Tag Archives: by faith

Anything You Ask: Resurrection Life

“Lord,” I said. “I need a word from you!”

It was the evening before School of Prophesy and I felt I had nothing to bring to the group. In fact I had been feeling barren all week, so I wasn’t just asking Him for a word for School of Prophesy, it was for me as well. “John 11:22” came into my head, clear and specific. It was Martha talking to Jesus after Lazarus had been dead for four days. The verse God gave me was this:

“But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

Jesus says practically the same words to us in John 14: 13. We know them well: “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John will have heard what Martha said to Jesus: he recorded it. So her words won’t have been lost on him when he heard Jesus say to the disciples who were with him, and us of course, that He would give us whatever we ask in His name, just as the Father gave Him whatever he asked. Through the Son, Abba Father is open-handed to all his children, because “both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Hebrews 2:11) Whether it is Jesus, the firstborn, who is asking, or any of His brothers and sisters, the Father will give us all whatever we ask, because He is our heavenly Father who loves us, and because by giving to us because Jesus is our brother, He is demonstrating to the principalities and powers in heavenly places that His Son is the Messiah, and that “there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

No born again believer will deny the doctrinal truth of what I have written above. But straight away we hit a problem: our experience does not reflect the doctrine. We ask God for things, and He doesn’t give them. James addresses this when he writes: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (James 4:3) Yet when we are praying for someone else and God doesn’t seem to be paying attention, are we asking for ourselves? We know that we aren’t. So the issue is never resolved, and disappointment creeps in to weaken our faith. Yet Jesus promised to give us whatever we ask in His name, and we know that He doesn’t just speak the truth; He is the Truth. So how do we understand a truth that doesn’t always ring true?

When Jesus asked for the stone to be rolled away, Martha said:  “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” (John 11:39) Whether we are looking at personal situations or at a global crisis, we can find ourselves in circumstances that stink. But I believe that the Lord is emphasing today that He is with us outside that tomb. Just as He promised Martha that her brother would rise again, He says to us that however hopelessly entombed and stinking our situation might be, He will bring resurrection life. He says to us, as He said to Martha: “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (John 11: 40)

I don’t think that Jesus is just talking here about having faith for the specific circumstance – our “specific Lazarus.” I think a key to understanding this passage is in verses 25-27: “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Her answer was to say: “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Once she had declared the truth of His identity, the Lord never asked her whether or not she believed that Lazarus would be raised. If our hearts are full of faith in who Jesus IS, we will have no problem believing what He can DO. He is the Resurrection and the Life, and He stands with us, actually alive in the very heart of our being, outside that tomb. He will give us whatever we ask, and the answer will come in resurrection life.

How then do we keep our faith in who He is strong, until we see Him bring the answer to our prayer? We felt the Holy Spirit reminded us of three things in School of Prophesy this morning. Elaine saw in her spirit something like a heavy line drawn underneath a bank of rain-filled clouds. The rain of blessing that was in the clouds and that should have been falling was being held back. We need to discern if there is opposition to us receiving the answer to our prayers, and pray until that opposition is broken. We have the authority to bind and loose, so we might need to bind the power of the opposition and loose what is held for us in heaven so that we can receive it on earth.

Eva shared that a strategy for her to stay strong in her faith is to ask the Lord to give His peace in the area where she is awaiting her answer. Isaiah 26:3 tells us “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” Our peace comes from our trust in Jesus, and we can trust Him because we know who He is. If we find our trust is wavering and our peace is broken we need to spend some time “staying our minds on Him,” dwelling on exactly who it is that lives within us, and say with Martha: “Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” In that place of peace patience is born. And it is “through faith with patience” that we inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:12)

Finally, we were reminded of the importance of praise. We don’t have to look far in scripture to find an exhortation to praise God in all our circumstances, because He is always worthy of our praise. Again, when we praise Him, we remind ourselves of who it is who is standing with us outside that tomb. Hebrews 2: 12 quotes Psalm 22:22, saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.” When the Holy Spirit within us lifts our hearts in praise to God it is Jesus Himself praising the Father, and revealing Him to us. And not only does it do our own spirits good to praise the Lord, but the enemy hates it, as Psalm 149 vs 5-9 makes clear:

“Let the saints be joyful in glory;
Let them sing aloud on their beds.
 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
And a two-edged sword in their hand,
To execute vengeance on the nations,
And punishments on the peoples;
To bind their kings with chains,
And their nobles with fetters of iron;
To execute on them the written judgment—
This honour have all His saints.”

So when the situation stinks, we need to focus on who Jesus is rather than what we want Him to do. We need to stay in His peace and praise the glory of His name, and if, as we do that, any demonic powers standing in our way haven’t already fled in the face of our resistance ( James 4:7), we need to do battle with them until they have.

