Saturday, October 31, 2009

Many Thanks to a Friend of Ern Baxter!!

I was absolutely thrilled to get an email from a man called Jerome "Jerry" Lukas. He worked with Ern Baxter and the brothers back in the days when "New Wine Magazine" was being produced and ran, and has come across this blog - as a tribute to Ern himself.

Jerome wrote some very gracious words of encouragement which meant a lot to both Pete Day (my fellow blogger and accountability friend - should I stray into heresy) and myself. Blogging is an unusal form of communication - it has the scope and the potential to reach so many but unless they leave comments, I am always of the opinion that no one is reading it!

But he has also kindly re-designed the mast-head for this blog and sent a unique pencil drawing of Ern he did which I have put here and you will see are now in place on the blog.

Vintage Terry Virgo!!

There is nothing more thrilling and exciting to me to have true living heroes of the faith. Of course I've got numerous heroes who are now in glory - Ern Baxter, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, C H Spurgeon, John G Lake, John Owen ... the list is endless. But living heroes are so important to me also and Terry Virgo is firmly near the top of that list.

I've had heroes in the past who have been men of Word and Spirit and have fallen into law or cessationism and the respectability of men. So to see elders in the faith who still firmly believe in a living God who encounters His people and is passionate about them - as well as not straying into excess or weirdness - is glorious and a true blessing from Him.

Terry's latest blog was just ... awesome. He is a man who has lived through decades of church life and yet still is prepared for change - for upset - for a coming God. He writes;

"Jesus came as the ultimate table-turner! He upset everything! What if He should come to His church today? What tables need to be overturned in modern evangelicalism?".

As you may expect - I've got plenty of tables in mind that need to be overturned in modern evangelicalism! But this is Terry's blog and he goes on;

"Reformation was not a matter of keeping up with the changing times but conforming to God-inspired prophets and their writings. What about today? Tables must be overturned if we are to return to authentic Biblical Christianity. Human traditions - unknown in Scripture - have become foundational in many churches".

Oh there is so much I could say! Human tradition - WHY do humans so quickly respond to a genuine move of God through His Spirit and settle down into traditions? Why do humans see a gifted and anointed man who has been singularly used and seek to reproduce the anointing on that individual by copying what they think are the secrets of their success? And yet know nothing of the secrets of the God who gave that anointing in the first place?

Terry makes a point that is quite personal to me;

"What point is there calling for private, personal obedience from individual believers if churches blatently ignore the Biblical instruction regarding church life?".

I have heard church leaders order me to do something yet I have seen them stand up in church on Sundays and without shame quench the Holy Spirit - or worse teach something that is contrary to the Word of God. I'm not trying to use Terry's comment as an excuse for disobeying church leadership - I long and love submitting to genuine, spirit-filled authority when it is clothed and soaked in grace. But what point is there?

I love his conclusion;

"Ultimately God's purpose is not merely to overturn church life but to turn the world itself upside down ... We follow a table-turning Saviour - let's not be status quo disciples".

Friday, October 30, 2009


This term isn't one I invented. I actually read it many years ago in Sam Storm's excellent book; "Pleasures Evermore: Life-changing Power of Enjoying God". I brought it at Stoneleigh Bible Week and read it and I don't think I could quite "get" the phrase. I liked it. Just couldn't allow myself to get over how "selfish" it sounded.

I remember once some of us tried to introduce the beautiful song; "My Jesus - My Saviour" at my home church in Dunstable when it was fully into it's functional cessationism. The answer from the elders was; "No - it's too "me" centred". Hymns were promoted as being "Him-centred". I know that certain church circles still promote such a view and ban beautiful songs such as "Draw Me Close to You" in favour of more liturgical hymns (who can drearily forget the Charles Colson row?!). I was amused to listen on my IPOD to a Grapevine live worship interpretation of "O for a thousand tongues to sing". A wonderful hymn and a glorious live atmosphere. But for a "theological hymn" - it says "me" quite a bit too ...

Anyway - that's beside the point. I don't see why the two have to be split. I love gloriously, well-sung hymns and I love short, emotive songs of worship and intimacy. Why have to have one without the other? My point is this:

Unless we first and foremost enjoy God through glorious encounters with Him then we will never effectively reach the lost.

I know - there are so many caveats to that. God is sovereign etc etc. But look at salesmen. The most effective salesman is one who actually personally enjoys and believes in his or her product. You can tell the sales pitches that just don't quite ring true. Why should Christians be any different? I know the analogy falls down drastically. We are not selling a product - we are witnesses to a glorious living Person. But how can we be "witnesses" to Someone we have never personally encountered or Someone we are passionate about enjoying and living with?

Marriage is a glorious picture of Christ and His Bride. I believe that with all my heart. But how disgusted we would be with a husband who speaks unenthusiastically and rather bored with his wife just after their honeymoon. We would decide they are heading for divorce rapidly! I love nothing more than hearing Rob Rufus speak about his wife Glenda. I don't know why - it just thrills me. They've been married for 30 years and yet Rob is besotted with Glenda. Just so - I loved seeing Terry Virgo dance with Wendy at "Together on a Mission" in 2007 when I was last there. To see couples who have been married for years and adore each other still is a true testament to what we should be like with God.

I want to re-state my love for Lex Loizides beautiful song; "It is for me". I was running on the treadmill listening to the glorious lyrics;

"This is for ME - this blood of Christ, washing all MY stains,
Breaking all MY chains - this is for ME, this death He died,
Taking all my sins and giving ME a chance to live again!".

And what is wrong with allowing that truth to thrill? That before time and eternity God the Trinity decided that you and I would be created and born - and that God the Son would willingly lay aside His majesty and go to the Cross to suffer and die that we might be reconciled to Him! That we might "boldly approach the eternal throne"!?

Mark Heath wrote a post recently called; "False Dilemmas - Discipline vs Delight". I liked Mark's conclusions but while I was running I felt I heard God speak and say how much He actually despises "duty". John Piper uses his famous example frequently saying how utterly insulting it would be to deliver flowers to his wife and say; "I did it because it's my duty". Any husband who says that to his wife DESERVES the slap she should rightly give him.

So how DARE, DARE, DARE the church proudly and self-righteously exalt in it's "duties". How DARE Christians parade around recounting how they adhere to the spiritual disciplines? How DARE Christians even assume that God is pleased with this? Anything that does not stem from delight and adoration in God surely is nothing but blasphemy. Jesus Christ Himself said it most accurately and succinctly; "I wish that you were cold" ... rather than lukewarm.

How do we become passionate for God? Well - again back to the marriage analogy. How do you become passionate about someone you love? You spend time with them. You think about them. You fantasise about them. You speak to them. You enjoy their presence. You buy them gifts because of how it makes YOU feel good! John Piper said;

"The way to become white-hot for God is to draw near to a white-hot heart for God - and there is none hotter than God Himself".

So my prayer is; "Draw me close to you - never let me go!".

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thoughts on Mission and the Advancing Flame!!

I wrote a post called "Forgotten Restorationism?" on the 4th October sharing my feelings and thoughts on how the promises of a glorious end-time church thrill me and excite me like nothing else. And I made a statement;

"If you don't truly believe in restoration then you can't properly truly passionate about the Great Commission".

My point was this - how can we truly go out and evangelise with confidence and passion if we believe that hell is going to be populated more than heaven? How can we walk out into the world and share the gospel with the lost if we believe that "great is the darkness that covers the earth" and that is it? How can we go and take a gospel accompanied by signs, wonders and miracles if we are simply waiting for Jesus Christ to return and end this present world?

I was interested therefore to read an email from John Piper's "Desiring God" ministries that sketched out something of the challenge before us.

1. At the beginning of the 20th century, about 71% of professing Christians in the world lived in Europe. By the end of the 20th century that number had shrunk to 28%. 43% of the Christians now live in Latin America and Africa.

2. In 1900 Africa had 10 million Christians which was about 10% of the population. By 2000 the number of Christians was 360 million - about half the population of the continent. This is probably the largest shift in religious affiliation that has ever occured.

3. There are 17 million baptized members of the Anglican church in Nigeria compared to 2.8 million in the USA.

4. This past Sunday more Anglicans attended church in each of Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda than did Anglicans in Great Britain and Canada and Episcopalians in the USA combined.

5. The number of practicing Christians in China is approaching the number in the USA.

6. Last Sunday more Christians believers attended church in China than in the whole of so-called "Christian" Europe.

7. Kenya has more people in Christian churches on Sunday than Canada.

And this final point particularly affected me - because it is my homeland.

8. This past week in Great Britain at least fifteen thousand Christian foreign missionaries were hard at work evangelising the locals. Most of these missionairies are from Africa and Asia.

Lydia asked an important question in my last post regarding the tangible Presence of the Holy Spirit. She spoke about that which is "in us". And that is right and true - we were indeed "baptised by one Spirit into one body". But Dr Martyn Ll0yd-Jones answered some critics who claimed "we have it all" at conversion. He said;

"Got it all?! Got it all?! Well if you have it "all" then where, in the Name of God is "it"?".

Church history will stand as testament that we will begin to advance mission in an accelerated fashion when the Presence of God - the Holy Spirit - falls upon His church in tangible power and glory. That is why Africa and Asia and the so-called "3rd world" is now directing the missions of the world. That is why Europe and the USA no longer have ANY cause to be arrogant in our theological expertise and knowledge.

