The Prodigal Church is Coming Home

Acts 4 tells us that when the religious leaders saw the boldness and confidence of the apostles, it says that they “took note that these men had been with Jesus”. What they could not understand (because such things are foolishness to the natural mind) is that the filling of the Holy Spirit enables us to rise from becoming to being. The apostles weren’t bold because they had been with Jesus (after all they had been with him for three years and then ran off as soon as He was taken from them). They were bold and full of confidence because since being filled with the Spirit, they found themselves BEING with Jesus all the time, for that is what the Holy Spirit does, raises us up from becoming to Being, from promise to Presence. The Holy Spirit is given, that we can live in the presence of God.

He came down to lift us up, in our being, from people waiting for God, to people being with God. Let me put it this way. We can only find our true being, in His presence. In the Old Testament under the Old Covenant, we see God’s people waiting for a Saviour. They were a people living in the promise of God. But in the early Church, under the New Covenant, because of the coming of the Holy Spirit, God’s people are no longer a people living in the promise of God. Why not? I will let Jesus answer that from Luke 24:49. He said to His disciples….“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” If you are a Christian then you received God’s Spirit, and if you received God’s Spirit, His promise, then you now no longer have to live in the promise of God, you can live in the presence of God.

Have you noticed? When the Holy Spirit speaks to you, He doesn’t speak of who you could be, but of you are are, because He doesn’t speak to you on the basis of your life, but Christs. (Rom.8:16) He calls you as if you already are whom you hope to become, because the Kingdom of the Son is the realm of what now is! In heaven, there is no one trying to become anyone, for all have found their being with God (Col.3:1-4). The Kingdom of heaven is not the realm of becoming, it is the realm of being!

So let it be done on the earth as it is in heaven, let the ‘being with’ God be manifest on the earth, through the lives of men and women filled with God’s Spirit, the ‘being with God’ Spirit. No matter what you have done in this life, or what has been done to you. No matter what your earthly record is, God’s Spirit does not speak to you on the basis of your life for God, but on the basis of His life for you; Christ. (Acts 10:15-19). The Holy Spirit never speaks to you of who you could be, but of who you are! (Acts 9:15-17) Why? Because He wants your faith to rest on Christ’s finished work, not your unfinished works.

This is how you can tell if someone is speaking by God’s Spirit or a religious (self-effort) spirit.

  • If someone is speaking by God’s Spirit, their words will leave you in the presence of God.
  • If someone is speaking by a religious spirit, their words will leave you in the promise of God, for they believe His presence is always for a better people or a better time. There is always something you must do first (Gal.5:2). Do you know that if you live by a religious spirit long enough, it is possible for God to be with you and yet you be totally blind to His presence. Just ask the Pharisees!  
  • In other words, religion will always leave you becoming, but never lift you into being, for it always leaves you looking to yourself, not Christ

It always sounds so holy and biblical, the promise of His presence, but listen carefully and you will discover it is always conditional on your life, not Christ’s (Rom.10:2-4). No matter how many scriptures someone quotes to you, always ask yourself one question. Is what I am hearing, leaving my faith on Christ’s finished work, or my unfinished works?

  • Are they speaking to me of His obedience, or mine.
  • Are they leaving my hope in my repentance, or have they so lifted my hope off myself and onto Christ, that I find that their words are actually causing a metanoia, (a repentance unto God), that their words are actually bringing me into the presence of God and I am finding my life being with God?

Never tell people to repent, as if that is something they can do apart from God’s Spirit. Remember the 7 words of Jesus that set people free from religion/self-effort, Apart from me, you can do nothing (John 15:5). If people cannot repent apart from the Spirit of God, then if you want to see them repent, impart to them the power to repent, by speaking words of the Spirit, words that tell people who they are because Christ lives; ‘reconciled, forgiven, called’, not words that tell them who they could become, if, they, only repented a bit harder, or prayed a bit more, or waited a bit longer! Hope deferred makes the heart sick. The Gospel does not lead people to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, leaving their hope on what they can do to become like God. That’s because the Gospel does not present people with a hope deferred (their works), but a dream fulfilled (Christ’s finished work), a tree of life. (Prov.13:12).

In the natural, new life cannot be birthed apart from intimacy, apart from a ‘being with’. It is the same in the Spirit. Only the Spirit who imparts ‘being with’ God, brings forth new life. That’s why when Nicodemus asked Jesus, “How can a man be born from above, born of the Spirit of God?” Jesus never pointed Nicodemus to Himself, or His obedience, or His repentance, rather He lifted Nicodemus’s vision off Himself and onto the Spirit (John 3:5-8) Jesus was saying in effect, “The flesh, what you do, does not birth life in the Spirit. Only the Spirit gives birth to Spirit.” Being is imparted by being with. Only the ‘being with God’ Spirit, can impart the ‘being with God’ life.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is always to lift our vision

  • From the earthly to the heavenly realm
  • From the temporal to the eternal life
  • From the things that are passing away, onto the things that will never pass away.
  • From our doing for Him, onto His being in us and our being in Him.
  • From a life of always becoming but never arriving, (which describes the life of so many of us in the church for years under a mixed grace and law gospel), to the life of being who He says we now are; a being with God!

