Resurrected Church, it’s time to leave the tomb!

“….so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” Eph 3:17-19

Years ago, in our home we had an Aloe Vera plant growing in a little pot. One day we noticed that it had stopped growing, so we thought, no problem, it just needs a little more feeding/watering/light. We fed it, we watered it, we moved it. For weeks it was fed and moved, fed and moved, fed and moved. No matter what we did, it never grew, in fact with all the stuff we were pouring onto it, it began to look worse. One day I went to throw it out, but I didn’t want to throw away the nice pot, so I pulled it out of the pot. In an instant I could see what the problem was. Underneath the superficial layer of soil the pot was totally filled, not with soil, but with the roots of the plant. The pot itself had limited the size of the roots. That plant could never have grown because it could not physically grow past, or grow through, the wall of the pot.

No matter what we would have fed that plant, even ‘miracle grow’, no plant can grow beyond the size of its roots. Nothing planted can grow beyond the size of its roots.

 Oak trees can grow over 100 feet tall, but you are never going to grow a hundred-foot oak tree in a flower pot. Why not? Because a 100-foot high oak, requires 100 feet in width for its roots. So too in fruit trees, the roots have to go out a certain length and become established, before fruit appears. If the roots don’t get that freedom, that room, that liberty to be established, to go down deep and wide, then the fruit that could have appeared, never appears. To see great growth, those roots don’t need to be contained, they need to be established in liberty. Nothing planted can grow beyond the size of its roots.

The same goes for a life. The roots of your life and mine are our beliefs (what the Bible calls the heart). When Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else guard your heart for out of it flows the issues of life,” that Hebrew word ‘issues’ means borders. What you are believing borders your life. You can’t live beyond the borders of what you have believed. So, above all else, let nothing restrict, let nothing hinder, let nothing limit your believing, because what limits your believing, limits your life, how much you can grow in life. Nothing planted can grow beyond the size of its roots.

No matter how often we fed and moved that plant, even ‘miracle grow’, could not make it grow. Now here is a remarkable thing. Even in Pentecostal churches, where for years we have witnessed the miraculous and the gifts of the Spirit, where in meeting after meeting, with great messages and ministry, we have been fed and moved, fed and moved, fed and moved, even after all that ‘miracle grow’, many of us as believers never seemed to grow beyond a certain point! We never grew, as we should have grown…

  • out of the self-life into the Christ-life,
  • out of the slave mentality (If I do this for Him, I will get that from Him) and into sonship (All these things are already mine in Christ),
  • out of walking in the flesh (living focused on sin, self and satan) and into walking in the Spirit (living focused on heaven’s reality; that “the principle/law of the Spirit of life in Christ, has set us free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom.8:2), that in Christ, “we died and our lives are now hidden with Christ in God”. (Gal.3:3)

Just like, no amount of more fertiliser, or water, or sunshine could make that plant grow, so no amount of preaching or prayer can grow a believer, whose mind has never been renewed, (whose believing, whose roots, have never broken through) into the truth of what happened at the Cross; that there, Jesus Christ made one sacrifice for all sins, for all time and sat down (Heb 10:12), so that you, believer, are no longer a mere man or woman, separated from God by your sin, for that old creature was crucified with Christ and buried (Gal.2:20)

You wouldn’t attempt to grow a 100-foot oak tree, by leaving it in a flower pot. It is just as crazy to try and grow the life of Christ in believers, by trying to grow the seed of the Gospel; the proclamation of Christ as your life, within the confines of a religious/’obedience to Law’ mindset. Religion is too tiny a pot to grow much more than twigs. Oaks of righteousness can’t grow in religious pots. The only thing that grows in a pot called self, is self-righteousness! The new wine cannot be contained in the old wineskin (Mark 2:22). Our life in the Spirit, hidden with Christ in God, cannot be contained within the old wineskin of living as if our sins still separate us from God. Our new life of union with God, that revelation, of the enormity of His love for us, that belief, that mind; the mind of Christ about us, must be the limitless open ground that believers are rooted and established in, in order for the ‘fullness of God’ life to blossom in ours (Eph 3:19).

But to establish those roots, what restricts those roots must be taken away. Old Covenant, Law based thinking, cannot be allowed to remain our mindset, the pot we are planted in. That’s why Hebrews 10:9,10 declares, “He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”. Just as no amount of more water, or more sunshine could make our Aloe Vera plant grow, so no amount of preaching or prayer can grow a believer into the fullness of God, whose mind has never been renewed, (whose believing/roots have never broken through) into the truth of what happened at the Cross (Hebrews 5:12,13).

Because as believers, our old self-life (you or I living apart from God, dead to God, in sin), what Paul called the I, the ‘ego’ (Gal.2:20), died with Christ and was buried with Christ, then all who are now in Christ, who have His Spirit, no longer have a self-life. When I married my wife, my old single life died and I died to the principles of how a single man should live (Rom.8:2). Believer, you are now married to Christ (Rom 7:4). If you don’t have a self-life, you are effectively dead to that which demands self-righteousness; the Law (Rom.7:1-6). If you can reckon your self dead, if you can believe the gospel and leave your self buried, where Christ buried him (Col 3:3), then your believing, your roots, will finally break out of that tomb, that pot called self and they will go deep into the rich soil of Calvary, deep and wide into the love of God and you will begin to “comprehend with all the ]saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

The Gospel has not changed since the time of Paul. There is no new gospel, just the same old religious objections, that surely the gospel you preach must be wrong because you seem to be saying that we have been released from the Law. I am not saying it, the Holy Spirit is saying it! it’s just that most of us in the Church struggle to see ourselves as released from the Law, because we struggle to see our ‘selves’ (our self-lives) as dead! This is too important to take my word for. Listen to the Holy Spirit speaking through the apostle Paul in Romans 7:1-6.

“Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man. So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.  For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death.  But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

What is it, to serve in the new way of the Spirit? The way of the Spirit is simply to live seeing what the Spirit sees. As believers, many of us may not have fully understood this when we were baptised, that our baptism declared the burial of a life that was dead (self-life) and the rising up of a totally new life, because to accept Christ, is to accept your death and burial, the death of self and so the death of your relationship to the Law. You as a believer can’t have a relationship with the Law and simultaneously, with Him whom you are now married to; Christ. (You can but heaven sees it as adultery. It quite sad that Christians who want to flirt around with the Law, think that God would be pleased with that.) Church, if we rose with Christ, it’s time we saw ourselves doing what He did, leaving behind the grave clothes of death (which for us is self-righteousness) and walking out of that tomb. We need to walk out of that mindset, that tomb, that small pot called self, because the extent to which we are still relating to the Law, is the extent to which we are still more believing in ourselves than in Christ, still more believing in a sinning less life, than in a sinless life. Let the preaching of the Gospel roll away the stone that entombed us, not strengthen it. It may sound so glorious to hear the ministry that brought death, which was engraved on stone, proclaimed over New Covenant believers, but it is the sound of the stone that was rolled away being rolled back! The ministry of the Spirit is the Gospel that rolls away what entombed us and it is always more glorious (2Cor.3:7,8). Resurrected Church, its time to leave the tomb!

We all have a great desire to bear fruit, to be those oaks of righteousness, blossoming in every season with the fruit of God’s Spirit, for our family to see the fullness of God in us, but for that to happen, our roots, our believing, have to be broken out of that small pot called self and the shallow soil of our love for God, so they can plunge into the depths of God’s love for us. Jesus said that the prodigal son came to him self, just before he got up and came home (Luke 15:17). He had a revelation that self and all the pride of self, had to die, or he would. For a man or woman to be saved, they have to see that self isn’t the answer, self is the problem.

So too, for a believer to continue to grow up, into this new life, into Christ, we have to continue to see that self isn’t the answer. There is no point in digging self up from where Christ buried him, so we can preach the Law at him, in the hope that the preaching of the Law will make a bad self into a better self, or even a bad Christian into a good Christian.

Ironically, that thinking totally underestimates both sin and Christ. Religion totally underestimates both the depths of man’s separation from God and the heights of the believer’s union with God.

  • Religion says that you are bad and you need to be good. So, you need the Law, for the Law makes bad men good.
  • The Gospel says, your problem is much worse than being bad.

Christ didn’t come to make bad men good. He came to make dead men alive! God’s Word never tells us to present ourselves to God as good from the bad, but as alive from the dead! (Rom 6:13).

 We were cut off from God and so cut off from life as God knows life. Christ entered into our death, our separation and brought us life, not by standing back from us like Moses and giving us the Law, but by entering into our lives, by giving us His very presence (John 1:17). It is Christ’s presence that is our righteousness, our sanctification, our very life (1Cor.1:30, Col 3:4). If He is our very life, then to put the Law on believers is to put the Law on Christ. No one knew this better than the apostle Paul, for was he not the very man who one day decided to travel to Damascus and put the Law on the Christians there? And who confronted Him on the road? No less a person than Jesus Himself, who declared in effect “What you are doing to them, you are doing to me” (Acts 9:4). Was Jesus in effect not saying,”Saul Saul, why are you persecuting me, why do you put the Law on me, why do you attempt to judge me?” To every misguided Christian preacher who is trying to use the Law to make bad Christians good, Christ can still say “Saul, Saul, why are you judging me?”

 You may be struggling to see it, but all of heaven and hell saw the Fathers judgement on His Church at the resurrection of Jesus, when every believer was raised with Christ (Eph.2:6), (unless you think that when He rose, you didn’t.) If you have any doubts on this, it may help you read the translation of Rom 4:25 from Youngs literal Greek translation, which in speaking of Christ says “who was delivered up because of our offences, and was raised up because of our being declared righteous.” (our justification).

