Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Seeing Grace Everywhere!!

I've had a weird couple of days (some things great, some things terrible!) - went up to visit Pete Day at "Life in the Spirit Conference" in Derbyshire and we had an awesome time together catching up (we haven't seen each other for almost a year) and soaking in the glory. God used Pete to almost "commission" me to go to Hong Kong and to catch the fire and bring it back to the UK. While we were praying I had two awesome visions which profoundly affected us both.

1. The first was that as I was lying on his bed I saw the roof lift off and a heavenly glory whirlwind began to circle around and around and angels began coming up and down. But what struck me was the fact that in the glory "distance" is nothing at all. As we go to Hong Kong there will be a sort of "portal" left open so that Pete can experience the full downloads of blessing and glory as the conference is going on.

2. The second was I saw a huge angel with a burning torch come into the room as we were praying. And I thought it would be something like Isaiah and our lips would be touched. But weirdly the angel touched both our feet and the feet set on fire with a beautiful golden flame. And I saw us walking around but as we walked there were footprints left - and each footprint burned with glory. As we flew to Hong Kong there was a golden flame slip-stream left arching over Russia and China. As Pete drove back to London from the conference there was a glory trail left behind him!

So it was great to come back fresh with that anointing ready and looking forward to Hong Kong and all it has in store! But then while I was driving I was listening to Todd Bentley speak on "Baptisms of Fire" and he started off very well - by challenging the charismatic traditions of men that have reduced the baptism of the Holy Spirit to just merely speaking in tongues. He said that too many of us are satisfied we have "got the baptism" simply by speaking in tongues every now and then but we wouldn't dream about healing the sick.

But then he began to slip into preaching law by speaking of the healers in the fifties and sixties who got their anointing by prayer and fasting and thirsting. And he insisted again and again that the ONLY way we will get baptisms of power of this magnitude is by prayer and fasting and thirsting and (Todd called it); "Paying the price".

Suddenly I began to understand why Todd Bentley fell away. He was trying to exceed the anointing that was upon Smith Wigglesworth and Kathryn Kuhlman but by exceeding THEIR "price". So I imagine that he did nothing but pray and fast! And burnt out. And missed the point. Because why will God pour out baptisms of power in response to a work of self-righteousness?

In the end I had to turn the CD off - I couldn't take it anymore!

Finally I've been reading a few books trying to understand imputed righteousness and justification by faith a bit more. I brought "Preaching the Cross" by the Together for the Gospel foursome at the "Life in the Spirit" bookshop as well as some of Sam Storms latest books. It generally wasn't too bad - particularly this quote by R C Sproul. Then I read "Counted Righteous in Christ" by John Piper again and was absolutely thrilled to see these well-known and favourite hymns of mine but in New Covenant lenses!

"No condemnation now I dread,
Jesus and all in Him is mine,
Alive in Him, my living Head
And clothed in righteousness divine!
Bold I approach the eternal throne
And claim the crown through Christ my own!"

"When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found,
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
FAULTLESS to stand before the throne!"

"We trust in you O Captain of salvation,
In Your dear Name, all other names above,
Jesus our righteousness, our sure foundation,
Our prince of glory and our king of love".

"Our load of sin and misery,
Did Thou the Sinless bear?
Thy spotless robe of purity,
Do we the sinners wear?".

"Thy righteousness O Christ,
Alone can cover me;
No righteousness avails,
Save that which is of Thee".

"Behold Him there the Risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness!
The great unchangable I AM ...".

"Knowing You Jesus, knowing You
There is no greater thing!
You're my all, You're the best,
You're my joy - my righteousness
And I love You Lord!".

Monday, February 23, 2009

Terry Virgo proves me wrong ... again!!

I am increasingly loving being proved wrong - I think in the past when I used to be puffed up with pride reading my theological books and liking to convince myself that I was something of an "academic" then being proved wrong was horrid. But as I am growing older I am realising that there is a wonderful joy in being proved wrong especially when it is by older and wiser heroes of the faith!

Many know that I expressed some doubts about our recent visit to Church of Christ the King in Brighton and my discomfort with the style of how they conducted the evening meeting. It seemed a bit too "Driscoll-esque" for my liking and I pondered over how effective it is for churches to be so militantly "missional" or whether our focus should be on seeing the Presence of God break out in our churches and then the unsaved will come - as they did in the book of Acts!

The demonstration of true New Testament churches proved to be irresistable to the lost!

Frankly at present the church is anything BUT "irresistable" because we are preaching a mixture of law and grace and bluntly - the non-Christian wants to feel good about him or herself. And they come into church and feel worse about themselves and that is not through an effective preaching of the Gospel for that will bring them to the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ - the Saviour! No - the feeling worse is through a preaching of legalism and an atmosphere of judgementalism.

But I digress. I was wrong! Yes I am really grateful that my friend Mark Heath advised me not to judge CCK purely on one service. I guess the danger is to get a snapshot and then draw assumptions from that. My wrong assumption was to worry that since Mark Driscoll's visit to Brighton - CCK, Terry and Newfrontiers were abandoning the charismatic heritage and the emphasis on the Presence of the Spirit for "mission" (excessive!? Me?!?! Well at least I'm not lukewarm Laodecian!).

Terry's latest blog had this comment in it;

"Kings have power downward and priests have power upward prevailing with God. It is through our priestly prayer ministry that we reign with Christ. Without a powerful priestly ministry, ruling is mere ambition. The priority is to reach God, then people – not the reverse".

It is a powerful and wonderful reminder that we have a dual inherited ministry of being a "royal priesthood" and I would love to hear more sermons unpacking that reality in our lives! Rather than constant reminders of how sinful we are. And I love that final underlined sentance - that we reach God and then people! What is the point in going out to the lost multitudes when we have got nothing to show them? What is the point in going if our message is just "words only" but no power accompanying?

I am not saying that we do the Pentecostal-style "tarrying" because we have the power already! The heavens are open! The Spirit has been poured out! We are in a New Covenant!! But the question is are our churches living in the full freedom of that? Are our churches expressions of the full glory of the power and freedom of the New Covenant? Or are remnants of legalism and law still affecting and hanging over? Because I guarantee you on good authority - unbelievers will know when there is law and legalism about. I think they are actually better discerners of it than many Christians.

But John Piper once said that the more we spend time nearer the heart that is white-hot ablaze for God (and there is NONE more white-hot for God than God Himself) the more we will be changed into His likeness "from glory to glory". And that means taking Sundays beyond just the peripheral charismatic "tongues and prophecy". That means prophecies that expose the secrets of men's hearts and cause them to fall down in worship! That means gifts of healing and signs and wonders will be in operation and finally we will see Jesus' declaration come to pass;

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord".

