Monthly Archives: February 2014

Hear… And Live

I believe the secret of eternal life is hidden right here—“My sheep hear My Voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, and I give unto them eternal life…” (John 10:27,28).

I remember an experience I had years ago while we were visiting my mother-in-law in Calgary.  This goes back about thirty-five years, to 1980 or thereabouts.

We were visiting her in the house, and after a while I decided to go for a short walk down the street along the city sidewalk.  I walked down the block, and as I walked along, the thought came into my heart—and it was so clear, and the Presence of the Lord was in the thought—that death was not inevitable… if I could simply hear God saying, “Live.”

For, I asked myself, “What has more authority?  The commandment of the living God?  Or death?

I remember how exhilarating the thought was.  As I walked along, I was certain that if I could but hear His commandment, His Voice saying, “Live,” I need never die.  All I needed was to hear with the hearing of faith.  And then life, not death, is inevitable.

Very naive of me?  Young in the faith, and in need of teachers who could sit me down and wise me up?

But Jesus told Martha the very same thing, first saying that those who believe in Him, though they were dead, they would live (which most Christians believe to be true), but then continuing with, “whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die” (Jn. 11:26).  To this last statement He appended a question.  “Believest thou this?”

That’s a hard one to believe.  Yet Paul talks of a day when “those who are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall be caught up together with them [with the dead who have been raised] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thes. 4:17).

So my thought on that city sidewalk was entirely scriptural.

However, there was a lot more to it than I realized that day; it was far from a lesson in theology that the Lord was speaking into my heart.

He was showing me—and I didn’t discover this for some time—that there is a domain of hearing His word that rules over and overrules the whole domain of sin and death in which the family of Adam is bound—so that, in hearing His Voice, I need not be subject to the law of sin and death, but am empowered to walk in Life, eternal Life.  “My sheep hear My Voice… and I give unto them eternal life.”

Death is far more than an event that terminates our mortal lives; it is the whole domain under which all those in Adam spend their lives from the moment they are born to the day they go to the grave.  The Good News is that there is realm of life in Christ over which death has no dominion.

And, there is a faith, a hearing of faith—not just in the moment I first heard His Voice and was born again, but a continual hearing—that enjoins me to that life, in fact joins me to Him who was once dead, and is now reigning in eternal life.

My sheep hear My Voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, and I give unto them eternal life…

There are things in the domain of Hell—the realm of the dead, the domain of sin and death—that are very tenacious.  The grip of sin, guilt, in the soul…  addictions of the body and the mind, thought patterns, the habit of ingrained thought patterns… all the domain of the carnal mind.  Which Paul says is itself death.  “For the mind of the flesh is death…” (Rom. 8:6).

Yes… but to hear His Voice calling out to us!

Bound down with twice ten thousand ties,
Yet let me hear Thy call;
My soul in confidence shall rise,
Shall rise and break through all.

And so God cries in Isaiah the prophet:

Incline your ear, and come unto Me: hear, and your soul shall live…” (Isa. 55:3).

That is just what God is dropping into my heart these days.

Anticipate hearing His Voice afresh.

…Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David (Isa. 55:3).

What are the sure mercies of David?  According to the apostle Paul, it is resurrection life.

And as concerning that He raised Him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, He said on this wise, ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David’” (Acts 13:34).

This is an astonishing verse.  Remember that in the King James Version, ye and you are always plural pronouns.  So apparently God, in raising up His Son from the dead, fulfilled the ancient prophecy that says, “I will give you the sure mercies of David.”  Who are these—you—who receive the sure mercies of David, that is, resurrection life, because of the raising of the Son of God from the dead?

It is those who hear His Voice, and respond, and as a result are brought into New Covenant relationship with Him!

Let’s begin at Isaiah 55:1.

Ho!  Everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread?  And your labour for that which satisfieth not?  Hearken diligently unto Me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
Incline your ear, and come unto Me: hear and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

And so, in raising up His Son from the dead, God makes an everlasting covenant of life with the thirsty, the hungry, the poor, the weary…. who hear His Voice and simply come to Him.

Perhaps we say, “I don’t know how good my hearing is.”

But are we hungry?  Thirsty?  Spiritually impoverished?  Weary—tired of labouring to advance ourselves spiritually?  Then let us notice the steps.

1)     “Incline your ear…”  This is where we begin.  If we are unsure how good our hearing is, let us begin by at least inclining our ear to Him, training our ear in His direction, and not toward the world with its many voices constantly clamouring for our attention.  To put it another way, let us cultivate an ear to hear like we would a plant, watering it, and keeping the weeds out.

2)    “Come unto Me…”  It is a loving invitation.  “Come unto Me.”  He says to the hungry, “Come,” to the thirsty, “Come,” to the weary, “Come.”  Do we hear Him calling us?  “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (Jn. 6:37).

3)    “Hear, and your soul shall live,” He calls.  It is a quickening word, it creates the very hearing it calls for, imparts the very life it promises.

