Where has the Spirit Gone? Part 1: Groaning is a Gift for Glory


Like the prophets I go through periods where things are exceptionally bitter for my spirit (Isa 22:4 ESV; Jer 13:17 ESV; Lam 3:15 ESV; Ezek 3:14 ESV; Zeph 1:14 ESV). In several public meetings last week I was left despairing at the dullness of Christian leaders concerning what the Lord is doing in the world (Heb 5:11 ESV).

Western civilisation is in the midst of an accelerating and unprecedented transition from a Christian to a post Christian society. Much is being written about this, but it’s hard to find someone speaking God’s word to the spiritual roots of our cultural crisis.

Secular humanism, radical feminism, cultural Marxism and the LGBTI lobby are easy targets for Christian apologists, but in the end its God we have to deal with. It’s the strong hand of the Lord in his wrath and fury which is handing our culture over to its many moral insanities (Ex 6:1 ESV; Neh 1:10 ESV; Jer 21:5 ESV).

As the Lord sent plagues upon the Egyptians and an army on Babylon to move his people out of cultural captivity, so he is releasing a plague of indecencies today for the same purpose. Bob Chapman defines discipleship as, “Extreme lives for extreme times.” Extreme times surround us, but extreme lives are rare. Thankfully there is a great plan in God’s heart to extremise our responses to the wickedness of our days.


Under the deepest pressure the soul groans (Job 24:12 ESV) and its Maker has compassion on intense pain. When the Lord heard the groaning of the people of Israel in Egypt he “knew” their condition and delivered them (Ex 2:23-25 ESV; 6:5 ESV).

In the terrible time of the Judges “the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning” and repeatedly saved the nation (2:18). As real people the psalmists unashamedly present their broken hearted groaning as a ground for divine deliverance (Pss. 5:1 ESV; Pss. 12:5 ESV; Pss. 32:3 ESV; Pss. 38:8 ESV; Pss. 79:11 ESV; Pss. 102:5, 20 ESV).

Revelation concerning the apostasy of Israel makes the prophets groan, ““As for you, son of man, groan; with breaking heart and bitter grief, groan before their eyes.(Ezek 21:6 ESV cf. Jer 45:3 ESV).

Only those who sigh and groan over the idolatries and immoralities of Jerusalem will be spared from the coming wrath (Ezek 9:4 ESV).

Groaning is something normal for God’s people in this wicked world.

When the Lord allowed the communists to conquer China and the radical Moslems to take over Iran the little churches in these nations groaned in despair. The result has been an unprecedented spiritual renewal because their cries of agony were a share in the power and wisdom of the cross (1 Cor 1:24 ESV). But few seem to value the gift of groaning today.


New Church,
offers a total spiritual experience; but its failure to move the saints to leave worldliness behind shows it is not putting people in touch with the power of the new creation. Someone sent me a Hillsong clip recently. I actually liked the song, but, to speak dramatically, since there was “no blood on the stage” it really was a rather powerless spectacle.

Old Church,
on the other hand panders to the safety of theological and political conservatism; but the apostolic preachers “turned the world upside down …acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”” (Acts 17:6-7 ESV cf. John 12:19-15 ESV).

Both forms of Church fail utterly to grasp, or, to be grasped by, the present crucifying of Christianity as we have known it for centuries.

Both forms of Church are substitutes for the utterly uncompromising kingdom power of God. I despair of folk unwisely praying for revival, asking God to do a work in the world when his priority is to more intensely bring the power of Christ’s death upon the Church (1 Pet 4:17 ESV).

If groaning is truly spiritual it must come to us from heaven (John 3:27 ESV).


Paul teaches, “the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth(Rom 8:22 ESV). Most potently “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words(Rom 8:26 ESV).

God himself is groaning in order to bring in the new creation, the centre point of which will be “the revealing of the sons of God” by resurrection from the dead (Rom 8:19-23 ESV).

Groaning is an essential part of what it means to be an adopted child of God in the likeness of Christ himself. 

If groaning is strange to us we need to go back to the source of all holy groaning, the cross. It is commonly observed that Jesus’ cry from the cross, ““My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34 ESV), is a quote from the first part of Psalm 22:1 ESV.

