Friday, October 31, 2008


"Perspective" is a wonderful word but bizarrely it's something that you only understand when you actually have it - it seems to me. Apparantly "Perspective" means;

from Latin perspicere: - "to see through"

Events over the past few weeks or so have most definately caused me to lose perspective on why I'm a nurse at all. I remember well why I took the job at the hospice. It was a life-changing experience for me as a student nurse back in 1999 - I actually learnt how a child can live in the face of death - and I mean properly live! Sadly that hospice isn't the same place anymore and has become over-run by what I can only describe as legalism in it's worst form if it was in the Christian church. Rules have replaced spontaneity. Appearance has replaced fun. Policies have replaced the smile of a child.

But I had the opportunity recently to very vividly recall why I went into nursing and what nursing is all about. I can't say too much about what happened because I must preserve the patient's confidentiality - but in essence a young mother was visiting her week old baby and I just happened to ask if she had a cuddle. She said she hadn't since the baby had been born and had to have a life-saving operation. So I got the baby out along with all it's tubes, wires and monitoring and sat back and watched as the mother cuddled her precious baby.

That ... sooo made it all worth-while and that one smile from the mother managed to erase most of the politics and the dreary Pharisees of the last month or so!!

I don't say that to make myself look special in any sense of the word - I trust you all know me well enough by now to know I despise that. In fact that's partly why I enjoy showing and telling the "real me" so I won't look special! Any nurse could and would have done the same thing. My point is that surely it must be the same for us in the Christian world. My dear friend Pete Day sent me a text that has been prophetic in every sense of the word and I believe it could be true on a world-wide level. He knows intimately what has been going on with me and texted this;

"As I pray for you over your work, I keep coming back to the vision of Stephen in Acts 7 - of Jesus standing for him. The applause of heaven. People are trying to shout you down and accuse you but heaven is calling "Well done!". Men can't stop you fulfilling your destiny and they can't turn heaven against you. God is always for you and will be forever!".

That is the eternal perspective that if we as a Church could seize - if like Stephen our eyes could be opened to see the Son of Man standing at the Father's right hand, then our perspective would be changed forever so that we too would boldly walk to our deaths fearing nothing and noone because "God is FOR ME! WHO can be against me!?".

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Memories from the Past ... !!

I have to confess it's been a real struggle to write anything over the past few days of worth here. Writers block? Call it what you will! That being said, I am ghost-writing for a bit of fun. We're dog-sitting for a month for one of my best friends while she is away in Australia so I've set up a blog for her dog to keep her updated with how he is. Here it is; "My Month with Uncle Dan and Uncle Scott and Uncle Barry!!" I've found that a good way to keep my mind busy is to look back to the past and see the goodness of God and what God did and how He moved in times past. It's why I'm so grateful I was able to preserve a massive collection of "Restoration" and "New Wine Magazines" from Dunstable.

Without them a huge amount of material that was Spirit-inspired would have been lost. Here's a selection of interesting articles. The first two pages were a review of the "New International Version" by my former senior pastor Dr Stanley Jebb. It was taken from the "Restoration Magazine - July/August 1979".
Dr Jebb's conclusions on the New International Version were;

"In the reviewer's judgement, the New International Version is a winner. Perhaps the GNB may be preferred by some for evangelism and for new converts, the NASB may be preferred for accuracy and for close study, but for all round usefulness, anyone looking for a new Bible can hardly do better than choose the NIV".

The second page was from the same edition - it was a list of tapes from previous Bible Weeks and you can see that Ern Baxter was part of it with his famous series; "The King and His Army" from the Lakes Bible Week 1975 along with Peter Parris and David Mansell.

The final page was another update page for the regular Celebration evenings that used to take place across the country. My own church - New Covenant Church in Dunstable - featured regularly with it's "All Saints Nights" that many of us still remember as children. Also Terry Virgo in Brighton had regular meetings with visitors such as Peter Parris and Bryn Jones. Awesome days ... but the best is yet to come!

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm FREE!!

Sometimes it's the simplest of songs that come as an awesome encouragement when times are dark. Things have all gone weird again at work which is rather upsetting. I'm trying to navigate walking the path of faith and needing help, advice and support from my G.P and other sources. It was quite a comfort reading something of C H Spurgeon's wrestling with depression (from The Christian's Heaviness and Rejoicing NPSP Vol 4, Year 1858, pg. 459, 1 Peter 1:6);

"I was lying upon my couch during this last week, and my spirits were sunken so low that I could weep by the hour like a child, and yet I knew not what I wept for — but a very slight thing will move me to tears just now — and a kind friend was telling me of some poor old soul living near, who was suffering very great pain, and yet she was full of joy and rejoicing. I was so distressed by the hearing of that story, and felt so ashamed of myself, that I did not know what to do; wondering why I should be in such a state as this; while this poor woman, who had a terrible cancer, and was in the most frightful agony, could nevertheless "rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory."

That's exactly how I feel! Working in a hospice with kids who are so needy and yet feeling at times like I could just weep and not know why. Having the blessings of a roof over my head and food to eat (virtually) daily (when I have an appetite) and yet there are millions starving and homeless. Anyhow - this wasn't meant to be a post musing on depression and how to beat it. I wanted to highlight a song that I've heard before done by the amazing Hillsongs guys - but it was freshly renewed to me.

Here's the video;

And here's the lyrics ... I just LOVE them!

"would you believe me if I said....
that we are the ones who can make the change
in the world today....

would you believe me if I said...
that all of the dreams in your heart
can come

would you believe me if I said...
that life could be all that you want it to be...

and if I had wings I would fly'cause all that I need, you are...
and if the world caved in around me...
to you I'd still hold on'cause You're all that I believe...
and the one that created me...

because of you...I'M FREE

Verse 2:
would you believe me if I said...
that God can make miracles happen today....
would you believe me if I said..
that you don't need to wait for the answers before...
you step out in faith...would you believe me if I said...
that nothing is ever impossible...for God...

just live your life...with God inside..
you won't regret one moment of it...
and give all that you can for God, for God".

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just getting over it??

This post has arisen as a result of a discussion held a few weeks ago on another blog, and also various personal attacks on Dan. A number of us (including Dan, Julie and Lydia and Don) have been thinking about the whole question of forgiveness. Dan has shared something in the past of a terrible experience as a member of a previous church. He has been told this: "You need to forgive, forget, move on and just get over it."

It has taken me longer to finish this post than I had planned, but here goes:

I want to ask the question - is it right to say to another believer "just get over it?" Is that the essence of forgiveness, or is it an over-simplification.

In our men's fellowship last month someone asked the question - "Should Christians always forgive AND forget?" The reason for the question was because in our church Sunday School one the kids had asked the question about bullying. Should a child who is being bullied at school "forgive and forget" even if the bully is continuing to bully the child and other children?

Let me give you some further scenarios:

A young person who is abused by a respected figure, a teacher, a youth leader… Should they “just get over it” and go on as if nothing has happened? Yes, they need the grace of God to release His forgiveness in their hearts, but, no, no they must not “just get over it”. Instead they need to say “this person has done these things” in order to protect others (and protect themselves from future abuse).

A wife being beaten by her husband… Should she “just get over it” and go on living daily with the abuse and putting her life in danger? No!!! Yes, she needs the grace of God to fill her heart with peace and not hold bitterness against her husband, but she needs to get out of the home and report the behaviour of her husband – for her own protection, and for the sake of those who might fall under her husband’s spell.

And those being bullied... Should they “just get over it and forget about it and move on”?? No, no!!! Yes, they need the grace of God to forgive and not hold bitterness in their hearts, and to be freed from fear. But – they must, for their own sake and others, have the courage to report what the bully is doing so that the bully is dealt with.

So what about a person who has suffered wrong in his/her church? Is there a difference? Very often the usual texts are rolled out by the leadership (eg - Heb 13v17: "Obey your leaders and submit to them..."). But where wrong has taken place, isn't it right to share that wrong? If people are being led blindly to submit to the ungodly exercise of leadership, then surely it is right to warn people about the dangers.

Of course it is right to submit godly leadership. It is right to forgive leaders (or any believer) who have hurt or offended you. On many occasions as a pastor I have been blessed to receive people's forgiveness because I have said or done things that have been wrong and hurtful.

Why forgiveness is important

Many old covenant preachers thunder about forgiveness as a legal requirement in order to maintain a person's standing with God. Especially as forgiveness is not easy - it is a hard and painful choice - and the thundering of love and "obey your leaders", when real hurt has been caused, simply piles condemnation on a person already suffering the pain of wrong.

But forgiveness is important. We're reminded "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you" (Eph 4v32). It is a great call to every believer - to forgive unconditionally. It's not easy! Yet it is also so liberating. Firstly, we are the righteousness of God all the time. So forgiveness is not in order to become righteous, but simply an overflow of the grace of God in our lives. Secondly, because unforgiveness is a terrible burden - it can lead to a root of bitterness that defiles us and others (Heb 12v15).

