A Message to North Queensland District Conference from Rev Stuart Hall District Superintendent, 26th September 2016
One of the things that came together for our DBA was the sense that we need to be about Making Disciples. Recently in Townsville church, we spent time in the TSM Personal Discipleship course seeking fulfil that mandate of Jesus to Make Disciples. We really need to go back to that first Easter morning.
Remember how the women went to the tomb on that first Sunday Easter morning and discovered that it was empty and were told, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen …” and then appeared to Mary who lingered at the garden tomb. Then John and Peter ran to the tomb, confirming it. Then Jesus appeared to two as they walked to Emmaus, then the eleven without Thomas, and a week later to all eleven. He appears to the disciples who have returned to do some fishing, and particularly to Peter at that morning breakfast to restore Peter, and finally he comes to that moment when he has to leave them. On a mountain somewhere in Galilee, Jesus utters these final words to them.
All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Therefore go[-ing] (and) make disciples of all nations,
Baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and
Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
And the church has been doing that ever since … to lesser or greater degrees.
Clearly, the church explodes numerically during the first Pentecost, as recorded in Acts, but it becomes complacent about going until persecution forces the church out of Jerusalem first by Jews, such as Saul who became Paul, and then after the generation of the Disciples who mostly died as martyrs, a succession of Roman persecutions, including the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. until the 3rd century.
The church gained a great deal of respectability under Roman Emperor Constantine; 7 church ecumenical councils guide the church until 800s, with the church continuing to expand into Africa, Europe and Asia. About 1050 A.D. the church split into East and West and a period known as the Dark ages followed, with crusades for about 200 years (1090 – 1290), yet God had his “7000” hidden who have not bowed the knee to Baal.
The Reformation era began with Luther in the 1500s in Germany, Calvin in France, Zwingli in Switzerland and Henry VIII’s challenge in England to papal authority, leading to much disruption, but a return to putting the Word of God back in the language and hands of the people.
The Wycliffe, Hus, Zinzenforf, Moravian heritage, returning to the Scriptures and the Great Commission, influenced Carey, considered “father of modern missions” and the Wesley brothers, who after their “heart-warming” personal experience are used by God to transform England, which then overflows to America and the Methodist church is born.
Various denominations spring up, seeking to return the church to the Great Commission. The Baptist church emerges in 1845, the Pentecostal church begins in 1916, many other churches spring up during the 1900s, including the Wesleyan Methodist church of Australia, beginning in Glenroy, Victoria in 1946
But the reality of the last century is that the main-line churches of the West have been in decline. Once vibrant, their form tended to replace their function. At this point, a movement has lost its purpose, its way and its impact.
Where do we go from here?
There has a been a number of emerging groups. There was the rise of the “mega-Church”, which centralises the power, and to which the average church does not have the capacity to birth. More recently a movement called the “emerging church” which was a nebulous reaction against institutional formalism, but in the words of Alan Hirsch, one of its own proponents, it produced a club of trendy consumerists, but not disciples. A “missional” movement has followed, which is seeking to embed the church’s identity back into the mission of God, a formal missional “glory” of the early church restored to the church today.
This is a good thing and it is pushing us back to examine our most primary and defining story of who the church is, that of the New Testament Church. But beware of all sorts of extremes, including the power-hungry New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), who have been seduced by the ancient yet subtle lust for power.
It is recognised that the greatest force to refine the church is persecution, when everything is on the line, and no-one takes up following Christ who isn’t also ready to die for their faith. That will sort out the sheep and the goats … and I believe that is why the Lord has allowed what is taking place in the spiritually declining West … it’s part of the natural cycle of things … spiritual vitality à affluence à materialism à spiritual decline à desperation à prayer à revival à spiritual vitality.
So we have come back to the focus of this conference, the Great Commission.
As Rick Warren said some years ago, A Great Commitment to the Great Commandment – to love the Lord with all … and love one’s neighbour as oneself … and the Great Commission will produce to a Great Church.
And he is right.
I love the Wesley’s focus on Love and Discipline – it’s Scriptural, it’s formative, it picks up these same vital ingredients to build a great church.
