Made for Glory by John Yates

Isa 43:1-7 ESV
Ps 8: 1-9 ESV
2 Cor 3:7 – 18 ESV
John 1:1-14 ESV

Introduction

As a depressed teenager, especially when on alcohol, I was driven almost to the point of insanity about why I existed. I had no sense of being created to reflect the splendour of the glory of God and to display the overwhelming weight or worth of God’s character. An experience of God’s glory changes people forever.

Abraham was able to take his beloved son Isaac up the mountain to sacrifice him at God’s command because the glory of God had appeared to him1)See Biblical References Gen 22: 1-24 ESV; Acts 7:2 ESV. Moses became the leader of Israel because he saw the glory of God in the burning bush (Ex 3: 1-22 ESV).

The prophets faithfully brought the word of the Lord to a rebellious nation because they first had insights into the glory2)See Biblical References Isa 6:1-13 ESV; Ezek 1:1 ESV ff..

When Christ turned water into wine we’re told, “This…was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And [so that] his disciples believed in him.(John 2:11 ESV).

The glory revealed in the blinding light that shone on Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3 ESV) converted him from a terrorist into Christ’s apostle Paul.

We were created and it is encountering with the glory which makes us more like God. see it or not, glory is everywhere.

Made for Glory

Since the psalmists testify,the skies declare the glory of God” and humans have been crowned “with glory and honour” (Ps 19:1; Ps 8:5 ESV) all of us we were born under a canopy of God’s glory and encounter the glory in every other person.

So when the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sri Lanka exhorted the government to punish terrorists “mercilessly, because only animals can behave like that” his curses (James 3:9 ESV) effectively he denied these truths and that Christ died for the worst of sinners (1 Tim 1:15 ESV). To understand what Jesus has redeemed we must first come to terms with the gravity of what we have lost.

Losing the Glory

When a baby is born it’s natural for people to say, “s/he looks like his/her mother/father.”

When God first looked at humans made in his likeness and glory3)See Biblical References Gen 1:26-28 ESV; Isa 43:6-7 ESV he saw the reflection of his own grandeur and it gave him tremendous joy (Prov 8:22-31 ESV).

Adam and Eve were radiant with the glory of God as they walked in love, peace, joy and dignity with God and creation (cf. 1 Cor 11:7 ESV). Then when the serpent tempted Eve humans effectively said to God, “We don’t want you as our heavenly dad, we want the freedom to be like the serpent.” (cf. John 8:44 ESV).

Paul says of all those who have fallen short away from the splendour of the Lord, vs.22Claiming to be wise, they became fools, vs.23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.(Rom 1:22-23 ESV)4)See Biblical References cf. Ps 106:19-20 ESV.

To one degree or other, every Australian has exchanged the glory of God for idols like happy families, financial security, ecstatic experiences, entertainment, sport, sexual identity, nice houses, pleasant churches and so on.

all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God(Rom 3:23 ESV), can sound like abstract theology, but the cost of our despising God’s magnificence is horribly clear when you visit a nursing home full of dribbling people, a neo-natal ward where little babies are dying, a psychiatric institution where a parishioner tells you he is Jesus, have a friend with terminal cancer before their time, witness a marriage breakdown, know someone who commits suicide or take a funeral of a 12 year old murdered by a teenager in cold blood.

Made for the indescribable glory of godliness fallen humanity is crippled by shame and enslaved through the power of sin, Satan and death (Heb 2:14-15 ESV). This is a tragedy so profound that it can only be remedied by “the Father of glory(Eph 1:17 ESV) and only at the cost of his own Son.

From the foundation of the world the Father’s plan was to share with us the glory seen “in the face of Jesus Christ(2 Cor 4:6 ESV), unlike the glory Adam lost but an incorruptible glory that can never perish5)See Biblical References 2 Pet 1:4 ESV; 1 Cor 15:42-43 ESV because it is a glory built through sacrifice.

Eternal Glory

At the start of his Gospel John summarises its message, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth(John 1:14 ESV).

Jesus is the visible glory of the invisible God (Col 1:15 ESV).

His teaching, his power to cast out demons and do miracles and heal astounded people so that they spontaneously glorified God6)See Biblical References Mark 1:27 ESV; Luke 7:11-17 ESV; John 7:46 ESV.

But none of these great marvels could permanently deliver disabled humanity from the curse of sin, Satan and death.

Only a limitless concentration of God’s glory on behalf of others could do this-this.

The death and resurrection of Jesus transfers of glory from him to us by a wonderful exchange

Calvin

But the cost of this marvellous exchange is incalculable.

Listen to Jesus praying on his way to the cross, vs.27Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose, I have come to this hour.vs.28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified my name, and I will glorify it again.(John 12:27-28 ESV).

Jesus groans in distress for he knows that in, going to the cross he will be stripped of God’s glory there, but he also understands this suffering is so that in resurrection his fragile humanity might be clothed in indestructible glory.

He yields his fears and frailties to the Father so that we might share in this glory (2 Cor 8:9 ESV).

True glory, God’s glory is always for others.

To the natural eye, there is no dazzling splendour or weightiness of God’s presence in the weak broken bleeding man on the cross. But the resurrection (Rom 6:4 ESV) unveils the secret that eternal glory is a crucified glory.

The weightiness of Christ’s life is that in sacrificial love gives up everything that God might be glorified. Stripped of all temporal glories Jesus became for us the eternal glory of God in human form (1 Tim 3:16 ESV).

Wounded Glory

That the glory for which the world was made is the wonder of Christ crucified and raised i.e. the gospel (2 Cor 4:4 ESV), irresistibly moved the writers of scripture to exclaim in doxology again and again, “To God…our Saviour….be the glory forever and ever. Amen.7)See Biblical References Rom 11:25 ESV; Rom 16:27 ESV; Eph 3:21 ESV; Phil 4:20 ESV; 1 Tim 1:17 ESV; 2 Tim 4:18 ESV; Heb 13:20-21 ESV; 1 Pet 4:11 ESV; Jude 1:25 ESV; Rev 5:13 ESV.

This is what everything is all about. This is why I forbade our Bible study the other week to pray about health, finances, family, or workplace issues, so that we might concentrate on a prayer from 1 Peter that cannot fail to be answered, “…that in everything God might be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV).

This is a request that God reveals himself as the God of Jesus through all we think, say and do.

This is the meaning of life, the universe and everything but this grand truth needs some further exposition.

The educated consensus back in the ’70s was Anzac Day would die out with the passing of WW II veterans was a grossly mistaken expectation.

The expectation of Sri Lankan terrorists that they can mortally wound the Church is a fatal error.

The most profound truth of the universe is that when someone willingly suffers for a cause higher than themselves, suffers for the sake of others, exceptional glory is revealed.

True glory is a wounded glory, we know it is a crucified glory (1 Cor 2:8 ESV).

As Paul testifies, “Through suffering, we always carry around in our bodies the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies…this shows the all-surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.(2 Cor 4:10-11, 7 ESV). I have preached this truth here on Good Friday and last Sunday night.

In the flesh we may be inadequate but when in Christ we yield our limitations to God for his glory everything changes.

When my previously depressed, alcoholic friend became a paraplegic but surrendered all to Jesus and began radiating his love to all around her, when through his disabling stroke Chris turned with his whole heart to the Lord Christ’s presence turned him into a street preacher, when I handed over to the Lord my apparent inability to enjoy undisturbed sleep I discovered a new level of dependence on God in prayer.

Each of us entered into a deeper measure of the mystery of Christ for manifestations of glory are manifestations of crucified glory.

Whenever we yield the wounds and weariness of life up to God for his glory something of Jesus life is infallibly communicated through us to others.

In the flesh we are inadequate but when in Christ we yield our limitations to God for his glory everything changes. “Christ in you the hope of glory(Col 1:27 ESV) says, Paul.

There is untold compassion, love, mercy, energy, salvation and healing…in the crucified and glorified Christ in us that God wants to release for others.

Conclusion

Whether  you have a heart for families in Ashfield to know Jesus, for children and mothers to know the Lord through Mainly Music, the people of Bassendean, and beyond, to find God through BGT, Coffee and Chat, Contemplation and Conversation, the Gospellers, Men’s Breakfast, MU, music ministry, youth meeting, Godly Play, the Bible studies and Sunday services, the mystery/key to the healing and restoring manifestation of Jesus’ life is crucified glory.

It’s not our feelings of fear, weakness and inadequacy that stop the manifestation of the healing and saving glory of God through us.

What stops St Mark’s people doing what God wants us to do in the power of Christ is our failure to hand over to Jesus all that holds us back. I’ll tell you what I think the Lord is saying about us and you can test it with him in prayer (1 Thess 5:19-20 ESV).

God is hiding his glory8)See Biblical References Job 23:8-9 ESV; Ps 13:1 ESV; Ps 89:46 ESV; Isa 45:15 ESV; Isa 54:8 ESV; Luke 10:21 ESV; 1 Cor 2:7 ESV; Rom 11:33 ESV in the dark tomb of our guilt, defeats, desolations, shames, anxieties and confusions, waiting until we hand them all over to him so that the resurrection glory of Jesus might shine forth in our midst.

Without the surrendering of our lives like this St Marks as we know it has no viable future. (The status quo is unsustainable.) But everything will change if in our deepest hearts we unite in the prayer of Paul; “to him (God) be glory in the church/(in St Mark’s) and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph 3:21 ESV)

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 4th May 2019 Location: St Marks Bassendean

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

4th May, 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References Gen 22: 1-24 ESV; Acts 7:2 ESV
2. See Biblical References Isa 6:1-13 ESV; Ezek 1:1 ESV ff.
3. See Biblical References Gen 1:26-28 ESV; Isa 43:6-7 ESV
4. See Biblical References cf. Ps 106:19-20 ESV
5. See Biblical References 2 Pet 1:4 ESV; 1 Cor 15:42-43 ESV
6. See Biblical References Mark 1:27 ESV; Luke 7:11-17 ESV; John 7:46 ESV
7. See Biblical References Rom 11:25 ESV; Rom 16:27 ESV; Eph 3:21 ESV; Phil 4:20 ESV; 1 Tim 1:17 ESV; 2 Tim 4:18 ESV; Heb 13:20-21 ESV; 1 Pet 4:11 ESV; Jude 1:25 ESV; Rev 5:13 ESV
8. See Biblical References Job 23:8-9 ESV; Ps 13:1 ESV; Ps 89:46 ESV; Isa 45:15 ESV; Isa 54:8 ESV; Luke 10:21 ESV; 1 Cor 2:7 ESV; Rom 11:33 ESV

Revival Studies 5. The End of Revival

Part 1.
Earnest Prayer
17 March 2019

Part 2.
The Spirit and Revival
17 March 2019

Part 3.
Fullness is Christ
24 March 2019


Part 4.
Beautifying the Bride
15 April 2019

Part 5.
The End of Revival
28 April 2019

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Ps 110; Acts 2:1-41 

Introduction

My final talk in this series “The End of Revival” is about God’s ultimate purpose in sending revival. Teachers on revival are correct to link post-biblical moves of God in the Church to Pentecost as a paradigm for revival. In seventeenth-century New England Cotton Mather was a John the Baptist like figure praying for a “new Pentecost”, his prayers were answered a few years after his death with the First Great Awakening (Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield etc).

Back in Europe, Moravians united in prayer under Count Zinzendorf received a visitation of the Holy Spirit  on the 13th August 1727 so that “their hearts were set on fire with a new faith and love towards the Saviour, and likewise with burning love for one another”, they referred to this as their “Pentecost” and it launched a 24/7 prayer meeting that continued for more than 100 years and the first great expansion of Protestant missions.

The pivotal nineteenth-century Second Great Awakening revivalist Charles Finney said, “The antecedents, accompaniments and results of revival are always substantially the same as in the case of Pentecost.” Much nearer us, the Indigenous leader of the Elcho Island revival in the NT that broke out in 1979 wryly comments, “People come and say,” Oh, that’s charismatic.”

What is this “charismatic”?

To us, it was a Pentecost with praying, singing, healing, evangelism. It was to strengthen the church.” (Rev Djiniyini Gondarra).

The Church’s awareness of God’s immediate overpowering presence, striking physical phenomena (v.2ff.), deep conviction of sin (v.37), multitudes being converted (v.41) and widespread awe (v.43) are present in revivals because they are present at Pentecost.

Teachings on revival are often historical and descriptive and fail to open up the broad theological horizon behind Acts 2 which alone can reveal to us the “end” of revival.

Along with the incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the sending of the Spirit at Pentecost is a new stage in the history of salvation because it is an event in the life of the Trinity.

Revivals have profound significance because they share in an unusually intense way in the purposes of Pentecost to renew humanity and define the identity of the new covenant people of God.

Pentecost the Proto Revival

The events of Pentecost transcend ordinary time and space, vs.1When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.vs.2And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. vs.3And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.vs.4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance…. (Act 2:1-4 ESV)

Whilst fire, wind and words from heaven signified the arrival of God at Mt Sinai to give the Old Testament law1)See Biblical References Ex 19:12-22 ESV; Ex 20:1 ESV, at Pentecost the Spirit is outpoured through grace and the fire and wind empower the disciples to speak the saving word of God in all the languages “under heaven”2)See Biblical References Acts 2:1-4, 5-11 ESV cf. 2 Pet 1:20-21 ESV.

The amazed crowds puzzled inquiry, “ “What does this mean?(Acts 2:12 ESV), is answered by Peter with a testimony to events beyond the visible and audible level of the earth.  vs.32This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. vs.33 Being, therefore, exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.(Acts 2:32-33 ESV).

The Father was so infinitely delighted with the obedient humanity of Jesus (cf. Phil 2:5-11 ESV) that he gave him all of his Spirit to rule over the universe (Heb 1:8-9 ESV).

The spectacular divine revelation at Sinai communicated fiery judgement (Heb 12:21, 25-26 ESV) but the wind and fire from heaven at Pentecost communicate the power to eternally renewing the whole creation has come in the exaltation of Christ.

Those who heard and saw signs of the divine presence at Sinai kept their distance from God in fear, but the Spirit sent by the glorified Jesus at Pentecost communicated to the disciples what he was seeing and hearing before the face of his heavenly Father.

They can now speak and act in unison with him (cf. John 5:19 ESV). “All flesh” i.e. all types of people, young, old, male, female had all become prophets (Acts 2:17-18 ESV).

“Pentecost has changed all things” (Bingham) because it witnesses to the transformation of human existence in the exalted life of Christ communicated to his Church.

Raised to heaven at God’s right hand Christ gives the Spirit to his Church as the Father once gave him the Spirit on earth.

As a glorified human, Jesus pours out the Father’s promised Spirit of God upon the Church3)See Biblical References John 7:37-39 ESV; Luke 24:49 ESV; Acts 1:4 ESV so that we may in his power enable others to see and hear God for themselves.

[Pentecost reveals that in Christ humanity has been taken “into God4)See Biblical References cf. John 3:21 ESV; Col 3:3 ESV; 1 Thess 1:1 ESV; 2 Thess 1:1 ESV; 1 John 3:24 ESV; 1 John 4:15-16; Jude 1:1 ESV.]

Revelation’s dynamic symbolism testifies that Jesus “has the seven spirits of God (the Spirit in fullness Rev 1:4 ESV; Rev 4:5 ESV) and the seven stars (the Church Rev 1:16 ESV)” (Rev 3:1 ESV).

Incredibly this means that the Church and the Spirit are in the closest possible relationship so that the natural state of the people of God is to be filled with the Spirit. (This insight has been troubling me greatly.)

Being Spirit filled the Church becomes a visible witness to the infinite joy and delight of the Father in the excellencies of Christ (1 Pet 2:9 ESV); this witness is by its essential nature communicated to the world in converting power.

