System to Spirit 23rd March
System to Spirit 23rd March
Mt 4:18-22 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
Israel, although under Roman domination was ruled by a system of religious law and a Monarchy, Kings and Priests. When Jesus appeared and began to gather His disciples the whole system and culture of Judaism pervaded their very mindset and life view. To oppose or turn against this system was to break the law of God and was considered rebellion and treason, often it was punishable by death – any rebellious people were dealt with very harshly. There was no tolerance of rebellion.
The system of Kings and Priests cultivated an attitude of subservience and servant hood. The people of Israel were subjects of the King and answerable to God by the law administered by the Priesthood – so when Jesus called for these men to follow Him it was already part of their mindset to be followers. It was comfortable for them to have a leader, someone who would teach them, train them and tell them what to do. It fitted into the system of their lives.
As they walked with Jesus over the next 3 years He was continually preparing them for a change of that system. A radical and dynamic change that if He had simply spelt it out they would not have been able to either understand or accept – Jesus was preparing the disciples for a great rebellion of which they were going to be the leaders. The wisdom of God is so much higher than man! If Jesus had told them before-hand what was to come – they would have tried to do it their own way.
Even as they were being trained ambition and pride battered them – motives were exposed – all the while though, Jesus was preparing them – and He told them things He knew they would not understand until much later on.
Jn 13:7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”
Lk 18:34 But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.
Among those things Jesus taught are things we now, in reading the W.O.G. comprehend because they are explained by the Bible and History – but some of the things Jesus taught the disciples went right over their heads – they did not understand the coming crucifixion, they did not comprehend that this man they were following was going to die – right up until the point of death almost, they thought He was going to be their leader in the same old system – a King and priests.
When Jesus taught them about the coming Holy Spirit they did not understand – they couldn’t understand because their expectation and hope were placed in something else. The disciples still lived with hearts and minds shaped by their life experience and understanding. It is impossible to imagine something we have not been exposed to in some form – our thoughts and imaginations are shaped and formed by things we have seen or heard about. (Why W.O.G. so important to us)
If I say to you imagine a new type of car – those imaginations will be shaped by things you have already been exposed to in some way – wheels, petrol or water or gas – you might think no wheels, flying – but that is not new – plastic, weird shapes, colours – everything will have something that is based upon, or a variation of something you already know – you might improve it and find something radically different – but a variation of something already known.
So when Jesus began to teach on the Holy Spirit the way the disciples perceived what He was saying was still confined by what they knew and believed. They still thought in terms of Kings and Priests – Jesus said some very radical things to them : ----
Jn 14:12-18“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
They didn’t even understand Jesus was going back to the Right Hand of God – so you think they understood this power and prayer and indwelling Spirit? Orphans? Do you think they thought of themselves in this way? They had fathers and mothers some of whom were with them on their journeys!
Jn 16:5-14“But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.
I still have many things to say to you but you cannot bear them now! Jesus was preparing them all of the time, but they still thought in terms of Kings and Priests – of Jesus as the Leader of a New Israel leading them out from under Roman rule and into a glorious physical Kingdom. Jesus was telling them all of the time that they were going to be indwelt by the very Spirit of God – but they could not receive that yet – Jesus said to them : --
Jn 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
Nothing would change or undo the plan and purpose God had – Jesus was preparing the disciples for what was to come – He was demonstrating the power and glory of God by the Holy Spirit and He was continually teaching them – imparting deeply into their hearts and souls in addition to the Law and the Prophets – which He continually referred to also – but Jesus was slowly and methodically cultivating their hearts and sowing the seeds that the Holy Spirit was going to water.
All of the time the disciples were with Jesus He was preparing them for Pentecost and beyond, He was preparing them for us – as many who would follow – but they could not see clearly until after Pentecost – you know over 500 saw Him after He had risen from the dead – (1Co 15:5) yet there was only 120 waiting in Jerusalem – our hearts so easily dictate even what our eyes may see. It is so easy to deceive ourselves!!
Ac 1:4-8 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
They had all seen Him crucified, they had all seen Him buried in that tomb – then they had all seen Him Risen from the dead and now He appeared to them one last time. They still did not understand what was about to take place – they still had no idea that this was the changing of the whole religious and monarchic system they had lived under – they still really had little idea of what the power was they were going to receive – maybe they did think about miracles and healing –
But they did not understand that the whole religious system of God’s Divine order was about to be torn for the hands of Kings and Priests and The Church was about to be born – as they stood there
Ac 1:9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
Jesus left! They had seen Him dead and buried and then He appeared to them again and again – though walls and suddenly He had come to them – but this was a finality – this was something they all witnessed He ascended back to heaven! Any thoughts that He might have become King were washed away then! Maybe they thought of Elijah then, Enoch? – But this removed all of their previously held perceptions – they obeyed and began to wait in the upper room.
