"The decision to say "No" to sin must itself be energised by the assurance of delight in an alternative "Yes" - the only way to fight the seductive power of one pleasure is with a greater pleasure - a more pleasing pleasure, the pleasure that comes from falling in love with Jesus!".
Saturday, May 30, 2009
"The decision to say "No" to sin must itself be energised by the assurance of delight in an alternative "Yes" - the only way to fight the seductive power of one pleasure is with a greater pleasure - a more pleasing pleasure, the pleasure that comes from falling in love with Jesus!".
Acts 2:17; "And it shall be in the last days' God says, 'That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; ... your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams".
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I wanted to write a post to correct something I said. And it's rather painful. But I hope that by correcting it, I can show that we don't all pretend to forget. But I hope also it makes a statement that my belief and faith in the goodness of God hasn't changed. I STILL believe!
I wrote a post last month called "My Miracle!" - I got a surprise amount of money that I rejoiced over and I really thought it was a tax rebate. Or a gift from heaven! Unfortunately I recieved a letter this week stating that it was in fact an overpayment in error from the Children's Hospital and I will indeed have to re-pay it. On top of the overpayment from my previous job in Bristol. It seems quite a few finance departments are making costly mistakes at the moment! I know I gave a lot of that money away because I wanted to bless others with what I thought was God's gifts and I don't regret that a bit. I just see it as a loan that I'll have to repay but boy am I glad people got blessed from a finance department error!
It's been a pretty awful week for me to be honest. The saga at Acorns is dragging on and looks set to drag on for the next 6 to 12 months. I had an extremely unpleasant confrontation with a client in my current job that lead to me not being able to go back to work there. I went to see my G.P yesterday in a bit of a mess and he did my blood pressure - 160/110 - oops! Rob Rufus's sermon on "Stress-Free Living" couldn't have come at a better time!
But I was watching the video I posted on the blog post; "My Miracle!". It still stands. He is still the King! He is still worthy of all my worship and adoration! He is still for me 100% and He doesn't judge me! Despite all the accusations and gossip circulating about me at the moment, there is just ONE opinion that matters. His. And His opinion is this;
"You are righteous - today, now and forever - because I am more than satisfied with the sacrifice of My Son. You are accepted and beloved on high".
So here's the video again! It's hard to worship when my heart's breaking - but the message of grace makes it so possible and I STILL believe in the blessing of Abraham! You lose devil! I am not going to get bitter! My God is awesome, abundant, lavish, loving and just awesome and worthy of eternity's praises!
Monday, May 25, 2009
I have a great love for interviews with Ephesians 4 Ministries. It's a great chance to hear them speak more spontaneously and from the heart rather than the more prepared preached word. I was fascinated therefore to see that UCCF got the chance to interview Terry Virgo at New Word Alive last month and found the 45 minute interview fascinating and stimulating. Terry's passion for the Church came at a much-needed time for me. So I thought I'd type it up for those who don't have the time to listen. It was so good to hear Terry speak passionately about his vision and passion of a victorious and glorious end-day church!Mike Reeves: Hi and welcome to another "Tabletalk". I am Mike Reeves - UCCF's theological advisor and we have got a special treat which is that wonderfully (perhaps foolishly) Terry Virgo has agreed to come and sit back round the table again. Terry thanks so much for coming back after having endured one session.
Mike Reeves: Terry I am going to sneakily try to get you to do a mini-preach now. I have got one Bible verse that I want to ask you about which is one that you will know very well. It is Ephesians 3:10 that Paul writes; "God who created all things" wanting through the church to make known the manifold wisdom of God to to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places". What does that mean? Why is it that God chooses to make His manifold wisdom to the rulers and authorities through the church? Why is the church such a perfect God-chosen medium for the proclamation of the gospel?
Terry: I think that the mystery of God being revealed through the church is an amazing concept. It is plainly there in the Scripture. I think God has chosen - and I always think this is strange. That Christ has a Bride made up of people to be put together again and I always feel if I was God I would like something pure and not reconstructed. In God's incredible purpose He has chosen to reconstruct people and it is an amazing display of His grace so through the church is a revelation of the grace of God - that God can take spoiled goods and throughly transform them to such a degree that in all honesty He can say; "My delight is in her". He delights in us and we are a demonstration of His breathtaking grace. We are (as it says in Ephesians 2) "one new man" and we come from enormous diversity and racism, tribalism is so deeply rooted in the human culture and human nature and only Jesus can bring together that which is impossible to dwell naturally together.
