Resurrection Fear

 2 Sam 7:12-16; Ps 16; 1 Cor 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8

(The church has been working through Mark’s Gospel Sunday by Sunday)

Introduction

Mark has the most surprising testimony to the resurrection of Christ of the four Gospels.

It has no resurrection appearances and the Easter note of rejoicing we anticipate in the face of Jesus’ triumph over death is strikingly absent (Matt 28:8; Luke 24:41; 52).

The last words in Mark, “they were afraid”, are not something any of us would choose to celebrate the greatest day in the Christian calendar. By now however we should recognise Mark’s Jesus doesn’t fit our template for a Messiah.

This is the Gospel where Jesus explains that he teaches in parables so that “those outside” God’s kingdom “‘When they see what I do, they will learn nothing.

When they hear what I say, they will not understand.

Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven.’”  (4:11-12).

This is also the Gospel where Jesus repeatedly tells people he has healed and freed from demonic forces not to tell others about his miraculous ministry (1:43-45; 7:36; 8:29-30; 9:9).

By the time we come to the end of a Gospel where people are regularly amazed at what Jesus does we should expect the unexpected (2:12; 5:42; 6:51).

EXPOSITION

[vv.1-2] [vs.1When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. vs.2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.”]

In the context of the ancient world everything in this story is a surprise. Crucified men were considered worthless and never anointed for burial, but the love of the women in our story for Jesus overcomes every social expectation.

They still considered Jesus, dead as they believed he was, to be a King. Jewish women didn’t count for much in first century culture and were of too low a status to testify in court, but in the new reality created by resurrection the Lord deliberately decided that the first witnesses to his triumph would be the lowly (1 Cor 1:26-29). Mark’s story is already indicating that to enter the space where we are impacted by the power of the resurrection requires a turn of mind radically different from our normal way of thinking. Let me illustrate.

One of my children told me the following true story about the brilliant atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell (who I used to read a lot of as a young man). Russell was once asked what he would say if he found himself standing before God on the judgement day and God asked him, “Why didn’t you believe in Me?”

Typically Russell replied, “I would say, ‘Not enough evidence, God!  Not enough evidence!’” Russell was what folk today call a “smart-arse”.  There is no way that the humble and ordinary women would never describe their first Easter morning experience as “evidence”, they were about to encounter with a reality that surpasses all the parameters of proof in this world’s proofs (Matt 5:3ff.).

[vv.3-4] [vs.3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” vs.4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. vs.5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in ca white robe, and they were alarmed.]

These women deeply loved Jesus but they had no strategy for shifting a stone that weighed as much as an average car. But when they arrived at the tomb they found the stone already rolled away and “entering the tomb” they saw what appeared to be “a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe…”

In different places in scripture heavenly beings take on the form of humans to communicate commands to God’s people (cf. Dan 8:15; 9:21; 10:5, 18).

They have been met by an angel sitting in a posture of authority with his robe shining in the dull tomb with the radiance of the glory of God (cf. Mark 9:3).

Unsurprisingly the women were “alarmed”; imagine visiting the gravesite of a loved one and finding it emptied of the coffin but with and a glowing stranger inside who starts to speak to you. You would shudder in shock just as the women did (cf. 14:33). Something powerful and holy is at work here.

[vv.6] [vs.6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised ; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.”]

There’s no need to be alarmed says the angel, the Jesus you know and love, “Jesus of Nazareth” “who was crucified” “has been raised” (cf. Mark 12:10-11; 14:28).

This testimony the women hear from the angel, “God (has) raised Jesus from the dead”, has become the centrepiece of all gospel preaching, (Acts 2:24; 32; 3:15; 4:10; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 34, 37 etc. cf. 1 Tim 3:16).

We don’t have to use the word “resurrection” every time we talk about Jesus, but every time we talk about Jesus we need the presence of his resurrection power.

The angel continues to reassure the frightened women, “See the place where they laid him.” The point here is that there’s no body.

