Sunday, September 25, 2005
John Piper's new book is virtually out and available online! Woohoo!! I haven't read it yet - but starting it today:
I found this blog - excellent, informative and best of all he likes Terry Virgo:
And also this site with some UCCF input I think but excellent all the same with some amazing articles.
WOW!! I've just seen that Terry Virgo was the guest speaker at Forum 2005 - the UCCF Student Conference. Things have clearly changed since I was in the CU world!!
http://www.uccf.org.uk/resources/general/forum2005/index.php - downloadable files here.
I've been really unwell today so lying on the sofa and feeling very sorry for oneself was a 'must'. Especially a sofa as lovely as mine ... Mmm. But it did have an added bonus that in sheer boredom I began watching the video of Terry Virgo's second part series on "Saul and David" that he preached at Brighton 2004 - based supremely and superbly on Ern Baxter's teaching on the King and His Army from the Lakes Bible Week 1975.
And I was gripped. Although I was there in person, its amazing what passes you by. Two comments he made almost reduced me to tears;
Quoting Mahesh Chavda on the Holy Spirit; "I sensed the withdrawing of my dearest friend".
And Terry himself: "I HATE CHURCH THAT ISN'T CHURCH".
Time after time occured to me when I have done exactly that - grieved my Dearest Friend and sensed His withrdawing - or even more scarily NOT missed His withdrawing. And linked to that - endured church that isn't church. What a traversty!
And so then and there I came up with some Spiritual New Year's resolutions, because it IS a New Spiritual Year for me.
1. To cultivate the intensity of relationship with the Holy Spirit so that IF I do grieve Him, I will speedily miss His Presence and long and beg for His return and forgiveness.
2. To model my walk with Him on the lives of those great men and women of God that Terry mentioned; Kathyrn Kuhlman (I'll never forget that quote! "Are we ready now?"). Mahesh Chavda, Ram Babu and Terry himself.
3. To spend time that I have lost in grieving and quenching Him getting to know Him so more deeply and more intimately. That I could walk from a time of prayer with my Dearest Friend and that men would fall under the power of the Spirit before me!!
4. To never again tolerate church that ISN'T church - or to endure a meeting when God has not been present and is not invited.
Come Holy Spirit!
Friday, September 16, 2005
I am deeply aware that my ever increasing collection of Metropolitan Tabernacles are a deep and dusty treasure trove, but digging through them is EXACTLY as John Piper described - sometimes you get rare and precious diamonds. I was reading the New Park Street Pulpit and I found this outstanding and amazing sermon on the "Power of the Holy Ghost". I have typed out the headings and the key quotes so the general thrust comes across. This is a "broad view" of the Spirit that I long to catch and hang onto!!
A Sermon on the Text: Romans 15:13 by C H Spurgeon - 17th June 1855.
"Power is the special and perculiar perogative of God and God alone".
1. The Outward and Visible Displays of Power
i) Creation Works: Job 26:13 - "By His Spirit hath He garnished the heavens".
ii) Resurrection Works: "The resurrection was affected by the agency of the Spirit".
iii) Attestation Works: "Ah! Those Socinians who deny the existence of the Holy Ghost and His absolute Personality, what will they do when we get them on creation, resurrection and attestation? They must rush in the very teeth of Scripture".
iv) Grace Works: "Let the gospel be preached and the Spirit poured out and you will see it has such power to change the conscience, to ameliorate the conduct, to raise the debased, to chastise and curb the wickedness of the race that you must glory in it".
2. Inward and Spiritual Power of the Holy Spirit.
i) Power over men's hearts: "There is not a minster breathing that can win men's hearts himself".
ii) Power over men's wills: "If there is one thing more stubborn than the hear, it is the will. I want nothing to do with free will, but I will try to see whether I have got a free will and I find that I have. Very free will to evil, but very poor will to that which is good".
iii) Power over men's imaginations: "The imagination will sometimes fly up to God with such a power that eagles wings cannot match it - but if it is potent one way, then it is another. For my imagination has taken me down to the vilest kennels and sewers upon the earth. Can you chain your imagination? No but the Spirit of God can".
3. Future and Desired Effects.
i) Perfect us in holiness.
ii) Bringing on of Latter Day Glory: "In a few more years, the Holy Spirit will be poured out in a far different style from the present. For the hour is coming when the Holy Ghost shall be poured out in such a wonderful manner that many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased - the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the surface of the great deep. When His Kingdom shall come and His will shall be done on the earth as it is in heaven. My heart exults and my eyes flash with the thought that very likely I shall live to see the outpouring of the Spirit; when sons and daughters of God shall prophesy and young men see visions and old men dream dreams".
iii) General resurrection: "When the wind of the Holy Spirit comes they shall stand on their feet a great and mighty army".
