Saturday, June 26, 2010

Terry Virgo - We MUST Get a Better and Bigger Vision!!

Read this on Terry Virgo's blog feed;

"Today God would say, ‘It is too small a thing for you to give yourself only to the restoration of the church in your small corner of the world. I call you to be a light to the nations, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth. Don’t be so preoccupied with the 10% when the 90% outside need to hear my word'".

I love the balance that Terry brings - he by no means is saying the church is perfect and restoration has been "done".

"Doubtless many aspects of New Testament church life still need to be recovered, but don’t grow stagnant and inward-looking, forgetting God’s great plan to reach all the families of the earth. It’s too small a thing to concentrate exclusively on restoring your little patch when God wants to lift your head, show you the harvest field, and send you to dying sinners with his glorious message of salvation".

And the ultimate truth that must never be forgotten or at our peril:

"Jesus isn’t just head over the church, be it local or universal. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’ (Matt. 28:18). He’s head over all things (Eph. 1:10). He’s ruling as king over every nation at this very minute".

What about us? Are we and our churches so proud of the sole missionary you have sent to Africa? Are we so proud that you give generously to a seminary that trains pastors in wealthy suburbia? If we are neglecting the homeless Big Issue seller you pass on your way to work or neglecting the shivering prostitute smoking on the street corner or neglecting the gay Mardi Gras marchers you tut at privately - then you are not believing that Jesus Christ is head over ALL and are certainly not fulfilling the commission we have been given.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Changing the World!!

I've spent the afternoon reading through some of my collections of past Restoration, New Wine and Renewal magazines. Everyone tends to focus on books in the Christian world - and indeed no one is more thankful for books than I. However we should not forget the importance of journals and magazines. In the academic world indeed - journals and magazines are seen as more current and up to date than books because of their more rapid production. I am toying with the best way to catalogue my magazines and journals so I can find key articles of interest. Maybe that's why journals and magazines are not quite as popular.

But I was particularly encouraged to read through the Newfrontiers Magazines. I love the vision and passion of these people! They ask the questions that few dare to ask. Guest author Dr Martin Robinson wrote an article called; "Movements to change the world" in the September/November 2004 edition and said;

"Can we imagine a world where Christians have creditable research, where we develop a grass roots network of activists to support particular campaigns and where we strategise winning campaigns to shape opinion and change legislation?".

This so "scratches where I itch" to use the words of a former hero of mine. Christianity has been blessed with so many great minds and hearts - Wayne Grudem, Don Carson, Sam Storms, John Piper, Terry Virgo - to name just a few. Why are we not impacting the world more than we are? Why aren't governments listening to us? Why isn't John Piper being invited to the White House to counsel Barak Obama on the issues facing the USA? Why isn't Terry Virgo being invited to pray for the Prime Minister and Cabinet here in London?

Then Martin Goldsmith makes it applicable to us;

"If you had stood at the end of the 18th century you would have been in despair. But in a single generation they turned it around. History is full of single generations that turned the tide".

And this is particularly what grabbed me;

"The future is determined not by apathetic majorities but by committed minorities".

Let me quote that again;

"The FUTURE is determined NOT by apathetic majorities but by COMMITTED minorities".

It occured to me why the devil does not need to make his demons known in the Western world. If we know that we are facing hordes of spiritual darkness that tends to motivate us to prayer. Depression and darkness can cause us to do nothing because of lack of hope - more than any other weapon in Satan's arsenal! The only way that we will determine the future is if we remain committed to our vision!

What do you believe in? And are you prepared to die for it?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Glory of TRUTH!!

You know what Someone once said;

"You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you FREE".

I love the lyrics of this beautiful Hillsongs chorus;

"At the cross I bow my knee
Where Your blood was shed for me
There's no greater love than this
You have overcome the grave
Your Glory fills the highest place
What can separate me now?"

I've quoted it before - but I love the way that different lines can stand out at different times. Here's the whole song;

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lou Fellingham ....

I just wanted to share a couple of thoughts that came to me today. I was trying to encourage a dear friend who is struggling with depression and spiritual darkness and I was reminded of a point in "Pilgrims Progress" when Christian is walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and he sees Faithful ahead and says;

"Christian cried again, Stay, stay, till I come up to you. But Faithful answered, No, I am upon my life, and the avenger of blood is behind me".

