New Wine for New Wineskins October 2019

By , October 1, 2019 9:51 pm

Humility (x2)

Romans 12: 1 – 2

1 I beseech [urge…appeal to] you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service [and spiritual worship]. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Be transformed (which means a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means) by the renewing of your mind.

That really is a powerful statement – but what does it mean for us?

1 Corinthians 2: 16

16 For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart.

We have the mind of Christ. That is another powerful statement, but what does it mean to have the mind of Christ? What does a renewed mind look like? All of the answers are in the word of God.

Philippians 2: 5 – 7

5 Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] 6 Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, 7 But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the form of a bondservant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.

Last time in Part One we looked at Humility (x1). We saw that Jesus didn’t come to earth as God to show us how to do the God stuff – he came as a man to show us how to do the man stuff.

Let me clarify something. Jesus the eternal Son of God stripped himself of his Divine privileges, but he retained his Divine nature as well as taking on human nature – he really was 100% God and 100% man.

In the gospel of John we see the “I AM” statements of Jesus, as he occasionally reveals his identity as the eternally existent Son of God.

I AM he; I AM the bread of life; I AM the light of the world; Before Abraham was I AM; I AM the door; I AM the good shepherd; I AM the resurrection and the life; I AM the way, the truth, and the life; I AM the true vine.

However, it is important that we understand that Jesus lived in perfect submission to God the Father, and the Father did the supernatural works.

Hebrews 5: 8

8 Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.

What did he suffer? I believe he suffered humiliation. As I said already, he is God – but he came as a man. He has been God from all eternity and so he knew how to do the God stuff. But he didn’t come to do the God stuff – he came to do the man stuff and so he lived as a man in perfect submission to Father God just like man had been originally created to live. In the world humiliation can be a very negative experience but in the kingdom of God it is a positive experience.

John Bevere said, “True humility is absolute obedience and dependence on God.”

Jesus is the King of heaven and yet he came as a servant. The Greek word is doulos – a bondservant, a slave, a person in a permanent role of service and holding no right to leave his place of service.

It can be humiliating when you are in the learning process. Who remembers learning to drive? Some of us had previous experience of driving before taking lessons from a qualified instructor, but we were told that we needed to lose our bad habits if we were going to learn to drive properly as required by an examiner in order to pass the driving test.

Remember what Jesus said regarding following him.

Mark 8: 34

34 “If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself [forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his own interests] and take up his cross.”

He invites us to come and learn from him.

Matthew 20: 26 – 28

26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

We have been used to being in control of our own lives – making our own decisions and choosing our own path in life, living independently and narcissistically.

And so Jesus came to show us how to be real men. I am talking about mankind – God created man, male and female he created them. In Christ there is neither male nor female.

And so to Humility (x2).

As I said last time, it is when we think that we are here to do the God stuff that we get into problems.

Remember, Jesus condensed all of the Law and the Prophets – all of the Old Covenant – into two simple statements: love God and love people, which in action becomes serve God and serve people.

When we let the mind of Christ be in us we are transformed from self-loving and self-serving to God-serving and people-serving. We are transformed from self-centred to God centred and people centred.

Catriona has a personal slogan that governs a lot of her decisions and choices – “People are important.”

The good news of the gospel is always communicated most effectively by servants – those who recognise that service is love in action. Service is the expression of love, and so those who are followers of Jesus are committed to serving God and serving people.

Jesus said that the greatest among you will be the servant of all. The greatest servant is the one who knows he is here to do the man stuff – to serve God and to serve people.

The greatest servant will never lord it over anyone – or use or abuse anyone – but will always be a blessing.

Remember what Jesus said in John 14: 30.

30 ….the ruler of this world is coming, but he has nothing in Me.

Jesus was the original Teflon man.

The God stuff is the supernatural stuff – the man stuff is the obedience stuff, obeying God as a faithful servant as he places us in position where we can be a channel through which he reaches fallen, broken people and supernaturally restores them.

Not surprisingly Jesus became really good at the man stuff. In fact he became a real crowd-puller as the Father did the God stuff through him. His disciples got to experience some of the associated fame too and eventually began to fuss among themselves about who was the greatest among them. When Jesus got wind of what they were up to he didn’t miss and hit the wall.

Luke 22: 25 – 26

25 Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26 But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.”

Just as Jesus’ success was really taking off and his popularity among the common people was limiting the attempts of the religious leaders to shut him down he begins to hear his Father say that it is time to fulfil the purpose of his coming and submit to death on the Cross, which is probably the most humiliating death ever conceived by a wicked mind.

It is time for Humility (x2).

Philippians 2: 8

8 And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still
further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the
cross!

Jesus began trying to prepare his disciples for this second humbling but they were on a roll in the wake of his success. Life had never been so good and so they weren’t ready to hear of such craziness.

But God had a bigger plan. God so loved the whole world – not just that little region – and so Jesus had a higher calling – the greater love calling – to lay down his life as the once and for all and forever sufficient sacrifice that would open the door for all of mankind to be saved.

John 16: 5 – 11

5 “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

Mark 8: 31 – 35

31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

Can you feel Peter’s humiliation? We can’t do the man stuff until we are submitted to the God stuff.

