I was thinking this morning while lying in bed … what kind of kingdom do we aspire to? Are we content with perpetuating the institution of church, doing Bible studies and converting people into ‘church life?’ Is our idea of church growth merely the multiplication of institutions that can reasonably be describes as ‘forms of godliness that lack His power?’ Or do we envisage a ‘Kingdom’ in which we (as sons) multiply Jesus’ revelation of our Father by doing the works Jesus did? Well some have this vision and they do it.
Once I did not expect to see it. But I have. A great revelation, joy and experience of my life has been to see things that happened in Jesus’ Day, like healings and words of prophecy, occur in my presence. No I have not seen a person raised from the dead but I have preached at a house church in the company of an Indian woman who was raised from the dead. The same day three women in this church testified about their healing from cancer.
My introduction into the things of the Spirit and His power gifts began in 1989 when I ventured into a charismatic church near my home and experienced the presence of God in the church. Sure, we’ve all heard about His omnipresence. But I mean the manifest presence that you can feel with your senses and know that God is a reality – not off in heaven or dimly seen in a Bible study. Once you have sensed The Presence, you are not attracted to those communities that ignore it. But you may have a burden for their advance into that which his really the inheritance of all.
JESUS IS LORD
I saw that this PRESENCE was associated both with praise and worship and the joyful proclamation of Jesus as Lord. For some time I was under the impression that praise and worship ushered in the presence. His closeness was certainly associated with joyful praise. Later I was to learn that this presence would come wherever Jesus was desired for Himself –whether or not we had praise and worship.
We do not have what is styled ‘praise and worship’ in our home church. Not because we are against praise and worship but because we are poor singers and none of us are musicians. Yet in our community people have had visions as we sat quietly in our home group - being there to participate in His life. Welcoming the company of Holy Spirit makes a big difference. With Him there is more of Jesus, more manifest presence and more fire in people’s hearts. If God is not head-banging, Holy Spirit is not emotionalism. But Spirit does inspire joy and an acute sensitivity to the heart of our Father.
I came to see that when we praise Jesus as the Lord, our flesh is circumvented. Jesus penetrates our conscious awareness, cutting through the soul into the Spirit. Inviting Holy Spirit to come and praising Jesus for who He is ‘thins’ the barrier between heaven and earth. This is widely understood by those who enjoy such praise. Yet here’s the thing. He was there all along. He is always in us and with us according to the Great Reality of the New Testament covenant. He has been incarnated in us as individuals and as the church. If God is in us in fullness – and He is - He is in us to change us and society, to rid the world of injustice and to prevent us destroying the soil, the air and the world in which we live.
Don’t think its ok to praise and worship in church and go out each week to participate in social selfishness, class greed and environmental vandalism.
What is the great reality of the new testament age? The gifts and the miracles? No. It is your union with God. It is the trinity come to take up residence in our being. Christ in you is the reality of Christ as the church.
In my time, I have witnessed the Spirit’s coming and also His withdrawal. Yet this has been less a withdrawal and more Holy Spirit’s inability to root the Kingdom in a separationist, old-covenant mindset. The Kingdom will not root in Adam, in what God has lefty behind and replaced with His Son.
We have union with God. But this union is not our possession if we insist on living from old covenant separationism. I mean living from the law. Christ is our life. He is our union with God. Live from Him. This is the new testament mode and this living way is our comfort and transformation. But more to the point it is our spirit and life – the stuff of the Kingdom.
REALITY IS CHRIST
Life in the Spirit cannot be maintained when we live in old covenant mode because here we are in separation from God. We have adopted a pre-cross mindset. We are not in real separation however. In a law and old covenant mindset we live in the illusion of separation. Abandon this illusion in exchange for the mind of Christ.
As laggards in the old covenant, we are out of step with God. Our mind is out of sync with Christ’s accomplishment of union with God for all. We have made a false reality. We have created a spiritual culture that is not aligned with what has been achieved for us through cross, Pentecost and incarnation. We have not grasped our sonship and effectively are not sons in spirit and truth. Even though this is our inheritance. Sadly we have fallen for a delusion of demons.
What has been accomplished for us? Our union with God. Much charismatic life is about seeking the presence, the gifts and the power. BUT WE ALREADY HAVE THIS. We and Father are one. Nothing can undo this. We don’t ‘come into His presence’ today. He is already in us and with us. This is the foundation of our Kingdom Life.
When we attempt to live in charismata apart from the incarnation, we are not living in the King and neither are we priest-kings. We are separated sons dangling in things deemed marvellous but which have no meaning unless we and our Father are one. This is because the Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of functioning sons.
The worst result of remaining in the law and old covenant is that we cannot be fully human or fully alive. Attached to law we are not able to be whole humans let alone sons of God. Our life remains hindered and our spirit remains dull. Union with God is our inheritance and the source of our sonship. Union with God is the soil from which Holy Spirit is in us and the outflow of power and life. It is our inheritance – so take possession!
Anna Rowntree writes about the Charismatic Revival that died, she says, forty years ago. The power of the Spirit faded, she writes because people chose to live in their own ‘perspectives.’ A common perspective is separationism – passionate singing asking God to come when He is already here.
She notes that the life of God in us is not defined by the gifts. It is defined by sonship. The life of God is enjoyed in union with God – which is what we already have and who we already are sons. One in the Spirit, you are an expression of our Father.
When Christ is our life the Kingdom has come. ‘Kingdom’ is by nature universal. It covers all of our personal life, all of society and all of the nations. So away with a narrow focus on sexual morality and being blind to the injustices of society, the evil of the economic system and the preposterous sin of voting into the presidency of the United States a person distinguished by ego and incompetence. This would have to be the grossest act of irresponsibility carried out by a section of the Christian church in modern times.
Jesus will not add His authority to those who blame the poor for being poor, who destroy the earth by their manic industry and pursue folly and greed as though this is their right.
JESUS IS ENTIRELY YOUR LIFE
Jesus lived a life of personal fulfilment because He and Father were one. He fulfilled His personal destiny and the mission Father had given Him because He was one with our Father. He had the spirit without limit because He was one with our Father. All of this is ours before we set foot in church or deplete our powers in the idol of institutionalism. One with Father we are not only sons and daughters. We are the church Jesus builds without human hands but through the artisanship of the trinity in us and with us.
We cannot live in fullness out of morality or religion. Morality is relative and religion is dulling. There is no room for compartments such as ‘our life and His life’ when Christ is our life. No little boxes where there are some for us and one or two for Christ. When Christ is our life He is all of us and we are all of Him. Anna Rountree asks, ‘Will Christ be our life or will we cheat around the edges’ making up little links of self-effort and little boxes of self-constructed merit?
VICARIOUS HUMANITY OF JESUS
The Kingdom of God came in Jesus because He joined us to our Father. Here we have the spirit without limit. We are sons in spirit and in truth. This is the soil of the anointing. Should we remain in law we are separated in our minds (but not in fact). In this mindset we are separated from God by the law – separated by self-effort because we have sidelined Jesus’ accomplishment of union with God and become children of the slave woman. But the reality is Christ. By receiving Him as our life we receive Him unconditionally to be our God and to be ourselves as individuals and as the church. In Jesus we cannot lose. All that is dead is swallowed up in life!
‘When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory"’ 1 Cor 15.54 NIV.