The references to hearing and seeing at Pentecost have another layer of interpretation, Peter’s preaching about the outpouring of the Spirit on “all flesh” is contained in an apocalyptic context.

vs.19And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke;vs.20the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the day of the Lord comes, the great and glorious day.vs.21And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’(Acts 2:19-21 ESV)5)See Biblical References Joel 2:30-32 ESV.

Whereas this is language is used in the Old Testament to broadcast the end of an old empire and the triumph of a victorious earthly kingdom6)See Biblical References cf. Isa 13:10 -13 ESV; Isa 24:1- 6, 19 – 23 ESV; Isa 34:4 ESV; Ezek 32:6 -8 ESV; Joel 3:15 -16 ESV; Hab 3:6 -11 ESV, [In line with Jesus end-times passages in the Gospels7)See Biblical References Matt 24:29 ESV; Mark 13:24- 25 ESV cf. Isa 2:19- 21 ESV; Isa 5:25 ESV; Jer 4:23- 28 ESV; Am 8:7 -10 ESV] at Pentecost these apocalyptic symbols declare that “the kingdom of the worldis becoming “the kingdom of God and his Christ” for from this day Jesus is triumphantly putting all his enemies under his feet (Ps 110:1 ESV).

From this time on his Spirit anointed people are offering themselves willingly on the day of his power and his kingdom is being spiritually established in the world8)See Biblical References Ps 110 cf. Ezek 37:1-10 ESV.

Pentecost is a pivotal answer to the prayer, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt 6:10 ESV).

Apocalyptic meaning did not end with Bible times. 9/11 was a message to global capitalism that security cannot be established by money and military power.

The burning of Notre Dame Cathedral was a sign that even the most beautiful constructions of sinful mortals must perish (2 Pet 3:7 ESV).

One of my favourite stories is about the life Christiaan Beker who became a theologian especially interested in apocalyptic themes in the apostle Paul.

A Dutchman, Beker was a Nazi slave in Berlin towards the end of WW II. Falling sick with typhus, a Polish youth beaten to a pulp for picking up a cigarette butt in a work camp was placed in the hospital bed next to him, the young man died 3 days later and Beker began to consider whether his time was near.

It was then that he determined to become a theologian but around the same time, he became convinced he would not live. He made his way to the window to see how he would die. The night sky over Berlin was ablaze with searchlights and anti-aircraft fire. The city itself was a conflagration, bombs exploding and buildings consumed in flames. That day he confessed that “Only God is real.” i.e. permanent

Church for Glory

In the period between the first and second comings of Jesus, God is enacting a merciful plan. Instead of confronting humanity with a vision too dazzling to directly behold and live9)See Biblical References cf. Acts 7:55-56 ESV; Acts 9:3 ESV; Rev 1:12-17 ESV, God has called the Church to be like a prism refracting his glory into a diversity of spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:7 ESV) and multi-coloured wisdom (Eph 3:10 ESV)

All the power, majesty and glory of God is gathered up in the Church (Eph 3:20 ESV) and dispersed in a way that can be seen, heard and received unto salvation.

The church is a revelation of Jesus Christ birthed at Pentecost, and revivals are mercifully sent to manifest the invisible Christ’s glory with special clarity10)See Biblical References Acts 4:30 ESV; Acts 5:12 ESV; Acts 11:21 ESV.

Revival is about the “power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” of the Lamb (Rev 5:12 ESV) radiating through the Church into the world so that it may be saved (John 3:17 ESV).

To petition God for the manifest coming of his kingdom is a petition that reaches far beyond church meetings.

Every genuine revival has penetrated the cultural realms of social justice, law, politics, education, health, art, music etc.

I have been sensing recently how the exalted Lord wants to continue amongst us the tangible dynamic he began at Pentecost, then the hearers were “cut to the heart”, later “the Lord opened Lydia’s heart” and when hands were laid on people they “received” the Spirit with power11)See Biblical References Acts 2:37 ESV; Acts 8:17 ESV; Acts 10:47 ESV; Acts 16:14 ESV; Acts 19:2, 6 ESVcf. Acts 2:33 ESV.

Such palpable realities have continued down the centuries, Calvin was “inflamed” by a desire for true godliness, John Wesley’s heart was “strangely warned”, German Pietists spoke of their hearts being on fire for God (Luke 24:32 ESV), and multitudes have been overcome by supernatural peace or joy12)See Biblical References cf. Phil 4:7 ESV; 1 Pet 1:8 ESV.

The point/“end” of such phenomena is not our personal experience but to reveal the identity of Jesus as the crucified, resurrected and glorified Lamb of God (Rev 5:6 ESV etc.)

I had an insight into the ongoing presence of Pentecost power at a prayer meeting in the city last Tuesday. Chris, the silver-haired older visibly disabled Indigenous brother who sometimes attends here, is a well-known street preacher around Perth, told us the following story. Thursday of Easter week he had a sense that God wanted him to preach in public, but he had no idea how that could happen.

Then he was in the Galleria shopping centre and the fire alarm went off, a crowd moved outside and he told them openly about Jesus’ love in his death and resurrection. This is what I sensed when I laid my hands on him about this event.

As Pentecost was in God’s plan a “fullness of time” event13)See Biblical References cf. Mark 1:15 ESV; Gal 4:4 ESV; 2 Cor 6:2 ESV when we are led by the Spirit we can enter that same fullness of time again and again – this is the space where the fullness of the Spirit connects with the fullness of Christ in the overwhelming manifest favour of the Father.

This is the place of God’s rest in Christ where strivings cease (Heb 4:10 ESV) and in this space manifestation of God’s wisdom, power, healing, conversions etc. take place. When such things come together on a mass scale “revival” happens.

Why Revivals Fail

If the “end” of revival in terms of God’s great goal is a renewed humanity sharing in the glorious love of the Trinity, then the “end” of revival in terms of its premature death must also be explained likewise.

Much of what happens in revival movements confuses the energies of the finite human spirit with the infinite resources made available to the Church in the “life-giving S/spirit” of Christ (1 Cor 15:45 ESV).

When the gratification of our spirits is made the goal of ministry, when things at our level are substituted for the fulness of the Spirit as he proceeds from the Father and the Son14)See Biblical References John 14:16 ESV; John 15:26 ESV, then “devival”, a decline in the power of godliness (2 Tim 3:5 ESV), always follows.

This is the crisis we face across the churches today with their activism, pragmatism, relevance, rationalism, worship of worship or political correctness.

When the Lord has a set apart people who in their deepest hearts are satisfied with nothing less than a manifestation of what happened when the Spirit was sent from the Father through Jesus to bring him and him alone glory in the Church for the salvation of the world, then we will have “another Pentecost”.

Conclusion

Our thinking about revival has been far too small.

When people “received” the Spirit in Acts, the rest of the New Testament15)See Biblical References Acts 2:28 ESV; Acts 8:15, 17 ESV; Acts 10:47 ESV; Acts 19:2, 6 ESV; Gal 3:1, 14 ESV and in subsequent revivals they were sharing in Jesus heavenly reception of the Spirit according to the promise of the Father (Acts 2:33 ESV).

They were sharing in the Trinitarian dynamic of God’s own life! Prophetically, looking through the lens of the Father’s pleasure in Jesus made manifest at Pentecost, this is how we should interpret the Lord’s promise, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”” (Luke 11:13 ESV).

At Pentecost Jesus received all the gifts and fruit of the Spirit in the overwhelming favour of his favour and poured them out on the Church for the salvation of the world to the glory of God.

As an action of the exalted Christ Pentecost put in motion the restoration of human life of such magnitude that the Bible describes it as a “new creation16)See Biblical References 2 Cor 5:17 ESV; Gal 6:15 ESV and a “sharing in the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4).

The Spirit glorifies Christ by revealing him through a revived people, the Church, to be an immortalised “life-giving spirit(1 Cor 15:45 ESV) in whose triumphant humanity we can all share.

The energies of the crucified and risen Lamb (Rev 5:6 ESV) released at Pentecost are undiminished until he comes again.

Once full of the Spirit always full is true for the once crucified Jesus but not for the Church (Eph 5:18-19 ESV); we need to be filled again and again.

Since in Christ “the seven spirits of God (the Spirit in fullness Rev 1:4 ESV; Rev 4:5 ESV) and “the seven stars” (the Church Rev 1:16 ESV) are in the closest possible proximity (Rev 3:1 ESV) let us come to him and drink of the water of life17)See Biblical References John 7:37-39 ESV cf. Isa 44:3 ESV; Isa 55:1 ESV; Rev 22:17 ESV, let us drink in deeply Jesus’ own life in the Spirit18)See Biblical References Rom 8:11 ESV cf. Isa 12:3 ESV.

The lost need to “see and hear” (Acts 2:1-4, 11, 32-33 ESV) the mighty works of God in our own day as they did first at Pentecost.

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 28th April, 2019 Location: Alive@5

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

28th April, 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References Ex 19:12-22 ESV; Ex 20:1 ESV
2. See Biblical References Acts 2:1-4, 5-11 ESV cf. 2 Pet 1:20-21 ESV
3. See Biblical References John 7:37-39 ESV; Luke 24:49 ESV; Acts 1:4 ESV
4. See Biblical References cf. John 3:21 ESV; Col 3:3 ESV; 1 Thess 1:1 ESV; 2 Thess 1:1 ESV; 1 John 3:24 ESV; 1 John 4:15-16; Jude 1:1 ESV
5. See Biblical References Joel 2:30-32 ESV
6. See Biblical References cf. Isa 13:10 -13 ESV; Isa 24:1- 6, 19 – 23 ESV; Isa 34:4 ESV; Ezek 32:6 -8 ESV; Joel 3:15 -16 ESV; Hab 3:6 -11 ESV
7. See Biblical References Matt 24:29 ESV; Mark 13:24- 25 ESV cf. Isa 2:19- 21 ESV; Isa 5:25 ESV; Jer 4:23- 28 ESV; Am 8:7 -10 ESV
8. See Biblical References Ps 110 cf. Ezek 37:1-10 ESV
9. See Biblical References cf. Acts 7:55-56 ESV; Acts 9:3 ESV; Rev 1:12-17 ESV
10. See Biblical References Acts 4:30 ESV; Acts 5:12 ESV; Acts 11:21 ESV
11. See Biblical References Acts 2:37 ESV; Acts 8:17 ESV; Acts 10:47 ESV; Acts 16:14 ESV; Acts 19:2, 6 ESVcf. Acts 2:33 ESV
12. See Biblical References cf. Phil 4:7 ESV; 1 Pet 1:8 ESV
13. See Biblical References cf. Mark 1:15 ESV; Gal 4:4 ESV; 2 Cor 6:2 ESV
14. See Biblical References John 14:16 ESV; John 15:26 ESV
15. See Biblical References Acts 2:28 ESV; Acts 8:15, 17 ESV; Acts 10:47 ESV; Acts 19:2, 6 ESV; Gal 3:1, 14 ESV
16. See Biblical References 2 Cor 5:17 ESV; Gal 6:15 ESV
17. See Biblical References John 7:37-39 ESV cf. Isa 44:3 ESV; Isa 55:1 ESV; Rev 22:17 ESV
18. See Biblical References Rom 8:11 ESV cf. Isa 12:3 ESV

The Very Happy Executioner

Luke 23:26-49

Introduction

Is it OK for the AFL to put games on Good Friday, and for you to watch them on TV? Was my mum in tune with God’s feelings about this day when she refused to wash the clothes, or, in line with the title Dale chose for today’s Gospel reading should we speak of, “Very Happy Friday”?

Since God the Father doesn’t have opinions about the death of his Son it is imperative that we pay close attention to the inspired record of Christ’s death in scripture. In going through Luke we have seen how society’s outcasts, a Gentile soldier, a sinful woman, a Samaritan leper, a blind beggar, and a tax collector all found hope and healing in Christ. This is exactly what happens as Jesus is dying on the cross, those with status mock him but outsiders turn to him as the source of salvation.

EXPOSITION

The devout women lamenting over Jesus’ fate must have been shocked by his turning and (vv26-31) exhorting them to lament for themselves and their children.

The extreme language of people calling on mountains and hills to collapse on them to end their misery portrays a coming divine judgement without apparent limit1)See Biblical References Hos 10:8 ESV; Rev 6:16 ESV.

Jesus knows his innocent death will fulfil God’s salvation plan, but that within a generation Jerusalem which has rejected him will be flattened, its inhabitants slaughtered or enslaved (Luke 23:34-35 ESV).

The next time Jesus’ speaks he is praying from the cross. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.(Luke 23:34 ESV) Under the most extreme circumstances Jesus is practising what he has preached; “ vs.27 Love your enemies… vs.28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you….” ”2)See Biblical References Matt 5:44-45 ESV; Luke 6:27-28 ESV. Forgiving your murderers is a rare and remarkable thing; but even more potent is the fact that unconditional forgiveness solely for the sake of those harming us makes Jesus unique in the whole history of religious and moral teaching.

The Bible is painfully realistic about the corrupt state of the human heart when the Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers hear Christ’s praying for them their mockery only intensifies.

His Jewish slanderers know a suffering dying man can’t possibly be God’s Chosen favourite, the Messiah, and since his Roman attackers know how a real King behaves, this fellow on the cross must be an impostor.

To them, it is categorically obvious that if Jesus can’t save himself he cannot be the Saviour of the world. Then at a level that makes no sense to ordinary thinking the power of God starts to operate through the suffering powerless Jesus to save.

vs.39 One of the criminals who were hanged hurled insults at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!vs.40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? vs.41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.vs.42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.vs.43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”” (Luke 23: 39-43 ESV)

The criminal who hurled insults at Jesus, “Save yourself and us!” has brought Jesus down to his own selfish level. In looking solely to benefit himself in his interaction with Jesus he cannot be saved. He cannot understand that God’s Son will be delivered not out of death through death.  

This is how the saving power of God works. In Romans Paul helps us understand how the cross works by saying we Christians must face “trouble…hardship…persecution…famine…nakedness…danger or sword” then concludes with “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him (Christ) who loved us” (Rom 8:35, 37 ESV).

If Christ doesn’t always pull us out of troubles the power of his love enables us to live above them. The video starts Let me share what happened to a clinically depressed alcoholic friend of mine, I’ll never forget finding her unconscious from a suicide attempt dragging her out of her house and getting an ambulance.

Sometime later she fell and broke her back. When I visited her in hospital, they had her laid out motionless on a special bed in the form of a cross. The symbolism was unmistakeable so guess what I spoke to her about?

When she cast herself unreservedly on the mercy of Jesus it was only some time before she was living in forgiveness and freed from anxiety, depression and addiction. She’s in a wheelchair, but through her physical brokenness, she shines as more than a conqueror through Christ’s love.

The other criminal in our story rebukes his blaspheming companion

“Do you not fear God since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” ” This man accepts his sin and its wages (Rom 3:23 ESV) and his testimony to Christ’s blamelessness shows the power of God working in his heart.

Anyone who humbly let’s go of self-righteousness and looks to Jesus will enter heaven. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Unlike the mockers he addresses Jesus by his personal name and in so doing calls on the unique name of Saviour of the world3)See Biblical References cf. 17:13; 18:38; his plea “remember me” stirs echoes God’s promises to deliver his covenant people when they call on his name4)See Biblical References Judges 16:28 ESV; 1 Sam 1:11, 19 ESV; Ps 115:12 ESV.

This dying criminal is the first person in the Gospel to recognise that the sufferings of Jesus do not exclude but fulfil his Messianic kingly calling to save the world. He understands Christ’s voluntary suffering love is the triumphant power of God to save us, sinners.

