Three RELATED Pieces: ‘The ANTIDOTE’; ‘PASTOR-Wonderland’; ‘Antioch HOTHOUSES.’
(POST No. 4) Mark 7 : 9 ‘… You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.’ (NASB) Please take note: talks, articles and books that deal with Cessationism, Clericalism, Calvinism and Dispensationalism, are to be found in POST No.2.
The ANTIDOTE :
Would it not be silly to expect a boat to stop sinking because you rearranged a few deckchairs? Would it not be audacious to look to God for revival while doggedly maintaining and defending the very leadership and teaching that keeps lasting fruit at bay? The root problem among MAINSTREAM ‘Evangelicals’ (especially those of a ‘Reformed’ persuasion) is that they are mis-EVANGELIZED, mis-SHEPHERDED and misTAUGHT: they are pastor-centered instead of Messiah-centered; Jesus is eclipsed instead of echoed – His recipe (promises, commands, eschatology and warnings) has been shelved in favor of candy (promises, promises, promises and promises). Men have been misenthroned; those under their charge are seriously malnourished – hymn sandwiches on Sunday are not enough to equip disciples for life on the narrow Way.
A serious ANTIDOTE is needed, in order that as many Western disciples as possible be rescued from the pernicious, hollow, ticklish teaching of our day (See 2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Different men bring different expertise to the table. Potentially and figuratively speaking, a few key guys each bring different and complementary ANTIDOTE ingredients. All taken together, these men offer the Body a root ‘n’ branch remedy to the mis-EVANGELISM, mis-SHEPHERDING and misTEACHING that so dogs and disables the Western contingent of the Bride. 1) Michael L Brown is perhaps the Body’s leading denouncer of ‘Replacement Theology’ and Gentile-ized ‘Christianity.’ The Way is a New, Better, SECOND COVENANT with Israel; not a new Gentile RELIGION called ‘Christianity.’ In fact, ‘CHURCHianiTree’/’ChristianiTREE’ may be more appropriate titles for what some Gentile disciples have done to the narrow Way. Instead of the Second Covenant with Israel (who are the Olive Tree), into which Gentiles can be grafted in among the natural Jewish branches, we now (courtesy of the distorted Augustinian ‘Covenant of [TULIP] Grace’) have ChristianiTREE, which is a complete reversal of ‘Romans 11’ narrow Way dynamics: as if it is the JEWISH people who are the WILD branches; and that if a Jewish person puts their faith in Christ, they are then grafted in among the natural GENTILE branches of the ChristianiTREE! Michael seeks to (non-legalistically) introduce Gentile disciples to the Jewish roots of the Way; and, he scripturally declares that Israel’s salvation actually paves the way for Messiah’s return. (Also, Michael has a very strong grasp of practical, daily holiness – see his book, ‘Go And Sin No More’). 2) David Pawson (one of the finest servant-teachers since the apostles), calls the Body back to evangelism that is scriptural (vs sentimental), apostolic (vs non-apostolic), and truly trinitarian (vs – in effect – binitarian); he also calls the Body back to a scriptural stance on GENDER, as well as MARRIAGE; and in a day when many Western Evangelicals are chronically malnourished, he delivers teaching for Messiah’s disciples that is both WEIGHTY and DIGESTIBLE. 3) Alexander Strauch (who, while perhaps being influenced by both Cessationism and Calvinism; and, who has gone to far in his views on women), is well aware of the pernicious and seriously detrimental effect of ‘first among equals’ clericalism (as we have it today; and no matter what label it goes under: ‘priest’; ‘pastor’; ‘reverend’; ‘vicar’; ‘minister’; ‘pulpit minsiter’ etc.). Some men (having seen that the pastor-CEO man-centered system is unbiblical) seem to have gone to the other extreme: to a sort of happy-go-luckyness, where the elders do NOT peroperly nourish and protect the flock (and even – along with the entire flock – put people out of fellowship on occassion, if need be). But Alexander on the other hand (and while also possibly into the “church building” error), has an excellent understanding of the need for strong (but caring) plural elder leadership. 4) David Bercot is a specialist on the soteriological beliefs of the Pre-Wrench Body-history – that is to say, pre Constantine and Augustine, who each threw a huge wrench into the works. Note: Pre-Wrench Body-history was NOT perfect; Licentious Grace, Replacement/Fulfillment Theology, and well as false ideas about “levels” of elderhood, did come into the Body very very early on.). Bercot also has a very sharp eye on the pitfall of ACADEMICALLY STUDYING the Bible, rather than ACTIVELY FOLLOWING Messiah Jesus. 5) Teryl Hebert has understood that 24/7 home-based “RELATIONAL Church (or Body-FAMILYHOOD as I would call it ; and vs shallow pleasantries on a Sunday), is at the epicenter of God’s heart; and, he has also seen that the “church buildings” (that dot the Western landscape) are rooted in the (sincere or insincere) IDEAS of Constantine, rather than being the INTENTION of God.