The church is not just meant to be beautiful for herself life stain glass windows but is the answer to the world's deep need! And only Jesus can unite tribes who hate one another. Only Jesus can do that miracle. So the church is resplendent with glory because the church is a display of Jesus power to totally transform an individual. You may say Mother Teresa was an amazing lady and a saintly person - but God wants not just a saintly individual but He wants a community who corporately demonstrate Jesus power to save at depth culturally in such a way that we are on display and cause the world to take note!
I feel when it says in Isaiah 2 that in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord shall rise above all the nations and all the nations shall flow to it - that is my hope and prayer that we shall the church that is the mountain of the house of the Lord and there are many other mountains! Communism came and went. Secular humanism. There are many mountains. But the promise is the mountain of the house of the Lord is above them all and all the nations will flow to it. And as Moyter says in his commentary on Isaiah - that is supernatural for rivers to flow upwards! God will do that!
God will draw from all the nations and glorify His house and the glory of the latter house shall be greater than the glory of the former! I think we can live with a verse like that! I know it is an Old Testament prophecy but I am wanting to believe for a glorious church where love and harmony and the Presence of Jesus and worship and love for our enemies even in the midst of hostility as it was in the book of Acts - but the church (it says in Acts 2) that no one dared joined themselves to them. But the Lord was adding daily those who were being saved.
They were held in honour and there was reverence towards the church. No one was laughing at the church. To me it is a matter of heartache when the church is regarded as foolish when the church should be a in a place of real respect. There may sometimes kill us as we know is happening around the world today. But there should be a fear of God because of the church. So there is a long way to go but God is committed to His church and we want to keep believing that He is going to have a glorious church.
Mike Reeves: Terry that is a magnificent glorious vision of the church and what I love is how you have got a vision of the church that is rooted in the very being of God and is attractive to how we are made, attractive to our hearts and what a challenge to the whole world and designed as such. Terry could you give us some thoughts on what has helped your thinking on this? Are there some resources that people can get hold of to help to think through the church more whether that be more of the doctrine of church or pragmatically? Anything that has helped you?
Terry: I think my love for the church has grown over I guess many decades now. When I was converted I didn't think this way and I was so grateful to find what I thought was a good church where people were truly born again and we had the Bible preached every week. But I hadn't any biblical awareness of the glory of the church at the beginning. I think I was an individualist and we were taught to do personal evangelism and personal devotions and everything was personal. But I think specially in these post-modern days where everything is so fragmented the church as a corporate community is a wonderful answer to the desert conditions out there. I think it has grown over years. I think when I first read John Stott's BST on Ephesians that was a real introductory helpful book where he does lift up the church in that commentary. Over the years more and more if I see a good book on the church I will grab it, read it and feed myself on it because I really feel we need to start from a good theology. I don't want to start merely pragmatically. There is so much on the church today that is telling you how to build it bigger.
Mike Reeves: I think you have shown that is something built theologically.
Terry: Yes I am constantly having to work on that because I think we live in an amazing generation of developed skills and over the years the way a pastor is seen has changed somewhat reflecting the culture. So historically he was in the culture of a doctor or a squire. Then later with the development of education he had to have a degree so he could be in that world and then a psychologist and add some therapy. It's almost a reflection of culture. Today it is that you need to be a manager or a CEO - can you direct? What is your five year goal and talk the language of growth and being smart.
Mike Reeves: Terry thanks so much for your time and sharing your heart - very grateful for it and everything you are doing.
Terry: Thanks so much Mike.
Friday, May 22, 2009
I have been having a rubbish week to put it mildly. Maybe some of you remember I hinted at some serious problems with my former employers - Acorns Children's Hospice. I had to leave due to homophobia among the staff and am currently enduring an extremely prolonged grievance process which inevitably is looking like it will have to be followed by an employment tribunal. It's particularly difficult because as a Christian (still struggling with Old Covenant legalism) I feel guilty for having those feelings anyway and in some strange sense - almost like the homophobic members of staff are justified in treating me as they did. Those set free 100% by grace won't understand a word I just said there - but maybe those still struggling like me will!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Since then I've brought another book that I am reading at the moment on prayer. Prayer is an area I am really trying to gain a new perspective on. I've done it legalistically most of my life and seen very few answers to prayer. Now is the day to see how it's done through grace! So I am also reading a book on prayer by Bill Johnson's wife Beni called "The Happy Intercessor". Back to Andrew Wommack - he has a very useful and helpful website. The one feature I really like on it is his Bible commentary.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
"Oh you are just giving people a license to sin - you are saying that holy living doesn't matter!".
