But I remembered today the words of Ern Baxter - when he spoke about rising and soaring like eagles. The eagle does not allow himself to get entrenched in the mud but rises and soars into the sunlight rays! So I made myself listen and hear and rejoice in Ern's classic sermon; "Thy Kingdom Come!". It's still true - and "I the Lord do not change".
Here's the transcript;
"Thy Kingdom Come!" - Kansas City Shepherds Conference 1975
I would hope that every minister or spokesman of God has a "Now" moment when God seems to anoint their ministry so powerfully that it seems heaven has come down. I don't think I will be contradicted if I say that Ern Baxter's message on "Thy Kingdom Come" at Kansas City in 1975 was quite possibly his crowning moment of his service to God. The anointing on this message make it a "Must Hear" for anyone interested in his preaching.
It is interesting to hear what Charles Simpson had to say on this message: "In 1975, Ern ministered in the closing session of the Kansas City Shepherds' Conference. Nearly 5000 men had gathered; His message was "Thy Kingdom Come." As the message closed, they pulled off their shoes and bowed in God's presence. As they left the auditorium, they sang, "He is Lord." The men sang through the streets of Kansas City. Many people have said that it was the single most powerful meeting that they ever attended, and that the message was the most inspiring that they had ever heard".
It HAS to be heard and read! It is my passionate prayer that everyone who reads these words has their vision of God, His Kingdom and His Spirit dynamited. That you rise up fired up like never before to know God and His Glory.
"I had composed what I thought were some rather clever introductory remarks which now, in the atmosphere of this momentous gathering, seem to have become inappropriate. I sense the Presence of God in this final meeting in a confirmatory way that serves to underline what I have felt all week - that we have been in the Presence of the Living Word of God. That we have not only been ministered to out of the hearts and minds of gifted men, but we have been ministered to on a higher level that marks times of special direction that God gives to His people, when He lifts us up into special dimensions of awareness and insight.
Earlier this week Charles Simpson was referring to some related brothers and he spoke of various characteristics of the different men in the group. He said that one of the brothers was always referring to things "in the larger perspective" ... I'm the brother. In speaking to you about "Thy Kingdom Come", that's exactly what I'm going to attempt to do. I'm going to try on this last night to describe the larger perspective of what God is doing - the significance of the practicalities you heard described by experienced and dedicated men. The very practical remarks of John Poole and Larry Christenson and the other speakers have ministered to our needs. I have appreciated the men and their messages. I have been fed and edified.
But I feel that to inspire our hearts to respond to those practical teachings, our faith must be charged and sustained by understanding that we are part of a cosmic scheme inaugurated by God and intended by God to be carried out until the entire universe acknowledges that Jesus Christ is Lord ... to the glory of God the Father. (*applause*).
1. God's Reign.
God has a problem in communicating with us. The problem is to communicate His infinite mind to our finite understanding. Therefore He gathers up all of our human relationships and uses each of them as metaphors to transmit some understanding of an aspect of His own character. Therefore when we speak of "King" or "Kingdom", God makes use of these expressions to give us some understanding of His own authority.
I like Doctor Moffat's translation of the "Kingdom of God". He speaks of it as "The Reign of God" - God's reign. It's the manifest authority of an infinately loving and holy God. It's His authority coming into a time/space world and bringing men into a willing obedience to the order of God. Using this metaphor of a King, the Word of God indicates that God has always been absolute sovereign. There has never been a time when God was not in total charge.
The Bible tries to tell us in simple language of the ultimacy of God. There is none before Him. There is none beside Him. He takes orders from none. He was created by none. He is Life - Self-Existent. There is nothing in Him that should be out of Him. Nothing out of Him that should be in Him. He remembers nothing because He's forgotten nothing. He learns nothing because there is nothing He does not know. He does not need to know because He holds all truth simultaneously. He is the God of the Eternal Now. He can look at human history from the beginning or the end or the middle - for all things are known to Him.
The Bible tells us that "The Lord has established His throne in the heavens and His sovereignity rules over all" (Ps 103:19 - NAS). The marginal note says, "all" means "the universe". God is the King of the Cosmos. Psalm 29:10 says "The Lord sat as King at the flood; yes the Lord sits as King forever" (NAS) or as another translation says, "Over the ages". He is the God who out of His eternal "nowness" spun the time/space world into existence. He sits outside of it in powerful authority yet He is involved within it in incarnate humility. He is the cosmic King. It is the nature of our God that within the mystery of the plurality of His own Person, there is order. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Or as an old Puritan divine once said, "God in Himself is a sweet society".
The order of God's ultimate purpose is to be seen in His own Person. And within the mystery of His Person - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - there is absolute unity while there is inexplicable submission. The Father sent the Son and the Son came. The Son returned to the Father and the Father and the Son sent the Spirit and the Spirit came. Within these three Persons that are co-equal, co-substantial and co-essential, there is evident submission and this serves as the highest lesson to us that God is a God of order. Or as Bishop Hooker once said, "Order is heaven's first law".
