New Wine for New Wineskins November 2021

By , November 2, 2021 9:39 pm

Perspective Is Everything (Part 4)

Ephesians 4: 11 – 12

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ.

Previously I have made the statement that although there are many ways that we can be equipped for ministry, there is nothing or no-one who can prepare you for ministry. I have also said that I believe that this particularly applies to a ministry that is a continuation of Jesus’ ministry. And that is what we are to be.

The Greek word translated equipping is katartismoss and was used for setting a bone in surgery, restoring or fixing what was broken or out of joint, or setting in order.

Previously in this series we have seen that although Jesus equipped his disciples for ministry it very quickly became apparent that they were not always prepared for being a continuation of Jesus’ ministry. I believe one of the primary reasons for this lack of preparedness was the strength of the tradition that still existed in their minds. They still viewed many things from an old covenant perspective and so to a great extent they still had an old covenant worldview. And perspective is everything.

perspectivea particular attitude toward or way of regarding something / someone.

Put simply, perspective is the way you see yourself, other people, the world, and what happens to you. It’s the foundation of your outlook on life and the source of your attitude. As I have said before I believe that we need a change in perspective if we are going to fulfil our calling and the commission we have been given because perspective is everything.

Many of the supernatural and miraculous acts that Jesus performed were not just supposed to be impactful for those present at the time – they were teaching moments that established principles for new covenant ministry and were meant to bring a new perspective, because perspective is everything.

I believe that John chapter 9 contains a very powerful prophetic picture.

John 9: 1 – 5

1 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents sins?” 3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents sins,” Jesus answered. “but so that the power of God could be seen in him. 4 We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. 5 But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

The disciples wanted to know whose sin had caused the man to be born blind because that was the old way of seeing things – the old covenant perspective. Have you noticed how many folks are still obsessed with other people’s sin? It is possible to become so blinded by an obsession with the cause that you miss the cure.

But Jesus responded to the questioning of his disciples by basically saying that the old way of seeing things was over and that a new way of seeing things had begun. Love was replacing law and so they needed a new perspective because perspective is everything.

We have had thousands of years of seeing what sin can do but now that Jesus has dealt with and made provision for the sin problem it is time to see what God’s love and mercy and grace can do as it is accessed by faith.

The old way of seeing things said you get what you deserve but the new way of seeing things says you no longer have to get what you deserve and instead you can have access to everything you don’t deserve – and all the limits are off. The old slave mindset must be displaced and replaced by the new mindset of a son.

Romans 8: 15

15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage [slavery] again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

We are sons of God. Jesus said, “I give you authority” and so it is time to use it because it is time to be a continuation of Jesus’ ministry.

Mark 1: 22

22 And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

The prodigal son had no authority in the pigpen but as soon as he was back in his father’s household and re-engaged in his father’s business his authority was fully restored. He had made his way home with a pre-rehearsed prayer that he hoped would give him servant status on the fringes of his father’s household – a prayer that was based on an old covenant perspective of mercy. But he walked into the superabundance of grace and discovered the new covenant reality that where sin has abounded grace abounds even more.      

The enemy of our souls – the accuser – has worked hard to lock us into the old way of seeing things so that we are deceived into believing that we really deserve the bad stuff and so we can struggle to believe for and freely receive the good stuff – including the fullness of everything that Jesus purchased for us at the Cross.

With this man in John 9 we have the opportunity to learn  some key lessons that can help us to never again miss out on God’s glory – so that we can freely receive it all and freely give it all away.

It is time for a new perspective because perspective is everything.

I believe that we not only need a new perspective in regard to how we look at those who are a part of the harvest we are commissioned to reap, but we also need a new perspective in regard to how we respond to the prophetic word of God as we ourselves receive ministry and equipping. We also need a sharpened discernment in regards to perceiving how others are receiving the prophetic word as we minister to them.

John 9: 6 – 17

6 Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man¿s eyes. 7 He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!

Jesus was sent by the Father and according to Hebrews 3: 1 he is the apostle and high priest of our confession. He also sent us in the same way that the Father sent him. There is a picture here that distinguishes the apostolic message and ministry as one that digs down through tradition and establishes a new foundation upon which to build.

8 His neighbours and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!” But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!”

An encounter with Jesus’ message and ministry will leave you the same person but radically different – where you once were blind you now can see.

10 They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?” 11 He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, “Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.” So I went and washed, and now I can see!” 12 “Where is he now?” they asked. “I don’t know,” he replied. 13 Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees

This could be viewed as a big mistake but remember it is a teaching moment and it is important to understand that the world is still full of self-righteous pharisees who are ready and willing to pronounce judgement on others based on who they perceive them to be.

14 because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. 15 The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them.17 Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?” The man replied, “He is a prophet.”

It has intrigued me for years how a group of people can hear the same message and yet with very different responses and results. I believe that the reason this man received so easily from Jesus is – very simply – that he believed Jesus was a prophet and that what he spoke was the word of God.

Remember, Jesus said that he was anointed to preach good news to the poor – to announce and proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and the day when the free favours of God profusely abound – even to the point of extravagant excess.