Rubbish. Politely. Sin is happening in churches everywhere whether they have a "license" (whatever that would look like) or not. Public legalistic ministries are falling into moral sin - sometimes the same sin they have preached against and judged publicly. I've been puzzling what the real root problem with the grace message is and I found a quote that I think answers it. It's by R C Sproul (not Rob Rufus before you pre-judge me!);
"Perhaps the most difficult task for us to perform is to rely on God's grace and God's grace alone for our salvation. It is difficult for pride to rest on grace. Grace is for other people - for beggars. We don't want to live by a heavenly welfare system. We want to earn our own way and atone for our own sins. We like to think that we will go to heaven because we deserve to be there".
I know if I am honest I can testify that is exactly my problem. We live in a culture where you work for what you want. You earn what you "deserve" and if you don't work or earn then you get nothing. We resent people on social service support who don't bother getting jobs and just ride the system! We call them "free-loaders" and get especially mad if they have more lavish material possessions that we do! In a sense we are proud when we have worked for something and earned it - that is life's culture.
And that somehow transposes into our relationship with God. We are insulted in a sense to be told clearly by Scripture that there is NOTHING that we can do to earn or deserve our salvation by justification through faith and NOTHING that God wants from us to "repay" Him for the grace He has poured out on us! He wants absolutely NOTHING from us and is in fact insulted when we try and match our spiritual disciplines to "repay" somehow what He has done for us at the Cross. That's why the Bible calls them "dirty rags" or "dung" or "poo"!
Jerry Bridges commented on why more Christians do not experience the full blessings of God's grace and said;
"Perhaps the larger reason why we do not experience more of God's grace is our misconception that, having been saved by grace, we must now at least to some degree, "pay our own way" and earn God's blessings in our daily lives ... In fact this misconception that we must pay our own way is more than a mistaken theological notion. It actually springs from the perverse disposition of our hearts - the disposition of pride".
For goodness sake. We've got nothing to lose because we've got nothing anyway! So let's just give up on this ridiculous notion that we have to "earn" this and just sit back and let the blessing flow! God came to Abraham and said; "I want to bless you". Abraham said; "Okay". God said; "Right - that acceptance I see as righteousness! Right standing with Me!". Let's copy Abraham!
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Today I want to address men and women with a homosexual orientation everywhere. You've been on my heart for ages. Two recent events in the media brought this subject to a head for me. You may have seen them and read them and "tutted" or shook your head. Hear me out - here they are for those who have missed them;
I got an email shortly after I shared my story from a gay guy within SGM who like me kept his struggles a secret because of fear. He felt that only gay Christians have the right to speak to the gay community because only they understand. I'm not sure I quite agree - the power of the Gospel by the Holy Spirit can come through anyone set free by grace. But I saw his point. It's quite hard to listen to someone like Al Mohler tell me what I should and should not do when he is happily married and presumably shares his bed every night. I on the other hand sleep alone and feel so utterly lonely sometimes.
So this is what I wanted to say to gay men and women everywhere;
1. You've got every right to be angry with us because we've made out that we're better than you (even if we say we're not).
2. You've got every right to be angry with us because we've made out your sins are worse than others (mainly ours).
3. You've got every right to be angry with us because we've not told you the full truth and glory and wonder of what Jesus Christ accomplished at the Cross.
4. You've got every right to be angry with us because we've made out that you must get saved and commit to a life of miserable celibacy and all you've got to look forward to is heaven when you die.
5. You've got every right to be angry with us because we've told you the only thing that matters is that you become "straight" if you get saved - not that the only thing that matters is you building a relationship of intimacy and love with the One that loved you so much He died for you.
6. You've got every right to be angry with us because we haven't come out to you and told you this message. We've sat behind passages in Leviticus and Romans and pointed the finger from afar - because we're afraid of what we don't know.
7. You've got every right to be angry with us because we've behaved utterly un-Christlike in our attitudes to you. We've stood at the side of gay Mardi Gras marches tutting or worse screaming "Sodom and Gomorrah!" while Jesus Christ would be walking and marching with you dispensing signs and wonders and miracles - healing you of AIDS or any other disorder that you may be suffering with.
There are many other things I could say - and could expand on each of the points above. But I hope it conveys my heart. Until we start owning up to our mistakes and where we have allowed prejudice and biogtry to cloud "what Jesus would do" - then we're never truly going to see the lost coming in. No matter how missional we may be. And I should point out that my friend Ursula and I discussed how the gay community is just one of many the church has problems accepting. What about prostitutes? What about pagans and witches? What about paedophiles?
Jesus went and sat in the homes and ate and fellowshipped with such people in Israel (tax collectors and prostitutes were a Jewish equivalent). What are we doing? I think people such as Dave Bish and others who work with students have an utterly key role in reaching and taking the Gospel to those who need it before they leave university and get swallowed up into normal working life. I can't help but wonder what would happen if there was a revival among the gay community. Where would they go? What churches would lovingly welcome them and accept them with open arms?
