Sunday, 25 September 2016

One Gospel

There aren't two Gospels - one for Jews, and one for Gentiles.

One for now, and another one for the Tribulation or Millennium.

There is one Gospel, and its full title is: The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

It's the Gospel of the Kingdom of God; the Gospel of the grace of God - the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It's all one and the same Gospel.

To the Jew first, and also to the Gentiles.

Peter, Paul and the Lord Jesus Christ each preached the same Gospel. 

Saturday, 24 September 2016

God's Kingdom-Plan for Israel

The Gospel isn't just some unforeseen parenthesis temporarily added while we wait for God to get back to His Kingdom-plan for Israel:
The Gospel 'is' God's Kingdom-plan for Israel!
The Gospel was always called the Gospel 'of' the Kingdom:
Not only in the Gospels...
...but also in Acts, all the way to the last chapter.
Paul preached the same Gospel to Gentiles that Jesus preached to Israel:
The good news of the Kingdom of God.
It was announced to Jews first; then the same news was announced to Gentiles.
The Kingdom of God is at hand; tickets are now on sale - bought and paid for by the cross of Jesus Christ.
All who believe and receive are born again, and only they shall see it and enter in - and it shall be forever and ever.
But the wicked shall be damned, no matter whether they were Jews who had Moses' written Law, or Gentiles who had the law in their conscience.
Not all Jews believed; many Gentiles believed; God then used Gentiles to help bring more Jews to faith.
Nothing changed with that. The Gospel is God's best and final offer. It's just that God is allowing time for more people to be saved.
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved..." (Acts 16:31).

Friday, 23 September 2016

Justification - Ladd

"The doctrine of justification means that God has pronounced the eschatological verdict of acquittal over the person of faith in the present, in advance of the final judgment" - George Eldon Ladd

Quote From George Eldon Ladd

"Justification is one of the blessings of the inbreaking of the new age into the old. In Christ the future has become present; the eschatological judgment has in effect already taken place in history. As the eschatological Kingdom of God is present in history in the Synoptics, as the eschatological eternal life is present in Christ in John, as the eschatological resurrection has already begun in Jesus' resurrection, as the eschatological Spirit is given to the church in Acts (and in Paul), so the eschatological judgment has already occurred in principle in Christ, and God has acquitted his people."

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Grace Isn't Scandalous

God's grace isn't offered scandalously - it's offered lawfully.

By justifying us through Jesus Christ, God showed Himself righteous - not scandalous.

Being judged and declared righteous, and being given eternal life, are blessings which belong in the future, in the Day of Judgment and Kingdom of God - and God's Judgment on that Day will be righteous, not scandalous. But the blessings of justification and eternal life have also been brought forward into our present-experience, through faith.

The coming of Jesus Christ into this world, and His death and resurrection, virtually enacted the future judgment, justification and wrath, here in the present.

By the cross, we died with Him, we were buried with Him in baptism, and rose together with Him, in hope of eternal justification, salvation and life, by a declaration of the righteousness of God - right now, through faith in Jesus Christ.

You have been declared righteous not by some scandal, but on a thoroughly moral, ethical, just, righteous, judgmental, declaratory, legal basis - by the death of Christ - as evidenced by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Explaining our justification on a righteous basis like this, rather than as a 'scandal', gives us a basis for even more confidence.

It also clarifies that God's grace isn't licentiousness. 

The Kingdom of God and Eternal Life

The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) deal with the Kingdom of God. John's Gospel deals with eternal life instead.

Are eternal life and the Kingdom of God two separate subjects? or was eternal life just John's way of discussing the same thing - the Kingdom of God.

If the Kingdom of God and eternal life are the same subject, then the Kingdom of God is to be eternal, not just for a thousand years.

And if they're the same subject, then both eternal life and the Kingdom of God have already been brought into the present through Jesus Christ, although we still await its consummation when He comes the second time.

If the message of eternal life is the same as the Gospel of the Kingdom, then Paul's Gospel - and the Church, Christ's body - is not just some interim arrangement inserted into history while we wait for God to get back to His Kingdom-scheme. The Gospel is the Kingdom-scheme.

In that case the salvation of national Israel during a future Jewish Millennium, through means other than faith in Christ, and complete with a restored Levitical priesthood, would not be necessary in order to fulfil Old Testament Kingdom-promises. The Gospel fulfils the Kingdom-promises.

That does sound like the Apostles' doctrine! 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Prayer of Commitment v Prayer of Faith

Jesus didn't say, "When you pray, just believe that God will do whatever He wants".

He told us what to believe:

"...believe that ye receive them..." 

'Them' being "what things soever ye desire, when ye pray". 

He said:

"...and shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass..."

Not just a general belief that God does what He wants, but believe that 'those things' which 'he saith' shall 'come to pass'.

"...and ye shall have them..."

Have what? Have 'them' - precisely what you desired.

"...he shall have whatsoever he saith..."

Have what? 'Whatsoever he saith'.

Jesus said that!

Relinquishing ourself to the unknown will of God, entrusting our souls to His well-keeping, is one form of prayer, certainly. But Jesus was talking about another level altogether here. 

Both are valid. Both are important. Both are possible. Don't interpret the meaning of Scripture by our own experience, or lack of experience.

Take God at His Word. Faith is acting on the Word.

And when we don't know, or feel weak in faith, we can just pour out our heart to the Lord, being honest about all our desires and weaknesses - and I think every time I've done that, I've either received exactly what I was desiring anyway; or I instantly knew in my spirit it wasn't exactly what I should ask for.

We can also pray with our spirit; or the Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings which can't be uttered.

Jesus therefore made it easy, not hard. 

Christ - Centrality - Church

Paul described the Church as the Body of Christ. Can you get any more one with Christ than that! Can you be any more central to the purpose of God than that.

Since Christ is the antitype, the substance, the fulfilment of promise and of the Law and of the Prophets, so therefore is His body - which is the Church.

Therefore the Church isn't just an unforeseen parenthesis inserted while we wait for God to get back to His real purpose (such as saving Israel during the Millennium, and restoring Levitical worship). No - the Gospel Paul preached to the Gentiles is the same Gospel Jesus preached to Israel: the Gospel of the Kingdom. 

Torah for Sanctification?

Carrying out the Law didn't justify anyone; and neither can it sanctify us - Jesus did both for us, once for all, through the cross, by a new and living way. But the result is, we behave in a way that no ethic or moral or spiritual reality foreshadowed in the Law could condemn!

To Learn

1. Be filled with the Spirit and speak with tongues - because then you have the Teacher inside of you, opening your eyes to see wondrous things in the Scriptures

2. Always win more souls, not fewer souls. That's the heart of God. So if our learning makes us better fishers of men, not detached from soul-winning, then we've acquired true wisdom.

3. The Gospel is always with power, not just words. So if the truth we are discovering results in more manifestations of the Spirit, rather than fewer manifestations of power, then it's probably right. If it tends to be all words and less power, then probably not. 

4. Love. Truth embraces and loves. If the knowledge we have divides us, makes you angry, makes you tend to attack persons not just discuss ideas, and you find yourself wanting to censor others rather than dialogue, that's not love, and means our learning is probably not in the spirit of Christ. 

