The Days of Noah or the Days of Elijah

The Days of Noah or The Days of Elijah? (1)

“Much of the church has acted, and still acts, as though it has been grafted into a Christmas Tree – flashing its attractive lights and decorations, but unconcerned about its loss of roots and wondering why it is spiritually drying up and dying.” Those challenging words came from Chuck Colson, in his book “Roots of our Faith.”

Roots are vital to our faith. Roots hold us safe and secure and dig deep into our foundations and protect us from the mudslides of life. They draw sustenance for us. Through their vital action our faith grows.

A few thousand years ago, God spoke to Noah and told him a massive flood was on the way. He told Noah to warn the people and to prepare an ark for their safety and survival. But the warning was ignored. As a result when the flood arrived only Noah and his family were rescued along with an Ark load of animals.

Noah must have felt severely pressured by the disinterest and stubborn ignorance of the people.

Despite the lack of support He put the rejection from the people behind him and chose to trust the Lord.

Jesus whose Hebrew name was Yeshua summed it up. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely on account of Me.” (Matthew chapter 5, verses 10, 11).

REFUGEE FLOOD

In the Middle East today there is a very obvious flood. It has already arrived and hundreds of thousands of Christians are being murdered, abused and painfully treated. This is what observant believers would see as a sign of the times.

Among the flood of refugees spreading throughout Europe and elsewhere, Christians are seeking a safe place. Strong’s Concordance says that persecution means ‘to pursue, follow after, or press toward.’ Vine’s Expository Dictionary says it is ‘to put to flight or drive away.’

Yeshua specifically indicated that times to come, would be like The Days of Noah! “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew chapter 24, verses 37b to 39.

Noah knew a storm was coming. Amazing to learn, at this point in history there had never been rain. Noah could only imagine what was this thing called rain would be. Nevertheless he was certain he had heard from God, and he went about building the ark despite the negativity and derision he received.

Jesus declared: “For the a coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.” (Matthew chapter 24, verse 37) He may have simply said, “Don’t miss the boat!”

We should all be living with a sense of expectancy for His return. We have never experienced such a tumultuous event before but if He said it, we can believe it.

Just like Noah wondering about the rain, when it arrived he understood why the Lord told him to build an ark.

EXCUSES

This story comes from the Journal of Royal Institute of British Architects It’s called:
The Hopeless Story Of Noah

“And the Lord said unto Noah: “Where is the ark which I have commanded thee to build?”

And Noah said unto the Lord: “Verily, I have had three carpenters off ill. The gopher-wood supplier hath let me down—yea, even though the gopher wood hath been on order for high upon 12 months. What can I do, O Lord?”

And God said unto Noah: “I want that ark finished even after seven days and seven nights.”

And Noah said: “It will be so.”

And it was not so. And the Lord said unto Noah: “What seemeth to be the trouble this time?”

And Noah said unto the Lord: “Mine subcontractor hath gone bankrupt. The pitch which Thou commandest me to put on the outside and on the inside of the ark hath not arrived. The plumber hath gone on strike. Shem, my son who helpeth me on the ark side of the business, hath formed a pop group with his brothers Ham and Japheth. Lord, I am undone.”

And the Lord grew angry and said: “And what about the animals, the male and the female of every sort that I ordered to come unto thee to keep their seed alive upon the face of the earth?”

And Noah said: “They have been delivered unto the wrong address but should arrive on Friday.”

And the Lord said: “How about the unicorns, and the fowls of the air by sevens?”

And Noah wrung his hands and wept, saying: “Lord, unicorns are a discontinued line; thou canst not get them for love nor money. And fowls of the air are sold only in half-dozens, Lord. Lord, Thou knowest how it is.”

And the Lord in His wisdom said: “Noah, my son, I knowest. Why else dost thou think I have caused a flood to descend upon the earth?”

ALERT

God has spoken. He has warned us, and He tells us to obey His wisdom.Are we living in the Days of Noah or the Days of Elijah?

I have no problem with joy-filled, Spirit inspired praise and worship but if we are the family of God, I believe the Lord requires that we have heartfelt concern for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Previously I wrote about ‘the Saturday people and Sunday people.’ In the second part of this series, I will attempt to reveal the evidence has become a present day reality and wise believers will not ignore the signs

21.3.18  –  The Days of Noah or the Days of Elijah (2)

Are we seeing the biblical signs, described by Jesus’ disciple Matthew?

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.

At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.

Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Matthew chapter 24, verses 7-13

This is not airy fairy bible talk is it? “And they were unaware until the flood came and swept them away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew chapter 24, verses 32-33)

I previously wrote about the flood of Noah. People laughed when Noah was building the ark. They ignored the warnings and they perished.

The New King James Bible translation of Isaiah chapter 59 verses 19-20 says this…… “When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him. The Redeemer will come to Zion….

Bible believers know a day of reckoning is at hand. We often moan and decry the brutality that seems to strike despite the best intentions of governments and security services.

How big a bomb do we need to contain the onslaught? How great an army?

Some reading this may say I am beginning to preach. So what? Noah did too. He was ignored and the outcome was tragic.

The Prophet Isaiah announced – The Sovereign Lord will come with power (Isaiah chapter 40 verse 10). The Teachers Commentary points out from Isaiah “The Holy One of Israel will bring judgment on the earth. (Isaiah chapter 41 verses 14-15)

The English Standard Version Bible translation of Isaiah chapter 59 verses 19-20 says: “So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun;for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the LORD drives. And a Redeemer will come to Zion.

A redeemer is one who buys back property. A redeemer is one who buys back a family member who has fallen away. The word go’al translated ‘redeemer’ means avenge, revenge, do the part of a kinsman.

David says in Psalm chapter 71, verse 1, “In you O Lord, I have taken refuge. Let me never be ashamed.” That word has been steadfast proven time and time again in the survival of the Jewish people”.

How is it they continue to be successful? Even prosper? Over 300 years ago, King Louis XIV of France asked Blaise Pascal, the great Christian philosopher, to give him proof of God. Pascal answered, “Why the Jews, your Majesty, the Jews!”

Mark Twain, an agnostic and self-acknowledged skeptic, penned this in 1899 in Harper’s Magazine:

Other peoples have sprung up, and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out and they sit in twilight now or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal, but the Jew. All other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?

Winston Churchill – Prime Minister of Great Britain “Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.”

I researched the amazing contributions by Jewish men and women and found them in Chemistry, Physics, Medicine, Economics, Computer – Hardware and software, Agriculture, Energy – of course defense and even in water conservation.The evidence comes as no surprise to believers.

God spoke to Israel saying:”And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, And so you shall be a blessing.” (Genesis chapter 12 verse 2)

Jews and Christians are children of Abraham. Today more than ever we share together in persecution.

Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, was once 90% Christian. Today it has a 65% Muslem majority.

GOD CONTINUES TO REACH OUT

The only place in the Mideast where Christian communities continue to grow is in the Jewish State of Israel.

Non-believers may deny and ignore the Bible but that does not give them immunity.

David summed it up at the very beginning of Psalms. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm chapter 1, verse 1)

Think about the many who ignored Noah. They missed the boat. God continues to reach out in troubled times and He always offers a new beginning.

28.3.18  –  The Days of Noah or the Days of Elijah (3)

The Jewish wise man Maimonides said, “Each and every Jew should strive to become as great as Moses.“– (Maimonides, Laws of Teshuva 5:2).

Christians are instructed to grow each day to be more like Jesus! (Ephesians chapter 4, verse 15)

Rabbi Noah Weinberg wrote: Here’s the real secret of success: Regardless of our mortal limitations, our potential for greatness is unlimited when we have the power of the Almighty behind us.

Do we seek to do mighty things?   Do we see our full God-given potential?

The Jews have always had a ‘God-code.’ They trace their faith, their future and their destiny in systematic study of the Torah. They seek their identity, goals and dreams in the promises of God.

The word Torah means ‘teaching.’ They believe it to be the wisdom of heaven revealed and shared with the world.

This God-code has been handed down from Jewish father to son for more than 40 generations. The unbroken link of reading, teaching and instructing has brought success in secular, social, civil and spiritual life from generation to generation.

The Israelites were given a covenant and they embraced it despite the problems, the challenges, the setbacks and the enemies.

THE COVENANT

While Abraham (then called “Abram”) was living in Ur of the Chaldeans, God appeared to him in a vision instructing him to leave home and move to the land of Canaan.

At age 75, Abraham followed this vision. During his journey, God appeared to him several times, revealing His divine purpose for Abraham and his future heirs.

God Told Abraham That:  he would become a “great nation” (Gen. 12:2)  he would be a “father of many nations” (17:4)  nations and kings would come out of him (see 17:6)  in his seed all nations of the earth would be blessed (see 22:18).

I believe a study by Christians of the continued prosperity and success of Israel and the Jewish people will be a great guide for us to succeed in the face of the persecution now aimed so vehemently at us.

Richard Booker is an author who’s significant work is published through The Sounds of the Trumpet, Institute of Hebraic Christian studies. He called for Christians to return to our Roots. He wrote: “We are living at a time when the Lord is calling both Jews and Christians back to their biblical roots.

