8. Repentance - Turning to Glory
Repentance is an essential element in our knowledge of God - at the beginning of each level or place of knowing Him. The reason God requires repentance is simple. He never shoves anyone around. God never imposes Himself on us; He always treats us with the highest regard. Thus God always refrains from doing anything in our lives without our permission. Once God has our permission, then He is free to release all the goodness and purpose of God in us, as us, and through us.
8. Repentance - Turning to Glory
I once believed that the life of an overcomer was a life of continual repentance, always "turning away" from self. I did not know that my "belief" was a continual action of gross unbelief denying the sacrifice of Jesus and His life inside of me.
Yet repentance is an essential element in our knowledge of God - at the beginning of each level or place of knowing Him. The reason God requires repentance is simple. He never shoves anyone around. God never imposes Himself on us; He always treats us with the highest regard. Thus God always refrains from doing anything in our lives without our permission. Once God has our permission, then He is free to release all the goodness and purpose of God in us, as us, and through us. From then on, continual "repentance" in the form we once knew is just another gimmick to deny God in our lives.
Now, part of slavery in this world is a desperate holding onto elements or things of security. Paul refers to these places of security or refuge in our foolish hiding from God as "strongholds." In Genesis 3, they were simply tree trunks.
True Christian repentance, then is nothing more than coming out from behind our tree trunks to stand in the light of God. In that light, the blood is always flowing over us. But the knowledge of the blood does not penetrate tree trunks. A stronghold is nothing other than any human attempt to hide from God. Continual "repentance" is actually such an attempt to block the reality of the blood from our hearts and minds. Continual "repentance" is just another tree trunk, one of many.
Strongholds are not part of us; they are, rather, fictitious constructions of our frightened minds as we attempt to hide from a God who terrifies us - or, is not under our control. Yet they become very large in our imagination.
Because the blood is continually flowing over me, I am not afraid of God. Much more than continually standing in the light regardless of any "self" or "not self," I am seated with Christ upon the throne of heaven. Upon that throne, I am very bold; yet the throne of God is always a throne of humility. God always serves; the "highest" always takes the lowest place, always raises others above itself.
The darkness of this world IS, however, a very frightening place in which to find ourselves. We do not know the way out. It was only a few years ago, when in a moment of the sweet revelation of Christ upon me, that I saw that "I" had fully disappeared into the Lord Jesus Christ - that He had completely swallowed "me" up into Himself, that I began to KNOW that Salvation utterly carries me.
BUT, I was able to see that Jesus is my life, I have no other life, only because the Father, in His extraordinary kindness, had coaxed me, bit by bit, out from behind my tree trunks over the prior eight years.
From 1977 until 1998, my life was worked upon in a very large way by the ministry of a particular individual in the move of God by the name of Buddy Cobb. I have probably sat under more hours of teaching by him than any other person in my life. Now, I have no right or desire to comment in any way about Buddy Cobb's relationship with the Savior. But I am free to speak openly about his impact on my life because of the public place of influence he has held in the lives of thousands of people.
It is my own personal estimation that Buddy Cobb taught a different word than what was taught by Sam Fife or Jane Miller. Yet that word came always alongside all other word preached in the move. At the present time, this man’s teaching dominates most everything in that fellowship and most other voices have departed.
There was a time when I held Buddy Cobb's view of things at arm's length, but eventually I embraced it and taught it. Now, when I read back through what I wrote at that time, I can only weep. It is too sad for me even to refute.
In a recent letter, "The Mystery of the Holy," I made the following statement:
"Now, I once was taught that God was out to prove me, to see if I really loved Him or not, and the proof was in whether I heard Him speak every moment and did only what He said exactly as He said it. This teaching was the thing God used to bring me to utter hopelessness, that He might then show me the wonder and beauty of Christ."
When I say, "I once was taught," I refer to Buddy Cobb. More than that, he taught that God's love for us is, basically, incidental. What counts to God is for us to PROVE that we love Him. With great delight he taught over and over that when God says that nothing can separate us from the love of God, what God really means is that WE can walk away from that love so easily, and obviously, we live in a state of separating ourselves from His love all the time by our disobedience and therefore must prove to a hard-to-convince Deity that we really do love Him by a perfect obedience - and that is the only way WE can stay in His love.
He delighted further in teaching us that God "watches us with His eye-lids," meaning He makes us think He's not looking, so that He can catch us in our disobedience.
