SPIRIT & WORD – Birmingham – November 1996
[It should be noted that these notes have been originally typed by Nicci Gagel from an audio recording of the event. They have been then slightly re-edited. Editor]
Stage is Set:
Throughout the main part of last year (1995) there were various trends showing what was wrong in society but there is a watershed. A growing revulsion amongst middle-of-the-road decent people at the terror and violence in our society. Pragmatic response by the major political parties as election is approaching. As society ebbs and flows in its moods so will politics – trying to create a balance in the nation.
What do we do as the people of God in the midst of these times?
Need to be like the “men of Issachar”. We have become aware as the weeks pass of the different moods in society and also what the Holy Spirit is trying to say into the Body of Christ. All the changes we are seeing in society are being reflected right now in some very clear distinctives that God is releasing into the Body of Christ.
Special challenge is to those who call themselves spirit-filled Christians. Over the 30 years of Charismatic renewal what has it produced? It is time to take stock. What is the effect in the world at large? Although the current situation can be negative – what is God saying? That now is the time for us to get a grip of what the call of our ministry is all about. Need to be prepared in mind and spirit for the challenges of the days in which we live.
Preparation in: The Presence of God
The Power of the Scriptures
The Dynamic of the Holy Spirit
Maturity, quality, equipping and stability in the leadership of the church in this nation. People are needing to be taken into the depths of God. Need for “fathers in God”.
The world is crying out for a clear word from God, from people they can trust who have taken their preparation for ministry seriously.
Current lack of quality is the challenge of these days. It is also a challenge personally. We need to be doing the job that God has given us with all the power and the willingness to be led by the Spirit that we can minister. It is a day to apply ourselves:
– to the word of God
– to listening to God
– to become really equipped in the things of God
– so that people can feel the authority of God in what we are doing. Sloganism won’t do any more. Our brain as well as our spirit matters and God wants to redeem us in every way so that we are equipped to do His will.
Example: “Everyman” programme on TV – discussion about Christian politicians. Looking at the life of some Christian MPs and interspersed that with discussion with other people like political analysts (who aren’t Christians). Remarking on the fact that every politician who wants to get anywhere is claiming to be a Christian and comparing it with America where everyone is claiming to be “born-again”.
Our spiritual ministry will only get somewhere if it is relevant to our day.
1. We are going to have to re-marshall our time and re-prioritise what we consider important.
2. Some are going to have to step aside from the demands of little things and enter into the great things of the presence of God.
3. Some will have to be refreshed in a total sense by the Holy Spirit so that our understanding of the gospel can stand up and we can know with confidence in our heart that we have a product to share in the power of the gospel that is worthy of sharing and that is the answer to the need that is in our society.
“Do you not think that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4
What kind of life is the Spirit-filled ministry in this country going to have?
God is moving us into a new arena of testimony in the power of the Spirit.
Skidelski: (on Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher etc.) “Yes they are Christian, but their Christianity has more to do with the Old Testament than the New Testament …” A political historian speaking, who himself is not a Christian, looking at the new morality that is coming through and the claims made by some in the area of Christianity – “… the thing is we have not yet heard the challenge of Jesus being presented.” This is an amazing statement yet is completely in line with pluralism. Pontius Pilite would find himself at home at the end of the 20th century – “What is truth?” when he said. Pluralism is the hallmark in this country. Unless the Holy Spirit does something remarkable in this country we are swimming against a powerful tide. Pluralism and relativism can never be the hallmark of a Spirit-filled believer.
First priority of the Holy Spirit is Truth.
John 16 – revelation – conviction of sin – Spirit of truth in the life of the believer.
Truth does not equal dogma but is a direct connection with the God of essential truth, heart to heart, spirit to spirit.
God’s purpose is to do something existential in us so that we will know that we are connected to the essence of all things and that in our spirit is a testimony to the truth – of how things are and how they ought to be.
“It is time for the sons of God to stand up.”
Church walking in holiness and purity and a leadership that have got to grips with the revelation of God so that the Body of Christ can emerge as a real witness to what God is doing. The thing that has most spoiled the gospel is not the cynicism of the unbeliever but the incredibility of the unbeliever.
We have the privilege of working with people in the business sector and the way that God is opening up their hearts through crisis is awesome, but they are looking for someone or something that they can trust. There was a political journalist on the “Everyman” programme who said, after hearing the “born-again” politician, who were very good – “it isn’t the politicians we are waiting to hear say this, it is the church we are waiting to hear say this.” Jesus is the direct challenge to pluralism.
“I am the way, the truth and the life.”
Unless we get our act and the gospel together we’re going to be like people shouting in the dark.
Jean Darnall: “The next great move of God will call forth a generation of preachers”. That is exciting – “it has saved those who through the foolishness of preaching have believed”. God is a God of constancy and isn’t going to change His mind.
If we are going to be called to communicate then let us become spiritually equipped to communicate in such a way that the word will strike home. Sloganizing and doing little gospel meetings isn’t going to do it.