5. Yielding our own will. Accepting the Word meekly. That enhances our judgment.

6. The Apostles' doctrine. Without the Epistles, we wouldn't know how to apply the history in the Gospels, nor the Old Testament, in a way that's applicable for us today. 

7. The Apostles' view was that God promised the Gospel to Abraham; national Israel became the custodians of that Promise; in the mean time they were given a temporary Law; and other promises specific to them; God had fulfilled all of those promises; Jesus came; 

While we still await the second coming and general resurrection and visible and eternal Kingdom in a new earth and heaven, Jesus vouchsafed it to us through the cross, through a new and living way, and through the Holy Spirit brought-forward into the present the experience of that future Kingdom-salvation, in a spiritual way. There is an Already/Not Yet aspect to the fulfilment of Promise.  

The Law merely foreshadowed and predicted this present, spiritual and coming reality. We are now living in the time of Abraham's promise, in an Inaugurated/Not Yet Consummated way: by faith in the Seed, Jesus, without the deeds of the Law. 

8. We only await the second coming, resurrection and eternal kingdom in new heavens and earth.

9. Therefore any Prophecy which was about Levitical worship, must have been fulfilled while the Old Covenant still stood, because God isn't into returning to the shadow.

10. Yet we do experience and carry-out all of the ethics, morals, predictions and spiritual realities that were foreshadowed in the Law and Prophets.

11. It's all about Jesus!

Pre-European History of Australia

A recent study claims:

  • Many Australian Aborigines have Indian DNA
  • The Indian DNA came into existence in Aborigines 141 generations ago
  • Or 4,230 years ago
That refutes the earlier idea that Aborigines had no contact with the rest of the world in 45,000 years. The alleged findings seems to fit the Bible narrative.

If the flood of Noah was about 4,320 years ago, and the earth was divided about a hundred years afterwards in Peleg's day, then there might have still been a land-link between Australia and India, around the time when the 'Indian' DNA allegedly got mixed in.

A land-link might have been directly between North West Australia and Southern India; or through New Guinea and South East Asia.

Or if not a land-link, sea-levels might have been lower. Australian Aborigines do have orally-transmitted stories of sea-levels allegedly rising - more recently than has been thought.

The alleged discovery this year of sandstone stacks in-tact under the sea, off the Coast of Victoria, similar to the Twelve Apostles, brings into question previous thoughts about just how long ago sea levels rose. Recent findings seem to fit the Bible narrative.

The alleged Indian DNA in Aborigines likely came from the ancient ancestors of some of the tribes in Southern India, not so much from non-tribal Indians, a report alleges - and Australian Aborigines do look very similar to some of those Southern Indian tribes: in bone, legs, face, dress, tools, customs, someone said in language too - even the Australian dingo seems similar to the Indian grey wolf.

How the Prayer of Faith Works

Some people seem surprised when I tell them that in nearly 37 years as a Christian, I can't remember a single time when I have asked in prayer, and not received.

1. Jesus intended making this as easy as possible, not hard.

He wanted the disciples to grasp how willing the Father is.

Asking the Father in Jesus' Name means the Father will respond to us just as if it was Jesus' Himself asking. Grasp that!

So we can take all the pressure off ourself, and put it on the Name of Jesus!

That's what Jesus was getting across. 

(See the conclusion at the end.) 

2. We can't use the prayer of faith to override free-will.

For example, God has ordained that in order to receive salvation, every man must believe God for it himself. So you can't use your faith to receive salvation on somebody else's behalf.

You can ask God to send someone to preach to him; you can pray the Father draws him; you can rebuke the devils from hindering him - and much of the time, that will be enough to see the person get saved quite soon - but we can't 'get saved' on someone else's behalf.

Once the person is willing to believe, you can lead them to Christ straightaway, can't you. The person doesn't have to say, "If it be thy will" - because we already know it's God's will to save all who call upon Him.

Sometimes, not always, praying for healing for others is like that too. Sometimes we can't minister healing if the person doesn't want us to.

And when you're praying for "things", when receiving depends on others giving, sometimes there might be a delay. But still, you know you're going to receive it. But usually, God can find someone willing to give quite soon. You'd be surprised how much He can work with others, and how willing others can be to work with Him, on your behalf! 

But when it's something that involves only God's will and yours, given other factors are in place too, then it can be received straightaway every time! 

3. There are other factors too.

I won't mention some of those factors in this Post.

And we mightn't always know whether other factors are in play or not. Or even what the other factors might be.

In such cases, when we aren't sure how to pray like we should, we can check with our spirit, see how it feels, before we proceed to ask.

You might feel a red light or a green light, before you ask, put there by the Holy Spirit in your spirit.

If you still don't feel any guidance, then when we don't know what to pray for like we should, I have experienced that we can just tell God that. 

Tell him what you'd like to ask if only you felt more sure - pour out your heart before Him - your desires, your uncertainty, your weakness, your lack of knowledge and understanding. Not asking per se, but just pouring out your heart and desire to Him.

So far, every time I've done that, I ended up receiving anyway!

Remember, he made this as easy as possible, not as hard as possible. He put all the burden on His Name, not on us!


It's about the special respect the Father has for Jesus. It's not about our good works. So whenever the Father hears someone ask in Jesus' Name, He will always do it! It's about the integrity of the relationship between the Father and the Son. 

You believe in their special relationship with each other, don't you. Then you can believe the Father will give anything asked in Jesus' Name!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

'All Manner of Prayer'

"Pray...with [all manner of] prayer..." (Eph.6:18AMP).

Some manner of prayer I can think of in the New Testament: 

1. The prayer of yielding to God's will ("Not my will, but thine be done")

2. Intercession

3. Supplication

4. Petition

5. Desiring

6. Asking

7. Saying/Speaking/Commanding ("...whosoever shall say to this mountain, be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea...he shall have whatsoever he saith...")

8. Agreeing together in prayer

9. Praise and Worship

10. Thanksgiving

11. Praying with the understanding

12. Praying with the spirit

13. Praying to oneself and to God with an unknown tongue

14. Groanings of the Spirit

15. Praying in the Spirit

16. Praying together with others

17. Prayer of handing over ("casting your cares upon Him")

18. The prayer of faith ("believe ye receive them, and ye shall have them"; "and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass"; "and all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive")

19. Calling upon the Lord - e.g., for salvation.

And more...

Paul and the Feasts

Paul did sometimes still keep the Feasts, even after he believed. But not always! For example, he spent three years at Corinth, without once going up to Jerusalem to keep the Feast as required by the Law of Moses, even though he could have if he'd wanted to. But sometimes he did go to the Temple, when he was already in Jerusalem for another reason. But he certainly didn't require Gentile believers to. When he wrote, "let us keep the feast" - he wasn't saying, Let's all become Observant - he was saying, Since Christ is our Passover, let's keep the 'feast' by being sincere and true, rather than the feast of unleavened bread etc. And he told the Gentiles not to let Judaizers judge them for being free. This was Paul being "all things to all men that he might win some". To those who were under the Law, he was able to act without breaking the Law; while to those who were not under the Law, he was just as free not to obligate them to become observant of the Law - so as to remove unnecessary barriers to people coming to faith in Jesus. To a Jew, it would have been a barrier, if he perceived that the faith of Christ meant breaking the Law... a Gentile, it would have been a barrier, if he was told the faith of Christ made him obligated to the Jews' Law as well... When really, the Law was a non-issue, either way. So Paul was free to behave both ways, depending on who he was with. But in his teaching, he was quite clear that Law-keeping wasn't a necessity. The Council at Jerusalem decreed that too. And after AD70 it became impossible to carry-out the Feasts the way the Law stipulated anyway. So that nullified the question.

