Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Ultimate Destiny of the People of God!

It seems to me that the question of the destiny of the church - the people of God and the Bride of Christ - has been somewhat forgotten the question of the earthly and "already" question of it's destiny. Restorationism was an important and vital part of the Charismatic Movement but I wonder if delay meant that some lost heart. Mark Driscoll and the Acts 24 group as an example have been key in restoring the question of mission. But mission for what?

Where are we going?

In an interview with Dr Ern Baxter in the New Wine Magazine in January 1980. He was asked;

NW: What do you see as the ultimate destiny of the people of God?

Ern Baxter: I personally see the people of God in the earth as the manifestation of Christ's ultimate victory and the demonstration of His Lordship. I believe "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof" and that the gospel must ultimately be successful. I beleive that the redeemed community in every geographic locality is also the governmental centre of the Kingdom of God. I also believe that unfortunately the people of God have failed in their spiritual government over the earth.

1 Timothy 2 gives us the apostolic command as the redeemed community for when we are together in our common gatherings; First of all (or "Most important of all" says one translation), we must pray for all men everywhere, for rulers and governors and those in authority over us that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life for God would have all men to be saved".

I don't believe that is optional, yet in the last few years when teaching in large conferences I have asked audiences; "How many of you in your gatherings have obeyed this apostolic injunction?" - in conference after conference among thousands of people, the number of hands raised would only be eight or ten.

I don't think this is just a percularity that can be treated lightly. If God's people are to exercise spiritual authority and rule and the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God - if our power doesn't lie in the bullet or the ballot - it lies in the spiritual realm. But it is no less a power because of that. In fact, it is a superior power. I don't care how good a sword is, if it doesn't get into the soldier's hands it wages no warfare. If God's people have not picked up the divine mandate to govern the world through their corporate life and prayer then we really can't complain too loud at conditions.

The world is waiting for a demonstration of Christian authority through community life and intercession. As I read the New Testament there is no question but that the people of God are to exercise Christ's risen authority and bring the Lordship of Jesus Christ into the world so that nations are literally brought under the thralldom of Christ's government.

I know that what I have just said would be received with holy horror by thousands of Christians who have been trained and taught that the world is going to get worse and that the Church will go out of history with a whimper. But as I was recently thinking about these things, I thought about the element of surprise that God has manifested in His activities throughout history. Presuming the angels were crated before the material universe as we know it, when God spun the universe off His fingers and created the material universe, the angels must have been so surprised that they burst out spontaneously into singing and applause because they had not been party to the mind of God. The angels had no idea what a material universe looked like and then suddenly it appeared by a fiat of divine creation. What angel could have anticipated that?

Or consider Adam in the garden without a companion; to be put to sleep and then awake to find this exquisite creature awaiting him. How could Adam ever anticipate a thing like that? Who could have anticipated the flood in Noah's day or the seperation of the Red Sea or the manna from heaven or the water out of the flinty rock? Or if you like the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead?

Now people say; "But Baxter you must not read the newspapers. You must not be up on current events. What you are talking about is balderdash. It can't happen given our current situation". But I don't accept that situation as final. The situation I am functioning in is the situation of divine decree and power expressed in the character of God.

It just seems out of character for God to allow history to finish up with Satan winning the day.

If the best God can do is to come back in a fiat way and demolish the devil by the Second Coming, then He's saying; "My gospel wasn't the power of God. I had to come in and rescue My gospel". Rather God has declared that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation and that in this age, in the fullness of time He is going to gather together all things in one in Christ. God has declared that He is going to take out of the Kingdom all things that do offend. God has declared certain things He is going to do. I don't know how He is going to do them. But as I look back at the history of God's activity, I'm just excited and on tip-toe to see what God is going to do. It almost seems like God's got a twinkle in His eye as He says; "These folks will never learn that when things are blackest, I will do My best job".

I believe God wants us to fulfill the implications of the gospel and carry it to it's intended conclusion. It is intended to change all of life and it must change it first in the redeemed community. When we become an example of gospel life-style and a Kingdom life-style then we will have something to demonstrate to the world - that the government of God, the will of God has come to us in response to the 2,000 year old prayer; "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven".

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dear C. J. Mahaney...

Dear C. J. Mahaney...

I really WANTED to like your book (Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God)—after all, I did pay $7.99 for it. I actually think I WILL like your book, unfortunately, the wheels came off from the get go. You give me five reasons why you are going to try and persuade me that the Song of Solomon is all about sexual intimacy within the covenant of marriage.

Reason One: Solomon's topic was obviously sex.

Um, C. J. did you take a lit course in college? Have you ever read "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost? It's all about stopping by the woods on a snowy evening and watching snow flakes, right? No! It's poetry. Stopping by the woods is a metaphor for life and the ever present pressure of time and life moving on and...well, I won't bother with a literature analysis but you (don't) get the point. It's poetry! It's metaphorical. Poetry is SUPPOSED to be metaphorical. It's supposed to reach below the surface to some deeper meaning (and no, I do not spiritualize every little part of the Song of Solomon).

Reason Two: The Bible never suggests that this book isn't primarily about sex.

Seriously? An argument from silence? The Bible never suggests that it IS all about sex because the rest of the Bible NEVER REFERS TO IT! This is a terrible argument, you should have just stuck with four.

Reason Three: God's relationship with man is not sexual.

Point granted. Let me see, if I were the wisest man who has ever lived, specially gifted by God with wisdom and I wanted to come up with some type, some metaphor that best worked out the intimate relationship between Israel and God, what might I think of? Wait a minute. There is one that is all around; that everyone immediately identifies with; that everyone intuitively understands, the relationship between a man and a woman. What a perfect metaphor!

Reason Four: Spiritualizing the book doesn't work.

Agreed, and as anyone who has ever studied poetry knows, one doesn't have to make metaphors of every possible word in the poem. Indeed, one of Robert Frost's poems hung metaphorically on one line of perhaps 25. Were it not for that line, we might really think that Mr. Frost was speaking of orchards, and autumn leaves, and the smell of apples; as my English Lit professor correctly pointed out, Robert Frost won't let us take his poem literally. If thus Robert Frost, even more so Solomon.

Reason Five: We Need Instruction on Sexuality.

But, this C. J., is the brilliance of the Song of Solomon. We receive a beautiful look at the intimacy involved in marriage—and are thereby instructed—when the metaphorical meaning of the eastern love poem goes far deeper. It's brilliant! Only Solomon could have come up with it and carried it off, but then you missed the deeper meaning. So sad.

Oh, and by the way, I have a couple of questions for you.

Question one: Can you name one commentator who agrees with your position that was born before 1900?