Revival isn't a choice - a subject - an interest. The very life of the Western church depends on it!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How Do We Nullify Negativity in Our Lives?

Rob Rufus spoke recently on the danger of negative thinking in our lives. He made a hugely important point - and it's one I've been thinking about a lot recently. In "days of small things" - or in days when nothing much seems to be tangibly happening in the spiritual realm, how do we respond? How do we react? Do we stick to methodically preaching and expounding? Or do we continue hungering and thirsting after God Himself? Rob said:
"How do we position ourselves to let that wonderful miracle take place? I have come to the conclusion after 30 years of being a pastor that nothing in the Kingdom transacts or happens unless you come under the hovering, moving, manifestation of supernatural Holy Spirit. Nothing can happen unless Holy Spirit's manifest power comes tangibly over your life - for the Kingdom is in the Holy Spirit".

Sermon: "How Do We Nullify the Negative Things in Our Lives?" - City Church International, Hong Kong - 11th October 2009.

When was the last time you felt His tangible, manifest Presence? It was never meant to be a "special" or "unique" thing. Experiencing Him is meant to be a normal, supernatural part of every day life. Oh for more, so much more of Him!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A New Vocabulary: "Resilience"

I've been on a fast-tracking learning new terms in my new job preparing for a potential surge in pandemic flu. One of the words that interested me was the term; "Resilience". It means;

" ... the ability of a material to recover from a shock, insult, or disturbance".

You could exchange "material" for "organisation" or even "church". One of the frustrations of my job is planning for something you don't quite know when it will come. I was walking and praying and thinking about my longing for an unsurpassed move of God - for revival itself - and I found God directing my thoughts to my job. To the job of my boss - the "Emergency Resilience Planning Manager". My boss spends his entire working week planning for something that he doesn't quite know when will come. And even IF it will come! Yet he plans and makes the hospital as ready as he can.

And I found God asking me what the "resilience" of the church is like. Are we actually READY for a "disturbance" of heavenly proportions?

My last post was one of Ern Baxter's classic long sermons from the Dales Bible Week 1976. I made a comment that Ern wasn't listened to. He brought a prophetic/apostolic wake-up call to the church - to the Charismatic Movement - and pleaded with them not to rest where they were and enjoy the experiences but take it to a waiting and desperate world. Pastor/teachers went home with their churches and carried on as if life had never changed. And within a decade the Charismatic Movement was on the wane. The effects are still felt today for which we thank God. But the spiritual life and vitality of renewal has all but gone.

One of Ern Baxter's comments during the sermon was this;

"The people that are most vigorously opposed to the newest move of the cloud, are the people who moved with the cloud last. And you may be that people tomorrow".

I've learnt in planning for pandemic flu that there is only so much you can plan for. There are so many policies that you can write. Only so many exercises you can practice. After that - you have to wait for the unknown! I think that's one of the most important lessons that we need to absorb into our planning and preparation and "digging ditches" for any supernatural move of God. That we don't know what's coming. We don't know what God will do. We don't know how God will do it. But we know He IS God and we know He IS amazingly good.

But another point in our planning - is that church history makes it clear that when the church is revived - the nations WILL come. The problem is - I don't think that a lot of churches actually WANT the nations to come. During the Welsh Revival 0f 1900-1902 a lot of drunk miners were saved and I am willing to bet that they didn't change over night. I'm sure they started going to church - a lot of people weren't very happy with the way they were. I wonder how long it was before the church started to try and mold them into becoming "respectable".

THIS is why the grace revolution that men such as Rob Rufus, Bill Johnson and others are teaching is so crucial. Because God isn't satisfied anymore with the lost being saved and being transformed into "religion". Being saved and being transformed into a legalistic poor counterfeit. It makes my blood boil seeing passionate new converts who came into the church so full of fire - and you look at them now and they are "talking the lingo" and buying the required books and quite possibly vying for the pastor's approval and maybe - if they are lucky and related by marriage - a place in the required college of their denomination to get ahead.

What on EARTH has that got to do with the real and glorious Church? "Resilience" means that the church can cope with any disturbance that heaven brings. And I am persuaded that resilience can be taught and learnt from the gospel of true and glorious grace alone - the facts of the matter. That God in Christ Jesus has reconciled us to Himself and has given us the only gift of righteousness we need - His and His alone. Only grace will prepare us for the glory of His coming.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ern Baxter - Dales Bible Week 1976 - Session 3

Many thanks to my friend from Dunstable - Andrew Norman - for this outstanding transcript. It is Session 3 from Ern Baxter's memorable series; "Where Are We Going?" at the Dales Bible Week 1976. I still am persuaded that if the pastor/teachers had heard and put into practice this teaching then the future of the United Kingdom could have been changed. Unfortunately it seems a lot didn't and many of our churches remained stuck in the wilderness - where we remain still.

That is why this teaching is so utterly key to be heard again. Because who knows when our "Kadesh Crisis" may be coming again and our chance to enter the Promised Land and knock over giants?!

"Repetition is an integral part of pedagogy, which means if you’re going to teach something you say it over and over and over again, until we get it. Most of what we are saying this week revolves around three prepositions, ‘out’, ‘through’, and ‘into’. And God has used the Old Testament covenant nation of Israel as a type, as an ensample, as a warning and an admonition for us upon who the ends of the ages have come. They are a great school for us from which we learn. And what God intended for them, he intends for us, as we will find out but on a larger, vaster scale. The tragedy is that they failed.

The glory of what is happening is that we will not fail. This is the significance of the word ‘my’ in Jesus’ declaration concerning the building of his church. He said, ‘I will build my church’. And we’ve made much of church, but that didn’t mean a great deal to the men he was talking to, they understood the meaning of church, it just meant congregation. The Greek word ‘ecclesia’ is the word that is translated ‘congregation’ in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament scriptures, the Greek translation. And when he said to his disciples, ‘I will build my ecclesia’ he was simply saying, ‘I will build my congregation’. So ‘congregation’ wasn’t the exciting word to them. The exciting word to them was ‘my’ and that stood in contrast to somebody else’s. And the only other congregation there had ever been was Moses’ congregation. Jesus said, ‘I’m going to build my congregation.’ Moses built his and it didn’t make it. I’m going to build mine and it’s going to kick the gates of hell in! He said, ‘That’s the difference.’ Amen, just so we know where we’re going.

Now, this morning we dealt with coming out of Egypt, and pointed out that there is a specific, designated way in which people arrive at the ‘crisis beginning, and if you’re taking notes, I know that this board doesn’t do anything for many of you a long way off, but I try to explain it as I go along and it helps me a bit. We’ve got Egypt and the wilderness and the land, and we’ve got ‘out’ under Egypt, ‘through’ the wilderness, and ‘into’ the land. Egypt is the ‘crisis beginning’. Now coming out of Egypt involves the blood of the Passover, baptism unto Moses, and I didn’t enlarge on that this morning, we just hit the fact of baptism fairly firmly. But I’d like you to notice what baptism infers among other things. While I’m not making a sales pitch, I see that my little book is out there:

'The Beginnings of Christian Life'. Don’t pass it by. I mean that, there are things in there on baptism that need to be said. Baptism is probably one of the most neglected, and yet one of the most involved in the New Testament, subjects that there is. If you understand baptism you’ll find it all through the New Testament. When the apostle Paul wants to refer to the beginning of the Christian life, he says, ‘Know ye not that so many of us as raised our hands in an evangelistic meeting... Know ye not that so many of us went forward to the altar call…’ No, he says, ‘know ye not that so many of us were baptised into Christ…’ You see, a New Testament body doesn’t have an altar. There I’ve done it! In a New Testament body, a building is not important. In fact you don’t read about buildings in church history until about the third or fourth century. I recall the first time, I was so excited, I was invited to dedicate a church building. Oh, I thought, this is tremendous, just a young minister, going to dedicate a church building, and I thought, I’ll find out how Jesus did it! [laughter] So I went to the Bible to see how Jesus did it, and Jesus didn’t dedicate them he tore them down! So I didn’t get any help from him! But I was sure that Paul, my hero, he surely had dedicated some!

And I didn’t find that he dedicated any either. I found that he went in and got a bunch of people out of the synagogue, and then went up the street and rented a hall. So I wasn’t getting any… I knew that there were sermons to dedicate church buildings, because I’d attended them, and I knew there were… then I remembered that in my library I had a book entitled ‘Sermons for Special Occasions’. And in desperation I went to this book and sure enough, there was a section on dedicating churches. So I turned to this section, and there were all kinds of outlines, and I said, ‘Hallelujah, I’ve arrived!’ But the thing I noticed was that all of these sermons were from the Old Testament. The dedication of the Tabernacle, the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, the dedication of the Zerubbabel’s Temple, all from the Old Testament, nothing from the New, and I said there’s something here. Then I discovered that the material buildings of the Old Testament were fulfilled in the spiritual building of the New Testament, and that the New Testament building is composed of living stones, redeemed human beings, who are built together to become an habitation of God through the Spirit. And the only use that we have for a building is to keep the rain and the snow off the house. We are the house. We are the people of God. This is the building. We are the building. Alright?

