MORRISON’S PENTECOSTALISM A BLESSING FOR AUSTRALIA

AMAZING this article appeared in the AUSTRALIAN (secular press) this morning. Thank you LORD. The article is by Greg Sheridan Foreign Editor.

Illustration: Eric Lobbecke.

Scott Morrison is probably the first leader of a significant Western nation to be a faithful member of a Pentecostal Christian church. It has been widely reported that he worships at the Horizon Pentecostal church in Sydney’s Sutherland (I live just 8Km/5m from this church). There have been national leaders in Africa and very prominent politicians in other parts of the world who have been Pentecostals, but not before in a big Western nation.

On that basis, we should celebrate the Prime Minister’s advancement as a further sign of pluralism and diversity in Australia. Indeed, as usual Australia leads the world in some elements of diversity. Our top three positions in government are now held by a Pentecostal PM, a Catholic deputy PM and a Jewish deputy Liberal leader. The fact this is all incidental to their politics and not in itself a big deal is a sign of what a sensible, good ­society we are at heart.

Nonetheless, it is also the case that the ambient culture is becoming ever more hostile to the belief and practice of Christianity. Morrison was right in parliament to foreshadow that he will be proactive in establishing much needed greater protection for religious freedom. This is good in substance and a popular position in the Coalition parties.

Morrison’s Menzies lecture was given almost in the style of an evangelical preacher and I thought it genuine and effective. Politicians govern on the basis of policy and competence but are also judged on character and personality. Communicating personality in a way that people relate to is beneficial, provided it’s genuine.

ScoMo is genuinely, among other things, a suburban churchgoer. Pentecostals are not well known or understood outside their own tradition. In my recent book, God is Good for You, I write at length about Australian Pentecostals. Let me therefore confess a bias: I like and admire the Pentecostals. In Australia, and around the world, the Pentecostals are one of the most dynamic movements in Christianity.

They are completely mainstream and their doctrine is orthodox in Christian terms and Bible-based. Things that people like about them very much are a tradition of great music, a positive, cheerful outlook and an energy about their worship and their corporate personality. Like all Christian movements, like all human movements, they’ve had their scandals, but that just proves they’re human like everyone else.

Pentecostal theology centres on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the central passage in the New Testament that inspires Pen­tecostals comes in Acts of the Apostles: “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all togeth­er in one place. And sudden­ly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tong­ues, as of fire, appear­ed among them, and a tongue raised on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other lang­uages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”

Pentecostals are a Christian denomination, rapidly growing with more than a half-billion followers worldwide, and a movement within many denominations.

Modern Pentecostalism grew out of a little, impoverished, mixed-race church in Azusa Street, Los Angeles, in 1906. It was led by an African-American pastor, William Seymour, a son of freed slaves. This certainly has the right Christian feel about it as the starting point of a big revival.

One of the features that most propels Pentecostal success, I think, is its emphasis on experience rather than intellectualising. This can make its church services emotional and uplifting.

The most controversial aspects of Pentecostalism are traditionally speaking in tongues and faith healing. But almost all Christians of all denominations pray for the sick and accept that occasionally their prayers are answered. Speaking in tongues happens a lot in the New Testament. Pentecostals believe speaking in tongues is the Holy Spirit enabling them to pray. A sceptic may view it as a kind of free-range voc­alisation of the sentiment of pray­er. There is certainly nothing in it of superstition or of the sinister.

Pentecostals are generally different from evangelicals. The latter typically define themselves by the act of being born again, their adherence to the inerrancy of scripture and the need to actively proclaim the faith. Pentecostals would share much of that and add the need to be baptised again in the Spirit. They have had a lot of success recruiting young people.

Happily, the old hostilities and ­rivalries between different Christian denominations have substantially disappeared. The differ­ences now tend to be between those who accept the traditional, orthodox teachings of Christianity — such as the physical resurrection of Christ — and those who interpret all such teachings symbolically or allegorically.

