Friday, April 28, 2006

Why Do You Seek the Living Among the Dead?

I want to use this post to re-visit some thoughts about Pioneers vs Settlers (something I re-printed a while back). An incredible lady from the USA, Sheila - has taken up that thought process and has some amazing thoughts that I think deserve reading and musing on! Just before I re-print her thoughts, I found this outstanding post by a guy called Chris from the 'Ministry Without Borders' family of churches that I am increasingly grateful for and enjoying getting to know. He wrote this on Easter Sunday - and dealt with a matter central to my heart! Here's a quote:

"Yet incredible as the cross was and still is in terms of its continuing effect in my life, it is not the dead Jesus hung on the cross that I see. I see the risen, ascended and glorified Christ. The son of man, ascended to the right hand of almighty God, seated on the throne, with every power, principality, and authority under his feet. Shining in the dazzling glory of the Father's own radiance with all the angelic host fallen prostrate and crying "Holy!" I see this Jesus, the first-fruit from among the dead, pouring out the same Spirit that raised him up upon those who believe in him. I see this Jesus taking up his scepter and ruling over the nations, not through political might or military conquest, but as this resurrection life that he so gloriously demonstrated when he burst forth from the tomb on that first easter morn is spread from one transformed life to another through the power of the greatest news of all - Christ is Risen!".

I don't think this quote is actually far removed from "Pioneering". I touched on this in a post called; "Our Message is this: The Dead are being raised!" (a quote from Terry Virgo).

"The hope of the Great Commission is a “Now” word. Yes we must go forth and preach the Gospel – but in the strength of the promise; “I am with you”. The message of the Gospel that we take forth is indeed grounded and founded on Christ’s done and finished work on the Cross. But let our gospel not stop short of His continuing work in heaven for us ... He has poured forth “this which you know SEE and HEAR” (and we still should see it and hear it) – the Promised Holy Spirit who’s business it is to raise the dead whatever that may include".

What is the point of going out to "Pioneer" if our Lord and Saviour is dead? Or in a grave? Or even just walking about in a garden in Jerusalem? Our hope is truly in vain! But - glory of glories - He is seated at the right hand of the Father, crowned with glory and honour and He has been told to stay there reigning and ruling UNTIL "all His enemies are made a footstool for His feet". So when we go out to pioneer we are involved in the business of the One who rules the Universe today! So with that apologetic linking the two, I am going to be quiet and make way for a far wiser person than I. Over to Sheila ...

Hi friends!

This note is another installment in a loose series on the pioneering spirit. Remember? We've discussed the characteristics of pioneers versus settlers. We've talked about the exciting opportunities as well as the drudgery of being part of a pioneering work.I want to move into other, more sensitive areas, and open up our thinking just a little bit - MINE as well as your's! Let's together expand our views and push back the limits of our horizons, and most important of all, let's know what it is we are embracing when we say we belong to a pioneering church.
There are two ways a church can be a pioneering church.

A church can be a pioneering church because of its *stage* of development.

Not all new churches are automatically in the pioneering stage. Many new churches are plunked down, fully formed, with all major components trained and in place and functional, often plunked into place by large well-resourced denominations.

A small church does not necessarily mean it is in a pioneering stage. A small church can have a place for everyone, and everyone in their place, and nothing new or radically different is under consideration.

Regardless of its size or its age, a church is still in its pioneering stage when NOT all components of a fully mature church are in place, trained, and functioning. If not all ministries are matured and fruit bearing, that church is in desperate need of TRUE pioneers!! A church can have been operating for decades, and still be in somewhat of a pioneering stage because there are still missing pieces.

Trinity Chapel, our parent church, had been operational for decades before they ever had their FIRST "nursery coordinator"! I remember...because there was no coordinator, it was my newborn twins and I who paid a high price for a new months. Before my girls were one year old, however, someone stepped forward to pioneer. I thanked God the day a nurse-pioneer named Susan stepped up to the plate, and with the backbone of a drill sergeant, put order in those nurseries.