I wondered why Faithful didn't stop. Was it because he was genuinely afraid after walking through one of the darkest valleys of their journey? It occured to me that many who are in deep spiritual darkness may feel the same - they may hear the cries of fellow Christians saying; "Wait - let me walk with you - let me share with you" and their response? "No - I've got to go - my life is on the line and the demons of hell are behind me". I reminded my friend that they are not alone - and there are others who are going through similar darkness. We are never alone.

While I was cooking in the kitchen I had some of Lou Fellingham's wonderful album on my iPod and this track; "Build This House" particularly struck me - and this line;

"So easy to desire what others have
Instead of seeing all the gifts that
You have given me

So help me fan the flame
which you began
And burn in me a love for you
that all will clearly see".

It so lovingly challenged me. When you are depressed it is so incredibly easy to think that life is hardest for ME and noone has it as hard. It is so incredibly easy to look at everyone else around you and resent their finances, their relationships or marriages and their gifts - instead of seeing "all the gifts that you have given me". So I just wanted to lay tribute at Lou Fellingham's door for reminding me to keep praying that God would fan into flame the love for Him that is there!

Here's the whole song;

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Worthy is the Lamb!

I'm writing quite a hard post about suicide and the Christian at the moment - someone I know who loved Jesus Christ but wrestled with depression all their lives took their own life in the last few weeks. I've admitted a couple of times before that I've had suicidal thoughts at times at the depths of feeling depressed. And I'm staggered there is so little encouragement, guidance, or sermons dealing with this - yet many Christian greats dealt with depression including William Cowper (the hymn-writer who actually committed suicide himself) and C H Spurgeon.

But I've been amazed again at the power of Gospel-centered worship for lifting the soul. I felt so incredibly and utterly low yesterday after a hard weekend - and made a deliberate and concerted effort to soak in Spirit-filled worship (particularly Hillsongs and Newfrontiers) and have felt such a breaking of the clouds of darkness! I cannot urge anyone like me who struggles with feeling depressed and maybe even suicidal thoughts - to soak and find and hear and sing to worship songs that are focused and obsessed with the glorious gospel.

Here's my favourite at the moment - "Worthy is the Lamb" from Hillsongs;

"Now ALL I know is Your forgiveness and embrace!".

That is the Biblical fact of our current experience! Why is it that the main course of most Christian depression comes from doubt and fear that God is less than thrilled with them? Or worse is angry with them? The sad fact is that many church leaders actually proudly preach the wrath and anger of God at people who are covered by the blood of the only Son of God? It's a sobering thought that some churches have blood on their hands because they have allowed the lie to continue - rather than preaching the unadulterated gospel of grace.

"The Darling of Heaven crucified!".

I wonder if Jesus hung upon the Cross and saw each and every son and daughter that His blood would redeem flash before His eyes? I wonder if His already broken heart broke just a little bit more at the premature deaths of those redeemed beloved ones who just couldn't quite "get" His love and adoration for them? What a price! Surely that most precious price of all DEMANDS that we fight depression, suicide and any emotion that robs the true wonder of Calvary?

"Thou art worthy!".

Something occured to me yesterday. Most Christians believe and utter the Westminster Confession that the "chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever". Or of course as John Piper puts it; "Glorify God BY enjoying Him forever". I wonder what happens if Christians do not enjoy God and therefore are not glorifying Him? I wonder what happens if Christians cannot remember the last time they enjoyed God? Does that suggest that actually the reason for living - the chief end of man - has gone and really why continue living?

This is why worship is so key to me and so essential in the battle to win against depression and suicidal thoughts and feelings. Worship lifts our spirits and focuses our attention off ourselves and our struggles and onto God and His love and passion and beauty and Being. Let's never, ever allow ourselves to stop worshipping!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Defence of the Gospel of Grace - Rob Rufus - Part 1

This is Part 1 of what is possibly called "the most important sermon Rob Rufus has ever preached". It is essentially a response to 5 accusations made against him by other church leaders. Here is Part 1 where he introduces the subject;

"A Defence of the Gospel of Grace. (Rob Rufus' response to 5 accusations made against him)"

Sunday 9th May 2010 – City Church International.