"The Spirit is very powerful, Christian!".
"He is able to make you willing in the day of His Power".
Thursday, September 15, 2005
When asked what the Charismatic Movement contributed to the church, Dr Ern Baxter said that he felt the answer was "Worship". Through reviving and restoring worship in the Charismatic Movement God was bringing to the fore a people who were not satisfied with simply "head" worship - they wanted to connect to Him in their hearts. They wanted to encounter the Presence of God. And in my own personal experience, the hymnody of the Charismatic Movement played a vital part in helping me grow up with firmly embedded doctrinal views that I have - particularly that of Restoration. Here are some of my favourites:
"Jesus has sat down at God's right hand - He is reigning NOW on David's throne,
God has placed all things beneath His feet - His enemies shall be His footstool;
For the government is now upon His shoulder, and of the increase of His government and peace - there will be no end, there will be no end - there will be no end!".
"I hear the sound of rustling in the leaves of the trees, the Spirit of the Lord has come down on the earth. The church that seemed in slumber has now risen from its knees, and dry bones are responding to the fruits of new birth.
Oh this is now a time of restoration! The word will go to all men everywhere. The church is here for healing of the nations. The perfect work of Jesus has begun,
My tongue will be the pen of the ready writer! And what the Father gives to me I'll sing - I only want to be His breath - I only want to glorify the King.
A body now prepared by God and ready for war, the prompting of the Father is our word of command. We rise a mighty army at the bidding of the Lord - the devils fear and hear for their time is at hand!".
"Jesus we enthrone You - we proclaim You our King - standing here in the midst of us, we raise you up with our praise! And as we worship build a throne - and as we worship build a throne, and as we worship build a throne - come Lord Jesus and take Your place!".
"I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it - so you powers in the heavens above bow down! And you powers on the earth belows bow down! And acknowledge that Jesus, Jesus, Jesus is Lord! Is Lord!".
"Lord the light of Your love is shining, in the midst of the darkness shining, Jesus light of the world shine upon us - set us free by the truth You now bring us, shine on me. Shine on me. Shine Jesus shine! Fill this Land with the Father's glory! Blaze Spirit blaze! Set our hearts on fire! Flow river flow - flood the nations with grace and mercy - send forth Your Word Lord and let there be light! As we gaze on Your kingly brightness, so our faces display Your likeness - ever changing from glory to glory, mirrored here may our lives tell Your story, shine on Me, shine on me!".
"We believe in God the Father Maker of the Universe, and in Christ His Son our Saviour, come to us by virgin birth. We believe He died to save us, bore our sins was crucified! Then from death He rose victorious - ascended to the Father's side! Jesus, Lord of all, Lord of all.
We believe He sends His Spirit on His church with gifts of power. God His word of truth affirming sends us to the nations now. We believe He'll come again in glory, judge the living and the dead!".
"At Your feet we fall, mighty risen Lord as we come before Your throne to worship You. By Your Spirit's power, You now draw our hearts and we hear Your voice in triumph ringing clear! I am He that liveth, that liveth and was dead! Behold I am alive forever more!".
This song isn't Restoration because it's by John Wimber but it is still a favourite of mine and very precious:
"Oh let the Son of God enfold you, with His Spirit and His love, let Him fill your heart and satisfy your soul. Oh let Him have the things that hold you, and His Spirit like a Dove, will descend upon your life and make you whole. Jesus oh Jesus come and fill Your lambs. Jesus oh Jesus come and fill Your lambs. Oh come and sing this song with gladness, as your hearts are filled with joy - lift your hands in sweet surrender to His Name. Oh give Him all your tears and sadness, give Him all your years of pain, and you'll enter into life in Jesus' Name".
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
I mentioned a couple of blogs ago that one of my favourite "top ten" books was "Joy Unspeakable" by Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It really is an outstanding book, full of doctrinal proofs yet arguing so strongly for the absolutely distinct and unarguably experiential baptism of the Spirit. I have been reading it again and came to a key chapter where the Doctor goes through certain "proofs" (his words) for why he argued so strongly that there is a difference between regeneration and the baptism of the Spirit. I want to reproduce the flow of his argument and key quotes for those who don't have time to read the whole book. Terry Virgo wrote a stunning commendation for this reprint of the book. He said: "This is no age to advocate restraint; the church today does not need to be restrained, but to be aroused, to be awakened, to be filled with the Spirit of glory. I for one rejoice that this clarion call can still be heard".
Sermon: The Baptism of the Spirit and Regeneration.
Text: John 1: 26, 33
"Perhaps the greatest danger of all for Christian peope is the danger of understanding Scripture in the light of their own experiences. We should not examine Scripture in light of our own experiences but we should examine our experiences in the light of Scripture".
