Leading the Church; Part 3
By Dudley Daniel
Building A Church For The Nations
- Chapter 1
- THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH
- WORDS AND SYNONYMS THAT REFER TO THE CHURCH
- Chapter 2
- GOD’S PERFECTION
- MAN’S PERFORMANCE
- HINDRANCES TO EXCELLENCY
- HELPS TO EXCELLENCY
- Chapter 3
- BUILDING YOURSELVES PART 1
- INWARD LOOK
- OUTWARD LOOK
- DOWNWARD LOOK
- UPWARD LOOK – LOOKING TO GOD (PS 34:5)
- BACKWARD LOOK
- FORWARD LOOK
- Chapter 4
- BUILDING YOURSELVES PART 2
- THE FOUR DIFFERENT ‘KINDS OF PRAYER
- THE PROMISES CONCERNING PRAYER
- THE PROVISIONS FOR ANSWERED PRAYER
- Chapter 5
- GOD MAKING A MAN AFTER HIS OWN HEART – PART 1
- A MAN OF PURPOSE
- A MAN OF PRAYER
- A MAN OF POWER
- A MAN WHO PLANNED AND PRIORITISED
- A MAN OF PATIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE
- A MAN OF PRINCIPLES
- A MAN OF PERCEPTION
- A MAN OF PASSION
- A MAN OF PARDONING
- A MAN OF PRAISE
- A MAN OF PROPHECY
- A MAN OF PURITY
- A MAN OF PROSPERITY – THROUGH THE PROMISES
- A MAN OF PROVISION
- A MAN OF PROTECTION
- Chapter 6
- GOD MAKING A MAN AFTER HIS OWN HEART – PART 2
- Chapter 7
- GOD MAKING A MAN AFTER HIS OWN HEART – PART 3
- HUMBLING (1 SAM 17:12-51)
- Chapter 8
- DELIVERANCE IN YOUR TIME OF DISTRESS
- MY DISTRESS
- OUR DEEDS (VS 3)
- GOD’S DELIVERANCE
- OUR DEFENSE
- Chapter 9
- PASTORAL PRAYING
- THINGS TO PRAY FOR FROM COL 1:3, 9-14
- THINGS TO PRAY FOR FROM EPHESIANS 1 (EPH 1:15-23)
- THINGS TO PRAY FOR FROM EPH 3:14-21
- THINGS TO PRAY FOR FROM PHIL 1:3-11
- Chapter 10
- BECOMING “PROPHETIC”
- WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT GOD IS DOING
- WE NEED VISION
- THE PURPOSE OF BEING PROPHETIC
- PROCESS OF CHANGE
- THE FIVE-FOLD EMPHASIS WITHIN THIS PROCESS
- Chapter 11
- NEW COVENANT MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL (NCMI), THE TEAM RELAT
- CHURCHES RELATING TO APOSTOLIC TEAMS - THE ONLY MODEL IN THE BIBLE!
- RELATING – WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
- Chapter 12
- BUILDING THE CHURCH
- THE PURPOSE OF THE BODY OF CHRIST IS 11-FOLD:
- HE HAS GIVEN US THE ASCENDED GIFT MINISTRIES TO:
- Chapter 13
- THE PROPHETIC PROMISES, PRESENCE AND PURPOSES OF GOD
- A DEFINITION OF ‘PROPHETIC’
- BACK TO THE PROPHETIC PROMISES, PRESENCE AND PURPOSES OF GOD
- Chapter 14
- BEING PROPHETIC
- WHAT IS GOD DOING TODAY?
- THE PROPHET’S FOUNDATION IS AN APPRECIATION OF THE AUTHORITY
- EXPECTATION – THE PROPHETIC CHURCH IS TO BE A SIGN OF THE SE
- Chapter 15
- HOW DOES GOD MAKE OUR NAME GREAT?
- WE MUST HAVE A HEART REVELATION OF OUR EXALTED POSITION IN CHRIST.
- WE MUST BECOME CONSUMED WITH THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT IN ITS ENTIRETY.
- WE MUST LET CHRIST’S MIND BE IN US.
- Chapter 16
- DELIVERANCE FROM RELIGIOUS CONTROL IN GOD’S CHURCH
- GOD DESTINED US FOR FREEDOM!
- THE DEVIL IS DETERMINED TO BRING US BACK INTO BONDAGE!
- HOW TO GET FREE
- DEMANDS KEEPING FREE
- Chapter 17
- THE GLORIOUS PRIVILEGE OF BEING A CHRISTIAN
- THE PRIVILEGE (1 PET 2:4-12)
- THE GREAT RESPONSIBILITY OF BEING A CHRISTIAN
- TO SUMMARISE:
- Chapter 18
- EVERY LEVEL OF LEADERSHIP MUST BE DONE AS A TEAM!
- THE PROGRESSION
- WHAT THEY DID
- Chapter 19
- ASCENSION GIFT MINISTRIES
- PROPHETS (EPH 4:9-16; 1 COR 12:28)
- Chapter 20
- APOSTLES FIFTEEN YEARS LATER
- Chapter 21
- HALLMARKS OF A NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH – PART 1
- TYPES (OR LEVELS) OF TEAMS
- THREE-FOLD CALL OF THE PRESENT ELDERSHIP TEAM
- EDIFY THE BODY
- ENLISTING YOU, THE SAINTS
- Chapter 22
- HALLMARKS OF A NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH – PART 2
- SET FREE
- Chapter 23
- HALLMARKS OF A NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH – PART 3
- THE MESSAGE OF THE KINGDOM!
- A FEW IMPORTANT THINGS THAT PERTAIN TO THE MESSAGE OF THE KINGDOM
- WHAT IS THE MESSAGE OF THE KINGDOM?
- THE PERSON (KING) OF THE KINGDOM (MATT 16:13-20)
- THE PEOPLE OF THE KINGDOM (MATT 16:18-20)
- THE MESSAGE OF THE KINGDOM IS SUMMED UP IN THE GREAT COMMISSION
- Chapter 24
- HALLMARKS OF A NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH – PART 4
- HALLMARK 1 – HOLY SPIRIT POWER
- HALLMARK 2 – GOOD BIBLICAL LEADERSHIP – ACTS 1: 15-26
- HALLMARK 3 – CONSTANT SALVATIONS
- HALLMARK 4 – IMMEDIATE WATER BAPTISMS
- HALLMARK 5 – TRUE DISCIPLESHIP
- HALLMARK 6 – FELLOWSHIP
- HALLMARK 7 – CORPORATE PRAYER
- HALLMARK 8 – ANOINTED PREACHING
- HALLMARK 9 - TEAM MINISTRY RESULTING IN DISCIPLING NATIONS BY PLANTING CHURCHES
- HALLMARK 10 – GRACE
- HALLMARK 11 – PERSECUTION
- HALLMARK 12 – BOLDNESS
- HALLMARK 13 – GOD REQUIRES THE UNUSUAL
LEADING THE CHURCH
Building A Church For The Nations
Published by Every Tribe Resources – www.everytribe.net
for New Covenant Ministries International – www.ncmi.net
This print – August 2005
Copyright is held by Dudley Daniel ©
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Copyright notice: Reproduction of portions of this publication for use in preaching, teaching or other training environments is permitted provided that all quotations are used in the correct context and that the source of the material used is acknowledged. Reproducing copies of this publication in its entirety for redistribution, either by resale or for free, is not permitted.
|1.||The Nature of the Church||8|
|3.||Building Yourselves Part 1||19|
|4.||Building Yourselves Part 2||23|
|5.||God Making a Man After His Own Heart Part 1||26|
|6.||God Making a Man After His Own Heart Part 2||32|
|7.||God Making a Man After His Own Heart Part 3||34|
|8.||Deliverance in Your Time of Distress||38|
|11.||New Covenant Ministries International Team: Relating to the Churches||53|
|12.||Building the Church||56|
|13.||The Prophetic Promises, Presence and Purposes of God||66|
|15.||How Does God Make Our Name Great?||77|
|16.||Deliverance From Religious Control in God’s Church||83|
|17.||The Glorious Privilege of Being a Christian||86|
|18.||Every Level of Leadership Must be Done as a Team||96|
|19.||Ascension Gift Ministries||98|
|20.||Apostles Fifteen Years Later||103|
|21.||Hallmarks of a New Testament Church Part 1||107|
|22.||Hallmarks of a New Testament Church Part 2||112|
|23.||Hallmarks of a New Testament Church Part 3||118|
|24.||Hallmarks of a New Testament Church Part 4||121|
Books form and shape ideas, ideas mould our beliefs, and our beliefs mould our behaviour. As we come to understanding the ways of God, so our faith is inspired by the Spirit of God and we are able, by God’s grace, to do the exploits of God. Where there is no understanding, God’s people perish, and books help to convey ideas and understanding. We are able to sit down and carefully study and absorb beliefs that will shape our behaviour. It will help us to become the people that God wants us to be. Of course, books are somewhat limited. God’s Word really needs to be preached so that God’s Spirit can move with anointing, and something of God’s will and way can be imparted into our spirits as the Word is preached. Nevertheless, books are a great aide and a wonderful tool.
A new book by Dudley Daniel is always something exciting. This book comes in the form of a manual, to try to convey what Dudley has preached in recent years so that many more can be influenced by the understanding that God has given him. Dudley understands the church. He understands the apostolic-prophetic pattern. He understands how to build churches. He understands how to encourage God’s people. He understands how to motivate without hype or manipulation, because he understands the heart of God, and the heart of God is for His people, that they should become great in the nations of the world. The heart of God is for the lost. And so Dudley has stirred and inspired many to reach out to the nations of the world with a gospel that is saturated in grace, love, commitment and faith.
Dudley and Ann have modelled Biblical leadership. They have shown that God’s leaders can be vulnerable and unthreatened as they lead. They have built teams that have gone out and multiplied the work of God. They have opened the doors of ministry for many. Their vision has been for the Kingdom of God and that is why they have been successful. They have not allowed their vision to be anything less than Christ crowned as King. Their teaching and their lifestyle has been prophetic and yet this has not distanced them from the people that they lead. They have always built relationships and believe in friends first – friends before function.
In one sense if you have never heard Dudley preach, you really need to do that to enjoy the full benefit of this manual. For when Dudley preaches he imparts, and his words enter into your spirit and inspire you. His words are able to explode within you to release faith for something much more, because he has lived out as an example what he preaches and what he teaches. He has broken the mould and has encouraged many in their walk with God and in their leading of the church.
Church structures are important because new wineskins are needed for the new wine. And so this manual will help to put in order and to follow the biblical pattern of church government and church leadership. Many feel that this is an impossible task and something which is not quite clear in the Bible, but I want to encourage you to read this manual and to see that God does have a New Testament church pattern, and God does want us to break the mould and build New Testament churches.
There are many keys that you will find buried in this manual. You need to approach it with an open mind. You need to allow your mind to be renewed as you read this manual. For if you approach it without understanding the new wineskin, you will merely filter these words through an old filter and distil them and make them fit the model that you may already have. Allow God to renew your mind and to challenge you to build a New Testament church according to the New Testament pattern.
When I was called into ministry, I could not identify with the church that I saw in my day and so I postponed God’s call to lead, until I met Dudley Daniel. He inspired me and showed me that the church is the agent to change the world; that the answer is not politics or economics or education, but God’s church is God’s prophetic agent to change this planet and to usher in His Kingdom. Until that day I only saw the church as a keeper of the status quo and an organisation that is good for healing the broken hearted, but not good for changing the oppression and the injustice which the systems of this world have placed upon God’s people.
Now I have seen a different way. Dudley established a church in Bryanston (NCCB), South Africa and then moved on to transition a church in Adelaide (Coastlands) in Australia. He worked in both these churches to build them up and establish them as base churches, sending churches that would serve others and influence their surrounding community and nation. He has lived out what he has taught and has inspired many of us to do the same. Dudley, we salute you as one of God’s leaders; one who has not wanted to in any way promote yourself, but one who has wanted to promote the Lord Jesus Christ and to see the coming of His Kingdom.
It would seem that one of God’s major solutions to the churches’ problems today is leaders who will commit themselves radically and whole-heartedly to “build according to the biblical pattern.” Although Scripture doesn’t give us a step-by-step procedure, it certainly leaves us with no doubt as to what is required of us as leaders, and what will bring the Kingdom of God to the fore. We need to boldly, unapologetically, filled with faith and dependent upon the precious Holy Spirit, give ourselves to doing it God’s way. We need to radically repent of the man-made rules, regulations, traditions and legalism that have robbed God’s people of the joy, liberty and effectiveness that is through Christ.
Any attempt to put in writing the things that burn in your heart will be diluted as they are transferred from the heart, through the pen, and on to paper; and yet surely the Holy Spirit can and will empower, equip and enable those who come with a teachable and flexible attitude.
Pray that some of those “David-hearted” leaders, who may still be hiding in the caves of Abdullum out of fear of the “Saul-hearted” leaders who have been so strong in themselves, will be strengthened and encouraged to dare to do it God’s way at every level! May you, as you read and study this, be one of them. Oh, for a crop of fearless, God-honouring, Bible-obeying, Spirit-led and dependent, revival-generation leaders!
THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH
WHAT IS THE CHURCH?
The word “Church” means different things to different people. Before we can “build the Church,” we must understand what the Church is all about – its life and ministry.
In order to clear up some of the confusion let us look at the word “Church” and words that refer to it, or are synonymous with it, in the New Testament.
A. WORDS AND SYNONYMS THAT REFER TO THE CHURCH 1. THE WORD “CHURCH” From the Greek word “Ecclesia” meaning “the called out ones”
It is not a building or denomination, but a Body of Believers (Acts 7:48). The Church comprises a body (assembly) of people called out from the world to be Christ’s. We are still in the world, but not of the world! (Jn 17:9-19, NB vs 9,15,16). The Church comprises people who are born again by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. They have:
• Repented – turned from their sin and self-centredness to Christ (Heb 6:1-3); • Put their faith and hope in Christ alone. They are: • Obeying Christ’s commands, becoming disciples by being baptised in water, and receiving baptism in the Holy Spirit, etc. (Heb 6:2). Two expressions of the Church in the New Testament are: • The universal ““cclesia” – all born again believers who have ever lived, are now living and will ever live (Heb 12:1,23; Rev 5:9; Rev 6:9-11; Rev 7:9-14; Matt 16:18); and • The local “ecclesia” – born again believers in a given locality (Matt 18:17; Acts 20:28; 1 Cor 14:4,12,26). Sometimes the Scriptures include both universal and local ecclesia (1 Cor 5:12; 1 Cor 15:9; Gal 1:13; Eph 5:23). In summary, the word “church” can mean the born again believers either in a local situation or the universal body.
2. THE BODY OF CHRIST The Scriptures often refer to the people of God being the Body of Christ of which He is the Head (Rom 12:5, 1 Cor 12:27,28; Eph 1:23; Eph 4:12,16; 5:23; Col 1:18,24; Col 2:19).
What my body is to me, the Church is to Jesus Christ. We are “members” of His body (1 Cor 12:12,14; Eph 3:6; 4:25; 5:30; Col 3:15).
What Jesus was while on earth, we are to be. We are His hands, feet, ears, eyes, etc. His activity on earth today takes place through us by His Spirit! “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (Jn 14:12). Jesus did these “things” as Man, totally dependent upon the Spirit, and not as God – otherwise He could not have told us, who are human, to do these works. What He did here on earth we are to do! He did these things as Man, in total dependence upon Father and Spirit (Jn 5:30; 8:28).
Jesus showed the world what God is like. We should show the world what Jesus is like! (Jn 14:9; Eph 1:11,12).
“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many” (1 Cor 12:14-26). All members of His body are useful.
3. THE BRIDE OF CHRIST (Eph 5:24-33) This thought of the people of God being a bride is seen in the Old Testament in Is 62:5 “As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”
The Church is in union with Christ as she is being prepared (2 Cor 11:2; Rom 7:4;
1 Cor 6: 15-17).
Just as a Bride would prepare herself for that great day, so the Church is to prepare herself for the Bridegroom – Jesus (Rev 19:7; 21:2). She does this, not in her own strength, but in union with the Bridegroom.
4. BUILDING – GOD’S DWELLING PLACE (1 Cor 3:9,10; Eph 2:21,22) The Church (Believers) is the dwelling place of God, not buildings! (Acts 7:48; 1 Pet 2:5).
In the Old Testament the Tabernacle and Temple (the buildings) were for God – His “Place of Rest,” where His Name would dwell (1 Chron 28:2,3; 2 Chron 6:18-21). His dwelling place is in heaven.
In the New Testament our bodies are His temple or “dwelling place” (1 Cor 6:19;
2 Cor 6:16; Acts 7:48).
During the giving of the Law on Mt Sinai, “the Lord descended on it in fire” (Ex 19:18). There was fire above the roof of God’s building during the inauguration of the Tabernacle (Ex 40:34-38; Num 9:15,16). When Solomon was inaugurating the Temple, “fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering...” (2 Chron 7:1-3). When the Lord empowered the Church (Acts 2:3), “fire comes down and settles on Believers’ heads” – God’s new building!
In the Old Testament, buildings were for God; in the New Testament, buildings are for us, for our comfort and convenience, as a meeting place.
The Church has something to do with building itself up. “From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph 4:16). Jude 20 also says “building yourselves up in your most holy faith..”“ All should be involved – there should be no loafers!
“But each one should be careful how he builds...” (1 Cor 3:9-17).
5. TEMPLE OF GOD We are to take care of His temple. “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Cor 3:16,17; 6:19;
2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:20-22).
6. FAMILY OF GOD We become part of His family by “receiving” Christ (Jn 1:12).
We are adopted into His family by His Spirit (Rom 8:15).
We become heirs through adoption, with full rights to all the family inheritance (Gal 3: 29; 4:5,6; Rom 8:17; Gal 3:29; Titus 3:7; Heb 6:17). Live in your glorious inheritance.
The family is to be a well managed, relating, healthy unit:
• Accountable; • Enjoying the benefits (Rom 8:17); • Secure; and • Stable. Matt 5:9 “...peacemakers...” Rom 8:14 “...led by the Spirit..”“
Phi 2:14,15 “...no complaining, arguing...blameless and pure...without fault...”
1 Jn 3:10 “...Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; neither is anyone who does not love his brother.”
The family is to mature (Eph 4:13).
7. THE FLOCK Once we were “sheep gone astray” (Is 53:6), but now we are the sheep of His flock (Is 40:11; Matt 10:126; 15:24; 25:33; 26:31; Jn 10:3; Acts 20:28,29).
Being cared for, led into green pastures and beside still waters (Jn 10:3,4; Ps 23:2,3).
Pastors are under-shepherds (Jer 3:15; 1 Pet 5:2). Remember that sheep are led and must never seek to lead the shepherds (Heb 13:7,17).
8. CHILDREN OF LIGHT (Lk 16:8; Jn 12:36; Eph 5:8-21; 1 Thes 5:5-11) We once walked in darkness; our deeds were dark. But now we are of the light and must have nothing to do with darkness. We are to walk in openness, honesty and truth (1 Jn 1:7). There should be no ‘dark’ areas in our lives or relationships.
9. THE HOLY NATION The Church is the Holy Nation of God (1 Pet 2:9). The Church is the Israel of God (Gal 6:12-16, NB vs 16; Heb 12:18-24 NB vs 22,23; Rom 2:28,29; 9:6-8). God doesn’t have ‘two’ people, only one! We are Abraham’s children – the people of the promise. As such we are destined to be blessed and to be a blessing (Gen 12:2,3; 18:8,9; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14; Acts 3:25; Rom 9:6-8; Gal 3:8,9,16,29).
10. THE PILLAR AND FOUNDATION OF TRUTH (1 Tim 3:15) We must build on truth alone. God is a God of truth.
• His words are trustworthy (2 Sam 7:28). • He is forever faithful (Ps 146:6). • He is true (Rom 3:4). • It is impossible for Him to lie (Heb 6:18). • God only blesses truth – not sincerity (Rom 10:2), nor effort (Zech 4:6). • His Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (Jn 16:13). He only “bears witness” to truth – not “evangelistic” statements! • His judgement is based on truth (Rom 2:2). • God’s word is Truth (Jn 17:17). • Truth sets free (Jn 8:31,32). • Error (untruth) must be dealt with, no matter what it is or in whom it occurs
• Truth must be the basis of all that we are involved in and are building upon (Matt 7:24-27). God’s Word is the foundation of what we are building into our lives (Eph 4:11-16 NB vs 15) and what is being built through our lives (Eph 6:14 “...Stand firm then with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.”) The belt covers our waist – the bowels which get rid of waste and the generative organs which produce. • Truth about ourselves – that we are made to be a blessing (Gen 12:2-3); our limitations and expectations. • Truth about our family. • Truth about our church – plurality of elders; all elders are pastors (Acts 20:28; Titus 1:5,7; 1 Pet 5:1,2); elders must both serve and rule (1 Pet 5:1,2; 1 Tim 5:18); people must obey (Heb 13:17). • Truth about our country. • Truth about our relationships. • Truth about our finances – debt, tithes, offerings, almsgiving. • Truth about the counsel we give! 11. WHAT IS TRUTH? The pragmatic approach is “whatever works is truth.” For a liar, falsehood might work better than truth! The principles approach (truth principles) is finding a principle in the Bible and then using it. It works – for a while – and then “fouls up.” The platform (roots) approach is rooted in truth.
To explain the difference is to see the principles as branches and the platform as the roots. Some examples of the ‘principles’ approach:
• Baptism in the Spirit should release power. Many speak in tongues but do not have much power! • Positive confession works but turns sour if not rooted in Word of God and truth lifestyle. • Baptism in water. • Worship with raised hands, etc. (Jn 4:24 with Is 29:13). Jesus dealt with roots (Matt 3:10; Matt 13:21 “But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time.” Roots are vital for growth and refreshing (Ps 1:3; Rev 22:1-5). Definition of truth: What God is in actuality. For us, it is “conformity to fact or reality.” The only way we can become progressively real is to be “rooted in truth.”
12. THE ARMY OF GOD (Eph 6:10-20) Although we are not specifically called “army,” it is certainly taught. This world is a “battlefield;” not a playground. We are to “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Tim 6:12; 2 Tim 4:7).
B. SUMMARY All of these words, synonyms and comparisons give us some idea of what God is building, and that He is calling us to be co-labourers together with Him to build. Let us make sure as we study God’s Word and build His Church with Him, that we do it His way, in accordance with His Word lest we build in vain. (Ps 127:1; 1 Cor 3:10-15). Let us pray, “Teach me Your ways, O Lord” (Ps 86:11) for “His ways are not ours” (Is 55:8,9).
1. All these words and phrases (and others) describe what God calls us. a) His body – He loves His body. He gave Himself for it! b) The apple of His eye (Deut 32:10; Zech 2:8). c) Jewels (Zech 9:16). d) A crown of splendour (Is 62:3). e) A royal diadem (Is 62:3). f) My treasured possession (Mal 3:17). g) His flock (precious) (Acts 20:28). h) His Bride (Is 62:5;Rev 19:7). i) Family of God (Eph 3:15). j) Heirs of God (Gal 3:29;4:7). k) Friends (Jn 15:15). 2. Don’t confuse your value with your performance or what we deserve! a) We deserve nothing and hell (Rom 6:23). b) What He gives us (Rom 6:23;Is 62:3,7,10). 3. What God says about us. a) Nothing can separate us from Him (Rom 8:31-39). b) No weapon formed against us can succeed (Is 54:17). We are more than conquerors. c) All that happens to us will work for our good (Rom 8:28) – even discipline (Heb 12:5-13). d) The Greater One lives in us (1 Jn 4:4). e) We will not be dismayed (Is 28:16). f) He has good plans for us (Jer 29:11). g) We are made to be a blessing (Gen 12:2-3). 4. What we must do. a) Receive – the Truth (meditate). b) Repent – of lies. c) Renew – our minds (Rom 12:1,2). d) Repeat – what God has said (confess). e) Reckon – on resurrection life (Rom 6:11-14).
Col 1:24 - 2:10 “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ who is the head over every power and authority.” (2:9)
True discipleship, to which we are all called, is the “Pursuit of Excellence,” or the “Quest for Excellence.” For too long the Church has majored on “decisions” instead of “disciples.” Success is measured by statistics (numbers), doctrine, knowledge, preaching ability, attendance, finances, buildings, etc. But Christ’s command was “disciples” (Matt 28:18,19; Col 1:28). We are called to excellence (1 Cor 9:24,25; 14:1,2; 2 Cor 8:7; Phi 3:13,14;
The definition of Excellence is : “surpassing merit, very good, pre-eminent.”