"We are going to do a defence of the gospel of grace today and I will tell you why this gospel is worth defending. It is because the demonic is against grace. The devil is a controller. He is a bully and he does not want you to expand and grow in life. He wants to diminish you and dwarf you and contain you. But grace liberates, grace expands, grace gives energy, it edifies, it equips and takes us to new levels of life. The second reason why I am giving this message is that the disciples asked Jesus in Matthew 24; “Lord what will the sign be of Your coming again at the end of the age?”. He talks about earthquakes and famines and wars and we have seen that right now. But then He says in verse 14 – this will be the final and ultimate sign; “This gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached as a sign to all nations and then the end will come”. So the ultimate and final sign of Jesus coming again is not a temple being built on the Dome of the Rock. It is not Israel back in the Land. It is the Gospel of the Kingdom being preached to all nations (all ethnos) as a sign.

That could never have been fulfilled 500 years ago. There was hardly any remnant of the Gospel left on the planet 500 years ago because of the Dark Ages. The vast majority of the church then preached that you have to earn your salvation by keeping the law and most people couldn’t keep it good enough so virtually everyone had to go to Purgatory for maybe thousands of years and suffer flames and torment. If families paid money (indulgences) they could buy you out of Purgatory quicker and the church got rich on all of these lies.

I am not going to be critical today – I am just going to tell the truth.
I am not going to be critical – but I am not going to be a politician. I am going to be a prophet.

The church was controlled mainly by demons and took money from single women, single mothers to buy people out of Purgatory. They would light bonfires while they preached on Purgatory and say; “Look – your parents, your grandparents are in those flames”. They would take money from poor people for the church’s coffers! That is evil but it is called religion.

Martin Luther stood up over 400 years ago with a revelation that the just shall live by faith – justification by faith – and the Reformation began with Martin Luther. They tried to burn him – they tried to silence him. The devil opposed grace. Over the last 400 years the message of grace has been recovered and is being recovered. But it has not yet been fully recovered! The gospel of grace that Paul preached is NOT being preached in the majority of churches. That is a fact – it is not critical. It is just a fact.

They still mix law and grace together. So the attacks of the evil one against the message of grace is against the message, the messenger and the church that preaches the message. It is called “Slander”.

Let me ask you this question – did Paul the apostle go around the known world of that time ENCOURAGING people to sin? Did he go around the world encouraging people to do evil? No! Let me ask you another question – was he seriously and slanderously accused of preaching that message? Yes! But was he? No! But how could he be slandered for something that he wasn’t doing? It is called religious, political propaganda stirred up by demons. When you accuse someone of doing something they are not doing and you know it – that is religious, political propaganda. What did Paul do about it? Did he say; “Oh it doesn’t matter – I am so secure”. No. Let’s go to Romans chapter 3 and verse 8;

“Why not say--as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say--"Let us do evil that good may result"? Their condemnation is deserved”.

Now Rob – he is an apostle of grace. How can this be? If you slandered the gospel of grace that he preached he would bring condemnation down on your head. In Galatians 1 he says; “If you mix any law of Moses with the grace of God – you are not preaching the gospel at all” and he says; “May you be doubly cursed!”. So if everyone in the church world that loves the gospel and loves Jesus would stand up with the same heart of Paul and get rid of all politics and being sweet pastor-diplomats trying to cater to their religious constituents and stop seeking popularity with man but live to please God and condemn ANYTHING that adds ANY law to the message of grace then they will slander the message of grace with blatant lies!
How many want to hear what the five accusations are?

This is the most important message I have ever preached for thousands out there and for us.

Some of you may be sitting there and thinking; “What is the issue? I don’t know of any persecution or accusation!”. Praise God! Keep living that way! But witchcraft comes against you – whether you hear words from men – you are part of this church! Before I talk to you about the accusations I want to talk to you about how political spin works. People in the business world or the medical world or the real world out there – we are all very cynical of politicians putting political spin and we are getting to see through it.