"The ... danger then is that of being satisfied with something very much less than what is offered in Scripture, and the danger of interpreting Scritpure by our experiences and reducing its teaching to the level of what we know and experience. And I would say that this ... is the greater danger ... at the present time".
"Look at the New Testament Christian, look at the New Testament church and you see it vibrant with a spiritual life and of course it is always life that tends to lead to excess. There is no problem of discipline in a graveyard; there is no problem very much in a formal church. The problems arise when there is life".
"We discover the following things: there are obviously steps and stages in the Christian life".
1. Principle of Sermon:
"Here is the first principle: It is possible for us to be believers in the Lord Jesus Christ without having received the baptism of the Holy Spirit".
"I am suggesting that this is something which is therefore obviously distinct from and seperate from becoming a Christian, being regenerate, having the Holy Spirit dwelling within you".
2. First Proof: The Old Testament Saints.
"They were as much children of God as you and I are".
"If you think that the Old Testament saints were not children of God you are denying the whole of the Scripture. They were. But they had not been baptised with the Holy Spirit".
"But what about John the Baptist himself? ... John the Baptist is a son of God, he is a child of God and yet John was not baptised with the Holy Spirit".
3. Second Proof: The Apostles Themselves.
"Surely it is quite obvious that the apostles were regenerate and were children of God before the Day of Pentecost".
"These men are not only believers, they are regenerate men, the Holy Spirit has been breathed upon them (John 20) yet they have not been baptised with the Holy Spirit".
4. Third Proof: The Apostle Paul.
"It is so vital that we should start with Scripture, not with our prejudices, not with what we think, not what we are afraid of. "Ah" you may say, "Now you have said that tongues are alright". I am sure many are thinking that. You wait a minute; I shall deal with the question of gifts when it comes to the right place. You do not start with that". - I love that quote! I can just imagine the Doctor saying it! But his point is particularly vital for all of a Third Wave persuasion. You don't start with the gifts. We must be primarily concerned with receiving the Spirit in His Person.
Re: Ananias: "He does not instruct him (Paul) on the way of salvation. He is sent to heal him and to fill him with the Holy Spirit, to give him the baptism of the Holy Spirit ... You can, you see receive the Holy Spirit before you are baptised (in water) or the other way round - it does not matter at all".
5. Fourth Proof: Apollos and Cornelius.
"It seems to me this is the only adequate explanation of the story about him. This was the thing that Priscilla and Aquila recognised as lacking in Apollos and about which they told him and it made all the difference to him".
"It is possible for a man to be baptised with the Holy Spirit virtually simultaneously with his belief. Take the case of Cornelius and his household. You remember we are told in Acts 10 that as Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon them. There it seems that the baptism with the Holy Spirit happened 'as they were believing'".
"Now there is an absolute proof that you can be a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and still not be baptised with the Holy Spirit; that incident proves it. The question at the beginning and what actually happened subsequently. The important point is that there is a difference, there is a distinction between believing and being baptised with the Holy Spirit".
6. Final Proof: Ephesians 1:13
"It is only the believer who is baptised with the Spirit or receives the seal of the Spirit. It is the same order again. The believing is the first thing but being baptised is something that does not of necessity happen at the same time. It may - it may not. But it is distinct and seperatem so the Apostle does seperate them".
"All I am trying to establish is this: that you can be regenerate without being baptised with the Holy Spirit".
"The Scriptures that I have adduced to you show quite clearly that to say, as so many have said and are still saying, that every man at regeneration is of necessity baptised with the Holy Spirit, is simply to fly in the face of this plain, explicit teaching of the Holy Scriptures".
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Still strongly in my 'positive' vein, I was hugely encouraged and thrilled to find that P Andrew Sandlin - who is I think R J Rushdoony's unofficial successor in the (stereotyping here) Christian Reconstruction Movement - is blogging! It can be found at:
Not only that some of his entries are a joy to read. In particular this one:
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Afraid of the Spirit?
Why do Christians so fear the power of the Holy Spirit — the sort we see in the primitive church? Perhaps it is because He overturns dead, dry institutions. Or because He radically alters comfortable, sinful lives. Or because He forces us to think down paths or change our life in ways we find supremely unsettling
Surely, all Christians committed to the ecclesial status quo will likely never experience the mighty, drenching, onrushing power of the Holy Spirit that revolutionizes individuals, families, churches, and cultures.
Come, Holy Spirit!
posted by P. Andrew Sandlin at 11:06 PM
I for one certainly DO NOT want to be in the ecclesial status quo group! I so want and need to experience the 'mighty, drenching, onrushing, revolutionising power of the Holy Spirit!