“The biblical root of Christianity grew from an everlasting covenant God made with Abraham. Christians become part of that covenant through faith in Jesus (Yeshua). The more we can learn about our Hebraic / Jewish roots, the more blessed we will be in our Christian lives.”

CHUTZPAH: headstrong persistence, brazen impudence, unyielding tenacity, bold determination

Maybe in this hour we must learn to understand a famous Jewish word – ‘chutzpah!’Yiddish dictionary: “Chutzpah (pronounced huuts-pah) is a Yiddish word that is used by Jews and non-Jews alike to describe someone who is particularly audacious or has a lot of “guts.”

I like what Dr Brad Young wrote about chutzpah: “The word chutzpah is difficult to define in a single word. It means headstrong persistence, brazen impudence, unyielding tenacity, bold determination or what in current English terms might be referred to as raw nerve.”

Do we Christians have chutzpah where our faith is concerned?   Do we stand with Paul saying ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel?

Dr Brad Young in his book ‘Jesus, the Jewish Theologian’ wrote: ‘Jesus viewed the Kingdom of heaven as an active force in the world, a force energized by God’s power.

Jesus responded when he saw people making faith-filled choices.

He ‘saw’ their faith and healed the paralytic (Mark chapter 2 verse 5).

He again observed their faith in Luke chapter 5 verse 20 and said to them ‘my friends, your sins have been forgiven.”

Right now the world needs to ‘see’ our faith. We are not meant to live quietly and unobtrusively as Christians. Some good old-fashioned chutzpah will put our faith on display.

We do not need to be doing spectacular things. People observe when we say thanks. They notice when we give someone our spot at the supermarket checkout.

HOW MUCH?: How much chutzpah do you have?

In many places Christians seem to be the secret agents in society. Instead we are called to be the city on the hill, observed by everyone. Jesus said, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” (Matthew chapter 11 verse 12)

Take it by force‘ means ‘they seize it for themselves.

THE DAYS OF NOAH &  DAYS OF ELIJAH

Dr Brad Young points out a deeper understanding of what Jesus said. He argued that the translation ‘the kingdom of heaven suffers violence‘ the phrase should say ‘the kingdom of heaven breaks forth.

In the King James Bible the Hebrew word ‘biazo’ is translated ‘suffers violence.’ But the NIV translates the same word as ‘forcefully advancing.’

The reason for the difference is simple. The KJV is a passive translation but the NIV is active.

Dr Young said: “Moreover, the Hebrew background of this saying of Jesus actually denotes an action of breaking out with strong force.

My question to the Church today is this – Are we being lulled into something other than an active faith?

In fact, have we been trapped into passivity and even surrendered to the fallen world standards in which we live?

In an absorbing study Young said of Christians who respond to the Lord – ‘they actively pursue the divine purposes in life with all their strength.

Are We Living In The Days Of Noah Or The Days Of Elijah? BOTH!

Rejoice in the power and the anointing provided for you as overcomers in the world today. Be aware of the events taking place around you and at all times be ready to make a stand for the Gospel.

In these amazing days we should all be those who ‘pray without ceasing.’ And rejoice for the day of the Lord, is at hand.

About Ron Ross

Original Sources:

14.3.18  –  The Days of Noah or the Days of Elijah (1)

21.3.18  –  The Days of Noah or the Days of Elijah (2)

28.3.18  –  The Days of Noah or the Days of Elijah (3)

Plump Skeleton

INTRODUCTION

During a Perth Prayer meeting recently a woman fervently asked that God bring together the different parts of the body of Christ. This is not an uncommon prayer, and one supported by some familiar biblical texts (e.g. Ps 133 ESV; John 17 ESV)Whilst I wholeheartedly support such passionate prayers they are often rather naive. After decades of promoting practical Christian unity at the local, city and national levels I still see massive spiritual obstacles to a truly functional oneness in the Church that would manifest the glory of God to the world.

The individualism, personal ambition and self-reliance of modern Western culture is a big barrier to Christian cooperation.

Only a Church under pressure will come together.

When I asked a brother from Czechoslovakia where he learned the importance of Christian unity his reply was unforgettable. “When the communists persecuted the Church it didn’t matter to us whether we were Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox or Pentecostal, we needed each other.” 

Much the same point was made by Pope Francis concerning an “ecumenism of blood”; militant Islam (etc.) should stimulate all varieties of Church to recognise one another in Christ.

The teaching of this article seeks to promote unity by illuminating some internal pressures that exist on all Australian believers. It endeavours to shine a light on a shared spiritual condition that should powerful move us to unite. For as our fervent intercessor at Perth Prayer asked God for Christian unity I saw in the Spirit some very unpleasant things.

FAT CHRISTIANS

First, an ugly image from a memorable Old Testament text came to mind. Moses prophesied that the fruit of divinely given material prosperity in Canaan would be an obese nation in rebellion against God. ““But Israel grew fat, and kicked;you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.(Deut 32:15 ESV).

We might mock little fat Buddha statues but internally the Western Church commonly carries such a self-image in its heart.

We are like the Laodicean Church of whom Jesus spoke, “For you say, I am rich,I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.(Rev 3:17 ESV).

We of course will deny that we hold a plump and sleek spiritual self-image, but our failure to work together across the Church testifies against us.

It is rare to find a local churchgoer who is not in some significant way inwardly bloated, “puffed up”, by the inherited tradition of great theology, spirituality, liturgy, mission, revival, art, music etc. of Western Christianity (1 Cor 8:1 ESV).

As the Pharisees proud descent from Abraham held them back from genuine repentance (Luke 3:9 ESV) so our rich inheritance blinds us to our real condition before the Lord.

Whilst a few churches may be accused of overfeeding their members we are actually all gorged on “empty calories” and spiritually malnourished. This relates to the second image I perceived during Perth Prayer.

THE UNITY OF THE DESPERATE

When the Lord showed Ezekiel a valley full of scattered bones he commanded, “vs.4Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. vs.5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.”” (Ezek 37:4-5 ESV).

The prophetic declaration is the power of the Word and the breath is the ruah-Spirit of God. As the bones come together bone on bone God adds to them flesh and muscle and they become a mighty army (Ezek 37:7-10 ESV).

This resurrected Body goes on to reclaim the land that belongs to the Lord (Ezek 37:11-14 ESV).

Ezekiel 37 is a prophetic picture of a dried up lifeless Church which however can be powerfully revived by the Word of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

When we turn away from the self-contentment of our satisfied spirituality and see ourselves as scattered and separated dried up bones we will be urgently motivated to come together in the Spirit of God.

Effective Christian unity depends upon a vision of the Church as broken and impotent.

Yet without a further vision such discernment of our brokenness can only lead to legalism, resignation or despair.

As in all things, we must first of all see JESUS.

THE IMAGE OF THE BRIDEGROOM

Christ did not die to marry an obese Bride nor is he returning for a skeleton.

He will come to enjoy eternal intimacy with “a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault(Eph 5:27-28 ESV).

The emerging beauty of the fully formed Church is assured because vs.29no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, vs.30 because we are members of his body(Eph 5:29 ESV).

The Church falls into the deformities of obesity or leanness whenever it takes its eyes off the cross and resurrection of Jesus.

In seeing Christ’s disfigured form on the cross, where  “he had no form ormajesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Isa 53:2 ESV), we are persuaded of the measureless sacrificial love he has for us.

In seeing his resurrection we are persuaded of the power of God to reshape his broken Body.

Such revelations motivate us to take whatever decisions we must to be shaped more like Jesus. In the natural course of marriage we all know only a wicked and lazy husband could sit idly by and allow his wife’s body to become distorted into obesity or become skeletonised. 

Do We Really Think Jesus The Husband-Saviour Of The Body Is Like That (Eph 5:23 ESV)?

“NO! NO!”

The Church Of Christ Cries, But Our Current Lack Of Unified Actions Betrays Us.

CONCLUSION

Those who see themselves as prosperous will never feel the need to fast, but those who have a revelation that in the eyes of God they are “living skeletons” pray and fast that the Lord sends forth his Word in the power of the Spirit to form us into a beautiful Bride. And they pray that he does this quickly.

When we see a chain of 24/7 prayer-and-fasting across Perth revealing a bridal love for Jesus revival will already be upon us.

Until that time we are mostly like the Laodicean community, bloated on rubbish teaching.

As the old covenant people was taken into the wilderness to hunger for God’s Word alone but fell away in time of plenty (Deut 8:2-4, 17; 32:15), and as the confessing Christians in Laodicea were blinded by their affluence, so it is with us.

Only a clear vision of ourselves as like bones separated and broken up can move us to come together as members of the body of Christ powerless apart from each other (cf. Rom 12:5 ESV).

OUR CONDITION IS DESPERATE.

The great prophet of the Spirit could only answer the Lord’s question, ““Son of man, can these bones live?””, with his own question, ““O Lord God, you know.”(Ezek 37:3 ESV)

But our sure hope is that the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead can fill us with a vision of the One who has breathed life into his dead Church again and again (Rom 8:11 ESV). Jesus can do this.

Let us in humility pray that bone be joined to bone across our city and nation. 