Jesus answers him with words that must have filled him with inexpressible hope and comfort, “ “today you will be with me in paradise.” ”.

Today” means he doesn’t have to wait until the End of the world to be saved, salvation is close at hand5)See Biblical References 4:21 ESV; 19:9 ESV, for as Messiah Jesus possesses the kingly right to open the doors of paradise to all who come to him.

As a Jew this man knew “Paradise” as the home of only one type of person, the dutifully righteous whose blameless lives pleased God.

Now Jesus opens heaven to the very sort of person who the religious teachers of the day taught could never be saved.

Jesus is saving people – even as he hangs on the cross. We must all pay the closest attention to exactly what Jesus is promising the condemned man, “today, you will be with me in Paradise”.

Not with all your loved ones, as in popular Western imagination, not with virgin wives as in the Koran, not with pure impersonal bliss as in Buddhism but “with me”. Eternal fellowship with Jesus is heaven.

Everyone who turns to Christ as Saviour can have a sure knowledge of eternal life. 

The father of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther struggled long over whether his life could ever be worthy enough to earn God’s favour.

Then he understood that the good news of the gospel is that righteousness is offered as a free gift to be received by faith in Christ alone. “Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise…whereas before the “justice of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love….”

In his grace, God now sends two supernatural omens concerning the murder of his Son. The darkness covering the earth for three hours is supernatural because an eclipse at the Passover time of full moon is impossible.

This is the prophetic darkness of “last days” judgement6)See Biblical References Joel 2:30-31 ESV; Amos 8:9 ESV; Zeph 1:15 ESV and a sign of the fate of those who ultimately reject Christ7)See Biblical References Matt 8:12 ESV; Matt 22:13 ESV; Matt 25:30 ESV.

Such signs are meant to prepare hearts for the gospel. In a few weeks’ time, many of this crucifixion crowd were in fact converted by the preaching of the gospel on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:22-23, 36 ESV). In our time the Lord can still warn from heaven today and we should pray for him to do so.

This is a true story.

A new professor at UWA (who I did meet once) was invited by the Christian Union there to speak on Creation and Evolution. When he entered the hall he was intimidated by the size of the crowd and especially by the number of hostile senior academics present.

Fearfully approaching the podium he was praying about how to start when suddenly there was a tremendous clap of thunder and all the lights in the place went out, all but one, the one illuminating the podium. So he said, “Now you know what you are up against”.

The second supernatural sign as Jesus died was the tearing of the curtain temple in two from top to bottom by the hand of God who was saying that law-based system of temple and sacrifice that had segregated Jew and Gentile, priest and lay, male and female was ended.

In Jesus, unrestricted access to God’s presence had been opened. In uttering his final words, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” Jesus dies peacefully full of the assurance that God is a Righteous Father who will raise him from the dead8)See Biblical References John 17:25 ESV; Rom 6:4 ESV.

Then, climactically, the Roman centurion unable to contain what was going in his heart “glorified God” for by grace he sensed God was fulfilling his great saving plan9)See Biblical References 2:20 ESV; 5:25-26 ESV; 7:16 ESV; 13:13 ESV; 17:15 ESV; 18:43 ESV, his response was to the glory manifested in the sufferings of Jesus.  In testifying, “ ‘Surely this was a righteous man.’ ”10)See Biblical References Pss 22 ESV; 31 ESV cf. Acts 3:13-14 ESV; Isa 52:13-53:12 ESV he acknowledges Jesus’ supreme status before God the Judge as a blameless person.

Finally, the crowd go away “beating their breasts” They know something terribly unjust has happened but with Jesus departed they as yet have nowhere to turn for forgiveness. Meanwhile Jesus’ disciples, weak as always, “stood at a distance” (Ps 38:11 ESV)

CONCLUSION

The Good Friday story of the death of Jesus reveals an all-forgiving Father.

This Father is forgiving in his justice and just in his forgiving because his Justice and Forgiveness are not abstract concepts but real in Christ who prayed for the forgiveness of us all and who was heard because he is the One Righteous (Acts 3:14 ESV) Son of God suffering for us.

The criminal who called on the name of Jesus, and the centurion, were very happy men not because they thought they’d got away with, literally for both of them, murder, and we’re going to a “happy place” but because they had literally face to face come, with the goodness of God as Father and as Saviour in Jesus and were totally overcome.

If God can do that for them, he can do the same for us. Like them we need to turn to the Lord today, Jesus is the door into Paradise (John 10:9 ESV) and his is the name in which we are saved, (Acts 4:12 ESV).

For anyone who trusts in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross Good Friday is a Very Happy day indeed. Let us pray.

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 19th April 2019 Location: St Marks, Good Friday

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

Date 19th April, 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References Hos 10:8 ESV; Rev 6:16 ESV
2. See Biblical References Matt 5:44-45 ESV; Luke 6:27-28 ESV
3. See Biblical References cf. 17:13; 18:38
4. See Biblical References Judges 16:28 ESV; 1 Sam 1:11, 19 ESV; Ps 115:12 ESV
5. See Biblical References 4:21 ESV; 19:9 ESV
6. See Biblical References Joel 2:30-31 ESV; Amos 8:9 ESV; Zeph 1:15 ESV
7. See Biblical References Matt 8:12 ESV; Matt 22:13 ESV; Matt 25:30 ESV
8. See Biblical References John 17:25 ESV; Rom 6:4 ESV
9. See Biblical References 2:20 ESV; 5:25-26 ESV; 7:16 ESV; 13:13 ESV; 17:15 ESV; 18:43 ESV
10. See Biblical References Pss 22 ESV; 31 ESV cf. Acts 3:13-14 ESV; Isa 52:13-53:12 ESV

Revival Studies 4. Beautifying the Bride

Part 1.
Earnest Prayer
17 March 2019

Part 2.
The Spirit and Revival
17 March 2019

Part 3.
Fullness is Christ
24 March 2019


Part 4.
Beautifying the Bride
15 April 2019

Part 5.
The End of Revival
28 April 2019

.


Isa 60:1-14; Rev 21:1-14 

“Beauty will save the world.”

Dostoyevsky

“God’s beauty embraces death as well as life, fear as well as joy, what we might call the ugly as well as what we might call the beautiful.’”

Barth

Introduction

Tobe grasped by the innermost substance of God’s work in revival requires a degree of spiritual insight. This is especially true of revival as Beautifying the Bride of Christ. In the case of revival as a beautifying, we are dealing with what the New Testament calls “the mystery of Christ”1)See Biblical References Rom 16:25; Eph 1:9; 3:4; Col 1:27; 2:2; 4:3. Something is once hidden in God now being revealed in the gospel.

At the climax of his teaching on marriage in Ephesians 5 Paul expounds the prophetic fulfilment of Genesis 2:24 ESV, “ vs.31Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.vs.32 This is a great mystery, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.(Eph 5: 31-32 ESV).

Similar language appears towards the end of the book of Revelation where it describes the religious power persecuting the Church, “on her forehead was written a name of mystery:Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” ” (Rev 17:5 ESV).

Until Jesus returns for his Bride a conflict rages between her holy beauty and the seductions of this immoral painted Whore (cf. Prov 7). The vocation of the Church made clearest in movements of the Spirit of God, is to reveal the excellencies of Christ (1 Pet 2:9 ESV).

Beauty and Creation

Most of the Old Testament notion of beauty is contained within the concept of glory, but some texts speak clearly about this subject. Genesis 1 ends with the climactic statement that everything that God made was “very good” (v.31 L.X.X.), a harmonious beautiful accomplishment.

When Genesis 2:12 ESV mentions of Eden, “the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there” it points towards the masses of gold furnishing Solomon’s temple (1 Chron 29:2 ESV) and the onyx stones on the garments of the high priest (Ex 28:9-14, 20 ESV).

These garments were expressly “for glory and for beauty” for the priest was to be a holy icon of God (Ex 28:2, 40 ESV). Although hard to interpret, Ezekiel 28 uses Edenic language of a being “perfect in beauty” who fell into rebellion against God through pride (Ezek 28:7, 12-13, 17 ESV).

From Eden on beauty has been a battlefield where God and Satan contend for the human heart.

When Eve listened to the serpent and “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and…was to be desired to make one wise(Gen 3:6 ESV) she was led astray by its natural attractiveness.

The coveting of natural beauty obscures seeing in the Spirit. Human desire has been corrupted (2 Pet 1:4 ESV) so that whatever feels/looks/tastes good “must be” right.

In the shame of losing the glory of God radiating out of their lives2)See Biblical References Gen 3:7 ESV; Rom 3:23 ESV men and women turn to the beauties of creation as a substitute for sharing in the divine splendour (Rom 1:22-23 ESV).

The “angel marriages” of Genesis 6 is an extreme example of the corrupting power of lust for beauty to corrupt.

It precipitated the Flood of Noah. vs.1When…vs.2the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were beautiful … they took as their wives any they chose.vs.3Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” ”  (Gen 6:1-3 ESV).

God’s plan to teach humanity about the beauty of his holiness centred on the election of Israel to be his pure Bride3)See Biblical References 1 Chron 16:29 ESV; Pss 29:2 ESV; Pss 96:9 ESV.

Israel the Beautiful Bride

Ezekiel 16 dramatically portrays a love affair between the Lord and Israel; he found her as an abandoned baby girl and nurtured her in love until she was his “exceedingly beautiful” and renowned Bride.

Then in turning to idols she “trusted in her beauty and played the whore”.

As a punishment, God declares he will hand her over to lovers who will, “strip you of your clothes and take your beautiful jewels and leave you naked and bare.(Ezek16:39 ESV). This is about the exile to Babylon, but even the restoration of Israel to her homeland failed to impart to her the beauty and glory of God.

Not unexpectedly, expectation turned to the coming of Messiah. Psalm 45 is a glorious wedding song of a victorious majestic king but also “meek and righteous” who “loves justice and hates evil” and desires the beauty of his “all glorious” princess bride.

The king is the messiah and the Bride his people.

Isaiah foresees a time when God will beautify his temple, Jerusalem and his people as the centre of the world (Isa 60:1-14 ESV).

This renewed royal Wife “shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.(Isa 62:4-5 ESV).

The mystery of how the Lord will convert harlot Israel into a holy faithful bride is contained in the vision of his universal glory in Isaiah 6.

This vision cleansed the prophet and transformed him into a unique messenger of holiness.

God becomes for him “the Holy One of Israel”, a phrase he uses 29 times but only in 8 other places in the Old Testament.

If holiness is the innermost glory of God (Bengel) it is the secret of God’s power to beautification all things.

When humanity shares in the inner being of God the created becomes eternal in its beauty. This is the purpose of the Incarnation.

The Beauty is Christ

The origin and essence of Beauty is the Person of Christ who is the radiant image of the invisible glory of God4)See Biblical References Heb 1:3 ESV; Col 1:15. This radiation of splendour is pre-eminently true of the cross.

The Old Testament prophesy about God’s coming Servant, “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him(Isa 53:2 ESV), meant Jesus’ life would end stripped of the every visible blessing of the Father.

The crucifixion of the Lord of glory (1 Cor 2:8 ESV) formed the most extreme beauty imaginable, but visible only to eyes made holy in the fear of the Lord5)See Biblical References Matt 5:8 ESV; 2 Cor 7:1 ESV; Heb 12:14 ESV.

Holiness is separation to God from the corrupting things of the world, and it is Jesus’ decision to die to this life that perfects him in holiness (cf. Heb 2:9-10 ESV).

Gethsemane is where he most visibly separates himself to do the Father’s will so that at total personal cost so he becomes the channel through which God’s splendour will shine forth to beautify all creation.

The death and resurrection of Jesus, the spectacle of a Lamb slain before the foundation of the world now standing in resurrection glory, is “the perfection of beauty6)See Biblical References Rev 5:6 ESV cf. Ps 50:2 ESV for which the world was created.

The scarred Lord in heaven is the revelation of a new and previously unimaginable form of beauty.

Let me share a personal experience that has helped me understand these mysteries.

In the chapel of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, standing on the site where Jesus was crucified, is a painting showing Christ stripped and nailed to the cross on the ground.

As I looked at the face in the painting my heart was filled with a precious awareness and I could sense the Father saying; “This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.”

In the disfigured but gloriously illuminating face of Jesus (cf. 2 Cor 4:6 ESV), we see the extremities of a beautiful love that embraces even the abysmal ugliness of sin and hell.

The suffering of the cross stretched to the limits the love of Jesus and made space in his holy humanity for the limitless splendour of God. The mystery of the gospel reveals that the outwardly deformed beauty of the cross makes possible the deathless transformation of all things in the resurrection of Christ.

The Bride of Christ

The life of the Church is framed by her sharing in the Bridegroom laying down his life for his Bride.

We share in the ecstatic worship scenes around the Lamb in Revelation (Rev 5:1-14 ESV), and the adoration of Christ in chapter 19 (Rev 19:1-8 ESV) should speak deeply to our hearts because it is a wedding scene.

When we read of the holy city descending from heaven with its streets of gold, gates of pearls and foundations of jewels (Rev 21) we are reading about our future, this is us, “ “the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” ” (v.9). The unfading (1 Pet 1:4 ESV) beauty of the Church is the goal of God’s saving plan and the Bible the story of how God achieves this goal for the glory of his Son.

Paul holds up a rarely appreciated vision, vs.25Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,vs.26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, vs.27so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.(Eph 5:25-27 ESV).

This language of inner cleansing speaks (Ezek 36:25 ESV) of the cleansing of the hearts of God’s people from idols.

A cleansed people are a holy people who knowing an inner beauty (1 Pet 3:3-4 ESV) don’t need to hide their struggles, weaknesses and imperfections before God.

Something happened in church last Sunday morning which offers a wonderful window into how Christ relates to his Bride. Joy A was leading the intercessions and when she came to praying for the persecuted Church broke down and couldn’t continue. Dale A moved quietly to her side, put his arm around her helping and strengthening her with the prayers.

This was a potent prophetic sign of the true emotional Woman, the Church, in her freedom to weep with those who weep (Rom 12:15 ESV), being strengthened by Christ her Head (Eph 5:23 ESV).

Spiritual beauty is the intimate fruit of discipleship.

As the Spirit reveals the sacrificial beauty of Christ we are drawn us out of ourselves empowered to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him (Luke 9:23 ESV). The gospel message of forgiveness and reconciliation in Christ is a beautiful message carried by the “ “beautiful…feet of those who preach the good news!” ”7)See Biblical References Rom 10:15 ESV; Isa 52:7 ESV.

To live like this the Church needs to suffer because submissive suffering love beautifies like no other power.

Those who have insight into the beauty of holiness cannot be satisfied with either an intellectualised or an emotive form of Christianity but only by a deeper walk with the Lord. If Jesus is so indescribably beautiful what is obscuring the manifestation of this beauty today?

Obscuring the Beauty?

Being the Bride of Christ the Church is always beautiful in the eyes of his grace, but in the realm of desire Western Christianity is dominated by these worldly longings and only godly leaders can lead their people on the highway of holiness (Isa 35:8 ESV).

The seeker-sensitive attractional model of Church places the gospel in a comfortable package obscuring the unadorned power of the cross shining forth through weakness and the ugliness of sin. This is a church heavy on cosmetic appearance and presentation and shallow on the holiness through which the eternal glory of God radiates.

The Nazis were connoisseurs of art and music while at the same time conducting the Holocaust.

Similarly, parts of Western Christianity love gospel music and charismatic gifts but seem indifferent to the sufferings of their persecuted brothers and sisters, untouched by world poverty and untroubled by the slaughter of innocents in the womb.