But when it comes to religion – church goers are easily conned by religious political spin! That means you take something and put a spin on it. You take something that may be true and put a spin on it so it is now something other than was originally intended. If you look at the attacks and accusations against Stephen and Paul the apostle – when you hear what is said against them you think; “Yes but Stephen and Paul are saying that”. The accusers may say; “Stephen and Paul are speaking against the temple and the law of Moses”. You think; “Well yes they are”. But it is the twist and the spin they put on it that makes it look like what they are saying is sinister and evil and is raising rebellion against leaders and is encouraging licentious loose living and that is not what Paul and others are doing. I want you to understand that the reactions of some people are not because we are a cult but it is because we are not a cult and we are not weird and we are preaching the gospel – whereas so much out there is not the gospel and when the subnormal has been around too long then when the normal appears – they call it “abnormal”! I have lost friends for this gospel! Paul said I have lost “everything” for this gospel.

If you have lost nothing for this gospel – then you haven’t seen this gospel. Once you see this gospel it is like you are captured forever – you don’t have an option! You want to run away and you want to submit to demons and balance it with a bit of law but you can’t! It is actually impossible because once you are gripped by this gospel – you can’t change!

Martin Luther stood and wrote over all the indulgences on the wall (which was their Facebook of the day) and wrote; “All this is lies – the just shall live by faith” and he put the Word of God on there and they came to kill him. Because they could do it in those days. And trust me – if they could do it in these days then your pastor would be dead in no time at all! They came and grabbed Luther and commanded him to reject what he had just said. What he actually said was that the just shall live by faith and a gospel from God is revealed – a righteousness apart from the law and is by faith from first to last. They said; “Stop that or we will kill you!”. So he said; “Will you give me 24 hours to reconsider?”. He came back 24 hours later and stood before the religious hierarchy of the day and he said; “If you can show me from the Scriptures that I am wrong then I will recant – but if you cannot then this is where I stand and all else is sinking sand”.

What gave that man the courage? He was alone but we have thousands of grace people rising up around the world with us. He was alone! He didn’t recant. Someone wrote to me recently and said; “Rob I want to thank you so much for not recanting”.

Let’s look at how they put the spin on Stephen. Acts 6:8;

“8Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia. These men began to argue with Stephen, 10but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.

11Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, "We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God."

12So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13They produced false witnesses, who testified, "This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.

15All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

Within a short few hours of that they had stoned Stephen because he did not bow to their pressure. Look at Acts 13. Paul as a believer in Christ goes to a Jewish synagogue and when they see he is there, they ask him to speak. Big mistake! You don’t ask Paul the apostle to speak who knows the Bible better than anyone on the planet and has encountered Christ and knows the Old and New Covenant and is an expert! He gets up and gives a great discourse on the Jewish nation and begins to tell them about Jesus and says Jesus has freed us from everything that the Law could never free us from. In a Jewish synagogue!

So verse 38 of Acts 13;

38"Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses. 40Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:

41" 'Look, you scoffers,
wonder and perish,
for I am going to do something in your days
that you would never believe,
even if someone told you.'[f]"

42As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God”.

44On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.
Believe me friends – when the gospel is preached, people gather. If Hong Kong heard then we would not be able to find a stadium big enough to hold people and I tell you – that is the truth. Verse 45;

“45When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy”.
It wasn’t a theological motive of truth that moved them. It was jealousy!
“46Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly”.
They didn’t get political and speak carefully.
“ 46Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
" 'I have made you[g] a light for the Gentiles,
that you[h] may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'[i]"
48When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honoured the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
49The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

So they kicked them out too late! The city was full of people, full of the Holy Spirit and full of joy as the Word of God spread.

Now what jumped out at you there? Who threw them out the city? The Satan worshippers? The God haters? The atheists? No – the “God-fearing” women and the leaders of the city threw the messengers of grace.

They are not God-fearing in New Covenant terms. They are God-fearing by the old religious legalism and trying to prove how zealous you are for God. That’s what it is. In Durban South Africa – we are not opposed by Satan worshippers or atheists but by devout women and leaders of the city. Thank God they are few and are a minority and most are loving what we are about but those minority are making the biggest sound and trying to create the biggest fear and trying to control the situation. But it is too late – the Word of God has got in there and it is spreading further and further!