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 29th, June, 2018

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE YouTube or PODCAST: N/A  

|   |   |

Related Link: Nil

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

Part 2: The Spirit of Righteousness

Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

Key Text 1 Tim 3:16 ESV

INTRODUCTION

Last week I suggested that the decline in the manifestation of gifts of the Spirit in the Church was essentially a problem of the heart; we have become disconnected from the spiritual liveliness Christ brought into the world through his resurrection, “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.(Rom 8:10 ESV).

When people heard the apostolic preaching there was a profound power encounter between the righteousness of God manifest in the gospel and the unrighteous forces at work in their sinful idolatrous hearts.

Deeply convicted of sin the hearers were constrained to open their hearts to the salvation offered in Christ and so were filled with his Spirit to overflowing. Tonight I want to establish in more detail the link between the resurrection of Jesus as the ultimate manifestation of God’s righteousness and the power of the Holy Spirit.

GRACE SURPRISES

The way God’s grace saves us is surprisingly different from our cultural expectations. Whereas the love of God is never preached in the sermons in Acts accompanied by the outpouring of the Spirit (chs 2; 8; 10; 19), there’s a categorical link between the resurrection and the saving righteousness of God. vs.30God…commands all people everywhere to repent, vs.31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”” (Acts 17:30-31 ESV). The good news is that when God shares with us his righteousness in raising Jesus from the dead we need have no fear of the Judgement.

Whilst God shows his love for us by Christ dying for us (John 3:16 ESV; Rom 5:8 ESV; 1 John 4:8 ESV) this demonstration doesn’t of itself save us. Only through Jesus’ resurrection can we be made right with God; Jesus “was handed over to die because of our sins and raised for our justification/make us right with God.(Rom 4:25 ESV)

As the place where Jesus takes God’s wrath against our unrighteousness (Rom 3:25 ESV; Rom 4:25 ESV; 1 Pet 3:18 ESV) the cross is God’s “No” against our sins; but the resurrection is God’s “Yes” to Jesus’ righteousness on our behalf.

The cross wipes away the negativity of our sin (Isa 44:22 ESV; 2 Pet 1:9 ESV) but the resurrection makes available a perfectly positive righteousness before God.

Without a revelation of this we can’t live an ongoing Spirit-filled life. Why?

Anyone who feels guilty before God will harden their hearts through fear of condemnation (Heb 3:12-13 ESV), but where faith is quickened to accept Christ’s righteousness the heart will remain open to the working of the Spirit.

The lack of spiritual manifestations across the Body of Christ is a sign that hearts are closed to God because we are not continually living in the revelation of Christ’s complete righteousness for us.

Many Christians focus on the Lord’s provision and power but very few delight in the righteousness of his risen life.

This is a sign of broken fellowship with Jesus.

THE LOVE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

It is said prophetically of Jesus, “vs.8Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of your kingdom. vs.9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”” (Ps 45:6-7 ESV; Heb 1:8-9 ESV).

Jesus love of righteousness and hatred of wickedness; took him to the cross, so that raised from the dead the Father anointed him with the Holy Spirit’s joy in immeasurable intensity.

This indescribable joy is a repeated experience of Christians who encounter the Spirit throughout the New Testament (Luke 24:4 ESV; 1 Pet 1:8 ESV).

An unquenchable joy independent of circumstances is a primary sign of a Spirit filled life witnessing to the resurrection power of God’s kingdom (Acts 16:25 ESV; Rom 14:17 ESV; Gal 5:22 ESV).

Paul reminds the Thessalonians, “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit(1 Thessalonians 1:6 ESV).

I remember a few weeks after I came to Christ seeking what I would then have called “the baptism of the Holy Spirit”.

When the Spirit of God filled me the love and joy was so intense I was crying for hours.

Such experiences are truly wonderful but they often evaporate because they become self-centred and disconnected from enjoying Jesus’ own life.

Some years ago a book titled “The Cross is Not Enough” argued that many Christians had downplayed the significance of the resurrection. This is true, but in correspondence with the authors I raised with them something they’d neglected, what the resurrection meant for Jesus. The resurrection transforms our lives in the Spirit because by resurrection the Spirit first transformed Jesus’ life.

RESURRECTION TRANSFORMATION

Jesus is always the complete fulfilment of his own teaching. He taught, ““Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.(Matt 5:6 ESV).

Since on the cross he was absolutely “hungry and thirsty for the righteousness of God” his desire was perfectly “satisfied” by resurrection. Jesus longed for the righteousness of resurrection because only by it could his Father be completely glorified.

When Paul says Christ was “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father(Rom 6:4 ESV) it means the Father returned to his Son, by the power of the Spirit (Rom 1:4 ESV; Rom 8:11 ESV), the glory they shared in eternity (John 17:5 ESV; 1 Pet 3:18 ESV). This is own salvation.

1 Timothy 3:16 expounds in a very potent way how the Spirit accomplished this glory when it says of Christ’s resurrection, “He was…vindicated by the Spirit”. More literally translated Jesus was “justified by the Spirit”.

In what sense could the sinless Christ be “justified”?

Taking on the condition of our sin on the cross as an apparently cursed man (Gal 3:13 ESV) only a resurrection could establish Jesus perfect righteousness.

Jesus doesn’t keep this justification/vindication by the Spirit keeps to himself; in the “spiritual body” of his resurrection he has become “a life-giving spirit.” (1 Cor 15:44-45 ESV).

When Jesus fills us with his Spirit (Mat 3:11 ESV) he gives us a share in the imperishable life of the new creation (2 Cor 5:17 ESV). “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.(Rom 8:10 ESV). The Spirit in whom we are baptised (Luke 3:16 ESV) is a Spirit filled with the power of the resurrection righteousness of Jesus (Acts 16:7 ESV; Rom 8:9, 11 ESV; Phil 1:19 ESV).

LONG FOR THE SPIRIT

The power of Christ’s righteous glory will be manifest in the Church when we fulfil the condition of John 7:37-39 ESV, vs.37Jesus…cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. vs.38 …‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” vs.39he said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” Once Jesus had been glorified in resurrection the Spirit is available to all those who thirst to share his righteousness. This is great, but there’s much here that’s also misunderstood.

At the head of the exposition of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14 ESV Paul comments, “no one can sayJesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:3 ESV cf. Acts 2:32, 36 ESV; Rom 1:4-5 ESV). The work of the Spirit through his gifts (e.g. Rom 12:6-8 ESV; 1 Cor 12: 8-10 ESV; Eph 4:11 ESV) serves the great purpose of manifesting the saving Lordship of Christ established by his resurrection. The issue for the Church today is our openness to the Spirit revealing Jesus as the Righteous One of God established in the power of his resurrection (Acts 3:14-15 ESV).

FINAL RIGHTEOUSNESS

The extraordinary boldness of the early church to pray, preach, perform healings, cast out demons etc. in the name of Jesus was a sign that they knew they were right with God (Rom 4:25 ESV) . They were free from the binding power of shame, guilt, accusation and rejection and inspired by the Spirit who loves righteousness and hates wickedness they did the works of the kingdom of God (e.g. Acts 3:6-8 ESV; Acts 4:29-31, 33 ESV; Acts 8:7, 12 ESV etc.).

Their lives reflected a famous contemporary song; “No guilt in life, no fear in death—This is the pow’r of Christ in me”.

Which is the power of the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead to render men and women righteous before God (Rom 8:10 ESV).

Since the resurrection of Jesus is the first instillation of the Last Judgement and Jesus himself is the justice of God then in Christ we stand inside the justice of God (Forsyth).

Since the decree of the Last Judgement has already been passed on the believer (Rom 8:33 ESV) nothing that can truly harm us, no-one/no-thing can rob us of resurrection life (John 4:25 ESV).

CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION

The passion of the Holy Spirit is to pour into us the mighty revelation of the righteousness of God he pre-eminently manifested in the resurrection of Jesus. Every time the Spirit moves to heal, deliver, break demonic strongholds, release the wisdom and knowledge of God etc. he testifies to the perfect justice of Christ’s kingdom (John 15:26-27 ESV). We are called to share in the Spirit’s passion.

Paul exhorts us to be zealous for spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:31 ESV; 1 Cor 14:1 ESV), “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent (dzeo) in spirit” (Rom 12:11 ESV).

Christians are to be like water set boiling by the fire of the Holy Spirit praying zealously “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth…” as we seek first God’s kingdom righteousness (Matt 6:10, 33 ESV).

Why don’t the wonderful songs we sing, “No guilt in life, no fear in death”, match the average Christian experience in our prosperous nations.

Why are our congregations filled with people whose risk free lives show they don’t believe sacrifice for God’s kingdom will release Christ’s resurrection life in the power of the Spirit (2 Cor 4:7-12 ESV).

Why don’t we believe that the gospel revelation of the righteousness of God will in the End transform the whole universe in the same way it transformed the life of Jesus in his resurrection (Rom 1:16-17 ESV; 2 Pet 3:13 ESV). To ask these questions will prove futile unless they provoke us to pray.

We can ask the Lord to grant us repentance for our belief that he is not an all just Father. We can ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13 ESV) with God moving in our hearts so that we burn with zeal for the cause of his kingdom (John 2:17 ESV). If not do all these things the Spirit will remain largely missing from the life of the Church. 

