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".

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