Category Archives: Walking in the Spirit

God gives the Spirit without limit. Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to the church to equip us to be His witnesses and carry on the work that He started by that same power. To deny that the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit are available to the believer today, or to say, as some do, that God does not speak supernaturally to His people today, is effectively taking Christ out of Christianity.

The Works of the Father

The heart of the Son was, and still is, always to reveal the Father. His expressed desire throughout His ministry was for the world to know that the Father sent Him, and was in Him, doing His Works, bringing Heaven to Earth. He tells the Jews “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe  that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” (John 10:38) He says the same thing to the disciples: “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.” (John 14:11)

Jesus is clear; He is also emphatic. He says that the works He does by the power and in the authority of the Father who is in Him demonstrate the truth of the words He speaks.  There are not many instances where He repeats Himself in one gospel account, and nowhere else does He say the same, privately, to His disciples as He does openly to the Jews. So this is not just a footnote to the New Testament that we can choose to skip over or ignore; it is a headline statement that defines our understanding of our call to make disciples of all nations.

It is often repeated: we are not just called to preach the Gospel; we are called to make disciples. Jesus made disciples; His disciples made disciples, and disciples have kept making disciples for 2000 years. As cells of natural life multiply, so too do cells of eternal life. God’s principles work on every level, on Earth as in Heaven. Each cell reproduces its own DNA for life to continue. “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3) When the Holy Spirit fell, the DNA of Jesus was passed on to His disciples so that they could continue to reveal the Father through His works (John 14:12). As disciples make disciples it continues in all who are born again into the Kingdom of God, “of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5).

To teach that Christians should not expect to reproduce the works of the Father not only denies the importance of the various scriptures that refer to signs and wonders following the preaching of the Word; it ignores the fact that Jesus Christ Himself validated the message of the Kingdom through them. If Jesus needed miracles for people to be convinced that He was the Son of God, how much more do we? The works of the Father are not an option; they are a necessity. They are in our DNA.  Ministries that deny the gifts of the Holy Spirit through which these works are accomplished “have a form of godliness but deny its power,” and Paul’s instruction is specific: we must “stay away from them.” (2 Tim 3:5) Their incomplete gospel is missing a gene and breeds a sick church.

I believe that the Bible is clear: we, as the brothers of Jesus (Romans 8:29), born of the same Father and filled with the same Spirit, are made of the same spiritual DNA; and one of our genes is the one that reproduces the works of the Father as proof that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Without that gene we are incomplete. So let’s ask, seek, and knock; let’s wait on the Lord to renew our strength; let’s pray fervently; let’s repent of the unbelief that tells us that the miraculous would be nice, but isn’t really what we are looking for right now: whatever it is, let’s just get on our knees like Paul on the Damascus Road and say, “Lord, what would you have me do?”

Because if we want to convince the world that God loves it so much that He gave Jesus for its salvation, we need to see the works of the Father in our churches.

The Name of the Father

Summary (See Acts 19)
The church at Ephesus brought revival to a pagan city and became a pillar of New Testament Christianity. It was born when Paul laid hands on twelve disciples who had only received “the baptism of John,” and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and brought into a dynamic relationship with Jesus and the Father.
It is the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of Adoption,” who enables us to begin to truly know the Father and be “kept through His name,” as Jesus had prayed and Malachi had prophesied.

Into Jesus

When Paul first came to Ephesus he found a group of about 12 disciples who had repented of their sins, been baptized by John, believed in the Messiah and the Kingdom that John had preached to them, yet had not encountered Jesus for themselves through the power of the Holy Spirit. As they said to Paul, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” Paul baptized them “in the name of the Lord Jesus,” laid hands on them, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19: 1-7). The Greek word eis, – in (the name of the Lord Jesus) – is a dynamic word, denoting purpose, entrance, and direction: they were baptised into the identity (the name) of Jesus. It does not mean that Paul was merely acting under the authority of Jesus to baptise them. Baptism into the name of Jesus was the entrance of the Ephesians into the person and authority of the Lord, and came with the full package of Holy Spirit enabling. Many churchgoers today have only really received “the baptism of John:” a repentance towards God, an intellectual belief in Christ but no dynamic relationship with Him, and no experience or understanding of the person of the Holy Spirit. But “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.” (Prov 18:10) – or as the song translates it – “the righteous run into it and they are saved.”