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 27. May. 2018 | Alive@5 St Mark’s

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE YouTube or PODCAST: 06. June, 2018 

  

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

Riot, revival and the Leadership Crisis in the Church

Ps 2:1-12 ESV | Acts 4:23-31 ESV

INTRODUCTION

Through a series of prayer meetings recently I believe the Lord has been sharing with me insights into his plan to revive the Church (cf. Am 3:7 ESV)This unveiling started when someone shared a story about God’s transforming work in Indonesia. In 1998-99 there were riots across the country which included the burning of churches.

Then during a large Christian gathering in Jakarta the Holy Spirit spoke prophetically about who should be set aside in an eldership team to oversee a national movement in prayer and unity (cf. Acts 13:1-3 ESV).

As Psalm 133 testifies agreement opens up a well of blessing, “how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity….For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.(vv.1, 4).

Jesus’ great prayer in John 17 connects unity with glory; “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.(vv. 22-23).

The Church in Indonesia is experiencing healing, miracles and conversions because through unity it radiates glory.

As long as the Church across Australia refuses to gather to pray and agree on God’s appointed leadership it cannot enjoy such continuous signs of divine favour.

THE DIVINE ORDER

Jesus instruction to pray “your kingdom come…on earth as it is in heaven(Matt 6:10 ESV) means that the pattern of Church leadership should image the order of heaven.

Having come, as Hebrews 12 puts it, “to… the heavenly Jerusalem… the church of the firstborn… and to Jesus(v. 22-24 cf. Gal 4:26 ESV) the ordering of the earthly assembly should mirror that of the heavenly world. 

In Revelation God is seen on his throne (Rev 7:17 ESV) circled by 24 elders (Rev 4:4 ESV), symbolising the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles, leaders of the whole community of God’s people.

As the heavenly elders are equidistant from God’s a similar non-hierarchical spiritual eldership should lead the Church.

When Christ alone is at the centre of his people and we hold fast only to him as Head (Col 2:19 ESV) he will build his Church (Matt 16:18 ESV).

A Church clogged up by programmes and contradictory visions will never witness the spontaneous expansion we read of in the New Testament and hear of in non-Western nations today.

God’s strategy to enforce uncompromising Christ-centredness is to release a “riot”.

RIOT

Psalm 2 is a prophetic lens through which can view the crises the Lord repeatedly releases to provoke repentance and revival among his people (cf. Acts 11:19-21 ESV; Rev 6). To see how heaven is moving earth we must understand Psalm 2 as an ongoing dialogue between Jesus and the Father.

The early Christians understood the crucifixion of Jesus by Jews and Romans (Acts 4:27-28 ESV) as a riot that fulfilled this Psalm, vs.1Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? vs.2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Christ, saying, vs.3Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”” (vv.1-3; Acts 4:25-26 ESV).

Expecting such violent rebellion the prayers petitioned God for power to fulfil the rest of the psalm, that the nations be converted to Christ as his promised inheritance (Ps 2:8 ESV). They believed and witnessed that by the proclamation of the gospel Jesus would subject the riotous nations to his rule (Ps 2:7-9 ESV; Acts 13:32-33 ESV).

Through such a prophetic lens we can discern God’s purposes in Australia today.

The moral revolution of abortion, the normalising of living together, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, unbridled greed, the heartless treatment of refugees, the looking down on aboriginal people and so on is appalling. And whilst there’s lots of energy at the political, intellectual and ethical level in response to such depravities e.g. ACL, Love Makes a Way. 

There a vast lack of seeing and speaking from heaven “in the Spirit(Rev 1:10 ESV) about such things. We are in the midst of a riot as real as the uproar that intimidated Pilate into killing Jesus, attacked the apostles and burned the churches of Indonesia (Matt 27:22-24 ESV; Acts 19:40 ESV; Acts 24:5 ESV; 2 Cor 6:5 ESV).

But find me a church that spiritually senses it’s surrounded by a bunch of hostile rebels that wants to bring it down. Why do we lack spiritual leaders with the insight and authority into the dynamics of national evil to mobile persistent prayer and fasting?

I was talking to a Christian from the Congo recently about the difference between the demons there and here. The demons there demand your body, your money or your goods by possessing armed rebels.

Our demons however are “civilised demons” manipulating politicians, entertainers and academics who in an age of political correctness are rarely named for what they are (cf. 2 Cor 4:4 ESV; 1 John 5:19 ESV; Rev 12:9 ESV; Rev 16:13-14 ESV).

This means the dark forces controlling our nation are largely invisible and effectively unopposed (Eph 6:12 ESV).

Behind the Church’s spiritual blindness is her idolatry. Whoever makes any “thing” more important than God is handed over in judgement to the senselessness of such “things(Ps 115:4-8 ESV; Isa 44:9 ESV; Ez 12:2 ESV etc.).

Since so many Christian leaders are in love with the present form of ministry and Church and the comfortable lifestyle it brings them (cf. Rom 12:1-2 ESV) they cannot see the depths of our need for reformation and revival. Like those “at ease in Zion(Am 6:1 ESV) they are insensible to the judgements of God. Let me use a very contemporary example.

Many, me too, were heartened when Kenyan born Pentecostal Lucy Gichuhi entered the federal senate and became a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage.

Then last week I was watching the news and they showed a clip where Lucy says to an African interviewer about her salary, “Two hundred thousand Australian dollars — in a whole year that’s not a lot of money,

The story ended with a note that she’s in the process of paying the government back several thousand dollars for flying family members to her birthday party. Lucy’s testimony to this nation is finished.

The cynical public will never forgot and forgive her; she’s become just another compromised Christian leader. Only the blameless can stand and lead in this evil hour (1 Tim 3:7, 10 ESV). At a natural level these things are depressing, but by faith we can see them as signs of a great shaking preparing the Church for a great spiritual transformation.

SHAKING

Hebrews 12 (Hebrews 12:26-28 ESV citing Haggai 2:6 ESV) prophesies, vs.26… he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.vs.27 This phrase,Yet once more, indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. vs.28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken”.

In God’s order a shaking of the political, economic, social and religious order precedes a time of reformation and revival (cf. Heb 9:10 ESV). This is most pronounced in the New Testament. 

When Jesus came from heaven as the new temple, the great High Priest and the one true sacrifice and the new Israel (John 1:51 ESV; John 2:21 ESV; Heb 2:17 ESV; Heb 9:11-14 ESV) all the old covenant structures defining the identity of Israel were shaken out of their place.

Instead of repenting the old Israel raged against him had him crucified and persistently opposed the apostolic preaching of the gospel (e.g. Acts 4:3-22 ESV; Acts 5:17-42 ESV; Acts 6:8-8:1 ESV; Acts 8:3 ESV; Acts 9:2 ESV; Acts 12:1-5 ESV; Acts 14:19-20 ESV; Acts 17:1-15 ESV; Acts 18:12-17 ESV; 2 Cor 11:24 ESV; 1 Thess 2:14-16 ESV; Rev 2:9; 3:9 ESV).

In the midst of this a multitude, Jew and Gentile, turned to Jesus as Lord and Messiah (Acts 2 ESV).

If there needed to be, to quote from the time, a moral and religious collapse ‘to a degree that was never before known in any Christian country‘ (Bishop Berkeley) to spark the eighteenth century Evangelical revival in the UK (Wesley’s etc.); if there needed to be a turning away of youth from the churches before the 1857 prayer revival in America and the Welsh revival 1904-1905 to provoke genuine believers to unceasing intercession, if, and I have been there, Argentina needed to be defeated in the Falklands War so a punctured national pride would open the nation to the gospel, then we must see the moral insanities of our day, especially over sexuality, as signs, as Acts 4:28 ESV puts it, that the hand of God is shaking everything. The real condition of the human heart is being laid bare before our eyes (cf. Heb 4:12-13 ESV).

Sexual perversion in the churches exposed through The Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, inexcusable levels of greed exposed in respected financial institutions by the financial Royal Commission.

Rampant sexual abuse unveiled by the #Me Too campaign and I could go on and on about domestic violence, mental illness, child self-harming, youth suicide and the plight of Indigenous Australians. What’s the message from heaven when between 1991-2013

The Uniting Church in Australia saw a drop-in attendance between of 40%, and the financial death throes of many Anglican parishes in Perth.

There are numerically thriving “power churches” but they are so impotent in making disciples that together with us we are image this dreadful prophetic truth “in the last days there will be very difficult times. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.(2 Tim 3:1, 5 ESV).

Blaming the forces of cultural Marxism, post modernism, secular humanism, the LGBT lobby, theological liberalism and so on won’t bring revival; it’s the Lord’s anointed who rules the nations with a rod of iron it’s the Lamb on the throne of heaven we have to deal with (Ps 2:9 ESV; Rev 2:27 ESV; 12:5 ESV; 19:15 ESV) he is shaking our world (cf. Hag 2:6 ESV ff.) and he responds only to…. prayer.

LAYING HOLD

During a clip about the 1840 revival in Parramatta at Perth Prayer recently (see left) I was struck by a reference to men “laying hold of God” in prayer.

