For those who are unable to view the free live stream of the Strange Fire Conference here at Grace Community Church, I thought I would do my best to provide a written summary of the various sessions as they unfold (Session One; Session Two; Session Three). I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep this up, or if I’ll be able to other sessions (check out Tim Challies‘ blog for his coverage) But I thought a little would be better than nothing. It provides us with a helpful opportunity to interact with what is actually being said at the conference. Having said that, the following was transcribed in haste, and so please forgive any typos. I pray it’s a benefit to you.
What you read in Charismatic Chaos is what we see back in Africa, except Africa is much worse.
I will be doing a brief overview of the Charismatic movement in Africa. It’s something I’ve observed over the past 30 years, and I consider it to be a matter of real concern. This is not simply something I’ve learned about through reading books. It’s what I come across, literally, every day. And so I hope you will therefore bear with me if I get a little emotional. It’s a real concern in my own heart.
Most of what I will go on to paint before you is rather foreign to a Western mindset, but I hope I’ll do the best I can in the little time I have, to make you appreciate our African perspective of things. Given the short time, I’ll be using broad strokes, and so you will have to read further, and as you do I hope you will come to appreciate more of this issue in its detail.
Sanctify Them in the Truth; Your Word is Truth
Turn with me to John 17, not because I’m expounding this text but because I really want us to keep this in mind as we deal with this issue. Because the Charismatic Chaos that I will be pointing out to you would not exist if John 17:17 had been taken seriously. It would not be where it is if we could get back to what Jesus was saying in His high priestly prayer.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.
This was toward the end of the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is on the eve of being crucified, and so He is wrapping up truths that He has been teaching over a long period. He’s seeking to convince His disciples concerning how they ought to live especially in the light of His absence. And then as it comes to this prayer, He deliberately prays it in the ears of His disciples so that they may remain with something of that which is at the center of His own heart. The glory of God—“glorify Yourself,” He says over and over again. He deals with this reality that there is a time between the first and second coming. But there is an organizing principle that is to be retained at the center of Christianity. And it is this: His Word, God’s Word, is to remain saving and sanctifying His people. And He puts it within His prayer to the Father that this is what He desires.
I would like to suggest to you that it has been a failure to recognize the centrality and the sufficiency of the Word of God that has produced something of what we will look at this evening.