What we often miss is that the psalmist goes on to describe his cry as, “my groaning”. Jesus and the Spirit were perfectly united in groaning from the cross for the birth of the new creation.

The time when there will be cause of groaning (Rev 21:4 ESV).

Jesus groans on the cross were not for himself, but for the salvation of the world. They were vicarious glorious groans, groans heard by the Father and answered by resurrection from the dead (Acts 13:34 ESV Rom 1:4 ESV).

Whoever groans in the Spirit of Christ will certainly receive an answer to their prayers.


Groaning in the S/spirit is a sign and share in our future glorification. vs.16The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, vs.17… heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.(Rom 8:16-17 ESV).

Spirit inspired groaning over this ageing creation is a sign not of defeat but that we will inherit the whole world (Rom 4:13 ESV). Such mourning is a share in Jesus’ grief for a lost race and a witness to a genuine maturity in Christ (2 Cor 12:21 ESV).

The absence of mourning in our Church meetings is a sign that we have been desensitised to the absence of the presence of God.

True spiritual intimacy is much deeper than knowing the Bible, exercising spiritual gifts, growing to Church or being blessed. The intimacy the Father seeks involves us embracing groaning in the Spirit of Christ to his glory (John 4:23-24 ESV). How can this ever happen?


Holy groaning is supernaturally birthed.

No one can initiate a groaning in “the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings” (Phil 3:10 ESV). We need the strong hand of the Lord on us to move us to groan (Isa 8:11 ESV; Ezek 3:14 ESV).

Through Jesus we understand this is the sacred weight of a crucified hand that may crush but will never destroy us (2 Cor 8:1 ESV).  More than this, through the travailing Spirit we can receive a vision of the new creation coming through our afflictions that makes all our struggles seem worthwhile (cf. Luke 24:26 ESV).  

Only insight into these majestic eternal purposes can wean us off both “New Church” and “Old Church”.

Whilst surrounded by Christian bodies who by their size, success or dullness  will keep resisting the Lord’s crucifying  work the Lord has a remnant called to be radically different (2 Cor 4:10-11 ESV; Gal 2:20 ESV).

The strange wisdom of the cross (1 Cor 1:25 ESV) beckons us to call on our heavenly Father for the gift of groaning in Christ.

This would be a genuine Spirit-filled experience (Rom 8:26 ESV).

When the Father answers this prayer, when we begin to hear shameless groanings in prayer in our churches, the revival we need will have begun. 

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 25th Feb, 2017 |

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE YouTube or PODCAST: n/a |       |

Related Link: 

Where has the Spirit Gone? Part 1: Groaning is a Gift for Glory

Where has the Spirit Gone? Part 2: The Spirit of Righteousness

Where has the Spirit Gone? Part 3: In the Spirit

Where has the Spirit Gone Part 4: Laying on of Hands

Serving the Lord over the Powers

Dan 10:1-21 ESV

Eph 1:15-22 ESV


Last week Dale focussed on how the death and resurrection of Jesus delivers us from sin and death; this week we want focus on the Lordship of Christ over the supernatural realm of evil.

Our readings illustrate that that these powers are engaged in a cosmic war against the kingdom of God (cf. Col 1:13 ESV).

In Daniel, an angelic messenger reveals to the prophet that the answer to his prayers for Israel has been opposed by an evil prince in the heavenly places controlling the Persian Empire and which is in conflict with the angels of God.

These are the sort of beings in Paul’s mind when in Ephesians he describes Jesus as raised “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named(Eph 1:21 ESV).

The Lordship of Jesus over the powers is twofold, but only its second form can help us.

Jesus is Lord over the powers as their creator; “by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.(Col 1:16 ESV).

Christ is sovereign as God but this isn’t something he can directly share with sinful human beings.

What really matters to us is how Jesus conquers the evil powers as a human being.

The New Testament testifies this was a central purpose to Christ’s coming. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.(1 John 3:8 ESV).

And that he achieved this victory by depending upon the Holy Spirit; “if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.(Matt 12:28 ESV cf. Acts 10:38 ESV).

Jesus deeply longs to share his triumph over the powers of evil with his people. To understand how he does this we first need to examine the basis for the devil’s power over sinners (Luke 4:6; Luke 22:53 ESV).