A church can have all pieces in place, trained and operational, and STILL be a pioneering work when its focus is to plant new churches. This will mean that everything remains in a state of flux (oh, joy!) - even when all ministries are formed and functional. The mother church is the matrix for ministries that are continually being birthed and sent forth when they are matured...but those matured ministries in turn become pioneering works - allowing themselves to go back to being immature, a not yet fully formed church, not yet able to give birth to another of its kind. These new churches remain in relationship with, and in some degree accountable to the leadership that birthed them.

Here is the point: you are in a pioneering church. By definition number one and definition number two, you are in a pioneering church. As long as you are at Harvest Church, you will be forever in a pioneering church, and a pioneering church needs pioneers - there is desperate need for the pioneering spirit. You have opted to be part of a church that is BOTH still in its pioneering stage (not all ministries functioning at a mature capacity) AND has the vision to plant OTHER pioneering churches. What were you THINKING?? ;-)

Welcome. I hope you have a strong stomach, vivid imagination, incredible backbone, and an irrational flexibility. Why? Well, because you'll need all that and more. You have signed up for permanent levels of uncertainty, for self imposed limitation, for God imposed expansion of your limitations, and lastly, you have signed up for a bit of merry madness. You really are crazy to be here. But we're glad to see you - here, take this hammer and this sword and start right over there. As long as you know you are truly of the pioneering stock, we'll all be fine. A pioneering church only runs into trouble when people who only think they are pioneers, but are not, join it. Or, it runs into trouble when people don't know what it is they are signing up for in the first place.

Very little is certain in a pioneering church. How many of us remember the days when we did not know where we'd be meeting in six months or a year? Had you visited us at one point in our history, and asked us who our worship leader for *that Sunday* was , we might not have known for sure who to point to - various ones inside Harvest and outside Harvest rotated the responsibility. Mind you, you would not have been asking who the *overall* worship leader was - though we didn't know that answer either - but you would have been asking who was leading worship for only *that* Sunday! What church couldn't answer that? We sometimes could not!

In a pioneering church, you embrace limitation. It is a holy limitation. The leaders of such a church can only go as fast as the followers can follow. Run too fast, be too flashy, and you'll be all by yourself, leading no one who is willing to follow. The followers, if they are to be part, can only follow at the pace the designated leader can lead. Run ahead, and you are out of order, because speed is not the issue, unity is. Leaders are not the only ones who have to be willing to embrace a limitation in speed.

There is another sort of limitation that BOTH church leaders and church members face. Both have to be *willing* to forego the meeting of some of their secondary needs, keeping their heart at home, and their hand to the pioneering plow.

Personally, and only as an example, I will not take advantage of another church's ministry if my church is in urgent need of that very thing, and I am well equipped to meet the need, yet am unwilling to help pioneer it! Why? I know myself, and it would be too easy to lose my cutting edge. If pioneers lose their plow, if they cease to literally "dig in", they become dull and soft. Pioneers - whether you are that by personality or by the call of God - are responsible to break the new ground. Breaking new ground is sweaty, thankless work. It would be too easy for me to step easily into someone else's hard work and reap all the rewards of the ground breaking labor of others, and lose my own plow's sharpness and depth.

To be honest, the prospect of ease is way too attractive to my flesh. Therefore, I embrace the limitation of the plow, the narrowness of this brand new furrow I am called to break open for my God. Here is what typically happens when I do not embrace a holy limitation: I begin to look outside my own little lentil patch, in search of an easy way to meet my secondary needs. Let's say I'd love to get consistent, weekly fellowship with other writers, or other 30-somethings, or other women in general, or other home educators. This is not a primary need, but a secondary need. My primary need is to be obedient to the heavenly vision to be a pioneer. But to scratch the secondary itch, I turn to X-Mega-Church's Writer's Guild. (Not that any church I know has one, but...)

Well, automatically, I will find like minded writers. I will feel like I've found exactly what I need. It will be so easy - all I do is let go of the heavy, unwieldy plow and pick up a light little cog, and settle that cog into the slot of the already fully functioning mechanism of this other church's writer's group, and clickety-clack, whir, whizz, I'm suddenly buzzing right along in an area. Very little of my own effort expended. How nice is that?