At the same time, forgiveness is a choice. It is choosing to release your right to vengeance to the Lord - "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'" (Rom 12v19). So forgiveness is a choice we make to leave the judgement of a person who has wronged us up to God. It is a difficult choice, because our natural sense of justice, yet to is so freeing to let the person go - we haven't got to demand justice because God is the judge of the whole earth and He will do right.

But grace has taught me something else - the same cross that obliterated my sins has obliterated the sins committed against me. 2 Cor 5v19 - " Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them..." I had struggled with this verse because my narrow view of reformed theology told me that Christ only died for the sins of the elect. But that isn't what this verse says - it says the world!! See also John 1v29, 1 John 2v2. So the blood which availed for me availed for them too! So, why should I carry the rage, fury and pain for something that has been dealt with on the cross?

All these things are reasons to forgive and helps in the battle for forgiveness. But I thank God that my standing is not because I forgive but because of the cross. We are being sanctified, we are being changed from glory to glory - our condition is changing while our position is unchanged and totally secure in Christ. Whether we forgive or not, while we are dealing with the pain - we are still the righteousness of God in Christ.

What is forgiveness?

But is forgiveness just "getting over it?" Does it require that I forget what has happened?

Hebrews 10v17 says that God will remember our sins no more. But that doesn't mean that God suffers from amnesia. We as finite human beings remember the things we often don't want to remember and forget the things we do want to remember. Yet God, in His infinite power, has the choice to put things away from His thinking about us. He has obliterated our sins in Christ and so deals with us as if we have no sin!! Glory!!!

For us as finite human beings, forgiveness does not necessarily involve forgetting. Forgetting may come after we have forgiven; as the pain heals the memory of what has happened may fade. Forgiveness is rather making the choice to let the issue go and, as I said before, release it to God, even fully aware of the pain of what has happened.

It is a hard choice. It is a choice that you will not hold what a person has done against them; that you will treat them as if they haven't sinned against you, that you will not seek revenge, but you will rather pray for their good and their deliverance.

It is a high, high calling, but there is abundant grace from God for this. It is also a lifetime calling. We let things go, we chose to forgive, but then a passing comment from someone, a stray thought, and the hurt arises again - and we have to make that choice again by the grace of God - "Father, I release this person to you, I forgive them as You have forgiven me. I give to You my hurt and claim my healing."

Forgiveness is a lifestyle – when that anger arises it can be released back to the Lord who does bind up the broken hearted. He wants us totally free of bitterness. For all of us, Dan included, this means there are daily struggles, but I have known Dan as a dear friend for almost ten years; he has shared his life and his struggles with me; I know there are still daily battles to forgive, but I know Dan is committed to walking free from bitterness and revelling in the grace of God.

Forgiving and speaking out

There is grace even to love those people who have led as false shepherds. But, forgiveness does not mean remaining silent. If there are things that are wrong, they need to be spoken about. No, we don’t go around sowing division in the church we have left (and I know Dan has just stayed away), but when we see things that are out of order, when we see the precious gospel being undermined by legalism, when we see heavy shepherding and lives being crushed, then it is right to speak out. It doesn’t mean we are harbouring bitterness, it simply means we are (as Julie reminds us) “not giving in to them even for a moment.”

This blog is not about an angry rant, it is about declaring and defending the glorious gospel. And when Dan (and indeed all of us) speaking out because the glorious gospel being undermined by law so that it is not a gospel at all, then we say, "Dan, preach it brother!!".

You may have noticed that there are other names on this of contributors. Dan asked a number of his trusted brothers and sisters in Christ to become joint-editors of this blog. He would like to be accountable to us for what he writes and would like us to challenge him if he writes anything that is not of the right spirit. Speaking personally, I don't think he needs that and some of the brothers and sisters he asked said "no" for that reason. This blog is Holy Spirit inspired and doesn't need the restrictions of man putting upon it. At the same time, fellowship is good - and it is a joy to have other names on the contributors list so that together we can declare the glorious gospel of new covenant grace and power.

God bless you, Dan. This blog is a light to many, many readers, and I believe that God is going to use it for His glory for many days ahead.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Frustration's Okay ... for a Purpose!!

I'm sure one of the overriding emotions that frequently comes across from me is "frustration". Frustration with church, with God sometimes, with people. I would freely confess that I am a frustrated individual and the over-riding advice that I have received from church pastors is usually "Get over it" (speaking of that phrase - Pete Day has written an outstanding post on this very subject coming soon on this blog - keep watching!). However that's all changed and I found a fellow kindred spirit in the sermon that Rob Rufus preached; "The Struggle for the Authentic - Part 2". By the way in his next Sunday's sermon, Rob described that message as;

"Probably the most powerful message I have ever preached in my entire ministry".

I've been really enjoying reading Christopher Paolini's latest novel; "Brisingr" and during it the main dragon Saphira has a thought about human beings that is quite profound. She says this;

"Saphira knew it puzzled Eragon why she did not participate more in conversations. Her reasons for silence were simple; save for Arya or Glaedr, she felt most comfortable communicating only with Eragon and in her opinion - most conversations were nothing more than pointless dithering. Whether round-eared, pointed-eared, horned or short, two-legs seemed addicted to dithering ... for her, choices were simple; either there was an action she could take to improve the situationor there was not - and everything else said on the subject was so much meaningless noise".

If many more of us adopted that mind-set then I am sure that many, many meetings could be cut quite short! One of the huge frustrations I had during the days when I sat on the CU Exec at Birmingham University was how issues such as whether we would work with the Catholic Society to do a University Carol Service could occupy so many hours of conversation! So it was an incredible thing to read some of Rob Rufus's comments on frustration in Gideon's life. He said this;

"Frustration is a sign that you have got passion! You can't change anything unless you have got passion! Passion - if it is not fulfilled - results in frustration!"

Rob then went on to speak about the opposite to passion and frustration - passivitity;

"If I meet a person that has never been frustrated then I know that is someone I don't want on my leadership team because they are passive. Frustration is an indicator - it is a measure of where God has called your destiny".

And he ends by saying;

"I would rather have a 100 frustrated Christians who want greatness in their life than a whole bunch of passive, loose-wrist people that are happy with the unacceptable all around them who live their whole lives in smallness".

So - frustrated Christian - take heart! God may be using it to draw us out of our wine-presses of comfort to the destiny that He has planned for us!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Rob Rufus on When the Anointing Comes ...

A quote from Rob:

"The anointing only kicks in when you respond to a calling way beyond yourself".

Rob Rufus - "The Struggle for the Authentic" - Part 2" - City Church International, Hong Kong - Sunday 14th September 2008.

A Conversation: Tim Keller, John Piper, D.A. Carson - Part 2

Here's the second part of the conversation between Keller, Piper and Carson. Keller does most of the talking but they deal with two extremely interesting aspects to the spreading of the Gospel. The first is about the value of "events" that may be designed to spread an awareness of the Church in the community but often don't bear much fruit. Such as many favour "Kids Klub" - a children's activity group usually on Saturdays. The second interesting part of the discussion concerned how prospective pastors should be selected.

Tim Keller:

“I just agree completely. Actually if you were running a tutoring programme for kids at a local school – and lots of Christians are involved in such programmes – you are hoping that such relationships would bring evangelistic fruit. Maybe some kids come to faith or some families come into the church – that would be great – but if you don’t see much evangelistic fruit immediately you shouldn’t think that there isn’t indirect evangelistic fruit – that is to say the witness to the whole community of the church’s heart for the kids is still giving a witness to how Christ’s love changes people and motivates them for sacrificial service and therefore you shouldn’t really be adding up conversions by looking at a particular programme and say that is not being evangelistically fruitful. It would be great if it was direct but if not it is still going to be evangelistically fruitful in the larger scheme of things. Besides that it is not loving the kids if you say – well if I say; “If I love my neighbour I am going to share the faith with them”. If a wind knocks a tree into my neighbour’s house then I am going to go over and pull it off their house whether they believe or not. And it would be horrendous if you gave the impression that your mercy ministry is linked to whether they respond or not”.

John Piper:

“Would you say it was loving to go and pull the tree of their house with no mental design or intentionality that your hope will come across?

Tim Keller:

“No of course not”.

John Piper:

“Because people have gotten in my face when I have said the hope and the design and the pursuit of the deed – they would say that is manipulation”.

Tim Keller:

“Well that should be your design. You still don’t have to make it conditional – that’s not the same thing. Love isn’t conditional on you hearing and responding to the Gospel. My love can still be motivated by desire that they hear and understand the Gospel and those are two things so to collapse them isn’t quite fair.

John Piper:

"Which is why it is so crucial I think to maintain the belief in ultimate reality because the person who really loves somebody and says if they don’t believe in Christ then they will suffer forever HAS to have that design! Has to have that longing in every good deed they do – even if it doesn’t pay off – they are hoping it will, to their dying breath they are hoping it will”.

