17 March 2019
The Spirit and Revival
17 March 2019
Fullness is Christ
24 March 2019
Eph 1:15-22; 3:14-4:13
IntroductionThis 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 him”1)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.1 “the 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.3 “Holy, 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 form”9)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.20 “when 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.22 “put 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.
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
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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|