Flocks today should actually be ‘pastor-less.’ When I say that, I am refering to the ‘pastor’ as we have him today (sometimes even her!). In Ephesians 4:11 (in keeping with everywhere else in Greek-to-English Bibles),POIMENAS should be translated as ‘shepherds’; not ‘pastors.’ Using what is (in effect) a one-off curve-ball rendering (i.e. ‘pastors’), has obscured the shepherding-elder-overseer thread running through Acts 20:17-38, 1 Peter 5:1-5 and Ephesians 4:1-16. A thread in which we discover that the ‘pastor’ is not ONE OF the elders (as even some of the finest Bible teachers want to claim); but, and in actual fact, the ordinary ELDERS (ALL of them) ARE THE PASTORS. Shepherding/pastoring/oversight is NOT the specific task of an elder who is especially strong at teaching; teaching is actually a prerequisite for ordinary elderhood. Furthermore, shepherding/pastoring/oversight/teaching is a PLURAL responsibility in Holy Scripture. Evangelicals have failed to adhere to 1 Corinthians 4:6, and gone WAYYYYY beyond 1 Timothy 5:17 and Galatians 6:6. Evangelicals have also overlooked the CONTEXT of 1 Corinthians 9:1-18: Paul is there discussing ITINERANT servants (of Messiah Jesus); not RESIDENTIAL. The result? Evangelicals have produced a salaried residential character known as the ‘pastor,’ who has been taken out of the workplace and put in an ivory tower; and the shepherding/oversight responsibility of a team has been put on one set of shoulders. Consequence? Flocks are man-centered rather than Messiah-centered; dependent rather than interdependent; and (small wonder!), these misenthroned ‘pastors’ are known for being liable to ‘burnout.’ How about translating Ephesians 4:11 properly? Thankfully, in the World English Bible (WEB; which is an updated version of the 1901 American Standard Version; ASV), POIMENAS has been translated as it should be (‘shepherds’). How about putting the responsibility for leadership onto a team,where it belongs? And how about a proactive, interdependent set of brothers and sisters salting the community all through the week; rather than a dependent audience, listening to a misenthroned man on Sundays?
It would be marvellous to see Michael, Pawson, Alexander, Bercot and Teryl working together. If each guy would humbly listen to the others, they could bring each other to a slightly more accurate understanding of the Way; they enhance the insight of each other. Because no one teacher is infallible, the full antidote would at first taste rather vile even to all of them (let alone the rest of the Body!); each of them has to not only PRESENT iconoclastic boat-rocking truth to others,but also be willing to HUMBLY LISTEN to iconoclatic boat-rocking truth as well.
