For now - here's his opening statement in the sermon;
Monday, November 30, 2009
For now - here's his opening statement in the sermon;
Saturday, November 28, 2009
However I do not want to become the "charismatic" version of MacArthur, Masters or Morrison and angrily attack any cessationist who questions whether the Person and gifts of the Holy Spirit should be expected and enjoyed in church today! So over the last 24 hours I have been thinking about Stanley Jebb's statement;
Thursday, November 26, 2009
"Christians who hold to a cessationist position are not skeptics nor unbelievers but are generally concerned conservative or reformed evangelical Christians who hold certain views about miracles, signs and wonders".
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
"The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is enduement with power from on high (Luke 24:49), it is the fulfillment of the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4, 5) and the Son (Acts 1:8). It is the provision of power for service, for we cannot serve in our own strength (Zech 4:6). It is a definite experience so that we should know whether we have had it or not (Acts 19:2). However it is not a once-for-all experience, in that we need to go on being filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4, 4:8, 31; 13:9, Eph 5:18).
One of the loveliest results of this experience is a deeper love for the Lord and for one another, and the coming of the Holy Spirit upon believers results in greater unity among believers".
As believers have fought, argued and lost the element to this empowerment from on high - so the life of the charismatic movement has ebbed and dwindled. One of the most exciting books Terry Virgo has ever brought out was called; "The Tide is Turning". Mark Heath reviewed this book a while back and summarised it excellent;
"Essentially the title can be thought of as a prophecy that the decline of the church is slowing and a new wave of vibrant biblical Christianity is coming".
Do we need a new approach or a new tactic to achieve this turning of the tide? Of course there is nothing wrong with being culturally relevant. God surely gets no glory by the church stubbornly remaining out of date. But I fail to see that the Bible gives any other option for the turning of the tide other than empowerment from on high. And of course the folly of the church is that it is HERE, it is AVAILABLE, and it is FREE BY GRACE!!
As the early booklet on the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" noted - one of the most precious effects of this empowerment from on high is a greater and deeper love for the Lord Jesus. It is here that I bring together two insights - one from Dr Ern Baxter and one from Dr Martyn Ll0yd-Jones who both have the same insight. Dr Ll0yd-Jones wrote in "Joy Unspeakable";
"We have seen that it was only after the apostles had been baptized with the Holy Spirit that they really came to understand the meaning of what had happened to their Lord and Master".
In his monumental sermon on the "Robe of the Ephod" - Dr Ern Baxter drew attention to the golden bells that surrounded the high priest's robe. He said;
"As the high priest moved around in the Holy of Holies offering his sacrifice, the people could hear the golden bells on the hem of his robe and they knew that their sacrifice had been accepted. They knew the high priest was alive ... When the disciples gathered together in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost, they heard a sound from heaven.
What happened? They heard the bells of the High Priest in heaven offering His acceptable sacrifice in the Presence of God ... I believe that the reason why the baptism of the Holy Spirit and indeed the whole matter of the Holy Spirit has been so fiercely contested is because the Holy Spirit is the communication of God to men concerning the work of Jesus Christ in God's Presence.
Every child of God has the right to the evidence of the golden bells of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in his life to give him experiential knowledge in his own experience that Jesus Christ is alive and well in the Presence of God and He accomplished the work He was sent to do".
What is that work? One of the most glorious verses in the whole Bible (if that's possible) - 2 Corinthians 5:19:
"That God was in Christ reconciling the world (not just the church!) to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them".
We gain nothing by exalting one part of Christ's redemptive work above another. It is all gloriously intertwined like a golden thread running through a robe. The work that Christ did on the Cross has been accomplished once and for all - our sins are gone - never to return! But God did not expect us to take this on face value alone. He has sent empowerment from on high - He has poured out His Holy Spirit to baptise believers with experiential knowledge that we can hear the bells of heaven ringing in our hearts. See a down-trodden, depressed, faithless, negative, legalistic church? Rest assured that it's one and only need is a baptism of power from on high.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
But this isn't an unusal situation. This of course happened in the New Testament. John 8:3 follows the well-known account when the teachers of the Law dragged a woman caught in prostitution to Him. They quoted the Law to Him to see His reaction. But what caught my attention was the verse after this;
Here is what Dr Martyn Ll0yd-Jones had to say;
"Certain people by nature are afraid of the supernatural, of the unusual, of disorder, so concerned about discipline and decorum and control, that you become guilty of what the Scripture calls "quenching the Spirit"; and there is no question in my mind that there has been a great deal of this"
I have little hesitation in saying that many "anti-charismatics" seem to fall into this category. I don't know whether they mean to. But the fear of excess seems to drive this. And again I wonder why. What's so scary about going over the top? The world does it all the time through drugs, alcohol and so on. You pay good money to do that. Why is the church so scared of it?
"People are so afraid of what they call enthusiasm and some are so afraid of fanaticism that in order to avoid those they go right over to the other side without facing what is offered in the New Testament".
Dr Martyn Ll0yd-Jones sums the problem up exactly. How I long, wish, agonise and regret that my home church couldn't have simply sat back and said; "Well there is some excess here and there - but we don't have to go that way. We have the Word of God, yet we see that we can have the life without going crazy!". Sadly Dr Ern Baxter pleaded exactly this in his last visit to Dunstable in a sermon called; "The Spirit and the Word". Dr Lloyd-Jones goes on (and here is my favourite quote that I often cite);
"Look at the New Testament Christian, look at the New Testament church and you see it vibrant with spiritual life, and of course it is always life that tends to lead to excesses. There is no problem of discipline in a graveyard; there is no problem very much in a formal church. The problems arise when there is life".
Vibrant with spiritual life! So if we are to take Dr Lloyd-Jones counsel to heart then we could almost say that if you can't remember when there was a loving discipline of a church member for doing something crazy, then your church may be pretty formal. But if you cannot remember the last time something untoward happened in a church service - you must ask, does my church resemble something of a graveyard where you know exactly what will happen?
"Problems are created by life and by vigour and the problems of the early church were spiritual problems, problems arising because of the danger of going to excess in the spiritual realms".
Oh that we would have these problems again! Of course I don't mean we should hunger for excess and failure. But I DO mean that I think formality, deadness and legalism is a more deadly problem at present that excess. These quotes of Dr Ll0yd-Jones were from my favourite book; "Joy Unspeakable" and Terry Virgo wrote a commendation on this edition. He said;
"This is no age to advocate restraint; the church today does not need to be restrained but to be aroused, to be awakened and to be filled with the Spirit of glory".
Do it again Lord. Bring life back to Your church!
Saturday, November 14, 2009
1. I grew up in a reformed charismatic church called "New Covenant Church".