Question two: Solomon uses the term "my beloved" again and again in the Song of Solomon. Did you bother seeing how that term is used in the rest of the Old Testament. I'm willing to bet you didn't. I've never heard anyone who holds the "Marriage Manual" interpretation of the Song of Solomon address it.

I'm going to finish the rest of the book, and I suspect I really will like it. But here we have the wisest person who has ever lived write poetry and he does not have any metaphorical purpose in mind at all? Really?

Your friend,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Change in SGM?!

I have made no secret of being a less than supportive observer of Sovereign Grace Ministries over the last few years or so - although by God's grace and mercy, much of the past has been put to rest thanks to the graciousness of Nathan Smith and Peter Bowley - the pastors in Bristol. I am a firm believer however - that criticism where criticism is due but also praise where praise is due. That's fair! I do not agree with the decisions that the leadership of SGM (we don't call them 'apostles' anymore) have made in relation to the Holy Spirit - but I was thrilled and still am to hear of the genuine heartcry for revival and more of the Spirit of God in my parent's SGM church in Bristol.

So I was greatly encouraged to read a recent transcript message by Joshua Harris aimed at the Covenant Life Church fellowship in relation to some honest reflection the team there have done. It's worth a read - but what particularly encouraged me was this statement (in relation to the Christian school run at CLC);

" ... we have come to see that in some cases our disciplinary consequences were unnecessarily strong, and the effects on those we disciplined were more painful and costly than we realized. Removing them and their negative influence from the school community was seen as an urgent priority; restoring them to the school and church community was not. Once they were gone, we as pastors had no clear strategy for pursuing them in love.

The result is that they felt cut off from the school, and consequently from the church. As a result, very few of those students who were removed from the school ever returned. Very few are members of our church today. It sobers and saddens us deeply to know that our practices tempted students to feel cut off from the Lord and his grace".

This describes exactly the feeling that I (and others I've met who have experienced the same) felt. The church leadership in Bristol were told by Peter Griesley to excommunicate me without hesitation - which in faithfulness to his leadership they did. I was then never contacted again - until through a friend we made contact again these last few years to sort this out. I emphasise - we made the contact. When you have absolutely no contact from the church leaders who excommunicate you - you really are left with the impression that you are "cast out to Satan" and beyond hope - it's hurtful.

I am so grateful and glad that this has been recognised by Harris and the CLC team - and I hope that they connect the dots from the school experience to the discipline in church life. It's encouraging and great to see. A church leader who is as in the limelight as Joshua Harris - and yet can say something as honest and open as the below - is humble indeed I think;

"Where our leadership was characterized by these patterns—in ways that I’ve shared and in ways I haven’t fully seen— we want to ask you to forgive us. We’ve been wrong. Deficiencies in our leadership have been hurtful to some of you. We are very sorry. Please forgive us".

I hope that some of my friends at "SGM Survivors" and "SGM Refuge" will be as encouraged to see this great change!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dave Holden's Plea for Charismatic Gifts and the Presence of God!

I was profoundly moved to read this plea by Dave Holden on his fantastic blog;

"As more and more "Charismatic" churches seem to have less and less gifts operating in their public meetings and performance rather than participation seems to be the way thing are going, I want to make an impassioned plea that we continue to stay biblical and truly "charismatic " by having more participation and less performance.

Gifts are wonderful. They are not optional and they are vital for enhancing our worship of Jesus, encouraging the members of the church and for impacting the unbeliever with the reality of a living God ... It's time for more Holy Spirit activity, not less. So let's expect more gifts to be in operation..

That statement really fit in with what I read in Dr Lloyd-Jones yesterday in his "Revival" sermons. Quench not the Spirit - should be our cry! Not "decently and in order"! We do not need calls for control and for restraint. We need to be awakened with the Spirit of revival! Dave Holden said elsewhere on his blog this;

"Revival: Why not NOW and why not HERE?".

R T Kendall Website New Look!

I am ashamed to say I don't get round the websites of some of my heroes as much as I wish I could - so I was delighted today to drop by Dr R T Kendall's website (I was checking out his view on a verse) and found it has been totally revamped with a great new look.

I have been a massive fan of R T Kendall's since around
1998 when I became aware that the minister of Westminster Chapel had made almost the reverse trip in theology and experience to my pastor Stanley Jebb. Initially closed to the Spirit, Kendall became a great champion of the Holy Spirit and he set Westminster Chapel on it's great current course in holding the tension between the Word and the Spirit. (I am aware many die-hard Reformed fans of Drs Lloyd-Jones and Campbell-Morgan would dispute and say he has 'wrecked' the Chapel ... but we agree to differ).

I was amused and embarrassed to find some letters I wrote Dr Kendall back in my student days pestering him with questions I had particularly on the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the Charismatic Movement - what was happening at home was worrying me and in my student radicalness I wanted answers. He was kind enough to answer many questions and send me tapes from his School of Theology.

There are some news of forthcoming books from R T Kendall including;

"God continues to enable me to write books. Two volumes of Sermon on the Mount (which I have dedicated to the memory of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones) will be available in 2011 by Baker Book House (2012 in UK by Hodder and Stoughton). Hodder will publish The Scandal of Being a Christian in 2011. Monarch Books (UK) will publish my exposition of Isaiah 53 called Why Jesus Died.

Jack Taylor, Charles Carrin and I have written a book called Word, Spirit, Power (stating our view that the Word and Spirit need to be reunited if there is to be a demonstration of authentic power in the church) which Baker Book House will publish in 2011. Charisma House will publish my book that was supposed to be entitled ‘Pride – the Sin No One Admits To’ but which they decided to call The Power of Humility – which I find rather embarrassing. I have a lot of books left in me, not to mention a good number of potential books from unpublished preaching at Westminster Chapel for 25 years".

I wouldn't agree on all points humbly with Kendall - for example his teaching on the Sermon on the Mount - but I'm so grateful to God for him and his ministry in London. You will not find a man more longing to see God move in power in London when he ministered there - so it's great to re-visit this website.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Quench Not the Spirit!

I am tremendously excited to have obtained a new car from a friend of mine in Bristol - one of it's bonus features is that it has an audio cassette stereo system. This may not be a bonus to many who enjoy iPods and MP3s and so on but I have a massive library of audio sermon cassettes which are becoming increasingly antiques!

So while driving the new car back from Bristol, I decided to select one of the great Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones's sermons from his wonderful "Revival" series. What a preacher! What truth! The sermon in question was entitled; "Dead Orthodoxy" and I was so challenged again. I think the challenges not only still apply to reformed evangelical churches such as I referred to in this post - but also to so-called charismatic churches that take the Spirit for granted.