Not only have many of us for years tolerated a little Law with our gospel because we underestimated the depth of our separation, but also because we have totally underestimated the heights of our union. Again we have struggled to see what Paul declared to the Ephesians “even when we were dead in our transgressions, He made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. So now you, resurrected and ascended believer, don’t have to live as someone who needs the Law to get you a little closer to God, because you, resurrected and ascended believer, are now hidden with Christ in God (Col.3:3). If you can’t see that, then just keep setting your eyes on things above, not on the earth below (keep sitting under the heavenly Gospel of Grace, not the earthly mixed gospel (Gal.1:7) and you will see that “you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God and when Christ who is your life appears, you will appear with Him in glory. (Col.3:2-4)

All the Law will do on believers is treat them as if they are separate from God and so in their minds estrange them from Christ, estrange them from His presence, from the very life that is their righteousness. Believer, the Law won’t rob you of your salvation, but it will rob you of your sight, because it can only ever speak to you in one way; as if you are still not married to Christ. (Rom 7:4, Gal.5:4). Your vision in the Spirit, your ability by the Spirit to see what Christ has done and to walk in it, is so important, that Paul rose up like a Lion when he heard that someone was introducing a little leaven, adding a little Law to the Gospel he had left the Galatians. It often doesn’t seem much harm, adding a little Law to the Gospel, especially when you think it will help Christians behave better, but once you start to go blind to what Christ has done, you will start to live as if He is not with you and so of no value to you. Listen to the urgency of Paul’s words to the Church. They are a warning to every generation, of what happens when we do not stand fast in the liberty that our believing needs to be rooted and established in. “ Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.  Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.  You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” Gal.5:2-4

 You might be quite a mild-mannered person, but when someone is trying to harm your children a righteous anger will rise up in you. Would you sit by and say nothing if you heard that your children’s school was adding an ingredient to their food that was affecting their eyesight and would eventually rob them of their vision completely? When you understand that Law preaching robs believers of their sight in the spirit realm, you will understand why the apostle of grace cursed those who were trying to help the Galatians become better Christians by asking them to try harder to be more righteous. He could see that such teaching was only divorcing believers in their minds from Christ and would ultimately blind them to the presence of God in their midst (Gal.3:5-9). Yes, God had mercy on the pleas of blind Bartimaeus, for His presence to draw near, but how exactly does it glorify the work of Christ, for His bride to take Bartimaeus’ place?

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph.3:14-21)


‘His joy over you, is His fountain in you.’

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.”                          Col.2:6,7

 The first part of this verse speaks not about just walking with the Lord, but walking “in Him”. The phrase “in Christ”, is used throughout the New Testament and speaks of a deeper level of communion than even Jesus disciples knew when they walked with Him through Galilee. That is why Jesus told them that it was better for them if He went away, so that the Holy Spirit could come (John 16:7). The giving of the Holy Spirit brought a level of communion with Christ that His disciples had not known and so a level of confidence they had never known either. On that first Pentecost, when Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, stood before the crowd and challenged them, he finally knew what Jesus meant about it being better if He went away! Now Peter, began to know what it meant to be “in Christ” and to operate in Christ (Acts 3:6). The filling with the Holy Spirit was a revelation of the love of God, a love that cast out fear and brought a great boldness. Peter felt God’s heart of love for himself and others and he was carried along by that love (the nature of God) to live out of that love. As he did, people observed it was as if Peter and the Lord were moving ‘as one’ (Acts 5:15).

This love, this life, was the gift of God. In truth, this life was the life that Peter (and you and I) were created for. You could say that life in union with God, or as Peter himself described it, “a participation in the divine nature” (2Peter 1:4), is our real life, the life God always had in mind for us (2Tim.1:9,10). This is because to God, life has never been found in being alone, but in being together (Gen.1:26). When asked how He was living such a supernatural life, Jesus’ reply always revealed that He was not living as an “I alone”(John 7:16, John 12:49, John 14:10). In fact, He was living in such communion with His Father that when Philip asked to see the Father, Jesus replied “When you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

In fact, we could say that if being together, in one life (Father, Son and Spirit), is what life is to God, then to God being ‘alone’ is death! That is why God’s Word always links sin and death, for to God sin is separation, separation from the union (Father, Son and Spirit) that is life. Even though Adam ‘lived’ for over 900 years, to God he died on the day he sinned (Gen.2:17). Being cut off from God, ‘dead’ to God and so powerless to bring ourselves back to life (union with God), only God could bring us back into union with Himself. To do this, He had to enter into our ‘life’ so that He could enter into our ‘death’, our separation from union (life) and resurrect us up from death to life, from separation to union. When He entered into our death, His life overcame our death, the light shone out of the darkness (2Cor.4:6), union overcame separation, (It does everywhere, except in one place; the minds of many Christians! (Rom.6:11, Rom.12:2, Col.3:1-4))

How are we to live this Christian life? We are to present ourselves to God and men as people “alive from the dead” (Rom.6:13), people who have been translated from separation to union. Did we qualify ourselves? No. The Father qualified us (Col.1:12,13). We received life, not when we had reached some standard of holiness, but when we were dead, (apart from Him) (Eph.2:5, Col.2:13). Therefore, as you received Him, so (in this same way), walk in Him. Walk in the life of Christ by continually receiving His life as you did at first, as one dead apart from Him. Reckon your old, ‘apart from God’ life as dead. If you do, you can walk receiving your union (life) and overflowing with gratitude. If you don’t, your double-mindedness about your state before God will hinder you from receiving, for a double-minded man struggles to receive (Jam. 1:7).

This is why at River City, we refuse to speak to Christians as if their sins still separate them from God, as if Christ’s life (union) did not overcome our death (separation). Your old flesh never had the power to overcome sin (separation), so what is the point of digging him up from where Jesus buried him and asking him to have another go at being holy apart from God? God opposes such pride (self-righteousness), but to those humble enough to receive their death, the death of the ‘I’ (ego), grace flows (James 4:6), that they may live “in Christ” who has “become for us our holiness” (1Cor.1:30).

So, how are we walking in Him, Church? Are we walking in Him as we received Him, entirely by His grace (not His grace plus our behaviour)? The answer is found in the joy we are experiencing. If you think that by your behaviour you can get more out of God, then you are short-sighted and not seeing your life “in Christ” (how much He has already given and where He has already translated you to) (Col.1:13). Such a person cannot be overflowing with gratitude because their hope has been moved; off the rock of His sinless life and onto the shifting sands of their ‘sinning less’ life! It is the joy of the Lord that is our strength; our very ability to live overcoming separation (sin). Believers who walk ‘overflowing with gratitude’, bear the fruit of holiness, fruit which flows from their life being rooted and grounded in Christ’s. It is very difficult for a person overflowing with gratitude to ‘sin’. Can you imagine a mother holding her new-born in her arms, overflowing with gratitude, sinning against that child?

Now imagine the joy of the Lord over you on the day you received Christ. Do you know, that though your joy may have waned since that day, His has not! He rejoices over your salvation as much today as He did all those years ago and the power of His joy is within you, in your spirit (1Cor.6:17). It is this power, His joy over you, that led Christ to the Cross and raised Him from the dead (Heb.12:2). Now this same joy, His very view and opinion (‘doxa’/glory) is in you (John 17:22) and will flow from you like rivers of living water to a dry and sin-(separation)-conscious Church and from there to the world (John 7:38). Get alone with God and listen to what the Father still speaks into the hearts of disappointed and joyless children; “You are always with me and everything I have is yours. Now rejoice with me, for what was lost has been found (he who was separated from me has been restored into communion with me.) (Luke 15:31,32). Can you receive this truth, that you are hidden with Christ in God? Then walk in this truth and let the joy of the Father over you, become like a fountain in you, that many will come to and receive eternal life (the knowledge of the Father) (John 4:14, John 17:3).

The Rising Church

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”              Isaiah.40:31

For years, many of us as Christians have sought to go higher with God by studying many topics in the Bible; everything from the lives of the prophets and Kings of Old, to church history and theologies of the end times. All these topics are studied in an attempt to get closer to God, to rise in faith. Yet for so many, their experience has been that they have never quite returned to the heights of joy they knew at the time of their first introduction to the grace of God. In those first days, life had suddenly become all about what God had done for them and they didn’t need a course of study in evangelism or prayer, because the joy in their hearts caused them to pray and share without even thinking about it. They were flying high, they were living life from a heavenly perspective, because they were seeing everything from the perspective of His love for them.

What had given them that power to rise and live and walk at a higher level, to suddenly be able to walk above hurt and walk above abuse and walk above betrayal? What was the teaching they had heard that caused them to rise? Of all the stories and lessons and teachings and messages in the Bible, which one had the power to cause them to rise? I will let the apostle Paul give you the answer from his opening remarks to the Romans.
“..for I am not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes.” (Rom.1:16)”
The power to rise is in the Gospel, in the message about what Christ has done. Here is the power that allows your life to rise; ……The burden of your sin, all your sin, was laid on Christ at the Cross and the righteousness of God was given to you, as a gift! (2Cor.5:17-21).

You rose that day, the day you first believed the Gospel. You rose in your heart, in your thinking, because you left your burden of sin down, at the Cross, because on that day you believed the Gospel, you believed that your sin was no longer being counted against you. If since that day you feel you have somehow lost the joy of your salvation, that you have somehow fallen/sank to a lower level of faith and hope, may I suggest to you that if you rose the day you believed your sin was no longer being counted against you, you sank the day you stopped believing that. You sank the day some well-meaning Christian pointed to something in your life and gave you the distinct impression that God was regretting His decision to forgive you.

No matter what topic you study as a disciple of Christ, you will never find a more powerful, nor a more profound teaching than the simple message of the Cross. Religion, everywhere, is a message about what you need to do for God. The Gospel is a message about what God has done for you. That’s why the most radical message in the world is called the Good News, not the Good Advice. No matter what you feel like today, if you are a Christian, then you have risen with Christ and are seated with Him in a heavenly place (Eph.2:4-6). The work of the Spirit, is to lead us to rise in our thinking, to live from that place of union with Christ and the Gospel is His method (Rom.10:17)

The more time you spend with Christians who cannot see by the Spirit where they have been placed, the more you will be bombarded with good advice, instead of Good News. The best good advice can do is comfort you in the dark. Good News turns the light on. Eagles weren’t made to walk. Get alone with God and listen for His voice. It will be the one that says “Rise”.


The Gospel…from heaven’s perspective!