Having been given the identity of Jesus, the Ephesians were able to receive His Spirit. The fruit that came from this seed was that “the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed” (Acts 19:20), and included two years ministry in the city that established one of the “hub” churches of Asia, “unusual miracles” through Paul’s handkerchiefs and aprons, city-wide revival in a centre of idolatry (Ephesus was the location of the Temple of Diana, the goddess of love and fertility), the burning of many magic books, and the episode of the sons of Sceva “which became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus” with the result that “fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds.” (Acts 19:17-18) In addition to the revival that took place at the time, the Letter to the Ephesians has been a pillar of New Testament Christian doctrine for centuries.

Declaring the Father

Jesus didn’t spend his ministry signing His own name on what He did: His desire was always to point to the Father. The last words of John 17 are: “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” His purpose in revealing the Father to us was, and still is, that the love that the Father has for His son Jesus will be in us as well. John 1: 12-13 says this: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Our faith towards Jesus gives us the right to call God our Father, and to take His name for ourselves as adopted children. The Son declared the name of the Father in everything He said – “whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak,” (John 12:50) and in everything He did – “the Father who dwells in Me does the works.” (John 14:10) – so that with Christ in us we can have a new identity, be filled with the Father’s love, and know “the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

I’ve often heard it taught, and I’ve said it myself, that a poor relationship with our earthly father can make our heavenly Father seem remote. I no longer believe that this is true; in fact I would go so far as to say it’s a deception from the enemy. We don’t enter into sonship through a mental act of believing that God is our Father, but through the active ministry of the Holy Spirit: “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). Unless we know our sonship through that witness of the Holy Spirit, we are just imagining it.

Ephesians 3:15 tells us that The Father is the one “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” Our understanding of fatherhood and our relationships with our earthly fathers are to be derived from knowing the “name” of our heavenly Father, not the other way round. Kingdom fatherhood has to be on Earth as it is in Heaven, and this can only be achieved through the infilling of the Holy Spirit. That these are the closing words of the Old Testament confirms how important it is that we understand this message, and how relevant it is for the church today:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet (the Holy Spirit)
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.
And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4: 5-6)

The Spirit of Adoption

If we return to the beginning of this article and the first seeds of the Ephesian church, we see how baptism into the identity of Jesus is accompanied by the laying on of hands for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. As Paul is making his farewell to the Elders at Ephesus, he says: “I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27) We don’t know everything that Paul spoke about during his ministry at Ephesus, although I think it is likely that the letter to the Ephesians is a recap and pulling together of what he taught while he was there; but I think an important aspect of “the whole counsel of God” is this: faith towards and baptism into Jesus give us new wineskins that bear the name of the Father, but we need to be filled with the New Wine of the Holy Spirit as well if we want to get to know who our Father is. The twelve Ephesians received the Spirit of Adoption through the laying on of hands, and as a result many who walked in the darkness of the Temple of Diana saw the great light of Christ.

So Jesus manifested the name of the Father so that “many sons” could be “brought to glory.” (Heb 2:10) He also asks the Father to “keep” us through His name,  as He also “kept” the disciples, so that we would be one as He is one with the Father: “Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me,  that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” (John 17:11-12)

Kept by the Father

There can only be one way that Jesus kept His disciples from falling away, and that has to be by constantly revealing the Father to them through His words, and His works. As Peter said “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68-69). The disciples weren’t “kept” by a set of beliefs and principles but by the presence and the reality of the Living God in their midst. Jesus asks His Father to carry on doing with us what He did with the twelve. We are weak and vulnerable: we cannot keep ourselves in the Truth, we cannot keep ourselves following the Way, we cannot keep ourselves in the Life. The Father has to keep us, by the power of His Spirit in us. We need to know that we depend on Him, which means listening to and doing what He says, and allowing the Holy Spirit full access into our lives. The Father who has given us His name wants us to explore our relationship with Him. The Spirit of adoption that He gives us is given without limit; all that the Father has belongs to Jesus, and we are co-heirs with Him, which means that all that the Father has is ours as well. As Jesus said right at the beginning of His ministry, the Father is “pleased to give us the Kingdom.”

We don’t get to know who the Father is through any earthly agency or in the mirror of our relationship with our natural fathers, but through the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit who pours out His love in our hearts (Romans 5:5). If we can really learn what it is to be children of God, kept by the name of the Lord of Heaven and Earth by the active agency of His own Spirit who dwells in us, we too, like those Ephesians, can turn our cities upside down through the power of the Son of God. But we won’t do it if we only operate in the baptism of John.

