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In this Issue

The Re-evolution of the New Life Denominiation Of NZ


In Other News

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THE RE-EVOLUTION OF THE NEW LIFE DENOMINATION OF NZ

THE DEVOLUTION TO RE-SUSITATION OF THE NEW LIFE CHURCHES OF N. Z. FROM SOMEONE WHO WAS AROUND IN THE VERY BEGINNING AND WHY HE NEVER STAYED ON

In 1967 we pioneered a Church on the North Shore of Auckland that for the convenience of advertising and banking etc we called ‘New life Fellowship’. I had fellowshipped since 1957 with the eventual founders of the movement (that took our name) during all that time I resisted the efforts of some to ape the American model, but alas my words fell on deaf ears as it slid into the Denomination that it eventually became known as.

Interestingly enough even as I was writing this article in 2008 the movement was haemorrhaging quite badly. Their flagship in Christchurch mutinied to follow the drum-beat of another. They call it restructuring in business circles. I’ve been around long enough to know that nothing lasts, not even Wall Street. Permanence is not a feature of religious kingdoms or their builders. As natural institutions are failing on a daily basis worldwide so assuredly will all religious institutions follow suit. It’s like the game of chess where the Kings in their Castles with their Queens, and Knights and Bishops seek to out manoeuvre, and capture the pawns of their opponents (brothers?) in an effort to forge ahead of the opposition and win the game.

BUY THE TRUTH AND SELL IT NOT

“For all those that want something better than what’s on offer don’t give up, He’s alive.”

As we turn back the clock, many of us can recall days of visitation when the Holy Spirit moved among us in great power. It was a time when you couldn’t stop us from gathering to pray, to fellowship, and study the word. We were aglow with the Spirit and overflowing with love for the Saviour and each another. Sadly what we experienced then seems like a dream now. The memory of those times has never left those who were there to taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Its true there can be no going back, but the desire to recapture the fervency of spirit and to experience once more the power of His Holy presence still burns in many hearts. True hearts will never settle for less than what they have known.

Many wandering saints have feelings akin to what the exiles in Babylon felt as they reflected on happier days when God was in their midst. “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, oh how we wept, when we remembered Zion”. Psalm 137:1.


The curse of sophistication and covetousness, with able assistance from these professionals who occupy the pulpits, have choked the life of the Holy Spirit out of most saints to the point that many quit going to church because it had degenerated into a distasteful duty, where they went through the motions for the sake of their wives and children. Many others were driven away by force and cruelty. But I have some good news; there is a rustling in the tops of the mulberry trees.

The burden I felt relating to the subject matter of this issue still weighs heavily on my heart. I don’t want to alienate people, but then I don’t want to compromise in order to avoid criticism. Truly the fear of man is a snare; so in order to find some answers I began to ask myself some soul-searching questions, such as:

  • Have we been called to defend the Master’s intentions?
  • Do we have to make excuses for the truth because somebody will get offended?

As I prayerfully considered this issue my course became clear. I would speak the truth in love, and leave the consequences to Him.
God is love, and to love (v) is God in action. The opposite to love is inertia, all talk and nothing else.

I’m writing this because I love God, I love His Son, I love the truth of His word, and I love His Body. And because I love I hate. I hate what God hates, and God certainly hates some things. I hate the spirit that has divided the body of Christ and hindered the free flow of fellowship among His saints. I look forward to that day when His body will come together at His feet and acknowledge His Sovereign Lordship over them in everything. It’s with a sense of personal loss that I look back and remember how precious His will once was that is now of no consequence to these entrepreneurs of religion.

I watched Paul De Jong do a promotional for an event this April; it was pure self help hype and spin. Who needs to listen to Jesus Christ when you can listen to Paul extol his exploits and show you the way to success? Jesus said in Mt 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Events such as these are offensive to Christ sensitive souls. Php 3:18 For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: And again “if any will come after Me let him take up his cross and follow Me”. It’s not easy to put on paper exactly what one feels when the realization sinks in that Kingdom life once revered has been disregarded and cast aside.

As a former Catholic my conversion to the Protestant expression of faith was dramatic to say the least. I am grateful that Catholicism gave me a healthy respect for God that many of my non-Catholic friends never had.

When I reflect on my childhood it evokes happy memories. My father died while I was still a boy but my mother was a wonderful woman of great character and strength and more than made up for our sad loss.She counted no sacrifice too great to ensure that her six children had all she could provide by way of a good Catholic education, and a home where we could bring our friends knowing that they would always find a warm welcome.

