Publication: Pastoral Letter, March 2013
Dear Friend in Christ,
We have a beautiful dog who was bred to hunt and retrieve but unfortunately he only has a fenced back yard. What has that to do with us? Think about it.
I am writing to you about eternal life lived in an earthly body and a culture very much bound to this age. God offers to us a life in Christ not of this world nor bound to it. He can do so because He is eternal-outside of time and space, but He came into this world in which we live, through His eternal Son. The life He offers is not just new; it is forever new-timeless. Old and new are earth terms relative to time, but eternal life is unbounded, unrestricted, and loosed into God’s own life and purpose. God is before time, transcends time, and will one day fold up time as a garment and put it away.
What I want to convey is that we can, in this life, live a life that is continually new, exciting and adventuresome. The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 6:4 that as we identify with Jesus’ death and Resurrection, we can walk in “newness”. Life doesn’t have to become old, even if our bodies do. Church doesn’t have to become old or boring even if it sometimes seems to be. Marriage and other relationships do not have to become old or taken for granted.
Isaiah chapter 42 is one of those great messianic chapters that the Lord gave to Isaiah and to us, that tells us how to live in new things and new life. He gives us an eternal view of how eternal life is to be lived on earth.
The most amazing and authenticating aspect of Holy Scripture is its prophetic accuracy. I am constantly awed by what the prophets saw in the Spirit which they themselves did not comprehend. Isaiah alone gives us numerous chapters regarding the coming Anointed One Who would open to us the eternal kingdom of God. The Father refers to the Messiah as “My Servant,” and rightly so. Isaiah describes the Messiah’s anointing, His methods, His mission, His New Covenant with the Gentiles and the glory that would be given to Him. All of that is stated over 700 years before Jesus came into the world, and Isaiah’s words still come to pass.
New Testament writers quote Isaiah and authenticate his message. As the Scriptures often say, “It came to pass.” Time and space here will not allow us to record the numerous references from the New Covenant to the Old Covenant, but it is clear that Jesus, the apostles and other writers of Scripture believed all the Scripture to be inspired, and there was much evidence for that conviction.
The Lord tells Isaiah that He would put His Spirit upon Messiah (anoint) and that He would be a light to the Gentiles (see Luke 3:21-22 and Acts 10:38). Notice Isaiah 42:1 says, “I have put My Spirit upon Him. (Past tense from the eternal realm.) And, “He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.” (Future tense-time.) From God’s perspective, it is all done; from ours it is unfolding in history. If we can see what is already done in heaven, we can walk in its unfolding on the earth. If we do that, we can walk in the eternal-in newness of life-always new. He counts things that are not yet on earth as already done. He rests in His Word and purpose-and so can we, if we believe. (See Matthew 13:35; 25:34; John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; I Peter 1:20; and Revelation 13:8.) Needless to say, God has a different perspective on life, but as we fellowship with Him, He can show us His infallible point of view as He did the prophets and disciples.
A new perspective brings us into new things. In Isaiah 42:9, the Lord tells Isaiah that His former words have come to pass and now He would reveal new things. The new things are those things that the Lord has ordained before the world began. He could speak of them because He had already seen the end from the beginning (see Isaiah 41:26; 46:10). In my opinion, the Lord was speaking of the unfolding of history and the things that He would do. As walk with Him, we participate in the acts of God and the unfolding of history. He puts His eternal Spirit upon us, and He anoints us to walk in the Divine adventure.
When things get “old” to us, we have missed the path and need to get back in touch with the guide who desires to lead us through God’s amazing plan being worked out in time. When we live in the past, which those my age are tempted to do, life becomes old. When we walk in and with the Spirit, even the “old” becomes new again: old memories, experiences, testimonies and the great old hymns.
The great old hymns were written by those who walked in newness. They wrote from a story of walking with Jesus in their age. When we walk with Him, those old hymns become fresh again. Truth is eternally new. And then, there are new songs, not written from some formula or for commercial motives, but from a fresh adventure with Christ. Every revival produces new songs. When we sing them, they have a reviving quality.
So, new perspective and new experiences produce new songs born of the eternal spirit. We want to sing in the Spirit, as the apostle Paul stated (see I Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:18, 19). We want to put our testimony to heavenly music.
New experience with our eternal Father inspires a new urgency for a mission. “Here am I, send me” (see Isaiah 6:8). Isaiah’s encounter with God produced a willingness to go. Personal mission is the direct result of personal encounter with God Who gives His eternal purpose.