Don Carson:

“And also shape their praying and their priorities and praising and everything else! That’s right”.
Tim Keller:

"Another subject? Okay let’s see – which one did I volunteer for? When I am looking for a pastor on my staff (if I am part of a search process by which we are looking for) I think this is a position where I tend to think in triplicate. The Prophet-Priest-King metaphor. Christ’s work as prophetic, priestly and kingly. The prophetic aspect is that we want someone who really understands the Gospel and is theologically sound. You might say that the kingly aspect is that I want someone who has gifts that match the job. The fact is that all pastoral jobs are different. You have pastors in small churches, specialist pastors in large churches, pastors who namely preach and teach or pastors who are largely doing one on one work – and so the kingly aspect is that I want gifts that fit the role. The prophetic aspect is that I want the man to be sound theologically.

The priestly or existential aspect (and here’s what I am looking for) is that a Gospel-changed heart is not the same as a moralistic changed heart or cheap grace. A heart that basically says God loves everybody but doesn’t look at the costliness of grace. Moralism doesn’t believe in grace – but basically believes that you are getting God’s blessing through work. I would say that a moralistic heart tends to be morally serious but lacks joy and lacks a deep level poise and peace – it has a real unhappiness all the time. The cheap grace heart lacks moral seriousness and what we would call “fear and trembling before God” and even fear and trembling before both good and bad trembling. Being humbled by the bad circumstances and being amazed by the good ones or moral seriousness. I do think the Gospel that I am simultaneously justified and accepted and yet sinful and deserving hell apart from grace gives me both a humility and boldness.

The boldness is this affirmation and deep peace – “I am not condemned!” – but the humility comes from this sense that we cannot just demand things from God because I am a sinner saved by grace. That Gospel character is the hardest thing to get and there are folks who theoretically understand the gospel and are pretty skilful and yet don’t show that character. That’s not to say they aren’t saved – I just don’t think that Gospel penny has dropped. That is what we are looking for more than anything else in pastors. I would say it’s not rare – but it doesn’t grow on trees even amongst sound, skilful people. So – what do you think?

John Piper:

“Well it doesn’t grow on trees!”.

Tim Keller:

“And it’s a little hard to explain to people why we pass over them. If we pass over them for that reason then I have an obligation to talk to them about it”.

John Piper:

“Just to help draw us out – are there questions or ways in which you would try to discern that in someone? How do you get it out? Have you got a week in with them? Discerning that level of spiritual maturity?”.

Tim Keller:

“Well see – you have to watch them interacting with other people. Resume and interview can give you the other two. You can discern both knowledge and views and you usually by references and interviews you can get a pretty good idea of what the person’s skills and gifts are. You can get to be with the person in some situations and learn the reason why – even though we’ve really only done this with church planters. My denomination at Redeemer has developed an assessment centre to look for church planters only – you spend 3 or 4 days with a person and his wife along with other candidates. You can see them interacting with each other and others in a social situation as you ask them questions and give them case studies and they start to let their guard down a little bit and become themselves. Now if you ask me what I am looking for – even that would be a challenge but how do you find it? You really can’t find it through a resume or though an interview. You have to rely on other people to know them.

Don Carson:

“I think that goes for the 3 spheres of our understanding in the ministry, its not a fourth thing – its something that touches everything.

The Bible says that one of the criteria for a pastor is being able to teach on some level and that means having something to say and having something to communicate. On the other hand I can recall an amount of Biblical scholars who know a vast amount about the Bible and are very good communicators and yet aren’t even believers. Then there are others who have a fair grasp of theology and really do think they are believers yet the Gospel hasn’t quite penetrated their lives to the way they put things together and you find it’s not quite Gospel-centrered.

So the “able to teach” criterion that is mentioned in 1st Timothy 3 has to be fleshed out but of the relational matters of teaching as a pastor – how you approach woman, an older man, rebuke those who have a whole load of money – all of those things start to work out in dynamic and relationships – and after a while you can’t always separate teaching and how the Gospel is working out in your life is manifest on all those fronts all the time".

art 3 to follow ...

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Conversation: Tim Keller, John Piper, D.A. Carson - Part 1

I noticed the links to these six videos on Justin Taylor's blog (which I don't read very often) and was intrigued to watch them all. I've mentioned before that I have a great respect and love for Don Carson and John Piper particularly but I confess I haven't watched or listened to much of Tim Keller. So I was interested to see what these three theologians would have to say in their discussion (during the Gospel Coalition Conference). Many of you will know that I devote a huge majority of my time to transcribing Rob Rufus's sermons from Hong Kong - and I thought these six video discussions would be a helpful break from that - as there is some thought-provoking material on there. The actual videos can be found on Facebook here.

Here's Part 1:

Don Carson:

“Well I’ll begin. There are some voices that say that ministries of mercy are bound to corrode the ministry of proclamation. If you indulge in those sorts of things sooner or later the Cross itself becomes eclipsed. How would you respond to that? And if we should be involved in such ministry, what safeguards should we introduce so we don’t fall into the traps that have historically taken place?

Tim Keller:

“I actually don’t think that at the programme level – at the level where we say; “that we should put too many people into it and we shouldn’t put this amount of money into the budget – we need to keep a balance or we need to give priority”. I don’t think that’s the level at which you safeguard. I think actually that the Gospel of grace if it is preached in such a way that we see sin as offence to God, we see substitionary atonement as the way in which that sin is taken away, we see that we are justified by grace alone – if the implications of that Gospel are the motivation of doing mercy ministry and justice to the poor - on the one hand that’s actually going to increase the amount of involvement with the poor but it’s also going to keep the social gospel out because the social gospel collapses evangelism into social improvement and say that is the good news. The good news is that we are going to make the world a better place. That’s only possible if you lose the old-fashioned classic confessional evangelical gospel.

So I actually think that the answer is a theological one. If you are preaching with passion the Gospel then it gives you the impetus to do ministry to the poor but also keeps you from the disproportionate emphasis on ministry to the poor.

John Piper:

“Yes it might be good to assume that the at least washers of this event agree that mercy ministries, deed ministries, ministries to the poor is given – you ask us to defend it or figure out or figure out how it doesn’t co-op the Gospel … well I just want to affirm that it exists! The Bible says in Galatians; “Do good to all men especially to those who are of the household of faith” and the parable of the Good Samaritan is designed to get in the face of people who say; “Who is my neighbour?”. The answer comes back – yes to the problem and we have to create it for a lot of people who aren’t engaged probably in caring for the poor – especially for people who haven’t measured up to their expectations of being deserving of their help. There is plenty in the New Testament it seems to me that says don’t buy into the argument against helping the poor because they don’t meet the right qualifications. So having said “Amen” to that – we then get to his (Tim Keller’s) answer to his (Don Carson’s) question about how you keep compassion from sweeping away evangelism and I think this is the way my old-fashioned, fundamentalist dad affected me.

It’s very hard to give up on the Gospel if you believe there is hell. That after this life there is an endless suffering for those who did not believe in the Gospel and therefore my take on the prioritisation of these things. The way I like to say it at Bethlehem is that; “We exist to relieve all suffering – especially eternal suffering!”. The “especially” there is a prioritisation of time intensity. If I succeeded totally in relieving all poverty in this age but didn’t succeed in the eternal problem then I would prove myself to be totally unloving and un-Christ-like”.

Don Carson:

“What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul”.

John Piper:

“Yere. So as far as safeguards go, it is a orthodox grasp of the reality of the eternality of the torment of conscious hell. If a person really believes that and preaches that, then those who are starting to become enamoured by a transformational way to do Christianity that starts to minimise the Gospel – they are not going to like that. So if the Gospel Coalition that we have been pulled together by can keep saying these true, deep, powerful things at the centre of the Gospel, those who are leaning towards distortion or abandonment or minimisation are not going to get near this – and I think that is our calling.

I think when I try to figure out the relative balance and strategies of doing mercy ministries in New York or Deerfield or Minneapolis – I get confused, I don’t know what the best strategies are and so trying to figure out what the safeguards are there – I guess that’s what you are saying (to Tim Keller) is undoable. And I think what can I do and so I can go to the Bible and here are a few things that if you say them and believe them – the function is ballast in your boat so that the winds of distortion and minimalisation don’t go away and don’t knock us over”.

Tim Keller:

“I absolutely agree with John and I think that some people listening to this should not get the impression that when we say you have to give Gospel evangelistic ministry the pride of place in a church, then some people will say – we are saying that the soul doesn’t matter. That’s not what we are saying. We are saying that the eternal matters more than the temporary. We are never saying that the body doesn’t matter and therefore we don’t take care of people who are suffering. For John to say “eternal suffering – especially” is absolutely right and is common sense.

