Thursday, October 7, 2004

What is the Vineyard

Something I found among my old sermon notes. I don't know when I taught this and I'm certain much of it is borrowed but its valuable and I thought you might enjoy it.

1. Who is the Vineyard?
We are an association of churches
We are not just a "wild onion" church, springing up all over. We are a worldwide affiliation of churches. This means a lot to me. When you attend other Vineyard's when you have the opportunity, there really is a sense of common purpose and vision. It is like coming home. There is also a global vision that is incredible. You grow so much when you begin to see that you're part of something a lot bigger than yourself or even your local church.

2. What is Vineyard?

This question comes up often. How many times have you found yourself trying to describe your church to a friend and you didn't know what exactly to say when they asked you, "What kind of church is it?" I want to help to answer that question today.

I may use some terms that you are unfamiliar with, so in order to simplify some of my terms I will likely resort to stereotyping certain moves of God or denominations. I don't intend these stereotypes to be offensive or derogatory but I am using them to point out extremes. Do not interpret this as finding fault with the way they worship, but only that I believe that God has led us to a different place of worship.

I will wait until next week to go more into the history of the Vineyard and will focus right now on what it is that the Vineyard "targets" to be.

Historically there have been two main protestant theological camps. One would be the Evangelical churches and the other is the Pentecostal churches. Although there are many different specifics that characterize these groups, and this oversimplifies, we will call evangelical churches "those fundamental conservative non-charasmatic churches". Pentecostal is characterized as "all classical pentecostal or charasmatic churches practicing tongues and other gifts of the spirit" Mainline denominations within Evangelicalism would include Southern Baptist and Bible Churches and include people like Billy Graham. Those within Pentecostalism would be the Assemblies of God and United Pentecostal and include people like Oral Roberts.

Each have their major areas of emphasis. Evangelicalism has a strong emphasis on knowledge and study of the Bible. This emphasis has produced many strong Bible Colleges and teachers and most of the world's most prominent theologians. They also emphasize missions and evangelism.

Pentecostalism has put the primary emphasis on "experiencing God". The infilling of the Holy Spirit with the evidences of speaking in tongues is a key ingredient. There is a reverence for the Bible and a desire for evangelism but it is not as "priority" as it is in the evangelical circles.

Indeed, historically the Evanglicals have looked down their noses at Pentecostals, seeing them as "caught up in emotionalism" and not fully appreciating the simple power of the Word of God. Any notion that God speaks outside of his written word is seen as an attempt to undermine the sovereignty of the written word and borders on heresy. Their doctrines ruled out the likelihood that God still actively worked miracles today, finding it more believable that he had caused those things to cease after the church was mature.

Pentecostals have pulled against that notion of a powerless God. In many cases they were unable to explain or provide proper exegesis for what they were experiencing, they just knew it was real and it was good. This brought rise to many "country preachers" preferring to look down their noses at "educated" preachers that had no power. It didn't help things when people would comment on the service in terms such as "It was so good that the preacher didn't even get to preach" If Biblical exegesis was the highest call then everything precluding the sermon was fluff. Pentecostals saw the sermon as the icing, everything else was "spirit and truth" and the priority of the day.

Again, I am heavily stereotyping here to make a point, not to offend. I certainly am not saying that Pentecostalism doesn't have some strong exegesis or that the evangelicals have no anointing.

What John Wimber began to desire was both. He was seeking God from the Evangelical side of the fence. While teaching in a Bible College he began to see things that the charismatics were experiencing that, even if his evangelical counterparts were teaching against them, he wanted in his ministry. This began the process of trying to marry the two.

In order to do that we have to honor both sides. Recognize where people come from and how they got there. There is truth in both camps that, in order to thrive, we must embrace. This is not marketing or church growth strategy, we are simply talking about balanced theology.

What is the best of both worlds?

EvangelizationSigns & Wonders

We are "Empowered Evangelicals" sometimes known as "Third Wave"
How are we like Evangelicals?

  • We look to the written word of God as our only infallible guide to faith and practice.

  • We believe that there is value to using our intellect to discern God's plan and will.

  • We believe that God desire that we "bring the kingdom" on earth which includes evangelizing the lost.

How are different?

  • We reject the notion of cessation or dispensation of the gifts of the spirit.

How are we like Pentecostals?

  • We believe God is still speaking to his people today

  • We pray for the sick with the laying on of hands.

  • We embrace the infilling of the Holy Spirit with power.

  • We embrace all of the gifts of the spirit and the working of signs and wonders as the early church experienced.

How are we different?

  • We believe that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at conversion, not as a subsequent experience. However, dramatic manifestations of the Spirit infilling a believer may occur many times, often accompanied by signs such as tongues or prophetic utterances. Often such overflow of the Spirit occurs subsequent to the conversion but is simply a manifestation of the Holy Spirit through a person

  • We believe that the believer may continually be filled or re-filled with the holy spirit.

  • We do not accept tongues as the initial evidence of the spirit indwelling someone, but that it like other gifts is God's to give when and as he desires.

  • We do not accept the belief that healing is part of the atonement and therefore required of God to grant. God's sovereignty is always maintained. We make no demands or claims.

To understand these last few items would require some understanding of the doctrine of the "Kingdom of God"
I'm not going to have time to cover it very deeply but let me give a nutshell version.


Jesus taught us that the first thing that we are to pray for is for God's Kingdom to come -- where? (On earth as it is in heaven.)

The Kingdom of God is the central theme of the gospel. When we read about Jesus and His ministry, we discover that He made the Kingdom of God the center of His teaching. We are not able to separate the teachings of Christ from the Kingdom of God. The KoG was the gospel that John the Baptist preached. It was the gospel that Jesus preached. Jesus' parables explained the KoG. His presence announced the presence of the KoG. It was the gospel that Jesus told His disciples to preach. The kingdom of God is what the Bible is all about.

