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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Selwyn Hughes - A Bridging Link



Selwyn Hughes is like many of his contemporaries, which include other less wellknown names like

my first pastor Eric Chambers of Old Town Baptist Church Amersham, and a friend of both , Vic Ramsey.


Selwyn is best remembered for his daily devotional which I began reading after being baptised in the Spirit in 1972: Every Day With Jesus.


Many of Rowland Croucher's impressions about Selwyn's autobiography could be written here but I have shared his link.


In the context of this blog Selwyn is this extraordinary link between the Welsh Revival of his fathers and the search for the genuine gospel. I would say both Eric Chambers and Vic Ramsey were equally honest in their searches, and flexible about trying new approaches when something did not appear to work.


Unfortunately , I don't believe any of these three got any further than reading Norman Grubb's book on Rees Howells Intercessor. Vic, an evangelist, spearheaded drug rehabilitation from a Christian Spirit-filled angle. Eric Chambers was one of the early ministries that set up a Christian school by now in New Zealand ,effectively becoming its headmaster.

Selwyn mentions early on in his biography that he was most unsettled by his pentecostal training on pastoring. He thought it appalling that their take on pastoring was to share a few relevant Bible verses, pray for a breakthrough then leave. Eventually, after setting up both Crusade for World Revival , Every Day With Jesus, and a Christian Travel Company called Crusade Travel, he was inspired by both Bill Gothard, then later a monthlong counselling course at Rosemead Graduate School of Psychology to present a course entitled Dynamic Christian Living. Selwyn also received input from Larry Crabb, who with a Bible based Brethren denominational background himself, didn't mould scripture to fit psychology, but worked outward from scripture. Selwyn added a fifth aspect to our make-up to Larry's four :personal, rational,volitional and emotional; he added physical, recognising that sometimes problems are rooted in our chemical and physical make-up. Later, it was in Selwyn and Trevor Partridge, his associate's vision to have a UK Christian University as they do in the States.



So the first point I want to make about Selwyn is he represents a generation , once introduced to the rediscovery of the baptism of the Spirit and the supernatural gifts of the Spirit, wanting to explore how this extends to the whole of our lives.


Had he only known it, other very intellectual people who had experienced a deep spiritual invasion had already carved out the path for our modern generation. They were firmly a representation of the fact that if we will die with Christ, every part of our being can be received back in resurrection....including our intellect. The people that probably went the furthest around the middle of last century were Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Richard Wurmbrand, Mother Basilea Schlink, Mother Teresa, Ed Miller, Jorge Pradas, and perhaps most relevant to the subject of this blog , Norman Grubb.


The second point is a point about parachurch operations. While a new principle is opening up in the church at large, an individual or dedicated parachurch group will often be raised up by the Spirit to model it. Graham Pulkingham and the Fisherfolk were modelling a whole new way of living in the Body of Christ.
Related to this matter, is how the Holy Spirit will indicate something that is available in secular society that will provide insight, or a side-stepping point into what He is really after among his people. Selwyn, Larry Crabb, The Sanfords with their "Healing of the memories" were entering into territory formerly inhabited only by the "new science" of psychology.
If we stay too long in one of these areas we often miss the teaching point. Instead it becomes its own skewed reference point sucking everything around it into its orbit.


The Holy Spirit encompasses all these areas , using some of the principles involved , but the confusion amongst Christians hovers around this verse:
Henceforth we see no man after the flesh.

The fact is that most Christians see everyone very much after the flesh. And not perceiving Spirit, the best they can ever believe for is "improving the self". So we adopt Selwyn Hughes style teaching seminars without remembering that the whole key to the Christian life is

that we ALL really have died with Christ. It's Not a pious saying. At spirit level it is 100% accurate. Therefore there is no question of improving what is there with another programme or seminar plan, or 7 steps to this, ten steps to that.

This is the main difference with the generation that is emerging, and nowhere more so than online.

Yet once this foundation has been laid in the Spirit, at our soul level, our thinking level, our physiological level there are very real things to be learned from those in the know.

The first two points are about how Selwyn and his generation have moved the church forward from just flinging Bible verses at each other, and praying the odd prayer over folk, to genuinely beginning to unwrap what it means to be human, yet Christians now in relationship with a Saviour.