The TSM Personal Discipleship course fits right in here, as we consider “What kind of disciple do we want to produce?
At this conference, we want to keep that balance: not the formless emerging church reaction that produced very little, nor the formalism that deadened the church in the first place.
As I reflected on our theme, it occurred to me that we could so easily be led down a discipleship path of KNOW and DO, like following a formula, the very problem that has dogged the church over the years – form taking over the function of the church.
I was reading through the letter of 1 John, and found myself confronted by a simple word.
We can be great followers of Jesus, but without anointing we will lack the power to transform. And I believe that it is a timely word for us as we who love the Word and seek to be students of the Word and disciplined in our obedience of it.
1 John 2:18-29
18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But their gong showed that none of them belonged to us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist, denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us – eternal life.
26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you remain in him.
28 And now, dear children, continue in Him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has be born of him.
In an age where John is writing several antichrists have arisen who have lead the people of God astray and get lost. The answer was the anointing. Let’s consider what the Scriptures mean by this.
The theme of knowing the truth links the anointing to a work of the Holy Spirit as we refer back to John’s Gospel. [14:26] But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
This anointing is a working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
If we dig back to the Old Testament we discover things about anointing that is really significant, which will link back to the John passages.
A few Scriptures:
When the children of Israel were setting up the tabernacle of worship, special anointing oil was prescribed.
Exodus 30:25 –27, 35,37
6kg liquid myrrh, 3kg of fragrant cinnamon, 6kg cassia, about 4 litres of olive oil. 25 Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil. 26 Then use it to anoint the tent of meeting, the Ark of the Covenant law, 27 the altar of burn offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. You shall consecrate them so that they will be most holy and whatever touches them will be holy.
35 then the Lord said to Moses, “Take fragrant spices – gum resin, onycha and galbanum and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred … 37 do not make any incense of this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the Lord.
Beauty of Fragrance
The first thing that is spoken of here is that of fragrance. This was described as the work of a perfumer, which is designed to lift those who smell it into a whole new realm. The aroma brought something beautiful, attractive, pleasant, that made you want to linger in its presence. When someone is anointed, there is something attractive about that person that makes you want to spend more time with them. Here the attraction is a beautiful life that brings you into the very presence of God Himself. When you are with this person, something wonderful and almost mystical about the presence of Christ is with you.
Late in the year about 1979, I recall a visit by Rev Kingsley Ridgway the founder of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia to the Joyful News Wesleyan Methodist Church, in Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, a place known for its low life. Rev Ridgway was a fairly senior man, His speech was a little slow, almost a monotone. His demeanour was plain and his presentation was simple …
… but as the words flowed out of his mouth, each word seemed bathed in the love of God. Each sentence dripped with the Father’s heart for his lost son, aching, longing, patiently waiting, and then suddenly bursting forth when the son arrived home from his long journey. Here the Father’s actions were full of restoring, healing power as the son discovered the greatest treasure of all, His Father’s heart, which had been there all the time.
And oh how the love of God touched the heart and moistened the eyes of that 19 year old young man. What I witnessed was the unction or anointing of the Holy Spirit in a life that was dedicated, given over, anointed by God himself.
The beauty of a fragrant life is power and God wants that for every one of his disciples.
Transforming the lives of others
There is an expression which stands out against most of the Old Testament teaching; “and whatever touches them (the burning altar with its utensils) which are most holy, WILL BE HOLY. [Ex 30:27]
When Jesus ministered in Israel, Pharisees ruled the people with their lists of regulations about clean and unclean. If someone touched an unclean thing, then they had to bathe and make an offering in order to be cleansed, which extended to their rituals of washing of hands. This meant that a section of the community was untouchable, those with leprosy and infection skin diseases. They were relegated to be outside normal society. You couldn’t touch them, because you would be unclean. So they lived in their seclusion, in their isolation and loneliness unable to be touched by the very God who wanted to touch them. We know that because the scripture tells us that when a leper came to Jesus, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you? The leper replied, “I want to be clean!” The Scripture says that Jesus reached with his healing power out and touched him! Something more than physical healing took place that day, as the untouchable became touchable again. That which was defiled was now cleansed. Jesus was not defiled by touching by touching the untouchable. The untouchable was cleansed by a touch of an anointed person. Those who are anointed are not defiled by touching untouchables. Instead there is something powerful and transforming because of the anointing of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life.