Monday, September 12, 2005
Well this is a bit of a 'confessional' entry. I have been challenged by a very good and dear friend about some of the negative things I have said in the blog particularly about SGM and my time with them. While he (I think) meant it semi-jokingly, God really seized his words and applied them strongly to me. I knew it was the Spirit of God speaking because if any human had told me off for being negative, I would have fought my case strongly and fervently. I have been wronged! There is a story to be told! But I was so undone by what he said. Therefore I really do apologise if I have come across as angry and bitter.
It is so amazing to have good friends who aren't afraid to challenge and correct in true love. I particuarly appreciate it as I haven't got a wife to do that job yet! Today has really taught me a lesson in how the church of God should be acting. Therefore the challenge that he has set me and I have set myself is to let nothing "unwholesome" come out of my mouth. I want this blog to be a reflection of wonder and amazement at the grace of God - something that is edifying to write and encouraging to read.
So to start that off, I want to sum up SGM. The horrendous impression must come across that I have nothing to say that is good about them because my exit was so painful. That is not true, I spent 2 years there for a reason. So here's what I think is GREAT about SGM!
1. They are Prophetic in Emphasis.
I have mentioned SGM's "obsession" with the Cross and while I don't quite agree with the outworking of "never moving beyond the Cross", I do think that their sole emphasis has brought a prophetic contribution to the Church that is much needed. This can particularly be found in C J Mahaney's teaching. His keynote session at the Brighton Leaders Conference on "The Cup" was just outstanding and I do sincerely recommend that anyone interested gets the CD. You can order it online at http://www.newfrontiers.xtn.org. He and SGM remind us that the Cross isn't simply a historical event that was applicable at the time of our conversion but then no more. It has much relevance and power for us today and now!
2. They are Persuasive in Doctrine.
SGM are far more a Reformed group of churches than many and many of the conferences that they hold boast an impressive display of preaching of the Word of God. While a great deal of the preaching is "Cross centred" they do cover other subjects and indeed cover them well. They are beginning to produce a number of booklets touching on some of their key doctrines. These are called "Perspectives". C J Mahaney wrote the first one on "Sovereign Grace" (the doctrine not the group). Dave Harvey wrote the next on "Church Polity" which explains the way that they run and also their understanding of apostles today. It is telling that Mahaney has been invited to Trinity Divinity School Illinois to present a number of lectures - such is the respect in which their senior leaders are held.
3. They are Passionate in Worship.
Anyone who has seen or attended a Celebration event or indeed been to an SGM church will know that these people know how to worship vibrantly, loudly and joyfully! While their worship is not classically charismatic - in terms of a deep rooted belief in the need to be baptised with the Spirit and the gifts that result from that which are contributed freely - they do long for the "active Presence of God" (a term they have coigned from Wayne Grudem) and long to lift God high. They boast a number of gifted songwriters including Bob Kauflin and their songs of course are Cross-centred. Rather than being catchy and easy to learn and sing, they tend to be more hymn-like. They are doctrinally deep and enriching to meditate on.
4. They are Protective in Ecclesiology.
Their understanding of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is extremely important to them - I would query perhaps too important - and C J Mahaney has said it is a "hill they would die upon". You can see that they are consistent in their church life with this doctrinal position. The women in their churches frequently study books such as Carolyn Mahaney's "Feminine Appeal" and they all strive to be submissive wives. The men too are catered for well with C J's recent contribution; "Sex Romance and the Glory of God". The key phrase for me is that he was urging the men to "touch their minds before they touch their bodies". Quite a difference to the classic Christian man today.
Their pastoring too is extremely protective. Church members are usually made to feel loved and accepted and valued. The pastors are not afraid to confront their flock but usually counter-balance any correction with "evidences of grace" - a self-made phrase that stands for encouraging what God is doing in their lives.
I've been amazed at the feedback via emails about my postings concerning the behaviour of church leaders. So I've been searching for good articles and helps for those suffering through what has been done to them. This set of 3 articles is excellent - very pastoral and gracious from the CBN website. Well worth a read. The key point to me that is worthy of remembering is that the Lord Jesus showed a great deal of love and compassion to those truly in need of it, but showed His rare harshness towards Pharisaical leaders who tended towards judgement.
http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/ChurchAndMinistry/Spiritual_Abuse1.asp - the links to the 2nd and 3rd part are found off this first page.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Some may remember I reproduced an essay I found on the internet called "No Longer Welcome?". It stimulated an interesting response as expected - and I've found another that I guess will do the same. I don't want to reproduce it all because I don't quite totally agree with Dr Roy Clements and his standpoint. For those who want to read it in its entirety it can be found at: http://www.royclements.co.uk/essays15.htm. What I have done is to reproduce the elements of the essay dealing with prejudice and stereotypes.
