Monday, June 30, 2008

Why I LOVE Conversations!!

I do recognise that for many Ephesians 4 Ministries it is preaching that is the primary gifting and is the reason why I spend so much time transcribing what these men preach and say. However I do have a great interest in seeing these very same ministries sitting down in a more informal context and discussing matters. I remember actually it was a Panel Discussion between John Piper, James Montgomery Boice, C J Mahaney and David Bryant at the Bethlehem Conference in 1999 that was the very FIRST thing I ever transcribed!

So I was interested to find this video clip of John Piper and John MacArthur being interviewed by Justin Taylor;

I must admit - watching this video clip and bearing in mind my previous comments about John MacArthur - I have been considering something that I'd appreciate thoughts and comments on. I still believe John MacArthur is being dishonest to Scripture by saying things about the work of the Holy Spirit. If that's right and true then he is quenching the Holy Spirit by stating so unequivocally that to pursue the gifts of the Spirit is purposeless and presumptious, then will MacArthur still have anointing on his preaching? God is surely so gracious and as long as MacArthur earnestly seeks Him, then I think that he would. But ... it's a case of missing out on the dynamic power of the Kingdom - and not using all that God has so lavishly provided.

All that aside - I am still not going to bypass a chance to hear these two men in conversation. I'm just trying to think through how we can convince Rob Rufus to sit down and have a public discussion and engage many issues that fascinate us all!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Todd Bentley's Apostolic and Prophetic Commissioning

I was unaware that a very special event took place in Lakeland, Florida recently. Rob Rufus said this in his sermon last Sunday morning;

"Tomorrow at Florida men that I honour and men that I know and have met like Bill Johnson will be standing on that platform with Rick Joyner and many others of wisdom and father dignity and a long trail of credibility will be standing with Todd and we bless that in Jesus Name!".

So I have looked into what took place a little. C. Peter Wagner opened the meeting and the commissioning and there is a transcript of what he said here. According to this transcript 3 recognised apostolic ministries were present and involved in leading the meeting and blessing Todd Bentley;

"Todd is following Paul’s example by inviting to the platform three apostolic pillars of today’s church: Ché Ahn of Pasadena, California, Bill Johnson of Redding, California, and John Arnott of Toronto, Canada, Todd’s native land. They represent an apostolic network called Revival Alliance".

I found a video clip of some of the proceedings thanks to You-Tube. Here it is:

This event makes things a little more difficult for what some are calling the "scoffers" or what Rob Rufus called; "The doctrine police". It was fairly easy to accuse Todd Bentley of being a lone shark or a loose canoon ball. The unity that something like "Together for the Gospel" excited many. Why should this unity be any different? These ministries may be Pentecostal/Charismatic (and aren't renowned for always standing together) but for I one am really excited at the interest and the passion that what is happening in Florida is attracting. Traditionally many who have been involved in former moves of God often stand against new moves. Yet to see John Arnott standing and lovingly blessing Todd Bentley and what is happening shows TRUE humility.

So I continue to watch what's going on in Florida with loads of excitement at what God will do next after this wonderful blessing in the midst of this unity and this passion and this vision.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Criticising Moves of God? Think Carefully ...

I noted previously that City Church International held a series of "Miracle Healing Meetings" in Hong Kong. The Sunday morning was a particularly incredible time of heavy anointing and of the manifest Presence of God. I've drawn attention to Rob's prophetic song - and I do URGE everyone to listen to it. The message was vintage Rob - and he was addressing Pharisees and legalists. He wasn't happy. But I do believe it is a message whose time has come (and will shortly be transcribed and published on the Rob Rufus blog). The Pentecostal/Charismatics traditionally have been criticised by the Reformed section of the church for not being "Word-based" enough. The emphasis and demand for orthodoxy has been overpowering.

Yet I have been reading John MacArthur's New Testament commentary on 1 Corinthians and I remain puzzled as to why no one applies the same stringent "tests" to a so-called academic who is held in great esteem by people such as C J Mahaney. For example those who "eagerly desire spiritual gifts" (as being obedient to 1 Corinthians 14:1) are told by MacArthur;

"The Corinthians were to stop seeking gifts because to do so is both persumptious and purposeless".

"God does not bypass men's minds either to reveal or to teach His Word. There were no ecstatic, bizarre, trancelike experiences related to divine action or the prophet, such as occured and occurs with demonic revelation".

Did he not read the book of Acts where Peter fell into a trance just before going to Cornelius's house? We can therefore safely assume that ANY trances or ecstatic experiences that occur within the church today would be classed by MacArthur as demonic (and I guess that answers his views on the Lakeland Outpouring). Yet bizarrely enough MacArthur does seem to believe that there is a demonic counterfeit to spiritual gifts;

"People do not counterfeit what is not valuable. Satan counterfeits the Spirit's gifts because he knows they are so valuable in God's plan".

I don't understand how MacArthur can be so inconsistent in his exposition of pure Scripture and yet be very quick to point a finger of judgement at the flaws of men such as Todd Bentley or Rodney Howard-Browne or Bob Jones. Rob Rufus doesn't either. He said this:

"Isn't it amazing that as God begins to focus on what He is doing in Florida and He is breaking out across the world and the church has cried out for decades for a mighty move of God's Presence and healing - that when God brings it, some of the church is not happy with who He is using and they are not happy with the package or with tattoos on the man and go and dig out all the snot and all the stuff about Bob Jones's past. People are sending emails about what I must go and look up about Bob Jones and the sin he did in his past.

I am NOT interested! What I want to know is - is that God there? If God chooses to use Todd Bentley at the age of 32 then I say as a 53 year old - thank You Lord for Todd Bentley! Thank You for a new generation carrying the message of healing!

How can you listen to Bob Jones - do you know what he did 10-something years ago? How can you read the Psalms? That guy who wrote the Psalms is a weirdo - I tell you. Watch out reading the Psalms - you know you are reading the writings of a man that God was inspiring to write - that man saw a beautiful chick on a rooftop that he manipulated and connived as the king of Israel to get her? And he had illegitimate sex with her! Oh! Then she fell pregnant! Oh! Big problem now! What is she going to do when her husband finds out? Who happens to be one of the king's best friends?! So he betrayed his close friend and called him back from the battle and makes his friend drunk. Oh! Made his friend drunk!? So his friend would be so drunk and would go in and have sex with his wife and then he would think he made her pregnant!

You are reading the Psalms of a guy who wrote them and yet did this?! The husband said; "I'm not going in to be with my wife because my friends are out on the battlefield and I am not going to have that privilidge while they are out there". So he goes back to the battlefield and David arranges for Uriah to be murdered. Sure great was his repentance and David realised how serious what he had done and he repented from the depths of his heart and never did anything like that again in his life and when he died, God said; "This is a man after My own heart - who served My purposes in My generation".

We have got Pharisees in the church world and we have got Sadducees and I tell you - this is a true saying. If you are bleeding don't swim with the sharks. If you are bleeding and you are swimming with the sharks, do not let them know you are bleeding. I wouldn't want to fall into serious sin in much of the modern church because they will rip into you and rip your reputation apart. They will display your dirty washing across the internet and over email. They will disqualify you forever standing in ministry again. I felt the Holy Spirit say that He is getting quite angry with this. He said that these people who are always criticising the ones that I am using - He said, I am going to start scrutinising their lives and bringing out their dirty washing because when you operate in self-righteousness and pride then you forfeit the protection of grace because God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.

All these criticising, judgemental people have got stuff in their own cuboards that they are covering up. It is coming out in the open. The Holy Spirit is going to bring that stuff out. So I bless what God is doing in Florida - I bless Todd Bentley and I bless Bob Jones! I bless the prophets of God - I bless the work of God - I bless the fact that 25 people have been raised from the dead!".

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rob Rufus's Prophetic Song over Hong Kong!!

As I noted previously City Church International have just had a weekend of "Miracle Healing Meetings" on the Saturday night and the Sunday of last weekend and I've been listening to the MP3's of the sessions. As I was listening to the Sunday morning session I was actually driving down to see a friend in Cheltenham and as SOON as Rob Rufus began singing the prophetic song below I began to weep and weep and weep - and couldn't stop!

I have listened to the entire song a few times and put the transcript of all that Rob sung and said below the video clip in case the quality doesn't come out. Here it is. SOMETHING is happening in Hong Kong - and I fervently believe it will spread from East to the West.