Sadly, the holiness movement lost sight of that at various stages, and rules about associations sometimes meant that those who needed the healing touch of God missed out, because we didn’t want to be see associating with the unclean. Was Jesus not accused of this very thing, hanging out with the wrong crowd? Don’t you know that this person is a sinner? How can you call yourself a prophet? Yet that is exactly where the prophet needs to be; where the people are hurting, where the people are defiled. Yes, there are dangers, but the anointing protects.
Jesus Christ wants us to touch the untouchable with His anointing. Yes, you and me, his hands and feet. He wants us to go. He wants us to touch. The anointing is an anointing of God to bring transformation.
- BELONGING / ADOPTION
37 do not make any incense of this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the Lord.
The anointing oil was something that was set aside. It was sacred, and for God’s use exclusively. It’s a clear picture of how God wants to take us as His own, for His exclusive and wonderful use.
This is not just a belonging like I own a car or a computer. I owned a Volkswagen Combi, used it and then got rid of it, replacing it with a Toyota Hiace. I had a Samsung Galaxy S4, and it got a bit worn out, so I replaced it.
God’s belonging is not like that!
The anointing oil was smeared over the surface of the object, not necessarily the entire thing, but symbolically it covered the whole thing. It transformed the whole thing into something sacred. The sacred oil also separated the item apart for God’s exclusive use. The possession BELONGED to God.
This is the picture of adoption, like Romans 8:15
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry “Abba, Father,” the Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if children, then heirs.
A beautiful picture of Adoption the Lord has taught me through the welcome into our home of Ana Mae. This is not another “servant” or work unit in our home, but another child. We don’t threaten Ana Mae with, “well, if you can’t get this done, we’ll trade you in for another child!” We have entered into a relationship where we are a Father and Mother, and our house is a home, Ana Mae’s home, a place of permanent belonging, where she will ALWAYS have access. We are constantly speaking out this truth. “Ana Mae, you are our child and we love you and always will. You belong with us and our love for you will never stop. We belong together.”
To be anointed is to be owned by God, to dwell in a place of safety, connection and love. Through the anointing, the Holy Spirit speaks to us, telling us that we are His and He is ours. His love for us will never cease.
Assurance / Authority
Romans 8:14-15 speaks of Assurance, and it is this assurance that gives us another important gift that comes from his anointing – his Authority.
I can come and speak the words of God to someone and they have divine authority, not because I am God, but because these are His Words and as His representative, they have the authority of God Himself. I know that as one anointed, speaking His words, that I am saying what He wants them to hear through my mouth. These words have power in their lives because of the anointing. The child of God who rests in the authority of God, who has not only the assurance of their salvation but the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives through the words that they receive, day by day can face any situation that come against them, even those set up by Satan.
God’s authority allows doors to be opened to us, because we represent the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but the authority is only there under the anointing. As soon as we remove ourselves from under the anointing we do not have His authority. When we step into the pulpit, called by God to feed the flock, with His anointing, we will have his authority. If we do not have the anointing, we should stop filling the air with words that lack power. Walk in the anointing of God!
The John passage reminds us that the Holy Spirit will lead us into the truth. Jesus said, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”
As we submit to the Work of God in our lives, as we submit to the Word of God spoken to us, He will reveal truth to us – the truth about sin.
He is not playing games with us. Truth is revealed so that we might adjust our lives. This is wrong. This is less than what God wants for you. Set this aside. This will damage you. The Holy Spirit is faithful to speak to us and he will convict us of our sin.
The Holy Spirit is faithful to speak to us and convict us about the righteousness of God, because He is absolutely righteous. And then the Holy Spirit convicts concerning the fearful judgement of God that will come because of the first two – our sin and His righteousness. It is the pleading work of the Holy Spirit that is yearning for our return for our repentance.