Give anyone a few months of this, and only the very most disciplined amongst us will ever return to the plow. If it was me, I'd reject the thought of starting a writer's group in my own church (too much like work), and I'd begin to swear I had more friends at X-Mega-Church than I do in my own church. Well, duh, yeah! I've made an easy way, and found an easy excuse for myself to hang with that church's writers every single week, using them to scratch my itch. Eventually, I'd leave my plow behind, feel the call of "the Spirit" to Mega Church, and I'd allow my "work" become merely inserting my little cog into the big machine over there, because isn't it all "the church" anyway? Isn't X-Mega-Church as much a church as Harvest? Aren't we in this together?

Those are the wrong questions! I'd be asking all the wrong questions. If I ask the wrong questions about my life, I will get the wrong answers FOR my life. The real question is: Am I a Joshua? Am I a Caleb? Am I destined to take new territory, and called to the pioneering plow? If I'm really NOT cut out or called to be a breaker of new ground, then I need to honestly admit that. But if I am wired to pioneer, or if the new ground is my high calling, then I will stagnate unless I am pushing forward into (what for MY church is) new ground. Please note that the idea is to be pushing forward into whatever is new ground for MY CHURCH. I'm sorry it can't be more exciting than that. We all want the "new territory" to be smuggling Bibles into an unreached Muslim stronghold. It does not have to be some great thing that few have ever dared to try, or some amazing idea not yet conceived. Re-building a broken down wall can also be doing a new thing. Having a worship leader might be breaking new ground for MY church. The gift of administrations might be "new ground" at my church - but be fully functioning and decades mature in another church.

So I limit myself where I could comfortably expand - in an effort to guard my heart, as my heart is so easily distracted from its primary focus. But I am then expanded beyond where I am comfortable.

To be called to the pioneering plow is to quite often live on the edge of exhaustion, the verge of frustration, and the brink of disaster. Who in their own human strength can carry a sword in one hand and a hammer in the other, and be effective at both? Who can both build and re-build? Who can plow new ground while simultaneously harvesting? Who can function when "this" area abounds, and, at the same moment, "that" area other suffers painful lack? The pioneer can and does. Because the pioneer quickly discovers s/he can do all things through Christ who gives the strength.

Settlers merely get to defend what others have built - and they get to feel really important and "at war" for doing so, and in some ways, I guess they are at war. *grin and wink* (fighting and scratching for their title and position and niche in the great big machinery!) But it is the pioneer who has to BOTH build and guard. That's okay, because the pioneer prefers the unspoiled the bumper sticker that says, "If you are not the lead (read: "pioneering, ground-breaking") dog, the scenery never changes." To be expanded beyond where I am comfortable is to become more than I am. A pioneering church will take, and mold, and make a leader out of a perpetual follower. A pioneering church will take, and mold, and make a military *general*, a strategist, a leader of leaders....out of what used to be "just" a leader. Will it be comfortable? No. Will it be worth it all? Only in the end.
There is so much more. But I've shared enough for now. Thanks for listening!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Word and Spirit Revisited ...

I was encouraged to see my friend Mark's latest post on Dr Sam Storms seminars at Bethlehem Baptist Church on "Convergence". It reminded me that much of what is discussed, debated and sometimes fought over (particularly the Colson-Draw Me Close issue of recently) is married to this whole issue of Word and Spirit (I believe). I would echo Mark's passion to see "churches grow in both faithfulness to the Word and fullness of the Spirit". It is because of this passion that I am so grateful to men like Sam Storms - who by the way, will be the keynote speaker at the Life in the Spirit conference next Easter.

Just as similarly it thrills me to read Terry Virgo's invitation to the Brighton Leaders Conference in July. He says: "Perhaps in Wayne (Grudem) and Rob (Rufus) we most of all underline our commitment to Word and Spirit ... We, therefore, come full of anticipation of outstanding Bible teaching and the potential for glorious encounters with the Holy Spirit’s power".

I find myself fluctuating in this issue that is so vital to me, from depression that we are constantly having to make choices between Reformed doctrine and Charismatic experience, to then being greatly thrilled when I hear men like Sam Storms and Terry Virgo.