Something's got to CHANGE!
By the way - as always all comments are allowed and welcome - but comments from legalists that even smack of homophobia will be deleted. You've had your say - for 2000 years. It's grace's turn!
Friday, May 15, 2009
I found this particularly apt when I sought help for a time from True Freedom Trust - a Christian group believing that celibacy is the only way for those dealing with homosexual orientations. Groups would meet around the country and would essentially talk about what kind of a week they had. Whether it be "good" (not having fallen morally in some way) or "bad" (having fallen morally in some way). It was initially exhilarating to find I wasn't alone - but then extremely depressing. Most weeks just seem to be depressed men and women talking about a life of celibacy with no hope of victory, breakthrough or end. Honest yes - hopeful no.
Then of course there was Sovereign Grace Ministries accountability groups. I've said before that having only just joined the church - I had absolutely no intention of sharing the skeletons in my closet. Those familiar with my story will know that my fears were justified. So most of the weekly discussions in the accountability group revolved around quite "acceptable" sins (as defined by Jerry Bridges) such as impatience with children, spouse, parents, church pastor (me) or other. Honest - not so. Emphasis on the Cross and Christ's imputed righteousness? Lacking.
So here's the quote from "First Importance";
"Don't mistake accountability for fellowship. Satan doesn't mind you talking about sin if you forget about Jesus".
I once heard someone say that we should take 10 looks at Jesus Christ for every 1 look at self. I wonder if we really started doing that whether we would actually start seeing victory over areas of life. REALLY started looking at Jesus. And what He did triumphing over principalities and powers by disarming them by removing the written code - the law.
Ryan Rufus writes in his latest book;
"Sanctification is where your earthly current condition starts to become more and more like your eternal heavenly position. The means by which this happens is not by will power, self-effort or law but through regular encounters with the God of glory and being established in His word of grace".
Monday, May 11, 2009
"This feels like military training where you have been going for days and days and you think "We need to stop and have a break and fellowship!". And someone else says; "Nah push on!". I just want to finish this session so we can finish and go and have lunch. We need to finish at 12pm and I don't like working within schedules. The Holy Spirit seems to work a lot better when there are no schedules. I don't know many miracle ministries that don't have hours of meetings. This is what I believe. When we bring the whole church into grace - miracles will start breaking out in the opening of the service. The reason these meetings take so long to get miracles is because you have got to clear the unbelief away - the condemnation - the confusion and it takes 2-3 hours to get that off God's people. That's why I love local church! I have preached on platforms of multiple thousands and it is an incredible privilidge and an amazing honour but I don't find it flattering at all to my ego. I am enjoying this little church in Hong Kong - small little church at this stage! I believe we will grow into the thousands but I am enjoying this little church because it is the feedback of seeing lives changed through this message of grace. It is just so wonderful.
For me apostles don't go for a weekend here and a weekend there and a weekend there. I don't see that! I think the shortest trip may have been 3 weeks to the Thessalonians but other places - 2 years here, 3 years here. In Ephesus Paul preached every single day. He didn't fly out here and there but preached and stayed every single day for 2 years in the hall of Tyranus. Apostles are not just goers. They are sent ones. But they are not butterflies. I was sent to Australia and I stayed there for 12 years. I was sent to Hong Kong and am staying here! Paul stayed and he shared the grace of God with them and said don't get carried away by this and this - it is the grace of God that can give you an inheritance amongst those being sanctified.
That's what he was doing - preaching grace for 2 years! That is a man caught up in the 3rd heaven and got his message of grace from the Father and he took 3 years to unpack it. In that space of time it says the Gospel went throughout all Asia Minor but Paul didn't go. The fallout of this message gave an inheritance. You can't go - "Well I preached six weeks on grace!". All you did was introduce people to the shallows. "I didn't have anything else to preach - I did everything I knew on grace". Well start at the beginning and preach it all again. You are dealing with more than 1500 years of Dark Ages. The Reformation has only been 500 years but even top evangelical theologians are going back to a Roman Catholic understanding of justification by faith. Top evangelicals! Just read John Piper's books! Justification by faith is under attack again. And Christians are very shallow on their understanding of this.
You don't bring the church out of 1500 years of Dark Ages by a six-part series on grace! It takes years to transition people out!
Just to throw in something here for questions and answers. Abraham got grace. Galatians 3 says that God preached the Gospel in advance to Abraham. Then it was ratified in Christ. It says that the law came 430 years after Abraham but it says when the law covenant came it did not nullify or set aside the covenant of promise that God made with Abraham. So when Jesus arrived on the earth the covenant of grace and the covenant of law were there available for Israel. At any point Israel could have said; "We repent of saying give us the law - we will do what it says! We want what Abraham had!" and they could have come straight back into that. So when people repented and saw grace Jesus called them "sons and daughters of Abraham" and He only said that to two people.