This is a state of deep deception (cf. 1 Cor 5:1-2 ESV). I was fascinated by an article headed, “Dear women’s ministry, please stop calling me the B-word”, it ended with, “Tell us about Jesus.” (Dear Women’s Ministry, Stop Calling Me the B-Word)

In Christ we are beautiful and being beautified, anything beyond that is idolatry.

I remember Dale saying around 30 years ago that people today want to feel good about themselves. In his teaching on the all-surpassing beauty of Christ John Piper comments, “To make someone feel good about themselves is like taking someone to the Alps and locking them in a room full of mirrors.” (And if you have seen the snow on the alps you will never forget it.)  

Our churches are really sick and sinful, but God is working to a wonderful plan.

As the Husband of Israel stripped her naked when she played the whore8)See Biblical References Ezek 16; Hos 2:2-3 ESV so Jesus is presently stripping the Church to a place of nakedness and shame (Rev 3:17-18 ESV). When she really comes to see this she will turn to be clothed with the beauty of Christ alone. This will mean revival and the visible beautifying of the Body.

Conclusion

The death of the Son of God is the death of all sentimental romantic notions of beauty.

In choosing the “foolish…low…despised…no-things” (1 Cor 1:26-30 ESV) to make them his beauty the Lord has illuminated for us his mission in the world.

He embraces those thought by the world to be ugly as beautiful before him.

Over the centuries even sinners have recognised that in the lives of people like St Francis, Fr Damian, William Booth, Mother Teresa, David Wilkerson and Matthew Barnett a radiance into this world from somewhere beyond.

This can and should be the character of the whole Bride of Christ.

A babyish church wants glory without holiness; the passing glory of ideological correctness, perfect doctrine or signs and wonders.

A mature church however understands that holiness expressed through suffering reveals the beauty and glory of God.

This is a Church which for Christ’s sake desires a holy life more than any of the attractions of this world, and the desire of such a people will be granted by God in the wisdom of the cross (1 Cor 1:17-18 ESV).

This is the substance of revival.

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: 15th April 2019 Location: Alive @5

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

15th April 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References Rom 16:25; Eph 1:9; 3:4; Col 1:27; 2:2; 4:3
2. See Biblical References Gen 3:7 ESV; Rom 3:23 ESV
3. See Biblical References 1 Chron 16:29 ESV; Pss 29:2 ESV; Pss 96:9 ESV
4. See Biblical References Heb 1:3 ESV; Col 1:15
5. See Biblical References Matt 5:8 ESV; 2 Cor 7:1 ESV; Heb 12:14 ESV
6. See Biblical References Rev 5:6 ESV cf. Ps 50:2 ESV
7. See Biblical References Rom 10:15 ESV; Isa 52:7 ESV
8. See Biblical References Ezek 16; Hos 2:2-3 ESV

Persecuted Forgotten Jesus

vs.4Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?vs.5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.(Acts 9:4-5 ESV)

vs.3Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. (Heb 13:3 ESV)

INTRODUCTION

The spiritual blindness of mainstream Western Christianity seems limitless. According to the authoritative Pew Research Centre, 11 Christians are martyred each hour across the world. More concretely, since I started thinking about writing on this topic 32 Nigerian, 20 Filipino 9 Egyptian and 8 Somali Christians were slaughtered in churches and other locations.

Less dramatically, but no less significantly, we have the hidden sufferings of thousands of oppressed Christian minorities. Like the Kachin women from Myanmar trafficked into China, sold into marriage and imprisonment, raped daily until pregnant, then when the baby is born the “brides” are sent away or allowed to escape.

Gruesome! How then can it be that so few amongst us are moved by such extensive atrocities? How often does your congregation/you pray for the persecuted family of God?

This issue is symptomatic of the sickness of our spiritual culture (1 Cor 11:27-32 ESV) and has placed us under divine judgement. To see such things in the Spirit (Rev 1:10 ESV) is no shallow exercise.

Persecuting ME

Christ’s words to Saul on the road to Damascus, “ “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” ”, are not metaphorical. As the words of God under the old covenant, “In all their affliction he was afflicted1)See Biblical References Isa 63:9 ESV cf. Ex 3:7 ESV, were real, how much more through the covenant in the body and blood of Christ (Heb 13:20 ESV).

Christ and his Body exist in a vital, living and spiritual oneness, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.(1 Cor 12:12 ESV).

The sufferings of the Body are experienced by its Head. Since “the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him(1 Cor 6:17 ESV), the empathy of Christ with the pain of Christians is unlimited. There are depths to this reality which are profound and applicable to us all.

When Jesus described himself as the Sufferer to Saul/Paul he imparted a revelation that was central to all the apostle’s teaching on salvation.

By grace, Saul saw instantly that Christ suffers in the suffering of his people because he is in the deepest possible union with them.

Just as Jesus took our sin in his body on the cross (2 Cor 5:21 ESV) so we are bonded together in all our experiences. This usually is a transfer from him to us, he gives us his peace, joy etc.2)See Biblical References John 14:27 ESV; John 15:11 ESV but in the case of suffering, he also takes what is ours into himself.

Not to be affected by the sufferings of Christ’s people cuts us off from our Head (Eph 5:23 ESV) and deprives us of Christ-likeness.

Pain Makes Perfect

When Saul heard Christ speak about his suffering in the persecuted Church, he understood why it was necessary for him as an apostle to “suffer much(Acts 9:6 ESV) for Jesus.

Only by enduring death pangs could he be delivered by resurrection power made perfect in weakness3)See Biblical References 2 Cor 1:8-10 ESV; 2 Cor 12:9 ESV so living out the gospel. He knew that only through rejection could he release the aroma of Jesus’ all forgiving love4)See Biblical References 2 Cor 2:15 ESV; Eph 5:1-2 ESV. Only those who embrace those suffering for the Lord can truly declare, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.(1 Cor 11:1 ESV).

To know Jesus (John 17:3 ESV) is to share in his life and to share in Christ’s life is to share his distress at the torments of his children (Heb 2:13 ESV).

One of our biggest problems is that we are inundated, plastic teachers and theologians.

Luther prophetically testified, “Not understanding, reading, or speculation, but living—nay, dying and being damned—make a theologian.” Only those who in Christ suffer with those who suffer (1 Cor 12:26 ESV) can speak the word of Christ with authenticity. No wonder our churches suffer from spiritual anaemia. But things are even worse.

Hardening of the Heart

“Oh were you there when they crucified my Lord?” goes the old hymn. “Yes.”, we were all there5)See Biblical References 1 Cor 15:22 ESV; 1 Pet 2:24 ESV.

So ignoring the cries of afflicted saints is before God like watching Jesus being beaten, whipped and crucified without crying, wailing, weeping, and imploring God to show mercy.

Few in the comfortable Church have any sense of the gravity of our sin because our hearts have been hardened by deceitfulness (Heb 3:13-15 ESV).

Degree by degree we have closed our ears to Jesus cries on the cross of the persecuted Church.

This has brought us under; a strong judgement.  “Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.(Prov 21:13 ESV)

We cannot go on ignoring the pleas of the persecuted Church and keep expecting God to richly bless us with heaven-sent revival. In the land of “No worries mmmate.” there is “no fear of God” before the eyes of the Church (Rom 3:18 ESV).

No fear means no wisdom (Prov 9:10 ESV) so our state is dreadful but unperceived. Thankfully there are two dimensions to a prophetic message, warning, which I have given, and promise, which I am about to give.

If we turn our hearts towards the suffering Church we can move from being an inward looking narcissistic people to those walking free in the self-sacrificing love of Christ. This will mean a new Reformation.

CONCLUSION

Repentance means turning to the plight of the suffering Church.

Prayer is a first and foundational step.

Then practically resourcing those many godly mission and service organisations, local and global, ministering into this sphere. The turning I am appealing for in Jesus’ name is not a token alteration in our comfortable lifestyle but involves a new revelation of the death and resurrection of Jesus fundamental to the reorientation of Western Christianity.  

This is what the Lord is seeking.

Many pray for revival through spectacular signs and wonders, but no spectacle is more miraculous than the prosperous identifying in Christ with those made wretched through their identifying with him?

May the lord impart to us true wisdom in these matters.

for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen (1 John 4:20 ESV)

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 11th April 2019 Location: Unknown

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

Date 11th April, 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References Isa 63:9 ESV cf. Ex 3:7 ESV
2. See Biblical References John 14:27 ESV; John 15:11 ESV
3. See Biblical References 2 Cor 1:8-10 ESV; 2 Cor 12:9 ESV
4. See Biblical References 2 Cor 2:15 ESV; Eph 5:1-2 ESV
5. See Biblical References 1 Cor 15:22 ESV; 1 Pet 2:24 ESV

Revival Studies 2. The Spirit and Revival

Part 1.
Earnest Prayer
17 March 2019

Part 2.
The Spirit and Revival
17 March 2019

Part 3.
Fullness is Christ
24 March 2019


Part 4.
Beautifying the Bride
15 April 2019

Part 5.
The End of Revival
28 April 2019

.


Heb 5:1-10; Rom 8:18-27

“I have one passion: it is Jesus, Jesus only.”

Zinzendorf

“Pentecost will become a reality only when we come to the point where we find the misery of our situation unbearable, and where it will be possible to see that only God’s help can avail….it is the way of Jesus to come to us when our hearts are heavy.”

Barth

Introduction

Inreaction to my past teaching, I originally had no intention to teach on the Spirit and revival; but something happened in a prayer meeting this week that changed my mind. This study then is an attempt to unite a consistent Christ-centred approach to revival with the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Whilst the Spirit is the immediate author of supernatural manifestations (1 Cor 12:7 ESV) these only possess form, order, direction and purpose when they are seen to be a part of his great mission, to reveal that “Jesus is Lord….to the glory of God the Father1)See Biblical References 1 Cor 12:3 ESV; Phil 2:11 ESV.

Revival movements burn out or break up under the judgement of God when this vision isn’t understood and they have become ends in themselves. A revival was certainly an idol in my heart when as an intense young preacher I thought I had been called to oppose the stubborn passivity in the Church with what I felt was an irresistible passion for a move of God.

All this, at the time quite impactful, human effort was on the wrong plane, the plane of human effort, rather than the new creation in Christ completed by the power of the Spirit.

What was lacking in “my” meetings back then, and as in many “alive” churches today, was the Spirit’s power- filled testimony to the identity of Jesus2)See Biblical References Rev 1:1 ESV; Rev 19:10 ESV.

Popular books on revival have much to say about the work of the Spirit, but few connect that the new life outpoured in awakening is a share in the new life Jesus received in being raised from the dead. This resurrection life is needed because humanity long ago lost the glory of God (Rom 3:23 ESV).

Lost Glory in Israel

There is a clear pattern for revival which unfortunately is repeated indefinitely in Israel’s cycle of material prosperity, spiritual decline, judgement, desperate calling out to God, and restoration (Judges 2).

What is ultimately at stake in such revivals is not the condition of the people but the manifest glory of God3)See Biblical References Ex 40:34 ESV; 1 Ki 8:11 ESV cf. Rom 9:4 ESV. Various examples make this clear.

When the Lord handed the sinful nation over to the Philistines (1 Sam 4:3 ESV) so that the ark was captured, the cry that went up was, “Ichabod… The glory of God has departed(1 Sam 4:11, 18, 21-22 ESV). Since God ruled from the ark for his people (1 Chron 28:2 ESV) the nation had catastrophically lost its manifest identity as the Lord’s people (cf. Ex 33:16 ESV).

Centuries later the same dreadful rebellion is happening in the days of Jeremiah. God himself is in trauma, vs.11Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have exchanged the glory of God for worthless idols. vs.12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, vs.13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.(Jer 2:11-13 ESV). Spiritual dryness is a sure sign of religious idolatry.

Those who abandon the glory of the Lord will be abandoned by the glory of the Lord. So Ezekiel receives a vision of God’s presence departing the temple and Jerusalem (Ezek 11:22-24 ESV). This was a crisis previously unimaginable in popular Israelite religion (Jer 7). But by grace, the Lord always has a remnant who see in the Spirit what others will not see. Such seeing is dramatically described in Ezekiel 9.

vs.3Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub on which it rested to the entrance of the temple. And the Lord called to the man… had the writing case… vs.4 …“Pass … through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.vs.5 And to the others he said …“Pass through the city after him, and strike…show no pity. vs.6 Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.” ” (Ezek 9:3-6 ESV).

Peter picks up this passage when he says concerning the Church, “judgement must begin at the household of God (1 Pet 4:17 ESV)Lost glory, God’s people indistinguishable from the heathen, spiritual dryness, a household under judgement- this is the Church today!

Revival scholar J Edwin Orr once said, “Revival is like judgement day.” This is so counter-cultural it’s difficult to imagine any contemporary preacher saying it, but the prophet Habakkuk says, vs.2O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.(Hab 3:2 ESV)

The mercy that follows judgement is resurrection life. This sort of language is fund even in the Old Testament. God tells Ezekiel to speak to the valley of dry bones, “Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath/spirit to enter you, and you shall live.(Ezekiel 37: 5 ESV). This miracle of life comes as an outpouring of the Spirit of God on dry ground4)See Biblical References Isa 44:3 ESV; Ezek 39:29 ESV; Joel 2:28-29 ESV.

Jesus and the Spirit

Revival phenomena – vast crowds, repentance for baptism and forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:1-18 ESV) at the “preaching of “the gospel” (Luke 3:18 ESV) surrounded John the Baptist. But he spoke of one coming with a baptism of the Spirit and fire (Luke 3:16-17 ESV), for only in Jesus did the glory of the Lord return to Israel5)See Biblical References Luke 2:14, 32 ESV; John 1:14 ESV etc..

The crowds following Christ concentrated6)See Biblical References John 2:23 ESV; John 6:26 ESV on the glory displayed in his signs and wonders7)See Biblical References Matt 9:8 ESV; Matt 15:31 ESV; Luke 7:16 ESV; Luke 13:13 ESV; Luke 18:43 ESV; John 2:11 ESV; John 11:4, 40 ESV but to his intimates Jesus spoke of the glory of God he shared with his Father from before the foundation of the world (John 17:2, 22 ESV). And he testified that once he was personally glorified, he would pour out the Spirit (John 7:39 ESV).

Glorification meant death, resurrection and ascension into heaven8)See Biblical References Luke 24:26 ESV; John 12:23-33 ESV; Acts 5:31 ESV; Rom 6:4 ESV. This is uncontroversial, but to understand how the Spirit imparts the glory of Christ to the Church in revival we must first understand and accept how he brought glory to Jesus.

For this reason I want to look more closely at how Christ’s earnest praying in Gethsemane (Luke 22:44 ESV) is expounded in Hebrews, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.(Heb 5:7 ESV). “in the days of his flesh” means in the time of Christ’s weakness, temptation and mortality.

In response to this degraded condition Jesus cried and groaned that God might “save him from death”. This “saving from death” was not his pleading to be spared the cross, he came to die, his will was always to die9)See Biblical References John 3:16 ESV; Heb 10:5-10 ESV.

His Spirit-filled prayers in Gethsemane (Heb 9:14 ESV) were aimed at something far greater than any personal deliverance. Here’s what I believe the Lord highlighted to me during the week about the Spirit’s work in Jesus’ praying.

In Romans Chapter 8 “the whole creation” awaits “the glorious liberty of the children of God … the redemption of our bodies(Rom 8: 21, 22, 23 ESV).

Paul says “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly(Rom 8: 23 ESV) for the day of resurrection.

This groaning is not miserable hopeless agonising over the sorry state of the world, it is a groaning charged with hope and anticipation because it is a union with God’s own praying in the Spirit.

Romans 8:26 ESV remarkably says, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.(Rom 8:26 ESV).