Let not your heart be troubled…

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” (John 14:1)

Judas had just slunk out of the room to betray Jesus; their lord and master had just washed their feet; the disciples had just received the new commandment to love one another as He had loved them; having followed Him for three years they were told that they could now not go where He was going; and faithful, passionate Peter had just found out that he was about to deny knowing Jesus three times. Against this tumultuous setting Jesus tells them: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”

If our hearts are troubled our faith is hindered. If we focus on Jesus we can find a path through our troubles, but if we focus on our troubles Jesus becomes remote. In 2 Kings 4: 19-37 we find the story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman. The son that had been born to her according to Elisha’s word had died. This was her only son, the vessel of all her hopes for the continuation of her family. Her heart had every cause to be troubled. But this is what we read is vs 21:

“And she went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut the door upon him, and went out.”

She shut the door on him. Do we shut the door on our troubles, or do we let them invade our hearts? The Shunammite woman had one thing on her mind now, which was to run to the man of God:

“Then she called to her husband, and said, “Please send me one of the young men and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God and come back.”

Shut the door on your troubles; run to the man of God. Let not your heart be troubled; believe in Jesus. Keeping that door closed is an act of the will, because troubles can come knocking very loudly. The woman’s husband said: “”Why are you going to him today? It is neither the New Moon nor the Sabbath.” And she said, “It is well.” Do we open the door by lamenting our difficulties, or do we saddle the donkey and run to Jesus, declaring with the hymn writer that “it is well, it is well, with my soul?”

“Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.” (Psalm 46 2-5)

Elisha saw her coming from where he was on Mount Carmel, and sent Gehazi, his assistant, to her. “Please run now to meet her, and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’ ” And she answered, “It is well.” She still refused to let her heart be troubled. Only when she had physically taken hold of Elisha’s feet did she speak of the death of her son. If we would only speak of our troubles when we are safely in the presence of the One who can either take them away or help us bear them, how much stronger our faith would be!

Elisha sent Gehazi ahead to lay his staff on the boy’s face, but the woman was adamant:  “As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.” (vs. 30) Her trust was in the Man of God: not in his staff, not in his assistant. We need the presence of the Lord in our own lives, not just in the life of someone with a staff of ministry. She shut the door on her troubles, ran to Jesus (Elisha), took hold of him and stayed with Him until her child was restored to life. Not only did she believe, but she persevered in her faith. The writer to the Hebrews says:

”And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb 6: 11-12)

I think many of us are quick enough to run to Jesus, but instead of shutting the door on our problems we put them on the donkey and take them with us, telling everyone about them on the way. Instead of persevering in our faith and seeking Jesus, we persevere in our problems and He stays remote. Of course we pray. We are exhorted to pray at all times. (Eph. 6:18). When David was in the cave hiding from Saul, he wrote:

“I cry out to the LORD with my voice;
With my voice to the LORD I make my supplication.
I pour out my complaint before Him;
I declare before Him my trouble.
When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
Then You knew my path.” (Psalm 142: 1-3)

God knew David’s path, and David knew that. But David always trusted God for His divine plan; he didn’t ask God to bless his own agenda. He didn’t carry it around on a donkey and ask God to bring it to life. When the Shunammite woman shut the door on her son she shut the door on the hopes and aspirations she had for his life. What she didn’t know was that a 7-year famine was coming to Israel; that God, through Elisha, was going to send her and her son away to live among the Philistines for that time so that they wouldn’t suffer; that Gehazi was going to tell her story to the King; and that when she came back she was going to have all her fortunes restored, including the value of any crops that were harvested during her absence. (2 Kings 8). God can always “do infinitely more than all we can ask or imagine. ” (Eh 3:20) Believing in Jesus means not letting our hearts be troubled by anxiety over our own agendas, but trusting Him to know our paths and fulfil His purposes, His way.

Many of us have “dead sons:” words that have been spoken into our lives that seem light years from being fulfilled. Many times we may have put them on the donkey and carried them to the Man of God, or gone for prayer and had the staff of someone’s ministry laid on their face, but life has not come. But Jesus says: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” He doesn’t want us just to believe that God is able to answer our prayers:  He wants us to shut the door on what has died and run after His presence, so that He can personally come and revive them Himself.

“My Body is not in shape.”

Jake received this word earlier in the week, at about the same time as the Lord was speaking to me about the golden shields. It is worth reading them together.

