Thursday 5 July 2012

Jim Vissers and what I term "The Return of the Watchmen."

 Compare two passages from Song of Solomon
firstly, Chapter 3!
All night long on my bed
    I looked for the one my heart loves;
    I looked for him but did not find him.
I will get up now and go about the city,
    through its streets and squares;
I will search for the one my heart loves.
    So I looked for him but did not find him.
The watchmen found me
    as they made their rounds in the city.
    “Have you seen the one my heart loves?”
Scarcely had I passed them
    when I found the one my heart loves.
 Now look at  Chapter 5 
I slept but my heart was awake.
    Listen! My beloved is knocking:
“Open to me, my sister, my darling,
    my dove, my flawless one.
My head is drenched with dew,
    my hair with the dampness of the night.”
I have taken off my robe—
    must I put it on again?
I have washed my feet—
    must I soil them again?
My beloved thrust his hand through the latch-opening;
    my heart began to pound for him.
I arose to open for my beloved,
    and my hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with flowing myrrh,
    on the handles of the bolt.
I opened for my beloved,
    but my beloved had left; he was gone.
    My heart sank at his departure.[a]
I looked for him but did not find him.
    I called him but he did not answer.
The watchmen found me
    as they made their rounds in the city.
They beat me, they bruised me;
    they took away my cloak,
    those watchmen of the walls!
 Now read this fairly typical testimony of the sort of things many of us have experienced.
Jim Vissers Testimony:

"Just over a year ago, we began a new journey in God.  Actually, a couple years ago when we came into contact with a prominent pure grace preacher. I was in a church that was part of the denomination he had amicably parted with a few years ago. So when his grace message started getting some attention it came from someone familiar and trusted.  My pastors actually invited my wife and me to attend a special teaching series with him.  What we heard really shook us to the core. I was elated but had some difficulties internalizing what he was saying. When I met him in person, I could not even say anything intelligible, I just hugged him desperately, recognizing Christ's unconditional love. (Kind of embarrassing to think about it now.) 
We had been under a mixed condemnation gospel for almost a decade and I was definitely weary of trying to figure out how it all fit together. What he was saying was so clear.

When we returned home I gorged myself on audio teachings and read the Bible with new eyes.  God was leading us into new territory but, as we soon discovered, it had a few giants.  We were deacons in our local body and had many discussions with our pastors about grace and various teachings we heard but it seemed that there was some reservation about this 'new' perspective. 
I became the most vocal advocate for grace in our congregation and it seemed all the related scriptures were fresh in my mind and with it an unction from Holy Spirit.  This was in contrast to a 'balancing' message from my pastors who cautioned all not to take it too far.  I was confused because they had introduced me to this grace teaching. Privately, I tried as gently as I could to point towards grace when ever I felt that there was a condemning message but it never seemed to have an effect. 

We began to see that what we had been involved in since 2002 had been mostly an unhealthy church model.  It was one of unquestionable submission to leadership. Of course it was never said blatantly but after reading about church abuse we now understand it's subtleties. We thought this was normal and had not challenged it even though lots of people came through the door and soon left due to "not willing to submit to authority" or being "rebellious".  God was opening our eyes!

When we decided to see another speaker who was not necessarily endorsed by our leaders it really started to get difficult for us. It was strongly implied that I had been infiltrated by a demon.  I was cornered by a surprise leadership meeting and had to defend myself and my doctrine against the whole team.  
The amazing thing is that it was God who was speaking through me and I spoke more eloquently and boldly than I ever had before. I know people were surprised especially when I could calmly and instantly refute every accusation with scripture. My pastors did become emotional and there were some ultimatums levied.  I told them that I did not want to sever our relationship. I also said that they were too controlling. That went over with lots of gasps. Somehow we left the meeting as friends. 
After thinking it over we knew that we had to step down from any leadership role. That was too much for our leaders. They demanded that I tell them why I was offended as if nothing had even happened before! 

I honestly thought we would see things turn around so I continued to attend church but it became increasingly difficult. Eventually we were actually shunned!  Yah, people were told not to associate with us. I was also the target of a lot of spiritual garbage for a long time but at the same time I experienced some most amazing glory and revelation.  Looking back I am glad I had the experience. 

Just recently I have learned about third level faith and I understand why we had to leave our church.  We are in a process of redefinition. Not really a desert experience but more like an oasis experience "

Chris continues :So let's consider the two scriptures in Song of Solomon because they are very similar scenarios but in the later one the watchmen behave so strangely.

But are the scenarios similar when you view them from the inside out?

In the first one the Shulammite is lovesick. It is preventing sleep, one of the strongest of our physiological appetites. So, in desperation, and realising the futility of trying to sleep, she rises and GOES OUTSIDE.

Thousands of years before the movement in Europe called Expressionism featuring painters like Edvard Monch (The Scream) and the dreamlike prose of Franz Kafka, comes this rather expressionist love poem which describes inward spiritual states pictorially.