A. GOD’S PERFECTION Because of Who and What God is, we as Christians can do nothing less than “strive for excellence” in every area of our lives.
His character is unblemished – there is no room for improvement. His character means goodness, faithfulness, grace, mercy, holiness, justice, righteousness, almighty power, love. In His dealings with men, He was forgiving, available and tolerant.
His creation, all that He made and did, has the stamp of excellence upon it. Gen 1:31 says, “it was good.” Man was made in His image and that image is to be restored (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18; Col 3:10).
B. MAN’S PERFORMANCE Excellence is not man doing his best. Rather, it is that which is related to and reflects God’s character and works. It is the glory of God revealed through the Church and is not striving in the flesh (Zech 4:6; Col 1:29).
Christian excellence calls for discipleship. Discipline is not a “self-improvement programme.” It is our whole-hearted response to the high honour of being called to be a disciple of our precious Lord. Disciplined response lies in that area where God’s sovereignty and human response meet. It is God taking the initiative – moving upon our hearts – and we responding. “...Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Phi 2:13,14).
C. HINDRANCES TO EXCELLENCY Ignorance
This can be through absence of study. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). It can also be through laziness or ‘busyness’. Someone has rightly said, “In an effort to cleanse the Church of what is arid and merely academic, we have wrongly made light of the discipline of learning and acquiring knowledge.” We then become superficial, unstable and also insecure in our salvation. There is also an unwillingness to respond to truth because of the cost involved. (Acts 17:30).
Spontaneity stems out of lack of preparation of the heart and the message, etc. It can result in sloppiness or slovenliness in appearance, and in attitude. This is not a “yardstick” for “spirituality” or “liberty” but an over-reaction to orderliness and discipline! The definition of slovenliness is “careless, slipshod” and is shown in a lack of order or discipline in our lives. In our speech, it results in bad manners and bad English, i.e. in the use of slang.
This leads to our becoming principle-orientated instead of person-orientated and we become rigid and unyielding.
This philosophy says “the people must accept me as I am.” There is a measure of truth but a lot of lie behind this. God is busy restoring His image in us and therefore “all things are becoming new” (2 Cor 5:17). “We are changing from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18).
Immediacy (Immediate results (short term) instead of lasting results (long term))
In altar calls, people need to “count the cost”“ before making a decision. In growing a church, success is not measured in statistics (numbers). We would then compromise on vital issues, i.e. covenantal relationships watered down, etc. Lack of commitment, covenantly, results in unfaithfulness to the leaders and to sheep. In growing a family, lack of commitment leads to unfaithfulness to our spouse and to our children.
An unwillingness or inability to see a thing through, leads to so many “unfinished” or “incomplete” tasks or projects in our “cupboards.” We are unstable in that we “chop and change” like the wind.
D. HELPS TO EXCELLENCY Doctrine (1 Tim 4:15,16)
We need to know what the whole Word of God says on a subject, not just our “pet” verse or persuasion. “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (1 Pet 1:3-9 NB vs 4). We need to have our “minds renewed” with greater understanding. We must study the Word of God and have some understanding of world events and trends, human nature and behaviour.
All contributions in our lives are not equally valid or valuable. We must test what is given to us. For example, failure to test prophecy may produce more prophecies but standards will fall – and so will peoples’ respect for them.
“Our many loose ends trip us up.” Peter speaks of “girding (tidying up) the loins of our minds.” Prioritising – relegate and delegate – is necessary for us to do fewer things and do them better. We often spread ourselves too thinly by trying to be involved in everything. The result is that very little becomes a permanent feature in our lives. Faithfulness in the small is a pre-requisite for larger trust (Lk 16:10-12).
Our clothes tell others a lot about ourselves. While it is true that “God looks on the heart” – it is equally true that “what is inside must come out” (Matt 12:34). Modesty is called for (1 Tim 2:8,9,10). The “cult of the ugly” has pervaded our society and even the Church. Un-ironed and scruffy clothing is not a good reflection of God’s excellence and image being restored in us. Do we dress and behave as a means of honouring other people and respecting the occasion?
E. DISCIPLINE In order to “win the prize” in the contest, we must:
• Keep the rules laid down (2 Tim 2:5); • Make every effort to succeed (1 Cor 9:24); and • Train yourself (1 Tim 4:7; 1 Cor 9:25): • Did I leave the bathroom tidy when I last used it? • Am I punctual at meetings? • Do I daydream during worship? • Should I lose some weight? • Am I physically fit? • Do I keep my word? • Do I keep within the speed limits? In training your family, be consistent in the example you set, in disciplining your children, and in loving them. Be available to them and don’t always be in a hurry. F. DISCERNMENT Phi 1:10 speaks about “discerning what is best.” We must be careful what we give our approval to, e.g. the TV programmes we watch, the magazines we read and the music we listen to, etc. Maturity and discernment are linked together. “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil”
G. DETERMINATION (Resolution to see a thing through) Perseverance (Jude 17-23, NB vs 20,21)
Perseverance is essential. We need to “press on” and not “give up.” Perseverance has been called “long obedience in the same direction.”
Obedience (Rom 1:5; Rom 16:26)
This is simply doing what God says. Ask yourself the question: “What am I going to do about this message” – and “for how long?”
H. DISCOVERY Worship
We are generally too “slap-dash” about our individual and corporate worship. We need to “give ourselves” to worshipping God. He is the Supreme Object of our love. We need to discover more of him in and through worship. We dare not “look around,” play with the cute baby, talk to others, etc. while others are worshipping! We are in essence saying, “This is a game, not important, and a waste of time!” He is worthy!
Gifts of Spirit (1 Cor 14:12)
“Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.”
Discover a new dimension of the Gifts.
Don’t teach or preach what is not in the Bible. We must live in a constant state of change (Acts 17:30).
Relationships should never be merely “functional” but “friendship.”
All that we seek to do and become can’t be by human effort or achievement. It isn’t “self-improvement” – pulling ourselves up by our own boot-strings. It is a divine work as we co-operate with and trust the Holy Spirit (Phi 2:13).
I. CONCLUSION Because of Who and What God is, we as Christians, are called to excellence.
Paul tells Timothy (2 Tim 2:20,21). Earlier in that same chapter, he uses metaphors that say the same thing (vs 3-7). We then should “strive” for excellence in every area of our lives in order to glorify and to reflect His Church and works to the world. He is “restoring His image” within us, the Church. We are being changed “from one degree of glory to another.” Therefore, excellence is vital in all that we do or say.
The goal of every leader is to “present people perfect (mature, whole)...” (Col 1:28).
BUILDING YOURSELVES PART 1
Jude 17-21 “But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.’ These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”
Be careful where you look. “Where you look determines where you live!” (Matt 13:1-17, NB vs 13-17; Heb 12:1-3). “Where there is no vision (revelation), the people cast off restraint (perish)” (Prov 29:18).
What your vision is filled with (your heart and mind, what you are pre-occupied with), will determine what you are, become and do – what you spend your time in and with. “As a man thinketh in his heart...” (Prov 23:7).
There are six places that the Christian can look (see with his spiritual eyes, fill his vision with). Some of them are good, some bad. These are:
|Problems (Bad)||Solutions (Good)|
|Inward look||Outward look|
|Downward look||Upward look|
|Backward look||Forward look|
A. INWARD LOOK The problem of looking inward stems from always asking ourselves:
• “How am I doing?” • “Am I praying enough?” • “… reading my Bible enough?” • “... giving enough?” “Examine yourself” only appears four times in the New Testament. “A man ought to examine himself before he eats and drinks...” (1 Cor 11:28);
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are really in the faith” (2 Cor 13:5);
“..there is a plank in your own eye?...” (Matt 7:5).
Most occultic practices are subjective! We have an objective faith – Jesus.
B. OUTWARD LOOK Look at the needs around. Then go out and meet those needs, in His strength, as He leads. Give and it shall be given – what you give you receive! (Lk 6:38). Let God move us with compassion (Matt 9:36-38). Get involved. God so loved the world that He gave... (Jn 3:16). Guard against “man-centred” Christianity. Never give just to get in return. So, purify your motives! But this is still God’s way to supply. “A man reaps what he sows” (Gal 6:7).
C. DOWNWARD LOOK The ‘downward look’ signifies one of two things:
• Heavily burdened – carrying what you shouldn’t; • Discouraged – having taken your eyes off the Lord. The solution to the ‘downward look’ is the ‘upward look.’ D. UPWARD LOOK – LOOKING TO GOD (PS 34:5) Christianity is both objective and aggressive – upwards and outwards. We need always to look to God, in every situation. “Fix our eyes on Jesus” (Heb 12:2,3), not glance or gaze! Fill your vision with Him, not your problem, circumstances or self! Stephen, in trouble (Acts 7:55), didn’t ask, “What have I done wrong?” or “Where is the Church when I need it?” He looked up, then out (vs 60).
In warfare, for deliverance, let’s look to Jesus. The Israelites at the Red Sea are a good example:
• The sea was before them • The Egyptians were behind them • The mountain was on one side • The desert was on the other • Hard ground was beneath them The only place was up! Spurgeon said: “It is wise to look to the strong for strength.” David had learned this secret. “I lift up my eyes to you...” (Ps 121:1-8; Ps 123:1; Ps 125:1-2). Don’t look to man for that will bring disaster (Is 31:1). Rather look to God and be saved. “Look unto Me and be saved...” (Is 45:22 KJV).
In our prayers
“My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up” (Ps 5:3 NKJ).
In our Praise and Worship
It must be upward (God is the Object of our praise), and we must not be overly concerned about those around us.
“After that He put His hands again upon his eyes and made him look up; and he was restored and saw every man clearly” (Mk 8:25 NKJ). The healing of the deaf and dumb man (Mk 7:31-34).
“...taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the bread. Then He gave them to His disciples, and the disciples to the people” (Matt 14:19).
Look up to Him and expect Him to empower you and make you effective.
In church attendance
Do it for Him.
In our giving – it must be upward
“I give these first to you, O Lord.”
Our faith must be upward
Some have faith in their faith. Some have faith in the person praying. Some have faith in their church. “Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame” (Ps 34:5).
E. BACKWARD LOOK The ‘good’ backward look is to remember God’s faithfulness in the past. “My soul is downcast within me; therefore, I will remember You...” (Ps 42:6). The children of God were continually reminded to “remember” – to look back and reflect on God’s faithfulness (1 Chron 16:8-22 NB vs 11,12; Ps 77:1-20 NB vs 10,11).
The ‘bad’ backward look is hankering after the past. The Israelites did this after coming out of Egypt – the result was disaster (Ex 16:1-3). Lot’s wife looked back (Gen 19:26). Never live in past blessings (Is 43:18,19). Jesus warned about this when he said, “No-one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Lk 9:62). Never live in past failures or successes.
F. FORWARD LOOK Press on toward the goal – see what God is doing (Phi 3:12-16). We look forward to our eternal reward being with Jesus. This can motivate us to persevere (Heb 12:1;
I hope you change your address! Remember where you look (what you “see”) is where you live.
BUILDING YOURSELVES PART 2
James 5:13-20 “...Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops” (vs 17,18).
Everyone prays at some time. In times of crisis, sickness, death, calamity, etc. Many don’t receive answers to their prayers. If you don’t, don’t give up! Check out whether you are praying like the Scriptures teach. Take stock of your “method” or “ways” of praying.
A. THE FOUR DIFFERENT ‘KINDS OF PRAYER “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers.” (Eph 6:18)
Prayer of Dedication (Consecration)
This is the only time you pray, ‘If it be your will.’ “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matt 26:36-39). Jesus was consecrating Himself – not wanting to “do” or “get” something.
Prayer Coupled with Fasting (Matt 17:14-21)
“Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast him out?’ So Jesus said to them... this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (NKJ).
Prayer in Tongues (1 Cor 14:14,15)
“...I will pray with my spirit and will pray with my mind. I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.”
Prayer of “Getting” or “Doing”
As in the raising of Lazarus (Jn 11:41-44) and the feeding of the 5000 (Matt 14:13).
B. THE PROMISES CONCERNING PRAYER “In that day, you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name...” (Jn 16:23,24; Jn 15:16; Jn 14:13; Lk 11:9,10).
C. THE PROVISIONS FOR ANSWERED PRAYER Praying in Faith
To pray in faith requires two things:
• Know what you are praying for. • Know that God’s promises cover everything (3 Jn 1:2), that is, physical, material and spiritual. This requires three things: the will of God, the Word of God, the word of Man: The Will of God
Jesus promises to do anything if it is “according to His will.” Instead of praying, “if it be thy will,” establish the will of God (Rom 8:27,28). Then, you can be sure of answers.
The Word of God – which reveals the will of God
His Word never fails. If the Scriptures don’t promise something, you have no right to pray for it. We need scriptural proof for our requests.
The Word of Man
“...remind me... declare them...” (Is 43:25,26).
Remind God of His promises. Charles Finney: “Lord, You don’t think that we are not going to have a revival here do You? You don’t think that You could withhold Your blessings? You said in Your Word to ask and it would be given.”
Be positive in your thoughts and confession (James 1:6,7,8).
Know what you are praying for Don’t pray generally, but specifically (Mk 11:23,24; Matt 21:21,22; Heb 11:1). Be confident of receiving and be earnest in asking (Heb 11:6). Dr Charles Price went to pray for someone in hospital. The doctor said, “Pray for her, I believe in prayer. It will soothe and calm and prepare her for what is ahead.” Price wouldn’t pray like that and he laid hands on her and prayed. She was healed. He was praying for results!
Praying in Jesus’ Name
Praying in Jesus’ name is the key to opening the door of answered prayer (Matt 16:19). The expression, “in Christ,” shows us the believer’s position, legal standing, place in the family, purposes and programme of God. It means “Power of Attorney.” It means “acting in His stead.” “Father, Jesus is up there at Your right hand and He gave us the Power of Attorney to carry out Your will here on earth. Here is the need. Please meet it in His name.”
Praying without Hindrance
• We must be born again. • There must be no unconfessed sin in our lives (James 5:16;Is 59:1,2). • We should have no unforgiveness (Matt 5:23-24). • No secret sins. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Ps 66:18). • Our motives should be pure, based on obedience (Jn 15:7) and we should delight in the Lord (Ps 37:4).
As you learn to pray effective prayers, you are built up – pray in the Holy Ghost!
GOD MAKING A MAN AFTER HIS OWN HEART – PART 1
Characteristics of the Man and the Development
“After removing Saul, he made David their King. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” (Acts 13:22)
(Also 1 Sam 30:1-30)
David was one of the greatest of God’s servants and Kings. He achieved great “heights” and plunged to deep “lows.” He didn’t just arrive at being what he became; there were certain qualities that had to be developed and nurtured. He had to go through the ‘school of God.’ David was, or became, the preferred choice (1 Sam 16:12-14).
There is something that most people miss, that the Holy Spirit wants us to learn from, in the three recorded names of the seven brothers. Both accounts of Jesse’s family only mention three names (1 Sam 16:6-9; 1 Sam 17:12-14).
Eliab – “whose Father is God”:
Looking at 1 Sam 16:7,8, we can see that he must have been a very impressive man. Samuel, a seer (prophet), is very impressed. “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands before the Lord.” His appearance and height, his natural endowments, impressed people. These very “strengths” seemed to be the cause of his rejection! In 1 Sam 17:28 he is sarcastic and critical, criticising David in areas of his own sin. We normally criticise most strongly in others that which we suspect is in ourselves.
The lesson to be learned – although God is our Father – is that if we depend upon our natural abilities, we will be rejected.
Abinadab – “of nobility”; “the father is generous”:
Abinadab came from impressive lineage and his father was well spoken of.
The lesson to be learned is that our pedigree doesn’t qualify us. We can come from a family of millionaires, university professors, or pastors, and still be passed by if we depend upon them to qualify us!
Look at Paul’s pedigree! “Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers...” (Acts 22:3; Phi 3:3-6). Look at his attitude towards all these qualities (Phi 3:7-9). “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ...” God even included a prostitute, Rahab, and a “despised one,” Ruth, into the lineage of Jesus!
Shammah – “waste, desert”:
In other words, that which is unfruitful. If we are going to despise God’s blessings, and not produce fruit from all He pours in and upon us, we will be passed by! But Shammah linked with God, Jehovah-Shammah, brings His presence which will enable us to become fruitful. The lesson to be learned is that if you waste God’s blessings you will be passed by, but linked to Jehovah, you can become fruitful again.
THINGS WE MUST DEVELOP AND NURTURE IN OUR LIVES
David was one of the great servants and Kings. He was the only one who had the privilege of having Jesus called “the Son of David.”
A. A MAN OF PURPOSE 1 Sam 17:26b,45
He knew what he wanted to achieve each time he tackled something. There was nothing vague about his approach to life and its tasks. He knew his calling. When he killed Goliath, he knew the reward (1 Sam 17:25), and when he pursued the Amalekites (1 Sam 30:1-30). We too must know what we want to achieve.
He knew exactly what it was going to cost. He counted the cost before tackling a project. To marry Saul’s daughter would cost him one hundred Philistine foreskins (1 Sam 18:24-27). He knew the steps he would have to take in order to achieve these purposes. Remember the words of Jesus regarding counting the cost (Lk 14:28-33; Lk 9:62). We, too, must count the cost and know our strategy for achieving our purposes.
His ultimate purpose was to serve God and to see His name magnified and glorified (1 Sam 17:45-47).
B. A MAN OF PRAYER 1 Sam 30:7,8; 1 Sam 23:24; 2 Sam 2:1; 1 Chron 14:8-10; 14-17
He knew the secret of Prov 3:5 “...not leaning unto his own understanding.” He sought God. Over and over again, we find David in prayer (Ps 34:4-7; Ps 63:1; Ps 61:1-8). We, too, need to become people of prayer by cultivating fellowship with the Holy Spirit and learning to depend upon Him in all that we do.
We must receive revelation about our lives regarding our long and short term goals, our priorities on a daily basis, and the state and strength of the people we lead, i.e. their needs, etc.
We are to learn the ways of God (Is 55:8,9; Prov 3:5,6; Ps 37:3-7). Remember that God has “ways,” not methods. Pray Ps 27:11, Ps 86:11 “Teach me your ways.”
We must meditate upon the things He says. (Jos 1:8; Ps 1:1-3; 2 Tim 2:15). Yield your imagination to God. Let Him paint pictures upon it by His Spirit of faith projects.
Declare God’s will over your life, your family, your church, your country, etc.
(Eph 1:16; Col 1:9-14).
C. A MAN OF POWER 1 Sam 17:45-47; 18:27-28
“But David found strength in the Lord his God” (1 Sam 30:6). “Give us aid against our enemy, for the help of man is worthless. With God we shall gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies” (Ps 60:11,12). Power develops; i.e. we don’t just ‘get it’ in its fullness. “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” (David had first slain the lion and the bear.)
Notice the contrast between David and the people in 1 Sam 30:6. “...But David found strength in the Lord his God.”
He was anointed (1 Sam 16:12,13). To seek to minister without the anointing is to damage souls (Eph 5:18; 2 Cor 3:6). He was a musician and musicians could learn from 1 Sam 16:14-23 NB vs 23.
D. A MAN WHO PLANNED AND PRIORITISED He would have planned strategies for warfare with goals (1 Chron 13:1-14; 1 Chron 19:8-21:4). He planned his contribution toward the building of the temple and appointed leaders, musicians, etc. (1 Chron 28:1; 1 Chron 22:2 - 27:34).
We too must learn to plan and prioritise. There is so much compulsive activity among leaders. Among Calvinists and Puritans the wasting of time was considered to be one of the worst sins. Hence we make ourselves busy to ease our consciences. We are often unable to relax. We must plan each day, and times and days of relaxation and rest. Jesus constantly “got away from it all.” He said, “Come apart and rest awhile.”
We have the inability to say “no”. We take on too many responsibilities. Out of insecurity, we depend upon the approval of others. Sometimes, out of a desire to bless others, we struggle to say “no”. The result is that we are often overburdened and feel exploited. We become angry with ourselves and we become angry and frustrated by the demands of others.
Plan! Keep a diary. Every day prioritise your day in writing (if possible). The less important things can be transferred to the next day, but make sure that the important things are tackled first.
E. A MAN OF PATIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE Although he was already anointed King, he was willing to wait years for God’s timing. It took years before he was crowned king of Judah and then another seven years before he became king of all Israel. He could have killed Saul on a number of occasions but didn’t, even when his loyal followers encouraged him to: in the cave (1 Sam 24) and in Saul’s night camp (1 Sam 26). He doesn’t “help” God, like Abraham did, and end up with an Ishmael! “Write down the revelation (vision) and make it plain on tablets... For the revelation awaits an appointed time” (Hab 2:2,3).
Patience comes through problems. “...we glory in tribulations knowing that tribulation worketh patience...” (Rom 5:3 (KJV); James 1:3,4). Patience inherits the promises. “...who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb 6:12). We need patience and perseverance.
F. A MAN OF PRINCIPLES • He knew the wisdom of abiding God’s timing and therefore did not kill Saul. • He knew the wisdom of “not touching God’s anointed” (1 Sam 24:1-7;
1 Sam 26:7-11).
• He knew the wisdom of listening to people, of responding and not reacting. • He heard Abigail’s logic and did not kill her husband (1 Sam 25:2-35). • He believed that what a person sows they shall reap (1 Sam 25:2-35). • He believed in fairness, mercy and sharing (1 Sam 30:23-26). There was tremendous wisdom in this action as it kept the men satisfied and their hearts with him. Even the soldiers who fought and wanted the others left out, knew that they would get a fair deal if a similar thing happened to them in the future. • He was a covenant man. He honoured his covenant pledge to Jonathan regarding Mephibosheth (2 Sam 9:1-13). His word was his word! And yet, when he made a rash, foolish decision and statement regarding Abigail ‘s husband, he was big enough to repent! (1 Sam 25:32-34). • He didn’t take advantage of, or use or abuse people. He would not drink water that nearly cost his leaders their lives. He didn’t use his position as king to get things. He paid for the “threshing floor” (2 Sam 24:18-25). • He knew that “like begets like” – that the leader determines how the others follow (1 Chron 29:1-20). The leader must give first (vs 2-5), then the others (vs 6-15). Then the people will give willingly and abundantly (vs 15-18). G. A MAN OF PERCEPTION He perceived that he could not succeed without God (Ps 1:1-3). He perceived that things must happen in God’s time; i.e.
• Among the Philistines (1 Sam 27:1-27 NB vs 7); and • Not taking Saul’s life when he had the opportunity (1 Sam 26:1-25). He perceived that God was always good and just, even when in personal failure or crisis, as in the death of Bathsheba’s son born as a result of sin (2 Sam 12:20-23), and when Shimei cursed him (2 Sam 16:5-13). H. A MAN OF PASSION With all these great attributes he was still human. He experienced grief when his wife and children were kidnapped (1 Sam 30:4), when Saul and Jonathan were killed (2 Sam 1:11,12) and at the death of his son, Absalom (2 Sam 18:33).
He experienced disappointments when his son Absalom turned against him (2 Sam 15-17) and when Saul pursued him (1 Sam 24:14; 26:20).
He cut his son off and would not see or talk to him (2 Sam 214:24-28).
He lusted after Bathsheba, lied, plotted and murdered Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband (2 Sam 11:1-5).
He experienced pride and rebellion when he numbered Israel (1 Chron 21).
I. A MAN OF PARDONING He knew how to be forgiven – to live in the freedom of it:
• After his adultery and the death of Uriah and his child (2 Sam 12:1-25 NB vs 13; Ps 51; Ps 32:1-7). Sin and failure must not keep us discouraged or bogged down. • After his sin, he is still called “a man after God’s own heart” by the Holy Spirit! I’m sure this was as a result of his confession, repentance and acceptance of God’s forgiveness and restoration. This is a wonderful illustration of the truth of Joel 2:25: “I will restore the years the locusts have eaten.” (Also Is 61:1-7). He knew how to forgive:
• He forgave the men who didn’t keep up with him in battle (1 Sam 30:23-26). • He forgave King Saul for repeatedly trying to kill him. • He forgave Shimei, although he remembered his unfaithfulness until his death
(2 Sam 16:5; 1 Kings 2:8,9).
J. A MAN OF PRAISE The Psalms are full of expressions of praise in all sorts of situations and circumstances (Ps 103).
He is quick to praise God for his victories, even with dancing and leaping! (2 Sam 6:1-5, 14-23; 1 Chron 15:25-29).