This exists inside the realm of guilt and the accusation which gave it birth.

All human beings live under a web of constant judgements.

From parents to children, spouses to each other, in the workplace…; take blame out of politics and what would you be left with?

The origins of blame and shame began when the serpent accused God of lying about the penalty for sin, and promised we could become our own judges of good and evil.

The results are disastrous and unavoidable; accusation out of control. (Quite unexpectedly I was accused on 3 separate occasions of character failure this week; by Christian brothers. I believe it was connected to what I was preaching this morning, and tonight.)

When Jesus described the attitude, “Let me take the speck out of your eye.”, he knew we are all natural accusers.

Matt 7:4 ESV

From Eden on Satan has endlessly accused God of failing to properly care for his children, and few people fully reject his lies. He mercilessly slanders fallen humanity in its shame and lost glory of being “losers” without a destiny. (Social media bullying….).

Two apocalyptic visions bring this out dramatically.

1. Zechariah is given a vision of the heavenly courtroom with “Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord”, Joshua is clothed with filthy garments (3:3) symbolising his shame and uncleanness, “and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.(Zech 3:1 ESV).

2. Even more graphically the devil’s role as the Accuser appears in John’s vision of heaven in Revelation 12:1-17 ESV; but this scene thankfully pictures the overthrow of the satanic basis to accuse.

Because of Jesus’ ascension into heaven, “the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.(Rev 12:7-9, 10 ESV).

Through the work of Christ no evil power has access to the tribunal of God to convict us of guilt. Paul excitingly puts it like this, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?….neitherangels, principalities and powers” can “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus(Rom 8:33, 36-37 ESV).

Jesus’ words about the victory of the cross have come to fulfilment, vs.31Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. vs.32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”” (John 12:31-32 ESV). The work of Christ totally removes any judicial/legal basis for Satan to slander us.


Hebrews doesn’t hold back in describing the power of the devil, and his defeat. vs.14Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he (Jesus) himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might bring to nothing the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, vs.15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.(Heb 2:14-15 ESV).

People quite often think about dying and death, and even when they don’t all anxiety is a precursor of death. Psychology can never completely comprehend these things for the fear of death is a sign of lost glory.

Paul Tillich put this well,

We have lost our eternity … we have lost it by sinful separation from the Eternal; and … we are guilty of this separation…
We are slaves of fear, not because we have to die, but because we deserve to die!”

Paul Tillich

And it is the relentless accusations of the devil, usually directed through other fallen humans, which keeps the fear of death alive.

To push into this realm more deeply 1 John tells us, “fear has to do with punishment”, or in J.B. Phillips dynamic translation, “fear always contains some of the torture of feeling guilty”. And ultimately this is fear of “the day of judgment(1 John 4:16, 18 ESV).

Paul closes the circle for us, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.(1 Cor 15:56 ESV).

Law breakers are made to feel guilty and worthy of death by the endless accusation of their own consciences and by those around them (cf. Rom 2:15 ESV) – all sown into the world by Satan.

Only Jesus was never caught up in this web of sin, law, guilt and death because he could never be justly accused of anything.

He was tempted by the devil (Matt 4:1 ESV; Heb 4:15 ESV) but as a sinless person his conscience was perfectly free of guilt before God and others (John 8:46 ESV). There was in the guiltlessness of Christ a weightiness of glory so wonderful we cannot yet comprehend (cf. John 1:14 ESV; John 2:11 ESV).

This was at the root of the Lord’s supreme authority over evil.

Approaching the time when he knew the devil would to deliver him to death (John 13:2 ESV cf. Luke 22:3 ESV) Jesus speaks with the utmost peacefulness; “the ruler of this world is coming and he has nothing in me.” i.e. nothing on me (John 14:30 ESV).

The devil had no claim on Jesus because he was blameless.

Since Jesus is the completely obedient Son the crucifixion of “the Lord of glory” by evil forces is devoid of all lawfulness (cf. 1 Cor 2:8 ESV).

In Christ “suffering for our sins… the righteous for the unrighteous(1 Pet 3:18 ESV), in his enduring the fullness of the penalty of sin and wrath in our place, the devil is stripped of any basis to accuse God’s people.

