New Wine for New Wineskins December 2012

By , December 1, 2012 11:59 am

The Kingdom Is Our Inheritance

A couple of weeks ago I showed a video clip to our church as an introduction to the message.  I told the folks that for some of us the video would take us back somewhere – that we would identify with it, and that it would strike a chord with us – and that we may even have a deep longing to return to that place of identification.  I also said that I believed that for others of us it would be like an alien experience, and that although there may be some level of identification it would be mostly alien and we would struggle to appreciate why anyone would want to go back there…  I told them that our response to the content of the video clip might help us to identify where we are at on our journey forward into the fullness of our heavenly Father’s more than enough!  You can watch this clip by clicking here

The previous week I had spoken about revival being our inheritance, but I had a major Holy Spirit niggle while I was speaking that continued after the message was over. Please don’t get me wrong – the substance of the message was the truth, but has anyone else noticed the pressure that is on us to speak about revival?  It feels as though you aren’t deemed to be very spiritual if you are not “hungry for revival”!  But what did Jesus say?

Luke 12: 32

“Do not fear, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you…revival (no, he didn’t say that)…it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”

Revival may be the inheritance we received from our natural forefathers, but our heavenly Father longs to give us the kingdom as our inheritance.

Revivals come and go – they always end.  They can achieve some things while they last – but they always come to an end.  However, the kingdom is everlasting!  The kingdom never ends!

Psalm 145: 13

“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations”

Luke 1: 32 – 34

“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest;  and the LORD God will give him the throne of his father David.  And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Jesus gave us authority over all the power of the enemy so that nothing could hurt or harm us anymore (Luke 10: 19).  Of course, all authority comes with the responsibility to exercise that authority.  A couple of years ago I woke up with these words resonating loudly in my spirit, “Tell my people that they have the authority to say, STOP‘!”  We have been given the authority to say “STOP” to sin, to sickness, to oppression, to poverty, and to every other manifestation of the curse.  Four weeks ago I heard these words in my spirit, “I have called, appointed, and anointed you to help my people move from the milk of revival to the meat of responsibility”.

The problem is that ‘revival‘ is an Old Covenant word and Old Covenant concept.  You will find the word ‘revive‘ or ‘revived‘ around 25 times in the OT – 9 of these times in Psalm 119.  Here are some examples:

Revive us and we will call upon your name….Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you….Revive us according to your word….Revive me in your way….Revive me in your righteousness….Revive me according to your loving-kindness….Revive me according to your justice….Revive me according to your judgements….Revive me, O Lord, for your name’s sake….O Lord, revive your work in the midst of the years….

These statements are all appeals to God’s sovereignty which is why you will still hear people today speak about revival as a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit.  The problem is that in the New Covenant, God in his sovereignty sovereignly chose to give new creation man personal responsibility to exercise the authority and dominion that has been restored to him.

The only reference to any kind of revival in the New Covenant is in Romans 7: 9 where Paul says:

“I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died”

When we experience revival we experience a revival of the law that exposes the awfulness of sin, and so it instills a fear of God that can actually result in increasing the distance between us and our relationship with our heavenly Father.  Revival magnifies the holiness of God and the wretchedness of man.  But in the kingdom, the goodness – the mercy and the grace of God are magnified and so even where sin abounds, grace abounds much more (Romans 5: 20).

The Old Covenant was about God and his people.  The New Covenant is about Father and his children.  There is a major difference!  You can never understand kingdom until you first understand Father.

You may think I am quibbling over semantics and fussing about words, but mis-naming or mis-calling something can have serious effects.  Jesus didn’t teach us to pray that Our Father in heaven would sovereignly send revival – he taught us to invite our Father’s kingdom to come.  I believe we need to stop seeking / pursuing / going after revival, and do instead what Jesus told us to do and to always ask for and seek our Father’s kingdom.

After a revival has ended God’s people can still perish in the wilderness, but in the kingdom his children get to live in the promised land with an ever-increasing revelation and experience of the Father’s goodness!

I believe that John the Baptist was supposed to be the last revivalist as he was the last of the Old Covenant prophets.  When he preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand….” it was different from when Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand…”  John’s understanding of his own message was incomplete.  That is obvious in the confusion he and his disciples experienced when confronted with the fullness of Jesus’ ministry.  Study for yourself and compare John’s message with the message of Jesus.