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”   1Cor.2:12,13

To know “the things freely given”, is talking about knowing the gospel. The Gospel is the good news of what has been freely given; the grace of God. But we are told in v13, that to speak about this gospel, we are not to use words which are the product of human/earthly wisdom, but those taught by the Spirit. Can you see the importance being attached here, not just to declaring the gospel…. but to HOW it is to be declared! It is not to be declared out of earthly wisdom, but out of minds thinking the high thoughts of God, thoughts as far from earthly wisdom as the heavens are from the earth. (Isaiah 55:9)

What Paul is saying here, in effect, is that earthly minded believers cannot proclaim the gospel as it should be proclaimed, with authority, because as a man thinks so he is. So how can such an earthly minded man, who is not thinking from God’s high perspective (his union with God, the mind of Christ), a believer who still thinks that his sin separates him from God, how can he proclaim with authority, heavens perspective? Because heaven’s perspective is that, far from his sin separating him from God, God has in reality, separated him from his sin and he is now dead to sin and alive to God (Rom.6:11).

Imagine you live on top of a hill and out of your window one day you watch a man walk all the way up that hill to get to your front door. When you open the door, he claims that he has discovered how to fly. Are you not entitled to ask him, “Why then did you walk to my front door?”

It’s hard to share a gospel that says we can fly, when we are seen to walk everywhere! It’s hard to proclaim the gospel from the heights of your union with Christ, when your thoughts don’t live there. This is what v13 is saying. We cannot proclaim the gospel from heaven’s perspective, the mind of Christ, in words taught by human wisdom. The gospel is to be proclaimed only in words taught by the Spirit, “combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words”. The more earthly-minded we are, the more we can’t help but speak the gospel from an earthly perspective and the man who lives from an earthly perspective, always speaks in terms of what man must do, for ‘the spirit of the world’ has faith in man’s strength to clean himself up. But ‘The Spirit that comes from God’ has no faith at all in man’s ability to lift Himself up. He does not come to give man advice on how he can lift himself up, (how he can clean himself up to be more like God). He does not come to speak (as every earthly institution does) of the price that man must pay to clean himself up. The Spirit comes to speak of the things that have been freely given to us by God (v12).

Our true testimony and the message of the gospel, from heavens perspective, is not that we lifted ourselves and need to continue to lift ourselves up, to live at a level pleasing to God. The Gospel from heavens perspective, is that we were no more capable of lifting ourselves up into the life of God than a dead man, for we were dead in our sins when God raised us up to life.” (Col.2:13, Eph.2:1). From heaven’s perspective, the only way to present the Gospel, is as people “alive from the dead!” (Rom.6:13)

QUESTION: Why is this so important, that the gospel is preached from our New Covenant position, from the heights of our union with Christ, in the Spirit?

ANSWER: Because if the gospel is to be proclaimed in authority, in the power of the Spirit, it must be proclaimed as more than a message. It must be proclaimed as the very life, the very reality, we are living from today!

Now at first glance, all this talk about living from a heavenly perspective, would seem to be a recipe for disconnection from the realities of life. We have all heard it said that someone can be so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. In practice however, this ‘heavenly mindedness’ the Spirit brings, is the very effectiveness of the Church. This is because the Gospel of heaven is so infinitely better news than the religion of earth that when the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of believers to see the magnitude of the news of what God has done for men, then a great strength rises in the Church and that strength causes the Church to stand out as different from every earthly institution.

What is this strength that the Holy Spirit brings upon the Church, the strength to preach the gospel in, the strength that sets the Church’s message apart from every earthly institution? It is the pure, unadulterated joy of living in the Spirit, of living from our union, our marriage to Christ, living free from the condemnation of earthly minded religion.  It is that joy that marks the Church out as not of this earth, for Good news always brings a joy that no amount of good advice ever can.

In every generation where the Church loses her heavenly perspective and allows the good news to be diluted down to good advice, then she always ends up looking to the world like just another earthly institution, offering men one more option on how to lift yourself into a better life. Such earthly institutions are not marked by joy.

The word Gospel itself was originally, by definition, a proclamation of something great that had already happened; the good news of a great victory. What we have been saying is that for that news to go out in power and authority, it must be carried by people who themselves are coming from, living from that victory, living from the resurrected and ascended life of Christ, FROM THERE. When the Gospel is preached in the power of the risen life, in the power of the Spirit, in the reality of our union with Christ, then it becomes more than Good News, it’s proclamation becomes the very manifestation of the presence and power of God breaking into this realm.

The Gospel preached from the heavenly realm, is nothing short of the Kingdom of God at hand. Jesus never intended preaching to be divorced from the reality of living in the Kingdom of God now. That’s why, even in Matt 10, long before the disciples had a revelation of these things, Jesus sent out the 12 with this instruction “as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.”

Signs of the reality of heaven begin to manifest, when the shout of victory of the gospel comes from heaven. Under the Old Covenant, God was with His people and when they gave a mighty shout, the walls of Jericho came down. There are walls, strong walls of unbelief, built up in the hearts and minds of this generation. Those walls have taken years to build, but those walls can come down in one moment, when the Gospel is proclaimed as a shout of victory from the heavenly realm.

The Holy Spirit is saying to the Church….“You have been proclaiming the gospel from an earthly perspective, in words of human wisdom, thinking of yourselves as mere men. Church you have been examining yourself for sin. How has that been working for you? But I have given you my Spirit that you may examine yourselves for Christ! I want you now, to proclaim the Gospel from the heavenly reality of your union with Christ, not as people separated from me, but as people living in me. See how that works for you!”

The apostle Paul, when confronted with so much immoral behaviour in the Corinthian church, didn’t say to them, “Why are you behaving like immoral men?” He said, “Why are you behaving like mere men?” (1Cor.3:3) To the Colossians he declared “Why are you living as if in this world?” (Col.2:20). Throughout his letters he challenged believers as to why they were living as if separate from God (1Cor.6:19). Were they not born from above, that they may live from above? (Gal.3:3, Col.2:6). Did their old separated from God life not end at the Cross? (Col.3:1-4).

Any gospel that does not show you how God now sees you, has no power, for as a man thinks so he is. If your gospel lets you think of yourself as a mere man, then that is how you will continue to live. When the gospel is preached in words of human wisdom, it becomes a man-centred message offering good advice, rather than a Christ-centred message proclaiming good news. It is our communities that suffer, for they don’t need to see more mere men giving good advice. They are groaning to see the Sons of God, men and women who are the living demonstration of the good news they are proclaiming, their very language and lives ushering in the Kingdom of God on the earth today, for when the Gospel is proclaimed from heaven’s perspective……walls of unbelief fall!

Let the light dawn: From believing to knowing.

“Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.”                                                Romans 7:4

The people who crucified Jesus believed in God, but they did not know Him (Luke23:34). Many of us in this nation have believed in God from a young age, but we have not known Him. Let the light dawn.
• To believe God is more interested in my behaviour than in me, is not to know Him. (Luke 15:2)
• To believe the reason I was born, was to do something for God, is not to know Him. (John 17:20-26).
• To believe that I need to do something for Him, before He will do something for me, is not to know Him. (John 3:16).
• To believe I need to try harder to please Him, is not to know Him. (Rom.10:2-4, 1John 4:10)
• To believe the Bible is a book about what God requires of us, is not to know Him. (Prov.4:20-23, Matt.4:4, John 6:63).
• To believe that because I don’t go to ‘church’ God loves me less, is not to know Him. (Luke 18:9-14, Luke 19:1-10)
• To believe the gospel is a message about you cleaning up your life, is not to know Him. (Gal.3:1-14)
• To believe religion (self-effort) is God’s idea, is not to know Him. (Rom3:20-24).

But you already know this. Deep down you always knew this from a child, for the Holy Spirit always told you such things (Jer.1:5, 2Tim.1:9,10). Such truths feel like water in a dry place (John 4:14). That’s because it was religion (self-effort) that dried up your heart, so cracked your confidence in God, that you felt you could not believe in a God anymore who never seemed to answer your prayers (Prov.13:12). It was religion who gave you a God who would one day answer your prayers, if……. (Rom.10:2-4).

But the truth is, He is a God who already gave you every answer to every need, in the gift of His Son (1Cor.3:21-23, Eph.1:3). The answer was given and the need was met, before you asked or needed, because He never wanted your love for Him to be conditional on His performance for you. What father would? (Rom.8:32, 1John 4:10). He never wanted you to love Him merely because you felt you ought to (Eze.36:26). So, He did the only thing that would set you free from the self-conscious, self-effort life of religious anxiety; He gave you everything He had to give, before you were capable of doing anything for Him! (1 Cor.1:28-30, Rom5:8. Col.2:13, Heb.10:8-14). Let the light dawn. God is not in the process of making up His mind about you. Jesus Christ is God’s mind made up about you (John 3:16,17). The only person whose mind now needs to be made up… you (Rom.10:12-14, 2Cor.5:18-20).

Some news is so good, it does not need to demand a response. The news itself is powerful enough to cause the response. The Gospel is such news! (Rom.1:16). When you hear the truth about who God is, you will need no man to confirm it, for God’s Spirit will cause a thanksgiving and a peace to well up within you (Luke 24:32, John 4:14, Rom.8:15). You will find within you a gift from Him called faith; the ability to know Him (Rom.10:17). Jesus had a beautiful description for knowing God as He really is, knowing Him as your Father. He simply called this knowing; “eternal life” (John 17:3).

It is in knowing Him, knowing His life, that we discover that His way of life is never an ‘I alone’ life (John 5:19). That explains why you could never ‘be’ the good person you wanted to be, by yourself (John 15:5). To be good as God is good, is only possible by receiving His good life, not by achieving it (Eph.2:8,9). His good life is not an ‘I’ life but an ‘Us’ life (Gen.1:26, John 17:22). Religion may have asked ‘you alone’ to do things for God, but God has never expected you to do one thing for Him, apart from Him! (John 15:4,5) He only asks you to do everything with Him (Matt.11:28).
It is because Jesus came, that any person in this world, from whatever religious background or none, who wants to live with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now can (John 3:16). This gift of faith, a gift of His grace, comes to you through hearing the truth about Him, and carries you into a new life, His life, a life in union with God (Col.1:12,13, Col.3:3). The Gospel describes this union like a marriage and in being married to Jesus, in finally knowing God, you will now bear the fruit of such intimacy, of such a marriage; a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Rom.7:4, Gal.5:22,23). The life religion insists you live FOR Him, is in fact the life that comes from living WITH Him. His life grows in you from the seed of the truth He has given to you; Christ, the truth about God (Col.1:6).

