled and hungry people!!"
Dan responded:

"I wanted Rob to be on top form doctrinally like he was at CCK that Sunday preaching grace and glory. And then he went singing silly songs!! Yet you are so right!! There is total TOTAL freedom in the Holy Spirit and Rob was simply being ... himself!! The foolishness of God unveiled the arrogance in our hearts. Maybe it was a test from God for US - not for him!! The tidal wave was close - so agonizingly close!! And God thought; "Right one final test - let him sing in pure freedom and see what they do" - and I grieve that we all sat and judged Rob and blamed HIM for the backing off of the tidal wave.

"Rob’s songs did not grieve the Holy Spirit AT ALL".

Amen amen amen and right now I feel like we should right to Rob and ask for his forgiveness!! How DARE we sit in judgement on a man of God who has moved into the Presence of God and loves Him with all his heart and moves in signs and wonders that we can't even dream of!? and yet we sit in our righteous doctrinal orthodoxy and think; "Well you wouldn't have seen Ern singing a silly song like that!!". No ... maybe you wouldn't but love Ern as we do - you also didn't see Ern healing the sick like Rob has. FREEDOM at ALL COSTS!!"
Dan and I have already come before the Lord and confessed that we were wrong and we grieved the Holy Spirit. We are not accusing any other person in that meeting - we know what we did and are sharing that.

We want to also publicly apologise for thinking such things concerning Rob's ministry. And we stand with him in praying that he would see, as God promised him, days of unprecedented glory and miracles.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Where are WE going?!?

Think the Church is going out with a whimper? Think again ...

"The kingdoms of this earth shall become the kingdom of this Lord and of His Christ. God is not going to leave an evil planet and pull His frightened little cowardly Church sitting at the rapture bus stop out and then He can nuke the whole planet and only a few little idealistic, pietistic Christians will be in heaven.

The Bible says in Habbakkuk 2 that "the knowledge of the glory of God will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea". So the knowledge of the glory - not just the glory! The knowledge of the glory will cover the earth.

The glory is the manifest, weighty, tangible Presence of God that will cover the earth and we will get revelation or knowledge in the last days of the glory that no other generation has had. The Bible says that the "glory of the latter house will be greater than the former house". That Christ will have a glorious house without spot of wrinkle or blemish. The glory of God will fill the Church and we will carry the manifest glory of God!".

Rob Rufus - "Session 4" - Grace and Glory Conference in Dubai - January 2008.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How We View Ourselves Really Matters

I must admit this time last year I would never have come to realise how much this question of "indwelling sin" or not really does matter to how we live the Christian life - in victory or in defeat as a result of a never-ending losing battle this side of eternity.

This whole issue was revived in my mind when two of my wonderful lady friends from the Americas (Julie and Lydia) pointed me to a sermon preached by a guy in Covenant Fellowship Church and he made this statement;

"The One who fulfills the Law for us demands uncompromised righteousness from us".

It sounds pretty "evangelical" doesn't it? But the one word that bothers me is the word "demands". Maybe it was a bad choice of words by a young preacher. But I have looked through the Bible and although the word "demand" was used rightly in the context of the Law, it was only ever used in a negative context in the New Testament and under the New Covenant. Rob Rufus made the best reply to that statement in his recent sermon; "Invading the Impossible Part 5". He was commented on Philippians 2:5 and said;

"What does 'being made in human likeness' mean? It means being made just like us! But He was righteous all the time! So are you in Christ. If you hesitate and say 'I am not righteous all the time' then you are still living dominated by Old Covenant mentality because the Old Covenant righteousness was demanded (there is the word "demanded" again) through keeping law perfectly. One failure nad the glory will fade. In New Covenant, you are righteous all the time as a gift therefore the glory never need fade".

So am I picking at straws? Someone help me here. What was Jared Mellinger trying to get at? Was he just preaching a sincere sermon and yet used a bad choice of word? Or was he really implying that we are actually no better off under the New Covenant and an even more perfect righteousness is still demanded of us ... and let us be honest here - none of us, not Jared Mellinger, not even C J Mahaney, not I, not you - can meet that perfect righteousness that is demanded. As Rob Rufus said - righteousness is given as a gift that is how we can fulfill it! Righteousness not produced of our own merit (for if we did indeed manage to produce it - we would become proud in our own efforts) but HIS righteousness.