Jn 20:21-22 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
They had received an earnest just as we do at salvation – and as they tarried in that upper room I am sure the Holy Spirit was bringing to their remembrance all the things Jesus had said – all those things they had not been able to understand were now being watered – nurtured, brought to a living faith. They waited and discussed and prayed – they would have prayed the very Words of Jesus that have now become Scripture to us!
Jesus had already opened some of their hearts to all the scripture concerning Him until their hearts had burned with the illumination and revelation – they would not have been able to contain themselves in that expectant spiritually charged atmosphere – in fact Jesus had prepared them perhaps just for that time – But as they waited in that upper room – those 120 souls they began to pray in the Holy Spirit – they began to pray back to God the things the Spirit quickened.
On the day of Pentecost we all know the outpouring of the Holy Spirit – the wind and fire and tongues the preaching – we all know the dramatic empowering and the beginning of the church – the witnessing of the Apostles – but it was a change of dispensation, a change of systems – a radical and dynamic confrontation with all the things they had known all of their lives – no longer Kings and Priests but the Priesthood of all believers! Everyone filled with the Holy Spirit!!
Jesus had opened the Door to His Father for all who would believe – Now, every man and woman could go boldly into the Throne room of Grace and petition the Father for themselves – every living soul could have access to God through Jesus Christ in the Person of the Holy Spirit – we no longer needed a Priest to stand as intermediary between us and God. Pentecost was more than an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to empower the disciples –
It was the introduction of a new dispensation – the age of the Holy Spirit – for the whole age until Christ returns –
Ac 1:10-11 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Until this Promise of God is fulfilled we live in the age of the Holy Spirit – who is God with us the Spirit of Christ – and we do not need that old system of Kings and Priests –
1 Pe 2:9-10 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
Right now this morning as you sit there – you have the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in you – you do not need another man to represent you to God the Father – there is no veil over your eyes, there is no need of a Priest to stand as mediator for you. You have this treasure in earthen vessels, YES, but you are in Him and He in you! –
But you know right from the beginning the Devil found a way to disempower the Priesthood of all believers and keep that old system in place – because while that old system is in place the mass of Christianity stands impotent, waiting – waiting and waiting and crying out for that which they have already been given! Unable to embrace or accept our own responsibility to approach God, to allow that Love already poured out in our hearts to compel us --
In a way I think it is unbelief – we don’t live by the Holy Spirit as He is given according the W.O.G. and so we really deny Christ -- we are really stating that the Cross was not enough. That what Jesus did was incomplete and insufficient for our case! – Oh how clever that old Devil is – you know he raised up a Pope, another system of intermediary so that we would not live by faith – so that we would retain a mindset of dependency – on a man, a priest!
Ever since that time men have broken out of the system and we see the evidence as God is glorified and revival and awakenings sweep nations – men get desperate for God, for Holiness for without holiness no one will see the Lord – men and women get desperate because the system fails them – and it must! It always will because God changed it at Pentecost. We don’t need another Pentecost – we need to embrace the only one that will ever be given!
Oh how us men hijack the very glory of God to our own purposes, and we, wanting to be seen and recognized and in ambition and pride and with the devil prompting us, and we thinking it is Godly, we just orchestrate another system like the old one – leadership and vision casting to capture people to our own ambition and agenda – we breed dependency upon the system we establish and protect – in many cases simply Pentecostal or Protestant Popes!
Church we don’t want that and all through history some have broken out of it and God has rent the heavens and come down.
You know I really think what they did in that upper room was to pray the very things the Holy Spirit brought to their remembrance that Jesus had taught them – faith was awakened and you know what they were doing was praying in the Spirit the things of God’s purpose – I don’t know why God chooses to use men – but Oh by His mercy and Grace and His Great Love with which He loves us still – He does – He chooses to use ordinary men and women like you and hopefully me!
He chooses to use us to defeat that Old Devil – if we will only believe – if we will only believe – you know God does nothing but by prayer – that is our part, isn’t it to pray in the Spirit? -- and then we know we have the things we have asked of Him – God wants us to be a people of prayer in the Spirit -- and He is looking at you and me right now.
Jas 5:17-18 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
Elijah – new W.O.G. – people turn from God – He would shut up heavens. Elijah prayed God’s promise by the W.O.G. – not an instant prayer but earnestly crying out for God to fulfill what He had already decreed. Praying it in the Holy Ghost!!
Lk 11:1-2 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
Hallowed be Your Name – the F.O.G. came upon every soul!!