Now, I don’t remember how I got into that, and I’m wondering how to get out of it! [laughter] Well, I’ll just go back and talk about what I wanted to talk about, and that is baptism. They were baptised unto Moses, now among other things… oh yeah, back to the altar, I knew it would come! These are the signs of ageing! In the New Testament redeemed community, the only piece of furniture, literal, physical, feel-able furniture that is authorised by the New Testament is the table. There is no altar in the New Testament here on earth, our altar is in Heaven. The blood covered body of the Lord Jesus Christ is our altar before the Father. We don’t have an altar. I’m sorry about that, I know that this runs right smash bang into some of the most sacrosanct, nostalgic traditional things that many of us have held. The altar has been the sacred place, but when you come to the New Testament you don’t find an altar. An altar in the Old Testament was for offering, for sacrifice, but Jesus Christ was offered once for all, and we have an altar, the Bible says, which they who served the Tabernacle had no right to attend.

If men are still attending earthly altars and offering up earthly sacrifices, they have no right to our altar, because our altar is the permanent altar of the body of Christ before the Father, with the fresh, ever efficacious blood of his sacrifice upon it, and when I come to the Father, I come to the Father through Jesus Christ, my heavenly altar, and the only piece of furniture I have down here is the table, with simply set upon it a loaf, and a cup. And I meet at a table, and that table can be in the middle of a field, there’s nothing in the New Testament about pews, nothing in the New Testament about a pulpit, nothing in the New Testament about a platform. All of the things that we have made so important are not there, and the thing that is important is the thing that we haven’t majored on and that’s people. God is not concerned with places, he’s concerned with people in places. And we are the people of God. That’s why I have no problem with this, this is great, hallelujah! When I listened to you worship tonight, I was just so thrilled, because that is where it’s all at, that’s the content of it, that’s the whole of it. Glory to God, I’d rather be in an old barn with a bunch of people worshipping God than be in a cathedral with a bunch of mummies that are dead! [laughter] I don’t wish to be offensive, but I don’t wish to be inoffensive either! I’m getting just a little fed up, on people sacrificing Jesus Christ and his truth, for musty, nostalgic, death-dealing traditionalism. It’s high time we kicked up our heels and took our hinds’ feet and went for the mountains, hallelujah!

Now, one of the things about baptism is that they were baptised unto Moses. What does that mean? That means that they were baptised coming under the authority of Moses, as God’s sovereignly delegated ruler over his people in the earth. Ever man who followed Moses through the Red Sea said in essence, by that act, ‘Moses, I will hear you as I hear God!’ That’s why Moses stands both in contrast and comparison with Christ. And he said, ‘A prophet like unto me shall the Lord thy God raise up and him shall ye hear. And whosoever heareth him not shall be cut off from among the people.’ Who is the prophet like unto him? Our Lord Jesus Christ! Moses had his church! Moses was the typical saviour of the redeemed community of the Old Testament. It was he who took them through the Red Sea, and they followed him through the sea of death, and he brought them out on the other side of resurrection, and the water closed in behind and covered up their enemies, and they stood on resurrection ground! Miriam was about ninety-eight years old at the time, she grabbed a tambourine, God oiled her old bones and she led the sisters in a resurrection dance on the banks of resurrection.

‘Now,’ you say, ‘why are you going over this again?’

Because, the beginning of a matter is very important. And I am more and more convinced as I travel and as I counsel, although I counsel less and less, and I’ll probably deal with that before the week is out, I am finding that Christians are having problems because they had bad beginnings. The beginning, the foundation of a building determines the nature and the permanence of the superstructure. If you haven’t got a right beginning, you’re not going to have a right ongoing. And I really feel that this is important, and that’s why I wrote the two books that I did. I did it under divine direction as I saw so many people, who when you asked them what constituted being a Christian, they had no idea.

And the Lord instructed me to write a very simple study manual on the beginnings of Christian life, and then one on the beginnings of church life, and a third one that is in formation now, the beginnings of ministry life. These are three areas that are important to the whole ongoing of what God is doing, and yet they’re being neglected. But we are coming, beloved, to the crunch. The charismatic honeymoon is over. And now people who have been charismatically blessed for five, six, eight, ten years are beginning to say, ‘What’s this all about? What is intended by this? Where are we going? Surely this is not the end of the matter?’ Of course it’s not, it’s the beginning of the matter! Repentance, trust in the blood, water baptism, being filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, all of this is simply the introduction into the training! Many people treat it as having arrived. You haven’t arrived, you’ve just started! The journey’s only begun. On the day of Pentecost, when Peter said, ‘Repent and be baptised and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost’, he didn’t say ‘and having done this you shall have arrived at maturity’! He said this is initiation! This is getting into it! And so it’s very important that we understand ‘crisis beginning’.

Now when they crossed the Red Sea, they came out into the wilderness. And out in the wilderness, they entered into the training process to get them ready for going into their permanent vocation which is the land. Now let me just anticipate one point, and that is that as I said last night, when I began to study the land… In fact it’s interesting, I remember taking a course in hermeneutics in a Bible college in America years’ ago, and I was expected to follow a text, and the hermeneutical principle in this textbook was that the land was heaven. And I recall that when I wrote my paper on it, I said, ‘I know that the textbook says the land is heaven, but I am having some problems with this.’ I said, ‘I find in the land that there are giants,’ and I said, ‘and I have hope that when I get to Heaven that I wouldn’t have to fuss with giants.’ And I got my paper back, and the professor wrote on the bottom, ‘Please stay with the text.’ And I’ve found that is rather the nature of crystallised religion, ‘stay with the text’. ‘Don’t rock the boat.’ ‘Don’t shake the tree.’ ‘Don’t upset the status-quo.’ Everything is comfortable, just like a graveyard. [laughter] I hadn’t thought of that until tonight, you know, that class that I had. But when I eventually came to study the land, I found that the land was the place of permanent vocation, and it is not the coming of the Lord, it is not heaven, it is something in the now situation, and that we’ve got to first have a crisis beginning, where we get out of Egypt.

Then we’ve got to be trained to go in to our permanent vocation, and at the end of this conference, I want you to know what our permanent vocation is. One parenthesis that’s very important, and it is this: that the history of Christian revivals has been that the people who come into the revival move on to some form of maturity, but in moving onto maturity themselves, they forget that there is an ongoing process where babies are to be born and trained. So that while I’m talking to you as though we are now a people in this convention, who are all travelling together towards the land, in actuality this is going on all the time. And one of the dangers of those of us who think we are mature is that we become a bit snobbish about having babies born, and this is why churches die. We get everything all nice and mature, and we have our cosy little meetings for deep truth teaching. And if a baby is born, we don’t want him to upset things, because babies don’t understand mature protocol. Babies have a kind of an innocent vulgarity. You know they just don’t pay attention to the niceties of the social atmosphere. They attend to the exigencies of life right in the middle of a polite conversation. [laughter] I tried to put that as nicely as I could! Now I have actually seen churches of very fine Christians who resented new converts! You can’t do that! No matter how mature, I tell you, wake up! And realise that one of the joys of being a Christian and going on to maturity is to see other people coming into it. And the older you get, every age has its compensations, and you reach the grandfather stage, you become a grandparent, and that has its compensations.

When you’re a parent, you have to look after your own kids. But when you’re a grandparent, you can play with the kids of your kids and when they fuss you give them back! [laughter] You see I’m a grandparent now, don’t tell them back in Lauderdale because they tried to lay that on Derek Prince and me, to say, ‘You’re the grandfather figures.’ We said ‘We’re not grandfathers, we can beat the bunch of you!’ But, you know time-wise we are, and one of the privileges of a grandfather is that we go round saying to elders, ‘How are the children doing?’ And so they hand us the children, and we play with the children, and when the children get a little bad we say, ‘Here, take care of your kids!’ I go to visit my daughters, I’ve eight grandchildren, and my daughter has a kind of a sense that when the children have climbed all over me, and anointed me in various places, she’ll take a look at me and she’ll say, ‘Daddy’s ready to go back to the motel for a rest’, and Daddy is! And Daddy kisses the dear little things goodbye, and goes back to the motel. You see every age has its compensations. Now what am I saying? Don’t ever get so old and mature that you don’t get excited at the birth of a baby. Just thank God you don’t have to look after it! [laughter]

I think this needs to be said because we’re always going to have children born into the family of God, so that this is an ongoing process. They’ll come in and they’ll upset your meeting. They’ll talk in tongues when they shouldn’t. They’ll have to be taught how to behave. And they’ll burp when they shouldn’t. Is that what you call it over here, burp? You know when you’re mature you do it politely. [laughter] But the baby doesn’t know enough about it, so it BURPS! Everybody gets a little embarrassed and says, ‘Well, he’s just a baby’. But I tell you, if he’s twenty-one and he does it, you’ve got trouble. You see, Paul’s problem with the Corinthians was they were as babes. He didn’t say they were babes, he said they were ‘as babes’. And the two parallel books in the New Testament are Corinthians and Hebrews and there are parallel passages, and in both of them he chides the people for having been converted so long and acting like children. The whole world loves a baby, they’re not really embarrassed when a baby does all of those things that babies do. He’s a baby. But if at twenty-one he’s still sitting on your knee and you’re feeding him, that’s a bit disgusting. So babies are supposed to grow up, but while they’re babies, enjoy them! I enjoy young people. I think young people are tremendous, and I find that to be among Christian young people just infuses me with life. And I identify with them and I’m thrilled about them, because they’re the ones that are really going to go into the land in actuality. For when we come to the land the Bible says, ‘there remaineth a rest for the people of God.’ There is a generation that is going to go in. And I have a sneaking suspicion that this is the generation. And there’s Calebs and Joshuas that go in with the new generation. So when you kids are going in, then look around for an old Caleb! [laughter]