We are saying that the eternal is more important than the temporary not that the body is less important than the soul. Having said that I think that a balance in the way the church ministers will come out of this formulation that we are talking about. There is an asymmetry that doesn’t eat up – and especially doesn’t in my experience – the ministry of caring for the poor. And I am looking forward to seeing churches that keep that balance but keep the Gospel primary. There will be a balance in the way the ministry goes because of those who give the Gospel priority. I do think if you don’t give the Gospel priority then you lose the balance and end up being a church that is trying to improve social conditions.

John Piper:

“So let me come back at either of you with this – because the answer to this question will clarify for some what we are saying. If we believe what we have just said about the prioritisation of the Word and of the Gospel over and against feeding the poor – does that then imply that when we are not succeeding in getting converts in our combined mercy work ministries then we just back off and go somewhere where the deed ministry is more fruitful. Is that implied?”

Don Carson:

“Absolutely not – in exactly the same way that if the Lord calls you to a place where there are not a lot of converts and you are engaged in active evangelism with not a lot of fruit, that you should go somewhere where there is a lot of fruit”.

John Piper:

“And a lot of people say that!”.

Don Carson:

“I know – it’s horrendous. And partly I have a visceral reaction because my dad worked in that context for so long where there was almost nothing. But how are you going to look at missionaries who have gone to Japan and South Korea and say that the missionaries who went to South Korea are right smack in the middle of God’s will and the missionaries who went to Japan are all a load of failures? What can you say? Some people are called to really hard dry times.

Isaiah in chapter 6 – you preach until there is so much judgement that your message is actually evoking unbelief! So when we get involved in mercy ministry or in word ministry we need to learn to be faithful without calculating our faithfulness based on the basis of our fruitfulness and finally you have to leave it in God’s hands".

Part 2 to follow ...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

ESV Study Bible Panel Discussion Videos

I've never really made a secret of the fact that I'm not a huge English Standard Bible fan - despite the vast popularity it carries among many of my hero Bible teachers such as Wayne Grudem or John Piper and so on. I do indeed have a version and use it out of interest to compare various Scriptures that intrigue me - but I still loyally prefer the New American Standard Version (Ern Baxter's version of choice).

However I was interested to find two Panel Discussion videos that were hosted by Justin Taylor interviewing J I Packer and Wayne Grudem discussing and talking about the ESV Study Bible. Here's Part 1;

And here's Part 2;

By the way I love hearing J I Packer in any format - preaching or discussion just as I love hearing Dr John Stott and tapes of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I love the soft, lilting Queen's English that they bring! Anyhow - as I say the discussion is more for interest and posted by way of information rather than signalling a version change for myself. I don't know yet whether I will get hold of an ESV Study Bible. I do have a New American Standard Version Study Bible that is a wonderful resource with room in the margins for notes and pencillings. But I certainly would never say never.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vision!! Destiny!! Purpose!!

These are words that excite me!! And yet these are words that are often missing from the Christian life. While it's right and proper that we are a people built on a historical event - the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ - we also surely cannot forget that we have a destiny that we were saved and brought for. So why do we talk so little about it? Could it be because we are unsure about stepping into the unknown? We are blessed with so much in terms of church history - writings, libraries, books, volumes and events to learn from. But the unknown is simply that ... unknown! Yet God is the God of the future just as much as He is of the past.

So it was with great excitement that I got into one of Rob Rufus's recent sermons; "The Struggle For The Authentic - Part 2". It's amazing - outstanding - and so motivating! It occured to me one amazing way to conquer depression is to look to the future and get your mind of your present difficulties. Here's a few quotes;

"The Bible says that without vision the people throw off restraint. Without a vision people perish. Without a vision people do not position themselves for success - without a vision people position themselves for failure and for survival. But the power of a vision is that it has the power to pull you into the future with the purpose of victory on your mind. It can pull you through distraction - it can pull you through disappointment - it can pull you through opposition because it has the power of greatness in the words".

Many churches have "articles of faith" instead of vision statements. One of my favourite churches in the world - Lansdowne in South London (pastored by my friend Pete Day) - has an amazing vision statement that they worked so carefully on. I was extremely excited to see some recent photos they took on Facebook recently reflect that by having flags of the whole world hung across the auditorium. They are becoming a living expression of a church who's vision is the world! When did vision statements to cover the earth with the glory of the Lord become "articles of faith"? Or should we be having both? A foundation on which to build wonderful skyscraper churches who attract the attention of the nations.

Rob then went on to talk about Gideon and touched on something that I've noticed in my relationship with God. Has anyone else noticed that when times are hard God doesn't seem to say much or explain much. I put it down to some post-legalistic guilt that I should be worshipping God for the pain or something. But Rob presented a different perspective;

What was very confusing to Gideon was that in his distracting circumstances God refused to talk to him ABOUT his circumstances. What was troubling Gideon the most was the thing was the thing God refused to address or talk about. God does not want to talk to us about our distracting circumstances - he wants to talk to us about our destiny and our call to greatness. God is not talking to you about where you are now - God is talking to you about where He's going to take you into greatness.

Because if he talked to you about where you are now and fixed up your little problem then you would stay in the wine-vat satisfied with your personal needs being met. But if you get frustrated enough in your distracting circumstances and frustrated that God won't talk to you about your circumstances then the day will come when He will start talking to you about your destiny and the greatness that He is calling you to.

He's not talking about where you are now - He will talk to you about the greatness He wants to take you towards".

Awesome hey?! Let's start thinking about vision and destiny. Because if we all personally begin gaining a vision for where God wants us to be, then we will start affecting our cell groups, our churches, our towns and on and on. What a reason to get up in the morning - God is waiting for us with passion and fervour to see if we will accept His call to fulfill destiny! Keep your eyes peeled here too - I will get the sermon published as soon as possible.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rob Rufus on "The Blood - Substance or Shadow?"

I don't normally tend to mix the blogs up if I can - that's why "Rob Rufus - Grace and Glory!" was created so that there was an appropriate forum for publishing his sermons - 120 as Lydia recently pointed out! However the most recent sermon I typed up was of sufficient weight and value to re-publish here. It must be read! What Rob does so powerfully is to bring together the truth of the Gospel and why the natural outworking of the truth of the Gospel must be supernatural manifestations - signs, wonders and miracles.

Here it is;

This sermon was preached by Rob Rufus on 1st June 2008;

"Total triumph and total victory is our total inheritance in Christ Jesus! It is an utter delusion and utter deception to ever begin to come to a place where you accomodate and begin to just manage pain and administrate pain and defeat and discouragement. It is your absolute legal right in Christ to live with joy, with peace in the power of the Holy Spirit every day of your life because of the government of His peace. So in whatever area the the enemy is trying to make you feel helpless - and I hadn't realise that there was an area I did feel helpless in and was getting passive in that area - I thought I was passionate in every area of my life and the Lord began to show me this one area - accepting the unacceptable. Once He puts His light on it - you realise you have given way in that area and just accept feelings of powerlessness, helplessness but every fibre in our being is meant to pulsate with passion of a God of victory and triumph and I trample my enemies underfoot and we live in victory!

The other thing is that the devil lies to us - he is the accuser of the brethren and he wants to insinuate lies in our minds about one another or other people. In other words he will say; "This person is thinking that about you" or feeling that about you and it is not true about you! It is a total lie. He is trying to deceive you to have a wrong perspective of someone else so your attitude changes to that person and you expect them to be unkind to you and then you look for evidence and your imagination finds it. Only the Holy Spirit can give you a word of knowledge that can identify or warn you about someone else's strategy and plans against you that are not good. When the Holy Spirit gives you that, He gives you faith and gives you grace and peace and a sense of a powerful way out to a solution. But when the enemy is accusing you and lying about other people, it's a feeling of oppression, insecurity and a total lie and the Lord wants to break that off everyone of us in this place before we go any further.


"Looking at Your face, knowing You see mine.
Magnificent in grace, Jesus, You're so kind,

You are the wondrous One I love - so strong.
You are the wondrous One I love - so strong.

You lift me with Your voice - Your glory is my choice,
You could have judged but instead You lift My head,

You are the wondrous One I love - so strong,
You are the wondrous One I love - so strong".

Open your Bibles to Hebrews chapter 9. Two opening comments I want to say here. I believe God wants everyone to know that everyone in this church needs to be celebrated and not just tolerated. I mean that about these accusations that the enemy brings brother against brother and sister against sister. That we can sometimes tolerate people instead of celebrating them. We can all see it - you don't need to be a prophet or spiritually discerning to see the ideosynchrasies, the flaws, the failures in all other people. There's nothing holy and noble about that. The devil is very good at that. So I hope you are not good at it because then you are in parnership with someone who is the accuser of the brethren and he scrutinises believers for their faults. The devil is a prosecutor so he will not see anything good about you because he has to prosecute your case, accuse you and judge you and condemn you.

Our Father declares that His Son is our great High Priest and our heavenly advocate. He is our lawyer and our justifier.

When you look at people through the eyes of Jesus then you stop tolerating them and start celebrating them.

