Here is the video, downloads, and first part of my notes from Terry Virgo’s first session at 300 Leaders this month.
This is a theme that has been on Terry’s heart for many years. He began by reading the following Bible verses: Acts 6:11-15, 7:46-50, 11:19-30, 12:25-13:3.
“What kind of house will you build for me?”
We will look at Stephen and the ramifications of his clarity, vision and martyrdom. Some of his friends arrived in Antioch after his death. He seemed to have incredible revelation. Stephen understood that God did not dwell in houses built with human hands. The question rings out: What kind of house will WE build for God?
Acts 13 shows us the kind of house that friends of Stephen built. Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire. It is a major church that is formed away from Jerusalem. It becomes Paul’s base and is a key and great church. What are the characteristics of this church?
1. “There were prophets.” It is an age of the Spirit. Many think that the prophets were an OT phenomena. People think we now have deacons and committees and boards. No, this is not the age of the prophetic being closed down, it is the age of the prophetic being opened up. Paul tells us, this is the dispensation of the Spirit. Joel says that in the last days the Spirit will be poured on all flesh. The Old Testament was full of glory, the New covenant is not just us and a book. Paul writes “when you pray or prophecy…” We are in this age of things opening.
In the OT if you wanted to hear the prophet he would travel, if you were lucky you might have been in town when the one prophet came through. The Spirit is widespread in the New Covenant. The glory of the current far outshines the glory of the former. When you look out and see the moon you think it is glorious. When the sun comes out you think this is far more glorious. The OT pales into insignificance compared to the new thing God is doing!
Church is a place where the Spirit is. Where God is manifest. Where he is heard. The presence of the Spirit is crucial. In Ephesus Paul asks if they had received the Spirit. Has the Spirit arrived yet? Acts 19 is one of the most exciting chapters in the whole NT. When Paul lays hands on them, the Spirit falls on twelve people. By the end of Acts 19 there is a riot, not because he planted a house church, but because he changed the economy of the whole city. No one wanted to buy the idols any more. The gospel went out throughout the whole region. Ephesus becomes another hub when the Holy Spirit came. Things happen because God has turned up in these cities. We need Spirit-filled churches. Not just churches of explanation, but of demonstration. Spirit-filled churches bring gospel impact.
In Galatians, Paul asks if we received the Spirit by works of the law or works of faith. He doesn’t ask how were you saved? The coming of the Spirit for Paul is the important thing. Of course we must be saved, but it is the Spirit that is the promise of God.
In Thessalonians, he says, “He who gives his Spirit to you…” It is incidentally thrown in. For Paul, the church is a place where the Holy Spirit is present, where God is heard.
Terry told his own testimony of receiving the Spirit in the early charismatic movement. Some were saying, if you have received the Spirit it is private. People talked about a personal prayer language. Some said “don’t mess with the church.” This is New Wine, it requires a new wine skin! God wants something dramatically fresh and different. Build the city around the river. You don’t build the city in the desert then go out to it occasionally. The church should be built around the presence of the Lord. We need to recover New Testament Christianity. God wants a different kind of house. That question came forcibly to Terry as a young man “What kind of house will you build for me?”
He spoke of how an early prophetic experience in those early days helped set him on the course for his ministry. On that day he determined, that whatever he did when he left college he must build a church where God is present.
Agabus the prophet turned up and made a prophetic prediction. There was a response to this word. It was a big part of the church.
2. There were teachers This is important for us. We don’t say “we have the Holy Spirit, so we don’t need the Bible!” Jesus was a teacher. We must also teach them many things. There is so much to teach. When Jesus was on the road to Emmaues he began with Moses and went through the Scriptures teaching about himself. He didn’t dramatically reveal himself straight away. He realised that what they most needed was to understand the truth. As we embrace the Spirit we are not turning our back on truth. God is not at all like us. We need him to tell us what he is like. We don’t bring our preferences. We don’t say “my Jesus wouldn’t do that.” We must change what we think about God.
People get saved on a fragment of truth. But that doesn’t mean that they now know what hte Kingdom of God is like. They need to have their thinking torn down and built up. The truth sets people free. We must teach the truth. The unchanging, authoritative, faith building word of God! A lot of people don’t know enough. Terry found working through Lloyd-Jones teaching on Romans he was set free from guilt. Philip didn’t say to the Ethiopian, “do you feel it?” he asked “Do you understand it?” We must meet God.
We need the presence of God and we need the truth of God.