I was 25 years old when I came to the Lord in an evangelistic service in Sydney Australia. I left New Zealand and went to Australia on a working holiday. I was certainly not looking for a religious experience or anything that resembled one, however as is often the case with many a rebel, God in His love and mercy changed all that and rescued me. A young lady friend who attended the service with me accepted Christ that same night and shortly afterwards became my wife. A few months later we left for New Zealand. Over the next ten years we were engrossed in a visitation of God that became the envy of many countries around the world. Right from the time we settled in New Zealand God led us to a small group of believers who became like family to us.

During those years we enjoyed precious fellowship with the Lord and His people, and were privileged to sit at the feet of some dedicated and anointed men who taught us the truth as they knew it without compromise. Our teachers had been greatly impacted by a visitation that had broken out in Canada in 1948 called “Latter Rain”; it was rejected by most at that time; but was embraced later during the Charismatic visitation. We were not main stream but that didn’t bother us as we embraced the anointed teaching of the Word and took up the challenge to take what we were learning to our nation.

A brother in our midst Evangelist Rob Wheeler began to travel around the country holding tent crusades during the summer months which God blessed wonderfully. In the course of time I was given an opportunity to become part of the evangelistic team. Later another brother and I conducted several tent crusades in country towns. It was a tremendous privilege, and an exciting experience to feel we were on the cutting edge of a move of God. People who attended the crusades began to flock to Tauranga to attend Bible school. This was conducted during the winter months while the crusades were in recess. Whole families came to look for accommodation and employment in order to sit under the ministry of the word ministered by Godly men who were moving in “present truth.” Many graduates went out to pioneer and as a result new fellowships began to spring up around the country.

Opposition from Pentecostal churches was unrelenting, but God’s blessing was undeniable. Some families went to different parts of Asia as missionaries. As God moved we could hear the sound of a rustling in the tops of the Mulberry trees. We were living in visitation, (and never fully appreciated it). The teaching of restoration truths such as the laying on of hands, worship, the sacrifice of praise, prophecy, gifts, the bride, the Tabernacle of David, the Feasts of Israel, is just to mention a few. A strong emphasis was placed on the autonomy of the local church. The latter was propagated energetically. Each fellowship was distinctly autonomous. All linked “to” Christ; but only linked to one another “through” Christ.

There was no organizational structure because we were all committed to the posture of self-rule and guarded it jealously. Eventually that would all change. (It seems some men can’t keep the hands off the Ark).

The bond that drew the saints together was a network of relationships. Each assembly enjoyed body ministry and although a primary feeder whose gift made room for him was usually present ministry was open to all. The primary feeder was often absent strengthening new gatherings. We never had a sola “Pastor” noun. In time that would change.

When we came together in these early day’s every brother’s contribution was important, and no one person owned the floor 1 Cor 14:26; Acts 15:22. If someone had something to share they felt God had given them, they were free to bring it. There was no order of service, no agenda set up beforehand by clergyman who felt he had been appointed by God to speak for all. We did not feel the need to import outside voices to tell us what we should be doing, but we never excluded those God sent our way either.

We prayed together, wept together, strengthened one another, and opened our hearts and the door of our fellowship to each other. Nobody was under any pressure to conform to tenets of a central committee. Each local fellowship was free to follow the dictates of their hearts. Our form of government wasn’t perfect, but neither was it dictatorial.


This state of affairs worked well for a number of years. Then certain brethren came among us to spy out our liberty and began to suggest that we would be better served by a central committee to oversee the fellowships and co-ordinate gatherings on a national level; and assist in setting up a co-operative missionary effort. Rob Wheeler became the strongest advocate of this form of Govt. I most definitely was not.

IT WAS NOT JUST BECAUSE OF DOCTRINAL CONVICTION THAT EX-PASTORS CAME INTO OUR MIDST BUT BECAUSE OF PERSONAL CONFLICT IN FORMER CHURCHES; OR FOR THE FRESH OPPORTUNITIES THE REVIVAL PRESENTED THEM WITH, OR BOTH?

I am not suggesting that they were suspect, but I am saying it was not always because of any heart conviction regards truths we had embraced during the visitation. Some were simply opportunists; because in hindsight it became very clear that this was the case. Many in fact were bringing into our midst the very things that years earlier we had forsaken. Their sentiments began to be echoed by other brethren in our midst who should have known better.