Years ago I had an old friend who lived in a seniors’ facility.  She was deaf, and those who visited her had to communicate by writing on a little notepad she kept.  I say she was deaf, but let me tell you, she was not deaf.  One day she gave me a bookmark on the back of which in her very shaky handwriting she had written a few lines from Psalm 143 beginning, “Cause me to hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning…”

I treasure that bookmark, which I keep in my Bible; what she wrote on its back has been my prayer for years.  Cause me to hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning—that is, Lord, Your Voice!  Which, as He speaks with quickening power, the sure mercies of David become mine– the faithful mercies, His covenant-love, His lovingkindness.  (It’s the same word in Hebrew, chesed.)

And this is my prayer in this hour, which many are beginning to recognize is a very early hour of a brand new day.  Let those of us who are watching for the morning be praying:

“Dear Lord, for our part, we are inclining our ear to You, recognizing how deeply we need to hear Your Voice in this hour when the morning is about to break on a world in gross darkness.  For your part, please cause us to hear Your Voice, cause us to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning!  For in Thee do we trust, for You are our beloved Shepherd David, and we are the beloved sheep of your pasture.  Cause us to hear Your Voice, our Shepherd!  We believe that in Your Voice is the grace to do things otherwise impossible for us to do.  Cause us to hear Your Voice!  We trust You; hearing your Voice we will follow You as You lead us in the realms of eternal life.”

Heed The Harbinger

No, I am not referring to the popular book of our day, but to a man who in his own day was not very popular at all.  This blog entry is an excerpt from a writing by Edward Burrough, one of the early Quakers.  Actually they called themselves simply Friends; it was in scorn that their adversaries called them Quakers, for they saw them frequently trembling, and ridiculed them for it.

You and I know why they were trembling… or ought to know… by first-hand experience.

I came across this writing in Foundation Papers, a newsletter I get in the mail from contemporary Quakers who are seeking to return to the foundation the first Quakers established back in the 17th century.  That move of the Spirit of God shook the world, and as you read this excerpt you will see why.  You will see glimpses of a very powerful Gospel that in its going forth exposed how far the churches of that day, bound as they were in formalism and the traditions of men, had strayed from the original Gospel of Christ and the apostles.

Our old friend George Warnock used to say that the early Quakers were a harbinger of what is coming.  Harbinger?  Something that shows what is coming.

With this in mind, then—with what is coming in mind—there is only one thing we can and must do, and if we are wise we are doing this with the whole heart.  We are heeding the same proclamation that John the Baptist and Jesus Christ and the early apostles sounded, and which those early Quakers also sounded.

“Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

Edward Burrough was just 18 when he was caught into the powerful current of the Spirit that was moving through England at the time.  In 1658 when he was 24 he wrote this piece.  And just four years later he died in prison where, along with many other Quakers, he had been cast because of the living Testimony that dwelt in him.

Here is Edward Burrough’s Epistle to the Reader.  I have put in italics the portion that I found so moving.

The Epistle To The Reader
By Edward Burrough
London the 9. Mo. 1658

It is now about seven years since the Lord raised us up in the north of England, and opened our mouths in this his Spirit; and what we were before in our religion, profession, and practices is well known to that part of the country; that generally we were men of the strictest sect, and of the greatest zeal in the performance of outward righteousness, and went through and tried all sorts of teachers, and run from mountain to mountain, and from man to man, and from one form to another, as do many to this very day, who yet remain ungathered to the Lord. And such we were, (to say no more of us,) that sought the Lord, and desired the knowledge of his ways more than anything beside, and for one I may speak, who, from a child, even a few years old, set my face to seek and find the Saviour, and, more than life and treasure or any mortal crown, sought with all my heart the one thing that is needful, to wit, the knowledge of God.

And after our long seeking the Lord appeared to us, and revealed his glory in us, and gave us of his Spirit from heaven, and poured it upon us, and gave us of his wisdom to guide us, whereby we saw all the world, and the true state of things, and the true condition of the church in her present estate. First the Lord brought us by his power and wisdom, and the word by which all things were made, to know and understand, and see perfectly, that God had given to us, every one of us in particular, a light from himself shining in our hearts and consciences; which light, Christ his son, the Saviour of the world, had lighted every man withal; which light in us we found sufficient to reprove us, and convince [that is, convict] us of every evil deed, word, and thought, and by it, in us, we came to know good from evil, right from wrong, and whatsoever is of God, and according to him, from what is of the devil, and what was contrary to God in motion, word, and works….

…And also as our minds became turned, and our hearts inclined to the light which shined in every one of us, the perfect estate of the church we came to know; her estate before the apostles’ days, and in the apostles’ days, and since the days of the apostles.

And her present estate we found to be as a woman who had once been clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, who brought forth him that was to rule the nations; but she was fled into the wilderness, and there sitting desolate, in her place that was prepared of God for such a season, in the very end of which season, when the time of her sojourning was towards a full end, then were we brought forth….