Now the purpose is to get through the wilderness. You don’t want to stay in school forever. Get it over with, and so the name given by the Jews to all places which were not cultivated was wilderness. It’s an uncultivated place, not a place where you stay. God took them deliberately into the wilderness, cut them off from Egypt, no supply lines, no jet planes bringing in food, completely cut off. Three million people totally dependent on God. No conduits to Egypt. Out in the middle of a howling wilderness. Three million! Brother, you talk about authority. You talk about discipline. You’re talking about people, people have wondered why the laws of God were so stringent on the community of Israel, why a son who came against his father had to be stoned. Somebody said, ‘That’s cruel!’ You don’t understand! Three million people out in the middle of a wilderness, if you didn’t strike that rebellion at its root it would spread throughout! And that’s why they had hygienic laws, they had social laws, they had moral laws, they had dietetic laws, they had no Frigidaires. The law of God for Israel was very practical, it was to tell a people three million strong how to live in the midst of a howling wilderness, and how to get along! That’s why when anybody came in and started a divide, or sinned against the community, God dealt with them because it was important that the community should not be disrupted, for its very existence depended on its unity and its relationship and it staying together, and everybody knowing their place and staying in their place!

Now when you come into the wilderness it’s full of the miraculous. When you come into the land the miraculous diminishes. You say, ‘Well, I don’t understand that. I would think that the miraculous would increase as you grew older as a Christian.’

Well, you don’t need the miraculous! I don’t need a miracle tonight. I believe God, I don’t have to have a miracle to prove God. I don’t have to have a prodigy of power to prove God’s going to look after me. When they came into the land they had matured to the point where they understood that God was the God of the whole earth, and he sent the rain in its season, and he dealt with them through natural means, because they had matured now to understand that they didn’t need to have special visitations of God, like a little child has to have, special little pats on the head to say, ‘I love you, dear.’ Now some of you have missed that, but we’ll pick it up again because it’s important, for I find Christians all over the world that say, ‘It’s not like it was’. Of course it’s not like it was! When I was a boy, my Dad paid the rent, paid my school tuition, bought my bike, gave me my allowance. That was terrific! It was just a series of happy miracles! And then I got married and became a father and somebody else got the miracles. Now when they came into the wilderness, one of the first things that happened to them was they had supernatural healing. Let’s have a look at some of these things now, Exodus chapter 15.

Now this is maybe going to upset you a bit. But that’s my ministry. As you probably have already discovered! And so let us look at verse 23. ‘Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went out into the wilderness of Shur, and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water, and when they came to Marah they could not drink the water of Marah for they were bitter. And therefore it was named Marah. So the people grumbled at Moses saying, “what shall we drink?” Then he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree, and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet. There he made for them a statute and regulation, and there he tested them.’

Now, I’m going to stop right there, and I’m going to say to you that when you hear sermons on healing, or you talk to one another about healing, you will say to one another, or the preacher will preach a fervent eloquent sermon on, ‘I am the Lord that healeth thee.’ And the whole idea is left that God just heals you when you get sick. When you get sick God heals you, that’s it. You’re sick, God heals you. ‘I am the Lord that healeth you.’ Now we do this with so many texts, we take them out of their context and they become a pretext. Now when you leave this text in its context, it doesn’t say that at all Notice what it says. ‘And he said,’ verse 26, ‘if’. ‘And he said,’ verse 26, ‘if’. ‘And he said if’! How many know he said ‘if’? Alright? ‘If you will believe that healing is in the atonement, and come forward I will pray for you! And you will get healed because you believe that healing is in the atonement.’ Is that what he said? No, he said, ‘If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians, for I the Lord am your healer.’ ‘If.’ ‘I am your healer if. I am your healer if.’ ‘If!’

Now thousands of people have been preached at about Jesus as the healer, and it’s a kind of a straightforward offer without any provisos, without any demands or requirements. ‘The Lord will heal you brother.’

And some of you may know that I travelled for many years with the late William Branham. And in the beginning of those meetings, when we were packing the largest auditoriums across the world, I believe there’s a lady here from South Africa who can remember the service we had in Durban at the racetrack, where the press reported 200,000 people attended. In those days we would have as many as five to ten thousand people come through a healing line each night. And I’d see people coming through the healing line that I knew as Christians, good devout people who loved God – I had no reason to believe otherwise. And Brother Brahman would lay hands on them and nothing would happen. Some fellow would come through, obviously didn’t know God, in fact you’d hear people saying they were coming for a treatment, and this fellow would come through the line, Brother Brahman would lay hands on him, he’d throw his crutches in the air and go screaming down the aisle, and I said to … ‘Whoa, whoa, there’s something wrong here! This nice sweet saint doesn’t get anything, and that old sinner gets the whole thing! There is something wrong! Why is that Christian not healed?’

The Lord said, ‘You’d better go find out.’ So I went to the word of God and I found at least ten reasons why Christians are not healed. Now when you come to Christ in the crisis beginning, one of the things that should accompany this is a strong healing emphasis. That is, men come in to Christ, they get a blanket deal. God will save you, forgive you, heal you, start you off on the right foot, but now you’re in the family of God and you come under the rules and regulations of the household. And no longer is it a matter of, ‘Come to Jesus Christ and give him your life, and he will cleanse you and heal you and the whole thing.’ Now, your healing is dependent as was the covenant nation of Israel, after they had come out of Egypt, their healing was dependent upon their relating to the authority of Moses! I’m going to give you one illustration. In the great communion passage, in fact I think I dealt with this in London last year, in the great communion passage, Paul says, ‘For this cause many are weak and sickly among you and many sleep.’ ‘For this cause’ - what cause? Somebody says, ‘Well if you’re sick, it’s the devil!’ Well in this case it wasn’t the devil. In this case, it was the fact that there were people in the Corinthian church who were disobeying the statutes of Christ’s law, or Christ’s commandments. And they were dividing the body of Christ. And for this cause, many of them were physically weak, and they were sick, and some were prematurely dying. Because when you get too bad for earth God takes you home to heaven. And just put that in the back burner and let it slowly simmer.

In the Corinthian church was the gifts of healings and the gifts of miracles and the elders with oil. But the elders could anoint that man with oil and he wouldn’t get healed. The gift of healing could come by and he wouldn’t get healed. The gifts of miracles could come through and they wouldn’t get helped. There was only one way that that man could get healed in the Corinthian church, and that was by correcting the thing that was causing the sickness. And the thing that was causing the sickness was that he was divisive in the body of the church. And no amount of laying on of hands, anointing with oil, gifts of healings were going to heal him! He had to straighten out his relationship.

Now it is my firm conviction that one of the great things that is up ahead for us is a massive visitation of God’s healing upon our bodies. Once we get the body together, there will be such a flow of divine life through the related members of the body, that sickness will just automatically go because we’ve got it together. Our divisions are making not only God sick, they’re making us sick. How many understand what I’ve said now? Alright.

Now that’s just one reason, I could give you nine more in the Bible, where sickness has got nothing to do with your believing.

For instance, when I was travelling with Brother Brahman I’d have great large Bible studies in the afternoon, five, eight, ten thousand. And I’d say to them quite often, ‘How many here believe in divine healing?’ And every hand would go up. ‘How many here need divine healing?’ Every hand would go up. I’d say somewhere between your believing and your getting there’s a short circuit. Now they thought if they could get to Brother Brahman they’d get healed. But when I began to see these things, I went to Brother Brahman and I said, ‘Look, I’m seeing these things, is it alright if I minister them?’ He said, ‘Brother Ern, I am so tired, I can only minister to so many.’ He said, ‘We send thousands home every night, and we never touch them.’ He said, ‘If you’ve got something that can reach them where they are, go ahead!’ So I started to minister these things. And I said, for instance, ‘Healing for some of you tonight is not at the hands of Brother Brahman with his gift. Nor is it at the hands of your elders with their oil. Healing for you is as close as the nearest phone.’ And people would go out and they’d long distance back home, to their farmer neighbour. To patch up a difference, and come back to announce that God had healed them.

Many of us tonight are sick physically. We’ve been prayed for by everybody that’s come along, we’ve been prophesied over, there have been barrels of oil poured over our heads, hands laid on us. We’ve been shaken and jerked and jumped and pushed and pulled, and prodded and preached at, and we’re still sick! Because you see, we rise or fall together. And the whole body is sick. Because it’s separated from its members. There are parts of the body missing. And so there are parts of the body not functioning, and the body is sick. Now that’s just one emphasis. Now what God had to teach Israel out in the wilderness was, ‘Look, you’ve got no doctors here, they’re all back in Egypt. I’m going to be your doctor, but I will only heal you if you will walk in my statutes.’ Now do you honestly believe, dear child of God, that you or I have a right to come to God because we hold a correct doctrine on healing presumably, and say, ‘God, I want you to know that I took a correspondence course on divine healing, and I believe in divine healing, and I wish to be healed please, because I hold correct views.’ The Lord says, ‘How are you behaving?’

