Define Church – What is the Church? – Mark Brand 06142020

In this livestream recording from Antioch Church in the heart of Downtown Dallas, Texas, Pastor Mark Brand talks about the significance of what the Church is, in a series of messages dealing with the Book of Acts. Find out more at: www.MarkBrand.org / www.TeamAntioch.com. Antioch Church – Helping People Everywhere Know Jesus and Love Others…!

My latest podcast episode

Define Church – The Day of Pentecost II – Mark Brand 06072020

In this livestream recording from Antioch Church in the heart of Downtown Dallas, Texas, Pastor Mark Brand talks about the significance of the Day of Pentecost in a series of messages dealing with the Book of Acts. Find out more at: www.MarkBrand.org / www.TeamAntioch.com. Antioch Church – Helping People Everywhere Know Jesus and Love Others…!

My latest podcast episode

Early Pentecostal Hermeneutics and Female Empowerment

Early North American Pentecostals allowed women to engage in a wide spectrum of spiritual leadership activities, including the public preaching and teaching of Scripture when men were present in the audience. My research for my M.A. Dissertation at the University of Birmingham (U.K.), which included a thorough review of all of their extant newspapers (1906-1908), led me to conclude that the right of women to minister in these ways was so widely considered to be a desirable and godly form of praxis that the authors and editors of these journals did not feel any particular need to defend or explain their position.

This was the result of several factors:

First, experiential evidence of the Holy Spirit’s sovereign gifting carried tremendous weight as Pentecostals evaluated all manner of manifestations and issues, including questions pertaining to biblically appropriate female empowerment.

Second, understanding the mechanics of embodied Spirit fulness and gifting as something more akin to actual Spirit possession than to mere Spirit influence confirmed and strengthened Early North American Pentecostal belief that God had clearly chosen to empower women for ministry functions.

Third, the initial perception of gender-inclusive xenolalia as a God-given means for missionaries to overcome linguistic barriers to the communication of the Gospel was taken as added proof that women could be called to preach.

Fourth, the widespread conviction that the Pentecostal movement was the fulfillment of Joel’s end-time prophecy pre- disposed early North American Pentecostals towards gender-inclusive ministry and provided them with an identity framework that linked all of the above factors together in a synergistic relationship.

These realities were undergirded by a pneumatologically-centered hermeneutical method that accorded great value to legitimate spiritual experience, both externally in the acts of God in human history and internally through supernatural illumination of the human mind and spirit during the consideration of the biblical text. The pattern within the early North American Pentecostal newspapers and the interpretive models advanced by both Archer and Thomas parallel the approach taken by the Early Church in its evangelistic efforts and are supremely biblical.

Simply put, the faith of the first Christian disciples and the Gospel they preached were grounded in historical events rather than in concepts or ideas. At its heart were the narratives of human experience connected to the birth, life, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. These experiential testimonies carried such weight in early Christian thinking that it caused them to reevaluate and, in some instances, totally change the way they viewed the Hebrew Scriptures. They wrote the New Testament in order to document, understand, defend, and ultimately communicate these experiential truths. Since their faith flowed out of and rested upon a foundation of experience, it is not surprising that experience also weighed heavily in their hermeneutical thought processes, including during the Council at Jerusalem. Similarly, when the earliest North American Pentecostals became convinced that the risen Christ was deliberately and actively pouring out the Holy Spirit upon them, distributing gifts as a function of His divine prerogative, this profoundly informed the way they viewed and interpreted the Scriptures relative to the question of women in ministry and leadership.

If you would like to find out more about my research in this area, you can obtain a free copy of my entire dissertation by clicking here. It is entitled, “Theological and Hermeneutical Considerations Regarding Female Empowerment Within Early North American Pentecostalism (1906-1908).”

God’s Plan for Women in the Last Days

I have been asked by a Christian university abroad to record five hours of teaching explaining what the Bible says about women preachers and leaders. In the attached series of YouTube videos entitled, “God’s Plan for Women in the Last Days,” I set forth my understanding the biblical basis for this by means of an overview of what the Scriptures say about this subject. Please note that these videos were recorded “live-to-tape.” Although they are unpolished and contain thoughts that I want to develop further, they represent the essence of my thinking this issue.