As Paul puts it about the victory of the cross, God vs.14forgave our trespasses…by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. vs.15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in the cross. (Col 2:14-15 ESV).

Before the tribunal of God the accusations of powers of evil have been rendered empty by the blood of the cross. More than this, believers in Jesus are located in a new identity.


We have no trouble confessing that Jesus is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named(Eph 1:21 ESV), but we struggle to accept that we are “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus(Eph 2:6 ESV).

We feel ashamed and guilty so we reckon in some way we must be and can’t comprehend our identity is heavenly!

Knowing of our struggle Paul exhorts, vs.2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. vs.3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.(Col 3:2-3 ESV). .

  A person who has died with Christ cannot be condemned, i.e. “condemned again”

(Rom 6:8 ESV; Rom 7:4 ESV; Gal 2:20 ESV).
  Since we are raised up with Christ no power can legitimately accuse us of sin before God

(Rom 8:33-34 ESV).
  We accept all this by faith, but faith has certain tangible fruit.


When you came to Jesus you exchanged fathers. Jesus described the devil as a father figure who has been murdering people “from the beginning”, this is a consequence of our sin (John 8:44 ESV; Rom 6:23 ESV). But when the Father of Jesus becomes your Father you are taken out of the realm of death-as-a-punishment and can live free of fear (Rom 8:15 ESV; Gal 4:7 ESV).

The fruit of this great salvation is peace.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.(Rom 5:1 ESV). Peace with God means sharing in Christ’s reign of peace. Our Father is “the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant(Heb 13:20 ESV).

The blood of the cross has reconciled all things to Godmaking peace(Col 1:20 ESV).

Many believers rightly love this scripture, “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.(Rev 12:11 ESV), but they don’t quite seem to understand how this victory it is to be practically outworked.

Paul exhorts the Roman Church, vs.19I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. vs.20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.(Rom 16:19-20 ESV).

This is a reversal of the Genesis 3 story of how false wisdom about good and evil destroyed humanity’s peace, and it appropriates the ancient promise that a messianic deliverer would crush the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15 ESV; cf. Rev 12). Christ’s victory takes place amongst the people of God as they live cross-shaped lives and “strive for peace with everyone(Heb 12:14 ESV).

The New Testament repeatedly exhorts us to “pursue peace” (Rom 14:19 ESV; 2 Tim 2:22 ESV; 1 Pet 3:11 ESV) as a sign that before the throne of God the powers had been pacified by the blood and victory of the death of Christ.

What this means for our lives is made blatantly clear by Paul’s pastoral counsel; vs.10Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, vs.11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.(2 Cor 2:10-11 ESV).

By imaging its identity in Christ as a people beyond accusation (Col 1:22 ESV; Jude 1:24 ESV etc.) the Church enforces Jesus’ victory over evil powers in this world. We must as a body prioritise being “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace(Eph 4:3 ESV).


Because Jesus deeply wants to share the glory of his victory over evil the testimony of the triumph of believers is a constant theme in the New Testament (1 Cor 15:56-57 ESV). We are “more than conquerors through him who loves us(Rom 8:37 ESV; cf. 1 John 2:13-14 ESV; Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26 ESV; Rev 3:5, 12, 21 ESV; Rev 12:11 ESV; Rev 15:2 ESV; Rev 21:7 ESV). God has continued to allow Satan and the powers of evil to keep wreaking havoc on the earth (1 John 5:19 ESV; Rev 12:12, 17 ESV) so that through the Church testimony might be given to the world, and to the principalities themselves, of the all sufficient triumph of the cross (1 Cor 4:9 ESV; Eph 3:10 ESV).

How should we respond to these things?

Let me start with an example that hopefully illustrates some spiritual truths.

It was the first night of an Indigenous Christian convention in Alice Springs on an oval with a sizeable crowd many of whom didn’t speak much English, and as soon as the event started all hell broke loose. The first thing that happened was that a young lady stood up in full view of everyone and started to strip, then two very big drunken men began to brawl.

I felt well and truly out of my comfort zone but seeing no one was dealing with these blokes and sensing I needed to act like Jesus I went to these guys and gently escorted them off the oval.

When I laid hands on them and prayed for them in the name of Jesus, they both fell to the ground under the power of God, twice in succession. When they got up they were like peaceful lambs.