This is the place that silliness enters onto the scene in discussions of the reality of the resurrection. Sceptics speculate that some unknown person moved Jesus body, or the women had gone to the wrong tomb, or a young man misdirected them and so on.

If all of this was just a matter of human error why didn’t the Jewish authorities who had Jesus crucified simply go to the right tomb drag out the decomposing body and turn the entire Jesus movement into a laughing stock?

Every intellectual objection to the resurrection starts with the assumption that we can apply our normal models of how the universe works to the fate of Jesus. This is to deny the resurrection from the beginning.

[vv.7] [vs.7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”]

The angel commissions the women to “go and tell” the disciples that Jesus wants to meet with them in Galilee.

By God’s always surprising grace the women who have been wordless throughout Mark’s Gospel become the first bearers of the greatest news ever told; and to the apostles, who throughout Mark had considered themselves to be the spiritual experts on the identity of Jesus (Mark 8:31-33). The emphatic, “tell his disciples and Peter” means even someone who has repeatedly denied Jesus can be restored by the power of the resurrection (Mark 14:72).

Have you ever denied Jesus?  

Have you stood by silently when someone who speaks like they’re an expert on spirituality has said something about Jesus, or even Christianity/Church, which you know is not true?

If like Peter you feel you feel like you have failed God’s purposes in your life to testify to Jesus he can heal you like he healed Peter. How did he restore Peter?…By meeting him in his resurrection power.  As I have said to ailing folk again and again, “It’s not over until it’s over.”  And the resurrection testifies that with Jesus it’s never over! Now our story becomes even more exciting.

he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” Earlier in Mark 14(28) Jesus said he’d catch up with the disciples after he was raised from the dead. But they hadn’t put this meeting in their diaries and Mark tells us why, Jesus “was…saying to them, 31The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.” (Mark 9:31-32).

Until they met Jesus raised from the dead the disciples would remain perplexed and fearful of the notion of the resurrection of a dead person in their own lifetime. But by now the women were completely filled with the revelation that everything Jesus had ever told them about himself must come to pass. Now we come to the most difficult part in Mark’s resurrection story for us to receive.

[vv.8] vs.8And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Fear, trembling and astonishment in the presence of the miraculous works and words of Jesus are quite common in Mark but they never draw Christ’s disapproval because they were authentic and appropriate responses to the manifest presence of God (Mark 2:12; 4:41; 5:15, 33, 42; 6:20, 50-51; 9:6, 32; 10:32; 11:18 cf. Dan 10:7).

That the women “said nothing to anyone” doesn’t mean that they remained silent about their tomb experience, if so we wouldn’t have this story, but they were rendered dumb by the extraordinary character of what they had seen and heard. Mentally and emotionally they were overwhelmed by something too and marvellous to comprehend (cf. Mark 5:42; Luke 24:41).

In order to get closer to the bottom of the final response of the women at the tomb we need to take a step back and remember the framework of their understanding.

They were Jews familiar with the Old Testament witness that at the End of history there would be the Final Resurrection when God would raise everyone either to a resurrection of everlasting life or of everlasting shame (Job 19:25-26; Psalm 16:10 ; Isa 26:19; Dan 12:2-3).

They also had travelled with Jesus and seen him raise the dead who would in turn grow old and die again. Knowing Jesus as Lord and King they knew his resurrection couldn’t be like that of others, they understood Jesus could never die again and they were grasped by the realisation that they were the first humans to experience the signs of the Final Resurrection and the commencement of a whole new creation come in Christ (cf. Acts 1:3).

At the empty tomb their worldview was stretched beyond all their personal goals and desires. They certainly were overawed and afraid; but afraid of what? Knowing Christ had risen they could no longer be afraid of evil powers, sickness, suffering, death or anything mortals could do to them.

Sometimes we are encouraged to “think outside the box”, but the women knew that with Jesus raised from the dead there is no box.  They knew that with Jesus raised from the dead the End of the world had begun (cf. Pannenberg). If the first stage of the End of the world began 2000 years ago even our instinctive feelings about fear need to go through a death and resurrection transformation.