Isaiah laments (Isa 64:7 ESV), “There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you”.

Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord for a blessing (Gen 32:22-32 ESV), Jesus wrestled to obey the Father’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-36 ESV; Col 2:15 ESV).

Paul describes “Epaphras… always wrestling on your behalf in his prayers(Col 4:12 ESV).

Ephesians 6 (Eph 6:12 KJV) tells us; “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against… spiritual wickedness in high places.

But until the people of God lay hold of his promises so that the evil powers taking lost minds captive to pinned down over this city there can be no great move of the Spirit (cf. 2 Cor 10:3-5 ESV).

Let us lay hold of God petitioning him to break the hold of demonic powers controlling our nation in its rebellion against the Lord’s Christ (Deut 32:8 ESV; Ps 2:1-2 ESV; Acts 2:36 ESV).

Thankfully there are signs that the passive spirituality of our churches is coming to an end for things are stirring up in the spiritual realm.

Satan has become unusually visible in recent days. When my own wife is suddenly attacked via an evil apparition whilst I’m preaching something is certainly going on. And the disorder in some recent prayer meetings with some of my own physical lethargy goes beyond the merely natural.

On the positive side, as Mathew Henry truly said, ‘When God intends great mercy for his people, he first of all sets them praying.’ I have been encouraged to see an acceleration of intense prayer breaking out around us.

Prayer meetings are “spontaneously” springing up to intercede for the various spheres of society.

The Australian Prayer Network have been stunned by the thousands of people who have gone through their Watchmen School of Intercession courses over the last 5 years; 400 attended at Mt Pleasant Baptist recently.

So I see a move of God coming which is the exact opposite of the passive school room mentality dominating our churches.

When the Spirit is outpoured all the people of God, male, female, young, old are flowing in the gifts of God (Acts 2:17-18 ESV).

If a man as biblical as Spurgeon could pray, “Lord, send us a season of glorious disorder” so should our leaders.

CONCLUSION

To move into the conversation between Jesus and the Father recorded in Psalm 2 Christian leaders must let go of their comfortable visions and be overcome by the Father’s vision for his Son (2 Cor 5:14 ESV).

They must stop quoting the mistranslation of Proverbs 29:18 ESV; “Where there is no vision, the people perish”, as a pretext for driving the church by their vision and be humbled by what it really says “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint”.

The sinfulness inside their congregations is a sign to them they have not spoken from heaven there is a rebellion inside the Church against the Lord’s rule.

For a long time God has been handing us over to a “famine… of hearings the words of the LORD(Am 8:11 ESV cf. Rev 6:5-8 ESV)!

Until preachers, and congregations, want God’s Word at whatever cost such rioting against Jesus will continue whilst his Spirit stays withdrawn in grief (Eph 4:30 ESV).

The urgent need of the hour is to seek to see by faith through the lens of the shaking of the Jesus on the cross, and his resurrection to glory, that all shakings in heaven and earth are for our sharing in this glory (1 Cor 2:7-9 ESV). In Christ we can pray for a greater shaking that we might enjoy greater glory.

Paul’s, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling(Phil 2:12 ESV cf. Isa 66:2 ESV), Wesley’s “Enter every trembling heart” must be taken literally!

The only explanation for the terrible spiritual state outside and inside the Church is that God has withdrawn his protective hand over Australia (cf. Matt 23:37-38 ESV) and handed us over to a mighty shaking because only through such a shaking can he purify for himself a people centred solely on the kingdom of Christ (Ps 2 ESV; Tit 2:14 ESV; Heb 12:27 ESV).

This agonising shaking almost weekly brings me news of the grief of Christian households where children are “coming out” as gay or professing to have lost faith in God.

This is not yet however the shaking Jesus promised, when “a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.(Matt 10:36 ESV).

If in today’s tensions between the demands of Jesus and contemporary values many “Bible-believing” Christians are compromising it’s clear that when the Lord releases a more intense shaking there will be a great falling away (Matt 24:10 ESV ff.).

Only a revelation that the shakings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that comes through the shaking of the cross and the resurrection can prevent this catastrophe (2 Cor 4:16 ESV).

Only the true power of the gospel can reveal that the foundations of this present order of creation are being shaken away for a new creation coming in Christ (1 Cor 7:31 ESV; Gal 6:15 ESV; 1 Thess 2:13 ESV).

Only the gospel can teach us that all earthly shakings were taken into Jesus on the cross and transformed in their purpose by his glorious resurrection (Matt 27:51-52 ESV cf. Ex 19:18 ESV; Ps 18:7-9 ESV).

Only a Christ-centred revelation of such things can sustain revival movements from burning out after a few short years.

Two emotions have come over me in preparing this sermon.

I have felt totally out of my depth for the spiritual shaking I am speaking of (cf. Neh 5:13 ESV; Jer 23:9 ESV; Am 9:9 ESV) reminded me of a shaking a missionary friend endured in China when she was caught in a 7.2 Richter scale earthquake that killed 192 people.

She is still recovering from the trauma.

Who is prepared to cope with such things?

But as I was out praying yesterday my spirit became unusually settled. I came across an orange tree which when gently shaken dropped a huge amount of fruit.

When in God’s time the Spirit moves a harvest of souls will come in without any frantic human exertion (Rom 9:16 ESV cf. Zech 4:6 ESV). And he will get all the glory. 

LET US PRAY.

MESSAGE DELIVERED:  24. June, 2018 | East Vic. Park. Baptist

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE YouTube or PODCAST: 24. June, 2018 

|    |      |

 

Related Link: Nil

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

Key Text:

Matt 19:13-15; Acts 4:23-31

INTRODUCTION

Last week we saw that being “in the Spirit” meant sharing in the end-time reality that had arrived in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Baptised into Christ’s kingdom the first Christians knew themselves to be involved in a constant struggle with evil spiritual powers (Col 1:13 ESV etc.).

In this hostile environment various gifts of the Spirit were needed to establish the Lordship of Christ (1 Cor 12:3-11 ESV).

Western Christianity has largely lost this dynamic, but there’s a foundational biblical practice which when exercised in faith can activate spiritual restoration. This is the laying on of hands as an expectant sign of God’s presence and power.

Hebrews 6 goes so far as to say that part of the “foundation” for “maturity” in Christ is the instruction “of …the laying on of hands(Heb 6:1,2 ESV). The text goes on to describe Christian experience as a very last times reality; being “enlightened…tasted the heavenly gift…shared in the Holy Spirit…tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come(Heb 6:4-5 ESV).

This suggests that the laying on of hands somehow initiates people into life “in the Spirit”.

As the “maturity” connected with laying on of hands in Hebrews 6 is deeply connected to how this language is used about Jesus in the book (Heb 2:10 ESV; Heb 5:9 ESV; Heb 7:28 ESV; Heb 12:2 ESV) it must have been that when new believers received prayer with the imposition of hands they had a powerful transforming experience in the Spirit as part of his bringing the universe to its completion in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10 ESV).

To understand the biblical importance of the laying on of hands we need to start in the Old Testament.

OLD TESTAMENT

God’s own hand creates heaven and earth (Job 34:19 ESV; Ps 8:6 ESV; Ps 102.25 ESV; Isa 45:11-12 ESV; Isa 48:13 ESV; Isa 66:1-2 ESV); and his acts of in history (Isa 5:12 ESV; Ps 111:7 ESV) to redeem or judge are by his hand (1 Sam 5:6, 11 ESV; Isa 25:9-10 ESV; Isa 26:11 ESV; Jer 6:12 ESV; Jer 15:6 ESV; Jer 16:21 ESV; Jer 51:25 ESV).

This is emphatically true of the redemption from slavery in Egypt by the Lord’s “strong hand(Ex 3:8, 19-20 ESV; 13:3, 9 ESV).  

In other places when the hand of God is laid on people they are set aside to an anointed prophetic ministry (2 Ki 3:15-16 ESV cf. Jer 15:17 ESV; Ezek 1: 3 ESV; Ezek 37:1 etc.).  And the spiritual “revival” under king Hezekiah is attributed to “The hand of God…on Judah(2 Chron 30:12 ESV).

In the Old Testament laying on of human hands imparts blessing (Gen 48:14-16 ESV), sets aside to the priesthood (Num 8:5-15 ESV) and when Moses places his  hands on Joshua he becomes his appointed successor ( Num 27:18-23 ESV).

Since Joshua is said to be “full of the spirit of wisdom” through this ritual the idea of a spiritual impartation is clearly present (Deut 34:9 ESV).

Most commonly hands are laid on animals in order to set them apart for a sacrifice for atonement ( Exodus 29:10, 15,19, 33 ESV; Lev 1:4 ESV; Leviticus 4:4 ESV Leviticus 4:15 ESV Leviticus 4:24 ESV ; Leviticus 8:14 ESV Leviticus 8:18 ESV Leviticus 8:22 ESV ; Leviticus 16:21 ESV; Num 8:5-15 ESV; 2 Chron 29:3 ESV ).

The New Testament takes the laying on of hands in powerful and exciting new directions.