I remember a tremendous fear of excess among the eldership in my home church in Dunstable around the time of the Toronto Blessing. Stanley, the senior pastor, would pray against the "enthusiasm of youth" and an emphasis on routine in the services was paramount. As seen in the quotes below - Dr Lloyd-Jones would not have supported this;

"Quench not the Spirit" - what does this mean? I am not sure that this isn't the text of all text that the church of God generally needs to consider at the present time. We are very clear - are we not - on that first one? "Let everything be done decently and in order". Why we are experts on it! The trouble is that we are so clear on that, that we are guilty of quenching the Spirit. In our reaction to the false, we have gone to another position that is equally false. What do I mean? Our position is that everything must be perfectly controlled, nice, orderly, correct, formal and above all - respectable".

The Doctor then goes on to compare our modern experience of church to the New Testament - and I submit that nothing much has changed.

"I am just asking you to take the New Testament church as we know it and consider it in light of the New Testament epistles. You see the difference? You don't need whole heaps of the New Testament! Why? Because the church is in this formal, dead and utterly respectable position! Now it is very interesting to observe certain things from a historical standpoint. You always observe that when forms of service become popular - the Spirit is less in evidence and we move further away from the New Testament. The very characteristic of the New Testament was this spontaneity! This life! This vivacity!".

As you fall away from the Spirit and His influence - everything becomes formal.

And then again, take this question of the fear of artificial excitement and false joy. Again we can be so afraid of these things that we can become guilty of quenching the Spirit. There are churches that are orthodox but absolutely dead, because they are so afraid of false excitement and the excesses of certain spiritual movements, that they quench and hinder the Spirit and deny the true".

I think the Doctor's next point is particularly key in the trendy "Restless, reformed" movement that men such as Mark Driscoll are fronting. Conference hopping and seeing what free books can be seized is the discussion on blogs. Dr Lloyd-Jones would call this; "Pseudo-intellectualism".

"What is this all due to? I believe it is due to a pseudo-intellectualism, a false sense of what is respectable and I am profoundly convinced that this may be one of the greatest hindrances to revival. You see, we pride ourselves on our learning. God have mercy on us. One of the greatest intellects that this world has ever known was the Apostle Paul. But look at him as he is moved by a grand sweep of emotion".

Dr Lloyd-Jones concludes with a prayer we should all echo!

"This is not a plea for emotionalism, which I have denounced but it is a plea for emotion. God save us from becoming so afraid of the false that we quench the Spirit of God and become so respectable and so pseudo-intellectual that the Spirit of God is kept back and we go on in our dryness and aridity".

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Probably No Need for God?

I was unfortunate enough to read Kevin DeYoung's twitter from the "Gospel Coalition" on my Twitter feed and it (to put it mildly) irked me. He wrote a thought-provoking post called "It's Probably Not the Worship Style". A liberal church leader had asked his thoughts about whether his church was not growing because they had an organ - and should they upgrade their music styles. DeYoung, I think rightly, puts music style in it's place.

Guitars and drums do NOT equal charismatic worship. They also do NOT guarantee church growth (necessarily). And they do NOT guarantee the Presence of God necessarily.

So DeYoung shared some thoughts in the guise of questions that he clearly thinks WILL grow churches. Questions he calls "harder and deeper". Here they are;

"Is the gospel faithful preached?
Is the Bible taught with clarity and passion?
Are the sermons manifestly rooted in a text of Scripture?
Do the elders/pastors and deacons meet the qualifications for church office laid out in the New Testament?
Are the sacraments faithfully administered and protected?
Is church discipline practiced?
Do the elders exercise personal care over the flock?
Are there good relationships among the staff and other leaders?
Is the worship service put together thoughtfully and carried out with undistracting excellence (as much as possible).
Do the people in the congregation sing the songs with gusto or are they going through the motions?
Is a high bar set for church membership?
Are the people of the church engaged in personal ministry?
Is the congregation marked by increasing prayer and evangelism?
Do the pastors believe in the complete trustworthiness of all of Scripture?
Do they take adequate time for study and preparation?
Do they truly believe and eagerly rejoice in their church’s/denomination’s statement of faith, creeds, and confessions?
Are their lives examples of personal holiness?".

Notice anything? What occurred to me was the fact that none of these questions require the manifest Presence of God by His Spirit moving on the congregation (Ephesians 2:22). None of these questions will make non-believers fall down and say "God is truly among you!" (1 Corinthians 14:25). The only question related to worship asks whether the congregation is singing "gustily". Terry Virgo writes in his new book; "The Spirit-Filled Church";

"We are coming to meet God, and therefore we should anticipate we meet with God, anything less is merely being religious".

R T Kendall warned in his book; "The Sensitivity of the Spirit" that;

"If the Holy Spirit left your church today, you'd probably carry on worshipping as if nothing happened".

I think I can appreciate DeYoung's aim in writing like this but to me it seems the whole point of church has been missed. Preaching of course is vital - we need to enjoy the Ephesians 4 Ministries God has given His church and come to learn more from His Word. Worship should be far more than simply "sung gustily". Otherwise are we really any different than a secular concert? I sing gustily along with some of my favourite celebrity popstars if I go to their concerts! Of course we need good relationships - but why are we any different to social clubs? And church discipline? If God's Presence was really among His people in power - as in the book of Acts - "great fear" was present among the people because they knew they worshipped a real, interventionist, holy and loving God.

DeYoung asks first of all; "Is the gospel faithfully preached?". But let us not forget the Word of God itself - and the true gospel;

" ... for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction" - (1 Thessalonians 1:5 - NASB).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Report from Churchcentral, Birmingham (Newfrontiers)

So today Scott and I visited Churchcentral - our closest Newfrontiers church (about a half hour walk away). The reason? I was very excited to see on Terry Virgo's twitter feed that he was coming to preach this morning! Terry had come up last night to speak to the Birmingham elders and wives. He is a hard man to follow so knowing he was so close was a temptation too great to miss as well as being one of the few men I would travel miles to get to.

So here's how we found it;



The building:

A very grand Edwardian style school in Edgbaston in Birmingham next to the University of Birmingham campus.

The neighborhood:

Nicer part of Birmingham - lots of students.

The cast:

Jonathan Bell (the Senior Pastor), Mark Titheridge (worship leader) and Terry Virgo himself.

What was the name of the service?

Sunday Morning.

How full was the building?

250 or so plus.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

Yes we were welcomed warmly by two men waiting outside the building and then even more warmly by a guy inside the building. He asked if it was our first time (I said yes) and told us where there were some free chairs - a really helpful pointer as the hall was quite packed.

Was your pew comfortable?

