Warning, Warning (teachability & relational dependency)

INTRODUCTION

teachability

Scripture promises us advance insights into God’s plans; “Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets…. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.””” (Am 3:7 ESV; Rev 2:11 ESV etc.).

But what we think we are hearing from heaven depends on who we are listen to and whether we obey the command to “test everything that is said(1 Thess 5:21 ESV). Few congregations are taught by their (insecure) leaders to test in this way. But let me start with a story.

In Argentina years ago I learnt of a mighty work of God that saw 10% of a city population turn to Christ; but after a year 90% of these had fallen away. The lead pastor in the city explained, “There were too many holes in the net.”

Under the weight of the miraculous catch of souls the relationships between Christian leaders frayed and broke. Many major moves of God, e.g. the Protestant Reformation, the Evangelical Revival, the Welsh Revival, the birth of Pentecostalism, follow this pattern of division. 

But it can be prophetically true for us, “the net was not torn(John 21:11 ESV). This will however require unprecedented teachability.

WHO CAN TEACH US?

Every successive generation seems to think it has something more to offer God than the one before. Perhaps it’s because young people haven’t had enough time for failures to strip them of natural youthful arrogance (Ps 25:7 ESV)?

But neither youth nor seniority hold in themselves keys to the longevity of a move of God. 

The scripture describes the spiritual condition we need, “little child shall lead them”, and as Jesus prayed, ““I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children”” (Isa 11:6 ESV; Luke 10:21 ESV).

Whatever their natural age the childlike of the kingdom are those open to be “taught by Godthrough others (John 6:45 ESV).

Here are two very recent examples as to whom the Church should be listening:

I was recently in a meeting to plan a conference with leaders of 4 ethnic churches, Egyptian, Iranian, Indonesian and African. They decided that with a lot of conference fatigue around the place we would be better off to create space and time to deepen relationships with each other rather than running an event.

I personally didn’t like this outcome but have submitted to the Lord’s wisdom though our non-Western brothers and sisters.

Then yesterday I was part of a gathering with a mob of Indigenous people.

Outwardly it might have seemed quite unordered, but inwardly it was very relational.

The dominant note was beyond the political aspects of reconciliation, real reconciliation depends on friendship.

Non-Indigenous and Indigenous Christians need to walk the road of justice as friends. These are the sorts of people logical hurried Westerners need to listen to.

STRATEGIC THINKERS

There’s talk about today, and to my personal embarrassment not for the first time See Article : “City Reaching – Overview  presented at (YWAM School of Evangelism 2001 + updates 2003, 2005), about strategies to reach our city.

Such strategising can only be biblical if subordinated to genuine kingdom relationships. Jesus’ word about an ex-centric gospel movement to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8 ESV) isn’t a strategy but a prophecy.

The sending out of the first apostolic missionaries to the Gentiles shows no sign of human strategising, “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said,Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”” (Acts 13:2 ESV).

These apostles had been learning to love one another for years before the Lord reckoned them ready for mission. Paul’s ongoing travels show a sensitivity to which his strategies must bow; seeking to enter 3 major Roman provinces, “the Spirit of Jesus prevented them(Acts 16:6-7 ESV).

This unique language points to a relational intimacy with the Godhead which guards against confidence in our own abilities to plot God’s ways for him. Such spirituality echoes sound practical theology.

PERSONS ARE RELATIONSHIPS

relational dependency

Ancient theologians stressed that the very essence of the Trinity is relationship by employing the expression, persona est relatio, “Person is relationship”.

This means the Father, Son and Holy Spirit first  exist and then relate, they only exist in their relationships. Their mutual interdependency is absolute.

God does whatever “he” does because of whom he is in relationship within himself. So any prayer to God as “Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier”, rather than to “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, is a sub-relational prayer. God cannot be reduced to what he does; any more than a human “being” can be reduced to a human “doing”.

The pure relational dependency of the three Persons of the Godhead on one another is the secret of why “God is Love(1 John 4:8 ESV).

Where is such love amongst us?

NETS OF WISDOM

Only an immersion in the unconditional love of God for one another (1 John 4:20 ESV) can stop the net of relationships the Lord is building across our city from tangling itself.

Without this love self-strangulation will bring about the demise of any movement of God amongst us.

The ministry demands and intense spiritual warfare of revival conditions will always shatter untested relationships. As in a marriage testing is a prerequisite for strong Christian unity.  

This is a Christ-centred truth. Jesus promised to share us the glory he’d received from the Father in order to make us one (John 17:22 ESV).

In John’s Gospel the essence of such glory involves deep relational suffering, including betrayal and misunderstanding by Christ’s closest friends (John 12:27-32 ESV; 16:32 ESV).

Tough as it sounds, this means that if Jesus needed a Judas to perfect him (Heb 2:10 ESV) no Christian can fully mature without suffering betrayal.

Struggle, illness, burn out, betrayal, misunderstanding, poverty etc. are used of God to strip from us all self-sufficiency (Prov 11:14 ESV; Heb 12:5-11 ESV) so that the imprint of Christ crucified becomes our sole strategy and security (1 Cor 2:1-5 ESV).

CONCLUSION

A Teachability Refresher

In an age marked by the commoditisation of Christianity only godly partnerships based on pure love will survive the testing of God. Any movement whose foundation is less than this will be undermined by selfish ambition (James 3:13-18 ESV). (In prophetic language a “sandgroper spirit” will eat away at the roots of a crop prepared for a great harvest. See Article:Jealous ‘ME’”   Posted on 26 May 2012 by John Yates

Vision and strategy have their place, but a place in submission to the new quality of human relationships for which Jesus died; ““By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”” (John 13:35 ESV)

The early Christians lived out such love. Amidst the oppressions of the Roman Empire the Church Father Tertullian boldly asserted that the pagans had to confess of believers, “Look . . . how they love one another… and how they are ready to die for each other …””.

Only a revival of such love can give us great confidence that any looming movement of God will survive the generations. “Lord please move us to love one another. In Jesus’ name. Amen.” 

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 12th. Aug, 2018

Author: Dr. John Yates

ETHICS: What is child abuse? The transgender issue is polarising medicine as well as community.

WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE?

The transgender issue is polarising medicine as well as community.

There are two mutually exclusive “affirming” pathways of approach to the young child wishing to transgender i.e. affirming and reassuring of birth sex vs affirming of feeling sex, and only one of them can be right and only one can be labelled as child abuse.

This is a clear ethical divide in which it is essential for medicine, not activists and not governments, to be decisive and authoritative. There is no neutral, no opt-out.

Transgender activists accuse parents of abuse if they fail to affirm the child’s “transgendering”. They also accuse doctors if they fail to affirm.

But, with the knowledge that 70-80% of such children will “desist” spontaneously and that 98% will desist with education and counselling, it seems clear that giving hormone treatment to delay development of secondary sex characteristics thus perpetuating feelings of wrong gender, and further, the amputation of normal sexual organs, is medical and surgical abuse.

And so it is that senior respected paediatricians, with good justification, are confirming that to affirm “feelings”, in direct contradiction to anatomical evidence, is abuse.

Normal opposite sex “behaviour” in children is not to be considered evidence of transgender. To label such children as being transgender or “gender diverse” itself creates confusion and is abuse.

And we certainly should not teach gender exploration in our schools as if it was something to explore, to “find out what gender you really are”. Are we already seeing an artificial “collective” of children wishing to transgender?

Thought disorder in childhood can take many forms e.g. that the birth mother is “not my real mother”, or “I am blind, I cannot see”, or “I am deaf, I cannot hear”, or “I am paralysed, I cannot walk” and then acting out the dysphoria as if an actual disability.

We would not contemplate affirming these dysphorias. Nor should we with gender dysphoria. It is no more possible to deny an erect penis that can also ejaculate than it is to deny the presence of eyes that react to light.

It may be possible to say “I don’t want to be the sex I am” but it is not possible to deny the physical actuality.

To share in and reinforce the deceptive thought and be convinced that it is real is an example of folie à deux – a shared delusional state – or even folie en famille when it might involve others in the family.

Despite the physical, medical and genetic illogic (yes, “nonsense”) of the transgender argument it is gaining momentum in the medical community as illustrated by the inclusion in the Medical Journal of Australia 6 August 2018 Volume 209 No 3 of the Consensus Statement by the Australian and New Zealand Professional association for Transgender Health that states “practices attempting to change a person’s gender identity to be more aligned with their sex assigned at birth… lack efficacy, are considered unethical, and may cause lasting damage…”.

This is another threat to the future of Medicine as we have known it to be. Should doctors not come out in outright condemnation of this as we have with other public health issues? Yes, we can and should be civil to adults who have made the transition, but yes, there is a time to condemn destructive coercion of our children.

And our lawmakers certainly should not be legislating in this madness perpetuating child abuse – folie en parlement.

For our children’s sake!

POST NOTES:

  1. Will you vote to approve child abuse? There is no neutral, no opt-out.
  2. There are now reports from the USA of mastectomies in thirteen-year-old girls.