I received the invitation to undertake this project against the backdrop of my having written my Master’s degree dissertation in a related area. You can click here to read a copy of that online. I feel a sense of calling from the Lord to write a book on this subject that presents a balanced biblical foundation but that also gives practical counsels as a “father in the Lord” to young women who sense God calling them to preaching, teaching, and/or leadership ministry and who do not know how to respond. While other people are very capably tackling these issues within the academic realm, I want to write a popular, but theologically and exegetically sound book that includes sources and documentation, along with suggestions for further reading. Once I am finished, I want to get this translated into as many languages as I can and disseminate it without concern for profitability to as many nations as possible, including inside Iran. That nation now has the fastest growing church in the world and features a very large proportion of women pastors and church planters.

I just finished uploading the first four videos in the series. I also plan to do a fifth video that deals specifically with 1 Timothy 2, 1 Corinthians 14, and Ephesians 5 in the biblical text. I have uploaded these videos without any post-production and/or edits, so if you watch them, you may notice a few times where I mispronounce a biblical name or mistake a Scripture reference, etc., but since this is the kind of thing that can happen in a live classroom presentation, I offer them to you “as is.” I also intend to share these recordings in audio-only format via my podcast. I would love to hear your feedback and suggestions, but please understand that I am unable to invest any time in extended debates about these issues if you happen to hold a position in contrast to my own.

John Wesley’s Ecumenism

“By these marks, by these fruits of a living faith, do we labour to distinguish ourselves from the unbelieving world from all those whose minds or lives are not according to the Gospel of Christ. But from real Christians, of whatsoever denomination they be, we earnestly desire not to be distinguished at all, not from any who sincerely follow after what they know they have not yet attained. No: ‘Whosoever doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.’ And I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that we be in no wise divided among ourselves. Is thy heart right, as my heart is with thine? I ask no farther question. If it be, give me thy hand.”

+ John Wesley (1703–1791), the founder of Methodism, played a leading role in the development of the Holiness and Pentecostal movements. He wrote prolifically on diverse subjects such as salvation, the power of music, and anti-slavery, and his tracts were widely distributed. In “The Character of a Methodist” he refers to the “marks” of a Methodist as loving God and loving neighbor, praying without ceasing, rejoicing always, giving thanks in everything, and desiring only to please God. At his death Wesley was considered by some the “most loved man in England.”

Source: Ways Forward for Western Evangelicals – Fuller Studio

God’s Way With People

“God sees according to his wisdom, so he can make an impression on each soul in the best, that is, most effective, way. The methods, occasions, and hours are different for all so that one cannot determine it. The Lord takes hold of one in preaching, another in his house, overcomes a third in the street, another again out in the field, and seizes a fifth in the very act of sinning. Therefore, it is not in accordance with the gospel to lay down fixed rules, or to set forth methods and forms in which souls must first be situated, or to expect a coincident method in the seeking and gathering of souls. One must entrust to the Savior’s free grace and judgment how he can and will reach souls.”

+  from Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf und Pottendorf (1700–1760) in Christian Life and Witness: Count Zinzendorf’s 1738 Berlin Speeches. Zinzendorf was a reformer of the Moravian church, an acclaimed hymnwriter, and ultimately was named an Anglican saint.

Source: What Does Fuller Mean by “Evangelical”? – Fuller Studio

Evangelism in a Day of Revolution

This article is a little lengthy, but WELL worth taking the time to read. It was written by Leighton Ford (Billy Graham’s Associate Evangelist) fifty years ago during the tumultuous 60’s. It is as relevant today as ever.

“The Church stands with all mankind at a crossroad, sharing a common concern: Which way do we go to make a new world? There are some who say, ‘Learn’—education is the way. Some say, ‘Earn’—economic development will solve our problems. Some voices are crying, ‘Burn’—society is so corrupt we must destroy it. There is truth in all of this. But Jesus Christ says, ‘Turn. Be converted. Put your trust in God. Seek first his will. Then you can be part of the new world God is making.’ Most revolutions fail because they are not revolutionary enough. They fail to grasp the fundamental problem, the problem of the human heart.”