K. A MAN OF PROPHECY He held the prophetic anointing as king before himself constantly. After he was anointed as king he lived with and in that for years before he actually was accepted as king. The Psalms are full of prophecies concerning the Messiah. He was a “prophetic” leader.
L. A MAN OF PURITY “Create in me a pure heart....” (Ps 51:10).
M. A MAN OF PROSPERITY – THROUGH THE PROMISES In general, David had a prosperity (success) mentality. “...you will certainly succeed...” (1 Sam 30:8d; Ps 103; Ps 1:1-3). He had a giving heart and did not hoard.”
N. A MAN OF PROVISION 1 Chron 29:1-9
Although he could not build the temple, he wanted a part in it – he gave. He provided for the needs of his people. Nabal is asked for sheep (1 Sam 29:8,9). He shares the plunder with his men (1 Sam 30:21-25). He knew it was more blessed to give than to receive. A prosperity mentality gives, a poverty mentality hoards.
O. A MAN OF PROTECTION He protected others. He protected himself through prayer and promises (the Psalms) and by submitting himself to his colleagues.
GOD MAKING A MAN AFTER HIS OWN HEART – PART 2
God Choosing a Man
“...The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart...” (1 Sam 16:6-13)
We have looked at some of the characteristics of a man after God’s own heart. We now look at God choosing a man (Is 49:1-7; Is 44:1-5).
A. CHOICE God usually chooses the most unlikely men.
• Gideon – from the weakest clan, the least in his family (Judges 6:14,15); • Saul – from the smallest tribe (1 Sam 9:19-21); • David – not even considered by his father (1 Sam 16:11); • Disciples – fishermen, tax collectors, radical zealots, etc.; • Paul – a religious persecutor (1 Cor 15:9; 1 Tim 1:13); • Timothy – young, inexperienced and insecure. “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him...Therefore ...let him who boasts boast in the Lord” (1 Cor 1: 26-31). God usually chooses men who feel inadequate. Moses said, “I can’t speak!” (Ex 3:10-14; 4:1-3,10-13). Saul tried to hide himself in the baggage (1 Sam 10:22). God then usually gets the glory!
B. CHOSEN God must choose, call and commission – not the man himself. These men were chosen:
• David – “So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power...” (1 Sam 16:12-13).
• Paul – “Paul, an apostle - sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father...” (Gal 1:1; Eph 1:1). • Isaiah – “...I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted...” (Is 6:1-8). • Jesus – “Here is my servant whom I have chosen...” (Matt 12:18-21; Jn 20:21). The Church endorses it.
“...While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:1-3).
“So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you...” (Acts 15:25)
“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers...” (Acts 20:28)
GOD MAKING A MAN AFTER HIS OWN HEART – PART 3
God Making A Man
What is the “heart of God?” It is a heart of “love” (Jn 3:16). When we get His heart we will go out and love people. All of us are capable of doing this.
We have looked at some of the “characteristics of a man after God’s own heart” and “God choosing a man.” We now look at the three major “ingredients” (what God does) that go toward making us men after his own heart. These are humbling, anointing and training (teaching).
A. HUMBLING (1 SAM 17:12-51) Three Biblical examples of God’s consistency in making His man are:
• David • Paul • Jesus 1. DAVID There are four factors involved in humbling:
• Revelation of God’s love • Realisation of self-worth • Rejection • Reliability (1 Chron 17:16-27) The revelation of God’s love requires three things:
• Develop fellowship with Holy Spirit • Study God’s Word • Meditate on things revealed through the Word Realisation of our own self-worth
Without Him we are useless (1 Chron 17:16). With Him we are valuable (Ps 103) and able to do anything. This demands meditation.
Rejection by family, friends and foes
The possibility of feeling rejection comes in a four-fold way and can be from family, friends and foes:
• Being overlooked • Being misunderstood • Being misjudged • Being betrayed Family
David was overlooked by his father (1 Sam 16:6-13), misunderstood by his brothers (1 Sam 17:17-19, 26-29), misjudged by his wife (2 Sam 6:14-23) and betrayed by his son, Absalom (2 Sam 15:1-6; 13:1-18:33)
Joab conspired with Adonijah (1 Kings 2:28). The children of Israel took years to accept David as King over Judah and even longer over Israel.
When his son led a rebellion, people turned against him. Before this, they were full of praise for him. “Saul has killed his thousands, David his ten thousands.”
Sometimes it comes from those closest to us! “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (Ps 41:9).
Shimei stoned and cursed him (2 Sam 16:5-14). David would not retaliate! There was no need to justify himself. He humbled himself!
King Saul always thought David was trying to steal his throne!
Reliability (faithfulness in the menial and mundane)
David shepherds the sheep, totally unnoticed by anyone. He fights a bear and a lion (1 Sam 17:32-37). He did not grasp for the throne and promote himself, even when he had an opportunity to kill Saul in the cave (1 Sam 24:3,4,5) and in the night-camp (1 Sam 26:8-11). God will always give you an opportunity to do it your way! Or to justify yourself! Resist the temptation, humble yourself and let Him “promote” or “justify” you! If we are faithful with the small things God will trust us with the larger (Matt 25:23;
Most of us try to avoid suffering, misunderstanding and tribulation at any cost. I can understand why this is, but be careful you don’t miss something precious –something that God might be using to make you more like Christ (2 Cor 3:18).
Tribulation, persecution and suffering are promised! (Acts 14:22; Jn 16:33; 1 Thes 3:4). We are to rejoice in problems (Acts 5:41;Rom 5:3). It won’t last forever! (1 Pet 5:10). It’s for our good (1 Pet 5:10,2:20; Rom 8:17). It causes us to become “giving”
(2 Cor 1:4).
We must humble ourselves – God allows the circumstances for us to do this.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).
“Humble yourselves therefore under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time” (1 Pet 5:6).
“...He humbled Himself...” (Phi 2:8).
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 14:11).
God won’t “force us on our faces” – He gives us opportunity to humble ourselves!
2. PAUL Paul had a revelation of His love (Rom 8:38,39; 11:33-36), a realisation of his self-worth (Phi 3:4-8; Rom 8:31-33) and he suffered rejection from friends:
• Disciples didn’t trust him; • Jews turned against him; • Demas forsook him (2 Tim 4:10); • All his friends deserted him (2 Tim 4:16,17; Phi 2:19-21). Paul’s prayer is “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phi 3:10). 3. JESUS CHRIST Jesus learned obedience through suffering! (Heb 5:8). “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the Pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering” (Heb 2:10).
He was rejected by family (his brothers), friends (all his disciples – including Judas and Peter), and foes. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Is 53: 3,7).
The travail of his soul embraced “giving” (Is 53:11,12). Leaving heaven, becoming a human baby, the agony of Gethsemane, forsaken by his disciples... then Calvary. We then begin to serve Him for who He is, not what we get out of it! This is the true heart of God – giving to give, not giving to get! (Gen 12:1-3; Jn 3:16).
B. ANOINTING “The equipping for service, the special enabling and empowering of the Holy Spirit to get the job done.”
“It’s not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zech 4:6).
• David was anointed by Samuel (1 Sam 16:12-13). • Jesus was anointed before He ministered (Lk 4:16-21). • Paul said, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power...” (1 Cor 2:4,5). • Disciples – “with great power the apostles continued to testify...” (Acts 4:33). To seek to minister without the anointing of God is to damage souls. Baptism in the Spirit and fresh infillings are essential (Acts 1:8,4-5; Eph 5:18).
It comes as a gift by:
• Being in the call of God; • Calling upon the Name of the Lord; • Communion with the Holy Spirit; and • Co-operating with the Father. C. TRAINING A life of faith by trusting God in every situation. David with Shimei (2 Sam 16:5-10) and with Saul showed how he rather trusted God to do it in his timing. We will sometimes have to go through situations we won’t understand or have an answer to. God will use these situations to mature us.
A life of faithfulness:
• Bible study – David was a man of the Word. We, too, must study (2 Tim 2:15). • Prayer – David is always praying or praising. Paul too - Eph 1:16; Col 1:9-14. Also Jesus. • Submission – If we want authority with God, we must submit (Lk 7:8). • Restoration – If we sin it must not be “the end.” Sin and failure must not keep us discouraged. Learn to walk in God’s forgiveness and restoration, as David did with Bathsheba (1 Jn 1:7,9; 2:1).
DELIVERANCE IN YOUR TIME OF DISTRESS
“May the Lord answer you when you are in distress... May He send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion... May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests...” (Psalm 20)
I went through a time of extreme distress in my life and the subject matter of this chapter was birthed during that time.
A. MY DISTRESS I felt –
• Alone – with no one supporting me; • Forsaken – by God and His people; • Surrounded – by people who had judged me and were looking for ways to trap and accuse me; • Weak and vulnerable; and • I was struggling with my health. I forgot – • The fellowship of His sufferings (Phi 3:10; Col 1:24); • The father/family relationship (Heb 12:2-15); • The fellowship of the Saviour – “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5); • The fellowship of the Shepherd (Ps 23); • The facts of the Scriptures: • “No weapon formed against you can prosper... and you will refute every tongue that accuses you” (Is 54:17); • “Greater is He that is in you...” (1 Jn 4:4); and • The Fatherhood of God (Ps 103:14-20). Your feelings? • Maybe you are in distress. Maybe you too have forgotten! Psalm 20 has to do with distress (vs 1), defence (vs 1), deliverance (vs 2), desires (vs 4), design (vs 4) and defeat of our enemies (vs 7,8). Or put another way, it has to do with problems (vs 1), protection (vs 1b), provision (vs 2,5c) plans (vs 4a), prosperity (vs 4b) and the place to centre our faith (vs 6-8). B. OUR DEFENSE “May the name of the God of Jacob protect you” (vs 1b).
The Names of God in the Old Testament:
• Jehovah Nissi – I will be your banner, the one who fights for you • Jehovah Rophe – I will be your healer • Jehovah Rohe – I will be your guide • Jehovah Jireh – I will be your source of supply in your time of need • Jehovah Shalom – I will be peace to you • Jehovah Tsidkenu – I am your righteousness • El Shaddai – God Almighty The Names of God in the New Testament: • Emmanuel – God with us (Matt 1:23) • Jesus – The Saviour who saves us from our sin (Matt 1:21) • King of Kings, Lord of Lords (Rev 19:16) Things we can do in His name: (All authority has been given to us!) • Cast out demons (Mk 16:17); • Lay hands on the sick; • Have prayers answered (Jn 16:23,24); • Be delivered – “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered” (Acts 2:21). The name of the God of Jacob! Jacob means the Twister, Deceiver! This name protects us even though we don’t deserve it.
The name of the God of Jacob protects us.
“Holy Father, protect them (disciples) by the power of your Name – the Name you gave Me – so that they may be one as we are one” (Jn 17:11b) – protection towards unity!
There is a special blessing for those who have regard for the weak – “The Lord delivers him in times of trouble. The Lord will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes. The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness” (Ps 41:1-3).
The secret? “Dwell in the shelter of the Most High...” (Ps 91:1-16).
C. GOD’S DELIVERANCE There is a three-fold deliverance – what you do, what He does and what the Church does (Ps 20:2,6-8):
What you do: “May the Lord answer you in distress...” (Ps 20:1)
There are certain things you have to do:
• Call – “Call to me and I will answer...” (Acts 2:21; Jer 33:3); “You have not because you ask not” (James 4:2); • Resist – “Submit to God, resist the devil...” (James 4:7); • Stand fast – in faith (Eph 6:14); • Guard your heart – control your thinking. When under pressure, our response is determined by self-talk, i.e. the toothpaste tube law.
situation self talk response
• Speak to the mountains (Mk 11:23); • Confess sin – make restitution – forgive others; • Keep yourself in the love of God; • Abstain from every appearance of evil (1 Thes 5:22); • Pull a Joseph! Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife. Paul sneaked away, was let down in a basket and ran away (Acts 9:23-25; 2 Cor 11:30-33). The true grace of God teaches! (Titus 2:11-15).
What God does: “May he send you help from the sanctuary...” (Ps 20:2)
God Himself is our sanctuary (Ps 96:6). This is what He does directly – with no human help. Not only does God send us help, but He is our Help!
Ps 30:10 “O Lord, be my Help.”
Ps 33:20 “We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.”
Ps 40:17 “You are my help and my deliverer.”
Ps 46:1-11 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble” (vs 1).
Ps 115:9-11 “...You who fear Him, trust in the Lord – He is their help and shield.”
Ps 118: 5-18 The Lord is with me; He is my helper. I will look on triumph on my enemies” (vs 7).
Help carries a number of meanings: –
• Support (2 Sam 22:17-20, NB vs 19b; Ps 18:16-19, NB vs 18b); • Strength (Ps 28:7,8; Is 41:10; Heb 13:6). (This means that sometimes He will be with you in it, giving you strength for it but not necessarily stopping the distressing situation.) • Deliverance – at other times He lifts us out of distress. Help and deliverance are often linked in Scripture. • “The Lord helps them (the righteous) in times of trouble and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge (in Him)” (Ps 37:40). • “You are my help and my deliverer” (Ps 40:17).
What the Church does: “And grant you support from Zion” (Ps 20:2).
Zion is the Church (Heb 12:22,23). Ps 87:1-3, 5-7 is a beautiful, prophetic picture of the church. “He has set his foundation on the holy mountain; the Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are said of you, O city of God ... Indeed, of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High Himself will establish her.” The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.” As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you.”
We are to be in that place where the Church can help! Too often we withdraw from the Church in our times of distress! Too often we won’t allow the Church to help. Too often we hide our distress from the Church. The Church must be ready, willing and available to help! We are to: –
• Encourage one another (Heb 3:13; 10:15); • Love one another (Jn 15:12,17); • Bear with the failings of the weak (Rom 15:1); • Support one another (Acts 2:44,45; Acts 4:32-37); • Pray for each other; • Bear one-another’s burdens (Gal 6:2). All of these things are pointing the Church in a direction of help, standing with and alongside the distressed!
D. OUR DEEDS (VS 3) He sanctions our sacrifices and rewards our efforts. Not one act of kindness goes unnoticed by our God. He will reward us. Even a cup of cold water given in His name is rewarded. Some have had to choose Him before family, homes, lands, etc. (Mk 10:29-30).
Maybe you feel distressed. You are facing distressing circumstances, or you have sacrificed and felt let down, unsupported, unrewarded. Do what you can and have to do. Look to God; allow the Church to help; let us pray for His deliverance, especially when you allow your leaders to pray over you.
How to Pray for Our People
Many pastors spend a lot of time:
• Preparing messages to preach on Sundays; • Preparing Bible study for Wednesday evening; • Planning for growth; • Programming the church week; • Pursuing new converts (and sometimes other pastors’ sheep); • Patching up problems in order to look successful; • Panicking about their people – are they being faithful, are they going to other churches, are they going to leave our church? Few of us pray for our people. What is the reason for this? We don’t always know how to pray or what to pray about. Others have prayed with very little effect and, therefore, become discouraged or give up. We must pray for our sheep and we must know what to pray about. Prayers that we can’t be sure of, are prayers that are not specifically mentioned in the Bible. Prayers that we can be sure of are prayers that are in the Bible, i.e. biblical prayers. God’s “will” is in His “Word” and we can be sure of prayers in His will (Word) (1 Jn 5:14-15).
In his prayers, Paul sought the best for the Christians. He aimed at the heart of the spiritual need.
A. THINGS TO PRAY FOR FROM EPHESIANS 1 (EPH 1:15-23) 1. PAUL DOES NOT CEASE TO GIVE THANKS FOR THEM He starts with thanks. He does this in other prayers for other Christians.
• “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Phi 1:3); • “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers...” (1 Thes 1:2);
• “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting...” (2 Thes 1:3); • “I thank my God concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus” (for their salvation) (1 Cor 1:4). We need to get into the practice of thanking God for the people He has given us and not just seeing them as problems. We are privileged to have them, to serve and shepherd them. In smaller churches, thank God for them by name. He “never ceases” – so continually pray, not just occasionally.
2. PAUL KEEPS ASKING FOR THE SPIRIT OF WISDOM AND REVELATION SO THAT THEY MAY KNOW HIM BETTER (Eph 1:17) W E Vine: “What Paul is praying for here is that God might so work in the lives of the Ephesian saints that they will have the spiritual wisdom and a revelation from Him that is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work of energising their human spirit.”
The word “Spirit” (Gk – Pneuma) is not solely Holy Spirit or human Spirit but the Holy Spirit indwelling the human Spirit. “Pneuma” means “a disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul of anyone.”
“So that you may know Him better” (Eph 1:17c) – this word “know” is “epignosis” – knowledge that is true, accurate, thorough and full. We need to preach accurate doctrine and pray that our people grasp it. The importance of correct doctrine is constantly emphasised in Scripture.
• “sound doctrine” (1 Tim 1:10); • “my doctrine” (2 Tim 3:10,16); • “not endure sound doctrine” (2 Tim 4:3); • “in your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:7); • “they may adorn the doctrine” (Titus 2:10). But it must go beyond just accurate doctrine: it must acquaint us better with God Himself. “The eyes of your understanding” (Eph 1:18) are more literally “the eyes of your heart” – the faculty of your emotions, intellect, reason and intelligence. Paul is praying that a permanent work of the Holy Spirit be done in the human spirits of the Christians, that their inner spiritual capacities for understanding the truth may be the recipients of a lasting benefit. 3. THERE ARE THREE THINGS OF WHICH PAUL WANTS THEM TO HAVE AN ACCURATE, PERMANENT UNDERSTANDING: a) What is the hope of His calling? (Eph 1:18b) The Greek word is “tis”
i) not “how great” ii) not “of what kind” iii) simply “what” – what the hope really is It is not an “object” hoped for. It is “an attitude of mind, the subjective hope, the assured Christian expectation” – experiencing the hope of His calling.
b) What are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints? (Eph 1:18c) The sphere of God’s inheritance is in the saints. This simply means that the saints may know how precious they are in God’s eyes as His inheritance. They don’t ever question God’s love for them – no matter what!
c) What is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe? (Eph 1:19) The composition of this sentence declares that the limitless, beyond measure, more than enough, surpassing power, the same power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him far above all else, is at work in us and Paul prays that we might know that!
B. THINGS TO PRAY FOR FROM EPH 3:14-21 1. TO BE STRENGTHENED WITH MIGHT THROUGH HIS SPIRIT IN THE INNER MAN (Eph 3:16) Notice how Paul aimed at the heart of their spiritual need. We so often focus on the needs or habits of the outer. Changing the outward will never satisfy either man or God. The result of that inner strengthening will be:
• Power over temptations, sins and weaknesses; • Power in spiritual warfare; • Power to be able to do what we are called to do; and • Power in prayer. 2. THAT CHRIST MAY DWELL IN THEIR HEARTS (Eph 3:17) The purpose of the strengthening by the Spirit is now given – “that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith.” The word “dwell” (Gk – katoikesai) means “to settle down and be at home.” (Gk – Kata means “down”; Gk – Oikeo means “to live in as a home.”)
This carries with it the thought of living in conscious dependence upon and yieldedness to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will then deal with all sinful things in our lives, thereby making Jesus feel “at home” in us.
This “at home-ness” is “through faith.” This trust is not trust in Jesus as Saviour. It has more to do with trusting Jesus to keep us filled with the Spirit.
Notice how Paul doesn’t encourage dependence or focus upon himself but rather upon the Holy Spirit. How unlike many leaders this is!
The result of the strengthening by the Spirit and the consequent “at home-ness” of Jesus is that they will be “rooted” and “grounded” – secure and stable.
3. THAT THEY MAY BE ABLE TO COMPREHEND CHRIST’S LOVE (Eph 3:18) The Greek word “comprehend” means “to lay hold of so as to make one’s own, to seize, take possession of.” It is more to “apprehend” than merely to “understand intellectually,” although it includes that.
When Jesus comes into our hearts He doesn’t come empty-handed. He brings His love.
What is Love’s width? “Who can number the sins pardoned, the dangers averted or the wants supplied? God’s love is as broad as humanity and its numberless needs, and it is available to every human being.”
What is Love’s length? It has no beginning, no end. He loves us with an everlasting love (Jer 31:3).
What is Love’s depth? “God’s love stepped down from His throne, stripped Himself of heavenly glories, clothed Himself with a robe of flesh and humbled Himself still further by dying on a cross.”
What is Love’s height? “Therefore, (because He stooped so low), God has highly exalted Him” (Phi 2:6-9). He is exalted to heavenly places – a height to which “no weapon formed against us” can reach. It is a height far above sin, sickness, sadness, circumstances or Satan. “Eye has not seen, ear hath not heard...but God has revealed them by His Spirit” (1 Cor 2:9).
4. THAT THEY MAY BE FILLED WITH ALL THE FULLNESS OF GOD (Eph 3:19) What does He fill us with?
• Fullness of joy (Jn 15:11; 2 Tim 1:4); • Fullness of peace (Rom 15:13); • The fruits of righteousness (Phi 1:11); • The knowledge of His will (Col 1:9); • Goodness (Rom 15:14); • All knowledge (Rom 15:14); and • Himself! C. THINGS TO PRAY FOR FROM PHIL 1:3-11 1. I THANK MY GOD EVERY TIME I REMEMBER YOU (vs 3) 2. PAUL MAKES REQUEST FOR THEM WITH JOY! (vs 4) He delights in them before the throne!
3. PAUL THANKS GOD AND MAKES REQUEST FOR THEIR FELLOWSHIP (JOINT PARTICIPATION) IN THE GOSPEL (vs 5) Paul does not mean merely time spent together, but their working together for Christ. Pray this for your people.
4. PAUL PRAYS THAT THEIR LOVE WILL ABOUND MORE AND MORE IN KNOWLEDGE AND ALL DISCERNMENT (vs 9) Love: this is the love of God produced in the heart of a yielded believer by the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5).
Abound: this word derives from a Greek word which means “to exceed a fixed number or measure, to exist in superfluity.” The volume of their love needs to be brought within guiding limitations lest it work harm rather than bring good. “...in knowledge and all discernment; that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offence.” There is often an eager enthusiasm among Christians that is devoid of understanding of the truth; a sensitive moral perception; and tact. Love’s outflow must be brought within the guiding limitations of knowledge and discernment.
This word “knowledge” derives from the Greek word which speaks of knowledge gained by experience rather than “intuitive” knowledge.
The word “discernment” derives from the Greek word referring to “a sensitive moral perception, and a quickness of ethical tact.” How often we mean to be loving and say the wrong words or do the wrong thing. People are then driven away instead of being “grafted in.” In the place of prayer we can change this!
5. PAUL PRAYS THAT THEY WILL BE FILLED WITH THE FRUITS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (vs 11) This is not just imputed righteousness but imparted righteousness that we may impact righteousness.
D. THINGS TO PRAY FOR FROM COL 1:3, 9-14 1. PAUL GIVES THANKS FOR THEM (vs 3) 2. PAUL PRAYS THAT THEY MAY BE FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD’S WILL (vs 9) This letter is written against a background of tradition and legalism. How easily Christians (and leaders) move from legalism to licence, breaking down the testimony of the Church. This “knowledge” is not God’s counsel of redemption, nor “the whole counsel of God made known in Christ” but “His will for the conduct of our lives.” This would include how we can be most effective for God.
3. PAUL PRAYS THAT THEY MIGHT WALK WORTHY OF THE LORD (vs 10) Walk: “to order one’s behaviour, to conduct oneself.”
4. PAUL PRAYS THAT THEY MAY BE STRENGTHENED WITH ALL MIGHT, ACCORDING TO HIS GLORIOUS POWER, FOR ALL PATIENCE AND LONGSUFFERING WITH JOY (vs 11) Both “strengthened” and “might” have the same root word. One derives from the verb “dunamoo”, and the other from the noun “dunamis”.
“Dunamis”, the noun, means “strength, ability, power, inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature.” “Dunamai”, the verb, means “to be able, to have power.” These words speak of the inherent power which gives us the ability to do something. “Dunamoo” means “to make strong, to strengthen.” This “by every enabling power being constantly strengthened” (K Weust).
“For all patience and longsuffering with joy.” This has to do more with perseverance than just patient enduring.
5. PAUL PRAYS THAT THEY MAY BE THANKFUL (vs 12) Pray that these saints are thankful in every and all situations and circumstances.