Jake writes: I saw the Lord weeping. I asked the Lord why He was weeping, and He said this: “I am weeping over My body, for it is not in shape.”

I asked the Lord what He meant by this, and I felt Him say: “Large parts of My body still love sin and only dislike the consequence of sin. I am using this time for a spiritual self -examination, where busyness has hidden the real you.  I will be highlighting motives and thought patterns that are contrary to My way.

I am doing a new thing: I am putting in my people who seek my face an aversion to sin and I will be restoring a JOY to my people that will be far greater than the short lived joy of sin.

My church for far too long has not heeded the warning from the Israelites in the desert, where I supplied them with manna to eat, yet they took their eyes of me and became complacent, took my provision for granted and became greedy. Trying to provide for themselves they forgot I had provided for them.  And hence I caused the food I provided that they had stored up to become inedible, to bring then back to me.”

Reflections on John 17: Glory and Unity

In “Story Time” I wrote about the longing of Jesus to be with us. This longing is nowhere expressed more deeply than in John 17, His final prayer time before going to Calvary, where He says:

Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)

Any moment now the footsteps of the mob would come tramping through the darkness and the betrayer’s kiss herald the crux of history and the culmination of Messiah’s mission. Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, is pouring out his heart to the Heavenly Father that He has walked with throughout His life on Earth. Before the world was made, Jesus had been there with the Father, sharing the perfect unity of the overflow of love between them, outside of Time, in the Courts of Heaven. And at the creation of the world the Son had been there with the Father again, as the Holy Spirit moved, light and Dark were separated, the land and the oceans were formed, and life was born. Now He was the Life, and the light: the darkness that had entered the hearts of men soon after that glorious time was coming in the belief that His light was about to be extinguished, with one of the most horrific deaths imaginable. The hour had come (John 17:1). And what He is thinking about, and praying to His Father about, is the Glory.

What is this glory, this mysterious manifestation of the presence of God that is on his mind during His last prayer time on Earth? What does it mean to us? It meant so much to Jesus that He specifically asked His Father that we would behold it: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24) This is actually His last request. He wants us to be with Him, in His presence, so we can see it. Not so we can just gaze on it in wonder, but so that we can partake of it ourselves, be filled with it, and through it accomplish His purposes as they are expressed in the following verses, and which I return to further into this article:

“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17: 22-23)

The hour had come. This is the moment when we see the Son of Man – the Word made flesh, and the One who, after the resurrection, would be the Firstborn of the New Creation –  speaking to His Father intimately and passionately as the Son of God. This was the moment when the virus of sin that had kept God and Man apart since the fall was finally being dealt with. The Saviour is about to enter the birth canal of the new creation. As He goes to the Cross, one of the least glorious experiences in all of human life, He asks His Father to give Him again the same glory that He had before flesh even existed, and which is also the same as that which He, Jesus, had already given to His disciples. He gives us something of the nature of this glory in verse 5, where He prays: “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was,” and we get another clue about it in verse 22, where He refers to: “the glory which You gave Me I have given them.”

What could the Son of Man have given to His disciples that He had possessed when He was just the Son of God, “before the world was?” As He talks to His Father, Jesus reviews what the Son of Man has accomplished. He says He has given eternal life, which is knowing the Father, to those whom the Father has given to Him (vs. 3). He has glorified the Father (vs 4), manifested his name (vs 6) – in other words made it clear that the Father is the one true God whose power and authority are sovereign, and He has declared repeatedly that the Father sent Jesus and is the source of everything that He, the Son of Man, has said and done (vs 3, 7). He has given them the Father’s words, to which they have been faithful (vs 14). And of course He has given them His love: even before He went to the Cross, he demonstrated this love by washing their feet (“Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” John 13:1).

What Jesus had as the Son of God He gave to His disciples: the Name, and all that goes with it; the words, the life and the love of the Father. The glory that Jesus had before the world was made was His untainted eternal relationship with His Father; the outpouring of love that completely united them. And this glorious relationship is His gift to us. The cloud that falls, the tangible magnificence of His presence, the blinding light, the life-giving power: these are not the glory itself, but are just expressions of it.