Original Source: chooselifeaustralia.org.au

ETHICS: STRATEGY: the battle for God’s Creation of male and female, for heteronormativity and against transgender ideology

STRATEGY: the battle for God’s Creation of male and female, for heteronormativity and against transgender ideology

  • Rebellion in federal parliament:
    • throw out the present leader who won’t listen to moderate voices in his own party
    • swing to centre-right and away from destructive leftist policies
    • appoint a new leader of the Liberal Party
    • may he be PM
    • let him be a Christian leader
    • and may he speak truth

Yay! All done. Thank you Lord – even before we asked! PTL


PRAY FOR SCOTT MORRISON:


 To bring all parts of the Liberal Party together; to bring back those of the public who deserted the Libs and went to One Nation; that he will get the Media onside; that he will be able to uphold the truth of God’s Creation; that policies will be sensible in terms of energy and climate change; that he will continue as PM after the next election


INFORM THE CHURCH


INFORM THE PUBLIC


 re how it is currently affecting sport and facilities, education, school toilets and change rooms

 increase the community polarisation – make it ridiculous; make it obvious that the “emperor has no clothes”

 and make it very clear that the two “affirming” pathways of approach to the young child i.e. affirming and reassuring of birth sex vs affirming of feeling sex, are mutually exclusive and only one of them can be child abuse


PUT TRANSGENDERS BACK INTO THE CLASSIFICATION


Of BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder) where it most obviously belongs


HIGHLIGHT


the disconnect between LGB non-binary spectrum and T transgender binary and get the LGB fired up

and that “i” has nothing to do with it (for intersex as in LGBTQ0.02% of population)

the disconnect between feminist ideology and transgenders and get the feminists fired up

the disconnect with transgenders being part of anti-discrimination legislation and undermining the legitimate concerns and “rights” of people with disability


SACK AHRC (Australian Human Rights Commission) or limit its scope


SACK AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Authority) and get back to a doctor-controlled MBA (Medical Board Association) concerned with doctor-patient professional conduct without interference from the AHRC which can control civil conduct of doctors anyway


BRING BACK DEBATE!


Whatever happened to the freedom of logical discourse? BRING BACK DEBATE!


LET THERE BE TWO UNIVERSITIES


a University of Factual Science that educates re immutable truth in biological science, physics, chemistry, mathematics (maybe even law where “rights” are discovered rather than created)

a University of Arts where facts are ignored in favour of ideology

Get The Media Onside.

For comprehensive information see Patrick J Byrne’s excellent book Transgender: One Shade of Grey – Legal Implications fro Man & Woman, Schools, Sport, Politics, Democracy.

Original Sourcechooselifeaustralia.org.au

ETHICS: The Battle for Medicine (update 15 September 2018)

“Traditional” medicine is under attack on many inter-related fronts perhaps broadly represented in summary by these specific front lines.

 LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE IN MEDICINE

The exercise of conscience is foundational to good medicine. It underlies every aspect of good medical practice, to make good patient care our first concern and to practice medicine safely and effectively. 
conscienceinmedicine.net.au:  

Liberty of conscience lies at the very heart of our integrity.  It is conscience that must compel doctors to refuse to participate in treatments they believe to be un-ethical or that they consider not to be in the best interests of patients.

But this is at risk even from within the profession “If people are not prepared to offer legally permitted, efficient, and beneficial care to a patient because it conflicts with their values, they should not be doctors”. Professor Julian Savulescu, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, BMJ 2006;332:294-297 February 4.

For further discussion including doctors not being able to access training places in various disciplines 
See Article “Liberty of Conscience” : 

 INFORMED CONSENT

Truly informed consent is being suppressed by those of particular ideology, particularly with respect to abortion – the mounting evidence for the breast cancer connection, Post-Abortion Syndrome and pre-term birth cannot be so easily dismissed. Our liberty to tell truth is at risk.

 DOCTORS AS “PROVIDERS OF MEDICAL SERVICES”

Turning doctors into mere service providers of medical services on demand instead of doctors with conscience, with the traditional doctor/patient relationship being replaced by a service-provider/consumer contract, providing all that is legal whether or not it is consistent with their ethical base.

To sacrifice conscience and be concerned only with service provision is to destroy the heart and soul of medicine.
See Article Notre Dame Law and Ethics” For fuller discussion: 

 LAW OF THE STATE OVERRIDING MEDICAL ETHICS.

Governments may legislate to permit certain practices or procedures but governments must never force doctors to violate their conscience by compulsory engagement in such practices or procedures – as indeed has happened with Section 8 of the Victorian 2008 legalisation of abortion compelling doctors to refer to another doctor for abortion.

The Independence of the medical profession is critical – belief in practice as enshrined in UDHR and ICCPR and non-derogable, that cannot be overridden even in national emergency (article 4 ICCPR).

When legal code supersedes moral code, the slope of a culture’s decline is steep and swift. J. Scott Ries, MD

Medical codes of conduct must never be subject to degradation by government.
See Article Permission becomes Compulsion“: 

 LIFE – IT’S DEFINITION, WHEN DOES IT BEGIN AND WHEN DOES IT BECOME OF VALUE?

Human life has intrinsic value and worth in all states of dependence and disability from conception to life’s natural end, the need for the definition being highlighted by

Euthanasia: and physician assisted suicide: euphemistically described as MAiD (Medical Aid in Dying); turning healers into killers; confusing the problem of suffering with the life of the person to kill the pain but not the person with it; unrestricted even for the non-dying; even for existential distress in teenagers, economic strangulation of palliative care services; funding limited for patients seeking palliative care but funding given for assisted suicide.
See article Did Granny jump, or was she pushed? Euthanasia is a threshold too far. : by Dr David van Gend of 7 July

Abortion: the continuing push for legalisation with no restriction on time, method or reason (even de-selection of a female twin). Down Syndrome genocide.

Destructive embryo research: for the sake of the living including stem-cell research

Designer babies: to provide cells for siblings

Cloning: for the sake of cell and even organ provision for living siblings or other relatives, even the clone parent

Routine prenatal diagnosis with implied embryo selection or abortion of the “defective” (even compulsory). Already parents who do not agree to have their babies “de-selected” are labelled “genetic outlaws” and face the accusation “how dare you bring this financial impost on the community.”

With the sinister creation of a list of “defects” that are not “worthy” of life.

Including Down Syndrome to the point of genocide of that happy and educable group of people. Watch: I have one more chromosome than you. So what? : | Karen Gaffney | TEDx Portland

Promotion of Infanticide as “post-birth abortion” before the onset of “self-awareness” as being equivalent to abortion and therefore OK.

 MEDICAL BOARD OF AUSTRALIA

And now, astonishingly and unexpectedly, the MBA with its threatened clamping down (Draft Code 2018) of free speech by doctors and with Good Medical Practice being subject to “cultural beliefs” and transgender and identity ideology. These changes would add penalty to perceived breaches relating to any of the above threats to the future of medicine and free debate or expression of views on these threats. Is the MBA itself now into unprofessional conduct in the sense of sabotaging Good Medicine? At least now it has reversed its policy to list complaints against doctors even when the complaints have been found to be without substance. Watch this space.

 TRANSGENDER IDEOLOGY AND CHILD ABUSE

The mutual exclusivity of the two “affirming” pathways of approach to the young child wishing to transgender i.e. affirming and reassuring of birth sex vs affirming of feeling sex, and only one of them can be child abuse as declared.

This is highlighted by – also possibly in contravention of international codes regarding human experimentation – the willingness of doctors to use treatments with known and unknown deleterious long-term effects e.g. the use of hormones or even radical disfiguring surgery to amputate normal breasts or genitalia. (Further highlighted by reports in USA: See article American Doctors Are Performing Mastectomies on Perfectly Healthy 13-Year-Old Girls” 

The transgender argument is gaining momentum in the medical community as illustrated by the inclusion in the Medical Journal of Australia 6 August 2018 Volume 209 No 3 of the Consensus Statement by the Australian and New Zealand Professional association for Transgender Health that states “practices attempting to change a person’s gender identity to be more aligned with their sex assigned at birth… lack efficacy, are considered unethical, and may cause lasting damage…”.

This is a clear ethical divide in which it is essential for medicine, not activists, to be decisive and authoritative.

Good Medicine is the heart and soul of Good Medical Practice. It requires and demands skill, knowledge, sensitivity, respect for people and their backgrounds to ensure good health outcomes. It involves understanding, assessing what is happening and what is needed, education and explanation, and working respectfully with the patient to ensure the best possible good health outcome.

The future of medicine is at stake. When Medicine falls, so does society.

Lachlan Dunjey 15 Sept 2018.

Original Source: chooselifeaustralia.org.au

Under the Canopy of Heaven 7. Father in Heaven 09 SEP 2018

Isa 63:15 – Isa 64:8 | Mk 1:4-11

INTRODUCTION

When it comes to living in the revelation of the heavenly Father the contemporary Church is in a very bad way. Having returned to Anglican worship after about 20 years I noticed new liturgies seemed to give less prominence to the Father. And when a diocesan prayer calendar came out I couldn’t ignore the fact that not one modern prayer was addressed to God as “Father”.

The archbishop agreed there was an issue, but there’s no evidence the author of the prayer diary has altered her views on fatherhood. Confusion about God the Father is not limited to Anglican liberals.

Sometimes the formula: “In the Name of God, Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier” is substituted for, “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This is functionally heretical because the eternal Persons of the Godhead cannot be reduced to their roles in creation. God is essentially and not nominally “Father”. Human parenthood is but a dim reflection of this divine Fathering.

In prayer gatherings I often hear more petitions to “God”, “Lord”, “Holy Spirit” or “Jesus”   than to the Father; this is a sign that many Christian leaders are struggling to participate in the Spirit (Phil 2:1 ESV) who moved Jesus to teach us to pray, “Our Father in heaven….(Matt 6:9 ESV). Is this the generation more spiritually ignorant of Fatherhood than any other?

Perhaps we have a special problem in this realm because Australians are “cosmic orphans” inhabiting a nation founded on parental abandonment, and a country of absent fathers separated from their children through war, hardship and emotional distance.

I was in a meeting recently where a prominent pastor shared how being in Africa he was approached by a young man who had observed his caring relationship with another local.

He asked, “Can you be my spiritual father?” to which the pastor replied, “Sorry, I can’t.

I have sons of my own in Australia and x is my adopted son here in Africa. But I can be your friend.” In failing to impart to this young man a vision of the unlimited, unconditional, abounding love of the heavenly Father this pastor grieved the heart of God and left his young “friend” abandoned.

Ignorance and fear of intimacy with a heavenly Father is a foundational reason for the discipleship crisis in the Australian Church.

A recent blog examining issues responsible for intermittent Sunday Church attendance attributed this problem to our neo-liberal culture.

