Letter to the Churches of the Western World

Letter to the Churches of the Western World

I received the following through the post on May 5th 1974 together with a covering note which read:  ‘The writer was sitting quietly on Easter Sunday afternoon feeling a great peace and very close to the Lord.  Suddenly, as though it was a human voice, he heard the command ‘Fetch a pencil and paper and write.’  The dictation flowed and the writing was non-stop, without correction and without alteration.’ I never discovered who sent it.

Hear what the Lord Jesus says to the churches of the Western World:-

I told you that, when the Holy Spirit came upon you, you would be filled with power –  ­where is your power?

The Holy Spirit stands at the door and knocks and you refuse him entrance and you are powerless in consequence.

You blow neither hot nor cold as I told the church at Laodicea; you are filled with fear and your level of faith is so low that you cannot hear. So many that are of your number are not the members of my Body. They are those who the body should be witnessing to, comforting, strengthening and bringing into my fold. They are of the sheep the Church I founded was to feed.

You cannot feed them without the power on high for you have no food of yourselves. The food they need is of my kingdom and given to you to disburse. Not more than one basketful of my food is needed to feed the whole world – reach up and receive it for the world’s healing.

The fruits of the Spirit are nothing unless they are born of the gifts of the Spirit in his power. You cannot even love as I love unless you are empowered to love by my Holy Spirit. The love you have of yourselves is a pale shadow and fails to love except where love is returned, or is to those you find lovable. To love the unlovable, the nasty and degraded, needs power, my power. My power is the true power of love for it is me whom you have to give and to share, for I am Love.

Reach up your hands now and receive power. This is my gift – given by my Father to me to pass on to you for the coming of the kingdom and the glory of God.

The gifts of the Spirit, the power gifts which the apostles received at Pentecost, are the same gifts as I offer now. The same miracles are available to you now, the same turning of your world upside down available to you as to them in their day and age. The need is as great as it was then. A great hunger is in the world and I have what is needed to satisfy it.  Feed my sheep! Feed my sheep! !

‘How?’ you say. You have all the answers in the Word I have left with you through my apostles and those who knew my mind in the period before the world crept in and diluted and distorted my message with sophistication and human philosophical thought – of the minds of men and in the intellectual strength of men.  My words are of my Spirit to your spirit.  To those whose ears of the spirit are open, hear!  To those whose eyes of the spirit are open, see!

You, as I am, are spirit, made of the same stuff as I am, as is the Father. You are made in his image but the world is strong and is a battlefield between my kingdom and the kingdom of the usurper. He is conquered but you do not know it until you wear the mantle of my mind and have the heart of my Spirit. Then you see in varying degrees according to your surrender of self and your openness to me, from shades of grey, to light and dark, to the near brightness of the dawn of my kingdom where the stars sing together of the glory of God and you enter into my gift of eternal life.

Take note of what happened at Pentecost. Don’t be misled and pay undue attention to any one aspect of that happening. Yes, there were tongues, but this is a manifestation of the evidence, of a sealing of a happening, not the happening itself, an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual truth – a sacramental happening. It gives assurance and is a gift of the Spirit, the fruits of which are assurance and confidence and a deepening trust in me and an empowering to go forward with your hand in mine.

Note what happened then.  Peter spoke in the power of the Spirit. What about?  About me.  For the Father gave me to the world for the world’s healing and if I am spoken of to the world, not in the light of scholarship or of intellectual reasoning but in the power of the Spirit, in words given by Him, then men’s hearts are changed. They hear what they long to hear, the answer to each man’s deepest need.  The words will mean different things to different people for they are words of the Spirit who knows each man’s deepest need as you cannot.

Then what happened? Peter and John showed in the power of the Spirit what can happen through people who are Spirit-filled. At the Gate Beautiful they did not send the man who was lame to a doctor, they did not give him sympathy, they did not even feel they could do anything except use the words that the Spirit gave them and the man was healed and rose and walked and leaped and praised God. They acknowledged that they had nothing to offer except me and, in the power of my Spirit, they lifted the man up to me.