‘Well what’s that got to do with it, I believe!’ Well, if you believe you will obey, for faith and obedience are synonymous! To say you believe and don’t obey, means you don’t believe. All you’re doing is believing in your belief! Many people believe in their beliefs, sing to their songs, pray to their prayers.

God is saying, ‘I have entered into a covenant of healing with you. Have you read the covenant? Have you read the fine print? Have you read the bottom line? Or did you sign it without reading it?’ You can’t tear up the body of Christ brother, without having it reflected in your physical condition. You cannot grumble against God without getting a literal belly-ache, the Bible says. There are ten things at least that I know of in the covenantal relationship of God with his people which preclude healing from a Christian, no matter how accurately he may hold the doctrines of healing. And actually he doesn’t hold them accurately, if he doesn’t understand that wrapped up with being healed as a Christian, is obedience to the covenant. So when you’re in training for going into the land, one of the things you must learn out here is that God will deal with you through your body. Did you ever notice how we quote that Thessalonian passage? ‘Body soul and spirit’. How does the Bible quote it? How? See a great many of you don’t know! How many of you when you talk about it say ‘Body soul and spirit’? Now be honest! Come on be honest, get it up, get it up! Alright. In the Bible it’s, ‘spirit, soul and body’! Why? Because that’s the order of importance to God. Spirit, soul, body. What’s the order of importance to me? Body, soul, (whatever it is). Now you go to the average clinical psychiatrist, he’s got a body and a psyche. But when you come into the word of God you’ve got a body, and a psyche, and a spirit! And the most important to God is the spirit! But I’m all concerned with my body. I want my body to be well, I want my body to look good, I feed my body, I want to bath my body. I want to fix my body up, I want to quaff my body! This is where we’ve got in trouble with modern permissive love. My body falls in love with your body. We’re so body conscious that everything is the body. Clothes for the body, meats for the belly, the belly for meats, everything is for the body. God says I know how to get at him. [laughter] Amen?

So the minute something happens to our body we say, ‘Pastor, will you pray for me?’
Pastor says, ‘How you getting along?’

‘Just pray for me!’

‘Er, how are things going?’

‘Well I just want you to pray for me! My body hurts!’

Body conscious. And the Lord is really poking you in the body to get at your spirit. And all you want, dear old Dr Bosworth, he was such a gentle soul, he wasn’t like me! He was so gentle, and he would say kind of apologetically, he’d say, ‘You know dear people, I sometimes think that many of you just want your bodies to be healed so that you can serve the devil better.’
And I think that’s the truth. The Lord says, ‘That child of mine down there, he’s carnal.’ And so he does a little work on the body, and you say, ‘Lord I want my body healed.’

‘Oh,’ he said, ‘do you?’ Could we talk about some other things!’
‘Well, Lord, it was really just my body I wanted attended to. Maybe later on we could get around to … I have a number of important things to do Lord, would you mind healing my body?’

Are you hearing me? Are you alive? Say, ‘Hallelujah!’ Good, I was beginning to think you’d all gone up in a private rapture. Alright. [laughter] Now I’m sure that some of you here tonight heard something for the first time! And you’ve wondered why you weren’t getting healed. Because you believe healing is in the atonement and you believe that if you’re anointed, or whatever, you should be healed. And you never before understood that God gets at your soul and your spirit through your body, because that’s the thing that you’re most conscious of. So he speaks to you through your body. So one of the first things that Israel had to learn out in the wilderness, was that if they were to keep their bodies well, and if God was going to supernaturally heal them, they had to walk in obedience! That was the first piece of training! And many of them got miraculously healed, because they obeyed the Lord. Now, while I’m busy in this business of debunking things, lets have a whack at another one!

Somebody says, ‘It was marvellous, because when they came out of Egypt there was not a feeble one among them!’ That’s right, there was not a feeble one among them because all the feeble ones got killed off. [laughter] The Bible says that as they came out into the wilderness, some of them straggled. It doesn’t mean there were necessarily weak or sick, it means they were stragglers. And they straggled behind, and the Amalakites came up on their flank, and shot them off. And the reason that there were no feeble ones in the congregation was all the feeble ones got shot! By Amalakites. And the simple lesson in that, is that if you don’t want to get an Amalakite’s arrow in your back, stay with the pack! [laughter] Oh I am mischievous tonight! But how many casualties are there among these independent, straggling, lazy people, who don’t want to go through the risk of being vulnerable to the congregation, and so they decide to walk along in holy pride as they straggle along, just keeping in sight of the congregation. And then suddenly pooooosh! ‘Anybody seen brother Joe lately?’ [laughter] Brother, you want to stay healthy, you stay with the body! Alright. Let’s go on to something else.

Anybody here got some catching up to do? Maybe when you go back home you’ll want to join yourself. It’s awful lonely out there, and you’re terribly vulnerable. If there is one thing in this renewal, in this revival that’s going on, that I thank God for, it’s relationships. When I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to come over with Bob, the first thing was a sinking feeling in my stomach, until I remembered, Bryn. And the other brothers over here. When I phoned Bryn to tell him Bob couldn’t come, I said, ‘Bryn, I’m sorry about it, but I feel comfortable, because I’ll be with you.’ I think if there had been no related body of men here, I wouldn’t have come either! I refuse to be alone. It’s not good for a man to be alone. That not only has to do with marriage, brother, that has to do with ministry. That’s why Jesus sent them out two by two. Because the Bible says, ‘Two are better than one. Because if one falls down the other one will lift him up, and if one gets cold the other one will keep him war.’ Snuggle up saints! Hallelujah! God doesn’t want you to be out in the cold, and the only way you can keep warm is get up close! Alright.

Now another miracle that they had out in the wilderness, remember all of these miracles were in the wilderness, was the miracle of the manna. Back in Egypt they got their allocation of leeks and onions, but now they’re out in the wilderness and there are no leeks and onions! And you can’t grow anything in the wilderness. And here’s three million people, and not a grocery store in sight.

And they said, ‘We’re hungry!’

Moses said, ‘They’re hungry!’

God says, ‘I’ll take care of it!’

Moses said, ‘God’ll take care of it!’

The people said, ‘Good!’

Moses said, ‘Good! How are you going to do it?’ [laughter]

‘Well,’ he said, ‘tomorrow morning, tell the people when they get up to go out and I will have delivered their groceries. And they’ll just collect them after the dew has gone up, and it’ll be all nice and moist.’ Because there’s nothing worse than dry manna. [laughter] So they were all excited, they didn’t know what to expect, but then the next morning they all went out of their tents and there it lay, like hoar frost, all over the wilderness, and they looked at it, and they said, ‘What is it? What is it? It’s good. Tastes like honey. But what is it?’ And that’s where the manna got its name, because that’s the meaning of manna, ‘what is it?’ [laughter] So every morning they went out and collected their ‘what is it’. [laughter] One sister said to another, ‘How are you going to fix the “what is it” today? [laughter] Have you any new recipes for “what is it”?’ [laughter] Which leaves the question yet unanswered, what was it? [laughter]

The Bible says it was angels’ food, so all night long the angelic bake ovens…[laughter] And in the morning by special delivery, hosts of angels came down the avenues of the stars and deposited Israel’s groceries all over the sand. Isn’t that beautiful? I never cease to marvel at the miracle of three million people in the middle of a wilderness, dependent on God for everything, under a lesser covenant than ours. You know something, this is just me talking, I believe that before this age ends, when economic, political and religious Babylon has collapsed, that we will enter into a dimension in God, where we will probably also go out and collect our manna. Now maybe not literally, but God will supernaturally provide. I am not dependent on the world’s economic situation to be looked after. If God sent a raven to the prophet, I’m sure he’ll take care of me, so let Babylon fall! Ker-plonk! [laughter]

Something really thrilled me when I was at Capel, and I notice you’re doing it here, and it’s beautiful in my eyes, when I went back to America that hasn’t entered into this dimension yet. Down at Capel they got up and very simply, ‘We need so many thousand pounds.’ There was no pulling, it was just stated, and at the end of the conference they had all expenses paid, they paid my fare, they gave me an honorarium, they took care of all the help, and they had money left over, and I said to Gerald Coates, I said to him, ‘Brother, what do you do about the inflation? What do you do about it?’ And oh, I thought his answer was classic, because it was what I had been preaching, and now I was seeing it. He said, ‘We ignore it.’ [laughter] That’s beautiful. That is beautiful. We haven’t yet reached the point where we ignore it. I haven’t heard any Christians in this country lamenting what is happening economically. Now you, some of you may do, but I’m simply saying I’ve not heard it.

And I think you are already entering into a dimension of end time reality that has hit other parts of the world but hasn’t certainly hit America. Because if you and I are dependent on Egypt in any way for our survival, we’re sunk. Because when I came through the Red Sea, I said I trust in a covenant God, who will send down free trainloads of manna every morning to feed three million people. ‘Ah,’ somebody says, ‘surely Baxter you’re sufficiently knowledgeable to know that that’s just a myth? Why, it wasn’t that way at all. Don’t you understand that science has researched the whole matter, and that on the desert there is a plant, and it has a fruit, and what they did, they went out every morning and they just collected the fruit off of those little branches.’ But that puts a greater strain on my credulity than the miracle. [laughter] That means that that little old plant has got to grow a new crop of fruit every night. [laughter] And what is more, it would be a miracle in the whole world of growth, because every weekend it would have to grow a double crop! [laughter] I think I’ll just stick with the miracle, [laughter] eh?

