New Wine for New Wineskins March 2015

By , March 1, 2015 7:43 pm

2015AYearOfGreatChange022oi5 – A Year Of Great Change (Part 3)

2015 – A Year Of Great Change….

It is important that we remember that perspective is everything.  How we see ourselves, other people, situations and circumstances that we face or encounter, etc will have an impact on our thinking, our words, our actions, and ultimately our destiny.

John 14: 12

12 I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father.

He (the believer) will preach, he will teach, he will heal the sick, he will cast out demons, and he will raise the dead!

I was reading 1 Chronicles 12 one morning recently and it reinforced a thought I had woken up with earlier.

I read about David’s mighty men – literally thousands of men armed and equipped for war.  Scripture records that they were valiant men, gifted men, men who were trained and equipped to fight.

The thought I had woken up with that morning was in the form of a question: “When did the church transition from an invading and occupying force to an institution?

Obviously, every army should make provision for its wounded. But when the majority of your personnel are in the hospital rather than fit for active duty you have a problem.

Here in the UK almost every news bulletin these days has an item informing us that the NHS (National Health Service) is at breaking point and cannot cope with the demand for its services.  Over the winter months the Accident & Emergency departments of many hospitals had so many people queuing that there were waiting times of several (and in some cases many) hours before patients could be seen.  During one news bulletin containing some video footage of an A&E department in a city hospital I noticed an electronic display with the message, “If you are here because you are experiencing flu symptoms…..”  I turned to Catriona in shock and asked her if people would really turn up at a hospital’s emergency department just because they thought they may have ‘flu.

It would appear that there has never been so much healthcare provision and preventative measures and advice available and yet there have never been so many sick people.

It is true that the natural often has a counterpart in the spiritual.  And so,  sometimes it seems like even though there has never been so much opportunity to be fully equipped spiritually and to engage in the fulfilment of the commission we have been given as an invading and occupying force, there have never been so many people sidelined by the obsession with getting their own needs met and having someone else do for them what they themselves have been given the responsibility and authority to do.

Because so many people perceive the church to be an institution that exists to look after them and cater for their every need we have a seriously weakened effect upon the culture we are here to invade and occupy. One church I heard of had over a hundred separate ministries – kids ministry, youth ministry, young adult ministry, singles ministry, marriage ministry, divorcees ministry, addicts ministry, various sports ministries, and who knows what else – all in an attempt to cater to everyone within their ranks. Is that really what we are here for?

Let me ask the question again:  when did the church transition from an invading and occupying force to an institution?

John 3: 16 – 21 (Amplified)

16 For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.
17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.
18 He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation—he incurs no damnation]; but he who does not believe (cleave to, rely on, trust in Him) is condemned already [he has already been convicted and has already received his sentence] because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He is condemned for refusing to let his trust rest in Christ’s name.]
19 The [basis of the] judgment (indictment, the test by which men are judged, the ground for the sentence) lies in this: the Light has come into the world, and people have loved the darkness rather than and more than the Light, for their works (deeds) were evil.
20 For every wrongdoer hates (loathes, detests) the Light, and will not come out into the Light but shrinks from it, lest his works (his deeds, his activities, his conduct) be exposed and reproved.
21 But he who practices truth [who does what is right] comes out into the Light; so that his works may be plainly shown to be what they are—wrought with God [divinely prompted, done with God’s help, in dependence upon Him].

The point at which you start believing that what Jesus accomplished at the Cross for everyone doesn’t apply to you personally and to your individual situation is the point at which you invite condemnation into your life – with all of the negative and destructive effects that accompany it.

It is the point at which you actually prefer darkness to light, death to life, sickness to health, oppression to freeedom, etc.

Someone was once asked the question, “Can a Christian have a demon?”  Their answer was very simple and very profound.  They replied, “They can have one if they want one!”  The implication of course being that if they didn’t want one then they didn’t have to have one.

John 8: 30 – 32

30 As He said these things, many believed in Him [trusted, relied on, and adhered to Him].
31 So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide (continue) in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples.
32 And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free

These Jews believed – but they had to abide/continue in the Word in order to fully experience the reality of the freedom that the Word brings!

Let me ask you an important question.  It is an important question because your answer will determine whether or not you will be able to experience the fullness of God’s provision in your life for now!

From your perspective, when does eternal (everlasting) life begin? Is it at the point that you first believe, or when you die and leave the sphere of time?

If you believe that the answer is that eternal life begins at the point that you are born again then you are instantly qualified to experience everything that God instituted when Jesus rose again from the dead, and you are destined to live a supernaturally empowered life of victory over sin and death as you continue to experience the freedom that results from believing in the fullness of God’s provision for the here and now!

Alternatively, if you believe that eternal life does not begin until you die and leave this world then you are in many respects limited in your ability to experience the fullness of salvation and all that has been provided for now.  And so, although you may still have a ticket to heaven, you will be destined to live a life of struggle against weakness, defeat, and despair!

Also, if you believe that you can lose your salvation or disinherit and forfeit eternal life then you will spend a lot of time focused on staying saved, and so you will be diverted and distracted from your primary purpose and reason for being here, which is to do the same works that Jesus did.

Recently I read something by a man who obviously has a heart to see people living all out for God and has devoted his life to the pursuit of revival.  However, he somewhat tragically stated that he basically gave himself a seventy to eighty per cent chance of making it to heaven.  I can’t accurately remember the exact figure but anything less than a hundred percent is tragic because he is missing the truth that his chances of making it are not based on his performance but on Jesus’ performance.