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going....” (Heb 11:8-19)
God’s people have always been a “changing” people. Look at Abraham in Heb 11:8-19. Money’s buying power is weakening. All of this demands a changed (and changing) Church! The Church, as she is at present, is unprepared and ill-equipped for the needs of the nations. The Church is largely “me-centred” and not “Christ-centred”. It is a “getting”, not a “giving” Church. It is a “coming”, and not a “going” Church. Polarisation in the Church leads to both ends of the scale – unrealistic optimism and unrealistic pessimism. In the middle is a mass of uncertainty.
A changed Church demands a changed mind. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind...” (Rom 12:1,2).
We need to stop being pew-warmers, plastic, pleasant, pastoral, and become pioneers, participators and prophetic!
A. BECOMING “PROPHETIC” We must become a prophetic statement to the existing Church and to the nation.
A definition of being prophetic: “It is the ability to see, prepare for and become the future.”
Terry Virgo: A prophetic person is one who is “totally alive to world issues and yet totally sold out to God’s perspective.”
The New Testament Church was prophetic. It was a “sign” of a season to come. We, too, must be a “sign” of a season to come in the world today.
The Church has three ‘needs’:
• To know what God is doing; • To be involved with what God is doing; and • Vision. B. WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT GOD IS DOING God is restoring praise and worship, signs and wonders, evangelism, unity, recognition of Ephesian 4 ministries and the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God covers Kingdom culture, education, arts and the media, social strata, the economic and political sectors and the sporting fraternity. It covers reconciliation across race and language groups.
He is purifying and cleansing His Church in preparation for that great wedding feast. We need to get involved in what God is doing! Through whom do you think God is doing these things? The Church – us! (Eph 3:8-12). “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10). If God is doing these things through the Church, the devil will be opposing the Church!
How does the devil do this?
• By getting us to compromise or sin. • By getting us discouraged. When we are discouraged we don’t praise and worship; we don’t see a flow of signs and wonders; we don’t witness and evangelise; we criticise and attack, which results in division, etc. • By getting us caught up in “causes”. Three trends are developing in the Church. Attention is given to: • Kingdom – but we forget about Church; • Church – but we forget about Kingdom; • Causes – when we move from Kingdom and Church to ‘cause’, we become critical and divisive. Don’t become intolerant of other models and movements. C. WE NEED VISION Someone has said: “A vision without a task produces a visionary; a task without a vision produces drudgery; but a vision with a task produces a missionary.”
God doesn’t do anything without first revealing His acts to the prophets (Amos 3:17; Is 42:9). We must ‘see’ what God is involved in, catch a vision of it, get involved and keep in faith. “Where there is no vision....” (Prov 29:18).
Vision is essential to success in the Christian life. A Christian without vision will never be successful. A vision is essential for personal discipline. For example, an athlete’s whole life is determined by his vision – what he wants to achieve. What he eats, does, his friendships, when he sleeps, are all determined by his vision! If you have a vision, you’ll pay the price. Without a vision, you won’t.
D. THE PURPOSE OF BEING PROPHETIC The Church is to deal with things in the present that will hinder us “being” in the future.
These include sin, compromise, tradition and humanistic deception in the context of our personal and corporate lives (1 Cor 14:24,25). There are no more absolutes in the Church. We are too scared to call sin, “sin”. We never say, “That’s wrong”, or “You can’t do that.” We have been called by Jesus to deal with sin. Call it sin, not weakness or sickness. We blame our past or our parents. Just because we understand the mechanisms of human behaviour doesn’t excuse us from that behaviour. I made a decision to let most hurtful situations hurt me. I must make a decision to accept the blame, call it sin, repent and be healed!
We must first harmonize with God, get the vertical right before we can harmonize with each other and get the horizontal right. Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together except they be agreed,” comes before Amos 3:7. We must harmonize with God, catch His burden with the same involvement, same purpose and same standards. When we do so, we will more naturally begin to harmonise with one another. The Church won’t come to unity until it shares God’s vision!
The prophetic Church is more concerned with conformity to the purpose of God than for the comfort of the people of God
“His intent was that now through the Church the manifold wisdom of God should be made known” (Eph 3:10). It frustrates the prophetic people of God not to see the glory of God in the Church. The prophet’s foundation is an appreciation of the authority of God. He stands upon this. He sees the Lord as pre-eminent, far above all rule, authority, power, etc. He realises his accountability is to God. Don’t do things out of expediency!
To be a “Sign” of the Season to come
Apostolic Christianity was prophetic from the beginning. The Christians of the book of Acts were a “sign” of things to come. Paul was a prophetic statement of the Church age. He forsook “religion” with all its prejudices and traditions. He began to build a “Kingdom Church”, that embraced both:
• Jew and Gentile; • Bond and free; • Male and female; • Rich and poor; and • Educated and uneducated. The church he built was the same. The churches we build are to be the same. Just as we find ourselves looking to the New Testament Church for guidance, so others should be looking to us for guidance. E. PROCESS OF CHANGE What is the prophetic Church doing?
• Challenging the Church and the nation • Comforting both Praying Praising:
• Declaring thankfully what God has done • Declaring what He is doing • Declaring what He will do • Celebrating who and what He is Participating: • Priesthood of all believers • Ministry in diversity • Leadership in plurality • Teams, not individuals • Building what will last beyond the present leadership Preparing: • For the future – new leaders for church planting • And the Lord’s Second Coming Planning: • Setting goals – personally and corporately • Knowing when to implement the next phase • Being trained and equipped for leadership and/or service • Maturing Progressing:
• Constantly being changed (Rom 12:1,2; 2 Cor 3:17,18) • Constantly willing to change, even the direction of our church, our “tradition”, etc., and responding to all that God is restoring. “He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything as He has promised long ago through His holy prophets....” (Acts 3:21):
• Kingdom of God • Ephesians 4 Ministries • Unity • Faith Penetrating:
• Beyond our borders F. THE FIVE-FOLD EMPHASIS WITHIN THIS PROCESS Purification
The process of purification, starting with high visibility leaders will filter through the whole Church and will affect society.
We will see things we have never seen before – miracles, etc. But it won’t happen overnight. There is a process taking place. It will not be individuals but teams.
We need to pray for God’s glory to be revealed and for the nations.
Penetrating – Beyond our borders
We missed our opportunities financially to bless Africa and other parts of the world. International link-ups are a priority.
Preparation of New Leaders
We must change our thinking, our attitude towards sin, the world, the Church and God. We must change our behaviour and our priorities in order to change the world. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
NEW COVENANT MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL (NCMI), THE TEAM RELATING TO THE CHURCHES
Being radically word-based
When you purchase a new motorcar, after choosing the make and model you want, you are presented with a few “optional extras.” Many pastors feel that what they are presently doing is the “basic model.” Relating to denominations, network of churches, schools of prophets, apostolic teams, etc., are “optional extras” – you are free to make choices. This is true if you are still operating from the base, or platform, of Pentecostalism, fundamentalism, evangelicalism, etc., which are all LESS THAN BIBLICAL SUBCULTURE. But God is raising up a radical, word-based people and to them none of these things are “optional extras!” What isn’t biblical must cease! What is biblical must begin – now!
In Lk 3:7-14, John the Baptist, in preparation for the coming of the Lord, was getting down to the root, being radical, not interested in a “patch-up” job! “The axe is laid to the root.” This is what the “New Breed” leadership is going to have to embrace – getting to the “root”, not just discarding some of the “fruit” of our church-life and leadership.
A. CHURCHES RELATING TO APOSTOLIC TEAMS – THE ONLY MODEL IN THE BIBLE! The Bible does not tolerate denominationalism (1 Cor 1:10-13; 3:1-9); it doesn’t mention national churches. It knows nothing of churches relating to independent prophets. It doesn’t endorse “mother church” mentalities. The Jerusalem model becomes less and less relevant.
No matter who started a church, apostolic teams came in and took it on!
1. THE SAMARITAN CHURCH (Acts 8:4-25) • Philip evangelises, wins souls (vs 5-13); • Apostles in Jerusalem send Peter and John, two apostles, to establish the new converts (vs 14-17); • Apostles don’t stay, but eventually leave and maintain their relationship with the church (vs 25). 2. THE ANTIOCH CHURCH (Acts 11:19-30) • Some “men from Cypress and Cyrene” go to Antioch (vs 20); • They begin to win souls to Jesus Christ (vs 20,21); • Apostles at Jerusalem send Barnabas, an apostle, to establish them (vs 22-24); • Paul joins him in helping (vs 25-26); • Prophets visit church (vs 27-28). 3. OTHER CHURCHES, STARTED BY APOSTLES • From Acts 13, planting of Antioch church; • Acts 14:1, Iconium; • Acts 15:41, Syria and Cilicia. B. RELATING – WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Dictionary meanings:
Relationship – “the state of being related by kindred, affinity, or other alliance.” We are members of His family – brothers and sisters.
Relation–- “connection between things.” We are “connected” by our relationships.
Relative – “not self-existing; a person connected by blood or affinity.” We don’t exist for ourselves but each other!
The Bible uses other words:
• Held (Eph 4:16); • Joined (Eph 4:16); • Knit together “Israel were knit together” (Judges 20:11); ...”soul of Jonathan was knit...” (1 Sam 18:1); (Col 2:2,19)]; • Relations (2 Cor 1:12 NIV – with the Corinthian church); • One body (Rom 12:5); • One loaf (1 Cor 10:17); • All one in Christ (Gal 3:28). 1. WHAT RELATING MEANS TO US Being together as a high priority
Sometimes it is costly, but we will pay the price time-wise, financially and when other pressures are making demands upon us. The inconvenience isn’t sufficient to stop us! We can’t “pray about” whether we should attend our “togetherness” times. Without these times and paying this price, we are “old wineskins”.
Working together as a high priority
Joint ventures are essential; for example, church plants, strengthening existing churches, projects in a given situation – feeding and clothing schemes. We can’t go on indefinitely retaining a multitude of relationships at the expense of our “relating”. For example, “I couldn’t be at our monthly or annual gathering because I went to some other conference.”
Pooling together as a high priority
This involves personnel, finances, prayer and resources.
2. WHAT RELATING DOESN’T MEAN Relating doesn’t mean pastoring you, pastoring your people or a ‘quick-fix’ for all your problems. If the major reason for ‘relating’ is what we can do for you – what you can get out of it – we are all losers. We are already beaten! “Getters are always needy”
(Lk 8:38). “Givers live the abundant life.”
God has given NCMI a clear, exciting, radical, specific mandate. We want people who see this is the only scriptural way and want to give 100% commitment to what God is on about, so that the team can give 100% to those involved.
• Strengthening present churches; • Establishing new ones; • Equipping leaders; • Envisioning churches and leaders; • Going to the nations; • Discipling nations; • Developing a team (NCMI) and teams.
BUILDING THE CHURCH
Eph 1:1-14 “...and He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ...” (vs 9,10)
How do you picture the Church? What do you think its purpose and function are? Your answer to these questions will affect your whole relationship with the Church (other believers), your effectiveness for Jesus (in the world), and your walk in the Spirit (towards sin and Satan).
A. THE PURPOSE OF THE BODY OF CHRIST IS 11-FOLD: 1. EXALT GOD • Westminster Confession: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. • “I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips...” (Ps 34:1-3); • “Great is the Lord in Zion; He is exalted over all the nations...” (Ps 99:1-5,9); • “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits...” (Ps 103:1-2); • “You are my God and I will exalt You” (Ps 118:28); • “Father, glorify Your Name” (Jn 12:28); • “Glorify Your Son so that Your Name may be glorified” (Jn 17:1). Unity exalts and glorifies God Rom 15:5,6; Eph 1:5,6
We are to exalt God, worship, praise and serve Him, in and with every part of our lives.
2. ENJOY GOD • “O, taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8). God is to be enjoyed, not endured! • “Delight yourself in the Lord...” (Ps 37:4); • “I delight to do your will, O God...” (Ps 40:8); • “God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (Ps 100:1-5; Ps 101:1; Ps 103: 1-18; 1 Tim 6:17b). God created everything before He created man, partly for man to enjoy all His blessings. Our lives and lips (action and attitudes) should show people we are enjoying God, even when we have to “offer the sacrifice of praise” in the hard times. • “...His good, acceptable and perfect will...” (Rom 12:2). 3. ESTABLISH HIS KINGDOM ON EARTH • “Your Kingdom come...” (Matt 6:10). • The message we are to preach is called “the Gospel of the Kingdom.” (Matt 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mk 1:14,15; Acts 8:12; 20:25; 28:31). • We are called “children of the Kingdom” (Matt 13:38). • We are told to “seek first His Kingdom...” (Matt 6:33). • The Church is the “agency” through which the Kingdom will come on earth. • The Church is not the Kingdom. The Kingdom is bigger than the Church. Through the Church the Kingdom should come into the different sectors of society, i.e. financial, political, media and arts, sports. Wherever a believer finds himself, there the Kingdom should come! 4. ENTHRONE HIM AS KING • “But you, O Lord, sit enthroned for ever” (Ps 102:12,15); • “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His Kingdom rules over all”
• In order for there to be a Kingdom, we need: • A King – Jesus is Lord, our King, our Supreme Master and Owner (1 Cor 6:19,20; Rev 19:16; Rev 1:5);
• Subjects – We are like His subjects (servants) as well as sons. We are to do what He tells us (Lk 6:46; Matt 7:21; Eph 5:23; Col 1:18). • He is the Head – we are the members of His body. Ultimately, He is “head over all” (Eph 1:10,22). 5. EXEMPLIFY CHRIST Song of Solomon 4:12 - 5:7
In Eph 1:14 we read “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight...” God is more concerned with what the Church is, than what the Church does. The Church is to be like Jesus was, when He walked this earth in human form. It is His body. We are to be an example to the world. We are to reflect His Church as well as do what He did.
Ray Stedman: Recently I read of two American men who were riding on a train in Britain. In the compartment with these two men was a very distinguished-looking gentleman. The two Americans were quietly discussing this gentleman. In a very low tone one of them said, “I would wager money that he is the Archbishop of Canterbury.” The other man said, “I don’t think so. I’ll take your wager.” So the first man approached the gentleman, and said, “Sir, would you mind telling us, are you the Archbishop of Canterbury?” The man immediately replied, “Mind your own blankety-blank business. What the blankety-blank difference does it make to you?” So the first American turned to the other and said, “The bet’s off! There’s no way of finding out!”
That’s how bad it has become! No wonder people aren’t interested, and are not turning to the Church for answers.
Jesus came to show us what the Father is like (Jn 1:1-3,14; 14:8,9). Every Word He spoke, every act He performed, said, “This is what God is like” ... healing the sick, touching the lepers, forgiving sins, feeding the multitudes. We, too, should manifest His authority, power, love and forgiveness to a lost world. But before we can do this, we must be united as a body and available to each other.
The potential is seen in Song of Solomon 5:1 – see how Jesus views us. We belong to Him – “I have come into My garden, My sister, My bride...” By virtue of the fact that He made us and purchased us, we are His garden, sweet and precious (S of S 4:13-15).
The problem is something is wrong! (Song of Solomon 4:12). Here He is viewing us as we really are. Our problem is our wrong concept of the Church. We want it to be just Jesus and me! We aren’t interested in allowing others to get too close. When we first get saved, it’s fine. But then others want to get involved in your life. We try to withdraw. Causes result from seeing faults. Causes divide and you get camps of different people. They lose sight of the Kingdom.
The purpose is seen in Song of Solomon 5:1d: “Eat, O friends, and drink; drink your fill...” Plural! It’s no longer Jesus and me! You have to be made aware that you are part of the whole – members of a body! You can’t go around blaming others! Hurts are received – and healing must also be received! We can’t remain “a garden locked up...a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain” (4:12). The gate must be opened. Jesus wants His friends to enjoy your garden – your life. All the sweet fruits and refreshing water of your life. He begins to invite them around! He invites and we kick and shout! “I don’t need you!” “I don’t want you!” “Just give me Jesus!” God can’t allow you to remain withdrawn and self-protected. If you insist, look at what happens: “...my lover has left; He has gone” (S of S 5:5,6). He has withdrawn.
Individualism was never God’s intention. Adam had God, yet God said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” So He gave Adam a partner, Eve. Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered...there I am in the midst.” We need fellowship regularly. Hence the metaphor, “body.” Psychologists have seen this basic need in man. Have you? He can then manifest His love, authority, power and forgiveness to the world through us (Jn 14:12; Eph 1:19b-23). Signs and wonders should follow (Mk 16:15-18). Jesus never did these things as God, but as man dependent upon the Holy Spirit and obedient to the Word of God. We, too, can do these things this way!
6. ENHANCE LIFE BY INFLUENCING THE WORLD We are to be salt and light (Matt 5:13,14). We are to bring a quality of life, not just quantity. We often speak of “eternal life” as though it was only everlasting. Eternal life has to do with quality as well as quantity. The promise of Jesus (Jn 10:10) is “life more abundantly.” He spoke of no longer being thirsty or hungry (Jn 4:14; Is 49:10; 55:1,2).
Quality of life is a result of being rightly related to God (Jn 17:3). He is our Father
(Matt 6:9). We are His children.
What aspects should the new birth touch? (Jn 3:1-18; 2 Cor 5:17). Nicodemus, the man we have just read about, is like so many pastors and sincere, good church attendees today. He believed in God, read his Bible and said his prayers, he even taught religion! Yet, he was still unsure as to whether he would finally make it to heaven. If asked whether he was going to heaven when he died, he would more than likely have said, “Well, I’ve tried my best, kept the commandments as best I could, faithfully attended church, read my Bible. I can only hope that God will allow me in!”
According to Jesus, Nicodemus wasn’t going to make it based on that kind of answer! Jesus said to him, “You must be born again.” The answer staggered Nicodemus, just as it has millions of others since then. He was religious, honest, good, and yet he wasn’t going to heaven according to Jesus! Today there is a swing back to fundamental Christianity. Alcoholics are being set free! Drug addicts are becoming normal again. Broken homes are being restored again. All by this Jesus! The new birth is an experience with God.
Paul on the Damascus road
Paul experienced God and was revolutionised. He was transformed in a moment by the mighty power of God. From a persecutor of the Church, he became a lover of God’s people! He travelled thousands of kilometres, was stoned, went hungry, was threatened, misunderstood, and yet went on “for the love of Christ constrained him.” He was born again. Life for him had been changed.
7. WHAT REALLY BECOMES NEW AT CONVERSION? a) New Lord – Jesus becomes Lord and self gets off the throne (1 Cor 6:19,20). Jesus begins to run our lives. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Lk 6:46). “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father” (Matt 7:21). He is the Head (Eph 5:23; Col 1:18). He lives His Life through me – it is an exchanged life (Gal 2:20). b) New Life – regeneration, not reformation! We often turn over a new leaf. By this we mean we are going to reform – change our life-styles. Reformation isn’t good enough. It is the old me trying to be different. But I remain the same in the eyes of God “for God doesn’t see as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). We don’t need a new leaf, we need a new life. People must notice that we are different. They will then begin to ask the right questions. We can then give them the right answer, “It is Christ that makes me different!”
When touched by Christ, we cannot remain the same. We won’t still steal, swear, lie, blaspheme, deceive, etc. Sinful habits are broken. “No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does right is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s works. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God” (1 Jn 3:6,8,9). “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of Him” (1 Jn 2:29).
We enjoy all the benefits of heirs. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ...” (Rom 8:17; Eph 1:3-14; Gal 3:26-29). (See Gen 12:1-3; 18:18,19; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14; Acts 3:25; Rom 9:6-8; Gal 3:8,9).
c) New Love – We love God supremely. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.” We love one another. This is the supreme proof to men. “By this all men will know ... if you have love” (Jn 13:35). “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness and doesn’t know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 Jn 2:10,11). We begin to become concerned about others. We want to help them even if it is inconvenient. We want to tell them of his love. You don’t keep on fighting back when misused and mistreated. Christ’s love becomes your love. Christ’s life becomes your life. d) New Longings – We long for truth, for His people, for His leaders, for our families. Our partners shouldn’t wonder if we are being faithful to them! Conversion: What? How? When? Where? – Dr H Ironside. “The parishioners asked the pastor to preach a text, “Except you become converted and become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” He readily consented. He thought, “Let me see, how will I divide it? Conversion What? Conversion How? Conversion When? Conversion Where?” He thought of “conversion what?” Well, conversion must be the turning of the heart to God, and he elaborated on that. “Conversion – how?” How is man converted? A little perplexed, he thought, “Well, let me see, how was I converted? Why, I don’t know. I think I’ll pass that just now.” He came to the next part. “Conversion – when ?” “Well, one may be converted as a child, as a youth, or one may be converted in mature years.” But then the thought came constantly to him, “When was I converted? Was I converted when I was a child? I can’t even remember. Well, was I converted when I was a youth? No, I’m sure I was not, for I got far away from God out in the world. No, not as a youth. Was I converted when I came to more mature years? I do not recall.” And so he passed on to the next part: “conversion – where?” It might take place in the home, in the church, or in Sunday school, or out in the open. God is ready to meet men wherever they may be. Then the thought came to him, “Where did it take place with me? Was I converted at home? Was I converted in a church? Have I ever been converted?”
Suddenly, it came to him with tremendous power – I am preaching to other people and have never been converted myself. I don’t know when I was converted. I don’t know where I was converted. I HAVE NEVER BEEN CONVERTED AT ALL! He preached his own sermon to himself, and got down on his knees and told the Lord Jesus that he would trust Him as Saviour.
That was the beginning of a new life and a new ministry! You can’t enhance life if you don’t have it yourself!”
8. ERADICATE THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL (1 Jn 3:8) We must work out what God works in us (Phi 2:12,13). Jesus works His destructive power through us towards the devil and the kingdom of darkness (Eph 1:18-23; 2:10,22; 3:10,20). “In my Name they will drive out demons...” (Mk 16:17). The preaching of the message of the Kingdom must be accompanied by healing and deliverance! (Matt 4:23; 9:25; Acts 8:4-13). Look at what Jesus said His ministry was. (Lk 4:18; Is 61:1-3.) The outworking of Is 61:1-3 is found in vs 4-11.
What are some of the “works of the devil”? Look at Is 61:1-11.
• Poverty (vs 1) – We are to bring the poor good news – He has made us rich (2 Cor 8:9). • Broken-heartedness (vs 1) – We are to “bind up the broken-hearted” (vs 1). • Captivity (vs 1) – We are “to proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners.” • Mourning (vs 2) – We are to “comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve” (vs 2,3). • Ashes – We are to “bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.” Be blessed by all the other things this chapter says and “destroy the works of the devil” in the power of Jesus’ name and by the Holy Spirit. We must be anointed! The anointing breaks the yoke. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder and his yoke from off thy neck and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing” (Is 10:27).
What is the “yoke? “ – anything that hinders, binds or holds you. The yoke of:
• Insecurity; • Fear; • Bitterness; • Dirty thoughts; • Adultery; • Habits, e.g. drugs, alcohol, etc; • Unforgiveness; • Thoughts of failure; • Grief; • Other emotional hurts resulting from death, divorce, desertion, etc.; • Sickness and disease; • Sodomy. What is the anointing? It is the equipping for service, the special enabling and empowering of the Spirit, often associated with the outpouring of the Spirit. King Saul – 1 Sam 10:1-12 NB vs 1,9; David – 1 Sam 16:13; Jesus -61:1; Acts 10:38; Believers – Acts 1:8; 1 Jn 2:20,27; 2 Cor 1:21,22; Zech 4:1-14 NB vs 14.
How do we receive the anointing?
Call – you must be called of God to a “task.” Be sure that God has called you to a thing before you undertake to get involved otherwise you won’t have anointing!
Calling – you must call upon the name of the Lord. “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (delivered)” (Acts 2:21 ). You have to go after God.
Communion – with the Holy Spirit. You must be in friendship and fellowship with the Holy Spirit. In other words, intimacy is needed (Jn 15:4-7).
Co-operate – with the Father. You must be willing to do anything He commands. Jesus did only what the Father told Him to do (Jn 8:23).
Continue – we need continual “re-fillings” with the Spirit. “Be being filled...” (Eph 5:18).
Capacity – different offices carry different anointings and there are different anointings within an office. The more time you spend in His presence, the greater the anointing. To illustrate: there is a difference between a glass and a bucket dipped in the ocean.
How do we lose the anointing?
We lose the anointing through rebellion, a life of constant sin and giving out more than we receive. “If your output exceeds your input, then your upkeep can be your downfall!” Although the anointing is not altogether lost, it doesn’t flow as strongly. “For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable...” (Rom 11:29).