My taste in church music tends towards Gregorian chant. But if I’d paid good money to attend any of the Pentecostal services I’ve been to just for the quality of the rock music, I would have no complaints. Because Pentecostals have been using modern communications techniques to deliver a very traditional message for a long time, they’re good at it.

Traditional message, modern communications. A fertile mix.

FOR LAST DAYS PROVISION: WILL YOU TRUST GOD?

Imagine if Christians prayed like they depend on God and lived like God depended on them?

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Philippians 4:19-20

“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.  Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:22-23, 29-32

Jesus says, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14 

“In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:23-24

“Your Father holds the universe. The hills and all that moves on them are His! The world and it fullness is His!” Psalm 50:10-12

“Trust His abounding kindness, compassion, graciousness, love and faithfulness, in all circumstances.” Exodus 34:6

Seek and discern the source for His provision of your needs. This will be essential during the coming tribulation. Sometimes our Father provides through our labour and wages and sometimes He leads us another way. At all times we are to look to heaven and trust and obey! 

PREPARE FOR PERSECUTION AS YOU STAND ON THE AUTHORITY OF GOD’S WORD

Paul provides the model of how to behave in the dark days ahead and how to finish strongly. Jesus told us that in the “last days” the love of many will grow cold. There will be a great falling away in the church (Apostasy), even the elect deceived.

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Note many friends will leave you as they did Paul, “Demas in love with this present world has deserted me.” If you are doing God’s will, many will harm you as they did Paul “Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm”. In fact, Paul says, “no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me.” BUT Paul also says, “the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the (GOSPEL) message might be fully proclaimed and all the gentiles might hear it. 

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defence no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:6-18

REALITY OF CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP

Good to see this video from Torben about the reality of his experience when sharing the GOSPEL on the streets. When Jesus sent out the twelve disciples His instructions were:

EXPECT PERSECUTION

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they malign those of his household.” Matthew 10:16-25

HAVE NO FEAR

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.Matthew 10:26-33

NOT PEACE BUT A SWORD

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.Matthew 10:34-39

ETERNAL REWARDS

?Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.Matthew 10:40-42

 

DEATH IN ADAM, ALIVE IN CHRIST

“Sin came into the world, through one man (Adam) and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Romans 5:12

God’s love conquers all: “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.Romans 5:17

We may not like this crucial truth about God and sin, but we live in a universe that has been corrupted by the effects of the curse placed upon creation by God the Creator, due to the disobedience of the first man, Adam. Death is an intrusion upon God’s creation due to sin. 

Satan, the Prince of this world, has blinded the world to the reality of this truth with the lie of EVOLUTION and there is no God. The truth of Noah’s worldwide flood and God’s judgement of mankind has also been removed from history with the lie of EVOLUTION.

In Genesis 1:31 God’s word tells us, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” In the Genesis creation narrative, we see the Hebrew word for good used six times, and then the author summarises the entirety of creation by using a term for “very good”, to drive home the point that no evil or death is found anywhere in all of creation! Here, we find a major theological truth; you cannot have death before the fall of Adam!

What amazing love, God the Father sent His son, Jesus, to pay the penalty of our sin so that we can be restored into a right relationship with our Him, but only if we are prepared to acknowledge and repent of our sin and accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. If we do, God the Father then sends the Holy Spirit to indwell every believer to be comforter, counsellor and teacher so we are capable of living the Christian life.

Jesus reversed the curse by his perfect obedience, taking upon himself the due penalty of sin, which is death, for all who believe in him. Jesus faced the ultimate fiery trial of death, and he was the only man who didn’t deserve it, as he was perfectly obedient to the Father and totally righteous, without sin. This is grace in fullness, and amazing love!