Who were the people who had the greatest faith in all of Israel? Those who had never been under law! The Syro-Phonecian woman and the centurion.
So you have got to understand that by the time Jesus arrived to Israel - grace and the revelation to Abraham was almost completely gone. Abraham brought the key to knowledge - which is the nature of God.
What is the key to knowledge? I believe personally it is the nature of God. When the nature of God is revealed as goodness and grace - that is the key to knowledge!
I do have a history degree although that doesn't mean much because it was so long ago. It's history! This has fascinated me how civilisations have formed and secular historians will say that it was the Reinaissance that brought an acceleration of knowledge, inventions, arts, science and political freedoms. No - if you study Francis Schaeffers book on; "How Then Shall We Live?" - it is the Reformation - the revelation of the nature of God. Justification by faith that God is a good God that justifies the wicked and accepts them and loves them. That's where knowledge is! The nature of God and the revelation of God's nature is the key to knowledge. So once justification by faith came, that is when the church came out of the Dark Ages and you can trace from the Reformation advancements in science - because the religious church was wanting to put to death people that advanced in science! When Galileo was trying to say "No the whole universe isn't rotating around the sun" - the church under law said "We will kill you!". So science was surpressed because they had taken away the key to knowledge which is the nature of God.
Arts began to increase and everything began to explode. Human rights began to increase and civilisation came! That is why Europe was the cradle of civilisation because of the gospel - human rights etc - and now they have got a flimsy frame because they have taken away the foundation! They have taken away the key to knowledge. The church! Not the secular world!
The secular world almost seems to understand more about grace than the average fundementalist Christian.
So we are on about something more than just feeling secure - personal peace and prosperity. "I want to have a happy little church where we all feel happy and praise and worship". No! It is about transformation of the way society thinks. We are meant to have the key of knowledge which is the revelation that Abraham got. Let look here - I am going to look at 10 Ugly Faces of the Grace-Hating Spirit. If you do not understand what I am going to give to you now - if you go into this as a cute, sweet little pastor - then don't even start! Because you will be eaten for breakfast by the grace-hating spirit. You will be so confused and come under such demonic confusion that you won't know whether you are coming or going. You have got to know that Martin Luther nearly lost his mind many times and he was depressed for a long time! Can you imagine when one man stepped out and said "No!" to centuries! There was always a line who believed in justification by faith - but a small little thread here and there. So here is one man that stood out and took the whole thing on. It is not against the Catholic church but against a SPIRIT! I love Roman Catholics, I love Muslims and Hinduis.
2 Corinthians 5:9; "God was in Christ reconciling the WORLD to Himself - NOT counting MEN'S sins against them!". It didn't just say "the church's" sins against them. The world!
So we are involved with more than just sweet little churches that are happy because they are in grace. This is something that changes the globe. It is because of legalism that we have international wars, ethnic violence, religious wars.
Legalism makes people angry, harsh, mean, judgemental, full of selfish ambition, gossip, slander - you cannot trust legalists!
One of the mistakes the devil made when he began to attack us was that he overshot - some of the Chinese people in our church when I began to first preach freedom from the law were completely shocked! They just said "Oh my God he has gone made! If we are not under law what are we under?!". The Holy Spirit! "You mean there's no 10 Commandments anymore!?". I am not blaming them! I love them! I am blaming their teachers.
So those of you who have already started transitioning your churches will know that there are some things that happen. Sometimes it is not even through people - it is an invisible hatred that comes on your mind - an invisible hostility.
I remember I was in Hong Kong for at least a year and then I preached on the finished work of the Cross and got the devil so by surprise that it just flowed and everyone received it and it was wonderful. I stepped out the pulpit and went home and was so happy and then suddenly bang! The heavens closed! Without one second reprive it was a spirit of heaviness! Hong Kong wasn't used to hearing this message! There came a reaction! Please don't be confused. Don't think of human beings - think of a spirit behind human beings. Love the human beings - show mercy and kindness and don't react - that is exactly what part of the tactic is that you get bitter against the opposition and start fighting the opposition and start preaching to prove they are wrong and you are right. No Jesus preached very strongly at the Pharisees and warned them. You need to have those kind of guts and get up and warn and rebuke to their face people who preach the opposite in your church. Peter came to Paul's church in Antioch and Paul had the right to confront Peter to his face.
Shepherds you need to safeguard the church from legalism! That is your main responsibility to keep the church free from the law! You can't rely on apostles to do that because many of them aren't! They are under the law themselves - I am sorry to say that but it is the truth.