The Kingdom of God we are speaking of is not some euphoric, ethereal mystic matter. We're talking of order. We are talking of man coming into the fulness of his self-realization, into his ultimate destiny as the image of God functioning in interpersonal relationships and in community until a waiting universe sees God projecting Himself out of the eternity of His Person into a community of redeemed men and women that are to be everlasting praise of His glory. (*applause*).
That company of mysterious creation, the angels is marked by order. We read of seraphim and cherubim, archangels and angels and we read of God sustaining that order. We read of the covering cherub, Lucifer, who probably was the one whom we now call Satan, who at one time was the "top" cherub in the hierarchy of the angelic order. He rose up in rebellion against God and was cast from his high place. We are reminded again and again that within the order of God, in a pre-Adamic situation in the heavenlies, that God meted out punishment and judgement and maintained order.
The God who maintained order in the angelic species is the God who is establishing and will bring ultimate order in the redeemed community. In the world of men, He established His first man Adam and gave him rule over the earth. He made him a ruler and Adam became the first delegated human authority in the earth. Satan himself having been thrust out of a place of authority, moved in on God's creation and subtly entered the human situation of Adam and Eve. Eve yielded to the sinister and subtle seductions of Satan. Adam joined her in eating the forbidden fruit, both of them abdicating in favour of what they considered to be a better offer. Human independence.
Satan's first lie to Adam was that if he would move out from under divine order, he would find himself in a most enviable position - he would be equal to God. He would be able to spin his own world off the end of his creative fingertips. He would be able to have his own angelic order. He would be like God. God had been holding out on him! Real life did not lie in submission to God. Real life lay in man coming out from under that submission and establishing an independent posture and so doing his own thing. And so sin has it's initial definition. "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6). Turned everyone to his own way!
But that is not the whole story. For as Satan seduced Eve and lured her out from under the authority of God and His order, they thought they were coming out to a position of independence and coequality with God. Instead they came out only to be dominated by the one who had seduced them and drawn them away from God. The Bible tells us that every man who is not under divine authority is not only doing his own thing, but he has adequate and able assistance from demonic powers (Ephesians 2:1-2). Disobedience means that a man has come out from under divine order to do his own thing. And to withdraw our submission to divine order us to automatically come under the deceptive influence of Satan himself.
Satan's inital lie was followed by a series of lies for our Lord said that he was a liar from the beginning. His lie started as a bluff and he continues to impose it on many men to this day - Christians included. That lie is that when Adam abdicated his authority, Satan took it over - that when Adam fell, Satan got the authority over the earth. Satan has imposed this lie on generation after generation of men. As a result, many Christians today consider Satan to be almost coequal with God and there is some kind of titanic struggle going on for ultimate authority - the outcome of which is not yet decided. This is not the case.
When Adam abdicated authority, Satan didn't get it. God reached down and took the scroll of authority out of Adam's hands and said, "I'll keep it until One comes who can handle it" (*applause*). I suggest that we all memorise and quote Psalm 24:1 as we rise each morning. "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof - the world and all that dwells therein". Satan has been trying to bluff men for centuries into believing that he has the authority. You reply, "But he is referred to as the prince of this world - the god of this world". Indeed he is, but as we've already been told in this convention - we must learn to define our terms of reference.
I'm in the world and he's not my god nor my prince. Nor is he your god or your prince. Therefore we must find out what world he is prince over and god over. He is prince and god over the world of moral intelligences that are willingly submitted to his lying reign. He is not king of my world - he is not god of my world. For I am in a world that belongs to the Lord! I am in a world which God is sovereign over. I'm in a world that has always belonged to God, always will belong to God and which one day will be regenerated and refurbished to become the dwelling place of a community of men and women who have been prepared to manifest God's glory and righteousness in it. (*applause*).
You may well ask, "If God retrieved order and authority when Adam abdicated it, how then did He handle it?". The Word of God is clear in Hebrews 1:1, 2 that "God who in diverse manners in times past spake unto our fathers by the prophets hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son". God undertook from the time of Adam's abdication to speak to men through prophetic voices. He reigned from heaven and if you'll carefully read the Old Testament Scriptures you'll find that He spoke through prophetic voices. For by definition a prophet is one who speaks for Another.
Satan thought that he had the authority, but God had it all the time. He spoke His authority through prophets. Prophets anointed kings. Prophets declared the will of God. Prophets in the earth were inspired to mediate God's divine authority. They did so for the thousands of years until God's Ultimate Prophet came on the scene: God's final Voice, God's ultimate manifestation, God's own darling Son whom He plucked from His bosom and into whom He poured all the riches of His wisdom and grace. This beloved One came down "for us men and for our salvation" to become God's final voice, to become the pattern Son, to become the ideal Man after whom He would pattern a whole community of redeemed ones. God chose to speak through prophets until Jesus came - whose right it was to reign.
2. "I Will Build My Church!".
"There are three significant men in the Old Testament to whom we relate: Adam, Abraham and David. We relate to Adam racially, we relate to Abraham redemptively and we relate to David royally. It is interesting that in the genealogy of our Lord in Luke, He is spoken of as "the Son of Adam". And in Matthew's geneology in chapter 1, He is referred to as "the Son of David" and "the Son of Abraham". Therefore our Lord is traced back to these three men.