THE HANDS OF JESUS

Whilst Jesus imparting a blessing to children through placing his hands on them (Mark 10:13-16 ESV) is a lovely act, this is quite within the Old Testament framework.

What is new is that in the Gospels Jesus repeatedly heals people through laying on his hands (Mark 5:23 ESV; Mark 7:32 ESV; Mark 8:23-25 ESV; Luke 4:40 ESV; Luke 13:13 ESV).

Given some of Jesus’ other healings it’s likely “power went out from him” through his hands (Luke 6:19; 8:46).

(I remember when I have having extremely painful kidney stone attacks that went on for some months and was scheduled to go in for surgery on a Monday. On a Friday night some members of a home group prayed for me and that’s what one of them experienced power flowing through her arm/hands. The next morning I passed a stone nearly a centimetre in length.).

Everyone upon whom Jesus laid his hands experienced the blessing of the hand of God.

The power Jesus had to bless through his hands during his earthly ministry was however limited. For this ministry to be perfected his hands needed to be crucified. Psalm 22 ESV, from which Jesus quoted on the cross (Mark 15:34 ESV), speaks prophetically of the piercing of his hands (v.16).

After his resurrection Jesus showed the disciples his hands (Luke 24:39 ESV) which still bore the scars of his wounding. Finally, in going back to the Father we read, vs.50he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them.vs.51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. vs.52 And they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, vs.53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.(Luke 24:50-51 ESV).

The high priestly blessing had placed them under the covering i.e. atoning presence of the Lamb of God who’d taken away the sin of the world (John 1:29 ESV) so they were overcome with happiness. Since the crucified and healed hands of Jesus were glorious “gospel hands” what comes next in Acts shouldn’t surprise us.

THE CHURCH OF THE SPIRIT

The healings characteristic of the Gospels continue under the apostles through the laying on of hands (Acts 5:12 ESV; Acts 9:12 ESV; Acts 9:17 ESV; Acts 14:3 ESV; Acts 19:11 ESV; Acts 28:8 ESV cf. “Mark 16:18 ESV”).

These were signs of the blessings of the presence of the kingdom of God. What’s new in Acts, even compared to the Gospels, is the impartation of the Holy Spirit through “the laying on of hands.(Acts 8:14-17 ESV Acts 9:17 ESV; Acts 19:6 ESV).

The believers who imparted the Spirit in this way had tremendous confidence in God; knowing they were “in the Spirit/in Christ(Rom 8:9-10 ESV) they believed that the power of the future was in their hands.

They knew they had entered into the sphere of unlimited unconditional blessing sealed by the gift of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 1:22 ESV; Eph 1:13 ESV; Eph 4:30 ESV)

They were not distracted by the political, economic or social powers of this world, but following Jesus recognised that the authority to bless in healing and imparting the Spirit was in their hands.

Understanding that they were raised up and seated with Jesus in heaven (Eph 1:19-22 ESV; Eph 2:6 ESV)Blessed” by “the…Father with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” they moved in an atmosphere of imparting blessing (Eph 1:3 ESV).

Knowing they had received from Jesus authority over evil forces manifestations of healing and the gift of the Spirit as signs of the coming new age were inevitable through their hands.

No human opposition could frustrate the outworking of such powers.  “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.(1 Pet 4:14 ESV)

The Spirit saturated the broader life of the early churches; not the least because their leaders had received the impartation of the Spirit at their commissioning. When Paul says to Timothy, “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you…. fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands (1 Tim 4:14 ESV ; 2 Tim 1:6 ESV cf. Acts 6:6 ESV; Acts 13:3 ESV; 1 Tim 5:22 ESV), his faith was connected to a past tangible experience.

CHURCH TODAY

This prayer in Acts 4 is especially relevant for today, “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”” (Acts 4:30 ESV).

The disciples had seen Jesus stretch out his hand and heal (Mark 1:41 ESV), they’d seen desperate people beg Jesus to lay his hands on the blind, deaf and dead and helpless i.e. children (Matt 9:18 ESV; Mark 5:32 ESV; Mark 8:22 ESV; Mark 10:13 ESV), and Jesus had never failed the suffering in their hour of need.

They were totally persuaded that the Lord delighted to stretch out his hand and so they prayed and acted in faith so we read, “Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles(Acts 5:12 ESV).

Following Jesus as someone totally set apart by the Holy Spirit from the world, especially through the cross, they knew themselves to be set apart to a new creation of blessing (John 17:15-19 ESV etc.).

Whether in serving, healing, or releasing gifts for leadership they were blessed to be a blessing and in the laying on of their hands they stood in the place of God (cf. John 20:23 ESV).

This powerful sense of special purpose bound the early congregations together in the midst of a world they knew to be perishing (1 Cor 15:50 ESV). This sense of separation from the world in order to bless the world is where everything has gone wrong in Western Christianity.

From scandals as public as institutional child abuse through to what every pastor knows of the conduct of congregational members, the average lifestyle and behaviour of Christians is no different from that of unbelievers. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever(Heb 13:8 ESV) so it must be that the Lord surely wants to stretch out his hand to change this dreadful state of affairs.

CONCLUSION

Last week I spoke of how God is inciting mainstream Christians to jealousy, moving us to humbly seek the revelation of his glory through acts of the Spirit (Acts 2:33 ESV) at any cost. Donna and I were visiting some Iranian converts from Islam the other day and in the course of discussion they described how in one of their meetings a man with a crippled hand asked for prayer; when several people laid hands on him he had immediate full recovery.

If such an atmosphere of expectant faith is lacking in our hearts we can confess that sin without fear of condemnation (Rom 8:1 ESV).

I think we are in a situation like the father in the Gospels struggling to believe that his epileptic son could be healed because the efforts of the disciples had failed.

In anguish he cried out to Jesus and said, ““I believe; help my unbelief!”” (Mark 9:24 ESV).

Many of us have witnessed unsuccessful attempts to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons and impart the Spirit.

Thankfully Jesus delivered the boy from his demon with a word of command and went on to explain what was lacking in the life of the disciples, ““This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer (and fasting?).”” (9:25, 29 ESV).

[If as I suggested last week the Lord has withdrawn the Holy Spirit from the Church, and there’s no such thing as a spiritual vacuum, then the evil powers which have come into that space definitely will not come out apart from much prayer-and-fasting.]

Prayer that the Lord stretches out his hand through our hands is the order of the day. This is surely the will of God; if we ask (Luke 11:13 ESV; James 4:2 ESV). 

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 17th. June, 2018 | Alive@5 St Mark’s

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE YouTube or PODCAST: 17th. June, 2018

  

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

Justine & Brett Wiltshire Australian Aboriginal Outreach Ministries AAOM News Letter

29 May 2018, 10:46

Brett & Justine Wiltshire
Australian Aboriginal Outreach Ministries
AAOM

2018 Newsletter

Greetings Family & Friends,

Justine & Brett Wiltshire

The beginning of 2018 began as a very busy one with Brett flying to Melbourne and meeting with Bridge Church Leaders and presenting a small section of the AAOM EAM (Effective Aboriginal seminar) at their Hope night, as well as ministering at CityView Church in Perth at their annual Missions weekend. We are always so excited for this sort of opportunity to come and teach, speak and encourage people on the great need to reach ‘Samaria’.

In today’s world with so many distractions and in this present climate of political correctness, Indigenous missions and cross cultural ministry to First Nation people, isn’t easily accepted or approved of. But the truth is, that the need to reach people with the redemptive love, grace and power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has never been greater. Justice and good works combined with the teaching and preaching of Gods Word is the key to seeing peoples lives, and physical situation changed permanently.

To see people empowered and become the community role models, leaders, Pastors, workers, church members and mentors that they were meant to be, gives us the greatest joy and fulfilment. We praise God for our AAOM workers on the field, but the harvest is ripe and the workers are few. We are in desperate need for workers; full-time, short term, volunteers, retired folk, relief ministry, building teams, youth workers, helps ministry, bible teachers and so on.

If you or someone you know would like to get in touch to talk about what opportunities there are, we would love to hear from you! Or maybe you would like to host an EAM (Effective Aboriginal Ministry) Seminar and have us come… Our desire is to partner and help wherever we can.

PROGRESSION & PROJECTS

We have been blessed to see some of the projects move forward, with a second hand 12 seater bus being purchased for the Halls Creek Church, new floor coverings for the Derby and Fitzroy Crossing Churches, and a team just recently going to Wilcannia to fix and make the new AAOM Pastors house into a Home. A huge thank you to the individuals and churches that so generously and sacrificially gave.

We are excited to report that after 14 years of believing for a children’s and youth ministry facility, that we will in the next 12 months, begin building our first ihope centre (indigenous hope centre) in Halls Creek. We have finalised the architect plans and are now in the process of submitting our building proposal to the Halls Creek Shire.

We would really appreciate your prayers as this has a number of steps and we need favour and approval from the local council. At this time our urgent need is for a registered WA builder to partner with us and the volunteer building teams we are organising.

Thank you to the amazing generosity of one couple who over a number of years planned and saved and went through some pretty major challenges, but faithfully kept their promise that they made to the Lord, to give this extraordinary donation to bless and love on the young people of Halls Creek. This couple testify to the goodness and blessing that they have received by their Kingdom giving. God is so Good!

