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".


Peter Day said...

It is so good to read these glorious truths again!

Dan Bowen said...

Amen! They never die do they!? "Imbibing only that which strengthens us" ... ;-)

Jeremy said...

Enjoyed reading this. Here is an example of this type of prayer from George Kouri, one of Ern's "Timothys".