“Top-Down” or “Bottom-up”?

“How do I tell the Bishop, God has moved the goalposts?” Stephen’s question was mouthed through smiles of joy as he climbed out of the swimming pool, having just been baptized.

Stephen had been an Anglican priest for thirty-five years. A safe pair of hands in the diocese and, as the newly appointed Diocesan Adviser on Healing, just the person to keep the Diocese from any form of over-enthusiasm and extremism, following the surge of interest in the healing ministry in the mid-nineteen eighties. As part of his research, the Bishop paid for him to visit various healing centres and report back, including Ellel Grange.

Stephen and Deborah (not their real names) sat listening to my teaching on the first night of a Healing Retreat. They felt very uncomfortable hearing about knowing Jesus and making Him Lord of their life. It didn’t sit well with their tradition. They felt very out of place and at the end of the evening wanted to go home. But knowing that the Bishop had already paid for a ten-day stay, they decided to sit it out and report back, as asked.

For the next two days they watched, with wide-eyed amazement, as God worked in many people’s lives. They couldn’t deny the reality of the healing they were witnessing. And as they listened to the testimonies at the end of the retreat, they knew they had vital questions to ask. They both had needs that hadn’t been met.

Stephen began our discussion by saying “I’ve been a priest for thirty-five years and I don’t know Jesus!” That afternoon both Stephen and Deborah were born again, which was followed by a similar question to the one asked of Philip by the Ethiopian (Acts 8:36), “Look! Water! What is to prevent me being baptized?” Only, in Stephen’s case, the water was our swimming pool. And as Stephen climbed out of the pool, radiant with the presence and joy of Jesus, he asked that question which I have never forgotten, “How do I tell the Bishop that God has moved the goalposts?!!!” 

Top-Down or Bottom-Up?

Jesus always perfectly knew where a problem lay in a person’s life.  We do not have that perfect knowledge of course, and this is why He left His Holy Spirit to help us to pray and discern how to bring His healing.  Healing can never be just a technique or a methodology. Jesus is a person, not a method, and it is to Him that we go for words of life. But there are keys to the Kingdom of God which our Father longs to give us.

There’s always more than one way of looking at any problem. And when it comes to the multitude of potential healing issues that anyone might have, the two most obvious ways are a ‘Top-Down’ or a ‘Bottom-up’ approach. By this I simply mean, do you start with whatever the presenting problem is, the ‘Top-Down’ approach, or do you temporarily ignore the superficial problem and go for its root – the ‘Bottom-Up’ approach? Stephen and Deborah had only ever considered the Top-Down approach and it hadn’t borne the fruit they desired. But God moved the goal-posts and their lives were transformed as God worked afresh in them from the Bottom-Up!

Jesus, in His healing ministry (our model), always sought His Father, and with that perfect insight knew exactly how to approach each person. One thing I have learned, however, is that the truth of who God is, who the enemy is and who I am, as God sees me, is foundational to healing. This is critical for reaching the core of a person’s heart. These ‘Bottom-Up’ issues are of vital importance, and must be faced, otherwise the ‘Top-Down’ treatment can finish up like a layer of fresh paint on a rusty foundation. The rust will soon show through.

Jesus highlighted this principle, by side-stepping the Top-Down issues in His night-time encounter with Nicodemus (in John 3) and going straight to the Bottom-Up problem! Nicodemus wanted to discuss how it was that Jesus could do His signs and miracles. Jesus ignored his top-down questions and went straight for the real issue.

His reply is essentially saying, “Thank you for your question, Nicodemus, but the answer I give you, won’t make any sense unless you know the God who sent me. And you can only truly know God if your spirit, which is dead to God because of sin, is born again . . .  and what’s more, unless you’re born of both water and the spirit you cannot enter the Kingdom of God!”  

So, there you have it Nicodemus, you may be a leader of the Pharisees, but unless you understand truth from the Bottom-Up you will never make sense of the answer to your Top-Down question!

Putting this into the context of healing and discipleship, I learned early on in my ministry that no matter how much good counsel you might give to someone from the top down, if they only had a knowledge of God in their heads, but had blockages to truly knowing and experiencing Him in their hearts, then it would be like trying to stick something to a Teflon coated frying pan – a definite non-starter!

And by truly knowing God, I’m meaning more than knowing the truth about God from the Bible, I’m meaning truly having a relationship with God – not just agreeing with, the truth about Him, but being hungry for that truth to invade and change every aspect of life, past, present and future under the Lordship of Jesus.

It was for this reason that God led me to write Journey to Freedom, which was designed to put in solid truths from the Bottom-Up, to establish a solid foundation for a relationship with God and consequential Christian living.

The Real Reason for This Blog!

All the above brings me to the real reason for writing this particular Blog. Like many others, I am desirous of seeing a great end-times move of God’s Spirit sweeping through the churches. But many people are looking to the top leaders of the churches to be instrumental in bringing such a revival to the Body of Christ. But let’s be honest, that’s not happening.

The fact is that, historically, the great moves of the Spirit, which are often termed ‘revival’, hardly ever began at the top and worked their way down. Invariably, revival is a Bottom-Up experience, not a Top-Down one! And that has been the case ever since Day One of the Church.

Jesus didn’t recruit His pioneering disciples from the religious leaders, He took twelve, largely unschooled, ordinary followers and because they loved Him, and were unconditional in their desire to serve Him, He poured out His Spirit on them at Pentecost and left them to get on with the job. And we are all fruit of the outstanding job they did!