Go to the next Scripture which is Acts 21. This was the apostle’s last visit to Jerusalem. I shared a platform with Michael Eaton once and he said; “By this stage the gospel had been totally lost from Jerusalem – and in the coming years there were almost no believers in the gospel left. The believers and Christians were Gentiles because the Jews went completely back under the law”. When Paul comes to Jerusalem some of the brothers receive him warmly but James and the other elders are embarrassed by Paul being there. I will tell you why – the gospel of grace is always surrounded by controversy. Wherever this gospel is preached, there are signs and wonders, people get set free, people get saved but there is always controversy that surrounds the gospel of grace.

Now I want to say this to you – because this is important.

The Holy Spirit is not stirring up the controversy that surrounds the gospel of grace – rather it is demons.

In 2nd Corinthians 12 – Paul the apostle’s testimony is because of the exceeding revelation of grace, a messenger of Satan was sent to buffet him. It is not sickness friends – he says; “For everywhere I go, I have to endure insults, hardships and difficulties and persecutions because a demonic angel was assigned to continually buffet him and insult him and stir up wherever he went! Wherever he went people would run to the next village and stir up controversy – that is being stirred up by religious demons, Jezebel demons. If you don’t want the controversy to surround you – the same controversy that surrounded Jesus all the time and meant He was continually clashing with the orthodox believers. I am so tired of people coming out of a sweet little denomination and thinking that all controversy must be wrong and say; “Well if you love Jesus and follow Him then there shouldn’t be any controversy”. Well in that case Jesus can’t have been “Anglican” enough! Because everywhere He went – they hated Him!

So when you judge someone that has controversy surrounding them – don’t judge them because of the controversy but check their heart, check the fruit of their lives and their history and their doctrine. Don’t reject them because of controversy – otherwise you will have to reject Jesus! And you will have to reject Paul the apostle and Martin Luther and embrace heresy!

If you don’t want controversy to surround you because of this message and want to balance this message with a bit of law to make it palatable to religious types, then in order to do that then (whether you know it or not) you will have to submit to demons.

It is demons that are surrounding this message with controversy to frighten people off this message. Because we have naïve Christians around the world that think if you really love God then everyone should love you and your message shouldn’t cause division. The message of grace doesn’t cause division – demons and the flesh of man cause division. So they were embarrassed.

If you are a religious political pastor then you will see your church as your political constituency. And you think that if you have any controversy surrounding you then it could upset members of your congregation and then the big tithers could leave and then you have financial problems. So you want to keep everyone happy therefore you balance the message of grace so that your constitutional members keep happy with you. I promise you friend – whoever does that have submitted to demons of fear and to religious spirits of paranoia and control and then you bring it over your people.

I know preachers who are not like me and exhort and challenge. When they get in their pulpits they smile and be nice. But I don’t – I get veins in my neck and challenge; “Come on – live for eternity!”. They never do that! They always smile and look nice. But those same leaders have looked me in the face for an hour or more and have shouted at me and rebuked me and brushed me off.

I wish I had a secret camera inside filming their faces because the grace of God is exposing the demonic fear that is controlling them.

I could show it to their congregations on a Sunday morning and it could pop up and then they will see! I have got friends who are embarrassed about me because of the controversy. My Father in heaven loves me and is not embarrassed by me and is urging me to go more. But some friends are embarrassed by me and don’t want to see me. The church I planted in South Africa and Coastlands in Australia – the leaders are embarrassed by me and don’t want to be seen with me. There is too much controversy so they don’t phone me or answer my phone calls. They don’t respond to anything – they just cut me off. But they never talk to me with open Bibles or discuss what we are teaching. So people have to understand – am I here trying to win popularity votes to get on platforms of institutions and grow my church so it looks good? Or are we going to please God and not water this message down even though there is controversy that surrounds it?

The brothers were the ones who received him but it was the leaders who were under the demonic spirit of fear. Acts 21:17;

“17 And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law”.

That lets you know straight away that James and they are not preaching the gospel anymore. Because Galatians 3 says there is neither Jew nor Gentile under the law if they come to Christ and;

Romans 10:4 says Christ is the end of the law to all who believe. In chapter 9 he very clearly says that the reason why the Jewish people did not gain righteousness because they sort after righteousness that is through the law.