The Holy Spirit is groaning in our hearts/spirits10)See Biblical References Rom 8:16 ESV, Gal 4:6ESV for our resurrection and the renewal of the whole universe.

This intercessory groaning of the Spirit of God is one with and effective through the groanings of Christ in the Garden where he groaned to be brought into resurrection existence, not only personally, but on behalf of his Church and all creation.

These prayers were answered when the Spirit gloriously raised Christ from the dead11)See Biblical References Rom 1:4 ESV; Rom 6:4 ESV. Understanding groaning prayer in the Spirit as a plea for resurrection life has immediate implications for understanding revival.

Spirit and Church

The earnest anguished prayers “in the Spirit” that precede every genuine move of God are longing for the coming of the glory of Christ on earth as it is already in heaven. Revival is nothing more than the Spirit’s “show and tell” of the glorified life of Christ12)See Biblical References John 7:37-39 ESV; Rom 6:4 ESV; Rom 8:2-11 ESV; Eph 1:17-23 ESV; Eph 3:14-19 ESV; Eph 5:14 ESV.

All the dimensions of revival; brokenness, weeping, confession, repentance, conversion, healings, miracles, social transformation, are the Spirit imparting to the Church what he has achieved in the glorifying the lowly flesh of Christ. This is just as Jesus said, “ “when the Helper/Advocate comes… the Spirit of truth… he will bear witness about me.” ” (John 15:26 ESV).

It’s the Spirit’s glory to make Jesus known as Jesus’ glory was to make the Father known13)See Biblical References John 14:10 ESV; Phil 2:9-11 ESV.  This is a mature relational understanding of revival.

Bishop Festo Kivingere describes the East African revival,

“revival was never an experience… never a manifestation… it was the living Lord on the throne of his people’s hearts. This made dumb people sing for joy, and the blind opened their eyes to see the beauty of the Lord, and the sceptical were deeply convinced of his presence. Broken lives were put together.”

Bishop Festo Kivingere

The extraordinary dimensions of revival are a manifestation of the resurrection life of Christ. For example, since the 1950s churches in South Korea have practised daily 4 am prayer meetings and all-night Friday prayers.

This is supernatural life. If all Christians confess through the indwelling Spirit that Jesus has been raised from the dead14)See Biblical References Rom 8:9 ESV; 1 Cor 12:3 ESV why isn’t the whole Church in “continuous revival”?

Why Revival Tarries

Simply because the people of the new covenant “rebel and grieve God’s Holy Spirit(Isa 63:10 ESV) just like Israel did of old. There are signs of this rebellion everywhere. I groan when I hear, as I have recently, Christian leaders praying without mentioning the name “Jesus”. 

If in my hardened heart I am groaning the Spirit is surely grieving (Eph 4:30 ESV). Jesus said to the church in Ephesus, “remember the height from which you have fallen(Rev 2:5 ESV), but our sedated, complacent congregations can no longer even recognise that the manifest glory of God has departed our midst.

Jesus said, “I will build my church(Matt 16:18 ESV), but our marketing, programmes, entertaining worship and church growth methodology shows we have taken over from Jesus and his Spirit.

Baptist notable Henry Blackaby comments, “we’re shaping God into the shape we want him to be. That is evangelical idolatry.” There’s no fear of God15)See Biblical References Isa 6:5 ESV; Acts 2:43 ESV; Acts 5:11 ESV, no sighing and groaning over our condition.

If, “Revival is the inrush of the Spirit into a body that threatens to become a corpse.” (Egerton) then there’s no possibility that our well-appointed churches will be found crying out for revival because they cannot believe that they need resurrection life. God has promised to “revive the spirit of the lowly, and… revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isa 57:15 ESV).

When we are heavy about our sins, broken marriages, dysfunctional families, personal complacencies and impending deaths, but most heavy about our lack of the presence of the resurrected life of the Lord Jesus, revival will come.

Conclusion

Our heaviness is far too light for the actual broken spiritual state of nation and Church but what we do NOT need is the hyper-emotionalism of revivalism (e.g. Toronto, Pensacola, Lakelands etc.) so characteristic of my early preaching.

In researching this sermon, I was deeply impacted by realising that the First Great Awakening in America (c. 1730’s-1740) came through Jonathan Edwards preaching that all human efforts were useless to obtain salvation.

He was not preaching for revival. Unlike today’s huge industry telling and selling us how to grow our Christianity back in the eighteenth century it was the Spirit’s revelation of the sovereignty of God in saving through the gospel alone16)See Biblical References Rom 1:16 ESV; 1 Thess 2:13 ESV that broke the hearts of people so that they cried out (literally) to be saved from falling into hell.

The revelation of our inability to save ourselves, in justification, sanctification and glorification, is a sharing in Jesus inability to raise himself from the dead apart from the power of the Spirit17)See Biblical References Rom 1:4 ESV; Rom 8:11 ESV; 1 Pet 3:18 ESV.

To think and to act otherwise robs God of his glory, grieves the Spirit and plunges the Church into divine judgement. This is our present dreadful condition. Revival comes when the power of human activity is repented of and replaced by the power of the Spirit.

The Spirit is groaning to renew the whole creation starting with the Body of Christ. He is the only one who can lift us up in our weakness.

Revival is a sudden experience in the Spirit of Jesus standing in our midst with no distance, even if the great difference, between us and Christ

Each of us must ask, “What is there in me that causes revival to delay?”

If the Lord grants us to grow in our groaning about the abominations in and around us then revival will come as surely as the resurrection came for Jesus.

The cost of not having a revival is too great to contemplate.

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 24th March 2019 Location: Alive@5   

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

24th March 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References 1 Cor 12:3 ESV; Phil 2:11 ESV
2. See Biblical References Rev 1:1 ESV; Rev 19:10 ESV
3. See Biblical References Ex 40:34 ESV; 1 Ki 8:11 ESV cf. Rom 9:4 ESV
4. See Biblical References Isa 44:3 ESV; Ezek 39:29 ESV; Joel 2:28-29 ESV
5. See Biblical References Luke 2:14, 32 ESV; John 1:14 ESV etc.
6. See Biblical References John 2:23 ESV; John 6:26 ESV
7. See Biblical References Matt 9:8 ESV; Matt 15:31 ESV; Luke 7:16 ESV; Luke 13:13 ESV; Luke 18:43 ESV; John 2:11 ESV; John 11:4, 40 ESV
8. See Biblical References Luke 24:26 ESV; John 12:23-33 ESV; Acts 5:31 ESV; Rom 6:4 ESV
9. See Biblical References John 3:16 ESV; Heb 10:5-10 ESV
10. See Biblical References Rom 8:16 ESV, Gal 4:6ESV
11. See Biblical References Rom 1:4 ESV; Rom 6:4 ESV
12. See Biblical References John 7:37-39 ESV; Rom 6:4 ESV; Rom 8:2-11 ESV; Eph 1:17-23 ESV; Eph 3:14-19 ESV; Eph 5:14 ESV
13. See Biblical References John 14:10 ESV; Phil 2:9-11 ESV
14. See Biblical References Rom 8:9 ESV; 1 Cor 12:3 ESV
15. See Biblical References Isa 6:5 ESV; Acts 2:43 ESV; Acts 5:11 ESV
16. See Biblical References Rom 1:16 ESV; 1 Thess 2:13 ESV
17. See Biblical References Rom 1:4 ESV; Rom 8:11 ESV; 1 Pet 3:18 ESV

The Thankful Foreigner (Healing of the 10 Lepers)

Study Text Luke Chapter 17 vs.11 – vs.19 ESV

vs.11 On the way to Jerusalem, he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. vs.12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers,1)Luke 17:12 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 who stood at a distance vs.13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. vs.14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. vs.15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; vs.16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. vs.17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? vs.18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner? vs.19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.2)Luke 17:19 Or has saved you

Luke 17:11-19 ESV

Introduction

As we have gone through Luke’s stories about Jesus we have seen that its people on the margins who experience God’s overwhelming grace in Christ; there was the Gentile centurion of faith greater than the people of Israel and who’s servant was healed at a distance, the “sinful woman” overwhelmed by forgiving love in the house of the cold unmoved Pharisee, and the younger sister experiencing the presence of the Lord whilst her older responsible sister was preoccupied with pots and pans. Today’s story challenges once again the prevailing assumption in Jesus’ time that Jewish people had a head start with God. this is a story about a Samaritan.

The Samaritans were a hybrid people formed through intermarriage between the Israelites left after the Assyrian conquest in the eight century BC and Gentile tribes relocated to that area.

They worshipped the God of Israel, believed that the first five books of the Old Testament only were scripture, and set up their own temple and priesthood in their own territory in opposition to worship in Jerusalem. The Jews thought Samaritans were “mongrel heretics” outside of God’s favour and mercy. But the kingdom of Jesus turns everything upside down (cf. Acts 17:6-7 ESV).

Exposition

vs.11On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. vs.12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance vs.13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

There was a lot of heat between Samaritans and Jews. Earlier in Luke (Luke 9:51-56 ESV), a village of Samaritans refused Jesus hospitality merely because he was headed to Jerusalem.

Now travelling along the border of hostile territory Jesus encounters a party of lepers.

In the Bible, “leprosy” pretty much includes any serious skin condition and lepers were required by Moses’ Law to stay away from healthy people3)See Biblical References Lev 13:46 ESV; Num 5:2-3 ESV.

Lepers were regarded as ritually unclean living under a divine curse.

They were written off by most people as untouchables, as Samaritans were, and beyond help.

Is anyone beyond God’s redeeming power…?

I was listening; this week to a live broadcast of people shouting at George Pell when he came out of court, “freak… monster… rot in hell”. Can the blood of Christ heal paedophiles…can it cleanses; whatever darkness is in you?

The lepers cry out as one, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 

Their calling Christ, “Master”, a word found only on the lips of disciples in Luke4)See Biblical References Luke 5:5 ESV; Luke 8:24, 45 ESV; Luke 9:33, 49 ESV prepares us for something special to come in this story.

In placing themselves under the authority of the Lordship of Christ they are crying out for a miracle from God5)See Biblical References Ex 34:6 ESV; Deut 4:31 ESV; 2 Chron 30:9 ESV; Psalm 86:15 ESV; Dan 9:9 ESV; Jonah 4:2 ESV. And they were not disappointed.

vs.14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.

Priests in Israel functioned as purity inspectors to restore or exclude people from everyday community life6)See Biblical References Lev 13:2 – 14:32 ESV.

Since a sacrifice was to be offered when a leper was declared cleansed, Jesus was sending them off to the temple in Jerusalem.

Jesus tests the faith of the men by telling them to go to the priests before there’s any sign of healing. “And as they went they were cleansed.”  In obeying the Lord’s word they were healed.

This must have been a powerful resurrection-like experience for them all as putrid, smelly flesh wreaking of death was made new and alive by the power of Christ. Then the story takes an unexpected turn.

vs.15 .. one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; vs.16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.

All saw they were healed but only one saw beyond the physical into the spiritual realm. In the religious thinking of the day, a Samaritan and a leper was a twice rejected person beyond the blessings of God.

That the man was “praising God” shows something deeper than external healing had taken place, through a face to face encounter with Jesus this man has a new relationship with God, in a biblical language he has “born again(Matt 12:34 ESV).

I’m not reading too much into this story, for whilst praise for healing is common in Luke7)See Biblical References Luke 2:20 ESV; Luke 5:25 ESV; Luke 7:16-17 ESV; Luke 13:13 ESV; Luke 23:47 ESV falling at Jesus’ feet in thankfulness is extraordinary act of reverent submission (Luke 5:12 ESV etc.).

The centre of attention has turned from the healing to Jesus.

Totally released from any sense of being under a divine or human curse spontaneous gratitude at God’s mercy pours out his innermost being. He knows that God is worthy of praise and the place to offer such praise is at the feet of Jesus.

Have you ever felt moved like this to pour out praise at the feet of Jesus?

I remember when the Lord touched me as a young man so powerfully that I couldn’t stop praising him on my knees for hours. It was just so wonderful (cf. Acts 3:8 ESV).

Overcome by the presence of Jesus the Samaritan looked beyond the ritualistic ceremonial formal religion of temples (Samaritan or Jewish) to Christ himself as the place where God’s might merciful power can be experienced, and true worship is to be offered.

Most of us, however, have become side-tracked from a face to face encounter with Jesus. This is why we are way too timid when it comes to praising the Lord.

vs.17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? vs.18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?

Since grace is always surprising even the Lord was surprised in seeing the unexpected breadth of the Father’s mercy at work in the Samaritan.

In Christ asking three questions in succession the focus is turned away from physical healing to the man’s attitude healed.

The word Jesus uses in calling the Samaritan a “foreigner” appears only here in the New Testament.

It means someone born from the wrong family and in this case someone outside the divinely blessed family of Abraham (Gen 12:1-3 ESV).

Not long ago archaeologists uncovered a sign from the Jerusalem temple of Jesus’ time; “No foreigner (same Greek word as above) may enter within the balustrade around the sanctuary and the enclosure.

Whoever is caught, on himself shall he put the blame for the death which will ensue.”  Try to get close to our temple’s God and we will kill you was the clear message (cf. illegal for non-Muslims to enter Mecca), but in meeting God in Jesus this previously wretched Samaritan has encountered only blessing.

When Jesus exclaims aloud “Were not ten cleansed?”, is he speaking to himself, to his disciples, to the villagers, is he speaking to us?

All 10 were physically restored and returned to normal social life but only one praised the Lord.

Has anything changed?

Many more pray than praise, many more understand church ritual better than they understand Jesus.

The great Baptist preacher Spurgeon rightly said, “If Christ has saved you, and your heart is right, you will say, “I must praise him…”

You will not be kept back by the chilly state of nine out of ten of your old companions, nor by the worldliness of your family, nor by the coldness of the church.” how many of us today are kept back from fully following Jesus?

vs.19 And Jesus said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.

Those who bless the Lord with thanks receive the greatest blessing. It was only the Samaritan who heard from the lips of Jesus, “your faith has made you whole.8)See Biblical References cf. Luke 7:50 ESV; Luke 8:48 ESV; Luke 18:42 ESV. All ten used the language of discipleship in calling Jesus “Master”, but only one acted like a disciple and entered the kingdom of God.

CONCLUSION

This Samaritan is a challenge to us in ways we might not recognise.

When it became known he was now a follower of a Jewish rabbi would he have a home amongst Samaritans…?

Would the Jews of the day now accept him…?

Unless Jesus was God’s King who had brought him into a new family of faith freed from the old religious divisions of the day, he was condemned to deeper isolation than he had ever known before. Since Christ is Lord and God, he did have a new family. It’s not easy for us to follow Jesus in the way the Samaritan did.

In general, Australians pride themselves in being religiously restrained people. A friend sent me a definition of a fanatic this week; ‘a fanatic is someone who believes in Jesus more than you do’.

We live in a nation that refuses to thank God. Our national anthem happily extols “nature’s gifts of beauty rich and rare” but there is no recognition of a Creator (Rom 1:21 ESV).

Most Christian people take the gifts of God for granted.  

But is faith without thanksgiving real faith at all?

But it would not be right to finish a sermon with a focus on our faith.

Jesus is still the God of the marginalised, of gentile soldiers, sinful women, younger sisters and detested Samaritans.

Today’s reading is an encouragement for anyone who in any way feels distant from God, those on the margins of social life or church life or in any other way to come to Jesus and find in him all the barriers between you and the healing power of God have been taken away.