Article on communication – receiving all the different ways, e.g. Technological et al – came to the astounding conclusion that the most powerful and convincing means of communication is when you find someone who really believes in what they are talking about, communicating verbally and passionately out of their belly into the life of someone else.
“When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you shall receive power and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and to the ends of the earth.” God knows that is how things work best.
Many people today are longing to be drawn alongside, but they are looking for something that is really inedible.
We must stimulate one another, encourage one another and discipline one another to move forward in the power of the Spirit and the Word (Matt. 19:6)
The Holy Spirit wasn’t just poured out for healing, deliverance, gifts etc. those things are effects. Praise God for effects, but we can look at the external and fail to get a grip of the real internal truth that God wants to bring – “Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap in mercy, break up your fallow ground for it is time to seek the Lord till He comes and rains righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12).
God is stirring up the ground – all over the nation the word is about the real presence of God and the implication of that presence in our life. The implications of knowing God (Isaiah 6) is that we will reflect the holiness of that knowledge in our lives. God wants to come as a divine purgative into our hearts and challenge us – holiness and righteousness.
Holiness – the intrinsic reality of God reflected in the glory that the Spirit brings so that we are impacted by the power of the supernatural transcendent reality of the living God!
Righteousness – the gift of God that means I can now walk in the righteous principles of God’s kingdom. That my life will be reflecting holiness in its righteous deeds, that we walk in the good works that God has ordained beforehand that we should walk in.
That is the challenge. God wants to break the bonds of small-mindedness and wants a church to be raised up that is glorious in the reflection of the holy power of God and righteous in all its ways to reflect the character of God. One of the challenges that we Spirit-filled people have to face is our attitude to the Bible and how we interpret it and the truth is that there is still more light to break froth from His Word.
We have to get to grips with a spiritual rebirth of biblical interpretation.
Donald Carson: The Gagging of God – about God speaking in a pluralistic world. How can we be sure that we are speaking the word of God in a world in which pluralism is the key attitude and philosophy of life and what does it mean when we make claims about biblical authority, and what does it mean when we say that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life”.
Some of the most prophetic things today are not coming from church leaders but from some of the leader – writers in our newspapers.
The answer to what God wants to do today will be found in a deep spiritual reformation that will come in the hearts of men and women. “It is time to seek the Lord” – So let the Holy Spirit challenge us in every way as to our intentions and preparations to follow the Lord.
British Association for the Advancement of Science yearly debate between a scientist who professes to be a Christian and a scientist who isn’t. The debate was on the relationship of religion with science. Article written by William Gosling – refers to the writings of Hans Kung on the Church with 5 major shapes of Christianity P1 – P5 (P = paradigm).
P1 – Jerusalem church
P2 – Constantinople – Orthodox church
P3 – Roman Catholic church
P4 – Protestantism
P5 – Liberalism – religious expression of naturalism
“Now that impetus is spent and the time is now for an appearance of yet another Christian paradigm – P6. What will P6 be like?”
Donald Carson – “it is axiomatic that secularism strips life of the divine, but it is important to see that it does so by re-locating the divine in that part of life which is private.”
Margaret Thatcher – “It is all right to talk about spiritual things as long as you don’t bring them into politics.” This is a danger for Charismatics – keeping things to ourselves. The Holy Spirit wasn’t poured out just for ourselves, but to let the fire of God loose upon the face of the earth so that the testimony of the gospel and the power of the gospel would be felt right in at the heart-land of the nation. Dynamic intrusion of the Kingdom of God into the kingdom of men.
Francis Frangipane: “The virgin church becoming pregnant with Christ.”
We need to lead people into a new revelation of what it is to be met with in a divine encounter by the living presence of God. We’ll only be led into the greatness of what God is doing by people who have the largeness of God’s kingdom in their hearts and will let the challenge of it reverberate into every part of their life, their morality, their lifestyle and their thinking.
Francis Frangipane: “The last virgin church shall become pregnant with the promise of God before Jesus returns. Out of her travail the Body of Christ shall come forth, raised to the full stature of its Head, the Lord Jesus. Corporately manifested in holiness, power and love, the Bride of Christ shall arise, clothed in white garments, bright and clean. During this last and greatest move of God, great darkness shall cover the earth, even as in the judgement of Egypt, it will be a darkness that can be felt. Yet, in the midst of the darkness, the visible, powerful glory of the Lord Jesus shall rise on the Virgin church. His glory shall be seen on them, nations shall be drawn to their light, kings to the brightness of their rising. Radiant they shall appear for their hearts will possess the beautiful star of the morning in holy array from the womb of the dawn, their light shall exult like the dew.”
God wants us to stand up in the maturity and dignity that comes from people who have met with God.
1 Chronicles 12 – mighty men and all the kings of Israel – men of Issachar – men of discernment without whom all the armies of Israel would have been useless – “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”