Here's the transcript of the song and the following prophecy;

"For I'm turning the hearts of the fathers to the sons, I'm turning the hearts of the sons to the fathers, I'm turning the hearts of My people towards Me and I am turning the hearts away from things of death. I'm turning the hearts to the ways of truth and life - yes I'm turning the hearts to My Presence and life.

In My Presence with your heart turn to Me - you will hear My voice so clear and so true today. Today. Today. So turn your hearts to Me - turn away from misery. Turn away from unbelief - turn away from every offence. Turn away from bitterness and turn to Me - your God.

For I'm turning the hearts of the city of Hong Kong! I'm turning the hearts of the multitudes around you. So turn your hearts to hear the cry of the city! So turn your ears to hear My words of life! For the city of Hong Kong - this is your day - this is your hour! I am coming!".

Rob's prophecy:

"Let's cry out to the city of Hong Kong! Father we hear Your words of love to the city of Hong Kong. We bless Hong Kong! We declare over you - Hong Kong - that this is your time, your hour.
The grace of the Lord is towards you and He does not visit you with judgement or rejection but the Father gives good gifts to you - Hong Kong! He is pouring out His glory on you - Hong Kong! He is pouring out mercy and grace! He is pouring out His love on you - Hong Kong! The dead will rise, the lame will walk, the lonely will find family, the fathers will find their sons and the sons will find their familys in Hong Kong!

Broken relationships will be restored and mother and father and children will find liberty and freedom and love in the city of Hong Kong!".

When Talking Stops ... !!

Awesome God ... what more can we say?! What more can we think or discuss or debate when His manifest Presence falls down upon us and His passionate love draws so close and so near and we can almost feel the beat of His heart!? Awesome God!! Awesome Father!! And we will stand ... all discussion will cease ... all arguing will stop ... and we will stand with arms high and souls abandoned.

I found this video tonight of Darlene and Michael W Smith together in Holland and watched it just caught up;

All I am is YOURS!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Way to Disagree in a God-glorifying Way

Janelle, Julie and I have been having a wonderful thought-provoking discussion provoked by my post; "Effects of Grace and Law!!" - where I bit the bullet and wondered whether accountability groups were a good way to promote sanctification and also whether C J Mahaney's famous statement; "I am the worst sinner I know" is actually very biblical. One of the reasons I have such respect for Janelle in particular is that she is outstandingly polite in her disagreement, unswerving in her stand on theology she believes in - and incredibly well-read! She'd make a wonderful theologian ... ;-)

So she has written a response and an excellent summary of what's been happening in the discussion here:

A Reply: Scripture and Bible Doctrine

Janelle pulls on John Piper and Wayne Grudem in her defence, and it has really made me think through the distinction evangelicals have made between justification and sanctification. I think Rob Rufus is trying in his preaching to bring the two closer together. As I said to Janelle - the wonderful SGM guys love the phrase "Never move past the Cross". Surely that is a similar concept? That at justification we had this glorious moment when God imputed to us the righteousness of Jesus Christ and we were indeed "clothed with His robe of righteousness". But then God doesn't leave us to struggle through alone - with every sin and failure blotting that wonderful robe of righteousness surely?

(By the way Julie has also written a thought-provoking post based around some of our discussions: The Hybrid 'Gospel' where she addresses the danger of mixing an Old Covenant gospel and a New Covenant gospel - something I totally 100% agree with)

If that were true, then indeed we surely must have to take drastic action to restore fellowship with a pure and holy God - post-conversion. "The blood availeth still!". "Christ ever lives to intercede for us". The question I am pondering right now with my second cup of coffee is this - does Christ's intercession for us REQUIRE our confession to ensure God's forgiveness for that post-conversion adulterous thought or proud moment or lie? Our confession wasn't required at that moment of justification! How could we confess? We were "dead in trespasses and sin". It wasn't required at Abraham's moment of calling! What singled him out in God's plans and purposes was that he was prepared to believe God wanted to bless him and make him a father of nations.

I must hold up my hands and admit I am not quite sure what Rob Rufus's thoughts are absolutely on the issue of sanctification - because I have heard him say before that one of the reasons he is so grateful for Ryan's presence in Hong Kong is that is something Ryan teaches very well - whereas Rob sees his gifting as more teaching on justification. So for my homework - I am going to go away and listen to Ryan's sermon and type it up:

"Sanctification By Grace - "The Trinity of Man - Part 1"

Surely this is something that deeply concerns us all. As I said over on Janelle's blog - despite our disagreements about the methods to get to the goal - we can I think all be convinced that we stand and run together on THE goal - and that is to become more and more like Jesus Christ our glorious and wonderful Bridegroom knowing that one day we will stand before Him with unveiled faces!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Healing Testimonies from Eastbourne!!

I am so grateful that someone has managed to put the healing testimonies from Kings Church after the "Empower 08" conference on You-Tube! It was such an absolutely key conference weekend where God came down in power and glory. You will hear the name "Rob Rufus" mentioned but what struck me was how Jesus Christ and the glory of God is at the centre. This wasn't about a man coming. This was about GOD coming! Enjoy and let it fire your faith for more and more miracles!!

Watching that and hearing those testimonies of lives changed just makes me so hungry!! We want MORE God! We want to see this flood out into the market-place! I am just about to leave for work and I am so hungry to see children healed, demons driven out, lives set free, broken bound up! I loved the final woman's testimony. Lives set free by the reality of believing she is the righteousness of God in Christ! This isn't just theological debate but reality!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Rob Rufus!!

This is the second post looking at Rob Rufus's views on grace and how that relates to us being the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. The previous post was called; "Dr John Stott and Rob Rufus!!". A number of people have expressed concerns with Rob's teaching particularly in this area and particularly concerned that such teaching will "give license to sin". Now as I mentioned here - I am not a Bible exegete or a teacher and have no skills in looking into the Greek and Hebrew of particular texts. But I am blessed enough to be able to work back through my books and look at particular gifted ministries and see what they had to teach on this - and how it compares to Rob Rufus.

The particular quotes were from Dr Lloyd-Jones's commentary on Romans 3:20 - 4:25. Now this is very important to me - because I do think this particular wonderful doctrine of justification by faith carries HUGE implications for living the Christian life! Janelle Phillips, Julie and I are enjoying a lively debate about this exact subject over here on my post; "Effects of Grace and Law!!". Janelle always manages to make me think carefully through issues and this comment of her's particularly is important;

"All that to say, sanctification and being transformed into Christ's image is primarily done through confession of sin and working by God's grace to change. How else would that take place?".

I came back to her and quoted from Rob in his recent sermon; ""Do Christians Need To Confess Their Sins To God?" - that we do need to be consistent. If we join accountability groups and confess sins - then we need to confess ALL sins - not just the "big" ones! So why is confession of sin such a vital issue? Janelle touched on the answer in her response to me;

"I'm not talking about confessing my sin to become a Christian, I'm talking about confessing my sin to continue in sanctification".

This - theologically - is where I have always been (and still sort-of are). I am quite happy with the fact that Jesus Christ forgave my sins upon my conversion and wiped them away from His mind - never to remember them again. What I do struggle with - is the suggestion that my sins are STILL wiped from His mind! Would I be unfair to suggest (at least in my experience) that the same has traditionally been taught about "two types" of righteousness? Saving righteousness - (Romans 10:9, 10) that when we confess with our mouths and believe then we shall be saved. Then there is sanctifying righteousness - the sort Janelle has been referring to?

I find Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones incredibly similar to Rob at this point. He is obviously in the middle of expounding Romans 4 and speaking about Abraham. He starts off by mentioning the exact same hymn that John Stott refers to - Count Zindendorf's; "Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness". And he says;

"Let me use the kind of illustration that was obviously in the mind of Count Zindendorf when he composed his great hymn on this theme ... "Jesus Thy robe of righteousness, my beauty is, my glorious dress". This is the picture. There is a man standing in his rags, in his filth. There is the condemned, guilty sinner before God, the prisoner in the dock.

What happens? Well God puts on him this robe of righteousness - He puts on him the white robe of Christ's perfection and now He sees that and nothing else. That is the doctrine of justification. He puts that to our account".

"He sees that and NOTHING else!". So the question facing us is - is that situation a permament position? Or does our sin remove us from under that "robe of righteousness" and make God see us in our true sinful state? If that is not so, and we are indeed permamently and safely under that robe of righteousness, then what does sanctifying confession achieve? Let's go on. Dr Lloyd-Jones goes on to say;

"Notice this other interesting statement: "he is a man to whom the Lord will not impute sin, he will not reckon sin to him". What does that mean?". The man has committed sin, how then can he be a blessed man? The answer is that though he has sinned and is guilty of many sins, God will not put down sins to this man's account in His heavenly ledgers. He might do so, He has a perfect right to do so. He does not put them down in the account. He leaves them out. He has sent them away - He has covered them up. He has forgiven them!".

