Monday, July 21, 2014

Zac Poonen

For about 40 years now, Zac Poonen has ministered to the Church in India and worldwide through the ministry of teaching by voice and by letter. In an age when commercialization of ministry is on rise and the hype culture seems to consume the meaning of Christian virtues, Zac stands for integrity and sincerity to the Word of Truth. The story of his walk with Christ is recorded in his book The Day of Small Beginnings (2007). 

Zac follows the Lord in the holiness tradition and had close connections with Hebron and with Brother Bakht  Singh, who also performed Zac's wedding with Annie.

Zac is honest about his experiences with God. In chapter 21 of The Day of Small Beginnings, he makes some daring confessions:
The period from mid 1971 to end 1974 (when I was 31 to 35 years old) was the period during which my fame grew rapidly in my public ministry. It was also the period during which I backslid the most in my personal life. Popularity and backsliding go together in the lives of many preachers.
My fame as a preacher, author and radio-speaker was spreading far and wide. I had written 6 books by then that were being widely circulated....I remember one series of revival meetings at which I preached every day for 21 consecutive days. Many people repented of their sins and were drawn to the Lord. I was an ascending star in evangelical Christendom!
But during this entire period (mid-1971 to end-1974) I was backsliding inwardly.....
...when I visited Melbourne (Australia) in December 1973, to speak at the Keswick Convention, an Australian Christian newspaper proclaimed me as the finest Keswick preacher they had ever heard. Little did they know that I who preached the deeper life of victory over sin was defeated myself in my thought-life. I discovered then that even good believers can be deceived into considering a man to be spiritual if he has a powerful preaching gift. I have preserved a copy of that newspaper article to remind myself that one can be the finest preacher and the greatest backslider at the same time.
But through my backsliding, God taught me the following lessons:
1. The blessing of the Lord upon our labours, and the results that we see in our ministry, are no indication of God’s approval of our life. Our spiritual state can be evaluated only by the purity of our inner life.
2. It is when our ministry is being blessed mightily by God that we are in greatest danger of spiritual pride – and pride is the primary cause of all backsliding.
3. God allows people to exercise their spiritual gifts powerfully, even when they are living in known sin, in order to test them to see whether they value His approval more or the honour of men.
4. The eloquence of gifted preachers and their so-called miracles do not impress me any more – for I believe what Jesus said, that many who prophesy and do miracles in His Name will be sent to hell finally, because they lived in sin in their private lives (Matt.7:22,23).
Knowing all this has been a great safeguard for me during the last 30 years.
By mid-1974, I became so tired of my hypocritical life that I decided to quit the ministry– because I did not want to go on living a double life and deceive people. So I began to seek the Lord in prayer. I told Him that if He wanted me to continue in His service, He must baptize me afresh in the Holy Spirit and make my inner life correspond with what I was preaching. For six months I prayed regularly along with another brother who was equally needy. And then in January 1975, God filled me with His Spirit again and turned my life around completely. I had to hit rock bottom and go into the depths of defeat and be thoroughly broken, before the Lord could accomplish what He wanted in me and through me.
Two results of this breaking have been:
(1) It is very difficult for me now to be puffed up (no matter what God does through me) or to imagine that I am a ‘somebody’.
(2) It is very difficult for me now to despise any sinner or backslider, however deeply he may have fallen.
Zac serves with the Christian Fellowship Center at Bangalore. He has written around 25 books and regularly writes for various Christian periodicals in India.

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