I managed to find an interesting clip from the "Life on Wings" interviews where Ern Baxter deals with this vital issue. He too recognises that the modern evangelical view seems to teach some kind of pluralism that we are condemned to - an life-long struggle only ended by death - with our "sinful inner man". It's worth watching.

Here's the transcript of what Ern said:

Ern Baxter: "Now what I have in me is not an old man and a new man with me in the middle. Then I’ve got some kind of plurality in here. All I’ve got in here is me. And the Holy Spirit who is working on me.

I’m being saved – not replaced.

When I became a child of God someone else didn’t come in there called the new man. Hopefully I was made the new man but lets not confuse that with the new man that Paul was talking about because he was talking about the corporate. So that its me that’s being saved, its my soul that’s being saved … its me that’s being saved!

And when I sin, I can’t say “Oh – that’s not me – that’s my old man”. And when I do something right I cant say, “Oh – that’s not me – that’s my new man”. It’s me. It’s all me. I’m the only one living in here with the Holy Spirit and He is working on me.

You see that old chorus was so accurate; “All my nature refine”. My nature has not been destroyed; my nature has not been replaced. My nature has been redeemed. And so now the Holy Spirit through the Word is changing me into the image of Christ from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord.

Dewey Friedel: So my sin is not the result of the old man’s nature still being in me – my sin is the baby in me that’s carnal, not growing up.

Ern Baxter: That’s one way of putting it. It’s what remains in your nature that has yet been sanctified. That tendency – you see?

Now the Corinthian accommodates it and we call him in theology “Antinomian”. The Galatian gets into bondage about it and gets religious about it. The Christian says, “I don’t want anymore to do with that and I’m going to walk in the Spirit”.

So he goes down the road speaking to himself in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs – singing and making melody in his heart unto the Lord – see? Now the average evangelical gets a bit unhappy with us at that point and they say, “Look at that guy going down the road talking to himself – well he must be crazy!”.

Well, I’d rather be crazy and victorious than sane and walk in bondage!".

So I repeat - I do believe that this is worth fighting for and discussing. Rather than coming up with techniques and strategies (which may not be wrong in and of themselves but without the power of the Holy Spirit they are useless) we can simply change the way we are thinking. Since I have been exposed to Rob's teaching on righteousness and our true standing in New Covenant life, I have never felt so encouraged, so motivated with a desire to live holy because I am in relationship with Almighty God and He accepts me because of the imputed righteousness of His Son. WHATEVER I do or do not do, God looks at me through His Son and I am accepted on high!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ern Baxter on William Branham, Word and Spirit

I have been re-visiting again the series of interviews Ern Baxter gave shortly before his going to glory. They were called "Life on Wings" and the transcript of the interviews is available courtesy of my old friend Mark Heath. I was listening to the third session in the series which dealt with in particular Ern Baxter's association with William Branham. Dewey Friedel asked Ern Baxter about Branham and some of his concerns with him. Ern answered the question and went on to sum up very well the concern we should still have today for not abandoning either our commitment to the Word of God or our love for the Person of the Holy Spirit.

I have posted the transcript of the section below the video clip in case Ern is not quite clear in the video quality.



Baxter:

Well I would probably say, and I say this without prejudice and I say this with a deep affection for William Branham. I think that Brother Branham probably walked in all the lights that he had, he certainly was not what you and I would call a theologian. He was a man who had some rather strange views of the Scripture. The one thing that kept me at his side was that he had a great love for the Lord Jesus and I felt that any man, who placed the lordship of Christ where he placed it, was a man I could associate with. Many of his other doctrinal views – we controverted again and again. I think as in the Latter Rain and as in Pentecost and as in the charismatic dimension, and many people don’t understand me when I say this because I have been in all of these things, when an evangelical or a non-charismatic criticises Pentecostalism and the charismatic dimension and William Branham, I say, “Woo – now just a minute, I want to talk to you!”.

Because I started speaking in tongues in 1932 and I have never been ashamed of that. I have never opted out of my charismatic dimension while I have been pursuing what I hoped was sound doctrine. And a man coming out of the evangelical realm criticising the charismatic dimension – well I’m going to have to take up for the charismatic. But then having done that, I want to say to the charismatic, “Where’s the Word dimension?”. And one of my deep concerns that I have held almost all my life is that it is the Word dimension that seems to get short changed in the charismatics –

It’s the Spirit dimension that gets short changed in the evangelical realm and my life long dream has been to see these two come together in some kind of permanent union – we’d blow the world into the kingdom of God!".

Sunday, February 17, 2008

All the Heavens Shout Your Praise!!