I was under the law and I preached law and grace mixed together in Australia and South Africa. I am doing my best to not preach any mixture anymore. When you start that - this is the way that Paul described some of the grace-hating spirit. "Spies, bewitchers, fearmongers, agitators, dogs, evil men, mutilators of the flesh, deceitful schemers". That is what you are dealing with! It can be a face that smiles at you because the legalist face is a nice face and it is sweet when it smiles as it cuts you. Please don't think most legalists to their face are these mean-hearted people. They are sweet and disarming! But they will disarm you from grace into law. It is cunning and clever and deliberate and intentional. Be aware!
What I learnt in the military was if you are going to succeed then know your enemy and know his strengths and weaknesses otherwise he will take you out. Do not try to transition into grace naively thinking "This is such a wonderful message and everyone is going to be happy!".
There is a way to transition without hardly losing anyone. I believe good leadership can transition a church without hardly having to lose anyone. Look quickly at Luke chapter 11. Jesus had just read "How to win friends and influence people" so He starts with "Woe to you!". (v52); "Woe to you experts in the law because you have taken away the key to knowledge". What Abraham saw - they took away. "You yourselves have not entered". In other words you haven't stepped into the glory - you haven't stepped into the power and the favour and blessing of God the way Abraham did. You yourselves have not entered and; "You have hindered those who were entering". That is what is happening in the earth. There are leaders who are hindering their people entering because they themselves don't enter and they are preachers of a mixture of law and grace. (v53); "When Jesus left there the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose Him".
1. Ugly Face No. 1: Opposition to Grace.
Jesus is grace! The law was given through Moses. Grace and truth came in Jesus Christ. The law is impersonal. It was given through a mediation of angels through Moses but Jesus who is grace came personally to the earth. Grace is not a doctrine - it is a Person. His Name is Jesus! That is His Nature! That is the key to knowledge; God is a God of grace. God never intended to bring the law and never wanted to bring the law. If you study Galatians 3 and other passages of Scripture like Hebrews 10:8 you will see that He brought the law because of Israel's unbelief.
2. Ugly Face No. 2: Fiercly.
"Oppose Him fiercly". There is a grace-hating spirit that really is fierce!
If you have not yet felt it then you have not yet been preaching grace the way that Paul preached it.
They began to oppose Him fiercly.
3. Ugly Face No. 3: Beseige.
They will set up siege against your ministry. A siege is when an opposing army camps around your city and tries to stop supplies coming in and things going out.
Stop people listening to your website. You won't get invited to our camp. This will close doors to you. I think they are doors that should be closed! They beseiged Him. "Well if we were politically correct then those doors would be open". You shouldn't be going through some doors through the power of political correctness because you are not coming with the gospel anymore! "Besiege Him with questions". Questions are good but questions within questions are not good. (v53). That's why when people ask Jesus questions sometimes He answers them beautifully and sensatively and graciously and sometimes He answered with a baseball bat and smashed the living daylights out of them! He was not going to be a politically correct diplomat because this was too important. (v54);
4. Ugly Face No. 4: Waits to Catch You.
The Pharisees caught that woman in adultery. It wasn't something they stumbled on. I believe they set it up. I personally think one of the Pharisees or indeed they may have paid someone to have adultery with her. They paid him to set it up and they caught her! When you start preaching this grace message you think "I could be caught - I could fail - I could get into serious sin and if they caught me what is going to happen to me?". Then they really can control me! I wonder if it would have been different for Jimmy Swaggert if he was in a community of grace.
Legalism makes sin go underground and then they catch you. Grace makes sin come out into the open because there is an environment of safety, accountability and kindness and there is an openness.
Who could Jimmy Swaggert really have gone to? He is preaching grace now but it took going through hell. He was preaching law back then and judging everything.
You will preach more and more law when you feel more and more guilt and the more guilt you feel the more law you feel. You see how happy the grace people are and you are jealous of their happiness and you don't want them to be so happy because you are trying to do things to earn God's love. They are waiting to catch you. Grace communities should have this attitude - we are not looking to catch people or be suspicious. "Ooh there is probably sin in their lives". Well there probably is! Look at yourself! Catch yourself!
That thing about logs and eyes and specks has some relevance. We ought not to be trying to catch people in sin. And if we do - then Galatians 5 says you that are spiritual should restore them gently. So we should have this attitude that if someone does fall then they are not "caught" - they are a comrade. They are together. There are certain sins you don't need to go public with! You just go to the Father. It does say confess your sins to one another but only if you have done something against the other! On a horizontal level. To the Father it is all gone and forgiven anyway!
