THE TRUTH WILL OUT! A Prophetic Word for 2011
Fri 21st January, 1.01pm
One year ago many people in the UK were watching the reality TV show, Celebrity Big Brother. This isn’t a programme I particularly like nor is it one that I ever recommend but at that time something interesting was going on. The film star Stephen Baldwin (a committed Christian) was carrying his Bible around the house and conducting Bible studies for those who wanted to come along. He caused a lot of controversy but he also stimulated a degree of spiritual hunger in at least one of the Big Brother contestants. When actress Stephanie Beacham was interviewed on her own in the diary room she was asked whether she would miss Baldwin if he was evicted. Suddenly she broke down in tears. When asked why she was crying she replied that it wasn’t because she would miss Baldwin. It was because she would really miss the Bible. Between sobs and the surprised admission ‘I’m not acting’, she concluded by asking for the privilege of looking after the Bible when Baldwin left the house.
On the first Sunday of January 2011 I went to preach at Kingsgate Community Church in Peterborough (the church which Chris Moyles has praised so highly on Radio One). The leader of the church, Dave Smith, was running a three-part series on the Bible – ‘The Book that Changed the Planet’ – and invited me to give the first of these talks. As I was preaching, I became aware of a very strong anointing as I spoke about treasuring the truth of God’s Word. I became unusually animated and extremely passionate about the issue of Truth – so much so in fact that it surprised me. I quoted the Big Brother TV programme and made the comment that people outside the church are weeping over the Bible. I urged my listeners and indeed myself to go to a whole new level of honouring the Word of God and proclaiming the timeless truth of the Bible.
If you ask me what I think is on the Father’s heart for 2011 I think a lot has to do with the issue of truth. I’m sure that most of us are aware that this year is the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible. Radio 4 has been running some superb programmes on this great masterpiece and there has been a lot of discussion about its merits in the national Press. It seems that this is a moment in our nation’s history when people are really searching for some lasting landmarks in the unstable, shifting landscape of our times. Maybe people are becoming sick of the shallow relativism of our secular and humanistic culture. Maybe people are beginning to seek for some fixed points in a changing and turbulent universe.
In the Book of Nehemiah chapter 8, there’s a wonderful moment when the city walls have been rebuilt in Jerusalem and the people gather before their leaders. Ezra brings the scrolls of the Old Testament Book of the Law and the Levites begin to read and explain its beautiful truths. As this happens, the sound of weeping breaks out throughout the crowd as the people realise how much they love and have missed these words. As verse 9 says, ‘all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law’.
We are living in a very critical time in the UK – a time of great unrest and profound anxiety. This seems likely to increase in 2011 as Britain is gripped by storms, floods, water shortages, strikes, power cuts, unemployment and even unusual natural phenomena such as earthquakes. As everything is shaken around us, there will be a real longing for anchors that connect people with a deeper and more solid reality. The deepest and most lasting reality of all is the Father’s love and the Bible is our Father’s book; it is the only book that reveals his relentless love.
Recently I wrote The 100 Verse Bible, a small book that tells the story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. It was commissioned to be published this year in honour of the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible. In it I choose 100 verses that confirm the statement made by St Augustine: ‘if the entire Bible could be summed up in a single sentence, then it would cry out like the resounding waves of the sea, “The Father loves you”’.
I have never seen any of my books sell like this one. Thousands are flying off the shelves. We are hearing remarkable stories of non Christians reading it on underground trains and in pubs and classrooms and being deeply affected by its message. It seems that the truth of the Word is uncontainable. The church can’t keep it within its walls any longer. The Father wants his truth on the streets. He wants to pour out the Spirit and out his Truth back on the map. As Jesus promised his disciples in John 14:15-17: “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth”.
I therefore have a strong sense that the Spirit of Truth is coming. Many churches have emphasized experience but neglected Truth. I believe this is a year when the Holy Spirit is going to bring experience and Truth together. It is a year in which many churches are going to communicate the Father’s truth in a clearer voice.
And that brings me to another thing that I sense the Father is saying about 2011. I believe this season is a season for breaking out of the church – for kicking out the walls. But – let me be very clear – I’m not talking about rebelling or about leaving church! I’m simply saying this is not a time for staying in the house and sitting passively at religious meetings. There is a breaker anointing upon many believers for this year and there will be a stunning fulfilment of Micah 2.13, ‘One who breaks open the way will go up before them; they will break through the gate and go out. Their king will pass through before them, the LORD at their head.”
As this breakout occurs, there are two things I feel will characterize it. First of all, there will be a ‘revolution of kindness’; people will carry the Truth to those outside the church but they will do so with grace. Jesus was full of ‘grace and truth’ (John 1.14). Too often we have tried to communicate Truth without Grace. This is not the way of Jesus. Jesus spoke truth in a grace-saturated way. Those who are filled with the Spirit of Truth in this season will have a heightened capacity for speaking the wisdom of the Word in a way that is merciful, tender, loving and kind. They will see time and time again that it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance (Romans 2.4).
The second thing I believe we will see is a release of the artists. The people that will be given an extra grace for proclaiming the truth way will be the storytellers, screenplay writers, actors, composers, singers, painters and poets – among many others. They will be the ones who are inspired and mobilised to take the Father’s Truth to the lost and they will do this in dynamic, unconventional, entrepreneurial and adventurous ways that break the traditional, religious moulds.
Just before Christmas, there was a YouTube clip doing the rounds on Facebook. In fact, it went viral. It showed a choir of people in a shopping mall in the UK. They had situated themselves all over the food hall and at a carefully orchestrated moment they all began to sing the Hallelujah Chorus to the crowds of Christmas shoppers. These spectators at first looked startled, then delighted, and finally moved by these exceptional voices. It was wonderful to see the words of the Bible brought to so many non-church goers in such an ‘out of the box way’. This was truth being communicated by artists. It was truth communicated with grace – indeed, unlike their lunches, the concert was free.
And so I return to where I began. This is a turbulent season, no doubt, but this is also a time when the Spirit of Truth is on the move. More and more will come to say;
“Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands. Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name. Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Redeem me from the oppression of men, that I may obey your precepts. Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your decrees. Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed…”
A year ago, there was weeping over the Word on Celebrity Big Brother. In the same month, I took my family to see a movie at our local cinema – a movie starring Denzel Washington called The Book of Eli, which worldwide grossed over $150 million. The film (directed by the Hughes brothers) portrays an apocalyptic landscape thirty years after the devastation of nuclear war. Denzel Washington is on a mission. He has the last remaining copy of the King James Version of the Bible which he is guarding. He has also memorised every word from Genesis to Revelation in case the book gets lost or stolen. For Eli, this book is worth cherishing and preserving. It is in fact a book worth dying for.
So, what we have here is a mainstream blockbuster about the Bible?! Something is truly going on.
Truth is being restored to the church and a longing for the Truth is stirring in the world. As Jesus said in John 8.32,
‘You will know the truth and the truth will set you free’.
Clip of Stephanie Beacham weeping over the Bible:
Mark’s message on the Bible at Kingsgate Community Church:
Sunday_Teaching/Sunday_Teaching For the Hallelujah chorus in the food court see:
There is much to digest here for sure, and even for those of you who just wanted “a starter”, these clips are really quite powerful, and well worth a look. We seem to be hearing a similar message from many quarters right now, so “may we have ears to hear what The Spirit is saying to The Churches”.
May these thoughts rest in your souls over the coming days, and may The Black Country reap the benefits of The Church renewed in and through THE WORD OF GOD. Amen.