Revival Studies 2. The Spirit and Revival

Part 1.
Earnest Prayer
17 March 2019

Part 2.
The Spirit and Revival
17 March 2019

Part 3.
Fullness is Christ
24 March 2019


Part 4.
Beautifying the Bride
15 April 2019

Part 5.
The End of Revival
28 April 2019

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

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

Zinzendorf

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

Barth

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

Lost Glory in Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus and the Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spirit and Church

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

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

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

Bishop Festo Kivingere describes the East African revival,

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

Bishop Festo Kivingere

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

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

Why Revival Tarries

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

24th March 2019.

References   [ + ]

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

The Thankful Foreigner (Healing of the 10 Lepers)

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

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

Luke 17:11-19 ESV

Introduction

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

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

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

Exposition

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is anyone beyond God’s redeeming power…?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Has anything changed?

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

Would the Jews of the day now accept him…?

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

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

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

Most Christian people take the gifts of God for granted.  

But is faith without thanksgiving real faith at all?

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

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

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

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

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

References   [ + ]

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

Revival Studies 3. Fullness is Christ

Part 1.
Earnest Prayer
17 March 2019

Part 2.
The Spirit and Revival
17 March 2019

Part 3.
Fullness is Christ
24 March 2019


Part 4.
Beautifying the Bride
15 April 2019

Part 5.
The End of Revival
28 April 2019

.


Eph 1:15-22; 3:14-4:13

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

Bingham

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

Richard Owen Roberts

Introduction

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

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

Fullness for Creation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fulness is Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fulness as Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blocks to fullness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

This is true revival and it has no limits.

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

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

17th March 2019.

References   [ + ]

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

Revival Studies 1. Earnest Prayer

Part 1.
Earnest Prayer
17 March 2019

Part 2.
The Spirit and Revival
17 March 2019

Part 3.
Fullness is Christ
24 March 2019


Part 4.
Beautifying the Bride
15 April 2019

Part 5.
The End of Revival
28 April 2019

.


Acts 2:1-11; Luke 22:39-46

 

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

J Edwin Orr

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

Geoffrey Bingham
SOME HISTORY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Introduction

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

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

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

The Praying of Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Releasing Earnest Prayer in the Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jonathan Edwards said

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer as Sacrifice

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion and Application

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

17th March 2019.

References   [ + ]

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

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

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

The Church Under Attack – A Church Equipped for The Times

What do we need to do now, this year?

What/who do we need to be?

How to respond to attack?

The question “what’s next, Lord?

exercises my mind frequently as I guess it does yours.

One of our themes in our early morning prayer group is

• Mourning – for the suffering Church

• Grief for our nation

• Excitement for tomorrow

• Joy for today

This theme highlights the tensions between sadness and Joy. All four of these emotions can co-exist and I think should. I discovered quite recently that CS Lewis had the insight that his early books and writings after becoming a Christian were mainly apologetic – the defence of Christianity – and that this was very heavy and he made a deliberate attempt to write about the joy of following Christ and less about the defence of Christianity.

So, there are the tensions between grief and joy, between fighting and resting, between despair and excitement, between exercising the Mind of Christ given to us and Holy Spirit inspiration, and the co-existence of these emotions and activities.

OK, so back to our topic of the Church under attack – equipped for the times

We need then – at the very least – to understand our times. There’s that almost throw-away verse (1 Chron 12:32 esv) when David was fleeing from Saul when the men from Issachar “who understood the times and knew what to do” came on side to David. The text doesn’t say the same thing about the others in the immediate context. Maybe the men of Issachar were better informed of the reality of the situation and what needed to be done more than most.

But there is only so much that you need to know – sometimes it can be too much depending on your own life experiences. See More than we need to know.

So, understanding the times; knowing the need to respond and knowing how to respond.

Well I reckon this church is probably more aware and better able in knowing what to do. So, a pat on the back, a tick, a commendation to Darlington Christian Fellowship.

What are the times? The threats and challenges we are facing as a church body?

Allow me to recap and summarise. Challenges vary with different ages and in different parts of the world. You might well say “what is the point as I can’t do anything” but at least you then know how to pray intelligently and this is anything but “least” – it is probably the greatest, so keep listening – but it does get overwhelming and our prayers can become groans but God understands that and hears our groans. There are times when we have to leave the fighting to Gabriel and Michael.

