By Keith Hazell
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)
When God does new things He does them with purpose. He has a plan for His people and our perception of what is “new” is relevant to what we have seen before.
In almost 55 years of serving Christ, I have seen God do new things on several occasions.
When I was 16 years old and a student in High School in England, I attended a Billy Graham Crusade. Un-churched, and unconvinced of the reality of God, I was confronted with the Gospel and gave my life to Christ. In my High School, it was reported at the time that more than 60% of my fellow students also were impacted for the Gospel.
This was something new at a time when English churches were deserted by the young and those who did not have churchgoing families. The gap between the church and the world had been deliberately widened to enable the church to be “separated and clean” in preparation for an imminent second coming.
In my early 30s, I encountered the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and was made unwelcome in my fundamental evangelical church. In those times Nova and I were in the vanguard of a new and exciting move of the Spirit that saw people gathering in homes and coming together in the “House Church Movement.”
Again, this bought a crowd of people who were frustrated, and not functioning in New Testament style, into an intimate relationship with God and His people.
Immediately following this experience, we moved to Canada and became caught up in the Jesus People movement, which saw thousands of young people in North America swept into the Kingdom. This movement was real and vital and saw people saved on a daily basis. It was hi-jacked by groups of people who imposed legalism on those who had been born into “the glorious freedom of the Sons of God”.
Whilst many went on to fruitful service in the Kingdom, a whole generation of new believers were sidetracked into teaching that had more emphasis on symbolism than on evangelism
The outbreak of the Holy Spirit which came to Toronto Airport Church had a profound worldwide effect on many of us involved in the Charismatic movement around the world.
This too became the ground of those who wanted to “establish their ministries” and sadly was much merchandised and lost its credibility amongst those it had most profoundly affected, as many of its leaders became caught in their own programs and plans. Much positive ministry happened in the life of believers but very little spread outside the walls of the churches that embraced it.
“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV).
From this, we learn that although what God is doing seems new to us in relation to our own experience it is what He has always been doing. So God is at work doing new things today in this context, and we need to be aware and ready to adjust ourselves and our churches to those things rather than insisting that things be “as they have always been”.
“See, I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)
The first thing that is important is that God is the actual source of the new things we encounter. We are not to become side-tracked with people who have an agenda built around their own plans and ambition that fails to meet the criteria of the Word.
On the day of Pentecost the result of the “new thing” that God did was that there was fruit, the fruit of souls won for the Kingdom.
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save your selves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (Acts 2:38-41 NIV)
God’s new things are confirmed by God’s fruit being clearly shown.
New things do not happen because we plan and promote! Revival has been promoted ever since I arrived in North America more than 40 years ago, sadly without any long-term visible manifestation.
There is an obsession with a “big bang” theory amongst our streams. This says that one morning we will wake up to full churches and football stadiums where our favorite preacher/evangelist will speak to thousands who will dramatically be saved whilst we cheer them on from the bleachers.
If there is one new thing God wants to impress us with it’s the Great Commission, which entails personal responsibility on our part to preach the Gospel and confront people with their need of Christ.
In the late 1990s, I wrote in one of my messages “in the next century (now) there will be many new manifestations of the Church. In those days the Church will be almost totally unrecognizable from what we see now”.
Many existing churches are no more than performance centers where Christian artists perform for the sake of an appreciative crowd. Others are simply “positive thinking” rallies, where people are motivated to believe in their own ability to succeed. Still, others are a place where men of great influence build Kingdoms for themselves which will not endure beyond their own lifetime.
It is not surprising therefore that there is a growing dissatisfaction with the “Wineskin” by much of the “wine.” Seeking simpler, less expensive, and more personal expressions of corporate life in the Body of Christ, has become a quest upon which many have launched, not being sure what they want!
However, they are sure what they don’t want!
God is doing new things in the manifestation of Church life in these days. Some of us are much concerned with the “Wineskin”. Some want a brand new flexible wineskin since they expect new bubbling wine. Others are desperate to ensure that “nothing changes here” , they are more concerned with “storing the old wine”.
In the final analysis, what is most important, the wineskin or the wine? It is so easy for us to accommodate the “old wine” because it’s the only wine we are likely to have. Having the opportunity, first hand, to observe some of the New Wine, I must confess that it needs flexibility and capacity for more creative thinking than heretofore. However, the new expressions we see of the Life of the Body of Christ are proving effective in reaching people and generations that have long since given up on regular church life.
Wherever we stand on these issues, we cannot abandon the gathering of the people of God together in a way that allows for such things as corporate worship, teaching of the Word, public baptism, sharing common life and testimony of Jesus in our lives. In the book of Acts we are told:
“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:41 NIV)
“Praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46-47 NIV)
This reminds us that being saved is more than a personal experience with Jesus. It involves us with being added to, and identified with, a recognizable and significant public manifestation of the church the Body of Christ.
This is more than simply a cup of coffee in the local Starbucks, or sharing a Bible reading in the University “Study pit”. Both of these are laudable, and the source of blessing to believers, but are no substitute for the regular life of the Body along with accountability and responsibility for the lives of one another.
The ‘new thing’ involved in the foregoing statement is that such a meeting of the Body, in New Testament terms took place in, homes, in hired halls, in outdoor gatherings, and in the porch of the Temple as well “synagogues” (closest to our modern church buildings) Again the place was not important but the other ingredients were. To some this is new but to many it is something they “once knew but have since forgotten”
The Scripture tells us that no matter how dark the days we must not “forsake the assembling of yourselves together” Anything new that excludes a manifestation of the Local Church in its many forms , does not have its roots in the Word of God.
“New Things” do not include the ignoring of the Written Word in favour of “current revelation” nor do those thing include replacing the Gospel that demands personal repentance with one that simply asks for an acknowledgement of “a desire to avoid going to hell”
Let’s ask ourselves if we are ready to respond to new things? Can the Holy Spirit soften our wineskin enough to contain New Wine, or must that New Wine be spilled again as in the past? At a personal level do we want really to be involved with new moves of the Holy Spirit if it means sacrificing some of our much-loved ways of conducting church? Are we “hung up “ on days of the week and on times when the church should meet? God wants us to be ready to cooperate if he really is going to do a new thing in our time?
Keith Hazell went to be with the Lord in 2013. Prior to his death, Keith ministered extensively as a prophet and teacher. For more than 35 years he has travelled amongst the nations demonstrating the Prophetic and teaching and raising up new generation prophets. Copyright Keith Hazell Used by permission