Kelly Deppen from Bridges Ministry interviewed me recently about the book, Jesus Manifesto. Kelly’s audience is made up mostly of charismatics who are part of the prophetic movement. Her questions reflect this. I hope you enjoy it. Scroll down to the bottom and you can now listen to the First Chapter of the book.
1. Frank, you are a real present-tense guy sent to Reveal the Eternal Mystery. How is life in the paradox?
Paul was uniquely chosen by God to reveal the “mystery of the ages” in Ephesians and Colossians. Len Sweet and I are simply bringing out what Paul wrote to a 21st century audience and doing it by using a lot of word imagery. Consequently, Jesus Manifesto reads almost like fiction (the style is very right brain), even though it’s a non-fiction book based squarely on the Bible.
Jesus is the Ultimate Paradox as He is both human and divine. The incarnation is “the absolute paradox” as one writer put it. As such, the Christian life is very paradoxical – you have to die to live, you have to give to receive, you must lower yourself to rise, etc. Every Christian lives in this tension.
2. I am a champion of the Truth that Jesus Christ is Reality for those in Him. In Him we live and move and have our beings. In Jesus Manifesto you discuss the fact that the real essence of humanity comes in walking in Jesus, the quintessential human being. I love that. To what degree are you willing to cop to being a mystic?
The word “mystic” is a clay word. It’s been shaped and molded by different people to mean very different things. You can condemn a person with the word or honor them by it. I personally don’t like the words “mystic” or “mystical” because they can mean so many different things, some of them very unChristian. So I prefer the word “spiritual.”
Our walk with Jesus is real. It is also spiritual. Jesus is in the Spirit today, and He can be known and experienced. In this sense, the Christian faith is mystical. Meaning, it’s spiritual and real rather than abstract and simply intellectual. Yet it is based solidly on the testimony of Scripture and will not break nor violate what the Scriptures teach.
I like what A.W. Tozer said about the word “mystic,” and I completely resonate with it:
“Some of my friends good-humoredly – and some a little bit severely – have called me a ‘mystic.’ Well I’d like to say this about any mysticism I may suppose to have. If an arch-angel from heaven were to come, and were to start giving me, telling me, teaching me, and giving me instruction, I’d ask him for the text. I’d say, ‘Where’s it say that in the Bible? I want to know.’ And I would insist that it was according to the scriptures, because I do not believe in any extra-scriptural teachings, nor any anti-scriptural teachings, or any sub-scriptural teachings. I think we ought to put the emphasis where God puts it, and continue to put it there, and to expound the scriptures, and stay by the scriptures. I wouldn’t – no matter if I saw a light above the light of the sun, I’d keep my mouth shut about it ’til I’d checked with Daniel and Revelation and the rest of the scriptures to see if it had any basis in truth. And if it didn’t, I’d think I’d just eaten something I shouldn’t, and I wouldn’t say anything about it. Because I don’t believe in anything that is unscriptural or that is anti-scripture.”
3. The scholarship in Manifesto sets a very high standard. What is the mix or ratio of scholarship to revelation that went into writing the book with Len, and how did the two streams come together for you?
The book may appear to be scholarly to some only because it has endnotes and we quote some theologians here and there, but it’s a very popularly written book and the reading level is quite low. We tried to write it so that a high school student could understand it and absorb its message.
We’re finding that a lot of readers of Christian fiction love the book because it uses a lot of imagery, word pictures, and metaphors. At the same time, we quote theologians and philosophers to make certain points and there is a ton of Scripture in it as well.
Revelation and scholarship go hand and hand. You can think of revelation as insight that is revealed to our hearts by the Holy Spirit. You can think of scholarship as that which is based in an accurate interpretation of the Bible. So if revelation is really from the Spirit, it will have the scholarship of the Bible behind it.
In our book, we are writing mostly to the heart rather than the head. For this reason, many people have told us that they have wept through the book and have encountered the Lord in a fresh way while reading it. People can read some of the reader reactions here.
4. How did the revelation that you and Len were to expand beyond the online Manifesto come? Better yet, what did Jesus say to you?
There was no audible voice or vision. We just felt burdened by the Lord to write what was on our hearts about the absolute glory, power, majesty, beauty, and staggering enormity of our Lord Jesus and to give a clarion call to the church to make Him absolutely central and supreme in a practical way. When we wrote the book, our burden was released.
5. I love that Jesus did not choose to be President of any Political Program, and He rejected being appointed Grand Poo-bah of a Religion. The simple Truth that His Kingdom is not of this world is powerfully and carefully portrayed in Jesus Manifesto. We fell for a counterfeit reality called religion and now need to repent. Frank, what is your leadership role in this transition, now that Manifesto is published? What’s next for you in this initiative?