Although it was never said in so many words the direction in which we were being taken was abundantly clear. It took several years to evolve, but eventually the prominent individuals succumbed. They began to ape the American model until next thing we knew we had Pastors, Titles, choirobes, and multi-level marketing schemes for the purpose of fund raising to buy for Church property which were seen to be acceptable.

In quick time the fellowships had a “sola” pastor to lead them in the manner of all movements before them. Personally I stoutly resisted being called “Pastor”. I was content to be just another brother among them, and Mr or Brother Shaun to the children.

As always happens when charismatic leaders for whatever reason become sidetracked God draws back and a vacuum occurs. Soon administrators began to fill the void. Administrators are not feeders, simply paper kings. Gradually they manoeuvre themselves into indispensability from where they can inject their sterile influence. Stagnation and crystallization begins to take place, until like concrete these titled individuals became a permanent fixture.

The jet age by now had brought our once isolated country much closer to the rest of the world bringing many preachers particularly from America to our shores. Apart from a few exceptions their influence was negative. The American model of strong pastoral leadership, the division of clergy and laity, and their professional approach to ministry encouraged men I had once looked up to in the direction they wanted to take and make permanent. Construction of Church buildings for greater permanence became an obsession with many. It was soon followed by Central Government, credentials, titles, bible schools. These all became the order of the day. It was a further step down the pathway to apostasy. Truth was sold for expedience, or ignored by pragmatic carnal reasoning. This certainly happened to the fellowships that we once cherished and formally been part of.

It has been a strong conviction of mine that life should be based on God’s word and strength, not ours. Our strength is our greatest weakness. Combine this with imported schemes that will ensure success and it means that God is no longer needed. It’s so easy to organize God out of our lives. Actually He seems to get in the way many times of the things they want done. But because it’s in the king’s interests they simply ask Him to bless their ways and to shelve His.

I am of the same opinion as John Newton when he said, “In essentials I agree with them all, and in circumstantial details I differ no more than they differ among themselves. They all confess that they are fallible, and yet decide with an air of infallibility, and they all in turn expect me to unite with them if I have any regard to the authority and honour of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Head of His Body. But the very consideration they propose restrains me from uniting with any of them.

This writer has frequently been asked, “Do you intend to join us?” I do not believe that I should honour the headship and kingly office of Christ by acknowledging Him as the Head of a party and subdivision of His people to the exclusion of the rest.

Every party uses fair words proclaiming their liberty and freedom, but when an explanation is made it always amounts to the same thing. They will give liberty to think as they think, and to act as they act, which to me, who claims the same right of thinking for myself and of acting according to the dictates of my own conscience, is no liberty at all. I stand firm on the convictions I have on my understanding of the word, and conclude that I will hold friendly intercourse with them all, so far as they should providentially come across my path. And I might add so far as they will allow me! But that I would stand fast in the liberty in which Christ has made me free, and bow neither to them or their creed.

If others seek to honour Christ by laying great stress on doubtful matters then let them. But I will honour Him by endeavouring to show His kingdom is not of this world. Nor does it consist in pleading for conformity to tenets and parties, but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything with God but a new creature, and the faith that works by love.”

How quickly we forget that the just shall live by faith. This is the course that this writer has diligently sought to follow since first coming to Christ. But I find it baffling and even amusing if it were not so sad, that some who once walked this way have fallen into the same sectarian trap, as those they once criticized and labelled as Babylonians. And now we find ourselves having to explain to them why we do not wish to join their sectarian groups no matter how loudly they may boast of their broadmindedness and free spirit.

We have found everywhere we have been the ecclesiastical barrier is as impregnable today as it has always been. That no church circle, or company of professing Christians is prepared to really welcome into their midst and extend the right hand of fellowship, (no matter what his reputation and credentials) to anyone who is unprepared to join and limit to their party and pronounce all their shibboleths.

In so far as these matters are concerned “let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” But as far as this writer is concerned he values his Christian liberty far too highly, and considers it sufficient being joined to the Lord as a member of His much membered glorious body. I do not see the need to join anything more than this.

Therefore I have no intention of locking myself up in an ecclesiastical prison to become excluded from fellowship with my brothers and sisters scattered throughout the world. Amen.


They reinvented themselves a short time ago and now sail under a different flag the ALT.

Lu 7:32 They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.


 
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Shaun Kearney
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