However I think the theme of the essay is outstanding and should be heard. I don't think it should just be limited to homosexuality (as Dr Clements wrote) - rather it can apply to ANY taboo subject that the church leaders of today seem to fear so much. Well they do in Bristol anyway.
I think the key note for me is that there is a generation rising up that refuse to allow any subject to be taboo. And on pondering that at this ridiculously early hour (it's ten to five in the morning and I'm jealous of my sleeping patients) - I think that generation is right. Yes it has spawned gay rights, yes it has spawned Pro-Choice - but don't these people have a point? Why SHOULD we listen to the "older" evangelical generation who tell us to be quiet and behave? Why SHOULD we not be able to bring our hurts, our wounds and our desperate fears and pains to the very place where (I think) the Lord Jesus said we could? Why SHOULD we have to re-adopt the evangelical mask of "Oh I'm fine" - that hated phrase!
Okay - so don't agree with Dr Clements and his pro-homosexual stance. But don't just retreat into silence tutting your Berkhof tuts about how the world is deteriorating. Come up with an alternative! And don't try to tell me that such prejudice doesn't exist in the "grace" churches of UK 2005. THEY DO!! The gauntlet has been thrown down yet again for church leaders. I just worry few will take it up.
How to avoid the charge of homophobia
Evangelical Christians who are opposed to homosexual behaviour sometimes complain that they find it impossible to express their moral objections on this score without being accused of homophobia. To some extent the complaint is probably justified. However, in many cases I suspect that the charge of prejudice is one these Christians bring upon themselves, either by the content of their opinions or the style in which they are voiced. Let me offer, therefore, a few pieces of advice to any such would-be moraliser.
1. Be sensitive
You are addressing, then, a community that has become habituated to abuse and contempt. It is not surprising if they tend to assume that all those who speak hostile words against homosexuality share the homophobic prejudice to which they have grown accustomed.
If you really want to avoid this, you must remember that all communication consists not in what is said, but in what is heard. Try putting yourself in the shoes of a gay Christian and reflect on how they are likely to understand your words. Similar efforts have to be made these days in commenting on many other sensitive areas. The police must watch their language when they challenge afro-carribean youths in Brixton. Businessmen have had to learn to speak with extra caution when dealing with female staff. Some preachers have made efforts in the direction of inclusive language. The vocabulary we choose, the jokes we crack, the stereotypes we endorse - verbal carelessness of many kinds can betray the presence of prejudice buried so deep in our vocabulary we do not even recognise its offensive potential.
However, a little pre-emptive tact is all that it takes to forestall such unjust criticisms, if you really do wish to avoid them.
2. Be rational
Prejudice, by definition, is irrational. It feeds on superstitious taboos, distorted caricatures and just plain ignorance. All these factors contribute to homophobia. Most gay Christians find it impossible to understand the reason for the Church's traditional negativism towards the kind of relationships for which their hearts yearn. They put it in the same category of embarrassing ecclesiastical gaffes as witch-trials, anti-semitism and the crusades.To them the current anti-gay movement among evangelicals seems as ludicrously out-of-date as the flat-earth society. It must reflect prejudice, they say, because it is so utterly irrational. The way to avoid this charge is to make sure your opinions are rigorously argued.
3. Be consistent
Prejudice is invariably discriminatory. It is selects a certain group of people as the object of its loathing and ignores others. It seems to the gay community that in targeting them evangelical Christians are displaying precisely this kind of selectivity. They observe that a strong case can be made, both from tradition and scripture, against usury, abortion and divorce. But evangelicals do not seem to be mounting public campaigns to have bankers, gynaecologists and divorcees excommunicated or excluded from public ministry. On the contrary, a sweet reasonableness permits such individuals to continue in fellowship. Why are gays singled out for the evangelical anathema?
Two answers are usually given to this:
The first is that homosexuality is a peculiarly serious crime. But, once again, we must know why? More serious than the cruel burden of debt inflicted on the poorest nations of the world? More serious than the dismembering of unborn children? More serious than a direct challenge to the word of Christ himself about the inviolability of the marriage bond?
The second answer is that the pro-homosexual lobby has been so brazen in its flaunting of "gay rights" that evangelicals have been forced to take counter-measures. Gays might have been allowed to stay in the closet, we are assured, but they have insisted on public recognition and awoken the sleeping dragon of moral outrage as a result.
4. Be humble
It is always easier to identify arrogance in others than in oneself. No doubt the strident assertions of some pro-gay activists lack meekness, or even courtesy. Raised voices and immoderate words are all too often symptoms of chronically inflated egos, and both the gay and anti-gay lobbies certainly have their share of these.