Looking back, we could say that Selwyn,Eric and Vic, were two steps out. They were beyond the Abraham faith revelation of salvation by faith. They had moved on through the "wells "revelation of Isaac, of baptism in the Spirit and empowering by faith, of breakthroughs of power, all themselves valid. Perhaps they weren't particularly big on "the "Word of faith" movement of Jacob "believing in "/ faithing into himself his desired quota of speckled and striped sheep. Perhaps Vic and Eric were bigger into this side of things.

But not one of them would be really at home with the fact that a thirdlevel of Christianity exists,
one like unto the last stage of Jacob's life.....the understanding of the Name change at Peniel. The understanding that there really is ONLY ONE LIFE in the universe. How we come into what Jesus describes as seeing with a "single eye".

So although a lot of Selwyn's discoveries and pioneering seminars have certain validity, they are so much the "spokes" of Life in Christ, that don't need adding manually and artificially once a community is properly birthed with a central hub of Christ.

Not just Christ that forgives
Not just the Christ that gives external empowerment and that brings deliverance.
But the Christ that HAS REPLACED each and every one of us at the Cross.

Such a corporate expression of the Body of Christ doesn't need these extra add-on seminars,or at the end of the book, the Anglican and Catholic patch-on idea of spiritual direction, these constructs to patch up something that never really existed.....the experience of living in a real version of the Body of Christ....not a partially still-born one.

The third main point in which Selwyn was a bridging link was in his relationship to this mysterious Melchizedek order church, that takes its direction from the Living Lord Jesus. And this at precisely the time when Bishop John Robinson was declaring the death of God in Britain.

The real surprise of the book was in his connection to Vic Ramsey, friend of Eric and to how crucially Selwyn was used as a bit of a secret kingpin or turnkey in the move of the Spirit in the UK. It was Selwyn who brought AC Valdez into this country for evangelistic healing crusades. He also arranged the first ever Morris Cerullo meeting in London in a huge marquee on bomb land in Elephant and Castle area. It was Selwyn who believed for and organised Crusade for London meetings at this time at Dennison House. So many trace their baptism in the Holy Spirit back to these very meetings which were something of a precursor for what would later become the Fountain Trust with Michael Harper, sweeping the charismatic movement through the denominations for the first time since the Pentecostal outpouring of the 1900s. Now, had I not read this book I would never have known all this. He really was one of God's main men at this time performing a function that opened great doors of the Spirit in our land.

My own testimony is that I went to a Saturday CWR seminar with Selwyn in Westminster Central Hall about 10 years later, (73 or so), and rather than follow his notes in the evening, he was led expressly by the Spirit to minister from the parable of Talents on fear. He then addressed the spirit of fear in the place, and after about 3 days I noticed that this rather unsightly wart on my hand that had been growing for some months just simply evaporated into nothing.

Related to this third point I want to highlight the section of his book immediately prior to this amazing release of the Spirit into the UK in the early 60s. Why? Well this will relate to many who are at this same stage right now in Christianity 3.0. Selwyn had spent an entire three months experiencing great anointing as he ministered in the States. A church was all set to establish him as pastor, provide a house and get him to send for his family. But God said no.

Selwyn returned home in obedience. But the obedience did not appear to lead to anything.....outwardly. Hmmmmm. This is very interesting.