….And we found this light to be a sufficient teacher, to lead us to Christ, from whence this light came, and thereby it gave us to receive Christ, and to witness him to dwell in us; and through it the new covenant we came to enter into, to be made heirs of life and salvation.

And in all things we found the light which we were enlightened withal, (which is Christ,) to be alone and only sufficient to bring to life and eternal salvation; and that all who did own the light in them which Christ hath enlightened every man withal, they needed no man to teach them, but the Lord was their teacher, by his light in their own consciences, and they received the holy anointing.

And so we ceased from the teachings of all men, and their words, and their worships, and their temples, and all their baptisms and churches; and we ceased from our own words, and professions, and practices in religion, in times before zealously performed by us, through diverse forms, and we became fools for Christ’s sake, that we might become truly wise. And by this light of Christ in us were we led out of all false ways, and false preachings, and from false ministers, and we met together often, and waited upon the Lord in pure silence from our own words, and all men’s words, and hearkened to the voice of the Lord, and felt his word in our hearts, to burn up and beat down all that was contrary to God; and we obeyed the light of Christ in us, and followed the motions of the Lord’s pure Spirit, and took up the cross to all earthly glories, crowns, and ways: and denied ourselves, our relations, and all that stood in the way betwixt us and the Lord; and we chose to suffer with and for the name of Christ, rather than enjoy all the pleasures upon earth, or all our former zealous professions and practices in religion without the power and Spirit of God, which the world yet lives in. And while waiting upon the Lord in silence, as often we did for many hours together, with our minds and hearts toward him, being staid in the light of Christ within us, from all thoughts, fleshly motions, and desires, in our diligent waiting and fear of his name, and hearkening to his word, we received often the pouring down of the Spirit upon us, and the gift of God’s holy eternal Spirit as in the days of old, and our hearts were made glad, and our tongues loosed, and our mouths opened, and we spake with new tongues, as the Lord gave us utterance, and as his Spirit led us, which was poured down upon us, on sons and daughters. And to us hereby were the deep things of God revealed, and things unutterable were known and made manifest; and the glory of the Father was revealed, and then began we to sing praises to the Lord God Almighty, and to the Lamb forever, who had redeemed us to God, and brought us out of the captivity and bondage of the world, and put an end to sin and death; and all this was by and through, and in the light of Christ within us. And much more might be declared hereof, that which could not be believed if it were spoken, of the several and particular operations and manifestations of the everlasting Spirit that was given us, and revealed in us.

But this is the sum: life and immortality were brought to light, power from on high and wisdom were made manifest, and the day everlasting appeared unto us, and the joyful sun of righteousness did arise and shine forth unto us and in us; and the holy anointing, the everlasting Comforter, we received; and the babe of glory was born, and the heir of the promise brought forth to reign over the earth, and over hell and death, whereby we entered into everlasting union, and fellowship, and covenant with the Lord God, whose mercies are sure and infinite, and his promise never fails. We were raised from death to life, and changed from Satan’s power to God, and gathered from all the dumb shepherds, and off all the barren mountains, into the fold of eternal peace and rest, and mighty and wonderful things hath the Lord wrought for us, and by us, by his own outstretched arm.

And thus we became followers of the Lamb whithersoever he goes; and he hath called us to make war in righteousness for his name’s sake against hell and death, and all the powers of darkness, and against the beast and false prophet, which have deceived the nations. And we are of the royal seed elect, chosen and faithful, and we war in truth and just judgment; not with weapons that are carnal, but by the sword that goes out of his mouth, which shall slay the wicked, and cut them to pieces. And after this manner was our birth or bringing forth, and thus hath the Lord chosen us and made us an army dreadful and terrible, before whom the wicked do fear and tremble; and our standard is truth, justice, righteousness, and equity; and all that come unto us, must cleave thereunto, and fight under that banner without fear, and without doubting, and they shall never be ashamed nor put to flight, neither shall they ever be conquered by hell or death, or by the powers of darkness; but the Lord shall be their armour, weapon, and defence for evermore. And they that follow the Lamb shall overcome, and get the victory over the beast, and over the dragon, and over the gates of hell; for the Lord is with us, and who shall be able to make us afraid?

That’s the end of the excerpt.  After I read it I just… it made me tremble, and it’s sackcloth and ashes for me till in our own generation we come to the reality of this Gospel—a Gospel not in word, but in power, a Gospel by which life and immortality are not just words on the pages of my Bible; life and immortality are brought to light and shine forth in power and total victory over Hell and death and all the powers of darkness… and our whole world quakes as a result of it.  Too far out?  But the harbinger has already arrived… some 350 years ago!

Those wishing to read the Edward Burrough’s full epistle may find it at: http://www.strecorsoc.org/docs/burrough2.html  Beware of other things on this site: there are many writings there which show how painfully far many modern-day Quakers have strayed from the truth by following what they called the light in their hearts, all the while utterly losing sight of the True Light Himself.

Edward Burrough’s epistle is also available at:  http://www.hallvworthington.com/Burrough/Burrough%20Mystery.html.  There is also a short biography of him on this site.