Yes moderately comfy.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

We deliberately arrived when the worship had just started - our new ploy to avoid uncomfortable chat such as; "So ... where do you normally worship?".

What were the exact opening words of the service?

See above. They were singing a Simon Brading song; "The God of Time and Eternity" when we arrived.

What books did the congregation use during the service?

None. A Powerpoint projector.

What musical instruments were played?

A guitar, a keyboard, drums.

Did anything distract you?

Nope not really. Probably the only thing was looking around during the worship because we couldn't see Terry. A tad concerned he was ill and couldn't make it! Fortunately he and Wendy walked in with Jonathan Bell around 12:00 probably from the first 09:15 service.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

Very powerful, moving and full of the Presence of the Spirit. We only sung around three songs but there were many contributions from people across the congregation. Prayers, readings of Scripture and a couple of prophecies.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

Around 50 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

9 and 1/2. Vintage Terry!

Text and summary of sermon:

2 Kings 9:1-9 - the 4 lepers.

Terry opened by talking about church history being full of God's interventions. You cannot project church history like a business. At times it does look as though God has forgotten His church and then He breaks through! The church is the business of an interventionist, active God who chooses to act.

The context of the text - the people were promised by prophecy that by tomorrow food would be cheap. The people may have expected an SAS crack squad but the story turns on 4 lepers.

These four people had no other agenda and nothing to live for. The incredible power of people whom nothing else matters. They were powerful because they were reckless with no other agenda.

The second point Terry made was the one that REALLY got and challenged me. He drew attention to verse 9 of the text; "they entered and ate and drank and carried silver and gold and clothes and then moved to the next tent". Terry noted that this text is usually preached in a typical evangelical fashion; "You are saved - now go out and serve!". But he asked - do we take time to enjoy the benefits of salvation? Did you taste any of the goodness of the food?

We are not always filled with that sense of wonder now it is mine now! It is an amazing discovery - Jesus Christ is MY righteousness! I WOKE UP THIS MORNING SPOTLESS IN THE SIGHT OF GOD!

The early apostles burst into the street after the Spirit fell on them drunk - they didn't care because the Spirit had fallen! It is possible as Christians to not be excited in the wonder of the gospel because we do not look too closely. The leper's first thought must have been "What have we stumbled upon?!". The leper's got their spoil of the victory. The word "spoil" appears countless times in the Bible - spoil is what you get when a battle is won!

God gives gifts freely. It is all ours because of His victory! Terry was speaking at a seminar at "Together in the North" on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Many people had not yet received the Spirit because they didn't understand it is a free gift! Miracles, healings and miracles can be freely received because of Him! Come and take! Let's receive because it is free!

We come to God hidden in the obedience of Jesus Christ!

This story tells us that when we have no other agenda and you are reckless - then you are dangerous! Have we found what has been left in the tent? The enemy has fled!

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

The sermon. Terry once again demonstrated his outstanding gifting - that he can preach a sermon and it is EXACTLY what I needed to hear!

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

The sheer dread of hearing the words; "We are going to take a short break before the sermon".

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

Terry closed the message by bringing some words of knowledge about people with different health needs and said he wanted to pray for them. We left.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

Not sure - didn't try it.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

6 - definitely thinking about it!

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

Yes definitely!

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?

While we were praying during the worship I had a vision of two cogs grinding and making an awful noise and felt God was saying that I have let disappointment and cynicism in the church start to affect me. As I was watching I saw a hand pour a bottle of oil over the cogs and watched them start to move smoothly and speedily again. I felt Him graciously remind me of His true wonderful and gracious heart!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rob Rufus on Disappointment and Theology

I was listening to the DVD of Rob Rufus's main session at Brighton in 2006 and heard him make this statement. It's so sadly true;

"I want to say today that disappointment is a very dangerous and disastrous father of theology. If we develop our theology out of our disappointments, we will lower the Word of God down to the level of our current experience of the supernatural rather than allowing God to elevate our experience up to the levels in His Word".

Rob Rufus - "Main Session" - Together on a Mission 2006 - Newfrontiers Conference Brighton.

Monday, May 09, 2011

A Rant Averted!

I was told in a recent email that one of my readers "misses my rants" and thinks I've grown up! I was going to prove them wrong with a rant about a recent tweet by Mark Driscoll. I've started following the bloke in an attempt to appreciate his giftings. And the other day he posted this;

I hardly need elaborate on some of the things I was going to say about Driscoll and his views on macho man-hood. But I've decided not to! Maybe I have grown up a bit since this blog began. I was cooking in the kitchen listening to an old sermon of Rob's - he was speaking at the Glory and Grace Conference in 2007 - the glorious conference I was able to go to.

And the truths he was bringing about "Staying Sane in a Revival" (audio version here!) were so true. I long for nothing more than a massive corporate outpouring of the Spirit of God. And yet can see that Rob's wisdom is so right! I can already see the dangers in the Bay of the Holy Spirit outpouring. Nathan Morris - the incredible evangelist there that God is using so mightily - hasn't seemed to have had a rest for days. So instead of ranting - I want to re-post this sermon! In a hope that this is a tool that we can use and hear - should God answer our prayers and pour out His Spirit - here's my notes I took from the session;

Thursday 25th October 2007 - PM Session - Rob Rufus

Following on from the outstanding Question and Answer session, we moved into a very powerful and God-visited time of worship. I remember standing with my arms raised during it thinking of the years and years of God-absent worship that I have been in and thinking - never again will I settle for somewhere where the Spirit of God is not welcome! Rob's message was once again vintage and much of what he preached totally answered my feelings during the worship. I cannot emphasise what a key message it was for the conference. From anyone else it may have been seen as an attempt to control the awesome Presence of God but from Rob it was a wise, shepherding, loving, fatherly message to keep the revival going!

For those again who are interested in the nuances of Rob's theology he went into a masterful treatise on the book of Hebrews and the warning passages within it. Any student of theology will know what a difficult area this is - and Rob dealt with it masterfully. Furthermore he had me almost leaping off my seat with joy as he dealt again with the issue of the type of the Promised Land and how the Land can NEVER represent heaven in type. It seemed to me again that Ern Baxter had returned from the dead and was preaching!

"Religious sub-cultures do not respond to the nuances of the Spirit of God but they try to mimic the same thing again and again. God has a multi-dimensional throne room with angels and elders and living beings and colours such as emerald rainbows! The Church for too long has been one dimensional. Jesus came as Apostle/Prophet/Pastor/Evangelist but He is primarily a Shepherd.

The apostolic ministry is still very embryonic and if we seal it and stop it now we will secure a brand of infantile apostles. Just so with prophets.

