Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jul | 30 | 28 People Crushed to Death! 8 Million More Blinded!


28 People Crushed to Death! 8 Million More Blinded!

Acts 5:35-39
And he said to them: "Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it — lest you even be found to fight against God." NKJV

When writing this insight, I had recently come back to the ‘Kingdom’, the Kingdom of Fife in particular. For me, it has been a circuitous thirty four year spiritual route from being found by Christ in the Naval Dockyard area of Rosyth, to now, whilst typing, being here once more staring out of my window across these same waters now in Kirkcaldy bay, right across the Firth of Forth toward Edinburgh.

Early this afternoon, my wife and I mounted one of the ‘Paps of Fife’ (which is a wonderfully old fashioned turn of phrase, and by the way, means exactly what you think it means), East Lomond it was, or as it's also known, Falkland Hill, which is some 1512 ft above sea level. From the heights, I breathed in such a view of the Kingdom below me, that it made me drunk with wonder. It was beautiful but bracing, and so we descended to Falkland Palace below and the Lomond tavern in particular, where, whilst being surrounded by pictures of Robert The Bruce, William Wallace and the ‘We shall never surrender’ portraits of the defeat of the English at the battle of Bannockburn, I washed down a Scottish Steak Pie pub lunch with some foreign ale. It seems that we Scotts are always deceiving ourselves. Now, warmer and refreshed, we returned to Kirkcaldy where I continued my investigations of the Christian residents who had once resided in this ‘Kingdom’ here on earth.

Edward Irving, regarded by some as the forerunner of the British Charismatic movement, spent seven formative years here in Kirkcaldy and later returned to the long town from London in 1828 to preach at the parish church. It was so full of listeners that day, that the gallery collapsed and killed some twenty-eight people. Spurgeon of course, had a very similar tragedy in his own popular ministry.

Now I mention Irving in particular, because as a young converted sailor I often attended a reformed Baptist church in Edinburgh, which at the time had purchased and was meeting in a very small portion of an exceptionally large and then long defunct beautiful church building once used by a protestant Christian sect called the ‘Catholic Apostolic Church’. Long ago now, I remember being shown around the rest of the building, which was being used then as a warehouse for Banner of Truth Books, and whilst looking at the magnificence of the architecture and richness of the murals and stained glass, I remember asking what had happened to the congregation? “Oh,” was the disillusioned reply “they were just another group of liturgical Charismatic Christian fundamentalists looking for the imminent return of Christ. They disappeared when their own self appointed twelve apostles eventually died out.” These ‘Irvingites’, for that is what they were; these prophetic, apostolic, tongue speaking miracle working Christians, at the height of their short lived life, at one time numbered eight million souls worldwide! What made this man Irving so popular? What made the movement so materially prosperous? Moreover, most importantly, what made it, like so many other protestant sects, even like my own Countess of Huntingdon Connexion of churches, die out so very quickly?

In private, first note that Irving had a very affable likeable humorous personality. Publicly he was an ostentatious and charismatic extrovert, able to couple earnestness with stinging satire in stunning and pointed proportion. He was well worth the watching and well worth the listening to. Hence the crushing of twenty eight people due to lack of crowd control. Now, there was and is nothing wrong with this engaging type of personality and preaching, but it is worth noting that even though Irving was not a crowd pleaser, he was still most certainly a crowd puller. So then, let me ask, how many crowd pullers now occupy the pulpits and fading TV screens of our current modern mega churches? Remember, there is nothing wrong with a crowd puller, but please recognize that the propensity of the character and style of such a person can just as well be used to sell soap powder or start the Nazi party.

Second, note that Irving was no ‘mug’. He was an intellectual who became a mystic. He would have fit well with the goateed brigade of the post modern and emergent crowd that’s for sure. There is nothing new under the sun is there? Indeed, Irving was an intellectual who moved in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, advocated the centrality of the Scriptures, and church unity under the four fold gifting’s of Christ to the church. So far so good.

Thirdly, Irving was a millenarian believing in the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ to set up His Kingdom on earth. Indeed around the turn of the 19th century, (or the turn of any century it seems) these millennial teachings find many a listening and inquisitive ear. It’s the same today, and today especially.

Now then, though I do not sport the intellectual prowess of Irving, I am a millenialist. I also believe in the soon return of Jesus Christ, in the present fivefold gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as in the modern day presence of the gifts of healings and tongues. (Though, by the by, personally I have never seen a gift operation of the former and most of the latter which I have heard, is flesh.) Being then synchronized at many key points, what can I, what can we, learn from the swift disappearance of eight million similarly connected believers?

In summary, here are three things to ‘beware!’

First, though each day most certainly takes us a ‘days march nearer home’ as well as bringing the return of Christ that much closer, there are most definite signs of His coming which must all occur simultaneously before His return. In light of this, and of Christ’s statement on the unknowability of the date, it is wrong to set dates and timescale expectations of the return of Christ. As for me, I surely do expect Christ to return in my lifetime and I believe I have good reason for such an expectation. Yet, I could be wrong and in all likelihood, I probably am! This strange tension of uncertain expectation should be the mark of the true believer until the ‘signs of His coming’ all come about. Beware then of any man, or any group, that is moved from a preparing expectation to an assumed ‘certainty’ about such timescales.

Second, the Irvingites, all of them, were highly committed tythers. Regular giving to the local church is necessary for sure, so who can say anything against that? However, note that it was this regular and committed giving became the engine for the rapid growth of this mixtured movement of wonder and recycled heresies! It is right to give but there is power in the pound. You be aware then, of what vehicle that pound-empowered engine is driving and the direction in which it is going. Let each one of us examine the exit notes of our wallet, be they pounds, dollars or Euros

Lastly, the Irvingites had an astonishingly bold leadership. One aspect of the Irvingites was the restoration of the 'Apostolate of the twelve' as a precursor to Christ's second coming. Interestingly, Irving himself was not a Catholic Apostolic Church apostle, but the twelve who were, were deemed to be both unique and irreplaceable and so became the only people who could ordain priests. That being the case, there were no more ordinations after the last Apostle died in 1901 thus leading to the inevitably of the decline of the sect and the closure of most of its churches. Obviously, these twelve apostles, bold enough to announce even to Royalty and all high church authorities in the world of their own Divine appointment, were just plain wrong! They were deluded deceivers dressed in decorated man made vestments of high office. Beware then of other modern day self deluded deceivers, who sport charismatic personalities, large followings and have lots of money, who in turn focus on millennial teachings with a charismatic and prophetic spin followed by dodgy healings thrown in for good measure.

There is nothing new under the sun, and yes indeed, the old recycled ‘tut’ is coming around once more, only this time, the deceptions are set in glinting bleached white teeth.

Listen:- For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. 2 Thessalonians 3:11-15 NKJV

Pray: - Father, we long for and look for the return of Christ our King and Saviour. Living in this desire, walking in this tension, when all is abnormal around us, even when the waves roar and crash against our own crumbling concrete walls, still keep us fixed in the cyles of normal everyday living, grounded in the truth of Your word, fixed, firm settled, solid, steadfast sure. Amen and amen.

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