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ryan Rufus on Hebrews 'Warning' Passages

I've just completed transcribing Ryan Rufus's sermon on the 8th February 2009 in Hong Kong called; "Hebrews 6 - Can You Lose Your Salvation?". He very boldly and fearlessly took on one of the famous "problem" passages that have confused theologians for centuries. He preached so clearly and so eloquently without confusing the matter and the result was truth and freedom! I felt another dark stronghold of fear that has been lurking at the back of my mind get demolished!

Ryan picked on something amazing that really intrigued me. He was working through many of the verse in Hebrews building up to a context on Hebrews 6. He quoted Hebrews 6:18 and said this - it is quite a lengthy commentary but WELL worth reading. After the quote is done - I've got a conclusion - something very interesting that happened to me today;

"What are those two things he is talking about? These two things are the New Covenant code that we need to crack and until we crack it our minds will still be dark. Until we crack this code we still see things through a legalistic mindset. Once you crack that code you will be able to interpret any Scriptures that are difficult and see them through New Covenant lenses.

1. The first one is the once for all sacrifice that completely deals with all of our sins and makes us perfect.

(Hebrews 10:12); "But this Man Jesus after He had offered one sacrifice for sins" - that's for all sins - "forever, sat down at the right hand of God until His enemies be made His footstool". (v14); "For by one offering He had perfected forever them that are sanctified". By one sacrifice He has made us perfect ... for how long? As long as we hold onto the hope? Forever! If God has made you perfect then nothing and noone can make you unperfect! (v15);

" ... wherefore the Holy Ghost is a witness".

He is a witness in a court of law! The Holy Spirit is our counsellor and our defence and when the devil comes and accuses us of this sin or that sin then He stands up and says; "Father remember You swore an oath to never, ever relate to them through their sins and their performance but through Christ's performance on their behalf".

2. The second is that Jesus Christ is in the order of Melchizadek.

The book of Hebrews reveals Jesus as the superior Mediator of a better covenant. (Hebrews 7); "God swore an oath that Jesus is a high priest forever under the order of Melchizadek". That means "forever" He has an indestructable life. And He mediates for us EVERY sin! We have an eternal Mediator - one who goes to the Father in our defence! We never even have to fear again! What a hope we have!

God will open your eyes and you will see something and will no longer be fearful about this message. If you tell people that by one sacrifice then God got rid of your sins and there is no more punishment then what's to stop them going out and sinning? That will produce Christians who want to commit crazy sins surely! That's taking restraints off them Ryan! What about the warning Scriptures?!

There is not ONE warning Scripture about losing your salvation to New Covenant believers.It is rubbish to couple the grace of God with the warning passages!

Why are people so scared of this message of grace? I will tell you why - because they haven't seen their salvation. They haven't seen the supernatural miracle that took place in the Spirit of a person when they got born again. So many Christians still believe that the heart of a Christian is evil beyond cure and quote Jeremiah 17:9. Our hearts were evil beyond cure and God didn't cure it! He replaced it! He removed our hearts of stone and gave us hearts of flesh!

They think that Christians have got this evil in them and a sinful nature and that sinful nature will drive them into sin! Colossians 2:11 says He circumcised us of the sinful nature through Christ - that means He REMOVED it! That means He took it out! It is gone! Circumcision doesn't come back or reattach! It's dead! Romans 6:6; "For we know that our old self was crucified with Christ so that the body of sin might be done away with". I hear people saying; "That's the body that wanted to sin". No it's not! The body of sin is the entity that was living inside of us! Indwelling sin - the personality of sin - the driving force of sin that Adamic nature and the fallen nature produces that wants to sin.

That was an evil nature but then God circumcised us of that nature and cut it out of us! Sin was not the effect. It was the cause. God removed the cause - the sinful nature. Temptation is external and God has regenerated your spirit and made your spirit perfect. 2 Corinthians 5:17; "A New Creation". Our body is still a part of the old creation order that was subject to frustration so it will still decay. Your mind will still be embedded in the corrupt wisdom of this world. But our spirit is a NEW creation! It has been alive with Christ!".

I want to close by saying something rather profound that Scott said to me. I just got back from visiting my parents and was in a bit of a "John Piper" frame of mind as I had been listening to him to and fro from Bristol. And I was just idly listening to some speaker interviews from the "Conference" section of the "Desiring God website". Scott was playing the Wii in the background and unknown to me was listening in. Don Carson and John Piper were asked a particular question and Don Carson frankly "fudged" it and gave a typical "evangelical" answer that "God is God and really we don't know".

I then finished typing up Ryan's sermon and we discussed the fact that it's interesting that the top evangelicals in the world today seem to hesitate and stop short of some issues that just seem to hard. Rob and Ryan Rufus (among other preachers of course) don't do that. Rob has stated again and again that there is no verse in the Bible that they won't approach. This sermon proves this. And proves again that there is NO verse in the Bible that works against the gospel of grace! What is ironic is that critics of Rob and others usually pride themselves on being "Word" people!

I can say again honestly that I have learned more about the Bible since I encountered Rob Rufus and City Church than ever before.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Prophecy from Pete Day Re: The Grace Revolution!!

I was pretty excited this morning after getting in from work for various reasons and I emailed Pete Day with some of my thoughts. And I got this reply - which I take utterly and totally to be prophetic;


This is just so amazing. There is a great work going on, a linking of grace-lovers around the world. God is raising up grace revolutionaries in every city, and just as the printing press released the glory of justification by faith to the reformers some 500 years ago, so in this day, the e-mail, the text message, the blog, the conference, and the books, will fuel the grace revolutionaries. So no grace revolutionary need stand alone because fire is going to be imparted around the world through these means.

The grace revolutionaries are not going to have to wait months and years for fresh ammunition to come to them, but there is going to be an impartation of truth and anointing across the earth, and lonely revolutionaries are going to be filled with truth, grace and power. As the revolutionaries receive this impartation of glory, and as they pour it out to their friends and their flocks, so mighty grace revolutionary armies are going to be raised up, and church by church, with great battle, street by street, with great battle, city by city, with great battle, and ultimately nation by nation, the message of God’s grace and the accompanying cloud of His glory will envelop the globe and the Son of God will have His promised inheritance".

This prophecy in many ways answers the cries of my heart from when I was driving to work last night. I noticed that recently the "Rob Rufus - Grace and Glory Blog" has jumped hits quite considerably from around 20, 000 to 30, 000 hits! Thanks to everyone who has come and visited! I suspect it is something to do with Rob's awesome "Established in the Gift of Righteousness series" which have opened my eyes to the gift of righteousness! But while I was rejoicing in that I still had a sense of profound dissatisfaction that 30, 000 hits is such a small number when you consider the billions lost across China and the Middle Eastern world who are bound in law and legalism.