Romans 8:16 does not say that the Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are becoming God’s children, but that we are God’s children. Or as the apostle John put it, “See how great a love the Father has given us, that we would be called children of God; and in fact that is who we are.” (1John 3:1)

In Luke 15 Jesus tells us that the prodigal son had a plea, a prayer all rehearsed that he was pinning all his hopes on, to move the father to save his life. It went like this, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.” (Luke 15:21) Listen again to what he is saying? “I am no longer worthy to BE”. He is saying, ‘I want to draw back from the name you would give me; Son.  I want to be named according to what I have done. Give me the name servant.’

As long as the church remains under the Law, tolerating a mixed message of grace and law, she is saying to the Father, in effect, “We are not worthy to be called by the name son, to be ‘in Christ’, to find our being with you, so make us servants, name us after our works. Let us earn our being with you. Let us name ourselves after our works, our repentance, our obedience, our prayer life. Let us live always becoming, but never being, never being ‘with you’.

We all know what the Father thought when He heard his son speak like that. The prodigal may have come home, but his father can hear in his words that he still doesn’t get it. He is falling again, from being to becoming, as the whole human race did when Adam fell.

  • In the first Adam, we fell, from being to becoming; from being with God, to becoming with God, but never arriving. That’s because we could never be like Him, by ourselves, for He is never a God by Himself (Gen.1:26).
  • In the Last Adam, Christ, we rose, from becoming to being; from becoming with God one day, to being with God every day and the power to live that life came with the coming of God’s Spirit, the ‘being with God’ Spirit.

How much does God really want you and I to share in His life, to live as a human being with God? As much as the Father in Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal son, desired His son to be with Him. Can you remember how much that father wanted His son to be with Him? Luke 15:20 says that on seeing his son, the father ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. Do you know that the word there that describes the father falling on the prodigal son, is the same word that is used by the apostle Peter, to describe the way the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius’ household as he preached the Gospel to them (Acts 11:15)

That prodigal son left home to make a name for himself and here he is, still trying to name himself after his own life. He is living as an orphan. The prodigal son thinks his greatest need is to know what to do. He is saying in effect, “Father instruct me on what I need to do and I will do it. Be my instructor, my manager.” The Father sees immediately that his son’s greatest need is not to know what to do, but to know who he is. His greatest need is not an instructor, but a father. As long as the church sits under a mixed message of law and grace, then the apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthians will remain as true in 2023 as they were 2000 years ago, in a church filled with Old Covenant minded believers. He said, “You have 10000 instructors but not many fathers. In Christ Jesus I became your father, I begat you. Through the Gospel!’

The prodigal son had been trying to become someone for years, by his own efforts. I believe that describes the life of multitudes of believers, wandering in a dry place called ‘doing to become’. In Luke 15, on hearing this confession “I am not worthy to be”, The Father sees that his son is still blind to who he truly is. He needs to see himself as the Father sees him. He needs a metanoia (total repentance) and that’s why the Father immediately physically dresses him as an esteemed son. He doesn’t tell him to repent. He draws near him, imparting to him the power to repent, for He clothes Him in the garments of a son. In that act He is declaring, “Behold, Look. Open your eyes. See, whom I declare you to BE. Enough becoming. Come home to my table and BE. Be my son!”

Any message that will not leave you clothed in the garments of righteousness, cannot open your eyes to the call of God on your life, to find your being with Him, by His grace, not your efforts. The Gospel is not instruction on how you can reconcile yourself to God, it is news; that God in Christ has reconciled you to Himself (2Cor.5:19). It does not point to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but to the Tree of Life; Christ. That act of clothing the prodigal, was an impartation of sonship. I see that as a powerful picture of the necessity of the impartation of the Spirit, for people’s eyes to be opened to see themselves as God sees them and that impartation comes through the preaching of the Gospel of God’s grace, not the Gospel of our obedience, or our repentance, or our anything.

Remember in 2023 what you heard in 2022. No matter how many scriptures someone quotes to you, always ask yourself one question. Is what I am hearing leaving my faith on Christ’s finished work, or my unfinished works?

  • Are they speaking to me of His obedience, or mine.
  • Are they leaving my hope in my repentance, or have they so lifted my hope off myself and onto Christ, that I find that their words are actually causing a metanoia, a repentance unto God?
  • Are their words leaving me in the promise of God, or the presence of God.

Never tell people to repent, as if that is something they can do apart from God’s Spirit. Remember the 7 words that set people free from religion/self-effort; Apart from me you can do nothing. If people cannot repent apart from the Spirit of God, then if you want to see them repent, impart to them the power to repent, by speaking words of the Spirit, words that tell people who they are because Christ lives; reconciled, forgiven, called, not words that tell them who they could become, if they only repented a bit harder, or prayed a bit more, or waited a bit longer, for the Father has waited long enough, for His sons to come home!

He is still the Father who goes out to His Sons and speaks to them of their being with Him (Luke 15:31), for by such words from the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of being (not becoming), men and women find themselves clothed in Christ, the best life the Father has to give; the ‘being with God’ life. By such words the prodigal Church is coming home, home to her true being; with Christ in God.

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