We need to hear the Word to keep digging wells until we have peace. The anointing refreshes your spirit but your body can get quite tired! The earthern vessel will always be a mortal body. Jesus Himself fell asleep on a boat and was grumpy by being awoken! Under the anointing strange things can happen! The Philistines couldn't work out the secret of Samson's strength so we can guess that he probably was a small man.

Many revivals burn out because people are so exhausted.

You forget that Romans 8 says we are waiting for our immortal bodies. When revivals come we mustn't kiss good theology goodbye! Let's be sane! Revivals are so intoxicating that we get hi-jacked into a strange world. We do have mortal bodies still! The "Manifest Sons of God" doctrine came out in the 40s and 50s and was heresy but driven by this hatred of our mortal bodies.

The answer to abuse is not no use but RIGHT USE!!

If some people get weird in signs and wonders and find their identity in that then the devil has a hook on them. You don't need a balance - but this move of God on the planet is increasing and is meant to increase until Jesus comes again! These 3 days of the Grace and Glory Conference are tame compared to what is coming!

But because of that we must keep good theology and tired people who don't take a rest become vulnerable. Sometimes the Word of the Lord is "go to sleep!". Someone phoned Kenneth Hagin and 03:00 and asked for a prophetic word. He said; "Bless your stupid head and your darling heart - go to bed".

The revival needs to be stewarded by sanity and heavenly ambassadorial dignity. Kathryn Kuhlman would come out of some meetings weeping saying; "They have taken my Jesus away".

One of the dangers of the anointing is that you become in high demand and people make the mistake of thinking you are invincible.

May the church become a place where our weaknesses are welcome! Everyone on this planet we think is anointed is still human and when they die they will leave their mantle on the earth. The higher and more powerful the anointing the more people will come to you. You will ask "Doesn't anyone love me for who I am or for what I can do?". It is sad that revivals aren't long-living because we don't get hierarchies and mortality sorted out.

Alexander Dowie and William Branham died prematurely because they didn't get law and grace sorted out and this issue of where you get your identity from.

We are not going into revival - we are in revival now! Never go back to dryness! Keep moving on until you find people who will sell out for revival! The only way to help nervous people come into revival is to show mighty signs and wonders in santity and freshness and longevity. Sometimes in revival we need to cut a cleft in the river and collect freshwater pools to let them drink from.

(Hebrews 6:4) - Some people see Hebrews 6 as the biggest stumbling block on grace. (v4-6) - There are 13 different theological views on these two verses! These people who are described here are clearly saved. But then it is taught if you re-dedicate your lives again you can be saved again. But here (v4-6) say it is impoosible to restore again to repentance.

That must be the devil's favourite interpretation for then he can bombard their minds that they have crucified the Lord of glory again!

How do you know when you have crossed the line? The Holy Spirit is the only One who can bring you to the Forgiver so when you resist Him, He can never again bring you to the Forgiver.

The main theme of Hebrews is the superiority of grace over law and New Covenant over Old Covenant. Hebrews is about inheritance on earth!

Those who teach that the Promised Land represents heaven are in error. The Promised Land had giants! It was never meant to be a promise about heaven or hell.

We get the promises of inheritance through faith and patience. Hebrews is a book about oaths. If God lies under an oath then His integrity is compromised and He can swear by no one higher than Himself. All nations will be blessed through Abraham because God took an oath! It is a gurantee that will happen. Sometimes storms are the devil's and sometimes they are God's. God will not back off from that oath - for instance He took an oath that Messiah would sit on David's throne and whatever David did it would happen.

David committed murder and adultery but Jesus sits on David's throne today!

When Israel came towards the Promised Land - God had not made an oath that generation would enter it but a promise. It was never made on oath that they would get their inheritance on earth. (Hebrews 2) - They didn't inherit because of unbelief. On the 10th time they vexed God - He had enough. Moses was humble enough to plead for their lives but He swore an oath that the generation would not inherit the land. When God takes that oath you can repent as much as you like but you will not change His mind. That generation had to return into the wilderness to die.

Even Moses didn't go in because 1 Corinthians 10 was showing that the Rock was a revelation of who Jesus was. If we pervert prophetic pictures about the Son of God then God isn't happy. A sprinkling on the forehead perverts the symbolism of baptism because it doesn't show burial.

What is the inheritance of the church? Nations, signs and wonders and glory! When Jesus takes His candlestick from a church or denomination then they can repent as much as they like but they will not go into their inheritance.

Don't be afraid! Live in the grace of God and keep your heart open to His Spirit! The problem isn't trying to be free from law but embracing law and building an inflexible theology to a point where God will release you to go to heaven but you won't inherit your inheritance. When you sin without the grace of God you are piling up judgement but under grace you are FREE! (Romans 7:1-3, 3:19-20). "Through the law we became knowledgable of wrath". The law has no power to make you righteous - but just to point out your faults. You can't divorce from the Law! The only way you can be free is for the Law to die but the law will never pass away!

So what is the answer? (Romans 7:4) "You died to the law ... that you might belong to Another". When you came to Christ you died to Christ and God cancelled for you the writing of the 10 Commandments. You DIED to the Law! The Law doesn't die - it is still around for the lost!

If you are dead to something then you are dead! But you are alive to a different Husband who has sympathy with your infirmities and He mediates a covenant depending on HIS performance! This Husband doesn't point your faults out!

The Gospel isn't a revelation of what's wrong with you but how right you are with the Father in Jesus Christ!!

If you feel condemnation then you are living under Old Covenant mentality. If you feel that you are yo-yo'ing between the two Covenants then you have a Husband issue. The spirit of religion is so ungodly and so powerful that Hebrews warns some Christians that choose to stay with the Law that will rape and abuse them but the broken heart of the Father can't lift the peripheral fence and let them into the glory.

They will go to heaven but they will never recieve their inheritance. A person under law has an ideal self that they are trying to live upto and fall so short that they feel they deserve the abuse of the law. God will never punish you again because all punishment was poured out on Jesus.

But God cannot allow you to inherit New Covenant life under law. If you commit adultery - stay under grace! God knows how to restore adulterers! He knows how to love adulterers! He wants heart transformation not behaviour modification.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

What is an Apostolic Movement - Interview with Dave Holden

I was interested to watch this recent short interview with David Holden (a great hero of mine) about apostolic movements (also am wondering if that's his library!);

Dave Holden: Apostolic Church Movements from Jubilee Church on Vimeo.

John MacArthur asks "Have we forgotten the Holy Spirit?"