We all know what it means that He is the Son of Adam and we know what it means that He is the Son of Abraham. But we are only beginning to realise what it means that He is the Son of David. It is also interesting that in all the Gospel birth references to our Lord's coming into the world in miraculous incarnation, He is related to David. I searched in vain in the Scriptures for any announcement of Him in relationship to Adam or to Abraham. He is related to David because only David represents in the Old Testament Scriptures the ultimate purpose of Mashiach (Messiah) in the finalization of God's redemptive purpose.
This causes me to wonder if now, as God is calling us to corporiety and community, we are not beginning to realize Kingdom life and authority. For years, we have attracted men to the Jesus Christ Who is the Seed of Abraham. When Paul in writing his Epistle to the Romans, gives us a treatise on the nature of salvation, he refers us to Abraham. But when he's addressing the Corinthians about the corporate community life, he relates us instead to Moses and to the corporate body of the Old Testament community of which David was Israel's greatest king. In Abraham we have individual salvation. But in the nation we have corporate salvation and the corporate salvation of the nation is represetend by God's king "after His own heart" - King David.
In Matthew 16 our Lord made the announcement of His purpose. He said, "Who do men say that I am?". They replied, "Some say You're this one and some say You're that one". But He said, "Who do you say that I am?". Peter said, "Thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God". "Blessed art thou Simon Bar-jona" said our Lord, "for flesh and blood have not revealed this unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven". Then came His declaration: "I will build My Church" and "I give unto you the keys of the Kingdom" (Matthew 15:13-19).
Now when He said, "I will build My Church", I think the emphasis is on "My". The word "church" is an interesting word. It's the Greek word ecclesia. Both to a Greek and a Hebrew it would have had significance. To the Hebrew, it is that word used in Greek to translate the Hebrew word for 'congregation' which is used over 70 times in the Septuagent version. Therefore what He was saying to the Hebrews was "I will build My congregation". There was only one other person who led a 'congregation' or 'church' (Acts 7:38). So in the book of Hebrews we're told that Moses was faithful as servant in the Lord's house but Christ is Son over the house.
It's also interesting that in the Book of Revelation that they sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. Now what was Jesus saying? When He said, "I will build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it", it was also a commentary to Moses' church. Moses had his church. He brought his church through the wilderness but he couldn't take his church in. And when eventually his church did go in under Joshua, they still didn't succeed in God's purpose. Moses church was to be the theocratic, national evangelistic centre of the world. It was to establish a theocracy at the heart of the earth that would become the voice of God throughout all the nations. Psalm 48 said it was to be the joy of the whole earth.
But division and dissension brouke it up and so it dwindled away so that when Jesus came, He to look at what was left of the congregation of Moses and say to them, "Your house is left unto you desolate - and the kingdom is taken from you and given to a nation bearing forth the fruits thereof" (Matthew 23:38; 21:43). But Jesus declared, "Now I will build My church. And the gates of hell shall not prevail against My church. The gates of hell prevailed against Moses church, but not against My church. My church is going to be a successful chruch. I declare it - I affirm it. I determine it. My church will be a successful church".
For years we have interpreted this negatively. We've said, "I'm in the Church and thank God, the devil can't get at me. The gates of hell cannot prevail". So we have huddled together, feeling protected by that Word of the Lord. I don't think that's primarily what He meant. Personally I have never been attacked by a gate (*laughter*). I've never had a gate jump off it's hinges and chase me down the street (*laughter and applause*). So what is our Lord saying by this?
He's saying, "I am God's ultimate purpose. There is nothing beyond Me. There's nothing after Me. I have come to do God's ultimate thing. I will build a congregation that will succeed. They will kick the gates of hell in. They'll frustrate Satan's plans. They'll break up his most finest, most sophisticated schemes. I am going to have a congregation that will not fail as Moses did. I am going to have a people who will come under the reign of My Father and who will become indeed, a theocratic community in the earth that will attract the attention of all men". Therefore all nations will be forced to declare that the sending of Jesus Christ was the ultimate answer to earth's need of an alternate society; for they will recognise that His followers are indeed a counter-culture, a community of men and women who have got it together and truly represent the life of the Trinity and the community of heaven in a time/space world".
"When Jesus came into the world in the humiliation of the Incarnation, He started on a route of conquest that took Him through the lonely years prior to His introduction at the muddy waters of Jordan, when the bony prophet finger of John the Baptist was pointed at Him and those significant words were uttered, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). For some thirty three and a half years He overcame and lived an impeccable life so that it was said of Him, "He was tempted in all points like as we, yet without sin".
His impeccable life was followed by a decisive death. He went to Calvary to endure inexplicable and incomparable suffering; suffering that we can only have a hint of; suffering that we can only look at curiously and sometimes with a sob in our throats; suffering surrounded by torn rocks and a sun that refuses to shine and an earth that writhes in agony as He hangs there alone. And as He hangs there, God reaches down His giant fist and gathers up the accumulated sins of men and places them upon Him. He became the sin-centre of the universe so that it is later said of Him, "He was made sin for us who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him".