There is no righteousness through the law and there is no righteousness after the law.

Yesterday I was listening to Terry Virgo and he says we are saved by grace and then he said there are many people that teach that we are sanctified by the law. He said that is a lot of nonsense! He said we don’t have anything to do with the law – we are dead to the law – Christ is the end of the law and sanctification is by grace by the Spirit of God!

So they are preaching a false gospel in Jerusalem and they are embarrassed by Paul’s true gospel.

Please don’t think that just because someone is an apostle they always preach a true gospel. Paul had to rebuke Peter the apostle to his face because he deviated from the true gospel.

They are all zealous for the law – these converts. Acts 21:21;

“21They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses”

Who informed him – he was hundreds of miles away!? This rumour spreads very fast! They have been told about you that you teach all the Jews among the Gentiles telling them not to circumcise their children! These four men pressurised Paul to go through Old Covenant, purification rites when he knew that the blood of Jesus had cleansed him completely. If you submit to people under the law through fear – then let me tell you;

The issue is not about law and grace. The issue is about who controls the church. If you mix law and grace together then leaders or man controls the church. If you take the law completely off (as you should do) then the Holy Spirit controls the church.

That doesn’t mean to say you don’t have leaders – but they are empowering leaders, who empower a royal priesthood. Not controlling.

They are not managers – they are the liberators of God’s people.

So Paul unwisely submits to these purification ceremonies and we are told in verse 27;

“27When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 28shouting, "Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple area and defiled this holy place." 29(They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple area.)

The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

33The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. 34Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks”.
Here are unsaved Roman soldiers saving Paul from Jewish converts. Secular people saving Christians from the Christians!

“35When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. 36The crowd that followed kept shouting, "Away with him!"
Friends let us stop being naïve and stupid about this. The violence, the attempts to kill – it all stems from law and legalism. If people mix ANY law and legalism in, they are making room for fear and control.

They are so frightened of this message – they are frightened of losing control!

I have had people shouting in my face the most rude and horrible things and with tears running down my face - I am not feeling sorry for myself but I am bleeding inside because I am thinking how wretched this law/grace mix is and what it does because it makes an intelligent person so broken and angry. That is that spirit friends! Be under no illusion that it operates like that!
And you give into their bullying tactics and you will find that first you fit in – you will be paid for and you are in the club. You will get big black boards. But if you dare preach the gospel that Paul preached you will first be asked sweetly to be more accountable and then finally you will see the brutally cruel face of religious demons.

We are not fighting against religious men and women here. We are not fighting against names. I am just telling you that behind those names I have seen something manifesting. All my Christian life I have never wanted to be a trouble causer. I have compromised my conscience and tried to fit in with the movement I was in. I just thought I was wrong and they were right and I honoured and submitted and honoured and submitted. But finally it went too far and I had to say that I could not submit any longer – I had revelation – and when you say that you will see what the reaction is.

There is a lot I could say that may look like I am indulging myself and defending myself. I would love to and there is a lot I could say. I am not even meant to have all this information but it does get to me somehow. I want to give you an example as to how a bit of spin works. One month after our conference in Pinetown – our “Increased Glory” conference, there was another conference a few kilometres up the road with a whole lot of people. And a good friend of mine was one of the speakers there. And during one message he said;

“The reason why Rob said many unhelpful things while he was in South Africa is because he has a predisposition to legalism that was evidenced in his pre-conversion days when he joined the Hare Krishna movement”.

Now the Hare Krishna movement is a strict law-based religion demanding celibacy even though you are married, vegetarianism, sleeping 4 hours a night, out on the streets every day trying to make converts to Krishna consciousness. I was a zealot – a legalistic follower of religion.

And then he got a good laugh out of everyone at my expense and then he said that he could never say those unhelpful things that I said because he doesn’t have those legalistic tendencies and didn’t have that background and he said he wants to help Rob and see Rob and “sort him out”. Well the next time I saw him, he didn’t sort me out and we didn’t even open Bibles. Everyone is saying that they are talking to me with open Bibles but they are not. That statement he made begs the question; “If I had legalistic tendencies before I became a Christian then what are we going to say about the legalist of all legalists? Paul the apostle in his pre-conversion days, he says in Philippians 3; “According to legalistic righteousness I was faultless”. Paul was totally gripped by them all – then because he was so gripped by legalistic tendencies that we can’t trust the New Testament because he must be saying lots of unhelpful things!