However, there is more dangerous form of arrogance than simple bigheadedness. Prejudice is particularly menacing when it is coupled to an arrogant assertion of absolute certainty. Of course, the response of post-modernism has been to deny all claims to absolute certainty by radically relativising the meaning of "Truth". But evangelicals refuse to throw the baby out with the bathwater in that way; and rightly so in my view. It is perfectly possible to witness to the infallibility of Scripture without surrendering to authoritarianism, and it is absolutely crucial at this juncture in the cultural history of the West that we demonstrate that possibility to the watching world. Failure to do so will result in evangelicalism being stigmatised along with the Taliban; and again, rightly so.
The only sense in which homosexuality can rightly be said to be a "defining issue" for the Church today is that it crucially tests the ability of Christians to eschew fundamentalist fanaticism and to hold the divine Word of truth in humility.
Homophobic bigotry - or just conscientious objection?
To sum up then, if you would avoid the charge of homophobia you must demonstrate:
the sensitivity that chooses tactful words;
the rationality that offers arguments rather than assertions;
the consistency that expresses equal indignation about other social issues;
and, perhaps most important of all, the humility to admit that you might be wrong.
You may complain that pro-gay speakers and writers do not show such consideration to you. Instead your sincere moral convictions have been denounced as homophobic bigotry. I acknowledge that this could be true. But, however unfair the misrepresentation of your views, the situation is not symmetric. Christian gays are not trying to eject you from the Church or from ministry, you are trying to eject them.
In law a verdict of "Not Guilty" requires only the establishment of "reasonable doubt". Even if you feel the case against gays has been proved, there are other members of the jury who are less convinced. No one wishes to shut you up, but what you say and how you say it makes a huge difference.
I'm still deeply challenged and stirred by the prophetic call that we got at Brighton 2005 especially through the preaching of Terry Virgo on "Gideon and the Battle of Midean". It's rare to hear such biblically grounded preaching yet with a passionate call to go and take the gospel to the lost, with the optimistic and realistic (not triumphalistic) vision of reality that we will see a glorious end-time church!! I don't think Terry would see himself as Ern Baxter's spiritual son, but to me (as a deep fan of both men) he truly has taken on Baxter's mantle.
Here's another document that I have typed up on the "Government of God". Ern Baxter gave it to the Shepherds Conference at Kansas City in 1977.
A KING WITH ALL AUTHORITY.
I also want you to know who you are. When God made you in the Garden of Eden, He said, "You’re in My Image and I baptized you to run the world. I want you to fill it, subdue it, and ruleover it. I made you just a little lower than Myself, and I crown you with glory and honor. I want you to run the world."Now Adam blew it, and when Adam blew it, the devil started a lie. The devil said, "Well, when Adam blew it, I received the authority," but that’s a lie. The devil never received the authority. When Adam blew it,God reached down, took the scroll of authority out of Adam’s hand, andsaid, "I’ll hang on to this until a Man comes who can handle it." For4,000 years the devil went around sowing his lie. Yes, Adam blew it, but the devil never received the authority; God has it.
John tells us about his beautiful vision after Jesus returned to Heaven. He says, "I was caught up and I went into the throne room. There were 24 elders, and 4 living creatures, and I saw the One who sat upon thethrone." (See Revelation 4.) At this point we become excited, thinking,He’s going to tell us what God looks like. Well, John said He looks like a jasper and a sardine stone (that’s a big help), but remember, the Bookof Revelation is a book of symbols (see Rev. 4:3). By the throne was ascroll, the title deed to the universe. It was the thing that Adamcouldn’t fulfill. (It wasn’t a book. They didn’t have books in thosedays.) The scroll was sealed with seven seals, and a voice cried out,"Who is worthy to take the scroll and break the seals thereof?" (SeeRevelation 5.) If there was ever a time when satan with his big mouthcould have stepped up and said, "I can take it because I got the authority," it was at that moment.The devil didn’t open his mouth. He didn’t raise a whisper. Not a demon stirred; the whole region of hell was silent. There wasn’t a man who stepped forward – no Stalin, no Nero, no Freud or Nietzsche. There was no great human person who came forward. All humanity was silent. The ranks of celestial hosts – archangels, seraphim, and cherubim – were silent.The universe was silent as One sat holding the scroll, and in that scrollwas the redemption of man. John knew that, and when no one was found worthy to take the scroll andbreak the seal, he began to cry. He knew what was wrong. Then one of theelders came up and tapped him on the shoulder. He said, "Don’t cry, John.There is One who is worthy. The Lion of the tribe of Judah is worthy totake the scroll and break its seals." John wiped his eyes and lookedaround for a lion. John knew what a lion looked like. At least, he thought he knew what a lion looked like, but as he looked around for alion, out of the throne came a Lamb. John was certain the elder had said there was a lion. Now not only was that Lion a Lamb, but it was a strange Lamb because It had seven eyes and seven horns. It also looked like itwas newly slain; It was covered with fresh blood. (See Revelation 5:1-8.)
