Saturday, December 05, 2009

Where Are We Going? - Dales 1976 - Session 1

I am going to publish Ern Baxter's monumental series from the Dales Bible Week 1976 - "Where Are We Going?". This is all thanks to a Dunstable friend Andrew Norman and his hard work in transcribing this. I find that his series at the Lakes Bible Week 1975 on "The King and His Army" is more well-known but it was this series that impacted me more. The content was more developed and in depth and presented the greatest challenge to the Charismatic Movement in the United Kingdom. A challenge sadly that was ignored by pastors and teachers.

In his latest book of Christian biographies, John Piper wrote;

"When I first read that years ago, I said, No, Eraclius, the swans are not silent. They go on speaking. That is, they continue speaking, if someone tells their story and gives them a voice. That is what I am trying to do with these stories".

That is what I am trying to do here - ensure that Ern Baxter continues speaking by giving him a voice. So here is Session 1 from the Dales Bible Week 1976.

Message 1: Introduction

I suppose I could give several titles to the things I want to say to you during this week, but I’m going to entitle this series very simply, ‘Where are we going?’ Most of us know where we’ve come from; we’ve a pretty good idea where we are; but I’m afraid that we don’t have in the main a corporate concept as to where we are going, and how we get there. And it is about this I want to speak.

Does the Bible give clear teaching about what God intends his people to be, to do, and to become? I believe so, and I believe that the Word teaches it clearly, and I believe that in giving this teaching in the New Testament, the writers put forth God’s ideal for the nation of Israel as a type of his intention for his new Israel, or his New Covenant people. Now the validity of all that we are going to say this week rests upon the premise that Israel’s history was divinely intended and significant. It has divinely intended significance – this we’ll see.

Now we’re just going to expose our hearts to some scriptures for the next few minutes, and ask the Holy Spirit to impress them upon us, and I’m going to ask you from the start – I’m sure that many of you have individual needs, and I pray God they will be met - I pray that there will be physical healings this week; I pray there will be people who will become soundly converted to Christ; I pray that there will be people who will receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit; I pray that there will be impartation of special charismata, that the gifts of the Spirit will be loved and coveted and enjoyed and manifested; but I’m going to ask you to get into a ‘we’ mentality, as opposed to an ‘I’ mentality. I want us to talk about us, and I want you to let your personal needs this week, if you will, merge into the larger purposes of God for us as a people.

For let me parenthetically say that I believe that many of our personal problems and needs will be met when our corporate relationships are worked out. I believe that many of us are in physical and emotional and social and interpersonal problems tonight, for the simple reason that the redeemed community is not a community. It’s a pile of stones that hasn’t yet been made into a building. And there are many lonely stones that know they were never destined to be a lonely stone. And that the fulfilment of their destiny as a stone lies in their being knit together with other stones. And while they haven’t been able to articulate it, they have a deep sense that there is something missing.

They’re saved and baptised and sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost, and talk in tongues and prophesy, and have dreams and revelations and visions, and get goosebumps and get blessed, and everything else, but somehow they just know there is something missing.

Now if you don’t want to make that confession, I’ll make it for myself: there is something missing in my Christianity that doesn’t have entirely to do with me. There is something missing because I am not yet rightly related in God’s collective purpose. Every analogy that the Bible uses concerning his people is a corporate analogy. A nation, a congregation, a physical body, a building – all of these require that each individual part finds its fulfilled destiny in relationship to all of its related parts, and no matter how delightful a stone I am, all nicely prepared and polished, I have not found my destiny until I feel the touch of the stone next to me, and the stone under me, and know the responsibility of holding the stone above me. I just somehow know I was meant to be surrounded by other stones.

So we’re going to turn first to Romans 15. I think we should start from verse 1, and please notice the plural pronouns. ‘We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves,’ - ‘not to insist on having our own way,’ is Knox’s translation. ‘Let every one of us please his neighbour, for his good to edification,’ or, ‘let each of us give way to his neighbour where it serves a good purpose by building up his faith.’ Verse 3: ‘For even Christ pleased not himself, but as it is written, the reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.’ Now, here it is, verse 4: ‘For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,’ or instruction, ‘that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another, according to Jesus Christ, that ye may with one mind, and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

One great European commentator of a hundred years ago says that, ‘this is common adoration like pure harmony from a concert of well-tuned instruments.’ Look at that verse 6: ‘That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another.’ Now that word ‘receive’ is rather cold. In the original it means, ‘take to yourself’ or ‘welcome’. Don’t just say, ‘I receive you brother, bless you.’ ‘I receive you brother!’ There’s a warmth here. ‘Receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.’ Or, ‘just as Christ has welcomed you to promote the glory of God.’ What is the end issue here? The glory of God. Brothers and sisters, I wonder if you and I are really hearing the heart cry of God tonight? We think he wants to save me, and he wants to heal me, and he wants to bless me. Ah, but all of that is with a view of bringing you back into such a relationship with him, that his invisible attributes will be manifest in his earth.