Now, that looks like gibberish to us now, of course. The problem was there was a powerful psychological manipulation at play. And I am using the immediacy of my own personal experienceto get at the very largest stronghold in Christianity.
This man was in the minor leagues compared to the solitary intellect that controls the breadth and sweep of what we know of as Christianity.
The whole church is the Beloved of our Savior, and since we are His revelation in the earth, she is very much our concern in her entirety. Not one individual believer has ever belonged to the manipulators and controllers, to the forceful intellects and self-willed powerhouses who draw on the anointing of God to cement their place "above" her, no matter what sect or group or denomination. And because each individual believer of every stripe from the upper room until today belongs to Jesus, each one is very much the concern of the One who lives in our hearts and who fills us full.
No believer in Jesus belongs to or has ever belonged to the false. How could that be? Do they not belong to He who is Salvation? Yet, others have certainly laid claim to her; others have held a temporary and almost "fictitious" grip upon her. Do you see how bad an idea that is - to put your hand on the Beloved of the King of the Universe, the One who defeated death itself and is exalted above all the heavens?
Why did Buddy Cobb's teachings, so contrary to what God actually says in the New Testament, hold such a grip upon my mind and heart?
It is so very important for us to understand the answer to that question. I hope to show you that all of Christianity labors under the grip of an intellect far more powerful and far more pervasive than this man's - and for the same reasons. I truly believe that God intends to shatter through us the false hand that has reigned upon His Church for 1600 years.
When I wrote the letter, "God Is Beneath Your Feet," my whole understanding of God's order turned upside-down - or right-side-up, of course, though it still seems "upside-down." All through the years I lived in Christian community, I carried a question in my heart that found no answer. I loved Christian community, but for some reason, the whole structure of the communities, their purpose and focus, just did not jive with something I knew in my heart to be true. Then, seemingly separate from that question, through the years since we left that fellowship, another question has burdened my heart in deep groanings and travail before God.
Both questions were answered in totality as I wrote "God Is Beneath Your Feet."
I am unable to put the first question into words, indeed it never was a mental question, just a heart question that never left me. All I can do is tell you the same story my heart told me through my years in move community.
I grew up in the Mennonite church; many of my family lines are descended directly from the Anabapists of 16th century Switzerland. You trace up the line of my father’s mother, the Stauffers, and you trace up the line of my mother’s father (through an ancestral mother – thus a different last name), and you come to two men, forefathers in each line, who lived as Anabaptists in the same Christian community in Switzerland and were driven out by the authorities, losing everything, in the 1560’s.
During my childhood years, I read a story set in 1500's Switzerland, a story that is the first question I held.
A group of young men, drunk and rowdy, seeking some fun for the night, alighted on the idea of doing some damage to those "heretics" in town. They found the home of an Anabaptist family, climbed up onto the roof, and tore the slates off the roof, flinging them in every direction. Meanwhile, the family beneath them busily prepared their defense. They cooked a meal; they made refreshments. As the young men finished, coming down off the roof, they found an open front door, warm smiles, and a welcome. "Come and have refreshments after your hard labor." Sheepishly, they entered the home to be served with great kindness by the Anabaptist family. The next day they returned and labored again to repair what they had destroyed. Some, I'm sure, found an open heart to hear this "heresy."
Something inside my heart told me that this was God's order for His church. There was certainly much love and kindness in move community, but the "order" of the communities did not ever agree with the story of my heart.
Let me now attempt to explain the second question, a question that I have held before God with many tears through the last decade.
God anointed Sam Fife more powerfully than anyone I have ever known. Sam Fife believed absolutely in what he preached, that Christ is a corporate man, and thus never ever ran any kind of a one-man-show. Rather, he lifted up a corporate ministry around himself, and the anointing of God upon him reverberated with the anointing upon them. To Sam Fife, the pulpit was always open to anyone.
Some may well argue that I am a very impressionable person. Whether or not, I do not judge myself, though I know that far more than being impressionable, I question everything, I require evidence of all things, and I search the Bible to see what God actually says equal to any, and far more than most.
Maybe it could be that I see things others do not see and hear things others do not hear. Yet many others also testified that the anointing of God upon Sam Fife which flowed out within a corporate ministry was beyond anything they otherwise knew. Many others were the same as I, "This guy is crazy!" Yet they could not but remain upon their face before God, "God, if this be true, show me," as did I.