The purpose of Jesus passing the Father’s glory on to us is threefold. The first is for the Body of Christ to be in unity “ that they may be made perfect in one”; the second is that the world will know that Jesus is the Son of God, sent by the Father “ that the world may know that You have sent Me”, and the third is that the world will know that the same love of the Father is waiting for everyone who comes to Jesus: “and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (vs. 23)

We long for the glory of God to fill the church, for the shekinah glory, the shining cloud of God’s presence, to be manifest in our meetings. This does sometimes happen, and  I believe it will happen more often as the heavenly timer winds down; but I think in this, as in many other things, we have understood no more than the disciples who asked Jesus if He was going to return the Kingdom to Israel just before He ascended into Heaven. We tend to believe  – at least I always have – that if the Glory would come in our worship times, we would fall on our faces and get closer to God. I think the truth is actually more along the lines that if we lived more of our lives on our faces getting closer to God, the glory would fall in our worship times. It would be a manifestation of our love relationship with the Father, the Son, and with each other.

Jesus longs for us to be with Him where He is, so that we can see and partake of the glory that He shares with the Father and the love that binds them in perfect unity. Where He is now is in the Spirit, in Heavenly places, where we are already seated with him (Eph 2:6). Our unity with the Godhead, and through that with each other, is a spiritual reality that we apprehend by faith and which cannot be attained in the flesh by tweaking how we “do church.” Unity comes when denominations fade, not when they are bolted together. When Christians from different churches believe the same words, are baptised in the same Spirit, burn with the same passion for Jesus and serve each other with the same love, denominations will disappear in all but name and the world will see the Glory of God in the church. Why? Because the church will be seeing the Glory of God in the Spirit.

It is finished

When the Lord Jesus surrendered his life as an atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world, He cried out “It is finished.” He came to do the work that the Father sent Him to complete, and He completed it. Every bit of it. Not a sin, a sickness or a broken heart was left out. He accomplished it all; there are no doubts in any Christian theologian’s mind concerning the completion of the work of calvary.

As I wrote in “The Cup and the Baptism”, (and if you’re reading this I’m sure you know it anyway) John’s gospel records that He commissioned His disciples with the words: “As the Father sent me, I also send you… Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22). The Father sent Jesus to do a complete work, and He accomplished it, by the power of the Holy Spirit by whom He was conceived, who came upon him, and in whom He was immersed or “baptized.”

When we were born again, we were “created in Christ Jesus for works prepared beforehand, that we might walk in them.” (Eph 2:10) We believe that the Word of God is truth, so how does scripture compare the ministry of the Church, sent by the Son, with the ministry of Jesus, sent by the Father?

Jesus was “from above” (John 3:31). The Christian who is born again, “of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5) and as such is a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:15), is also born “from above.”

Jesus was the Son of God.  Romans 8:14 tells us: “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” We are also joint heirs with Christ: remembering again the Cup and the Baptism, Romans 8: 17 goes on to say:  “Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:29 tells us that He was “The firstborn of many brethren.”  If we are sons of God, every resource that the Father made available to Jesus is available to us, His co-heirs; and the fulfilment of every promise is Yes and Amen to us, through Him.

Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit. Luke 4:1 tells us “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” Because Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit as the only begotten Son of God, I have tended to think that Jesus was equipped for ministry through His unique divine nature, and that He did “the works” of God because He also was God. But that isn’t what the bible actually tells us. Luke says that He returned from the wilderness “in the power of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:14); Acts 10:38 (also written by Luke, of course) tells us “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” So we must be clear that the anointing of the Holy Spirit that was poured out ON Jesus and that completely filled Him (baptized Him) is distinct from the divine nature that He was born with. All this is to show that the Christian who is baptised in the Holy Spirit and prioritizes being filled with the Spirit (and dead to the flesh) and led by the Spirit on a daily basis has the same anointing as Jesus. The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in us “and gives life to our mortal bodies.” (Romans 8:11)

“All authority in heaven and on earth” had been given to Jesus (Matt 28:18). God has raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in heavenly places. As His co-heirs, we share His authority when we minister in His name. Whatever we bind and loose on Earth has been bound and loosed in Heaven. (Matt 18:18) The Christian has the authority of the name of Jesus.

So the Church consists of sons (Daughters being included in all the rights of “sonship”) of God, who are born from above, filled with and led by the same Spirit that equipped Jesus for the “works of God” that He did, sent into the world to do the same works that He did and greater, with all the authority that is vested in the name that is ours by adoption. The work of Calvary was finished; complete. Jesus went to “prepare a place for us” in His Father’s house (John 14:2). That, too, is complete. We’ve already got a room in Heaven full of everything we need for our work on Earth. Finally, 2 Tim 3 16-17 says this: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work,” and the writer to the Hebrews prays that “the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead” will “make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. (Hebrews 13:20-21).

