Tuesday, November 10, 2015

From Heaven He Came And Sought Her - Part II

Our current dilemma is expressed succinctly by the following comment on the life and ministry of Carl F. H. Henry:  'According to Henry, problems of modern Fundamentalism are that it changed or narrowed the message of Christianity that has a social (corporate) aspect into only an individual aspect. He criticizes that "Whereas once the redemptive gospel was a world-changing message, now it was narrowed to a world-resisting message."' The implications here are vast.


This is why the oneness of the Body of Christ is so essential. And it is the High Priestly prayer of the Son:  "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;” John 17:22 The consummation (or culmination) of the ages - that is the full revelation of Him who was and is and is to come - shall not be made manifest until this prayer is fully realized in the earth. This is the true evangelical message - the gospel - and nothing short of it can make this claim. “That they all may be one, as thou, O Father, art in me, and I in thee: even that they may be also one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” John 17:21 GNV  I heard someone say once, “Christ will appear in His church before He appears for her.” 

Once again, Christ did not come to be our personal savior - “From heaven He came and sought her...To be His holy bride; With His own blood He bought her And for her life He died.” “that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:27  He will present her to Himself - the One who is the Alpha and Omega; the Beginning and the End; the Author and Perfecter - He will accomplish this to the praise of His glory. And at the consummation: "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." Revelation 19:7

Charles Spurgeon elucidates: The Saviour who will keep His people to the end, will also present them at last to Himself, as "a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but holy and without blemish." All the jewels in the Saviour's crown are of the first water and without a single flaw. All the maids of honour who attend the Lamb's wife are pure virgins without spot or stain.

Divine Intercession 

Through His Divine intercession - “because he always lives to intercede for them” - He will bring His Church into likeness with Him and He will adorn her for her wedding day: “It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Revelation 19:8 How dear to the heart of the Father must be the petition of His Son: “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours;” John 17:9 

It is only the bride who can take her husband’s name...only the bride can fully represent him. “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:22-23 And it has been said that Christ will return for a bride and not a harem. 

Matthew Henry comments on Zechariah 4:6: “God brings to pass his gracious purposes concerning his church, without any art or labour of man; sometimes he makes use of his instruments, yet he needs them not. This represented the abundance of Divine grace, for the enlightening and making holy the ministers and members of the church, and which cannot be procured or prevented by any human power.”

Mid toil and tribulation, 
and tumult of her war, 
she waits the consummation 
of peace forevermore; 
till, with the vision glorious, 
her longing eyes are blest, 
and the great church victorious 
shall be the church at rest. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

“From Heaven He came and sought Her...”

And He wash her clean with the words that he done said to her...Lecrae 

While listening to a media preacher recently it dawned on me that today’s evangelical message is almost exclusively directed toward the individual.  And that it is largely devoid of the gospel. It is increasingly difficult to discern the difference between Dr. Phil and Rev. So and so. What I would like to explore here is: how did this happen, what are the implications or better yet consequences - and where are we going?

With that in mind what I submit following I present not us dogma, but in the spirit of “come let us reason together.”  These observations are intended to stimulate dialogue.

Personal Savior?

Did Jesus come to be our “personal savior?”  (Try looking that term up in an exhaustive concordance.)  No, He came to rescue and to claim His bride who He is calling out of many nations. The only singular person who is eternity’s object is the Son of God.  “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” Revelation 21:21 It should be noted that the purpose of God is unique in the Son - that there would be a company being conformed into His image that He would be the preeminent One among many (Romans 8:28-29).  

The purpose of God is a people - not persons. “The Lord their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock.” Zechariah 9:16 The message is not: How you can be a better you.  Yet we have succumb to the myth of individualism.  This is why the pastoral ministry is one of the loneliest professions there is - its true nature is cloaked in a shroud of invulnerability.

A Community

The Presence of God seeks to inhabit not a collection - but a community. A community that is God-centered, not individual centered.  “And in Him you (ye) too are being built together into a dwelling place for God in His Spirit.” Ephesians 2:22 Berean No single individual can fully represent the nature of Christ.  “The moment we glorify ourselves, since there is room for one glory only in the universe, we set ourselves up as rivals to the Most High.” Charles Spurgeon

It should be noted here that when we encounter the word “you” in the modern translations of Paul’s letters the word is usually plural.  Our current individual mind set renders it as singular however. In Southern vernacular it would be “you all.”  Older translations preserve the original intent by the use of the word “ye” which is the plural of “thou.” It is hard to calculate the enormity of the misfortune rendered by this inadequate interpretation.  

