Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Simple Gospel of Power!!

I indulged myself in two books from the St Andrews Christian bookshop the other day because I found that I was re-reading some of my favourites again for the third time this month! So I brought Heidi and Rolland Baker's "The Hungry Always Get Fed" and Bill Johnson's; "The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind". I was reading Heidi and Rolland Baker's book last night and was really impressed with a concept that I had thought of before but had never really conceptualised. It was this;

"The power of God, the Presence of God, the multiplication of the Gospel is as simple as this; a physical demonstration of the love of God. We have overcomplicated our message, thinking we were being wise. We have analyzed the Gospel to death until it doesn't work anymore! We have made it so intensely difficult to understand that we have theologized, theorized and strategized ourselves into a corner. We have not understood that the Gospel is as simple as this; love, love, love, love love!".

I must admit the first time I really came across the word "Gospel" was when I attended Birmingham University Evangelical Christian Union. It wasn't that Stanley Jebb's lifetime of ministry at my home church didn't preach the Gospel - of course he did. It was just that the word "Gospel" became prominent in that ecumenical environment. And I must admit it became prominent and abused. For example, the "Gospel" was used as the excuse as to why the President wouldn't allow the wonderful song "Let Your Glory Fall" to be sung at CU meetings! It cannot be denied that the apostle Paul uses the word "Gospel" with power quite a bit.

And it is in Third World countries that power of the Gospel is being demonstrated and seen. To me the problem we face in the UK, Europe and the America's is simple and Heidi and Rolland Baker spoke of it here;

"We realize we are in a different place. This is not church as usual! The people will not be denied. They cannot passively wait on God. In their extremity they know Jesus is their only hope. They can do only one thing; cry out with every ounce of life remaining in their souls. Existence in this world has been so cruel to these people that they don't look for relief anywhere but the Creator and Redeemer Himself. Without any effort on our part ... we watch the Holy Spirit release these hearts passionately reaching out for life ....".

As I was walking back to my car I reflected on that lack of need for God being THE problem. Why is it that I cannot remember the last time that God manifestly intervened in my life in signs, wonders and power with a demonstration of His awesome authority? Yes - I have spoken about dreams a bit here - but the Word of God doesn't limit our living the Gospel to just dreams! There's so much more! I walk among sick children every night and have yet to see them begin to be healed from my touch! But there's a few questions that we Westerners MUST ask ourselves;

Are we "church as usual"? Will we be denied the power of God? Will nothing else do or do we recline back on God's sovereignity and shrug our shoulders and leave it for another generation? Can we really passively wait on God? Or will we kick in the very gates of heaven to move His hand?

I love one comment in their book. To speak that way is often to mistakenly make God out to be passive Himself and a reluctant provider for His people - but that isn't so! God is so much more passionate that we can ever dream of being! Listen to this;

"The Holy Spirit is emotional and passionate and often very physical. He is intense, burning up with love, anxious to break out and overcome people with supernatural life. He knows how to respond to each persons cries and how each needs to be loved ... The Gospel is about passion. Do you understand that when you are a passionate lover of God, He will do anything for you?".

May that be our attitude this weekend! Nothing less than the very most of God will do!

3 comments:

jul said...

I'd like to get my hands on that book! I haven't been writing lately but I've been meditating and getting a lot of revelation, like you, many times at the gym on the treadmill or whatever...

I'm starting to notice that the gospel is very simple, it's very deep and rich, but never complicatied. When I hear complicated teaching, I start to get red flags going off because law is always complicated and tricky, seeming to promise the world if we buy in to the detailed formula.

It is about love, at the gym I keep seeing all kinds of people who need healing, slowly slowly I'm starting to get it: I really am God's son, just like Jesus! Jesus is with me, his Spirit in me, I have the exact same power at work in me, the love of God who is ever the healer, saviour, redeemer,lover, provider, compassionate and faithful to rescue sinners while they're still in their sin. I am literally his ambassador here on the earth and he has given me all authority over the defeated and humiliated kingdom of darkness. I can feel that I'm very close to actually truly simply just believing in Jesus! When I really do, I will heal the sick, cast out demons, and bring thiousands of souls into God's kingdom---yes, effortlessly and joyfully! It can't be a matter of any degree of guilt or obligation on my part to do anything for God.