Neoliberalism1)Neoliberalism or neo-liberalism refers primarily to the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism. Those ideas include economic liberalization policies such as privatization, austerity, deregulation, free trade and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society. url: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

There is truth in this description of our society, but if neoliberalism has power it’s a consequence of a relational deficit with God as Father, and its individualism, materialism etc. are signs of Fatherlessness.

The providential care of the “heavenly Father” is the exact opposite of such a worldview (Matt 6:25-34 ESV).

See Article: What is the future of ‘gathered’ church? | August 30, 2018 | PDF pages 4 | by Ian Paul | Original Source: psephizo.com

FALLING CHILDREN.

In the genealogy of Jesus we read of “Adam, the son of God.(Luke 3:38 ESV). Paul could preach even to pagans, “we indeed are his offspring(Acts 17:28 ESV). Yet it has been profoundly said, ‘While God is the Father of all people, all people are not the children of God’. (G.C. Bingham). God is the Creator-Father of all but not all freely enter into this relationship.

Worse, the revelation of God as Father in creation is always corrupted into a perverted idolatrous image of fatherhood. The true God laments, vs.26so the house of Israel shall be shamed: vs.27 who say to a tree, ‘You are my father,’ and to a stone, ‘You gave me birth.’ For they have turned their back to me(Jer 2:26-27 ESV). The origin of such dreadful distortions goes back to the Fall. In listening to and obeying the voice of Satan the first couple exchanged a heavenly Father for submission to a mere creature2)Gen 3:1-7 ESV; John 8:44 ESV.

Original sin is an attempt to abolish Fatherhood (John Paul II). It denies God’s benevolent love that originates/fathers all creation. The first sin was patricidal, aimed at killing God’s loving authority in human life.

Through Adam we all became “sons of the evil one3)Matt 13:38 ESV cf. Eph 2:2 ESV; 1 John 3:12 ESV with two immediate consequences; shame in relation to each other4)Gen 3:7 ESV cf. 2:25 ESV and fear in relation to God. ““I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”(Gen 3:10 ESV).

The appearance of God from heaven brought an anticipation of punishment (cf. 1 John 4:18 ESV) because sinful humans are “children of wrath5)Eph 2:3 ESV cf. Rom 1:18 ESV.

Guilty men and women cannot desire intimacy with the heavenly Father but resent a fatherhood they experience as unjustly judgemental.

They refuse to accept the fact that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness….”6)Rom 1:18 ESV cf. Rom 1:32 ESV; 1 Pet 1:17 ESV.

Heaven is a place from which judgement often comes. Fire from heaven consumes God’s adversaries7)Gen 19:24 ESV; Ex 9:23 ESV; 2 Ki 1:10, 12, 14 ESV as a sign of his fearful presence (Deut 4:11, 36 ESV). But it lovingly burns up acceptable sacrifice8)1 Chron 21:26 ESV; 2 Chron 7:1 ESV.

Corruption concerning the likeness of God as Father is multigenerational. The sons of Adam were generated in the likeness of his fallen image (Gen 5:3 ESV); as such Cain “naturally” rebelled against God’s direct command just as his father had done (Gen 4:7 ESV).

Following in the way of parents is seen in scripture as a potent force; “I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me(Ex 20:5 ESV). Even more tragically the powers at work to distort Fatherhood are supernatural.

Romans teaches that before we met Christ we had received “the spirit of slavery to fall…into fear(Rom 8:15 ESV).

This “spirit of slavery” involves demons, “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods… worthless elementary spirits of the world9)Gal 4:8-9 ESV cf. Deut 32:17 ESV; Ps 106:37 ESV.

Evil spirits induce slavery to sin, fear, control and the idolatry this breeds (cf. Heb 2:15 ESV). All the cost of rejecting God as Father.

Unhealthy paralysing fear continues onwards from Eden. In essentially defining sonship in oppositional terms, vs.14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. vs.15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear(Rom 8:14-15 ESV), Paul seems to be recapitulating the events of the exodus.

Delivered from slavery in Egypt the people of God were “led” through the dangers of the wilderness by the Lord and his Spirit10)Deut 8:2, 15 ESV; 29:5 ESV; Isa 63:7-14 ESV cf. Luke 4:1 ESV; Rom 2:4 ESV.

Despite God’s presence they repeatedly fell back into an irrational and destructive fear that moved them to long for a return to Egypt11)Ex 14:11-12 ESV; 17:3 ESV; Num 11:5 ESV; Num 14:3 ESV; Num 20:5 ESV; Num 21:5 ESV. These things are overcome for us in Christ.

THE OLD TESTAMENT PROMISE.

The Old Testament openly acknowledges God and his dwelling place “in heaven” from where he acts with power for those who call on him;12)Deut 26:15 ESV; 1 Ki 8:34 ESV; 2 Chron 7:14 ESV; 20:6 ESV; Ezra 5:12 ESV.

In the most intimate expressions of Old Testament Israel is named as God’s “firstborn son” who he liberated from Egypt13)Ex 4:22-23 ESV; Jer 31:20 ESV; Hos 11:1 ESV.

This however only made the repeated idolatry of the nation more grievous14)Deut 32:5 ESV; Jer 3:19 ESV.

Hope for salvation came to focus on the Messiah and his relationship with the Lord ; “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.(2 Sam 7:14 ESV).

But given the perennial disobedience even of the kings (1 Chron 28:6-7 ESV) a radical separation remained between the Father in heaven and his earthly people.

So Isaiah is moved to call out in anguish, “Look down from heaven and see, from your holy and beautiful habitation. Where are your zeal and your might? The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion are held back from me. For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name…. But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.15)Isa 63:15-16 ESV; Isa 64:8 ESV.

Only the Holy Son of God who is the “man of heaven16)Luke 1:35 ESV; 1 Cor 15:47-49 ESV could bridge the gap between sin-bound people and the heavenly Father.

JESUS AND THE HEAVENLY FATHER

When it comes to the revelation of the heavenly Father Jesus’ life and teaching are revolutionary. In the Sermon on the Mount, for instance, the Father is mentioned 17 times17)e.g. Matt 5:16, 45, 48 ESV; Matt 6:1 ESV etc.

That many people focus on the sermon’s teaching on “the Kingdom of God”, mentioned 8 times, and ignore the emphasis on the Father (mentioned 17 times), illustrates an inbuilt guilt-bias against Fatherhood.

Jesus’ intimate relationship with God as Father derives not from any human tradition but his own revelatory experience.  In this regard the events of his baptism seem particularly catalytic.

In rabbinical Judaism from around New Testament times “Father in Heaven” is nearly always used in the context of fixed and stereotyped linguistic formulae.

Little use is made of the expression to describe a unique relationship between God and Israel.

There are no references to God as “The Father in Heaven.” and when God is related to as heavenly Father he is never portrayed as active. This is the direct opposite to Jesus’ relationship with his heavenly Father who is dynamically working in Christ’s words and works.

WHITE PAPER: God the Father in Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity: Transformed Background or Common Ground? by Goshen-Gottstein, Alon | 01.10.2003 PDF pages 27 Original Source: jcrelations.net

vs.10And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. vs.11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”(Mark 1:10-11 ESV)

The opening of the heavens means that the separation between the realm of God and that of humans has been taken away18)Gen 1:6-7 ESV; Ps 115:16 ESV. The heavenly has broken into the earthly bringing a uniquely intense revelation to Jesus that he is the Son of the Father in heaven.

This is an eschatological and apocalyptic event publically marking, unlike for example the virginal conception, a fundamental shift in the relationship between God and humanity19)cf. John 1:51 ESV; Acts 7:56 ESV; Rev 4:1 ESV; Rev 19:11 ESV.

The opening of the heavens are an answer to the longing prayer in Isaiah, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down… to make your name known…(Isa 64:1-2 ESV).

From now on the name “Father” will now be fully revealed in Jesus the true Son of God20)cf. John 17:6, 26 ESV. Compared to the unfaithfulness of Adam and Israel.

The descent of the heavenly Spirit (Mark 1:10 ESV) conveys a remarkable dynamism to Christ. Many times in the Old Testament the Spirit of God came mightily on certain people to empower them for a prophetic of kingly task21)Judges 3:10 ESV; 6:34 ESV; 11:29 ESV; 13:25 ESV; 1 Sam 10:6 ESV; 11:6 ESV; 19:20, 23 ESV; Isa 42:1 ESV; 61:1 ESV.

But he did not remain.  Jesus is now mightily anointed with spiritual power to bring in his Father’s kingly rule22)cf. Matt 12:28 ESV; Luke 4:18 ESV; Acts 10:38 ESV.

The communication from heaven, ““You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”(Mark 1:11 ESV) vitalises Jesus’ Sonship.

The language of “beloved Son” communicates to Jesus that he is uniquely related to God, and it will fulfil the Lord’s command to Abraham to take his “beloved son” and sacrifice him (Gen 22:22 ESV Greek O.T.)

This revelation of the Father’s particular love strengthens Jesus for the journey to the cross. “Son” is also a dominant messianic title23)Ps 2:7 ESV cf. Acts 13:33 ESV; Heb 1:5 ESV; 5:5 ESV; 2 Pet 1:17 ESV implying universal dominion24)Ps 2:8 ESV; cf. Gen 49:10 ESV; Matt 28:19 ESV; Acts 1:8 ESV; Phil 2:11 ESV etc.

The heavenly Father will work with power through Jesus to establish his kingdom on earth. The utterance ““well pleased”” signifies the delight of the Father in Jesus and fulfils the covenantal relationship between Yahweh and the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah (Isa 42:1-2 ESV) as the one who will have dominion over the nations.

The Servant Songs in Isaiah25)Isa 42:1-4 ESV; 49:1-6 ESV; 50:4-9 ESV; 52:13 – 53:12 ESV culminate with the humiliating but redemptive death of the Servant. In the Gospels the Servant now identified as Jesus receives the Father’s pleasure, (“with you I am well pleasedLuke 3:22 ESV), because of his obedience to death (cf. Matt 12:18-21 ESV).