It is the Holy Spirit that is yearning for the salvation of the lost that they might come to repentance.
A further flow-on from the anointing is what Romans 8:14 tells us. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
The anointing allows us to be lead, because the Holy Spirit will speak in that moment the things that need to be said. He will speak let you know when something needs to be done.
We began this year in Townsville with 21 days of prayer and fasting, which the Lord prompted me to do after telling me to listen to my wife one day. “Sit and listen to this. This is important.” So I sat and listened. That door opened the door to the 21 days, which opened the door to a monthly prayer meeting since Easter, open to all the churches of Townsville, coming together to seek the Lord and His anointing on the churches of Townsville for the sake of the gospel.
Where did that come from, but a leading of the Holy Spirit, on the part of many of God’s people.
It was also that sense of God’s leading that urged Pastor Zane Herrington to pick up the phone to call me, and for me to call our NS Rev Rex Rigby who put me in touch with the Tongan Wesleyan Community in SQ/NSW who were meeting over Easter and the same holy Spirit who spoke to Rev Rachael Tonga to put up her hand to go to Tully going against family advice, but in answer to God’s plan for the Tongan seasonal workers to be properly cared for by a Tongan pastor who knew their culture, heart language and who shared that anointing, so that they will take back that anointing to their own people of Tonga, where tradition has stolen some of the hearts of their people.
Isn’t it true that our District’s church plants have been the result, not of the work of man, but by the leading and anointing of the Spirit of God? Consider the Afrikaanse Christelike Kerk, where Pastor Neels and Marlene Prisloo were led by God to contact Rev Jake Gerber, also from South Africa, the led to their joining our District.
Isn’t it true that the leading of the Holy Spirit raised up Pastor Sanaila and Feasi Bolaqace to step into the ministry training stream and to call the Fijians together to reach other Fijians in Rockhampton and beyond?
This is the anointing that will build the church. This is the anointing that the disciple of Jesus Christ needs to be able to be used of God.
So I want us to see that it is the Anointed Life that has fragrance, beauty and attractiveness for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is the anointed life that has the power to touch the untouchables and bring transformation.
It is the anointed life that experiences the belonging of God through adoption so that we have an eternal family, and an assurance that we belong as the anointing cries out “Aba, Father!” into our hearts.
It is the anointed life that moves with authority to speak and to do what He calls us to do, even in places where the enemy roars like a lion, but we have peace, because He is with us.
It is the anointed life that is the Spirit-led life that tells us when it is God’s time, so that we do not need to be anxious about when things need to happen. No matter the mountains, the deadlines, the threatening situations. We don’t get pressed into offering the sacrifice like Saul, who should have waited for Samuel the prophet to act. God will show up. He will not foreclose on us.
You and I need the anointing of the Holy Spirit, if we are going to be effective as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Am I saying we don’t need discipline or training? Of course not. Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs no to be ashamed. But if we lack the anointing, we have just created a mere institution.
Hindrances to the Anointing
The Scripture says in Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.
We grieve the Holy Spirit when we spoil relationships with bad talk, when we allow the flesh to speak into our lives instead of the Spirit. When we move independently of the anointing, under our own control and not the leading of the Holy Spirit. Instead of walking in the anointing, we substitute our own knowledge, our own wisdom, our own authority. We are pushing aside the Holy Spirit. We are resisting and usurping the Holy Spirit.
Do not quench the Spirit
In the context of praying, giving thanks, rejoicing, Paul says to the Thessalonians [1Thess 5:19] do not quench the Holy Spirit, who enables us to live holy lives. Obey the Word. Obey His promptings. Do not reject His work in your life, his corrections, his directions.
The anointed life is a powerful, soul-satisfying, other-giving, God-glorifying life … we cannot afford to limit God in any way.
Keep close account with God.
Listen for the still whispers of His love for us
Delight in His corrections.
Love and trust his leadings.
He will make your life fruitful, joyful, powerful.
 Rom 11:4
 Location 1608, The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch, Brazos Press 2006, 2016
 John 8:32
 John 14:6
 2 Timothy 2:15