Redeeming Grace – An allegory
I was in a deep pit – surrounded by death. My situation was dire yet all efforts to extricate myself, were to no avail.
Looking up, I became aware of someone far, far away looking down into the pit where I was a prisoner. Later, I would learn the stranger’s name was Jesus. He didn’t drop water, food or a light, nor did He offer a manual to advise me how climb to freedom.
Instead, He fashioned a kind of ladder – its form was that of a Cross. Upon that creation, He climbed down into the pit of death, where I, along with a multitude of others, were held captive.
It was obvious His stay among us would be very temporary. But I must emphasize, At no point did He say, “after I leave, just believe that you have left the pit too. “Countless numbers practiced that formula, yet their captivity remained unchanged. Unbelievable as it sounds, many while making this claim, actually referred to it as “amazing grace!”
Another important thing to mention is that He never arbitrarily grabbed hold of any and just transported them out of the pit.
I will always be grateful that I actually heard Him say to me, “I am here to deliver you from this pit of death. My spontaneous response was to embrace Him and cry, “Oh! Jesus, thank you, thank you.”
Even as I did this, a wonderfully strange power surged into me. I knew that somehow, the very Spirit of this Jesus had entered into my being. In an instant, I was out of the pit – I was free! Now that was truly amazing grace. I was not told to merely reckon I was delivered – that powerful Spirit that entered into me actually delivered me – He actually set me free!
Stunned by this miracle, I stood with Him in the blazing sunlight. It was then that He pointed to a distant city – it shone like pure gold. He beckoned me to follow Him. Somehow, that strange power that delivered me from the foul pit now was enabling me to walk as He walked. As I continued, to walk in the newness of this Life, I began to experience an unspeakable joy. What’s more, the seductive power of that horrible pit, no longer had dominion over me. I’m free! FT.
The vital issue to grasp is that the preaching of divine “truth” demands far more than an accurate exposition of a Bible passage. That would be, what Paul describes as the ministry of mere words. He reminded the Thessalonians that during his visit to them, his ministry was “not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance” (1 Thess.1:5).
Therefore, the most needed ministry in the churches is not impressive presentations that claim to unlock eschatological mysteries, but rather a Holy Ghost redefinition of the most elementary features of the Christian gospel. This alone sets captives free.
A profound insight from the great revivalist, Charles G. Finney:
A revival will decline and cease, unless Christians are frequently revived. By this I mean, that Christians, in order to keep in the spirit of revival, commonly need to be frequently convicted and humbled and broken down before God. This is something which many do not understand, when we talk about a Christian being revived. But the fact is that in a revival, the Christian’s heart is liable to get crusted over and lose its exquisite relish for divine things; his unction and prevalence in prayer abate, and then he must be renewed over again. It is impossible to keep him in such a state as not to do injury to the work, unless he passes through such a process every few days. I have never laboured in revivals in company with anyone who would keep in the work and be fit to manage a revival continually, who did not pass through this process of breaking down as often as once in two or three weeks.
Where are they?
It was a special kind of man and woman who could leave the security of the eastern towns and head toward the remote American west. We call them, the pioneers. Their tedious journey, with oxen and horse drawn wagons, took months. The odds were stacked heavily against them; the dangers and challenges were more than they could have imagined. Yet nothing deterred them; they were propelled by the vision of a better life – and courage ran hot in their blood!
The scriptures are replete with men and women of blazing vision andindomitable courage. Not least of these is Caleb. For forty-five long years the memory of Eshcol, and the promise Moses, lived in his heart. The vision certainly tarried – but he waited for it.
Where are the Caleb’s of today? Is there anyone who will stand facing the giant-guarded, but Divinely promised inheritance, and cry with the courage of Caleb, “Give me this mountain?”
“Let’s be real Christians”
I was told of a couple who late in their lives became exposed to the Gospel. Having made their responses, the husband said to his wife, “If we’re going to be Christians, let’s be real Christians!”
The tempting question to ask is – What is a real Christian? But, for this brief paper, let’s ask a deeper question: We are all very familiar with the phrase “Christian life,” but what exactly IS the Christian life?
A common answer would be that it refers to the lifestyle of those endeavouring to live in line with the core values of the life Christ lived – hence the term Christian life. That being said, that actual phrase never appears in Scripture.