He could punish us! He has a perfect right to do so! But He does not! What awesome grace! But again surely the key is in the timing of this statement; "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute sin". The Lord DOES NOT impute sin! Is that based on our confessions? Or is that based on the sinless sacrifice of Jesus Christ then, now and forever? Dr Lloyd-Jones goes on in his explanation (one of the reasons I love him so much - he delves so deeply into these truths!) and says this;

"Let me put it like this: the man who is truly blessed is the man whose sin is forgiven as debt, whose sin is covered up so that God will never look at it again. He is one to whom it is never going to be imputed as a crime. There is the negative aspect. But it goes beyond that; he is also one to whom God reckons this righteousness of Jesus Christ. That is the doctrine of justification by faith. Here are we - all of us sinners in the sight of God.

What does this doctrine tell me? It tells me that as I stand there on trial my debt is cancelled, my sin is covered. God has cast my sin behind His back. He will never look at it again. He will never see it again. It is blotted out - out of His sight for all eternity. And I shall never be charged with it as a crime. I am completely delivered from it. But over and above that God puts this to my account and reckons to me, this righteousness of Jesus Christ His Son".

So there is this positive aspect to justification by faith in Dr Lloyd-Jones eyes and a negative aspect. The negative aspect - forgiveness of sin - is clear. But it is the positive aspect that I think Rob Rufus has devoted much of his ministry to. The fact that it is not simply our debts - our crimes that are wiped. But we receive the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ! This is probably one of the best definitions Rob gives to the gift of righteousness;

"Righteousness in the New Covenant refers to "right standing with a holy God without fear, without intimidation, without inferiority, without condemnation". You come boldly into the throne room of grace - you come with full assurance of faith to the most Holy Place with all your imperfections, all your failures and all of your mistakes and all of the things you still do wrong as a Christian and you come boldly with full assurance into the most Holy Place with the blood of the New Covenant that sprinkles your conscience from guilt and cleanses your conscience once and for all!".

Once and for all! But if you are anything like me you can feel your head protesting against this. It's unjust! It's wrong! We sinned! We should pay for it! We should have to confess for it! We should have to pay penance ... somehow. Dr Lloyd-Jones agreed;

"So let me once again state this great and most blessed doctrine; God does not reckon our sins to us. But you may say how can He do that and still be God? We have committed these sins, how is it possible or God not to reckon them to us though we have committed them and are guilty of them? The answer is that He has reckoned them to His only, begotten Son".

I think I could be right in saying that the hardest thing we as Christians struggle with is the realising that there is NOTHING we can do. Everything within us struggles to do "something". But as Rob said; Jesus + anything = Nothing. It HAS to be "in Christ alone!".

"That is what is meant by justification. It is all God's action. We do nothing at all - we cannot do anything at all. We have no works, our righteousness is as "filthy rags", it is "dung", "refuse". We love nothing at all. We are ungodly. We are helpless. We are hopeless. God does it all. It is entirely God's action. It is what He does with these sins of ours which He puts on Christ and punishes them in Him. It is what He does with Christ's righteousness which He puts on us. It is all done to us and we receive it passively from God".

So my wondering is - if we can accept it is all God's action at salvation - why are we so eager to regain control and start "doing things" after conversion? Can we have the faith when we first become Christians to realise there is nothing we can do - yet react against that post-conversion? Are we dividing that which shouldn't be divided?

Anyhow - the debate will go on - of that I am sure! I don't call on Dr Lloyd-Jones as though he (like John Stott) will persuade the doubtful! These are all just men and ministries given by the ascended Christ as gifts. But the reason why I am reading around this subject is to discover and prove to myself that again - if we are TRULY to preach the gospel of grace then we WILL be accused of antinominanism. The gospel of grace IS outrageous! I wonder ... if our gospel in our own mind has become a bit respectable then maybe - it's not the true, pure gospel and we have slipped into Galatianism. But all this debate aside -whether we agree on having to continue confessing sin or not - all this study has refreshed my wonder at the Gospel and the cost of what Jesus Christ went through that we might enjoy unhindered fellowship with God Himself!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Updated Archive of Rob Rufus Sermons!!

I've updated the Archive of Rob Rufus sermons with some new additions to his marvellous preaching ministry. There are some sermons that are a MUST-read!

"Grace for Freedom and Fruitfulness Series - (1) - Freedom from Dead Works." - 19th February 2006 - this was thanks to Todd Woodgate (a member of City Church International and the latest addition to the "Rob Rufus" blogging team!).

"Testimonies From Europe Ministry Trip" - 25th May 2008 - this was Rob reporting on his recent time in the United Kingdom and Europe with Newfrontiers churches.

"Do Christians Need To Confess Their Sins To God?" - 8th June 2008 - this was a combined effort between Todd and myself. It truly is a landmark sermon that will maybe stir up controversy. But if the truth of it is allowed to sink in then it will bring such freedom, such joy, such celebration that the Church will never be the same again.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Julie's Testimony from Hong Kong

The "Glory Encounters" Conference was a short but extremely significant conference that could be in danger of being swallowed by the "Glory and Grace Conference" in Sydney or Rob's ministry trip to Europe. But it shouldn't be forgotten! The guest speakers were Joshua Mills and Kaye Beye and my friends Julie and Aaron Morris were there.

Their testimony is now complete and here:

I do urge you all to go read them - this is the life of City Church International! This is the life of New Testament church! I am so grateful to God that He wanted Julie and Aaron there and I do pray that the imparted blessing of that trip will be already bearing fruit in their church planting in Canada. Don't forget the audio is available on the City Church International website!!

Jack Hayford's Comments on Lakeland, Florida

I was interested to see what another Pentecostal/Charismatic statesman had to say about the current Lakeland Outpouring. I have always tended to see Dr Jack Hayford in the same light as someone like Ern Baxter with vast experience of the Charismatic Movement and the benefit of prior knowledge of these previous moves of God. Dr Hayford is, of course, the President of Foursquare Church. Here's what he said (HT: Paul Davis);

"The following was received by the Foursquare president, Pastor Jack Hayford, as a response to the many inquiries that have been received regarding the “Lakeland Revival.” This response is being sent with the confirmation of the board of directors of The Foursquare Church, including the executive team.

It is understandable that the reports of what may be a breakthrough of divine grace are raising questions regarding the veracity of the reports. Some ask what official stance the Foursquare movement will take toward this phenomenon. First, by any standard of biblical wisdom, it is far too early to assert anything on any terms. Understandably, the reports of miracle blessing would cause rejoicing in anyone who believes that God does, indeed, work miracles in our time. But equally understandable are the questions raised by experienced pastoral leaders who have dealt with “revival” situations that have proven deceptive and that have ultimately deterred sincere souls from an understanding of God’s Word and relationship with His Son.

Second, it has not been the practice of The Foursquare Church to draw conclusions hastily in such situations. Our own history as a movement is marked by miracle visitations, both in the United States and in many nations around the world where our ministry extends. We have seen pure, wise, and trustworthy leaders scorned by cynics—at times, even scorned by church leaders who oppose miracles in our time on any terms. That is one reason our general response is to be “slow to speak,” as the Bible instructs (James 1:19). It is for that same reason that we tend to position ourselves as Gamaliel did (Acts 5:34-41)—the rabbi whose influence is reported by the Apostle Paul as having shaped his own thinking in significant regards (Acts 22:3).

As president of our fellowship, and in conjunction with the elders serving on our board and the executives serving in our offices, I recommend that we all give ourselves to prayer for God’s grace upon us as a fellowship of churches. We want to be available to His Spirit, instructed by His Word, open to His will, and humbly slow to pass judgment on things that are outside our purview. We are not called to answer for any other ministry or its report; our responsibility is to seek to serve our flock, teach our people God’s Word and wisdom, and keep ourselves open to to the precious workings of His Spirit.

For the time being, our desire is to live in hope, believe for God’s best in our day, and counsel our leaders and our people to be filled with the Spirit of God. We ask the Spirit to give us humility in discernment and to guard our souls from being either gullible, doubt-prone, or resistant to whatever God may seek to do that proves Christ-exalting, Word-verifying, and enduring beyond sensation or mere excitement. With time, whatever is taking place in Lakeland and through activities issuing from its happenings will either verify or discredit the source of the manifestations.

