One of the most painful and disorientating moments of my life was back at the beginning of 2018 when I had been led by the Holy Spirit to face the realisation that the so-called “Bible-based” role that I had undertaken for the so-called “Bible-based” organisation for whom I was then working, was utterly incompatible with the Kingdom of God.
Both nations and individuals have tried Christianity and abandoned it, because it has been found too difficult; but no man has ever gone through the crisis of deliberately making Jesus Lord and found Him to be a failure.Oswald Chambers
You can listen to this podcast if you prefer:
The Holy Spirit had seen fit to show me that the reality in which I found myself was certainly not as most of us tend to peaceably think of these things – i.e. that the role and organisation were quite understandably imperfect, that, with regards to the Kingdom of God, they were essentially legit’ and that, basically, it was just “not for me”.
Rather, this crescendo and crisis of “kingdom trauma” was showing me that it was an employment and an organisation that were obstructive of the Holy Spirit, actively opposed to the Kingdom of God and, ultimately therefore, anti-Christ in both root and effect.
This proved to be a final straw, precisely and carefully placed by the Dread Warrior of Israel onto the back of this willing Kingdom padwan.
In short, this job and this organisation was very much a matter of the “Letter” but not truly of the Spirit.
(Listen here to the podcast version of this post for powerful excerpts from T A Sparks’, Prophetic Ministry).
I remember this day when I collected the things from my desk having submitted my letter of resignation. I remember feeling physically sick with anxiety and worry, (what were we going to do for money? How would we be able to honour our financial commitments? How was this going to look on my CV? Am I hearing You, Lord? Is there something wrong with me?).
Back at home, I remember confiding through tears to a colleague on the phone about what I’d observed within the charity, a man who I would later discover was a progressive proponent of LGBT abhorrences, a “senior leader” in a national “Company of the Letter”.
But I remember also being more deeply aware of the nauseating contact with spiritual sickness to which Mairi and I had been repeatedly exposed in the preceding five years, and the clearing storm clouds that had caused so many sleepless nights.
Herein was now a gathering peace that passeth all understanding: No salary, no employment, no colleagues, no CV, no clear practical answers…but peace.
As I strolled past Arthur’s Seat through springtime sunshine, the Kingdom of God seemed to open up before me as I walked and prayed and received profound reassurance that what I (we) had been experiencing over the course of the last 5-6 years was merely entry-level training for the Kingdom of God.
Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence,and the violent take it by force.— Matthew 11:11-12
Spiritual violence, indeed.
And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”— Matthew 13:52
Treasure that is both old and new, indeed.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”— Matthew 6:25-33
“Are you not of more value than they?”, indeed.
Now the chronic trauma and spiritual violence had started to make more sense, (not that sense is always guaranteed).
Denial of the Kingdom
Following our marriage in 2013, Mairi and I had immediately and repeatedly been forced into contact with individuals, organisations, couples and even family members through whom this “kingdom training” was achieved:
- Chaotic churches and employers evidently governed by anything but the Holy Spirit (Denying the authority of the Kingdom).
- Christian family members attacking our marriage, refusing to apologise for gross sin, or genuinely listen to our hearts (Denying the honour of the Kingdom).
- False doctrine – MALE/FEMALE // health, wealth & prosperity teaching. (Denying the truth of the Kingdom).
- False sexual ethics – Lesbians in charge of “christian” pastoral care. (Denying the holiness of the Kingdom).
- Systemic organisational cover-ups of gross incompetence, immaturity and corruption of leaders. (Denying the purity of the Kingdom)
- Conservative “religious” idolatry tarted-up to look like healthy biblical ecumenicalism (Denying the power of the Kingdom).
- Gross sexual sin, cover-up and sullying of the core end-time tenet of the Bride of Christ (Denying the message and reality of the Kingdom).
In a nut-shell, especially regarding Christian leadership: the preponderance of “a People of the Letter” is almost entirely an eclipse of the of “the People of the Spirit”.
This is why I am publishing this now; I am convinced that either:
- The true “People of the Spirit” today will have become so sick of the “People of the Letter” (the processes, the systems, the narratives, the structures and ‘chilled impotence’ of Spirit-less christianity) that they will find themselves in relative, self-inflicted isolation.
- The true “People of the Spirit” today will have only, in fact, just become a babe in the Spirit – only just been born of the Spirit. New Christians today are calling to account this gaping Kingdom-disparity between the Bibles that they read and the churches that they wrongly assume they must attend.
When brand-new Christians today highlight the incongruity of a local church that they visit to worship, for camaraderie, guidance and teaching, only to find that it bears little semblance to the unified urgency and yearning of a New Testament congregation, when an intuitive sense of the “denial of the kingdom” is their initial experience of the Body of Christ while walking through the “crisis” of their own traumatic conversion, the Kingdom of God is surely at hand.
What then for these conscience-conscripted veterans who chose exile rather than compromise? And what to do for the entrenched but rousing leaders of within? And most certainly for the confused bewilderment of new converts?
We must come to the end of ourselves, the end of our traditions, the end of our inheritances, the end of our constitutions, the end of our hypocrisies and comforts and conveniences, our lazy apathy and fear of man and we must fall again upon the Word and the Spirit of God.
We must forsake the organisational Company of the Letter and cleave to the supernatural company of the Holy Spirit.
Will we heed the call out from the Letter? Will we fall on our knees again before the Holy Ghost?
For 10 questions for prayer and reflection, for a finale from J C Ryle on sin and holiness, please listen to this blog in its original podcast form.
3 thoughts on “Men of the Letter or Men of the Spirit?”
Thank-you for this. This has struck a chord with me on several points. This has been my path for a few years now – having come out of a “Sola Scriptura” church culture that seemed devoid of the Spirit. I knew I was missing something important. Walking in the Spirit is not a euphemism for following a Biblical set of rules. Learning to walk in the Spirit has been what drives my soul lately. I believe this has led to a deeper understanding of the Word. My wife and I have found it tough to connect with a denominational church in our area. The disparity between much of what we see in our neck of the woods and what was demonstrated in the Book of Acts is disconcerting.
Many thanks for this, Ted. At the moment we’re focusing on exactly this kind of testimony because we have no doubt many more folk need to hear the disruption as you describe. I hope some of the resources on this site are of help/consolation. My book, “Body Zero” is really our “manifesto” of preparation. Thank you again for listening. In Jesus, Nick