The Book of Revelation was written in A.D. 96. That means that some 56 years after the death of Jesus Christ, John saw the Lamb coming out ofthe throne with the blood still fresh upon Him. He had seven horns, whichspeaks of all power. He had seven eyes, which speaks of all knowledge,and He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He is the Lion of the tribe ofJudah because He is the Lamb of God. It was at the cross of Calvary thatthe Lamb of God received the authority to become the Lion.His blood is still fresh before God for us. It continues to speak for usbefore God because the blood of Jesus Christ has never lost its power. Jesus is enthroned there by virtue of His precious blood. It was He who took the scroll and broke the seals thereof. When He broke the first seal, the rider on the white horse, which is righteousness, went forth conquering and to ultimately conquer (see Rev.6:1-2).
When Jesus went to Heaven, He released righteousness to run downthrough the pages of history. Before history winds up, righteousness will rule. Darkness will be defeated; Christ will be Lord indeed; and the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (seeHab. 2:14).
Let’s take a look at Peter’s message following the advent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost: "Fellow Israelites, listen carefully to these words:Jesus the Nazarene, a man thoroughly accredited by God to you -- the miracles and wonders and signs that God did through him are common knowledge – this Jesus, following the deliberate and well-thought-out plan of God, was betrayed by men who took the law into their own hands,and was handed over to you. And you pinned him to a cross and killed him. But God untied the death ropes and raised him up. Death was no match forhim. David said it all: ‘I saw God before me for all time. Nothing canshake me; he’s right by my side.’" ™ (Acts 2:22-25). In Chapter 3 we discussed that every time you read about David in the NewTestament, it’s talking about government (royalty). In this passage,we’re talking about kingship. Isn’t it interesting that when we talk about the coming of the Holy Spirit, we’re not talking about Adam (race), Abraham (relationship), or Moses (covenant)?
Instead we talk about David, royal government. "David said it all: ‘I saw God before me for all time. Nothing can shake me; he’s right by my side. I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic; I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope. I know you’ll never dump me in Hades; I’ll never even smell the stench of death. You’ve got my feet on the life-path, with your face shining sun-joy all around.’Dear friends, let me be completely frank with you. Our ancestor David isdead and buried – his tomb is in plain sight today. But being also aprophet and knowing that God had solemnly sworn that a descendant of his would rule his kingdom, seeing far ahead, he talked of the resurrectionof the Messiah – ‘no trip to Hades, no stench of death.’ This Jesus, God raised up. And every one of us here is a witness to it. ™ (Acts 2:25-32).
According to this passage, Jesus assumed the throne of David at the resurrection. He became King at the resurrection. He’s not waiting in some little anteroom in Heaven waiting to become King. He’s been King for2,000 years. He’s been ruling history for 2,000 years. He’s got the wholething in hand, and He knows exactly what He’s going to do. The plan isall in the scroll. He’s worthy to take the scroll, break the seals, andbring history to a proper conclusion – and He’s going to do it by the Holy Ghost. FELLOW WITNESSES, RULERS, AND PRIESTS. "This Jesus, God raised up, And every one of us here is a witness to it. Then, raised to the heights atthe right hand of God and receiving the promise of the Holy Spirit fromthe Father, he poured out the Spirit he had just received. That is what you see and hear." ™ (Acts 2:32-33).When Jesus ascended, He fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies andpromises concerning kingship that were made to David and the prophets. So when Jesus ascended and took His throne, He was anointed like kings are anointed; He was anointed with the Holy Spirit to assume His kinglyposition. The Holy Spirit flowed down over Him, right on down to 120 of His followers below. They became filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spiritof kingship and authority. I want to know what God is going to do with the nations. I want to know how God’s going to wind up history, and I start to get a hint here.
When God anointed Jesus of Nazareth as King at the resurrection and ascension,He sent the Holy Spirit. He sent the Holy Spirit to bless you, make youhappy, make you talk in tongues, prophesy, and sing choruses, to give you goose bumps and make your hair stand on end – all of that is part of the package. However, He also sent the Holy Spirit to make you a fellow king.You are a king and a priest. You are a worshiper, but you’re also a ruler.As I look at many Christians today, they’re usually the saddest bunch ofkings I’ve ever seen. You just can’t go by appearance; you may be knock-kneed, sawed-off, pigeon-toed, bowlegged, lop-eared, baldheaded,and cockeyed, but by the inspiration of the Word of God, I can draw back the door of your heart and see the Holy Spirit of the risen Jesus sittingon the throne of your heart. You may not have a crown on your head or bewearing a purple robe. You may not look like a king, but you are still aking. You have the Spirit of a King. You have the Spirit of authority in you, and you are made to rule. Do you understand that your church community with its elders is not just a fellowship of Spirit-filled people who praise God and sing choruses? Do you know what you are? You are a local representation of the governmentof God. Your elders are rulers, not over you, but are rulers under God over your area.