Unfortunately the next night security was brought in to keep the peace by enforcing the law, so the trouble-making stopped and with it the manifestations of the victory of Christ.

This is a bit of a parable about the history of Western Christianity.

Where in the New Testament when the power of the Spirit is present evil powers involuntarily manifest themselves e.g. Mark 1:23 ESV; Matt 8:28-34 ESV; 10:1 ESV; Luke 4:41 ESV; Luke 10:17 ESV; Acts 8:7 ESV; Acts 16:16-18 ESV, over the centuries the Church has cultivated a well regulated society where people know the difference between right and wrong and are duly rewarded and punished.

We have forgotten how it was that when Jesus and the apostles came to town they spoke with power and authority to the root of evil and the results were remarkable (Mark 1:27 ESV; Luke 10:19 ESV).

Across the Third World believers natively understand spiritual conflict, but for us to embrace Jesus as Lord of the powers will mean radical re-discipling.

This is something only God can give us, and will give us if we are willing to pursue the victory of Christ and his peace.

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 18th Feb, 2018 | Alive@5

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE YouTube or PODCAST: 18th Feb, 2018 |       |

Related Link: messageofthecrossau.com

Renaming “God”

Text: Ezek 16:8-22 ; Ps 104:14-35; Acts 14:8-18; John 13:1-15



There’s something dreadfully wrong when we hear Christian people talking a lot about “God” and not speaking much about “Jesus”, for scripture teaches us that whatever we truly know about God we know only through the gospel of Christ (John 17:3; Acts 17:29-31).

In our multicultural post-Christian society “God” can mean almost anything.

Many people will tell you they believe in “God” but their lives show no evidence of it; they’re what we call “practical atheists” (Ps 53:1); “Oh My God!” (OMG) has become a popular exclamation today but it certainly isn’t a prayer. And common language shouldn’t deceive us into thinking that the “God” of the Muslims is the Father of Jesus. In fact the Koran goes out of its way to deny Allah has a son.

There are places in the New Testament where even demons testify that there’s one God but that won’t keep them out of hell (Mark 5:7; Acts 16:17; James 2:19). The apostolic message is crystal clear, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”” (Acts 4:12). The groundwork for a spiritual revival today must begin with a revival in speaking about Jesus! Such a transformation will never come unless we move beyond a spirituality tied to creation.


Ours is a land greatly blessed, I can recall the brilliant starry skies of outback Australia, the beautiful white beaches of northern Queensland, the grand vistas over the desert from the top of Uluru and the majestic forest as it comes down to the sea at Denmark. But no one turns from their wicked ways to worship the Father of Jesus (John 4:23) through contemplating nature.

We are like the pagans to whom Paul preaches, “he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”” (Acts 14:17). As a nation we have turned away from the Master Designer (Acts 17:27) living increasingly lawless lives. Against the backdrop of our marvellous climate and geography our spiritual dullness marks us out as an especially wicked people.

The other week a devout Christian friend and I, he’d grown up in one of those cold Eastern European countries, walked out of his house into the sunshine and brilliant blue skies over Perth and he spontaneously exclaimed. “This is paradise, and anyone who doesn’t think that is wrong.” Cf. Korean Christian arriving in Australia; “This place is like the Garden of Eden, no wonder people here don’t believe in God.”

Instead of a nation of grateful worshippers we are a country of complainers; we whinge about politicians, hospitals, schools, the police force, public transport… We are the people of whom Paul speaks in Romans who see God’s “eternal power and divine nature in the things that have been made” but “without excuse” wickedly refuse to “honour (God) him as God or give thanks to him” (Rom 1:18, 20-21).

Our rank ingratitude in the face of our material blessedness surely places Australia under a far more severe judgement than almost anywhere else in the world (Luke 12:47-48).

This terrible state began with a profound corruption concerning the identity of “God” in Eden.


WHAT’S IN A NAME? That which we call a rose By any other word would smell as sweet;”

This might be true of roses but it is insidiously false when it comes to how the God of the Bible reveals himself in the foundational chapters of Genesis. Where in our English versions we find the word “God” used throughout Genesis 1 this is a translation of a Hebrew word (Elohim) that would be recognised by people outside of Israel.