I want to tell you who are the champions of grace today – not people who have benign Baptist or Presbyterian religion. They are not the champions of grace today because they have diluted law and diluted grace. So they never saw the bankruptcy of the law because the laws they were given were so low that you could kind of keep them and feel self-righteous. But when you are Paul the apostle and have lived with the strictest code of the law – moral and ceremonial – when you have lived under that for years and done it with all your might then you realise that it is absolutely bankrupt and cannot help a human being – it absolutely destroys you!

Paul says; “When I was under law – I was a blasphemer and a violent man”. He writes that to Timothy. As a man he consented to Stephen’s stoning and his death. In Acts we find him given permission from the high priest to go to Damascus and grab the Christians – the people of grace – and put them in jail. And it says he was “breathing out threats”. Now you are hearing of a very zealous, angry, violent, legalistic man – and he bumped into Jesus! And listen to what Jesus said to him – bearing in mind he was going to persecute the people of grace. “Saul, Saul why do you persecute Me?”.

To attack the message of grace is to persecute Jesus.

People sit there in a conference and hear that and think; “Oh yes, yes, Rob does have a predisposed problem”. But Paul was a legalist before. I phoned my friend actually and he said he was actually defending me. I said; “Praise God – thank God you were defending me” but a whole lot of my friends who were sitting in the meeting said that they nearly pulled their hair out with anger – they could not believe what he said. So I said;

“I love you man – you are one of my closest friends but you weren’t defending me. You empowered people into a deception of opposing the grace message”. And I said; “You haven’t sorted me out – not one of you guys have come with open Bibles and showed me and showed me where you think I am wrong”. Why? Because they know they cannot stand against the Spirit and the revelation that is in me. No one! Not one has done it!

To be continued ...

Saturday, June 05, 2010

You Tore the Veil!!

I still haven't found a better way for piercing through the clouds of depression than worship songs that are truly anointed. It really does seem to work again and again - keep hearing and seeing people caught in worship and the words of truth just never fail to lift my spirit.

Here's one of my most recent favourite songs - led by the wonderful Darlene Zschech and the Hillsongs crowds. "At the Cross" - just encapsulates the most wonderous truths of the Gospel. And it reminds me again how stupid people are who don't allow women to lead worship - God has truly gifted them to be sensitive to the movings of His Spirit.

Here's the video:

My favourite line of the song is; "You tore the veil - You made a way - when You said that it is done!". It just sums up the complete triumph and victory of the Gospel. Most Christian depression springs from a belief and an experience that God is silent - heaven is silent and that something is wrong. If the Gospel is to be believed then heaven is NEVER silent! God is never silent again!

Rob Rufus has just begun an exciting new series at his home church in Hong Kong called; "Being Part of a Generation that Will Restore Revelation of God in the Church". I listened to the first sermon yesterday and it is ALL about the vitality of the Presence of God. I was tremendously struck by the non-negotiable fact of the Presence of God to Rob. He said he would rather die than go through life without ever experiencing God. And that's true! I'm scared to admit it - because I so rarely seem to conciously experience God's manifest Presence - but it is true - are we married to the Bridegroom or not? What marriage would even survive without intimacy?

Terry Virgo prophesied at Stoneleigh Bible Week 2000;

"I don't call you on to cold morality. I call you to please Me, to think of Me when temptation knocks at the door and other eyes are looking. I don't want you to think of the code; I want you to think of Me. I want you to think of My love and My smile. I want you to look forward to seeing My face, not in fear of blurring your vision that you should come with any sense of shame - when I am lookign forward to meeting with you! You are married! You are spoken for!

Discover the secrets of My love. Come with Me into every increasing wonder, come into My courts, come receive My love, come and be enthralled in My Presence; come find Your heart bursting for joy. Let Me share with you what only I can share! I want you pre-occupied, I want you fascinated and I want you enthralled. "You are married" says the Lord. "Live the married life, fellowship with Me and enjoy My love" says the Lord.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Best Wine is STILL to Come!!