I think I would Joseph Princify the last part of the last quote:

Do you understand that when we really believe how passionately God loves you that he will do anything for you and you won't be able to hold back the flood of love for him that will rush out of the depths of your being to him and to people everywhere?

He has a great message about "Good things happen to those who know God loves them". When we step out to do healing, there is a special confidence that comes from knowing "God will do this for me because I am his beloved son with whom he is well pleased, and if he has given me Jesus, how will he not also with him give me all things?!?!?!?"

lydia joy said...

"The Holy Spirit is emotional and passionate and often very physical. He is intense, burning up with love, anxious to break out and overcome people with supernatural life. He knows how to respond to each persons cries and how each needs to be loved ... The Gospel is about passion. Do you understand that when you are a passionate lover of God, He will do anything for you?".

-This is awesome and I so needed to hear this, and now like Julie, I must get that book!! Thanks Dan!!

Julie, I love what you said,"I'm starting to notice that the gospel is very simple, it's very deep and rich, but never complicatied. When I hear complicated teaching, I start to get red flags going off because law is always complicated and tricky, seeming to promise the world if we buy in to the detailed formula." - that is so helpful!!!

I went to check out a Healing Rooms ministry back in June I believe, and I was so excited about it! By my second time there I lost the wind out of my sail. Instead of watching on, I chose to be ministered to and prayed for since I'd like to be free from asthma. Anyway, the ladies who prayed for me first asked a series of questions. First, so do you tithe? Second, do you have any sin in your life? Third, do you have any history with the occult? and more followed. I felt like I was under interrogation, all to just get prayed for, for healing. And for what?
The time prior was much milder than that with others in the position of ministry time. During a break I just shared with the team members, how I felt it was important to share God's love and acceptance. If the people didn't get that shared with them and instead heard what they might not be doing right, or what they might need to be doing, ............well we know where that could go.....anyway, I love this ministry and I fully support Healing Rooms in my heart of hearts, but I don't get the personal ministry approach. Not only that, but they only 'specialize" in healing (at least the one I was at did) - I long for ministries to go for the whole salvation, sozo, spirit, soul and body!!!!

Dan Bowen said...

Wow - I think you girls both make very very valid points. I loved Julie's point about the simplicity of the Gospel. Now ... a caveat - I love, love, LOVE theologians. I love hearing them teach and I love reading their books. But I'm slightly uneasy at the awe in which certain groups of churches, and certain leaders hold those men. The esteem in which they are held seems to be to be something akin to re-resurrecting the clergy/laity divide.

For example, the horror that comes when we dare to disagree with someone like Wayne Grudem or Jerry Bridges. Why? Just because they are Wayne Grudem or Jerry Bridges! Well I am sorry - they may be, but they are also just MEN! They go to the bathroom, they brush their teeth, they go bald (well Grudem anyway) and do all the things that all we humans do.

Interesting - theologians actually don't even form part of the Ephesians 4 Ministries! So academic gifting they may have, but we cannot take it for granted that they have the anointing of such a ministry.

I love Rob Rufus's statement - that if theologians are teaching on signs, wonders and miracles and not seeing anything of it in their own lives, then their message is watered down. Where's the proof!?

So that mini-rant aside, back to the simplicity of the Gospel. God gave the Gospel to be understood by ALL men everywhere. So yes while we may be fortunate enough to have our Storms, Schrieners, Grudems and Carsons - what about the Third World and China where they cannot access these books?

Does their lack of access mean that their understanding of the Gospel is minimised? Well ... if the proof of signs and wonders and miracles coming in power is something to be considered then it seems to me that Africa and Asia have a BETTER understanding of the Gospel than we do WITHOUT the theologians!!

I will carry on enjoying buying the theologians books. But I think I am a little more suspicious of the more complex teaching. Gospel = power, love, transformed lives! Let's keep it simple, let's keep it fresh. And let's keep desperate for demonstrations of the Word we are preaching!