You know it’s like this whole evolution thing, that you and I are here by a fortuitous concurrence of atoms. You know what that means? We just happened. And so in Darwin’s Origin of Species, some 2,800 times he says, ‘Let us assume… that in the beginning there was matter and force.’ Three cheers. [laughter] That’s exactly what we believe. But we believe that the force was God, and we believe that the matter was what God by creative genius brought to pass. And we are not left in the barren wastes of speculative evolutionary philosophy, which says that some little piece of protoplasm that came from somewhere, floated on some primeval waters sometimes and the sun shone upon it, and it just happened to evolve – thank God it evolved with such symmetry and order. It would have been terrible had it evolved with a nose in the middle of the back and an ear sticking out of the top of your head. [laughter] I think I’ll stick with the miracle. I find the miracles much easier to believe than the brilliant apologetics that embarrassed, unregenerate men make for the Bible. The Bible doesn’t need any help. Man stands on the rim of the universe, and he cries, ‘What’s out there?’ And there’s no answer, because his radar, his receiving set is broken. But a Christian stands and says, ‘Who’s there?’ And the answer comes back loud and clear. ‘In the beginning God…’ The Christian says, ‘Hallelujah!’ And the sinner said, ‘Did you hear something?’ [laughter]

Well, they were not only hungry, they were thirsty. God teaches us. They were thirsty.

They said, ‘We’re thirsty.’

Moses says, ‘God, they’re thirsty.’

God says, ‘Well, give them water.’

Moses said, ‘God, we’re in a desert – how?’

He said, ‘Out of a rock.’

‘Out of a what?’ [laughter]

You know, we need to hear this people, in our technological age where we press a button, or pull a little goo-gaa, where everything is ... We need to hear, because already, already we are starting to cancel out our brilliance with its results. Already we are in ecological trouble. Already this globe is enveloped in a thin envelope of smut and muck and pollution that has come out of our brilliant technological discoveries, and it is threatening to keep from us the life sustaining rays of the Sun. And you and I need to hear that when we can no longer use a lot of our technological things, and we start to journey back to God and primitive beauty, we’re going to have to learn to know that God can provide, apart from all this brilliant unrestrained genius of unregenerate men. Water out of rock? So Moses smote a rock and out came water. And the people drank. Water out of a rock?

You say, ‘How is God going to do it?’ I don’t know how he’s going to do it, I just know he’s going to do it. All he asks you and me to do is walk in covenant. You say, ‘How will he heal me?’ I don’t know, but I’ll tell you something, people, I’ve watched a little blue baby, and you know that it takes all the genius of medical science, with long hours of surgery to even try to correct the heart condition that produces a blue baby. I’ve watched a little blue baby, kept my eyes open as prayer was made in Jesus’ name, and in seconds some strange, mysterious hand has reached down, and done instantaneous surgery on that little heart, changed the whole bloodstream, and instead of that ghastly purple, there’s a healthy, rosy hue. How did he do it? I don’t know. He did it. He did it. I don’t ever want, I don’t care how mature I get, I don’t ever want to get away from the miracle of my God, who is able to do anything, but who will not do it promiscuously, but who will do it in relation to my growth and maturation. God will not do things for you just to satisfy your curiosity. He will do things for you as you walk in covenant relationship with him.

One more thing. When they came out into the wilderness, God gave them a cloud, a special cloud. By day it was a pillar of smoke, and by night it was a pillar of fire. They had their own mobile electrical system. And when they were to move they followed the cloud. And when the cloud would begin to shimmer and shake, a cry would go out, and they’d all start to break camp. And the mothers would get the kids ready, and the pots and pans all wrapped up, and Dad would take down the tents and the Levites would start to take the Tabernacle apart, and then they’d cover all the sacred vessels, and they’d all get ready to march, and then the cloud would start out.

Now can you imagine three million people going across the wild, howling desert following a cloud? And you can see all the nomadic tribes out in the desert looking over the sand dunes. [laughter] And the word got around that there is a group of people going round the wilderness who have their own private cloud. [laughter] What was God teaching them? He was teaching them the obedience of divine guidance, and he said to Moses, ‘If the cloud settles for a week, you stay for a week. If it settles for a month, you stay for a month. If it settles for a year, you stay for a year. But when that cloud moves, you move. Can’t you imagine some people in the revival – the cloud revival – ‘Hallelujah, we’re in the cloud revival! We’ve made three moves already. Glory to God! But I think this is the last one.’

Somebody said, ‘Have you heard, the cloud is moving?’

‘No, not again. [laughter] Well I think I’ve gone as far as I’m going to go. I’m going to stay here.’

Now they were in the cloud revival. They’re not in it now. Are you hearing me? Because I’m trying to say something to you, and I’m trying to keep it fairly light tonight, because you it’s been a long day. But still I’m saying some very serious things to you, that God reserves the right to disturb your religious comfort at his will. And many came into the charismatic thing, and they said, ‘Are you in the charismatic revival?’

‘Oh hallelujah, I’m in it.’

And then the cloud moved, and somebody said, ‘What’s happening?’ Somebody said, ‘Well, the cloud’s moving.’ [laughter]

Somebody said, ‘I liked it when the cloud was here.’ [laughter] ‘But if anybody thinks I’m going to go to the cloud there.’

'Well, you can stay here without a cloud. I’m going there with a cloud. I don’t know where the cloud’s going to take me. Wherever the cloud goes, that’s where I’m going.’
Somebody said, ‘Where are you going today?’

‘I’m going with the cloud.’
‘Where’s the cloud going?’

‘I’ve no idea.’ [laughter]

Somebody says, ‘What in the world have I got into?’ The cloud revival. You know that the cloud is not going to stop until it brings you right up to the border of the land. And when the cloud gets you into the land, you’ll need no more cloud, because in the land each man will sit under his own vine and fig tree. Let me just finish tonight by saying this. I keep saying I don’t want to be unkind, and I don’t, I really don’t, but I realise I have to be disturbing. My Jewish friend Art Katz says regularly, he says every time God calls me, he calls me to inconvenience. There is an inconvenience in moving with God, because you never know what he’s going to do next, or where he’s going to take you, and the constant danger you face is saying, ‘I’ve gone as far as I’m going to go.’ And listen, dear people.

The people that are most vigorously opposed to the newest move of the cloud, are the people who moved with the cloud last. And you may be that people tomorrow.

Because I want you to know the cloud has not stopped moving, and I don’t know if you’ve caught the inference of what I’m saying, but I am saying that we as a people are still in the wilderness. We’re on our way to the land, and by the end of this series, when I tell you what the land really is, you’ll know that we’re still in the wilderness. But right now we’re following the cloud. And as long as the cloud didn’t inconvenience us overmuch, we were all for the cloud, but when the cloud started to take us on out into the wilderness, further and further, we didn’t know where it was taking us, then we said, ‘We want security. That last oasis, where the cloud left us, we like that. And so the Christian centuries are filled with oases where people have said, ‘I’ll stay here, thank you, you can go on with the cloud.’ And it won’t be long until there will be charismatic oases where people decided to stay. The congregation is moving on. I don’t know what you call where you are tonight, but it’s not permanent. There is new light to break from God’s word. There is new territory to take. We’re on our way to the land, we’re on our way to ‘permanent vocation’, we’re on our way to kingship, we’re on our way to authority, we’re on our way to a place where God is going to manifest his glory in a mature people, that will make the world wonder at the grace and glory of God manifest through mortal men. How can mortal men be mature, how can they do that? It’s because they followed the cloud into the land.

We’ll try to get through the wilderness tomorrow night, but we’re in training tonight. Is God testing some of you in the matter of relationships? Is he testing you through your body perhaps? Is God testing you in the matter of economic provision? Are you concerned tonight about what’s going on in the world? Do you think it’s rough in Great Britain? Let me tell you that the world economy is in such serious condition, that world economists, who have studied the science of world economy, are no longer able to give advice on world economy. A friend of mine in Kansas City who is the president of a large stock brokerage firm told me one day, as we were driving down the city, he said, ‘Ern, we have two groups of people that we turn to for professional advice in this business. One is a group of men who advise us on the trends in the market, and advise us what stocks are good to buy, and which stocks are good to sell, and so on.’ Then he said, ‘We have a scientific group that advise us on the nature of world economy, based on economic laws.’ He said, ‘Two years’ ago,’ – that would be about four years’ ago now – he said, ‘Two years’ ago, they advised us that they could no longer give us readings on the world economy, because something had come into the world economy that they could not scientifically define.’

Now I sat besides this hard-headed businessman, and I looked at him out of the corner of my eye, and he was driving straight ahead, and I said to him, ‘Are you saying to me what I think you’re saying to me?’ He said, ‘Yes, I believe you know what I’m saying.’ Then I said, ‘Let me articulate it. You are saying to me that there is a supernatural something, that has come into the world economy, that has so disrupted it, that all the scientific economic laws are no longer valid, and they cannot define what is happening.’ And he said, ‘That’s right.’ I went to Duke University to speak at a seminar there, and I mentioned this, and a young man came up to me after I had mentioned it, and he said, ‘I am a Business Major in Harvard University.’ He said, ‘I just want to confirm what you’ve said, our professors have categorically stated to us that something has come into the world economy that they can no longer scientifically grapple with.’