Even the finest Bible teachers can be rather fraustrating creatures (!); indeed, I have yet to find a teacher who is not WINESKinCARCERATED in at least one important aspect of the narrow Way. If one could represent different aspects of the narrow Way as alphabet letters – A, D, C, D, E and so on – what you find is that one teacher has A, B, C and D sorted, but holds strange ideas about E; meanwhile, another teacher is OK on A, C, D and E, but not B; another is OK on A, B, D and E, but not C. Michael, for instance, needs to listen to Alexander and Teryl in regard to leadership; to Teryl in regard to “church buildings”; and to Pawson in regard to gender, marriage and evangelism. Alexander needs to listen to Michael about Israel and Gentile-ized Christianity; to Teryl about “church buildings”; to Bercot about Pre-Wrench soteriology; and to Pawson about salvation, gender, marriage, evangelism and God’s Covenants. Pawson needs to listen to Alexander on leadership; and to Teryl on “church buildings” (and as for listening to Michael, I believe Pawson and Michael could actually sharpen each other, in regard to Israel and the COVENANT framework of Holy Scripture. Bercot needs to Michael about Israel and Gentile-ized Christianity; to Teryl about “church buildings”; to Alexander about leadership; and to Pawson about salvation, gender, marriage, evangelism and God’s Covenants. Teryl needs to listen to Michael about Israel and Gentile-ized Christianity; to Pawson about salvation, evangelism and God’s Covenants; and to Alexander about leadership. And a typical Western disciple needs to humbly listen to all five! .
Given our personal fallibility and constant tendency to veer away from plumb truth (to one side or the other), books by these five men need to be read SYNOPTICALLY; carefully and objectively winnowing away the chaff (penned by us all; yes, including me) and coming to a considered (but still fallible) understanding of apostolic evangelism, leadership and teaching. The expertise that Michael, Pawson, Alexander, Bercot and Teryl bring to the table on those root matters, is not a complete remedy for all the problems among Evangelicals; but, if these areas were dealt with, it would go a long way toward returning Western disciples to apostolic doctrine; in order that congregations would genuinely adorn the teaching of God the Savior in their locality, rather than bringing the Way into disrepute.
Henry Varley said to D L Moody ‘the world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to Him.’ Well, I believe Westerners today have yet to see what God will do with a group of people willing to forsake the approval of men, personal pride and all mischerished doctrinal errors – in order that Messiah Jesus be truly EXALTED, and authentic, effective disciples truly MADE.
(Take note: Eastern disciples of Messiah Jesus have no diplomas on the wall or marketplace titles of respect before their names; but they bear the brandmarks of Messiah Jesus on their bodies and serve Him in humble, fearless authenticity – see Paul Hattaway’s CHALLENGING, HEARTENING, SUPERB, MARVELOUS, TREMENDOUS book, Back To Jerusalem. When it comes to RUDDER-hits-the-road books, it is one of the most important works outside of Holy Scripture, that a Western believer could possibly read – period!)
Yes, God has brought revival in times past: he has used sincere people with wrong views about Israel; worked through binitarian evangelism; and worked through non-apostolic clerical pastors – but to echo something Keith Green said (in his peice on evangelism), I believe He (in His mercy) has done so IN SPITE OF, not because of, such beliefs and practices.
Let me try and put the complementary expertise of Michael, Pawson, Alexander, Bercot and Teryl in a nutshell: Michael’s teaching serves to RECONNECT the Bride to her Jewish roots (moving her away from the mistaken notion of a new Gentile religion called ‘Christianity’; back to the new,better SECOND Covenant with the physical descendents of Jacob/Israel); David’s teaching serves to REINSTATE truly apostolic, trinitarian evangelism – furthermore (and in addition), David’s teaching serves to RE-EQUIP reconnected soldiers with the authentic companionship of the Holy Spirit Himself, as well as the nine tool-gifts provided by the Holy Spirit; Alexander’s teaching serves to put strong leadership in place, making sure a reconnected and equipped flock is not only nourished, but kept on track; Bercot’s teaching serves to bring the Body back to soteriological views that match those held by not only the Scripture writers, but also the fluent Koin Greek disciples of the next 200 years (before Constantine and Augustine did such damage), and also to keep disciples focused on following Jesus, rather than wallowing in academinc study; Teryl RECOMMISSIONS the Bride 24/7, moving her away from inactive pastor-dependent Sunday spectatorship in the ‘pews,’ to proactive interdependent familyhood in ordinary homes.
