Wednesday, 30 July 2014

AblazeUK 2014 Prophecies

One of the features of the Apostolic Church convention is the prophetical ministry. It's the one time in the year when we gather together as a national church, and so it's a time when we hear prophetical ministry that doesn't just speak to individuals or particular assemblies, but to us all together as a church. But, of course, we're not all there, and even for those of us who are, it can be hard to remember a lot of what is said. Yet, as God speaks to us prophetically as a church together, I think it's good for those who weren't able to be at convention to hear what He says, and for those of us who were to be reminded. So, as the convention prophecies haven't been easily accessible in any form in recent years, I thought I'd post them here this year. They are all already online, as there are videos of all the main convention services in the livestream archive here. But if you just want to hear the prophecy it might not be so easy to find amidst the whole video, so I've got them as MP3s here. The quality won't be perfect (and be warned, some are a lot louder than others), as they were just recorded on my phone, but, if they're of any use at all, here they are.

(Oh, by the way, if you've never been to one of our conventions and heard the prophetical ministry, or if you've always wondered about these Apostolics and their prophets, then listen to the last of these - David Williams from Tuesday night. It's less than four minutes long and it'll let you see what we mean when we talk about prophets and prophecy.)

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Total Recovery: The Eternal Purpose and the Apostolic Vision (Part 4)

Part 4: The Way – How does God bring us into His plan?

So far we’ve been thinking about what’s included in God’s plan of total recovery in Jesus (not just us, but the whole of creation) and why God includes us (because of His great love). So today let’s think about how God brings us into His plan.

Yesterday we saw the reason God includes us in Ephesians 1, and in that same chapter He tells us how He includes us – through ‘the Riches of His Grace’ (Eph. 1:7). But what does this grace do? The passage tells us that God made it ‘abound toward us.’ This is the central teaching of the Scriptures; this is the heart of the plan of God – that He is a God who is rich in grace which He makes to abound toward us in Jesus. Now, that sounds a bit strange to us. We just don’t normally speak about things abounding toward us. So when I hear something like that my thinking goes: abound àabundance à lots of stuff. And so the tendency can be to think of it as God giving us lots of something called grace – that God has this stuff called grace that He hands out, and He gives me lots of it. But then I start thinking that, because I’ve got lots of this stuff, then God will love me. Because I’ve got lots of this stuff, then God will include me in His plan. But that’s not it at all!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Peter Vincent on Psalm 2 (from a past AblazeUK)

As I'm looking forward to Peter Vincent speaking this morning at AblazeUK, here's a repost from the last time he preached at Ablaze back in 2010.

Thursday evening brought with it the last night of the Convention. (If you're wondering where Wednesday went, I was on carpark duty for the convention service.) The speaker for the evening was Ps Peter Vincent (Glasgow assembly), who expounded Psalm 2 under the title 'The LORD reigns!'.

Ps Vincent linked Psalm 2 with Acts 4:23-31 where it is quoted at a prayer meeting. The result of that prayer meeting was that the believers received boldness to proclaim the gospel. We want to go from the Convention back to our assemblies with Pentecostal boldness. Boldness means confidence and courage; confidence in the message and courage to take it.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Happy Lord's Day! - It's good to sing the Gospel

Happy Lord's Day! This is a particularly exciting Lord's Day too, as for the first time in years (since Penygroes I think!) we're gathering together from our assemblies around the UK (and with some visitors from other countries too) around the Lord's Table to feed on Christ together.
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. (1 Cor. 10:16-17)
So, as we lift our eyes to Jesus this Lord's Day, I just want to post a song for you that we've been singing in Leeds lately, because it's good to sing the gospel. (The lyrics are below the jump.)

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Amazing Grace – Right from the Beginning

I’m interrupting your regular programming (that series on Total Recovery: The Apostolic Vision and the Eternal Purpose – it’ll be back soon) just briefly today as the Convention starts this evening. And this year’s Convention theme for AblazeUK is ‘Amazing Grace’. So at the beginning of the Convention, let me just talk to you a bit about God’s Amazing Grace at the beginning of the Bible and the beginning of the world.

How did God create the world? The Father spoke His Word in His Spirit. We read that in Genesis 1:1-3. But where was the Spirit hovering? ‘Over the face of the waters’ in the ‘darkness’ that was on ‘the face of the deep’ of an ‘earth [which] was without form and void.’ In other words, the Father didn’t send His Word and His Spirit into a perfect world, a world which somehow merited His presence. No, He sent them into the chaos and darkness to graciously bring order and light. Right from the very outset of creation the Triune God has shown that He doesn’t work according to merit, but according to His grace given in His Word (the Lord Jesus) in the Spirit.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Total Recovery: The Eternal Purpose and the Apostolic Vision (Part 3)

Part 3: The Reason - Why does God include us in His Plan?

We’ve been looking at God’s great plan for total recovery in Jesus. But why does God include us in His plan for His Son? The reason the Bible gives is ‘His good pleasure’ (Eph. 1:9). That means the reason God includes us in His plan isn’t found in us, but in Him. And that’s very good news for us indeed, for it means that God’s plan doesn’t depend on us. It doesn’t depend on how good we are at being good. And His plan isn’t destroyed by how bad we are either.