Paul never speaks about confessing sins - once! They are already gone! But on the horizontal I need to confess my faults or apologise to people I do wrong. I find it so easy to say sorry when I know that he accepts me. The grace-hating spirit is trying to catch you, trying to besiege you, oppose you and is doing it and when you first start transitioning your church into full grace it will intensify for a while. Eventually when your church gets more and more established in grace then tyranny becomes far from you, no weapon formed against you can prosper and no tongue raised up - God will start giving you a legacy that your righteousness is from Him and God starts fulfilling those conditions of a people established in grace.
Let's have a look at the next one;
5. Ugly Face No. 5: Spies.
I could just say these things but let's look at them. This is not a preaching on a platform to produce miracles - this is teaching.
Spies are secretive. They hide. They move from a place of duplictity. They are double faced and come amongst you for a reason - to hide their real agenda and look for faults. To exploit any opportunity where you are vulnerable and make you a slave to the law and to their control.
Paul went around releasing people from religious handcuffs and spies came right behind Paul and put the handcuffs straight back on again. They brought "balance". You cannot balance grace with law! They neutralise one another! There is no middle ground! It is either all law or all grace and no middle ground! "This is a radical message!". Yes of course. "Rob's preaching a radical message" - no Paul did!
Have you ever thought how radical the law is? These people who preach law and grace are actually just compromisers - they are like the Pharisees and don't preach it at it's full power. If you are going to preach the law then do it properly. Then try and balance it with grace and see where you get. The law means cut your hand off! When guys drive planes into towers in the name of their god - they are being absolutely faithful to the law! Under the law - kill anyone who doesn't keep it! In fact if you go read the law properly if you kids don't keep the law then you must stone your own children. Grace is radical?! The reason why people say grace is radical is because the law is not being taught properly.
God gave me two years to go study the law about seven years ago. I used to sweat every day! Guys use it in evangelism as a schoolmaster to lead people to Christ but I tell you - the law is frightening! It is extreme! That is why Christians shoot people at abortion clinics! They are being consistent to what they believe. They are being faithful to what they believe! The rest who preach law and grace are all compromisers and all backsliders of the law. They just preach partial law! You cannot preach the law in all it's fullness and then balance it with grace! The answer is they water down law and water down grace so people don't know the difference. Preach the law properly and then preach the fullness of grace and see what your people will do! They will say "I am out of here - this is a schizophrenic". These things are so radical that they cannot meet! Because the church for centuries has watered down law and watered down grace - the people sit there like frogs in water slowly heating up.
A few fools for Jesus are going to have to stand up and address this grace-hating spirit. Like Martin Luther took it on, I am taking it on! There are many times that Glenda and I have fallen into each others arms and wept. There are times when Glenda has said; "Oh Rob please stop you are calling fire on our heads". I said; "I don't want to!".
Martin Luther didn't have a choice. Once he saw it, he was finished. Once you see this - you are finished. You are ruined forever.
I have been to law conferences and have heard law preachers and I sit there and think "I am so sorry but I am getting angry - I repent, I repent - look at all these people getting under confusion!". I can't sit there anymore! Either I have to go to the leaders and say "Look guys - do you know what you are doing?" or don't go back again! I pray that all law-preaching and preaching a mixture of law and grace will see this revelation and repent to their people.
Otherwise I pray that God will pull the finances right out of their systems and let them go under. I know that's harsh but I mean it.
(Galatians 2:4); "Some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves". That is their goal and their agenda! Spy on our freedom and make you slaves. Isn't that beautiful? Notice the apostolic passion of those days. "We did not give in to them for a moment!". Why? "So that the truth of the gospel might remain in you". Why mustn't you give in even for a moment? So this gospel will keep on remaining. I preached in Cape Town to 2000 people a night last year in July and there were hundreds and hundreds of hungry people there but there were spies in the camp. Spies coming to check me out. I said to the brothers to whom I was accountable; "Don't let me get naughty on this platform because when I find spies out there ... you know those destroyers that send down depth charges and it goes "ping" ... when I am preaching prophets feel this all the time. They nearly go mad because they can feel where the submarines are - the spies and can feel them out there. Jesus could! He said "Knowing what they were thinking, He said ...". So I could feel the spies there and some of them shouldn't have been spies! God even shows me who they are sometimes!