Jesus completed the great work of Calvary so that we can be completely full of the Spirit in order to complete “every good work” that is given us to do. Nothing is left out: not at Calvary; not in the baptism of the Holy Spirit that Jesus has passed on to us; and not in our own spiritual growth, because we are “confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in (us) will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phi 1:6). The apostle John gives us the final piece of the jigsaw: “As He was, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17)

Today is Pentecost Sunday. Every day can be a Pentecost for us, as we come empty of self and ask the Holy Spirit to come and fill us with God. He is not interested in dusting the surface of our lives with a powdery whiteness that will last for a few hours and fall away: He wants us to know the reality of His life in us so that we really are “able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— (that we) know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that (we) may be filled with all the fullness of God.” This, and nothing less, is the complete fruit of the complete work of Calvary.

This is our inheritance. Within the context of our individual callings, all of the anointing that was on Jesus is there for us to take hold of by faith. The complete package is ours; not just a little taste. Let us be bold enough to step out from under the influence and the unbelief of any teaching that has come to us, from within or outside of our churches, that would diminish this; and let us have the faith to see ourselves as trained-up disciples who can continue with and multiply the work of the Master until He comes back and says, once more, “It is finished.”

the cup and the baptism

Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They said to Him, “We are able.” So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with;  but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.” (Matt 20: 22-23)

Whenever I have read these words, spoken to James and John when they asked to sit next to Jesus in Heaven, I have taken the baptism and the cup that Jesus refers to as being the same thing: the suffering that will soon overwhelm all His human senses. We know that this is definitely true of the “cup”, because He asks the Father to take it away if it were at all possible; but Jesus was always economical with His words and I don’t think He is repeating Himself here. Also, He refers to the cup as still being in the future, whereas the baptism is a present reality: it is “the baptism that I am baptized with.”

James was martyred, and tradition has it that John was as well, after his exile on Patmos; so they both drank His cup. In a wider sense we all do when we put our flesh to death with Jesus on the cross. But the only baptism that Jesus was already “baptized with” before He was crucified but which still awaited the disciples at a future time is the baptism in the Holy Spirit. When Jesus promises the Holy Spirit He tells the disciples “you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:17). The Holy Spirit is with them while they are with Jesus, because Jesus is immersed in Him; and He will be in them from Pentecost onward.

So there are definitely two sides to the coin of discipleship: the cup and the baptism. For fruitful discipleship, which Jesus Himself tells us is true discipleship, we need them both: indeed we cannot have one without the other. If we follow the thread of what Jesus taught His disciples at their last meeting together, documented in John 12-16, we see the progression from the seed falling to the ground and dying in order to multiply, through the need to remain submitted to the word of God and to love one another (neither of which are possible if the flesh is not dead), to the provision of the Holy Spirit who will bring the multiplication of God-Life into the submitted heart where Jesus reigns.

Paul expressed his greatest desire like this: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil 3:10). The baptism and the cup. The cup and the baptism. These are the great truths of discipleship. Luke 6:40 tells us this: “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” At the end of the disciples’ training John gives us his account of the disciples’ commissioning: “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.” (John 20: 21-22) The mighty rushing wind that came from heaven not long later came first from within Jesus, from the “baptism that He was baptized with.” Jesus sends us as He was sent, with the cup and the baptism. We can become as dead to self as He was, we can be as filled with the Spirit as He was, and that is why we can do the works that He did. This is what the Word of God tells us. Satan will do everything he can to diminish and dilute this truth. He works tirelessly to convince us that we are only insignificant shadows of the great apostles who walked with Jesus two thousand years ago. But the Word of God tells us that our discipleship can be as fruitful as that of Peter, James and John, because we have the same Spirit and the same Word, and we are following the same master. So are we dead to self, and is there no room for anything in our lives except what the Holy Spirit brings us? We know these things: blessed are we if we do them.

Spirit without Limit

“For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.”(John 3: 34)

These words were spoken by John the Baptist, when the Pharisees came to ask him about Jesus. Some commentators  tell us that they refer uniquely to Jesus, and not to the church, as the operation of the Spirit in Jesus was not in any way limited by His flesh; whereas all of allow our flesh to get in the way of what God pours out. But what we do with the gift does not limit God’s giving, as Romans 8:11 surely testifies: 

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”

It isn’t God who puts a limitation on His Spirit; it’s us.