I believe that the Lord wants us, His Church, to expand our vision of resurrection life so that we can live in it more fully. If we think about wheels and moving vehicles our imagination will be based on what we see on the road, what we work with, what’s on our drive or what we would like to see on our drive. But it will all be rooted in our experience. We catch a glimpse of God’s version of wheels and moving vehicles in Ezekiel 1 16-21. Here is just one detail: “As for their rims, they were so high they were awesome; and their rims were full of eyes, all around the four of them…” Because Jesus has gone to the Father, we will do greater works than He did, provided that we believe in Him: “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.” (John 14:12) Jesus doesn’t elaborate on how much “greater” these works will be, but Andrew Baker catches a glimpse of it in the “Amazing Plane” vision that God gave him recently. It’s worth reading Andrew’s prophesy again and revisiting Ezekiel 1, and asking the Lord to expand our vision of what we can expect from Him.

I am not writing this out of my own imagination or knowledge. The same afternoon as our John 11:22 meeting, Muyiwa (one of our group if you aren’t at Wildwood Church) received a message from an aunt in Nigeria. It started: MATTHEW 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the  door will be opened to you.” God confirmed His word from thousands of miles away. Another one of our group, Linda, needed a riser recliner chair for her disabled father-in-law. Not an everyday requirement. We are clearing my late mother-in-law’s house on Wednesday, where there are two. God is speaking to us, and He wants us to walk in the truth of what He is saying. Nothing is impossible for our God. The wheels on His vehicle are awesome.

The answers to our prayers are being stored up, and when they come they will come in resurrection life. I believe the time is coming soon that the church is being preparing for now, when He will do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” We will “run against horses.” (Jer 12:5). Our enemies will “come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.” (Deut 28:7). Our calling until that time is to ask the Father, in the name of Jesus, to bring resurrection Life into those stinking situations that currently appear to be entombed in a cave, to thank Him for the answers that are on their way, and to wait in faith, peace, patience and praise until we see them arrive. Because we believe that Jesus, who lives in us by His Spirit and who stands with us outside the tomb, is “the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” We need who He is to come into our thinking.

The Purpose of the Commandment

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Rev. 12:11)

The task of the Ephesians 4 ministries, of which the ministry of the prophet is one, is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph 4: 12-13) That is actually quite a big ask. It’s one thing to run around on the walls of the city waving flags that say “Thus saith the Lord,” but it is something else entirely to enable people to respond to what the Lord saith.

In his first epistle to Timothy, Paul wrote “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.” (1 Tim 1: 5) This commandment was the “charge” that Paul had instructed Timothy to lay upon the elders of the church at Ephesus that they should not stray from the “sound doctrine” (1Tim 1:10; Titus 1:9) outlined in verse five above. The purpose of the commandment is love. If I have been out in my car and am driving home, the purpose of everything I do is to get me home. Turn here, brake there, indicate now, stop at these lights – many different actions, but all one purpose: to get me home. I can wave lots of flags – and there are plenty of them on this website – but the ultimate purpose of them all has to be to help and encourage the body of Christ to grow in love “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

So according to 1 Tim 1:5, love comes from three sources: a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Each of these sources is in itself God-given. To start with the first one, I know for a fact that my heart, outside of Christ, is far from pure. It is addled with sin and self-interest. But also “I know Him in whom I have believed” (2 Tim 1: 12), and His heart is not only pure, but it overflows with love for me; so much so that when I am walking in the knowledge (the experience, not just the theory) of that love I can love others with it. It’s only the Cross, and the blood that He shed for me there, that can bring me into the place of relationship with Him where His love is “poured into my heart by the Holy Spirit that is given to us.” To lead others into a love that make sense of all the flags I am waving, I need to lead them into an experience of the Holy Spirit that makes His love an empirical reality. Jesus said: “Freely you have received; freely give.” (Matt. 10:8) We cannot give what we haven’t received.

Love comes from a good conscience. Again in the first letter to Timothy (1 Tim 4:2) Paul writes of those who “speak lies with hypocrisy” whose “consciences are seared with a hot iron.” These are people whose consciences have become totally insensitive to conviction of sin, for whom truth and integrity have no meaning or value. A good conscience is the opposite: open to conviction by the Holy Spirit, a good conscience is the reflection of the heart of someone who runs to Jesus whenever sinful thoughts or actions creep into their lives, whose speech is always in sincerity and truth. 1 John 1:7 says “if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” It is the blood of Jesus that keeps us in the light, so we can love (“have fellowship with”) one another.

When Jesus first saw Nathaniel approaching, he said:  “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” (John 1: 47) In the Spirit Jesus had already seen Nathaniel “under the fig tree” and knew his heart. The Father’s vision for His people was – and still is – that they would represent His ways on Earth, and although we can only guess at what Jesus meant, it would seem logical to assume that the transparency inherent in being without deceit, also translated as “guile,” is a prerequisite to effectively representing and demonstrating the love of God on Earth. The name Nathaniel means “Gift of God.” The transparency of a clear conscience can only be ours through the Cross, as a gift of God’s grace.