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19. Christianity is the only basis for true love, trust and compassion. The Bible tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9. Once believers are saved by grace from sin, the process of sanctification occurs, the Holy Spirit takes control of our hearts, and we die to the flesh and are reborn by the Spirit of God. We are now able to fully understand what love is. We are able, though not perfectly, to have compassion, and serve others out of gratitude for what Christ has done for us. This is why we can heed the command of Christ in Matthew 5:44–45 to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

People who claim to be atheists, to be consistent with their beliefs, would have a nihilistic worldview. They could never truly know the love or compassion imparted by the Spirit of God. What took place recently at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas , when a church family gathered in a small church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, was massacred by Devin Patrick Kelley, is a horrible tragedy performed by someone who was living out his worldview.

NETANYAHU: TELL THE WORLD THE TRUTH

Netanyahu, tell the world the truth, “He took it from them and gave it to us.”

“Every Jew, and in fact, every Christian and Muslim, knows that the Land of Israel was promised to the Children of Israel, the Jewish People, by G-d, forever. The same G-d they claim to worship. The British pro-Zionists who worked to convince her majesty’s government to issue the Balfour Declaration in 1917, believed in the Divine Promise to the Jews. So, why continue to perpetuate this lie called the “Peace Process”? The Palestinians might gain some temporary control over the land – like in Gaza – for G-d’s own reasons, but in the end, it will be taken from them anyway and returned to its rightful tenants, the Jewish People – I didn’t say owners, because G-d is the only true owner of everything.”

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It is true that a democratically elected government in Israel might choose, for political expediency, to transfer control over parts of the Jewish People’s homeland to others, like what happened in Gush Katif – Jewish Gaza; and that, in political terms, it might be seen as legitimate; but, in the Court of Final Justice, above, there never will be any spiritual legitimacy to the act. Anyone going against the will of G-d will ultimately have to account for their actions. Reward and punishment is a basic concept in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Heaven help those who try to take away the Divinely Promised Land from the Jewish People. Look what happened to Rabin, Sharon, Olmert, and countless others?

So, why lie to the Palestinians? Why make them believe they are right, that Israel “stole” their land? Why participate in a peace process? Why fool them into believing that Israel will give them land and a state?

Netanyahu is telling the world the truth. When Jesus returns, He will rule and reign in Jerusalem. For the first time, Israel will possess the whole land promised by God.

HOW DO YOU INTEND TO LIVE THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?

Obviously the decision is yours to make, but as we are living in the “last days”, ETERNITY and where you spend it hangs in the balance. This article by Fulton Sheen, which I received at the end of 2014, should challenge you, as it did me then and NOW.

The Decision is Yours (12/24/2014) Fulton Sheen

Like the rain washes away the dust and the dirt and replenishes and purifies the rivers, the streams and waters in the earth for all living things to continue to live and flourish, so My Spirit waits for those to enter, that I may do the same to the hearts and spirits which have freely yielded to Me. It is a decision and act and every decision and act has consequences. What will you do today, how will you live the moments which have been given to you? Will you yield; will you live the day I have set aside for you? Will you follow the path I have laid for you to walk or will you find your own way? This choice, this decision is yours to make every day and every morning, for every day is a new beginning. The consequences of that choice and decision will determine whether you go deeper into My plans and purposes, you stop short or you regress.

For those that regress and choose another path, they will drink of the consequences of that decision. They will step out of the walled city which they had previously chosen to inhabit and are now on their own. They have made themselves subject to the world and have rejected My will and replaced it with their own and they rejected My plans, My purposes and My protection. They have chosen their own path. In these days and the days to come, retracing ones steps and taking back ground will become more difficult and the consequences greater.

For those who stop short, you will continue to walk in the revelation and grace you had been given up to that point, but the former revelation and grace will not be sufficient. It will be harder and harder to stand your ground without fresh revelation and grace. You will be like a stagnant pond, no longer connected to the river which once replenished, purified and allowed it to expand. In time you will become polluted with things which can only grow in water deprived of cleansing and eventually dries up and disappears.

But for those who daily choose the path I have laid out for them, for those who have chosen My will, My plans and purposes over their own, they will not be disappointed. They will receive fresh revelation, fresh grace for the day and they will move forward and the enemy will not have his way with them. I will renew their strength, I will give them wisdom, insight and direction they need for the day and for the days to come. The consequences of this choice will be peace, joy and rest in the midst of the battle. They will have eyes to see, their ears will hear and their mind will understand what My Spirit is saying. Like the sons of Issachar they will understand the times and they will know what to do.