Christianity Today, October 24, 1969

The Downside of Christendom

In case you are in the mood for a little theology, here is something I ran across during my reading today that is worth thinking about:

“Certainly the reduction of mission in Western theology has to do with the so-called Christianization of Western cultures. Once the Christian religion had become the only allowed religion within the boundaries of Christendom, mission was not seen as the central task of the church. Rather, her theological definition gradually came to focus on the care and tending of the salvation of her members […] Further, the eschatological shaping of the Gospel, so central to the New Testament, was distorted and reduced. Jesus’ message was the inbreaking reign of God, and the early church confessed him as the one who is and brings that reign into human history. […] That sense of radical and transforming anticipation of living hope that profoundly shapes the ‘now’ of the corporate Christian witness, was gradually reoriented to an individualistic emphasis on the second coming at the end of time with its threatening judgment that determines where each soul will spend eternity. The biblical emphasis on the ‘resurrection of the body’ is replaced by the Hellenistic concept of the immortality of the soul, which changes the nature of Christian eschatology and diminishes the strong biblical emphasis upon the integrated wholeness of the human person as body, spirit, and soul. Life now was understood not so much as faithful witness in hope but as wearisome and often anxious preparation in this vale of tears for what must come hereafter. Salvation is a question of where one spends eternity rather than the larger biblical witness to the restorative and salvific reign of God breaking in now, whose consummation is yet to come. […] The individualism of such a reductionist soteriology has only intensified in the self-centered and consumerist culture of present-day North America. The church’s focus on the tending and maintenance of the ‘saved’ is well attested today in churches that advertise themselves as ‘full-service’ congregations and function as purveyors of the religious programs and products their member-consumers want. The partnership of church and state, has, after the end of Christendom, effectively been replaced with the partnership of church and marketplace.”[1]

Happily, Guder also recounts,

“the wise words of the pastor from Malawi who told my class one day about all the changes the gospel had brought when the missionaries came to his tribe. ‘And,’ he concluded, ‘you must realize that we could always tell the difference between Jesus and the missionaries.’”[2]

Bibliography

Guder, Darrell L. “The Church as Missional Community.” In The Community of the Word : Toward an Evangelical Ecclesiology, edited by Mark Husbands and Daniel J. Treier, 114-28. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2005.


[1] Darrell L. Guder, “The Church as Missional Community,” in The community of the Word : toward an evangelical ecclesiology, ed. Mark Husbands and Daniel J. Treier (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2005), 118-20.

[2] Guder, 120.

Blow, Spirit, Blow…!

This is a great word from one of my Facebook friends that everyone in spiritual leadership would benefit from reading! Let’s “set our sails,” embrace the sovereignty of the Spirit underscored by our Lord Jesus in His words to Nicodemus in John 3:8, and enjoy the journey into unknown future crafted by an all-knowing God!!

Getting ready to return home today, from an unanticipated ministry trip that required an unanticipated flight booking, resulting in an unanticipated harvest that we could not have foreseen or planned. The wind blows where it wills. Holy Spirit directed and dependent ministry is the only “new normal” that matters. God spoke a stretching word to Lenora and I in February, before all this chaos exploded globally: “be ready to shift into a ministry pattern that looks much more like that modeled by Corrie ten Boom; long range planning for “big” events will not be the priority of the coming season. Go, wherever the Wind may blow”Who knew then it would come so suddenly and so soon. For all my friends in ministry, we were called and created to be Spirit led and Spirit driven; utterly reliant on His voice; yoked to His sudden command. But this is not easy for our highly controlled and efficiently managed Western paradigms. We all need grace for the paradigm shift that is upon us. “The wind blows where it wills; you cannot tell where it comes from and where it is going; So it is with everyone born of the Spirit”You have not been grounded. The wind is blowing. Catch His currents, and experience the harvest and the miracles He is now releasing, neither of which can be contained by the wineskins of our suddenly irrelevant comfort zones. Breath of God…breathe on us. Breath of God…breathe on me

R. K. Brake at https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1972572066207136&id=100003630858208

Define Church – The Day of Pentecost – Mark Brand 05312020

In this livestream recording from Antioch Church in the heart of Downtown Dallas, Texas, Pastor Mark Brand talks about the significance of the Day of Pentecost in a series of messages dealing with the Book of Acts. Find out more at: www.MarkBrand.org / www.TeamAntioch.com. Antioch Church – Helping People Everywhere Know Jesus and Love Others…!

My latest podcast episode