Now when they went to the moon, and landed on the moon, and couldn’t find a microscopic cell of life, I got blessed. I did, I just got blessed. I looked at the pictures of that barren wasteland, and there wasn’t a thing there, not a thing. They couldn’t find a thing. Now the other day we landed on Mars, and it’s just as desolate. Hallelujah! [Laughter.] Now I’m saying that, to say this, that this little orb, this insignificant little blob of matter, in the infinity of our universe as we know it, has an abundance of forms of life that would require several lifetimes to catalogue, biologically, geologically, every way, just life everywhere, it’s just moving with life, trees and flowers and unicellular creatures, microscopic creatures, great large animals. It’s a…ooh, it’s tremendous!

Because God has decreed, as someone has said, that the earth is the arena of the universe, and here on this little planet, where God-like creatures like you and me are moving in an environment that he made, and intended and designed to be a homeland for creatures who bear his image, he is now working out a purpose whereby he will transmit the life of heaven into earth, until in the ultimate, earth and heaven will coalesce, and the curtain that comes between us and them, the curtain that comes between here and there, will dissolve, and heaven and earth will become one, and it will become the great site of the universe, as principalities and powers see the government and glory of God manifest in the corporeity of moral human beings that have come under the reign of God, through Jesus Christ his Son.

The thing we’re serving is the glory of God. We’ve prayed it. I wonder if we’ve known what we’ve been praying? ‘Our Father which art in heaven’ – wherever that is; ‘Hallowed be thy name’ – whatever that means; ‘Thy kingdom come’ – whatever that is. We may have been in the dark up until then, but the next clause leaves us without excuse. I don’t know as I could satisfy you about heaven – what it is, or where it is, you know it might be just – there. I don’t know. ‘Hallowed be thy name’ – that takes on tremendous dimensions, that’s discussing the whole character of the Almighty, that’s unscrewing the inscrutable, that’s a big one too.

‘Thy kingdom come’ – we’re getting warm now. Because when the Bible speaks of the kingdom of God, it’s not speaking so much geographically as it is morally. What we’re saying is, ‘God, let your moral, spiritual rule come over your creatures until all of them are submitted to your highest desire for them. The next one is unquestionable. ‘Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.’ Can you imagine the angels all dividing up and fussing with one another? Over some unimportant matter? Ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of these magnificent creatures, that came fresh and new and fully formed from the fingertips of God’s creative genius, all functioning in moral submission to Almighty God, ministering spirits running his errands.

Those magnificent creatures that hover around his throne night and day, chanting, ‘holy, holy, holy.’ ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ You say – ‘That’s too much.’ Ah, it’s not for me to choose whether it’s too much or not, that’s God’s purpose, that we as a people all so rise to the provisions and the demands of God, that we shall not only function vertically and individually in relationship to God in perfect obedience to his will, but we shall so relate to one another that we will function as a grand symphony, every instrument a little different, but every instrument blending with every other instrument to bring forth a majestic sound, that has the tones of eternity in it.
Now the Word of God says that we are to entertain this as a hope. In the New Testament, when the Holy Spirit uses the word ‘hope’ he doesn’t use it in the sense of ‘wish for’. ‘Hope’ in the New Testament is that which God has declared will be, and that toward which we move with certainty. My hope is to spend eternity in the presence of God, based on the revelation of his Word. That is not something that I wish would happen, that is something I know will happen, and it’s called my hope.

There’s no wishing in it. There’s no uncertainty in it. It’s a declared fact in the future to which I move. The reason it’s called a ‘hope’ is because it’s yet future. But it is as certain as anything that is present or anything that has been past. In fact it is so certain that Paul daringly says that ‘whom God called he justified, and whom he justified he glorified.’ Tonight I’m already in heaven, as much as I’ll be after I’ve been there ten thousand years with my new body. My spirit knows it’s in heaven, it’s my body that’s causing me embarrassment. [Laughter.] That’s why Paul speaks about our ‘body of our humiliation,’ - not ‘our vile body’ – that’s a vile translation! There’s nothing vile about your body. Your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost’s, and I can’t imagine the Holy Spirit living in a vile house. It’s the body of our humiliation. Now what’s humbling about it? My body just won’t go with my spirit. How many of you here at some high moment of blessing and anointing have somehow just known that you could fly? [Laughter.] How many have experienced that? Thank God! For a moment I thought I was the only strange one here.

For six months after I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I would dream I was flying. Of course I’d wake up and I’d be on the floor. [Laughter.] Now the point I’m making is that’s a very valid feeling. Paul said, ‘I long to depart and be with Christ’ – that word ‘depart’ in Greek means ‘pull up anchor’. He said, there’s only one thing anchoring me. You see, right now, tonight, in your spirit and mine, if we be children of God, the very Spirit that is going to effect our resurrection, or our glorification, is already living there. And when that Spirit becomes very active, and my spirit and the Holy Spirit are indissolubly joined together, and there’s this great, supernatural activity going on inside, sometimes my spirit says, ‘Why don’t we just take off!’ My body says, ‘Well, we’ll try!’ [Laughter.] But it humiliates me, and I don’t go no place. But one day, one day, it’s going to obey my spirit. And it won’t take nearly eight months to get to Mars. Alright.