In the awful loneliness of Calvary, He made His soul an offering for sin; and the sin of the world was placed upon Him and the bolts of God's wrath were released upon Him. He became an offering for sin and He gave up the ghost and came down from the mystery of His sufferings having finished the work. What men saw was a man hanging limp - every bone out of joint, a swollen tongue protruding from burning lips as He cried out, "It is finished!". They didn't know what was going on. But the veil of revelation is drawn back for us and we are told by Paul that something was going on in the darkness of that awful hour. He was tying a chain around the neck of the demonic world. He was dragging them across the stage of the cosmos. The Bible says, "He was making a show of them openly ... triumphing over them in His cross". He was dealing with sin. He was dealing with the old Adamic society. He was making an end of the old orer of sin and death and when He had done it in the mystery of His cross, He said, "It is finished!" (*applause*).
Then He went down to make His annoucement (*applause and cheers*). The Apostle's Creed says, "He descended into hell" or Hades. I'm not going to take time to document all of these things or enter into argument about them. But I believe He went down and through the authority of what He had just accomplished at Calvary, He confronted Satan himself as He stood at the portals of the world of Hades. And He said to him, "I'll take the keys" (*applause*). Satan retorted, "I've been waiting for You for about 4, 000 years. I was there in the garden of Eden and I heard my sentence. I was told that Someone was going to come along and crush my head. I've been waiting for You and I've been killing people off all along the historical line because I thought they were the ones. But here You are. Now get in there with the rest of them. They're all in there".
Who was in there? Abraham and Issac and Jacob and Isaiah and Malachi - they were all waiting in Paradise. In fact just before our Lord had gone to His Cross, two of them - Moses and Elias - came up on the Mount of Transfiguration to have a conversation with Jesus the Messiah. The Bible tells us what they spoke about. They "spake of His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem" (Luke 9:31). And they said to the Lord, "Everybody's excited down in Paradise. There's great excitement down there Maschiach. We've been appointed as a committee to come up and tell you that everything's all astir down there (*cheers*). When we left Isaiah wanted to come. He said, "This is the greatest day. I wrote about this and now it's coming to pass!". They said, "Abraham was right behind ... he ... he wanted to come too. But we were appointed to come and tell You that we're so grateful for what You're doing. There are thousands of us down there! Everything's all astir!" (*applause*).
Why? Because under the Old Covenant, the bloods of bulls and of goats couldn't take away sin. There were men down in Paradise clutching in their fist their credit notes - for they were down there with promissary notes! (*applause*). Every time an Israelite laid his hands on a lamb and transmitted his sin, that lamb died in his place. But that at best was a credit note to be redeemed by the most precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. They had beeen waiting for the time when their credit notes would be redeemed and the time had finally come.
So Jesus came down from His Cross and confronted the satanic prince and He said, "I'll take those keys". Satan said, "No one has ever talked to me like this before" (*applause*). Jesus replied, "No one had the authority to before. But as God's King, as the One who has now been given authority as God's delegated Sovereign, I am in charge now. I'll take the keys". Satan handed Him the keys. Then Jesus went over to the unrighteous section, opened the door and looked in and pronounced that they had been righteously judged for having rejected God's counsel under the old economy. Then He shut the door and left them there. But then He turned to the gate of Paradise and opened and said, "Come on - let's go" (*applause and cheers*).
They started up the steps of ascension and when they got as far as Jerusalem, some of those Old Testament saints said, "Master, do you mind if we have a stop-over ticket? We'd like to spend a few hours in the old hometime - we haven't seen it for centuries!" (*applause and laughter*). According to the Bible, the bodies of many of the saints were seen at that time in the streets of Jerusalam (Matthew 27:52, 53). After visiting the old home town they continued their journey.
Up and up they went until they came in sight of the ramparts of glory. Then this great crowd of the Old Testament redeemed who were moving Paradise into better quarters cried out, "Lift up your heads, O gates and be lifted up O ancient doors that the King of Glory may come in!". But it wasn't that easy for the angelic protectors hurled back their challenge over the ramparts of glory saying, "Who is this King of Glory?". The saints replied, "He is the Lord strong and mighty! He is the Lord mighty in battle!" (*applause*). "He is the One whohas just come freshly from the battlefield of Golgotha where single-handedly He dealt a death blow to all of Satan's plans and purposes. Where single-handedly He bore the sins of men, where single-handedly He cut off the old Adamic order, where single-handedly He died a decisive death meeting the demands of God and the requirements for man. He is the Lord strong and mighty - the Lord mighty in battle. Now ... will you 'lift up your heads O ye gates? Lift them up O ancient doors that the King of Glory may come in!".
And again unsatisfied, the challenge rang out, "Who is this King of Glory?". The triumphant response came back again, "He is the Lord of hosts! He is the King of Glory! He is the One who is in charge of all the angelic hosts! But not only that - He is the King now of a multitude which no man can number! He is God's delegated authority! He is the One who is to bring to God the fruit of His purposes! He is the King of Glory - NOW - swing back those gates and let the King of Glory come in!".