Open Visions and Heavenly Tourism

We can interact with heaven and with the unseen realm - even without seeing it.
Like, the moment Daniel set himself to pray and fast 21 days, his prayer was heard and the angel was dispatched to act on his behalf. It was only right at the end that Daniel saw the angel. So Daniel seeing the angel didn't make anything happen that wasn't already happening. It was already set in motion simply because Daniel prayed (and fasted).
The greatest way any of us ever interacted with heaven, was the day we got saved - yet few of us had an open vision of heaven when we got saved.
Seeing visions of heaven and angels can be instructive, and encouraging, and the Bible does say people will see visions - but even if when we don't, it doesn't necessarily mean we are not engaging the unseen realm, or that we are not interacting with heaven or with God. We can do all that, simply by believing. Nevertheless, it is entirely valid to desire spiritual gifts.

Friday, 16 September 2016


1. God's original plan for mankind was prosperity.

2. Sin brought poverty, sickness and death.

3. Jesus became 'poor' that we might become rich.

4. Riches and glory is therefore God's ultimate plan for us.

5. It is reserved for us in heaven.

6. One day He will come, and we shall inherit the Kingdom preserved for us.

7. Meanwhile, we already experience that Kingdom-prosperity and life in our spirit through the Holy Spirit.

8. There can be an overflow of prosperity from our spirit to our natural affairs, in this life, and to that of our family, and church and nation.

9. For example, healing.

10. Abundant provision.

11. Fertility

12. And long life.

13. But the ungodly also are permitted to remain in the world, until He comes.

14. Therefore all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall also suffer persecution, some more than others - and some even martyrdom.

15. And there are other principles of cause and effect too, besides the affect of the ungodly upon us, which can affect the extent to which an individual or nation might experience prosperity in natural things in this life, including but not limited to:

Our unique calling; choosing to prioritise unseen and eternal things over seen and temporary things; principles of inheritance; seasons and timing - and other principles too, which can affect both believers and unbelievers alike - and it is God's will, wisdom and love to allow all of those principles, at this time.

16. Not all Christians will therefore 'prosper' to the same extent in natural things in this life.

17. Nevertheless there are things which we may or may not be able to do to increase or decrease our prosperity in natural things, in this life, depending on a number of factors some of which I've already mentioned.

18. But no matter what, when He comes, the dead will rise and all believers shall literally co-inherit all things, with the risen Lord Jesus!

19. That's how the Father's will is being outworked.

The Cross and the Power

When Paul said that his only message was the cross, he wasn't choosing between a message of the cross-only versus a message of the cross 'plus' spiritual gifts - he was really only contrasting his message with the message of the Judaisers who were insisting that the cross wasn't enough, that Gentile believers should also become subject to the Law of Moses; and

Paul was also contrasting his approach with that of the Greek philosophers who were all about mere words and 'wisdom' - Paul's message was always with power.

Paul's point was that thanks to the cross, Jesus was all - without the deeds of the Law; and

As for philosophy and mere words, Paul pointed out that the message of the cross was instead accompanied by a demonstration of the very power of that message - never merely in words and concepts. Signs and wonders were always concomitant with the message of the cross, wherever that message was fully preached, and whenever it was fully believed. Always!

In the very passage where Paul said, "I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified..." he went on to say, "....And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in DEMONSTRATION OF THE SPIRIT AND OF POWER..." Why? "...That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the POWER OF GOD".

The message of the cross, and a demonstration of the power of that message, are therefore inseparable - when it's fully preached, and fully believed.

To separate the demonstration of the power of God from the message of the power of God, is an unnatural separation, and not one Paul was making. 

Forgiveness of sins isn't the only matter that the message of the cross has power to provide - healing also is powerfully provided by the cross. It's part of the message of the cross.

Remember Jesus asked which is easier to say, "Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men". Thus forgiveness of sins and the power of God with regards to physical healing, were much of a muchness. 

The things is: very often we've only preached part of the message of the cross, not all of its message. And we've done the very thing Paul said he didn't do - which is preach messages which consist more in concepts than in demonstrations of the power of God. 

People's faith is meant to be based as much on the demonstration of the power of God that they see, as it is in the inherent wisdom of our message.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Essential Doctrine?

Dispensationalism has neither been a trigger nor a feature, in outpourings of the Spirit, at their height throughout Church history - let alone being an "essential" or "fundamental" feature!
While the Already/Not Yet view of Bible-Prophecy, hotly criticised by fundamentalist Pentecostals, has been taken as a direct basis for outpourings of the Spirit, revival, renewal, moving in spiritual gifts, evangelism and missions.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

How Long Have Aborigines Been in Australia

Some people claim that Aboriginal civilisation must have been in Australia for some 40,000 years or more, for there to have been time for the people to spread all around the continent, and for their languages to diversify so much, and boundaries and customs to become entrenched.

But when I was visiting Papua New Guinea, I felt I saw evidence that societal structures such as those can be created and spread quickly - real quickly.

Not too long ago, Tok Pisin didn't exist as a language. Yet in a short time, not only did the language develop, but it spread over Papua New Guinea, and became the national language.

Someone also told me that Tok Pisin has changed so much since World War II, that a publication from that era would be almost unintelligible to some people today - such is the extent of the change which has occurred even only since WWII.

I noticed that one word in Tok Pisin was incorporated into the language from one regional language of Papua New Guinea; and that word had very likely been incorporated into the regional language through contact with seafaring people of the Philippines - and incorporated into the Philippines before that through contact with Spaniards who administered the Philippines from Mexico after going there from Spain. And now it's a national word all over Papua New Guinea.  Look how far that word likely traveled, in a significantly shorter period of time than 40,000 years - and yet it has become entrenched into languages far and wide.

I don't think 40,000 years was required in order for the continent of Australia to become overspread with people, and their languages to diversify, and societal norms to become established in each region. Nowhere near it!

Dispensationalism and Revival

To my mind, the doctrine of Dispensationalism has neither been a trigger nor a feature of revival-outpourings throughout church-history, at their height - let alone an 'essential', 'fundamental' feature.

The outpourings of the Spirit of the early 1900s were initiated more as a result of certain believers having come to understand the Bible-doctrines of the Holy Spirit and His gifts, and deliberately giving time for the manifestation of the Spirit and for dynamic interaction and co-operation with the Holy Spirit - irrespective of later developments in their eschatology.

Insisting on Dispensationalism was only a later development in some organised Pentecostal denominations.

The Latter Rain renewal was not Dispensational, and in fact some components of their alternative eschatology actually helped trigger a renewed expectation and experience of the Holy Ghost.

The Charismatic Renewal didn't initially make much of an issue of one's eschatology at all - it also was more a celebration of the Holy Ghost Himself and His gifts.

Both the Latter Rain and Charismatic renewals of the Spirit therefore proved that receiving, participating in and promoting neo-Pentecostal moves of the Spirit of God was not at all dependant upon embracing Dispensationalism.