Is fear necessarily a bad thing….?  As a child our oldest daughter Leah was fearless, “Leah don’t run”….stitches in the front of the head….stitches in the back of the head…a broken arm and so on.

If humanity had a God-honouring fear then the world would never have got into the mess it’s in today because, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov 9:10). But how does this fear of the LORD relate to the resurrection? Let me use a very contemporary illustration to explain.

I was on my way to pray in Whiteman Park recently when there was a report on the radio about the Royal Commission findings concerning child abuse in the Newcastle diocese of the Anglican Church.

For 30 years a paedophile ring was operating in that diocese. The report targeted the weak response from bishops to what was known about these abusers in prominent positions of leadership.

Listening to all this caused me a lot of distress, so I called out to the Lord asking, “How did Satan ever manage to penetrate the Church so deeply with his evil?” His answer was clear; ““There is no fear of God before their eyes.”” (Rom 3:18).

If the evildoers in Newcastle, or anywhere else, had in the least bit believed what the woman at the empty tomb believed, that everything that Jesus had ever told them about himself would come to pass, including his Return as the Holy Judge of the world at the Last Judgement, they could never for a moment have perpetrated their foul deeds (Mark 8:38; 13:26; 14:62 cf. Dan 12:2; John 5:29).

Conclusion

The resurrection brought a quality of fear into the world proportional to the transformation that had taken place in Jesus’ from the wretchedness of the cross to his elevation into God’s glory and immortality (1 Cor 15:53-54; 2 Tim 1:10).

The resurrection created a pure holy fear of the Lord of a sort that had never existed before.

This is why after speaking of how Christ who emptied himself to die on the cross was then exalted by the Father to reign as King over all Paul exhorts the Church in Philippi, 12work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil 2:12-13).

Holy fear is the gateway to the everlasting joy of the Lord. If you are a disciple of Jesus God is preparing you for a post mortem resurrection just like Christ’s. This is awesome, astonishing and a source of great and holy fear. Such a fear is not paralysing but deeply motivating.

The women in our story don’t disappear from the New Testament; they are singled out for mention as the Church waited for the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14 cf. Luke 8:2-3).

They had made it to Galilee to be in the presence of Jesus and became part of a community in the Early Church unshackled from the fears that dominate life ancient and modern. The fears of economic deprivation, physical illness, shame, rejection, guilt and ultimately death had been put to death and transformed into the holy fear of the Lord alone. The fear-filled women who fled from the tomb fled to Jesus, the sole conqueror of the powers that traumatise and make miserable human existence.

A famous book about conversion was titled, “Surprised by Joy”, if we understand Mark’s message we too can have a conversion experience today, one we might call, “Surprised by Fear”.

A supernatural holy fear whose one motivation is to be secure in the presence of the resurrected Jesus, the one who will come in glory to Judge the living and the dead.

Come to Jesus today and let him put to death all your earthly fears and let him empower you by his presence to be a witness to his triumphant resurrection from the dead.

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 16th April, 2017 | St Marks

Author: Dr. John Yates


MESSAGE PODCAST: 16th April. 2017 |   


Royal Sacrifice

Personal Matters

We were led into prayer by this scripture, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” called to offer “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 2:5, 9). If Christ’s character is most visible in the sacrifice of the cross then Jesus’ people have never looked less like him. Like Israel of old the people of God are being “destroyed for lack of knowledge” and our priestly ministry is not being recognised by the Lord (Hos 4:6). Such harsh words can be supported by a scriptural examination of the sort of sacrifice royalty offers to God.

Sacrifice Refused

As a symbol of Christ Adam was a king commanded to exercise dominion over the earth and a priest called to offer up life in all its dimensions to God (Gen 1:26-28; Rom 5:14). The maintenance of his royal dignity as God’s firstborn son required however a costly inner sacrifice (Luke 3:38).