I was very challenged by a recent tweet of John Macarthur - where he asked; "Have we forgotten the Holy Spirit"? He went on to make the point that a decade or more ago all we ever heard about was talk of the Holy Spirit - even though much was debate and discussion. And now? Now he suggested that once again the Holy Spirit has sadly become the "forgotten member of the Trinity".

I was profoundly challenged by this. As we grew up in Dunstable and observed the church steadily making it's way from it's reformed/charismatic balance to staunchly cessationist - John Macarthur and his book; "Charismatic Chaos" was a book often quoted (and one I profoundly resented). It's only recently I have come to appreciate MacArthur's wider ministry! But my impression growing up was that Macarthur was most definitely not a man "pro" the Holy Spirit in action! So for him to say this - what's going on? I think he is right in many ways:

1. Baptism in the Holy Spirit: The traditional charismatic debates such as the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit have all but quietened. Many reformed/charismatics have striven to "not speak about this" for the sake of unity. Interestingly enough even men who strongly defend the Biblical position of the baptism of the Spirit as a distinct, definite experience such as Terry Virgo are not permitted back into the "evangelical camp"! Movements such as Newfrontiers that traditionally accept this position seem to rarely teach on it (apart from the occasional seminar at a conference) because it is seen perhaps as an established truth. I would guess that Alpha courses would be the place where this is still taught.

2. Charismatic Gifts: Most evangelicals tend to hold the "open but cautious" position that they accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit have not ceased - as cessationists such as Macarthur strongly teach. But such evangelicals would not actively seek and pursue such gifts for use and enjoyment in the church setting. For example I recently attended Grace Church in Bristol - part of the SGM group of churches. Their leader C J Mahaney has progressively taken a similar route to my former pastor Stanley Jebb - quietening on teaching on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, emphasizing indwelling sin and the Cross more than the Presence of the Holy Spirit and most recently the removal of the term "apostolic". I was a member of Grace Church in Bristol for 2 years and rarely saw use of the charismatic gifts (occasionally prophecy and never tongues or the word of knowledge). However I was really encouraged to hear the senior pastor preach strongly and encourage seeing these gifts still!

Again what seems to me as an observer is that both positions have polarized somewhat. The cessationists are consistent and never see what they don't believe or expect. The "continuationists" (or the "open but cautious") group would teach now and then that the gifts are expected but without active hope and faith may not see regular manifestations of the Spirit (other than the occasional "spontaneous" Scripture reading!). And the charismatic groups may not teach regularly because it has become the "norm".

3. Revival: - when people such as Mark Heath and I were growing up in Dunstable, it was regular practice to pray passionately for revival. My greatest teacher in prayer was our pastor Dr Stanley Jebb - he was an awesome example of intercession. I will never forget him exhorting us to pray "as though oxygen was limited". Even though the Charismatic Movement was perhaps declining in freshness - there was enough expectation of the Presence of the Spirit to go on longing for more. Then when the Toronto Blessing arrived in the 1990's, Brownsville and later Lakeland and now the Bay of the Holy Spirit Revival - all these "times of refreshing" have led to a refreshing of hope for a greater outpouring of the Spirit.

Or have they? Terry Virgo spoke often of how prayer and expectation for revival was key in his growing up. Has hope declined somewhat? Are we not so sure that God is preparing to move? Hence our prayer and intercession has also waned?

So what are we to make of John Macarthur's challenge? Good it may be that debates/disagreements have quietened down. Good it may be that men such as Rob Rufus, John Piper and Mark Driscoll are bringing discussion of the gospel back to the fore - but surely any true gospel should automatically see an increased manifest Presence of the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit really is "forgotten" as Macarthur suggests - then that gospel surely is missing a vital Person.

Stanley Jebb was speaking at the "Life in the Spirit" conference in 1987 on "Reformed Doctrine and Charismatic Experience". It was an outstanding talk and in my opinion a template that could have saved many churches from charismatic excess and error and, if applied, could have saved other more cautious churches from throwing out charismatic life. But in particular he said this;

"It is my conviction that sound biblical doctrine plus the life and power of the Holy Spirit could be well nigh unstoppable. In a sense reformed doctrine is the fuel - and the Holy Spirit is the fire and we need to have the doctrine and see it set on fire by the power of the Holy Spirit".

We need so much more. I always think the Word of God lays down the standard of Spirit-life we should be seeing in churches. For example; can any church claim they see this?

An unbeliever entering a church and hearing all prophesying - is convicted and repents, worshipping God? - (1 Corinthians 14:24-25).

A prophet interrupting another prophet because he has a word to bring, the first sitting down and deferring to him? - (1 Corinthians 14:30).

At the end of a church prayer meeting, the whole place was shaken (physically) and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit? - (Acts 4:31).

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

No Condemnation Now I Dread! (A New Book by Ryan Rufus)

I can't think of a better way to begin a review of a new and wonderful book by Ryan Rufus (pastor in City Church International in Hong Kong) - "Extra Virgin Grace" - than with the favourite lines of a well known hymn;

"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!
Bold I approach the eternal throne and claim the crown through Christ my own!".

The hymn has to be heard to be appreciated so I've put the link to the video here of it being sung on the BBC programme; "Songs of Praise". I didn't post it - because I wish the gathered singers looked more happy! I can't sing this hymn without crying! The point is this;

"No condemnation now I dread! Jesus and ALL in HIM is mine! ... clothed in righteousness divine!".

These truths form the very essence of Ryan's new book; "Extra Virgin Grace". He writes in the foreword;

"My conviction is that free people will free people. Therefore the greater the freedom we come into the greater the freedom we'll be able to bring others into. The essence of freedom is to know that you are 100% set free from the law and are 100% righteous in Christ - 100% of the time. Bondage is to believe that you are still under the law and not always righteous".

It's so simply obvious. Why haven't we seen more conversions? Because we're not truly free and the answers are here! Ryan writes;

"Get ready to be armed with a key that will unlock many difficult Scriptures and distorted doctrines. What is this key? It is the key of discernment between the gift of righteousness and self-righteousness".

There are many different topics addressed in the book but the "golden thread" (as C H Spurgeon called grace) runs through it all giving the book such amazing unity. A couple of thoughts about this great book.

1. Ryan writes strongly.

I have no shadow of doubt that this book will offend some. But this strength is required! Ryan's father - Rob Rufus - wrote in the foreword;

"Intellectual preaching from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil has flooded this world and drowned entire nations in religious lies. These wholesale deceptions that have grossly misrepresented the true loving nature of God require and demand to be confronted with concentrated pure grace clarity. This book does that. Any sincere seeker will find the truth in these pages extremely emancipating. The grace revolution is accelerating. The earth is groaning for this message".