Dispensationalism later became a feature within some organised neo-Pentecostal (Charismatic) denominations too, just like it had become a later development within many organised Pentecostal denominations - but Dispensationalism was not an essential feature of Holy Ghost outpourings themselves, at their height.

The River renewal also did not make a feature of Dispensationalism.

Even the Contemporary Church thrust did not make a feature of Dispensationalism (worth mentioning, even though it's not considered a revival-type outpouring of the Spirit per se - because many organisations who identify as Pentecostal or neo-Pentecostal [Latter Rain, Charismatic] or mainline denominational, came to include components of the Contemporary Church model into their programs despite the absence of Dispensationalism as an essential feature in that model.

Dispensationalism has not been a fundamental, essential doctrine during outpourings of the Holy Spirit, revivals, renewals and their promotion.

The Apostles' doctrine was that the end-times and fulfilment of Old Testament Prophecy was virtually upon them, and that the good news of that fact was to be announced, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to Jews first, then in all the world, accompanied by the power and signs of the Holy Spirit, until He comes.

The Move of the Spirit

Evangelicalism has always been quite strong in Australia.

The Welsh Revival
and Azusa Street Revival occurred overseas in the early 1900s. It spread around the world, and Pentecostalism was formalised by the 1920s and 30s.

After the Second World War, many began to feel that much of Pentecostalism had lost some of its vigour in the manifestation of some of the gifts of the Spirit. The American Healing movement sparked hunger for what became the Canadian Latter Rain renewal, which had an influence among Pentecostals in America and around the world from 1948-1952.

But many Pentecostal denominations did not embrace the Latter Rain renewal, therefore the movement began flourishing separately from Pentecostal churches, as well as having an influence within the existing churches, from 1952-1960s.

Then in the 1960s and 70s people of nearly all mainline denominational churches also began experiencing the Holy Spirit. It came to be popularly known as the Charismatic Renewal. Like the Latter-Rain Movement before it, it was neo-Pentecostal - so the Latter Rain and Charismatic renewals became virtually indistinct from the other.

Pentecostal churches which had embraced the earlier Latter Rain Revival (such as the Assemblies of God in New Zealand), were quick to also embrace the Charismatic Renewal - and many leaders of the renewal in New Zealand then moved to Australia to minister.

Some Pentecostal churches in Australia which had not been so thoroughly influenced by the earlier Latter Rain Revival (such as the Assemblies of God in Australia), initially denounced some aspects of the Charismatic Renewal. Mainline denominational churches also either embraced or rejected the renewal to varying degrees.

Therefore the Charismatic Movement began flourishing outside of existing churches - many new and powerful churches, movements, missionary-movements, ministries and denominations were birthed - as well as the renewal continuing to have significant influence within existing churches.

By the mid 1980s many Pentecostal and mainline denominational churches had come to be influenced by this neo-Pentecostal, Charismatic, 'Latter Rain' renewal.

Within the Assemblies of God in Australia, a Contemporary Church expression began to develop and dominate many of their churches, not all of which had thoroughly experienced the renewal.

The late 80s and early 90s was a time when many churches experienced considerable growth, due to the fervour of the renewal movement and its outreaches, and Contemporary-style youth outreaches.

But at the same time many churches which had embraced the renewal began waning in some of their expression of the Spirit. Components of Contemporary-style youth outreaches, and also non-charismatic styles of service and outreach, began to be incorporated into the main services and programs of many churches - and manifestations of the Spirit seemed to decline.

So by the mid 1990s, a fresh touch of the Spirit was once again desired. The River Renewal and Revival brought that fresh outpouring, all over the world.

The River renewal didn't bring with it significantly new doctrinal emphases, unlike the previous renewals, so there was variation among Pastors in the significance they saw in the River-renewal.

Many Pastors were willing to embrace the River for a season as a refreshing, then soon went back to their programs, perhaps with their own blends of expression incorporated into it from each previous renewal movement.

While others felt that the outpouring was indicative that the Holy Spirit was once again meant to be given deeper and ongoing expression in church-services. New ministries rose up, spreading the move and maintaining the expression of the Spirit among the churches. Some new River-type churches, movements, ministries and missions started.

So today many churches have varying degrees of evangelicalism, Pentecostalism, neo-Pentecostalism, Latter-Rain, Charismatic, 'Contemporary', and/or River-type renewal - in their doctrine, worship, music and outreach.

Remember: every individual - every generation - needs its Pentecost. An outpouring. Outreach flows from that. Mission is the extension of it.

And along with always keeping the manifestation of the Spirit vibrant and regular in our midst, solid character and doctrine are indispensable. 

Clean and Unclean Foods

Would the Spirit really say to Peter three times, "Arise...kill and eat" - eat all manner of creeping beasts - even though He was only making a spiritual point about something else - if it was still a deplorable sin to actually eat such things? I don't think so.

Paul said everything was sanctified by the Word of God and by prayer. Nothing was to be refused.

Jesus said it's not what goes into a person, but what comes out of him - from his heart - that defiles him. 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Divinely Appointed Seasons?

God hasn't set an obligatory, annual appointment for us around the ancient Feast of Tabernacles time of year. In the Gospel-economy, there's only one 'day' - and it's called 'Today'.

Other than that, the next great day will be the Day of His coming - which no-one knows, only the Father. Not only does no-one know the hour and day - it's not for anyone to know the time nor season either!

If someone weaker in the faith feels obligated in his conscience to observe special days and seasons, let him. In non-essentials we can live and let live.

But keep in mind - the entire Southern Hemisphere can't be synced with the Northern Hemisphere seasons anyway (and the ancient Jewish Feasts were intrinsically linked with the Northern Hemisphere seasons).

And even for people in the Northern Hemisphere, a number of the Feasts had to include pilgrimages to Jerusalem, to the altar, to offer sacrifices not for memorial but for atonement, and with genealogically-approved Levites officiating as priests. Those weren't optional requirements - and none of that is possible today; nor can it ever be relevant again in future, this side of the cross.

So for church-leaders to say that we have an appointment with God at a set time of the year, I think gives the wrong impression:

It implies that some degree of Old Covenant Levitical worship still has some place in the future and present.

It demonstrates a mis-application of Old Testament prophecy; a misunderstanding of the relationship between Prophecy and history; an imperfect grasp of the Apostles' doctrine. And if you think about it, the ramification of that is that it weakens the Scriptural and historical case we have for Jesus of Nazareth being both Lord and Christ.

It takes at least some of the focus off the Gospel-scheme of things - off of its pure message and power - when all along Christ is the only thing that avails towards anything.

Jesus Himself is all anyone needs! 

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Jerusalem Tour

I dare someone who goes to Jerusalem to not take a picture of that mosque!

No Regrets

No-one in Christ needs to live with any feeling of regret - because:

"...we know that all things world together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

The thing that you might otherwise regret, could be the very thing that works for good to you!

Replacement Theology?

Someone asked me do I believe the Church replaced Israel.

I answered:

God's promises about Israel weren't fulfilled in the Church instead of in Israel - but neither have the promises about Israel been delayed until the future.

Rather, the promises about Israel were fulfilled on the ground in Israel, among Israelis and for Israelis first; then afterwards the promises which were about Gentiles were fulfilled in the experience of Gentiles - and together, those who believed and experienced what was promised, formed the Church, which is His body: and that was exactly the scenario which had been foreseen by the Prophets!

