By Doug Beacham
In January at the Synergize 2016 Conference in Orlando, Florida, led by Dr. James Davis, I had the opportunity to meet Leon Fontaine, pastor of Springs Church in Canada. With six campuses in four Canadian cities and a Canadian television presence, Fontaine focuses on what he calls “Spirit Contemporary” as an effective means of reaching people for Christ. I’m reading a pre-release of his forthcoming book, The Spirit Contemporary Life. It is one of the most inspiring and relevant books on evangelism I have read. Fontaine’s early life experience as a paramedic put him into contact with people living on the edge of life. He shares numerous stories of the miraculous power of Jesus, bringing healing to people and also leading people into personal relationships with Jesus.
What I like about Fontaine is that he is not the caricature of a typical evangelist, either in the pulpit or on television. He is down to earth and low key, yet passionate about Jesus. Center stage is Jesus, not the evangelist. On his website, Fontaine writes: “We believe Jesus Christ came to the earth so that all nations and people might have life and live it to the fullest. Our purpose is to reach the world for Him, and the most effective way to do this is by both functioning powerfully in the Spirit and by adapting ourselves to best connect with those we aim to reach. We call this being Spirit Contemporary.”
For months as the IPHC has prepared to focus on our core value of Holiness, I have found a stirring in my heart that it is imperative we remember, and discover afresh, that holiness is not isolation or withdrawal from the world. Holiness is a witness to the world of the glory of God and God’s vision for abundant life for this world.
Abraham, the father of the faithful, was called to live in God’s presence in such a way as to be a blessing to the world (see Genesis 12:2–3; 22:17). His descendants were called to be a holy nation among the nations of the world. They were separated from the nations in order to be among the nations as a people who lived by covenant obedience to the Creator of all peoples— to be a witness of what it meant to live by grace, trusting in God as King.
Israel did not keep the covenant and failed to live as a people who would light the way for the Gentiles. We believe that one day Israel will be reconstituted as that covenant people and the nations will make their way to Jerusalem in fulfillment of prophecy. But out of Israel, from among this covenant people, God did fulfill His promise through the lineage of David that the Messiah would come. The Messiah is Jesus of Nazareth, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, and present among us as the Son of God.
The church is called to live as a blessing to the world. Through Jesus, God calls people from “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9; 14:6) to be holy and serve Him in the world (1 Peter 2:5, 9). Instead of one ethnic group in one location, now the holy people of God speak thousands of languages, are in every city and nation, and are of every color and race. I want to invite us to discover anew that it means to live as holy people in this unholy world. To use Fontaine’s engaging phrase, it means for us to live “Spirit Contemporary.” That is not a rejection of the past; rather it is an affirmation that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus is always contemporary because He is always Lord.
If 2016 were the fullness of time when the Messiah was born, Jesus would dress like us, not like a first century Jew in Israel. Jesus would write in the dirt and tweet on His mobile device. Jesus would call men by the seashore and call women working at Google. Jesus would heal lepers and heal people with HIV. Jesus would save a woman caught in adultery and deliver men addicted to pornography and strip clubs. Jesus would feed five thousand and give hope to the millions trapped in modern ghettos.
Yes, Jesus would be a threat to the Herods, the Emperors, and the Caiaphas’s of the modern world. And yes, modern media would lift Him up in order to tear Him down. And yes, at the end of the day, we would crucify Him before a Congressional Committee and then display Him as Enemy Number One. But Jesus would be holy among us. And He would call us to be holy with Him. And He and we are called to be “holy contemporary.”
The call of the prophet Isaiah stirs my heart as I reflect on holiness and evangelism. The call occurred in the midst of a national crisis, one that reflects a loss of national leadership and direction. In the midst of that confusion, God speaks with His vision: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3 NASB). Did you catch that? God sees the whole earth as full of His glory!
I suspect we would respond the same way as Isaiah, we are “undone, unclean.” But the revelation of divine holiness always wants to reach people like us and “touch” us from the altar. It’s appropriate that one of our earliest Pentecostal Holiness magazines was Live Coals of Fire. Sanctifying power, evidenced in the removal of iniquity and purging of sin, is always followed by God’s call, “Who will go for us?”
In our contemporary world, let us be the ones who will respond, “Here am I! Send me.”
This article was published in the February 2016 issue of Encourage.