Now, the bulk of what Sam Fife preached came out of George Warnock's, The Feast of Tabernacles. If you read that, you will be reading the central truth's of the move of God while Sam Fife was alive. Certainly, he added his own personality, his own wacky views of things. That is a given. God cannot speak except He speak through men. Christ lives as us in this world.
I left the move for two reasons. First, it had strayed too far from the word God had birthed in my heart in those early years. And second, something woven all through the move and move community was just not right. I did not know for certain what that something was.
In leaving the move, I threw nothing out. Rather, I put everything on the shelf, and I made an agreement with God. "God, You will pull off that shelf all that is truly of You and rebirth it in my heart. All the rest will simply stay there to be discarded as You reveal Yourself in my life."
But as time went on, the depths of the knowing of God that I once knew could not remain quiet. God had birthed a word and a vision inside of me, and I was pregnant with it. To be pregnant is to travail.
I had sat in the move conventions, listening to the most profound words I have ever heard. The anointing upon that word and upon those ministries lifted me up above myself. The throne of heaven was wide open and from that throne came into my equally wide-open heart a vision of the revelation of Jesus Christ.
I have never escaped from that heavenly vision; it grips and rules my heart to this day.
The anointing moved me. The river of power from the throne of God caught me in its flow. I cannot ever be content with an un-anointed world or with an un-anointed church. And I was not the only one moved by that anointing. That anointing moved us to abandon everything of this world to follow Jesus. It moved us to a life of power in the Holy Spirit, a life of walking together, a life of seeking the Holy, the revelation of Jesus Christ, on our faces before God.
Because people do not fear God, they play tiddly winks with Him. When God speaks, I tremble. God is always speaking; the reverberations upon my own heart and life never cease. I will not "discuss" truth with people who are not on their faces before the presence of the living God, with wide-open Bibles and wide-open hearts.
So my cry and question before God has been, "God, it is Your anointing visited upon Your servants that moves us to a higher level of knowing You than we have ever known. Where is that anointing today? How I long to be caught up again in its power! How I long for my children to know that same Throne Word that grips my own heart."
But the question I have held before God has a second part; it is this. "God, how could such an anointing, carrying such a vision of Christ, also carry something, I don't know what it was, that was false?"
I now know the answer to the second part of that question. Let me give you the short version here.
However, I do not want to talk about Augustine quite yet. Allow me to finish the foundation for the question: "Must we repent of Augustine?"
The false thing that was inserted by Sam Fife into the pure word from the throne of God, a word flowing out of George Warnock's The Feast of Tabernacles, is the very thing that caused me to give undue weight to the power of a man, Buddy Cobb, whom I knew twisted Scriptures and labored over nonsense, placing Solomon as the ruler over Paul's gospel, a weight that brought me to a place of utter hopelessness.
After writing "God Is Beneath Your Feet," I remembered almost exactly what Sam Fife had said. (I say "almost exactly," but since I will not go looking for it, I will paraphrase.) "The apostles and elders in the move of God are anointed by God because they are closer to God than you are. God has anointed them to be the expression and the covering of Christ to you." Linked tightly with that understanding were the words, "Touch not My anointed and do My prophets no harm."
We believed that; we believed that, because this most profound of anointings, continually proven by the experience of God in our midst over many years, did in fact rest upon the apostles and elders of the move of God; therefore, they were the covering of Christ to us. I submitted my life and my walk with God to that belief for 21 years.
We were hanging upside down. On that point, Sam Fife was completely wrong. Those anointed by God in the church are the ten percent who are wise and capable in this world. They are anointed for that reason - as servants to the heirs of salvation.
No one notices servants, nor honors them, nor asks them for advice. They are servants. What they have is not their own; it is in their hand only to be given to others. Once their service is given, they retire into the shadows, and no one notices them. Jesus made this very clear to the disciples.
To give honor to servants is to stand on your head. Yet in the church of Christ, we have done so. Look down, God is beneath your feet.
I hope to write a letter at some point titled it, "Turning the Church Right-Side-Up." In that letter I hope to show how ministry might function in a church turned right-side-up. Here, I will continue exploring the upside-down view held by almost all of Christianity, not just the move of God.
I find, here, that I can best express how and why I was caught under Buddy Cobb's ministry by sharing with you from an email I wrote to Chris Welch.