The baptismal obedience of Jesus reverses the rebellion and judgement scene of Genesis 3.

He is the true Son through whose submission the heavenly Father will exercise dominion over the earth and fill it with glory26)cf. Matt 28:18 ESV; Heb 2:5-9 ESV.

Jesus’ whole life and ministry is an exposition of the loving, just and merciful character of the heavenly Father. He reveals the Father through manifesting the delivering works of his kingdom27)Matt 12:28 ESV cf. John 14:8-11 ESV.

The meaning of “Our Father in heaven” is expounded in providing the hungry with daily bread, forgiving their sins and delivering them from evil (Matt 6:9-12 ESV).

See, for example,  Jesus feeding miracles28)Matt 14:13-21 ESV; 15:32-39 ESV; Mark 6:32-44 ESV; 8:1–10 ESV; Luke 9:10-17 ESV; John 6:1-14 ESV; his proclaiming forgiveness29)Matt 9:1-8 ESV; 26:28 ESV; Mark 2:3-12 ESV; Luke 7:47-48 ESV; Luke 23:34 ESV and his releasing people from evil spirits30)Matt 4:24 ESV; 8:16 ESV; 9:32-33 ESV; Mark 1:21-28 ESV; Mark 3:11 ESV; Mark 5:1-13 ESV etc..

Since the pattern of the Lord’s Prayer indicates the revelation of the heavenly Father comes via answered petitions it must be the experience of unanswered prayer which is the greatest block to believers receiving the testimony, “Abba! Father!”31)Rom 8:15 ESV; Gal 4:6 ESV.

Contrary to some popular preaching the Aramaic word “Abba” does not mean “Daddy”.

It seems to combine both respect and intimacy, and was commonly used by an adult son in his dialogue with his father. (This is not how the word is used in modern Hebrew, where it does mean “Daddy”.)

The work of the cross exposes to us the origin of Father-confusion in the hearts of believers.

FATHERHOOD GLORIFIED THROUGH THE CROSS

The writer of Hebrews had a profound understanding of the Sonship of Jesus, vs.8For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering…. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. vs.9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him(Heb 2:10 ESV; Heb 5:8-9 ESV).  

The author understood that Jesus was Fathered through the cross. This is what we see forcefully through the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane.

It is only in approaching death under the divine wrath that Jesus addresses God as “Abba” (Mark 14:36 ESV). Judgement is the significance of the dreaded “cup” in Gethsemane32)Mark 14:36 ESV cf. Ps 75:8 ESV; Isa 51:17, 22 ESV; Jer 25:15 ESV ff; lam 4:21 ESV ; Hab 2:16 ESV; Zech 12:2 ESV.

His impending suffering draws out of Christ the most intense intimacy with his Father. Why then does he cry out on the cross; ““My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Mark 15:34 ESV).

Does the Father turn his face away from his Son at the point of his deepest need?

Some preachers and song writers mistakenly teach this, but the Father did hear Jesus when he cried out in anguish.

The messianic psalm which Jesus quoted from at his point of dereliction33)Ps 22:1 ESV = Matt 27:46 ESV; Mark 15:34 ESV goes on to say, “For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.(Ps 22:24 ESV).

If the Father turned his face away it would mean evil, sin and death are more powerful than his love for his Son. This is impossible.

Or does the loss of his beloved Son place in his heart a grief rendering him speechless34)Rom 8:3 ESV; 2 Cor 5:21 ESV?

Words plainly fail here, but from a Trinitarian perspective the death of Jesus “extends right through to the centre of the Father; for the Son does not cease, even in dying, to be generated by him and to convey his eternal gratitude to him, in a love that expresses its utmost intensity precisely now…. The Father must possess unimaginable power if he can look on, apparently powerless, while his Son moves into suffering” (Adrienne von Speyr).

The Father seemingly emptied himself of the Son’s filial presence committing himself to a form of suffering in the suffering of the Son (Habets). “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them(2 Cor 5:19 ESV).

By revealing the full extent of the love Father and Son have for one another and the world the cross glorifies the Father35)John 12:27-28 ESV; 13:1 ESV.

As the locus of all the saving acts of God in it is the lens of divine forgiveness. If on the cross Jesus endures for us the Last Judgement this is that “perfect love which casts out all fear(1 John 4:18 ESV).

The highest revelation of the perfect Father comes not in witnessing great acts of power (cf. John 2:23-25 ESV) but in witnessing his full and free forgiveness; Christ’s awesome prayer, ““Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”(Luke 23:34 ESV) proceeds to and from the heart of the Father for us all.

Jesus’ own exhortation, vs.44Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, vs.45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…. vs.48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.(Matt 5:44-45, 48 ESV), illuminates the perfection of heavenly Fatherhood in terms of forgiving enemies, which is the achievement of the cross.

It has been stated that if Jesus hadn’t prayed this prayer his persecutors were in real danger of being consumed by fire from heaven (Bingham). If this is true it’s not because the Farther is mad with anger, but because he is perfectly holy36)Hab 1:13 ESV; John 17:11 ESV.

The complete revelation of the Father to us awaits the final dwelling of humanity with God in heaven.

In seeing Jesus as he is (1 John 3:2 ESV), the Lamb once crucified but now the glorified Son37)Rev 5:6 ESV cf. 1:17-18 ESV, we will know that only a Holy and Righteous Father (John 17:11, 25 ESV) could forgive so totally and at such great personal cost. Before the face of God the cry “Abba! Father!” will be drawn out of the hearts of the children of God forever38)Rev 21:7 ESV, 22:4 ESV.

When all the former troubles wrought by sin, Satan and death are forgotten39)Isa 65:16 – 17 ESV; Rev 21:4 ESV our vision will be filled with the glory of the Lamb (Rev 21:23 ESV). The “forgetfulness” we will enjoy in eternity is a participation in the new covenant, where God declares, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”” (Jer 31:34 ESV). For us, “the wrath of God is finished”, as it was in the cross40)Rev 15:1 ESV; John 19:30 ESV.

We will realise in a completely spontaneous way that such a great God can only be named “Father!” This will be the final application of the gospel, that it is “the glory of the Father” that raised Jesus from the dead41)Rom 1:4 ESV; 6:4 ESV cf. Mark 8:38 ESV; John 12:28 ESV; 17:5 ESV; Phil 2:11 ESV.

CONCLUSION

When Jesus said to Mary Magdalene outside the empty tomb, “‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”(John 20:17 ESV), he announced that his glorification (Act 1:6-11 ESV) was reuniting humanity to the Father, in heaven.

In Christ we are united with “the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist(1 Cor 8:6 ESV), united with the One who is the origin and integrating point of all heavenly wisdom and riches.

Which he has placed in Christ (Col 2:3 ESV). In the heart of the heavenly Father (John 1:18 ESV) is found the plan for the creation of all things and its unity in Christ (Eph 1:9-10 ESV), the gift of the Spirit to the sons of God (Acts 2:33 ESV), endless joy (1 Pet 1:8 ESV), infinitely satisfying worship (Heb 12:18-24 ESV), perfect conformity to the will of God (Eph 1:11 ESV) and unlimited communion with the divine life, “The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be my son.(Rev 21:7 ESV).

Cf. “Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.(Rev 14:1 ESV)  The people of God have a seal upon them from an all loving Father of allegiance, protection and deliverance.

Since all these things are so wonderfully ours in Christ we can enjoy in real measure his own spontaneity with his Father through the gift of the baptismal Spirit and the blessing of the heavenly voice (Mark 1:10-11 ESV). By grace God is our “Abba! Father!” to the same degree as is Jesus (1 John 4:17 ESV).

Being in the Son of God all wrath and judgement have been taken away so we can glory in a shame free and guiltless liberty far beyond any natural relationships42)cf. Luke 10:21 ESV; Rom 8:21 ESV. Hallelujah, what a Father!

Years ago I was led to pray facing Uluru (Ayers Rock), a spiritual hub for Indigenous people, occult practitioners etc. in central Australia.

I sensed the Spirit leading me to declare with authority, “Judgement has been taken away!” This was a proclamation to resident evil powers of the completed victory of Christ.

If the conscience of God has been satisfied so should our consciences be. Cf. “I have no wrath(Isa 27:4 ESV)

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 9. September, 2018 Location: Alive@5

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

9. September, 2018.

References   [ + ]

