Times of great uncertainty are typically paired with great moves of God.
Globally, “the Donald” is the Lord’s Trump card to whip up political instability and fear of economic meltdown.
Nationally, conservative believers remain in trepidation about the rising power of ant-Christian sentiment.
Can the teachings of, say, the conservative Centre for Public Christianity, prepare us for the coming tsunami. Or do our very Pentecostal friends in the Awakening Blaze Prayer Movement and Awakening Australia hold the key for revival.
With a host of prayer groups for different spheres of culture bubbling up across Perth will all this somehow hold together?
Or in a few years time will we look back at a firestorm of spiritual activity that will have burnt out after a couple of years, like the Welsh revival (1904-1905) or Lakeland “revival” (2008), leaving little long term gain?
At present the inflexible wine-skins of many leaders hearts mean any outpouring of the Spirit would surely split the skins and the new wine would be lost (Mark 2:22). Since humility safeguards unity what revelation will safeguard the work of God amongst us?
Surprisingly, it is the humility of the Father.
A HUMBLE FATHER
The scarcity of teaching on God’s humility is a sign that most of our spiritual leaders do not believe this.
Even Bible translations reflect such a bad heart attitude.
Many English versions of Philippians 2:6 have, “though he was in the form of God…. (Christ) humbled himself” (ESV, NLT, NRSV, RSV, TPT).
But the Greek text has no word for “though”.
It is because Jesus shared the “form of God” with his Father that he humbled himself. Everything Jesus knew about humility was taught by his Father. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are essentially and equally humble. If seeing Christ in the way of lowliness you see the Father (John 14:9 ESV).
The father who runs to the returning prodigal is the humble God (Luke 15:20 ESV).
The Father defers to the Son by answering his prayers, granting him authority, and testifying on his behalf (John 3:35 ESV; John 5:22-23, 26-27 ESV; John 6:37, 43-44 ESV; John 11:41-42 ESV; John 12:26 ESV; John 14:10 ESV; John 15:2, 8 ESV).
All wonderfully true, but only the witness of the cross will change our unbelieving hearts.
The despised cruel cross of public humiliation and experienced abandonment meant for Jesus a place of “no reputation” (Phil 2:7 ESV; Heb 12:2 ESV).
But we must see it is God’s reputation as a loving Father which is in tatters as Jesus experiences dereliction (Mark 15:34 ESV) before evil angels and an unbelieving world.
No one at the time looking at the Son’s immeasurable suffering could continue to give the one Jesus called “Father” a good reputation (Luke 24:19-21 ESV).
The Father however was willing to lose his standing in the eyes of creatures because it is his standing in the eyes of his Son alone which counts, whom he will raise from the dead into glory (Heb 2:9 ESV). If Father, Son, and Spirit (where was he when Jesus was in agony?) willingly sacrifice their reputation for us why do we cling to our self-esteem?
We just don’t understand what it means to be in the form and likeness of God’s own being.
All that Jesus receives from God flows from his humbly recognising his absolute origin is in his Father.
He declared without embarrassment, ““the Father has granted the Son also to have life in himself…. I live because of the Father…the Father is greater than I”” (John 5:26 ESV; John 6:57 ESV; John 14:28 ESV).
His commitment to be the Way to the Father, the Truth of the Father and the Life of the Father comes out of a grateful heart of Father-consciousness (John 14:6 ESV). And it means the Father can bestow on his Son his own “name above all names” (Phil 2:9 ESV). That everything that Jesus has comes from his Father has massive implications for our lives. In his dependence on the Father the Son always speaks of him in the Church.
LISTENING TO JESUS
To becoming humble minded like Jesus (Phil 2:5 ESV) we must listen to what he is saying.
Listening to Christ the Word of God means will grow in his image of lowliness (Matt 11:29 ESV).
Here is his testimony, “For he who makes holy (Jesus) and those who are made holy (Christians) are all of one/have one Father…. So Jesus says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”” (Heb 2:11-12 ESV).
Jesus keeps telling us that with him we owe our origin absolutely to the Father.
As he was sent “from above” (John 3:31 ESV) so we are “born from above”1)The usual translation of the relevant Greek word in John’s Gospel, John 3:31 ESV; 19:11 ESV.(John 3:3 ESV).
Knowing this we will like Jesus claim nothing for ourselves and follow him in the humility of the cross (Phil 2:6-7 ESV). What then is blocking the Church as we know it from living in the unity and solidarity such radical humility brings?
LIKE FATHER LIKE SON
Christian leaders who badge themselves with “apostle”, “prophet”, “my church/ministry/vision” cannot breed humble children of God.
The infallible mark of a true father/mother in faith is the production of spiritual offspring stripped of selfish ambition.
James’ is especially helpful; “every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…. the meekness of wisdom…is from above”; this wisdom is opposed to “jealousy and selfish ambition” which bring “disorder and evil of every kind” (James 1:17 ESV; James 3:13 ESV ff).
Only the spiritual children of humble men and women of God can manifest that unselfish freedom from personal ambition which is a prerequisite for lasting revival.
Paul contritely says; “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil 4:9 ESV).
Such “peace” preserves the unity of the Spirit (Eph 4:3 ESV).
Where are our humble peace-makers to lead the Church today?
The endurance of a move of God in Australia hinges on a deeper revelation of the radical humility of God.
As sent by Father and Son the Holy Spirit never profiles himself (Luke 11:13 ESV; John 14:26 ESV; John 16:7 ESV).
The Son’s radical humility in never claiming anything as his own stems from the knowledge that his absolute origin is the Father (John 14:28 ESV).
Finally, the Father knows he cannot be Father without the Son.
To share in the humility of the Father perfected in the humanity of Jesus by the power of the Spirit is a core part of what it means to be conformed to the image of God (Col 3:10 ESV).
This is integral to our reason for being.
All of God’s promises are so that we might “become partners in the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4 ESV).
When the leaders of the Church stop telling us we can be influential, gifted, healthy, wealthy, socially righteous etc, and image and teach the humility of God we can be confident that any emerging revival will not end in divisions and confusion.
But we will only be in that place when we see the Lord raise up fathers/mothers in faith who have lived through a trashing of their reputation or are quite happy for that to happen for the glory of God.
Please pray for such radically humble servant leaders.
MESSAGE DELIVERED: 02nd August, 2018
Author: Dr. John Yates
MESSAGE YouTube or PODCAST: N/A
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||The usual translation of the relevant Greek word in John’s Gospel, John 3:31 ESV; 19:11 ESV.|