Warned by the Lord that sin meant sure death Adam was called to live each day under the prospect of dying (Gen 2:17). He was to walk in this knowledge by faith as a “living sacrifice…good, acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:1-2).

The satanic deception was that Eve and Adam could reign as kings free from any prospect of death (Gen 3:4-5).

The devil suggested that deathlessness was the true hallmark of royal dignity and one that abolished the need for any priestly sacrifice.

The tragic truth was that in refusing to live sacrificially in fellowship with their Creator Adam and Eve fell under the dominion of death and lost their royal dignity (Rom 5:14).

God however! Did not abandon humanity but established a means of reconciliation.

Through the generations the LORD reminded his people of their royal priesthood by commanding the costly sacrifice of the firstborn; the fruit of youthful vigour and the first part of a new generation belonged to God (Ex 13:2, 12; 34:19).

This principle of forfeiting the first fruits is much older than the Law of Moses. Abel offered the “first born of his flock”;  Cain however, Eve’s own first born and thus one who should have known better, offered the Lord only “the fruit of the ground” (Gen 4:3-4).

Cain and his cheap sacrifice are not accepted and sin comes to “rule over” his life (Gen 4:5ff.).

Whenever humanity refuses to offer the priestly sacrifice of firstborn it always loses royal dignity and comes under the rule of evil powers. The dynamic of costly sacrifice is powerfully illustrated by an Old Testament horror story.

The Wrath of Chemosh

The spiritual power released in the practice of sacrificing the first fruits of life is illustrated in 2 Kings 3.

The capital of Moab is surrounded by the armies of Israel and its people are about to be annihilated. “Then he (king Mesha) took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.” (v.27).

2 Kings 3:27

In Mesha’s mind his impending defeat was a sign of the anger of Chemosh his god, Chemosh’s anger was turned from Moab to Israel by the sacrifice of his first born son destined to rule.

The royal prince was the only life with sufficient dignity whose death could turn away divine wrath (cf. John 11:49-50).

This grisly story points us to a powerful spiritual truth.

Instead of decrease increase follows.

Whoever by faith sacrifices the best in their life, their first fruits, whether this is a son, crops, money, vocation, time etc. believes that divine power can multiply fruitfulness in opposition to the natural outcome expected from such a slaying.

For Christians, the sacrifice of the first born is a type of the resurrection of the Lord (cf. Heb 11:17-19).

The Sacrifice of the King

The wrath of Chemosh seems merely redirected from Moab to Israel, but the nature of this god as wrathful remains unchanged.

The sacrifice of Christ the only Son is the exact opposite of the perverted father-son epic in Moab, for the sacrifice of the cross reveals a Father who is not naturally wrathful (John 3:16-17).

Whilst outside of Christ the wrath of God remains, in the Son there is no place for wrath (John 3:36; 5:24).

Jesus is the holy priest-king who has always been God’s treasured possession and in whose image Adam and Israel were called and created (Ex 19:5-6).

The source of the dignity of humanity is found in him and expressed in his triumph over all evil in the course of a sinless life (Heb 4:15).

As the one destined for sacrifice nothing reigns over him.

Jesus must however reign in death as well as in life. The title over his head, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”, prophetically testifies to such a royal death (Matt 27:37).

Unlike the prince of Moab, who must have felt uniquely honoured to die to appease his god and father, Christ’s death in our place is experienced as the indignity of Fatherlessness.

My God…why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34).

In the cross the rule of sin, Satan and death seem to strip Jesus of all royal dignity.

The truth of the cross as an infinitely dignified royal sacrifice is however manifested in resurrection; from here on Christ begins to rule until every enemy is placed under his feet (1 Cor 15:25; Heb 1:13).

The faithful sacrifice of the firstborn brings forth fruitfulness opposite to every natural expectation.  

Instead of decrease the kingdom of God increases without end (Isa 9:7).

Christian Sacrifice

In Christ you are a royal son and possess the value of a premier sacrifice (Rom 8:29).