I just wanted us to get verse 4 mainly. ‘For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.’ And verse 6, ‘That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And this is to be done by welcoming one another, as Christ also welcomed us.’ All for the purpose of bringing about a demonstration of the glory of God. You say, well, I’m with you up until now, what’s all the big hassle about? It’s all going to happen when Jesus comes. Aha, but there’s the point. I’m suggesting that there’s something which should happen before Jesus comes, that isn’t happening now, although I feel stirrings. I sense beginnings, and I think God is up to something. How many feel God is up to something? I think he’s up to something. [Laughter.] ‘Beloved now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be - doth not yet appear what we shall be.’ He’s changing us.

Alright, if you’ll come with me to 1 Corinthians 10, I just want us to expose ourselves to the ‘we’ aspect, as against the ‘I’ aspect. Paul is writing to the Corinthians. Paul is not writing to a person, Paul is writing to a people. Paul is writing to a community of people who have certain distinctive features that mark them out as a community different to all other communities. But the Corinthians, like us, not realising the significance and the distinctiveness, and really the purpose of God for them as a community, are a mess. The Corinthians were a mess. I’m sorry about that because the Corinthian epistle is the charismatic epistle, so if you like, they were a charismatic mess. I hope I don’t have to go through the whole thing to tell you they were a mess. I hope you’ve read the Corinthian epistle.

They were divided among preachers, there was open immorality among them, they were taking one another to law before pagan judges, they were getting drunk at the Lord ’s Table, they were debating with one another over the doctrine of the resurrection. They were a mess. And they were all full of the Holy Spirit, and had spiritual gifts. They came behind in no gift. The only thing was they mishandled them. Even their meetings were messy. They’d have several people prophesying at the same time. Paul had to speak into that thing. He said you must understand that when you belong to a redeemed community, you don’t do your own thing. You do that which is designed to make you a part of a whole, but not the whole part. And God’s whole purpose will only be realised as you are willing to be what he wants you to be in the community, in the body, in the building, in the nation, in the army, whatever analogy you choose. You will only find your personal fulfilment as you find your place in the corporate community.

If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? Imagine if your body was just one big eye. ‘E Y E’ lest some of you have a bad conscience. Or if the whole were an ear, where were the smelling? Imagine one big ear, to say nothing of one big nose. [Laughter.] I’m labouring this because I want you to think corporately, I want you to start realising from the lowest motivation, that you are only going to, and I am only going to, find personal fulfilment, as you find it in relationship. There is no such thing in the New Testament as a Christian out of community. I feel vibrations coming from Ruth, and I know what they are. She’s saying, ‘Ern, tell them what you mean by community.’ I know what I mean, and she knows what I mean, and many of you know what I mean, but some of you may think that I’m talking about three families living in one house, and that is not what I’m talking about. And because when I go back to the hotel, if I don’t say what I’m about to say, I’ll be told that I should have said what I’m about to say, I’m about to say what I’m about to say.

This week when I speak of community, I’m going to tell you simply I’m going to dip into the last chapter, and tell you simply what I’m talking about. I’m talking first of all about every one who calls Jesus Christ Lord in the geographical place where you live. That’s how Paul defines it in 1 Corinthians 1:2 ‘All those who in every place call upon the name of the Lord.’ That is the redeemed community in that place. Now all those in Judea, or Samaria, or Galatia, or Greece who call on the name of the Lord, that’s the redeemed community in a larger dimension, and you can extend that until you’ve embraced the earth. All those who call Jesus Christ ‘Lord’ the world over then become the worldwide redeemed community, and when all of those come together as they should, starting at the lowest level and working on out, then the earth will be covered with the glory of the Lord as the water covers the sea. So when I’m speaking about the redeemed community I’m not speaking about three families living in one house. That’s an aspect of community, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

The Corinthians did not understand the demand of God upon them and I’m going to lay this on you heavily now, this is not optional. In fact I feel very strongly in my spirit, and have done just the last few hours, that the time has come when I have to say, and say it categorically, you do not have the option to enjoy the questionable luxury of being an island unto yourself. Nor do I. It is not optional whether you move into the will of God or not. To refuse to move into the will of God is to come under the sanctions of the moral governor of the universe, and the moral governor of his church. There is one who walks among the candlesticks, and he trims the wicks, and if you don’t burn, you go out. You see, the things that I am going to say to you this week are not novel. I trust that they can claim to be the revelation of God for us. They carry teeth. When the risen Christ wrote to the seven churches in Asia in the book of Revelation, he said, ‘Repent, lest I come unto thee quickly and remove thy candlestick.’ I don’t think he was talking about taking away their salvation. I don’t think that’s the subject. He’s talking about witness, the candlestick the shining forth. Either you and I go on into God’s purposes, or we go out. It’s not optional. No longer can we say, ‘I believe what he said, but really it’s too demanding.’ I don’t care how demanding it is. If it’s what God requires, then it’s what we must do.