Anointing releases power
“...and the power of the Lord was present for Him to heal the sick...” (Lk 5:17c). What releases this power? Faith releases power. There is an individual (personal) as well as corporate anointing. The faith of the individual needing help can bring power. “...your faith has made you whole” (Matt 9:22). “...according to your faith, be it unto you”
Corporate believing releases faith.
• Congregation – “And He did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith” Matt 13:58); • The elders – “Is anyone of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well...” (James 5:14-15). A sovereign act of God releases power. “An angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side...” (Acts 12:9,12-17). B. HE HAS GIVEN US THE ASCENDED GIFT MINISTRIES TO: 1. EQUIP THE SAINTS (Eph 4:11-16) “…to prepare God’s people for works of service...” (“perfecting” KJV).
The word “perfecting” (prepare) is “Katartismas.” It is used in surgery for setting a broken limb, or putting a joint that is out of place, back into its place. It is used in politics for bringing two opposing factions together in order that the government can go on. This involves pain! People try to avoid pain; they leave broken relationships unresolved and carry that pain for years subconsciously. It is used in fishing for mending nets (Mk 1:19 KJV “mending”; NIV “preparing”). To sum up, it is to prepare a person or persons to be what they should be, in order to function properly.
This presupposes that the saints are not always what they should be. The church and its ministries are there to help us to become that.
The problem can be with authority figures (the Fatherhood of God – Gen 41:51). We often have a distorted view of God because of our earthly parents, teachers, police. God is the Source and cannot run out! People can and do – don’t make them your source, only channels. (See Matt 7:7-11).
There is also a problem of words spoken against and over us. We must forgive those who said these things. We must break the effect of those words. “...whatever you bind...” (Matt 18:18).
2. ENLIST THE SAINTS “for the work of the ministry” (KJV).
This preparation (equipping) takes place in a two-fold way:
a) Study (so that when the Word of God comes to you, you receive). • Sunday meetings; • Home cells; • Bible College; • Private Study; • Quiet Times; • Tapes and books; • By being exposed to both the “logos” and “rhema” word! b) Service (where you “give”). “Study to show thyself approved...” (2 Tim 2:15); 2 Tim 3:15,16,17. Study must result in service otherwise we are deceiving ourselves (James 1:22-25). 2 Tim 3:7 speaks of those who “are ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.”
We are to serve one another (Eph 4:16; Gal 5:13).
All the light and teaching I receive demands consideration, then co-operation and whole-hearted response.
3. EDIFY THE BODY “...so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Eph 4:12).
How do we build up the body? “...as each part does its work” (Eph 4:16). We are to do the things that edify:
• Encourage; • Comfort; • Recognise the gifts and abilities of others; • Correct (discipline); • Carry each other’s burdens; • Pray with and for each other; • Rejoice with one another; • Support each other financially; • Worship and praise together; • Share meals together. Edifying has two main aspects, unity and maturity. Unity (Eph 4:13 “unity in the faith”)
To be united with Christ necessitates being united with one another. “Jesus came to break down the middle wall of partition.” Believers are to build up, not break down, the body. Breaking down is the work of Satan through prejudices (1 Cor 3:1-9), the party-spirit (denomination spirit) (1 Cor 1:10-13), resentment, (Heb 12:15) etc.
Barclay, speaking of the Christian, says: “His aim is always building up, and never the disruption of the Church. His aim is never to make trouble but always to see that trouble does not rear its head. His aim is always to strengthen and never to loosen the fabric of the Church.”
Our desire should be like that of Ruth towards Naomi. “May the Lord do terrible things to me if I allow anything but death to separate us” (Ruth 1:7).
“..in the knowledge of the Son of God” (vs 13).
Doctrine – a true understanding of the Incarnation; what Christ accomplished; our legal standing in Christ – grace; His high priestly ministry, etc.
Person – not just head knowledge but also heart knowledge; spending time with Him, loving and enjoying Him.
Maturity (Eph 4:13 “...and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”)
Christ’s life was two-fold in its power: submission to His Father’s will and dependence upon the Holy Spirit.
Barclay: “The Church can never be content that her members should live decent, respectable lives but they should be examples of perfect Christian manhood and womanhood...In a daring phrase, A.S Gossip used to say that Christ’s aim was to produce in this world a race of christs. The aim of the Church is nothing less than to produce men and women who have in them the reflection of Jesus Himself. A saint has been defined as ‘someone in whom Christ lives again.’ And that is what true church members should be.”
What did Jesus do through His physical body on earth? He exercised authority over Satan, circumstances, sin and self! (Lk 4:18,19.) He did this both physically and spiritually.
4. EVANGELISE (Lk 4:18,19) He came to “seek and save the lost” (Matt 18:11). We, too, must bring the lost to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. “Woe unto me if I preach not...” (1 Cor 9:16). “The harvest is ripe ...pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest that He send forth labourers” (Matt 9:37).
We must learn how to evangelise more effectively. Learn an outline or plan of salvation. Then go! Then with mended nets so that none can swim through the holes, with broken links repaired and dislocated joints restored, we can keep the “fish” that God gives us.
Dawson Trotman, founder of Navigators: “Jesus said, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ No one ever followed Jesus who did not become a fisher of men. If you are not fishing, it is questionable as to how close you are following!”
THE PROPHETIC PROMISES, PRESENCE AND PURPOSES OF GOD
Ez 47:1-12 “...Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”
Unless we are focused on the prophetic purposes of God, we will not experience the fullness of God’s prophetic protection or His prophetic productivity – fruitfulness, fulfilment and abundance.
The strategy of the devil then is to keep one absorbed with oneself, one’s health, one’s family, one’s finances, etc.
If one comes to the meetings, hears the prophecies and preaching, but does not catch God’s prophetic purposes, the larger, wider heart of God, one will remain frustrated and small!
Unless the Church understands God’s prophetic progression (stages), it will slip back into mediocrity and possibly irrelevance!
In other words, when God gives prophetic promises, they need His prophetic presence in order to fulfil His prophetic purposes. Without Him the promises achieve or accomplish nothing or very little at best! Without us He can’t fulfil His promises! (cf Joshua in Josh 1 and Moses in Ex 3:7-12.)
A. A DEFINITION OF ‘PROPHETIC’ “The ability to see, prepare for and become the future.”
Some have not seen what God is doing in Australia. Some of us have had glimpses of what God is doing. Some have seen, but it stops there. Some have seen, begun to prepare, then quit. For some, that is where it ends. It is too big, too awesome, too complicated and too frightening! Others are pushing right through!
Many have spoken about it, some without understanding of its ramifications – the cost and pain. Very few of us knew the cost when we began to sing songs like, “Blessed are those whose strength is in You and are always moving on...” (Ps 84:5-7). This is a prophetic song – foreseeing a glorious Church in Australia. The tune and beat excite some of us, but we don’t understand the implication of the words.
Some of us “saw”, but failed to “prepare for.” Others “saw” and began to “prepare for” but failed to “become” the future – the price was too high.
The prophetic Church is to deal with things in the present that will hinder us “being” in the future! We must deal with these things from a Biblical perspective, integrated with the prophetic prophecies, with the tradition, sacred cows, humanistic deception, sin and compromise in the context of our personal lives, the Church and the nation.
B. BACK TO THE PROPHETIC PROMISES, PRESENCE AND PURPOSES OF GOD. 1. PROPHETIC PROMISES Every beleiver will be a blessing to the nations – not just to their nation. Crisis in your nation will not nullify or postpone God’s prophetic purposes for the church. What He has promised prophetically still holds good. Think back over the years and remember all the prophecies God has given to you. They all still hold good!
“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent (change); has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed and I cannot reverse it” (Nu 23:19,20 spoken by Balaam).
“For all the promises of God in Him are ‘Yes’ and in Him ‘Amen’ to the glory of God through us” (2 Cor 1:20).
2. PROPHETIC PRESENCE Ezek 47:1 the temple – where God dwelt.
Today it is in us – we are His temple, together and corporately!
“your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 6:19);
“we are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor 6:16);
“..you are being built up a spiritual house...” (1 Pet 2:5);
“in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit” (Eph 2:20).
Ezek 47:1 water flowing – the Holy Spirit, God’s presence with us. Water is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Jn 4:14; Jn 7:38). In the midst of crisis and turmoil there is a special sense of the presence of God for those who remember His promises and fulfil His purposes (Is 43:1-7). Israel was God’s servant to accomplish His purpose. This is more than the “promised” presence which we often have to take by faith. It is more than the “general” presence that we as believers experience. It is the “prophetic” presence like that experienced by Daniel in the Lions’ den and Meshach, Shadrach and Abednigo in the fire (Daniel 3:23-25,27; 6:22). First read Daniel 3:16-18.
It is the supernatural enabling to see things through to the end, no matter how difficult they may be. But it only comes when we are focused on the prophetic purposes of God. Jesus found it in Gethsemane when He prayed “not my will but yours be done.” Read Lk 22:39-43, NB vs 43. He found it on the cross – fulfilling God’s purposes. Daniel found it in the den. The three Hebrews found it in the fire. Elisha found it (the double portion) following Elijah. Paul found it – when he was stoned and taken for dead, and also see
2 Cor 6:4-10. Stephen found it (Acts 7:54-60). It is increased through prayer related to the prophetic purposes of God. King Solomon (2 Chron 7:1,2); Moses (Ex 33:12-23).
3. PROPHETIC PURPOSES They are three-fold – penetration, protection and productivity.
a) Penetration (Ezek 47:1) The river was going somewhere – it was flowing from under the threshold. The threshold symbolises a foundation, either of the entrance of the temple (Jesus is the door), or of the Temple itself (Jesus is the Rock).
Both of these images would demand not only Jesus as the foundation, but also that we need to be focused on what Jesus has said (‘logos’) and on what He is now saying (‘rhema’). The river wasn’t static; it was “flowing” in a particular direction. It was going somewhere.
The river was increasing – “ankle deep” (Ezek 47:3); “knee deep” (vs 4); “too deep to cross” (vs 5). God is finding us available to intensify and increase His flow. We are going deeper in ourselves! Penetration is needed!
• Perception – some understanding of what God means by the promises He has given; • Prayer • Praise • Prophesying • Persevering • Patience (Heb 6:12) • Purity – the highway of the Lord is a holy one (Is 35:8). The pure see the Lord and His blessing (Matt 5:8). We must move back to a cross-centred Gospel. • Pastoring – the “Saul-spirited” leader is a “donkey-farmer” and not a “shepherd.” The idolatry of ministry is so prevalent today. There is so little regard for the sheep. Shepherds and sheep are only concerned about their ministry. Shepherds and sheep will drop one another for the sake of their “ministry.” Insecurity and competition are rife among leaders and sheep. We need to humble ourselves and identify with the pain and suffering of the sheep – and the goats. b) Protection There are a number of different Greek and Hebrew words translated “keep,” “kept,” etc. in our English Bible:
Keep (Greek Phulasso) – to keep guard, watch
In Jn 17:12, Jesus says He has “kept” all those the Father gave Him. In Lk 2:8, the shepherds “keep” the sheep. God does this for us. We are the sheep of His pastures (Ps 23). In Acts 12:4, four squads of soldiers “keep” (guard) Peter in prison (also Acts 23:35; 28:16).
“But the Lord is faithful who will establish you and guard you from the evil one”
(2 Thes 3:3). He will keep (guard) us.
“He is able to keep us until that Day” (2 Tim 1:12,14).
“He is able to keep us from falling” (Jude 24).
So from this word “Phulasso” we find that He will:
• Be like a shepherd who would lay down His life – rather die than let the sheep perish! • Keep all those that the Father has given Him; • Keep us like a squadron of soldiers; • Keep us from the evil one; • Keep us through thick and thin until that day; • Keep us from falling and present us faultless. But we must: • Keep ourselves from idols (Acts 21:25; 1 Jn 5:21); • Keep all that has been committed to our trust (1 Tim 6:20). We do this “by His Spirit” – His power (2 Tim 1:14). Keep (Greek Diaphulasso) – to guard thoroughly
“He shall give His angels charge over you to keep you” (Lk 4:10). This ties up with
Keep (Hebrew Raah) – to feed, keep sheep
Rachel kept sheep (Gen 29:9). She came to water them at the end of the day.
Moses kept the sheep of Jethro (Ex 3:1).
David, who killed a lion and bear, kept sheep (1 Sam 16:11; 1 Sam 17:34).
Keep (Hebrew Shamar) – to be preserved, to keep, take heed
“When the army goes out against your enemies, then keep yourself from every wicked thing” (Deut 23:9). We are to keep ourselves from every wicked thing.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Nu 6:24). This carries the thought of strong power coupled with tender care like in the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:15) and like the promise made to Jacob in his dream (Gen 28:15).
Keep (Greek Hupopiazo) – to keep down, press under
“I keep under my body and bring it into subjection” (1 Cor 9:27).
Keep (Greek Tereo) – to watch, observe
“Keep yourself in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ...” (Jude 21).
“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep these things which are written in it...” (Rev 1:3).
“And he who overcomes and keeps My words until the end, to him I will give power over the nations...” (Rev 2:26).
Rev 3:8,10; 12:17; 14:12; 16:15; 22:7,9.
Keep (Greek Phroureo) – to keep, to guard
“The peace of God...will guard (keep) your hearts” (Phi 4:7).
“...who are kept by the power of God” (1 Pet 1:5).
In order to be protected (kept), we must be healed. Ezek 47:7; Rev 22:1-2; Ezek 47:8 “rivers...water...” Healing (vs 8b,9,12), refreshing (vs 8b), life-giving (vs 9a,c). Referring again to “trees”, they are for:
• Healing (vs 7); • Food (vs 12b); • Refreshing (vs 12c); • Fruitfulness (vs 12d); • Medicine (vs 12e). What are the things that hurt and harm us? We feel insignificant: “I’m not important.”
Even the greatest Christian faces this. We never arrive at a place of feeling that everything about ourselves is always important.
The value we attach to our effectiveness in ministry:
Even the pastors of great, big churches wonder how real the blessing is, and how long it will last. We all feel “unfruitful” at times. But every seed sown, deed done, even a cup of cold water given in the name of Jesus is effective and will be rewarded. God sees it all.
We face unceasing temptation.
We all face the tyranny of unrelenting temptation, coupled with the fear of failure since we are aware of human weakness. We wonder if we will remain faithful.
We face the tension of strife and seeking to maintain relationships.
These tensions are the works of the devil. Husband/wife relationships; parent/children relationships; shepherd/sheep relationships; employer/employee relationships; friendships – sheep with sheep, friend with friend.
We face the sustained pressure of personal needs.
These may be related to finances, sickness and pain.
Remember, Lk 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (2 Cor 8:1-15)
In all these things God promised to keep us!
c) Productivity (Ezek 47:7-11) “fish... exceedingly many” (vs 10d).
That which stays “safe on the banks” stagnates and dies! (vs 11).
Ez 33:1-11 “...Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me...”
WHAT IS GOD DOING TODAY?
• Restoring praise and worship • Signs and wonders • Evangelism • Unity • Reconciliation across races and language groups • Recognition of Ephesian 4 ministries • Bringing the Kingdom of God into education; the media and arts; social issues; the economic and political arena and the sporting field. He is purifying and cleansing His Church in preparation for that great Wedding Feast. Through whom is God doing these things? “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:9,10). This was no afterthought but carefully planned in advance. We are not creatures of chance! (Eph 1:11, 3:8-12).
We need our eyes opened to see this in our spirits (Eph 1:17-23; 3:16-20).
What is the devil doing? He is opposing what God is doing! If God is doing it through the Church then the devil will be opposing the Church (Eph 6:12-18 with Eph 2:10). How does he do this? Does he do it by getting us to live a life of sin again? This is very unlikely to happen, so he does it by getting us discouraged! When we are discouraged, we don’t praise and worship, we don’t see a flow of signs and wonders, we don’t witness and evangelise, we criticise and attack, which results in division, etc.
We need to keep our spirits buoyant and be involved in what God is doing, joyfully exercising faith – not becoming intolerant of other models and moves. We have a mission to fulfil. We need to see it clearly and do it joyfully. Someone has said: “A vision without a task produces a visionary; a task without a vision produces drudgery; but a vision with a task produces a missionary.”
God never does anything without first revealing His acts to the prophets. (Amos 3:7; Is 42:9; Amos 3:4; Mt 18:19). We must “see” what He is doing, catch a vision of it, get involved and keep in faith (Prov 29:18 “Where there is no vision...”). Vision is essential to success in the Christian life. A Christian without vision will never be successful. A vision is essential for personal discipline, e.g. an athlete’s whole life is determined by his vision – what he wants to achieve, what he eats, what he does, the friendships he keeps, when he sleeps, etc. These are all determined by his vision. If you have a vision you’ll pay the price. Without a vision, you won’t.
Just hearing about what God is doing isn’t enough. Then we make rules (religion). Rules (religion) don’t restrain people. Vision does! We need a revelation from God – that’s where being prophetic starts!
A. PROPHETIC What does it mean to be prophetic?
A definition of personal prophecy: “God’s revelation of His intentions for a person, persons, family or group of people.
Dennis Bennett: “It is speaking the mind of God, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and not from our own thoughts...it is supernatural speech in a known language.”
In the context I am speaking of, “It is the ability to see, prepare for and be (or become) the future.” Terry Virgo: “A prophetic person is one who is totally alive to world issues and yet totally sold out to God’s perspective.”
We are called to be prophetic. There is a ‘Church’ within the Church. Zion was in Jerusalem.
Exposure: The prophetic Church cannot be restricted (or limited) to the gift of prophecy. It embraces both gift and ministry.
The Church is to deal with things in the present that will hinder us ‘being’ in the future. In other words, it must deal with sin, compromise, tradition and humanistic deception in the context of our lives and the lives of the Church. “But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So, he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!’” (1 Cor 14:24,25). There are no more absolutes in the Church. We are too scared to call sin, “sin.” We never say, “that’s wrong!” Or “you can’t do that!”
We have been called by Jesus to deal with sin. We call sin by other names – sickness, weakness, faults, hang-ups, disposition, etc. We blame our past, our parents, etc. Just because we understand the mechanisms of human behaviour doesn’t excuse people from that behaviour. I made a decision to let most hurtful situations hurt me. And so I must make a decision to accept the blame for this sin, and make a decision to be healed and delivered.
Much of this is a result of our desire to be free of legalism. But it has gone too far. Being prophetic demands an appreciation of the absolutes of God and perception to know what was only for a season. There are some things that are eternal. They don’t always change: His attitude towards His people – they are holy; His attitude towards the lost - He loves them; His attitude towards worldliness – He hates it and says that those who want to be friends of the world are enemies of God! Sin is still sin.
He winked at some of these things in the past but now we are in danger of losing the power once again. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit embraces both power and purity (Acts 2:2-4 with Acts 18:8,9). John Wimber: “The Church today in many respects has lost its savour. It’s not salt and light. But the source that could make it salt and light is still pure as ever. And we can go to Him and receive from Him and experience the cleansing.”
As a by-product of dealing with sin and compromise in our own lives and that of the Church, we will deal with sin in the world. We must first harmonise with God, get the vertical right, before we can harmonise with each other and get the horizontal right. Being prophetic has to do with unity – harmony (Amos 3:3,7). We must harmonise with God and have the same burden, same involvement, same purpose and same standards. When we do so, we will more naturally begin to harmonise with one another. God doesn’t speak with two voices! The Church won’t come to unity until it shares God’s vision. Therefore, we need “watchmen on the walls.” (Is 52:7-9, NB vs 8,9 “together” – harmonising).
B. PURPOSE The prophetic Church is more concerned with conformity to the purpose of God than for the comfort of the people of God. (Consider the example of Elijah in James 5:17 - “no rain”.) It frustrates prophets not to see the glory of God in the Church. They know what He wants to happen in the Church. That’s why they often have to tear down things that are not foundational (Jer 1:9,10), not for the purpose of destroying, but for the purpose of building up again so that God’s glory can once again be seen (Eph 3:10). “His intent was that now, through the Church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known...” These things are equally true for the prophetic Church!
Prophets don’t carry their own burden, but the burden of the Word God has given them. People try to stop them, criticising or pacifying them, but the burden just won’t go away. They know what is fundamentally wrong (Ez 33:10,11). Only delivering the burden and seeing change will do that! Jer 20:9 “...His word is in my heart like a burning fire, shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot.”
C. THE PROPHET’S FOUNDATION IS AN APPRECIATION OF THE AUTHORITY OF GOD He stands upon this. He sees the Lord as pre-eminent, far above all rule, authority, power. John Duke: “The prophet’s mandate was that he came from God. His ministry was that he came for God – not for himself. He had no personal axe to grind. The message was not his own. He had no agenda of his own. He carried the burden of the Lord – or rather it carried him.”
He, therefore, realises his accountability is to God. That’s why he could address kings, governors and priests with the word of God. This sense of accountability no longer grabs the heart of the Church. We rip the sheep off. We promise them the earth, not realising we will “have to give an account of every idle word uttered” (Matt 12:36). Much of what we do is expedient, not edifying or God-exalting. Even in the name of unity! Many link-up with men and movements out of expediency and not out of genuine God-called and God-honouring relationships.
D. EXPECTATION – THE PROPHETIC CHURCH IS TO BE A SIGN OF THE SEASON TO COME Apostolic Christianity was prophetic from the beginning. The Christians of the Book of Acts were a sign of things to come. Paul was a prophetic statement of the Church age. He forsook “religion” with all its prejudices and traditions. He began to build a Kingdom Church that embraced both Jew and Gentile, bond and free, male and female, rich and poor, educated and uneducated. The churches he built were to be the same. The churches we build are to be the same! Forging and fashioning the way through. Just as we find ourselves looking to the New Testament Church for guidance, so others should be looking to us for guidance today. Then when the politicians, media, etc., come to us for guidance we can speak with authority. But they are coming too soon! We are not ready for them. The standard is too low! Therefore, we are not seeing effective change in the nations.
The prophets (and prophetic Church) are normally looking into the future and therefore, trying to change the present. The result is that they normally spoil our fun!
E. PROCESS What is a prophetic church doing?
Proclaiming – challenging the Church and nation; comforting both!
Praying – David Pawson: “Prophetic prayer is honest. It doesn’t pray prayers but tells God the truth.”
Praising – declaring what God has done thankfully; declaring what He will do – in faith; celebrating who and what He is (jubilation).
Participating – priesthood of all believers; ministry in diversity; leadership in plurality; team, not individuals; building what will last beyond the present leadership.
Preparing – for the future and for the Lord’s Coming.
Planning – occupy until I come – setting goals; knowing when to implement the next phase; training up leadership; equipping the saints; maturing the body.
Progressing – constantly being changed (Rom 12:1,2; 2 Cor 3:17,18); constantly willing to change – even the direction of our church and our traditions; responding to all that God is restoring. “He (Jesus) must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He has promised long ago through His holy prophets” (Acts 3:21).
It takes prophets to make the Church prophetic
They receive the revelation; they are the “seers” of future events; then with the other Gift Ministries, we can prepare for what they see.
Prophets were so different
In their presentation:
Jeremiah was the weeping prophet.
Isaiah was a factual prophet.
Amos – a shepherd.
Isaiah – from the palace.
Elijah – from the desert.
The way they dressed:
Isaiah – fine clothes.
John the Baptist – skins.
Elijah – a fine mantle.
So, too, with the prophetic Church
There is plenty of room for variety but many are trying to force us in to one mould under one human leadership. This is not prophetic! Yet the prophets had one thing in common – the glory of God!
There is a four-fold restoration taking place now: Purification, power, prayer (intercession) and participation.
The process of purification has begun in the Church and in the world. In the Church, it started with the high visibility leaders and it will filter down to rank-and-file church members.
John Wimber: “The kingdom of the world will get darker and darker with sin becoming more sinful. But at the same time, the Church is going to become stronger and more victorious, because through suffering, our faith is perfected.”
We will see things we have never seen before. Miracles will become common-place. It won’t happen quickly but there is a process taking place. Once it starts it will be rapid. It will be with groups of people, not just individuals.
Out of these the move of unity, apostolic Christianity, the building of the Church and establishing the Kingdom will gain new impetus, credibility and direction. The smaller leaders will begin to emerge as the new leaders. We rose up, “helped God” and birthed an Ishmael! God will break down man-made, man-centred, man-exalting unity and authority and give us Abrahamic, Christ-centred unity.