This may seem strange to you, but I want to explain something. Most likely where you live you have mayors and aldermen. What’s an alderman? Alderman is another word for an elderman or an elder. We often talk about the city fathers. You have city fathers in your church communities, andyou should honor them. Let’s use an imaginary place called McGurkel’s Crossing for anillustration. Mayor McGillecutty is the mayor of McGurkel’s Crossing, and there’s six or seven aldermen. There’s also a Christian body in that community who meets on Sunday mornings. They sing nice songs, and the preacher stands up to encourage them to hang on for another week because the bus may be coming. They’re just enduring to the end, but all the timethey’ve failed to realize that they are actually the superior governmental people in that community. The elders and people of that local Christian body are an extension of the Trinity to represent the overnment of God in that area. AUTHORITY TO BRING CHANGE.
The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live. He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we’ve learned: that there’s oneGod and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us – Jesus." ™(1 Timothy 2:1-5). What is Paul teaching us here? When you come together, first of all,before you pray for Grandma’s gout, little Johnny’s tummy ache, and money to pay… Before you pray for anything else, before you pray for the missionaries, before you pray for God to bless the pastor so he won’t put us all to sleep… Before you pray any of those kinds of prayers, Paul said, "First of all, most important of all, pray for all men everywhere,for rulers and those that are in authority over you, that we might lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness, for God would have all men tobe saved and come to a knowledge of the truth."
I believe in the separation of church and state, but I don’t believe inthe separation of God and state. I believe that the powers that be are ordained of God. I believe that our President and his cabinets, our mayors and aldermen, are all under the direct oversight of God Almighty. They reign and rule by His permission, whether their rule is good, bad,or indifferent. I also want you to know that the people of God, the congregation of God in any local area, are a higher governmental orderthan that earthly order.I’m not speaking evil of established authorities, but I am saying that ifthe people of God in an area will get it together, and their elders will get it together, when you come together pray first of all for all those in authority around you. When you do so you will release the power of rulership into the secular community of your area. You will stop crime.You’ll stem unrighteousness. You’ll change the minds of mayors andaldermen. You’ll alter the thrust of government. You can change thedirection of nations, for you are a ruler. Your elders are rulers. You’rerulers, and you’re kings. You were sent here to rule in Christ’s name and bring the disciples, the nations, under the Lordship of Christ.You are a king. I want you to act like a king. "For the weapons of ourwarfare are not carnal" (2 Cor. 10:4a).
We’re not going to go out and raise money to buy bombs; I’ve already got a bomb in my spirit that can blow up the world. I believe Jesus Christ is at this very moment literally sitting on the throne of the universe. He has a body, a human body of flesh and bone that is 33-and-a-half-years old. It hasn’t wrinkled in those 2,000 years because He alone has immortality. I believethat when He ascended to Heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell His people so they might share with Him in the oversight of the universe. He wants you to start to rule and govern in your area by your corporate release of righteousness through your prayers for rulers, governors, and those who are in authority. When that starts to happen across the world, governments will start to change. Social mores will change. At a given moment your prayers that have been bottled up at the throne of God will be turned upside down. There will be thunders and lightnings, for God will not only change people’s minds, He will also start to remove people. Judgment will start to fall; judgment is salvation. God will start to alter things. You’ve got to start to believe this is God’s world and that this is your world as representatives of God. You have the power to change things where youlive because you are kings. More than 3,000 people responded and were saved as a result of thePentecost message (see Acts 2:40-47). They were the seed of a thriving, growing community. The bottom line of Acts 2 is not about becoming filledwith the Holy Ghost to be able to go to Heaven; it’s about being filledwith the Holy Ghost to become a community of power. The scandal of modern Christianity is its division. Until we can find and accept one another in our various geographical localities and start to behave like kings andpriests, we’re not going to fulfill our destiny to change the order ofthings.
I was reading through the Sword and Trowel November 1874 edition and found this short piece. It's vintage:
The Christian is one who is to be plainly seen, and yet his life is hidden; he is a man in the world, but not a man of the world; he converses with other men, and yet his conversation is in heaven.He is one who lives to die, and dies to live; yet he is dead while he lives, and lives when he dies.He is one who lives in another, and for another; he seeks not himself when he aims most at his own good; God is his all, and his all is God; he aims at no end but the glory of God, of which there is no end.