At first the watchmen find the Shulammite outside and are used, by implication rather than by direct reference, to point the way to finding the Beloved again.

This is so true at the beginning of our walk in God. In the move that we were in, we fully believed in submission and covering. That is as we submitted to the anointing and Word coming through a leadership we took as emerging in God, that we would grow in our relationship with Jesus. And for years and years this seemed true.

The whole charismatic movement is built around some of these ideas. Their churches have taken on the form described in the second passage.I slept but my heart was awake.
There is a sleeping but still an openness to hear in the Spirit, but not the same intensity of search that earlier had driven the Shulammite outside. Instead there are protestations to the Beloved:
I have taken off my robe—
    must I put it on again?
I have washed my feet—
    must I soil them again?

There is the overriding impression that this is what Christianity is. Taking off robes of unrighteousness, washing, washing the feet which get contaminated on a day to day basis, and making ready for relationship with Christ.

And go to any charismatic meeting, this is what it is about. But a relationship with Christ has another quality that this understanding does not have.

Christ is dynamic. He doesn't centre His life around us, and what we feel are our needs. He calls us into union with His Life, to be around Him as He
 -goes outside
- leaps upon the mountains
-goes down to the beds of myrrh

-Hebrews 13:13 says we go outside to identify with Him who was outside the City buying our redemption at Golgotha.
- Him leaping on mountains is the manifestation of His overcoming Life, taking dominion, overcoming things
- the beds of myrrh means going down to the places of very real suffering to bring kindness, release,help to find if there be others who will be drawn into this love relationship with the King.
It very much means "putting on our robe that we have taken off".
It means not only resting in the main doctrines outlined in Romans 3 to 5, but to GO ON into the doctrines of Romans 6 through to 8.

The robe that we put on is believing Galations 2:20.
Romans 6 
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

We've learned how to take off our robe now we have to learn how to put it on...a resurrection form.

This is the fundamental difference between the two orders of church. Charismatics will say they believe Christ is IN THEM, but when pressed as to what that means, they see themselves internally as two people, and the one who wins out is the one who does the most good works. So the actual death at the Cross of the whole of their inner identity has never been faced full on. In everything they do, it is always intermingled with a consciousness of an old robe which they are putting on and taking off, but there is no real revelation of Christ's totally NEW ROBE they can put on.

So what about the watchmen?
I was intrigued by these in the second passage when i first read about it in Song of Songs by Watchman Nee.  We'd like to avoid this unpleasantness. But I dont think we can, anymore than a teenager can avoid some unpleasant confrontations with his parents. These parents that seemed so nice before when you were young children.

Part of breaking through in our own right seems to be caught up in the reality of a chick busting his way out of an eggshell. That which formerly was a nice protective environment for the early stages of a chick's growth has suddenly become mighty claustrophobic. All it senses is restriction which it grows against to break, but in that process develops the muscular frame with which to survive in the outside world.

A thirdlevel ministry by the name of Eldred Linden talked of that passage in the old testament which likens the Ministry of God to one which overturns the bird's nest so the birds HAVE to learn to fly.

So there is this strange mystery in God that whether the "watchmen" are operating in the Spirit or the flesh....their task is the be the launching pad and springboard for another group of fully grown thirdlevellers. cf Children,young men,father level as in 1 John 2:12ff.

It is best to understand this as a transition stage in the believer's life. You see, in God, even bad isn't really bad. Everything if viewed with a single eye is that which we need to propel us forward in the Spirit.

One of the most spiritually mature and glowing 21 year olds I ever met shortly before he was "suicided" by the KGB, was Sergei Kourdakov who had escaped a Communist Gulag and swam the Baltic to get to Europe. He warned that if he did not live long it was because the KGB were after him. This was 1972, long before I knew that the KGB is pretty much the CIA anyway once you get high enough.

As we enter the latter maturation stage of the secondlevel or young man stage we will experience some form of Song of Solomon 5 verse 7. In my case it was pretty literal.

The watchmen found me
    as they made their rounds in the city.
They beat me, they bruised me;
    they took away my cloak,
    those watchmen of the walls!

Which cloak did the watchmen take away?

Ahaaa! Well they cannot really take the new one away since that one is hidden with God in Christ. So really then, they have done us a favour because they have removed from us the possibility of returning to our old outer forms which were mixed with death anyway. But it does spell the end of the charismatic walk for us.....the endless sheepdip at the end of the week....
"taking off our robe and washing our feet"

Because THAT ROBE,
is kind of in tatters.
But like someone who flees a piece of clothing that is caught in a section of machinery that is drawing us closer and closer to cogs of death, which will not only chew our robing but will continue to chew everything about us....

WE ARE NOW FREE to be continuously with our Beloved, and the whole irony is we find the true joining that takes place alongside more and more who are finding the same inward secrets of moving in this hidden Melchizedek order.

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