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 20th March 2019 Location: St Marks

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

References   [ + ]

1. Luke 17:12 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13
2. Luke 17:19 Or has saved you
3. See Biblical References Lev 13:46 ESV; Num 5:2-3 ESV
4. See Biblical References Luke 5:5 ESV; Luke 8:24, 45 ESV; Luke 9:33, 49 ESV
5. See Biblical References Ex 34:6 ESV; Deut 4:31 ESV; 2 Chron 30:9 ESV; Psalm 86:15 ESV; Dan 9:9 ESV; Jonah 4:2 ESV
6. See Biblical References Lev 13:2 – 14:32 ESV
7. See Biblical References Luke 2:20 ESV; Luke 5:25 ESV; Luke 7:16-17 ESV; Luke 13:13 ESV; Luke 23:47 ESV
8. See Biblical References cf. Luke 7:50 ESV; Luke 8:48 ESV; Luke 18:42 ESV

Revival Studies 3. Fullness is Christ

Part 1.
Earnest Prayer
17 March 2019

Part 2.
The Spirit and Revival
17 March 2019

Part 3.
Fullness is Christ
24 March 2019


Part 4.
Beautifying the Bride
15 April 2019

Part 5.
The End of Revival
28 April 2019

.


Eph 1:15-22; 3:14-4:13

“Man is a vessel destined to be filled with God and as he is filled so he expanded and as he is expanded so he is filled.”

Bingham

“Revival is God!” …That’s what it is…God in all of his fullness.”

Richard Owen Roberts

Introduction

This series understand revival to be a more intense experience of Jesus; its characteristic phenomena of earnest prayer, deep repentance, mass conversions, signs and wonders all flow from the manifest presence of Christ. This means that revival is something God is pleased to send for Paul says, “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Christ…. and you have been filled in him1)See Biblical References Col 1:19 ESV; Col 2:10 ESV.

When the abundance of the life of Christ is released into the Church her empty condition is filled and she expands in breadth, length, height and depth, in love to the glory of God (Eph 3:14-21 ESV).  This is God’s final purpose in Christ (Eph 1:10 ESV).

Fullness for Creation

From the beginning, the Lord commanded humanity, “ “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” ”2)See Biblical References Gen 1:28 ESV cf. 9:1 ESV. We were destined to fill the earth with the image and glory of God3)See Biblical References 1 Cor 11:7; 2 Cor 4:4. God’s plan is that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.4)See Biblical References Hab 2:14 ESV cf. Isa 11:9 ESV.

This “knowledge of glory” is interpreted by Christ as, “eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.(John 17:3 ESV). To know glory is to be gloriously glorified but sin is to “fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23 ESV and be spiritually emptied and dry (Jer 2:13 ESV).

The manifest obsession of Westerners of all ages to screens cries out that we are suffering from a dreadful inner emptiness. Spiritual emptiness destroys people (Hos 4:6 ESV), but how does it impact God?

If evil has any “purpose” it is to oppose the fullness of God’s glory and cause him grief. When in the days of Noah “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.(Gen 6:11 ESV)God’s heart was filled with pain(Gen 6:6 ESV).

In God’s plan to fill the earth with his presence Israel was chosen as a repository of glory5)See Biblical References Rom 9:4 ESV cf. Isa 49:6 ESV but entered into a seemingly endless cycle of prosperity-inducing  idolatry, punished by defeat in war, leading to a consciousness of lost glory which provokes a crying out to the Lord, which leads to spiritual revival.…then it all repeats itself (Judges 2 etc.).

Isaiah went to the heart of the matter, “their land is filled with idols…. they have filled my inheritance with their abominations.6)See Biblical References Isa 2:8 ESV; Jer 16:18 ESV.

When the people of God worship blind, deaf, dumb and dead idols their spirits take on deafness and blindness7)See Biblical References Pss 115:4-8 ESV; 135:15-18 ESV; Isa 44:9 ESV. God declares, “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.(Isa 42:8 ESV)

Idolatry isn’t like murder, rape, adultery, sexual abuse or any other sin, in robbing God of glory it is a directly attacks his inner being and plunges its devotees into a state of judgement, darkness and silence where the true Lord cannot be seen or heard (cf. Rom 1:22-24 ESV).

This terror can come upon a church. Jesus said to the church in Sardis, “ “You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” ” (Rev 3:1 ESV). Only a direct visitation of God can heal this dreadful condition (Hos 6:1-3 ESV). Which is why Isaiah’s vision in the temple is so emblematic of the inner workings of revival.

Isaiah receives a manifestation of  vs.1the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple” with the angelic attendants calling to one another, vs.3Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” ” (Isa 6:1, 3 ESV).

This vision of the fullness of glory shattered the priest’s frame of reference, struck him with a fear of immediate annihilation (Isa 6:5 ESV) and turned him into a prophet (Isa 6:8 ESV).

He had an instantaneous revelation of the eternal destiny of creation and that in his sinful condition he knew he could not share in its glory. Confronted with the total holiness of God his whole being is shaken so he calls out for radical inner cleansing.

Since in John’s gospel we are told Isaiah saw Christ’s glory (John 12:41 ESV) we can conclude that it was a revelation of God’s glory in Jesus which moved people through gospel preaching to desperately seek salvation just as Isaiah did.

When the crowds at Pentecost heard Peter, “they were cut to the heart, and said …, “Brothers, what shall we do?” ” (Acts 2:37 ESV) The shaking of the foundations of their existence left no other choice but to turn totally to Christ as Lord8)See Biblical References Acts 2:36 ESV cf. Acts 16:30 ESV.

The Fulness is Christ

John says in the introduction to his Gospel, “from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace(John 1:16 ESV). And Paul this fullness in the humanity of Jesus, “in Christ all the fullness of God lives in bodily form9)See Biblical References Col 2:9 ESV cf. Col 1:19-20 ESV.

The uniqueness of the fullness of Jesus is that he never fills himself. In rebuking the Pharisees he testifies, “ “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me…” ”10)See Biblical References John 8:54 ESV cf. John 5:44 ESV.

Likewise, he is filled with the Spirit “without measure(John 3:34 ESV) because he seeks only to honour God. When the Son of God “emptied himself(Phil 2:7 ESV) and “became flesh(John 1:14 ESV) he left the glory of heaven to inhabit humanity that through sin had emptied itself of the glory of God (Rom 3:23 ESV).

Whilst the miracles and teachings of Jesus were manifestations of the fullness of God11)See Biblical References Matt 9:8 ESV; Mark 1:27 ESV; Luke 7:16 ESV etc., Christ did not come to glorify the narrow strip of space-time he occupied in his days on earth but to fill all things (Rev 5:13 ESV). This could come through his death and resurrection.

The cross takes humanity’s rejection of the glory of God is taken to its ultimate conclusion (Mark 15:34 ESV). Here Jesus is immersed in the final condition of idolaters enduring the state where there’s no habitation for God, no movement of the Spirit, where the river of God has no water12)See Biblical References Ps 65:9 ESV; John 19:28 ESV and creation is stripped of meaning, form and purpose13)See Biblical References Gen 1:2 ESV; Deut 32:10 ESV; Isa 24:10 ESV; Jer 4:23-26 ESV.

In the cross the depths of the evil powers of un-creation/anti-creation are let loose, this is a place of spiritual deadness where there is no express Lordship of God. As the original rebellion meant being cast out of Paradise, as the ongoing uprise against divine rule meant the judgement of the Flood, the plagues of Egypt, exile in Babylon, so only the cosmic judgement of the crucifixion could mean new life for all creation through resurrection. God’s ways in restoration are always patterned on the gospel.

Only an emptying out of the things of this world creates the space for fullness to the things of the world to come. Jesus’ humiliation was for exaltation, “He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.(Eph 4:10 ESV).

The whole creation will be filled with the glory God gave to Jesus when vs.20when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, vs.21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named… vs.22 And he put all things under his feet(Eph 1:20-22 ESV).

In the End, all of creation will be reconstituted through the glory of the slain-and-risen Lamb (Rev 21:23 ESV) raised to a level of intimacy with God far beyond anything in the first creation. All of which will be expressed through the Church.

Fulness as Church

God vs.22put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, vs.23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.(Eph 1:22-23 ESV). Everything that Christ is, wisdom, justice, holiness, salvation (1 Cor 1:30 ESV) ….. is to fill creation through the Church.

Paul prays for the Ephesians, “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.(Eph 3:19 ESV) and teaches that this fullness comes through the gifts the ascended Christ distributes (Eph 4:8 ESV ff) and the Holy Spirit, “do not get drunk with wine…but be filled with the Spirit(Eph 5:18 ESV).

Fulness is a realm of life, Paul is sure, for example, that when he comes to Rome, “I know that … I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.(Rom 15:29 ESV). The secret of this confidence lies in his sufferings.

He says to the Colossians, “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of…the church(Col 1:24 ESV).

Jesus fills up his Body through the weakness of its servants in whom his power is “made perfect(2 Cor 12:9 ESV). Our Spirit-led sufferings in Christ create space for the fullness of God (Phil 3:10 ESV) so that degree by degree we become one with the fullness of the glory filling all creation (2 Cor 3:18 ESV). Such fulness propels believers to move out to fill all creation with the glory of Christ. Missionary expansion is the natural state of the Church living in the fullness of God.

When the Church sacrifices what God asks of her in any given context, e.g. in prayer, finances, confession, praise…martyrdom, a time of fullness always arrives and the Holy Spirit is outpoured (Acts 2:1 KJV). What is it then that is blocking the manifestation of the fullness of Christ amongst us today?

Blocks to fullness

When we glory in flesh other than the crucified risen humanity of the Son of God we are idolaters and come under the judgement of God. The Lord is shaking the foundations of the Western Church to topple all our idolatrous dispositions.

This came home with particular sharpness this week when a local Catholic priest, described as a “rock star” capable of assembling up to 3,000 people at his Christmas masses was found dead, by apparent suicide, in the wake of a sex abuse allegations.

That many are in shock and disbelief is natural, but when past parishioners use this sort of language of a man, “His unconditional love and acceptance of everyone, his support when any of us were confused or hurting was limitless,” this is the language of worship reserved for God alone.

No wonder (cf. Cardinal Pell), Christ is shaking Catholicism to its foundations. And when its local archbishop referred to a “diminishment of numbers and of influence” in the wake of the abuse scandals he, with most others, seemed to sidestep the reality that we are dealing with the purifying judgements of God.

The Lord is working to break down to the ground the centuries-old self-importance of Western Christianity.

I am reminded of how scandalous the fall of Bill Hybels, the father of the seeker-sensitive evangelicalism, has been for the Church in America and that our own previous archbishop is under an internal investigation for his conduct as a bishop, and maybe “defrocked”.

An unspiritual ailing church always looks for help from “the arm of flesh” rather than from the Spirit of God14)See Biblical References 2 Chron 32:8 ESV; Jer 17:5 ESV. When Kay Goldsworthy came out of the robing room on the day of her installation as archbishop spontaneous applause broke out. I could not believe it!

Martyrs and confessors perished with “Glory to God alone” on their lips but the contemporary Church seems not to understand what these words mean.

Everywhere there’s evidence of believers not living in the fullness of God but trying to fill their emptiness with the things of this world. All addictions are signs of emptiness, not just substance abuse and pornography but things as commonplace as travel, TV and food.

If you don’t have the comfort of the Holy Spirit filling your life (Acts 9:31 ESV) you will turn to other sources of comfort. The mood music, from Hillsong to St Georges Cathedral, filling our churches is a substitute for the fullness of a holy God15)See Biblical References Isa 6:3 ESV; Rev 4:8 ESV. The well-being lifestyle message inundating Western Christianity is a sign that the people of God are not living in the fullness and the glory of Christ.

Conclusion

The Church is in the midst of a war waged against God filling creation and on every front, our part of the Body of Christ is losing.

You can’t plug the absence of the presence of the glory of God with human programmes.

Jesus died and rose to take us out of our tiny selves into the fullness of God (Col 2:9-10 ESV).

Revival is all about the intensity of the glory of God, with its mass conversions, miracles repentances, healings and so on, being a prophetic sign of the reality that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.16)See Biblical References Hab 2:14 ESVcf. Isa 11:9 ESV.

Existential emptiness, “the dark night of the soul”, is a dreadful state of being but if the Lord plunges us into this way of the cross he will surely fill us with the power which raised him from the dead.

This is true revival and it has no limits.

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 17th March 2019 Location: Alive@5

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

17th March 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References Col 1:19 ESV; Col 2:10 ESV
2. See Biblical References Gen 1:28 ESV cf. 9:1 ESV
3. See Biblical References 1 Cor 11:7; 2 Cor 4:4
4. See Biblical References Hab 2:14 ESV cf. Isa 11:9 ESV
5. See Biblical References Rom 9:4 ESV cf. Isa 49:6 ESV
6. See Biblical References Isa 2:8 ESV; Jer 16:18 ESV
7. See Biblical References Pss 115:4-8 ESV; 135:15-18 ESV; Isa 44:9 ESV
8. See Biblical References Acts 2:36 ESV cf. Acts 16:30 ESV
9. See Biblical References Col 2:9 ESV cf. Col 1:19-20 ESV
10. See Biblical References John 8:54 ESV cf. John 5:44 ESV
11. See Biblical References Matt 9:8 ESV; Mark 1:27 ESV; Luke 7:16 ESV etc.
12. See Biblical References Ps 65:9 ESV; John 19:28 ESV
13. See Biblical References Gen 1:2 ESV; Deut 32:10 ESV; Isa 24:10 ESV; Jer 4:23-26 ESV
14. See Biblical References 2 Chron 32:8 ESV; Jer 17:5 ESV
15. See Biblical References Isa 6:3 ESV; Rev 4:8 ESV
16. See Biblical References Hab 2:14 ESVcf. Isa 11:9 ESV

Revival Studies 1. Earnest Prayer

Part 1.
Earnest Prayer
17 March 2019

Part 2.
The Spirit and Revival
17 March 2019

Part 3.
Fullness is Christ
24 March 2019


Part 4.
Beautifying the Bride
15 April 2019

Part 5.
The End of Revival
28 April 2019

.


Acts 2:1-11; Luke 22:39-46

 

“a movement of the Holy Spirit bringing about a revival of New Testament Christianity in the Church of Christ and its related community”

J Edwin Orr

“a renewal of God’s people to do God’s work to fulfil God’s plan.”

Geoffrey Bingham
SOME HISTORY

Engagement with studying the fire of revival began in my early Christian experience, perhaps ignited by the teaching of Geoffrey Bingham in Adelaide, who had several revivals in Pakistan.

I still have notes from a sermon he preached at Adelaide University (17.6.74) titled, “The Revival we Need”.

It was stimulated by my reading of Jonathan Edwards’ classics, “Religious Affections” and “The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God”. It was later fuelled by hearing perhaps the most famous student of Western revivals, J Edwin Orr, preaching at Ridley Theological College Melbourne (c.1980).

The challenging topic of Prayer and Revival presented at a conference in Adelaide 1985 by Paul Yonggi Cho which led me to deep repentance about my prayerlessness. Some subsequent some unusual acts of God in one of my ministry placements in Victoria kept an interest awake.

When I came to Perth to take up ministry in 1988, I was still a young fired up the preacher. The first 4 sermons I preached here were on prayer, by the fourth week the numbers in the congregation had doubled, and when I gave an “altar call” following my sermon on Prayer and Revival, half the congregation came forward. This confirmed my amazingly conceited conviction that I could “start a revival”, an ambition I held for quite a long time.

Over recent years I have been more likely to teach on the disorder that would result if God moved in the power of the Spirit.

Revival without reformation is a recipe for chaos. Whilst most people today think of revival in terms of a mere intensification of our present Christian experience, more miracles, healings, conversions, deeper love and so on, we must consider a genuine biblical revival to involve a restoration of the form of the Church found in the New Testament.