It is worth the full package of their failures and flaws and idiosynchrisies - if you can do that to yourself then you can do that to anyone. So I believe we need to celebrate one another. Secondly I believe God is positioning every member in City Church International to move into a much higher level of signs, wonders, healings and miracles. I do not believe miracles follow a gift - they do not follow a gift. Jesus Christ had no miracles for 30 years because He couldn't do anything unless His Father did it through them.

So miracles, signs and wonders do not follow a gift - they follow a message. The unfading glory of the New Covenant. The anointing comes on people who understand what I am going to talk about today.

How many of you know that Jesus was not anointing for 30 years? There is no evidence in the Bible that when Jesus was playing outside as a little boy Mary and Joseph came to the door and said; "Jesus come inside now and do Your homework - You can't walk on the water all afternoon! Jesus stop turning all the water into wine! We just want a little water to drink! Don't raise the dog from the dead for the fourth time - this is an old and bad dog now and it stinks! Let it die next time!". He never did any miracles! That's what it said in Luke 3 and Matthew 3 that He never moved in signs and wonders. He was a carpenter with all of His divinity totally restrained within His humanity and He was just like you and me having to trust the Holy Spirit.

So He got anointed by the Holy Spirit and began to preach a message of the kingdom and then signs and wonders began to follow Him.

I told you last week - not to boast but to make you hungry that Glenda and I saw dozens and dozens of notable miracles that God did through Glenda and my hands and what we spoke in different parts of Europe and in the UK. So when someone comes to me and says; "One day we are going to start doing healing" - we started seeing miracles in 1981 and we saw blind eyes open - so it is not new to see deaf ears open for us. But we are now in a new climate! We saw much more healings than what I talked about but there were dozens and dozens of notable miracles with the lady coming out of her wheelchair that was incurable.

Everyone had seen her running and walking in the conference - a miracle! Many other crippling diseases we saw melt off people's bodies.

We saw demons coming out of people's bodies as we spoke the word of command. In that moment there was an authority on us that was by the anointing and I knew I wasn't operating in my gifting - I was operating under a mantle that was confirming the message of the New Covenant. You can get under stronger and stronger mantles that can enable you to go way beyond your gifting. I have a preaching gift but you see that is not enough to raise the dead and open the eyes of the blind. I have an equipping gift to equip you - because the truth is I would rather see miracles happening through your hands than through my hands.

I mean that with integrity. In many ways that's what happened a lot in the UK because I got others to pray for other people. I believe there is a stronger mantle and a stronger anointing that is coming on us today and on people.

Everyone of us in this room hungers not only for God but we hunger for His world. We hunger for His world to break into this world. Every time a miracle takes place it is because God's world has broken into the darkness of this world and the superiority of His world and His light has done something wonderful!

The kingdom of God is the "King's dominion". So when the king's dominion comes into a room or into a street in Hong Kong or into a toilet or into a train - that is the dominion of the king just comes in and shows the superiority of His world over this world. God wants our faith to be anchored in a superior world - not in this world.

Anytime you get depressed or discouraged or feel hopeless or helpless and powerless - it is because my faith is not anchored in His world but in the world of the earth realm.

Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom everywhere He went. He said this and the disciples preached the good news of the kingdom. Matthew 10:7; "The Kingdom of heaven is near". He then said once you have told them the good news of the kingdom - tell them to think differently (to repent) and know that the kingdom is touchable, is tangible and is near. Then He said heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and cast out devils.

Yet sadly and tragically for the last 100's of years much of the church has not been preaching the gospel of the Kingdom. It has been preaching the gospel of salvation. There is a big difference. The gospel of the Kingdom includes the gospel of salvation but it is much more. The gospel of salvation is primarily focused on going to heaven. The gospel of the Kingdom is primarily focused on bringing heaven into the earth realm.

So we must not confuse our assignment with our destiny. Our destiny is to go to heaven. Our assignment is to bring heaven to earth.

What does that look like? Every time Jesus healed the sick, opened a blind eye, every time He cast demonic spirits off people who were tormenting them, keeping them awake and night - suicide spirits and deaf and dumb spirits - every time He did things like that, He said the kingdom of God has come among you. Then He said everyone - I want you to do the works I am doing and even greater works.

I told you about the last lady I prayed for in the UK - I told you about my failure where she had been crippled for 38 years and hadn't walked for 38 years. She hadn't been able to stand up or have movement in her legs - I prayed for her for about 20 minutes and after 20 minutes she was laughing and crying and giggling because she was starting to move her legs and move them forward. I didn't like leaving her in that state because she still couldn't stand or walk. So I left her there knowing that if Jesus had prayed for her, she would have got out of that wheelchair that day and walked around and ran. But she just got me and didn't get Jesus!

Now that is a problem isn't it - they get us!

That's why God is saying that the more you yield to Me, the more hungry you are for Me, the more you come into partnership with Me, they will get more and more of Me when they come to you.

So Thursday night Millie told me and had stayed on in the the UK - that lady has begun to stand. She hasn't been able to do that for 38 years. Now she can stand and the next step - she's walking. Jesus would have got her standing on the first night and you know what's going to happen as this greater mantle comes on us - WE are going to get them healed on the first night. We are coming into is the same level as the works Jesus did. In the future - they will be even greater works because He has gone to the Father. This is not rooted in illusions of grandeur - this is rooted in the Word of God.

So we need to hunger for a world that is superior to this world. Heaven is the pattern - heaven is the model and heaven is the substance! And when heaven comes crashing into this world then the darkness of this world collapses. And by darkness I mean poverty, sickness, disease, condemnation, oppression, guilt, inferiority complexes, political oppression - all those things. Lostness is not being born again. The kingdom of heaven is breaking through more and more and more!

So we need to stay fresh in the supernatural because if I can stay fresh in the supernatural then I can stay happy! When I am not fresh in the supernatural - I can (now and again) get grumpy! I know it's hard to believe - but it's not often! If I get stale in the supernatural I get grumpy. What I have found is that the more fresh I stay in the supernatural - the more joyful and happy you are and the more miracles happen through you. I have never been blessed by an unhappy person. I have never had an unhappy grumpy person pray for me! I have never met an unhappy, stingy person that brings people out of wheelchairs. We have seen lots of people over the last 30 years come out of wheelchairs and I tell you what - if it happens to you once, you are ruined for the rest of your life.

They can offer you millions of dollars for position and fame - you are ruined. You will pursue this one thing - to see broken human beings blessed. Orphans fed. People with HIV/AIDS healed. You the instrument in partnership with God! You! Being used of God for these things! So stay fresh in the supernatural - you will stay very happy and joyful! We got back from the UK and were so tired from jetlag and were so tired but realised that the first thing I had to prioritise is - "Oh God I must get fresh again - otherwise I am in trouble!".

How many of you know that the devil seems to speak with an amplifier when you are tired! When you are fresh in the anointing - hey!

You know what they do for sheep in Israel to stop flies? Flies are a huge problem in Israel - they anoint the sheep's head with oil so that the flies can't bite them. David says He anoints my head with oil. When the anointing gets stale the flies can get to you. But the more you walk in freshness of life. God is the glory and He is the lifter of our heads and He is our ever-present help in our time of need! David said though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil because His rod and His staff they comfort me and He anoints my head with oil and my cup overflows. The secret of life is having an overflow in your life! Not living in "just enough" but in "overflow of the life of God coming out of your life!".

Living in overflow! With the business, we live in Hong Kong we don't have time for hours a day in prayer. That's a fact! God understands that. So there has to be a way to live in a busy city and stay fresh in the supernatural. I do believe you need times to get away to solitary places where there is little noise and you get alone with God but you can't do that every day. I want to talk about staying fresh in the supernatural and could give you many practical things today like recreation, give yourselves a reward every day - how to take holidays, how to rest, the secrets of learning because Hong Kong people have to be specifically trained in how to take a holiday. You can spot the Hong Kong tourist anywhere in the world. They are the one's scheduling in tours, putting on alarm clocks in the resort to get up at 5am to go on a bus all over the place and they need practical stuff on how to get still and learn out to re-create.

Nature has rhythms, nature goes dormant and has hybernation in it, fields lying fallow so you can become more productive. There is a a Sabbath rest in Christ Jesus. But city dwellers do not know the rhythms of nature and are driven by technology and don't know these things.

I don't want to talk about those practical problems today because I believe most of our problems stem from spiritual dryness and when we're not living in the freshness of God then we can run into all kinds of problems.

I want to talk quickly about the substance of the blood.

I believe that by understanding by revelation the significance of the blood of Jesus is instant access into the freshness of God's Presence.

It has been a life-source to me - understanding the blood. The Bible says in Leviticus that the life of the flesh is in the blood. I do not want you to think of the blood and the blood covenant of God as something primitive and brutal. The ancient Aztecs had a lot of blood in their religion because they worshipped demons. Those demons demanded the sacrifice of human beings. Their own children at times - thousands of people were sacrificed because demon gods demanded human blood. People compare that to Christianity. It is utterly opposite to Christianity - our loving God did not demand we spill our blood or the blood of our children or anyone.