The Whole Church

The apostle writes to the whole church in the city of Ephesus: “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” Ephesians 4:13  I prefer the King James (or its predecessor the Geneva Bible {GNV}) translation here for this verse takes its predicate from the conjunction “till” rather than the preposition “until.” To use “until” here interjects a note of speculation (a connotation), while “till” is indicative of a predetermined purpose of accomplishment (a denotation) which ties Paul’s whole thought together - that is, it is only the many joined together in agreeing concerted complementation that can adequately give full expression to the One. He further expands on this concept: “from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint (and ligament) supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:16

When Paul writes of God’s great electing purpose in Romans 9, he writes of a people not persons. “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:” v.6  And specifically these are the ones whom the Son lifts before the Father: “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.” John 17:9 ESV 

To be continued..... 

Friday, March 6, 2015

What Is Hindering Revival?

Posted by warrenhstewartjr on January 3, 2013

Do you know the name of the spirit...?

A Word of Hope - "For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:3 

Our friend Francis Frangipane was once asked something like this: “Do you know the name of the spirit that is hindering revival in our area?”  “Yes I do,” was his affirmative reply.  Eagerly the answer was awaited.  “Its name is Yahweh, for God opposes the proud.”  He will not allow the mind of man to take credit: “That no flesh should glory in his presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:29 KJV  There is only one true Revivalist - He who is the Author and the Finisher. 

What begins as a sovereign move of God often quickly degenerates into “how did we get God to respond to us and how can we replicate the process?”  The premise comes if we do this - repent, fast, pray, praise, tithe, etc. - then God will act accordingly. The Presence is exchanged for the process–the Person for the program - worshiping and serving created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.  Tragedy enters in when we do not notice that this has happened.

God has no grandsons

One man’s revelation becomes another’s ritualistic routine. I remember reading a small book years ago on the life of the Pentecostal Ambassador David du Plessis one chapter of which was entitled, “God has no grandsons.”  Yes, there are fathers in the ministry whose call it is to raise up children in the faith - but they are not to stand as substitutes for the Father, only to model His character: "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” Matthew 23:9 Paul himself who was a father in the ministry said: “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” To usurp the place of the Heavenly Father is to impede the growth of the Body resulting in perpetual immaturity. 

The methods of man takes the place of the mesmerism of the Majesty. Much is made of 2 Chronicles 7:14 when we enter into periods of supplication - “If my people...”  Yet taken out of context the object becomes the healing of the land. It could be said that a text taken out of context becomes a pretext.  Self-service subtlety becomes the focus whereas the aim of the whole passage is the Shekinah Glory of God: “now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.” 2 Chronicles 7:15 

George Otis, Jr whom God has used to document instances of revival throughout the world via the Transformation videos has said that the fallacy comes in when others try to “do transformation.”  The process vitally serves as encouragement, but it is not intended for rote replication. 

Much discouragement comes into the ministry - albeit the intentions are honorable - when attempts at replication result in disappointment.  Unfortunately this illusion is maintained by the plethora of publications lining the shelves of our bookstores that proclaim the way to make it happen. 

There is no surer way to quench a genuine move of the Spirit of God than for man to take the credit - or to reap the benefits unto himself.  Many city-reaching revivals lose their evangelist fervor when the pastoral leaders forsake their vision for the city and return to their individual congregations. 

For the sake of My Holy Name

True revival is an irresistible response of the people of God to a sovereign move of God - not the response of the Sovereign God to a move initiated by the people of God. ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name,...” Ezekiel 36:22 NIV 

As vital as obedience is, in our passion for revival we must not let it become the object - or we run the risk of it being about ourselves and not about an Eternal God.  The Reformed author Ian Murray writes: “However, if we say that obedience causes revival, we’re going to sooner or later cause deep depression, because many godly Christians have lived on the missions fields, served Christ in many places, and made costly sacrifices who have never seen revival. They have been obedient, eminently so.”

When true revival breaks out those in whom God has placed the desire will be the most surprised.  Murray continues, “So no, it’s never obedience that causes revival. It is Christ. Jesus said, ‘It’s not for you to know the times and the seasons which God has set by His own authority’, and that applies to revivals. Times and seasons belong to God.”

Surprised by the Spirit 

On St. Valentine’s Day 1904 in a village in Wales a pastor opened the floor for testimonies. One after another young men got up to speak, but the pastor set each one of them down as they invariably began to wax after their own agendas. At last, Florrie Evans, a young woman of just 14 years stood to her feet and confessed: “I love Jesus Christ–with all my heart!”  It is reported that as she spoke these words the Holy Spirit’s power and presence fell upon those gathered there. History records this as the beginning of the Welsh Revival which swept her nation and the nations - continuing on its course even today. 

If God be looking for anything He will seek out those who are worshiping Him in Spirit and truth - and by His own grace He will open their hearts to receive the living and abiding Word of God: “A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” Acts 16:14 

Jonathan Edwards, one of the most noted preacher/teachers in the history of our nation put it this way concerning revival: And ’tis revealed that when God is about to accomplish great things for his church, he will begin by remarkably pouring out ‘the spirit of grace and supplication,’ Zech. 12:10 and “When God is about to bestow some great blessing on his church, it is often his manner, in the first place, so to order things in his providence as to shew [sic] his church their great need of it, and to bring ‘em into distress for want of it, and so put ‘em upon crying earnestly to him for it.”  

