Revival in Hezekiah’s day
6 Then the runners went throughout all Israel and Judah with the letters from the king and his leaders, and spoke according to the command of the king:
“Children of Israel, return to the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel; then He will return to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria.
7 “And do not be like your fathers and your brethren, who trespassed against the LORD God of their fathers, so that He gave them up to desolation, as you see.
8 “Now do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD; and enter His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever, and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you.
9 “For if you return to the LORD, your brethren and your children will be treated with compassion by those who lead them captive, so that they may come back to this land; for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you if you return to Him.”
10 So the runners passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun;
But they laughed at them and mocked them.
11 Nevertheless some from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.
12 Also the hand of God was on Judah
To give them singleness of heart to obey the command of the king and the leaders, at the word of the LORD.
13 Now many people, a very great assembly, gathered at Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month.
14 They arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and they took away all the incense altars and cast them into the Brook Kidron.
II Chronicles 30
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
9 For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.
10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.
13 The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men.
14 From the place of His dwelling He looks On all the inhabitants of the earth;
15 He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.
16 No king is saved by the multitude of an army;
A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for safety; Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.
18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,
19 To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine.
20 Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart shall rejoice in Him, Because we have trusted in His holy name.
22 Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, Just as we hope in You.
Why was Judas the treasurer? Didn’t Jesus know? Why did Jesus choose him? The other disciples seemed oblivious.
Life is a test. We will all be tested, many times at our strongest point.
Why was Peter the leader? Was he the best man for the task?
Why was Saul the king? He caused a lot of trouble.
Life is about tests. God does not tempt us but He does test us. He puts us in difficult places where we are tested, many times at our strongest points.
Tests can be passed or failed. It is your choice. You will be tested. Judas was. Jesus was. Peter was. Saul was. I am. You will be. What will you do?
Worship will see you through the tests. Focus on Jesus. He passed the test that Adam failed. Jesus said, “Not my will but Thy will be done.” Tests are tests of the will. Will it be your will or God’s will? That is the question.
On the answer to that question hangs the balance of your life.
It is your choice today. What will you decide? Will you pass or fail?
If misplaced loyalty equals idolatry,
Then total loyalty to God is your key to victory.
Absolute loyalty to God is the essence of worship.
Loyalty to anything/anyone else is idolatry.
If you have loyalty to anything/anyone else,
You will fail the test.
Worship the God of the Bible with your life today.
You will pass the test.
But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
That is the choice. There is no in between. You cannot have both. You must make the choice.
In Anabaptist origins and early history the choice was truth. That truth produced our Biblical culture. As time went on, our Biblical culture began to slip into ideology. Why would that happen?
Truth is difficult to maintain. It requires a great deal of hard and diligent living and teaching. Once established, a culture can quickly become an ideology. Once it becomes an ideology it is then defended for its own sake. When ideologies are challenged, they simply re-entrench and build more walls and tighter boundaries to preserve the threatened concepts.
Truth does not need to do that. Truth is not afraid. Truth can stand on its own two feet without the mental or political or religous gymnastics needed to support ideology. Truth welcomes challenge because it is always growing more and more toward God and His Word and His Truth.
This is not just an Anabaptist problem. It is a truth problem. The problem is not our culture. Our culture has been good because it is the result of deriving a lifestyle directly from the Bible. The problem is allowing our culture to become an ideology and thus becoming idolatry.
Ideologies produce impressive spokespersons with impressive arguments. They produce impressive looking and sounding systems. The longer they persist the stronger they become. The problem is that truth is not their highest objective. Their objective is preservation of the system. Right or wrong, the system must be preserved.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the Anabaptist world was challenged with the problems of international conflict and its aftermath. Many Anabaptists became citizens and patriots. As conservative Mennonites, we re-entrenched. We set up parameters of behavior and dress. If a little was good, more would be better. Each generation tightened the discipline a bit more.
We looked better but we lost some heart. Our historic Biblical culture began taking on regional and conference oriented idiosyncrasies. These were easy to maintain. They could be objectively identified. They provided a comfortable culture now easily transferred to the next generation who would include more specifics.
Historically the Brethren have also had a battle between the system and the truth. The system has won the battle. The system is an ideology and it functions that way. When conservative Brethren allow the system to direct them, they are being unfaithful to what it means to be Brethren and they are acquiescing to the ideology of a system.
It is easy to identify a truth system. A truth system defends truth. A truth system welcomes all truth. A truth system rejects all error.
It is easy to identify an ideology. An ideology defends itself. An ideology does not welcome anything that does not fit into its mold. When presented with truth, an ideology reinforces its boundaries and prevents truth from entering. When exposed as error, an ideology defends its error and tightens its boundaries.
What can we do? What is the answer? We can return to the concept of deriving a Biblical culture from the diligent study of the Scripture through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. We can invite that wisdom to control our personal lives and the lives of our homes and families and churches. We do not need to fear the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is faithful to teach us all things.
If we do that, we will keep cultural idolatry at bay. In the Scripture and in the Holy Spirit of truth we will find a center of truth that will serve us and our children well for the next generations. Our Biblical culture will unite us instead of dividing us.