And finally the gates swing back and He enters in - steps up to the Father's throne and presents the tokens of His redemption. The Father says, "Sit down Son at My right hand and reign until Thy enemies are made Thy footstool!" (*Thunderous applause and cheers*).
"Now I don't wish to enter into eschatological debate tonight. I want to simply affirm my faith ... my faith in what I believe the Word of God teaches, with all due deference to what others may think. But I believe that when Jesus sat down at the right hand of God, the Father meant what He said. He said, "Sit at My right hand until ...". That's a time word. And I don't think He is going to leave the right hand of God "until". He's going to sit there until His enemies are subdued. He's going to accomplish this from heaven and when He's got it done, then He will turn the Kingdom over to the Father. But He's not going to do that until He's done the job He's supposed to.
The Father said, "You sit here Son, and You sit here until You finish the job and then hand it to Me finished. You sit here and rule and reign until Your enemies are made Your footstool". Paul picks up this statement and weaves it into the New Testament revelation when he says, "He must reign until ... He has put all His enemies under His feet" (1 Corinthians 15:25). When our Lord rose from the dead He made a pronouncement. He said, "All authority is given unto Me in heaven" and for years we have stopped there in our eschatological scheme. He has all authority and He reigns in benign joy not only "in heaven" but also "in earth".
I don't know of anything that has paralysed the purposes of God more in the earth than the teaching that Christ's authority is presently limited and the "reign of God" in the "now" on earth is not a possibility. I believe that He has all authority in the earth now. He's not only the King of heaven, He's the King of earth. He's the King of Russia. He's the King of China. He's the King of the United States. He's the King of Canada, the King of Europe, Asia, Africa ... He's the King of all the earth even now! (*applause*).
I must confess that it is only in recent years that I have found David in the New Testament. I found Adam there and I found Abraham but I hadn't found David. By that I mean I hadn't found David in the historical and eschatological significance that the New Testament attaches to him. That Jesus was "of the seed of David" - of course I knew He was. He was in the Messianic line and that seemed to be all it meant. There didn't seem to be any real connection between David and Jesus.
Now I had seen that there was a typical relationship betwen Adam and Jesus for Paul says that Adam was "a type of Christ, Him who was to come" (Romans 5:14, NAS). And there was a historical relationship with Abraham for it was Abraham's "seed" that was going to bless the nations of the earth. But not until recently did I realise the significant role that David played in God's plan and His relationship to David. For David prefigured Christ as God's delegated King. When Jesus came into the world, He came into the world as the Son of David. He came in as the King of the Jews. He came in as the King of all those that are redeemed, so that under His authority the redeemed community might become the means by whereby He would establish God's sovereign right to reign in His own redeemed earth.
Now continuing with this theme of David and Jesus I would like you to turn to Acts chapter 2. And I'm not going to ask you to read verse 4. (*laughter*). When we come to verse 29, we find Peter speaking of David's prophetic perception of the Messiah:
"Brethren I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried and his tomb is with us to this day. And so because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to seat one of his descendents upon his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of Christ" (Acts 2:29-31 NAS).
Now I don't want to quibble but it doesn't say that he spoke of the second coming of Christ. I think there's something here of deep significance that we've missed. As a result, it's paralysed us in the realization of the things that we have heard this week and which have been offered to us as present possibilities. When I heard Ralph Martin talk about a counter-culture and all that is going on, my heart leaped within me until I could hardly keep my seat. For I believe that in this hour, God is bringing into focus a fact that has been distorted for many many years, and that is:
God's purpose is not to redeem a bunch of people to sit at a bus stop and wait for the bus to come along and get them out of the world's mess. Rather God has redeemed them and cleaned them up and put Himself into them that He may send them back in to clean up the mess and be "the salt of the earth" and the "light of the world" so that with the power of the gospel they may vindicate God's purpose in the death and resurrection of His Son.
Now I believe that the second coming of Christ is the hope of the believer but I don't believe it holds out any hope to the sinner. It is the sinner's damnation - it is the sinner's judgement. Therefore if the sinner is to be helped, either individually or corporately there is only one way that God has designed to help him. That is by the power of the gospel. For the gospel is is the power of God unto salvation. And if it's the power then there is no "the-er" power.
And if Jesus Christ has all power in earth, there is no "all-er" power. He'll never have more power than He has now. If He's got it all, there's no more to be had. He's got it now and He is using that power in the gospel - not only individually but corporately, that in the redeemed community He may manifest the glory of God to the world! I believe the ultimate form of evangelism in this age of grace is going to be the manifestation of God's redeeming power through the total life of a redeemed community that demonstrates what the gospel can do in every area of human life both individually and corporately.
In Acts 2:30-33, Peter declares that David was "a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to set one of his descendants upon his throne" and so,
"He looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of Christ that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God and having received from the Father, the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear" (NAS).
I am stressing the fact that the Pentecostal outpouring is related to David brethren, and I want you to hold that firmly in your mind now.
"For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself said, 'The Lord said to my Lord; "Sit at My right hand until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet". Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ - this Jesus whom you crucified" (vv 34-36, NAS).