I said that you would do greater things than I did.  I turned water into wine, I healed the sick, I raised the dead.  Do you do these things, and greater things?  Yes, here and there, these things are done but so few are they who so trust in me and my promises, so few who are bold enough to step out in the assurance of my promises, in the strength of the Holy Spirit.

I died to give you this power. I conquered the usurper of the world, the devil, to give you the world as part of the Kingdom of God. I entered hell and accepted forsakenness to bring you forgiveness and I rose in the power of the Spirit to give you power to continue my work and you have forgotten and are asleep.  Awake and step out again in the power I offer you.

Be baptised, as my apostles were, by the one Spirit.

Accept the gifts of power, the great ones of healing, of wisdom, of knowledge, of discerning of spirits, of supernatural trust, of miracles, and the lesser ones of prophesy, tongues and interpretation of tongues.

If you are one Body, my Body in the world, my Church, then you must all be baptized into that one Body by the Baptism of the one Spirit and the gifts of that one Spirit are all needed as the limbs of the body are all needed.  All have their place, none can do without the others, none can be missed without damage to the whole Body.  The lesser gifts of power will be the most used and the most apparent.  They must be safeguarded by the more constant and obvious use lest they are forgotten and lost to the detriment of the Body.

How is it that the Holy Spirit, without which my Church would never have been born, has been so neglected and so forgotten that, except as a meaningless ritual in a mechanical rite, the power has gone out of the Church?

The devil is defeated by me and by those who are mine but alas, over the centuries, he has cast a shadow over the minds of millions so that they have lost the dynamic at the heart of things, the power that makes my Body effective in the world – the power of the Spirit.

Awake, oh my Church!  Open your hearts and minds to the Baptism I offer.  Accept in the place of your own intellects and powers, my mind that I offer you and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Feed my sheep. If you love me at all, feed my sheep.

Freedom From Guilt

‘I can never forgive myself for killing my own child!’

The woman who said this was a member of the community in which I was serving as a Methodist minister. It transpired that she had had an abortion some years previously.  As gently as possible, I asked her: ‘Would you if you could?’ The silence that followed seemed interminable.  Eventually she whispered ‘Yes, I suppose so… BUT I CAN’T!’   ‘Good, in that case I can ask the Lord to help you’.  I have never known the Lord to fail to answer this prayer.

It is important to recognize that she had the freedom to choose. If she had said ‘no’ there is nothing further I could have done.  Having expressed her willingness to forgive herself, I could then ask the Lord to help her. Having received the Lord’s forgiveness and choosing to forgive herself, she was freed from a burden of guilt that she had been carrying for a number of years.

We can be guilty without knowing it.  I did not realise that I was a sinner needing a saviour until after I had become a Christian.  We can feel guilty for no good reason.  There is such a thing as false guilt.

Part of what God has done for us through His coming in the person of Jesus Christ is to make provision for us to enjoy freedom from guilt and the forgiveness of our sins: ‘Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures’ (1 Corinthians 15:3).

The prophet Isaiah foresaw what Jesus achieved for us through his death on the Cross: ‘He endured the suffering that should have been ours, the pain that we should have borne.  All the while we thought that his suffering was punishment sent by God.  But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did.  We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received’ (Isaiah 53:4-5).

John, one of the disciples of Jesus, expresses it like this:  ‘(Jesus Christ) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world’ (1 John 2:2).  Through his death on the Cross Jesus paid the price for all our sins.  John also tells us that the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purifies us from all sins (1 John 1:7).

The blood of Jesus washes away our guilt. An old chorus expresses it: ‘There is power in the blood’.   This is a mystery that I do not understand but nevertheless believe.

In the Catholic tradition it is customary to go to the Confessional in order to confess our sins to a priest and hear him pronounce absolution.  For those of us who are not Catholics it can be very helpful to acknowledge the truth of what has happened to a minister or another Christian who will listen to what we have to say and remind us of the truth expressed in the Bible that if we confess our sins, he will keep his promise and do what he has said he will do: he will forgive us and purify us. (1 John 1:9)   Our part is to choose to accept God’s forgiveness.