I had a wonderful drive back from Bristol after a night shift just now! All night I was thinking about grace and in particular a concerning statement made by a preacher from Covenant Fellowship Church (see comments here). So as I began driving home I was asking God for a "word" on the issue and maybe things to write and think through on this blog. But I heard God audibly just say; "No words son, just enjoy". So I looked out the window of the car as I drove up the M5 and saw this:

And I just began to worship! The pure wonder and joy of seeing creation shout aloud the wonders of our God! I enjoyed a blend of my two favourite worship leaders - Kate Simmonds and Darlene Zschech. What wonderful inspiring prophetic women of God! The lyrics of every song began to stir me again and again;

"So when I see the empty tomb, I realise I am raised with You, forever no seated in heaven!!".

"All the heavens shout Your praise, beautiful in Zion the universe will sing - hallelujah to our King!".

We have been called to contemplate the Cross and to never get away from it but a text from my friend Pete came back to my mind. He wrote;

"The Cross is the legal basis for everything in the New Covenant. It deals with all that stopped us entering in. But it is not the essence of the New Covenant. The essence is life in the Spirit. "I baptise with water, but He will baptised with the Spirit".

Today I am focusing on the empty tomb because it tells me that Jesus Christ is alive and His sacrifice has been accepted gloriously and He is now seated in heaven. Because He is there we may walk in confident authority as ambassadors of the highest government in the universe! With that authority we may become ministers of the Spirit and we may indeed see signs and wonders accompanying our words of the Gospel! That fact - that doctrine - leads me to yet more worship! This wonderful prophetic song from Hillsongs just summed up EVERYTHING I felt surging through me about our wonderful God.
"No words son, just ENJOY!!". Allow the truth - the wonderful, freeing truth of this rush through you like electricity this Sunday as you go to worship Him. He is seated and reigning and we bear His righteousness as a free gift! He demands ONLY what He has given!! And He has given so freely and with such lavish grace!! May you receive an awesome baptism of His Spirit and fire this morning that fills your sails of faith and enables you to leap forward into the week with such power that non-Christians say "What is different about you?!".





PS: Note the chorus particularly; "Holy, holy God Almighty and forever the Lord is exalted! Hear the angels shout His anthem! Ever living God we adore You!".

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The "Hovering" Presence of God

I have just finished transcribing an absolutely GLORIOUS message - Rob Rufus was preaching in Dubai at a "Glory and Grace Conference" and he made mention of Psalm 91:1; "He who dwells in the shadow of the Most High". Rob made some comments about this verse that gave me a new insight into the Word of God and the dynamic Presence of God. Up until now I have always read that verse and thought of a static Presence. But Rob said;

"Shadow" - that word is the "Hovering Presence of God" - it is not just a static Presence. It is a Presence like we see when the Presence of God was hovering over the deep in Genesis 1:2. This is like a helicopter over you and there is a down-draft of the Presence of God. The hovering Presence of God - the shadow of the Almighty will be over your life".

I found a clip on You-Tube that illustrates this quite well:



I have lived with this revelation for a few days now since I last heard it and typed it on the Rob Rufus blog and it is certainly having effect on my life! Why is it that we in the Church reduce God to a static, remote Being in heaven? Everything in the Word of God points to Him being a dynamic, Living Being who delights to break out and demonstrate His power, His glory, His miracles, His signs and His wonders! In short He delights to show the world that "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and ALL that dwell therein"!

It is a remarkable difference - the traditional evangelical view of "living under the shadow of His wing" is quite passive and defensive. We even used to sing an old chorus in the Charismatic Movement that went;

"Living under the shadow of His wing, We find security - Standing in His presence we will bring - Our worship, worship, worship to the King. Heart to heart embracing in His love, Reveals His purity - Soaring in my spirit like a dove, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord".

There is nothing wrong with that more gentle image but when you live with the very dynamic image of a helicopter hovering over you constantly with downdrafts of power affecting you and coursing through you, suddenly it becomes not quite so surprising that in the Book of Acts; "their shadows healed the sick".

May we all become more concious of the powerful Presence of God hovering over our lives and using us to His glory to further His Kingdom and demonstrate His power in covering the earth with His glory!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Further Up and Further In!!

*Update* - I decided to change the name of this post thanks to a comment left by Pete Day left below. He mentioned and remembered the wonderful account at the end of C S Lewis's; "The Last Battle" where the children are urged to go "Further Up and Further In" to Aslan's country. I forgot this! But that absolutely sums up what I am trying to say here.