Now what came back from heaven after Jesus' ascension? That which came back from heaven was the coronation oil that had been poured on the on the head of David's greater Son - the new King. For "we see Him crowned with glory and honour" (Hebrews 2:9). As He ascended into the Presence of the Father and sat upon His throne, He was anointed with the holy anointing oil of universal kingship, and that oil descended on the day of Pentecost and covered and flooded and possessed and impressed and impelled men and women to become authorities for Jesus Christ.
And filled with the Holy Spirit they went out to challenge and to charm and to change the life of Jerusalem and the life of Judea and the life of Samaria and to reach the uttermost parts of the earth until the whole world knew that something had happened on the day of Pentecost - that King Jesus had shared the anointing oil of His ultimate authority with the royal community on the day of Pentecost. I believe brethren, that what is happening worldwide in this hour is unprecedented. This visitation of the Holy Spirit is not just to give us goose-bumps and teach us to play the tambourines and sing new choruses. That's all part of the package but there's something more important than all of that.
It is God's almighty purpose being revealed that at the end of this age He is going to manifest His glory in the redeeemed community. This outpouring of the Holy Spirit is not only an outpouring of blessing - it's an outpouring of authority. He is establishing spiritual authority in the earth so that He may in this hour bring into existance His Kingdom in power and answer the prayers of multiplied thousands through the centuries who have interceded by saying, "Thy Kingdom Come!" (*prolonged applause*).
"When Jesus ascended on high, He undertook the government of the universe. The Bible says the government was placed upon His shoulders. I ask you to turn please to Ephesians 4 and verse 8 and look at the order of God's government. Let me remind you that we're still talking about His ascension.
"Therefore it says, 'When He ascended on high, He leed captive a host of captives and He gave gifts to men. (Now this expression, He ascended, what does it mean except that He had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things) ... By giving some as apostles and some as prophets and some as evangelists and some as pastors (or shepherds) and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to teh building up of the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ" (vv8-13, NAS).
Now I submit, brothers, that what is stated here is this: when Christ rose and sat at the right hand of God, there was committed to Him the absolute government of the universe. It was for Him to determine what should be done to bring about the purposes of God. In turn He chose to do it by the sovereign appointment of apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers who would bring into existence a community of men and women - each of whom would know his place of service. In addition they would be reproductive and recreative until there came a body of men and women in the earth who could be compared to a corporate mature man which would resemble Christ in its corporiety.
What He was in His incarnate power and life, they would become in their corporate power and life. He was going to appoint them, anoint them and equip them. How does Christ choose these governmental authorities? Or continuing with the figure of Kingdom, whom does the Lord Jesus Christ appoint to bring about the reign that is designed in the purpose of God for men? I think we have one rather significant illustration that best represents Christ's sovereignity in His choice.
Early writings tell us that Saul of Tarsus was a "bald-headed, bowlegged, strongly built man, small in size and meeting eyebrows with a rather large nose" (International Standard Bible Encylopaedia, Vol IV, p2277). We see this little man "breathing threats and murders against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9:1), getting letters from the High Priest to authorise Him to stamp out the Christians at Damascus. I imagine as he hurried along the road, he was muttering, "Those crazy Christians. They're upsetting all of Judaism. If I lay my hands on them ...". And he feels in his pocket to be sure he's got the letters from the High Priest. He's going to take those people back to Jerusalem and they're going to feel the lash! And if they die so much the better. Get rid of a Christian and advance the cause of Judaism. That's the thing to do - these crazy Christians!
From His sovereign place on His throne, the Lord Jesus looked down and said, "I'll take him". I wouldn't have taken him! (*laughter*). And I doubt if you would have taken him! But the point I want to make is that we need a revival of the concept of Christ's sovereign right to govern His Kingdom: The Kingdom of God is not a democracy, it's a theocracy! It's not run from the bottom up, it's run from the top down! Jesus Christ makes appointments!
Jesus appoints and He anoints. On the day of Pentecost, after the Holy Spirit had come, there were all kinds of rumours going on about what was happening. You see, when you look at a divine happening, you have a problem. You're either going to put a sense evaluation on it, or you're going to find out what the divine evaluation is. Now I'm sure that all of you, had you been devout Jews on the day of Pentecost, would have gone to find out the reason for the noise that was coming from the Temple. For it says, "When this sound occured, the multitude came together" (Acts 2:6, NAS). Dr A T Robertson, the great Baptist scholar, says that "The meaning seems to be that the excited 'other tongues' of verse 4 were so loud that the noise drew the crowd together". There probably hadn't been that much noise ever before in the temple!
So the people came running to see what the noise was. You know some people say, "I don't see any value in noise". Well I'll tell you folks, you'd better reconcile yourself with noise because while silence has it's place - the Bible is an awful noisy book.
People say we charismatics are noisy. Well I want you to know that's true, but I won't take the blame - I'm not to blame! Once more, God's the troublemaker, for the Bible says that "... when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place and there came a sound from heaven". Brothers, what we have here tonight is imported joy! It came from heaven! God started this racket on the day of Pentecost and it's been going on ever since! Hallelujah! (*applause*). Somebody said, "You don't have to make all that noise. God's not deaf". That's true but He's not nervous either. (*laughter and applause*). I want to tell you that if you expect to be around when the Lord comes, you better get inured to noise because He's going to descend with a shout. You think you shout? You ought to here God shout! And if His shouting isn't enough, He grabs a trumpet and lets out a blast and the archangel lets out a shout (1 Thess 4:16).