And I was crying out to God to show me how I can be more effective in playing my small part to spread the message of the fires of grace because I felt so far away from Hong Kong and from City Church and these amazing pioneers. I felt lonely! There aren't many people around here that stand for grace and glory. This prophecy answers that and the email I got this morning from Ryan Rufus that so excited me. So God has answered so quickly! And I am thrilled!

Let it be done Lord! Even so come Lord Jesus and take Your promised inheritance!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Foundation Stone Teaching on Righteousness!!

After a few months of quiet on the "Rob Rufus - Grace and Glory Blog" - it's back to more and more glorious business as usual! I've just finished transcribing Rob's five part series on "Established in the Gift of Righteousness" that he begun in January 2009 and I cannot recommend it enough. It certainly has finally made me "see the light" personally into the glories of the promises of the Word of God and is reaping fruit in my life that I couldn't have dreamed of. For a year that started off so badly with work and everything, I am amazed at how quickly God can turn a situation around!

Here they are;

I also wrote out the transcript of a glorious sermon last year while I was on holiday in Lanzarote that I was struggling to get typed out. Last night I finished it as well and it complements this teaching so well.

Here it is;

I am running out of adjectives to describe the preaching that is coming out from City Church International in Hong Kong! But surely the proof of good preaching is in the fruit it bears. Intellectual, academic preaching is all well and good - but I sat under it for the last 30 years of my life and found myself helplessly struggling with issues. I stand as a personal testimony that far from this preaching encouraging antinominanism - this preaching on the gift of righteousness is actually increasing love and affection for the Lord as well as opening my eyes to see the utter inadequacy of law to accomplish any holiness in life.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rob Rufus on Church Meetings

"Experts in the law don't enter into the miraculous or grace or the supernatural. They hold slick, well-oiled and well run effective services with a lot of loud music and sophisticated music that is impressive but you have an encounter with music and not an encounter with anointing! I have been in meetings where the music is so good that even the world can't do it that good but I come out crying and saying; "I didn't feel Your Presence at all - You weren't there. There was a lot of sweat and dancing and sophisticated music (which I love) but when I go to church, I don't want to encounter good music. I want to encounter God!".

Rob Rufus - "Established in Righteousness - Part 3 - "Faith - the Currency of Heaven" - City Church International - Hong Kong - Sunday 18th January 2009.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Day at CCK, Brighton!!

I was fascinated to come back from Brighton to read Mark Heath's latest post looking specifically at four different directions Newfrontiers could be going in. I think they could easily apply to churches generally but what made it so applicable was the experience we have had being at Church of Christ the King in Brighton today. I want to make it clear that the three hour drive back to Birmingham was largely spent discussing in depth the two services we were at this wonderful church so this isn't an "off-the-cuff" post but one that has been discussed and thought through in depth!

Before I get into my report on today - for those who don't have time to get over to Mark's post - here's a very brief summary of the four positions he outlines. Where are we going?

1. Church Growth – (Bill Hybels, Hillsong, Rick Warren)

2. Reformissional - (Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll and maybe C J Mahaney and Wayne Grudem)

3. Neo-Pentecostal - (Rob Rufus, Todd Bentley)

4. Emerging Church (Rob Bell and Brian McLaren and Steve Chalke)

Now before I get into discussing my opinion on where I think Newfrontiers is headed in light of my experience today - here's a more objective report on CCK, Brighton and more specifically what Terry Virgo preached on.

Simon Brading was leading the worship from the keyboard and we began by singing just two songs before one of the leaders came up and led us in a time of communion. Then there were the obligatory notices and the "speak to someone you don't know" - while Terry Virgo got ready to come up and speak.

Terry spent some time bringing a report back from the months he has spent in Australia as this is the first time he has spoken at his home church since getting back. Here's a short video clip;

It was exciting to hear about what God is doing out on the "Pacific Rim" particularly at the interest in Japan there is to hear more about the grace of God. Terry has been invited back in 2010 to speak at a national conference and his book; "God's Lavish Grace" is going to be translated into Japanese. The advance of the Gospel indeed! He then introduced his sermon - a continuing of the series on "Elijah" that he has been doing over the past year or two.

Here are my notes;

1 Kings 18 (NASB) - Elijah

Elijah came and confronted a king about a nation that had tragically lost its way. God had promised Abraham that through him, He would bless the whole world. They had the high privilidge of coming to Sinai and hearing the voice of God. He called them; "My Bride - I am married to you". Look at the Psalms and you will see they knew who they were. In the preceding chapters you will see over 58 years seven kings came and went and they forgot who they were. They ceased to represent God and enjoy God. Having come into the land they saw other gods here. They learned how to cultivate. King after king yielded ground and the nation that was meant to be the light of the world - now made it illegal to worship Israel's God under Ahab. Into this Elijah was sent to confront Ahab and said unless you change, God will act. God will capture your attention and bring you down! It is a bit like God pulling the plug on the banks. We are falling apart - what is going on?! God can turn a flourishing place into a desert (Psalm 107). Ahab will be further confronted by Elijah.

"How long will you limp between two opinions? If the Lord is God follow Him".

1. Behold Elijah.

"Now Elijah ...". No background to him - he just appeared. God is ready to start speaking again. This period of humbling is over and God is going to show mercy. The Bible repeatedly says that God will not over test His people. "If He causes grief then He will have compassion" (Lamentations). It is interesting to see that God initiates this. It is not Elijah saying he wants to have another go. It is not Elijah initiating. It is not for Elijah to get ahead of God. Some like Moses try that and they are not very successful. God had closed the heavens until He was ready to open them again. When he faced Obadiah and Obadiah spoke of doubt - Elijah was solid and said "I will meet him today". Elijah is so submissive to God that it is like you are meeting God. He is truly prophetic! "Elijah arose and went". This man is carving out a life of total obedience. He speaks with frightening authority because he lives in a relationship of total obedience. He is sent by God and knows God will be with him.

We want to look like people who comes from the Presence of God and speaks with authority - that is the true prophetic church.

Where did unlearned fishermen get their boldness on the Day of Pentecost? Down through church history there has been a break out of people who know God.

2. That spells trouble.

He earned the title; "You troubler of Israel". That is a feature when the church begins to be the church! It happened with Jeremiah - another authentic prophetic. When he spoke in his day and promised judgement - "Jerusalem will fall". They called him a treasonous man and threw him in prison. But he was just the authentic voice! An authentic voice does not want to make trouble, it just wants to shed light! They are sharing but it looks like trouble! The one who lives the righteous life will be seen as such! The early apostles hit this kind of come back! (Acts 17) So many people are responding to Paul that people start speaking against him. "These men who have turned the world upside down". The Greek word means literally "revolutionary". John Stott says the same word is used of an Egpyptian terrorist who tried to start a revolt! Revolutionary overtones! But it doesnt say that he caused trouble! (v2, 3) The verbs that describe Paul; "reasoned, proclaimed, persuaded". Paul was just being reasonable but the backlash was - you troublemaker!