This post is going to bring together a number of thoughts and quotes that I have seen over the past few days that relate to this whole issue. Firstly I was doing a night shift last week in the community with a child who happens to have Sky - so I was able to watch God TV most of the night - a new experience for me! Some of the programmes were not quite to my taste. Some of them were downright scary ... for example, a sermon by Cindy Jacobs where I panicked that she was shouting at me ... personally. But the highlight for me, was a sermon of David Holden's at the Brighton Leaders Conference 2000. The sermon was titled after the theme of the conference; "Does the Future Have a Church?".

One quote gripped me. He said:

"Your eschatology affects your ecclesiology".

The second quote was by Professor J D G Dunn from a book I've just read: "Truth Aflame - Theology for the Church in Renewal". I haven't always been the biggest fan of Prof Dunn but this quote is unarguable and excellent.

"Ever fresh religious experience, in dynamic interaction with the original witness to the Christ event, was the living matrix for NT theology. Without the latter, faith all too easily becomes fanaticism and burns itself out. But without the former, without God as a living reality in religious experience, faith never comes to life and theology remains sterile and dead". (p22).

What is one to make of these two aspects? My post was titled; "Word and Spirit Revisited". I think that David Holden's quote is key - eschatology has joined the ranks of pneumatology and many other "tology's" as that class of "secondary matters". In other words we realise that it will cause argument and wimp out by not discussing it if we can help it for the sake of "unity". However it has been my conviction that if a negative eschatology is held, a church's mission will be affected undeniably. So I would argue that eschatology must be included in our Word and Spirit "Convergence" discussions.

And secondly I think that excellent quote by Prof Dunn sets the boundaries well and it is my suspicion that despite the Pentecostal Movement, despite the Charismatic Movement, despite the Toronto Blessing, we are still in danger of living our Christian lives without "God as living reality" and therefore our faith is damaged and our theology is in danger of being dead and sterile as it is worship-less.

Monday, April 24, 2006

'Thoughts on the Revival of Religion' - Jonathan Edwards - Volume 1.

Those who read my response to Bob Kauflin's adaptation of the "Screwtape Letters" will note that I made use of some quotes from Jonathan Edwards. Those quotes affected me so much that I went on and read his entire treatise on 'Thoughts on the Revival'. I am aware that Jonathan Edwards was used by many during the Toronto Blessing in 1994-96 and was indeed used by those both pro and against it, so I don't want to get into the danger of using a dead giant of the faith to support what I am trying to say. Therefore I am not actually going to say anything. The quotes stand for themselves and stand quite well alone! But they deserve a read and shouldn't be condemned to collecting dust on a bookshelf. Be challenged.


"The error of those who have had ill thoughts of the great religious operation on the minds of men ... seems fundementally to lie in three things. 1. First in judging of this work a priori. 2. Secondly, in not taking the Holy Scriptures as a whole rule whereby to judge of such operations. 3. Thirdly in not justly seperating and distinguishing the good from the bad".

1. We should not judge this work by the supposed causes but by the effects.

"We are to observe the effect wrought; and if, upon examination ofthat, it be found to be agreeable to the Word of God, we are bound to rest in it as God's work; and shall be like to be rebuked for our arrogance, if we refuse to do so till God shall explain to us how He has brought this effect to pass, or why He has made use of such and such means in doing it".

"We hear the sound, we perceive the effect and from thence we judge that the wind does indeed blow; without waiting before we pass this judgement, first to be satisfied what should be the cause of the wind's blowing from such a part of the heavens, and how it should come to pass in such a manner at such at time".

"We ought to take heed that we do not expose ourselves to the calamity of those who pried into the ark of God".

2. We should judge by the rule of Scripture.

"Those of who I am speaking (the critics of the revival) will indeed make some use of Scripture, so far as they think it serves their turn, but do not make use of it alone as a rule sufficient by itself, but make as much and a great deal more use of other things, diverse and wide from it, buy which to judge of this work".

"In their philosophy, the affections of the soul are something diverse from the will and not appertaining to the noblest part of the soul".