From Genesis 2:5 on however we find the name “LORD God” (Yahweh Elohim) used, a name unique to Israel’s covenant relationship with their Redeemer, the personal name specially revealed to Moses (Ex 3:14). So when we read in Genesis 2:17; “the LORD God commanded the man, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.””, we can see that Adam had an intimate personal knowledge of the divine will.

Then suddenly in Genesis 3 Satan enters the scene and with brilliant trickery debases the Word of the LORD by saying, ““Did God (Elohim, not Yahweh Elohim) actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”” (3:1).

By distorting language, the devil undermines the personal character of the commandment of the LORD.

When the dulled damsel replies, “God (Elohim) said”, not “Yahweh Elohim said” (Gen 3:3), Eve has already begun her Fall.

We know the rest of the story, Adam and Eve desire to be like “God” (Elohim) and lose the glory of intimate communion with the LORD’s (Yahweh’s) personal presence (Gen 3:7ff.; Rom 3:23).

Fallen human beings will always try to reduce “God” language to something manageable.

So it is that Indigenous peoples all over the world believe in a great Creator, but knowledge of such a distant deity never has power to save them from their idolatries.

Even Israel exchanged the glory of the LORD for the worship of other gods (cf. Ps 106:20). In deep pain the LORD/Yahweh exclaims; “she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.” (Hos 2:8; cf. Ezek 16:8-22; Rom 1:23).

The sin of ingratitude is timeless. Before they entered the Promised Land the LORD warned his people, vs.17Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ vs.18 …remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth” (Deut 8:17-18). In our world children are taught, “You can be anything you want to be.”, you can construct your own gender, fashion your own identity. Adults stream to life coaches to “reinvent” themselves.

All such follies stand as signs of the judgements of God (Rom 1:21ff.). We should expect these sorts of things of the world. But when professing Christian people face retirement with a self-centred attitude, even a “bucket list”, which says, “We deserve it, we’ve worked hard for it.” we’ve conveniently forgotten we could never achieve anything apart from the gifts God has given us (1 Cor 4:7). Things are bad, really bad. So let’s turn to Jesus.


Unlike us Jesus never forget who he was, where he had come from and where he was going. We read today in John’s Gospel, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God…” (John 13:3). Satan has led all humanity on a path to usurp creation from God (cf. Luke 4:6), but Jesus knew everything he had given to him by his Father (Matt 28:18; John 17:2). But he also knew his inheritance would come in a way radically counter to all the cultures of humanity, the way of the cross.

The depths of the sufferings of Jesus expose and challenge to the core all abuses of God-language. Have you ever heard another believer casually call the Father of Jesus “Abba”, or even “Dad”? Quite frankly I am not sure who’s these folks are talking to for their is a weightiness in calling God “Abba, Father” that is immeasurable.

The only place where Christ says “Abba, Father,” (Mark 14:36 cf. Rom 8:15) is in Gethsemane where he is being crushed to death under the sorrow of bearing the cup of God’s wrath on the sin of the world. In the utmost existential crisis of identity (Heb 5:7-8) Jesus’ soul understands that bearing the cup of wrath (Isa 51:17, 53:3; Jer 25:15; Rev 14:10) means losing the intimate personal covenant presence which has always empowered him to name God as “Father”.

The cross’s cry of dereliction, ““My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34) is a revelation that under our judgement God the Son can no longer discern where he has come from and where he is going and it seems like nothing has been given into his hands. On the cross Jesus must embrace all of humanity’s distortion, misuse, and manipulation of the name “God”, in whatever language. An abuse for which we all deserve eternal condemnation (Ex 20:7). But the good news is since Christ’s death is a death in our place it means the death of our inability to truly speak of God.

When he was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father (Rom 1:4; 6:4) Jesus naturally began to speak of his disciples in a relationally supercharged way; “go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”” (John 20:17). A band of brothers and sisters who gather together, pray, and ministry in the name of Jesus immersed by the Spirit in the love of the Father is the very essence of the Church. A Jesus-centred Church is a normal Church, but this is a body formed only in the way Jesus own God-language entered perfection, through obedient suffering (Heb 2:10; 5:9).


