I never had the opportunity to know Ern Baxter, though I did speak with him once very briefly. But his influence on my life has been profound. I saw him speak a number of times, read the articles he wrote for New Wine magazine, and I have heard hundreds of hours of his teaching on tape. He helped shape my theological perspective and inspired me as a student of the Word of God.
For those of you not familiar with Ern allow me to give you a brief biographical introduction to the man. Ern Baxter was born in Saskatchewan, Canada in the year 1914. He was baptised into a Presbyterian family. His mother was involved with a holiness church and following his father’s conversion they went into classical Pentecostalism. Their city was visited by a Scandinavian itinerate minister with a "signs and wonders" approach to Christianity. While in the Baxter’s home city, he taught on the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Ern Baxter’s mother was the first in those meetings to receive the "baptism of power." Later in his teenage years, Ern went through a period where he lost his faith in reaction to the legalism of religion and became seriously ill from pneumonia. Two events brought him back to Christianity – a miracle of healing and the words of a friend: "Ern, being a Christian isn’t about what you do for God, it’s about what God in Christ Jesus has done and will continue to do for you".
In 1932, he entered full time ministry as a musician travelling across Canada. While travelling, Ern came to a conference held in Trossachs in Canada. There Ern Baxter received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Trossachs was an unusual conference as the delegates were not Pentecostal in the classic sense – they were seeking the experience of the Holy Spirit. This was Ern’s first exposure to what was to become a central passion in his life and ministry – Word and Spirit or Reformed doctrine and charismatic life and power. The morning after he had been baptised in the Holy Spirit he said God spoke to him and called him to the ministry saying, "I want you to preach My Word".
In 1947, Ern and his church began to hear about an unusual travelling evangelist named William Branham who was filling the largest arenas in America for his services. William Branham approached Ern and told him that he had been praying and had met the angel of the Lord who had appeared to him and told him to invite Ern Baxter to become his companion and manager.They worked together for seven years. While Ern saw some of the greatest miracles, signs and wonders during his time he began to become concerned at the error that was coming out from the Healing Movement. In 1957, Ern found it necessary to withdraw from ministry with Branham. Baxter said he separated from the evangelist because of doctrinal differences.
In the early 1960's, Ern emerged as a major leader in the beginning days of the charismatic movement. in the 1970's he joined his ministry with those connected with the "Shepherding movement" (Charles Simpson, Derek Prince, Bob Mumford, and Don Basham). He traveled widely and frequently contributed article to New Wine magazine. He went to be with the Lord on July 10, 1993.
Ern's command of the English language, and his colorful expressions made his teachings live in the minds of his listeners. He was a "classical preacher" in the mold of men like Spurgeon or G. Campbell Morgan. He was a self-taught scholar. His library numbered over 9,000 books. He was Reformed in theological persuasion, Pentecostal in gifts and worship, and thoroughly Kingdom-oriented in his eschatology.
Many hours of Ern's teaching is now available through the internet. Check out the website: http://www.brokenbreadteaching.org/.