It is my suspicion that your reaction to this book will actually mark out where you are at in your spiritual walk. If you are offended because all your spiritual disciplines and righteous deeds are called "nothing" - then there it is. But if you are filled with hope and wonder because you see hope - then you are indeed a "sincere seeker" as Rob writes!

2. Ryan writes compassionately (as a true pastor).

His chapters 12 and 13 on "Rest" are the most loving compassionate chapters I have ever read on this. So much of Christianity these days is focused on "work" and "mission" and driving to see the lost saved. Of course this is true and must be done - but Ryan writes so rightly that you will accomplish far more if you are rested and sane - than exhausted and weary!

The reader knows that those under Ryan's pastoring (and I know this is true of CCI) will not be constantly made guilty by "applications" after sermons that demand more of them. "Come to the prayer meeting .... give more ..... do this .... do that". I know for a fact that there is no such guilt-driven exhorting in the church and we too are allowed to enjoy this!

3. Ryan writes as a teacher who writes what he lives not just what he believes.

So many books I've read are by men and women who don't really write with conviction. Especially those who are striving to "live more holy lives" under God! They come up with ideas and lists of "daily disciplines" to live more Cross-centred lives and so on. But there isn't a real heart of conviction there - because deep down, they too must admit; "I've blown it". Ryan's book is amazing because you read it and know he has begun to experience the thrilling joy of the freedom that grace brings. And it makes you want to experience that too! This book rings true!

4. Ryan isn't afraid to dispel wrong historical teaching!

My favourite chapter in this book is chapter 6 - his treatment of the Sermon on the Mount. I must admit as I have taken my baby steps into the gospel of grace since I encountered Rob Rufus properly in 2007, I have been worried by the Beatitudes and their implications for the Christian life. Many of the books in my library on the "Sermon on the Mount" take this historical approach that Ryan dispels.

For example, the great Dr Martyn Ll0yd-Jones wrote his collection of sermons on the Sermon and the book opens; "The Sermon on the Mount is not a code of ethics or of morals; it is a description of what Christians are meant to be". And that's how I've always read it!

Ryan writes masterfully however - going through each of the Beatitudes and explaining in context what each actually means. Here's a segment about the Sermon on the Mount;

"Matthew 5:1–7:29 is the "Sermon on the Mount". Is this sermon in-tended for the church? Absolutely not! It's intended for the self-righteous. It‟s a pre-salvation preach that exposes self-righteous pride and performance and reveals the need for God's righteousness as a gift through faith in order to see the Kingdom and become children of God ... He wasn't preaching to a church. He wasn't preaching to born again believers. He was preaching to Jews where the climate of the day was a striving for righteousness through works.".

So what do the various points Jesus makes in the Sermon actually refer to? For example Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God". Ryan said;

"Jesus wasn't saying that keeping most of the law is good enough. He was saying that if you want to live by the law then you can never break it. Not even once. The smallest transgression of the law brings about impurity in your heart and means you‟ll never see God. So if your “seeing God” is based on the purity level of your law keeping, then you better make sure you‟ve kept the law 100% of your entire life. Anything less and you‟re doomed! If that sounds rather extreme it‟s because it is. It‟s because it‟s meant to break down self-righteousness".

Here is a brief synopsis of each chapter and what it brings in Ryan's words;

Chapter 1: The Olive Tree vs. the Fig Tree.

The Olive Tree represents Christ, His gift of righteousness, faith, grace, The Spirit and the New Covenant. The Fig Tree represents flesh, self righteousness, works, legalism, human effort, unbelief and the Old Covenant. This chapter is a call to the Church to not repeat Adam and Eve‟s sin of trying to be more like God in eating from the Fig Tree but to rest in the Olive Tree and see the fruit of grace manifesting in your life.

Chapter 2: Re-defining What Renewing The Mind Is.

Renewing your mind is essentially about learning how to surrender your mind to your reborn spirit so that you become “spirit-led”. Transformation is becoming “spirit-led”. When you are led by your reborn spirit in fellowship with the Holy Spirit then you will walk in the perfect will of God manifesting all the riches of your salvation here on earth.

Chapter 3: A Moment Within God’s Eternal Grace Covenant.

If you‟ve ever struggled with understanding why God put the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden or why Israel suffered for so long under the Law covenant then this chapter is for you, and makes it very clear. You‟ll discover how grace has always been Gods intent for relationship with Him and how the Law is but a brief moment in time and for a very clear and specific purpose.

Chapter 4: The New Way Of The Spirit vs. The Old Way Of The Letter.

The letter is a religious system of external pressure and motivation to get you to serve God whereas the spirit is an internal transformation and empowered ability to serve God. Under the letter you are forced to serve God. Under the spirit it becomes your desire to serve God. For born again believers it is no longer,“Do this in order to be blessed, or don‟t do that in order to avoid punishment.” Now it is, “This is who you truly are, perfect and complete in Christ” and “This is what is available for you now, a miraculous and victorious life!”

Chapter 5: Galatians 5 Explained In Context.

Because of the confusion around this chapter, many Christians have been taken into fear and legalism, but this is a glorious chapter that God is once again shining His brilliant gospel light on to reveal what it truly means to walk in the Spirit.

Chapter 6: The Beatitudes Are For The Self Righteous!

Matthew 5:1–7:29 is the „Sermon on the Mount‟. Is this sermon intended for the church? Absolutely not! It‟s intended for the self righteous. It‟s a pre-salvation preach that exposes self righteous pride and performance and reveals the need for God‟s righteousness as a gift through faith in order to see the Kingdom and become children of God. Unless you really understand grace, don‟t go near the Beatitudes. They will mess you up! Teaching the Beatitudes to Christians produces legalism and religious pride or condemnation in them.

Chapter 7: Re-defining What Holiness Is.

Holiness has got nothing to do with sinning or not sinning. If that is what we think, then we think that we are the cause of our holiness. There is only one person who is the cause of our holiness and his name is Jesus Christ! And if you are in him, then you are holy. You don't have to try and be holy or get holy, you are holy!

Chapter 8: Hebrews 12: Understanding God’s Disciplines Through Grace.

Many people read Hebrews 12 in a very negative way that causes fear in their hearts and in the hearts of others. But actually these verses were written to encourage believers and fill them with confidence. What is fundamentally important to see when reading Hebrews 12:5-11 is that firstly, it‟s not God doing the chastising and secondly, that the chastising was not coming because of moral sins but because these Hebrews were standing for the Gospel!

Chapter 9: Romans 5, 6, 7 & 8 Unlocked.

I believe these four chapters are the bedrock chapters of understanding grace. They form a solid foundation of what the Gospel is, and will give you confidence to stand in the grace of God. The more you study them and understand them, the more you will be able to look at other verses that seem to pose a “problem” for grace, that contradict grace, and unlock their true meaning.