The devil knows he can’t take us out of His hand, so he does the next best thing: he tries to limit how much of God’s blessing we receive. Think of how we celebrate communion, for example. Jesus is the Bread of Life. When we take communion and the bread is passed round, we all politely break off a little piece that we probably hold between thumb and forefinger. Why is that? Do we not want to appear greedy? Are we making sure there is enough to go round? There is always loads left at the end, so that can’t be true. Personally I want to be greedy for what Jesus gives: the supply of the Spirit will never run out.

I know the bread is only a symbol, and there is a practical side to how we distribute and partake of it; nevertheless I think our attitude to the communion bread – and it’s true of every church I’ve been in over 35 years of being a Christian – is also a reflection of something deeper that pervades the body of Christ: instead of rising up into the heavenly dimension of the Spirit, we bring God down to the limitations of the flesh. But God doesn’t want us to be content with crumbs: crumbs of provision, crumbs of healing, crumbs of faith. He wants us to run around the bakery, laughing, and helping ourselves to great handfuls of His life. Spirit without limit.

Jesus said (John 10:10) “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” The question that many of us carry in our hearts, although we may not give it voice, is this: “Where is the promised abundance in my life/church?” We want to believe God for those handfuls, but what we see is the crumbs.  I think the answer is two chapters further into John’s gospel:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” (John 12:24.) Practical Matthew puts it differently (Matt 19:29): “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife  or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life,” and Luke cuts to the chase: “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” (Luke 17:33)

Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone… It’s right there: we don’t see the multiplication of abundant life because I think we have a tendency to hold onto our seeds. Our seeds are what we have got. For some they’re stacked away in the store cupboard of our lives, with nice colourful labels, sorted in tidy rows; whereas for others there might be just a couple of little envelopes with a few seeds collected in the corners, but whatever seeds we have got, or haven’t got, they’re ours. And I don’t just mean money and possessions: our ambitions, our reputation, our relationships – they are all seeds. Yet abundant life comes when the seed dies. As I’ve said elsewhere on this site, Smith Wigglesworth raised 14 people from the dead, so he has a certain degree of credibility. I haven’t read all of his teachings by a long chalk, but a lot of what I have read can be summed up like this: ”Die to self; be filled with the Spirit, believe God’s word, and then expect to walk in the supernatural power of abundant life.”

Wigglesworth, the “Apostle of Faith”, is known as a great ambassador of Pentecostalism. But he didn’t preach the baptism in the Spirit without also preaching death to self. We tend to hold onto one and conveniently forget the other. The problem for many of us, in Western churches at least, is that we don’t want to die. God gives the Spirit without limit, but our flesh won’t lie down and it gets in the way. Are we going to raise the dead, or just read the stories of other people who did? Smith Wigglesworth raised 14 people, not just because he was full of the Holy Spirit, but also because he was dead himself.

perfect unity

“I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:23)

The unity between the Father, the Son, and the church is complete: this is the pinnacle of all that Jesus came to achieve.

If Jesus prayed for it we can achieve it. If we learn to recognise his voice and ignore others we can keep in step with Him, because Unity with God is our goal, not cultivating fruits to try and be godly – this leads to religion, failure and shame, and takes us away from the purpose He has created us for, which is to walk with Him. If we call on Him He will reach out and bring His peace and presence:  He doesn’t care how far away we feel.

If we seek God with all our hearts we will deliver His gifts in His love and under His direction. if we seek gifts without seeking Him we operate in our own strength and risk delivering pride and clanging cymbals.

The new testament is full of examples of how to be like Jesus, in Unity with the Father; and full of ways to develop and train our minds and bodies to walk in that unity.

We need to be in his peace to hear his voice, so we must diligently seek that peace. That is the place of unity with God, and from there we can operate in his power, by His Spirit. If we lose it, we must go back and find it – don’t keep going in agitation. The longer we spend out of it, the messier our lives can get. Every negative word can weaken it: God want us to get every word right – it’s not enough just to be “good”. The biggest victories in our lives – and the salvation of those around us – will come as we diligently seek to walk in unity with one another and, most of all, with Jesus and the Father. It’s by that, and not by our evangelistic efforts or our attempts at goodness, that the world will know that the Father sent His Son because He loved it so much.

Anne Hext. Written in Sept 2016