This is going to be quite a short post (for a change for me!) simply because I have been living with something I heard on TV last night at the hospice I work at. We had the popular ITV show "Dancing on Ice" on as many of the children enjoy it ... and I do too!! I was just watching it and enjoying the wonderful skating ... it must be the closest thing to flying. I would love to try it out someday. For those of you who aren't in the UK, here's a clip of my favourite couple competing.

video

But what grabbed me was something that Christopher Dean said to one of the contestants (Torville and Dean are helping train the celebrities). He said;

"This guy simply refuses to plateau ... each week he just keeps aiming higher and higher".

I sat there staggered. And I thought - what greater acclaim could there be made over my life and be said of me? To be sure I could refuse to plateau theologically until my library matches that of Al Mohler or R J Rushdoony. But when I finally buy and store 40, 000 books on theology about God, what then? Where then? How higher can one go? No. What I long to be said over my life is that I refuse to plateau and each week keep aiming higher and higher in relationship and encounter to God HIMSELF.

And there is PLENTY of precident in the Bible with which to aim for!
Can many of us even testify to equalling that? May it be said over me; "This guy simply refuses to plateau ... each week he just keeps aiming higher and higher" - in encounter with God! In intimate relationship with God! In knowing God and being known by Him! In, like Enoch, "walking with Him".

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Intimacy, Wonderful Intimacy with the Beloved!!

*Update* - Interestingly enough I just got home from work and noticed that the latest sermon from City Church International in Hong Kong was called: "Intimacy and Inheritance" by Tony Johnson. It's awesome when God speaks similar messages to different people - and even more so when God is speaking the same word to me as He is in Hong Kong!!

How we view the Song of Solomon is extremely important to how open we are as Christians to be reconciled with the very Biblical view that it is God-honouring to speak of Him in intimate language. Actually it is dishonouring to the sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross NOT to be comfortable with worshipping Jesus Christ with reverent yet intimate language. My family always wince whenever the Song of Solomon is mentioned because since I read "Sex, Romance and the Glory of God" - it has become something of a pet passion to prove that indeed this wonderful book of the Bible IS primarily reflecting Christ and His Bride and secondarily marriage. For those who haven't read this small book, briefly C J Mahaney argues that the Song of Solomon is only a sex manual for those in marital bliss and makes fun of those who would teach otherwise.

Reading Jonathan Edwards in his "Blank Bible" not only assures me I was in good company to argue that C J Mahaney may have missed something but more importantly to hold a wrong view about a book of the Bible does indeed mean we are missing out on a vital form of relationship and encounter with our Living Lord Jesus Christ. Some of these quotes are so Christo-centric they are breath-taking:

Song of Solomon 3:4: "It cost the spouse much to find her beloved but when she found him she held him so much the faster. So it is with the saints. The longer it is before they find Christ, the more pains and care and self-denial when they have found Christ and the more careful not to let Him go".

Song of Solomon 3:6: "Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke perfumed with myrrh and frankincense with all powders of the merchant?"

No, not the Christian husband as Mahaney would argue but:

This represents the abundance of merit with which Christ came out of His passion and state of humiliation. In coming out of His state of humiliation, He as it were came out of a dreadful wilderness and He came forth like a great cloud of incense for then He had finished His purchase. He arose and ascended from His humiliation like a great cloud of incense upto heaven, perfumed with all manner of sweet spices, for when He had finished His passion He entered into the holiest of all with His own blood, with the incense of His abundant merits as the high priest of old entered into the holy of holies with a cloud of incense ...

And another thing that is probably meant by it is Christ's coming forth out of His humiliation in the glory of His divinity. The glory of His divinity is represented by the cloud of glory. While in His humiliation His divinity was veiled, but when He was exalted, He reassumed the glory He had with the Father before the world was.

We find this question; "Who is this?" often asked in Scripture on occasion of Christ's coming forth out in His merits, triumph and glory after His sufferings and conflicts with His enemies. (Psalm 24:7-10)".

And there are many more quotes. But I find the link between the references in the Song of Solomon to Calvary and Christ's sacrifice tremendously moving. I do believe time and again that the primary "joy set before Him" in Christ enduring the most awful sufferings as He hung there alone was so that He could watch the redeemed both dead and alive cry out; "Abba! Father!". I would not say the primary experience of the Christian church is that cry springing forth from the Holy Spirit out of their deepest souls ... not yet. Surely that is why Rob Rufus's teaching and preaching is so important at a time in Christian history as this - we MUST consider what Christ has accomplished for us and what that means for us in actual position. We MUST consider out righteousness as not being of our own but imputed from this glorious "one coming from the wilderness".