"God is light and in Him there is no darkness". Light came into the world but men prefer darkness to light because their deeds are evil. They want to stay in the darkness. The offer of light is seen as trouble but that is the thing that you most need! The words that describe the people that charged Paul; "jealous, wicked men, mob, uproar, riot". That is the reaction that Paul got as truth is told! That is how the church is often regarded as these days. We tolerate everything apart from people who feel they know something. The message of hope and light and life is a Gospel declarer! Not trouble! We are meant to be salt and light! If we haven't got a clear message then we may as well stop speaking! He knew what he was saying was true!

Such kinds of declarations will meet with hostility. Paul says to the believers in Colosse - let your speech always be gracious. Always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in you. Let your speech arrest the corruption. Speak when you can to stop the corrupting trend. Elijah was the hope of the nation! Not a trouble maker!

3. It is time to make your choice.

Jesus was ruthless with religion! The religious were dismissive of the apostles! They didn't like that! They called the blind beggar "untaught" because he was healed! Elijah had no time for the prophets of Baal. But he had mercy on the people. Never has there be someone who came so near as Jesus. Never has there been someone who stood before the Presence of God. Come from God! He grew up in a carpenters home. Just a child of Mary and Joseph. He didnt come near just generally but near to the ordinary people. He offended the religious! He ate and drank and sat and laughed and danced at weddings! John could say that we handled and touched. Mary could say that she anointed His feet with her tears.

It is wonderful to know a God who comes near. He comes near! "Emmanuel - God with us".

We can start our day saying "Thank You Jesus - you are with me!". "How long will you limp between two opinions?". As a nation they hadn't totally abandoned God. Their very identity was linked with God! They knew their history and the Psalms they sang. Even Ahab's sons later in the book of Kings took over and his name was Ahaziah. Ahab called his son "Yaweh has grasped". And the second "Yaweh is exalted". This nation had a divided heart. We are not supposed to follow two masters. Jesus said you actually cant do it. It won't work! "You cannot serve God and money". Jesus used money as a kind of god. What does money offer? It offers some interesting things. "I will care for you - provide for you - give you fulfillment". Who else offers that? Money is coming with the same offer! And Jesus says you cant serve both. When a rich young ruler came to Jesus and there was an attractiveness to him but Jesus enunciates some principles and then saw right into his soul. "Sell what youve got, give it to the poor and follow Me". He couldn't do it. The man went away sad.

The tax collector - a crook and yet Jesus came to his home. He was so different. Although he was very rich and very crooked, he said he would give back. Jesus said; "Salvation has come to this house". We are appealing about who is the Lord of my life?

The only way you get salvation is a revelation of Jesus, Who He is and what He can do.

1 Corinthians 6:12. The prohibitions of Jewish lifestyle were lifted. That approach to God, trying to keep the old laws is irrevelant. You don't have to keep them! All things are lawful! The liberty of the Christian is that all things are lawful! And then he says; "I will not be mastered by anything". A good job, a nice house, a nice car, a nice wife or husband, a good education is all lawful. Christianity recognises it is Gods world and we feel very at home in it! But we aren't going to come under anyones control. Otherwise we are in danger of something becoming an idol and we cannot serve two Gods. The fact that we are free doesn't mean we become a glutton! Is that how we show our freedom?! That's not being free at all not being able to go without something!

Jesus said "Go" but hasn't He said He will work all things together for good?! What matters most? That is the appeal! We can't live with non-negotiables. Jesus is looking for ruthlessness. He calls for a radical commitment! Loving but truly revolutionary! We are saying "Jesus whatever you say". He said "How can you believe yet make no effort to attain the praise that comes from God alone?". Elijah didn't get praise from anyone but wanted the praise that came exclusively from God. 1 Cor 4:3. It is so easy to be zealous if you get some applause. You want people to see it from your point of view! Jesus modelled a completely different lifestyle. He always kept very clear. His passion was to please the Father. Even as a little boy He "must be about His Father's business" and He carried that to Gethsemane. Under the shadow of the Cross itself; "Not My will but Yours". Jesus had one intent - to please the Father.

For Him there was no alternative, nothing else appealing to Him. Here is our focused Saviour, modelling sonship for us. Equal and yet submissive. "The Father sent the Son". He was submissive so that is how He could be sent. He came to a world that lies. He came and showed us what it is like to be a Son. "You came from heaven to show the way".

You can learn objective rules and not love God. It is about how can I please Him and enjoy Him more and get to know Him better!

"For the joy set before Him He endured the Cross". We are His joy! He wants a wife like Him! "Lets go and do the Father's will". Lets not limp between two things. God is willing to bring rain! Let Him be God!".

Terry then called up one of the CCK evangelists who gave a very empassioned short Gospel message to which there was about 10 responses! This was really exciting! Simon Brading then led us in some more worship and it began with one of my favourite songs from the 1970's;

"Jesus we enthrone You, we proclaim You our King,
Standing here in the midst of us - we raise You up with our praise,
And as we worship build a throne - and as we worship build a throne!
And as we worship build a throne - come Lord Jesus and take Your place!".

It was as though my tear ducts were put onto free drainage! That song particularly was so special and reminded me of the truth that Jesus Christ is risen and reigning! We sang a couple of other songs and then a leader came up and closed the meeting. There were no specific spiritual gifts during the meeting - no prophecies but there was a short few minutes of singing in the Spirit.

So the ramblings of a Mystery Worshipper ...

My thoughts! Allow me to begin with the caveat that CCK is one of my favourite churches in the United Kingdom. I first went to CCK when my home church in Dunstable was rapidly becoming rabidly anti-charismatic and I was just thrilled to find that it was possible to find a fully functioning charismatic church that wasn't totally anti-doctrine or anti-the Bible. So when I share my thoughts - I do so with the discomfort about criticising a family member. This isn't easy for me. But I hope that I will carefully explain my observations - and as always I am open to criticism and points that will enable me to hone my attitudes if necessary.

A. Terry Virgo - Grace and Law?

Terry has always been known as a "Grace teacher". Rob Rufus speaks of him frequently as being so key in his life. In 1984 Terry visited South Africa and it was that teaching on the grace of God that began to make Rob the man he is today. I remember being told by one of the former disciples of Stanley Jebb that when Terry Virgo and Newfrontiers went around the country on the "Enjoying God's grace" tours between the Downs Bible Weeks and the Stoneleigh Bible Weeks - my home church and Stanley Jebb was so concerned at this "antinominanistic teaching" that he began a series on the Law!