Jesus himself said that John was the greatest of the Old Covenant prophets, but that even the least in the kingdom was greater than him.

I have always wondered why revivals were unsustainable. I now realise that this is because Jesus brought an end to revival and gave us an entrance into an everlasting kingdom!  If we fail to simply pray as Jesus taught us, and thus allow ourselves to become misaligned with the kingdom, we will fall back to default Old Covenant revival mode!

It is essential that every new creation believer successfully completes the transition from the Old to the New Covenant or they will be stuck in a half-way house that produces revivalists that sound like John the Baptist and where kingdom preachers are often misunderstood and even rejected outright!

Paul told the men at Ephesus (Acts 19) that their experience was limited because they were stuck in revivalist mode.

Jesus came not only preaching but also demonstrating the kingdom that never ends.  He was the Word made flesh, and so he was revealing more in his words and actions could be just seen and heard superficially.  Apparently there was a saying common among Jewish Rabbis that stated, “When the Messiah comes, he will interpret the passages for us;  when the Messiah comes he will interpret every word of every passage for us;  when the Messiah comes he will interpret every letter of every word of every passage for us; and when the Messiah comes he will interpret the spaces between every letter of every word of every passage for us.

Jesus said that those who hear his words and do them are like a wise man who dug down deep below the surface and build their house on a solid foundation.  Paul said to Timothy that he should, “Study to show yourself approved by God…a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analysing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skilfully teaching] the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2: 15)

The Rabbis believed there were four levels of understanding: 1. The simple, superficial story; 2.  The hinted at meaning; 3.  Interpreting line upon line, precept upon precept;  4. The hidden meaning.

Revivals make converts but the kingdom makes disciples.  Jesus said to preach the kingdom and to make disciples.  He said to his disciples, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” (Luke 8: 10)

Fear not!  It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom! But remember – you must understand Father or you will struggle to understand kingdom.  In the account given by Jesus in Luke 15 of the father and his two sons, he said that the father divided his living – his life – between them.  The older brother had an Old Covenant ‘revivalist’ mindset – a servant mentality and sin-consciousness that distanced him from the father and limited his expectation – causing him to miss the fullness of the father’s kingdom.  The younger brother took a bit of a detour but eventually he came back and received the father’s kingdom – including the revelation of sonship and righteousness-consciousness. Remember – this account is much more about the goodness of the father than it is about the badness of the sons.

The Old Covenant is concerned with containing and controlling the old sin nature, but the New Covenant is about receiving a new nature.

And so, if you watched the video clip and it felt a bit alien to you it could be because you have begun to understand and experience the kingdom.  It is as alien to you as Jesus’ ministry was to the experience of John the Baptist and those who wanted a revival of the ‘old time religion’.

If you have experienced the revivalist stuff then it can be a difficult and painful transition to make.  I can testify to that.  Jesus said that new wine must have new wineskins.  I believe that one interpretation of this is that the New Covenant must have kingdom mindsets. He also said those who have tasted the old don’t always desire the new because the say the old is better.  How often has fresh fire been rejected as false fire?

Remember – the distinction between revival and kingdom is not just word games.  I believe that there have been many times when the kingdom has come in full manifestation but because it was mis-named a revival what should have continued and grown and spread tragically ended.

Until we leave the concept of revival in the past where it belongs we will always fail to walk in the fullness of the precepts that that release the fullness of the kingdom and invite us to take responsibility as good stewards who ensure that the influence of the kingdom invades the whole earth and the Father’s perfect will is experienced by every person.

There is an account in John 8: 1 – 11 that I believe perfectly illustrates the difference between an Old Covenant revivalist mindset and a New Covenant kingdom mindset.

The scribes and pharisees wanted to know if Jesus had really come to bring revival and whether or not he would agree with the law’s judgement on sin.  Of course, Jesus would never disagree with the law from an Old Covenant perspective – but he had come to bring a new perspective and to institute and establish a New Covenant.  Jesus came to restore the kingdom!