Some people came to visit us the other week, to take us out for dinner, and they came to our home, and we have a modest, comfortable home in Florida. Ruth has delightfully furnished it, and it’s most comfortable. I have my study, and it’s home. Our guest had not been there, and as he walked through the house he turned to me and he said, ‘Why in the world do you want to leave this, and travel all over the country?’ I said, ‘You’ll have to ask Jesus.’ When I hear Paul saying, ‘Woe unto me if I preach not the gospel,’ I hear the cry of a bone-weary, little, bow-legged, beetle-browed Jew who hasn’t got a spot in his body that isn’t marked with a scar. But he knows that he’s under the divine imperative. It’s not optional.

Alright, verse 1 of chapter 10: ‘Moreover, brethren’ – notice the plural - ‘Moreover, brethren I would not that ye should be ignorant’. Now when Paul says, ‘I would not that ye should be ignorant’, fasten your seat belts. He’s about to descend upon you. What he’s really saying is, ‘You’re ignorant!’ [Laughter.] You know it’s just a nice polite way of saying, ‘You’re a dumbo!’ Which obviously they were, and which obviously we are. Do you know that this summer I have come closer to discouragement than I have in many years, and it’s got nothing to do with you? It has to do with us. As I have sat on conference platforms with men, and I have felt the thrust of their egotistical desire for recognition, and the putting over of their point, and the proving of their position, I’ve said, ‘O great God, when will you ever bring this thing to pass? Are you going to have to destroy all your servants and raise up a whole new batch? How long, how long will we play on our one egotistical string? How long will we play holy pied pipers?’

And then I go to the scriptures and receive hope. ‘But as truly as I live, saith the Lord, all the earth shall be filled with my glory. If my prophets fail I’ll raise up new prophets, if one generation won’t go in, I’ll raise another generation. I don’t care how many generations it takes me. Generation after generation in this time-space world, I will one day have a generation that will respond to me as truly as I live.’ He said, ‘I base this on my own character. If it takes the processes of generations I will bring to pass in the mystery of divine pressure, and human moral response, I will bring to pass a generation of men and women that will manifest my glory around the globe.’

So I turn from the discouragement again, and take hope in the scriptures. ‘Brethren I would not have you to be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and were all baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat of the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink, for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ, but..but…’ But what? The King James version is very gracious, it says ‘with many of them’ – the Amplified version says ‘the great majority of them’. ‘But with many of them God was not well pleased, for they were overthrown’ – where? Where were they overthrown? [Audience – ‘in the wilderness’.] So God didn’t take them all back to Egypt and drown them in the Nile, just remember that. They didn’t go back to Egypt, they were overthrown in the wilderness.

Verse 6: ‘Now these things were our examples,’ or, ‘these things were examples to us or warnings to us,’ ‘to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted, neither be idolaters as were some of them, as it is written, the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.’ And that’s not a pretty picture when you know the in depth meaning of it. Verse 8: ‘Neither commit fornication,’ or sin sexually, ‘as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ.’ Dr Williams translates it, ‘Let us stop trying the Lord’s patience, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents, and stop grumbling as some of them also grumbled, and were destroyed of the destroyer.’ Now he reminds us again, ‘Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples,’ J.B Phillips says, ‘These things which happened to our ancestors are illustrations of the way in which God works.’ You say, ‘What’s that got to do with us?’ This is what Paul is saying. Those things that happened to them happened to them as examples and types and warnings, for us.

Verse 11: ‘Now these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they are written for our admonition,’ or our benefit, ‘as a warning.’ Here it is now: this is what makes it so important, precious people, this is what makes it so important: ‘Upon whom the ends of the world are come’. Let me give you two other translations that are clearer. Again Dr Williams: ‘In whose lives the climax of the ages has been reached.’ Or as J B Phillips says: ‘Who are the heirs of the ages which have gone before us’. Brothers and sisters, we are the end of Redemption Alley. We’re the end of Redemption Road. We are at the terminus of history, we are at the climax of the ages. God’s got no ace up his sleeve.

‘God who at sundry times and in divers manners in time past spake unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days,’ or at the end of the ages – in the last of the time-space world – ‘has spoken unto us by his Son.’ He gave prophets, he gave Moses, he gave Samuel, he gave Elijah, he gave Elisha, he gave Isaiah, he gave Jeremiah, he gave Ezekiel, he gave men, mighty men, that he clothed and equipped with his power. He gave them. Then as the ages came to an end, and the last great climactic age of the ages, the end of time arrived, when the fullness of time had come – and don’t water it down – God no longer sent an Isaiah, or a Jeremiah, but he reached into his bosom and in the mystery of incarnation he gave his Son! God can’t top his Son. God has nothing better to give. Prophets he gave. Eventually he said, ‘Here’s my Son.’