We are in an hour of history, both nationally and internationally, that calls us to prayer and fasting. Let us give ourselves to seeking God, and let us give place to His visitation in ways that please His heart, seek His glory, and honor His Son, our Savior, Healer, Baptizer with the Holy Spirit, and Soon Coming King".

I find that encouraging - truly balanced and truly open - not just open in a way that demands God's visitation fits our own requirements and prerequisites.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Rob Rufus and Ern Baxter!!

Many will know that the similarity between Ern Baxter and Rob Rufus is one that greatly interests me and thrills me. I first began to suspect that Rob at least knew of Ern Baxter back in 2006 when we first heard him at Brighton. I had never heard anyone get so close to preaching Ern Baxter's vision of the Kingdom of God than Rob - not even Terry Virgo. That suspicion became even clearer in 2007 back in Brighton when Rob spoke about "Going into the Land" and used terminology that very few aside from Ern Baxter have used.

My suspicions were finally realised in glorious reality when I wrote to Rob Rufus and sent him a package of Ern Baxter material - my transcripts of "Life on Wings" and the "Priestly Clothing" and he was so amazingly gracious enough to write back and confirm that he did indeed know Ern Baxter and loved his preaching and teaching - particularly Ern's famous "Life on Wings" sermon.

So today I was walking back from work listening to an older sermon of Rob's from back in 2005 and almost fell over when I heard him say (and sing) this!!

I am sorry for the quality of the video - I haven't quite figured out how to get sections of sermons singled out and presented in their own right so this is the best I can do so far. But I think the sheer mention of Ern Baxter was thrilling enough for me! For those who are interested, here is Ern Baxter's original singing of his song so it can be compared with Rob's!

Life as an eagle Christian ... these two great heroes of mine shared a common passion. To "rise and soar" to the manifest Presence of God. They are truly men to be followed! What could is theology if it doesn't result in an increased relationship and a walk with the Presence and Person of God Himself?

Effects of Grace and Law!!

Here are 20 bullet points to consider on the effects of grace versus law from Rob Rufus's latest sermon; "Do Christians Need To Confess Their Sins To God?". I am increasingly realising that there is no middle ground here. A useless mixture of preaching Old and New Covenant doesn't work. When I read about a senior Christian leader talking of a weary daily battle for joy and that joy having to come from a "humble" consideration of being; "I am the worst sinner I know" - I am somewhat at a loss to reconcile that with Scripture that speaks of "joy unspeakable and full of glory" and references to joy springing up like a spring of water. The shadow of law rather seems to loom over a statement such as that rather than applaudable "discipline". So it is criticial that we recognise what part law plays and it's limitations as compared to grace.

Even Mahaney's one-time hero C H Spurgeon would see the relationship between the grace of God and abounding joy as being paramount;

"Our dream is not of devils descending a dreary staircase to hell, but of angels ascending and descending upon a ladder, the top of which leads to the shining throne of God. The message of the gospel is one of joy and gladness, and were it universally understood and received this world would be no longer a wilderness, but it would rejoice and blossom as the rose. Let grace reign in all hearts, and this earth will become a temple filled with perpetual song; and even the trials of life will become causes of the highest joy, so beautifully described by James as "all joy," as if every possible delight were crowded into it".

It is just as critical that we fully, 100% embrace the New Covenant in it's entirety and that does NOT include "accountability groups" that spend day after day, week after week examining sins. I asked someone who goes to one such accountability group faithfully this - what sins have you triumphed over since being in that group? The answer wasn't clear and certainly wasn't positive. So here's Rob's list. The stakes couldn't be higher! "It was for FREEDOM that Christ has set us FREE!".

1. The law is only a weak and useless shadow. Grace is the reality of the good things.

2. The law demands perfect righteousness of you and will judge you and send you to hell if you are not perfectly righteous all the time. And you may try to be righteous for a little while but if you do not keep the law one hundred percent then you’ve got to confess your sin. And if you don’t confess your sin before you die, then in between your last confession you could go to hell.

3. The law demands the absolute perfect standard of God’s righteous of you all the time. Grace gives you God’s free gift of his righteousness for you to stand in.

4. Law says do, do, do. Grace says it’s done. It’s done. It’s done, you’re safe.

5. Law makes you conscious of your sin. Grace makes you conscious of you being righteous in Christ Jesus.

6. Law always condemns you. Grace never condemns you.

Grace lifts you into the cloud of his presence. Into the cloud of His glory. I say with integrity, I walk in His Presence every single day his Presence comes on me. Every day. I’m not talking about I sort of think he’s there, I’m talking about tangible, electrical Presence. The Presence of God every day. And it’s because of grace understanding. Not because of trying to keep the law.

7. The law took the disobedience of Adam and condemned us all. Grace took the obedience of Jesus and declared us all to be perfectly righteous in the Father’s eyes.

8. Under law God says I will by no means forget your sins. Under grace God says I will by no means ever remember your sins again. (So ... "I am the worst sinner I know"? God doesn't seem to share the same opinion if the New Covenant is to be believed. How God-glorifying is it to remember something God says He has forgotten ... deliberately?). Past, present and future. Because Jesus didn’t die somewhere in the middle of your life, he died before you were ever born. And he died to cancel all your sins and they’ve all already been forgiven according to what we read in the book of Hebrews. Under grace God says I will never remember your sins.

9. The law is a revelation of how much is wrong with you before God. Grace is a revelation of how perfectly right with God you are. At the cross, Jesus identified with you at your worst so that in Him you can by identified with him at his best.

There is no height into the glory Presence of God you cannot ascend on a daily basis because there was no limit to death and depravity that Jesus refused to descend to on your behalf. The reason why grace brings so much relief to the sole is because grace takes the focus off our unworthiness and puts the focus on Jesus’ worthiness and the glorious fact that we are always permanently in Him.

10. Under law sin abounded but grace has super excessively, more abounded. When your sin and grace meet in the boxing ring, grace triumphs easily every time.

11. The law makes you self conscious, grace makes you Christ conscious.

12. The law makes you ask, “What must I do?” Grace asks what has Jesus done already?

13. Under law, the burden is on you to perform. Under grace, the burden is on what Christ has performed on your behalf already.

14. The law is a heavy burden with a difficult yoke. Grace is a light burden with a yoke that’s easy.

15. The law is a ministry of death. Grace is a ministry of life.

16. The law demands of you. Grace gives to you.

17. The law demands you earn the blessings. Grace has already earned the blessings for you.

18. The law demands you earn the blessings, grace has already earned the blessings for you.

19. The law is dependant on you. Grace is dependant on what Jesus has already done for you.

20. You will always fail the law, but grace will always succeed for you.

"The law justifies no one and condemns even the best of us. Grace justifies, accepts, and approves even the worst of us".

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Looking Objectively at Lakeland, Florida

It seems that the angry anonymous commentator who frequents these parts is back and took a dislike to Scott's post on the Lakeland Outpouring ... and has found some new terms of insult for us. Apparantly;

"There is no euphemism for spiritual quackery, and neither is there a euphemism for the clowns who are willfully conned by it".

Well ... at least clowns are happy people. It is interesting that any revival, any move of God stirs up emotions in the Church. And I think this is actually a good thing - even when I am being called a "clown" for being "willfully conned" by Todd Bentley. The main failure and error in the Church surely must be a passive approach and a lethargy. If people are getting angry then at least they are feeling something! That being said - I resent and reject the suggestion that just because we are embracing a move of God that offends the minds and traditions of some, that I am not a thinking person - that I have chucked away my brain.

Thanks to Lydia for the link to this 55 page paper by Dr Gary S Grieg:

Todd Bentley did write his own 7 page paper examining the move of God but I suspect the critics won't be interested in what he has got to say. Dr Grieg is a former Associate Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Regent University School of Divinity, and Senior Editor, Theology and Acquisitions for the Regal Publishing Group. This biblical scholar and theologian shared that the Lord had healed him of sleep apnea while entering into worship while watching a telecast of the Lakeland Outpouring. It's well worth a read because he addresses 10 objections that I have heard again and again and again.

I say again - we want more Lord! Don't just stay limited to Lakeland! You are truly welcome all over the earth! Don't pass us by!

John and Carol Arnott Bless Lakeland Florida

"Only when the networks come together - are we going to see a global outpouring" - Todd Bentley.

"Yes I know it's (the anointing) is coming over your TV but it is THICK here people, it is THICK! ... It is better felt than telt!" - John and Carol Arnott.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Raising of the DEAD in Ghana!!