If we have difficulty doing this we may need to consider whether we have forgiven ourselves.

Becoming Equipped

Becoming Equipped

Promise – Position – Presence – Provision – Power

  • Promise: “These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons….they will place their hands on sick people and they will get well”  Mark 16:17-18 The promise is to those who believe in Jesus.  He is the Lord our healer.  Believers will act in his name, on his behalf, to continue our Lord’s ministry of healing and deliverance.
  • Position: Our position is in Christ.  We were included in Christ when we believed into him and received the gift of eternal life.
  • Presence:  “I saw the Lord always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken”  Psalm 16:8 quoted by the apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost.  See Acts 2:25.  “I am with you always” Matthew 28:20
  • Provision:  God has made full provision for our healing and wholeness through his coming in the person of Jesus Christ.
  • Power:  “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” Acts 1:8.  This final promise of Jesus was fulfilled at Pentecost and is available to believers today.

The Continuing Ministry of Jesus

I have long been convinced that the Church, as the Body of Christ, is meant to be continuing the ministry of Christ through the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

Something to notice is the way in which Jesus shared his ministry with his disciples:

“When Jesus called the twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick…so they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere” Luke 9:1-6

And also 72 others:

“After this the Lord appointed 72 others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go…When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you.  Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come upon you’.  Later the 72 returned with joy and said  “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” Luke 10:1,8-9,17.

During the high priestly prayer, Jesus said to his Father: ‘Just as you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world’. (John 17:18).  Then, in one of his resurrection appearances he said to his disciples: ‘Just as the Father has sent me, I am sending you’. (John 20:21).

Jesus was sending them out to continue his ministry but they were not to do so in their own strength.  They were to wait until they had received the power of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:4-5,8).  Then they would realize that Jesus was back with them in a new way. (John 14:15-21,23)

This became their experience.  Mark concludes his gospel like this: ‘After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it’.

Paul testifies:

“I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.  So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ” Romans 15:18-19.

I believe that this is how it is meant to be today.

Concerning Evil Spirits

C.S. Lewis says this in his introduction to ‘The Screwtape Letters’:

‘There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors’.

Corrie Ten Boom, who had a significant international ministry after the second world war, says this in her booklet ‘Defeated Enemies’:

‘Having faced fights “not with flesh and blood, but with spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil” (Eph 6:12 Phillips) in prisons during the war and, later when travelling all over the world; and having met so many people – even dear servants of the Lord – who, though surrounded by the powers of darkness, the devil and the demons, do not recognise them, and do not know how to deal with them, I decided, at the request of a missionary friend, to write down what I have learned, as a help for other children of God’.

We do have an enemy to contend with. The apostle Peter warns us that we need to be self-controlled and alert because “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8,9.The apostle Paul tells us:


“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

Demons have a real personality.

  • They have knowledge Mark 1:23,24

  • They can feel James 2:19

  • They have a will Matthew 12:44

  • They can speak Acts 19:15

These are some of the things they can do:

  • Entice James 1:14

  • Deceive 1 Timothy 4:1,2

  • Enslave Romans 8:15

  • Drive, compel Luke 8:29

  • Defile Titus 1:15

They can attack:

  1. Through the mind – e.g. unbelief, indecision, false teaching
  2. Through the will – e.g. pride, stubbornness
  3. Through the emotions – e.g. resentment, anger, hatred, fear
  4. From the outside  – when we must resist them James 4:7, 1 Peter 5,8,9
  5. From the inside – when they need casting out Matthew 8:16, Mark 1:39

Worldview

How are we to understand the world in which we live?