But during this sermon I noticed that I have become hyper-sensitive to any mixture of law and grace. And I saw it happen again and again. Firstly I recalled that Terry preached a glorious sermon on "Elijah" back in Bristol. That sermon was the most profound explanation of grace that I had heard upto that point. I had just come out of Sovereign Grace Ministries bitter and badly bruised - and that gentle but prophetic teaching drew me back to not turning my back on the church as I wanted to at that point.

I need to say that I have not seen the same grace in this series that he has been preaching. And I am not quite sure why. Terry seems to be trying to apply this Old Testament passage to a New Covenant period that we are in. At the beginning of the message he stated quite firmly that it "could be God pulling the plug on the UK banks". Rob Rufus would differ quite firmly from that. Rob said again and again throughout his glorious "Established in Righteousness" series that we cannot lay the earthquakes, tsnuamis, terrorist disasters and so on at God's door and blame Him. It is logical - God has given us free will. We are not living and governing our countries by His Kingdom economy therefore we are reaping for ourselves the fruit of that.

Secondly he made a number of comments that again I seized on. Near the end of his sermon he was speaking about; "Jesus is looking for ruthlessness. He calls for a radical commitment!" and an example of that was; "If your hand causes you to sin - cut it off! If your eye causes you to sin - pluck it out!". Terry made that comment and then moved on. Those particular Gospel commands of Jesus Christ are something of incredible sensitivity to me because they were used by the SGM pastor while I was being "disfellowshipped". He asked me specifically if I had committed immoral sin with a friend of mine - which I denied.

His reply was then; "Well Jesus said if you look at someone with lust in your heart then you have as good as committed adultery - so you have!".

The obvious reply to that was; "Well so has every man on this planet!". But at the time I didn't think of that. Rob Rufus has gloriously again made me realise how utterly wrong and indeed cruel it is for preachers to apply these New Testament commands of Jesus to us today. Do we see the disciples and followers of Jesus walking around at the time dismembered? With eyes gouged out? Of course not! He would have become known as a sado-masochistic cult leader! What was Jesus saying? Rob said;

"Don't take the outlandish things that Jesus says in the gospel and say 'I've got to live by that!'. See the context is that He is saying this to the arrogant people! Christians say; 'That is the new law of the New Covenant!'. Jesus Christ is preaching under the Old Covenant that you must not commit adultery but under the New Covenant even if you look you have committed it! Oh pleaseeeeee!

There is no faith in that! We are all dead if that is the case! He was preaching Abraham to the broken and the hungry for God and He was preaching the law to the self-righteous and to the arrogant".

So I offer hope to every person like me whose hand has caused them to sin, whose eye has looked at something that we shouldn't have. We do not need to go for the kitchen knives yet. Our bodies are the glorious temple of the Holy Spirit! No - Jesus has taken that radical punishment on our behalf. HIS hands were pierced for us! HIS back was beaten for us! HIS side was pierced until blood flowed for us!

I don't know why Terry said what he did. I can appreciate his heart is missional. He spoke frequently throughout the sermon about Tom Eaton out in Japan and other Newfrontiers folk who have acted radically and "gone". But I don't think the subtle mixture of law and grace is required to keep that radical fire burning. How much better to go because we simply "MUST - MUST - MUST". He is too good to keep to ourselves!

B. Reformissional? Charismatic? Confused?

So finally we come to Mark Heath's excellent summary as to where Newfrontiers are going. I must admit to spending much of the journey home rather confused as to what I had witnessed at CCK. The atmosphere was very different. The lights in the main auditorium were turned out and the stage was lit brightly. There were coloured lights every now and then sweeping over the audience during the singing of songs. And I can say quite honestly that it was a very professional performance. The worship band were excellent and everyone joined in enthusiastically. But I found myself asking why signs, wonders and miracles were absent from the meeting as were spiritual gifts (apart from a brief moment of singing in the Spirit) and were offered at the end after the benediction.

But it was MISSION that dominated the meeting. They showed a "Mobilise" video at one point and encouraged all the teenagers and 20's to get their bookings in before the 28th February "while it was still cheap". Joel Virgo - the lead elder - came up and did a long plug about the famous Newfrontier churches "Gift Days". The figure that the elders are believing God for is £150, 000 and this money will be going to CCK itself to help their work in Brighton. Scott and I discussed on the way home how helpful it is to present the figure that the elders wanted. Does it encourage a "Malachi 3" atmosphere of giving or a "Melchizadek" atmosphere of giving?

I don't know - I am not a CCK member - but I wonder whether my primary motive in giving generously would be out of a heart full of abundance at the lavish grace that God has poured on me? Or because I didn't want to disappoint the elders and have the excruciating news that after "Gift Day" has finished, that Joel Virgo got up and said; "We didn't make it" = guilt. Would it not be more helpful for the elders to keep that figure to themselves and maybe announce it when and if that figure is met?

Finally I was wondering about this "mission" emphasis that Mark Driscoll and Tim Keller (now Newfrontier favourites) seem to be leading the way in. Taking the book of Acts - what did the early church do? Did they go - go - go militantly to meet figures or did they make it their primary ambition to see the Presence of God come down - and then find that the surrounding community were "added to them daily"? It was actually persecution that split them up and sent them to go! A note about communion - the leader who opened up the Lord's Table said something rather odd too. He said; "If you are a guest or visiting us then perhaps you would like to let the elements pass you by". That left both Scott and I very nervous as to whether we should or should not take the bread and the wine. Fortunately the girl sitting next to me didn't seem to know that we were visiting so gave me the bread and wine with no trouble. But I would have felt very uncomfortable if she had bypassed me and not let me join in. Is that something "Reformissional"?

My love for CCK and for Terry Virgo and indeed Newfrontiers remains unchanged - but I found myself leaving the meeting and wondering where dimmed lights and a disco-lit stage with flashy videos and a frantic drive for mission left a sense of "SUDDENLY from heaven". Does that make me "Neo-Pentecostal" under Mark's definition!? Maybe so!

Speaking of which - I spent a ridiculous £30 on a book I found in the CCK bookshop that looks really interesting. It is called "Apostolic Networks in Britain - New Ways of Being Church" by William Kay and was published in 2007. Both Mark Heath and I enjoyed Andrew Walker's "Restoring the Kingdom" and I am relishing seeing what the conclusions are on much of our childhood now that more time has past. I will post a review when I've read it later on this week.

I have every intention of "going" as soon as I can. I KNOW that I will not be staying comfortably in the United Kingdom for the rest of my life earning a pension and paying a mortgage. I have a suspicion that I am never going to own my own house. I know that I will most probably be heading for the Far East and China and whatever that holds for me. But I have got no intention of going unless the Presence of God goes with me and signs and wonders accompany the preaching of the Gospel of grace!

