For several years I have pondered whether a re-written section of Ephesians chapter two was to be attempted. I refer to the verses in which Paul writes of the hostility that existed between the Jews and the Gentiles, he calls the former, those that are near and the latter are those that are far off. The wonderful thing Paul is bringing out is the way the Lord Jesus has broken down the wall of partition between these two groups of people and made both one ‘reconciling both unto God in one body through the cross’. It appears to me that nowadays the issue of the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile is not relevant to the churches however, other dividing walls are being built up and their presence denies the cross work of Christ. My re-write of these verses might substitute ‘the dividing wall between the young people and the older ones’ for instance.
A fact of life in the churches of today is the frequent loss of the young from among the congregations as they reach into late teens and early twenties. This is of almost endemic proportions. I have read a number of reasons suggested for this fact and each of them appear to have some truth in them. A fresh thought that I have had concerns the conflicting messages that the children in our churches are subjected to from week to week in both the example of many of their parents and leaders and the teachings set forth. I can simplify this to two main elements. In the days of the evangelical awakening of the late eighteenth century the fact of original sin was emphasized. Children were born in sin and needed the grace of God to come to them in conversion, regeneration and all those precious gifts associated with these things. Jonathan Edwards represented this ‘conversionist’ view and it has been taken up and continues to this day in evangelical circles of almost every stripe. In the 19th century a man named Horace Bushnell wrote a book called ‘Christian Nurture’. In it the emphasis changed. Rather he wrote of right development of children, this coincided with the later workings of the industrial revolution and the need for increasing development in education and the need to keep pace with a society which was changing from mainly rural to that which was scientific and industrial . This seems to me to have led to a confused sound coming in the teaching of the churches and of Christian parents to their children. On the one hand we tell them that there is nothing good in them and that they need a mighty work of God in which they are born from above, deeply changed and this can only take place as they repent from all other dependencies and things in which they could glory in this world. They need to be on fire for God, laying aside everything else in order to obtain this treasure.
Looking back on the musing written 24th I realize again the lack of ability to convey all that is in one’s heart. Perhaps this is true of all who attempt writing even a short piece, certainly it is true of those of us to seek to preach the Lord’s word. How vital the work of the Holy Spirit is in the matter of the anointing. The receiving of understand comes by the anointing, the grace to ponder that which is shown, then the needed grace to convey it on paper or in preaching and then finally the grace of the Spirit’s anointing to be operative in the reader and hearer. Truly, ‘without Me we can do nothing’. I know this is a reference taken from John chapter 15 and in it the Lord Jesus is referring to Himself but it pertains to the Spirits work in the enabling anointing too. Although the Spirit’s presence is steady and constant in the life of the Christian, yet His particular work of anointing varies and this not always because of the condition of the person in whom He abides. There is the vital element of God’s sovereignty involved in all this. All of us engaged in the Lord’s ministry feel our lacks in this regard and it is humbling to our hearts and therefore beneficial to us. We do not always sense the same enablement, the same quickening or the same release in word. We examine ourselves at times and find no adequate cause of difference within ourselves and we bow our hearts and acknowledge the Lord’s complete right to do as He pleases with His own.
A hundred years ago there was a move of God that influenced many. It took place in Los Angeles and centered in the area of Azusa Street. Some years later a book was written by a man much involved in what took place. His name was Frank Bartleman. Several editions of the book were published under different titles. I read the edition entitled “Another Wave Rolls In’. I like that title. It has a humility about it, a recognition that what took place during those months and years was an in-rolling of one of the many waves of God’s rich outpoured blessing. There have been so many waves, not all of them have been written about I am sure. God at work, causing His Spirit to be outpoured, like waves of the sea and the rising of the tide.