1. Neoliberalism or neo-liberalism refers primarily to the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism. Those ideas include economic liberalization policies such as privatization, austerity, deregulation, free trade and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society. url: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism
2. Gen 3:1-7 ESV; John 8:44 ESV
3. Matt 13:38 ESV cf. Eph 2:2 ESV; 1 John 3:12 ESV
4. Gen 3:7 ESV cf. 2:25 ESV
5. Eph 2:3 ESV cf. Rom 1:18 ESV
6. Rom 1:18 ESV cf. Rom 1:32 ESV; 1 Pet 1:17 ESV
7. Gen 19:24 ESV; Ex 9:23 ESV; 2 Ki 1:10, 12, 14 ESV
8. 1 Chron 21:26 ESV; 2 Chron 7:1 ESV
9. Gal 4:8-9 ESV cf. Deut 32:17 ESV; Ps 106:37 ESV
10. Deut 8:2, 15 ESV; 29:5 ESV; Isa 63:7-14 ESV cf. Luke 4:1 ESV; Rom 2:4 ESV
11. Ex 14:11-12 ESV; 17:3 ESV; Num 11:5 ESV; Num 14:3 ESV; Num 20:5 ESV; Num 21:5 ESV
12. Deut 26:15 ESV; 1 Ki 8:34 ESV; 2 Chron 7:14 ESV; 20:6 ESV; Ezra 5:12 ESV
13. Ex 4:22-23 ESV; Jer 31:20 ESV; Hos 11:1 ESV
14. Deut 32:5 ESV; Jer 3:19 ESV
15. Isa 63:15-16 ESV; Isa 64:8 ESV
16. Luke 1:35 ESV; 1 Cor 15:47-49 ESV
17. e.g. Matt 5:16, 45, 48 ESV; Matt 6:1 ESV etc.
18. Gen 1:6-7 ESV; Ps 115:16 ESV
19. cf. John 1:51 ESV; Acts 7:56 ESV; Rev 4:1 ESV; Rev 19:11 ESV
20. cf. John 17:6, 26 ESV
21. Judges 3:10 ESV; 6:34 ESV; 11:29 ESV; 13:25 ESV; 1 Sam 10:6 ESV; 11:6 ESV; 19:20, 23 ESV; Isa 42:1 ESV; 61:1 ESV
22. cf. Matt 12:28 ESV; Luke 4:18 ESV; Acts 10:38 ESV
23. Ps 2:7 ESV cf. Acts 13:33 ESV; Heb 1:5 ESV; 5:5 ESV; 2 Pet 1:17 ESV
24. Ps 2:8 ESV; cf. Gen 49:10 ESV; Matt 28:19 ESV; Acts 1:8 ESV; Phil 2:11 ESV etc
25. Isa 42:1-4 ESV; 49:1-6 ESV; 50:4-9 ESV; 52:13 – 53:12 ESV
26. cf. Matt 28:18 ESV; Heb 2:5-9 ESV
27. Matt 12:28 ESV cf. John 14:8-11 ESV
28. Matt 14:13-21 ESV; 15:32-39 ESV; Mark 6:32-44 ESV; 8:1–10 ESV; Luke 9:10-17 ESV; John 6:1-14 ESV
29. Matt 9:1-8 ESV; 26:28 ESV; Mark 2:3-12 ESV; Luke 7:47-48 ESV; Luke 23:34 ESV
30. Matt 4:24 ESV; 8:16 ESV; 9:32-33 ESV; Mark 1:21-28 ESV; Mark 3:11 ESV; Mark 5:1-13 ESV etc.
31. Rom 8:15 ESV; Gal 4:6 ESV
32. Mark 14:36 ESV cf. Ps 75:8 ESV; Isa 51:17, 22 ESV; Jer 25:15 ESV ff; lam 4:21 ESV ; Hab 2:16 ESV; Zech 12:2 ESV
33. Ps 22:1 ESV = Matt 27:46 ESV; Mark 15:34 ESV
34. Rom 8:3 ESV; 2 Cor 5:21 ESV
35. John 12:27-28 ESV; 13:1 ESV
36. Hab 1:13 ESV; John 17:11 ESV
37. Rev 5:6 ESV cf. 1:17-18 ESV
38. Rev 21:7 ESV, 22:4 ESV
39. Isa 65:16 – 17 ESV; Rev 21:4 ESV
40. Rev 15:1 ESV; John 19:30 ESV
41. Rom 1:4 ESV; 6:4 ESV cf. Mark 8:38 ESV; John 12:28 ESV; 17:5 ESV; Phil 2:11 ESV
42. cf. Luke 10:21 ESV; Rom 8:21 ESV

Adam and Christ 09 SEP 2018

Gen 3:1-19 | Ps 119:81-88 | Rom 5:12-21 | Mark 8:27-38

INTRODUCTION:

Last time I preached I spoke of the power of the gospel to turn Christians into, “The Happiest People on Earth” (Shakarian). This isn’t just a Pentecostal position but is as ancient as the profound words from the Easter Mass; “O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ! O happy fault that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

Or, the same excellent truth extolled in the hymn by Isaac Watts, “In Him the tribes of Adam boast More blessings than their father lost.(Lyrics) | (tune) 

By being “only human” we all know the nature of Adamic sin; the need to keep weeding the garden, the crazy egoistic ambitions in Canberra, the constant conflicts from Syria, the latest fight you had with your husband/wife/kids, in the ageing of our own minds and bodies and the inevitability of death, testify to us of Adam’s influence.

And overcoming such afflictions is the great preoccupation of humanity. Paul’s one interest in Adam however is to exult the victorious triumph of grace in Christ1)Rom 5 ESV; 1 Cor 15:22, 45-49 ESV.

Which is why this chapter is dominated by contrasts, whatever power death possess, grace has “much more”, however destructive condemnation may be, the “free gift” of justification/righteousness exceeds it, where sin did “abound” grace did much more/“super-abound”.

The total superiority of Christ over Adam is the source of Christian confidence.

EXPOSITION

Romans 5 vs.12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinnedvs.13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. vs.14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

One of the most famous scriptures is Romans declares, “the wages of sin is death(Rom 6:23 ESV). But this chapter teaches we all must die not because we have sinned like Adam sin but because we are related to Adam in such a way that when he rebelled in Eden we all said, “Amen”.

We have all inherited a sinful nature from the first Man and we share his guilt; in David’s lamentation, “I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.2)Ps 51:5 ESV cf. Eph 2:3 ESV.

This “death” we share “in Adam(1 Cor 15:22 ESV) isn’t just physical, it’s also “spiritual”, the malignant power of sin to separate us from fellowship with God.

Since sinners can never step outside their fallen condition the depths of original sin are incomprehensible.

But Paul’s about the death of Jesus, “one has died for all, therefore all have died(2 Cor 5:14 ESV), proclaims a connection between Jesus and lost humanity that nullifies that between us and Adam.

Through the life of the only person who never rebelled against God the power of the Adamic nature has been broken.

Romans 5 vs.13 – vs.14
From Adam to Moses people didn’t transgress or violate a known commandment as Adam did, so that in the absence of law their sin was not clearly registered.

Law or no law however death kept reigning over human life under the decree of God.

This is an enemy that still defeats even the strongest human attempts to defeat it (1 Cor 15:26 ESV). But it doesn’t have to defeat us. When one of my lecturers said death could never be a good thing I quoted to him from the song of Simeon.

Having seen the coming of “the Lord’s Christ” a jubilant Simeon exclaims, ““Lord, now you are letting your servant die in peace, according to your word;” (Luke 2:26, 29 ESV).

Paul downsizes Adam by explaining he, “was a type of the one who was to come”; (this is messianic deliverer language Mark 11:9 ESV; Luke 7:20 ESV; John 4:25 ESV).

A “type” is a mark made by striking or a mould in which something is shaped; so one commentator remarks, “Adam is like a wax impression in relation to the iron stamp who is Jesus Christ.” (Riches)

A contemporary translation says, “Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come.(Rom 5:14 NLT).

We must get the order right, Christ is not like Adam but Adam was a “pattern” or “model” of Jesus.

Much as a masterpiece is preceded by a series of rough sketches Adam was called to be what Christ would in fact become.

Adam must be understood only in terms of Christ, and his sin only in terms of the cross.

As Adam headed up a lost humanity, Christ heads up a new humanity whose blessings far exceed what was lost in the first Man.

Adam and Jesus are alike in that the action of each affected many; but whereas Adam brought sin through self-assertion Christ brought grace through self sacrifice. 

The dissimilarity is much greater than the similarity; the “free gift is not like” the sin says Paul (Rom 5 vs.15a).

Romans 5 vs.15 … For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for manyvs.16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. vs.17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

The “much more… by the grace of that one-man Jesus Christ(vs.15) means that in giving his own Son God has released a power much greater than the power of sin.

Adam and Christ are not on the same scale of comparison; Calvin boldly says, “the grace procured by Christ belongs to a greater number than the condemnation contracted by the first man”.

The evidence of God’s sentence of “condemnation” is death (Rom 5:16, 18 ESV); but the effect of God’s grace is life and justification, God the Judge has decreed that through faith we are righteous before him, “justified” in an undo-able way forever.

Death has been a totalitarian power reigning over all since Adam (vs.17), but God’s abundant justifying grace turns us lost sinners into kings who “reign in life” sharing in Christ’s resurrection power (cf. Phil 3:10 ESV).

The victorious life of Jesus begins to triumph over deadly powers from the moment we follow Christ and will come to its glorious conclusion when he raises us from the dead (John 5:27-29 ESV).

Romans 5 vs.18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. vs.19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

When Adam disobeyed God’s law all human beings fell into condemnation but when Jesus obeyed all his Father’s commands a gift of justification with God was opened up for all3)Matt 3:15 ESV; 1 Cor 1:30 ESV; Phil 2:8 ESV.

The “one act of righteousness” that achieved this was the death of Jesus.

Before Christ’s saving death the forces of sin, Satan and death tyrannised human existence – it’s simply “human” to fear sickness, ageing and mortality, but now Christ has triumphed over all.

Having been made righteous before God (Isa 53:11 ESV) in Christ have no reason to fear. 

Hallelujah.

Through Adam’s sin, humanity was made up of a single class of sinners, now through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice by faith we can receive the status of his perfect obedience. 4)Rom 1:17 ESV; Rom 3:10 ESV; Rom 5:7 ESV.

Romans 5 vs.20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, vs.21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God didn’t give the Law of Moses to reduce sinning, the Law made sinning all the more obvious as wilful flagrant disobedience.

Paul isn’t working to make us feel bad about ourselves, he’s magnifying the triumph of grace, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”.

God’s loving grace super-abounded in the self-giving of the cross vastly overwhelming the temporal experience of physical death and giving eternal life to those who believe (Rom 6:23 ESV).

As grace reigns in us we become icons of God’s triumph in Christ. How the world needs Christians walking in victory today.

CONCLUSION

Foolish fallen humanity still believes that by our clever psychotherapies, self-help courses and anti-bullying programmes we can change not only human behaviour but human nature.

But our profound selfishness needs nothing less than an exchanged life (Gal 2:20 ESV), we need to be crucified, dead, buried, and raised again with Christ (Rom 6 ESV)Deep down lost people know that they need something beyond themselves, they need Jesus!