After our National AAOM convention in Halls Creek we have an MMM team coming to help fix the Halls Creek Church leaking roof, and also undertake the building of our new boundary line that includes where our AAOM training house is and soon to be ihope centre will be.

Building and vehicle maintenance is an area  where help is always needed, as the charges that we have to pay for skilled labor is exorbitant most of the time. MMM is a great volunteer organisation and we are blessed that they have partnered with our AAOM churches in different areas to see Vision come to pass and facilities be the the best they can be to bless and serve the community.

KMS TRAVELLED: This year so far Brett has flown 12,000 kms, and we have driven just under 20,000 kms. Thank you to all our prayer partners that faithfully pray for us every week. Prayer is paramount to safety, success and breakthrough and we just couldn’t do it without the prayer covering we receive.

2018 Pastors Ministry Retreat: was a huge success with many of our Senior Pastors and Missionaries travelling to Broome to attend our Bi-annual retreat. The decision was made to make this retreat every 2 years for a couple of reasons. The first being that time away from their churches is not easy and secondly, we believe that attending ACC State and National Conferences is really important and we are encouraging our Pastors to include this in their yearly plans. 

Australian Aboriginal Outreach Ministries (AAOM) has been a part of the ACC, formerly known as the AOG movement and World Missions since 1982.

RIGHTJust recently our AAOM Pastors gathered together for 3 days of leadership ministry, encouragement and time together. It was a truly blessed time.

We all enjoyed and appreciated the time we were able to spend with Ps Jon and Edie Cathie as we have designed it to maximise meaningful interaction and discussion, not just in the tea break, but over a meal, and back at the bungalows, where up to 3 couples from different churches are housed together. Many of our people love being able to connect to our guest ministry, particularly in receiving even more encouragement and understanding as they are ministered to with word and leadership teaching.

At this time we also completed 6 credential applications and took new profile photos of all our workers to update our AAOM website and database. The three days flew by with much being accomplished but mostly our Pastors being encouraged and inspired to keep going. From us, the AAOM Board, our Pastors and Missionaries we can’t Thank enough all that people gave in making this Ministry retreat possible.

If you would like to hear just a 30 sec video from one of our most AAOM Senior men Ps Gerard Killer, sharing what he thought about the retreat please go to our AAOM Facebook page and check it out.

ITINERARY AHEAD… SO FAR ANYWAY: June we are taking furlough and we have been incredibly blessed by our son. Brett Max has paid for us to visit the UK for our very first time and go see friends Peter and Carol Hall whom have planted a Church in Stirling Scotland and visit our dear friends Pete and Jen Etherton.

Once we return we will be busy preparing and travelling to Halls Creek for our AAOM National Convention 7th-12th August. We are blessed to have Ps Wayne Alcorn our ACC National President come and minister, as well as some of our Senior Aboriginal Pastors. Brett will be teaching the EAM Seminar over three mornings and we are excited to once again have a YWAM Perth team come and bless our kids with a week of special ministry designed just for them.

In September we will than be travelling onto North Queensland to Cardwell to teach the EAM seminar and attend the Convention.

October we will than be heading back to WA and we will be attending our State Conference and be ministering at Oceans Church in Albany and back to Perth to visit and minister.

KEEPING CONNECTED: Being that newsletters are becoming a thing of the past and not the popular way in which people and churches like to be kept updated, we have made the decision of only doing 2 newsletters a year. Instead we want to focus on doing more short video updates, talking on life, ministry, projects etc and uploading them to our Facebook pages and YouTube.

But for this to be effective and reach people we need your help to reach as many people as we can. So at the very bottom of this newsletter we have included our Facebook and YouTube details for yourself, but also if you are a Pastor or Church Missions coordinator, we think it would be a great idea if you could also add these details onto your church mission website pages and information boards or wherever else you think is suitable, so that way we can better serve you and keep connected. As we understand how important it is and we truly value our partnership and friendship with you all. We are just wanting to communicate better and wider.

We give thanks for each of you, your prayers, your giving, the giving of your resources, your time, your friendship, your partnership and your love. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the task at hand and for the responsibility we have been given and called by God to do, but than we remember you…and that we are in this together and that together we are fighting the good fight of Faith. We are each running in our lane, cheering and championing each other on and this encourages and spurs are on so much.  Just recently we heard a quote by Helen Keller and it really touched our hearts… ‘ Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much’

TOGETHER WE ARE STRONG AND TOGETHER WE ARE CHANGING THE WORLD..ONE LIFE AT A TIME!
Be encouraged Saints..We are..
Praying abundance and overflow!
Much love,
Brett & Justine

Brett introducing a new song to the Wilcannia music team

Above: Brett introducing a new song to the Wilcannia music team

Our new ministry logo. Depicting oneness and the colours representing Indigenous Communities from the red hues of the desert, to the aqua blue of the ocean seas. Where the ‘O” is placed it is where the very first AAOM Church was planted in Halls Creek.

 

Families praising Jesus unashamed

Marissa and bub at the Derby Christmas AAOM Convention


LEFT: Justine & Linda.. Justine had the privilege to lead Linda to the Lord 12 yrs ago and she was instantly set free from alcoholism.

Linda works at the local radio station and is an incredible role model.  

A faithful woman who’s transformation gives hope!!

AAOM NATIONAL CONVENTION:

PLEASE PRAY: for Brett as he teaches the 3 day EAM seminar and also for Ps Wayne Alcorn, Ps Gerard Killer and Ps Eddie Bear as they minister at the main meetings.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE DETAILS CLICK “MARK YOUR CALENDAR.”


ABOVE: Brett sharing his personal testimony to some young people in Ayr Qld.

ABOVE: Some 12 years ago we trained Lawford and Roslyn for the ministry and sent them to Wangkatjungka to plant an AAOM ACC church. This Christmas they and some of their church members lead the service. So wonderful to see this generation being raised up.


ABOVE: AAOM is Working together..transforming communities #2018Ministry Retreat Broome

LEFT: is a picture of the Pastors laying hands and praying a blessing over our special guests.

AAOM is incredibly blessed to be supported by so many. Recently Ps Jon and Edie Cathie, Senior Pastor from Capital Edge Church in Canberra came and blessed our leaders with fresh, prophetic and anointed ministry that was in step and season.

It truly was a special 3 days that has deepened friendships and encouraged us all.


ABOVE: A great opportunity was given to the church at the Halls Creek community Christmas Carols to proclaim the true message of Christmas.

LEFT: We were blessed to be invited by Ps Stewart and Heather McIlwraith of Oasis Church, Ceduna SA to come and share about the work of AAOM and it was a privilege for Brett to preach at their Sunday Service. A huge thank you to them as they housed our bus whilst it had mechanical repairs being done.


LEFT: is a picture of some of the ladies enjoying a hot cuppa after.

We were blessed to be invited by Ps John & Jenny Davidson of the AAOM Carnarvon Church to come and minister over the Easter weekend.
Brett preached at 4 services and Justine, at the women’s meeting. The report we have received is that those who made a decision to follow Christ are still going strongly and the Church as a whole has been greatly encouraged.

LEFT: Partnership is so wonderful and were so blessed to meet Ps Pamela and Luke Haneveld, Ps Jon and Ps Vicki Brand and the team and be given the opportunity to minister at their 2018 Missions weekend in January. Brett taught a section of the EAM Seminar over 3 meetings and we were blessed by the many that came and the beautiful catering that was provided. Cityview Church is a great Church full of amazing and friendly people. We can’t wait to go back!


BELOW: Blessed to have these amazing people from YWAM Perth partnering with us.

Here we are pictured at our planning meeting for the AAOM National Convention in Halls Creek as they will be ministering alongside us.

 

RIGHT: The week after returning from the Kimberley, we celebrated our youngest daughter Brittany turn 21. We were able to surprise her with having her Aunty, Niece and Brother fly in for her special dinner. It had Ben nearly 2 years since we were all together.


ABOVE: Some of the AAOM Pastors that were blessed by the ministry of Ps Jon & Edie Cathie. It was a great time of input and fellowship for all those who attended.Thank you to everyone who made it possible through support, finances and prayers.

LEFT: Pictured here is a team from one of our partners, CityLife Church working on one of our AAOM Pastors house in Wilcannia.

We so appreciate the hard work that was put in and the time and resources that were so generously given.

How wonderful it is to turn a house into a home.


LEFT: Here pictured is the new floor coverings for the Derby and Fitzroy Crossing AAOM Churches.

A huge Thank you to Ps Josh Fernandez and GraceLife Church for getting behind this project.

When we told Ps Warren & Sheena Luscombe they were so happy and extremely thankful.