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Brighton Getaway!!

Any regular readers will know that Brighton is like my second home. I've loved it since the first day I visited it years ago and have a particular love for just sitting by the sea and feeling the exhilarating freedom of looking at infinity. An added bonus is that one of my favourite churches in the U.K is also in Brighton - Church of Christ the King (or CCK as it is now called).

So this weekend as a sort of "anti-Valentines" day a few of us are going away to get some sea air, have a good time and also of course go to CCK on Sunday. It's the kind of church that you can go to and it doesn't matter who's preaching or who is leading worship. You KNOW that the Presence of God is going to be there in a powerful way. But I must admit I was extremely excited when I found that Simon Brading is leading worship and Terry Virgo is preaching!!

We haven't heard Terry speak live since "Together on a Mission 2007" (I think) so I will be really interested to see what is on his heart since coming back from his months in Australia and where he is at. So I am trusting God excitedly and hoping that there will be so much to share when I come back on Sunday night! God always seems to give me "big" words or direction when I am in Brighton so I am going in great faith!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What's Your Identity?

I was pondering "identity" this morning as I was driving back from work. The reason it came to me was because I was listening on my IPOD to Rob Rufus when he spoke at JoshGen church in South Africa last year and he mentioned one of my favourite verses in the Old Testament - Exodus 33:14-18.

"And He said, "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest." Then he said to Him, "If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. "For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?" The LORD said to Moses, "I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name." Then Moses said, "I pray You, show me Your glory!"

Rob was talking about it in a very interesting context. He was arguing that the "glory of God" is actually more than His Presence. Because God already promised that His Presence would go with Israel but this wasn't enough for Moses - Moses had to go on and ask for the glory itself. Rob argued that he felt the "glory" is all the concentrated manifest goodness of God into one moment in time and space.

But what grabbed my attention was the underlined section of the passage. "Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?". And I got thinking about the three churches I have been to and I asked myself a very difficult question. Was it the Prescence of God that was that church's identity and the thing that singled them out?

Certainly in my first church - New Covenant Church in Dunstable - that was my inheritance and my recollection as a child. As a child I remember long, long meetings where our parents would stand with their arms raised and tears pouring down their faces singing beautiful songs of worship. I remember hearing singing in the Spirit very often and thinking how beautiful it sounded. I remember the sense of excitement when my pastor would open the time celebrating the Lord's Supper and then simply sit down with the other elders and "wait". What would happen!? Yes the Presence of God certainly was it's identity as I grew up and I am so thankful for that.

God reminded me this morning of my very first vision. It came before I was even baptised in the Holy Spirit, before "I had even heard there was a Holy Spirit" - but it came when I was about 13 and was on a newspaper round. And I saw a vision of revival hitting my home town of Dunstable and something of what that would be like! Thousands joined in the song of the Lamb!

The other two churches - SGM's identity I would have to say was certainly a weekly talking about "the Cross". Male and female gender roles would be another identity marker. C J Mahaney was something else that got mentioned very frequently. The Presence of God? I'm not sure. Scott reminded me that the first care group meeting I took him to was of great impact to him. I was asked (for the first and only time in SGM!) to lead the worship and chose a couple of simple worship songs and it was a thrilling time - God came and rested on the meeting and there were some awesome prophecies and visions and people got touched but then worship times were stopped in care group.

Newfrontiers has always been very close to my heart as everyone will know and they have unique identity markers too. Vision, church planting, spiritual gifts. Certainly the Presence of God is dearly welcomed and loved and longed for at the past Brighton conferences and Stoneleigh. I felt so comfortable and at ease when I first went to Stoneleigh because many of us agreed how it reminded us of New Covenant Church and the balance of Word and Spirit that we remembered with such affection.

So let me ask again - is the PRESENCE OF GOD the distinguishing marker for us as the PEOPLE OF GOD? Because if church meeting after church meeting goes by and we have to think whether God was actually present there in power then surely something is wrong. And let me add a caveat - I KNOW that God is omnipresent so of course in a sense He is present everywhere. But He was present everywhere in Moses time too - yet Moses still asked that "His Presence" would go with them. So clearly Moses was thinking of some special manifestation of that Presence - namely the cloud and the pillar of fire.

Are we walking with the cloud? Or have we allowed it to fall behind us? I was sobered by something else Rob mentioned. He reminded me of Ern Baxter so much in talking about "the Land". Chris Welch and I have been discussing this over on his blog - and we spoke of how a generation died in the wilderness because of unbelief and how we felt that applies to today. Ern Baxter challenged the Dales Bible Week 1976 that they were at the Kadesh Crisis and both Chris and I agreed that we felt the challenge was ignored. But Rob said in his sermon that the generation repented and still tried to go in but God "was not with them" and the enemies defeated them!

May His Presence be our continual identity - so much so that the heathen - the Philistines if you will - know that something is different about us even without us having to hand out tracts!

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Prophetic Seals It ... Hong Kong Here We Come!!

I love, love, love the prophetic!! WHAT a gift from God!!

Essentially there has never been any question in my mind that I really, really MUST be at the "Glory and Grace Conference" in Hong Kong with Rob and Glenda Rufus, Joshua and Janet Mills and Fini and Isi de Gersigny. I've been listening to the glorious, life-saving "Established in Righteousness" sermons from City Church International and the prophecies that are starting to come through about the conference and what God is going to do there. The conference has never been in question!

But the means to get us there has been another matter. I still haven't been giving the gift of "jumping" yet (teleporting). So it's been relying on the airways - and they aren't cheap! So the reason that I haven't made public that fact as to whether I am going or not has been due to a struggle in my own mind as to whether I can afford to go - or whether I can afford to miss this heavenly opportunity to encounter God's glory in ways I haven't even dreamed of!

So I texted Pete Day yesterday and laid out my struggle. Is it faith to ignore the financial cost and trust God's extravagant grace - or is it Christianly responsible to pass by the opportunity to be at "Glory and Grace" and devote my time to paying my financial obligations here in the UK and trust that another conference and another opportunity will come? Pete Day is virtually the only long-term friend I would trust to objectively go before God and speak honestly - whether that be yes or no!

Here was the text response;

"I really think God wants you to act madly and trust His extravagance. I feel He is saying; "Go on son, enjoy yourself, let your hair down, laugh, cry, dance, have a ball! Responsibilities can wait until you return to face them with fresh glory!".

I have been well-trained enough in the prophetic to know that it is silly to act solely on one prophetic word. But this word came with such power that I sat shaking and laughing in the car - at God's "extravagance"!! I have always known I can't miss "Glory and Grace" - but for me this prophetic word from my dear friend clinched it! Hong Kong here we come!