This is the end, this is the last. I don’t know if you’re hearing me.

What I’m saying to you tonight, I’m going to put it in large terms. I know Jesus Christ is the Saviour, and I know that his precious blood avails for sin. And I know that the Holy Spirit is come to convict men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. I know all of that, but that’s where most of us evangelically have stopped. What we don’t know is that the result of God’s redemptive act is to have a redeemed people who will in turn mediate God’s redemption to the world. And I go round saying, ‘I’m saved, I’m converted, I’m baptised with the Holy Ghost.’ Hurrah! That’s great! But now let me put it in large terms tonight. England is waiting for you.

You say, ‘Who me? I’m not Jesus.’ Oh yes you are! It’s Jesus that saves, that’s right. But, ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of them.’ How shall they hear about Jesus without a preacher? You say, ‘Now you want me to go to the mission field.’ No, I want you to stay home and stay at your job, and be a good Christian and love your wife, and train up your kids in the way they should go, and be a member of the local community of God’s people, and be a child of God in relationship, until the little world that you live in at McGurkle’s Crossing, or Pumpkin Holler, or wherever you live, that that little world will see Jesus Christ mediated through you, and it will be such a beautiful picture that you won’t give an altar call to get people saved, they’ll be knocking on your door, saying, ‘Hey, I want what you’ve got!’ That’s worth applauding, go ahead! [Applause.]

How many here tonight have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in this renewal? Let me see. How many have received it at any time? How many have received the baptism? Well, that’s pretty unanimous. That’s just about everybody. But do you know that’s not the end? That’s the beginning. That’s the cement that creates community. ‘By one Spirit are we all baptised into one ecstatic convention’. [Laughter.] Into one what? Body. What’s a body for? A body is for manifesting life, and reproducing life, and functioning in health, each member relating to each other member so as to ensure the health of each.

Alright, let’s go to Hebrews. Remember the plural pronouns. Hebrews 3:1 ‘Holy brethren’ – not, ‘holy brother’. The word ‘brethren’ here includes the ‘sistern’. [Laughter.] It’s like the word ‘man’. Sometimes it’s used generically and it means ‘humanity’. When he says ‘holy brethren’, he’s saying ‘holy brothers and sisters; holy community; holy people of God; holy nation; holy army; holy body.’ ‘Wherefore holy brethren, partakers, or comrades of a heavenly calling, partners.’ The word partakers - words are so important – partaker of the heavenly calling. ‘Oh, alright, I’m a partaker.’ No, that’s not what it means. It means that together – the word ‘partakers’ means comrades, partners, joint participators;

Dr Weymouth says ‘sharers’ in the heavenly calling. I cannot realise the full meaning of what God has called me to if I am not experiencing it in relationship with you. I don’t want to be vulgar, but there is no sense in me saying to a man standing there alone, ‘I hope you have some nice children’. He said, ‘Who me?’ Or if I were to say it to some pleasant lady, ‘I hope you are blessed with a fine family.’ She says, ‘Well, I’m, er, I’m single.’ What’s she saying? Why was he perplexed? For the very same reason that the little virgin Mary was perplexed when the great archangel Gabriel said she was going to have a child. She asked a very simple question, she said, ‘How can this be since I have not known a man?’ She said, ‘I can’t have a child apart from relationship.’

And God’s will cannot be done in earth, brothers and sisters, apart from relationship. Revival is waiting tonight for relationship. The world is waiting for us to find one another in the redeemed community. It’s waiting for us. God is waiting for us. The angels are waiting with bated breath, leaning over the balustrades, saying, ‘Christians, get it together, like we’ve got it together up here. You’ll never know how good it is to get it – get it together!’ [Laughter.]

Does anybody here speak English? Some of you are looking at me as if I’m talking in tongues! ‘Wherefore holy brethren, comrades, sharers, fellow participators of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest of our profession, who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all’ – now we’re coming into it – ‘in all the household of God.’ Or, as one translation says, ‘in the management of God’s house’ – not talking about you and me, we’re talking about us. Verse 3: ‘For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, in as much as he who hath builded the house’ – or, the founder of the household, ‘hath more honour than the house itself,’ or the household.

I wonder if I can say this to you without breaking my spirit? Paul’s called himself a steward of God’s household. Now there’s another plural concept. We are members of God’s family, and God’s changing his housekeeping when Jesus came along. Moses looked after God’s house, but when Jesus came along God’s house took on new dimensions, and God changed his housekeeping. And then he gave his revelation to Paul about his house, and how he wants his house run. In the fourth chapter of Ephesians he tells us how he wants his house run. 1 Corinthians 12-14 tells us how we are to behave in the house. First Timothy, Paul said, ‘if I don’t get to you Timothy in Ephesus, I’m writing a letter to you so you’ll know how to behave in the house of God. God’s got a household with a bunch of naughty kids.