The Tragedy of the “last move” Prophets
1 Kings 13 – the unnamed prophet.
He is courageous – prophesies against the altar at Bethel saying it will crumble (vs 2); prophesies of restoration under Joshiah (vs 2). Jeroboam tries to silence him (vs 4); he stretches out his hand and it shrivels up (vs 4); prophet prays and king’s hand is restored (vs 6). The tragedy of the old prophet is that he claims to have a word from God that contradicts the one he had received (vs 8-9). He compromises! (vs 19). In vs 20-24, disaster happens. Some are trying to do this to us today!
Be careful, be fruitful, be obedient, be prophetic!
HOW DOES GOD MAKE OUR NAME GREAT?
Gen 12:1-3 “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’”
There is a great difference between human and divine covenants. Human covenants are mutual, voluntary agreements or promises, usually between two parties, e.g. Abraham and Abimelech (Gen 21:22-32); David and Jonathan (1 Sam 20:8); Joshua and Israel (Jos 24:25). Both sides mutually agree to the terms.
Divine covenants are binding contracts sovereignly established by God. There are, as in human covenants, two parties. However, there is no mutual agreement of terms. It is a one-way matter. God alone makes the promises and sets the terms. These covenants may or may not carry a human obligation. Where there is no human obligation God will fulfil His promise. Where there is human obligation, if man breaks covenant, God may not fulfil His promise. This Gen 12:1-3 covenant seems to be a bit of both – no obligation and yet human obligation.
Look at it. The promises contained in vs 2-3 appear to be unconditional. Why then have so few people been so highly blessed, if there is no obligation on our side? Surely God is then to blame. I think the answer lies in vs 1. I was asking God why so few have truly had Him make their name great and what it really means to have this great name. Here are some things I feel He showed me. Remember, everything we receive, become or achieve is by God’s grace – undeserved! But we must co-operate with the Holy Spirit otherwise God’s grace becomes invalid! (2 Cor 6:1-10).
Data comes to conscious mind
A. WE MUST HAVE A HEART REVELATION OF OUR EXALTED POSITION IN CHRIST. JESUS CHRIST HAS BEEN GIVEN THE GREATEST NAME. “He became as much superior to the angels as the name He has inherited is superior to theirs” (Heb 1:4)
“Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name...” (Phi 2:9)
“And on His robe and on His thigh He has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Rev 19:16)
We are in Him. We are seated in Christ in the place of supreme authority. This is where it starts. This must become heart knowledge. “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus...” (Eph 2:6). To desire to see your “name made great” without genuine heart knowledge of this truth will end up hurting both yourself and others. (Eph 1:18-23).
B. WE MUST BECOME CONSUMED WITH THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT IN ITS ENTIRETY. In other words we must see and be taken up with not just one or two parts of this covenant, but all parts (Gen 12:1-3). This covenant is made up of a number of parts but you can’t select isolated parts – it’s all or nothing!
1. A willingness to pay any price to go anywhere should God lead or command. “The Lord had said to Abram (Gen 12:1): • Leave your country (country); • your people (nationality); and • your father’s house (family); • and go to the land I will show you (unknown and unfamiliar, strangers).” Do you believe that what God had promised Abraham would have been experienced by Abraham if he had not gone? I doubt it. For us the Abrahamic Covenant finds endorsement in the Great Commission of Matt 28:18-20. Look at Gen 12:4: “So Abraham left, as the Lord had told him.” 2. A willingness to pay the price of growth. “I will make you into a great nation...” (Gen 12:2): • God will do it, but it will also cost us! • There is an inconvenience that comes with growth. • People begin to gather around us and make demands. • They sometimes bicker, fight, criticise, etc. They criticised Moses as a leader; the early Church was attacked (Acts 6). The administration of the Church needs improvement. All of this means more hard work, training others, holding them accountable, delegating responsibility and authority. And the buck always stops with the leader! Most of us would like a big church (a great nation) but few of us want the added workload and responsibility. 3. A willingness to be blessed (Gen 12:2b). Blessing carries obligation. It demands: Commitment:
People, especially leaders, generally don’t like to make a commitment. You try to get them to make a medium-to-long term commitment, setting some goals for their lives that can be monitored, i.e. to lose weight or learn a Bible verse per week. It either requires too much effort or they are afraid to expose themselves to the risk of failure. Very often they want God to do for them what they are just too lazy to do for themselves. What are you doing about preparing and equipping yourself for greatness? Abraham Lincoln said: “I will study and prepare and my opportunity will come.” We need to be committed to:
• Prayer – waiting upon God for guidance, enabling, His ways. • Preparation – of administration skills to cope with growth; of sermons that will feed and motivate those God gives us; of leaders who can help carry the momentum and burden of responsibility; financially in tithing and sowing. This is a life-time commitment to a life-time task (Call). Responsibility:
A wealthy industrialist was preparing to retire and hand over to his son. He had founded the organisation fifty years before. His son was elated, because of the tremendous wealth and power involved and the thought of eventually selling out and enjoying the ‘good life.’ As the preparation for transfer came closer the father spent some time sharing his thoughts and giving some advice. He also shared with his son some of the heartaches, disappointments and joys over the past fifty years. Sometimes this required working late into the night. He talked about the early days when, together with sons of his employees, they worked shoulder to shoulder as friends. He explained that he even knew the names of the wives and children and even some of the grandchildren of his employees. He told how they had shared problems and joys together, sometimes weeping, at other times laughing. “Some of the people who started with me in the beginning are still working for me today. Others, including their sons and daughters, and even grandchildren, are working for us today in this organisation. Although it is a huge company with many facets of production and marketing, I still know many of them by their first names.”
There was a deep silence as if the father wanted the weight of those words to sink into his son’s mind, and then he added. “There will be no work for the staff tomorrow morning, because after the handing-over ceremony, the official speeches and signing of documents, I have arranged for the complete staff to stand in a long line, and I will take you down that line and introduce you to each person as the new president of this giant organisation. And my son,” his father continued, “as I introduce you to them in your new position of power and wealth, I want you to take each hand and hold it firmly and look deeply into each person’s eyes. As you hold their hands, repeat continually to yourself as you go down the line, with every person, ‘I am responsible for you...I am responsible for you...I am responsible for you...’”
“It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Cor 4:2).
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Lk 12:48).
“...men will have to give account on the day of judgement for every careless word they have spoken” (Matt 12:36).
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” (Lk 16:10-12).
If you do not give, you do not get! It’s as simple as that.
4. Criticism and how to cope with it: Blessing brings with it a host of critics. People will criticise your theology, lifestyle, the way you speak, that you are stealing sheep when all you are doing is “growing greener grass”, the way you dress, the kind of car you drive, the house you live in, etc.
They will criticise your leadership style – dictator! Too soft!
Most leaders won’t pay the price of criticism. They start to justify themselves and their action. They defend their reputation. Jesus didn’t! “He was led as a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before her Shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth” (Is 53:7).
“When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly” (1 Pet 2:23).
Paul said, “We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world” (1 Cor 4:12,13).
If Jesus had defended Himself at Calvary, there would be no salvation for mankind!
We must be willing to become channels through whom God can touch the world. This willingness must include my wife, children, neighbours, city, country and world. It includes all nations. We too often hold on to the blessing God gives, be that in the form of:
• Truth gained and understood, unless it is to parade knowledge; • Finances; • Material goods like our homes and cars; • People in our church or home cell. We must be willing to make all available and to sow into the nations.
C. WE MUST LET CHRIST’S MIND BE IN US “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus...” (Phi 2:5-11 NIV). This is the crux of the issue.
He did not grasp for it (Phi 2:6)
God makes our name great, not we ourselves. Examples are Joseph (Gen 45:8); David (2 Sam 7:8,9); Jereboam (1 Kings 14:7,8).
Other scriptures: “The Lord sends poverty or wealth; He humbles and He exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honour...It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the Lord will be shattered...He will give strength to His King and exalt the horn of His anointed” (1 Sam 2:7-9); Ps 75:6,7; “Praise be to the Name of God – He sets up Kings and deposes them” (Dan 2:21).
Man is a strange being – He either avoids greatness like the plague or grasps for it like the supreme prize. Some are scared of it. Others chase after it. Both are wrong!
Greatness is promised to all of us – every child of Abraham. (Gen 12:1-3; Gal 3:14,16,29). God promises it and yet tells us not to seek it. “Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not” (Jer 45:5). See Lk 14:7-11 NB vs 11. He makes our Names great – in His time.
He went further – He made Himself of no reputation (Phi 2:7a)
“...Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time” (1 Pet 5:5,6).
This word “made” (Greek Kenoo) means “to empty.” Christ did not empty Himself of the Godhead. He did not cease to be what He essentially and eternally was. He chose to take the lower way and yet remained what He was. We, too, must choose the lower way (empty ourselves) but that won’t change what we essentially are – great. I think that the following scriptures express it well: Matt 20:24-28; Matt 23:11; Lk 14:7-11.
He went further – He took the form of a servant (Phi 2:7b)
1 Pet 5:1-4
Paul saw himself as a “doulos” – bond slave. Not only of Jesus, but of everyone! (1 Cor 9:19-23 NB vs 19).
He went further – he came in the likeness of man (Phi 2:7c)
Don’t be afraid to show your humanity. Don’t try to be super-human or super-spiritual. Don’t try to cover your tracks nor have an explanation and excuse for your mistakes. Be human.
See Ezekiel’s vision – four faces of a leader (Ez 1:5-10)
• Man – what we are always; • Lion – leader, strong; • Ox – worker; • Eagle – worshipper. He went even further – His humility resulted in sacrificial obedience (Phi 2:8c) What do you believe to be your full potential as a leader? You might be a pastor – is this what you believe you will always be? Or will you become an apostle or teacher? What will you achieve? If you are a pastor, what size are you able genuinely to care for? What size leadership do you need? If you are an apostle, how many churches can you plant? Educationally, what will you achieve? At what age do you intend to reach that potential? Forgetting all your weaknesses and all the hindrances, accept that God’s plans for you are good (Jer 29:11). How close, or how far, are you from that potential? What steps will you take to get there? This involves honest assessment of laziness, unbelief, impatience, and what you intend doing to deal with these issues. It then involves positive steps to be taken to be in the place that God can honour you.
Ps 84 sums it up: “..Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength till each appears before God in Zion...better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favour and honour; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in You.”
DELIVERANCE FROM RELIGIOUS CONTROL IN GOD’S CHURCH
How to be free of spiritual manipulation
Eph 5:22-27 “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Also 1 Pet 5:1-6).
The Gospel of Jesus Christ (the Good News) is that we are to be set free from all bondage and to stay free!
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor...” (Isaiah 61:1-3). The anointing is to set us free! Even the Jew who allowed himself to become a slave was to be set free every 7 years (Ex 21:2). God’s command to Pharaoh, the dictator, cruel taskmaster, was “let My people go.” Jesus said, “truth sets us free” (Jn 8:32). Jesus sets us free indeed (Jn 8:36). We are “free from the law” (Rom 7:3; 8:21). We are “to stand fast in the freedom.” (Read Gal 5:1; 5:13; 4:24-31).
A. GOD DESTINED US FOR FREEDOM! That freedom is expressed:
• Through our relationship with Jesus (1 Jn 3:8). • Through the Church – our relationships with one another. • Into the world. B. THE DEVIL IS DETERMINED TO BRING US BACK INTO BONDAGE! Through the abuse of grace
The devil is determined to bring us back into bondage through the abuse of grace! (1 Cor 6:12; 10:23-11:1). You must be able to see the value of abstinence or participation, from the heart, otherwise you are being brought into bondage, and as a result, under control!
Example: Me with the Home Cell Leaders.
In the life of our friends, family or church!
The very channel in and through which God wants your freedom to be experienced and expressed can bring you back into bondage! Many church members, husbands, wives and children, friends, are being manipulated, controlled, shamed into certain behavioural patterns, that ensnare them into legalism, guilt and service!
Through the abuse of authority
Authority is there to keep people free, not bring them into bondage! Truth is authority and God’s Word is true authority. Here are some of these deceptive ways:
Some of these are spoken and unspoken.
Certain standards that are not in the Bible, e.g. going to the movies, liquor, dress codes or make-up.
Behavioural patterns and/or religious dogma that make our church or denomination look less than perfect. Don’t challenge what the leader says! We are never allowed to disagree with the pastor! That’s rebellion!!
Unhealthy leadership authority
Husbands forever reminding the wife that they are the head of the home! Pastors forever reminding the people that they have authority! Leaders overruling the father in the home!
Giving in to this will bring you into bondage, release something that is spiritually unhealthy, possibly even witchcraft! Eventually it will rob you of joy, your relationship with God, your energy and a desire to serve.
Abusive spiritual systems are preoccupied with the performance of their members. Why didn’t you...? Where were you...? Wives hold out (sexually) on their husbands. Husbands hold out on support for their wives. Parents withhold love from their kids. Kids withhold obedience and respect from their parents.
Obedience, submission and loyalty are key words often used! But the Bible teaches us that He first looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:7). He doesn’t want us doing the right things for the wrong reasons!
Example 1: The apostles disobeyed rulers, but God was pleased (Acts 5:27-29).
Example 2: Small boy in dentist’s waiting room.
An obsession with guarding the truth. If anything stretches their comfort zones, it is regarded as “new age.”
They elevate objective truth to the exclusion of valid subjective experience. They acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit theologically, but on a practical level it is suspect, or even denied. This system limits God to act only in ways we can explain or prove, within the limitations of our theology!
Here, truth is evaluated on the basis of feelings and experiences. They are given more weight than what the Bible declares. They receive special revelation and subtly imply that your lack of spirituality is the reason why you don’t understand. They begin to control people from a place of superiority – revelational knowledge – as they share prophecies and visions.
Loyalty at any cost!
Some people are more loyal to their religious systems or their spouse, than to truth! “Other churches won’t understand!” “Don’t let others know about this otherwise they will mock us.” “You can’t leave us or you will backslide” – scare tactics. People are made public examples in order to send a message to those who remain – ensuring allegiance.
Leaders tell people that this is their secret and they abuse them. Paedophiles swear children to secrecy, or threaten them with violence, or offer rewards for silence!
C. HOW TO GET FREE This demands facing the truth about the system, or spouse, or friend and about oneself. We have been brainwashed! We have allowed it to happen to us, possibly out of our need for acceptance – man-pleaser!
You can’t just slip away. If you do, it will start again. You have to let the devil (who is behind it all) know that you have had enough. If it is a religious system, go to the leaders and tell them what you feel. If it is your friend or spouse, share your heart with them. If you have been sexually abused you must bring it out in the open. If you are still young, tell your parents so that they can deal with it.
Demands a “breaking with”
If it is a church or denomination, you will have to leave. You can’t allow yourself to stay under a spirit of witchcraft. Grace is the important issue here. Staying may prop up what God is trying to bring down. If it is a spouse, tell them that although you love them, and want to submit, you won’t go further than the scriptural authority, i.e. God, His Word and your spouse – or parents.
D. DEMANDS KEEPING FREE When someone tries to control you again, tell them straight, “This is manipulative, I can’t allow this in my life!”
It demands sticking with the Word!
THE GLORIOUS PRIVILEGE OF BEING A CHRISTIAN
Haggai 2:2-9 “ ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
The early days of Coastlands in Adelaide were glorious. There was excitement, enthusiasm, anticipation and faith for great things. God’s desire is for it to get better! What we have experienced up until now is so small and pales into insignificance compared to what He wants to do! Haggai 2:2-9, in its New Testament context, will have ever-rising, ever-increasing fulfilment. Look at 2 Cor 3:7-18. God will add His blessing to us now. Then He will add more later and it will be glorious. Then He will add even more later and it will be even more glorious...And so it goes on! What a glorious future.
Satan will try his best to stop it through discouragement, division, doubt and more subtle things like settling down, self-absorption, rules and regulations.
We are looking at the glorious privileges of being a Christian in the context of the Biblical assumption that (and this Bible does assume that there will be) there will be an ever-rising, ever-increasing expression and manifestation of the glory of God in the midst of His people (2 Cor 3:7-18).
Haggai 2:2-9, in its New Testament context (2 Cor 3:7-18), expresses the “latter”, the “present” or “later” glory is to be far greater than the “former.” The glory of the Old Covenant cannot be compared with the glory of the New Covenant. The glory of the day of Pentecost cannot be compared with the “latter rain.” The glory of life in God on earth can’t be compared with the glory of life in heaven. The glory of the early days of Coastlands in its present form, cannot be compared with the glory to come, if we don’t get side-tracked and settle down.
But Satan will try his utmost to stop the “ever-increasing glory” taking place through:
• Discouragement. • Division – in our ranks over prayer versus praise; music should be soft or loud; prosperity versus poverty as a sign of spirituality; some meetings aren’t important! • Doubt – about whether I and/or God can do it. • Settling down – thinking we have arrived – pride! • Self-absorption – not getting behind the vision of our corporateness. • Rules and regulations – religion in the guise of purity, holiness, (wrong motivation!) To explain religion and its motivation, read Jn 14:23: “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching.” Most of us interpret that as meaning “in order to prove you love Me, you must obey.” I think it means, “as a result of your love for Me you will keep My commandments.” An altogether different motivation – one is “in order to get” and the other is “because of.” Ezek 36:24-27 “cause you” (KJV); “move you to” (NIV). “For it is God who works in you to will and to (do) act according to His good purpose” (Phi 2:13). What is the “glory” of God?
W E Vine: (New Testament) “Doxa” primarily signifies an opinion, estimate, and hence, the honour resulting from a good opinion. It is used:
• Of the nature and acts of God in self-manifestation, i.e. what He essentially is and does; • Of the character and ways of God as exhibited through Christ to and through believers (2 Cor 3:18; 4:6); • of brightness and splendour – as it emanates from God (as in the Shekinah glory, in the pillar of cloud and in the Holy of Holies). • It is also used of “good reputation, praise, honour.” (Old Testament) “Kabod” with the root of “heaviness – weight” or “worthiness.” It denotes the revelation of God’s being, nature and presence to mankind, sometimes with physical phenomena. In the Pentateuch, the glory of Yahweh went with His people out of Egypt, shown in the cloud which led them (Ex 16:7,10). It rested on Mt Sinai where Moses saw God’s glory (Ex 14:). The glory of Yahweh filled the tabernacle and appeared especially at the hour of sacrifice (Lev 9:6,23).
It is the honour resulting from a good opinion; His acts and nature in self-revelation at any time and in any way He should choose; brightness and splendour; the revelation of His being, nature and presence to us, mostly, but not always, in physical phenomena. In Jesus (Jn 1:14); at Cana (Jn 2:11); the resurrection of Lazarus (Jn 11:4,40); Christ’s resurrection (Rom 6:4); His ascension and exaltation (1 Pet 1:21); the Mount of Transfiguration (2 Pet 1:17); His Second Coming will be glorious (Matt 24:30). Affliction prepares...glory...for us! (2 Cor 4:15).
It does not point to one particular attribute or act, but to the greatness of His entire nature. Eternity is an “eternal glory” (2 Cor 4:17) but for now we are talking about “glory” in time.
I believe that, rather than struggle towards it, as we recognise, honour, appreciate and acknowledge the glory we have experienced up until now, God will be able to release more, and we will ensure that we live in the “ever-increasing glory.” And so we must grasp our great privileges as well as and not only responsibilities.
The Christian life is one of both glorious privilege and great responsibility. We are a peculiar people, a church within a Church! God is building a glorious Church! (Hag 2:4-12).
A. THE PRIVILEGE (1 PET 2:4-12) “As you come to Him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ...” (vs 4,5)
1. ACCESS (vs 4 “as you come to Him...”) In salvation:
He searched for us and drew us unto Himself, before we searched for Him. “...while we were yet sinners, Christ died ..” (Rom 5:8); Rom 3:24; NB Rom 5:2.
It was all grace.
On-going, as Christians:
Eph 1:3-14 NB vs 7 “grace”
Eph 2:4-22 NB vs 18 “access”
It is a privilege to have access to God, to pray, praise, etc. It is not a burden!
2. LIVING STONES (vs 5a – being built into a spiritual house) Living stones have the life of God in them!
“I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal 2:20). An exchanged life, supernatural in both its origin and outworking! Believers are living stones in His building. Jesus said, “I will build My church...” Each time someone trusts Christ for salvation, another stone is quarried out
of the pit of sins and cemented by grace into the building. What a privilege we have to be a part of His church, “a dwelling in which God lives through His Spirit.”
Stones – not 9 x 3 identical, boring bricks! God respects and honours our individuality and differences! After all, He made us different! God uses our diversity and differences. He did the same with the prophets. Although the prophetic message was always consistent, it came through Isaiah differently from the way it came through Jeremiah. Don’t try to be someone else!
These “living stones” (different in size, ability, anointing, gifting, etc.) are to be “cemented into” (relationships), “built into a spiritual house” – a dwelling of God (vs 5), not following the pattern of the world, or business, nor the traditions of those who went before us. Not relying upon the arm of the flesh but rather, learning the way of God, dynamic, in step with the Holy Spirit. How we need to cultivate sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. This comes about when He becomes precious to us.
It is a privilege to be living stones – bearing the life of God within, not all the same, not a burden!
3. .HOLY AND ROYAL PRIESTHOOD (1 Pet 2:5,9) We are a “holy” and a “royal Priesthood.” This corresponds to the heavenly Priesthood of our Lord. He is both King and Priest (Heb 7:1-3). In the Old Testament period, God’s people had a priesthood. In the New Testament, we are a priesthood. Each individual believer has the privilege of coming into the presence of God (Heb 10:19-25). We don’t come through an earthly mediator, be it a church, pastor, apostle, husband, parent, etc. We can only come through the one mediator, Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:1-8). Because He is alive in glory, interceding for us, we can minister as holy priests.
Each Old Testament priest had a different ministry to perform. No one in Israel could serve at the altar, or enter the tabernacle or temple Holy Place except those born into the tribe of Levi and consecrated to God for service. We are all priests, born into God’s tribe with a changed priesthood (Heb 7:11-13, NB vs 13).
Each Old Testament priest had to serve under the High Priest. We submit to our Great High Priest Jesus, who guides and directs us.
Peter mentions some of the privileges (and responsibilities) of offering spiritual sacrifices. Christians don’t bring animal sacrifices as did the Old Testament worshippers but we do have our own sacrifices to present to God:
• Our bodies, as living sacrifices (Rom 12:2); • The praise of our lips (Heb 13:15); • Good works we do for others (Heb 13:16); • Money and other material things we share with others (Phi 4:10-20); • Even the people we win to Christ are sacrifices to His glory (Rom 15:16); • Making ourselves available for leadership. God has given Coastlands a vision of homecells in every suburb of Adelaide; that would be hundreds of cells! There is a bottleneck needing to be broken so this can become a reality. All of these sacrifices are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. If we do any of this for our own pleasure or glory, then it will not be accepted as a spiritual sacrifice! Israel was to be an influence for godliness, a positive influence on the nations around. They were to become “a kingdom of priests” (Ex 19:6). They failed. Instead of being a positive influence on these nations, Israel imitated them and adopted their practices. God had to discipline them many times for their idolatry, but they persisted in sin. Today, Israel has no temple or priesthood!
We are to influence those around us without becoming like them. Remember, separation is not isolation. It is contact without contamination. We are priests together, under a High Priest, and so nothing should be done selfishly or independently. Individually we are “temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 6:19-20). Corporately, we are “the dwelling of God.” (See also 1 Tim 3:15.) We never use personal experience to the neglect of ministry to the whole body.
It is a privilege, not a burden, to be a royal priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices.
4. CHOSEN PEOPLE (1 Pet 2:9a) A “chosen generation” immediately speaks of the grace of God. God did not choose Israel because they were great or deserved it. He chose them simply because He loved them (Deut 7:7-8). God has chosen us purely because of His love and grace. “You did not choose me but I chose you” (Jn 15:16).
When He chose us He adopted us into His family – giving us the right of full heirs! (Rom 8:15,17). There is something special about adopted children. The adopted child, whose brothers and sisters teased him, said to them, “Our parents had no choice with you. They chose me!”
It is a privilege, not a burden, to be chosen!
5. A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD 6. A HOLY NATION (1 Pet 2:9c) God was always looking for a nation (Ex 19:6). Israel was that nation. Now it is the Church (Heb 12:22-23; Gal 6:16). We have been set apart to be exclusively God’s. Our citizenship is in heaven (Phi 3:20) so we obey heaven’s laws and seek to please heaven’s Lord. There is only one Holy Nation. Israel is not superior to the Church. Denominational differences are abhorrent to God! Anything divisive is! (1 Cor 1:10-17; 3:1-15).