Dr Rowland Bingham, the great Canadian missionary taught for years that this whole thing was going to be very quiet. His wife came to him and said, "Dear, I have to speak to a ladies group about the coming of the Lord and I've heard you say that it's going to be very quiet and secret. Could you give me a Scripture for that?". "Oh", he said, "I'd be glad to dear. You'll find it in 1 Thessalonians 4". She said, "Oh thank you very much". When she came back a bit later, she said, "Dear I'm having problems wtih that scripture you gave me. I've always heard you say that it was going to be silent and quiet and secret. But that's an awful noisy chapter. It says that the Lord Himself is going to descend from heaven with a shout and with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God. I doubt if it's possible to keep that thing quiet!".
Now these devout Jews made an evaluation of what was transpiring. And had you and I had been there, I wonder if we would have made the same sense evaluation. What they saw disturbed them. They said, "We never saw such indecency in the temple. It's only nine o'clock in the morning. They must have got into the sacramental wine". (*laughter*). So they walked out of the temple saying, "They're drunk!".
Isn't it amazing how you and I can be so clever as to look at something that God is doing and give it a sense evaluation. We can be so rigid in our religious crystalization that when God starts to shake us, we've got to find some kind of rationale so that we won't be disturbed! And so "drunk" will serve our purpose. Can you imagine people walking down the streets on the day of Pentecost pronouncing the visitation of the Holy Spirit on the historic day as "drunkeness"? And yet there are men today who are looking at the things that God is doing, and they are making the same kind of sense evaluation. But there were other men who had the good sense to stay and say that there is "something here".
We're singing a song these days that's kind of mystical and some of you won't understand it. But if you're spiritually alert and alive, you won't just here words, you will here a sound. It's words will have a sound to you. And the words go like this:
"I heard a sound coming from the mountain.
I hear it louder each day.
I heard a sound coming from the mountain.
It says 'Prepare ye the way ...
Prepare ye the way ...
Prepare ye the way ...
Prepare ye the way of the Lord".
I hear a sound ... I hear a word ... I heard a sound. I saw a mass of men stand tonight with their hands raised. I heard them praising God. But within that praise I heard a sound. I heard the rustling of robes. I smelled the aroma of heavenly breezes. I heard something inside your voices - something that was not only born in your heart, but something that was transferred in your spirit and that something was transferred from heaven and mediated through your spirit until this auditorium was filled with a sound. And that sound was saying, "Men! Get ready! There are great things ahead ...". (*applause*).
There were those who heard a sound on the day of Pentecost and they said, "What is it? Peter stood up with the eleven . (In those days the preachers stood together). (*laughter*). Peter said, "These are not drunk as ye suppose ... But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel ... in the last days ... I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh" (Acts 2:15-17). Then Peter went on and preached a masterful address as he linked this event with history and in turn, linked it with the contemporary fact of Christ's coming into a time/space world. And he closed by projecting into the future as he said, "The promise is unto you and to your children and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call". And they were pricked in their hearts and said, "Men and brethren - what shall we do?!".
Peter said, "I wasn't expecting that. What do I do now Lord?". (*laughter*). The Lord said, "The keys ... remember I told you about the keys?". "Keys ... keys ... oh yes. The keys! Repent! And be baptised everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" and the same day there were added to the redeemed community about 3 thousand souls. Brother he didn't ease them in ... he didn't coax them in ... he DYNAMITED them in!
We are wondering why it is so hard to sell the charismatic renewal to a non-charismatic community. May I say very simply and at the risk of losing my head, that if people were dynamited charismatically into a charismatic community, they would have no problem understanding charismatic life. But when we attempt to ease people into "Christianity" with "invitations" which omit divine requirements for entering the Kingdom, we get a disappointing variety of "converts". Not Peter. He stood up, turned the keys, opened the door and in they came! Hallelujah! (*applause*).
"The apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers of the Acts church then became - and still speaking in the context of Kingdom - the delegated governmental authorities under King Jesus for the bringing into being of His Kingdom. Apostles, prophets and evangelists moved across the world and "in every place" (1 Corinthians 1:2) they planted churches. Basically a church is nothing less than a manifestation of God's reign and government in a locality.
I've had two visions in my life. The last one was some twelve years ago in a convention in Canada. In that convention, for the times when I would be sitting waiting to speak, I had chosen a secluded spot behind the pillar out in the sanctuary ... a kind of private "office" arranged there where I could wait each night until it was time to come up and speak.
One night as I waited there, I felt I should get on my knees and as I got on my knees I had a vision. In a vision, I saw the earth as the astronauts pictured it from the moon. It was an orb out in space, and all over that orb were Quonset huts. Now many of you are too young to know what they are, but after the last world war, the army sold those aluminum, warehouse-like structures called Quonset huts which had become army surplus. At any rate, I saw Quonset huts all the globe and they were all the same size.