I am taking Scott with me this year (and paying for him to go) because I sent him almost three daily emails when I was there in October telling him every detail. This year - I told him - he had to experience it for himself! And I am trusting in the thrilling fact as well that my awesome friends Julie and Lydia will be there as well! We are going to share the same hotel if the girls can be released to go and I am SO looking forward to the post-conference day fellowship as we continue glorying!

What makes it even more exciting is that in October I very much went "incognito" and didn't go and meet or introduce myself to Rob or Glenda or Ryan or Kylie or indeed anyone from City Church - even though they were aware of the "Rob Rufus blog". I am really reluctant to draw attention to myself from any Christian leaders. I've seen it happen in the church world and I hate it. It's fine if it's a "God-appointment" - very much like how Ern Baxter met William Branham. But the idea of standing in line and then shaking Rob's hand and saying; "Oh hello I'm Dan - author of Rob Rufus blog" .... EUGH!!

However I am under strict orders from all of them this year not to escape this year without saying hello! I've kind of promised. That's why I am hoping Julie and Lydia will be there, so they can drag me by the hair if necessary! I can't rely on Scott - he hates it as much as I do! Also in the course of transcribing Rob's sermons I have emailed a couple of CCI members including my fellow transcriber Heather. So I cannot wait to meet people I count as friends this year. It will really add to the glory and the wonder of God's Presence Himself - if that is possible!

Also today I brought a small laptop which I am going to be taking along with my new digital camera. We are going to stay in a hotel with internet access so my plan is to live-blog the whole thing along with pictures and videos! This conference must be heard around the globe!!

Hong Kong ... are you ready for the nations to come?!?! Are you ready for God's Presence and glory to fall like a pillar of fire?!!?

Friday, February 06, 2009

A "Glory and Grace Blank Bible" Entry!!

Since my two volumes of Jonathan Edwards "Blank Bible" have been complimented with my "Notes on Scripture" - I have come to deeply appreciate again and again this form of pastoral and more experiential "commentary" on various Scriptures as opposed to my more academic commentaries. And it has given me a renewed passion to steadily add to the "Glory and Grace Blank Bible" blog I set up last year. I am glad I didn't simply limit it to the "Rob Rufus Blank Bible" as I had a suspicion that other preachers such as Ryan Rufus or Bill Johnson would have something to add. And indeed I've added some quotes from Alec Moyter and Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones!

Last night I finished writing the transcript of Rob's third sermon in the "Established in the Gift of Righteousness" series - Part 1 is published here - (I just need more time at a computer - am believing God for a laptop I can take to work!). And there was an incredible commentary that Rob gave on the passage in Luke 11 concerning the crippled woman. It may quite possibly be the longest entry into the "Glory and Grace Blank Bible" but WOW is it worth it! I sat there with tears running down my face wondering how I DARED pride myself on coming from a "Word" church and never seeing the insights that were so obviously there!

Here it is;

(Luke 13:16) "And this woman, a daughter of Abraham" - Abraham had been dead for near 2, 000 years. "... as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years" - Jesus could have said '18 years' - but He said 'long' - He is making a point. " ... should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?" - now that is the law.

How did this woman find out that she was a daughter of Abraham? Those synagogues would have been full when Jesus was preaching. The woman would have sat at the back and she was bowed over and crippled for 18 long years! It wasn't by God but by Satan. As a woman in a chavanistic society - Jesus wouldn't have even been able to see her. But while He is preaching, He is preaching about Abraham.

Jesus would have preached the law to the self-righteous and would have preached Abraham to the broken and to the hungry.

How did she find out that she was a daughter of Abraham? It was the content of His message. He would have been telling them about the covenant of grace. He preached first to remove unbelief and wrong thinking. That is why long preaching is good! Thinking needs to be changed!

(vv7-9); "'Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down!" - He is talking about a fig tree that needs to be cut down because it is not producing any fruit. The fig tree represents Israel under law. There are two trees that represent Israel. The olive tree and the fig tree. The fig tree represents the death under law. The abscence of the supernatural, dead religion. Adam and Eve covered themselves up with fig leaves. Jesus cursed a fig tree in Mark 11. If you want to talk about the supernatural and the line of Abraham in Israel - then look at the olive tree.

The olive tree is the life of God. If you go to Romans 9:7, 11:1 - you will see it talks about the descendents of Abraham - not all are descended from Isaac. He had Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael was born through human effort and the flesh and Isaac was born through the power of the Spirit in the supernatural of God. In Romans 11:17-24 he says we Gentiles have been grafted into the olive tree.

The olive tree is the anointing - the life of God.

If you read the context going back to Romans 9 then he is saying about not the law - the olive tree is a result of Abraham!

True Israelites are descendents of Abraham - not descendants of the law but the faith that Abraham had! We are not grafted into the fig tree but the olive tree. We have got Christians today trying to get grafted into the fig tree. How will Israel get saved if we get grafted into the fig tree of law?! They will envy us and get saved when we get saved and grafted into the inheritance of Abraham - the olive tree!

So Jesus is preaching Abraham! But when He gets with the arrogant self-righteous He lays the law on them big time to expose how arrogant they are. That they are NOT keeping it!

Don't take the outlandish things that Jesus says in the Gospels and say I have got to live by that. See the context is that He is saying it to arrogant people! Christians say; "That is the new law of the New Covenant! Jesus is preaching under the Old Covenant that you must not commit adultery but under the New Covenant even if you look at someone with lust then you have committed it!". Oh pleaseeeeeee! There is no faith in that! We are ALL dead if that is the case!

He was preaching Abraham however to the broken and hungry for God.

(v10); "He was teaching in one of the synagogues" - Jesus taught, explained and unpacked truth! (v11); " ... she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all" - You will never be able to straighten up under the law. (v12); "When Jesus saw her" - How did Jesus see her? She was sitting at the back, crippled and bent over! "Woman, you are freed from your sickness" - He is speaking in past tense but she is still bent over! (v13); "immediately she was made erect again and began glorifying God".

As Jesus was preaching the wonder of Abraham, suddenly in this woman's mind she realised this - "I don't have to be a daughter of the law! Abraham's covenant is still available! I don't have to go to God through the law - I can come to God through Abraham!". And I can imagine that she got a little bit angry. She probably thought; "I have never heard the synagogue rulers tell me that I am a daughter of Abraham. All they told me is that I am a daughter of the law. They told me that to get the blessing I have got to keep the law and deserve it and be good enough and they told me the reason I am sick is that God is against me and punishing me!".