It is a privilege, not a burden, to be holy!
7. GOD’S OWN PEOPLE (1 Pet 2:9d) In our unsaved condition, we were not God’s people because we belonged to Satan and the world (Eph 2:1-3, 11-19). Now that we have trusted Christ, we are a part of God’s people.
God’s people are referred to in:
Ex 19:5 as His “Treasured Possession”;
Deut 26:19 as “exalted above all nations”;
Titus 2:14 as “a people who are His very own”;
Ps 78:52 as “His flock”;
Zech 2:8 as “the apple of His eye”;
Rev 21:2 as “His own Bride”;
Eph 3:15 as “His family.”
a) As a Father over His family (Lk 15:1), God wants to be personal in His relationship with His children (Lk 15:20). The term “Father” means “Daddy”. This carries with it the thought of extreme intimacy. b) He pardons His children (Ps 103:10-12,2). When He forgives, He forgets! “...their sins will I remember no more...” (Jer 31:34) . c) He is patient with His children (Lk 15:20). He never gave up on His son. Not once did He try to “get even” with Him. If we fall, He will pick us up time and time again. “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love (mercy)” (Ps 103:8).
“He will not always accuse, nor will He harbour His anger forever” (Ps 103:9). “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust”
d) He perseveres with His children. Look at the children of Israel in the Wilderness – 40 years! e) He protects His children. He is Jehovah Nissi, the one who fights for us. We are His children, He our Father. He has provided all the protection we need for life (Rom 5:17). We are His property. He even provides angelic protection for us as in Ps 91:11: “He gives His angels charge over you.” (See also Daniel 10:21c). The blood protects us just as it did the Jews coming out of Egypt that night. All we have to do is remain in Christ. Rom 8:1 – no condemnation;
Rom 8:28-39 – victory;
Eph 6:10 – the armour of God.
f) He provides for His children. He is Jehovah Jireh (Lk 15:11,12,22-24). • Everything we have need of (Mt 6:25-33); • Financial (Deut 28:1-13; Phi 4:19); • Emotional – peace with God; the peace of God; healing of our hurts (Is 53); • Spiritual – robe of righteousness; ring – relationship and authority and eternal life. g) He plans for His children (Lk 15:22; Jer 29:11). Good fathers plan before the child’s birth. God did this too! He created everything around us – for us – before He created us. h) Good fathers plan during our lives – for our futures. God did this too! The time and place we should live in (Acts 17:26). God’s plans always succeed (Prov 21:30). He wants to bless us and wants us to be blessed. This was His covenant with Abraham (Gen 12:1-3). His name is Jehovah Elyon – God who blesses.
i) He prepares His children. He instructs us, He guides us and directs us, all through His Word and by His Spirit; sometimes through teachers (Eph 4:11,12); sometimes alone with the Word (Ps 119:105 “Your word is a lamp...a light...”); sometimes direct revelation through His Spirit (Rom 8:14; Jn 14:26; 16:13-15). j) He punishes (disciplines) His children. Heb 12:5-8; Prov 3:11-12. k) He plays with His children. He enjoys us – delighting over us with singing (Zeph 3:17); makes our joy overflow. 8. RECEIVING MERCY (1 Pet 2:10) Greek word is “Eleeo” – the verb of the noun “eleos.”
W E Vine: “it assumes need on the part of him who receives it, and resources adequate to meet the need on the part of Him who shows it.” We are extremely needy and God is more than adequately able to supply each and every need!
• Salvation (Titus 3:5); • Forgiveness as Christians; • Help and deliverance at any time we have a need or needs (Heb 4:16); and • Asking for mercy for others.
No matter the nature or magnitude of our need, sin, failure, weakness, inconsistency, God will meet us and help us.
B. THE GREAT RESPONSIBILITY OF BEING A CHRISTIAN All of these glorious privileges have purpose – responsibilities.
1. TO BE A HOLY PRIESTHOOD (1 Pet 2:5c) a) On behalf of God before men, our lives demonstrate what He is like: • His love and care; • Mercy; • Forgiveness; • Power; • Holiness; and • Justice. Sharing the Gospel with people, introducing them to Jesus, telling them what He expects, prophesying over them. b) On behalf of men before God. Praying privately, corporately, perseveringly; pleading; interceding; confessing sins. 2. OFFERING SPIRITUAL SACRIFICE (1 Pet 2:5d) There is a real encouragement here – “acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Make yourself available for leadership; make yourself available to fulfil the vision.
3. TO DECLARE GOD’S PRAISES (1 Pet 2:9) This is one of our greatest privileges and responsibilities – revealing God’s praises to a lost and dying world. The verb translated “show forth” means “to tell out, to advertise.”
Each citizen of heaven is a “living advertisement” for the virtues and blessings of God. Our lives should radiate the “marvellous light” into this world which is in darkness.
4. WE DO THIS AS ALIENS AND STRANGERS (1 Pet 2:11a) We show them that there is more to life than time – there is eternity! This world doesn’t use us – we use it. We don’t settle down, but pioneer and break new ground, always moving on.
5. TO ABSTAIN FROM SINFUL DESIRES (1 Pet 2 :11b) We are encouraged to “abstain from every appearance of evil” (1 Thes 5:22). We may still be tempted – but we must not give in! (Jm 1:14,15).
6. OUR LIVES SHOULD GLORIFY GOD (1 Pet 2:12) “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.”
7. GOOD WORKS (Eph 2:10) “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
C. TO SUMMARISE: 1. THE PRIVILEGES a) Access; b) The life of God fitting into His place for us in His building – living stones; c) Spiritual house – a “Royal Priesthood” – reigning, exercising authority, each playing their part; d) God’s special, precious people – chosen; e) A Holy Nation; f) God’s own people – his family living in all the benefits and blessings of heirs; and g) Walking free – enjoying the mercy and grace of God. 2. THE RESPONSIBILITIES a) Being a Holy Priesthood; b) Offering spiritual sacrifices; c) Declaring God’s praises; d) Revealing eternity – as aliens and strangers; e) Abstaining from sinful desires; f) Glorifying God with our whole lives; g) Zealous of good works; and h) Willing to suffer, while continuing to do good! (1 Pet 4:12-19 NB vs 14c ...”for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”)
EVERY LEVEL OF LEADERSHIP MUST BE DONE AS A TEAM!
Gen 2:20-24 “So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh.”
From the creation of man until the consummation of the ages God’s intention was plurality! Jesus worked with the apostles as a team and sent them out “two by two”. The following are examples from the Book of Acts:
A. THE PROGRESSION Acts 1 - 7 Apostles didn’t travel at all. They remained in Jerusalem (Acts 6:7b “in Jerusalem”), but worked together in team the majority of the time.
Acts 8 Persecution brings about a “scattering”; but not of the Apostles! (vs 1). Others go everywhere (vs 8c, 26).
Acts 8 Now the Apostles start travelling – vs 14. Two went to Samaria (vs 14), two travel (vs 25).
Acts 8 Philip goes to the desert alone – vs 26. There is a mixture of together and alone! Then a trend begins to emerge – less alone!
Acts 9 Paul travels, possibly alone – vs 20. Persecution gets him started – vs 26, 30.
Acts 10 Peter appears to be travelling alone – vs 23, 48c.
Acts 11 Peter also appears to be alone here – vs 1 - 2.
Acts 11 Barnabas travels alone – vs 22, 25.
Acts 11 Barnabas and Paul travel – vs 30.
Acts 12 A team travels – vs 25.
Acts 13 From Acts 13, it seems like they always work in team. “The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia...” vs 4,6,13; 14:1,6,20; 15:40; 16:4,6,7,8,10.
Acts 17 Paul seemed to break this pattern! But we must keep all these verses and events in their context, that is, Acts 17:15b-18:5. Paul preached alone only in Athens. In Corinth, he waited until Silas and Timothy arrived before he preached – Acts 18:5.
B. WHAT THEY DID Acts 13 Proclaimed the Word – vs 15.
Challenged the occult – vs 6-12.
Challenged the religionists – vs 13-52; 14:1-3.
Acts 14 Fled! (vs 6). They must have discussed together what the best course of action would have been.
Preached the Good News – vs 7.
Healed the sick – vs 8-10.
Fled again! – vs 19-20.
Strengthened and encouraged believers – vs 21-23.
Reported back to base – vs 26-28.
Acts 16 Baptized – vs 15.
Encouraged the brothers – vs 40.
Begin to recognise whom God has anointed, encourage faithfulness in those people, recruit them with no promises or declarations, but subtly. Get them to help you pray for the sick, to counsel and to visit, to help you practically and to discipline others. Pray together regularly and discuss things together – this helps you to become ‘one’.
What builds a team? Love, relationship and mutually-shared goals.
ASCENSION GIFT MINISTRIES
Eph 4:9-16 “...It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers to prepare God’s people for works of service...” (Also 1 Cor 12:28)
In the first 16 verses of Ephesians 4, three important things emerge about the Ascension Gift Ministries:
• The Persons ( vs 8 - 11) • The Purpose (vs 12 - 15) • The Plan (vs 16) The persons are the:
• Apostles who govern • Prophets who guide • Evangelists who gather • Pastors who guard • Teachers who ground These five offices are called the Ascension Gift Ministries or the Five-fold Ministries or the Ephesian 4 Ministries. While they are gifts (vs 8), they are not gifts of the Spirit but are an expression of Jesus Himself , which He has distributed to the body.
This grouping in Eph 4 is different to what we would normally interpret some of these offices to be. Eph 4:11-12 is a trans-local, travelling or apostolic team. Pastors here are not what we consider local church pastors to be, although some local church pastors are included in this list.
As stated earlier, part of the problem arises from a faulty understanding of certain biblical words. Pastor-elder distinction – there is no such distinction in the Bible! (See Acts 20:17-28; 1 Pet 5:1-4). The Eph 4 evangelist is not just a soul-winner – he equips others to do the work of the ministry. The same with the teacher – he goes to the wider body, while the local teacher stays in one church.
The purpose (Eph 4:13,14) is to:
• Equip • Edify • Enlist • Enlarge How long will we have all five? “Until we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13).
The plan (Eph 4:15,16) is :
• Growing up (vs 15) “...speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head, that is Christ.” • Involvement (vs 16) “From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” These Ascension Gift ministries cannot be limited to one locality and are, therefore, considered to be roving or itinerant. They only stay in that locality until they have fulfilled the task God requires them to do (that is, deposited their gifting in the life of the Church).
They work in teams, the apostle being the leader of the team. Not all apostles will lead a team and most teams will include several apostles. (See Acts 14:14 Barnabas and Paul; 1 Thes 1:1;2:7 Silas and Timothy)
A. PROPHETS (EPH 4:9-16; 1 COR 12:28) Those who guide
Since the reformation God has restored many wonderful truths to His Church in preparation for a mighty outpouring of His Spirit, millions being saved and the return of Jesus to this earth! More recently there has been a great emphasis on the restoration of five-fold ascension ministry gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers. The Church has never struggled to accept the ministries of evangelists, pastors, and teachers (the last three in Eph 4) but how different with the first two! And yet the Church is to be built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets! (Eph 2:19-22; 1 Cor 3:9-15). All other ministries are to build upon this foundation. In a sense, apostles and prophets are called to work together and act as checks and balances to each other. It is dangerous when one works without the other.
1. Old Testament versus New Testament Prophets The gift of prophecy is different from the office of the prophet. It is the God-given ability to speak forth supernaturally by the Spirit in a known language.
The office of the prophet is held by a person with the God-given call to be God’s mouth-piece, foretelling and forthtelling.
The Old Testament Prophets were used in the realm of guidance, direction and seeking the mind and will of God.
Moses, Samuel, Elijah and Elisha were prophets of guidance. They spoke words of wisdom, words of knowledge, performed miracles, foretold and forthtold God’s will for His people.
In those days, people didn’t have direct access to God through Christ. They went through an earthly mediator – very often the prophet or the priest.
Daniel and Zechariah were prophets of vision. They foretold the future and destinies of nations. They, together with Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, became God’s voice for their present and future generations.
In other words, people went to the prophets to receive God’s guidance.
New Testament Prophets are not to be visited for guidance, and should not control another person’s life.
This did not happen once in the New Testament. Prophets generally confirmed the already known and revealed will of God.
New Testament believers are those “who are led by the Spirit” (Rom 8:14). To go to a prophet for guidance is to violate your New Testament privilege of direct access to God, through Christ by His Spirit, although God can use prophets to bring guidance and direction.
New Testament believers receive guidance and direction from the infallible Word of God. Prophets can confirm this, but as a general rule, the Lord does not tell others what believers don’t already know themselves. For example, Agabus confirmed what Paul already knew (Acts 20:22-23; 21:10-14).
No New Testament churches were ever governed by prophets! In Old Testament times, the prophet was the highest and most powerful ministry. They reproved, rebuked, admonished, encouraged and challenged priests, judges, rulers and even kings. But this all changed in New Testament times. No New Testament prophet ever held such a high office. New Testament churches were governed by apostles and elders – Acts 15;
1 Tim 5:17; Phi 1:1.
No New Testament prophets wrote any part of the New Testament! Old Testament prophets were used to utter and write scripture – 2 Pet 1:19. Most of the New Testament was written by apostles.
No New Testament prophets’ prophecies are infallible – they are to be judged!
(1 Cor 14:29-32). All prophecy must be submitted to the Word of God.
Christ chose 12 apostles (not prophets) to be the Foundation of the Church and the City of God (Rev 21:14).
2. The Ministry of New Testament Prophets They are foundational to the building of Christ’s Church (Eph 2:20-22). They give alignment and proper structure to God’s building, the Church, but only as they work with an apostle! Without the prophetic ministry the local church will not have a proper foundation.
They help keep the Church pure, by picking up sin, compromise and heresy. They give warning about forthcoming difficulties.
Prophets help to perceive what is next on God’s agenda – they are like trumpets to alert and enlighten the body.
They encourage and strengthen the Church. “Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the brothers” (Acts 15:32).
B. EVANGELISTS Those who help us gather
The meaning of the word “evangelist”
The Greek word is “Euaggllistes” and literally means “to announce good news.” They proclaim Christ in a way that is attractive and inviting, not threatening! Crowds hear and see. “Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said” (Acts 8:5,6).
There are only three references to this office in the Bible:
“But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry” (Acts 21:8; Eph 4:11; 2 Tim 4:5).
There is only one example of the evangelist in Scripture:
“Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven” (Acts 21:8).
Evangelists in outreach – soul-winning
They have a spectacular ministry that draws crowds (Acts 8:4-13). They have the most signs and wonders in their ministry (Acts 8:6,7). The crowds come, but that doesn’t get people saved! Then they preach Christ (Acts 8:5) and then people are saved!
(1 Cor 1:17 - 2:5).
They need to work with an apostolic (not local church eldership) team. (Acts 8:14-25.) The converts become the new church. The evangelists need help to establish the work.
“When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them” (Acts 8:14).
They don’t stay in that revival, or new church, that gets established, never mind pastor it! They move on! So many Pentecostal ‘pastors’ are actually evangelists.
Evangelists in equipping (Eph 4:11-13)
Their anointing motivates the body to (want to) evangelise. Their gifting equips and teaches the Body how to evangelise. None of the other Ephesian 4 ministries can motivate and equip quite like they do!
C. TEACHERS Those who help us Ground
The meaning of the word “teacher”:
The Greek word is “didaskolos”, which literally means “an instructor”.
The importance of this Gift
It truly shapes the lives of the individual members and contributes largely to the process of maturing them, so that they can function.
It is a divinely-given gift
This is not just a natural ability to teach. It isn’t the accumulation of knowledge. It is a living, exciting impartation of truth which brings about real growth – not just a dry expounding of facts!
Apollos seemed to be a teacher (Acts 18:24-28). He clearly itinerated (roved) (Acts 18:27; 1 Cor 16:12; Titus 3:13). Paul said, “Apollos watered” – something living, vital and refreshing, producing growth and life.
The teaching ministry is a position of great responsibility
“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1).
Teachers are often united with the pastoral ministry
“pastors and teachers” (Eph 4:11). Often there is a combination of the two ministries in one individual.
APOSTLES FIFTEEN YEARS LATER
As an apostle, Paul’s desires were:
To do God’s will
“You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus...” (Acts 20:17-36;
To see the Churches blessed
“God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of His Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you...” (Rom 1:9-11).
To impart spiritual blessings to them
“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong”
To make up what was lacking in their faith
“Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith” (1 Thes 3:10).
To impart the Gospel of God
“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel...”
(1 Thes 2:8).
To impart their own lives
“...to share with you not only the gospel of God but our own lives as well...” (1 Thes 2:8).
To establish and encourage them
“We sent Timothy...to strengthen and encourage you in your faith...” (1 Thes 3:2b).
To see Christ formed in them
“My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you...” (Gal 4:19).
To bring them to maturity
“...for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ till we all come to the unity of the faith... to a perfect man...” (Eph 4:11-16).
To present the Word of God in its fullness
“...the mystery which has been kept hidden for ages...which is Christ in you, the hope of glory...” (Col 1:25-29).
To enlarge his (and therefore, their) sphere of influence
“...Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you...”
(2 Cor 10:13-17).
God has promised each of us an enlarged territory or sphere of influence (Ex 34:24; Deut 11:23,24; Deut 12:20). We must pray it into being, like Jabez who cried out to the Lord, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!” (1 Chron 4:9,10).
Then we must go, whatever that may mean to you (Ex 14:15; Matt 28:18; Acts 1:8). As we look back over the past fifteen years, we see God and His church having to make the following changes:
A. ADJUSTMENT Fifteen years ago, everyone “needed” an apostle and consequently grabbed anyone! Many weren’t apostles. Some were leaders of leaders for that day. Some were evangelists, or good pastors/teachers that were looking successful by the size of their particular church. Some were good carers, who were available and willing to love and to listen.
Now, many are trapped, not knowing how to get out of that relationship without hurting the person. They now realise the man is not an apostle. They are beginning to see and recognise who the true apostles are.
God requires honesty and then adjustment. Some want out because of unrealistic expectations. These must adjust themselves! But when the man we relate to isn’t an apostle, we must sit down and be honest with him.
B. ADVANCEMENT Again, where we are in true relationship with true apostles, there is a need for further adjustment.
As churches (the corporate group of believers) mature and therefore the leaders become more and more proficient, they need less direct exposure and input from apostles! They may get it from other team members and they will get it from the local church leaders.
Strategy (which is ever changing)
Paul’s later ministry, as his sphere of influence grew, was to meet with leaders, not so much with the sheep (Acts 20:17-36).
C. ENLARGEMENT True apostles will more and more hear God telling them to go, not stay. Apostolic Christianity is itinerant, going further afield, taking more territory for God. It cannot be mother-church mentalitied.
We have to decide whether Jerusalem-based apostolicity is biblical! By this I mean, does the New Testament teach two models of apostolic ministry, or one?
• Jerusalem-base, staying (Acts 15:1-35) • Antioch-base, sending and reporting back I believe that the Jerusalem-based model is a permissive way, not God’s ideal! They had settled down (Acts 8:1-4). Paul went to them early in his ministry to see if he was correct in what he was receiving but never saw them as headquarters (Gal 1:18-2:2). As the Book of Acts proceeds, chapter by chapter, one reads less and less of Jerusalem as a base, and more and more of Antioch, especially from Acts 13. Why wasn’t Paul, who became the greatest apostle, commissioned and called from Jerusalem? And yet he travelled more, planted more churches and wrote more of the New Testament than any other apostle. He kept reporting back to Antioch.
Acts 11:19 Scattered from Jerusalem through persecution to Antioch.
Acts 11:22 Barnabas checks out Antioch, to see if it is “kosher.”
Acts 11:25,26 Barnabas calls for Paul to come to Antioch.
Acts 11:27 Jerusalem prophets begin to gather in Antioch.
Acts 13:1 Prophets and teachers keep gathering in Antioch.
Acts 13:2,3 The base seems to change to Antioch.
Acts 13:2,3 Paul and Barnabas are sent by Holy Spirit.
Acts 13:13 John returns to Jerusalem but Paul and his party go on.
Acts 14:26 They eventually arrive and report back to Antioch.
Gal 2:11 Peter finds Paul in Antioch.
2 Tim 3:11 Paul is once again in Antioch.
What about Paul going to Jerusalem about the Judaizers in Acts 15? That was where the problem had started and they went straight to its source. They then took a written statement to the other churches, from its source! They mutually co-operated with each other, but it wasn’t headquarters.
Prior to Acts 13, we hear a lot more of Peter and John. From Acts 13, we hear much more of Paul – Peter and John are hardly mentioned!
God is challenging apostles to go, more and more! This will often require selling up and going. They may stay in one place one to three years and go again!
Whatever the way, no matter the periods of staying in a place, the call is “Advance!”
D. INVOLVEMENT Apostles, and their teams, are the “channels” through which we enlarge our sphere of influence. Apostles will help you and your church:
• Get your foundations right (Eph 2:20); • Sort out imbalances doctrinally and behaviourally; • Train and equip leaders; • Recognise and release (ordain) leaders; • Keep your people zealous in the things of God; and • See the larger, bigger, broader thing. But many leaders never let it get beyond this! Always getting but never giving! You are working against yourself and wasting the apostles’ time if you don’t get truly committed and involved in the wider work of God. Apostles are the “channels” through which a number of things happen:
Unity – Eph 4:1-16
vs 3 “unity of the spirit”
vs 13 “unity of faith”
vs 16 “joined...knit...joint”
Stability – Eph 4:14
Maturity – Eph 4:13b, 15b
Ministry – Eph 4:16
God uses them as a supply for resourcing and as an outlet:
In 2 Cor 8:1-6, Titus brought them to wholeness in this area as well;
2 Cor 9:1-5, 11-15 – financial aid to others;
Phi 4:10-19 – financial aid to Paul and his team;
Rom 15:25,26 – financial aid to Jerusalem from Macedonia.
Eph 4:11,12 refers to a trans-local or travelling or apostolic team. Pastors here are not local church pastors, although some local church pastors, are included in this list. The problem arises from a separating of the office of an elder from that of a pastor (Acts 20:17-28; 1 Pet 5:1-4). All elders are pastors and vice versa. The Eph 4 evangelist is not just a soul-winner. He equips others to do the work of the ministry. They, like the other ‘offices’ here, go from church to church equipping. The pastors here are trans-local as well as local.
HALLMARKS OF A NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH – PART 1
Ez 43:1-12 “Then the man brought me to the gate facing east, and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory. The vision I saw was like the vision I had seen when he came to destroy the city and like the visions I had seen by the Kebur River, and I fell face down. The glory of the Lord entered the temple through the gate facing east. Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple...Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider the plan, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple – its arrangement, its exits and entrances – its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations...”
God showed me that if we would build according to His pattern and plan, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we would see His glory!
There is the “plan” (“pattern” NKJ)(vs 10) which refers to the general, and the “design” (vs 11) which refers to the more specific. He will reveal the finer details of His pattern and plan, just as He did for Ezekiel, but some of the more general details are found in the Book of Acts of the Holy Spirit through the apostles. Before we look at some of these more general details, we must understand that a major part of God’s pattern and plan is teams.
We should be seeking to identify and release a number of different teams.
A. TYPES (OR LEVELS) OF TEAMS Apostolic Team, which includes overseas men. This would be an itinerant, planting and parenting team.
Eldership Team, the presbytery, to:
• Shepherd (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:2) • Govern (1 Tim 5:17) • Anoint with oil (James 5:14) • Refute the dissidents (Titus 1:9) • Teach (1 Tim 5:17; 2 Tim 2:2; 1 Tim 3:2) Leadership Team, consisting of elders and deacons together, • Making corporate decisions from time to time • Praying about the life of the church • Reporting on different areas of that life • Caring for the practical needs of the sheep Ministry Team, consisting of full-time elders and workers, • Seeing that all areas of the life of the church function effectively • This would include secretaries, receptionist, counsellors, handymen • Local team for local church Ministry Teams, consisting of: • Trans-local as well as local teams • Some would be full time • Others part time • Others short term B. THREE-FOLD CALL OF THE PRESENT ELDERSHIP TEAM “It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ...” (Eph 4:11-16).
The three-fold call of the team is to equip, edify and enlist the saints.