I’m not an economist. I don’t understand all of that stuff, but there was one thing that quickly came to my mind. ‘Alas, alas, for Babylon the great is fallen.’ I believe there’s a supernatural hand in world economy. I believe there’s a supernatural hand in world politics. I believe there’s a supernatural hand in the religion of the world, because those are the three definitions of Babylon in the book of Revelation, and God’s going to bring them all down. He’s going to bring down economic Babylon, he’s going to bring down political Babylon, he’s going to bring down religious Babylon, and he’s going to raise up the church of the holy city, and there is going to come into focus the people of God,

That are going to offer the world an alternative to what they’ve got, a counter culture, an alternate society, where we’ve got it together, according to the laws of the kingdom of God, and the kingdoms of this world are going to become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ.


The video says it all! This is another awesome worship video from Grapevine Bible Week held in Lincoln, UK. It makes me so utterly hungry for such worship!

Monday, October 12, 2009

On Reading C H Spurgeon and Sermons ...

I'm not a very patient Christian bookshopper. Many go into a Wesley Owen or a CLC and browse happily and slowly. I rush in like a whirlwind and sweep the shelves and usually leave without buying anything. I don't have much patience for the majority of Christian books - to me they tend to be either rubbishy Christian novels or dry, dead theology (a misnomer surely). I lament spending lunch hour after lunch hour scanning the shelves and leaving empty-handed.

I think that partly explains why I invest so much time in transcribing sermons. My thought is that there is no point in moaning about a lack of quality Christian books if you don't write your own.

But that's an aside. I was thrilled last week to find a treasure in CLC which I duly brought. Day One Publications have brought out a volume; "C H Spurgeon's Sermons Beyond Volume 63". I'm an avid collector of the "Metropolitan Tabernacle" volumes and have about 20 or so to go. This volume has produced 45 "forgotten" sermons that have been transcribed and edited. Phil Johnson wrote the foreword and made a valuable point;

"Years ago a student just entering seminary visited my office and noticed that two large shelves behind my desk are filled with the New Park Street Pulpit and Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit collections, which he had never seen in their entirety. He was fascinated by the set. Thumbing through a random volume, he observed out loud what almost everyone nowadays would notice first of all; by today's standards the books are very thick, the type quite small and the paragraphs surprisingly long.

The student looked up from the book he was holding and asked whether I had read every sermon in all sixty three volumes. I told him I had not (and still haven't) and that reading Spurgeon is a pleasure I expect to savour with care and patience, sermon by sermon for the rest of my life ... I explained that I don't read Spurgeon chronologically. I select sermons to read based on whatever passage of Scripture I am studying at any given time. I wouldn't think of preaching on a passage until I have seen what Spurgeon had to say about it ... He almost never fails to shine a bright light into some dark corner of the text showing me things I would not have seen otherwise".

I know that not everyone is a Spurgeon fan but a few thoughts occured to me;

1. In the Christian book saturated market - have we abandoned the use of "books of sermons"?

2. If you are a pastor/teacher/preacher - have you considered how your ministry will outlive you? It's unlikely that CD's or sermon tapes will do. Do not hide behind the facade of "humility". God gave you a gift for a purpose - do you really believe that only your generation is meant to be exposed to your gift? If you are not then you are robbing future generations. Are you writing? Are you commissioning some to transcribe your sermons?

3. We all know the "classic" books of sermons. C H Spurgeon of course being one of them. John Calvin is another. James Montgomery Boice is a more modern classic. But what about the gifted and modern preachers of today that God is using? Greg Haslam listed his favourite preachers in a recent interview;

"But I regularly try to hear sermons by A W Tozer (a true prophet for today, who died in 1963), Tim Keller (a church-planter in New York, and evangelistic pastor-teacher par excellence), Mark Driscoll (a modern-day Spurgeon!), Terry Virgo, David Pawson (prophetic teachers), past greats like Lloyd-Jones, Eric Alexander and John Stott (great expositors), as well as some people you may not have heard of like Rick Godwin and Ern Baxter".

Ern Baxter for example does not have much in print of his sermons - that is exactly the reason why I try to transcribe the sermons of his that I have. Just the same for Rob and Ryan Rufus.

Let's not forget sermons! They can accomplish much in opening to us the gospel of glory and grace!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I'm Frustrated, and Angry ... !!!

My job is in a very bizarre place at the moment. My official title is "Pandemic Influenza Nurse" and one of my key roles is to visit the Emergancy Department every day and count up how many children they saw with flu. This data is crucial for deciding how quickly a potential "second wave" of swine flu is coming. Words like "surge" and "second wave" are used a lot in this part of health care. And it is quite a weird feeling. I've been puzzling as to why the job has been frustrating me because although the numbers are growing steadily, they aren't showing the signs of an imminent peak approaching in pandemic influenza ... yet.

I walked home from work today and was "venting" at God. I don't know if that's allowed but I did. I was thinking about how so much of life is made up of hoping. Hoping for ... more. 2006/2007 were very key years for me in my spiritual life. There were such exciting promises that God was going to visit the country in glory and power and things would never be the same again. I had dreams personally. I heard some such exciting sermons particularly at "Together on a Mission" in Brighton. And I'm not quite sure what happened.

This year has been one of the most challenging of my life. But what I've noticed is that the strategies of the enemy have changed! Earlier in the year I dealt with bullying at Acorns Childrens Hospice and the resulting stress of that with lying management - and the experience of being on anti-depressants. Now things are different! I love my job and find it rewarding and challenging. But I'm so bored and frustrated waiting for "something" to happen in life! As Rob Rufus puts it, I find myself eating food, passing it through my body and taking up space in life. And that is NOT good for someone with my temperament!

So my walk home ...

I was pondering about frustrations and promises of God that haven't been fulfilled and I think that the church generally reacts in a couple of ways - two are wrong and only one is RIGHT:

1. Disheartened.

The Old Testament says that unfulfilled promises make the heart sick. I have seen again and again church leaders especially so full of hope in the Charismatic Movement during the 1970's and 80's - and I have audio-tape after audio-tape of their preaching hope and vision. And yet you look at where they are today and they are embittered and disappointed. They have looked and hoped for revival and for world-change and haven't seen it.

Rather than holding on and trusting in the promises of God some have embraced functional cessationism and declared that if God will not reveal Himself then clearly He never intended to pour out His Spirit or give His gifts in the first place. They retreat to the relative safety of the Word of God (conviniently ignoring the fact that the Word of God NEVER EVER says that God has stopped anything) and adhere to doctrine and theology. And death.

2. Distracted.

The other option is that some churches don't lose their hope but they become impatient waiting for God to move and devoting time to praying and seeking Him. So they become distracted. They begin looking around the world to see "success stories". Looking to churches and church leaders who seem to be seeing a measure of numerical growth. Those churches and church leaders then become famous and are invited on tour around the world to speak at conferences to give their "tips".

The churches attending those conferences hear those "tips" and mistake them for the anointing of God and thus try and integrate those "tips" in their churches. Now this may work to a degree. People may come into those churches. But it will never, ever produce a Pentecostal revival where the glory of God hovers over cities and nations and we can watch and see MILLIONS swept into the Kingdom of God.

So what do we do?

We remind ourselves of the promises of God and we remember that some are yet to be fulfilled. We don't give up hoping and praying and watching for them. We remember that God is more passionate than we are to fulfill those promises and waiting for a people who are content to wait for His perfect timing. Here are my two favourite UNFULFILLED promises. That means that a day is rapidly coming when we will see them come to pass.

A. Numbers 14:21: "but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD".

This is probably my most favourite promise in the Word of God. It got a lot of coverage in the 1970's at the Bible Weeks. It was even sung after one of Ern Baxter's monumental sermons at the Dales Bible Week. It HASN'T been fulfilled yet. But it is GOING to be! One day - Isaiah 60 will be fulfilled as well and all nations will come to the dawning of the light! One day all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord!

B. Acts 2:17: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams".

If Numbers 14:21 was my favourite promise in the Word of God then this surely must be the second. I read this and am staggered at how so-called "teachers of the Bible" can hold to a cessationist point of view. How Christians can proudly despise "experience" and claim they are "doctrinal". This promise is an outpouring of unparalelled proportions. To be sure - the Day of Pentecost was the "beginning of that fulfillment" (as F F Bruce writes in his commentary). But it's not been done yet.

So as I was turning the corner almost home - I got back to thinking about swine flu and the possible "second wave". I earnestly believe that swine flu or pandemic influenza is a demonic counterfeit. The whole health service is waiting planned and ready for whatever the future may hold and dreading it. Whereas the church should be poised, ready and waiting looking like Elijah to the skies waiting for a cloud to appear. This isn't the time to get distracted or disappointed! This is the time to fix our eyes on the horizon and wait for the glimmer of glory that says the tidal wave of glory is coming.

Because I truly believe that the tectonic plates of hell's strongholds are shaking and moving and when they do - a massive tsnuami will result. God has promised on HIS Name that all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. So bring it on! We're waiting!