That’s why Hebrews 12 is so important: ‘Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.’ And if you be without chastening, then you’re not in the household. We’re talking about sanctions now. You say, ‘I hear what you’re saying, Baxter, and if you think I’m going to come under that kind of condemnation, you’re crazy. [Laughter.] I’m a Christian, and I’m on my way to heaven, hallelujah! And if you think you’re going to get me into some kind of corporate thing, and all that business about getting along with others, I want you to know, bless God, I’m independent.’ Oh really? I hope you’re not as independent as I’m thinking, because if you’re that independent, you may not even be in.

I tell you one thing, if you’re a real child of God, and you’re not flowing with God’s purposes, he’s a good parent. He’s not like one of us. We say, ‘Oh, I never spank my children, I love them too much.’ You tell lies! You don’t love them at all, you love yourself. You don’t want to run the risk of having them not like you, so you don’t spank them, and then rationalise by saying you love them. Oh no you don’t. If you loved them, you’d lay the rod on them. And leave a blue wound, the Bible says. Ohhh! [Laughter.] ‘I just couldn’t!’ Alright, don’t! But you’ll live to see the day when he’ll lay a blue wound on you. My Father practises what he preaches. My Father tells me as a father that I am to use the rod. And so my Father practises what he preaches. A lot of sob sister bleeding heart preachers come along with a sloppy message of the love of God, that God loves you too much and he won’t do this and…look, God loves you so much he won’t let you have your own way, that’s how much he loves you. And when you want to take your own way, he says, ‘Son, let’s take a walk.’ [Laughter.] And when you come back, he says, ‘Now, will you do what you’re told?’ ‘Yes, Daddy.’ Don’t know what I’m laughing at. Alright.

Verse 4: ‘For every house has a builder, but he that built all things,’ or the builder of all things, ‘is God. And Moses was faithful in the whole house of God,’ or as Dr Moffatt says, ‘in every department of God’s house as an attendant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after, but Christ as Son over his own household, whose house are’ – what’s the pronoun? ‘We.’ ‘We are his family,’ is one translation. Now there’s another one I didn’t even mention before – family, the family of God. ‘Whose house are we if… Whose house are we if… Whose house are we if…’ Everybody got an if in there? ‘Whose house are we if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope, firm unto the end, wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, today if…’ [Breaking into song] ‘The Holy Ghost saith today if…The Holy Ghost saith today if…’ Somebody ought to make a chorus out of that! [Laughter.] ‘The Holy Ghost saith, today if…’ Somebody says, ‘I don’t like that. It doesn’t inspire confidence.’ Isn’t it interesting how we choose all the scriptures we like, we make choruses out of them. Here’s another one I think would make a good chorus: ‘Our God is a consuming fire! Our God is…’ It’s in there. No, we would pick all the good ones – ‘All things work together for good, together for good…’ ‘My God shall supply all your needs..’ Isn’t it interesting? ‘Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth…’ [Laughter.] I wish some son of Asaph would write some of those choruses.

We do the same in our Bible reading. You all have a favourite verse. ‘He knoweth our frame, that we are but dust.’ ‘Be ye therefore perfect, for your Father in heaven is perfect.’ ‘Oh, I don’t like that one.’ Since when did we have a right to like and dislike God’s Word? You see we pick and choose. ‘Wherefore the Holy Ghost saith, today if you will hear...’ Who will hear? ‘He’s talking to sinners.’ Well, yes, he is. Sinning saints. Now some people are out saving sinners. My business is to go round saving saints. The voice of God that is being talked about here is the voice of God to a people who had already come through redemption. And he said, ‘Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your’ - plural – ‘hearts.’ I came over here, and I went to bed last night about 10:30, and I woke up at 2:00, and I didn’t go back to sleep, and so I read the prophets, in the quiet of the night. Try it sometime – reading the prophets in the quiet of the night.

You know what they did to prophets? You know how Jesus designated ethnic Israel? He designated them as the people who slew the prophets. The big thing today is not to put people under condemnation. ‘Don’t send them away with a heavy spirit. Send them home happy.’ Who said so? ‘Today if you will hear his voice,’ get up off your lazy seat and go do what you are told. Don’t talk to me about sending you home happy. God’s not Santa Claus, he’s God. Everybody thinks they got to come to a meeting, and good Saint Nick’s going to hand out presents. We’re all going to go home singing Christmas carols – you know, we’ve been to visit Santa Claus. God’s not Santa Claus, he’s your Father. He has begotten you and me unto a living hope, he has brought us into a family relationship, and he takes his kids sometimes, and he bats their heads together. Now he says, ‘Behave yourselves, I don’t want to hear any more of that fussing.’ Pow! Pow! Pow! Somebody says, ‘But brother, God is love.’ I know he is! Pow! Pow! Pow! And I’ve got the scars to prove it. How many here have scars to prove it, that God is love? Come on, be honest.