Selwyn Hughes - My Story
CHAPTER 20
MY TIME IN THE WILDERNESS- extract

Within a few weeks of signing the lease on the property in East Molesey I had moved my family into the flat and begun to pray earnestly about what the Lord had for me to do in London. I had not committed myself to many preaching engagements during 1961 as I had not been sure whether my trip to the USA might mean us moving there as a family. My bank balance was getting low so I had to arrange an overdraft. But with little security it meant I could only rely on a moderate sum.
With no clear leading about ministry in London and only a few preaching engagements, there was just one thing to do — find a job. I saw an advertisement in the local papers for operators at the Hampton Telephone Exchange, so I took a six-week course and was taken on to work on the night shift, from 10pm to Gam. This enabled me to sleep in the mornings and look after John in the afternoons while Enid worked part-time in the local chemist. The money we earned kept us afloat financially.
After a couple of months of working at the Telephone Exchange and receiving no clear leading from God, I began to wonder whether I had missed my way spiritually. Many times I asked myself questions: have I got to this place through God's leading or just wishful thinking? Am I so spiritually insensitive that I can't tell the difference between what I want and what God wants for my life? What troubled me most was that I had begun to lose my desire for prayer and my appetite for the Scriptures. I still read my Bible, but it didn't seem to speak to me any more. read a book by C.S. Lewis one morning in which he said that there was an occasion in his life when it seemed that, as he tried to approach God in prayer, the Almighty not only shut the door of heaven in his face but he could almost hear the bolts being put in place. I knew how he felt.
Week by week my spiritual resources seemed to be depleted. I wondered whether I should give up all thoughts of pursuing the ministry and go for a career in teaching. At times it felt like being in a spiritual wrestling match without knowing who was wrestling against me — God or the devil. I had several weekend preaching engagements to fulfil, wrote a few articles for magazines, and when I was not away preaching I took my family to a local church. But it was as if the fire was going out in my soul.
One day, while reading the account of Jesus in the wilderness in Matthew's Gospel, I wondered whether 1, too, was going through a divinely arranged wilderness experience. It is much clearer to me now as I write than it was at the time, but I distinctly remember thinking that perhaps God was taking me through this experience because it was what I needed as further preparation for whatever work He had for me to do in the future. I felt somewhat comforted by that realisation.
I studied and read a lot about what Christians refer to as the `wilderness experience', and the conclusion I came to was that it is a prolonged or deeply intense period of trial and testing in which a particular providential purpose is being worked out. It is something we are led into by the Lord. God either arranges it, or allows us to enter into it, not because He wants to punish us but because He wants to prune us. He does this because it is the only way He can bring his purposes to pass in our lives.
My time in the wilderness lasted almost a year and taught me what Bible college or pastoral life could never have taught me —that there is nothing safe about life. It was in the wilderness that I had to prove to myself that I could believe in a God who sometimes leads us in ways that are baffling, but always can be trusted to do what is good.
I can almost pinpoint the day, even the moment, when I came out of the 'wilderness'. It happened late in the summer of 1962. I had begun to wonder whether there would ever be an end to this spiritual impasse I found myself in, or whether I would find myself in this mood for the rest of my life. On the day it happened I opened my Bible at the Song of Solomon 2:12-13 and read, `Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig-tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise ...' That was all, but it was enough.
Suddenly my spirit revived. I felt my old spiritual self again. It was as if I had been asleep and a hand brushed across my cheek, a voice called my name, and my eyes opened to a new world. The conviction entered my soul, deposited there by the Spirit, I am sure, that from now on things would be different, that out of it would come the message of my life, or at least the beginnings of it. For a while, spiritual exercises had been dutiful; now they were delightful. Prayer and the reading of God's Word was a joy once again.
Bible College prepared me to use my gifts; the wilderness prepared me to live my life. How could I know the feelings of the desperate if I had not been desperate myself? How could I know the feelings of the poor if I had not been poor myself? How could I know the feelings of the confused if I had not been confused myself? The wilderness is a place of pain, isolation, humiliation, uncertainty, loneliness, depression and desperation. I was convinced all were necessary for me to experience if I were to move into a higher level of ministry.
From my time in the wilderness I learned at least two things. Firstly, I needed to be there, and secondly, my dependency on God was deepened. Is it possible to thank God for a wilderness experience? By His grace I can say that I do.
During the last few months of my time in that spiritual state I hardly wrote a decent paragraph, let alone a page. I could write a sentence, several sentences in fact, but when strung together they didn't seem to make much sense. Now, however, as I focused on writing my thoughts on to an empty page, the sentences began to flow more easily.END of EXTRACT
.....(and his life blossomed in publications, and his spoken gifts in key meetings from this time onward....)

Ministries often refer to individual wildernesses. Spirit churches like Los Rios de Vida can testify to corporate "wildernesses" as God prepares for the next stage of corporate growth, and birthing whole new churches. I am firmly convinced that what we experienced in the Casa Biblicas of Emsworth Barcelona and Quilmes, Bible Houses....(see my index below for more information) were just first fruits of Body life that will be increasingly replicated as we see the growth of Christianity 3.0

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