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Tongues and Interpretation

28  And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, DIVERSITIES OF TONGUES. 

Notice that each of the gifts listed in the above scripture are public ministries

In this article I want to draw our attention to the last ministry on the list – the public ministry of tongues and interpretation

Tongues and interpretation is a public ministry gift which God has set in the church.

Throughout I Corinthians 12-14, Paul isn't primarily discussing what the individual  believer can or cannot do during his private prayer-life for his own benefit.  Rather Paul is addressing what happens “when the whole church be come together into one place” (14:23).  Each of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in I Corinthians 12:7-10 are discussed as public manifestations of the Spirit for the common good.

Therefore when Paul goes on to ask, “do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?” (14:29), he’s not implying that some believers will never be meant to speak with tongues ever at all.  He simply means that in the local church, all of us will not have the same function in public ministry.   

All believers today who are baptised with the Holy Spirit may pray with tongues, just like in every account in bible days.  Praying in tongues is personally greatly edifying and is to be encouraged. 

Tongues and interpretation as a public ministry was considered by Paul to be an important enough function to be listed along with the roles of apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, then gifts of healings [evangelists], helps [deacons], and governments [pastors/elders] in the church. 

Like the other offices, God “hath set [or appointed] some in the church [some members of the church] to function publicly with tongues and interpretation. 

We can learn to make room for it during our gatherings, just as we do for the expression of other ministries in the church.

Notice now that the following advice which Paul gives regarding the public use of tongues is not meant to limit in any way what happens when the Holy Spirit is poured out in a meeting.

“If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.  But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church” (14:27,28)?
Have you ever wondered why it is, when large groups of believers were baptised with the Holy Spirit and spoke with tongues in the Book of Acts, that there wasn't any insistence that the number of speakers be limited to two, or at the most three?  Or why they were never told to keep silence unless someone interpreted? 

For example, in Cornelius' household, “the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word”, so that Peter's company “heard them speak with tongues and magnify God” (Acts 10:44,46).  We know this was no small gathering, because when Peter walked into the house, we are told that he “found MANY that were come together” (verse 27).  What's more, they even interrupted Peter's sermon in the process, for we are told that, “WHILE PETER YET SPAKE these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word” (verse 44). 

Also we are told that at Ephesus, “when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.  And all the men were about twelve” (Acts 19:6,7). 

Clearly then it isn’t unscriptural to have meetings where the Holy Spirit falls with the result that many speak with tongues at the same time, or prophesy, or see visions, or are filled with joy - even if no interpreter is present. 

I've seen meetings where all of that has happened – meetings just like the Pentecostal outpouring in Acts chapter two!  In fact, if you haven't been in a meeting like that for a while, you could plan it.  Make it happen - like Smith Wigglesworth who said, “If the Holy Ghost doesn't move, I move the Holy Ghost”.   

What then did Paul mean when he said, “If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.  But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church” (14:27,28)?

This was a church that had been established long enough for varieties of ministries to become recognised among them.  Paul was now addressing the public function of the various ministries within the church.  To those among them whose ministry it was to speak to the congregation in an unknown tongue, Paul gave his advice: there's no point holding the floor, drawing the whole gathering's attention to yourself, if no one understands you – better to let the interpreter speak after two or three of you have had your say!  The goal for them to keep in mind was, “Let all things be done unto edifying” (14:26).  

Let me pose it as a question: is it edifying to the people in a meeting if the Holy Spirit is poured out upon all of them and they each start speaking with tongues?  Certainly it is edifying because all of them are being filled with the Spirit and no-one is holding the floor as such.

Now let me ask this: is it edifying to the people in a meeting if several individuals hold the floor, drawing everyone's undivided attention to themselves whilst they address the whole congregation in an unknown tongue?  Of course not – unless someone interprets.

So that’s entirely a different situation, and  precisely the type of situation Paul was addressing.  Certain members were taking the floor, wanting to address the whole congregation in an unknown tongue, while everyone else listened.  It’s only natural that in such situations, an interpretation should be sought. 

But that's altogether a different situation to the Holy Spirit being poured out on a gathering when the whole group starts speaking with tongues as a result.  Paul's advice in Corinthians in not inconsistent with such occurrences, as recorded in the Book of Acts

So it’s not unscriptural for anyone to be unobtrusively speaking, praying or singing in an unknown tongue to himself and to God during a gathering, even without an interpreter being present. 

We can have meetings like the time at Ephesus where as many as twelve people spoke in tongues and prophesied at one time (Acts 19:6,7).  We can have times like Cornelius' household where many were gathered (Acts 10:27), and yet all spoke with tongues even without an interpreter.  This is still consistent with Paul’s advice, “let all things be done decently and in order” (I Cor.14:40). 

But when members are standing up and exercising the public ministry of tongues, then it is much more helpful to their audience if an interpreter speaks as well.

So we see that there is a distinct and powerful public role for speaking with tongues and interpretation during our gatherings, which I have witnessed on many occasions.     

In one meeting, the Holy Spirit impressed upon a good friend of mine that he was to speak with tongues and that a certain brother would interpret—before he preached his sermon. 

So he proceeded to speak with tongues, then handed the microphone to the brother who gave the interpretation:

Come and be healed.  Be healed spiritually and emotionally...says the Lord.

My friend responded without any further ado by inviting the people forward to receive healing.  The power of the Holy Spirit manifested with many healings and one person was delivered from an evil spirit. 

Needless to say, everybody was eager to hear what my friend had to preach on after that!

It was the public ministry of tongues and interpretation that opened-up the things which God wanted to do in that meeting – things which hadn’t otherwise been planned by man. 

I remember another time in a church where I was a guest, I stood to the pulpit to preach—but instead I began to speak with tongues.  It went on and on—I wondered when it was ever going to stop.  Then I stopped and the interpretation flowed—so I just went ahead and preached by the interpretation of tongues.  As a result, several were touched by the Holy Spirit with tears, repentance, and reconciliation, and were filled with the Holy Spirit and with joy.  Afterwards one of the elders of the church told me, “This is exactly what we needed.”  God knows exactly what’s needed in a church—and sometimes it’s different to what we have in mind.  And in this case it was tongues and interpretation that led us into God’s will for that meeting.

In a Sunday morning service one time, the Holy Spirit was outpoured and many were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke with tongues.  When I stood to preach, I just preached in tongues while someone interpreted.  Many were so filled that day that they spoke in tongues for days afterwards.

Overseas visitors who heard the tongues that were spoken during that revival recognised one of them as a remote Chinese dialect; another man claimed he heard many people speaking Indonesian; another man reported that he heard someone speaking his own Maranaw dialect.  This was a sign and a wonder to them.   

One young person still couldn’t speak her own language when she went to school.  Her teacher asked her, “Why didn’t you tell me you could speak Chinese?”  She asked God to give her back her language, so she could explain to the class.  She preached the Gospel, and the whole class fell under the power of God. 

This continued for days so that classes couldn’t continue.  The Principal called her parents to the school, asking them to sign an affidavit that they would forbid their daughter to preach the Gospel anymore at school, or risk seeing her expelled.  But the more their daughter tried to keep order, the more her fellow students thronged her classroom seeking prayer.