Terry Virgo reported this from John Kpikpi in Ghana AFTER he was watching Lakeland on God TV! I can say no more than what he said to Terry in a text:

On Thursday night (29th May 2008) I was watching the Florida outpouring on God TV. It went on till our time 12.30am. Towards the end there were testimonies of the 15th person raised from the dead – one of which was reported by cell phone from Kenya!

I was about to go to bed when a lady in our church phoned to say that her husband had stopped speaking and stopped responding to her, and asked me to come.

It was rather dire when I got there; we could not detect any breathing movements at all, and his body felt very cold to the touch. There was no pulse and his limbs were limp. Not being a medic I can’t claim he was dead but there was no evidence of life.

His three children were crying in another room while I set out to pray for him with his wife, obviously filled with faith from my time watching the TV.

After praying for a while I thought I noticed a slight movement below the thorax. I wondered whether my eyes were playing tricks on me so I rested my palm gently over the area – and felt it move. I asked his wife to feel the same place but she said she couldn’t feel anything. We continued to pray and I saw his collar bone move up and down!

We pressed on and then I could hear breathing noises. Then he began to snore and at this time his wife called him and he responded with a grunt! I felt it was time for me to leave and I went in and assured the children that their Dad was OK.

Was he raised from the dead? Well, I think if I hadn’t gone in with impartation from the Florida outpouring we would all have been wailing on Sunday; rather he came to stand with his wife before the church as a great testimony.

Hallelujah! I am hungry for more of this present outpouring.

John Kpikpi
2nd June 2008

As Terry himself said; "To God alone be the glory!".

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Coming Soon ... !!

The answer to this question:

"When a Christian sins, does that break their fellowship with God? And is that fellowship with God broken until they confess their sin and get forgiveness? And then the fellowship with God that was broken is now restored? I want to ask the question; is that the case or is that more an Old Covenant approach to God and is the New Covenant a lot better than that?".

I am going to publish the answer to this from Rob Rufus's sermon: "Do Christians Need To Confess Their Sins To God?" in parts. Rob made the point during the sermon that he is quite secure in the knowledge that not everyone is going to agree with him. But what he is doing is making the Church THINK. This sermon struck both Pete and myself as very much a landmark for Hong Kong. It was something that Rob wouldn't preach on until he felt he was ready. More to come!

Dr John Stott and Rob Rufus!!

It seems like everyone I know who has a passionate interest in the grace message has had an absolutely rubbish week!! Even the wonderful guys in Hong Kong. Is that coincidence? I guess it may be. But what's worried me is the vicious attacks of long-term Christians against the message of grace and righteousness - in short the Gospel itself. The accusation is quite common that Rob Rufus is "inventing a new gospel" and of course the tired "concern"; "It will give people a license to sin". I was intrigued therefore to be stuck at a family function and happened to pick up a copy of John Stott's BST commentary on the Book of Romans.

I have copied a large amount of John Stott quotes onto the "Pentecostal/Charismatic Post-it Notes" blog and they can be found here.

Some of the quotes sound remarkably like Rob himself!

"The antithesis between grace and law, mercy and merit, faith and works, God's salvation and self-salvation is absolute. No compromising mish-mash is possible. We are obliged to choose".

"Some scholars maintain that 'justification' and 'pardon' are synonymous ... But surely this cannot be so. Pardon is negative, the remission of a penalty or debt; justification is positive, the bestowal of a righteous status, the sinner's reinstatement in the favour and fellowship of God".

And Stott made a number of comments on why Paul mentioned Abraham in Romans 4;

"The promise in mind must still be Genesis 15:5 that Abraham's posterity would be as numerous as the stars. It was a promise without any conditions or requirements attached to it. God's Word came to Abraham as a gratitutious promise - not as law. He simply believed God and was justified".

There was one extended piece of the commentary where John Stott dealt with the issue of whether we can talk about "being clothed in the spotless robe of Christ's righteousness". Now I must confess I took instant interest in this because I have heard Rob Rufus speak a number of times about "being clothed in Christ's righteousness". John Stott wrote this;

"A further question is whether the righteousness which God graciously imputes to us may be said to be the righteousness of Christ whether we may legitimately speak of "being clothed in the spotless robe of Christ's righteousness" and whether Zindendorf was correct to write in John Wesley's translation, of 'Jesus Thy Blood and Righteousness - My beauty are, my glorious dress'.

This kind of language even in devotional hymns is unfashionable today and is declared by some theologically inadmissable. Nevertheless on at least 3 occasions Paul comes close to this picture. I for one believe it is biblically permissive to use it. We are told that He was made sin for us, 'So that in Him we might become the righteousness of God', that "He has become for us ... our righteousness".

And that if we "gain Christ and are found in Him then the righteousness we have is not our own, but the righteousness that comes from God through faith in Christ" ... "Be clothed" with the righteousness of God or of Christ is not even mentioned. We are given even greater privilidge of "having it" and even "becoming it".

Once the reality of imputed righteousness is accepted, there can be little objection to the clothing metaphor".

Now I know that there is little value in quoting Christian "celebrities" because we can all find a quote to back up one's personal view. Maybe someone would dredge up a John MacArthur quote to disagree with all this ... I don't know. The point I was simply trying to make was - a plea for a little calm. Rob Rufus isn't preaching a false gospel. Much of what he says on the righteousness of God would concur with many respected commentators such as John Stott himself. Let us calm down and truly become Berean-like - examining these things for ourselves to see if they are so.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Acorns ...

This is a slight break from my normal ramblings ... I thought you may be interested to see a short video about Acorns - the children's hospice where I work. The video was made celebrating Aston Villa Football Club adopting Acorns as their official sponsors and you can see a couple of the players interacting with the children during the video. The video has been posted on You-Tube so I wanted to draw some attention to it. Many people don't have a clue about what life inside a children's hospice is like - you might be surprised to see it's full of life!!

I had quite a tough day at work today - but this video really reminds me what it's all about. Impacting people's lives - and I am so fortunate to be part of such a wonderful team!! Hope you find it interesting!!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Praise Where Praise is Due!!

I've got plenty of faults and flaws!! Being outspoken may be most certainly one of them - and I am sure I have offended some for stating my nervousness about going to "Together on A Mission" this year because of the main speaker - one Mark Driscoll. But I do hope - and I do try - to admit it when I have got it wrong and ask forgiveness off those I've offended. And also give praise where praise is due! No - I haven't changed my mind on Brighton ... yet. But I am reading; "The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World" edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor and have just hit Mark Driscoll's chapter.

I read this;

"If we were to see Jesus today, we would not see Him in His state of humble incarnation (I would add - neither would we see Him hanging broken and bleeding on the Cross). Rather we would see Jesus as both Isaiah and John saw Him - enthroned in glory as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This Jesus rules over gays and straights, men and women, young and old, rich and poor, black and white, simple and wise, healthy and sick, powerful and powerless, Republicans and Democrats, married and single, Christians and non-Christians, angels and demons and the living and the dead.

The sovereign, unprecedented and glorious exaltation of Jesus is typified by a throne. The imagery of a throne is used roughly 196 times in Scripture with 135 occurences in the Old Testament and 61 occurences in the New Testament.

The central piece of furniture on the stage of the heavenly scenes is the throne. Seated upon the throne over all peoples, times, places and cultures is Jesus Christ. Throughout Revelation, all truth, authority and judgement proceed from the One seated on the throne. All praise, worship and gladness proceed to the One seated on the throne from all created beings, including men, women, angels, beasts of the field, birds of the air and fish of the sea.

Perhaps my favourite picture (and that of my young sons) of the glorious exaltation of our great God Jesus Christ is what we like to refer to as Ultimate Fighter Jesus. In Revelation 19:11-16, Jesus rides ... on a white horse with His steely eyes blazing red like fire ... the supremacy of Jesus Christ as our sovereign and exalted God is our authority for mission ... indeed the authority of our mission rests on nothing less than the authority delegated to us by the exalted Lord Jesus Christ who rules over all".

Awesome!! Wonderful!! Maybe if that had been the first thing I had read or heard of Mark Driscoll, I may have been first in line booking to go to Brighton!! The Church needs to restore this divine perspective of "Christ's Ministry Today" (as I posted a few days ago). Of course we never cease to preach Christ and Him crucified. Maybe some never want to move on beyond the old rugged Cross. But let's also never lose this vision - that this exalted risen and reigning King Jesus delegates authority to us - His Bride - to go forth in mission!!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Che Ahn in Lakeland Florida!!