Harnessing the expertise of those five men could produce a dream team; PROVIDED that is, that Michael, Pawson, Alexander, Bercot and Terly were each willing to unlearn as well as learn, and be willing to let go of any mischerished error that runs counter to an objective, two-sided appraisal of Holy Scripture; and provided that they were – in effect – each willing to humbly take a leaf out of Apollos’s book (Acts 18:28-24: before meeting Priscilla and Aquila, perhaps one might say that in listening to his tutors, Apollos had gained a DIPLOMA on the wall; but in humbly listening to tentmakers, he finally had a DIP in HOLY Spirit). In the absence of such a co-harness, one can at least stock one’s library with the books that contain each of their particular areas of expertise.
Here’s hoping Michael, Pawson, Alexander, Bercot and Teryl get into co-harness (ASAP); humbly mix their complementary ingredients together; brace themselves; and then (for the sake of themselves as well as the Western contingent of the Body),each take a spoonful!
Whilst the West can of course sport many evangelists and ‘pastors’ who are sincere and dedicated (and whilst, yes indeed, the living God has worked through such), I put this comment forth as the very root of the problem.
Note: I use the term ‘Pastor-Wonderland’ here, not to offend, but in an attempt to somehow bring Evangelicals face-to-face with their unscriptural and COUNTERPRODUCTIVE leadership structure. Without intending to, I think there may actually be Evangelicals out there who are following their ‘pastor’ rather than Messiah Jesus: I have heard that after Spurgeon died, the Metropolitan Tabernacle went into decline; that does not surprise me. I would contend that if a congregation has truly scriptural leadership and teaching, the death of any one man in the leadership would have no significant bearing on the future robustness of the flock; though the entire leadership team may change hands from one decade to the next (due to a variety of factors: death; flock discipline; job relocation; flock-funded move to intinerancy, etc.) the individual changes in the team should have been seamless all the way. Yes, some men are particularly skillful at teaching; but teaching is actually a God-breathed prerequisite for ordinary team-based elderhood – see 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.
Now for the ROOT PROBLEMS:
Sincere though many be, the typical evangelical has been caught in a binitarian dragnet; guided down an Ephesians 4:11 rabbit hole to Pastor-Wonderland; and fed distorted truth.
First the dragnet:
When it comes to evangelism, the ‘Jesus loves you,’ ‘Receive Jesus’ message is standard evangelical fare; there is of course solid truth in both of those, but not the whole truth. Truly trinitarian evangelism (and the elementaries – see Hebrews 6:1-2) is in a different league.
In translating POIMENAS (Strong’s Concordance no. 4166) in Ephesians 4:11 as ‘pastors’ instead of ‘shepherds’ (as it has been translated elsewhere in Scripture), Ephesians 4:11 has become a rabbit hole to ‘Pastor-Wonderland.’ I would call this ‘a cart before the horse’ situation: first, men (sincerely or insincerely) produce unscriptural forms of leadership, then they put a curveball word translation into Holy Scripture, in order to facilitate and perpetuate the error (the leadership error being the cart/HEAD; and God-breathed Holy Scripture leadership being the horse/TAIL). The KJV kicked off this ‘Protestant’ practice, with their rendering of ‘overseer’ as ‘bishop’; another rabbit hole phenomenon.