So, let that seed grow in your heart. Come out of the shadows of half-light. Come out of the half-truths of religion; faith in yourself, where you have been perishing (Matt.4:16). Come into the full light of the glorious gospel; the message that God so loved this world that He gave everything He had to give, His Son, that whosoever, by the gift of His grace, should hear and believe this truth, will no longer perish but have eternal life, because this is eternal life….knowing Him!

Now look and watch what happens. As the knowledge of the Son rises in your heart, the shadows of religion (faith in yourself), will recede, as the half-light does before the dawn. So awakens God’s new creation across the world; the rising Church, the light of the world, the bride of Christ.

The power to change: Christ and Him crucified, (Part 3)

What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are things that God has revealed to us by His Spirit.” 1Cor.2:9,10.

What our natural senses cannot reveal, God’s Spirit reveals. If God’s Spirit reveals to us, what our natural senses cannot reveal, then can you see that what the Spirit wants to reveal to us, is not who we are in the natural. God wants us to see ourselves as He sees us, and we can only do that as His Spirit reveals to us how He sees us.

The Holy Spirit is given that we would see what God sees. What God sees is so extraordinary, so beyond our natural understanding, that the Holy Spirit has to, over time, lead us into the truth of what God sees. “Lead into” is a phrase Jesus used of the Holy Spirit in John 16:13: “When He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will lead you into all truth” (guide, show the way). Jesus at times would say to His disciples, “I have much to say to you, but you are not yet able to bear it. (John 16:12)

We see also in the ministry of Paul, that he too at times could not speak certain truths to some, as they were not yet at the point of being able to receive what he had to say. One notable example of a group unable to receive truth because of spiritual immaturity is found in the letter to the Hebrews. Many of the New Testament letters are written to Gentile believers, but here the writer pinpoints a truth that the Hebrews are, (to use Jesus’ phrase), “not yet able to bear”. He writes…”For though ]by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.” Hebrews 5:12,13

It is interesting to read v13 in the New Life Version: “Anyone who lives on milk cannot understand the teaching about being right with God. He is a baby.” If you don’t understand the teaching on righteousness, the teaching on how you are already as a believer, right with God, righteous in God’s sight, then you will live merely natural religious lives; continually trying to please God and therefore continually thinking about whether you are pleasing Him or not. You will thus find yourself living continually self-conscious and sin-conscious, rather than living from the heavenly realm, living seeing by the Spirit what God sees. it is impossible to live a generous life while living self-consciously because the self-conscious life is by definition a self-ish life!

So, what is it that the Spirit shows us that God sees? What is it that is beyond any natural hearing or natural sight or natural religious understanding, that we need the Holy Spirit to see? 1Cor.2:10 declares it to be..“the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are things that God has revealed to us by His Spirit.”

In other words, the Holy Spirit wants us to see what God sees and what does God see? He sees what He has prepared; Christ and Him crucified and He is content with what He sees, for He sees that Christ and Him crucified is enough.

  • The more clearly we see what He sees, the more we enter that contentment, that rest of a God who has ceased from His works and wants us to cease from ours (Heb.4:10).
  • The less clearly, we see what He sees; that Christ and Him crucified is enough, the less our lives manifest the joy and rest of God over His finished work.

Churches that continually minister to their congregations’ messages about what God requires of them, gradually bring the vision of believers down. Down from the joy of the spiritual realm, where they can see that what Christ did was enough to present them holy and blameless before God (Col.1:22) and down into the natural realm, where they see themselves as far from holy and blameless. But that is not the realm to see by, for those who were risen in Christ. “Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. [a]Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Col.3.1-4.

The Holy Spirit seeks to lift the eyes of those risen, to see now from heaven’s perspective, to see from Christ’s finished work. To see from Christ is to see clearly how complete and finished is the work He has done. Keeping our eyes fixed on how He sees us, empowers us to grow up into how He sees us, to grow up into who we now are in Him (Heb.12:2, 2Cor.3:18). The work of ascension ministries in the Church is precisely to keep pointing the Church to Christ (and not themselves), so that they grow up into who they already are in Him, for He is their very life TODAY, not some day soon (1Cor.6:17, Eph.4:11-24, Col.3:4). Ascension ministries are about raising believers to live in ascension life, to live from the life they have been placed in. Only by the Holy Spirit can we see this life and live from where we have been raised to; seated and hidden with Christ in God (Col.3.3)

To the believer who started off seeing by the Spirit and has now been “brought back to earth”, legalistic Christianity (try harder to be holier and God will bless you) appears to offer him a way to draw nearer to “holy and blameless”. It appears to offer him wings. But in effect it has clipped his wings, for having been blinded to the finished nature of Christ’s work, he is being led back down to the self-righteousness “earthly” religious life that naturally minded believers “see’ as the best they can “do” for God. Paul made clear to the Galatians what he thought of trying to finish in the flesh a life that was birthed from the Spirit and what he thought of any “gospel” that encouraged such striving. (Gal.3:1-5).

Only by the Spirit can believers see themselves as God sees them (according to what Christ has done). God sees that what Christ did, (which God had prepared from before time began, “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world”) is enough; enough for us to be who He says we are. So, to preach the Gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit, is to declare to all men what God sees; ‘Christ and Him crucified and that enough’; enough for whosoever who believes in Him, to live as God sees them to be; reconciled to God (2Cor.5:19-21).

What I now want to show you, is that when the Gospel is not watered down, but preached in all its glory as a message entirely about what God has done, it is in itself the power for men and women to “be” whom God has made them to be, in Christ.

Some news is so good, that you don’t have to demand a response to it. The news itself is good enough to produce a response. In 1945 for several days throughout the UK, people were waiting for news which they had yearned to hear for 6 long years; the official announcement that the war was over. When that announcement finally come over the airwaves on 8th May 1945, the government did not have to instruct the people on how to respond. No-one could stop them responding! The whole country began to dance and laugh and party and cry and eat and drink and party again. They had not lived like that all throughout the war years. They had not lived like a people who had attained victory, a people who had attained peace, they had lived as a people who were waiting for victory, waiting for peace. But now they lived as a people in victory and in peace. What give them the power to live that way? The good news itself, that the war was over.

Paul wrote to the Romans; “I am not ashamed of this gospel for it is, in itself, the power of God to save people (Rom.1:16). Paul knew the message itself was powerful enough to bring people into a new life because unlike religion, it is not a message about what people have to do for God, but of what God has done for all people; won victory and peace! The war is over. God is not against you, He is for you! He is so for you, that He came down and took your life, your humanity, into Himself, so that you may now live in His life, His Spirit, simply by believing this good news of what He has done. Even better, you now can believe, because His faith, His life, His very Spirit, is carried and imparted in the message, the Gospel, the word of Christ. “Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.” Rom.10:17 (NASB)

Through the Word of Christ, the Gospel, the Holy Spirit gives you the ability to hear what no ear has heard and to see what no eye has seen and to believe what no mind has ever imagined!

  • When the Gospel is continually proclaimed as the news of what God has done for us, it is the power for people to live in victory, in peace, in Christ.
  • But when the Gospel is continually proclaimed as news of what God wants us to do for Him, then we end up with a people waiting; waiting to live in victory, waiting to live in peace, waiting to live in Christ; a people living a life apart from the truth, apart from the reality that God sees.

It is the proclamation of the Gospel as good news that produces the life of victory and peace, the life of God, in people. If Churchill had come on the radio on 8th May and announced to the U.K that the war wasn’t over yet but required one more push from everyone, one more big effort and we will get there,… would there have been singing and dancing? No! because….

The life of victory and peace, is only imparted by the news of victory and peace.

Water down the Gospel and you get a watered-down life. What changes men and women, is seeing what God sees and what God sees, is that what Christ did was enough to bring us into union with God. This is what the Holy Spirit leads men into seeing; the sufficiency of Christ and Him crucified, in opening the way for us to share in the life of God, the shared life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. How? By believing its true.

Now to this you might respond; “Aha! I knew it. Despite all your talk of “good news” and no ‘work’, I knew that there was still something ‘I’ had to DO. You are telling me that there is ‘work’ I have to do. I have to believe!”

In response, I would say two things.

  • The ‘work’ God requires of you is to believe. These are the exact words of Jesus recorded in John 6:29, on being asked what were ‘the works’ God requires of men; “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
  • But this is where the good news gets even better. God doesn’t expect anyone to believe by themselves! God is not a god who expects or demands that blind men see. He is the God who opens the eyes of the blind. (Luke 4:18)

The power to see what God sees and so live from the reality God sees; live as someone ‘hidden with Christ in God’ (Col.3:3), comes in the message itself.

The very faith of God; the belief that God believes, comes by hearing and “hearing by the Word of Christ” (Rom.10:17). Faith doesn’t come by hearing the news about Moses or Abraham or David. Yes, “God, at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, but He has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” Hebrews 1:1. It is in the message of what Christ has done, comes the power of God, the Spirit of God, to enable even the least believer to live at a level of intimacy with God greater than the greatest of the old Testament prophets; John the Baptist (Matt.11:11)

So we have been saying that it is the truth of the good news of what Christ has done, that carries the power of God, the Spirit of God, the grace of God, that enables us to see what God sees and so live in light of what God sees.

God the Father wants us to see ourselves in a new light, in light of what He has done for us. In this light (which the Holy Spirit gives through the Gospel), we can see clearly that we are saved and called to a holy life NOT BECAUSE OF ANYTHING WE HAVE DONE. This truth is beautifully and powerfully declared by the apostle Paul, in his second letter to Timothy. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2Tim.1:9,10. NIV.