Of course, the fact that our salvation is not dependent upon our performance is not an excuse for performing badly, but should rather be the motivation to perform to our maximum potential, not from a place of striving but from a place of resting in the assurance that we are giving our all for the one who already gave his all for us.

It stands to reason that if we are going to do the same works Jesus did we must have the same relationship with the Father that Jesus had, because Jesus said that it was the Father who did the works.

The good news, in fact the best news, is that our relationship with the Father has already been established forever by Jesus’ perfect life of perfect obedience and perfect sacrifice.  As a result of his sinless life and sacrificial death we have been perfected forever.

When we are born again we become a new creation and we receive the nature and life of God!  That very moment we actually become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!

Remember the Jews who believed in Jesus in John 8, those to whom Jesus said that they should continue in His Word and experience the fullness of freedom?  They immediately began to stumble at his word. The problem was that they trusted in and depended more on their religious pedigree and heritage than in Jesus, and so Jesus said that they were actually of their father the devil. They were aligning themselves with the father of lies, the thief who only ever comes to steal, kill, and destroy. They were missing their inheritance as the sons of God by not fully entering into relationship with Abba Father from whom every good and perfect gift comes!

They were stuck with elements of their old nature, and so they could never enjoy the blessing and freedom of new creation living as long as religion and tradition meant more to them than the Word of God!  For many years I have tried to counsel people that their desire for God and the fullness of his kingdom must exceed their allegiance to man-made systems of religion and tradition and generational associations with denominational structures (that is not an anti-denominational statement) or they will stumble and fall short of everything that is on their heavenly Father’s heart for them to experience and enjoy.  One day the Lord summed it up for me this way:  People must break out of the cultural mores (the essential or characteristic customs and conventions of a community) if they are to break into the more of God.

Jesus said that the enemy of our souls comes to steal the word from us. I believe that the word that he comes to steal is the word of righteousness, because by stealing this word he limits the potential for maturity in people’s lives, the maturity that leads to unity of the faith and a true manifestation of the body of Christ.  That is something the enemy most definitely does not want to happen and so he opposes it with everything he has at his disposal including every dirty trick imaginable.

Hebrews 5: 9 – 14

And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

The word of righteousness declares that there is no room for condemnation and manifestation of the curse in our lives, and from now on all we can expect from our heavenly Father is good.  The only message we carry is good news, and the only ministry we have is to do good and bringing healing to all.  Paul called it the word and ministry of reconciliation.  God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.  He has already done it and there is nothing left for us to do but to proclaim the good news and minister everything that reconciliation has made possible.

If you can’t hear that then I can’t help you. If you can’t see that you are already as righteous as you can ever be then you will not be able to hear or retain the word of righteousness and so you will be unable to see God’s perfect will accomplished in your life. You will have no heavenly vision and where there is no vision people perish, or as the NKJV puts it, where there is no revelation people cast off restraint.

The word of righteousness is the foundation laid by Jesus himself upon which the church is built.  That is why the enemy has been working overtime to steal that word, to dishonour the true new covenant prophets and kill their message, and to attempt to destroy the foundation.

Psalms 11: 3

When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?

The answer to that question is, quite simply, not a lot.  And everything they do achieve will eventually come down because of a faulty foundation.  There can be lots of genuine and heartfelt activity and much pursuit of revival but when the momentum runs out it all ends the same way in more frustration and so there has to be a fresh stirring up of old covenant fervour in an attempt to whip people back into shape and try and move the hand of God. Sadly, it is often the most sincere and genuine God-seekers who get caught up in this.

The good news is that Jesus came to put an end to that ultimately hopeless cycle.

Not that there is anything wrong with fervour and excitement.  But they don’t have to be temporary experiences stirred up by over-zealous revivalists.  In our midweek prayer meeting last week joy and dancing broke out spontaneously.  I heard the Holy Spirit say, “This is intercession”.  I realised that we were standing in the gap on behalf of our brethren who are still trying to make something happen that has already happened, and for those who are still without God and without hope in the world.  After all, Scripture is clear that, “In His presence there is fullness of joy and at His right hand (our permanent position in Christ) there are pleasures forevermore.

Jesus revealed to a woman whom religion would have excluded that the Father is no longer looking for endless sacrifices of penitent contrition, but he is seeking extravagant worshippers in spirit and in truth.  There is no record of this lady falling down at Jesus’ feet and confessing her long list of failures and recounting the history of her miserable life.  Rather, there is a prophetic picture of a lady overtaken with excitement and overflowing with an infectious joy that empowered her to overcome all the previously existing barriers to communication with her fellow citizens.  It was no longer about her, it was about the One who had set her free!  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!  That is something to dance about!

Jesus wants that message broadcast throughout the earth until it becomes the experience of all those that he sacrificed so much to provide it for.

Ephesians 4: 11 – 16

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

I will conclude this month’s newsletter with a controversial but prophetic statement that flies in the face of much of what has become acceptable religious tradition even among the best and most sincere of people.  It is a statement that both highlights the problem and reveals the answer:

As long as sin is preached and the weaknesses and failures of the old nature are continually highlighted in the Church, rather than faith and the strengths and possibilities of new creation life, then the fullness of God’s purposes for His people and for the people of the world can never be fully accomplished!

And that would be a tragedy.  However…..

2015 – A Year Of Great Change….

Leave a Reply

Panorama Theme by Themocracy