Many years ago I asked the Lord (because he is the only one who was there that I could ask) what it was that he wrote on the ground.  You can test this if you like but I felt the answer that he gave me was that he wrote on the ground with the same finger that he had written on the tablets of the law and so he wrote exactly the same as he had written for Moses – “You shall not commit adultery“.  But in revival – a revival of the law where sin is revived – which is what they wanted, the badness of sin is magnified – the badness of sin as an offence to the Lord God Almighty!  “You shall not” causes sin to become very personal and the bar is instantly raised.  You looked, you thought, you imagined, you fantasised,  and so the sinfulness of sin becomes unbearable.  No wonder these guys slunk off one by one – they got what they asked for but they got more than they bargained for!

The pharisees got revival – but the woman got the kingdom!  The pharisees discovered how the righteous Judge of all the earth feels about sin, but the woman encountered how the Father feels about sinners!

Jesus came to reveal the Father!  He said that if you had seen him you had seen the Father.  He came to reveal the Father’s name (John 17).  Jesus revealed the heart of the Father to this woman.  She was, after all, someone’s wife, probably a mother to children, and someone’s daughter.  Which father would like to see his daughter stoned, regardless of what she had done? Jesus said that our heavenly Father feels the same way – except much more!  In the kingdom, an awareness of the mercy and grace, and the goodness of the Father are magnified!  “Go and sin no more” is not the language of revival – it is the language of the kingdom!  Remember – it is about moving from milk to meat and from revival to responsibility.  It is like Jesus is saying to this woman, “Don’t fall short of the glory of God in your marriage any more.  Take hold of God’s glory revealed in the marriage relationship, and enjoy all of its fullness, including the sexual aspect.”  A revivalist mentality has robbed us to a great extent of the experience of a kingdom life that is to be enjoyed in all of its fullness.  That full enjoyment of life is what Jesus said he had come to give (John 10: 10).

Our Father doesn’t want us to have revival – he wants us to have the kingdom!  He wants us to take our place of dominion, authority and responsibility.  It is our Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom.  The sin problem has been removed – it was dealt with at the Cross when God judged sin and the penalty for the awfulness of sin was paid in full. In revivals people repent and get saved but when the revival ends they think that they have reached the apex of their Christian experience and so they think there is nothing more for them than religion as usual as they long for a repeat performance.  But New Covenant reality is that the kingdom has no end and there is no limit to kingdom experience and expansion.

Isaiah 9: 7

…of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end

Fear not…it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom!  He longs to reveal and manifest his glory in every aspect of life and experience, so that we have and enjoy life in all of its fullness.

Remember – Jesus began to reveal his glory at a wedding – at a celebration of life experience.  Our eldest daughter Sarah is getting married this weekend.  She asked Jesus to be her Lord and Saviour when she was five years old and she has never wavered in that commitment.  She has been active in ministry and mission for several years and is one of the leaders in our church.  The final part of the day’s celebration will be a dance where people will enjoy themselves engaging in Scottish country dancing.  I am expecting the glory of God to manifest in the midst of that event and for people’s (believers and unbelievers alike) enjoyment and experience of this event to be heightened by God’s presence and blessing.  I am not expecting our response to his presence to cause us to flee from the dance and make for the church as was described in the video clip.  I can see unbelievers being challenged by the presence of the Lord throughout the day and by the capacity that the believers have for enjoying life without the aid of alcohol or any other chemical concoction.  I am expecting to hear of some of the sons and daughters of the Father sharing testimony and ministering into the lives of those around them if the opportunity arises.

Remember – the older brother in the Luke 15 account was stirred to anger when he heard the sound of music and dancing and refused to enter into the celebration of his brother’s restoration to the father’s kingdom, even though his father came out and pleaded with him.

I was raised in a revivalist culture and for many years I too pursued the dream of another revival that was always just over the horizon or around the next bend, and so this message is not about bashing the pursuers of revival but is an invitation to leave revival in the Old Covenant where it belongs and to enter the Father’s everlasting kingdom and invite more of his kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I may not be hungry for or pursuing revival any longer, but I have a deep desire and longing to see the kingdom come in an ever-increasing manifestation of our Father’s glory and of his presence and power that is already resident in the lives of his children.  I am hungry to see the sons and daughters of the Most High God arising and taking responsibility to go into their workplaces, their communities, their schools, colleges, and into the marketplace to preach the good news of the kingdom and to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and drive out demons so that all of those whose freedom Jesus paid for can experience and enjoy the fullness of life that he came to make possible.

Don’t pursue revival – seek the Father and his kingdom.  The kingdom is our inheritance!

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