When we turn our attention to Jesus, we discover that He wasn’t merely endeavouring to live a perfect life – He was that Life! Or better, He IS the Life! John, the apostle, was very clear on this truth, he said, Jesus IS the “Eternal Life.” John adds that “the Life was manifested and we have seen it.” Later, Jesus made the truly shocking statement, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Let’s read that again: “I AM the Life.” In other words, The Eternal Life – stepped from timelessness into time and was manifested as Jesus – the Son of man! Soon, He would pay an awful price – but to what purpose? Listen carefully as He lifts the corner of the veil….
He told His devoted followers that, whereas He had been WITH THEM, very shortly He would be IN THEM! (There’s the clue!) Hours later, they eavesdropped as He talked to His Father. Riveted, they heard Him speak of an unimaginable union: “I in them, and You (Father) in Me.” He concluded His prayer with these words: “that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
I trust we have not forgotten our earlier question – what IS the Christian life? Well, it’s all unfolding now. A truly incredible plan had been conceived before time began. Listen to the way it unfolded: we, who were all dead in trespasses and sin, alienated from any possibility of even knowing God, would be given the unimaginable privilege of actually receiving that Life blended into our regenerated inner beings. A hymn writer put it this way, “God and man in oneness blending, oh, what fellowship is mine!”
The apostle Paul described this union in clear and amazing terms; here are a few examples: “he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” – “it is God that works in you…” – “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Then testifying personally he said, “Christ lives in me.” Again, “…He called me by His grace to reveal His Son in me.” Then in a statement that so encapsulated the matter: “it is no longer I,..but Christ that lives within me.” (Galatians 2:20). Amazing – truly amazing! That which these quotes reveal and express is as fascinating as it is staggering. The Christian life is not something we work to produce, but something we are called upon to receive!
This vital cornerstone truth has seldom been presented in its native glory. Whenever it is handled with unbelief, its glory evaporates – and the words lie dormant on a page.
Let us kneel before the Eternal Life and repent of our futile human attempts to live a Christ-like life and surrender our entire being to the Holy Spirit, who alone can reveal Christ – in me!
“Let’s be real Christians”
A house story
Exactly 50 years ago, my wife and I responded to an invitation to attend a Christian meeting in a big old house in Liverpool England. Christian meetings were not new to us, they had been part of our lives from childhood. But that was unlike any meeting we had ever attended. The Lord was powerfully present! That night He began a radical re-calibration of virtually every aspect of our lives.
Four years later, I was included in the eldership and our family took-up residence as the host family. That development set in motion our decades long involvement with House Churches.
A long list could be made of the benefits enjoyed by House Church congregations, but not the least is the welcoming and informal ambiance that so marks a loving family home. This is something that is impossible to replicate – even in the most expensive auditorium.
But here’s an important caveat to our story: The dramatic change of heart and trajectory that marked the beginning of this journey must not be credited to the discovery of house churches, but rather to the transforming power of Jesus – The danger to be guarded against is that of allowing ourselves to become so focused on the “venue feature” that the vital and overarching purpose for our gatherings and meetings becomes clouded. That supreme feature must always be the convergence of God’s manifested presence – and men and women, so eager for God, they don’t merely open the door of their hearts – they rip them off their hinges.
No unique venue, gifted teacher or talented musician can ever provide a substitute for the power of the Gospel of Christ.
Prophecy – Given at McKenzie
“Are you so blind that you cannot see what I am doing?
Do not allow your perception of the working of your God to be narrow and limited.
This is a time of the Lord’s fresh moving among you. See, I am gathering the remnants, the crumbs, that which fell and was not considered precious.
This is that which was left, even cast aside, from earlier banquets.
But this is the time for the gathering of that which was left. I will use you in this gathering – then watch, I say, watch, as I will cause blessing to come upon those remnants and I will cause them to increase abundantly. For the banquet of blessing that you are about to experience will exceed all that you have experienced before.
These are the days that you have been seeking for – I shall not fail to fulfill all that is in my heart – indeed all that your hearts have longed for.
This is my word of encouragement, but with this encouragement is a warning: Be sure that you are not found standing on the sidelines watching what I am doing. Give yourself, I say give yourself – all you have and all you are. Engage with the leading of the Lord that is emerging among you.
This is not merely for ‘them’ – this is for ‘you!’ All of you! It is only as you make the changes in your heart and in your actions – in your use of time and energies that you will discover this abundant blessing in your own life.
Again I say, do not be content to be a spectator – for this work of which I speak will most surely come to pass. This is the day of the blessing of the Lord among you. Do not miss this day of My visitation.”