They killed prophets. You know it’s a most interesting thing. Pardon me for being autobiographical, but God worked me over – he’s done it several times – but on this occasion it was down in Arizona where we were living at the time, and I woke up one morning, and he was there. Have you ever had one of those kind of days? [Laughter.] He’s waiting for you when you wake up. And it runs something like this: ‘We’re going to make a day of it.’ [Laughter] We made a day of it. I mean it. I put it humorously, but it’s a day I’ll not soon forget. He took me into Isaiah. He stripped me clean. I remember I finished the day toward six o’clock in the evening, slumped by the side of my bed. My tear ducts were dry. I couldn’t generate a tear. I remember what he said to me. He said, ‘You’re going to be a divider.’ And I remember I felt free to very dryly respond, ‘Thanks a lot.’ What a commission! ‘You’re going to be a divider.’ He said, ‘My Son was a divider. He came not to bring peace but a sword.’ He said, ‘You’re going to be a divider, because as you proclaim the truth, you will demand that people make decisions. And those who don’t want to decide will draw back, and they will say, “Baxter brought division.”’ Dividing what? The ones who want to from the ones that don’t want to. Men and women will make decisions in this convention this week as we move into this series – and I’m just gently moving into it. [Laughter.] People are going to make decisions, because there are thousands tonight of God’s people in the valley of decision, who are standing at the point where they are either going to go in to what God is doing, or they’re going to retreat, never again to have an opportunity to go in. I’m not talking about going to heaven. I’m not talking about heaven tonight. I trust that this audience is sufficiently mature that you know I’m not talking about heaven and hell. I’m talking about whether you and I are going to do the perfect revealed will of God in this hour of visitation, or whether we’re going to draw back and die in the wilderness.

‘Harden not your hearts as in the provocation in the day of temptation in the wilderness.’ Verse 9: ‘When your fathers tried my patience and tested me, and saw my works forty years, wherefore I was grieved with that generation.’ He was grieved with that whole generation – plural. ‘And said they do always err in their heart. And they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, they shall not enter into my rest.’ They. ‘Take heed brothers and sisters, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.’ But have the moral courage, and the agape kind of love to confront one another daily, desiring for each other the highest best. Exhort one another. It’s not just encourage, it’s to lovingly confront. Are we up to that yet? Are we up to being lovingly confronted? There may be some of you here tonight who know what a Communist cell is like.

And if you do, if there’s anyone here who does, you know what I am saying, that one of the reasons that Communism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses if you like, have made such a dent on this world’s population in the last fifty years, is because they rediscovered among other things, the power of confronting one another in terms of the highest goals of their party and their religion. And if you’re in a Communist cell your comrades will confront you, if they know of any act or attitude on your part that is not in accord with the Communist purpose. They’ll confront you. And this country is not without its historical illustrations, for the Methodist class meeting in its most powerful day had confrontation. Incidentally, that’s where the Communists got their cell system, from the Methodist class meeting.

We don’t dare confront one another any more. I’m not talking about pointing the finger of criticism. This word ‘exhort’ is a rich word in the Greek. It doesn’t mean sloppy agape. It doesn’t mean maudlin sentiment. It does mean the arm around the shoulder, but it does mean the firm, courageous, straightforward, probing, loving word in the heart, so that you know with the strength of the arm and the word that you’ve got that man’s best love for you, not a love that will let you get off, but a love that will say, ‘I love you too much to not point out the flaw that is ruining you.’ ‘Exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, for we are made partakers,’ or, ‘we participate in Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence, steadfast unto the end…’ and on and on it goes.

Let me just take a few minutes and give you a few more scriptures. Did we get a board? We got a board. I’m not going to put that much on it, but I’m just going to put something on to stimulate you for the morning. Let’s take four scriptures quickly. Exodus 3:8. What I put on here’s going to be childishly simple. And I’m going to explain it for the sake of tape people. Have you ever listened to a tape, and a man’s using a chalkboard? [Laughter.] And you’re listening and you’ve got the whole argument up to this point, and now he says ‘I’m going to the chalkboard,’ and he writes, and the people laugh, and they say, ‘Wh-what did he say?’ [Laughter.] Now on the left side of the chalkboard, up on the left hand top corner, I’m going to put ‘Egypt’. I hope I’m going to get this all here on this postage stamp. [Laughter.] In here I’m going to put ‘wilderness’. Over here I’m going to put ‘land’.

Exodus 3:8. I want you to see three prepositions, then I’ll let you go home, because some of you are just freezing, bless your hearts. Lord, warm those souls! Did you ever hear of a cold prophet? Alright, Exodus 3:8 ‘I am come down to deliver them...’ What? ‘Out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them…’ What? ‘Up out of that land’, what else? ‘Unto a good land.’ Alright, let’s go to chapter 6, verses 6-8. ‘Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am Jehovah’ – that’s the divine signature – ‘and I will bring you…’ What? ‘Out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you…’ What? ‘Out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments, and I will take you to me for a…’ What? What? Talk to me loudly. ‘People. People. People.’ Not one ‘poople’, ‘people’. Okay. ‘And I will be to you a God and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God who bringeth you...’ What? ‘Out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will bring you…’ What? ‘In unto the land which I sware to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, and I will give it to you for a heritage. I am Jehovah.’