Small (but eternal) picture: our kids are increasingly exposed to temptations seemingly approved by community and increasingly mandated by bad government – “Safe Schools” and “Respectful Relationships” now rebadged yet again as “Inclusive Education”; increasing control over what we teach in our homes – even “around the kitchen table” which is where Professor Gillian Triggs the previous Chair of the AHRC wanted to get – and schools. Erosion of family values. Transgender “rights” with mutilating surgery. The urgency is now.

Bigger national (also eternal) picture: increasing restriction on freedom of speech; freedom of conscience and expression of conscience; freedom of belief – freedoms mandated in international covenants. We are currently observing the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in which these freedoms are mandated and to which Australia is a signatory. Progressive devaluation of the intrinsic value of human life as created in the Image of God evidenced by the promotion of abortion – even more extreme – and euthanasia, viable babies being “accidentally” born alive after abortion and left to die, embryo selection even for sex of baby (yes, even before “it” has decided what gender it is going to be – so how do the parents know which baby to kill?). Then there’s the surrogacy battle right now and the move to deliberately create the situation for children to be brought up without a biological mother and father by single men – when will it ease? The urgency is now.

International (also eternal) picture: the suffering church; religious/cultural conflicts and persecution of Christian minorities increasing year by year; decay of “western” civilisation and Christian values; the changing roles of the superpowers; the intrinsic enmity between the children of Abraham; the peace of Jerusalem. The urgency is now.

Eternal picture: yes, the great gulf between heaven and hell and the urgency to make known the gift of God in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sin. The urgency is nowWe need to pray that we do not miss an opportunity.

WE NEED A NEW GENERATION WITH

• A new sense of urgency

• A new sense of grief for our nation

• A new sense of reality and the challenges facing us

• A new sense of perspective – for us, between earth and heaven; for others between heaven and hell

• A new sense of the Glory of God and of the glory that awaits us in eternity

And so, we need a new sense of determination (and privilege) to commit ourselves and our nation to God, every hour, every day and including special days when we can join in spirit with each other in this dedication. There are many times for special reasons e.g. before elections!

The Men of Issachar understood the times. Remind yourselves and others of these things and watch tomorrow morning’s paper.

NOW, KNOWING WHAT TO DO

• Sow, Determination, Commitment, hard work in the church, running the race, perseverance, enduring hardship, fearing not

• Jeremiah 12:4-5 (poor Jeremiah) If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?

• Not growing faint or weary and recovering when we do

• Gal 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap

• Isaiah 40:31 …but they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they will…

• Encouraging each other

• Supporting and praying for others on the frontline of the battleprayer warriors; leaders in our mountains of influence and government; those who write submissions and front up to Legislative Committees

• A welcoming church

• Not tolerating evil or false teachers or teaching; solid underpinning of who we are 1 Pet 2:9 and of the Creation Mandate (even hating the Nicolaitans…)

• Christian responsibility in community; speaking truth; with boldness (Acts 3)

• Loving your neighbour – protecting him and his children from the encroaching evil by identifying that evil

• Preparing for the future; memorising scripture; for when the walls have ears, personal and family “around the kitchen table”.

How do we rate? Not bad. Not fantastic, but pretty good nevertheless. Equipped for the future knowing the times and what needs to be done. Feeling good?

Feeling exhausted…

Well, let’s look at a NT church that was doing well.

I know your deeds,
your hard work and
your perseverance. I know that you
cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have
tested those who claim to be apostles but are not,
and have found them false. You
have persevered and have
endured hardships for my name, and
have not grown weary.

And I think you know what’s next

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Rev 1:17-18

And so, of course, the context is Jesus walking among the lampstands of the seven churches in Asia. 

When I (John) saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Rev 2:1-7

vs.1To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. vs.I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. vs.You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

vs.4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. vs.Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. vs.But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate

vs.7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Rev 2:1-7

(The Nicolaitans attempted to establish a compromise with the pagan society of the Graeco-Roman world that surrounded them using Christian liberty as an occasion for the flesh).

BUT. LOST YOUR FIRST LOVE.

What is / was “your first love”? Can you remember?

What does it mean as God’s children individually and together as a family – as the Bride of Christ?

Remembering that this letter is to the Church at Ephesus.

Different for different people. For me aged 13 it was Jesus death on the cross for me that made me commit my life to Him and, by His Grace, I have never reneged on that commitment. Sadly, I have been distracted. By His grace, not for too long. I didn’t have the sense of immediate joy and freedom that others have when burdens and guilt have been lifted. For me it was a surrender of myself knowing the price that he paid for my sin – so, sense of forgiveness, surrender, dedication to this great love, “I am your servant”, even Your son, Jesus is my brother, a great sense of belonging.

So, what was your first love?