When called by God to sacrifice for Christ we should be excited, for such sacrifice will intensify our royal dignity and extend God’s kingdom.

Whatever we offer up of our life’s first fruits will surely be multiplied for God’s use through resurrection power; “death is at work in us, life in you” (2 Cor 4:8-12; Phil 3:10).

Jesus’ words about his destiny are true for us all; ““The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified….unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:23-24).

Conformity to death and resurrection is what a means to be a royal priesthood.

A great deception however is at work in our affluence.

All who surround themselves with worldly treasures and claim them as sure signs of God’s blessing are merely warding off their fear of death.

Whilst those who have learned to walk in sacrifice enjoy the royal dignity of being “treasured possessions” of the Lord and reign in life free from the fear of death (Rom 5:17). These are hardly hidden things.

If the Church leaders of today embodied the life of royal sacrifice so much spiritual power would be released that we would be back in the book of Acts (2:42-47).

Conclusion

A mature faith knows that the sacrifice of the firstborn: “WHAT WE TREASURE MOST”, releases a spiritual fruitfulness directly opposite to the naturally expected outcome.

This is true whether the sacrifice involves family, finances, career, ministry opportunities or whatever.

Increase overcomes decrease through the rule of God to his glory.

This is not some formula, but conformity to the character of Christ.

Too many Christians today lack the clarity of conscience which testifies that their sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Too few lack royal dignity in the way of death-and-resurrection.

Surely it is time to ask the Spirit of the Lord to search our hearts as to what we can offer up as royal priests.

The cost will be great but the growth will be greater.

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 19.8.16 | 

Author: Dr. John Yates

Resurrection Power: Sonship and a Unique Mission Move of God

by Dr. John Yates

In my last teaching I related what the Holy Spirit was saying about bringing the resurrection presence of Christ into every sector of society.  This word moves on in both depth and breadth.1)According to the principle, “What goes deepest to the conscience goes widest to the world” [P.T.Forsyth]  Drawn from experiences in prayer for Perth, the essential principles can however be applied to any situation.

Some years ago I predicted a time would come when the presence of God would be so strong in Western Australia that whatever the original nationality of Christian immigrants2)Australia is often said to be the second most multicultural nation in the world [after Israel]. all would come to identify Western Australia as their spiritual home.  Some years later I saw multi –coloured streams of people flowing out from Perth into the world.  This represented multi – racial outreach teams taking the gospel back to the nations. Only in the last few weeks do I believe God has been giving me keys as to how he will accomplish this.

Resurrection and Fatherhood

A saying of Jesus recently grasped my attention, “v35 those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead … v36 cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:35-36). The central point is that resurrected saints and angels are essentially united because both are “sons of God”.3)Angels are called “sons of God” in Gen 6:1-4; Job 1:6; Ps 89:6; Dan 3:25.  Christ’s followers and angels have a common Father, a reality that has been accomplished for us by Jesus own resurrection.

Paul preaches the resurrection as Jesus “adoption” as Son.  “this he (God) has fulfilled …by raising Jesus, as also it is written…”You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’” (Acts 13:33). His teaching in Romans refines this. “(Jesus) was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:4).

Through resurrection Christ became Son of God in power, for it was in being raised into an immortal life that he passed beyond influence of sin, Satan and death.  No longer could he be weakened, tempted or feel separation from his Father.4)Mark 15:34 is the key text, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Having returned to the glory of the Trinity (John 17:5), his humanity shares in the eternity of God.  In such a state the human and divine S/sonship of Jesus reached complete unity.  Jesus connection to Adam as the fallen first father of all humanity is now ended.5)Some argue that Jesus virginal conception severed the Adamic line of original sin. I believe Jesus fully transformed a fallen nature [received from Mary] through his sinless life, death and resurrection.  A new creation has come.  This has vast implications.  For those in Christ, divine Fatherhood supersedes human parentage and creates a supernatural unity of races.