The prophetic word comes to bring us heaven’s perspective and reveal the Father’s heart. But if you don’t honour the prophet – the messenger – then you will not be able to access the fullness of the favour that the message promises you. If you see the messenger as someone who has just taken it upon themselves to get up and speak spiritual sounding words on a Sunday morning in order to fulfil some kind of religious obligation, or that what they are saying is just their personal opinion or personal interpretation of what God’s word says, then you will hear the message very differently from someone who honours the gift and the calling of God upon the messenger’s life and who honours the obedience and faithfulness of the messenger in fulfilling that call to hear from heaven and pass on what they hear undiluted and uncompromised in order to offer hope to the hopeless regardless of what they are facing.

In Mark 7: 13 Jesus said to the religious leaders that they had made the word of God of no effect – rendered the word of God ineffective – through the tradition which they had handed down.

But listen to what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2: 13:

13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

It would appear that the perspective from which you hear the word of God – whether you receive the word of God as the word of men or as  the word of God himself will  determine whether the word of God works in you effectively or not. Perspective really is everything because how you hear will determine what you say in response which will in turn determine the results you see as you honour the messenger and the message.

Matthew 13: 54 – 58

53 When Jesus had finished telling these stories and illustrations, he left that part of the country. 54 He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” 55 Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. 56 All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” 57 And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honoured everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” 58 And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.

The way that they saw Jesus determined how they heard him and how they heard him determined what they said in response and ultimately determined what they saw and experienced. This happened to Jesus in response to his message and ministry and so we need to be prepared to experience similar responses without being tempted to give up or quit on people – because it is time for ministry, a ministry for which we are being equipped. But are we prepared? Can we handle being ignored or disregarded? Because if not then we are not prepared for ministry. Not everyone, or even the majority of people, will necessarily be ready to welcome you with open arms even though your message really is the best news ever.

Jesus encountered this when he first returned in the power of the Holy Spirit to Nazareth. Please note that he returned in the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit. And he also experienced the same reaction and response on other occasions.

Matthew 10: 40 – 41

40 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward.”

He who receives a prophet. The receipt of the message is generally dependent upon the reception given to the messenger. I used to always say that it doesn’t matter what you think of the messenger but that is not what Jesus is saying here. Jesus is saying that if you don’t honour the messenger then you won’t benefit from the message. What you think of the messenger is a reflection of what you think of the one who the messenger represents – the one who sent the messenger with the message. I believe that a prophet’s reward is the fulfilment of the word that he brings.

Luke 6: 46 – 49

46 “So why do you keep calling me “Lord, Lord!” when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

The storm-proof house is the very heart of the message that the Lord Jesus Christ has passed on to us and it is the substance of the ministry we have been commissioned to be a continuation of. When we hear the message do we reject it due to a lack of honour for the messenger or do we recognise that the message is from heaven and say, “Yes Lord, Amen, bring it on.”

We have to dig down through a lot of stuff (including generations of man-made tradition) in order to build our house on Jesus. The good news is that we don’t get what we deserve  any more, we now get what he deserves. We get what he has already provided – in fact we already have it because we got it when we were born again as new creations. We may look the same but the truth is that we are very different because on the inside we are recreated in the image of Jesus.

Those who honour the messenger apply the message and receive the fruit of the message but those who don’t honour the messenger don’t apply the message and so nothing changes in their experience. Too many people fail to receive the promises of God fulfilled in their lives because they fail to honour those who God has sent to help them receive from him.

Luke 17: 11 – 19

11 As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. 12 As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, 13 crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us! 14 He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. 15 One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” 16 He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

I have asked this question many times over the last 30+ years – where are the nine? Only one man honoured the messenger enough to return and give thanks. It says that they were all cleansed of their leprosy but only one saw that he was healed.

As I was reading through 1 & 2 Kings recently and as I read the record of the kings who did some of what was right while failing to deal with the stuff that was wrong I could see a picture emerging for me of the church that does enough right to get people born again but then fails to disciple them out of the wrong stuff and into all of the right stuff. Religious tradition has taught us that our encounter with Jesus has brought us forgiveness of sin, given us entrance to the church, and qualified us to go to heaven one day. That is all wonderful but it is not the fullness of the gospel. Our encounter with Jesus has birthed us into his kingdom as the saved and the righteousness of God – as the healed and the delivered.

One man saw that he was healed by honouring the messenger enough to hear the message and believe that it is enough to bring about everything that is included in the full salvation of spirit, soul, and body. As a result he saw – he received revelation – of the fullness of heaven’s provision and so he returned to give thanks. Jesus tells him that his faith has healed him.

Only one of the ten receives, experiences and sees the fullness of God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will for his life – his whole life – even though the same measure of healing had been freely provided for all ten. These ten men asked Jesus for mercy but they had an old covenant perspective of mercy which limited their expectation to receive by faith from the fullness of God’s grace.

The blind man in John 9 honoured Jesus as a prophet and so he did what he said and came back seeing. He had a brand new perspective of the mercy and grace that is accessed by faith and so the old way of seeing things was gone for him because perspective is everything. I believe as the perspective of mercy and grace is restored it will change the way we look at people (beginning with ourselves) and the people we look at will be changed.

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