Cultural ideologies will die hard. But sin must go. Defending rum-springa just because “we have always done it that way” will not fly. Insisting on or forbidding beards will have to give way to an examination of a Biblical understanding. Practice must reflect and represent principle.
Submission (not subjugation) must be re-defined to comport with the teaching of the Word of God. Worship must be re-visited to reflect the Biblical concepts and the longings of the human heart. Leadership must return to the servant concept.
Community must be re-established to include all believers; not just those who comply with specifics in appearance or conveyance. We are establishing the Kingdom of God here on earth. We are the Kingdom. We are the representatives of that kingdom. We live and treat others equitably and we deal in honesty. We are here so the people of this world can see what Jesus’ Kingdom is supposed to be. That is our opportunity and our responsibility.
When people see us and observe us, they should confronted with and be drawn to the message of Jesus and His Kingdom. If they are not, then we are not living the gospel of the Kingdom. Some will accept. Many will reject. That is how it was when Jesus was here. That is how it will be now.
We best exemplify that Kingdom by our love for each other. That love then spills out to the world as we share Jesus with them. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently. I Peter 1:22
Our Biblical culture can be a wall or a door. As long as it is an ideology it will be a wall. If it truly is a Biblical culture lived out in our lives, it will be a door. Our blessings shared with the world around us: building, repairing, cooking, housekeeping, and gardening skills can be doors of opportunity to share what God has given us with the hurting world outside our doors.
It is time to trade fear for heart and Spirit. It is time to trade self-protection for service. It is time to eliminate the idolatrous ideologies. It is time to foster grace, love, mercy and peace with the truth that God requires. It is time to keep the feast without the leaven of the ideological systems.
Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of SINCERITY and TRUTH.
I Corinthians 5:7-8
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
Without Him was not anything made that was made – that includes you, and me.
By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
He spoke the worlds into existence.
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high
He upholds all things by the word of His power.
If any man be in Christ he is a new creature – created new by the Creator Christ
As in the original creation, chaos and disorder are replaced with order and blessing. The touch of the Creator, the word of the Creator, is the touch and the word of creation.
God’s children are ex nihilo creations of their Creator. When Christ comes into your heart and He lives in you and His Spirit makes you a new creature – that is His creation. You are His creation. You are His new creature and just as He made everything that is made, He made you also and you are new. The old is passed away and all is new.
Therefore if anyone be in Christ,
He is a new creature:
Old things are passed away;
Behold, all things are become new.
II Cor. 5:17
Baptism with the Holy Spirit and with Fire
Do not quench the Spirit
I Thessalonians 5:19
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.
What is the baptism of fire?
Do not quench the Spirit – The Spirit is a fire. It is a fire with which Jesus baptizes His children. You can quench this Spirit. You should not do that. If you do not quench the Spirit, the Spirit will control and consume you so that your life will be totally the Holy Spirit within you.
Rom. 12:1-3 – place your body on the altar – Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the fire on the altar to consume and burn your life out for God. You place your body and life on God’s altar and God’s Holy Spirit will be the fire that will make your offering and sacrifice wholly acceptable to God.
When I am tried I shall come forth as gold – gold is tried in the fire. When God has tried us we will come forth as gold – all sin and dross removed.
When your life is consumed by the Spirit of God there is none of you left. It is all God. His Spirit is all there is about you. His Spirit is all you care about. Your life is the life of the Spirit of God in you.
Do not quench the spirit. Jesus lived with passion. The Holy Spirit in us, His children, gives us passion. We live with passion.
• Passion to do right.
• Passion for the Truth.
• Passion for the Kingdom of God.
• Passion against sin and wrong.
• Passion for God.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is the shield of faith that will quench the fire darts of the wicked. Either the darts of fire will get you, or else you will quench those darts with the Holy Spirit fruit of faith that you have not quenched. You must fight fire with fire.
Our God is a consuming fire, for good or for ill. Either God’s fire will consume the sin in your life or His fire will consume you for your sin and disobedience and lack of love for Him.
Of Jesus it was said – “the zeal of thy house has eaten me up.” Is something eating you up? Is something consuming you? What is eating you up? What is consuming you.? Something will consume you. What will it be. Will it be self and self aggrandizement? Will it be worldly pleasures of various sorts? Or will it be God?
Jesus shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.
The fire is the passion of the Spirit that lives in you.
Do not quench the Spirit!
Roland H. Bainton
The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century p.15-16.
The late Scholastics lost faith in the intelligibility of reality because they relinquished the meta-physical unities. For them reality was held to consist of unrelated particulars. Church and state are not antecedent entities but simply contractual associations. The church then becomes a voluntary society, the state a compact. Here is the philosophy of individualism undercutting the great unities well in advance of the Reformation.
Certain theological dogmas also were undercut, for if reality consists of unrelated individuals, then the three persons of the Trinity must be three gods. Nevertheless the doctrine of the Trinity was retained on the ground that what is true for philosophy need not be true for theology. But in that case theology, with no philosophical under-girding, can rest only on authority. The tendency of the papacy to make more pretentious claims as its power waned was also paralleled by the recourse in theology to authority when the grip on truth was relaxed.