He died .... so that we might not only live but worship! A thought occured to me at this early hour on a Sunday morning. Will God EVER be silent now we are in the New Covenant? Now that the veil has been torn in two and the Holy of Holies has become our dwelling place (legally if not experientially yet) - dare we ever accuse God of being silent? Now that "Open Heaven" is truly our experience will He ever refuse to speak to us or pour out His wonderful love on us? What a tremendous price He paid that we might have the deepest and richest intimacy with our heavenly "Abba!". Let's not abuse it this Sunday by keeping the love of God poured out within our hearts by the Holy Spirit at a distance. Let that deepest, most intimate cry spring up from within us again!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Jonathan Edwards on the Law and Grace

I don't know about any of the others of my fellow Rob Rufus fans but one aspect in particular of Rob's ministry that is emphasised again and again (and that I struggle with) is the position of the law and how it relates to New Covenant believers such as ourselves. Rob's passionate emphasis is that while the law is good (David: "Oh how I love Your law") it is of no use in promoting righteousness for us in practical day to day living. Unbelievably this is actually something new for me - even though I have been a Christian for 20 years or so. While my home church was allegedly Bible-believing and for the latter part of my time there, proudly "functionally cessationist" - they tended towards a position of theonomy. (For those who aren't quite sure of that word briefly it was the teaching of Christian Reconstructionists such as R J Rushdoony and Greg Bahnsen -both of whom came and spoke to my home church leaders).

For example Rushdoony said things like; "The foundations of a law-order must be protected" (p38).

When the Downs Bible Week was stopped back in 1989 and Terry Virgo and his team went on an "Enjoying God's Grace tour" around the cities, my senior pastor was so concerned that this teaching of grace would promote antinominanism, that he deliberately preached an extensive series on "Law" to counteract that in our church!

So you can understand that this re-structuring of the view of the law in my own mind is taking some time, and sometimes I will find myself listening to Rob's teaching when he swiftly moves through Romans and have to stop and listen to it again and again to allow it to sink in. I wonder if I am alone in that?! However I have been reading my new "Jonathan Edwards Blank Bible" and have got to his notes on Romans and was hugely interested in his insights into this very matter. Here's a few selected quotes;
1. Romans 5:13-14 - "For until the law, sin was in the world but sin is not imputed where there is no law".

"There are two things the Apostle would prove in these words, one of which establishes the other. First he would prove that all mankind were under the law God gave to Adam that revealed death to be the wages of sin. This is evident because sin, as bringing death, was in the world before there was any other legislation or solemn giving of law to mankind beside what was to Adam ... All mankind sinned and fell in Adam. This is evident by Adam's being the legal head of mankind which is the first thing insinuated".

Not unfortunately Jonathan Edwards doesn't go on to explore in great depth the "but now" aspect to this verse which Rob Rufus does in great depth. But I quoted a few days back the tremendous comfort and wonderful joy that there is in seeing the state of mankind as being under two Adams - it is that simple. As Edwards writes, we were under the first Adam and received his imputed sin and therefore his imputed death. But now!

I cannot emphasise this enough for my own personal security as much as everyone who reads this - Rob's wonderful quote shows that there is as MUCH security in LAST ADAM as there was in FIRST ADAM!

"If you are in first Adam, then you cannot "backslide" out of his fallen state through good works. Just so if you are in last Adam you cannot "backslide" out through unrighteous acts"

So will it do to sigh and to say; "Ahhhh...my sin nature can be quite hard to defeat sometimes"? I'm not sure. I can identify with that statement subjectively. But I'm not sure it truly matches up to the clear teaching in Romans. All mankind received the results of Adam's imputed sin. Therefore if we are in last Adam - the risen and reigning Jesus Christ - we surely just as certainly have received the results of Christ's imputed righteousness. Wow!! But actually Jonathan Edwards goes on in his notes to show that it is not enough to simply compare the two;

2. Romans 5:15: "The gift abounds more than the offence, for if it abounded only in an equality then, it would only just remove that death and misery that the offence brought and restore man to the state he was in before; but it doth much more than so".

"The conjunction "but" refers to the last words in the preceding verse, "who is the figure of Him that was to come" as much as to say, "But yet though Adam were the figure of Christ, yet the gift of benefit received by Christ is not exactly conformed or confined to the dimensions of the damage received by Adam's fall".