Our salvation and our calling are “not because of anything we have done”. Those seven words effectively confirm that the gospel abolishes religion! (Heb.10:9). Every religion in the world, (including legalistic Christianity), proclaims that God relates to men according to what they have done and so points men to themselves as their hope and leaves them wondering whether they have “repented” enough, “believed” enough or “confessed” enough, to satisfy God. This despite the fact that the New Testament declares that no man can repent, or believe, or confess Christ as Lord, apart from the grace of God, apart from the enabling presence of God’s Spirit (John 6:44, Acts.11:18, 1Cor.12:3). The apostle John declared this in John 1:13 when he described how Christians are born; “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Ephesians 2:8,9 confirms that if salvation was in any sense our doing, then we would have something to boast in, but in fact it is entirely a work of God’s grace so that “no man should boast”. If you want to boast, you will have to go back to religion, for it is a product of the natural mind and so to the natural man, the idea that God will bless his efforts seems eminently reasonable and fair, as his hope has always been in himself. To the natural man (apart from the revelation of the Spirit), to the ‘religious’ mind, a gospel that declares salvation to be “not because of anything you have done”, sounds both foolish and offensive (1Cor.1:23), not to mention dangerous (Rom.3:8, Rom.6:15).

To all this you might say, “But I thought I became born again because I did something. After all, I made a decision for Christ, didn’t I?” How can the Holy Spirit declare that I was saved and called “not because of anything I had done”? Good question!

Have you ever noticed how often, when asked a question, Jesus replied with a question of His own? When I asked Him about the decision I had made for Him, here is the answer I got…..a question! That decision you made for Christ, the one you say, “I made”. Which ‘I’ made that decision? The old ‘I’ or the new ‘I’?

Remember in Gal. 2:20, Paul spoke of two ‘I’s; the old ‘I’ and the new ‘I’. He wrote, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” He is declaring in effect, “The life I live now is I; yet not I, but Christ living in me.” Can you see that the old ‘I’, the ‘I’ that was crucified with Christ, was the ‘I alone’, the new I that rose up, was the ‘I in Christ’. One ‘I’ was of the first Adam and one ‘I’ was of the last Adam. (1Cor.15:45)

On that day when you stood and said ‘the sinners prayer’, or ‘asked Jesus into your life’ or said whatever you felt you had to say, which “I“ made that confession of faith? The I alone, or the I in God? (the I indwelt by the faith of the Son of God). It could not have been the old I, the ‘I alone’, the I of the first Adam because that I was dead to God, dead in his sin and incapable of confessing Christ as his Saviour. “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,” Col.2:13. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Eph.2:4,5.

Every person who is born- again is born “of the Spirit” (John 3:6). The power of the Spirit to bring people out of the Kingdom of darkness and into the Kingdom of the Son, (out of living dead in our sins and separated from God and into living in union with God), is imparted by the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ and Him crucified; the Gospel of His finished work, not the Gospel of your unfinished work!.

No wonder Paul was so excited about preaching the gospel, for He knew it to be in itself the power of God to save (Rom.1:16). No wonder He felt the love of God compel him to share such good news with as many as he could. No wonder he asked “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Rom.10:14,15.

God’s Spirit, through the preaching of the Gospel, brings light for men to see themselves as God sees them. By this light (revelation) we can begin to see ourselves..

  • not in light of all the things that we have done, or have been done to us, but
  • in the light of what God has done for us, in light of Christ and Him crucified.

 That’s why Paul, at the beginning of his letter to the Corinthians, told them that while he was with them, he determined to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified, to see them in that light, not in light of their behaviour, but in the light of God’s purpose and grace, given to them in Christ since before the beginning of time (1Tim.2:9). Men and women who see by the revelation of the Spirit, who by the Spirit know the heart of the Father, know that God does not save and call people according to what they have done.

  • He is the God who called a coward hiding in a hole in the ground, “Mighty warrior”. He saw Gideon according to His purpose and grace and not according to what he had done.
  • He is the God who called an escaped murderer “The deliverer of my people”. Because He saw Moses according to His purpose and grace and not according to what he had done.
  • He is the God who called an adulterer and a murderer “a man after my own heart” because He saw David according to His purpose and grace and not according to what He had done.
  • He is the God who called a man who broke his promise and betrayed Him in His hour of need “a shepherd of my sheep”, because He saw Peter according to His purpose and grace and not according to what He had done.

God is not hesitating to invite people to share His life, until He first inspects what they have done, because He doesn’t see people according to what they have done but according to His own purpose and grace already given to them in Christ Jesus.

He sees them according to what He has done.

Why do we need the Holy Spirit to see? Because we see people according to what they have done. God sees them according to what He has done.

Paul resolved to see “all men” after the Spirit, not after the flesh and to speak to them words of the Spirit of God, not mere human wisdom. He resolved to see no man after the flesh (2Cor.5:16). That’s why despite the appalling immoral behaviour of that church, Paul did not open address his letter to the sinners in Corinth, but to the saints in Corinth.

  • Human wisdom (religion), always speaks to you about what you need to do.
  • The Gospel of the Spirit of God, speaks of what Christ has done.

Listen to our opening verse again; “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are things that God has revealed to us by His Spirit.” The things God has prepared; these are the things God reveals to us by His Spirit.

  • Religion points to you and says DO.
  • The Gospel points to Christ and says DONE.

I believe the apostle Paul’s strategy to strengthen the Church is timeless and transcultural, (Ireland or India or Iceland) because it was never based on natural human wisdom, but in fact on raising the vision, the thinking of men and women, out of the natural realm (of what they have done and are doing ) and into the heavenly realm of God’s eternal purpose and grace towards them in Christ, or as he described it in Ephesians 4; to grow up believers into the head, the mind of Christ.

Ephesians 4 is famous for its description of the five-fold ascension ministry gifts in the church of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher and often we get so focused on those ministries that we forget their purpose.

  • Bridges have a purpose; to enable people to get to the other side of a natural obstacle. Bridges are not built simply so that a country can claim to have bridges.
  • Ascension ministries are not about apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. These ministries are all about getting believers over a natural obstacle; their natural earthly thinking and into a new way of thinking and a new way of living, called Ascension life; life in Christ.

 If we want to see more Christ-like Christians, it is not enough just teach them how to avoid the dirt, we must give them the wings to ascend out of it and the gospel gives us wings. That little rhyme that John Bunyan wrote 400 years ago, still goes to the heart of why some Christians live their whole lives trying, while others live trusting.

Run, John, run, the law commands, 

But gives us neither feet nor hands, 

Far better news the gospel brings:

It bids us fly and gives us wings.

Let the finished work of Christ be preached in all its dangerous foolishness, for its time the church that came down to earth with a bump, rises up again with a shout that will bring down the walls of religion “Christ and Him crucified and that enough!’

The power to change; Christ and Him crucified. (Part 2)

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,  so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”                                                       (1Cor.2:4,5)

In part 1 we saw that messages of human wisdom can sound wise and persuasive to the natural mind, but they do not have the power to change you. This is because the Holy Spirit cannot operate through messages that point to you, as your hope of change and if the Holy Spirit is not in the words, then they are words without power (John 6:63). Persuasive messages, that exhort you to try harder to do better for God, can result in the appearance of godliness; more meeting attended, more prayers said, more charitable works achieved. But the employees of any worldly organisation can also raise productivity and improve the reputation of the company in response to inspiring talks by management. The message, “try harder” can result in a temporary behaviour change, but it can never change the person because it cannot change the heart.

In biblical language, the heart is the inner beliefs of a person, especially their fundamental belief about who they are. These beliefs inform the motives of every action and ambition (Prov.4:23). In a very real sense, every person’s life springs out from what they are believing. Jesus knew this and for that reason was dismissive of the ministry of the religious whose message; “try harder to keep God’s commands” resulted in an outer appearance of godliness, but with no inner change of heart. He described such ‘ministries’ as “wiping the outside of the cup” (Matt.23:25) and pointed out that even those holding themselves up as poster boys for such religion were like white washed tombs (Matt.23:27). Their clean exterior hid the truth, that they were still fundamentally unchanged, still hopelessly self-centred and powerless to be as God is.

That is because the only message that has the power to change the heart of man, is a message that changes first his beliefs, not his behaviour. Think of your beliefs as the root of a tree and your behaviour as the branches. No amount of pruning back the branches is ever going to change the tree in the same way as a change to the root will (Luke 13:8). To believe what Jesus believes about you, is to have Him as the root of your life and your life as branches of that root, blossoming with His fruit (John 15:5). When what God believes, becomes what you believe, only then can you live as God lives (John 8:32).

What God believes about your life; the worth of your life, who you really are to Him, is only seen in Christ and Him crucified. Only in Christ can men see the truth about who they are. They are worth the life of God, loved unconditionally by Him and made for Him, to live with Him (2Cor.5:15, Rom.7:4). To believe in Christ, is to receive Him as God’s view and opinion of you, His mind made up about you (Rom.5:8). His amazing thoughts towards us are so much higher than our own, that we cannot take them in without the Holy Spirit (John 16:12,13, 1 Cor.2:9-16). We have never thought that God gives freely, for we live in a world that has pointed us to ourselves and our achievements as our source of life. This spirit of the world has so shaped man’s view of God, that even in the church it is hard to escape the mindset that God’s generosity is shackled to our performance (Gal.3:1-3). Only the Holy Spirit contradicts this message (1Cor.2:12).

To grow therefore as a believer, is to grow up into the mind of Christ, to think more and more as God’s Spirit thinks rather than as the world thinks (Eph.4:15). So how does God think? He thinks the finished work of Christ is sufficient for our every need and so maturity for a believer is to live in the rest, peace, love and generosity of a God who rejoices that all that needs to be done has been done and all that man needs, has already been given (Rom.8:32).

Without the revelation of the Holy Spirit, natural man cannot see his own worth to God or how much has been given to Him in Christ (1Cor.2:14). He can only ever see what he doesn’t appear to yet have, or yet be. Blind to what God has done for him, a man can spend a lifetime seeking to add value to himself through what he achieves or accumulates. Yet even if he gained the whole world, he would still have lost the true value of his own soul (Luke 12:15, Mark 8:36,37).