At the beginning of the First Great Awakening Edwards published a tract partially entitled: “A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls...”  Let us note the use of the term Surprising Work.  In retrospect several methodologies could be observed - yet their genesis of which was a complete and unwarranted surprise.  God will put the longing, the desire, in the hearts of His people - but they will be the most surprised when their object is made manifest in their midst.  Thus no grounds are created either for fatalism or fanaticism. 

The Providence of God

This cannot be orchestrated, manufactured or scheduled - it is the providence of God and God alone. “Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has informed Him?” Isaiah 40:13 

We were in a prophetic conference probably around 1990 when a word was given to our friends and fellow Vineyard pastors John and Carol Arnott.  Essentially they were instructed to move from Stratford, Ontario to Toronto - and there God would orchestra an outpouring of His Spirit.  We looked at them as this word came and we could see the astonished surprise on their faces. In 1994 another Vineyard pastor - Randy Clark - came to the Toronto Airport Vineyard to conduct a series of meetings. We once heard Randy say concerning his wife, “I have the brains, but she has the power.” Those meetings resulted in the beginning of the revival which came to be known as the “Toronto Blessing.”  Thousands upon thousands were subsequently renewed and energized by this sovereign move of the Spirit of our Faithful Father. 

John Piper on addressing the desperate need of revival in our nation defined it like this: "the one-sided, supernatural arrival of God to do something extraordinary, to awaken people to their sinful condition and to awaken them to the reality of God and then the reality of Christ, the reality of sin, and the necessity of repentance in faith.”

He continues: "It moves like an inexplicable wave across the culture. We haven't seen that for a long time in America, but I doubt that short of that we will come out of a God-ignoring, God-belittling frame of mind, which pretty much grips the whole nation." 

Pray for America!

Our Ugandan friends who have experienced a sweeping national revival which they say came as a result of desolation leading to desperation pray for our nation that we would come to the point of desperate petition without desolation.  In my first visit to Uganda in 2003 I had the privilege to speak before a congregation of 12,000.  At the conclusion of my message I said, “Uganda! We do not have what you have in America - and our money cannot buy it. Uganda! Pray for America.” I and the friend that was with me stepped down from the platform as the congregation surged forward to pray for America!  

On subsequent visits I have continued that appeal - whether in a large congregation, a small bush gathering or on national TV and radio. God has set a nation to praying for us. May we hope, that despite ourselves, we may yet be surprised by the suddenly of another Great Awakening.

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones1 describes such a move this way: “We can define it as a period of unusual blessing and activity in the life of the Christian Church. Revival means awakening, stimulating the life, bringing it to the surface again. It happens primarily in the Church of God, and amongst believing people,...”

And continuing: “What the people are conscious of is that it is as if something has suddenly come down upon them. The Spirit of God has descended into their midst, God has come down and is amongst them. A baptism, an outpouring, a visitation. And the effect of that is that they immediately become aware of His presence and of His power in a manner that they have never known before. Suddenly they are aware of His presence, they are aware of the majesty and the awe of God. The Holy Spirit literally seems to be presiding over the meeting and taking charge of it, and manifesting His power and guiding them, and leading them, and directing them. That is the essence of revival. This is what God can do. This is what God has done. Let us together decide to beseech Him, to plead with Him to do this again. Not that we may have the experience or the excitement, but that His mighty hand may be known and His great name may be glorified and magnified among the people.” 

The original Pentecostal outpouring can be attributed to one thing and one thing alone - "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.” Acts 2:33 No agency of man is capable of exalting Him to this position. Thus this springing forth cannot be laid at the feet of any virtue of those gathered in that upper room. If so it would have failed them for John says “the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews.”  The day that was upon them was nothing less than “an administration suitable to the fullness of the times.”  The only instruction they had received was to wait or tarry until they received power from on high. Yes they praised, yes they prayed, yes they were with one accord - but their motivations were a mixed bag: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Christ trumps all of their confused expectations: “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;...”  This is the hope that sustained them until “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” Acts 2:4  Later Peter would say concerning these events: “They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.” Acts 4:28 NIV 

What was true then is no less true today - the timing is His prerogative and His alone.  “The LORD Almighty has sworn, ‘Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.’” Isaiah 14:24 NIV 

It is such a hope - and such a hope alone - that can set His people to Pentecostal praying.
Soli Deo Gloria!  To the Glory of God Alone! 

1 Dr. Lloyd-Jones was a Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctor who was influential in the Reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. He also influenced the Charismatic Movement - teaching a subsequent experience of the Spirit and opposing cessationism.