I'm having a pretty rough time at the moment still believing in the church. I had a few rough emails today that I won't go into right now. But once again I found myself wondering why it seems to me that the world accept and welcome and appreciate and value - but the church seems to disprove, doubt and discourage whereever possible. So how do we react to a feeling like that? I suppose I could wallow in my frustration and disappointment but how would that value the waiting nations who need to hear the gospel?

My take tonight is to remind myself of the glorious church - to re-state the vision! It's something I've done now and again on this blog. And I am so, so grateful to God for heroes of the faith who state it far better than I and who see it far clearer than I. Tonight - C H Spurgeon is my companion, my encouragement, my guide.

1. Preaching a sermon called; "The Feast of the Lord" at New Park Street on November 28th 1858, Spurgeon said;

"There is better wine to come. We are in our privileges superior to patriarchs, and kings, and prophets. God has given us a brighter and a clearer day than they had; theirs was but the twilight of the morning, compared with the noon-day which we enjoy. But think not that we are come to the best wine yet. There are more noble banquets for God's church; and who knoweth how long, ere the best of the precious wine shall be broached? Know ye not that the King of Heaven is coming again upon this earth?".

"Again, he will not give us the best wine first, because that is not his good pleasure ... Again; your Father doth not give you the good wine now, because he is giving you an appetite for it ... Again, the Lord hath this also in view. He is making you fit for the best wine, that he may be glorified by the trial of your faith".

I love Spurgeon's closing remark;

"I have never seen heaven anywhere but close to Calvary. When I have seen my Saviour crucified, then I have seen him glorified; when I have read my name written in his blood, then I have seen afterwards my mansion which he has prepared for me. When I have seen my sins washed away, then I have seen the white robe that I am to wear for ever. Live near to the Saviour, man, and you shall not be very far off heaven. Recollect, after all, it is not far to heaven. It is only one gentle sigh, and we are there. We talk of it as a land very far off, but close it is, and who knows but that the spirits of the just are here to-night? Heaven is close to us; we cannot tell where it is, but this we know, that it is not a far off land. It is so near, that, swifter than thought, we shall be there, emancipated from our care and woe, and blessed for ever".

2. An aspect of the glorious church is vitally and essentially a MILITANT church - preaching a sermon called; "The Vanguard and Rereward of the Church" on December 28th 1858, Spurgeon said;

"Yet nevertheless, the church on earth has, and until the second advent must be, the church militant, the church armed, the church warring, the church conquering".

The reason for our triumphant confidence? Spurgeon says;

"Christ has gone before us, he has done something in that going before, for he has conquered every foe that lies in his way. Cheer up now thou faint-hearted warrior. Not only has Christ travelled the road, but he has slain thine enemies. Dost thou dread sin? he has nailed it to his cross. Dost thou dread death? he has been the death of Death. Art thou afraid of hell? he has barred it against the advent of any of his children; they shall never see the gulf of perdition. Whatever foes may be before the Christian, they are all overcome".

How can we NOT be confident?! Christ has gone before us! The sin that some religious Pharisees may seek to accuse us of has already been gloriously nailed to the Cross!

3. Spurgeon continues the militant glorious theme in his sermon; "Storming the Battlements" preached on September 16th 1855;

But he brings a note of warning first;

"God's church is very fond of building walls which her God has not sanctioned. She is not content to trust in the arm of God, but she will add thereto some extraneous help which God utterly abhors. "Beautiful for situation—the joy of the whole earth—is Mount Zion, upon the sides of the north, the city of the great king. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, even so is God round about his people, from henceforth, for evermore." But his people are not content with God's being round about them, they seek some other protection".

That leaves me feeling encouraged and driven. This is something worth fighting for. The demonic counterfeit - that which pretends to be "grace" but is in fact legalism designed to control and manipulate is worth resisting and is worth fighting. Because the reality is glorious! The reality is wonderful! The reality will sweep the nations and will see thousands come to faith and trust in the Wonderful Saviour who gave His life in love to see many sons come to glory!