"And though they acknowledge that a good use may be made of the affections in religion, yet they suppose that the substantial part of religion does not consist in them, but that they are something adventitious and accidental in Christianity".

(Concerning the affections of the soul) "On the contrary, it seems to me that the very life and soul of all true religion consists in them".

"These gentlemen who make light of these raised affections in religion, will doubtless allow that true religion and holiness, as it has its seat in the heart, is capable of very high degrees and exercises in the soul. For instance, they will probably allow that the holiness of the heart is capable of being raised to a hundred times as great a degree of strength as it is the most eminent saint on earth, or to be exerted in a hundred times so vigorous exercises of the heart; and yet be true religion or holiness still. Now therefore I would ask them, by what name they call these high and vigorous exercises of the will or the heart? Are they not high affections? What can they consist in, but high acts of love; strong and vigorous exercises of benevolence and complacence; high, exalting, and admiring thoughts of God and His perfections; strong desires after God?".

"If we take the Scriptures for our rule, then the greater our exercises of love to God, delight and complacency in Him, desires and longings after Him, delight in His children, love to mankind, brokenness of heart, abhorrance of sin and self-abhorrance for it. The more we have of the peace of God which passeth all understanding, and joy in the Holy Ghost, unspeakable and full of glory; the higher our admiring thoughts of God, exulting and glorying in Him; so much the higher is Christ's religion or that virtue which He and His apostles taught, raised in the soul".

Sounds quite like Christian hedonism doesn't it?!

"God is pleased sometimes, in dealing forth spiritual blessings to His people, in some respect to exceed the capacity of the vessel in it's present scantiness; so that He not only fills itbut makes their cup to run over (Psalm xxiii 5) and pours out a blessing, sometimes in such manner and measure that there is not room enough to receive it".

"We cannot determine that God never shall give any person so much of a discovery of Himself, not only as to weaken their bodies but to take away their lives".

Note that.

"It is a great fault in us to limit a sovereign all-wise God, whose judgements are a great deep and His ways past finding out, where He has not limited Himself and in things concerning which He has not told us what His way shall be".

3. Another thing that some make their mistake to judge of this work by, instead of the Holy Scriptures is history.

"Theirs (the critics of the revival) is a rule to reject this work which God has not given them, and they limit God where He has not limited themselves".

" .... may easily observe that it has been all along God's manner to open new scenes, and to bring forth to view things new and wonderful - such as eye has not seen nor ear heard, not entered into the heart of men or angels".

Edwards then goes on to discuss many different cases of people's experiences during the revival.

"Mr Perkins, minister of Christ in the university of Cambridge, was the subject of such terrors as threw him to the ground and caused him to roar with anguish. The pangs of the new birth were such, that he lay pale and without sense, like one dead".

"It was a frequent thing for many to be so extraordinarily seized with terror in hearing the Word by the Spirit of God convincing them of sin, that they fell down and were carried out of the church and they afterwards proved most solid and lively Christians".

See Jul ... we CAN be both!! ;)

"Mr Flavel gives a remarkable instance ... he had several trances of considerable continuance".

"There have been many instances before now, of persons in this town fainting with joyful discoveries made to their souls".

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The "Coming Upon" Baptism ...

I've been accused before of not saying very much about my local church. This is a deliberate decision - as this website is intended to address and reprint Dr Ern Baxter's works and not so much about my personal life. However I can't let this morning go by without a mention. The Presence of the Spirit was powerfully present during the worship (and that's without singing 'Draw Me Close to You'). Our pastor Nick Todd preached an absolutely outstanding message from 1 Corinthians 2 on "The Wisdom of the World and the Wisdom of God" (it will be available as audio later this week). In working through the text he touched on an amazing truth that I haven't heard for a while.

(1 Corinthians 2:4, 5) Nick said that our faith is not just based on words but on the power of God. In preparing for the sermon he looked at a lot of verses where the word "Upon" is used, and saw that when it is used of God coming down "upon" someone - it is usually associated with a giving of power and that person will react or respond in some way - either physically or verbally. In hearing that, I remembered that Dr Ern Baxter similarily did a word study on "Upon" and its use in conjunction with God touching someone and its results. So I dug it out of my Archives and retyped it here. The results are very stirring.