Now, what’s the word I put under ‘Egypt’ then? ‘Out’. And what is the word I put under ‘land’? ‘In’. How many know they’re out? How many know that we are not yet in? Come on, we are not yet in. Thank you for that. Some are not sure, which indicates they know they’re out, they’re not sure they’re in, so I know where they are. [Laughter.]

Two more scriptures. Deuteronomy 6:23, where we’ve got the two prepositions in one small verse. Deuteronomy. Matthew, Mark, Deuteronomy. [Laughter.] Okay, you got it, in the Old Testament, the front part of the Bible? ‘And he brought us…’ What? ‘Out from thence that he might bring us…’ What? ‘In.’ To give us what? ‘A land.’ To give who? ‘Us.’ Say it again. ‘Us.’ Again: ‘Us!’ Hallelujah! That’s the battle hymn of God’s republic. Now here’s the last scripture, Deuteronomy 8:15. I just want one small part of it to get the preposition. The very first sentence: ‘Who led thee...’ What? ‘Through.’ So what do I put down here under ‘wilderness’? ‘Through.’ That’s what I am, just about, right now! [Laughter.] Now you all have it. We come out of what? Egypt. We go through the what? Wilderness.

And we come into the what? The land. That’s God’s purpose for his people. Now let me ask you a question, because I didn’t for years, so don’t be embarrassed if you have to answer it negatively. I had preached again and again, on Egypt, the Exodus, the Red Sea, the whole bit. I’d preached on the wilderness, the manna, and everything. But I had not ever preached a sermon on the land. I’d talked about coming out of Egypt, and I’d talked about all the miracles in the wilderness, but somehow this… And I have a large library, so I thought I would consult it, and couldn’t find any sermons on the Land, and I said, isn’t that strange? We know what we’ve come out of, and we know what we’ve to go through, but we don’t seem to know what we’re to go into. What does the land stand for? It doesn’t stand for some place I am going, it stands for some place we are going. How many have heard a sermon on the land? About five.

Don’t be embarrassed. I had not ever heard one, and it wasn’t until God quickened this whole thing to me about five years’ ago, in a charismatic leadership group in Seattle, Washington, where charismatic leaders were gathered from all over the nation, and the question came up, ‘Where are we going?’ And God had just opened this up to me. And they said, ‘Where are we going? What is the meaning of this visitation?’ And I said, ‘Brethren, I think I know where we’re going.’ And they gave me time to take the chalkboard and point out that if this generation will hear the voice of God, I can tell you, before this week is over, where God wants us to go. And because this tape is going to be heard by a lot of people, I have no apologies for what I’m going to say this week about where we’re supposed to go. And if nobody wants to go where we’re supposed to go, you stay where you are, I want to go where I’m supposed to go. [Laughter and applause.]

Hallelujah! If you’re glad I’m finished, don’t say Hallelujah, but if you’re glad the Lord is risen, say Hallelujah! If you’re glad God’s got a purpose for us, say Hallelujah! Glory to God!"

Session 2 - to follow shortly!


David Rolles said...

Great stuff from Ern. We were there in 75 & 76, and hugely impacted by his ministry.

Dan Bowen said...

So ... to put you on the spot as someone who was "actually there" at the Dales :)

Did you leave the Dales after 1976 feeling that there had been a divine commissioning and a challenge to "get up and go"? That's the impression I am ALWAYS left with after listening to the last session; "Kadesh Crisis".

Or did most of the gathered thousands miss that and just felt it had been "another" Bible week and a "good time"?

I'm trying to investigate here whether there WAS a real sense of divine timing or whether actually it's something I am reading into it with the benefit of hindsight.

David Rolles said...

I've consulted Jane, and 33 years later (!), we can't honestly recall it as a 'divine comissioning'. But that may say more about our failing memories than what took place.... It was definitely 'another good Bible Week', as were 75 and the subsequent years with Ern Baxter - but the context was that these were the very early 'Bible Weeks' in the UK, preceded only by the Capel weeks, so were still very fresh and impacting.

For us 75 and 77 were more memorable - Jane responded to Ern's challenge to get the basics in place and was baptised in the sheep-dip in 77!

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

If I could say for us in Amersham...
We'd had timely input from Juan Carlos Ortiz on Discipleship and cell groups, before they became institutionalised...but we hadn't understood that the Land was here...this side of Jesus coming back. This had a huge effect to cut us free from what was the British evangelical lie...we hang around in the sweet bye and bye".

A lot of us found ourselves immediately in new independent churches who wanted to be local expressions of The Church and not just denominational puddles poking around with their own little visions.