Kingdom of God is primarily the rule of God as seen by the exercise of his power and authority. This rule brings about the realm of salvation and deliverance for His redeemed subjects.

God's rule is already eternal and universal. He is, and has been, and will be Lord and King over all the universe. So what are we talking about when we are told to pray for the Kingdom of God to come on earth? The earth is the sphere of rebellion against God. The KoG is where God's rule is acknowledged by obedience to him. This rule brings about the realm of salvation and deliverance for His redeemed subjects. We are praying that the authority and power of God would be experienced here on earth in the same way that it is in heaven.

We are praying that God will powerfully intervene in the affairs of men. We are praying that God will exercise His authority and power on earth to overcome the forces of evil that come against us in our lives. We are asking God to set us free from our bondages, heal our diseases, and bring peace into our lives --- while we are still here on earth

In Jesus' life, and in the lives of his disciples, the preaching of the gospel and healing always went together. God's power was present in His word and manifested through His power.

Jesus spoke with authority and in the power of the Holy Spirit, men were freed from whatever held them in bondage. The demons were fleeing, diseases were healed. Hopeless was removed. Jesus' power destroyed every opposing force in the way.

When Jesus sent the disciples out, they saw the same things happen when they proclaimed the good news about the Kingdom of God.

Today, as we proclaim the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, we can expect to see demons flee, diseases healed, and people saved and set free.

The Three biblical views of the Kingdom
(this helps us with the questions of healing. Who's in charge here?)

The kingdom is near.

Mark 1:15 (NIV) "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"

Mat 10:23 (NIV) When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

LUK 9:27 "But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who shall not taste death until they see the kingdom of God."

There are only a few Christians hung up at the place where they think that nothing of the kingdom has already come.

The kingdom has come and is present

Mat 11:12 (NIV) From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.

Mat 12:28 (NIV) But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

We can't seek it if it isn't there!

The Christians who hold a "Kingdom Now" perspective think that we have all that there is to have because of what Christ did on the cross. Also, the Christians who preach the "Prosperity Gospel", "Faith-Only," or "Sinless Perfection" fall into this tradition.

We can understand "Kingdom now" with regards to salvation, but what about healing?

If everyone who calls on the name of the Lord is saved immediately, why is it that everyone that calls on the name of the Lord isn't healed immediately?

Is it because of lack of faith? Or sin in your life? Or is healing harder than salvation? It might not be any of these.

The kingdom is in the future

Mat 24:3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"

There will be wars and rumors of wars, flood, earthquakes, famines, false signs and messiahs ...

Mat 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Matthew 25:1-13 -- The parable of the virgins -- tells us that there will be a delay in the grooms coming.

Matthew 25:14-30 -- The parable of the talents -- tells us that there would be a long delay before the lord of the servants came.

In (Acts 1:6-7), When the disciples asked if He were now going to restore the kingdom to Israel. Jesus replied that it wasn't for them to know the times of the restoring of the Kingdom to Israel, but they should be filled with the Holy Spirit and be His witnesses here on earth.

Because of these Scriptures, many Christians think that the Kingdom and all of its blessings are put off until the future -- when the "Perfect has come" (1Cor 13:10 ). They emphasize leaving all and suffering for their faith until Jesus comes.

These Christians say that there are no more miracles, or other demonstrations of God's power. They ceased with the apostles.

I have trouble with this because it's like God ran out of power, or that God isn't the same yesterday, today and forever, or that the giftings and callings of God are revocable, or that we have less than the OT people had. I know this isn't true.

Did they forget that they have salvation, eternal life, and the Holy Spirit NOW? These are deposits and manifestations of the power of the age to come -- breaking into our world today for the salvation and relief of the people that God has chosen!

The only rational answer, and the only answer that fits all of the Bible verses is that we are in a tension between the "Already" and the "Not yet".

We have tasted the power of the age to come, but we don't experience it all the time in its fullness. We see through a mirror darkly, but we do see!

Practical matters

If Christ came to save, to bring healing, righteousness, peace, and joy to earth, and if the Holy Spirit has come to bring the power of God -- why is it that we don't experience all of them all of the time?

The mystery of the Kingdom of God is the key to understanding the New Testament and the Christian life. It is the only perspective from which we can understand why healing occurs sometimes, and not at others. It explains why we feel the Lord's powerful presence sometimes and at other times we wonder if we are even saved. It is the only way that we can explain why Paul could say, "We are more than conquerors", and at another time he despaired even of life.

We have to see that the Kingdom has come, but in an anticipatory sense, but not in its fullness. We have the Holy Spirit of God, but only as an earnest, or a guarantee, or a deposit to show that our whole inheritance is waiting for us.

2 Cor 1:21-22 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

We have the Holy Spirit of God and the Holy Spirit is the power of God --- but we don't experience the fullness, just a part of what is totally our inheritance.

1 John 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

We see Jesus now, but in a mirror darkly. (1 Cor 13:12)

We don't have the fullness of the power of the age to come, but we can taste of it. (Heb 6:4-6)

Eph 1:13-14 (NIV) And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory.


In the words of John Wimber, International Director of the Association of Vineyard Churches, we invite the Holy Spirit to come and give place to those things which are clearly taught in Scripture: the proclamation of the gospel so that the lost may be saved; the expression of the gifts of the Spirit as depicted in Scripture so that the Church may be built up; the equipping and empowering of the saints for the furtherance of the ministry of Jesus through the church to the world; the merciful acts of generous care which proclaim the gospel to the poor; the expulsion of demons; healing of the oppressed, and the building of the Church throughout the world through church planting and renewal.

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