When ministry starts to become all about us, centred on us, built on us and our reputation, that is when the second humbling – humility (x2) – kicks in. It has to, because we are beginning to get in the way of the Father’s purpose in sending Jesus as the Saviour of the world, and it limits the potential for every son of God to fulfil their ministry and their calling and commission.

When we get back to the man stuff – loving and serving God and loving and serving people and we do it with no personal agenda we will see the biggest paradigm shift – the greatest mega-shift – we have ever seen in the church. It will transcend any of the historical short-lived revivals, and we will begin to see the harvest we have been waiting for coming in.

It has been said said that the church is not an organisation – it is an organism, but some level of structure and organisation is always necessary. It is when the organism becomes top heavy with organisation and much of the life is squeezed out that we have problems.

Someone put it this way:

The term organic church does not refer to a particular model of church. Instead, we believe that the New Testament vision of church is a living, breathing, dynamic, mutually participatory, every-member-functioning, Christ-centred, communal expression of the body of Christ.

It can be difficult [but not impossible] to have that kind of organic culture in too large a group of people unless you have that culture as a core value and you maintain it as you build big by acting small.

Organic farming is generally smaller scale and takes more time because the farmers refrain from using the chemicals and growth hormones used by conventional farmers.

It is the same in organic church as we forego all the modern growth strategies that may get lots of people into church but don’t generally bring them to maturity to where they reproduce.

Real discipleship takes time to produce but the benefits are phenomenal.

If someone was to tell you that they could train you to be a great preacher who could lead 10,000 people to Jesus every year would you be interested in signing up?

In one year you would have 10,000 converts, and by year 10 you would have 100,000 converts. That would certainly put your ministry on the map, and then after 50 years of ministry you could report that you have made 500,000 converts.

But what about if instead of training you to be great preachers the same person offered to train each of you to make one disciple a year, and then the disciple you made was capable of making one disciple a year, and their disciples would also make one disciple a year, and so on.

After the first year there would be 2 disciple-makers which doesn’t sound like much and probably wouldn’t attract many accolades or invitations to speak at big conferences.

However, after 30-odd years with this strategy there would actually be more disciple makers than there are people on the planet. In other words, the whole world would not only have been reached with the good news of Jesus Christ but everyone would be saved and God’s perfect will that none perish would be accomplished.

There is one downside to this strategy if your desire is for personal fame because there is a strong possibility that your name could become lost somewhere in the maths.

Some time back the Lord told me to tell his people that they are placeholders. When I began to research what this meant I discovered that one definition of placeholders is “significant zeroes” in the decimal presentation of a number. For example, the number 1,000,001 (one million and one) contains seven significant zeroes that make sense of the space between the two ones. I began to realise that when we embrace our role of disciple-maker we make sense of the space between the Father and all of the lost people who need to hear the good news of salvation. We are not insignificant, but we are significant zeroes who make sense of the space between the only one who can save and the ones he came to save.

This is the purpose of the second humbling. Jesus knew that even he could never reach the whole world as one man anointed by God. He told his disciples that it was better that he went away so that the Holy Spirit could come upon all of God’s children.

Jesus’ plan and strategy from the very beginning has been making disciples who make disciples. If we are going to fulfil our commission and successfully reach the lost that God loves so much then a lot of the big and bulky structures that are built on one man or woman or a few men or women will become increasingly redundant – and much of celebrity christianity will fizzle out – as God’s people take personal responsibility to fulfil their commission as disciple-makers rather than having a second hand role by yielding our responsibility to someone else.

At Pentecost the message was that what was happening was the fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel.

Acts 2: 17 – 18, 21

17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy….
21 And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

When the church that began in Jerusalem became too bulky and appeared to be stagnating God allowed [permissive versus perfect will] persecution to scatter the believers. The next thing you hear is that Philip is reaching the lost down in Samaria.

Listen to Paul’s testimony:

Galatians 1: 15 – 24

15 But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvellous grace. Then it pleased him 16 to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. 17 Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus. 18 Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. 19 The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a lie. 21 After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And still the churches in Christ that are in Judea didn’t know me personally. 23 All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” 24 And they praised God because of me.

When Paul stayed in Ephesus for two years to establish the church there the whole region round about heard the good news and new churches were planted – not by Paul personally but by those who received his message and ran with it.
It is time for organic church to be restored – where every member of the Body is involved in disciple-making and where there is a strong vision for planting out new churches in every community in every nation.

It is always good for the Body to come together regionally in large gatherings on a regular basis for mutual encouragement and celebration, but the ongoing work of disciple-making will always function better in a smaller group – learning to love God and to love one another and to love the lost of our local community – learning to serve God and to serve one another and to serve the lost people around us.

Statistics show that over 80% of those who come to Christ don’t come through crusade evangelism or christian TV or radio or the internet or books or wandering into a church out of curiosity but 80 – 90% come through friendship evangelism.

Remember, it takes the grace of the second humbling to forego the personal fame associated with a successful ministry. I said previously that in disciple-making your name may get lost in the maths, but it will never be lost in heaven. Jesus proved that.

Philippians 2: 9

9 Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, 10 That in (at) the name of Jesus every knee should (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 And every tongue [frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus is Lord, but we also have been promised a reward if we will take hold of humility (x2).

1 Peter 5: 1 – 11

1 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Humility (x2).

Are you in?

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