I said, "God - what's this?". He replied, "I am going to have in every place, a people that are known for the anointing". Now at that time I had a permanent pastoral charge, and I didn't know then that I would be involved in a travelling ministry; but He said, "And when you travel from place to place, you will not ask for My people by this name or that name, but you will say 'Where are the People of the Anointing'?".
If God is restoring in this hour the principles and purposes enunciated in the New Testament, then it is my firm belief that as His Kingdom comes, we're going to see coming out of this renewal and restoration that thing that God has intended. In every communicable area there will be a community of men and women that are flowing in the anointing. And that anointing is the kingly authority of our Sovereign.
God's people are going to start to exercise rule and they're going to take dominion over the power of Satan. They're going to bring diabolical princes down. The dark powers that hover over the Parliament buildings of the nations are going to be paralysed by the corporate prayer of an authorative community. As the rod of His strength goes out of Zion, He will change legislation. He'll chase the devil off the face of God's earth as God's people together, doing the will of God, will bring about God's purposes and God's reign in a time/space world.
I want to say something that's kind of an interpolation. It belongs to the message but is something that God has quickened to me recently. David had three anointings. David was anointed in Bethlehem as King over Israel. When Saul drove him into exile, he went to Ziklag adn there the vanguard of the coming army of men who would be under his rule came to him. When Saul died, David said, "God what do I do now and where do I go?". God said, "Go to Hebron". When he went to Hebron, they made him King over Judah, and they anointed him the second time. Seven and a half years later when the House of Saul had lost all strength to resist, all Israel came to David in Hebron, and he was anointed the third time to be King over all Israel - and then they came to Zion.
I believe, if I may be permitted this intepretational opinion, that we are presently at Ziklag and that we have an anointing for a Ziklag job. But we're getting ready to go to Hebron. There's a new wave of anointing that's going to come as our job gets bigger. There's an anointing coming of a new dimension. And then there's going to be another anointing of a great dimension for we don't sing, "We're marching to Ziklag" and we don't sing, "We're marching to Hebron". We sing, "We're marching to Zion". I believe the anointing we've got right now is an anointing to get the first phase of the job done. I believe that there is going to be a further dimension of anointing to get the next stage done and I'm not specifying what those phases are. But then there's going to be an ultimate anointing that is going to take us to Zion - and Zion is the ultimate place of God's glory. It's of Zion that we sing about when you sing Psalm 48, "It's the joy of the whole earth".
I'm going to ask you to turn in conclusion to Acts 20:28. I believe in apostles. I believe in prophets. I believe in evanglist. I believe in shepherds. Now I'm going to say something to you that may sound shocking, but I believe that the coming of the Kingdom may depend on shepherds more than on any other of God's governmental men. I don't think there are as many apostles, prophets or evangelists as there are shepherds. I think that the great permanent, stabilizing governing community of men in the earth that carry on Kingdom business are the shepherds. This is a Shepherd's conference and in conclusion, I want to speak to you specifically as shepherds. I think that shepherds are often relegated to a kind of second place. You think of an apostle, a prophet and an evangelist as somebody "way up there" while you're 'just a shepherd'.
On the contrary, I believe that shepherds are the ongoing governmental authority. You're the ones that have got to keep it going in the nitty-gritty of everyday life. You are the ones that have to develop it to maturity. You are important to God. You're more important than you know and you've got to get rid of your false modesty and realise how important you are. You need to rise up in the strength of your calling and take your divine anointing as shepherds and start to move with the authority that God has given you in the place He has put you to rule as His representative in love and concern and compassion.
You must bring the sheep into a community of power and compassion and concern that will attract the world to an alternate society and a counter-culture and a way of life that they're looking for. The people of the world have run out of options! They're threadbare! They're worn out! They've got nothing left! Their economy's on the rocks! Their politics are all torn up! Their society's a shambles! The world has no options left! We are the world's last hope! They're looking this way saying, "Is there a people that have got it together? Is there a man that doesn't need a psychiatrist? Is there a couple that don't need marriage counselling? Is there a family that can get it together? Is there a community of men and women that can interrelate in joy and peace and hope? Where is it? Give it to us!". The world has its disunited notions of the United Nations. We don't need it. We need the united Body of God's People!
God's Kingdom, I believe, is upon us. I believe this visitation of the Holy Spirit is for the purpose of bringing us into spiritual authority. I want to encourage you as you leave this conference to return home with a new sense of authority and dignity and purpose. I want you to know that it is the purpose of the King who has all authority in heaven and earth to mediate His authority through you in the place where you are and that as you pray and wait on God, God is going to make you mighty in the place of His appointment for you.
Let us pray ...
Gracious Father - we thank You for these days together. We thank You for the visitation of Your Presence. We thank You for the insights of Your Word. And we pray, our Father, that the challenge of these days will inspire our hearts to stand tall ... to recognise that we are Your delegates in the Kingdom on earth. That we can turn to a world that is threadbare and divested of options and we can offer them - not just a book or a tract - but we can offer them a way of life in our corporate relationships that will make them know that it's possible for men to live righteously with one another in this time/space world. Hallelujah! May Thy Kingdom Come! Amen.