I've been sitting here pondering, wanting to put into words just what it was we practiced. You see, Sam Fife taught, "After the Due Order," that God has set a five-fold ministry into the church as the covering over God's people and that apostles were "first" and prophets second, but only as a confirmation ministry, not any authority themselves. It came down to a two-group ministry, apostles over all and elders locally.
Thus all important decisions were submitted to the covering for their witness.
It was not that the ministry ever told anyone what to do (except in the normal operations of practicing community). Each person was taught to hear from the Lord for themselves, and then to submit their leading to the elders for confirmation. Elderships submitted their leadings to the father ministry for confirmation. At both levels, prophets were asked to seek visions from the Lord without knowing what they were praying about. Thus, the visions were impartial and either confirming or denying. Many, many decisions were made based on the witness of the visions. Most of the visions received for me through the years were powerful and important. But near the end of my time, they became the opposite, confusing and devastating - not the visions themselves, but their role. But that's another, though very interesting, story.
Now, here's the thing, those who gave their hearts to this teaching and practice made a personal commitment to do so because of the word of the Lord made real inside of them. Then over the years, the power of God in anointing continued to confirm to our hearts that, yes, this was the move of God.
Yet here is what happened psychologically. Innumerable times, one had to tell one's self, "Submit to the ministry and thus you are submitting to God." There were times when one had to go against what seemed right. Always, those who were committed to the move, myself included, mentally told one's self that God holds submission to the covering above all. I have heard that preached so many times and held to it myself at great personal cost.
Now, as I said, God attended us with His presence and power. Yet you can see the powerful psychological bonds taking place. Thus, to finally break with that belief and "leave the covering," was for most a devastating experience mentally. Especially when you were also walking away from years of labor and all your investment with nothing.
And, of course, the flip side of practicing this mental story we told ourselves over and over, was that the greatest "sin," then, had to be leaving the "covering." Thus, those who left had demonstrated the greatest rebellion against God. They might "pretend" to continue as Christians, but we knew that God was no longer leading them. And no one was really "with God" until they made the same mental commitment to "the covering" that we had made. People who are still in the move do not deny that I am a Christian, but many will not practice fellowship with me or believe that I might be "hearing from God."
Now, inside of that structure was much truth and much wonderful word and revelation and outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Yet, as humans, we always take God's presence, not as a gift because of the blood of Jesus, but as a result of our "having it right."
"After the Due Order" comes from the passage where David brings up the ark to Jerusalem. You see, he had tried to bring it on a cart. It began to fall off. One of David's men tried to stop God's presence from hitting the dirt and fell dead. Then, three months later, David told the priests to carry the ark on their shoulders. He said, "We did not do it the first time after the due order." God's order was that the descendants of Aaron only would carry the ark on their shoulders.
Sam Fife preached all the time that his version of "Divine Order" was the New Testament "due order" that the Babylonian church had failed to follow. Yet what he set in place was just another form of putting the hand to the ark to keep it from hitting the dirt.
In the summer of the year 2000, I had been separated from looking to the move ministry as "covering" for two years. However, the words and teachings of Buddy Cobb still weighed heavily upon my heart. I was astonished at times by expressions of the love and favor of God towards me through other Christians, but the icy weight of "God loves me, BUT . . ." only thawed slightly, it did not lift.
Finally, I was in a service of the church that blessed and helped us so much when we lived in west Texas. There was a mighty anointing of repentance and deliverance upon the service. People were going forward to stand in the presence of God. I joined them. As I lifted my heart up to God, Buddy Cobb came into my mind. I knew in that moment that I needed to be free of him. I said to God, "I repent of ever having listened to Buddy Cobb."
For the first time, I heard the words, "God loves me." And the need for a - ", but" - to follow no longer existed. The period at the end of the sentence was full and comfortable.
That repentance was a one-time act. It was necessary because of the agreement I myself had made in the past to place a tree trunk, a strong-hold of hiding, between myself and God. Now that I had repented, I could begin to hear God speak once again. It still took a few more years for the thawing to be complete, before I could hear God in the measure I enjoy today. But the repentance was complete in that moment.
True repentance is simple. It is simply turning away from what is untrue and standing fully in the light of all the glory of God revealed in us. Once we have done that, there is no further “repentance.”
I share all this about repenting of having listened to Buddy Cobb because Christ is made personal in each of us and to show you an exact correlation to a far, far larger intellect that holds all Christianity in its icy grip.
Read the next part of this letter to learn about the extent to which Augustine has ruled our minds and hearts.