A Christian friend visited me recently who has had a painful divorce a host of family problems a long history of depression. In conversation he shared with me his daily routine; thanking God for life and another day when he awakes, for food on the table, the car he has been given to drive, the friend he is on the way to see…..and on and on.

Beyond all human diagnoses he has power to live like this because being humbled by the Lord over many years he has come to see “God” through crucified eyes. He has been released from his own religious imagination and the distorting lens of culture, tradition and family influences to see Jesus and the Father more and more as they really are. He can testify that above all God is a crucified God. Only those who possess a vision of life (Acts 17:25) through the lens of the cross (crucivision) can understand and name “God” as he really is (cf. 1Cor 3:21-23).

Someone rang me the other day as part of a pastoral search for their church, and wanted to know what I could tell them about a certain minister. I don’t know the man personally but counselled they ask him what has been the most painful experience of life and what he had learnt about Jesus through it.

The revelation of who God is does not come through intelligence, personality, giftedness or achievements, but submission in suffering.

Many of us at St Marks have suffered in deeply painful ways, yet many of us find it difficult to talk to one another, let alone non-Christians, about JESUS. How can this change?


Firstly we must want to witness a dramatic shift in our speech. Satan has progressively encouraged the use of relatively inoffensive “God” language inside and outside of the Church to push out the name he hates above all other names, the only name to which he must submit, the name of….. (Mark 9:38; Acts 4:12; 16:18; 19:13; Phil 2:9).

Only the name of Jesus is filled with prophetic power to revive the Church and converting to save the world (Luke 24:47; Rev 19:10).

As I walked into a bookstore the other day which has 100’s of “God” titles, I spotted a book upon whose spine was, ‘LORD JESUS CHRIST (Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity)’.

I was instantly excited because the name of Jesus is inexhaustibly wonderful (Eph 3:8).

I had to pause when someone sent me a Spurgeon quote the other day; “Jesus- a gathering up of the hallelujahs of eternity in five letters”. Is that how you want to feel and speak about Jesus and is this the sort of Church we want St Marks to be?

Shortly we will set up our ministry teams for 2018; what they achieve for the kingdom of God in Bassendean and beyond will totally depend on their naming God in the way he has named himself, the God and Father of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; 1 Pet 1:3 etc.). May it be our prayer to think and speak of God only in this way. 

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 11th February, 2018 | St Marks

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE YouTube or PODCAST: 11th February. 2018 |       |

Related Link: Nil

Driven Mad

“The LORD will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of mind”

Deut 28:28

evil appears as good in the minds of those whom gods lead to destruction.(Sophocles c. 441 BC)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.  [The Second Coming] (Keats)1)Poem “THE SECOND COMING”
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) “The Second Coming”

The Second Coming was written in 1919 in the aftermath of the first World War. The above version of the poem is
as it was published in the edition of Michael Robartes andthe Dancer dated 1920


The gospel has power to convert pagan societies, and nominally Christian countries have experienced many revivals. No one however quite seems to know God’s plan for mass conversions in a post Christian nation like our own. For sure however there is no going back to the sort of society I remember in the 1950’s full of people who believed they were “good Christians” headed for heaven. I have long been teaching that the death of Western Christianity needs to be accepted as part of great divine design, but what might come next? “Surely the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7). So here is one of my expectations. Given that our nation will only turn to God through some terrible national crisis, the crisis coming, and in fact already upon us, is mental illness. This is a very painful subject, as there is mental illness on both sides of our family.


The Beyond Blue website testifies that “3 million Australians are living with anxiety and depression”.

In each year approximately one in five Australians will experience a mental illness, there are increased rates of psychological distress in youth and children, and so on. This is a crisis whose roots secular culture dare not diagnose.  What does it do to the stability of a child’s mind to be told gender is purely a choice and there are no boundaries to having sex, as long as the partner is consenting?

Such manifest moral insanity is escalating.

Pro-choice advocates insist that as the foetus is part of a woman’s body she has a sovereign right to terminate. With proposed Queensland legislation allowing for abortion up to nine months discussions emerged as to whether the cut off point to kill or save the child is when the head or head-and-shoulders have emerged from the mother’s body.