Chapter 10: Hebrews 5 & 6: The Impossibility Of Losing Your Salvation.

To fall away means to spiritually die again. If Christ can‟t die again and we are united with Christ, it means that we can‟t die again. If we can‟t die again then it means that we can never fall away! I believe this Scripture is written to show the Hebrews, and us, how perfect our salvation is and how impossible it is to lose it, based on the fact that Christ can never die again! And it‟s written to help us come into an amazing confidence that God is for us, always relates to us through grace, and therefore we can walk intimately with him with boldness and confidence in this life.

Chapter 11: The Theology And Experience Of Rest.

Rest is about knowing where you are seated and why you are seated there. You are seated with Christ on his throne because you have become his perfect and complete righteousness. You are not standing and working but are seated and resting. And the Holy Spirit doesn‟t just want you to know where you are, he wants you to experience where you are.

Chapter 12: More Gets Done When You Rest!

When we‟re not living in the sweet spot of resting in the finished work of Christ, life seems harder, ineffective and frustrating. But when we live from a place of rest we find life becomes increasingly more enjoyable and effective. God wants us to live from the sweet spot. He wants us to enter his rest and live from that place.

Appendix: Keywords and Scriptures in Context.

This chapter is more of a study tool to help you unlock certain Scriptures rather than a read-through chapter. It focuses on a number of words like: sin, faith, lust of the flesh, fear of God etc that usually get interpreted incorrectly and explains their proper meaning. This chapter isn‟t thorough or in depth but will certainly assist you in your own studies by triggering helpful patterns of thought.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Wall Decorations from my Library

I meant to add this photo last night of the tour round my library.

Some may question the historical nature of it - and others the "hero-worship" nature! But I framed these particular documents partly because of the real historical interest to me. I grew up a "charismatic" baby in the 1970's and this was part of my spiritual heritage. The Bible Weeks are ingrained in me! And it excites me and stirs my faith to remember that this prophetic preaching was once available and taken for granted by our parent's generation.

And it stirs my faith to pray and expect and long for God to stir the United Kingdom and to see the tidal wave I once dreamed about come crashing on our shores.

Thoughts from Romans 4

It is so humbling and awesome to re-visit the truths of the gospel. I'm absolutely ashamed but not afraid to admit I know so little - indeed have hardly scratched the surface of the gospel! And actually after the last few days listening to Rob Rufus preach on grace - have wondered what I was actually saved to! I'm transcribing a message Rob preached at a conference in East London in South Africa where he used Romans 3 and 4 as a text.

So my Bible is sitting open on the desk (as I like to follow along when he reads) and these verses just caught my eye this morning.

Romans 4:4-5; "Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favour but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly - his faith is credited as righteousness".


"To the one who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly - his faith is credited as righteousness". So we want to be righteous before God? There is no mention of work - indeed it actually says; "To the one who does NOT work". What do we do then?

We believe in Him who justifies the ungodly. Most Christians believe the gospel of grace - but we still persist in trying to add "just a little Law" in so that we contribute something to our standing before God. It just goes against our whole nature to stand back and accept we have nothing and He has everything! But the wonderful C H Spurgeon wrote about the Law;

"Unless you and I keep the law of God perfectly, it matters little how near we get to perfection. It is as though God had committed to our trust a perfect crystal vase, and had said, "If you keep that whole, and present it to me, you shall have a reward." But we have cracked it, chipped it; ah! my brethren, the most of us have broken it and smashed it to pieces. But we will suppose that we have only cracked it a little. Yes, but even then we have lost the reward, for the condition was that it should be perfectly whole, and the slightest chip is a violation of the condition upon which the reward would have been given".

So the one who simply believes - his faith is credited as righteousness. The one who spends his time in effort and in "spiritual disciplines" trying and trying to add righteous deeds to the gospel - he is under a curse because; "Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them". You break one law? You've broken them all. You had a moment of pride? You have committed adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, murder.

So much easier to just accept the gospel isn't it!? I'm learning so much about the Law and it's proper place and will probably blog more - it's just incredible how I feel like I'm going back to school!

Monday, May 02, 2011

A Trip Round My (Much Smaller) Part of My Library.

I was stirred and enjoyed looking at the You-Tube videos posted by T4G having a tour round some of the celebrities such as MacArthur, Mark Dever and so on. I've always had a great love for books but these videos challenged me to sort my library out somewhat and make more use of the awesome resources that are available and should not be taken for granted!

So rather than posted a video (I thought that would be a bit pretentious) - here's a few pictures of what my library looks like.

So this is the "Ern Baxter" section to my library. Unsurprisingly I've devoted many years of my life to building up my collection of articles, sermons, New Wine Magazines (the pile in the bottom right of the photo) and audio tapes of this great hero of mine. The picture in the middle is of Ern sitting with some of the Dunstable elders when he came to visit in 1991 just before he went to glory.

This next picture is a couple of shelves down of the audio tapes with collections I've salvaged from my home church in Dunstable of old Restoration magazines and New Wine Magazines.

The next photo is of the collection of old Stoneleigh Bible Week videos and Brighton conference videos that I've collected as well as books on the Holy Spirit and the Charismatic Movement, gifts of the Holy Spirit and so on.

The next bookshelf is one of my favourite - all the Puritan, Jonathan Edwards, C H Spurgeon (although the majority of the Metropolitan Tabernacle volumes are housed in London).

It's been a busy few days tidying and sorting in - but made me so grateful to God for the servants He has given the Church over the centuries! The written word and the spoken word give us so many opportunities to learn more about the God that we love. But I say again - all the books and tapes in the world CANNOT replace a living encounter with God Himself. Rob Rufus said;

"I love the Bible and I preach the Bible and I believe the Word of God is of paramount importance but friends - we have got to love the Author of this Book. When Glenda was living away - she used to write to me and perfume her letters. But it is not the shadow - it was her I wanted to meet. I love reading the Scriptures but I want to know the Author! I want to encounter the Author!".

These books have got to act like clues - revealing little by little more of the One we love and adore!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Rob and Glenda and Ryan Rufus in Ministry in the Phillipines!!

I was thrilled to see City Church released this video today of their recent ministry trip to the Phillipines - here below. This truly is one of those moments when I ache to be financially free so I could follow and be with these guys as the grace revolution spreads across the planet!

Here's the video and the long version for those interested is also below;

The Filler of Manila, Philippines trip April 2011 (Short Version.) from City Church on Vimeo.

The Filler of Manila, Philippines trip April 2011 (Long Version.) from City Church on Vimeo.