Our first birth ties us to “the man of dust” (1 Cor 15:47-48) whose destiny is to return to the dust (Gen 3:19) i.e. to die. In the Adamic state, differences in race, language and culture were inevitably experienced as alienating.6)Nations are part of the old Adamic order of creation, “he [God] made from one man [Adam] every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,” [Acts 17:26].  In Christ however, “he who sanctifies (Jesus) and those who are sanctified (Christians) all have one source.” (Heb 2:10-11 ESV).7)The context relates to God’s “bringing many sons to glory”. Glory relates to resurrection, e.g. “So is it with the resurrection of the dead. ..43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory.”[1 Cor 15:42-43] The Greek for “all have one source” is literally “all are of one”.  In context, translations such as, “are of the same family” (NIV), “all have the same Father” (GNB) or “all have one Father” (NRSV) catch the sense well.

Since the Father of the risen Christ is our Father, we have been severed from the destructive and alienating divisions inherited from Adam.  Our second birth is from heaven by resurrection power and points us to a heavenly destiny (1 Pet 1:3; 1 Cor 15:48-49).  Now, “there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” (Col 3:11).

A Unique Mission Move of God

This supernatural unity is the basis for a cross – racial cooperation in mission that can astound our divided world. Never before in the history of humanity have the peoples of the globe been brought together into the same living space in multicultural countries like Australia. This is all part of God’s end time plan so that his coming move will be unique in scale.8)We see the pattern already in the New Testament.  E.g. the reversal of Babel at Pentecost and the multiracial unity in Acts 13:1, “Simeon who was called Niger” is black, whilst the others named are Jews.

God’s purpose is that the giftings and graces of the various people groups flow as one :Australian mateship, African jubilation, Chinese business acumen, Vietnamese discipline, Latino passion, the spiritual sensitivity of indigenous peoples etc. All are to come together in united mission teams.  Multi – coloured teams spearheaded by the natives to the world’s cultures and languages are to be sent into the corners of the globe.

If this is God’s purpose, why hasn’t it happened yet?  Why do we have churches so often separated on the grounds of nationhood and race?  It is because we await an outpouring of resurrection power.  But in God’s order first comes the stripping work of the cross.

The preparation – stripping

I was speaking to a Chinese pastor recently who is deeply committed to mission to the nations.  I had a clear but unusual sense that he was being “skinned” by God.9)Skin colour is the most obvious marker of difference between people groups.  I sensed the Holy Spirit was pruning away even something as deep as his racial consciousness,10)As a source of personal identity in itself. bringing him to a place where he could lead believers from a host of races in the common cause of Christ.

This is an example of the stripping away of all earthly pride we must endure. The cross must kill all our titles, traditions, positions, gifts, and anything else that is mortal, including national and racial pride.  Then the Spirit of Jesus can be poured out imparting that sense of eternal sonship creating functional church unity in vigorous mission.

Living in the Eternal

An outstanding historical prototype of what the Lord is seeking to release in our midst is the Moravians.  In the 1720’s the pious Count Ludwig von Zinzendorf established a community for refugees from religious persecution; Lutherans, Calvinists, Anabaptists and Catholics were all present.  For three years there was struggle and argument, during which time Zinzendorf set up the famous 24/7 prayer watch that was to continue for 100 consecutive years.  In August 1727 the community experienced a “baptism of the Holy Spirit” that immersed them in forgiving love.  The result was the first large scale Protestant missionary movement. Hundreds went to remote and difficult realms, including the Caribbean, North and South America, the Arctic, Africa, and the Far East. They were also the first to send unordained “lay” people, the first Protestant denomination to go to slaves, and the first in many countries of the world.

When the Holy Spirit is poured out so a community diverse in race, culture and beliefs is impacted by resurrection power, believers know in an immediate way that God is their Father.  Race, education, finance, gender, position and so on cease to be sources of personal identity and righteousness.  Baptised into the nature of God (John 17:20-26; 2 Pet 1:4) the community knows that the Trinitarian life they share is essentially communicable.11)Angels as “sons of God” also know this and seek to help in the missions enterprise cf. Mark 13:27 etc.  Or, to put the same thing in a less theological way, the human community senses that the divine community is essentially a family that desires to embrace more and more people.  This revelation is at the heart of the passion of the renewed church for mission.  In such an atmosphere the resistance of evil powers begins to fold.