I am not talking about people sitting there exposed for the first time to the message of grace and are sitting there analysing and trying to work out. That is fine! I am talking about them sitting there trying to catch you and waiting for you to say something that they can twist and distort. Those are spies! So I said to the brothers I was with; "Now listen if I preach in Hong Kong then I can be as naughty as I like - that is my turf and my jurisdiction". But when I am on someone else's platform I am responsible to those leaders and I can't do anything I want to. I hope you understand that authority is exercised differently in different contexts. "If I start getting naughty because of spies out there then show me by code signals. I want to cross every T and dot every I theologically and leave no gap for these spies to seize". Bonnie came to me afterwards and said "Dad you are so tame - what's wrong? You are so nice!". So I said; "No - this is a different context". So I went to the team I was with - and teams form and de-form - they are dynamic and fluid - and said; "Guys is there anything I should have done better?". They said; "Rob we have never heard it so clear - faultless and clear". The elders at the church had problems with some of the grace message and said "That is it - we can't argue".
Some spies came out of that and went back to their home churches and said "Rob is preaching that you don't have to submit to leaders and you can sin as much as you like". Then I realised that this is not a rational thing but a grace-hating spirit. They don't know what they are doing to their congregations. Members of those congregations who had known me for years emailed me and said; "Our pastor is saying this - is it true?". We wrote back and clarified and they said; "We always believed that what our pastor said wasn't true but we just wanted to check with you". These leaders that are fighting this message don't know that they are fighting God. They are not fighting us - they are fighting God. We must be accountable - we can be in error! I say to my local leaders in this church; "If I am getting too harsh ..." - I asked that after the first session. I am an accountable man. I want to be! But you have to be bold.
6. Ugly Face No. 6: A Bewitching Spirit.
Galatians 3:1; "You foolish Galatians - who has bewitched you?". That word there can be elaborated into; "With occultic power". That is witchcraft! Witchcraft is being preached in our churches around the world. Hopefully not in our churches but maybe still. Witchcraft is like the sin of rebellion.
Christ died to remove the law forever and when you preach law the Holy Spirit is not empowering you to preach something that Christ has removed. Another spirit is - a spirit of witchcraft.
The disciples wanted to call fire down on the Samaritans and Jesus said; "You are of the wrong spirit". The legalists will call fire down on the world and will say God is killing and judging and smashing. He isn't! There is a day of judgement coming but "in the last days I will pour out My Spirit - for salvation - on all flesh!". He goes on and speaks about miracles, signs and wonders happening because you believe the message of grace and not observing the law. You are dealing with occultic powers here that are in the church. The devil doesn't dabble much with those on broomsticks etc - that is his hobby. Witchcraft in the church to come back under law is the main agenda. He is the accuser of the brethren. And if he accuses you enough - if you are under a little bit of law he will condemn you enough then think you must come under more law to improve and so condemnation will go. It's called witchcraft.
Let's do one more and then we will close.
7. Ugly Face No. 7: Fear.
Go to Galatians 2. The next one is fear. I have been enjoying grace and then someone maybe I respect or know who preaches a Pentecostal/Holiness (which is not real holiness at all - it is still law dressed up as holiness) and you are going along happily and the power of God is flowing and there is joy and then someone comes among you and you think they are holy because they don't go to movies or don't drink wine. And you feel fear! And start agreeing with them and their standards! And you start becoming a hypocrite and you start rebuilding the law over your life and then you make out that Christ is the one rebuilding the law over your life and that Christ is causing the sin of the law and you become a hypocrite and confuse those in freedom because you change your behaviour when certain people are in your midst. Certain leaders that are respected.
If Peter who had visions of heaven and revelation could go back under law and be afraid of the legalists then we ought to know that we are dealing with a fear spirit. A bewitching spirit, a fear spirit, a control spirit. (v11); "When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face". Peter was one of the big boys! "He was clearly in the wrong!". (v12); "Because he was afraid of those who belonged to the Jewish group ... so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabus was led astray .. in front of them all I said; "How is it that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs"?".
He isn't just talking about the way you come into the kingdom but the way you live! Don't let people tell you it is all about justification.
(v18); "I prove I am a law-breaker .. might live for God". In the next session we will talk about the other things and transitioning through.
"We ask that you will establish righteousness as a revelation in our hearts and we will discern what we are dealing with and we won't be naive or cute or politically correct or diplomatic but truly apostolic, discerning legalism from a mile away and protecting the church. We ask the Holy Spirit to brood over us. Help us to ask the question why every movement that has started in grace and freedom ended in law and institution and control? Because the leaders were naive about what they were up against. The Ugly Face of a Grace-Hating Spirit that took them out because they were unaware and not protected by a true apostolic ministry. We pray across the planet as we see grace revolution gathering momentum for more apostles to emerge that will be faithful to the gospel that Paul was faithful too and will be willing to confront those who preach a mixture. Deliver us from this niceness that Jesus never had. Help us to be willing to die to personal reputation - no matter how many doors are closed! They should be closed! We thank You for the multitudes waiting to hear this message!"