What the Holy Spirit speaks to us is nothing short of extraordinary, for the truth about what God has done for us is nothing short of extraordinary. Here is the difference between human wisdom and the Gospel. Human wisdom says that ordinary men can become extraordinary by doing extraordinary things. The gospel says that doing extraordinary things does not change a man, (some of the most extraordinary feats of human achievement were done by very selfish individuals!). Rather it is believing extraordinary things that most changes people and there is nothing in this world so extraordinary to believe as the gospel of Christ and Him crucified. Human wisdom is a message about what you must do, (and so appeals to man’s pride), but the Gospel is a message about what God has done, a message that in leaving no place for pride (Eph.2:8,9), lifts man out of self-consciousness and into God-consciousness and when men see God….they are changed! (2Cor.3:18).

An awareness of the spirit of the world influencing men, alerts us not to be taken in by ‘wise and persuasive’ messages, but to ask ourselves a simple question. Did what I just hear leave my faith on me and my performance, or on Christ and Him crucified? Did it leave my faith on a sinning less life, or on a sinless life?

That’s why faith cannot rest on human wisdom, because human wisdom will give you no rest. All those ‘eloquent’ messages are always all about what you need to do for God and once you start down that road, it’s a never-ending road because you never know if you have done enough? If you are not at rest as a believer, if you are striving and struggling to change, then it is almost certainly because at some point in the past, the preaching of mere human wisdom moved your hope, off what Christ has done for you and onto what you are going to do for Him. The gospel is not a matter of words but of power and that power comes by the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to God’s reality, to the way God sees, for when you see what God sees….. you will be changed by what you see.

Don’t let your hope for change be placed in what you or other people are going to do, this year or any year. That will leave you always waiting for change. But if your hope for change is in the Cross, then you will always be seeing change, for it is in seeing and continually seeing Christ and Him crucified, that people are changed. That is speaking of change coming through revelation, through having our eyes opened to see what we could not see, or see clearly, before (Luke 4:18). The greatest change in your life in 2019 will not come from the change you achieve in your strength (self-effort/religion), but from the change you receive (revelation).

This is what Jesus was declaring to Peter, when He told him that His Church would not be built by knowledge that flesh and blood could know, but only by what the Father in heaven reveals by His Spirit (Matt.16:17,18). The way God changes man is by revelation, but not a revelation of what man needs to do, but a revelation of what Christ has done. The revelation that comes from God, (the gospel the Spirit declares), is not man-centred, but Christ-centred. When you see what God has done, when you see Jesus Christ, you will see that God has already achieved all the change that is necessary for a man or a woman to be, as God is. We don’t have to achieve wisdom, sanctification, righteousness or redemption, for in Christ all those goals are already ours (1Cor.1:30).

That’s why Jesus has sat down (Hebrews 10:11-14). The Father is not going to nudge Jesus one day and say, “I am afraid you are going to have to get up again because it seems that your life, death, resurrection, ascension and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit were not quite enough.” There was no chair for the Old Covenant priests to sit on in the Temple because their work was never done. Whenever an Old Covenant mindset leavens a ministry, the preacher cannot bring himself to let you sit with Christ. He will preach the most beautiful gospel message, but right at the end, find he cannot resist giving you something to do. Many a preacher in the closing 5 minutes of their sermon, feels almost duty-bound to exhort his or her hearers to ‘respond’ to the message. We all know the importance of making a decision ‘for’ Christ, but the greatest lives will be led by those whose gaze is left fixed on the decision that was made ‘by’ Christ; to give all He had to us before we had made any decision for Him! (Rom.5:8)

Has Jesus already done enough to change you forever? Yes or No? What we answer to that question depends on one thing. How clearly can we see, Christ and Him crucified! Has Jesus already done enough to change us forever? What people answer to that, depends not on what Jesus is going to do, but on how clearly they see what He has already done. How well we see what Christ has done, depends on which spirit we are seeing by; either the spirit of the world (who directs our gaze continually onto ourselves) or the spirit that comes from God (who directs our gaze continually onto Christ and Him crucified) (1Cor.2:12). Which spirit are we receiving, are we making room for, in our life?

It is not God’s will that we be filled with any other spirit, any other mindset, than His and His mind on us is that the work of salvation He did in us is a compete and perfect work, for He did not plant is us a half-truth or a half-spirit, but of His fullness have we all received (John 1:16). It is as we let His mind, His Spirit, His peace over His finished work, rule our heart, our beliefs, that we will feel utterly fulfilled by the magnitude of the change He sees in us, for God sees what He has done through Christ as …enough! See yourself through man’s eyes and all you will see is what you have not yet achieved; perfection. But see yourself through God’s eyes and you will see what has been freely given; perfection, unless you think God, in giving you His Spirit, planted in you an imperfect seed, an incomplete life. But what does the scriptures say about what has been given to you? “You have been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever.” (1Peter 1:23)

Christian, can you accept that when God saved you, you were worth doing a complete work on; that in God’s eyes you are an entirely new creation? Can you see yet what the Holy Spirit is opening your eyes to see? Can you see yet what God sees? Can you see that if “any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2Cor. 5:17). Start to see the things God sees this year and your heart won’t be sick anymore, for you will see that all your dreams of change are yes and amen in Christ (2Cor.1:20). See that and you will be as God sees you to be; changed utterly.

So Christian, what will you see in 2019?

Will you still see yourself through human wisdom? Will you still see yourself according to what you do, rather than according to what Christ has done? By the end of this year, you may still see yourself as a sinner because the world around you, (even in the church), defines you by your doing, but that’s not going to stop God seeing you as a saint (1Cor.1:30, 2Cor.5:17), nor His Spirit addressing you as such (Phil.1:1). You may see yourself as a half-finished work, with much left to do, but the Father does not see the Son’s work as half-finished, for God sees clearly just how much has been done and 2000 years ago He used His last breath on the Cross to shout it out for all of creation to hear; It is finished! (John 19:30).

The greatest change that can come into a person’s life, is in seeing; seeing the change that Jesus Christ has already achieved for them. If you and I, at the start of this new year, are resolving to try harder to reconcile ourselves to God, to get closer to God, by doing more of this and doing less of that, then we have a problem, but it is not a sinning problem. We have a seeing problem. We are not seeing Christ and Him crucified clearly enough!

What’s the remedy for people who can’t see Christ and Him crucified clearly enough? Paul’s remedy for short-sightedness in every church, whether falling into legalism or immorality, was exactly the same; hold up before them continually, nothing more and nothing less, than Christ and Him crucified (1Cor.2:2), because to see Christ and Him crucified, is to see that you don’t need to reconcile yourself to God. Christ has already done that. When you can see that, you can start to see as God sees. When the Church starts to see as never before, she will start to live as never before and what the world will see is Christ living in His people.

Church, to see ourselves as God sees us in Christ, is to see that we are more than human wisdom and religion have ever told us. In Christ we are not mere men, we are sons of the living God and we are not ashamed of this unbelievable gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who will see and believe in what Christ has done.




The power to change; Christ and Him crucified. (Part 1).

“When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”    1Cor.2:1,2

Do you know why there is no power in human wisdom? Because the best human wisdom can do, is see you and I as “mere men” (1Cor.3:3). If we as Christians, are continually spoken to as mere men, the great danger is that we will believe that and so only behave like mere men (Prov.23:7, 1Cor.3:16). There is no power in the preaching of human wisdom because there is no anointing of the Holy Spirit, no power of God, on human wisdom, for why should the Holy Spirit anoint a message that is understandable without Him? The only message worth hearing, is a message that you need the Holy Spirit to understand, for with the Holy Spirit comes power.

That’s why messages of human wisdom sound really good to the natural mind but they do not have the power to change you, because the Holy Spirit cannot operate through messages that point you…to you, as your hope of change!

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words” (1Cor.2:4). Messages of human wisdom can sound wise and persuasive, but we need to ask ourselves a question about every message we hear in the year ahead. No matter how wise, and persuasive, and eloquent what I heard was, no matter how much scripture was used to illustrate all the points, did what I just hear leave my faith on me and my performance, or on Christ and Him crucified? Is my faith now resting on a sinning less life, or on a sinless life?

The apostle Paul in this passage declared in effect to the Corinthians “I did not come to you with human wisdom because your faith cannot rest on human wisdom.”

No time of year is more charged with hope of change than the first weeks of January. It is human wisdom to believe that we must change ourselves. That’s why faith cannot rest on human wisdom, because human wisdom will give you no rest. All those wise and persuasive words, are always about what you need to do to change and once you start down that road, it’s a never-ending road because you never know if you have done enough?

A gospel that is about what you need to do is very complicated. Religion is very complicated. You can be in it for years and still be no wiser as to what on earth God wants from you. That’s because as long as your focus is on yourself and what you need to do for God (which is where most religion fixes your gaze), then you will remain effectively blind to what God wants you to see; how much He has already done for you! What God has provided can be summed up in four words; “Christ and Him crucified”.

The Holy Spirit is not pointing you to you and saying; “Look what needs to be done”. He is pointing you to Christ and Him crucified and saying; “Look what has been done!” (Hebrews 12:2). In truth, the more you think you have to do for God, the less you know Him. This is because to know Him, to be filled with His Spirit, is to totally be consumed by what He has done for you, not what you will do for Him (John 6:28,29).

That’s why when Paul said he determined to know nothing among the Corinthians except Christ and Him crucified, he was saying that he decided to only listen to the Holy Spirit, not human wisdom. Any preaching that points you to yourself, no matter how eloquent, no matter how many scriptures are quoted, is merely human wisdom because the Holy Spirit always points us to Christ and Him crucified! (1Cor.2:12).

If you are not at rest as a believer, if you are striving and struggling to change, then it is almost certainly because your faith is not resting on Christ and what He has done. The most likely reason for that, is that at some point in the past, the preaching of mere human wisdom moved your hope, off what Christ has done for you and onto what you are going to do for Him. There is no power to change in what you will do for Christ. There is no power in self-effort (religion). The gospel is not a matter of words but of power because the Gospel is a proclamation of what God sees. Through the proclamation of what God has done; Christ and Him crucified, the Holy Spirit can open eyes to God’s reality, to the way God sees and when you see what God sees….. you will be changed by what you see!