National Director Contact Details:
Email: brettwa@me.com
Mobile: 0427 423 161

JijaHood Women:
Email: justinewiltshire@icloud.com
Mobile:0428 168 480

WEBSITE: www.AAOM.org.au

FACEBOOK PAGES:
Brett Wiltshire
Justine Wiltshire
AAOM

YouTube: brettwa

Sharing in Christ 1. Humanity

TEXT: Isa 7:1-14; Ps 40:1-10; 1 Tim 3:14-16; John 1:1-14

INTRODUCTION


From New Testament times every Church failing is grounded in a failure to share fully in the life of Christ (Col 2:9-10 ESV)The Corinthians were in disorder because they trusted in human wisdom rather than the cross (1 Cor 1:18-2:5 ESV), the Colossians were entangled in legalisms because they thought spirit beings other than Christ could connect us to God (Col 2:8-23 ESV), the church in Ephesus had fallen because they had abandoned Jesus as their first love (Rev 2:2-5 ESV).

The catastrophic powerlessness, immorality, division and decline in Western Christianity is a sign we are not trusting Christ as our sole foundation (1 Cor 3:11 ESV; Eph 2:20 ESV). When Paul says, “there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus(1 Tim 2:5 ESV) he pictures Jesus as the sole saving point of contact between God and humanity.

As a divine-human person Jesus alone can tell us who God is and what it means to be a human being. Jesus personally is the solution to the age old lament articulated about God by Job, “There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both.(Job 9:33 ESV).

That the one true God exists as a human being in Christ is inexpressible wonderful news that cries out for communication. We should always be talking to others about Jesus, inside and outside of the Church.

Two personal experiences come to mind that explain why this isn’t happening.

The first is when a theology tutor reminded our class that Jesus went to the toilet.

The second is when after a week of prayer for revival the Holy Spirit brought indelibly to my mind these words for the Athanasian Creed; that Jesus is God and Man “not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by the taking of humanity into God”.

In Jesus humanity has become a part of God forever.

But rarely are Christians gripped in their hearts by the fullness of the reality of the humanity of God because we are confused about what sort of a human being God has become.

NATURE AND SIN

 
When John 1
(John 1:14 ESV) says, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” it uses a word for “flesh” which never has a positive meaning in this Gospel. In John 3 Jesus sets “flesh” and “spirit” in contradiction; “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit….‘You must be born again.’(John 3:6-7 ESV).

In John 6 (John 6:63 ESV) Christ says, “It is the Spirit (of God) who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.” At the very least the humanity which the Son of God took on was a useless weight to the divine purposes.

Even more forcefully, when Hebrews says “in every respect (Jesus) has been tempted as we are, yet without sin(Heb 4:15 ESV), it means that in order to fully identify with our struggles Jesus took up our weakened human nature.

Christ’s temptations are usually misunderstood. “You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later…bad people… have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means…”

C. S. Lewis said

This insight should humble us into a deeper appreciation of what Jesus endured to save us. But the scriptural testimony to the incapacitating character of the humanity the Son of God took on for us is even more penetrating.

Romans 8 (Rom 8:3 ESV) says, “God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.” In coming to transform us as we are Jesus took on a nature essentially the same as ours, a nature disposed to rebel against God.

His victories over temptation came not from his being God or possessing some “super-humanity” but by totally depending on the Holy Spirit. I’ll come back to this a little later as it is the key to our salvation.

A GROWING NATURE

 
To be a real person Christ had to grow and develop. So Luke tells us the young Jesus “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and people.
(Luke 2:52 ESV).

It’s easy to envisage Jesus growing physically and mentally but the Bible teaches he also grew spiritually. Hebrews tells us twice that Jesus was “made perfect” through suffering (Heb 2:10 ESV; Heb 5:9 ESV). This doesn’t mean Jesus ever sinned but indicates he needed ongoing empowerment to keep on obeying his Father’s commandments (John 15:10 ESV).

He was strengthened in grace through prayer, reading the scriptures, sharing in the fellowship of the people of God and so on (e.g. Luke 4:16 ESV; Luke 11:1 ESV). If you are struggling to pray, ask Jesus to share with you how the Father taught him to pray, if the Bible is dull, ask Christ to share with you what the scriptures mean to him… Christians grow to be like Christ by ever deeper communion with his humanity.

Jesus delights to share with us everything that’s truly human. For example, we increase in joy as we receive more of Jesus’ own joy; as he said in John 15:11 ESV, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.(cf. John 17:13 ESV; 1 Pet 1:8 ESV).

A FEELING NATURE

 
People think that God doesn’t understand them, but in Jesus God is completely familiar with human feelings, from the inside. When the Gospels tell us that Jesus felt compassion it uses a word related to the troubled movement of the intestines (Matt 9:36; 14:14; 15:32). An experiential state so potent it is used only of Jesus and of God in the New Testament. To feel compassion for someone you have to sense in them something you identify with in yourself; the compassion of Jesus is an outstanding evidence of his fully perfect humanity. And since Jesus alone never hardened his heart to the broken condition of lost humanity his sensitivity to our suffering was limitless.

Jesus’ “fellow feeling” with lost people is far more important than what we might first imagine. Remember the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

The empathy of the Son of God imparted a tremendous sense of dignity to those broken people around him.

Sinful, suffering, struggling men and women felt limitlessly honoured by the feeling heart of God in Christ. They knew that God was not “out there” on the other side of some divide but that in Jesus God was “found on the same side as humanity under distress” (Ray S. Anderson).

Do lost people see God as on their side through our lives?… If the answer is “No” then you know what the problem is; we, the Church, don’t really believe in the humanity of God in Christ.

All this could sound very sentimental but the biblical account of the humanity of Jesus is all embracing.

Confronting the legalism of the Pharisees Mark tells us Jesus “looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart(Mark 3:5 ESV).

Christ is the perfect lens through which both God’s sorrow and wrath are revealed in equal measure (cf. John 14:9 ESV). When Jesus was confronted with taking the cup of God’s wrath in the Garden of Gethsemane (Isa 51:17 ESV; Jer 25:15 ESV; Rev 14:9-10 ESV) his soul was in such turmoil that in prayer “his sweat became like great drops of blood(Luke 22:44 ESV). This was his perfect fear of taking on the judgement of God which we all deserve.

Life was never easy for Jesus.

Born into relative poverty (Luke 2:24 ESV), fasting for 40 days in the wilderness (Matt 4:2 ESV), rejected by his own home town (Luke 4:18-30 ESV), not believed in by his own brothers (John 7:5 ESV), unsupported and then abandoned by his closest friends (Mark 14:32-50 ESV), betrayed, beaten, crucified. In Christ God’s sensitivity to the human struggle is complete.

Only the sacrificial love of God can explain why the Son of God left the beauty of heaven to enter into the realm of our tortured humanity (John 3:16 ESV ff.). In love God took into himself the sinfulness of the human race in order to destroy the power of sin (Rom 8:3 ESV). In Jesus a complete victory for humanity in humanity has taken place.

VICTORY

 
When Paul proclaims triumphantly, “thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Cor 15:57 ESV), he means that we overcome sin, death and the law by the power of Jesus’ own victorious humanity.

Christ is not a mere teacher of the ways of God or a perfect example to be imitated. He is the Way of God who recreates our hearts and minds from the inside (John 14:6 ESV cf. Col 1:15 – 3:10 ESV).

As one theologian puts it, “Christ does not heal us as an ordinary doctor might, by standing over us, diagnosing our sickness, prescribing medicine for us to take and then going away, leaving us to get better as we follow His instructions. No, He becomes the patient.” whose own humanity was transformed by an all obedient life, death and resurrection.

This is why there are no “Christian principles”. God doesn’t have any “truths” to share with you he only has his Son to give to you who is the Truth (John 14:6 ESV; Eph 4:21 ESV)

I was appalled during the week to read a well known Christian writing that the Islamic proclamation, “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful” was the best perspective on God of any religion and Jesus embodied this perspective.

But we cannot know anything final about compassion and mercy outside the revelation of who God is in Jesus. Jesus is not the embodiment of some “principle” but the substance of everything God ever wanted for humanity.

The Christian faith really is scandalous to ordinary human reason and religion for we worship a human being who has revealed the one true God through his own struggling but victorious humanity.

CONCLUSION

 
Anyone who would be saved
(Matt 1:21 ESV) know God as he is (John 17:31-32 ESV)… know the truth which sets us free (John 8:32 ESV) must come to Jesus. Have you come to Jesus?

Are you asking Jesus, daily, constantly, to share his life with you?  In Christ God became human, suffered and died and was glorified so he might give himself to us as we give ourselves to him.

It’s all about Jesus; he’s the centre and circumference of all the Father’s purposes for creation. As the mathematics teacher would say, “Jesus is the whole point.” Or as I would tell to my students, “It’s Jesus, the whole Jesus and nothing but Jesus so help me God!

Do you know that the Father whom we worship in the power of the Spirit has only one aim for your life because he has only one aim in his life, now and forever, to fill everything with his all lovely, excellent, honourable and praiseworthy Son (Gal 1:16 ESV; Eph 1:10 ESV; Phil 4:9 ESV).

If you are not Jesus centred in this way then you are centred on something else; you’re self-centred, family-centred, money-centred, pleasure centred or even (how dreadful) church-centred. Today let us run to Christ and implore him to share his life with us so that we might our lives with him, whatever the cost… 

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 3rd. June, 2018 | St Mark’s 

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE YouTube or PODCAST: 3rd. June, 2018

 |   |  |

Related Link: Nil