Once again Jonathan Edwards doesn't seem to go quite as much into the implications of this verse as I would like! He seems to follow a Puritan trend that they are much more happy talking about sin rather than the breath-taking implications of grace. This is quite okay - as I am coming to terms more and more with the fact that "progressive revelation" does seem to be an on-going thing. Which makes me breath-takingly happy to be alive now and to be as blessed as to have gifts of true grace teachers like Terry Virgo and Rob Rufus!

But here it seems clear to me that the verse in Romans is stating that Christ's finished work on the Cross (and on-going glorious work in heaven) does much more than simply "damage control". Very often in modern preaching you will hear the example given of how we find ourselves in hundreds of thousands of pounds (or dollars) worth of debt and then we go into the bank facing ruin, and the bank manager tells us the overdraft has been cleared! Yet that isn't enough - because that example simply makes our account stand at "£0"! Romans 5:15 suggests much more - that the debts are cleared and we have had MILLIONS put into our bank account from some mysterious benefactor!

Romans 7:4: "Ye are become dead to the law".

"This is one instance of St Paul's address. To have said, the law is dead would have shocked a Jew; therefore he wisely chooseth to say, 'You are dead to the law'. Which is in effect the same thing for the relation is dissolved which soever of the parties dieth".

I find this one of these incredible times when Scripture just leaves me breathless in it's meaning. We so often do not read Scripture and think of how the original recipients of the letter to the Romans would have received it. These Jews had grown up far more indoctrinated with the importance of the law than I ever did! Moses - their forefather - came down the mountain with the tablets of stone after an encounter with God! And here is Paul saying that we are now DEAD to the law!?

So if we are dead to the law then my mind goes straight back to Romans 5:14; "sin is not imputed where there is no law". We have got to deal with these Scriptures honestly! Even if the implications for our lives are indeed life-changing! For my own sake, I need to spell this out logically;

Sin is not imputed where there is no law. We are dead to law. Therefore by implication - can we say that sin is not imputed to us therefore? But rather righteousness from the living Son of God?!

Or have I missed a verse somewhere? Now I do want to go on and consider Romans 7 in a later post sometime because Jonathan Edwards notes on it aren't quite consistent with the glorious truth he is spelling out here. In short it seems he fits himself into the context of Romans 7 - but that is a whole new debate and train of thought. For today it is enough for me to go to work basking in this truth that Paul writes in the infalliable Word of God; "You have DIED to law". But he also writes; "Sin is NOT imputed where there is NO law". Therefore today I must realise that when God looks at me, He does not instantly see my sin but rather the "blood on the doorpost".

Hallelujah! WHAT a Saviour!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Latest Quote from Terry Virgo!

What an absolutely awesome quote.

"An inadequate submission to Biblical truth can rob us of knowing Him in a dynamic way and experiencing Him in all His fullness".

That exactly sums up what I have been trying to say about a gospel of word and power. And without wanting to speak for Julie - I think also what she was trying to get at in speaking about the danger of an exclusive Cross-centredness. I was listening to Rob Rufus in the car driving back from work and he quoted 2 Timothy 3:5 - there is the pattern again. A "form" of godliness but one which denies the power.

I am tired of a divide that was never meant to be. The Bible - the Word of God - isn't ever to be seen as a quenching of the Spirit. Quite the opposite. The Word of God in it's fullness reveals how inadequate our relationship and our encounter with God is. How is it that 2 Corinthians 3:7-8 describes Moses (who looked upon GOD HIMSELF) as being in a covenant of fading glory, yet which of us in this New Covenant compare ourselves to Moses? Let the Word of God be unbound! Terry himself says;

"Knowing the Biblical revelation leads us on to a personal experience of Him that reflects that revelation".

Rather than the Word of God limiting our encounters with Him, surely the Word of God should be provoking our vastly poor experiences with Him! There is so much more of Him to know! There is so much more of Him to get to know! Surely there is something wrong with any study of the Word of God which doesn't lead us on to a personal experience of Him.

Ern Baxter Joins You-Tube!!

It is time for another technological break-through! I have set up a You-Tube account and have so far loaded 3 videos of Ern Baxter onto my account. They are available to watch here. The three videos I chose were;

"Life on Wings Interviews Introduction" - Part 1 - with some biographical comments from Ern's administrator Ritch Carlton.



"Life on Wings Interviews Introduction" - Part 2 - with Ern singing a song about eagles.