THE DECISION IS YOURS?

 

CORRIE TEN BOOM AND THE RAPTURE

Corrie understood that the Bible does not teach a Pretribulation Rapture and try and explain it to the Christians in the Middle East and Africa who are already suffering intense persecution.

Isis beheading 21 coptic ChristiansCorrie wrote this letter in 1974 well before ISIS and the horror it is bringing upon Christians particularly in Syria and Iraq.

In America, the churches sing, “Let the congregation escape tribulation”, but in China and Africa and the Middle East the tribulation has already arrived. This last year alone more than two hundred thousand Christians were martyred in Africa. Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations.
But I know. I have been there.  We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners.  Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation.
Several years ago, I was in Africa in a nation where a new government had come into power. The first night I was there some of the Christians were commanded to come to the police station to register. When they arrived, they were arrested and that same night they were executed. The next day the same thing happened with other Christians. The third day it was the same. All the Christians in the district were being systematically murdered.

The fourth day I was to speak in a little church. The people came, but they were filled with fear and tension. All during the service they were looking at each other, their eyes asking, “Will this one I am sitting beside be the next one killed?  Will I be the next one?”

The room was hot and stuffy with insects that came through the screen less windows and swirled around the naked bulbs over the bare wooden benches.  I told them a story out of my childhood.

“When I was a little girl, ” I said, “I went to my father and said, ‘Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.” “Tell me,” said Father, “When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?”

“No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.” “That is right,” my father said, “and so it is with God’s strength. Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need – just in time.”

My African friends were nodding and smiling.  Suddenly a spirit of joy descended upon that church and the people began singing, “In the sweet, by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore.”

Later that week, half the congregation of that church was executed. I heard later that the other half was killed some months ago, but I must tell you something.  I was so happy that the Lord used me to encourage these people, for unlike many of their leaders, I had the word of God. I had been to the Bible and discovered that Jesus said He had not only overcome the world, but to all those who remained faithful to the end, He would give a crown of life.
How can we get ready for the persecution?  First, we need to feed on the word of God, digest it, make it a part of our being.  This will mean disciplined Bible study each day as we not only memorise long passages of scripture, but put the principles to work in our lives.

Next, we need to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Not just the Jesus of yesterday, the Jesus of History, but the life-changing Jesus of today who is still alive and sitting at the right hand of God.

We must be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is no optional command of the Bible, it is absolutely necessary. Those earthly disciples could never have stood up under the persecution of the Jews and Romans had they not waited for Pentecost. Each of us needs our own personal Pentecost, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We will never be able to stand in the tribulation without it.

In the coming persecution we must be ready to help each other and encourage each other.  But we must not wait until the tribulation comes before starting.  The fruit of the Spirit should be the dominant force of every Christian’s life.

Many are fearful of the coming tribulation, they want to run. I, too, am a little bit afraid when I think that after all my eighty years, including the horrible Nazi concentration camp, that I might have to go through the tribulation also.  But then I read the Bible and I am glad.

When I am weak, then I shall be strong, the Bible says. Betsy and I were prisoners for the Lord, we were so weak, but we got power because the Holy Spirit was on us.  That mighty inner strengthening of the Holy Spirit helped us through.  No, you will not be strong in yourself when the tribulation comes.  Rather, you will be strong in the power of Him who will not forsake you.  For seventy-six years I have known the Lord Jesus and not once has
He ever left me, or let me down.

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”, for I know that to all who overcome, He shall give the crown of life. Hallelujah!

Are you preparing for Jesus return? In the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24 also in Mark and Luke)) Jesus told His disciples what it would be like prior to His second coming, and like Corrie understood, it will be a time of great tribulation when he comes and the angels “will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” We will not experience God’s wrath but we will go through tribulation.