In the earlier days of the Florida Outpouring many of us were quite excited and interested to see that Che Ahn visited Lakeland. He was powerfully and visibly touched by God's manifest power but also brought a apostolic/prophetic anointing to Todd Bentley. I was thrilled therefore to find the video of that on You-Tube.

Here it is:

I've never really heard much of Che Ahn (other than knowing he used to be associated with the group of churches I used to belong to) - but this has certainly fuelled my interest in him and my love for men of Word and Spirit who are so open to God!! Let's keep watching eagerly - God's got much more in store!

Terry Virgo's "Lakeland" Talk Available

I know I, along with many, were interested to see what Terry Virgo would have to say on the Lakeland Outpouring. He posted two blogs - "The Cautious Negatives" and "The Positives" here. But I was interested and encouraged to see that the full, un-edited message to the Prayer and Fasting gathering is available off his website free here.

It is worth listening to the whole message because there are some things that add to his whole opinion that are perhaps missed off the blog posts. I must confess to being slightly disappointed with a few comments he made which I don't quite agree with and are the fruit of just some perhaps passing observation. For example, I just heard Terry comment that he agreed with Ram Babu that they haven't heard the Name "Jesus" enough - more about angels. Well ... I have watched many hours of the footage on God TV now and would feel slightly differently. Yes Todd Bentley and others do make mention of angels - but I certainly feel the Name of Jesus Christ is very central to everything going on.

I still feel that Rob Rufus's comments are the most helpful I have heard yet. There's nothing gained by 100% embracing everything we see (particularly the altar in the Upper Room in Jerusalem!) - but on the other hand we most CERTAINLY AVOID discounting that there is anything of God there simply because of the excesses of some men and women. And that second mistake would have been my past experience - to see anything we don't like or that fits our theological outlies and boxes. I don't want to do that again!

I was grateful for one thing Terry said in the message;

"Respect God's anointing - His anointing comes from His choice and I don't want to be out of step with God and not like someone He likes very much. If I ignore that anointing then I am missing God to some degree. I don't want to be out of step with the Spirit. But we must understand that the giving of gifts is not the giving of rewards. We think they are rewards for good doctrine and sound church life ... gifts are free!

It is upto God where He gives His gifts ... power is a gift and it came on Samson who didn't seem to be the most reliable. God chose to give him a gift. He was a man of faith and he got into Hebrews 11. Be careful about the way we categorise and reach our conclusions - the way we think may not be the way God thinks. I don't want to miss if God is pouring out His Spirit! God is free to do what He likes and doesn't always pour out His Spirit when everyone is theologically correct".

It presents a wonderful challenge - we don't have the luxury of ignoring or being passive towards God's anointing because we may miss something. But on the other hand we also shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that God's distributing of His anointing and His gifts means rewards for perfect theology. God sees Todd Bentley's heart and has given him extraordinary faith and power! As Terry said - let's not get offended over little things.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Lady in Eastbourne HEALED of Arthritis!!

This is a short clip of the first lady to be healed at the amazing Eastbourne conference where Rob Rufus was ministering. You can actually see Graham Marsh, the pastor grabbing Rob's attention and calling her up. Rob goes on to speak about this lady back in Hong Kong and of her awesome faith that she WOULD be healed at that conference.

Here it is:

It is so absolutely faith-building!! The fire of God was so heavy in that place and continues to this day! People's lives are being changed - set free - set on fire forever by His resurrection power! There are many, many more testimonies that can be found here on video and audio so you can see for yourself what happened on that awesome weekend.

"Christ's Ministry Today" by Dr Ern Baxter

"Where is Jesus Now - and what does that mean to me?"

From New Wine Magazine - July/August 1977

"Many books have been written about the life of Jesus Christ. Most of them commence with His birth and conclude with His death; a few go so far as to include His ascension into heaven. Such an abbreviated record of Jesus' life is understandable if we only think of "the days of His flesh" (Hebrews 5:7), the period of His life on earth. However, Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was "crucified and slain", was "raised up by God" and "exalted to the right hand of God" where "He forever liveth" (Acts 2:22, 23, 32, 33; Hebrews 7:25). Could it be that we have given so much attention to His life on earth that we have failed to attach the proper importance to His life as it has continued for nearly 2, 000 years in heaven? Actually the events of His earth life were the foundation for His continuing life and ministry "at God's right hand" (Romans 8:34).

What He did then was in preparation for what He is doing now and will do in the future. Although it is important that we know what He did and even what He will do in the future, it is vital to our Christian life and understanding that we know what He is doing now, since He is "now appearing on our behalf in the very Presence of God" (Hebrews 9:24).

Success in the Christian life is inseperably linked to "fixing our gaze upon Jesus" (Weymouth), the "pioneer and perfection of faith" (Moffatt), "who is sat down at the right hand of God" (Hebrews 12:2) where we (now) see Jesus crowned with glory and honour (Hebrews 2:9). we are instructed to "seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God". "Set your affections on ('practice occupying your mind with' - Williams) things above, and not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:1, 2). Understanding who and what we are in relation to what Christ is now, in His present life, will determine our whole character as Christians, 'for we realize that our life in this world is actually His life lived in us' (1 John 4:17). The prime question then is; what is Jesus now, and what does that mean to me?

1. Man.

Peter in his message to Israel on the Day of Pentecost said; "Jesus of Nazareth, a man" is "by the right hand of God exalted" (Acts 2:22, 33).

This is God's evaluation of man. Man may see himself as the primeval slime, destined for oblivion but God declares man to be the product of divine creative genius destined for residence with Himself.

The Bible speaks of two men, significant to the human race. The first man - Adam and the last Adam - Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:45). Made in God's "image and likeness" (Genesis 2:7), the first man failed to obey the divine commission for his life and became a man of disobedience producing a progeny "in his own likeness, according to his image" (Genesis 5:3) who became known as the "children of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2). The last Adam, Jesus born "without sin" became a new life-giving source, whose progeny are distinguished by righteousness and obedience (Romans 1:5, 5:19).

The first man was commissioned to "rule ... over the earth" (Genesis 1:26 - NAS) as God's delegated authority, and he forfeited his authority through disobedience. The second man succeeded where the first failed, and because He was "obedient ... God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name" (Phil 2:8, 9 - NAS). After the fall of the first man and His forfeiture of authority. God delegated men to represent Him in the earth until the time should come for the second man to arrive on the scene to assume permament rulership. "God after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son ..." (Hebrews 1:1, 2 - NAS). The prophets not only declared God's will and requirements to their times but referred to the coming of the One who would be God's final voice and Ruler supreme.

No sooner had the first man failed than God announced that there would come "a seed" who would "bruise the serpent's head" (Genesis 3:15). The coming of this "seed" became the central theme of the Old Testament writings. The promise of His coming was confirmed to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jacob's 12 sons became a nation, whose illustrious deliverer and leader Moses spoke of the coming of this "seed" as a great Prophet like himself who would become the leader of the people of God.

2. Pioneer and Perfection.

"In the fullness of time" He came! He succeeded where the first man failed, and as a man, pioneered a way through life which afforded an example of how it can be done (1 Peter 2:21).

What's more Jesus fulfilled God's intended destiny for men by resisting sin, enduring suffering, defeating death and going into the Presence of God to enjoy unbroken fellowship with Him, without any sense of emarrassment, inferiority or fear of interuption. He is "alive forevermore"! There is a man in the immediate Presence of God. One man has made it! You and I too can make it!

This is why we are to "fix our gaze upon" Him. As we constantly behold One who has "pioneered and perfected faith" (Hebrews 12:2 - Montgomery), we are "enabled to run the course mapped out for us" (Hebrews 12:1 -Berkley). In this aspect of Christ's present ministry, it is not so much what He is doing as what He has done that ministers courage and endurance to us. He was the first man to pioneer a way from heaven to earth and provide "the course mapped out for us". He is the only one who has traversed the course. Study "the map" and keep your eyes on the pioneer.

3. Messiah-King.

God ordained that His leaders in the earth, such as priests, kings and prophets should be anointed with oil. Oil was typical of the Holy Spirit and such anointing declared God's unique Presence and enabling with the one anointed. The Hebrew word for anointed was "maschiach" which is the word from which "Messiah" derives. Although there were many anointed servants of God in history, only One was to become the perfect embodiment of all those divinely appointed offices and ministries, who would be "The Messiah" or, as He is referred to in the New Testament, "The Christ".