I was at a meeting the other day and Jade Lewis was out our table; Jade was a hard core drug addict who came to Christ, she now pastors a church and has set up a programme for women in prison to lift them out of their hopeless and lost condition.

Or take Peter Lyndon James who was a drug dealer who spent the first half of his life in correctional facilities but has now set up Shalom House, ministering to 100’s of men from broken backgrounds.

Jade and Peter are not perfect people but through Christ they walking in the guilt free zone of justification so that God speaks with power and authority through their lives.

You don’t need to be a reformed drug addict to “reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ(Rom 5:17 ESV).

You can reveal that Jesus is the innermost secret of every human life  by being part of a community whose members are not anxious in the face of sickness, ageing, financial poverty and death5)1 Cor 15:54-58 ESV; Heb 2:14-15 ESV.

The triumph of the life of Christ in us over the suffering Adam brought into the world brings the revelation of the deepest meaning of what it is to be human.

Such an understanding opens up future possibilities exciting beyond description.

Whatever elements of the Adamic tragedy that might confront us, unemployment, sickness, ageing, pain, death, relationship breakdown etc., each of us will be given many opportunities to live out and declare the grace of God in the victory of Christ.

Either the life of Adam will reign in you or the grace-filled life of Jesus will reign.

For Adam to reign you don’t have to do anything- just be your old self.  For Christ to triumph you need to exercise faith and ask in each and every circumstance of life, especially the hardest, that Jesus be your King.

Let us pray. 

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 9. September, 2018 Location: Unknown

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

9. September, 2018.

References   [ + ]

1. Rom 5 ESV; 1 Cor 15:22, 45-49 ESV
2. Ps 51:5 ESV cf. Eph 2:3 ESV
3. Matt 3:15 ESV; 1 Cor 1:30 ESV; Phil 2:8 ESV
4. Rom 1:17 ESV; Rom 3:10 ESV; Rom 5:7 ESV
5. 1 Cor 15:54-58 ESV; Heb 2:14-15 ESV

Faith and Righteousness

Hab 2:2-14; Ps 119:25-32; Romans 1: 8-17; Mark 6:30-34

INTRODUCTION (Bibles Rom 1:8-17 ESV)

Donna was telling me the other day about how our 8 year old twin grandchildren were fighting over something their mother said, disputing who was in the right and who in the wrong, like all of us they no doubt learned the crucial importance of being in the right from the arguments between mum and dad.

Global warming, refugees, abortion, homosexuality, Donald Trump activism is stoked by a desire to have a satisfied conscience about being in the right. People today long so much to feel good about themselves and to be free from accusation, blame, shame or guilt.

The foundational problem for our culture, and even across the Church, that after 500 years of resting on a message that proclaimed rightness with God through faith the gospel message is increasingly marginalised. Someone came back recently grieved from a cathedral service recently because the message was all about how to be a “good person”.

In other places you’re more likely to hear a sermon on leadership, ministry, gifting, prosperity etc. none of which is God’s good news. Youth suicide, self-harming in children, substance abuse, escalating anxiety and depression and a general groundlessness about life will keep growing without a recovery of the gospel.

No person, young or old, should ever have to live with the torment of being their own judge and jury. The biblical message of the righteousness of God is the remedy to this dread condition.

People may be well meaning but about the deeper matters of the human condition they are often foolish.

All these programmes being backed by government, just think “Question Time” shouting in parliament, programmes to stop bullying through social media, in the workplace etc., will fail because only Jesus is powerful enough to deal with sin, righteousness and judgement (John 16:8-10 ESV) Paul is passionate about God’s righteousness because by it the Lord has vindicated his own reputation (Rom 3:25-26 ESV) and liberated humanity from enslavement to evil powers?

Paul knew that the fledgling church in Rome needed the encouragement of this message, which dominates the first half of Romans (Rom 2:16 ESV).

The power of the gospel is that it puts us in the right with God/justified by faith (Rom 1:17 ESV).

The New Testament expounds we are right with God not by anything we contribute but by sharing in Jesus’ own righteousness (1 Cor 1:30 ESV; 2 Cor 5:21 ESV; 1 John 4:17 ESV; 1 Tim 3:16 ESV).

Knowing that we will stand before God the Judge (Rom 5:2 ESV; 1 Cor 15:1 ESV) blameless on the Day of Judgement (Eph 1:4 ESV; Phil 1:10 ESV; Col 1:22 ESV) means we can withstand the judgement of mere mortals, whether other people or our own faulty consciences (Heb 13:6 ESV; 1 John 3:20 ESV)!

EXPOSITION 

LETTER TO THE ROMANS

Romans 1:8-17 ESV:

vs.8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. vs.9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you vs.10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. vs.11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— vs.12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. vs.13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. vs.14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. vs.15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

vs.16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. vs.17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 

He starts this section of the letter with joyful thanks to God (v.8) for the faith of the Roman Christians, and in so doing acknowledges faith is a gift from heaven (cf. Rom 10:17 ESV; Phil 1:29 ESV). He longs with his whole heart (vv.10) to visit the Church of Rome so that they may become spiritually stronger through his ministry.  This is a zeal (v.11) we should share (Acts 14:22 ESV; Acts 18:23 ESV).

The spiritual strength Paul has in mind isn’t measured by numbers but by an ability to faithfully obey God in all the circumstances of life (Rom 1:5; 16:26 ESV). Helping others grow in faith is always an encouragement among Christians (v.12).  

This leads to some sharp questions. “Is St Marks a ‘strong’ Church……?”; and are you praying for opportunities to help others grow in faith? Any inability to confidently answer the second question exposes a need to grow in the power of the gospel.

Paul’s “obligation” and “eagerness” to preach to the Romans (vv. 14-15) doesn’t make him like some of the preachers that frequent Hay St Mall or the young men in white shirts who knock uninvited on the front door to evangelise us. Since his gospel proclaims the free gift of guiltlessness before God he wasn’t motivated by guilt to tell people about Jesus.

His inner constraint to “preach the gospel(1 Cor 9:16 ESV cf. 2 Cor 5:14 ESV; Jer 20:9 ESV) comes because its message has so seized his heart that he couldn’t be keep silent about such great things (Phil 3:12 ESV; Col 1:28 ESV).  

Anyone without this inner compulsion of grateful love to share Jesus is either unconverted or a Christian who doesn’t understand the greatness of what it means to be right with God.

Hopefully our next two verses, which present the theme of Romans, will clarify where we stand.

vs.16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek [everyone]. vs.17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.

We know that Paul was not “ashamed of the gospel” because everywhere he went he spoke it out. I love this quote from Charles Spurgeon, the greatest of all Baptist preachers, “Do you not know…what God’s estimate of the gospel is?  Do you not know that it has been the chief subject of His thoughts and acts from all eternity? 

He looks on it as the grandest of all His works.”  If God thinks his gospel is so great he can we be so quiet about the message of Jesus (Rom 1:1 ESV). In our hearts we already know the answer, guilt and shame silence us.

David’s life provides a wonderful testimony about how God’s righteousness in forgiving sin breaks the power of the guilt and shame (cf. Ps 32:1 ESV). After committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband he called out desperately to the Lord; “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.(Ps 51:14 ESV).

When the conscience stricken cry out to God he does graciously pardon and they do freely speak of his righteous ways in forgiving sin (Acts 4:20 ESV). Anyone liberated from sin’s guilt and shame spontaneously testifies of divine goodness.

This is the outworking of “the power of God for salvation”.

What’s the past sin whose dark memory you can’t get free of?

Cry out to the Lord (don’t be moderate) about your condition in the name of Jesus and he will cleanse you (cf. Isa 1:18 ESV).

How big is the salvation the gospel brings…?

Is there anyone here today who is partly saved; are some of us saved by the skin of our teeth?

Do you need to wait until you die to find out if you’re saved?

These are very human questions but they all deny the limitless measure of the righteous power of God in the death and resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor 1:18 ESV; Eph 1:19 ESV).

The salvation the gospel of Christ brings delivers us from the final power, penalty and pollution of sin and from the judgement and wrath of God (Rom 3:21-25 ESV; Rom 5:9 ESV).

The gospel saves us from our lost, hopeless state (Luke 19:10 ESV; 1 Cor 1:18 ESV; Eph 2:12 ESV) and by its power always changes lives for the better.

I was asked to give a testimony at a meeting on Tuesday night. Part of what I shared described how Jesus healed me from being a paranoid depressive suffering from a range of psychosomatic illnesses.

This powerful salvation, Paul tells us, if for all who “believe”. But what is faith?

First, what faith isn’t. “Faith” isn’t mere mental agreement to a set of ideas, James says of this sort of nominal faith, “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this…” (2:19).

True faith involves submission to the will of God; ““not what I will, but what you will.”” said Jesus in Gethsemane (Mark 14:36 ESV). Most basically faith is heartfelt trust in Jesus to be the Lord of your life (Rom 10:9 ESV). When I was a young believer I used to hear a lot of teaching about having more faith, but they never seemed to tell me how I could grow in faith.

This caused me a lot of anguish feelings of spiritual inferiority as I never seemed to measure up to the faith of the preachers. But I will never forget what my theological college lecturer used to say, in rather academic language, “Faith is conditioned by its object.

The reality of faith comes from who you put your faith in; a chair to support you, a friend to there for you or a spouse to love you to the end. The all sufficiency of Christian faith derives from the revelation of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The gospel revelation of “the righteousness of God” communicates what he has done to savingly bring us into a right relationship with himself (Mic 6:5 ESV; 7:9 ESV; Isaiah 46:13 ESV; Isaiah 51:5–8 ESV). It’s what he’s done in sending Jesus to die and be raised for us that our sins might be forgiven and we are justified in his sight (Rom 4:1-8 ESV).

The Father didn’t do the right thing by us in Christ and then leave us to work things out from there by our own intellectual comprehension. The good news of God’s righteousness “is revealed from faith for faith”. “Revelation” happens when God unveils to us his just saving plan (Gal 1:12 ESV).