All around us addiction to social media is a breeding ground for pathological relationships in the place of genuine human intimacy. “Living on line” is a form of self-medication with “likes hits and clicks” an effort to self construct personal significance. This is a recipe for misery as humans created in the image of God were made for unmediated face-to-face relationships. The sociology is straightforward, the spirituality very difficult.


The prophets see idolatry as a crazy action creating a form of spiritual insanity, “A drought against her waters… For it is a land of images, and they are mad over idols….7 Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, making all the earth drunken; the nations drank of her wine; therefore the nations went mad.” (Jer 50:38; 51:7 cf. Hos 4:7; Zech 12:4).  

Paul is categorical on the consequences of idolatry, vs.23they…exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man…. vs.24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to (all manner of moral and mental confusions)” (Rom 1:23-24).

When humans attempt to remake themselves after their own preferred image they are severely punished by the wrath of God.

The biblical writers are not ashamed to testify that insanity can be a sign of direct divine displeasure; “The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house” (1 Sam 18:10). All this is rather general, but beneath so many of the mental troubles of our time is a primary act of rebellion.

Starting with cultural elites and popularised through the media “manhood” has become a symbol for domestic violence, sexual harassment, oafishness and a controlling patriarchy. The real target in this spiritual battle is God the Father.

Since it is through “the Father…every family in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph 3:14-15) the ultimate source of all personal identity comes from God’s Fatherhood. Defame F/fatherhood and we are left floating about untethered from the eternity of our destiny.

Post-modernisms heavy burden of having to create your own identity, to “name oneself”, is too much to bear; it will drive you strange. Neither progressive nor conservative values can heal our heads, only Jesus gives a “sound mind” (1 Cor 2:16; 2 Ti 1:7).


Jesus was so filled with the presence of his all loving Father that his godliness even led to his family wanting to seize him, saying, ““He is out of his mind.”” (Mark 3:21). Christ’s power to return crazed demoniacs to their “right mind” however proved that he alone is the true Normal (Mark 5:15).

But it is his death-and-resurrection that alone can restore our moral, mental and spiritual soundness. Jesus’ cry of dereliction, ““My God…why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34) is the cry of a perfectly whole person enduring the maximally distressed state of mind of those in “the outer darkness where men…weep and gnash their teeth” (Matt 8:12).

Christ takes into himself the horrors of hell. I have friends who when involuntarily admitted to insane asylums knew they were not alone in their cells. But Jesus had to suffer his mental torments cut off from the true source of all identity, the Father.

For empower our re-identification Jesus was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, the Son forever perfected in wholeness of mind on our behalf (Rom 1:4; 6:4). This has profound implications for life and ministry in the coming decades. I foresee a paradoxical/strange move of God.


With the intensifying fear of global warming, uncontainable epidemics and nuclear conflict, with a persistent drug problem, ethnic violence, and melting sexual identities etc., the mental disturbances of our time can only accelerate.

The ungodly have always accused the saints of stupidity.

“The prophet is crazy!

The ‘man of the Spirit’ is nuts!” (Hos 9:7, The Message);

“Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.”” (Acts 26:24.)

I foresee a time coming when only a Church whose values and lifestyle is utterly weird in the eyes of the world can provide a safe sanctuary for those being driven out of their minds by a demented culture under the wrath of God.

Once Western men and women slept soundly in the “simple” knowledge that God’s in his heaven/All’s right with the world. (Robert Browning). We can never return to that time, but in Christ we can know for sure who we are and where we are going.

By turning a mad world “upside down” the gospel message can once again impart sanity to the perishing (Acts 17:6). However something very difficult is required of us.

The coming of the Spirit in power brings a dreadful mental anguish of conviction of sin (Acts 2:37; 16:29-30; 2 Cor 7:9-11).

The Church will only become a sanctuary for the crazed when it willingly accepts a mental agony from the Lord breaking her from comforts, controls and worldly securities (1 Pet 4:17).

Then the resurrection power of the Father will heal many minds, inside and outside of the community of God.

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 7th February, 2017 |

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE YouTube or PODCAST: N/A |       |

Related Link: Nil

References   [ + ]

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) “The Second Coming”

The Second Coming was written in 1919 in the aftermath of the first World War. The above version of the poem is
as it was published in the edition of Michael Robartes andthe Dancer dated 1920