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Flight of the Eagle

I want to apologise for a somewhat cranky last post. That'll teach me to write a blog post just after having got home from work after a rubbish day. I was gently chastised by a friend asking if I was back into "swiping at SGM-mode" and I can assure everyone I'm not. My family are still very much involved in SGM as are some people I care deeply about. I think my frustration comes from seeing a people who used to believe in restoration and in the Holy Spirit and His power and His work - and now seem so different, so reformed and so theology-focused. That's not an excuse for being cranky!

My main annoyance was that my grouching may have distracted from my key point about a positive eschatology and evangelism! How ironic is that - I'm pleading for a more optimistic end-time world view and writing very grumpily. Anyhow - that being said I want to share a frequent dream/vision I have at times when I'm sleeping. It comes frequently especially after reading Isaiah 60; "Arise shine for your light has come ... nations will come to your light". I keep seeing myself flying in my dreams over country and cities and everywhere I fly - people are worshipping exuberantly crying out; "He is good and His love endures forever!".

I've looked on You-Tube and the closest I can come is this to what I see in my dreams;

It's so easy in day-day life to get bogged down in the trials of what life brings. But look at the eagle! He glides above and beyond and he sees so much more than we do. Can he see the nations coming to the dawning of the light of the Bride? I think he can! So, so much more than we can! We can so easily ge depressed and down-cast by life. The eagle doesn't get down-cast. He soars high above the clouds near to the sun.

There's a reason why "Life on Wings" is the name of this blog and the name of my favourite sermon of Ern Baxter's. It embodies everything that the Christian should be!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Forgotten Restoration?!

I was quite humiliated at the gym today. I was running on the treadmill and have put together a playlist on my IPOD for the half-marathon I'm running in Birmingham on Sunday 11th October. I put a couple of surprise tracks on the playlist from "Salvations Song" - the Together on a Mission live worship album from last year. One of my favourite songs on that is by Louise Fellingham called; "From The Rising Of The Sun". I love it. I love, love, love, love, LOVE it!

Here's the lyrics;


To the place it sets again
All can know that You alone are God
You have shown the sweetest grace
Not forgetting those You've made
Saving all who turn to You in faith

Heaven rain down
Bring salvation to this place

From the ends of the earth
The nations will come
Every knee bowing down
To the Holy One
Creation will give You praise
The Name that's above all names

There's a people You have called
And You're drawing them to come
This Your church is growing day by day
Only one way You have made
It's through Jesus, God the Son
sent to carry all our sin and shame

Heaven rain down
Shower righteousness and grace

Why did I humiliate myself? Because I started getting very excited. So excited that tears started rolling down my face. I think I probably hid it well among sweat! But some thoughts began occuring to me. But what excited me so much was the thought of nations coming to the light of the church - as the Bible promises. Here's what I thought;

If you don't believe truly in restoration then you can't properly get truly passionate about the Great Commission.

Before we get distracted by terms let me quote the passage of Scripture from which this beautiful song comes;

Isaiah 60:1-7; "Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you ... But the Lord will rise upon you - And His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes round about and see; They all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, And your daughters will be carried in the arms ... The wealth of the nations will come to you ... And I shall glorify My glorious house".

So with this glorious promise there in the Word of God, why is the church so darkly pessimistic about it's future? Of course we all know we're going to heaven - that's assured. But it's the bit in-between that seems to flag up some questions. Much of religion that I have experienced tends to take the analogy of a medieval castle. We raise the drawbridge - post a few "prayer" archers on the roof and hope that the devil and the powers of darkness don't scale the walls. Or even worse - that sinners come knocking trying to come in and get saved.

It seems crazy to me! Jesus said "I will build My Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!". That's not a defensive promise! Ern Baxter always asked the question, since when did you see a pair of gates jump off their hinges and chase a screaming church down the street?! No! This promise is Jesus Christ promising His church - there is not one stronghold that is able to stand against My advancing church! Not even hell itself!

Now - back to restorationism for a minute. Lots of Christians pray for revival. Two examples: My former senior pastor Dr Stanley Jebb commented on it in a recent blog, yet I have a tape where he spoke very strongly against restoration in our old church in Dunstable - after decades of believing in restoration passionately, singing wonderful choruses about it (Does anyone remember "I hear the sound of rustling"??!) and of course going to the glorious Dales Bible Weeks to hear Ern Baxter preach on it!

A former friend of mine - ex-blogger Jesse Phillips used to talk about revival a lot (he may still believe in it - I'm not sure). But Sovereign Grace Ministries would not be classed as having a positive end-time eschatology as I understand it from their resident theologian/'apostle' Jeff Purswell. So I confess myself a bit confused - what is the point of praying for or hoping for revival if there is no active expectation that the Church is destined to grow gloriously to a degree that not only the nations will "flow to it" but also that the nation of Israel will be wonderfully provoked to come in?

Church history is almost united in the understanding that revival means a "re-viving" of the church. The Holy Spirit being poured out in unprecedented power so that the church is corporately affected. I like Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones definition that it is "a corporate baptism of the Holy Spirit". The result of course is that the world cannot help but come. But it all begins with the church! It must all begin with the church!

My point - let me state again:

If you don't believe truly in restoration then you can't properly get truly passionate about the Great Commission.

Perhaps a bit controversial and I'm ready to stand corrected! But let me ask what mentality you have when you go out to witness and spread the Gospel. Do you really believe that we are saving them "one by one" and any convert is a bonus (which of course is true) but we are really working to a rapidly coming deadline and hell is going to be more full than heaven anyway? Or do you walk out of your house daily KNOWING that we are on the winning side and that God is more capable of saving millions through one outpouring of revival than we are with our evangelism techniques and "crack squads" or "hit teams" imported from the USA (or whatever they are called) or maybe adopting Mark Driscoll-esque techniques in your church and uttering the odd profanity or crude joke from the pulpit?!

I believe that a positive eschatology can absolutely transform your life. It can affect how you go to work, it can affect your worship at church - singing celebratory songs of triumph rather than bleeding heart ballads hoping God might show. It can most definately affect your evangelism in ways we can't even dream of! When we are simply "hoping for the best" - I suspect our evangelism cache will only spread to white, middle-class "safe" people. We will leave the "dangerous" lost to the few evangelists who dare to go into prisons etc. But if we really believe that we are on the winning side and that the principalities and powers REALLY were bound at the Cross and disarmed - and we KNOW that we have a glorious message to take - that God is reconciling the world to Himself not counting men's sins against them, then we will surely want EVERYONE to hear!

Let me get really practical for a minute. As a children's nurse there is no horror I hate worse that paedophilia. If there was still the death penalty, I probably would be tempted to call for it for this alone. The thought of children being hurt or damaged breaks my heart. But can I deny them the gospel of grace? That God wants to reconcile THEM to Himself and is not holding their sins against them? There are two incidents that make this more than just theory.

A paedophile who used to work for my old hospice - Acorns in Birmingham - is awaiting trial. Now it doesn't surprise me that this happened. I experienced enough at Acorns to know that the management is entirely ineffective with archaic screening processes who waste more time and money on "investigations" such as they used to bully me for months, than to ensure that their standards are upto scratch. But that's an aside - he was there. And he did this. But he needs the gospel! And the arms of Jesus Christ stretch to him! And you know what? If I really allow the glory of restoration to sink in - I can see him coming into the church.

Or the paedophile ring that were caught in the UK just this week. This one upsets me just as much as the man at Acorns. That a woman can work at a nursery and misuse her position like this - just staggers me. But she and they need the gospel too! And are we really going to leave it to a prison chaplain (who may or may not believe the gospel anyway!) or some evangelists? No! A restored church is the only hope! As Lex Loizides wonderful song went;

"It is the Church! The hope of the world!".

And I am sorry - but at the moment, it looks rather like the world has no hope. When someone like C J Mahaney puts the onus for an effective pastoral ministry on the church by stating:

"The effectiveness of pastoral ministry is dependent upon a proper response TO pastoral ministry".

It just seems a recipe for disaster, condemnation and legalism to me. Not to say completely unbiblical. The apostle Paul had one of the most effective New Testament ministries short of our Lord Jesus Christ. He not only was completely full of grace in his doctrine but he performed signs, wonders and miracles. Yet can we say that the Corinthian church were completely supportive of his ministry? They gossiped and criticised him and it seems didn't even give him any monetary support (2 Corinthians 11:8-9). They thought they were more spiritual than he was. Did that affect the effectiveness of his ministry? Not in the least. So it's another Mahaney-typical "catchy" summary - and a gift he is very good at. But it's not Biblical.

Again - another digression. But my heart and my passion in this is to call for a bit of optimism. I've spent so much time over the last few months typing up Rob Rufus's sermons and anyone who has read them will know he is grace-obsessed. But without a positive eschatology to set that doctrine ablaze, I find myself wondering what the point is. Fortunately I know Rob Rufus's eschatology is ENTIRELY positive!

Maybe you shrink back from the term "restoration" and can't quite get the "post-millenial" eschatology that I am pleading for here. But if I can at least make you re-consider some of the glorious promises in the Bible - particularly in Isaiah 60 - then I think we will find our hearts full of hope and our prayers for revival come alive!

Come Lord Jesus! Pour out Your Spirit we pray!