Finally a TV news camera crew turned-up wanting to interview her.  But she didn’t want to attract any more attention to herself. 

She thought of a way she could see the work of God continue, without drawing any more attention to herself.  She could lay her hands on her friends, imparting the anointing to them, so they could be used to spread the work of the Spirit.    Everyone she laid hands on fell to the floor.  Demons came out of many.  They got up off the floor asking with tears, “What have we got to do to be saved?”  Hundreds came to the church.  Everywhere her friends went, they now carried the same anointing, and the work of the Holy Spirit spread to other schools and universities.  I visited one lecture hall where the whole contingent was flat on their backs under the power of God.   

This great move of God began with the phenomenon of speaking with other tongues.  Paul said, “Tongues are a sign to unbelievers”.  Well, how will they ever be a sign to unbelievers if unbelievers never get to hear them? 

So much can be gained for a meeting depending on how we respond to a manifestation once it has been given in a meeting. 

For example, if a message in tongues or prophecy invites the congregation to do something, the meeting leader could consider whether the word is meant to shape the rest of the meeting, and allow  time for the congregation to respond, opening up the rest of the meeting.    

Often we view the altar call as the end of a meeting.  But I’ve seen that if we continue a little longer, often one or two will remain under the anointing even after everyone else has gotten up off the floor – and they will begin to minister to the congregation with tongues and interpretation or prophecy, and go lay hands on the congregation.  Very often one person one of them will stand and speak with tongues while the other interprets.  Quite often their message is one of repentance and of the need to preach the Gospel, because of the soon return of the Lord.  Sometimes after an altar call various people can begin to share the visions they’ve just seen.  The altar call doesn’t have to be the end of the meeting—often it’s just the beginning of the next thing God wants to say and do in our midst, if we are open to it. 

So much can be gained depending on how practical we are about making time for the Holy Spirit to direct our meeting.  The interpretation of tongues can become more than just a word during a meeting, but it can open up the whole meeting, or even start a whole work of God in the community.  God is willing to do things and say things in our meetings—and when we give place to whatever He wants, whenever He wants, through whomever He wants—it gives Him room to accomplish what He wants in our midst.

“I would that ye all spake with tongues”, said Paul, meaning that this office is not limited to those in the office of prophet.

Interpreting tongues is also useful in one’s private prayer-life as a means of obtaining guidance from the Lord. 

The Loss and Recovery of Spiritual Power - by Bruce Edwards

Judges 16:4-6,19-20
4  And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. 
5  And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver. 
6 And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee...
19 ...And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. 
20 And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.