Many great leaders in the Old Testament prefigured Christ. Abraham became the "father of the faithful", through whose genealogical line "the seed" should come. Moses was appointed leader of the Israel nation, called "the church in the wilderness", and is a type of Christ who is the Head of His Church, for Israel was typical of Christ's church. There was one man however who was destined to become significant to Israel's life and future hopes. He was King David, through whom "the seed" was to become the ultimate "King of Israel" (John 1:49). Of David, God has said;

"I have made a covenant with My chosen; I have sworn to David My servant, I will establish your seed forever. I will establish your seed forever and build up your throne to all generations" (Psalm 89:3-4).

He underlines this promise saying;

"My covenant I will not violate nor will I alter the utterance of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David" (Psalm 89:34, 35 - NAS).

The Psalmist in his "verses to the King" speaking of David and prophetically of David's greater Son, wrote;

"Thy throne O God is forever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom, Thou hath loved rightousness and hated wickedness, therefore God, thy God has anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows" (Psalm 45; 1, 6, 7 - NAS).

The writer in Hebrews applies this to the enthroned Jesus (Hebrews 1:8, 9 - NAS). When Peter spoke on the day of Pentecost of Jesus' resurrection, exaltation and enthronement, he declared it to be the fulfillment of God's covenantal promise to David. He said that David was "a prophet" and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants "upon his throne" and that David had "looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ" (Acts 2:30, 31 - NAS).

The anointed King promised to David was the resurrected, exalted and enthroned Jesus - Messiah.

Isaiah had also prophesied of Jehovah's anointed Redeemer-Servant who was to come (Isaiah 52:13, 53:12) and had written the very words which the Servant would use to announce the commencement of His ministry (Luke 4:17-19). Jesus is the Messiah! God's anointed Servant-Redeemer-King. He reigns as David's seed, God's Son and our Sovereign. The universe is not governed by an unidentifiable, impersonal force but by a man named Jesus who from a "throne of grace" rules the universe in equity and justifce.

"The King of Love my Shepherd is, whose goodness faileth never, I nothing lack if I am His and He is mine forever".

He is King of Kings now! Many Christians are unaware or uninstructed that Jesus is now reigning. As a result they live in relative indifference to the present sovereign rights of King Jesus over the world including His "rebel subjects". Such indifference reduces their redemptive and remedial activity as the delegated authorities God has ordained them to be as His Kingdom community in the outworking of His divine government on and over the earth.

4. Lord.

Jesus is also Lord. In the Pentecostal message Peter addressing the great multitude of devout Jews, declared; "Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ (Messiah) this Jesus whom you crucified" (Acts 2:36 - NAS). During Jesus earthly ministry, the Jewish religious leaders had refused to recognize Him as either Lord or Messiah. They acknowledged that when Messiah came, He would be "the Son of David". But Jesus pressed them further asking,

"Then how does David in the Spirit call Him, "The Lord said to My Lord; "Sit at My right hand until I put Thine enemies beneath Thy feet". If David then calls Him; "Lord" how is He His Son?" (Matthew 22:43-45 - NAS).

It is significant that "no one was able to answer Him a word nor did anyone dare from that day on, to ask Him another question" (Matthew 22:46 - NAS). He not only claimed to be Messiah (Mark 14:61, 62) but He also claimed to be Lord. He was "Man of very man and God of very God". The name used for Jehovah, Jesus claimed as applicable to Himself. The High Priest heard this claim as blasphemy and tore his clothes in furious anger at such presumption.

But his furious denial and denunciation did not alter the facts and God confirmed Jesus' claims by raising Him from the dead and enthroning Him in the place of supreme power. As David's Son and God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ from His place of enthronement continues His life and ministry on behalf of both God and man.

In being "joined to the Lord" we are joined to God. This is not just a matter of names and titles but a matter than has continued vital meaning to those who are "joined". "The man who is in union with the Lord is spiritually one with Him" (1 Corinthians 6:17 - Williams). The practical implications of this fact for the Christian are incalculable. Especially when we read what Paul writes to the Colossians about our Lord and ourselves as His people;

"It is in Him (Jesus Christ our Lord) that all the fullness of Deity continues to live embodied and through union with Him, you too are filled with it" (Colossians 2:9, 10 - Williams).

Our relationship with the enthroned Jesus makes available to us the incomputable resources of the triune God.

5. Head.

Closely connected with with our Lord's Kingship is His present ministry as "Head". As King, He is more strictly the fulfillment of God's promise to the old covenant people and especially to King David whereas His ministry as Head has to do with His relationship to the "new man" which is "the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). He is also "head over all things" (Ephesians 1:22); the "head of every man" (1 Corinthians 11:3); and "head of every principality and power" (Colossians 2:10). When we speak of Christ as Head, we may think of Him as a supreme authority, or in a more specific sesne, as relating in a living way, united to His people as the life-sustaining and directing "head from whom the whole body, by the joints which bind it draw full supplies for all it's needs and is knit together" (Colossians 2:19 - Conybeare).

We might say that He is head legally and vitally. Let's touch briefly on the various aspects of Christ's Headship. "The head of every man is Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:3). This statement is preceded by a solemn apostolic emphasis - "I would have you know". It also describes a part of an authority structure ordained of God. Disruption of this order at any point would prove destructive of God's intent. "But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every individual man, just as man is the "head" of the woman and God is the head of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:3 - JBP). "Every man" in this verse refers to "every male of the human family".

"Paul does not refer to Christians only but to all men. The fact that non-Christians do not know these things and do not even want to know to know them does not do away with the truth of this statement" - (Grosheide, F W - Commentary on First Corinthians).

Christ is the "authority over all authorities and the supreme power over all powers" (Colossians 2:10 - JBP). "All things ... that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers ... were created by Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16). The coming of rebellion into the universe divided both visible and invisible powers into supporters of either good or evil.

The supremacy of God over these powers never diminished but "in the fullness of time" they had to be punished and dethroned in order that man, His ordained delegated ruler should assume his destined authority.

Jesus of Nazareth, God's Son accomplished the defeat of these rebellious powers, "having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphant over them by the Cross" (Colossians 2:15 - NIV).

Now as the God-Man Jesus Christ has supreme authority over all powers. The evil forces cannot keep us from Him, and the good powers are not needed to mediate our approach to Him. We have direct access to Him,unhindered by evil powers and unmediated by good powers.

This authority as Head is not alone for the purpose of honouring our Lord, but also for making His authority manifest through His Body, the Church. "God has placed everything under the power of Christ and has set Him up as head of everything for the Church. For the Church is His body and in that body lives fully the one who fills the whole universe" (Ephesians 1:22, 23 - JBP). This last reference combines the two aspects of Christ's Headship. Although He is Head over all powers by legal right, He also fills the Church with His power vitally in a living relationship illustrated by the relationship of a human head to a human body.

"He is not only the dominating directing power which the Body obeys and follows but the source of it's vitality and of it's vital energies" (H B Swete - The Ascended Christ).

There are three major emphases in connection with Christ's vital union with the Church as seen in the metaphor of the human body. First there must be no question about His right to primacy and supremacy as "the Head of the Body". This is imperative because "He is it's origin - the first to return from the dead" (Colossians 1:18 - NEB). Or as another has rendered it; "He is the Head of His Body, the Church. He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from the dead in order that He Himself may in all things occupy the foremost place" (Colossians 1:18 - Weymouth).

"To know, to do the Heads command, for this the Body lives and grows; all speed of feet, all skill of hands, is for Him spent and from Him flows" (H C G Moule - "Colossians Studies").

In the second place He must be depended upon as the sole supply of the Body's life, nuture and increase. Two of Paul's great epistles have to do with the "Body" and the "Head". In Ephesians, the emphasis is on the "Body" and much wholesome information and instruction is given. In Colossians the main theme is the "Head" and here, our Lord's nature and authority and ministry are powerfully documented. In addition to the positive constructive teaching, there is in each epistle a warning relating to the major theme. Where "the Body" is the theme in Ephesians, the warning is to "Make it your aim to be at one in the Spirit and you will inevitably be at peace with one another. You all belong to one body" (Ephesians 4:3 - JBP).

In Colossians where the "Head" is the subject, the danger warned against is failing to "maintain the union with the Head" (Colossians 2:19 - 20th Century New Testament). On the positive side, and in line with the distinctive emphasis of each epistle, the Ephesians are exhorted to receive into the united Body the rich supply of "the Head" (Ephesians 4:15, 16) while the Colossians are warned that if they "fail to maintain union with the Head" (Colossians 2:19 - NCNT) the Body will be devoid of life and nuture, no matter how united the Body may appear to be. Taking either error to the extreme it is obvious that either a head without a Body or a Body without a head's spell certain death.