Isaiah 42 speaks of those who go down to the sea, to the coastlands, the wilderness, the cities and the villages. He saw the Gospel spreading throughout the earth; the song was contagious. Worship without a “go” is incomplete at best or even false in the worse case. Merely feeding on the past is the life of vultures feeding on a dead carcass, not the life of eagles. Mission is much more than a religious duty; it is the undeniable urge to tell someone what is happening in God’s Kingdom that is ever increasing.
I groan for those who have lost their sense of mission. It reveals a sad state of life. Maintenance is not mission. Mere maintenance is a life of drudgery, myopia and eventually misery. When our mission is fulfilled it is time to go meet the One Who sent us and pray that He will say, “Well done!”
I regularly get letters from a minister well up into his eighties who is telling me what the Lord has done and is doing in his life. His life is still exciting. Ours can be too.
Isaiah 42:13 tells us that the Lord will prevail against His enemies. He will “stir up His zeal like a man of war.” Let’s face it, we are in a spiritual war of good and evil. Whether or not we engage it, the war rages. Jehovah is always engaging the pretender, not defensively, but offensively. Mission takes us into enemy territory where there are battles to be fought and won. Perhaps that is why some choose to remain barricaded behind church walls. But God’s zeal has not abated nor will the enemy keep silent.
Those who respond to God’s call will know the exhilarating joy of triumph. Those who only pay lip service to “onward Christian soldiers,” will never know the newness of the Holy Spirit’s joy in victory. Fear is un-God-like. Courage of heart finds favor with God. Yes, some give their very lives in the conflict, as the apostles and our forefathers did, and many still do. But they won for themselves a crown of life that never fades. Their names are eternally inscribed in a memorial for immortals (see 2 Timothy 4).
Nothing quickens our need and dependence upon God as much as spiritual battle. We sense a renewed need for His help, His strategy, and resources. We should note that David’s great sin with Bathsheba occurred when he failed to go to battle and only sent others to do what was in fact his task. Much of the sin among God’s people is due to a refusal to engage the battle.
Also in Isaiah 42, the Lord says, “I have held my peace a long time, I have been still and restrained myself. Now I will cry like a woman in labor, I will pant and gasp at once.” Wow! What will that be like when the eternal God releases His passion for His purpose? It would be useful to read verses 14-20. He will lay waste the mountains and hills, dry up vegetation, rivers, and pools. Then He will open blind eyes and lead them in a new way. He will turn on light and straighten crooked paths.
Verses 18-20 address those who are spiritually deaf and blind, who think that they see and hear but do not. Be reminded that God is a consuming fire (see Hebrews 12:29). And He sent Jesus Who baptizes with fire (see Matthew 3:11). Fire is hot! It burns away our carnality and complacency. It moves us from the sidelines to the firing lines. Jeremiah wanted to keep silent but the Word of God was like fire in his bones (see Jeremiah 20:9). He could not keep silent.
The only fire in many churches is in the kitchen. Consequently we have lost those who long for a cause-namely many of our youth. Now lest I sound self-righteous or critical, I know what happened when I lost my fire. Discouragement, distraction and just plain sin can extinguish our fire, but thank God, He can rekindle it!
The Renewed Question
The Lord calls from eternity into our time, “Who among you will give ear to this? Who will listen and hear for the time to come?” The Lord sees what is ahead and calls us to respond. If we do, we will see new things, sing new songs, engage new missions and battles with new passion. That is newness of life-eternal life lived in a time-space world. Some are hearing but many more will yet hear.
Last month my son Stephen wrote a prophetic word to us on regaining our first love. We have had a great response. I see a “cloud” on the horizon that holds the promise of a spiritual visitation, heavenly rain, and blessing. Such blessing will make old things new and introduce us to new things foretold by the prophets, our Lord, and the apostles. Regardless of some perspectives, this is a great day in which to live. We were born for this time with an eternal purpose. I pray that we can all know and live our mission!
One way we are addressing this is our upcoming CSM Gatlinburg Conference, April 17-19, focusing on “Why Do You Do What You Do?” We would love to have you with us for this inspiring time of worship, fellowship, and motivation. Please visit our website at www.csmpublishing.org for more information and follow us on Twitter @CSMGatlinburg and @CSMinPublishing, or you can join our Charles Simpson Ministries Facebook pages.
Please continue to remember CSM in your prayers and in your giving in a special way during March and throughout 2013 as we continue in our mission of “extending the kingdom of God, one person at a time.” Thanks for your friendship and support!
Scripture Reference: Romans, Isaiah, Luke, Acts, Matthew, John, Ephesians, 1 Peter, Revelations, 1 Corinthians, 2 Timothy