Our God came and made Himself man and shed His divine blood on behalf. The life of the flesh is in the blood. When you go for a blood transfusion it is not seen as primative and brutal but rather kind and gracious and life-saving. What we are talking about is the greatest blood transfusion in all of the universe. The blood transfusion of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The value of the blood corresponds to the value of the life that is in it.

The blood that makes an atonement for the soul. Andrew Murray said this; "The power of the blood of Jesus is nothing less than the eternal power of God Himself. To talk about the blood is to talk about the eternal power of God Himself". So while I talk about this blood right now, I want you to open yourself out to get ready to see the power of God come fresh.

The anointing will come and "mantle" you with freshness.

This is a subject the devil hates more than any other subject - the blood of Jesus. It is so seldom preached in churches. You will almost never hear any messages on the blood anymore. Yet it is the scarlet thread that runs right through the book of God and without revelation of the blood you have no revelation of Jesus, kingdom, the power of God and the realm of the glory.

The Bible speaks about shadow and substance.

God went to great lengths under the Old Covenant to show us the shadow and prepare generations over 2000 years for the arrival of the substance. So when you see a shadow of an areoplane on the ground, you don't point to that shadow and say "There's an areoplane". But you see a shadow and that points to the fact that the reality of the substance exists. So you look up and see the substance and the substance is INFINATELY superior to the shadow. Now I want to quickly show you on a quick tour (no time to look up the Scriptures - I will quote them and you can look them up). Test the Bible yourself. Don't just accept it because I say so.

God went to almost mind-boggling extremes to show us the shadow blood of bulls and goats almost in a display of extravagance that makes my cynical mind go; "God that's a bit of overkill you know?!". That is pretty extreme God!

Yet it is the reason it is because He wanted to get the attention of a New Covenant generation of the centrality of the blood and power, Presence and glory anointing and intimacy with Almighty God.

So let's look at it - we know that Adam and Eve walked with God in the glory - they had the Presence of God on them every day - they heard God's audible voice and didn't have a Bible They had God and they talked to God face to face, eyeball to eyeball, conversations with God.

So when man fell he was really falling from the Presence of God. He sinned and lost the Presence of God. So restoration - salvation is really about a restoration to face to face intimacy with the Presence of God on your life every day!

It's one thing to come into a meeting where people have fasted through the week and had got before God and interceded and got down the glory and wiped themselves out in the background - yet you come into a meeting having not met with God all through the week and you come in and can experience temporarily an anointing and enjoy it for a while and then go out and spend another week and then go out and spend another week without God's Presence - which is your inheritance!

It's one thing to enjoy a glorious Sunday meeting and get anointed and another thing to know how to walk in the Presence of God on Monday through Friday and wake up in the morning in the Presence. Life in the anointing is different to life outside of the anointing!

What is religion? The absence of power and Presence = religion.

I don't care if there are 10, 000 people on a Sunday morning - with incredible programmes and incredible music and incredible speaking and preaching with great eloquence and persuasive words - if there is no demonstration of power, if there is no cripples walking and blind eyes opening or deaf ears opening or people being set free from demons then you have just seen a very impressive modernist demonstration of religion. You can have an encounter with expert musicians but not an encounter with God. Music is not there to entertain us or impress us - music is merely a servant to facilitate the manifestation of the glory of God.

I have walked out of services weeping and saying; "Jesus You are not there". But there were 1000s people there and everything was expert with smoke machines and presentation and lights and everything was so good - everything is hyped up in the soul realm. I walk out weeping and broken - I can't explain how horrified I am!

It is such a massive deception taking place because principles and cognitive cerebral ideas have replaced the Presence of Almighty God.

In the book of Acts there were glory and signs and wonders and miracles there. There is nothing judgemental about what I've just said about programmes! In my heart I MUST see His Presence! I want His Presence! When Adam and Eve fell, they fell from the Presence and glory of God! They didn't fall from the evangelical gospel; "Repent and live without the glory for the rest of your life". Sickness and disease is from the Lord - hallelujah. It's not from the Lord - its from the devil! "One day you will go to heaven and it will all be worth it" - that is the gospel of salvation - it's not the gospel of kingdom. I know one day I'm going die. I am not in total kingdom now.

The kingdom has come, it's coming and one day it will fully come at the return of Jesus!

(I just thought I would put that in for the heresy hunters and Pharisees and Sadducees, Couldn't-sees and Wouldn't-sees!). Adam and Eve covered themselves with fig leaves and it was the wrong cover and the cover must be blood. God was basically saying any other cover but the blood will leave you feeling guilty and will leave you feeling shamed so He slaughtered animals and put bloodied animal skins in order for them to find the peace of God.

Their son Abel understood the blood and Hebrews 11:4 says that by faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain through which he obtained witness that he was righteous. God testifying to His gifts and through it "He being dead speaks today". That's an amazing Scripture! That through blood Abel FELT righteous but Cain brought just fruit from the land and God was not pleased with his sacrifice so at the beginning of humanity, we see that Abel though he is dead, still speaks today. That without blood there can be no approach to God, no favour of God, you cannot know God experientially, you cannot walk with God - there is no grace, no blessing, no power in your life without the blood - the manifest Presence of God is absent.

Except that if you go to church and God turns up and the faith of some of the other people draws Him. That for me is not good enough - I want to carry His Presence every day. I know I wouldn't be alive today if it wasn't for carrying His Presence.

I have carried His manifest tangible Presence every day for 30 years. There has not been one single day where I haven't felt the Presence of God. I am so concerned when some people are impressed by that. I am SO worried about that! Because it is a normal Book of Acts inheritance - to walk in His Presence!

I don't walk in His Presence every day, all day, all the time. I like to watch movies and read a book. But I am saying that I MUST feel His Presence every day and so must you! Noah (Genesis 7:2). How many of you know that God told him to bring the animals into the ark two by two? God said actually to bring the unclean animals in 2 by 2 - but to bring the clean animals in pairs of 7. Most don't know that. God puts nothing in His Bible for nothing and He's got shadows in there to help us look and see what the substance is. The unclean animals could not be sacrificed in a blood covenant but the clean animals - the superior number in pairs of seven - they were brought in so that after the flood (Genesis 8:20) after the judgement was over - Noah got off the ark and sacrificed the animals on Mount Ararat.

One from each. That's a lot of animals (v21). It says God smelled a "soothing aroma" and God took an oath not to destroy the earth again or curse the ground again. Why? Because of the blood. Then you get Abraham in Genesis 12:7. God shows him the future Promised Land of the people of Israel. God showed him the Promised Land and says; "I will give this to your descendants" and Abraham built an altar and makes a blood sacrifice in response to the promise of receving the Promised Land. Genesis 26:24-25 - Isaac.

I was preparing this yesterday and felt God say; "Preach on the blood". As I was putting these thoughts together and preparing this, I felt the Presence of God come on me as I was preparing and I must say as I am speaking now I feel like I am wrapped in this beautiful atmosphere of God and His Presence. We talk on the blood and it is a soothing aroma because of our faith in the blood - it is a soothing aroma to heaven and it brings such a Presence of rest and peace. Can you feel that? It's so wonderful.

Isaac - he also sacrificed blood in (v24-25) of Genesis 26.

So notice Adam and Eve - not without blood. Abel -not without blood. Abraham - not without blood. Isaac - not without blood. Notice who is without blood. Ishmael and Cain and what happened to those 2? Cut off. Those with blood - prosperity and peace and friends with God and His glory-Presence. Those without blood - cut off.

(Genesis 33). Jacob is on his way back to the Promised Land (v18) and built an altar and made a blood sacrifice. Jacob had 12 sons - all of which ended up in Egypt with their wives and children and they stayed for 430 years and became Israel. But they did not know God. In that 430 years they went into darkness and there is no mention of blood for those 430 years. Without the application of blood, they go into slavery and into bondage to the extent that they have no concious knowledge of God at all. So that when God appears to Moses, Moses has no idea who God is (41:11); "Who are You?". It's hard to believe because of how intimate Moses became with God and how close to God he was. But God turned up and Moses did not know God at all. He commands Moses to go and set His people free. But when Moses first went back to the Israelites, they didn't believe He was from God.

When people aren't under blood, they are in darkness and are religious and in slavery and are so discouraged. As Christians we are meant to live so full of hope and so full of confidence and so full of purpose and certainity. You live under Old Covenant thinking and you will not have that unless you come fully over to the New Covenant. They were in darkness for 430 years - and how did they get out of slavery? How did they get out of darkness? They applied the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and to the lintles.

