“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3)
We all know this verse – or if we don’t, it’s about time we did. What we may not be fully aware of is the full meaning of the Greek word katartizo which is translated in the above version (NKJ) as “framed”, and (weakly, I would say) as “formed” in the NIV. Here is the Strong’s definition:
“katartízō, kat-ar-tid’-zo; to complete thoroughly, i.e. repair (literally or figuratively) or adjust:—fit, frame, mend, (make) perfect(-ly join together), prepare, restore.”
This word katartizo sits squarely on the picture of the Church’s mission plane undergoing a refit, which was one of the prophetic words brought to Wildwood and, I believe, to the wider church, on 8th Novenber. The word talks of God working on us by His creative power, so I want to unpack something of what I see in how we can respond to it. And before going any further I want to emphasise what a strong sense of His love and grace in the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit it carries: He is going to repair, mend, and restore, both individual people and ministries. There will be adjustments to make and new parts to fit, so that we can be perfectly prepared and thoroughly complete for the mission ahead.
So I believe that God is going to refit the Church by the same process as He made the worlds, because that is what He works with. But if this is the case, Hebrews 11:3 teaches that we have to understand His workings by faith, not by human reason. Many years ago I was flying to Bolivia and was sitting in the transit lounge at Caracas (Venezuala) airport where our plane stopped to refuel. But while it was there on the tarmac just outside the transit lounge window, something else was going on. I looked on, horrified, as a mechanic with a toolbox stood at the bottom of a pair of steps, while another mechanic standing on the wing reached into one of the engines with something, shook his head, passed it down to his assistant and took something else to try. Fortunately whatever it was must have worked, but I was very glad when that plane landed. But I don’t think God is planning a tinkering job just to get the plane over the next leg of the journey, and we cannot use the toolbox of our human reasoning on what we see in order to understand what He is going to do, because “katartizo” creates by His Word out of things which are not visible.
We often use the word “grasp” when we talk of understanding. God has put His law into our hearts and written it on our minds: this is part of His new covenant with us. So although we cannot rationally understand the infinite dimensions of His provision, we can reach into the Spirit that He has given us and “grasp” them. I believe that this is what Jesus teaches when He talks about faith like a mustard seed in Matthew 17:20, and the faith that moves mountains in Mark 11:23. I believe that we can only do this by prayer and by revelation. So what “seeds” do we need to grasp by faith so that we can be ready for the refit? Here are four that are at the top of my list, which I offer in full knowledge of the fact that there are many, many others.
Who He is in us.
He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords; the universe was created by Him, through Him, and for Him; He is sovereign over all, and He dwells within us by His Spirit. If we worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, we acknowledge His total lordship over our lives. These are the worshippers that the Father is seeking. If we aren’t sensitive to His Spirit when we worship, we aren’t worshipping Him in spirit. If we aren’t in submission to His lordship, we aren’t worshipping Him in truth.
What He has done for us
“For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”(Heb 10:14). Although our sanctification is an ongoing process, Jesus has made us “perfect forever” in the sight of God by His sacrifice at the Cross, “Therefore … we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus.” (Heb 10: 19) So although we may not think we are “good enough” or “mature enough” to be of any use in the purposes of God, we have all been “made perfect” before the Father and can therefore all draw near, whoever we are, to receive from His hand whatever He has for us and for those to whom He sends us.
What He has given us
As well as opening the way to the Father and giving us eternal life, giving us all the promises and principles of His Word, redeeming us from the curse if sin and death and pouring our His love and mercy into our hearts, God has given us precious and powerful gifts. Father, Son and Holy Spirit have all gifted the church and each of us as individuals in different ways. Father “has dealt to each one a measure of faith,” and we find His giftings in Romans 12: 3-8. The Son gave the five ministry gifts to the Church, and we find them in Ephesians 4: 11-12. The Holy Spirit distributes a variety of gifts “to each one as He wills” – 1 Cor 12 and 14. It is the combination of all of these gifts from the Godhead that enables the plane to fly properly as we follow the instructions that He has given us in the flight manual – the Bible. I believe that they all need to be functioning fully if we are to be prepared for the next mission, and that God is going to focussing on all of them as part of the overhaul that He seems to be planning.
What He will do for us
He will do whatever we ask – as long as we abide in Him and His word abides in us. Greater works than Jesus did, because He has gone to the Father and left the power of resurrection life with His body, the Church. He will give us the power and authority to heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead in His name. He will provide for all our need according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus. He will be our strength and our shield in the battles that we are going to face. He will always be with us. Whatever we give He will give to us, but according to His dimensions – pressed down and running over it will be poured into our laps. He will give us our daily bread, forgive our sins, and deliver us from evil, and His Kingdom will come, on Earth as it is in Heaven.
This list is just a faint, watery thumbnail sketch of a handful of glimpses of the mighty Lord who loves us and lives in us and whom we serve. But if we can reach out with our faith and grasp even these principles I think we can be in a place where He is able to shine the beam of His light into the machinery of the aeroplane and begin the work of the refit. And if we want to have some idea of what might come out of the hangar when God has finished the refit, and just how far beyond ‘anything we could ask or imagine’ it is likely to be, have a look at Andrew Baker’s prophesy of The Amazing Plane.
I love the sound of the word Katartizo. It’s like something out of a superhero comic book when the hero saves the day.