Thursday, November 26, 2015

CP 259 Penty worship 22/11/2015

CP 259 Worship Sunday Nov 22, 2015
Retread series NO 2
Hi friends, last weekend we attended a church not unlike the church we attended the week before. The text was from Genesis 22 and Jacob’s night-long wrestle with the angel. My personal longing is that preachers would ‘get’ that accounts like this Jacob episode are not recorded to be an example of how we should live, but that they point inevitably and inexorably (big word) to the true seed of Abraham, to Jesus who is the Christ, the Messiah.

Be that as it may, on Monday I got in email contact with the preacher of that first sermon and shared some of my thinking with him. I added the following note:
B.., I'm not anti-Penty... Some of my kids worship at Hillsong HQ. One young chap I mentored is part of leadership team at Hillsong Greenwich UK. Yesterday I had to consider the contrast between, on the one hand, elderly people singing the hymns on ABC’s Songs of Praise, and on the other, hundreds of young people at the Sunday evening service at a Liverpool church. Not only that, but at the end of worship probably 60-70 of those young people went forward for prayer. That is awesome. I guess my point is that you (Pentecostal preachers) have such an extraordinary opportunity (and grave responsibility!) to teach the young, and you have such an open door... but I beg you to teach and preach from a New Testament point of view, with Gospel lenses not Law blinkers, from an "in Christ" starting point rather than a law of Moses 'you should do this' kick off point, from a new covenant perspective rather than a Sinai covenant view.

A reminder hit me about a correspondence which took place just after I got back from Vietnam in September, and shared the experiences with you. Here is one writer’s response:
“My nagging question - Why is it we have these experiences outside of Australia?  I had similar experiences on my trip to Cambodia. Do we take our relationship with Jesus for granted in Australia? Why is it so different?  Do we relax into the palm of his hand and give it no more thought?”

Here’s Fred’s reply:
“N..., Re your question, I had the identical discussion with my neighbouring passionate Anglican priest before I went... 

Somebody here, in just the last few days, reckoned that it was because, in Australia, the only message we consistently hear about is that, 'You are saved by grace and there's nothing more you need to do.' That resonates with what two of their (Vietnamese) leaders said about courses in which they sometimes participate in Cambodia... 'They only teach about everything up to the Cross... we never hear anything about the Holy Spirit, filled with the Spirit, and the Gifts of the Spirit when we are there...' 

N.., that's exactly my end-of-38 year-ministry summary in the LCA... When someone consistently speaks about the Holy Spirit in the ongoing life of the believer, our church busily goes about finding reasons why we should not take that too seriously. We are so sure that we have the Holy Spirit sorted in our doctrine of Word and Sacrament that we can't see any place for the Holy Spirit of Jesus doing something like Pentecost in our day to bring the Lord Jesus and his Kingdom to the world where people are dying of spiritual hunger and thirst... Anybody who speaks of experiencing an encounter with the Spirit of Jesus is pigeon-holed 'to be ignored…'” 

CrossPurposes friends, these are real questions being faced day-in, day-out, by searching hearts all over the church. The only answer I have is that all of us speak and teach from a new covenant / biblical standpoint, and that we pray, ceaselessly, for fresh Pentecostal showers… “Come Holy Spirit, revive your church…”

Be blessed this week…

Fred

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