Numbers 11:25 (NAS).
"Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him; and He took of the Spirit who was upon him and placed {Him} upon the seventy elders. And when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do {it} again".

Numbers 24:2.
"And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came upon him".

Judges 3:10.
"The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the LORD gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim".

Judges 6:34.
"So the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon; and he blew a trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called together to follow him".

Judges 11:29.
"Now the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, so that he passed through Gilead and Manasseh; then he passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he went on to the sons of Ammon".

Judges 14:6.
"The Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, so that he tore him as one tears a young goat though he had nothing in his hand; but he did not tell his father or mother what he had done".

Judges 14:19.
"Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of them and took their spoil and gave the changes {of clothes} to those who told the riddle. And his anger burned, and he went up to his father's house".

Judges 15:14.
"When he came to Lehi, the Philistines shouted as they met him. And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily so that the ropes that were on his arms were as flax that is burned with fire".

1 Samuel 10:10.
"When they came to the hill there, behold, a group of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him mightily, so that he prophesied among them".

1 Samuel 11:6.
"Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul mightily when he heard these words, and he became very angry".

1 Samuel 16:13.
"Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah".

1 Samuel 18:10.
"Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing {the harp} with his hand, as usual; and a spear {was} in Saul's hand".

1 Samuel 19:20.
"Then Saul sent messengers to take David, but when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing {and} presiding over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul; and they also prophesied".

1 Samuel 19:23.
"He proceeded there to Naioth in Ramah; and the Spirit of God came upon him also, so that he went along prophesying continually until he came to Naioth in Ramah".

2 Kings 3:15.
"But now bring me a minstrel." And it came about, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him".

1 Chronicles 12:18.
"Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, who was the chief of the thirty, {and he said,} "{We} are yours, O David, And with you, O son of Jesse! Peace, peace to you, And peace to him who helps you; Indeed, your God helps you!" Then David received them and made them captains of the band".

2 Chronicles 20:14.
"Then in the midst of the assembly the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, the Levite of the sons of Asaph".

Ezekiel 1:3.
"The word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and there the hand of the LORD came upon him".

Ezekiel 33:22.
"Now the hand of the LORD had been upon me in the evening, before the refugees came. And He opened my mouth at the time {they} came to me in the morning; so my mouth was opened and I was no longer speechless".

Luke 3:22.
"And the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."

Acts 2:3.
"Then there appeared divided tongues, as of fire and one sat upon each of them".

Acts 19:6
"And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying".

Acts 10:44.
"While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word".

Acts 19:6.
"And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke with tongues and prophesied".

Revelation 11:11.
"But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came upon them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them".

Why is it stirring? Because it seems evident from Scripture that when the Holy Spirit comes upon an individual or a corporate body of believers, then power is imparted and they are changed! It's so exciting - our church is starting a week of prayer this week, and Nick specifically mentioned that praying for the Spirit to come upon us as a church would be top of the list. Has anything changed? Do we have the right to expect and long for the Holy Spirit to come upon us still? And when that happens we will indeed "see and hear" something? Ern Baxter certainly thought so.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

With Thanks to C S Lewis ...

As a further contribution to the war over "Draw Me Close to You", I noticed that Bob Kauflin has published a takeoff of the 'Screwtape Letters' written by a friend of his. I read it. I digested it. And it has fair points to be sure. But I don't like the matter resting without another side being presented. It's interesting that Kauflin notes (quite rightly) that we should pay attention to our own hearts first and not be tempted to sound more authoritative when we have less support from Scripture - yet proceeded to print this letter that supports his point of view (which by the way didn't have one Scriptural text in it). So I guess I don't really feel that guilty for printing this. Therefore here is my version of a possible letter in the spirit of 'Screwtape'.

My dear Misery,

The greatest mistake, you will learn, is when the fools begin doing what they think the Enemy wants, and stop doing what He wants. The great joke is that the fools actually asked the enemy what the greatest commandment was when He walked the earth in those accursed days and He told them – in black and white. Simply - for simple minds:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38 – NKJV).