To proclaim the Gospel in all is fullness, is to speak therefore of things which cannot be seen without the Holy Spirit opening our understanding. What we then perceive, is that God is greater and more generous than any man has ever imagined (1Cor.2:9-16). These things are so naturally unbelievable, that you will either be changed or offended, for that is all the gospel preached by the early church did; either offended people or changed them (Acts 13:43-46).

Human wisdom points you to yourself and says in effect “You need to change your life to be a better person and here is what you need to do.” In other words, the emphasis is on you, changing your own life. Such a view of life is inherently self-centred, for without a revelation of God, man remains consumed with self.

Paul told the Galatians that until Christ came, we had been held in bondage (slavery) to such human wisdom, what he described as “the elementary principles of this world.” (Gal.4:3). The idea that it is down to you to change yourself and so to save yourself, is an elementary principle of this world. It is the principle of men who believe they do not have a Saviour to save them or change them. So, how are they supposed to change themselves or save themselves? That brings us to another elementary principle of a world that does not see Christ as their Saviour. You change or save yourself…by what you do!

The Gospel directly contradicts the idea that any man can fundamentally change himself for the better. It declares that we are “saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no man can boast.” (Eph.2:8,9). We are saved by grace, through the person of Jesus (Titus 2:11)

Imagine you are out of your depth and you can’t swim. Someone comes along to save you. What do you have to do? You have to let them save you. Continuing to struggle to save yourself, is now only going to hinder them.

When people asked Jesus what they should be doing, to do what was required by God, His response was never to give them something to do, but someone to believe in. He never pointed them to themselves, but to Himself; their Saviour. How do you let grace save you? You need to stop trying to save yourself, for all your efforts to save yourself are only pushing away your Saviour. Efforts to save yourself, push away the grace of God!

Paul wrote to some Christians in Galatia who were getting religious. They had started to believe that there was something else they needed to do to be saved, besides just let Jesus be their Saviour. Paul used an interesting phrase to describe what was happening to them in Gal.5:4. He said; “You are estranging yourself (distancing yourselves) from the grace of God”. “You have fallen from grace”. It is significant that Paul didn’t use this phrase with the immoral, “badly behaving” Corinthian church, but with the legalistic, “properly behaving” Galatian church. That’s because if Grace is your saviour, then you don’t fall from grace (your saviour) by sinning, but by insisting on saving yourself! (Gal.3:2) There is not a depth of sin you can fall into, that the grace of God cannot save you from, but we need to let the grace of God save us.

Have you ever seen lifesavers swimming out and trying to save someone, who is panicking? The biggest problem they have, is in trying to stop that person from saving themselves, long enough to let them save him. Keep sitting under messages that infer that your salvation depends on your behaviour and you won’t be able to help yourself. You will quietly start to panic and your flesh will not lie still, but will jump into action to save yourself through good works (1Cor.15:56).

Here is an elementary principle of the Kingdom of God; You don’t save yourself by what you do. You let yourself be saved. You let the Saviour do all the saving. Many of us as Christians, let Christ save us many years ago, but we have got caught up since by the spirit of this world (1Cor.2:12), (that elementary principle that you are saved by what you do). We have quietly slipped back into trying to save ourselves through what we do and that life, that self-centred, religious life, is effectively pushing away the grace of God, so that we are not enjoying being saved as Christ intended we would. Do you know that if Christians enjoyed being saved more, the Church would shine so much brighter in this world and be much stronger in every area, for “The joy of the Lord is your strength”. (Neh.8:10)

In every generation of the church, multitudes of believers have started out in joy because they could see that they couldn’t and didn’t save themselves. But after spending years around Christians, whose focus is on doing Christianity, they somehow can’t see as clearly anymore that they have been and always will be, saved entirely by the grace of God. Over the years as their spiritual eyesight has faded, so has their joy. The apostle Peter wrote that if we forget we were cleansed from our sins, then we become short-sighted to the point of blindness. (2Peter 1:9)

The less you see the change that Christ has achieved, the more you will try to achieve change yourself. God’s way of changing men is not through what they do, but through what they believe (Acts 16:31).

This basic principle of the world, that you can change yourself by what you do, is so pervasive, that it is has always been found affecting God’s people, in every generation (Gal.3:1-3). When the spirit of the world, which is man-centred, begins to influence people, you will always see an emphasis on doing, over believing.  Churches are full of this sort of teaching; “Here is what you need to do, in order to see change come into your life”. It sounds really helpful and so it’s easy to miss the fact that that type of message is directing your gaze down off Christ and what He has done and back onto yourself and what you are going to do, as your hope of change. Can you see yet, that any view of you changing your life, is a self-centred view of life?

Any gospel message that is man-centred, rather than Christ-centred, is powerless. The apostle Paul would have been tempted many times to read the riot act to some of His churches, to command them to do certain things in order to change, but he discovered from experience, that real change, real transformation, real power, only comes from directing people to Christ, not to themselves. Hence his comment to the Corinthians, “I determined to know nothing, while I was among you, only Christ and Him crucified.

If you took an honest look at your list of things to do this year, that you hope will make you a better Christian, can you say that the emphasis of that list is on your doing, or on Christ’s doing? Why is that important? Because when it comes to change this year or any year, the greatest change in a person’s life, comes as they receive the change that God has already brought about, rather than try to achieve change themselves. The spirit of the world says “Achieve”. The Spirit of God says “Receive”. In other words, our hope isn’t in what we are going to do, but in what Christ has done.

It’s such a powerful thing to have your hope in what has been done, rather than in what is yet to be done. Hope deferred into the future makes the heart sick. Prov 13:12 declares that, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Who is the tree of life? Jesus! A longing fulfilled is…Jesus. Jesus is …a longing fulfilled. Are you longing for change? Jesus is that longing fulfilled! If you look to what Jesus has done, you will see all the change you will ever need! But if your hope for change is continually deferred into the future, because you have let it be placed continually on either what you or others are going to do for God, your heart is going to get sickened.

Multitudes of people leave churches every year because they are sick of waiting for change. You can only keep telling people for so long that great change will come to their lives one day, if they keep doing x, y and z. After they have done x, y and z for a few years and no great change has come upon them, they get heart sick. When the Bible talks about the heart, it is not talking about the organ in your chest, but your capacity to believe (Prov.4:23). If you sit under messages, month in month out, year in year out, that keep pointing you to yourself, that boil down to continually telling you what you should be doing more of and what you should be doing less of, in order to please God, those messages will effectively keep dropping your gaze off Christ. In not seeing clearly the great change He has already brought into your life, then your heart, (your capacity to believe, your faith), will be sickened, because more and more it has come to rest on what people are going to do, rather than on what Christ has done. Faith cannot rest on human wisdom, as human wisdom always wants to tell you what you need to do. Human wisdom dressed up in religious clothes will even tell you what your faith needs to do!. So instead of resting, your faith jogs along until it is exhausted and then collapses for lack of rest.

If your hope for change is in what people are going to do, then you will always be waiting for change. But if your hope for change is in the Cross, then you will always be seeing change, for it is in seeing and continually seeing Christ and Him crucified, that people are changed. In part 2 we will look at what this means.


The Complete Christmas; in Him…you!

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,  and in Him you have been made complete,”                                                                                 Col.2:9,10

Those three little words sum up the whole purpose of Christ’s coming; so that …in Him you!

Ephesians 4 declares that the effects of the five ‘ascension’ ministries in the Church is to so root and ground Christians in the truth of their identity in Christ that they can no longer be “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine” but instead “grow up into Christ” (Eph.4:14,15). In other words, that they will be mature enough not to be manipulated by anyone who tries to intimidate them or guilt trip them through fear. To see how real this danger was, we only have to read Paul’s letter to the Galatians; an eternal warning on how legalism can creep into a Christian community and leave them powerless and merely religious.

The gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher are given to prevent this from happening, by ensuring that believers are equipped (Greek ‘katartismos’) and edified (Greek ‘oikodome’) (Eph.4:12). This is speaking primarily about the necessity of good teaching and for believers to be raised in a loving environment where they can witness and experience the power of the gospel to transform the thinking and so the lives of even the most hardened individuals. Such transformation can only follow a renewal of our thinking; a total change in how we see ourselves, the world and God. This allows us to live lives of confidence and generosity, not ignorance and selfishness (Rom 12:2). The foundation for such a life is the revelation of the believer’s union with Christ, the revelation that through Christ, we are not cut off from God and left to save ourselves, but are (entirely by His grace), as connected to God as the body is to the head (1Cor.3:11, Col.3:3).

From bitter experience, Paul had come to be convinced that without being rooted and established in this revelation, churches remained vulnerable to ideas based on worldly religious thinking. He knew that if a community of believers remain with their eyes fixed on Christ as their life, their life blossoms with the fruit of the Spirit (John 15:4,5). To be Christ conscious is to be union conscious, ever growing up “into the head” (Eph 4:15). It is to be persuaded by the Holy Spirit that we aren’t merely each living “separate” lives for God, but rather there is only one life that we are sharing in and that is the life of Christ (Eph.4:4-6).

But what happens when instead of being taught this continually and growing in the revelation of our union with Christ, churches are fed a diet of teaching that infers that separation from God (sin), is something that we have to work hard at preventing? What happens when more emphasis in teaching and practice is placed on sin (separation), than on Christ (union)? Think of a happily married couple who have eyes for no-one else but each other and are enjoying the peace, security and confidence of their lives together. Now imagine the husband comes home one day with an “idea”. He says that the last thing they would both want to happen is for one of them to start having eyes for someone else. Therefore, to prevent this from happening, each of them should now agree to start preparing a daily list to give to the other of any “straying” thoughts they might have had towards another person. In this way, by bringing their “sin” ever before them, this will keep their marriage stronger! Well, what do you think of that idea? In your opinion, would you think after six months of that focus, their marriage would know the same peace, security and confidence?

Separation consciousness cannot strengthen a marriage in the same way that love (union) consciousness can. It is a poor substitute. At some point the constant focus on finding fault will cause one or other of the partners to become defensive.