            Alright so let's move into the message for today.
            I encourage you to keep your Bibles open and to look at the Scriptures.
            These last three weeks I have been preaching a series entitled, "Sermons From Solitary Confinement". 
            Now that terminology in English may be a little difficult for some of you.  Solitary confinement means a prison. Both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament many people who believed in God and served God were put in prison because of their faith.  If you live a righteous life for God, you can expect the devil to come and attack you. You may not be put in a prison of brick walls and sealed bars. But the devil will try to place you in circumstances where your service for God becomes ineffective.
            And so in this series we have been looking at some of the circumstances that people of God found themselves in.  They were put in a real prison of brick walls and sealed bars, and their faith was tried.  And as we read their stories we can be encouraged to trust God in our circumstances as well. 
            Today we're going to look at the story of a man called Samson. And from his life we are going to learn a very special lesson. And the title of the message today is: "The Loss and Recovery of Spiritual Power".
           Okay I'm going to pick out a few verses from the Scripture that we read a little moment ago. 
            In verse 19 it says: "And Samson's strength went from him".
            In verse 20 it says that Samson said, "I will do as I have always done - but he did not know that the Lord had departed from him".
            Then we have a very interesting verse, and it says that "the hair of the head of Samson began to grow again". 
            Verses 19 and 20 are talking about the loss of spiritual power from Samson. But verse 22 describes how Samson begins to get that power back again.  The hair of his head began to grow again.  Samson began to recover the power that he had with God! 
            One of the saddest experiences of pastoral life is to see somebody lose their power with God - but one of the greatest joys is to see that same person recover that power.
            Now when I mention power, I'm not talking about those weaknesses that we feel in difficult circumstances.  (All of us face challenges in our walk of faith.  And in those circumstances we feel our weakness, and we call upon God - and He answers us, and He sees us through those circumstances to a place of victory.)  I am talking about somebody here who knows that they had power with God, but they've lost that power.  Today I want to encourage you that today you can recover that power with God!
            Samson's hair began to grow again.  He began to feel the power of God upon his life.  Today somebody's hair is going to grow again!  Hallelujah!  Today once again in this service, somebody is going to feel the power of God upon their life again!
            Now let me just give you a little bit of background about this story.
            It is found in the Bible in a book we call the Book of Judges (in English).  The Book of Judges records a very special time in the history of the Jews.  Israel had no king.  And for a period of time the Jews would worship God and they would serve Him faithfully, but then they would go away from Him.  And God would send to them people who we call in English judges (a different word in Japanese) - these were men and women who were able to lead the nation back to God again.
            (And there's a book in the Bible called the Book of Ruth.  That story of Ruth happened during the time when these judges ruled.)
            So this period of history was a time when the Jews served God - and went away; served God - and went away.   And in those circumstances God raised up  a man called Samson. 
            Now we're going to look very briefly at his life story.
            His parents had no children.  One day the angel of the Lord visited them.  They did not know it was an angel - it (that person) just looked like any other man.  But the angel told them that they would have a son and that this son would not be just like any other child - he would be very special and he would do a special job for God in the nation.
            And the angel told the parents something very strange.  First of all the angel spoke to Samson's mother, before she even conceived.  He said, "You are not to have any wine.  You are not to have any fermented juices.  And when that child is born, you are never to cut his hair".
            And so this boy Samson was born.  And the angel said to his mother, "He is to be called by a special name - he is to be called a Nazarite."  
            Now I don't want you to confuse this word with the name of a person who comes from the town of Nazareth, like Jesus.  It's a different name.  This word refers to a special kind of people.  We don't have time to go into the details today, but throughout the Bible we can find out what kind of people these people were. They were people whose life was totally dedicated to God.  They were dedicated to serving God and doing His will.  They did not live ordinary lives like ordinary people.  They did not drink wine or other fermented drink.  And they had long hair - even the men.  And that long hair was a sign that their life was totally dedicated to God.  Samson was a Nazarite.  He came at the will of God to do a special purpose. 
            (Just for your information: Samuel - the boy Samuel - was also a Nazarite; in the New Testament - John the Baptist was a Nazarite; and for a short time even the Apostle Paul took a Nazarite vow.) 
            Samson was born with a very special purpose on his life.  And we read about that in Judges 13:5 where it says that he would "deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines". 
            And so for that purpose he was dedicated unto God before he was born, and he lived a life that was dedicated unto God.
            And as a sign of that his hair was long.  And so as we read through the life of Samson, we find that the Holy Spirit came upon him at special times.
            Now this experience of the Holy Spirit is different from what you and I experience when we believe in Jesus Christ.  Five times in the life of Samson it says the Holy Spirit came upon him mightily, and began to move him
            So we can look at some of the things that Samson did with the power of the Holy Spirit upon him:
            On one occasion it says that Samson saw a lion catch a little lamb [or a goat].  The Holy Spirit gave him supernatural strength to catch that lion and release the lamb.
            On another occasion it says that the Holy Spirit came upon Samson and he killed 300 men with one hand [or singlehandedly].
            Then there was another occasion when something very strange happened.  It says that Samson caught 300 foxes, tied their tails together, put some grass around their tails, set the grass on fire - and all the foxes ran into the field and burnt all the [wheat] field.  These were all [or each] actions as part of his mission to free the Israelites from the Philistines.
            There is [or was] another occasion when Samson was being held in the city, but he broke free and went out to the gate of the city, picked up the gate of the city, and walked away with it!
            And then there was another occasion when once again, singlehandedly, he killed 3000 Philistines.
            So that is a brief summary of the life [or some of the deeds] of Samson.  Remember that he was a Nazarite - his life was dedicated to the service of God.  And the Holy Spirit came upon him to help him achieve those things.
            But Samson lost that power with God! 
            So briefly now I want to take you through that part of his life when Samson lost that power with God that he had.
            Remember that his life was dedicated unto God.  And when we lose our power with God, it does not happen suddenly.  Usually there are things in our life that eventually result in us losing that power with God. I'm going to mention some of these just now.  I want you to think about your own life.
            The first thing we know about Samson was that he had an uncontrolled passion.  The Bible says that he had a weakness for women.  That eventually brought him into a relationship that resulted in the loss of his power.
            The Bible mentions three women in the life of Samson.  And each of them were outside the will and permission of God.  And those relationships eventually resulted in him losing his power with God.
            Now God blesses the union between a man and a woman [husband and wife] - God has permitted us to enjoy the pleasures of that union.  Some of us have other things that we enjoy in life that God has given us to enjoy.  As I mentioned in the sermon last week - everything God gives us, there is a frame around it - boundaries around it.  While we remain within those boundaries, God will bless the pleasures that He gives us.  But when we go outside those boundaries, it will result in the loss of power with God.
            There was something else in the life of Samson - and it was that he held his calling from God very lightly. 
            Before he was born, God had determined that his life would be special.  He was a Nazarite.  His life was meant to be served [spent] totally for the service of God.  But he allowed other things to come into his life.  And he began to think that that calling was not all so special after all.  He began to pursue other interests, which resulted in the loss of his power. 
            We find Samson in a relationship with [a woman named] Delilah.  In her presence his hair was cut.  Remember that his long hair was a sign of his dedication unto God.  When his hair was cut it was a symbol that he had lost his power with God.
            There is [was] something else in the downfall of Samson - and it was that he surrendered a sacred trust that was given to him. 
            Many times over, in the story, we read that Samson told Delilah everything that was in his heart.  This refers to his special relationship with God. Samson knew where his strength came from.  [His parents would have told him the story about how even before he was born, the angel had visited his parents.]  He was a very special child.  He was dedicated to the service of God.  Samson knew these things and he held them in his heart.  But when he was with Delilah he opened up and he told those secrets to her.
            Sometimes God will speak to you in a special way.  He will tell you things that only you are meant to know.  You are meant to hold those things in your heart.  They are something between you and God alone.  And nobody should know about them but you and God alone!
            I think of Mary the mother of Jesus.  The angel visited Mary and told her that she would have a special child born.  That child would be the Son of God - that we know is Jesus Christ.  The Bible says that she held those things in her heart.  Samson's downfall happened because he didn't hold those things in his heart - he shared them with somebody who would not appreciate the sacredness of them and the special circumstances.
            So he had an uncontrolled passion; he held his calling lightly; he surrendered a sacred trust that he had in his heart - and the outcome of that was that Samson was taken and was placed in a prison.
            And we can see the circumstances of him when he was in prison.  Then he was a miserable figure, with no strength whatever - physically or spiritually.  He was confined to the prison.  They even tore out his eyes - he couldn't see what he was doing.  They bound him with fetters on his feet so that he found it hard to walk.  And in that prison he was made to do the work that normally an animal would do.  What a miserable figure of a man who has lost his power with God!
            Worse than that, the Bible says that even the Lord had departed from him.  You see because Samson's strength came because God was with him.
            This is the figure of Samson that we see.  A man who had a special birth; a man who had a special mission in his life; a man who experienced the awesome power of God in his life - and now he' s powerless; in a prison; living a life like an animal.
            But you see God has promised to be always with us.  And when God calls us He will always fulfil His call.  This is not the end of the story - we're talking about the loss and recovery of spiritual power.  When God calls you to a service, He will always fulfil it through you.
            So now I want us to look at how Samson recovered his spiritual power with God.
            I want you to remember that he is still there in prison.  His life is miserable.  He's living the life of an animal.  And the first step towards recovery is that the Bible says, "his hair began to grow again". 