When we heard this, all of hell was in panic. The Enemy had covered all aspects of the hated human character. If they obeyed this – they would become obsessed with Him. Our objective since then has been simple – to prevent them from loving Him. If we can’t prevent that, then what we have been exceedingly efficient at doing is to cause a block in one of these areas. The idiots spend so much time panicking attempting to fulfil one, that they don’t realise they are abandoning the other and so effectively not obeying the command at all. When they realise their shortfall they rush over in a panic in an attempt to fulfil that one and hence abandon the other. The Master is then happy. If we can’t stop them doing it, then let us at least push them into excess in any area. It really isn’t important.

A number of the Enemy’s servants have got very close to identifying our schemes. One ‘Jonathan Edwards’ for example wrote (in fortunately a much abandoned old volume) that;

It is a stumbling to some, that religious affections should seem to be so powerful or that they should be so violent (as they express it) in some persons. They are therefore ready to doubt that whether it can be the Spirit of God; or whether this vehemence be not rather a sign of the operation of an evil spirit. But why should such a doubt arise? What is represented in Scripture as more powerful in its effects than the Spirit of God? Which is therefore called “the power of the Highest” (Luke 1:35)”. (Edwards, Jonathan, Works Volume 1, Banner of Truth, Edinburgh, pp367-368).

Yes Misery. We must read their hated volumes of writings. For by it we learn their secrets. You may ask which ones to read – as we have effectively flooded their Christian market with rubbish. Watch the lives of the authors Misery – watch them. If you see one who is filled with Him and His power and is affecting others, then you will know there is a threat. If he or she start to put pen to paper, then worry more. For when they keep their thoughts to themselves, there is damage limitation. But once their words start spreading and are worse anointed by the Enemy, then we are under threat yet again.

Forgive the long introduction, my dear nephew but it was necessary to have some context. To your question. Yes the Master has indeed heard this song, “Draw Me Close to You” that they are blessedly all bickering about. It is a hateful ditty and causes him much nausea. My dear Misery – you see all things in black and white, but hell will only cause the Enemy damage when we see that things are grey. You asked – is it a song to worry about? Or can we relax? Will it dull their senses yet again? My nephew – it really doesn’t matter. The song is a tool. What matters is who is singing it and what is going on inside them.

Now – we cannot see their hearts or read their minds. Only You-Know-Who can do that. But we can see their outward manifestations. And see them we must. Because there is nothing more distressing to the Master, than when they stand as one corporate (*shudders*) body singing that ditty with their arms raised, with tears rolling down their cheeks and when they leave to go out during the week to spread that hated Word. The Enemy didn’t specify the tools that they use. Our informants suggest that He really doesn’t care what they sing as long as it fulfils the Command to love Him with all their hearts, souls and minds. You-Know-Who is taken up with their hearts and whether their affections are stirred for Him.

Let me close by reminding you that we cannot quite grasp this concept of “love”. Nor would we want to, I would hope Misery! As it is a concept birthed by the Enemy Himself! But You-Know-Who has revealed enough of Himself throughout our watch of history, for us to know that if they truly-deeply fall in “love” with Him then our work is finished. How might they do this, you may rightly ask. By drawing closer to Him. It’s as simple as that. As they look at what He has done for them (the Cross in particular) the more they will realise His deep love for them, and their hearts will leap in return. They can’t help it. It’s the intoxication of His affect on them.

To close, I must impress on you how close some have come to cracking our work. Their two greatest failures are apathy on the one hand and fanaticism on the other. Our goal MUST be to force them into either. Let them “grow up” and become disillusioned with these dittys of love they once sang. Let them abandon the Word that the Enemy has given and abandon themselves to stupidity. The Master doesn’t care as long as they DO NOT fulfil this Command He has given. One final quote from that infernal servant of You-Know-Who, Jonathan Edwards. Note this. It is fortunate that he died young, for he was closer that most have come to knowing what we were up to:

If there be anything extraordinary in the circumstances of this work, which was not observed in former times, theirs is a rule to reject this work which God has not given them, and they limit God where He has not limited Himself”. (Edwards, ibid).

