When Peter describes false teachers as “waterless springs and mists driven by a storm” he means they promise nourishment but produce nothing. (2 Pet 2:17). These are our times, times marked by widespread failure to understand the structure of divine revelation. Because the teaching we are used to is sub-apostolic it has failed to inspire the Church to mission through disclosing “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8). Only a revival of genuine apostolic ministry can heal our spiritual impoverishment.
In the Beginning
The first step in God’s plan isn’t creation but an eternal decree concerning “the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8 cf. Eph 1:4; 2 Tim 1:9; 1 Pet 1:19-20).
The Father’s decision for Jesus to die is foundational to his making of the world. The Son would steward this plan by being sent into the world as the express image of God revealing the Father of love through the sacrifice of Calvary (John 3:16; Col 1:15).
The second step of the divine plan involves the creation of the first humans.
A Cause Lost
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion…over all the earth….male and female he created them….”” (Gen 1:26-28).
Adam and Eve were created in the likeness of God and sent into the world so that through their descendant’s wise rule over creation the revelation of God’s loving character would fill everything.
The fulfilment of this apostolic commission was however dependent upon their obedience to the divine command; ““of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”” (Gen 2:17).
Satan too had a plan for humanity, one that was the mirror image of the LORD’s.
By entering into a new form of God-likeness through dominion over the tree of knowledge, Adam and Eve would receive the revelation of “good and evil” empowering them to live forever.
Through believing the devil’s lie fallen humanity lost sight of the revelation of the plan of God (Rom 1:25; 1 Tim 2:14).
Instead of seeking the glory of God self-glorification has become the driving force for living (Rom 2:7-8). The root of such self-seeking lies in a denial of divine fatherhood.
Who Sent You?
Since Adam and Eve were both sent into the world to rule over it, and Adam is explicitly called “son of God”, when Satan appeared in Eden he should have immediately been interrogated with the question, “Who sent you, who is your father?” (Gen 1:26-28; Luke 3:38).
The devil would have been left wordless and it would have been revealed to Adam and Eve that he was speaking on his own authority and seeking his own glory. Living in their authority of being sent by God to exercise dominion over all “creeping things” they could have unified the serpent with God’s plan to rule all things in heaven and earth (Gen 1:26; 3:1).
If this had happened the first couple would have been immediately glorified in knowing the Father through faith in his Word. Instead of living apostolically however they had communion with the snake and took on his likeness as a fallen creature, one who lives for himself, who lives a lie (John 8:44).
Only the coming of the True Son can undo this perversion of the plan of God.
Satan’s attacks on God’s people, like Adam, Job, David and Peter, are designed to prove that humans are as self-seeking as himself (Gen 3; Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; 1 Chron 21:1; Luke 22:31-32).
His “demands” to sort and sift humanity are the very opposite of the humble requests of a true son of God who constantly lives in voluntary submission to the will of his Father.
It is Jesus’ obedience as the Lamb of God taking away our sin which reveals that submission to suffering is the essence of S/sonship and the way to reveal the Father (John 1:29; 5:6).
Christ’s words, “The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.” describe the nature of all spiritual truth (John 7:18).
Just as he had in Eden, Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness to seek a glory for himself, rather than for God (Matt 4:1-11).
Christ rejected such enticements because his eyes were set on bringing honour to the Father in the way of the cross (John 12:27-32).
Through suffering love for the one who sent him Jesus perfects in himself the revelation of the apostolic truth of the love of God (John 3:16; 14:6; Heb 2:10). It is now up to the Church to complete this mission for which Christ was sent into the world.
Reveal the Mystery
Paul describes his apostolic/sent ministry as a stewardship of the mystery of God’s plan of revelation (Eph 3:2-3, 9).
The purpose of this ministry is “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” (3:10).
By following in Jesus’ way of making known the glory of God through suffering the Church demonstrates to evil powers in the heavenly places that the authentic image of God is pure, good and sincere (1 Tim 1:5).
These powers are defeated as we share in the fellowship of the suffering love of Christ crucified in the cause of the gospel (Phil 3:10).
To be overcome in this way is both the place the demonic realm retains in God’s plan and why the Church is pivotal in the revelation of the mystery of the divine purpose. In suffering love the Church manifests a quality of life which alone is eternal and unfathomable fathomed to any power of evil (Eph 3:8). This is the true greatness of the Church abiding in apostolic truth.
All contemporary apostolic claims can be tested by the question Adam should have asked in Eden; ““Who sent you, who is your Father?”” (1 Cor 4:15; Rev 2:2).
Since real apostles are “stewards of the mysteries of God” they will testify to the mystery of the plan of God perfected in the suffering of his Son (1 Cor 4:1).
Because so few ministries today are genuinely apostolic the Church lacks “mature manhood…the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Acts 20:27; Eph 4:13).
Like popular psychology, eastern meditation and occult understanding many ministries want to unveil to us the best possible plan for our lives NOW rather than revealing the secret of God’s plan for his eternal glory!
No wonder most modern Christians are turned in on themselves and are failing the apostolic commission of being sent into the world (Matt 28:18-20).
The Western Church has been taught of the devil to “demand” of God his riches rather than live in the way of true sonly submission (Luke 22:31).
The people of God must repent of the mindset which asks, “Is this the message I have been waiting for?”
It’s time to join with Paul in his prayer, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,” (Eph 1:17).
Those who sincerely pray this way will surely receive apostolic truth.
MESSAGE DELIVERED: 07.11.16 |
Author: Dr. John Yates