You don’t reap a harvest, by planting a finished crop. You plant a seed and watch it grow, little by little, until, as Jesus said, there is a 30, 60 or 100 fold return on the investment of each seed. Farmers always begin at the bottom!

An Army of Ordinary People

I have read extensively of how God has moved down the centuries – the greatest ground has been won for the Kingdom of God by those ordinary men and women who were gripped by the challenge of believing for the impossible and trusting God for whatever they needed to do the job.

People like Hudson Taylor in China (great grandson of a John Wesley farmer convert), C.T.Studd (a famous cricketer who left his career to lose himself in China, then India and finally Central Africa), Mary Slessor of Calibar (an uneducated weaver from Dundee who heard that David Livingstone had died and vowed to replace him in Africa), William Booth (who saw the destitution in London and started the Salvation Army).

These, and countless others were ‘seeds’, watered by the Spirit of God, planted were the Spirit led them and which produced harvests which changed the face of continents. In every season of Christian history God has raised up such leaders out of an army of ordinary people who knew and loved Him.

We may be witnessing a serious decline in organised Christianity from the top down, especially in our western nations, but there is a powerful work of the Holy Spirit taking place in the Bottom-Up places of the world, where there is a genuine hunger and desire for the truth of the Gospel.

The exposure of deception (from the father of lies) in our western culture and churches is being allowed, by God’s grace, to challenge His Body to live in the purity and truth of the Gospel and to discover again that the plumbline of truth in the Word of God cannot be swung in different directions to suit a particular prejudice, desire or viewpoint! The Bottom-Up gospel, if truly received, goes deep into the inner core of who we are and shakes us out of complacency and comfort into a desire for more of Him and who He is.

A Remnant Church is Rising

We are moving into an era when an end-times remnant church is arising! The first green shoots of Bottom-Up life are beginning to show. Healing was at the heart of the early church’s message – and once again we are in an era when healing and evangelism will touch the hearts of those in need and they will fall in love with Jesus.

The pressures of the age in which we live are bringing exposure in the public arena and in the hearts of men and women.  We are living in days when God is lifting the stones covering the ‘creepy crawlies’.  There are no places to hide. Whether it is individually as Christians, or corporately in this world, we are being confronted by the mess of man-made confusion.

And God is shrieking from the roof tops, calling His church to radical discipleship and healing, a people who will do exploits, allowing Him to be Lord, changing their ways of thinking and behaving.  It is a now or never time for God’s people to feed on the living bread, which in turn will feed the hurting and broken, as described in Isaiah 61, and which Jesus quoted at the beginning of His ministry. God is calling His people to be lights in the darkness.

I may be of an older age, but I’m as passionate now about opening wide the Gates of Hope as I was to see Ellel Grange established back in 1986. God is on the move and I’m excited by what I see. I hope I live long enough to witness the shoots of the remnant church grow to fulfilment and sweep a harvest of souls into the Kingdom of God. The ‘Bottom-Up’ revival is on its way! God is moving the goalposts!!

Copyright © Peter Horrobin 2024.

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  1. THanks Judy
    So encouraged to hear about the green shoots of new life! With regard to baptism by immersion – that is the nature of baptism in the New Testament. And I have always understood that those children of believing parents who are baptised/dedicated to God as babies can (and perhaps should) be baptised as adults by immersion, symbolic of dying to self and rising to new life in Christ. I was baptised as a baby in an Anglican church, but baptised as an adult when I was 16. I have seen many times how hugely significant it is for a person when, of their own choice (not their parents’), they cement their relationship with Jesus as Lord of their life in an act of Baptism. I have also seen that this has been significant in some people’s journey of healing and deliverance. Praying that your barren stretch will come to an end with much blessing in your and other people’s lives.

  2. Hi Peter
    I was baptised as a baby & filled with the Holy Spirit in the 70s but I wonder if we should all be baptised by total submersion. What are your views on this?
    Thank you for your blogg. It is so exciting that God is working from the ground up in his churches… We believe that this is so true…. And start each day asking for the Holy Spirit s guidance in everything we do. I too hope it will be in my lifetime.. it was so wonderful in 70s when the Holy Spirit was flowing so freely everywhere.. PTL!! We have had a barren stretch and great that God is using us today.

  3. This brings us back to the point that a good counsellor has a deep relationship with the Father in heaven and knows his loving heart from his own experience.

  4. Bless you Peter… and thank you.
    Reading your blog has brought tears to my eyes… Your words echo within me and my spirit is stirred – I trust and hope in the Lord.

    Lord I pray, stir the flames of your Spirit in this arid land, give flesh to the dry bones… May Your kingdom come and many know You as Lord and Saviour. Amen. Ezekiel 37

  5. Dear Peter!
    I would just say a big thank you for your blogside.I enjoy reading, and it helps me to reflect and look at my own walk with the Lord. It is so encouraging to receive your messsage, and as i said, it helps me to “stay on track” and holding on to The word of God as my only source for wisdom and guidance i my walk as a diciple of Jesus Christ. I love to read, and to gain more knowledge and wisdom through your reflections and teaching based on your own journey and experiences with The Lord through your life. Thank you for holding on to and loving The word of God as truth????????God bless you, and please keep writing blogs???????? Blessings!! (Flagship spring/summer 2018)

  6. Peter, as always this article holds spiritual insight that is so pertinent yet little spoken about within today’s “modern day church”! My spirit witnesses to your words as they echo The Lord’s leading for me over these last 10 years! I believe today (19th Jan) the Lord has revealed to me the first tiny green shoot finally peaking through the furrowed soil of my life. Praise God! Thank you for your obedience to continue on this path!

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