Do not fail me in this Misery. Their worship must be devoid of true spiritual affections. The tools are irrelevant. Let them drone out boring hymns of truth. Let them mystically waft in dittys of fluff. Just don’t let them worship You-Know-Who in “spirit and truth”. Or great hurt will be promised you if you fail the Master.

I remain, evilly yours,

Your affectionate

Aunt Legalism

PS: By the way. If you carry nothing else from this letter, note what You-Know-Who's servant wrote: "What is represented in Scripture as more powerful in its effects than the Spirit of God?". Misery - KEEP THEM AWAY FROM THE SPIRIT OF GOD. We cannot see Him. He is all the more dangerous for it. He is exceedingly powerful, Misery - for He can change their hearts. He can awaken their moribund churches. He can melt their hearts of stone into hearts of flesh that are passionate for His Name and His glory. We underestimate the Spirit of God TO OUR PERIL. Keep them bogged down in controversy. Keep them obsessed with anything - but Him and His Presence. Keep them away from the Spirit of God.

"Thy Kingdom Come!" - Final Part - Kansas City Shepherds Conference 1975.

'The People of the Anointing' - Ern Baxter concludes this monumental sermon.

"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.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

"Thy Kingdom Come!" - Part 5 - Kansas City Shepherds Conference 1975.

'Jesus Appoints and Anoints' - In this section Ern Baxter moves on to address the key issue of the Risen Lord's Ascension Gifts otherwise known as the Ephesians 4 Ministries. However we must not make the mistake of forgetting that spiritual anointing is absolutely vital for any ministry of service to the Lord. The two - anointing and appointing - must come together.

"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*).

Next: The conclusion - the People of the Anointing.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"Thy Kingdom Come!" - Part 4 - Kansas City Shepherds Conference.

Jesus the King of Glory. This section is probably the most exciting part of the entire sermon. Ern moves from the enthronement and glorification of Jesus Christ to His reign NOW to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He shows convincingly how the Holy Spirit is poured out on us to give us kingly authority.

"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*).

Monday, April 17, 2006

A Brief Interval ...

Just a few things I have noticed in between typing out "Thy Kingdom Come!".

A friend at Ministry Without Borders have provided an extremely exciting looking promotional video for their Bible Week in the summer. It looks awesome - a tremendous blend of Spirit-anointed worship and preaching of the Word. Kinda reminiscent of Stoneleigh Bible Week (*siigghhh*). The Bible Week is entitled "See Above and Beyond". I like the sound of that ... I am looking forward to hearing what happens there.

Mark Heath has provided an amazing resource - a list of theologians websites - with news and updates on potential commentaries forthcoming. So if you are a fan of Don Carson, Gordon Fee, Tom Schriener, Moises Silva or N T Wright, or just commentaries in general - it's all here.

There's going to be a 'Together for the Gospel' 2008 ...

Sven provides a helpful list of tips from his vast experience as a blogger. They still all use words that are like the gift of tongues to me. "Technorati" and "Pingomatic" and "Atom Feed". What do these things mean!?

And finally ... Bob Kauflin of SGM weighs in on the "Colson-Draw Me Close" debate. Kauflin used to sing the song with great enthusiasm in the mid-90's. But recently he has "become increasingly uncomfortable with the song and hasn't used it for years in corporate worship".
"Thy Kingdom Come!" - Part 3 - Kansas City Shepherds Conference 1975.

The Conquest of Jesus. It's amazing how appropriate this is, this Easter weekend when we are celebrating the work of Jesus Christ on earth.

"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*).

Thursday, April 13, 2006

"Thy Kingdom Come!" - Part 2 - Kansas City Shepherds Conference.

Part 2 of possibly the most powerful message Ern Baxter ever preached. In Part 1 he began in typical "Ern" style by taking time to sketch out in broad strokes the vast sovereignity of God's reign. How God is not threatened by anything or anyone - He is the God of the Eternal Now.

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".

Next: The Conquest of Jesus.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"Thy Kingdom Come!" - Part 1 - 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 is my intention to transcribe the entire message and present it in parts. 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.

Next: Part 2 - "I will Build My Church".