Quite a few years ago, Jewish observational comedian Jackie Mason made the comical remark that people have trouble eating ‘snails,’ but if you change the word to ‘escargot’ they seem to find it easier! In other words, he illustrated the way a change of word can affect our thinking. The translation ‘pastors’ has enabled a solo, sourced, salaried, presiding shepherd and teacher to be READ INTO Holy Scripture; has enabled a false connotation and man-made tradition to be read INTO the POIMENAS word; it has obscured the PLURAL leadership thread running through Acts 20:17-38, 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Peter 5:1-4 (not to mention James 5:14); the word ‘pastor’ has become an OVERCOAT for a naked (and non-apostolic) emperor.
The ‘pastor’ as we have him today is a non-apostolic and post-apostolic character; furthermore, a COUNTERPRODUCTIVE character who actually hinders the maturation of the congregation that has tragically misenthroned him. In no-nonsense REALITY, flock leadership is male, homegrown, diploma-less, untitled, plural and non-clerical; but in Pastor-Wonderland, leadership is gender-neutral (sometimes), sourced, diploma-dolatrous, titled, solo and clerical. In Pastor-Wonderland, ‘Biblical Eldership’ by Alexander Strauch may prove to be something of a holiness-ometer: it may bring to the surface the aversion to personal responsibility of some in the ‘PEWS’; it may bring to the surface the self-interest and pride of some in the ‘PULPIT.’ (The consequences of erroneously putting the responsibilities of a team onto the shoulders of one person are of course summed up in one word: ‘burnout.’)
Now distorted teaching:
Having been guided to Pastor-Wonderland, many new converts are planted with distorted truth (probably a mixture of one or more types); the particular distortion dependent on the particular Pastor-Wonderland camp in which they pitch their tent (so to speak). Some are planted with Calvinism (C); some Dispensationalism (D); some Arminianism; and then there are TWO multi-camp distortions: Clericalism (Cl) and Cessationism (Ce). As a result, citizens of Pastor-Wonderland have various ideas planted into their heads; things which take root all too quickly. (Tom, for example, may be planted with Cl, Ce, C; Dick with Cl, A, D; Harry with Cl, C, D.) Because none of these is pure God-breathed truth, all Pastor-Wonderland camps are – in effect – built on sand (in some cases, bloody sand); they are all a ‘house of cards’ – as the winds of the great tribulation may reveal all-too-clearly. The serious discrepancies go relatively unnoticed and unchallenged in the current Western climate; but, the closer we get to the 42 month warfare of the beast, the more those distortions will take their toll; the closer we get, the shortchanged, ill-equipped condition of many Western believers will become more and more untenable.
America, Britain, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand need nine-yard ANTIOCH-HOTHOUSES:
Do English-speaking nations (ESNs) need any more capital-intensive ‘church buildings’ (complete with pulpit-STAGE for the salaried ‘pastor’ and pew-BLEACHERS for the disenfranchised, decommissioned, perpetually infant-like, ‘Sunday-Christian,’ clergy-sponsoring, lip-serving spectators!)? Haven’t ESNs got enough already?! Such buildings are Constantinian Temples in all but name (see my post above).
Yes granted, ESNs are dotted with congregations of disciples who are serious about being different, and about making a difference; but what ESNs need is networks of nine-yard, Antioch humdingers who meet in FAMILY HOMES. Not that Antioch was perfect and totally free of problems: from day one of the Body, even if the message is spread in truly stellar fashion, it will still gather disciples from stony ground and from among thorns (not merely those from good soil); Holy Scripture cannot be broken.