For the last 22 years, I’ve been meeting in organic churches. I’ve been planting them for more than a decade. These are churches that are very much like the New Testament vision of church, where Jesus is Head and everyone functions according to their particular gifts. They are churches that function as living organisms rather than as institutional organizations (hence the word “organic”). I’ve written about organic churches extensively in my book Reimagining Church.
Jesus Manifesto contains a good bit of the message that I preach when founding a church on Jesus Christ. According to Paul, Jesus is the only foundation upon which a church should be built.
6. In Jesus Manifesto you state, “…this church is a new polis.” We are a new race of people, however we seem to be a little schizophrenic and believe that an old race of leadership, and worn out, ineffective leadership systems can effectively lead this new Jesus-population. What must happen to change this? Can you describe some characteristics of a new breed of leadership? Who will lead this Colony from the other realm?
True leaders are those who truly follow Jesus. The role of a true leader, then, is to equip God’s people to know the Lord, to follow Him, and to function in ministry in a corporate way. One of the things we take dead aim at in the book is the zeal that so many Christians have to become leaders. “Leadership principles” and “leadership training” has been put on the throne, and Jesus has been made a footnote. Let’s make our business knowing Christ in the depths, and leadership which flows out of followership will take care of itself.
7. A hard line, tough love quote from Manifesto: ”This is a profoundly grievous misuse of the Bible.” [To use the Bible as a recipe book, a formulation and pat answer for God across all situations, across time.] The implication is to make God predictable and manageable by man. In the past two decades many in the Prophetic Movement have made a similar misuse of the rhema/prophetic Word of God. Much of the prophecy was self-aggrandizing—prophecies of personal success, Swiss chalets, and world-wide apostolic anointings. I take the liberty to re-phrase: “This has been a profoundly grievous misuse of the Revelation of Holy Spirit.” I feel a personal mandate to return Prophetic Ministry to the unadulterated Testimony of Jesus Christ. Frank, what is your advice for this turn-around? What breed of leadership will this require as you see it?
The Holy Spirit has one main job: It is to reveal, to glorify, to magnify, and make real and living in one’s life the Lord Jesus Christ. All the arrows of the Spirit point to Jesus. We show this quite clearly in the book.
True prophecy, therefore, will always reveal Christ in some way. John said in the book of Revelation, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
What was the content of the Old Testament prophets? It was Jesus. So today, when someone prophesies under the Spirit’s anointing, the content of their prophecy will reveal, glorify, exalt, make known and living the Lord Jesus Christ. This truth is often missed among certain movements today that have put “prophetic ministry” on the throne instead of Jesus Himself.
8. I am excited to see the impact of Manifesto—manifest! Can you give us any early reports? How do you hope the book impacts the church and the world?
Since its release, the book has reached #6 on Amazon.com (the largest bookstore in the world which carries over 9 million titles). This was rather amazing to us. The book is in its third week and it’s still the #1 Christian book on Amazon. We are humbled and surprised, but very blessed that God has chosen to breathe on the book. Thankfully, we get reports almost daily by people who have been moved by the book and how it’s caused them to see and know their Lord like never before. Readers can learn more about the book by going here: www.theJesusManifesto.com
Among other things, they can download the two new worship songs that Christian artists recorded for the book.
9. The church is the expression of Jesus in the Realm of Earth, but currently only a very tiny percentage of ‘churched’ Christians have any outlet for expressing Him within the church walls. Something is very wrong with this picture. Frank, what can take the traditional churches from the paradigm of the one man show into the chaordic Voice like Many Waters depicted in Revelation?
In Jesus Manifesto, we don’t talk about church structure. But I do answer this question in my book Finding Organic Church. It’s a complicated situation, but it can and has been done.
10. Romans 8:19 is the cry of my heart and no doubt Jesus’ as well: “All of creation groans for the manifestation of the sons of God.” All creation needs to see Jesus come in His Glory through His people. Perhaps in the charismatic movement we have wanted to see His Glory prematurely? Perhaps we focused on the Glory and the effects upon us, rather than creating a New Bethany—a community for Him. Did we look for gold dust before giving Jesus a place to lay His head? Can you foresee a prophetic Bethany?
In the book, we have a whole chapter on Bethany. Bethany was a little village just outside the city of Jerusalem. It was the home of Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and Simon.
Bethany was the only place on earth where Jesus was received, loved, and where His needs were met. Bethany is a picture of God’s idea of what the church ought to be.
My main calling is to plant churches that are spiritual Bethanies. Churches where Christ is supreme, preeminent, valued, loved, known, and expressed by the whole body together. So the chapter on Bethany is not theoretical; it’s been my experience.
I hope that such churches become more prevalent in the future. Though I don’t know that they will ever become hugely popular because they run against human traditions and so much of the world’s spirit and framework, not to mention that they challenge what the fallen self stands for. For those who are interested in this kind of Christ-saturated church life, they may want to take a look at our Mediography which contains many free messages, articles, and resources. If they have iTunes, they can subscribe to the CHRIST IS ALL podcast freely.