"Ern Baxter - Baptism of the Holy Spirit" - Ern shared his testimony as to how he was baptised in the Holy Spirit at a conference in Canada.

And also the video clip I took of Rob Rufus speaking at Mobilise last July - he was exhorting them (and us) to not become dependent on conferences for encountering God - but to take time ourselves to go to mountains, turn off phones and meet Him on our own.

*Updated* - I have also added "Worship from Anglia Bible Week 1983" and Ern Baxter ministering on the "Rent Veil".

It is my hope to record and make some more video clips as I come across them so keep your eyes peeled! Video-clips are a useful and dramatic way of presenting teaching and truth that sometimes doesn't come across as powerfully as in the typed word format and I have got some key classic moments primarily from Ern Baxter's teaching in mind.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

80, 000 Hits!! (and other stuff) ...

Well every now and then I try to do a post just noting some of the things which are going on around the blogging world (as there is generally quite a bit!). Some call it "blog-spotting", I guess others call it being plain nosy! I am absolutely amazed to have just hit "80, 000" hits. Thank you all for coming and visiting and reading and coming back again. I appreciate you all - especially those of you who take the time to leave comments! But here's a bit of what's going on;

Glory and Grace Conference, Sydney 2008

In Hong Kong last October Rob Rufus promised that if another conference was planned we would have a bit more warning than last years - I think it was about 5 months to plan. Alas it seems that the Holy Spirit moved a bit faster than he did - the next "Glory and Grace Conference" is going to happen at the end of March -next month! It is being held in Sydney at Fini and Isi de Gersigny's church - Jubilee International Church. I wrote here that sadly it's a bit too soon for me to be able to go - finding money for air fares, hotels and getting time off work. But this will be a year to look forward to with the CD's!

Ryan Rufus is Publishing!

I've mentioned it before and it is available on the links but I really want to emphase this. My dear friend Julie Morris wrote to Ryan Rufus to ask for some comments and help on "Grace Empowered Sanctification". He did more than write back with comments - he sent the first draft chapter of a book he is writing on "Sanctification by Grace". It's available here - do go and read! Here's my favourite quote:

"Our eternal position cannot be influenced by our current condition. But our current condition can be influenced by our eternal position! That's what this whole book is about!!!".


And Finally ... I've Got It!

It was 2006 when I first mentioned the "Jonathan Edwards Blank Bible" released by Yale University Press. There was always some dispute over the price whether it was worth paying around £125 for one volume! (It turns out it was actually two - Old Testament and New Testament). But my appetite was whetted by visiting the Evangelical Library in London and reading some of the glorious insights into Scripture that Jonathan Edwards had. Well thanks to some money for Christmas from family and friends, my copy finally arrived at Wesley Owen in Birmingham today! (I don't think they had ever heard of the book or seen anything so expensive!).

Why is it such a treasure worth having? Well this Yale University videoblog gives an insight;



I have already flicked through the "Blank Bible" and there are some glorious quotes. On Galatians 5:21, Edwards wrote;

"Against such there is no law" - "Therefore if ye are led by the Spirit you don't need the law for the Spirit produces the fruit that the law obliges to, without being under the exaction of the law. The Spirit of love fulfills the law".

On Ephesians 2:6, he wrote;

"And made us to sit together in heavenly places" - "In places of heavenly honour and dignity, places above any place of earthly honour and trust. Believers sit in the place of priests unto God, and in the place of kings. They are in places of heavenly dominion and divine dignity. But it is in Christ by virtue of their union with Him, they are partakers of His honour and dominion".

We are partakers of the Risen Christ's honour and dominon! Truly He has given us authority to go and do the works which He did and greater works! It sounds very Rob Rufus-esque doesn't it?! More quotes to come I am sure as I read it. But I am really hoping this book will serve as a insight into a man of God who hungered after knowing more of Him in true encounter.

Monday, February 04, 2008

It is TRULY Finished!!

I know that the issue of "indwelling sin" has had a bit of discussion on various blogs recently and I think this is very positive. For too long now the evangelical world has perhaps taken the traditional view - "that's what we have always believed". But revelation is progressive and we must be open to the fact that God may be slowly unravelling mysteries to us that our fore-fathers didn't or wouldn't receive. I have been collating some Rob Rufus quotes recently for a new project I am working on with some other friends and was struck by a logical argument that Rob made. Many Scriptures have been thrown around - some defending the fact that we still as Christians have "indwelling sin" and some against. But this logical argument is interesting.