What ESNs need is a network of HOME-BASED scriptural FACTORYS and AGAPE-HOTHOUSES. When I say that, I mean more than just a HOME-BASED network that resembles the Antioch HUB of Paul (if one can say he had a HUB), I mean a congregation that yes, certainly DOES warmly welcome disciples (indeed, brothers and sisters) who sincerely hold a wrong doctrinal idea here ‘n’ there; yet at the same time, a congregation having zero tolerance for dogged, one-sided subjectivity, on any aspect of the narrow Way (and any teaching that – in effect – undermines Messiah’s call to DAILY holiness and readiness); a congregation that turns Acts 2:42-47/4:32-37/5:12-16 from INK on paper, into a REALITY in their locality and nation; a congregation that scripturally covets, receives and uses all nine tool-gifts of the Spirit; perhaps ABOVE ALL, a congregation of disciples who are truly closer to one another, than to their biological brothers and sisters. Try telling me America is dotted with congregations like that; and yet I believe that should be the NORM. Should it not? How does yours fare? (Note: In Acts, we find that each location like Ephesus had one “church”; but, it consisted of a network of congregations who met in family homes.)
Furthermore, home-based congregations where a team of (scripturally qualified, homegrown, unsalaried) elders nourish, ring-fence and yes, even winnow (purge) the enfranchaised, proactive, Messiah-commissioned flock (in love). A veritable chrysalis of UPWARD God-honoring change: bringing the toughest guys in the locality to their knees, and the weakest guys to their feet; changing local prima donnas into humble maidservants of the Lord, and wallflowers into warriors of the Lion of Judah (KITTENIZING lions and LIONIZING kittens by the transforming capabilities of the Holy Spirit). A congregation where men and women get out of bed every day to humbly serve and REPRESENT the Lord (rather than themselves); whether as His faithful servant, or martyr. A place where a former prostitute residing in the True Vine is as pure as any virgin (in the eyes of not only Almighty God, but also fellow brothers and sisters in Messiah); and where self-righteous visitors (in their own eyes), become all-too-aware of their behavioral FILTH.
ESNs need home-based factories where fearless and selfless disciples (agape-soldiers) of Messiah Jesus are MADE, EQUIPPED and VACCINATED. Those home-based congregations should be agape-hothouses; (figuratively speaking), a place where unbelievers living in a cold, self-centered, cliquey and hateful world, gaze through the glass from outside, and see clique-less brothers and sisters basking in the love of God, while interdependently and selflessly caring for one another – regardless of (and without any barriers of) age, background,’ class’ or color; an exhibition of what life is supposed to be like; a hothouse exhibition that speaks ever so much louder than words; a hothouse exhibition that in itself is a form of evangelism that could have unbelievers jumping into the dragnet.
“Agape Hothouses/Factories” from where the Holy Spirit (not man, or a ‘Seminary’) SENDS out EMPOWERED and COMPETENT evangelists (in PAIRS) to cast a humble, bold, Messiah-exalting, scriptural, weighty, truly trinitarian dragnet over towns and cities all across America (and overseas). That these evangelists would heal the sick and raise the dead; not in a corner, but right in front of evolutionists, hedonists and those entrenched in whatever religion (yes, even ‘Sunday Churchianity’). That these evangelists would duplicate the hothouse from which they were sent; establishing ‘MAKING and SENDING home-based factories’ in each of these new locations; and, that they would revisit each location from time to time, in order to ‘strengthen the disciples’ until a team of local elders can be appointed.
Two thousand years ago, and without a daily newspaper (let alone the mobile internet !), when the likes of Philip came go town ‘all heaven broke loose’ (The Kingdom of God was truly at hand); and everyone in the community got to HEAR what was being done in the name of Messiah Jesus.
But at the moment (and despite the incredible advances in communication technology), where is news of that Western Antioch? And where are competent Western evangelists? At the moment in the West, we have Temple-based clusters of disciples deceived by Calvinism, Dispensationalism and/or Cessationism – right,left and center. (With doctrines like those, who needs unseen enemies?) And – with due regard for exceptions – is the ‘temperature’ in a typical Temple meeting notably warmer than what can be achieved in a social club of reasonably pleasant, like-minded, UNINDWELLED outsiders?