You see, God wasn’t sitting around waiting to see how we’d turn out before coming up with His eternal purpose. No! He had included us in His great plan even ‘before the foundation of the world’ (Eph. 1:4). That means He chose us in Christ before we could ever have managed to do anything good or anything bad, and so our inclusion doesn’t depend on our efforts. It’s not down to our works, our talents or our goodness.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Total Recovery: The Eternal Purpose and the Apostolic Vision (Part 2)

Part 2 – Total Recovery for the Creation

Just in case you missed it yesterday, God’s Plan for Total Recovery is Jesus. In Ephesians 1:7-10 we read about God’s plan for ‘all things … both which are on heaven and which are on earth’. And what’s the goal of this plan? Well, it’s to gather all things together under Christ as Head. And this plan is for all things in heaven and earth. Ultimately this plan is for both redeemed, resurrected believers and the holy angels. Ultimately this plan is for the new heaven and the new earth. It involves a radical redemption and renewal of creation, ‘because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.’ (Rom. 8:21) So the effects of sin and the curse will be undone. It’s a total recovery of how the world was created to be.

That means God’s plan isn’t a plan to save our souls out of the world. Nor is it a plan to give us the things of this fallen world. Rather it’s a plan to redeem and renew the whole of creation in Christ. And when it comes to us, this is a plan for union with Christ and the fullness of Christ.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Total Recovery: The Eternal Purpose & the Apostolic Vision (Part 1)

Well, I sort of gave up blogging from AblazeUK about half way through last year (and don’t think I’ll even attempt to do it this year). But there was one more thing from Ablaze I had wanted to write about and just have never got round to, and that was my message on the last morning. I can’t give you any audio (as if you want recordings of any of the sessions from Ablaze you have to buy the CDs), but I can summarise what I spoke about. And I’m going to summarise it, not because I think particularly highly of my sermons, but because I was speaking about the very heart of Apostolic theology (which is sort of what this blog is supposed to be about). So here’s just a wee introduction, and I’ll get to the heart of the matter in the next couple of posts.

Part 1: Total Recovery - That's God's Plan

Last year’s convention theme was ‘Total Recovery’, which rather resonates with us all, because we know that we need it. We know that things in this world aren’t as they’re supposed to be. We know that our lives aren’t as they’re supposed to be. We know that our church isn’t as it’s supposed to be. In fact, the whole world isn’t as it’s supposed to be. And somehow, we long for a recovery. And not just a temporary one or a partial one, but a full one – a total recovery. And so it sounds really good to be able to say that that is God’s plan!

But what exactly is God’s plan for total recovery? And is it anything like what we’re thinking of? Is it anything like what we’re expecting? Well, maybe not. You see, in the Bible we see all sorts of people who got the wrong idea about God’s plan of total recovery.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Eve was a Christian

Have you ever wondered about Adam and Eve after they ate the forbidden fruit? We know what happened next. We know about the curse, but we also know about the promise of the Saviour. Adam and Eve not only heard the bad news of the punishment they deserved for their sin, but they also heard the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The LORD God (the Lord Jesus) proclaimed His gospel Word of the Seed of the Woman who would come and, through His sufferings, crush the Serprents head, saving them from sin, death and the devil. The LORD God showed them that their own attempts to deal with their sin through the filthy rags of their fig-leaf clothes did nothing more than to add to their alienation from Him, and that instead of that, they needed Him to provide a substitute to die their death and in whom they could be clothed. Through Word and Sacrament, the Lord Jesus proclaimed the Gospel to our first parents.

But did they believe it? Did they have faith? Were they saved? Well, Eve certainly was. How do I know that? Because she tells us herself.

There’s a verse about Eve – in fact, a verse where Eve speaks – that we can easily overlook. You see, we can easily just think of it as the transition from one story to another and so miss out on the import of what Eve has to say.

Monday, 21 July 2014

A Walk in the Vineyards

The sunlight was beautiful. After hours of driving – through France and into Italy, back to France then back to Italy – a walk in the evening sunlight was the perfect way to end the afternoon. The Italian lady spoke of a ‘big bench’, but more importantly she spoke of a fantastic view over the vineyards. The English of the Italian gentleman was as limited as our Italian, yet still, without words, he managed to show us the way to go.

The sun shone on our faces. The dogs barked as we walked past the lemon trees. And then we were off. Down a country lane between rustic farm buildings. Up a hill between the shining green vineyards.

We stopped to look at the vines. We stopped to look at the grapes. Not the grapes you find on the shelves of Asda or Waitrose, but tiny green balls. Baby grapes. Now, I suppose all grapes must start this way, but we’d never seen grapes like this before.

And as we looked at the grapes, my friend started to sing. He did not sing an Italian song. Nor did he sing a pop song. Instead, upon that Lord’s Day evening, he sang a song of praise.

Now, when I tell you that my friend started to sing a song of praise, perhaps what you imagine in your mind is the latest ditty from the latest album. Or perhaps you imagine one of those songs which has managed to pass the test of time and endure for a year or two. But, no, that’s not what he sang.