Was it purely intellectual – like CS Lewis “the most reluctant convert in all England” pursued by the Hound of Heaven until persuaded (the joy came later) – or was it something more “wonderful” in terms of relief from guilt, freedom from bondage.

Many hymns might come to mind including Charles Wesley

Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should’st die for me

Two weeks ago at the Franklin Graham meeting in Perth the song group sang “what can wash away my sin?” and the people in the pit sang back “nothing but the blood of Jesus” to all the questions. So, a sense of wonder and amazement “tis mystery all” to the God who sent His Son to die on our behalf.

So, do you know what it was? Maybe you have never lost it – I hope so – or maybe you’ve recently regained it – I hope that too. What might it have meant for the Church?

But if we have lost our first love individually and as a family, how did it happen?

Well for the “keen” Christian sometimes it is just being too busy in Kingdom work when the need is just so great dividing it between

• Workplace; including people at work we need to develop relationships with

• Family – nurturing relationships with spouse and children and seeking to bring kids up in God’s way, teaching them memory verses, encouraging in sports

• Community – schools, parent involvements, developing relationships, loving your neighbour in the full sense of responsibility to warn of dangers

• Church – even prayer meetings that we should support including the people who sacrifice time to arrange and run the prayer meetings

All of these demands being good and right and proper but are competitive for time. Sometimes our prayer might be “Dear God, let me off the wheel.” (Poor Jeremiah.)

HOW DO WE REFRESH?

Individually and collectively as God’s people, as His Church, as His Bride! So that the lampstand of the Church will not be removed.

Remember – “consider how you have fallen”. Do you/we as a wider Church family need to consider this further, where we have fallen? In what areas?  Ponder that this week…

Repent – of our lukewarmness, of all the things that distract us “let us fix our eyes upon Jesus who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame” Heb 12:1,2

Tell Jesus you’ve grown cold (quoting from somewhere). Tell Him you’ve entertained other loves. Repent for not loving Him as He deserves. He stands ready to forgive and restore.

Too often we are happy, too content, making mud pies – enjoying the pleasures of this earth – instead of experiencing and knowing the wealth of glory. As CS Lewis wrote “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Reading His Word gives a right sense of reverence, perspective, privilege and joy. We listen to Him by reading His word. Learn the passages that are most significant to you and if you can’t learn them at least keep on reading them off your phone or on a piece of paper kept in your pocket.

And just as we need special times together with our spouse to nourish our relationship so also we need special times with Jesus. In the middle of everyday activities there might just be a sense of presence and safety. Then there may be work-times when we are dependent on Him and walking with Him and then there are the concentrated times when we seek – as with Paul – “to know Him”.

The men of Issachar knew what to do – they came onside to David but for us there is an extra level, we may have already committed ourselves to be on side the battle but Jesus calls us to a higher plane to a relationship with Him and to refresh and Renew that relationship on a regular basis, Restore and Re-dedicate. Remember Phil 3:10 “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings”. To know Him and to make Him known.

• Encouraging each other (another “task”), looking after each other, today

• With glimpses of Glory to keep us focussed and keep us worshipping

• SING! Singing praise songs together.

And then that theme we mentioned to start with, co-existing responses with appropriate emotions of

• We mourn – for the suffering Church, for our brothers and sisters

• We feel grief for our nation – Jesus cried over Jerusalem; remember Ezekiel 9 where the angel strikes dead everyone who did not have the mark on the forehead signifying their grief for the city

• We have excitement for tomorrow – “and when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your headsfor your redemption draweth nigh” Lk 21:28

• And we have joy for today

Be Awestruck Every Day…
Jesus, who calls us “brothers”, is our High Priest,
sitting in power and majesty at the right hand of
the throne of God, making intercession for us!!

Incredible!
Every day, remember.  Be awestruck.  Be
grateful.  Be humble.  And persevere in the
knowledge of this amazing fact

Darlington Christian Fellowship 24 Feb 2019.

Original Source: http://www.chooselifeaustralia.org.au/life/the-church-under-attack-a-church-equipped-for-the-times/

Finishing Well Part 4 The Finish of Paul

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

Part 2:
Finishing with Jesus
11 Feb 2019

Part 3:
Finishing in the Spirit
18 Feb 2019

Part 4:
The Finish of Paul
06 March 2019


INTRODUCTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CALL AND CONVERSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE SACRIFICE

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

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

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

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

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

This joy will carry Paul on to finish well.

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

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

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

NOT ARRIVED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE
YouTube or PODCAST:

06th March, 2019.

References   [ + ]

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