All you need to do to be right with God is to believe the gospel.

Why only faith?

Why not faith plus good living? Because true faith is a heart level trust with brings with it the whole of a person’s life (Eph 2:8-10 ESV).

Paul ends with a quotation from Habakkuk 2:4 ESV about the radical graciousness of God’s righteous saving work; “as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Those whose righteousness is expressed in faith find life in God, now and forever.

APPLICATION AND CONCLUSION

Everyone is already in a relationship with God; it’s just that the vast majority are in a wrong relationship with God.

In an age where the prevailing social conscience has been so corrupted as to call evil good and good evil (Isa 5:20 ESV) we desperately need an outbreak of the revelation of the righteousness of God.

Only by exposure to the inexpressibly wonderful truth of what God has done to save us in Christ can people realise that they have wrongfully rejected a relationship with the true God and placed themselves under his judgement (Rom 1:18-32 ESV).

The leading edge of the gospel is the marvellous death and resurrection of Jesus, but following it is the command to turn and have faith in God’s promises (Acts 2:38 ESV; 17:30-31 ESV).

A true response of faith excludes what the New Testament calls “works” as a basis for salvation.

In Paul’s time these “works” included circumcision, food laws and keeping the Sabbath (Rom 3:20 ESV; 27-28 ESV; 4:2 ESV ff. etc).

Today we must not think being good living, or going to church, or reading the Bible, evangelism, social justice etc. contribute to our salvation. “Faith plus” thinking denies the all sufficiency of the death and resurrection of Jesus and shows we urgently need a revelation of the unlimited justice of God in Christ.

To be converted and to keep growing as Christians we all need revelation of the righteousness of God in the gospel. As a practical response to this part of Romans we would be wise to act on the counsel of Martin Luther, “Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do.

In the power of the gospel let us not be ashamed to ask God for faith – now! 

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 22nd July, 2018

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE YouTube or PODCAST: 22nd July, 2018 

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Under the Canopy of Heaven 6. Heaven and the Holy Spirit 

INTRODUCTION

In tonight’s teaching on “the canopy of heaven”
I want to pick up a neglected topic, Heaven and the Holy Spirit.

We naturally think of our “heavenly Father”, and Jesus is obviously no longer on earth. But we struggle to locate the Holy Spirit in any way.

This thinking has some biblical support, e.g. vs.7Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? vs.8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” (Psalm 139:7-8), but overall lacks careful investigation of the text of scripture..

Peter finds it important to tell his readers of, “the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven” (1 Pet 1:12).

An expression which reminds us of the events on the Day of Pentecost; “And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house….And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:2, 4).

In the narrative of Acts, the Spirit now linked heaven and earth because Jesus had ascending into heaven (Acts 1:11) as the exalted Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).

THE SPIRIT OF JESUS

THE PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Peter’s preaching at Pentecost doesn’t dwell on the ministry of the Spirit but on that of Jesus. Explaining the source of the phenomenon of tongues he restifies, vs.32This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.vs.33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit,he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.” (Acts 2:32-33)

That Jesus is the giver of the Spirit is taught throughout scripture (Matt 3:11; Luke 24:49; John 7:39; John 20:22; Acts 2:33; Acts 8:17). It is much rarer however to ask why this us.

The unique relationship which has come into being between the glorified humanity of Jesus and the Spirit is clearly conveyed in John’s words, “as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (Jn 7:39). The glorified Christ will send the Spirit because as Geoffrey Bingham wrote, the Holy Spirit “has become ‘the Spirit of the man’ (ie. the man Jesus, the man now exalted and glorified).”

The Father has given the Spirit to the exalted Jesus to glorify him and establish him as Lord of all (John 3:34-35; Acts 2:36; Acts 10:36; Rom 10:12; Rev 17:14; 19:16). This is why it is Jesus unrestrainedly poured out the Spirit on the Church.

THE GIFT OF THE SPIRIT

The gift of the Spirit is an expression of the Lordship endowed upon the Son by the Father. (Phil 2:6-11; Rom 14:9; Acts 2:36). It is also a sign of his deity, because n the Old Testament it is always God who pours out the Spirit (e.g. Isa 32:15; Isa 44:3; Ezek 39:29; Joel 2:28-29; Zech 12:10).

That the exalted Jesus is the “director” of the Spirit is most pronounced in the visions of Revelation which use the expression “7 spirits (of God)” (Rev 1:4; Rev 3:1; Rev 4:5; Rev 5:6) to emphasise the fullness, power, purity and holiness of the Spirit located before God’s throne in heaven.

The background is the “seven eyes” in Zechariah representing the eyes of Yahweh (which range throughout the whole earth Zech 3:9; Zech 4:10b cf. 2 Chron 16:7-9). The promise is of a divine deliverance, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” (Zech 4:6).

The expression “7 spirits of God” makes it clear that the Spirit is in full unity with God and not part of the creation. The Spirit in fact lovingly watches over all creation.

At the commencement of the letters to the seven churches Jesus is introduced as “the one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars” (Rev 3:1).

Jesus has the seven-fold anointing (Isa 11:2) which is the  source of the fire which burns on the lampstands of the churches (Rev 1:20) so that they might bear illuminated witness to his truth.

In chapter 4 John is taken into the heavenly throne room of God and sees, “before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God” (Rev 4:5).

Fire is a regular symbol for judgement in the Old Testament (Isa 4:4; Isa 33:14; Malachi 3:2) and John the Baptist had prophesied that Messiah would “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt 3:11; Luke 3:17).

The Spirit is heaven’s agency to bring divine judgement on the earth.

This is supported by various biblical texts; “he (the anointed one) shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath (ruah) of his lips he shall kill the wicked.” (Isa 11:4); “then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath (pneuma) of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.” (2 Thess 2:8).

SWORD OF CHRIST’S MOUTH

The sword of Christ’s mouth when he returns is a sword of judgement (Rev 1:16; Rev 2:12, 16; Rev 19:15), and it is “the sword of the Spirit…the word of God” (Eph 6:17).  

It is important to note that the fire in Revelation 4 is released upon the earth in response to the prayers of the saints (Rev 8:4-5).

But he does this at the behest of the Lamb; for we read of John’s vision of God’s throne room in Revelation 5, “I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” (Rev 5:6). Having been victorious in death and resurrection the Lamb now directs the eyes and spirits of God. In a dynamic sense the Spirit of God has become the Spirit of the Lamb.

With the glorification of the Lamb the Spirit is no longer confined to the throne room in heaven but is “sent out into all the earth” to act powerfully on behalf of the Lamb’s beleaguered people (cf. 2 Chron 16:7-9).

Whilst Jesus and the Father remain enthroned in heaven the Spirit is commissioned is to enact the Lamb’s victory in the world through the Church by fullness of divine power. This is particularly true through the Spirit’s gift of prophecy.

SPIRIT OF PROPHECY

Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

John 15:26

As we saw last week God has a plan to unite heaven and earth (Eph 1:9-10). Prophets are called to declare the plan (Jer 23:18, 22; Am 3:7) and to warn the people of God against the idolatries, injustices and deceptive teachings which would prevent them from carrying out the plan.

This relates especially to beliefs and behaviours which would incite the judgement of God e.g. Deut 28:15-68. This order is clear from the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation, with its warnings of judgements against sin unless the people repent e.g. Rev 2:5; 16; Rev 3:3, 19.

In the very broadest sense prophecy has to do with “the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 1:2, 9; Rev 12:17; Rev 19:10; Rev 20:4). Best understood as primarily Jesus’ witness to himself rather than our testifying to Jesus. It is the essential nature of the Holy Spirit to bear witness to Christ.

The Spirit of God has always been the inspirer of the prophets (Num 24:3-4; 1 Sam 10:6-10; 2 Sam 23:1ff; Micah 3:8; Joel 2:28ff; Acts 11:28; Acts 13:2; Acts 21:4, 11;1 Cor 12:10; Eph 3:5) enabling them to speak about the death and glorification of the Anointed One (1 Pet 1:10-11).

Jesus himself said, ““But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” (John 15:26).

The Word of God and the Spirit of God are in the closest possible relationship, a relationship that is communicated to inspired men and women because the Spirit has been taken into Jesus.

This is not to be thought of as some external transaction, for the Spirit has been perfectly internalised in the humanity of the Son of God through his sacrificial obedience (Luke 24:26).

Since the glorification of Jesus what the Spirit says is what the exalted heavenly Christ is saying. What Jesus heard from the Spirit he spoke on earth, now what the Spirit hears from Jesus in heaven he speaks to the Church.

The order of the relationship between incarnate Son and Spirit is reversed from what it was in the Gospels. In the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation, Jesus addresses each congregation, then we are told, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; Rev 3:6, 13, 22).

Whilst the whole of Revelation is a testimony of heavenly things seen “in the Spirit” (Rev 1:10-11; Rev 4:2; Rev 17:3; Rev 21:10) it is Jesus who makes the contents of the book known to the apostle John. “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John” (Rev 1:1; Rev 22:16).

The Spirit is not a part of the chain of revelation, God-Christ-angel-John. He makes possible the visionary experience of the seer by suspending his normal consciousness enabling John to receive the revelation.  John’s normal sensory experience was replaced by visions and auditions given him by the Spirit in a “trance” (cf. Acts 10:10; Acts 11:5; Acts 22:17).

The Spirit creates a state in which a believer is open to the revelation and reception of divine truth (Which is signified by the image of light in scripture e.g. John 1:4-5, 9; John 3:20; John 8:12; Acts 13:47; Acts 26:23; 2 Cor 4:6; Eph 3:9; Eph 5:8; Phil 2:15; Rev 1:20; Rev 3:1.). The result is faithful witness to Jesus carried out “in” the Spirit (e.g. John 15:26-27; Acts 1:8; Rev 1:2, 9; Rev 6:9; Rev 12:11, 17; Rev 20:4).