Spiritual Breakthrough

One of the most important texts for out time is Ephesians 3:10, “through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”  In context, Paul is relating how the inclusion of the Gentiles (Greek ethnoi = “nations”) in the people of God breaks the hold of evil demonic forces.  How this happens is explained a little later.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named(Eph 3:14-15).  The angel family in heaven and the believing human family on earth have a common Father.  When the human and angelic sons of God unite in the cause of the gospel spanning heaven and earth dramatic spiritual breakthrough always follows. Under these conditions the principalities in heavenly places become painfully aware that they lack the one true source of universal authority, a heavenly Father.  Ashamed and disempowered, inescapably aware that their “father” (Satan) is fallen and judged12)John 8:44; John 12:31; Rev 12:7-12. they plunge into disarray.

The centrality of the revelation of God as universal Father is critically important to the sustainability of any renewing of the church for mission. Separating our experience of resurrection power from the foundation of sonship is disastrous. A primary focus on signs, wonders, miracles, manifestations, growth etc. will see God himself allow Satan to attack a proud church (James 4:6; 1 Pet 5:5) so the collapse of the revival movement is inevitable.

Conclusion

God is preparing his people for a global missions movement that will exceed in scope and diversity anything before it.  Central to this move is the oneness of the people groups of the world under the Lordship of Christ united in the heavenly Father.  Those released in global evangelisation will be characterised by an extraordinary fearlessness.13)“Give me one hundred men who love God with all their hearts and who fear no one but God and who hate nothing but sin, and I will change the world” [John Wesley].  This is because they will know that to be immediately related to the eternal God as Father is to have the sure promise of immortality.

Wisdom dictates that in response to the measure of revelation contained in this article we pray not only for reviving resurrection power, but that it come forth in the way Jesus always intended it to be manifested, as the creation of sons of God.14)A deep connection is outlined by Paul in Romans 8:18-25 between resurrection, sonship and the renewal of the whole cosmos.  My prayer for the church in Perth, and beyond, is that God grant us the maturity to understand that to “make disciples of all nations” is to disciple them to the ONE Father.

References   [ + ]

1. According to the principle, “What goes deepest to the conscience goes widest to the world” [P.T.Forsyth]
2. Australia is often said to be the second most multicultural nation in the world [after Israel].
3. Angels are called “sons of God” in Gen 6:1-4; Job 1:6; Ps 89:6; Dan 3:25.
4. Mark 15:34 is the key text, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
5. Some argue that Jesus virginal conception severed the Adamic line of original sin. I believe Jesus fully transformed a fallen nature [received from Mary] through his sinless life, death and resurrection.
6. Nations are part of the old Adamic order of creation, “he [God] made from one man [Adam] every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,” [Acts 17:26].
7. The context relates to God’s “bringing many sons to glory”. Glory relates to resurrection, e.g. “So is it with the resurrection of the dead. ..43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory.”[1 Cor 15:42-43]
8. We see the pattern already in the New Testament.  E.g. the reversal of Babel at Pentecost and the multiracial unity in Acts 13:1, “Simeon who was called Niger” is black, whilst the others named are Jews.
9. Skin colour is the most obvious marker of difference between people groups.
10. As a source of personal identity in itself.
11. Angels as “sons of God” also know this and seek to help in the missions enterprise cf. Mark 13:27 etc.
12. John 8:44; John 12:31; Rev 12:7-12.
13. “Give me one hundred men who love God with all their hearts and who fear no one but God and who hate nothing but sin, and I will change the world” [John Wesley].
14. A deep connection is outlined by Paul in Romans 8:18-25 between resurrection, sonship and the renewal of the whole cosmos.