Even if one finds a Temple-based congregation not deceived by such man-made (and seriously counterproductive) doctrines, in all likelihood, they do not properly contend for what is actually true (in effect, putting unity BEFORE truth – rather than ALONGSIDE); furthermore, the sick in their locality are NOT healed, and the dead are NOT raised. (‘All tradition broke loose’ centuries ago – and STILL holds sway! Alas, the anaemic, self-defeating kingdom of man is at hand; even within the Body.) As a rule, is this not true? (Is a spade no longer a spade?)
And as for evangelism, the dragnets being cast are sentimental (instead of scriptural), binitarian (instead of truly trinitarian) – and basically, SERIOUSLY INADEQUATE in nature.
ESNs need networks of Antioch-HUBS; places of apostolic, no-nonsense-TRUTH; of agape-WARMTH; of character-TRANSFORMED Holy Spirit FRUIT; of Holy Spirit works of power. America and Britain both need MAKING and SENDING factories – agape-hothouses and works-of-POWER-houses/hubs. Only one is needed to get the ball rolling.
The Antioch-ometer by which to guage any given congregation in America might go something like this:
Are disciples being properly brought to the Lord? Have they been fully equipped and vaccinated? Is scriptural leadership in place? And what is the yardstick for elderhood qualification, is it really Holy Scripture? Is both the SWEET and SOUR side of the Bible coin declared? Are SWEET-only doctrines boldly refuted (in love)? Do meetings genuinely resemble 1 Corinthians 11-14; notably 14:26? Is every single disciple getting excellent teaching from the team of elders? (Or are the ‘keen ones’ sent to some “seminary” to get “quality” food?!) Are disciples genuinely maturing from year to year? Are disciples laying excess personal proceeds at the feet of the elders, or at the feet of their stockbroker? Are Holy Spirit-selected evangelists being produced and sent (in pairs)? Does the congregation polarize the community by virtue of its loving but no-nonsense stand against unholiness? Are those in the congregation who bring the Way into disrepute purged if need be? Are burning coals of practical kindness being heaped on unholy heads of local enemies, whenever the ‘opportunity’ arises? Bearing in mind that God’s power and willingness to heal have NOT changed at all, when was the last time Tom, Dick and Harriet Neighbor heard about anyone being healed in the locality? Are deaf ears and blind eyes being opened in the locality? Are people being raised from the dead?
‘These signs will accompany those who believe,’ said Jesus – Mark 16:17; not THOSE in leadership alone; not THOSE with man-made diplomas, glory-titles or clerical regalia alone; and, not THOSE on the far side of some unmapped jungle alone (!). Oh no dear reader, these signs are SUPPOSED to accompany diploma-less, “Mom ‘n’ Pop” BELIEVERS from San Diego USA to Sydney Australia. (So says Jesus; the Man who is God and Truth.)
That being so, is expectation of spectacular ‘works of power’ in our day and our very backyard unrealistic? Was Jesus kidding around on such things? Did He (after all, and alas) only mean healings could occur on the far side of Timbuktu, and nowhere near Manhattan? Did He ever say more than His Father was really prepared to do? Was He over-enthused on occasion?! Or is more than a mustard seed of faith required for such things these days? And (by way of rhetorical conclusion), based on the fact that – as a rule – Tom, Dick and Harriet Westerner have NOT seen people healed or raised in their midst, are Jesus’s discussions of ‘works of power’ to be swept under the rug, by a brush inscribed with ‘pesky sign-seekers?!’
How long must anaemic and unscriptural CESSATIONISM rule the roost? Yes indeed, ESNs need HOME-BASED networks truly comparable to Antioch; networks which holds fast to apostolic doctrine. (Non-English speaking nations need Antiochs too; especially strategic cities around the world like Shanghai, New Delhi, Berlin, Paris, Rome and Sao Paulo for instance). But alas, TEMPLE-based WINESKinCARCERATION is rife …
(Please take note: talks, articles and books that deal with Cessationism, Clericalism, Calvinism and Dispensationalism, are to be found above – in POST No.2)