Equip the saints for the work of the ministry
We will do this in a number of different ways:
• Through the Sunday ministry of worship and the Word. Sunday services are normally a window shopping day. Unfortunately, most believers never go beyond it to the true life of the church! • Through the interaction and life that takes place in the home cells. • Through the more intensified study of the Word through Bible College and Training Centre. • Through the ministry of the Word in the tape ministry. • Through the ministry of the book room. • Through on-the-job involvement: • Street evangelism • Beach evangelism • Shopping centre evangelism • Door-to-door evangelism • How to win the lost • How to lead someone to Christ • How to heal the sick, etc. • Through the prayer meetings. • Through foundation classes. • Through specialised courses, i.e. marriage preparation, marriage enrichment, communication, etc. All of the above equipping must express itself in practical ways through the life of the church, to the church and to the world, otherwise it is just information and not impartation or formation. “Christ must be formed in us” (Gal 4:19) and we must come to “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13).
C. EDIFY THE BODY Edification (building up and strengthening) has to do with five things:
• Unity • Maturity • Stability • Integrity • Availability Look at Acts 14:22. “Then they returned to...strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.” (Also Acts 15:32,41; 16:40.) All of these five things come to us through the “word ... which can build you up and give you an inheritance...” (Acts 20:32).
Unity – “...until we all reach unity in the faith...” (Eph 4:13a).
The only way to reach unity is to allow the Holy Spirit to become our teacher. This will take a long time, but most church groups and individuals won’t pay the full price. They reserve the right to accept only what suits them.
Maturity – “...and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph 4:13b,c. Also Gal 4:19, Heb 6:1-13; Heb 5:11-14; James 1:4.)
Stability – “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Eph 4:14). God doesn’t want us to chop and change. The latest fad shouldn’t captivate us. We should be established in truth, fundamentally, and be willing to change our wineskin (structures).
Integrity – “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Eph 4:15). We should be honest and pure in our words and deeds. Let your word be “yea, yea”.
Availability – “From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph 4:16). This involves denying yourself, taking up your cross daily and following Christ.
D. ENLISTING YOU, THE SAINTS “From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Eph 4:16). This requires:
Dealing radically with our hurts. We must accept responsibility for our past. We have free wills and we have chosen to allow things to hurt us. O. Hobart Mourer, the famous psychologist from the University of Illinois, contends that honest confession is the only way to emotional well-being! He also claims that people must assume full responsibility for what they do and that only by confessing their wrong doings and making some kind of restitution can they find escape from their psychological torments.
We must confess our sin, assuming full responsibility for what we have done. We must apologise where necessary. Establishing future goals, and committing ourselves to them will help us more than anything that has happened to us in the past. Where we have been is not as important as where we have the will to go!
We must believe in what we can be by God’s grace and thereby break the bonds of what we have been, or what has been done to us! “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Heb 11:1).
Dealing radically with our insecurities. These are all usually rooted in PRIDE. “What will people think...?” “How will I look...?”
Dealing radically with our reservations.
Make your gifts and talents available:
• Teachers • Carers • Artists • Dancers • Actors • Musicians • Preachers • Evangelists • Visiting • Pray-ers This is all summed up in Matt 16:25: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” And Phi 3:13-16: “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.” We are now ready to look at the hallmarks of a New Testament Church:
• Holy Spirit power • Baptism in water • Baptism in the Spirit • Good leadership • True disciples, not just converts • Anointed preaching • Healings, signs and wonders • Deliverance • Prayer • Persecution • Team ministry – planting churches in order to disciple nations.
HALLMARKS OF A NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH – PART 2
Acts 1:1,2 “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.”
What did Jesus begin to do? Very broadly, “the will of His Father” (Jn 4:34). As we study the gospels, seven major factors emerge. Stated briefly, Jesus came to:
3. Set free
6. Send, and He did them all...
Luke brings all of these into his summary of Acts 1:1,2 and Acts 10:36-38 “...how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him.”
I am going to start with setting free. This study might surprise some of us!
A. SET FREE “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”...”If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (Jn 8:32,36) Jesus set us free in five areas:
• Sickness • Sin • Sorrow • Sting of death • Systems .”...The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 Jn 3:8). From sickness – He healed the sick
“Now Jesus went about...teaching...preaching...and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people” (Matt 4:23). The following are some examples of His healings:
• Cleansing the leper – touched and declared him healed (Mt 8:1-4; Mk 1:41,42); • Centurion’s servant – declared him healed (Mt 8:5-13); • Peter’s mother-in-law – touched her (Mt 8:14-15) – helped her up (Mk 1:29-31); • The demonised – with a word (Mt 8:28-34; Mk 5:9); • Over nature – rebuked (Mt 8:26); • The demonised again – spoke a command (Mt 8:28-34); • Paralysed man – spoke (Mt 9:1-8); • Blind man – spoke and touched (Mt 9:27-31); • Mute – cast it out (spoke) (Mt 9:32-34) – touched and spoke (Mk 7:33,34); • Healed many – people touched him! (Mt 14:34-36). What emerges here is that He did not pray over the sick! He either touched, spoke or did both! He would have been prayed up before He encountered the sick. We, too, must do it this way. Without stipulating a formula, there is a dynamic here we must get back to. From the sting – death
He raised them from death.
• Jairus’ daughter – took her hand (Mt 9:25) – spoke (Mk 5:41); • Lazarus – prayed for their sake and spoke calling him out (Jn 11:41-44); For us death has lost its sting (1 Cor 15:55,56). We live in resurrection life. We are to bring people into this life. That’s why baptism is so important (Rom 6:1-9). From sin – “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:21). “...I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 Jn 2:1).
The New Testament Church was a victorious church, in spite of the Corinthian problem. “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God...” (Roms 6:18,22).
From sorrows – “Surely He took up our infirmities” (Is 53:4).
From “systems” (vain traditions that are man-made)
Jesus opposed vain traditions by:
• His teaching (Mt 15:1-20; Mk 2:23-27). • His action – heals on the Sabbath (Mk 3:1-5). From bondage of any kind “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to ...proclaim freedom for the captives, and release for the prisoners...” (Is 61:1,2; Lk 4:18,19; 1 Jn 3:2).
From the curse of the law!
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom 8:2; Gal 3:13,14; Gal 5:1). We must not bring them back under law and curse! (Gal 3: 1-18; 4:21-31; 5:1-4,13).
B. SAVE “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save...” (Lk 19:10).
“He shall save His people from their sin” (Mt 1:21).
We can’t help Him or add to His finished work. In Jn 19:30, He said “it is finished” and bowed His head. We must believe this and not be like the foolish Galations (Gal 3:1,11) who brought themselves back under law and works. We must live in the security of His finished work. It is Jesus plus nothing! Although we can’t add to His finished work, we can take the message and the Man of Salvation and reconciliation to the lost. Indeed, we are commanded to! (Matt 28:18-20). We, and only we, are the ambassadors of salvation. “Therefore, we are Christ’s ambassadors as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20).
And this leads us to the next point...
C. SEEK Lk 19:10 “to seek and to save...”
A hallmark of a true New Testament Church is evangelism – going out and seeking the lost. A pastoral church and priestly church – both gather but don’t go! The phantom church criticises all else! The prophetic-apostolic church gathers and goes!
D. SATISFY “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (Jn 10:10). We are called to feed His lambs and sheep (Jn 21:15-17; Ps 23). Jesus fed them with His teaching and actions. Our message should feed, not threaten, the sheep. It should bring them satisfaction and fulfilment.
E. SERVICE “...the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life...”
(Mt 20:28). True service consists of praise and worship; prayer done passionately; provision; and preparation.
Praise and worship
The priests had to continue to minister while the anointing oil was upon them (Lev 10:7). They couldn’t stop when they pleased! We praise and worship out of gratitude to God. “... offer your bodies as living sacrifices...which is your spiritual worship” (Rom 12:1 NIV) (spiritual service NKJ).
New Testament service starts in the place of prayer! Jesus lived a life of prayer.
Mt 14:23 “After He had dismissed them, He went up into the hills to pray.”
Mk 6:46 “After leaving them, He went into the hills to pray.”
Mt 26:36 “Sit here while I go and pray yonder.”
Lk 5:16 “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
Lk 18:10 “He went up into the temple to pray.” (See also Jn 17).
Jesus never did anything half-heartedly. He served with white-hot zeal. See Jn 2:17.
Only that which is done out of love for Jesus, birthed in the place of vision and prayer, in dependence upon the Holy Spirit and in accordance with the Word of God will satisfy the Father and stand the test of fire.
Jesus fed the people. In Mt 14:13-21, He fed 5000. In Mt 15:32-38, He fed 4000. A hallmark of New Testament Christianity is a concern for the needy:
• The hungry • The naked • The homeless • The prisoners • Widows and orphans “Religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (Jms 1:27). See also Mt 25:31-46. Jesus met their needs. He walked right into Samaria to meet the needs of the Samaritan woman! (Jn 4).
We need to prepare the hearts of people to meet God. Often before one can minister to them spiritually one must minister to them practically through meeting their needs for food and clothing, then counsel:
• Marriage • Parenting and child-rearing • Re-marriage of divorced people • Living single • Financial efficiency • Homosexuality • Drug and alcohol addiction If we want God to heal our land, we need to do Is 58:1-6: “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth...” Remember, the kinds of people that God will bring to us! “All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered round him...” (1 Sam 22:1,2; 1 Chron 12:19,20). F. SENDING “As You sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” (Jn 17:18) “’As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven...’” (Jn 20:21).
He called workers and leaders – “To Matthew, He said, ‘follow me’...Matthew got up and followed Him” (Mt 9:9). And to Levi, “’...Follow me,’ Jesus told him and Levi got up and followed Him” (Mk 2:14). Also in Mk 3:13-19 where He appointed the twelve apostles. We will constantly be recognising His call on peoples’ lives.
He equipped them by information and by demonstration. (Mt 10:5-42). The way through to “full time” release is :
• To be an example • To be truly available • To participate in meetings • To avail yourself of all the training and equipping provided, such as leadership training, Bible college. Commissioning – “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation...’” (Mk 16:15-18; Mt 28:18-20; Mt 10:1-4). The nations is our field! God has promised to enlarge our field, our sphere of influence (Deut 12:20 “when the Lord your God has enlarged your territory as He promised...”); Ex 34:24; Deut 11:23,24; 2 Cor 10:13,15-17. Like Jabez we must cry out to the Lord, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!...” (1 Chron 4:9,10). Then we must go! (Ex 14:15; Mt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). G. SUPERNATURAL A definition of supernatural: “supersedes the natural; manifesting divine activity that is other than the ordinary process of nature; going beyond the ordinary sequences of nature.”
Jesus lived a supernatural lifestyle:
• He walked on water. • He multiplied food. • He calmed the storm. • He taught with authority. • He healed the sick. • He cast out demons. • He raised the dead. This must be a hallmark of our church. The supernatural flows out of the presence of God with us. This is as a result of faith – taking God at His Word. This all starts to happen on a consistent basis in our lives when we begin to understand and exercise the message and authority of the Kingdom of God!
Christ sending people and a supernatural lifestyle are essential to the next point, namely, “What He began to teach” – Acts 1:2 – which is the Message of the Kingdom.
HALLMARKS OF A NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH – PART 3
Acts 1:1,2 “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach...”
What did Jesus begin to teach? What was His message? What was important to Him? Did He teach rules, regulations, principles? Definitely not! He gave people solutions related to the broader, wider scheme of things, springing out of His life, exactly suited to the individual for his or her need or situation!
A. THE MESSAGE OF THE KINGDOM! He started His public ministry preaching the Kingdom – “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17). “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God and saying, ‘the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel’” (Mk 1:14,15).
He continued His ministry by preaching the Kingdom. “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people” (Matt 4:23; Matt 9:35).
He ended His ministry preaching the Kingdom. “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth...” (Matt 28:18) and in Mk 16:19 “...He was received into heaven and He sat at the right hand of God” (place of authority).
That was the reason He came! “I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent” (Lk 4:43).
John, His forerunner (herald), preached the Kingdom (Matt 3:2). His followers preached the Kingdom (Lk 9:2). The early church preached the Kingdom, Philip in Samaria (Acts 8) and Paul in Ephesus (Acts 19:8). Paul spent his last days on earth preaching the Kingdom of God ‘from morning till evening.’ “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 28:30,31).
We are to continue this message until the end. “And this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt 24:14).
B. BEFORE WE LOOK AT WHAT THIS MESSAGE CONTAINS (EMBRACES) HERE ARE A FEW IMPORTANT THINGS THAT PERTAIN TO IT! “But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well...” (Matt 6:33). We are to put the Kingdom first! It is to take precedence over all else! (Lk 9:57-62). Before we can understand or preach it we must enter it – by being born again (Jn 3:3). “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mk 10:15; Lk 18:17). Our ongoing attitude is to be humble. We cannot be mediocre or casual about it for “forceful people advance it” (Lk 16:16). It’s not a Kingdom of words but power. “...for the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power” (1 Cor 4:20).
Our filter systems or frame of reference must change! This could be our traditions or the school of interpretation of the Bible. But we must open ourselves to the creative Spirit of God!
C. WHAT IS THE MESSAGE OF THE KINGDOM? Christ must be supreme in our lives (Mt 6:33; Lk 9:57-62)
It covers all of life’s issues:
• What He has done for us – Lk 4:18-20 • How to be blessed, happy and to be envied – Matt 5:1-12 • What we are – Matt 5:13-16 • How to achieve greatness – Matt 5:17-19; Mk 9:33-41; 10:35-45 • The importance of reconciliation – Matt 5:20-26 • How God views adultery and lust – Matt 5:27-30 • How God views divorce – Matt 5:31–32; 19:1-15 • Honesty in our speech – Matt 5:33-37 • Getting even with those who abuse you – Matt 5:38-42 • How to deal with your enemies – Matt 5:43-48 • Anonymous helping of others – Matt 6:1-4 • How to pray – Matt 6:5-15 • About anxiety and His provision – Matt 6:30-34 • How to fast – Matt 6:16-18 • True discipleship – Matt 8:18-22; 19:16-26; 16:24-26 • Faith – Matt 17:20-21 • Taxes – Matt 17:24-27; 22:15-22 • Humility and greatness – Matt 18:1-5 • Offended people and reconciliation – Matt 18:6-10,15-35 • Ambition – Matt 20:20-28 • Love – Matt 22:34-40 • The second coming of Christ • About hell • Riches – Lk 12: 16-21 D. THE PERSON (KING) OF THE KINGDOM (MATT 16:13-20) The message (or content) of the Kingdom becomes rules and regulations without the King. Whatever we preach, we must never preach it apart from the simple central truth of Jesus. He is supreme. Because He is worthy, these truths and principles of the Kingdom find their supreme value. At the end of it all, it really is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus and nothing more! The message of the Kingdom is Jesus, plus nothing!
E. THE PEOPLE OF THE KINGDOM (MATT 16:18-20) The Church is made up of born again believers – no one else! The Church has been given all authority and the keys of the Kingdom of heaven with tremendous power to bind and loose. The Church is the greatest power on earth. Wallace Henley served as a White House aide from 1970-1973 and said, “During my years on the White House staff, a clear understanding emerged in my mind: the White House is not the seat of the greatest power on earth – the Church is!”
Rome, the greatest power in the time of Jesus and the early Church’s day, feared the Church. The religionists of Jesus’ time feared the Church and so did the heathen (Acts 5:13).
F. THE MESSAGE OF THE KINGDOM IS SUMMED UP IN THE GREAT COMMISSION “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”
Pretty simple and straightforward!
HALLMARKS OF A NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH – PART 4
We will work through the Book of Acts of the Holy Spirit through the apostles and try to capture something of what was important and significant to them.
A. HALLMARK 1 – HOLY SPIRIT POWER Everything they did was done by the power of the Holy Spirit. “Not by might, nor by power but my Spirit.” This starts with the promise of the Father, that is, the baptism in the Holy Spirit. “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:1-4. Also Acts 1:4-8; Acts 8:1; Acts 10:44).
The three symbols of Acts 2:1-4 are:
• Wind – power; • Tongues of fire – purity “...for He purified their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8,9); • Tongues – supernatural speech, effective witnessing. The baptism in the Spirit is the initial filling (Acts 1:4). Then the Spirit came upon them, not into. “I will pour out my Spirit...” (Acts 2:17,18b). “He has poured out what you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33). Power to Witness
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses...” (Acts 1:8). The New Testament pattern of effective witnessing seemed to incorporate life and lips, walk and words. What they said was backed up by how they lived. How often has the Church suffered because we didn’t live what we preached! Reality and integrity are the hallmarks of New Testament witness and the cry of humanity’s heart.
Power for signs and wonders and healing
“Everyone was filled with awe and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles” (Acts 2:43; 3:1-9; 5:12,15). Healings, signs and wonders and deliverances should be hallmarks of the Church.
Power to overcome – no matter what
“But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out...” We need the power to overcome being jailed, being beaten and being shipwrecked! (Acts 5, Acts 16:25, Acts 27). A hallmark of the Church is victory in and over all obstacles, difficulties and attacks.
B. HALLMARK 2 – GOOD BIBLICAL LEADERSHIP – ACTS 1: 15-26 Good leadership is based on meeting the Biblical requirements with apostolic appointment (Acts 14:23). They prayed before appointing leaders (Acts 1:24; 13:1-3), and laid hands on them (Acts 13:3; 6:6). Those who haven’t had hands laid on them by elders, publicly, are in a dangerous position and will lack much of what God has for them. (See 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6.) We cannot allow self-appointed lone-rangers to run loose among the sheep.
This necessitates training leaders (2 Tim 2:2) – those who are willing to make themselves available for leadership.
The deacons’ main function is to maintain Godly relationships in the church (Acts 6:1-6), while the pastors’ main function is to shepherd the sheep by feeding (Ezek 34), visiting (Jn 21:15-17), rescuing, healing and ruling (1 Tim 5:17).
The trans-local (apostolic) team’s main function is prayer and the Word! (Acts 6:4). This will enable them to receive vision from God, to plan.
C. HALLMARK 3 – CONSTANT SALVATIONS “Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:41). “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47b); (Acts 4:4;5:14;6:1,7;8:6;17:6).
How does this happen? Through prayer, outreach and friendship evangelism (Acts 9:1-20). True conversions result in submission to Christ’s Lordship (vs 5,6), baptism in water (vs 18), baptisms in the Holy Spirit (vs 17) and witnessing (vs 20).
D. HALLMARK 4 – IMMEDIATE WATER BAPTISMS “Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:41). “But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised, both men and women” (Acts 8:12,13). (Acts 8:36-39; 9:18; 10:46-48). Biblical baptism is for believers only (Matt 28:18-20), by immersion. Jesus’ baptism took place in the Jordan river and He “went up out of the water.”
“Now John also was baptising at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water there...” (Jn 3:23).
It is a public profession of our faith and symbolises death and resurrection. “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life”
E. HALLMARK 5 – TRUE DISCIPLESHIP “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Everyday they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people” (Acts 2:42-47).
This expresses true commitment, steadfastness and generosity. There was sharing of all things and making them available to all. They paid the price. They had teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers – all corporate!
In Acts 4:32-37 “All the believers were one in heart and mind....” They were united, loyal to one another, available, testified with great power and authority, extended mercy and were humble.
In Acts 5:1-11 we see Ananias and Sapphira as an example of false discipleship, which resulted in death.
F. HALLMARK 6 – FELLOWSHIP Someone has said that the best way to describe fellowship is “two fellows in the same ship!” They have to work together and work things out otherwise they are sunk! “On the day of Pentecost they were all together in the same place” (Acts 2:1). The Greek word “koinonia” means “intimate relationships”. Fellowship was an ongoing hallmark
G. HALLMARK 7 – CORPORATE PRAYER “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers” (Acts 1:14).
(Acts 1:24; 2:42; 3:1; 4:23-31.)
Without prayer we lack Holy Spirit wisdom, Holy Spirit energy and Holy Spirit initiation! To leave it to a few is unbiblical! Much prayer results in much power, little prayer in little power and no prayer in no power!
H. HALLMARK 8 – ANOINTED PREACHING Preaching which is sharp, relevant and effective, resulting in salvations and water baptisms. “...those who accepted his message were baptised and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:14-41). In Acts 4:4, “many who heard the message believed and the number of men grew to about five thousand.” The people recognised that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:5-13).
I. HALLMARK 9 – TEAM MINISTRY RESULTING IN DISCIPLING NATIONS BY PLANTING CHURCHES They stayed in Jerusalem (Acts 1-7; Acts 2:47). Then “persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, until all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria” (Acts 8:1). “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:4). Philip went down to a city in Samaria to proclaim the Gospel (Acts 8:5-25). He then met the Ethiopian eunuch on the desert road who, through one-on-one evangelism, was converted and baptised. The gospel goes to Ethiopia! (8:26). Ananias in Damascus was used in Paul’s conversion (Acts 9:10). Peter went to the saints at Lydda, and Aeneas was healed and “all those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord” (Acts 9:32-35). And then Peter was called to Joppa where Dorcas was raised from the dead and “this became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord” (Acts 9:36-43).
One of the consequences of Team Ministry is revival (Acts 9:32-35, 42). The team will go back to the established churches and strengthen and encourage believers. “Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith” (Acts 14:21,22; 15:41; 16:40; 18:23). This necessitates many team members.
The team reports back to base. “On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them...” (Acts 14:26-28). The team must grow. Paul adds to his team (Acts 16:1-3). Team members may have to change teams. Silas changes teams, joining Paul’s one (Acts 15:32-40). Teams are sent out by the lead apostle. “He (Paul) sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia....” (Acts 19:21-22)
J. HALLMARK 10 – GRACE They experienced great grace (Acts 4:33) because they exercised grace! God’s grace was continually upon them. Paul found grace because He gave grace (2 Cor 12:9). What you sow you reap!
They preached grace (Acts 14:3). The word spoken is “the word of grace”
(Acts 20:24,32). They believed through grace (Acts 18:27d), and we are to continue in grace. (Acts 13:43; 11:23; 14:26; 15:40).
What is grace?
The Greek word is ‘charis’ which means “the friendly disposition from which the kindly act proceeds, graciousness, loving kindness, goodwill” – W E Vine. “Undeserved, free merit”. It is set in contrast with debt (Rom 4:4,16), with works (Rom 11:6), and with law (Jn 1:17, Rom 6:14, 15; Gal 5:4). Remember, grace is not works, law (Acts 15:1-11,28), and serving out of manipulation, guilt or fear!
What happens if we neglect grace?
The consequence of neglecting grace is legalism, self-righteousness, false guilt, super-spirituality, criticism and judging of others, death (spiritually) and fear.
K. HALLMARK 11 – PERSECUTION Persecution very often comes through religious people:
Acts 4:1,2, 14-21 Priests persecuted Peter and John and threatened them
Acts 5:17-18,27-29,40-41 High Priests and Sadducees jailed, intimidated and beat them!
Acts 6:9-13 Council falsely accused them (lies!)
Acts 7:57-60 Council stoned Stephen
Acts 8:1 Great persecution
Acts 9:1,2 Religious spirits through Paul
Acts 9:23 Religious spirits to kill Paul!
Acts 9:26,27 Even true Christians were suspicious of Paul
Acts 11:1-3 Misunderstanding in the true Church
Acts 14:1 Jews in the synagogue
Acts 14:19 Jews stoned Paul
Acts 18:6 Jews even blasphemed!
Acts 23:10 Scribes and Pharisees wanted to “tear Paul apart”
Acts 23:12,13 Conspiracy!
Opposition and persecution isn’t necessarily a sign of God’s disapproval but may be a sign of His approval! Meet it with the opposite spirit and hang in there!
Persecution may come through the authorities:
“It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the Church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword...” (Acts 12:1-3).
Persecution comes through the occult
“There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus...” (Acts 13:6-8).
“...we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future...”
L. HALLMARK 12 – BOLDNESS “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak Your word with great boldness” (Acts 4:29).
Peter and John preaching for conversions (Acts 2,3,4,); Peter before the Council (Acts 5:29); Stephen to the Sanhedrin (Acts 7).
Fear that is good fear is not a lack of boldness. For example, after the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, “great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events” (Acts 5:11). Remember, Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife!
M. HALLMARK 13 – GOD REQUIRES THE UNUSUAL Peter went to the house of Cornelius where “the circumcised believers...were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles” (Acts 10:23-48).
It may require us going against some of our preconceptions or religious prejudices, preferences, traditions or rituals! We really do need to be a continual new wineskin so He can keep pouring in new wine.