Francis MacNutt, a leading Catholic authority on the Church’s Ministry of Healing, asks:

‘Do we believe in the existence of a spirit world, populated with angels and evil spirits?  Or would we rather not think about it?  How do we see the world in which we live?  The predominant world-view of the West since the so-called Enlightenment of 200 years ago has been scientific rationalism – if something cannot be seen,      measured or proved through reason, it simply does not exist – or at the very least should be doubted.  However this has been changing with the advent of New Age spirituality and a rising interest in the occult. Jesus assumed the existence of a spirit world – so much so that a major theme of his preaching highlighted the clash between two kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.  The question is, which world view is the correct one – the world view of Jesus or the world of the society into which we were born?’

Deliverance from Evil Spirits published by Hodder and Stoughton.

How Lay Witness Missions came to the UK

For me it began with a waking dream: one word, MACEDONIA, like a place name I saw once on a Welsh railway station, with the letters embossed,  standing clear of their background.  Pouring over a map later, I realized that, for the apostle Paul, the call from a man of Macedonia was a call to take the gospel west across the sea to Europe.  Was God calling me to go west across the sea to America? I knew no one in America and saw no reason to go there.

Ten years later, in 1974, when I was the Methodist minister at Bolsover near Chesterfield, I was in my study thinking about this again.  By then I had an open invitation to visit someone in Florida and a pressing request to allow two Americans, Charles and Lucille Gipson, to take me to a Lay Witness Mission if ever I visited the U.S.A.  I was also keen to see how the Lord was at work in various situations being affected by the Charismatic Renewal which was then at its height.  I decided to go for it.

So it was that I found myself in a remote community in the Appalachian mountains where a small Methodist church was having a Lay Witness Mission.  I could see the potential for the U.K.  Several months later, early in 1975, I had a letter out of the blue from Dr. Roger Haining, a dentist living in Seattle, asking if I would be willing to help him introduce Lay Witness Missions to England.

The idea was that we would have a joint American and British team for the first weekends that Roger would lead.  My task was to find the British team members and the churches to have the first missions.  Roger was hoping that they would be held later that year but as time went on it became apparent that though it was easy enough to find some volunteers to be the first British team members, finding enough churches willing to have an American led mission about which they knew nothing was a different matter!

The Lord knew that I needed help.  I recall vividly the day when Nev  Marples, a neighbour and a member of the church at Bolsover, called at the manse looking very worried.  He told me that he had been putting on his boots ready to go to work at the local Coalite plant when he heard a voice telling him to go to America.  When he recovered from the initial shock and asked whereabouts, the answer came back clear as a bell “Spokane”.   This was totally outside Nev’s experience and when I asked him why he was looking so anxious he told me that he thought I might recommend him to see a psychiatrist!  He had never heard of Spokane (neither had I for that matter).  Looking it up on a map he found that it was near the west coast!

After Nev’s visit I came across the word ‘Spokane’ on three separate occasions, one of them in a letter from Roger saying that the Methodist church in Spokane was thinking of sponsoring one of their young people to join the team.  I realized that Spokane was not all that far from Seattle and asked Roger if he would like to invite Nev over to sample a LWM so that he could then come back and help me find the churches to have the first missions.

The day came when Nev was dropped off at Spokane and told that he would be collected again later in the day.  Looking around and wondering what he was doing there, he noticed a building with a cross on it.  When he went to investigate he found that it was a shelter for disadvantaged men.  Nev ended up having lunch with the director who told him how he had been a successful cattle rancher when the Lord called him to the work in which he was now involved: how reluctant he had been and how he had been thrown from his horse, ending up on his back with plenty of time to think.  He told Nev: ‘If the Lord calls you to do something you’d better do it!’

Nev was taken to a Lay Witness Mission and also saw their potential for the U.K.

When  Nev came back home he had an amazing story to tell and was the one who encouraged churches to have the first missions as well as becoming a member of the management committee and going on missions himself.  Sadly, Nev died a few years ago.

The 1,000 Lay Witness Mission was held in October 2006.  This coincided with the 30th anniversary of the first mission being held at Bolsover.

Looking back it feels as if I had the privilege on entering into something that God was doing.