But she said; "Today I realise I am a daughter of Abraham - and this means I can get healed today without deserving it!". Today I can get out of financial debt without deserving it! Today I can get out of depression without deserving it! Today I can get out of bondage and addiction without deserving it!

When you reason in your heart that I can get the blessing without deserving it then you are thinking the thoughts of faith - you are thinking faith! The law is not based on faith. The law would tell you to forget about faith; "Just get good enough to deserve it!".

When you preach Abraham - people realise they can get the blessing without deserving it! That is what produces faith!

Her FAITH got Jesus' attention!

Smith Wigglesworth said that God will ignore 10 million people that don't have faith and find the one in the crowd that does have faith. There was a whole synagogue full but Jesus found the one woman. She was sitting there thinking; "Wow I am a daughter of Abraham - I am not a daughter of the law! I can get things from the Father who loves me - things I don't deserve! They are available NOW!".

This is the tragedy although the story ends well. On the first day that this daughter of Abraham got sick - healing was available that day. The 2nd year healing was available. The 3rd year, the 4th year. Because only when she had a clear message on grace did healing kick in.

For 18 "long" years she had no capacity to have faith for her healing because the law is not based on faith.

She saw herself now as a daughter of Abraham. 18 years of bondage ended the day she understood grace. 18 years of bondage ended the day she understood I am no longer a daughter of the law but He is calling me a daughter of Abraham.

I HATE it when I hear people saying that miracles are only for a certain time - one day in the right time. The right time for this lady was 18 "long" years ago! Why did Jesus say "18 long years"? Isn't it amazing that Grace Himself said; "Should not this daughter of Abraham be healed on the Sabbath?". Why is He saying that? And who is He saying that to?

He is saying that to the synagogue rulers. Jesus is saying it to the law people who have robbed the church of faith. Should not this person have come out of financial debt? Should not this person have a healing in their body? Should not they get a better job? Should not they prosper? He is saying that they SHOULD but you are saying that they should NOT!

All heaven is obligated once they come out of law and rise up in faith - then heaven can't help but be obligated to heal! Those who are of Abraham's faith are blessed along with Abraham - when the law is taken off people then we can get them all healed.

18 long years. 18 is the number of bondage. It is the number in Scripture for captivity. In the book of Judges it says Israel went into captivity for 18 years. 6 - 6 - 6 = 18. 3 = perfection. 6 = human pride and human effort. What is the mark of the Beast? Legalism. Babylonian religion and dead works. Not the Gospel or the Old Covenant! This woman was "bowed over" by a demonic spirit. She attended that church for years and the Pharisees didn't help her. They made her a daughter of the law. When Jesus came she discovered she was a daughter of Abraham.

What was she looking at for 18 years? Dust. The Bible says in the book of Genesis - He says to the serpant Satan - "Dust shall you eat". The woman spent 18 years looking at the food of Satan. 6 - 6 - 6. All she saw was human effort. People's feet. The food of Satan. When Jesus touched her with grace, the first face she saw in 18 "long" years was Jesus the Messiah! When you live under law you spend your life psychologically looking at dust - human effort - condemnation - disappointment and struggle.

When the revelation comes that you are a daughter of Abraham - when that comes, you will see that lovely Face every day shining on you and you will move in a new realm of freedom and glory.

Can you believe these synagogue rulers tried to oppose Jesus and stop Him bringing a member of their congregation out of bondage?! That is how the religious demon has opposed us as we preach this message consistently!

A pastor in that synagoguee tried to oppose grace to keep a member of his congregation crippled in the name of religion!

(v14); "But the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath". (v15); "But the Lord answered him and said, "You hypocrites!".

Don't you like Jesus' attitude to religious people?! He doesn't get sweet and back off! He just says; "You hypocrites!". This is the Jesus we love! I love Him!

(v17); "As He said this, all His opponents were being humiliated; and the entire crowd was rejoicing over all the glorious things being done by Him" - In any culture Jesus was not afraid of humiliating people that oppose grace because His eyes were on the broken multitudes that need grace. He didn't hold a board meeting and discuss law and grace - He just preached grace and produced faith in the people.

I promise you this lady would not have got healed if Jesus had preached the law there - because the law is not based on faith. He preached Abraham and she realised in that flash of revelation - that I am a daughter of Abraham and that God will give me what I DON'T deserve!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Who Said It?!?!

I think for the first time ever I am launching a competition for one day only. I am going to give you a quote and the challenge is to GUESS who said it! The only person who can't enter is Pete Day because I texted him last night as I was so excited when I heard/saw/read it (*delete as appropriate). The prize? Just the sheer joy of knowing you were right! :) It won't be that hard if you read this blog regularly - you'll know the sorts of people that I listen to and read!

Here it is;

"(Genesis 21:10-11) - "She said to Abraham; Cast out this bondwoman and her son, for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac". The son of the bondwoman is men's own righteousness, which is the son of the first covenant, given at Mount Sinai, which is Hagar. And Isaac, the son of the free woman is Christ, as applied to the soul by faith; he is the child of promise and Sarah the mother of Isaac, that urges the casting out of the son of the bondwoman - so tis the church in it's ministry and ordinances which is our own legal righteousness.

Tis Christ that is the heir of the blessings of the covenant; tis his merits only that have a right or title to those blessings. We must cast out our own righteousness, and not have any manner of regard to that, as though that had a right, or as though a right came by that. "And the thing was very grevious in Abraham's sight because of his son" (v11) - which signifies how very hard and grevious it seems to persons wholly to cast out their own righteousness, the sons of the legal covenant from Mount Sinai - because they are our own works, our own brats, that are dear to us, as Ishmael was to his father Abraham".

Don't get too caught up worrying who said it - because Lydia had a very good point when I posted a quote some time ago. Why do some authors, preachers, theologians have an air of "respectability" and "acceptance" and others do not? Now I will always be thankful for Ephesians 4 Ministries as they are gifts from God to us to help us into understanding this gift of righteousness. And this morning I stand amazed once again - that a very familiar verse is opened to me by revelation from God through - this particular servant!

Guess away - but more importantly let this truth sink into you. "Our own brats that are dear to us". What works of righteousness are dear to us I wonder? Getting up early in the morning? A prayer and fasting day? Reading the Bible through in a year? All "spiritual disciplines" to be sure - but the Bible is clear. Anything without faith is SIN.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Magnificence of God!

"When only God does things that only God can do -
then only God gets the glory".

Fini de Gersigny - Glory and Grace Conference - Hong Kong.

So if that's the case, then why has Christianity been so busy trying to make sure that God doesn't invade our churches and do what He loves to do? Why have we been so busy making sure that our lives are full of OUR works (even if we mix it with a little grace and pretend it's all part of 'sanctification' and becoming 'effective')? Why can't we simply sit back and allow Him to do what He does best and BE God!?