            Remember that his hair - his long hair - was a symbol of his dedication to God.  There is a lesson that we can learn from this, and the lesson is that even in adverse circumstances, God's mercy is there. 
            His hair began to grow again!  Slowly but surely, the strength that he had began to return.  God was there with him, even in the prison. 
            God will always fulfil His purpose.  He will find a way to bring you back into relationship with Himself.  He will find a way to restore His power on your life. 
            And to do that sometimes He calls the circumstances in your life to bring you to that relationship.  It may be that you are going through difficult circumstances right now. They may be related to you personally; they may be related to your family; they may be related to your work situation.   God may have ordered those circumstances so that He can bestow His mercy upon you.
            I often wonder why it is that so many Japanese people visit this land of Australia.  Why do you come here?  You have a beautiful country - Japan!  But sometimes circumstances happen so that God can get your attention.  Those circumstances may have happened in your life when you were in Japan, or God might have even brought you into this country and placed you in very special circumstances. 
            Today you find yourself here in this church service, and I am talking to you about how you can have power with God.  This place, this time, this circumstance may be a circumstance ordained of God for you.  Oh don't miss this opportunity to get to know God!  You may never have another opportunity like this.
            There in the dungeon in the prison, Samson found the mercy of God.  His hair began to grow; he found his strength returning. 
            There was something else that helped him recover his strength.  The rulers had a party, and they said, "Bring Samson out of the prison."  And so Samson came out of the prison.  But there was a little boy helping him walk because he couldn't see.  And wherever Samson went the little boy went with him holding his hand. 
            What does this teach us?  That we need to rekindle our heart for God.  How do we do it?  We can rekindle a heart for God by being in fellowship with God's people.  The little boy was Samson's eyes.  Everywhere the little boy went, Samson followed.  And I can imagine that the little boy described for Samson what was happening in the party. 
            Maybe today there is a Samson in this room - your spiritual eyes have become blind.  You wonder where God is.  You think, If God is real why are my circumstances like they are?
            God brings a little boy into your hand.  He brings a Christian believer into your life, a neighbour.  And they take hold of your hand, and they said, "Come on, come with me, come to church with me, see how we love God, see how we worship Him, hear how He blesses our life".
            Maybe today there is a little boy in your life.  Don't be afraid where he leads you.  That person in your life now is ordained of God to bring you to know Him. 
            One thing that that little boy did for Samson was this: Samson said to the little boy, "Help me feel the big posts that hold up the building - I want to feel them".  Remember Samson is blind.  He doesn't know where those big posts are.  So the little boy takes Samson's hands, and he stretches them out, and he touches the posts.  And he stretches out his other hand and he says, "Here's the other post out here".  Samson begins to feel the posts that support the great building. 
            I want to suggest to you what those two posts might be.  Remember Samson is recovering his power and strength with God.  I want to suggest to you that one of those posts is called grace or mercy; and the other post is called truth.  And the Bible tells us that when Jesus Christ came to the earth He came to bring the grace and the truth of God to us. 
            Oh Samson had known what that grace and truth was.  He knew that God's grace was upon his life because he was specially born.  He knew that grace and truth was upon his life because the Holy Spirit came and strengthened him to do great things.  But Samson went away from God.  And he needed to touch the grace and truth of God again.  The little boy put his hand upon the two pillars of the building.  I hope today I'm helping you to put your hand upon the pillar of grace and the pillar of truth today.
            Now there was something else that helped Samson recover His strength.  It says that he "called upon the Name of the Lord".
            Look what it says in verse 28 of chapter 16, verse 28, "And Samson called upon the Lord and said, Remember me!  Lord I pray, Strengthen me just one more time!  Just once!"
            Samson began to call upon the Name of the Lord.  In doing so he admitted his failure and his weakness. 
            In the past he knew that God's power was upon him.  Perhaps he began to think that that power was in himself and not in God.  But there in the prison, with his eyes blinded, with chains around his feet, living a life of an animal, he came to realize something - that by himself he was absolutely weak and had no strength at all.  But he called upon the Lord.  "Lord, remember me!  And strengthen me just one more time". 
            Is there somebody here today that needs to call upon the Lord, and say, "Remember me, and strengthen me again"?
            It says finally that Samson took a hold of those pillars.  It says in verse 29, "And Samson took hold of the two pillars which supported the house (verse 29)".
            I've suggested to you that these two pillars represent God's grace and God's truth.  Today you have heard about the grace and the truth of God - you've heard about it in the singing of the songs that we sang in worship; you've heard about it in the testimony that we had; you've perhaps even heard about it through your friends.  But there's something you need to do about God's grace and about God's truth.  You need to take hold of it! You need to say, "Yes, God's grace is true, and I can believe what the Bible says about God.  And so I take hold of grace and I take hold of truth!"
            Samson took hold of the two pillars.  His hair had begun to grow; the little boy had helped him put his hands upon the pillars; he had called out to God and said, "Remember me and strengthen me!"  As he touched those pillars, faith began to work and his strength returned.  And he pressed himself against the pillars, "Arrrggh!!"  And boom! it began to fall.
            Now of course we may think that's a rather horrible story.  Remember though that Samson had a mission from God - that was to release Israel from the Philistines.  In that one act he did release his nation to freedom again.  Samson in that moment died with the Philistines.  But with his death, his mission was accomplished.
            And Samson's death is a picture of our dying with Jesus Christ upon the cross.  When we surrender our will and our lives to Jesus Christ, it's just as if we died with Him.  Our weaknesses died with Him.  Our sin died with Him.  
            But Jesus Christ rose from the dead!  And we also are risen with Him to a new kind of life.  We are restored to fellowship with God.  The power of God's Holy Spirit is given to us.  God's calling comes into our life.  And we are sent forth to do a task for God in the earth.   
            I'm bringing this message to a close now.  We have read and talked about a story in the Old Testament which happened probably about 3,000 years ago.  But that story is applicable to you and I today.  The Bible says that in the last days many shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.  As I said at the beginning of this message, Satan will come and he will want to destroy your life.  He will do everything he can to stop God's mission for your life being accomplished.  But God promises to us His strength to be victorious. 
            The Book of Galatians has a lot to teach us about this.  Samson was drawn away from God by Delilah.  A very interesting word in English - betwitched - in Japanese it's very different of course.  This is the same word that we would use for fortune tellers.  In other words, through deception - through something that looks good - there is evil working through it.  The Apostle Paul said to the Christians in Galatians, "Who has drawn you away? Who has deceived you?"
            Then he gives them the secret of how they can return to God, and how they can be restored to power with God.  That secret was the power of the Holy Spirit.   He begins to talk to them again about receiving the Holy Spirit.  He begins to talk to them again about walking the life of faith.  So he speaks to us today and he says, "Come back to a life of faith.  Come back to a life in relationship with the Holy Spirit".
            The Apostle Paul in the Book of Galatians says something else: "Why have you turned away from the Lord, and gone back into slavery?"  Remember Samson - he had power with God, but he turned away from God - he ended up in prison.  And the Apostle Paul asks the question, "How did that happen?" 
            And he also gives us the secret of coming out of that slavery.  It talks about them experiencing again Jesus Christ living within them.  And today we need to acknowledge that Jesus Christ lives within us!
            Galatians 4:19 says, "Oh my children of whom I travail in birth again until Christ is formed in you".   The way out of that deception is to realize that Jesus Christ lives within you!
            Finally the way we often go into slavery is by losing our first love.  And the way back is through repentance and doing what we did when we first received Jesus Christ into our life.  
            The way back to power with God is through faith and relationship with the Holy Spirit!
            The way back to power with God is to acknowledge that Jesus Christ lives within you!
            The way back to power is through repentance and doing what you did when you first received Christ as your Saviour! 
            I said in the beginning of this message that there are many examples of this in the Bible.  The Book of Hebrews in the New Testament in chapter 11 lists a great list of people who had experienced these kinds of things.  And it describes those people's lives in this way: it says that "through faith they subdued kingdoms and wrought righteousness, and obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of the sword, escaped the edge of the sword, and waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the enemies of the aliens". 
            And right in the middle of that list, it mentions those who from weakness were made strong again.  Samson is mentioned in that list.  Today your name can be written on that list, on the honour roll of faith!
            Today we've talked about the loss and recovery of spiritual power.  We have looked at the life of Samson.  We've seen that he had a special birth; that he had a special mission on his life; that he was dedicated to the service of God; and through the power of the Holy Spirit he was able to do might things for God.  But he lost that power! because he held his calling lightly; he told people the secrets of his heart.  He ended up in a prison, living like an animal.
            God had His eye on him.  There in that prison, he found the mercy of God.  With the help of the little boy, he felt the pillars of the building again.  He remembered the grace and truth of God.  He called out to the Lord and said, "Remember me and strengthen me just once more!" 
            By faith in God the power was restored to him.  And he accomplished God's mission for his life. 
            The simple truth I want to leave you with today is that you can be restored to power with God. 
           Now I know that there are people in this room today who have never found God in their life.  I want to tell you that your birth was a special birth; that God has a special calling for your life; and He will give you the power and the strength to fulfil that calling.  That life begins by receiving Jesus Christ into your life.
            For the very first time you need to touch the grace and the mercy of God.  That grace is in Jesus Christ.  You need to touch the truth of God - and that truth is in Jesus Christ.  When you touch the grace and truth in Jesus Christ, the power of God's life will come into you. 
            Those of you here in this room today have not come here by chance. These are circumstances that God has planned for you.  Don't miss this chance to receive Jesus Christ and know God. 

            I'm going to ask everybody to bow their head and close their eyes...

...Transcribed by John Edwards