Before I quote it, here's a brief summary of some of the various discussions that have been going on.

1. Ryan Rufus (Rob's son) has provided a valuable resource in an online book called: "Do Christians Have A Sinful Nature?". He argues quite persuasively that we do not.

2. The blog that is examining the untold stories of SGM has posted an interesting blog called; "Sinner? Listen up!". She makes the point that many within SGM speak of being "the worst of sinners" or the "chief of sinners". C J Mahaney's new PA is an example of this (check his sidebar on his blog) - "Who am I? My name is Tony Reinke but call me “chief of sinners". Yet the question is asked if the person saying that was sitting in the same room as their child's murderer would they still say that? It poses some interesting concepts.

3. Jesse Phillips from the USA did a job at examining both sides of the issues while holding to the traditional SGM position. His post was called; "Do Christians have Indwelling Sin?".

4. Finally my dear friend Julie from Canada probably wrote the best summary of where I am theologically called; "The Doctrine of Indwelling Sin". She concludes her arguments strongly and persuasively;

"What I'm trying to say is that I believe the doctrine of indwelling sin is actually legalism dressed up as pious and humble sounding doctrine. I believe it is very deceptive and will lead to spiritual ruin".

So with those few links provided, here is Rob's logical take on the argument (from the 2nd main session of the Glory and Grace Conference);

"If you are in first Adam, then you cannot "backslide" out of his fallen state through good works. Just so if you are in last Adam you cannot "backslide" out through unrighteous acts"

Does that make sense? We all as good evangelicals would agree that Adam's fall had consequences for the whole race. Adam fell and there is absolutely nothing that we - his descendents can do about it other than "the only way" through the Cross. Non-Christians can spend their entire lives doing good works but they cannot get out of the fact they are fallen in Adam's race.

Well if that is true then suppose they do give their lives to Christ and are regenerated totally and utterly by His once-for-all sacrifice on the Cross. Is the last Adam's once-for-all act on Calvary somehow weaker than the first Adam's taking of the apple from the tree? I can hear the shudders of outrage from those who champion the Cross. Of course it isn't. Why then are we so reluctant to truly investigate the true characteristics of the "Cross-centred Life"?!

When Christ shouted; "It is finished!" - was it in His mind that all who believed in Him by faith would be condemned to a life of legalism trying to mortify the sin He had just triumped over at the Cross "trampling on principalities and powers" through "spiritual disciplines"? I read a charismatic book recently that I enjoyed when the writer argued persuasively that actually rather than calling them "spiritual disciplines" we should call them "spiritual privilidges"!

Rather than trying to take away from the Cross, I want to argue again for a "Gospel of Words AND power". Nothing less will do. Leonard Ravenhill called the Cross;

"This, I say, was the most momentous moment in history. Hell had feared this moment for centuries, for millenniums!".

Why did Hell fear this moment so much? Because Ravenhill says;

"It is finished. What was finished? The tyranny of the devil. I don't think the church has wakened up to that yet, but it is finished. It is so. I believe that when Jesus cried with a loud voice it echoed down every corridor in hell. IT IS FINISHED!! I can almost hear the demons in hell say, "What? He's broken our power." "You mean that Satan doesn't have...?" "No, no, no. Satan is bound. And not only that, death has lost it's sting." "What?" "Yes, death has lost it's sting. And more than that... 'The vilest offender who truly believes that moment from Jesus his pardon receives".

The Church needs to wake up! It is finished! We need to wake up from the nightmare dream that we are condemned to a life of struggle and strife attempting through "spiritual disciplines" to kill something within us that is desperate to sin. In one fell swoop when Jesus Christ entered our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit we were changed, we are being changed and we will be changed. But the essence of glory is within us now! The Bible says we are seated and reigning with Christ NOW! And we have every right to begin to act and move with authority. When temptation arrives attempting to steal our joy - we have the right from heaven to speak with the authority of heaven and say "Get behind me Satan - it is written ...".

Satan is bound! Hell has lost it's power! Death has lost it's sting! It is time for the Church to begin to truly believe in a "Gospel of Words and Power". Words - yes. But power - something we can SEE and HEAR.

To make anything less the "compass" of our gospel will condemn us to a miserable existance where we wait anxiously for our "escape" to heaven where it will all be over. That was never Jesus Christ's final instruction - to wait for heaven! His final instructions to His church was to go and bring heaven to earth in the authority that He had been given after He rose again from the dead.