Inspired prophetic oracles in which John speaks Christ’s words to the churches are “in the Spirit”, even where he is not mentioned (Rev 16:15; Rev 22:7, 12-13, 16, 20). Likewise, where the Spirit speaks words to the churches it can only be “in Christ” (Rev 14:13b; Rev 22:17a).  To “be filled with the Spirit” and to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” are interchangeable because of the communion between Christ and Spirit (Eph 5:18; Col 3:16).

SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS

SPRINGS OF LIVING WATER

John 4:13-14

It is in the Spirit that we enjoy all the blessing of the new life of Christ. (Christ’s own new and glorified life is the basis for our new life in him.)

When Paul thanks “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:3), he means blessings that belong to the realm of the Spirit of God. (cf. Rom 1:11; 1 Cor 12:1; 1 Cor 14:1, 37; Gal 6:1; Eph 5:19; Col 1:9; 3:16).

Whatever blessings Jesus has from the Father have been imparted to him by the Spirit (cf. Rom 1:4; Rom 8:11; 1 Tim 3:16; 1 Pet 3:18) and then in the Spirit to us.

The riches of the love, joy, peace etc. that come to us in the Spirit are a share in the heavenly life of Jesus (John 15:11; Rom 5:5; 1 Pet 1:8). “Spiritual” doesn’t mean ethereal or non-material in opposition to “earthly”.

We are spiritual people because we belong to the Spirit. So “spiritual songs” (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16) are songs inspired by the Spirit, and the “spiritual body” (1 Cor 15:44-46) is a real body but one suited to the supernatural eternal life of the Spirit etc..

The blessings of such rich life in the Spirit are sometimes conveyed symbolically. In John’s writings water is a symbol for the communication of the Spirit.

In John 7:37-39; vs.37Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. vs.38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” vs.39 Now this he said 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.” (Cf. John 4:13-14; “springs of living water”).

It should not be forgotten that in John the death of Jesus is a turning point in his glorification (John 12:23-28; John 13:1; John 17:1-5).

The various references in Revelation to the Lamb guiding his beloved sheep to “springs of living water” and the “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev 7:15-17; Rev 22:1) should be understood as references to the Spirit giving life eternally.

It is the life of the heavenly, glorified God-man Jesus which is poured out by the Spirit into the hearts of believers (cf. Rom 5:5).

HEAVENLY INTERCESSION OF THE SPIRIT

SPIRIT AND THE BRIDE SAY, “COME.”

Rev 22:17

The heavenly Lamb with the “seven horns…seven eyes…the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth” (Rev 5:6) possesses the fullness of God’s power and discernment for the Church’s mission in the whole world. Prayer is central to this mission.

Since the Bible tells us that the heavenly Jesus is interceding for us (Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25) and that “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Rom 8:26) be the  deepest possible communion between the glorified Jesus and the Spirit in the prayer life of the Church.

This is borne out by the prominence of prayer immediately after the Lamb takes the scroll from the hand of God in heaven; “And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Rev 5:8-10).

When the Spirit prays in us he is plumbing the depths of God and praying the complete prayer, the one that is offered in the perfected humanity of Christ (1 Cor 2:10ff; Heb 5:7 –10). The Advocacy of the heavenly Jesus and the Advocacy of the indwelling Spirit turn us into advocates for the cause of Christ’s kingdom on earth (John 14:16). Such prayers will not fail (1 John 5:14-15).

Since “the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” (1 Cor 2:10), this must include the Spirit searching the deep prayers of Jesus. E.g. in John 17, in Gethsemane, and on the cross.

When we come to the end of the Bible we have a picture of the complete unity of Spirit and Church in their mutual longing for the consummation of the cause of Christ; “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” (Rev 22:17). It is not as though there are two intercessors following one after the other, but a united prayer in love for Jesus. The implications of the presence of the heavenly Spirit in the Church are immense.

“What the Spirit prays through the Christian prophets is what the Church in her eschatological purity, ready for the coming of her husband the Lamb (cf. 19:7-8; 21:2) should pray, and so the prayer is ascribed to ‘the Spirit and the Bride’.” (Bauckham)

CHURCH

THE SPIRIT BRINGS HEAVENLY REALITIES TO EARTH

As we are conscious of the Spirit as the pledge and guarantee of our heavenly inheritance (Eph 1:13; 2 Cor 5:5) our heavenly identity becomes real to us. In being “children born of promise… born according to the Spirit” (Gal 4:28-29) we relate to “the Jerusalem above… our mother” (Gal 4:26).

Regeneration by the Spirit is the essential foundation of any real spiritual insight into heavenly things. “vs.3 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God…. vs.6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit…. vs.12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?”” (John 3:3, 6, 12)

In Christ the Church is being built as “a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph 2:22). as she enjoys communion with the heavenly temple, a temple whose worshippers are witnesses (Rev 11:1-3) charged with the task of being built up in the faith and expressing the Lordship of the ascended Christ in all things (Eph 4:7ff.).

That the two witnesses in Revelation 11 stand for churches is clear because they are called “lampstands” (cf. Rev 1:20; 2:5).

The Church as a witnessing temple is a prophetic community making known the presence and power of her King through proclamation, sign, suffering-death, resurrection and ascension (Rev 11:4-14). The Church recapitulates the life of Jesus in the glory of the Spirit making all of God’s people prophets (Rev 11:18).

Every dimension of the life of the Church is to be Spirit-filled. The Spirit builds (1 Cor 3:16f; 1 Cor 14:12); inhabits (1 Cor 6:19); directs (Acts 13:2 -4; Acts 15:28; Acts 16:6 -7); appoints leaders (Acts 20:28); gifts (1 Cor 12- 14; Eph 4:7- 14); unifies (1 Cor 12:4, 7; Eph 4:3) and extends (Acts 8:29) the Church.

The shape of the life of the people of God is faithful testimony through suffering and apparent defeat. This form of life bears effective witness to the whole world (Rev 11:9-13; Isa 24:6; Isa 26:21) as a communication of the gospel of Christ. It also provokes repentance in a remnant of humanity (Rev 11:13 cf. Rev 16:9).The Spirit works with Christ, the Father and the Church rather than working alone.

(In Revelation  he prefers to work with other characters (God, Jesus, the apostle John, the churches). His co-agency, actively Rev 3:1; Rev 4:5; Rev 5:6, or passively Rev 1:4, 10; Rev 4:2, Rev 17:3; Rev 19:10; Rev 21:10, appears much more frequently than his personal action (Rev 11:11) or being acted on (Rev 5:6).). The one place where the Spirit acts directly is in raising the faithful witnesses who have been killed for their testimony to Jesus; “after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet” (Rev 11:11). This is a resurrection.

An afflicted Church desperately needs the words of end-time comfort and ethical injunction that comes from the Spirit to strengthen her obedience; vs.12Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. vs.13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labours, for their deeds follow them!”” (Rev 14:12-13).

Through Christ the Spirit is our wonderful Counsellor (cf. Isa 9:6). He is also a motivator to evangelism and mission.

It is as the Church hears the longing of the Spirit that she joins in inviting others to come to Jesus.  “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” (Rev 22:17). The Spirit is the one who in answer to the prayers of the Lamb and his saints creates a thirst in the lost for the things of God.

CONCLUSION

SONS OF NEW OIL

Zech 4:14

From the perspective of the throne of God in heaven at the centre of all things is “a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” (Rev 5:6).

This threefold 7 (horns, eyes, spirits) means that the crucified and glorified Jesus has all power, wisdom and fullness of Spirit to enact the plan of God on earth through the Church.

It is the Spirit who is the agent of all the works of Christ e.g. regeneration (John 3:5-6; Tit 3:5) adoption (Rom 8:14-16; Gal 4:6) sanctification (Gal 5:22-23; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2) and glorification (1 Cor 15:44, 46).

He incorporates us into the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13), empowers prayer (Acts 4:23-24; Rom 8:26; Eph 6:18; Jude 20) and enables worship (John 4:23-24; Acts 10:46; Eph 5:18-19; Phil 3:3).

As members of a Church raised, seated and blessed with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph 1:3, 20; Eph 2:6) we are called to share in the fullest possible extent in the glorious life of Jesus.

for one who is ‘in Christ’… his human nature …exists not just alongside of the Creator, but in such a way that his human being is anchored in the very being of God. The breath taking import of all this … is that our human nature has been taken up and in Jesus to the top and summit of being, and that with him and in him man is located in the very centre of all things!” (T.F. Torrance).

To appreciate such glorious things comes through a revelation that we have been given the Holy Spirit from heaven. Only the Spirit can reveal to us that in Christ we now share in the inner relationships of God (1 Cor 2:10f; 2 Pet 1:4).

We know God by indwelling God, and being indwelt by God, this happens through the gift of the Spirit “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” (1 John 4:13)

If we “have the Spirit” (Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 7:40) it is because we are in communion with the glorified Jesus in his having of the Spirit (Rev 3:1; Rev 5:6). This means that all that the Spirit imparted to Christ can flow through our lives; the Church is essentially a place of heavenly revelations, prophetic witness, worship and prayers and empowerment to take the gospel to the whole world.

As at the End rivers of life flow from the throne of God and the Lamb to bring healing to the nations (Rev 22:1-3), Jesus prophesied such waters of the Spirit’s restoring power would flow through us (John 7:37-39) bearing witness to the glorification of Jesus. This is our essential testimony.

In fulfilment of the prophecies of Zechariah, we are in Christ, the fully anointed one, “sons of new oil” (Zech 4:14) signifying by life and deed the coming of a new creation.

If what the scriptures teach about the heavenly Holy Spirit and the life of the Church seems largely untrue to our experience we need to ask in what way do we not believe in Jesus (John 7:37).

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 26th August, 2018 Alive@5

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE YouTube or PODCAST: 26th August, 2018