Anything fewer collapses in power struggles, false teaching, immorality and splintering. If the fish which the Lord sends into his net is not to escape through its many tears, extraordinary prayer and unity are to be expected as a preparation for a spiritual awakening.

This caution came to me from hearing a Pentecostal preacher in Mar del Plata Argentina in 1995. After a move of God involving the famous evangelist Carlos Annacondia, 10% of the population turned to Christ (40,000), but after some time only 1,000 remained in the churches. There were “too many holes in the net.”

My thinking and praying about revival was unexpectedly, and cautiously, reignited when I laid hands on a brother a few weeks ago and as I prayed “saw” what happened to the disciples on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).

I saw the heavenly wind and the fiery tongues entering into all the believers. Meditating on this insight I wrote a prophetic article called “Firestorm”. It ended with a challenge for a remnant to gather and pray for the wind and fire of God restoring new creation life in the Church.

About a month ago I was reading an article in the Prepare the Way magazine; which in some ways resembles old fashioned revival teaching, with articles by Andrew Murray, A.B. Simpson, A.W. Tozer, David Wilkerson and the like.

The article was titled, “The lost agony for souls.” 

It starts with a quote from the great 18th-century revival preacher, George Whitefield, “O Lord, give me souls or take my soul…there is a passion for souls, a depth of burden for men, care for the flock of God that defies words and sighs and tears.”

Then the early missionary to the Native Americans, David Brainerd, “no amount of brilliant stirring eloquence can atone for the absence of a deep, impassioned sympathetic love of human souls.”

Then followed a description of scenes from the Welsh revival, “the air became very heavy with sighs, tears, and groans…as if their hearts must break beneath the strain.” Other accounts speak of the ministry of Charles Finney, the Hebrides revival and so on in terms of recovering the “lost agony”.

“It appears that we have lost the power to weep, to wrestle, to plead, and to agonise over lost souls.” Evangelistic campaigns come and go but the cities are seemingly as lost as ever.

After reading this article I had to go out and pray. And I had very little to say.  There’s no way I can ever return to the sort of revivalist activism that possessed me as a young man. Where to from here?

Introduction

At the same time, I was in my “stunned state” about revival I believe the Lord was drawing my attention to the subject of “earnest prayer” and to do some teaching on prayer and revival from an embarrassingly different perspective from my past efforts. From a genuinely Christ-centred perspective.

I concluded last week’s sermon by saying, “Whenever God powerfully moves the Church to self-examination it is astonished at its self-centredness and turns to the Lord in urgent prayer. This makes self-examination the first step in revival and the catapult to extraordinary prayer. True self-examination involves a sharing in what Jesus saw of the depths of our fallen humanity in the cross and a sharing in the delivering power of his resurrection.

A foundational theology of revival isn’t based on ebbs and flows in the spirituality of the Church but will attempt to testify to what happens in the Church as the Spirit grants to us more intense participation in the “revival” of Christ’s own humanity from suffering and death into resurrection. This means the substance of the extraordinary prayer that precedes revivals is sourced in the prayer life of Jesus. This leads us to Christ’s prayers in Gethsemane.

The Praying of Jesus

The description of Christ’s praying in Luke is especially intense. “And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.(Luke 22:43-44 ESV).

Many early Greek manuscripts omit these verses. Scribes would have been motivated to remove this text as embarrassing because Roman critics argued it showed Jesus lost his composure in the face of death, something a true hero or god could never do. 

If we accept these verses as authentic, they give us insight into the extreme limit of Christ’s humanity. (Perhaps second only to the cry of dereliction, Mark 15:34 ESV.)

Matthew and Mark record Jesus in Gethsemane sharing with his disciples, “my soul is sorrowful to the point of death1)See Biblical References Matt 26:38 ESV; Mar 14:34 ESV. Believing that he could die in the Garden Jesus is moved to an “earnestness” prayer beyond our fathoming.

Usually at this point I would focus on Jesus recoiling (Luke 22:42 ESV) with horror at drinking the cup of divine wrath2)See Biblical References Ps 75:8 ESV; Isa 51:17, 22 ESV; Jer 25:15-28 ESV; Ezek 23:31-34 ESV, the judgement of the cross  which would separate him from his Father. But in the plan of salvation, there is another element at play.

In Luke (Luke 22:40 ESV) Jesus and the disciples have entered into a time of “testing” (Luke 22:3, 31 ESV) where the devil assaults the purposes of God with special ferocity because it his “hour and the power of darkness/ the time when the power of darkness reigns.3)See Biblical References cf. Luke 4:13 ESV; Luke 8:12-13 ESV; Luke 22:53 ESV; John 14:30 ESV. It is the devil’s “opportune time” (Luke 4:13 ESV), a time appointed by God when he is permitted to attack Jesus and the disciples with exceptional power.

If we take the humanity of Jesus and the intensity of his prayers, “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” seriously, we must suppose that without supernatural angelic assistance he could not have persevered (cf. Dan 10).

The writer to Hebrews describes Christ’s Gethsemane experience like this, vs.7In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. vs.8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” (Heb 5:7-8 ESV)

It is vital we ask what exactly was it that moved Jesus to such extraordinary prayer. I believe the key to such insight is the language of sonship used in Hebrews and underlying Christ’s unique prayer language, “ “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you.” ”4)See Biblical References Mark 14:36 ESVcf. “ “My Father(Matt 26:39 ESV).

In the New Testament sonship is consistently associated with light5)See Biblical References Luke 16:8 ESV; John 12:36 ESV; Eph 5:8 ESV; 1 Thess 5:5 ESVcf. 1 John 1:7 ESV. It is as the Son of God that Jesus is “the light of the world6)See Biblical References John 1:9 ESV; John 3:19 ESV; John 9:5 ESV; John 12:46 ESV in opposition to all darkness7)See Biblical References John 1:5; 3:20 ESV.

Because he is the enemy of God and a false father (John 8:44 ESV), Satan is the author of this world’s darkness8)See Biblical References Acts 26:18 ESV; 2 Cor 4:3-4 ESV and totally opposed to the light of Christ.

The conflict between the devil and Jesus is at the level of their deepest natures. Despite this, Jesus’ obedience to his Father’s will in Gethsemane means he must accept what Satan wills for his life. He knows submission to the Father will lead him to suffer the experience of Father-abandonment on the cross.

As the tide of darkness flows over Jesus in the Garden every element of his being recoils in anguish and all he can do is pray more earnestly. In the ultimate paradox, he is being led by the eternal Spirit (Heb 9:14 ESV) into the “outer darkness” where the will of God will be unknowable because there is no light in the Lord (Eph 5:8 ESV).

The lordship of God” will be concealed “under the lordship of evil and evil men.” (Barth); no wonder Gethsemane is saturated in cries, groans, tears, wails etc.

Revival prayer is an extraordinary share in the saving intercession of Christ whose light triumphed over darkness in Gethsemane and on the cross9)See Biblical References John 1:4-5 ESV cf. Acts 26:18 ESV; 2 Tim 1:10 ESV.

Releasing Earnest Prayer in the Church

Some of the language used about Christ’s praying in Gethsemane reappears in Acts.  Just after King Herod killed James, Peter was arrested with the same fate in mind, “but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church(Acts 12:5 ESV).

Much the same intense character of interceding comes across when Paul describes Epaphras as “always struggling/wrestling on your behalf in his prayers(Col 4:12 ESV).

These are life and death struggles to bind the strong man, Satan, and bring down his strongholds10)See Biblical References Mark 3:27 ESV; 2 Cor 10:4 ESV. It is this praying which is a sign of revival.

Remember this type of earnest prayer by Nehemiah, “As soon as I heard these words (broken down state of the walls of Jerusalem) I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.(Neh 1:4 ESV). And the boldness of the psalmist, “Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!(Ps 44:23 ESV).

Why are the characteristics of revival praying, such as heaven-sent persistence, zeal, energy, endurance and tenacity, so rare in the Church today?

Let me try to answer this at a number of levels. Firstly, in terms of the sovereign will of God.

“It is very apparent from the word of God, that he is wont often to try the faith and patience of his people, when crying to him for some great and important mercy, by withholding the mercy sought, for a season; and not only so, but at first to cause an increase of dark appearances. And yet he, without fail, at last, succeeds those who continue instant in prayer, with all perseverance, and will not let him go except he blesses.”

Jonathan Edwards said

In the ever-darkening state of our nation and Church in Australia it is not God’s will to quickly answer the prayers of his people11)See Biblical References Ps 6:3 ESV; Ps 13:1-2 ESV; Ps 69:3 ESV etc..

I was visiting someone recently who was in a state of shock when his 4-year-old came to him after 3 weeks of pre-school and asked, “Can someone have two daddies?” Tasmania is well on the way to having sex on birth certificates optional. Laws in some states (Victoria, Queensland) give latitude for late-term abortions and sex-selection.

Given such intensifying moral and spiritual madness, why isn’t the Lord answering our prayers?

The prayers of many Christians are muted and confused because they are deeply deluded about the ways of the Lord.

I remember when Donna came back from a prayer meeting a few years ago and said the consensus amongst the intercessors was that God would never allow same-sex marriage in Australia.

Those women were not in touch with the wisdom of God in allowing the kingdom of evil to flood our culture12)See Biblical References Dan 7:21 ESV; Rev 11:7 ESV; Rev 13:7 ESV.

It should be obvious by now that all the efforts of Christian lobby groups, all our think tanks, worldview institutes, centres for theological education, conferences, singing megachurches and so on are futile to hold back the tide of wickedness without a manifestation of the power of God.

We are missing a living revelation into the means by which the Lord of heaven and earth brings about foundational transformation in the Church and through it, eventually, the surrounding culture. This is conformity to the cross and resurrection of Christ.

Much of the Old Testament, e.g. Judges 2, is a cycle of blessing and prosperity (Deut 8) followed by idolatry and immorality, followed by God handing his people over to their enemies followed by them calling out to the Lord in their distress followed by a miraculous deliverance.

Then the cycle repeats itself. Exile and restoration are woven into the fabric of the biblical story because it is the means by which God gets all the glory and vindicates his own holy name13)See Biblical References Ezek 36 ESV; Ezek 39:25-29 ESV. Humiliation precedes exaltation according to the pattern of the redemption which is in Christ.

There is something drastically missing in our churches. There’s lots of grief in the hearts of Christian parents about the lost state of their children, sorrow in marriages about their deadness to true intimacy, anguish amongst real shepherds concerning the bruised and battered state of the sheep (Ezek 34:11-16 ESV), but very few seem to be in touch with the anguish of God.

It is his glory that is being lost in all the spheres of life. Surely today we are in the latter time “days of Noah(Matt 24:37 ESV ff.) when the wickedness was so dark on the earth that “God’s heart was filled with pain(Gen 6:6 ESV).

Surely this is what’s happening before our eyes in Gethsemane, wherein Jesus God’s beating heart is exposed (cf. John 1:18 ESV) in prayer.

In Christ’s vicarious humanity exposing itself to the anguish of the Father in prayer, the Lord is moved in the Spirit to act to save the world. to put this another way, God moves himself to save the world through the prayers of Jesus. Voluntary self-sacrifice through prayer releases divine power to heal all thing.

Prayer as Sacrifice

When Paul exhorts, vs.1First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people…vs.3 This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour,(1 Tim 2:1, 3 ESV), we are once again in the realm of earnest prayer as of first importance to the life of God’s people.

When Paul says such prayer is “acceptable” to God he uses a word found only here in the New Testament but used in various places in the Old Testament for acceptable sacrifices14)See Biblical References Lev 1:3, 4 ESV; Lev 17:4 ESV; Lev 22:20-21 ESV LXX.

Such prayer does what is good and right in God’s presence15)See Biblical References Deut 6:18 ESV; Deut 12:25, 28 ESV; Deut 13:19 ESV; Deut 21:9 ESV LXX)) and immerses his people in the divine favour.

As Noah pleasured the Lord with burnt sacrifices and turned away the wrath of God (Gen 8:21-22 ESV), as the sacrifices on the altar burned day and night in the temple, and as fire fell from heaven upon its altar signifying divine acceptance16)See Biblical References Lev 6:8 ESV; Lev 9:24 ESV; 2 Chron 7:1 ESV, so the wind of the eternal Spirit came on the praying believers at Pentecost((See Biblical References Acts 1:14 ESV; Acts 2:1-4 ESV bringing the life of a new creation in Christ.

Fire on the altar of our hearts on earth is answered (Charles Wesley “O Thou Who Camest from Above”) by fire from heaven (see also Acts 4:24, 31 ESV).

Prayer is as central to God and his relationship to his people in the new covenant as a sacrifice was in the old, for it puts us in touch with the death, and resurrection, of Jesus the saving Lamb of God (John 1:29 ESV).

Conclusion and Application

Amy Carmichael, famous for her work in rescuing young temple prostitutes in India, describes a time when her community (Dohnavur) was “Overwhelmed with the sudden realisation of the inner force of things” and a “hurricane of prayer continued for over four hours”. One of her girls gives what I think is the most profound way of describing a revival. It was “the day Jesus came to Dohnavur”.

Contrary to our contemporary focus on signs, wonders and preaching, Jesus knew that only self-sacrifice carried out through the presence of God in prevailing prayer could deliver bound humanity from the power of the evil one. This must be our mind too (1 Cor 2:16 ESV).

As a first step, we must accept that God is sovereign over our own personal situation and the state of the churches and nation.

If we don’t accept this we will inevitably trust in our own efforts, especially as they harness the gifts of God and depend on talent, expertise and effort. I see this most conspicuously, though hardly exclusively, amongst thriving Pentecostal congregations.

In his classic on revival, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, written in 1979, Richard Lovelace commented, “Pentecostals are perhaps the truest representatives of the Evangelical tradition [of prayer and renewal] in the twentieth century.”

This is certainly no longer true of Western Pentecostalism whose numbers have exploded but whose spiritual depth has plummeted.

We must confess that the prayerlessness of us all reveals that in our hearts we don’t accept the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty”.

And so we need to petition the Lord for an outpouring of the Spirit who so mightily worked salvation through the prayers of Jesus, especially in Gethsemane and on the cross (cf. Zech 12:10 ESV).

Finally, we need to ask the Lord that if we have no inner burden for a supernatural move of God that he gives us one.

If we do have such a burden, we should get on with praying and the more we pray the more the Spirit will be given to us for more prayer until finally, in God’s time, a great spiritual awakening will come.

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 17th March 2019 Location: Alive@5

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

17th March 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References Matt 26:38 ESV; Mar 14:34 ESV
2. See Biblical References Ps 75:8 ESV; Isa 51:17, 22 ESV; Jer 25:15-28 ESV; Ezek 23:31-34 ESV
3. See Biblical References cf. Luke 4:13 ESV; Luke 8:12-13 ESV; Luke 22:53 ESV; John 14:30 ESV
4. See Biblical References Mark 14:36 ESVcf.
5. See Biblical References Luke 16:8 ESV; John 12:36 ESV; Eph 5:8 ESV; 1 Thess 5:5 ESVcf. 1 John 1:7 ESV
6. See Biblical References John 1:9 ESV; John 3:19 ESV; John 9:5 ESV; John 12:46 ESV
7. See Biblical References John 1:5; 3:20 ESV
8. See Biblical References Acts 26:18 ESV; 2 Cor 4:3-4 ESV
9. See Biblical References John 1:4-5 ESV cf. Acts 26:18 ESV; 2 Tim 1:10 ESV
10. See Biblical References Mark 3:27 ESV; 2 Cor 10:4 ESV
11. See Biblical References Ps 6:3 ESV; Ps 13:1-2 ESV; Ps 69:3 ESV etc.
12. See Biblical References Dan 7:21 ESV; Rev 11:7 ESV; Rev 13:7 ESV
13. See Biblical References Ezek 36 ESV; Ezek 39:25-29 ESV
14. See Biblical References Lev 1:3, 4 ESV; Lev 17:4 ESV; Lev 22:20-21 ESV LXX
15. See Biblical References Deut 6:18 ESV; Deut 12:25, 28 ESV; Deut 13:19 ESV; Deut 21:9 ESV LXX)) and immerses his people in the divine favour.