Separation (sin) consciousness inevitably leads to self-condemnation, which leads to an attempt to cover up. This attempt to “cover up” manifests in churches as self-righteousness. Keep pointing me to myself and soon all I can see is how well or how poorly I measure up to others. Keep going and the inevitable result is division. Now have a look at the body of Christ on the earth today!

The apostle Paul is very clear on the reason why believers do not grow up into union with Christ. “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.” (Eph.4:17). Here he is not just telling, he is “insisting”, that believers, (those who are one with God in Christ, as connected to God as their body is to their head), stop thinking the way unbelievers think. They must stop thinking and so living as if they are separated from God because to think like that is futile. The Greek word translated “futile” is ‘mataiotes’ which actually means “devoid of truth” or “perverse”!

There is nothing more futile in this world that to see New Covenant believers (at one with God), act and pray like Old Covenant believers (separated from God). It is such a problem across the body of Christ, it has so dimed the light of the Church, that at River City Church I am afraid we insist on it in the Lord too, that believers grow up to live in the reality of their union with Christ, that they live and talk like sons of God.

  • We insist on treating and speaking to Christians as if they are as connected to God as their body is to their head. (Col.3:3)
  • We insist on speaking to you as if you are the very temple of the Holy Spirit. (1Cor.6:19)
  • We insist on speaking to you as if you have already been blessed in the heavenly realms with every blessing in Christ. (Eph.1:3)
  • We insist on no longer regarding you after the flesh but after the Spirit. (2Cor.5:16)
  • We insist on preaching the justification and the sanctification of the believer by the finished work of Christ, not by our unfinished efforts at church. (1Cor.1:30. Heb.10:10)
  • So we insist that in Christ you have already been made righteous by grace, and in Christ you have already been forgiven by grace, and in Christ you have already been healed by grace. (Rom.5:17, Col.1:14, 2:13, 1Peter2:24)

And we insist on speaking these truths to each other continually for this one reason, that although God has already freely gifted these things to us in Christ, by grace, it is by faith that we receive and walk in the reality of the ‘in Christ’ life and that very faith, that ability to receive what God has freely given, comes by hearing. (Rom.10:17)

Hearing what? By hearing the gospel; the grace of God in truth (Col.1:6). Faith doesn’t come by hearing what you need to do, or do better for God. Faith comes by hearing what God has done for you. This is why we teach Christians that they don’t need to give more, pray more or do more to receive from God. They only need to listen more to the enormity of what has already been freely given to man in Christ and that listening heals our hearts; our ability to believe and receive.

This Christmas, millions will remember that the baby in the manger was “the fullness of the Deity dwelling in bodily form’. But what excites heaven is when millions start to see that “in Christ” all the fullness of the Deity still dwells and guess who is in Christ now? Have a look in the mirror Church! For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,  and in Him you have been made complete,” (Col.2:9,10) Those three little words sum up the whole purpose of Christ’s coming; so that …in Him you!

Church, have a completely amazing Christmas, for ‘in Christ’ you are the amazing completion of Christmas!

Praying from heaven.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”                                            Mark 11:24

The prayers that most glorify God by their effectiveness, are not those which rise to heaven…but those which come from heaven! (Col.3:2,3). It is in discerning the voice of the Spirit, that we can begin to see how heaven sees and what we see is the magnitude of Christ’s victory and the scale of Satan’s defeat (Col.2:15). Such a heavenly perspective allows us to cease praying to victory and start praying from victory! (1John.4:4). The prayers that shake the Kingdom of darkness are those that proclaim its demise, not those that list its achievements! (1Cor.15:55,57).

Let us pray from the revelation that whatever the Spirit leads us to come to the Father for, has already been given in Christ, for in Him are not all the promises of God Yes and Amen? (2Cor.1:20). In Christ, have we not already been gifted every blessing in the heavenly realm? (Eph.1:3). This is why Jesus instructed His disciples in Mark 11:24, Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Hannah had cried out for years for a child. Through a word from Eli, the priest at the temple, revelation came and she saw her child as already given and her countenance changed and she went home and conceived (1Sam.1:12-19). In believing that she had already received…she received. Note Hannah’s faith was not in her prayer, but in the Word from God and even that faith was a gift that came by hearing! Let’s pray that many of us across the church, experience a fresh revelation of our union with Christ as already given, that we may conceive great fruit from that revelation. From the mind-set of union (the mind of Christ), we can begin to understand that the Lord is not asking us to do one thing for Him, but everything with Him. Let it be so too when it comes to prayer. Let us not come to Him saying “Listen Lord, we are speaking”, but rather “Speak Lord, we are listening!” (1Sam.3:10)

What is the mind of Christ on prayer? Listen again to what Jesus said in Mark 11:24, “When you pray, pray believing that you have already received what you asked for and it will be yours.” How could Jesus pray like that? Because He prayed knowing His Father. He didn’t pray in ignorance, He prayed in faith and faith can only operate when the will of God is known. How can someone be praying in faith, if they are in doubt as to whether what they are asking is in the will of God or not and so doubting whether He will give or not? (James 1:7). Because He knew His Father, when Jesus prayed, He would pray from a place of thanksgiving (John 11:42). This is the place we must pray from. It helps to live there!

Imagine if we believed that the only place we could pray from, the only place acceptable to God, was a certain building, on a certain street. Eventually, to save us the trouble of travelling to that building multiple times every day, we would consider moving there. How can we continually pray from a place of thanksgiving? Move to there! Start living from the place God prepared for us, this place called IN CHRIST, this place called UNION (2Peter 1:4), of ONE MIND with God. (1Cor.2:16, 1Cor.6:17)

How could Jesus always pray from a place of thanksgiving? Because He and the Father were of one mind entirely and so whatever Jesus asked for, was already as good as given. This meant that when Jesus prayed, He prayed believing that He had already received what He had asked for (Mark 11:24). When we pray from our spirit, joined to God’s Spirit, we are only ever asking what it is the Father’s will that we have! To bear fruit in prayer, we only need to remain, to abide, rooted and connected to the mind of Christ, through the Spirit (John 15:4.5). Apart from thinking the thoughts of God, we cannot speak the will of God and this is precisely why we have been given the Spirit who knows all things, even the mind of God. It is that we may think the thoughts of God and pray the prayers of God. Listen to how Paul described the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the Corinthians; “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, [e]combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” (1Cor.2:12,13) So, the best way to learn to pray, is to learn to think the thoughts of God.

This way of thinking is taught by the Spirit of God through “ascension ministries”, the ministries of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. The ministry gifts are of Him, to raise up a people who would live in Him. The Apostolic Church is known for believing in ascension ministries. But those gifts were not given that men and women may believe in ascension ministries. They were given that men and women would live in ascension life. What’s the point of believing in food, if you never eat.

What’s the point of believing in teachers, if you never grow in understanding. If believers are not rising into the mind of Christ, it is usually because the mind of Christ is not being communicated to them. How is a child to feel like a son, if he is continually spoken to as an orphan? How is a bride to think of herself as a wife, if she is continually spoken to as one separated from her husband? How is it possible for believers to grow up into the head, to start to live from our position of union with Christ, if we continue to think of ourselves as separated from God by our sins? (Eph4:14)

In that same passage that proclaims that our words are to be taught by the Holy Spirit, through the renewing of our thoughts, the apostle Paul warns that to speak or pray in this heavenly manner can only sound foolish to the earthly minded man. “But [f]a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually [g]appraised.” (1Cor.2:14).

I have often heard very impressive sounding prayers, where the believer praying is passionate, emotional, full of zeal ….but praying as if the life, death and resurrection of Christ achieved nothing. They pray as if the intent of their prayer is to get God to move, to bless us with some blessing that we have not yet received. Here is the gospel; God moved! As the song goes, He moved from heaven to earth, from the earth to the Cross, from the Cross to the grave and from the grave to the sky and then He moved again in the pouring out of His Holy Spirit into the spirits of every generation of the Church. Believer, God moved. He moved to you. Your move!

Only it is no longer your move alone, for now, because of the Cross (Col.3:3), every believer, everyone joined to the Lord, is one spirit with Him. This means that it is no longer you alone, but you “together with” God, you “hidden with” God in Christ (Eph.2:5-7,Col.3:3) who prays.

This is how the body of Christ is to pray; as Christ prays, “of one being, one mind, with the Father”. When challenged as to the key to His effectiveness in ministry, Jesus pointed to the fact that He was not speaking “on my own”. He was thinking and so speaking from a mind in union with the Father. In John 8:28 He declared, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me,'” Again in John 12:49,50 He repeated this truth; “For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

What those two scriptures and others establish, is that Christ and the Father were of one mind, so if we are to pray as the body of Christ, then we must pray as Christ prayed, we must pray from a place of union with the Father.

In your life and mine as believers, the place of union with the Father, is our spirits.

“He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1Corinthinans 6:17) So, when our prayers are spirit led, they are always prayers of faith and thanksgiving, for we can say as Christ said; “Father we know that you always hear us” (John 11:42)

But if we have not learnt to think from, see from, speak from, the place that the Father has placed us in; Christ; the divine union, one mind, how can we expect to pray from that place?

  • If we don’t pray supernaturally, as people joined to God by His Son, then we will pray naturally, as people separated from God by our sin.
  • If we will not regard ourselves after the Spirit, then we will regard ourselves after the flesh.
  • If we don’t pray as New Covenant believers, then we can only pray as Old Covenant
  • If we will not see that it is because of Christ’s obedience, His holy life, His prayer, that all God’s promises are Yes and Amen for those of us in Christ, then we will pray as if the answer to our prayers depends on our obedience, our holy life, our prayers.

As spirt-filled New Covenant believers, we don’t pray that God would change. We pray that we would change, in that our vision of who God is and what He has done would grow and grow. We don’t pray that God would come down. We pray, that we rise up, to see from God’s perspective just how much was accomplished when He did come down. We pray that we may see, truly see as Christ sees; God as “our father.”

The prayers that most glorify God are not the prayers that rise to heaven, they are the prayers that come from heaven and the Holy Spirit desires to pray those prayers through us. This is why He is continually witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God (Rom.8:16), that we might pray as children of God, so that the voice of our Father and the knowledge of Him would cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.