The more likely situation, with which most of us are acquainted is that any interuption between "head" and "body" produces sickly subnormalities in the life of God's people. Finally our heavenly "Head" is Himself dependent. The teaching of 1 Corinthians 12 is designed to show the need for each member of a human body to function healthily and normally. Therefore the "Head cannot say to the feet, I have no need of you" (v21). "Paul does not hesitate to represent the Head as on His part depending upon the members for the full realization of His office and work" (H B Swete - The Ascended Christ).

"He has no hands but our hands, to do His work today. He has no feet but our feet, to lead men in His way. He has no voice but our voice to tell men how He died. He has no help but our help to lead them to His side" - (William Barclay - "The Letter to the Corinthians").

6. Priest.

Jesus is not only Messiah, Lord, King and Head but He is Priest. "The Christ-King is also the Christ-Priest". The first mention of the office of priest in the Bible is linked to the office of king. "Melchizedek, king of Salem ... was the priest of the most high God" (Genesis 14:18). The great Messianic psalm, Psalm 110 often quoted and referred to in the New Testament combines these two offices;

"Jehovah saith unto my Lord; Sit thou at My right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool ... Jehovah hath sworn and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizadek" - (Psalm 110:1, 4 - ASV).

Melchizadek is described in Hebrews as; "This Melchizadek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him to whom Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all spoils". He was "first of all by the translation of his name, king of righteousness and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life but made like the Son of God, he abides a priest perpetually" (Hebrews 7:1-3 - NAS).

This order of priesthood is compared and contrasted with the priesthood of Aaron, established under the law of Moses. "Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices" (Hebrews 8:3 - NAS). Aaron had to do this "continually for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin" (Hebrews 10:1, 4 - NAS). But when Christ, the High Priestof a better covenant appeared;

"He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption, not through the blood of goats and calves but through His own blood" (Hebrews 9:12 - NAS). "He having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time sat down at the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:12 - NAS).

It is interesting to note that in the next verse Christ's Kingship is referred to. The time of His remaining seated is "until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet" (Hebrews 10:13 - NAS). He is the Priest-King! There are many other contrasts and comparisons between the Old and New Covenant order of priesthood but we would like to point out just one more at this time. Under the Mosaic order there had to be many priests "because they were prevented by death from continuing" (Hebrews 7:23 - NAS).

"Human high priests have always been changing for death made a permament appointment impossible. But Christ, because He lives forever possesses a priesthood that needs no successor" (Hebrews 7:23, 24 - JBP). The glorious consequence of the single and singular sacrifice and the perpetual priesthood is that "He can save fully and completely those who approach God through Him, for He is always living to intercede on their behalf" (Hebrews 7:25 - JBP).

7. Mediator.

The mention of "intercede" leads us to look at three other closely related activities conducted by our Lord in the Presence of God; those of mediator, intercessor and advocate. The order in which we have listed these three offices seems to be in accord with the sequence of truth which they reveal. The word "mediator" means a "go-between". The Greek word for "mediator" is used only once in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The single reference, however is quite instructive; Job frustrated with the problem of communication between God and himself cries out;

"For He is not a man, as I am that I should answer Him, and we should come together in judgement. Neither is there any daysman between us that might lay His hand upon us both".

Job contended that since God was not a man and Job was not divine, someone was needed who would qualify to represent one to the other. Centuries later, Job's need for that representative was met in Jesus Christ who is "God of very God and man of very man". He is "an umpire who can lay one hand on God and one on man and mediate between them". At the inauguration of the covenant between God and Israel, Moses mediated (Exodus 20:19, Galatians 3:19). Our Lord Jesus is the mediator of a new and better covenant (Hebrews 8:6, 9:15, 12:24).

His mediation is available to all men, for He "desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time" (1 Timothy 2:4-6 - NAS).

The Christian can rejoice because the deathless mediator impartially represents both God and man in the working out of the New Covenant. He faithfully presses the claims of God on His people, and at the same time compassionately encourages the obedience of the redeemed people to their God. But since the work of Jesus as mediator, or go-between, also extends to "all men", sinners have One standing ready to present their "repentance from sin and faith towards God" to God Himself at any time. There is a go-between, Job's prayer has been answered!

8. Intercessor.

The mediator is also the believer's intercessor. As intercessor, Jesus' ministry is confined to us (Romans 8:34) who are described as "them that come unto God by Him" (Hebrews 7:25). This is a work in which the Holy Spirit is also engaged, but with the same restriction, as He intercedes "for us ... the saints" (Romans 8:26, 27). However the world is not without representation in intercession before God. Such intercession is to be the unremitting activity of the Christian community, in hope of bringing the unsaved to the "one Mediator" (1 Timothy 2:1-6). Our Lord makes this distinction between His not praying for the world and His praying for His disciples, when He prays to the Father saying, "I pray for them; I pray not for the world but for them which Thou hast given me" (John 17:9).

It is the Christian's commission to pray for the world.

Probably the most descriptive passage on intercession is Hebrews 7:25. Here intercession has to do with saving "to the uttermost" and is a part of our Lord's high priestly salvation.

Salvation is a comprehensive word which refers to the past (1 Corinthians 1:18), the present (Philippians 2:12) and the future (Romans 13:11). It is a conversion crisis, a continuing course and a coming completion.

Of these three however, it is the present continuing course that is the object of our Lord's intercession. Intercession may be defined as "presenting a petition to someone in authority and especially to the king". Unhindered by death and permamently established as our great High Priest because of the "once for all" sacrifice and unchanging value of His blood, our Lord is in a position to speak to the Father concerning us. As our infirmities and needs are presented, strength and enablement are released to us to allow us to know the present salvation of God and to "go onto maturity" (Hebrews 6:1). As Mediator Jesus brings us to God and as Intercessor He speaks to God for us. An excellent example of Christ's intercession is His prayer recorded in John 17.

9. Advocate.

It would be ideal if we came to God through our Mediator and then matured in life through our Intercessor. However the Bible records an "if" that interupts that ideal. This is where our Lord's ministry as Advocate is introduced.

"My little children, these things I write unto you that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father - Jesus Christ, the righteous" - (1 John 2:2).

Let it be clear that the whole purpose of John's first epistle is to strongly teach that God's children do not practice or "continue in sin". He does not say that they are incapable of an act of sin but even that is a "paradox in point of principle" since God's child is one who "habitually practices righteousness" (1 John 2:29 - Berkley). However if one should sin, we have an advocate to deal with this exceptional occurance. The Greek word from which we get "advocate" is not easy to translate by the use of one English word. However we have neither the time nor space here to do other than make reference to that fact. The translation "advocate" in our text is good, and suitable to the context in which it occurs.

Among other things the word "was familiar in the useage of ancient courts" and with this in mind, the Berkley Bible says; "We have a counsel for defense in the Father's Presence". The success of our Advocate's case is grounded in His own person. He appears for the sinning believer as "the Righteous". The next verse tells us He is the One who legally met the demands of a Holy God against sin. Christ died, rose and appears before God "that we sin not". But "if we sin", that same precious blood avails to restore us to our normal Christian character as those who "practice righteousness". To attempt to take improper advantage of Christ's advocacy is to invite a demonstration of another aspect of the Father's character which can prove quite painful.

This beautiful and heartening truth of our Advocate representing us before the Father is poetically described in one of Charles Wesley's great hymns; "Arise My Soul".

"Five bleeding wounds He bears, received on Calvary - they pour effectual prayers. They strongly plead for me; "Forgive him oh forgive" they cry, "Nor let that ransomned sinner die!". The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One; He cannot turn away the Presence of His Son. His Spirit answers to the blood, and tells me I am born of God".

10. Forerunner.

One final ministry in connection with our Lord's high priestly office is described by a word which is rich with meaning and occurs only once in the Bible. As our High Priest, having entered into God's Preseence, He is called the "forerunner" (Hebrews 6:20). When this word is understood it inspires hope and joy. "The word signifies one who comes in advance to a place where the rest are to follow, or one who is sent on before as a scout to take observations". Under the old economy the high priest went into the Holy of Holies "alone once every year" (Hebrews 9:7). He could not remainbut had to come out since the blood of animals could secure no right to remain. Nor could he take anyone with him. He had to go in alone.

But our High Priest, "by his own blood entered in" (Hebrews 9:12) and "after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:12). Jesus is there to establish our right to be with Him in the Presence of God now in the Spirit and "be forever" with Him after the resurrection. See Him, then, as the forerunner "for us" and rejoice that He is the guarantee of permament access to the Father.