Now God had applied blood to Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and now the power of the blood covenant is revealed to Israel and God says; "When I see the blood, I will pass over - I will not bring judgement". He did not say; "When I see your holiness or when I see how well you perform". He said; "When I see the blood ...". There are so many Christians trying to impress God - with how much they are not sinning and "I am not sinning and I am searching my heart to see if there is any sin in me". Don't go down that route to search your heart for any sin! It's depressing to look in there! Look out and up! Look into Jesus - the Author and Perfector of our faith! Don't look in here!

I get very discouraged when people start a meeting by getting us to look in and see how much sin there is in there and repent of everything. 3 hours later you won't be finished! And when you have finished, you are so negative that you won't know how to worship! Thank God that woman didn't know anything about searching her haert - she knew she was a sinner but that wasn't what she was about. She walks in and throws an alabaster jar on Jesus's feet. She just worshipped Him and knew nothing about Hong Kong's religion. "Let's check our hearts before we worship". At the end of that He said; "I forgive you". The religious people say; "Doesn't HE know she's a sinner?". Of course He knew! But the law came through Moses and grace and truth came through Jesus.

"When I see the blood, I will pass over in judgement". Psalm 105 says the people came out laiden with gold and silver. So the blood brought them out of darkness and slavery and into a knowledge and encounter with God and into freedom and prosperity and into assignment on their way to the Promised Land. In Exodus 24:4, 9 - 3 million people were to be sprinkled with blood. We are talking shadow so we can see the importance of substance. We will never slaughter cats and dogs and put blood on you! Shadow. All 3 million were sprinkled with blood - can you imagine the amount of calves that were slaughtered? Now don't get angry with God for that - if you eat red meat! City dwellers should go and see how animals are killed and still enjoy their red meat. The book was to be dripping with blood and all 3 million people had to be dripping with blood. It says in (v10) that they encountered God and met with God through the blood.

(Exodus 25) - God tells Moses to build the Tabernacle which is a mobile Tabernacle as they were travelling the wilderness. It had 4 coverings and around it stood a fence of linen. Blue, purple, scarlet - at the gate. At the gate they came into the Tabernacle - those colours spoke about Jesus very clearly. Don't have time to go into the details there. The priests would come in through the gate - and right before them stood the altar of sacrifice. The first thing you saw was a blood sacrifice altar - all ordained by God. Beyond the altar was a big laver-like cup that priests would wash in - it was full of water and beyond that was the tent divided into two sections. The Holy of Holies and the bigger part - the Holy Place. We think that is Old Testament stuff and we don't need to know about it. It is shadow that God took time to put in through the reality of the substance more alive in our faith for daily living.

We have to understand the Old Covenant so we can leave the shadow and come into substance. The larger section of the tent - the first section as you come in through the door was the Holy Place and you would see on your right the Table of Shewbread. On your left you would see the lampstand - the 7 minora full of oil. Straight ahead you would see the Table of Incense. Beyond the Table of Incense you would see the veil that seperated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. In the Holy of Holies there was the Ark of the Covenant that had 2 cherubs with their wings nearly touching and a gold covered mercy seat and under that was the literal law written on tablets of stone with Aaron's rod that had budded.

God said; "I have to put the law under the mercy seat of gold referring to royalty and I have to cover that with blood otherwise I will have to kill all of you". They had to be hidden. Once a year the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle blood seven times on the seat. This is what would happen; here are some shadows that we need to catch and we need to see. Every day the priest would come through the gate, he would face the altar of sacrifice and then blood was offered from morning until night every single day. Blood was offered on the altar and then he would go in beyond the laver and the priests would wash themselves in the laver and then blood was splashed on the Table of Incense, on the veil itself and blood on the mercy seat once a year. Every day in the Holy Place - every day the priests would come into the Holy Place and would put fresh bread on the Table of Shewbread and make sure the wicks of the candles were clean and trimmed and filled with fresh oil and they would put fresh blood on the Table of Incense which refers to worship.

Our worship is unacceptable without blood. How often do people come into praise and worship on Sunday clue-less about the blood of Jesus and just go through the mechanical motions of praise and worship and God is a million miles away from them in their experience because they just cannot worship God without blood?

Daily they would spray the veil with blood - the veil between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies and then once a year the mercy seat. Now what is God saying in all of this?

The blood is at the centre of His Presence, the blood is at the centre of open fellowship, living contact, communion with God and fellowship with God is only through the blood.

This continued for 1, 500 years. The mobile tent came to an end - the various temples but more than 1, 500 years later at the temple in Jerusalem, blood was still offered every day for 1, 500 years. Think of how many animals had been sacrificed and blood was shed? God was going to extravagant lengths to get a New Testament people to understand grace, to understand Presence and fellowship and how to hear His voice and walk in His glory and how to see signs and wonders and miracles and have an unfading glory - the reason they had to put blood there every day was that the blood of bulls and goats was a fading glory. The glory came and it faded so more blood, came and faded, more blood. That is the Church today!

Revival? Fade. Years and years of dead religion. Then re-discovery of the New Covenant, re-discovery of grace and revival and then back to law, back to Old Covenant thinking - we need another revival!

The church is meant to go from one degree of glory to the next because the devil has deceived the church and confused the majority of the Christian world today. The majority are deceived - mixing Old Covenant and New Covenant together. It is a confusing cocktail that is crippling the church of the supernatural. They believe in the New Covenant - the problem is that they do believe in grace. They believe in enough grace to make them believe they are New Covenant believers - but also believe in enough of pressure to perform to earn, to deserve the blessing by their own actions that they have enough Old Covenant there to nullify and neutralise the power and the authority of the New Covenant.

Let's look at Hebrews 9 - we are there and we can close in a little while. After 1, 500 years of this suddenly a Jewish prophet points to a Man born in Bethlehem and says; "Behold the Lamb of God - the true Passover Lamb - who takes away the sins of the world". Jesus at the Last Supper - the Passover Supper - takes the cup of wine and says; "This is My blood of the New Covenant for the remission of all sins". That's what we are going to see. Hebrews 9 and we will close with this.

We don't want to miss the substance. Despite all of those blood sacrifices no-one ever got free from guilt or condemnation under that blood.

How many of you know Christians today who live when they sin or make mistakes and then live with guilt or condemnation. In other words they are living under an Old Covenant mentality.

I want to show you in the substance that a Christian is never ever meant to live in or feel sin conciousness - never meant to feel guilt-conciousness - never meant to feel condemnation. That doesn't empower us to sin or live rebelliously or disobediently. That empowers us to love God and walk with God. We are not preaching a sinning Christianity - we preach a Gospel that empowers people to be free from the control of sin.

Hebrews 9:9; "Were not able to clear the conscience of the worshipper". That's Old Covenant. Now today some Christians live as though the blood of Jesus was not able to clear their conscience because they think Old Covenant. (v10); "until the time of the new order". You and I live in the New Order called the New Covenant. "When Christ came as the High Priest of the good things that are already here - He went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle". (In other words not Moses, tabernacle or the temple in Jerusalem). "That is not man-made - that is to say not part of this creation. He did not enter with the blood of bulls and goats and calves but He entered the most Holy Place once and for all and by His own blood on the hand - having obtained eternal redemption".

What kind of redemption did Jesus obtain for you? Eternal! So why do people keep asking me if I believe in eternal redemption? Of course I believe in eternal redemption! I don't believe in the blood of bulls and goats! I believe in a salvation/redemption that was purchased and got me eternal redemption. Not redemption on probation or in instalments - do you believe in eternal security? What kind of other security is there? Temporal?

I believe that people say; "Well you can lose their salvation" - absolutely have no idea of how horrific hell is. I have had a revelation of hell and I've studied the Scriptures on hell. If I thought there was some chance of me falling into hell and I was saved now but could one day get lost then I tell you I would have a nervous breakdown and psychiatrists are telling me and many other pastors more and more that the majority of their parents are Christians who live with a fear of losing their own salvation.

He brought us eternal redemption. I want you to look at (v13);

"... the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean, sanctify them so they are outwardly clean - how much more then will the blood of Christ who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death so that we may serve the living God?".

How many of you want to serve God, see signs and wonders and miracles and serve the purposes of God with a clear conscience?! Most Christians do not see signs and wonders in service to God because they always do not feel worthy enough. This is the blood of Jesus - not your good works! Not your; "I will never sin again - I promise you I will never sin again!". The clear conscience is based on the fact that the blood of Jesus will and is able. The Greek means; "He will cleanse your conscience from meaningless and useless ceremonies". So the blood of Jesus doesn't just cleanse your conscience from condemnation but from all Old Covenant thinking. All the meaningless ceremonies they did, that they still feel guilty after pouring out, all that blood the worshippers still felt guilty. This blood - the substance blood brings an unfading glory and a permamently second by second, week by week, year by year, decade by decade clear conscience!

This blood doesn't have to be offered ever again - it was offered once! I don't want to have to come every day and pray "Lord clean my conscience with this blood!". No - one application of this blood and your conscience is cleansed for the rest of your life!