As Noah pleasured the Lord with burnt sacrifices and turned away the wrath of God (Gen 8:21-22 ESV), as the sacrifices on the altar burned day and night in the temple, and as fire fell from heaven upon its altar signifying divine acceptance((See Biblical References Lev 6:8 ESV; Lev 9:24 ESV; 2 Chron 7:1 ESV

16. See Biblical References Lev 6:8 ESV; Lev 9:24 ESV; 2 Chron 7:1 ESV, so the wind of the eternal Spirit came on the praying believers at Pentecost((See Biblical References Acts 1:14 ESV; Acts 2:1-4 ESV

Finishing Well Part 4 The Finish of Paul

Part 1:
Don’t Love the World
04 Feb 2019

Part 2:
Finishing with Jesus
11 Feb 2019

Part 3:
Finishing in the Spirit
18 Feb 2019

Part 4:
The Finish of Paul
06 March 2019


INTRODUCTION

We started this series with the observation that in the Bible 1/3rd of leaders finish poorly, 1/3rd finish so-so and only a 1/3rd finish well. In an age when the understanding of what it means to be a Christian has been so watered down (cf. 1 Pet 4:16 ESV), it’s difficult to imagine that the statistics for the contemporary Church could be anything but worse.

So far in this series, I’ve given a fairly theological approach to this issue in attempting to go beyond the usual recipes for faithful endurance.

Advice like, regular devotions, being accountable to others, remaining a learner, and so on are all useful faith exercises but must be secondary to a revelation of “the love of the Father(1 John 2:15 ESV), the faithfulness of the Son (Heb 12:2 ESV) and the power of the Spirit (Rom 5:5 ESV).

In being a little less theological and approaching personal experience more directly, the person who the Bible provides us with the most evidence about from conversion to the end of his life is Paul.

Before looking at Paul, however, I need to speak to a major prejudice that afflicts many Christians. A sort of Jesus versus Paul mentality e.g. I know people who give Jesus a big tick and frown at Paul’s supposed strictness, misogyny etc.

You might have heard of “Red Letter Bibles”, where Christ’s own words are in red; and there’s even a group called “Red Letter Christians”.

It’s easy to contrast Paul and Jesus in terms of audience, style, theological emphases etc. but even these approaches miss the mark. We can only understand Paul in terms of his life- conformity to the life of Jesus.

Since I first became a Christian people have been hammering Galatians Chapter 2, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 ESV) And Paul himself testifies, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.(Phil 1:21 ESV)

Despite the commentators, it is misleading to say that Paul’s life was a calling to be the shadow of his Master or even a mirror. If we think of Paul being clothed with the mantle of Christ this must mean something much more intimate than Elisha inheriting the anointing of Elijah (2 Ki 2:9-13 ESV) and outworking similar miracles.

Scholars will freely speak of the parallels between the life of Jesus and the story of Paul, especially in Luke-Acts.

But even the most basic mathematical knowledge teaches us that parallel lines never…. meet. We can turn to Paul as an example of finishing well because of his life and the life of Jesus seem always to meet. Paul’s finishing well, and ours, is a matter of our identity in Christ.

CALL AND CONVERSION

In starting with the call and conversion of Saul (“Paul” from now on) we are in fact entering into the prophetic history of God’s dealing with the world through Jesus.

Isaiah speaks about Israel as a suffering servant and witness figure, a language which is applied to Jesus in the New Testament1)See Biblical References Matt 8:17 ESV; Matt 12:16-21 ESV; Matt 27:16-21 ESV; Luke 2:32 ESV; Luke 9:51 ESV; John 12:38 ESV; Rom 10:16 ESV; Rom 15:21 ESV; 1 Pet 2:22-23 ESV.

Acts record’s Christ saying to Paul on the Damascus Rd, “ “I have appeared … to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you”(Acts 26:16 ESV)

As Israel was appointed to be a “light for the nations(Isa 49:6 ESV), Paul preaches that he and Barnabas are this light (Acts13:47 ESV).

In many details, Paul is the model witness in the New Testament. Jesus prophesied, “you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake”, a word fulfilled only by Paul2)See Biblical References Luke 21:12 ESV; Acts 26:30 ESV.

His many afflictions mean he more than anyone else is given an opportunity to defend himself in a manner that involves fearless gospel proclamation3)See Biblical References Luke 12:11 ESV; Luke 21:14 ESV; Acts 24:10 ESV; Acts 25:8 ESV; Acts 26:1, 2, 24 ESV.

The Servanthood of Jesus (Luke 2:32 ESV) was lived out through Paul in great depth and detail in his life of a witness to the world. And understanding this thoroughly when he speaks of vs.19the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God” in his preaching he prefaces this by saying, vs.18what Christ has accomplished through me(Rom 15:18-19 ESV)4)See Biblical References 1 Cor 15:10 ESV.

When he testifies to the Galatians, “you received me as an angel… as Christ Jesus(Gal 4:14 ESV), he is not being metaphorical. Christ did say, “Whoever receives you receives me(Matt 10:20 ESV).

Jesus is really present in and through Paul’s life and witness and he knew this from the time of his conversion. vs.15God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased vs.16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles(Gal 1:15-16 ESV). Christ had taken up residence in Paul’s life in order to reveal himself to the world. This explains what looks like parallels but are evidence of something far deeper.

As Jesus was rejected; especially by own countrymen, so is Paul5)See Biblical References Acts 19:29 ESV; Acts 13:50 ESV; Acts 14:19 ESV; Acts 17:13 ESV; Acts 22:17-21 ESV. One because he sought to win lost sinners in Israel6)See Biblical References Matt 15:24 ESV; Luke 19:10 ESV, the other in his calling to Gentile sinners.

As the glory of God in his, Son produced blindness and hardness in hearers (John 12:40-41 ESV) so the glory of Christ in Paul (1 Tim 1:11 ESV) produced the same fruit7)See Biblical References Acts 28:26-27 ESV cf. Isa 6:9-10 ESV.

Both Jesus as Paul is misrepresented by Jewish religious leaders in relation to the temple, hounded by a mob, and tried by a Roman governor8)See Biblical References Luke 23:1 ESV; Acts 24:6 ESV; Acts 25:1, 2 ESV.

Like Jesus9)See Biblical References Luke 9:51 ESV; Luke 13:22 ESV; Luke 18:31 ESV. Paul sets his face to Jerusalem, and like Jesus will not be persuaded by friends that his mission is unreasonable10)See Biblical References Luke 13:31 ESV; Acts 21:13 ESV.

The saving dynamic that lay hold of the destiny of Christ is at work in Paul…

Jesus prophesied, “ “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected11)See Biblical References Luke 9:22 ESV; Luke 17:25 ESV cf. Luke 24:26 ESV. And the Lord speaks to Ananias about Saul, “I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.(Acts 9:16 ESV).

No questions or negotiations, suffering for Christ is an unquestionable divine decree.

When Paul says, “in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body(Col 1:24 ESV) he sees his sufferings as a part of the essential suffering of Jesus.

This is very much tied up with the martyrdom of Stephen whose death is tied to the death of Jesus.

Paul wasn’t present at the crucifixion, but at the martyrdom of Stephen, he took part in the same sort of false accusations and corrupted religious leadership that killed Christ12)See Biblical References Mark 14:56-57 ESV; Acts 6:12-13 ESV.

When Stephen pleads for the forgiveness of his persecutors and yields his spirit to the Lord it is the same holy power which was working in the death of Christ13)See Biblical References Luke 23:34, 46 ESV; Acts 7:54, 59-60 ESV. Stephen’s death was a revelation of the power of the gospel (Rom 1:16 ESV).

So when Saul heard from the blinding heavenly light on the Damascus road, “ “I am Jesus who you are persecuting” ”14)See Biblical References Acts 9:4-5 ESV; Acts 22:7-8 ESV; Acts 26:14-15 ESV, the fear of the Lord gripped his entire being (2 Cor 5:11 ESV) revealing the unlimited wisdom of God the death-and-resurrection of Christ15)See Biblical References Prov 9:10 ESV; 1 Cor 1:24, 30 ESV; Col 2:3 ESV.

Filled with this wisdom the apostle knows that even if, like Christ, he is innocent of all guilt16)See Biblical References John 18:38 ESV; John 19:4, 6 ESV; Acts 26:32 ESV; Acts 28:18 ESV he has a destiny that must be fulfilled in death. Whatever happens along the way he cannot perish other than in the way that has been appointed.

THE SACRIFICE

His attitude toward martyrdom is taken up into the purpose of his life to testify to Jesus. In tearfully saying goodbye to the Ephesian elders he remarks, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.(Acts 20:24 ESV).

In resisting his friends imploring him not to go up to Jerusalem, “ “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” ” (Acts 21:13 ESV). His body is being presented “a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God(Rom 12:1 ESV).

It’s vital we understand that just as the death-and-resurrection of Jesus was an end-time event so were Paul’s afflictions. To the Philippians, he says, “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.(Phil 2:17 ESV)17)See Biblical References cf. 2 Cor 12:15 ESV.

In Colossians, “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions(Col 1:24 ESV).

This joy in suffering is a supernatural sharing in the life of Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God(Heb 12:2 ESV).

This joy will carry Paul on to finish well.

vs.6For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. vs.7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. vs.8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.(2 Tim 4:6-8 ESV).

Whilst Christ’s sacrifice is complete in itself, it’s the power to save must be worked out through the suffering of the bearers of the gospel in the world. The note of joy and confidence that appears in all these passages is an expression of the resurrection life of Jesus (Phil 3:10 ESV).

Paul’s confidence is the confidence of the completed work of Christ.  He can testify boldly, “I have finished the race” because he shares in Jesus’ triumphant, “ “It is finished.” ”18)See Biblical References John 19:30 ESV cf. John 17:4 ESV, from the cross. It is the power of Christ’s finishing well living in him that assures Paul he will be “conformed to the likeness of his death(Phil 3:10 ESV).

NOT ARRIVED

Dale referred last week to folk who fail to finish well because they are discouraged, tired, bored, distracted, pass on the baton and sit on the bench. There’s a dynamic tension in Paul which makes these emotional states impossible.

The Jesus; Paul knew was a totally compelling figure (2 Cor 5:14 ESV). He presses on to lay hold of resurrection life because Christ has laid hold on him (Phil 3:11 ESV ff.).

He knows the glorified Jesus he saw at his conversion was a revelation of his own limitless destiny.

With this revelation of glory, he was told by Jesus – not that he would be a prophet, or a miracle worker or an evangelist, but how much he would have to suffer (Acts 9:16 ESV)as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles(Acts 26:16-17 ESV).

This pattern of suffering and deliverance, death and resurrection19)See Biblical References Acts 13-28 ESV; 2 Cor 1:8-9 ESV; 2 Cor 11:23-33 ESV, embraced the whole life of Paul as it had embraced the whole life of Jesus. Paul’s life is nothing short of participation in the dereliction of the cross and a sharing in the joy and power of the resurrection.

The more he was treated like Jesus the more he became like Jesus.

No matter what the world, the flesh and the devil threw at him it could only intensify the glorious accomplishment of Christ through him.

The more that is taken away from Paul the more he is empowered by Christ to finish well. “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ(Phil 3:8 ESV).

CONCLUSION

Through the scriptures, we are Paul’s sons in the gospel (2 Cor 4:15 ESV). This means his assured destiny as finishing well can be ours; “provided we suffer with; Christ in order that we may also be glorified with him(Rom 8:17 ESV).

The foundational reason why so many believers fail to finish well is that they do not look at all of life through the lens of the gospel of the horrible death and joyous resurrection of Christ.

They do not have a revelation that their sufferings are not theirs to bear alone but in the purposes of God exist to be taken up into the sufferings of Christ in order that the power of his resurrection may be released.

There are many forms of affliction e.g. illness, relational breakdown, economic stress, but let me share a crucial one from my own life which will illustrate what I am trying to teach.

Some decades ago when I was pastoring a church the leadership realised we were in a very divided state and so we called in a well-known prophet in the city. After saying some general things, he prophesied to us one by one.

When he came to me he prophesied that I would have a word that would burn into the hearts of the people, some would agree, others would shout “no” and want to stone me.

Then he said, “let there not be pain’ in your heart over that which you shall have to say… O you’re going to get into trouble but he’s going to love you for it. But he says don’t worry, it’s not you. He did it, they’ll only blame you, but He did it!

Jesus did say, “ “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.(John 15:18 ESV).

The “world” is primarily non-Christians hostile to Christ, but more broadly the world is a total state of affairs fallen from the will of God.

Whatever comes against you in life, whatever causes grief, don’t take it personally, don’t make it about yourself, realise by faith everything belongs to Jesus (1 Cor 3:21-23 ESV) and has meaning in him.

We don’t live parallel lives with Jesus, Jesus is living his life in union with our lives. Living our lives faithfully to the end will bring this sharing to perfection.

In God’s grace, his mercy will perfect the sacrifice of our lives. All who look towards a death that will glorify God will finish well (John 21:19 ESV).

MESSAGE, DELIVERED: Date 06th March 2019 Location: ALIVE @ 5

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

06th March, 2019.

References   [ + ]

1. See Biblical References Matt 8:17 ESV; Matt 12:16-21 ESV; Matt 27:16-21 ESV; Luke 2:32 ESV; Luke 9:51 ESV; John 12:38 ESV; Rom 10:16 ESV; Rom 15:21 ESV; 1 Pet 2:22-23 ESV
2. See Biblical References Luke 21:12 ESV; Acts 26:30 ESV
3. See Biblical References Luke 12:11 ESV; Luke 21:14 ESV; Acts 24:10 ESV; Acts 25:8 ESV; Acts 26:1, 2, 24 ESV
4. See Biblical References 1 Cor 15:10 ESV
5. See Biblical References Acts 19:29 ESV; Acts 13:50 ESV; Acts 14:19 ESV; Acts 17:13 ESV; Acts 22:17-21 ESV
6. See Biblical References Matt 15:24 ESV; Luke 19:10 ESV
7. See Biblical References Acts 28:26-27 ESV cf. Isa 6:9-10 ESV
8. See Biblical References Luke 23:1 ESV; Acts 24:6 ESV; Acts 25:1, 2 ESV
9. See Biblical References Luke 9:51 ESV; Luke 13:22 ESV; Luke 18:31 ESV
10. See Biblical References Luke 13:31 ESV; Acts 21:13 ESV
11. See Biblical References Luke 9:22 ESV; Luke 17:25 ESV cf. Luke 24:26 ESV
12. See Biblical References Mark 14:56-57 ESV; Acts 6:12-13 ESV
13. See Biblical References Luke 23:34, 46 ESV; Acts 7:54, 59-60 ESV
14. See Biblical References Acts 9:4-5 ESV; Acts 22:7-8 ESV; Acts 26:14-15 ESV
15. See Biblical References Prov 9:10 ESV; 1 Cor 1:24, 30 ESV; Col 2:3 ESV
16. See Biblical References John 18:38 ESV; John 19:4, 6 ESV; Acts 26:32 ESV; Acts 28:18 ESV
17. See Biblical References cf. 2 Cor 12:15 ESV
18. See Biblical References John 19:30 ESV cf. John 17:4 ESV
19. See Biblical References Acts 13-28 ESV; 2 Cor 1:8-9 ESV; 2 Cor 11:23-33 ESV