Any condemnation, any sense of insecurity or guilt is a sign that you are still living under something of an Old Covenant mentality and I want to nail that in now - prove it and then finish. I want to show you that they were never free from guilt with shadow blood being applied through all of that millenia. (Hebrews 10:1); "The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming". How many of you want to live in reality? I don't want to live in classroom Christianity. I don't want to be standing here 5 years from now talking about how we are going to move in signs and wonders and Hong Kong has not changed. I am expecting the sick to get healed in the streets - I am expecting people to get saved - I am expecting millions of Chinese people in Hong Kong to come to know Christ! I am expecting that!

Everyone knows when the church came to town 2, 000 years ago! The Church has been in Hong Kong for over 100 years and people ignore it.

Let one book of Acts church appear in true signs, wonders and miracles that don't happen just once every few years but happen every week and every day and not through some super-guru but through the ordinary priesthood of all the believers. ALL believers because we understand the blood. I don't want the shadow! I want the reality - the good thing!

Look at the next phrase. "For this reason ... worshippers would have been cleansed once for all". Why is he saying that? If all those blood sacrifices for 1000 years have cleansed the worshippers - then it is in God's intention and desire to have something that cleanses our consciences from guilt and condemnation not temporarily but once and for all! So God goes to millenia of shadow of the plane - look to the substance, you can get in that plane and fly around the world and do amazing things but with that shadow you can do nothing! So God takes millenia to show the inferior shadow that is not the realities so we can see the substance.

The majority of the Church lives in the shadow! Then it lives in a bit of the sustance, then a bit of the shadow, then the substance! It is spiritual schizophrenia!

Almost every meeting I go to nowadays outside of here, there is always some point in the meeting where we are told to be quiet and check the sin. That is shadow! There's nothing good about checking me - I want to check Jesus!

The shadow says that when the priest came, he didn't check you - he examined your lamb or your sacrifice! That's shadow! The Father isn't checking you out and analysing you - He's analysing the Lamb - Jesus. Perfect. Come on in! Glory Presence is yours! No condemnation!

You are in the New Covenant! Rob that is preaching license to sin - no it's not! The more you come into this glory Presence through a clear conscience the more you want Him, the more you don't want to sin, the more you want His glory Presence! For the worshippers were cleansed once for all - but these sacrifices were an annual reminder of sin. So that Old Covenant shadow was a reminder of sin and is false to the New Covenant people. Those sacrifices were an annual reminder because the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin. Look down at our famous theme of City Church International in (v11);

"Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties again and again ... which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God and since that time He waits for His enemies to be made His footstool by one sacrifice, He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy".

Does the Holy Spirit convict the church of sins? No! Read the next verse; (v15) "by one sacrifice He has made us perfect forever!". That's what the Holy Spirit testifies to. We are perfect forever! Yes but Rob the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin - we've been through that boring stuff. John 16:7-8 says that the Holy Spirit will convict of righteousnss, sin and judgement. Sin because the world doesn't believe on me, righteousness because I go to the Father and judgement because the prince of this world has been judged. If you are a believer He will not convict you because you are a believer. What righteousness will He convict you of? That you are the righteousness of God because Jesus went to the Father and He is the great High Priest mediating for you a better covenant and the Holy Spirit is testifying that you are perfect forever.

What is the judgement about? Judgement because the prince of this world - the devil - (John 14:30) - has been condemned. So condemn the condemmer, accuse the accuser, grab guilt by the throat and float, get out of the religious boat and float and wear your Father's glory coat! The Holy Spirit puts the law in our hearts - not a law that we have to live upto but an empowerment of grace. Then he adds (v17) that their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. The Holy Spirit testifies to that! So when you sin and say; "I must go and confess that" and go and say; "Holy Spirit I want to confess to something". He says; "I don't know what you are talking about - I don't remember anything!". Then (v18); "Where these have been forgiven" ... what has been forgiven? All your sins and lawless acts! "Has been" - past tense. Where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.

(2 Corinthians 5:19); says God is not counting your sins against you. (Colossians 2) says God has forgiven your sins. God says you are perfect forever in the Father's eyes through the blood. So when you go and confess your sin and say; "Father I have just sinned" - it is an Old Covenant mentality and I have shown you the only place that says if you confess your sins He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness - the only place is 1st John 1:9 - John is writing to Christians under the teachings of Gnostics and there is a confusion there that sin doesn't exist in the world. Now if sin didn't exist in the world then why did we need blood sacrifice for cleansing? So John is writing and saying; "If you say you have no sin, then the truth is not in you".

He is writing to people to GET saved in that community! And he says if you confess your sins then he is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from ALL unrighteousness. How much? All. That's salvation! ALL - past, present and future!

He is not talking about the Christian that every time you sin; "Oh I've got to confess my sin now". The devil is teaching this doctrine in many churches that if you sin as a Christian and don't get a chance to confess that sin before you die, then you are going to hell. That's insane! The Holy Spirit is testifying to the opposite! That your sins and lawless acts He remembers NO more!

Did you notice that when Jesus finished all this He sat down? Do you know that if you study the tabernacle of Moses you will not see any chairs - you will see lots of tables. But no chairs because those priests never finished their job. They couldn't sit down! This One finished the job! "It is finished!" - He is sitting down and is not sitting in heaven saying; "I hope they make it - I hope they don't sin and lose their salvation!". No He is sitting down with confidence.

So then He says; "I want you to be seated with Me in heavenly places. Right now! Not one day when you die and go to heaven. In Christ we are in Him and seated! So you wake up in the morning and realise you are seated! What about if you do sin? Well look through every epistle that Paul wrote and he never once talked about confessing your sins - never mentioned it. This great apostle who knew the Law so well but also knew the revelation of the New Covenant. Not once did he instruct the believers to confess their sins to God. Confess your sins one to another - yes. But no instruction in the entire New Testament on this big confessing your sins - that is an Old Covenant mentality. You need to do that if you are under shadow blood. You sin - and relationship is broken! You need to get some shadow blood and a temporary relationship is formed. Sin again? More shadow blood!

But this thing of confessing sin every time you sin is just making you more CONCIOUS of sin.

That is the shadow friends! We are in the good things - we are in the realities! We are in the substance! We are in the unfading glory! So what do you do if you sin? You say;

"Father I want to thank You so much that You love me and I thank You that Jesus blood has got me eternal redemption and I thank You Holy Spirit that You testify that I am perfect forever and I thank You Holy Spirit that the Father never remembers my sins and they are not being counted against me because they have been blotted out, past, present and future - and I worship You Lord and I praise You God!".

That's empowering sin? No - it's empowering righteous living! It means we will have 100% believers turn up on Sunday and just come boldly into the Presence of God! I don't care if you messed up five seconds ago. You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! Somewhere, some congregation has to fully embrace the fullness of the New Covenant and fully reject and renounce the fully redundant and obsolete Old Covenant that is based on inferiority and shadow. We have got to see what the Old Covenant was for - shadow to point to substance! Get out of the shadows and step into substance!

"Therefore brothers since we have CONFIDENCE to enter the MOST HOLY place". What does confidence look like? Have you seen people that are religious going into a cathedral? Once a year the High Priest used to go into the Holy of Holies and they say they would tie a rope around his ankle in case he died in there and they could pull him out. There was great fear - but our great High Priest has gone through as an anchor of our souls beyond the veil - not of a human tabernacle but of a glory realm so that we can confidently come into the most holy centre of the universe! Even if you have sinned 5 seconds before! It's not about you - but about Jesus and His blood and His worthiness! You have got to live in this every day!

I tell you I'm so happy now. I just feel like it's another day where God's people said; "I believe this!". It's so fantastic! Hope you guys listening on the web are getting excited and we want to bless you guys all around the world! We look like we could go over 300, 000 downloads this month - we heard last night. We preach and affect nations around the world. This message is getting out! (v19-20); "Open for us through the curtain, that is His body ... let us draw near to God" (not an idea about God, a theory about God, an intellectual theology about God but the living God) " ... in full assurance of faith having our hearts sprinkled ... and having our bodies washed with a pure water, let us hold unswervingly ... for He who promised is faithful".

When people get under guilt like these Hebrews are doing, then people stop coming to church because who wants to keep coming to church when you are being discouraged all the time? This was a mixture of born again Hebrews and some who were not saved.

To the unsaved Hebrews he is writing to and the saved, he says if you have heard the knowledge of the truth (but haven't been converted yet) if you keep trampling this blood underfoot and therefore wilfully sinning (and this is in the context of the chapter) and is putting the blood of shadow above the blood of substance! He is saying you are trampling the blood of Jesus underfoot and you are using the blood of shadow and law. All sin is deliberate! Noone sins by mistake! It was deliberate! So you are on your way to hell according to how some intepret that! He is warning against going after shadow. You won't see any blood sacrifice going on in Israel today. Yet the Scriptures teach that there is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood. That's why you can't to heaven through Mohammed or Buddha - because you can't get to heaven with blood.