Finally, love comes from a sincere faith. Sincere means without hypocrisy; without pretence. Sincere faith is faith that is lived, not just faith that is theorised about.  I have written in The Mind of Christ about Peter stepping out of the boat, but another good example of faith at work can be found in Jeremiah 32 vs 1-23. Jeremiah has been imprisoned by King Zedekiah for prophesying God’s judgement on his sins and the sins of Judah. Jerusalem itself is already under siege: destruction and exile to Babylon are imminent. In this context Jeremiah receives a word from the Lord to buy his cousin’s field at Anathoth, which was a priests’ city about three miles from Jerusalem. He obeys the Lord, signs the deeds for the field in the presence of witnesses, weighs out good silver for it, then buries the deeds in a pottery jar to preserve it as a testimony to God’s faithfulness, in anticipation of the day when his prophesy of Jerusalem’s ultimate and glorious restoration would be fulfilled. Jeremiah didn’t just stand up in the storm of imprisonment and destruction and say “God is going to restore Jerusalem:” he demonstrated his faith that God would do as He said.

Those of us who teach and/or prophesy the word of God have a responsibility to demonstrate in our lives that we believe it. We have to be prepared to buy the field; to start walking impossible steps on the waves. We have to have a testimony: without one, our faith is just a theory.  Paul said to the Corinthians “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” (1 Cor 11:1). It’s not enough to say “Step out of the boat!” We have to step out of the boat ourselves and say “Follow me!” In doing so we are also demonstrating that we do not love our lives unto death, because if any sinking is going to happen, we will be the first under the water. However if we stay afloat, we are able to reach out a hand to others in the name of the One that we are standing next to and lift them out of the waves.

In “the Mind of Christ” I also wrote how the “effective working” in Ephesians 4: 16 – “the effective working by which every part does its share, (that) causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” – exclusively means the use of supernatural power. The power that God makes available to us is analysed in detail for us in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, and is commonly referred to as the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The growth of the Body which fulfils the vision and purpose of Jesus, the head, happens when all of us are open to, and operate, in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

If we want to know where to aim for, it’s helpful to remember what Jesus calls effective working. It is what He tells the disciples to do with what they have freely received: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.” (Matthew 10:8) The gifts of the Spirit that He is telling them to use are italicized below: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” (1 Cor 12: 7-11) As Paul writes to the Philippians, we may not have already attained, but we press on towards the goal. John Wimber, an icon in the ministry of healing, said that he must have prayed for a thousand people before the first one was actually healed…

Confidence to operate in the supernatural is best achieved in small groups, down to twos and threes. One of our School of Prophesy members suggests that those who are not confident in using the gifts connect with those who are, and who can help that gift to grow. She says “Growth in the use of gifts helps us to hear from the Lord – we connect in like interconnecting wires attached to the main body.” This seems entirely scriptural to me, as it is a practical application of the principle of discipleship and will contribute to “the effective working by which every part does its share.”

Revelation 12:11 says that the saints overcame the enemy “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” We find in this verse the three foundations of sound doctrine that are expressed in I Tim 5: our conscience is cleansed by the blood of the Lamb so that we are transparent to the Truth; the word of our testimony tells of those acts of faith in the name of Jesus where we have walked in the supernatural ourselves, and we love from a pure heart that is void of self-interest. If we want to help others to overcome, we need to be doing it ourselves.

Faith: the Frame.

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. (Heb 11:3)

This morning I saw a hearse coming towards me on the road with a long queue of cars behind it. I was glad I was driving in the opposite direction. Then, very briefly, I saw the number-pate: on it were my initials. My first thought – because the flesh tends to butt in before the spirit – was: “That’s you, Bob! Could that be an omen?” But then the Spirit spoke to me with the truth: “You are already dead, Bob. You were crucified with Christ. It is not you who live, but Christ who lives in you!” So by the time the line of cars had passed, I was thinking: “Halleluia! I’m dead to my flesh, and alive in Christ!” This is what the Word of God says; it’s what my experience of the Holy Spirit confirms every day; and it’s what my heart believes even if my head is assailed by doubts. It is the confession of my faith. Faith is the frame that holds the entire bicycle together.

By faith we understand… that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. Hebrews 11:1 tell us “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is a substance. Whether we believe this or not is our choice. But if we can allow the substance of faith to become a reality in our hearts we can look into it and see that which our brains cannot fathom. “The Just shall live by faith” was the revelation given to Martin Luther and is the central plank of the Protestant reformation. The scripture occurs three times in the New Testament (Romans 1:17,Galatians 3:11,Hebrews 10:38), and these in turn refer back to Habakkuk 2: 4: “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.” So what do we see when we look into the substance of faith?

Faith is so much an idea that our minds can grasp, as the very substance of a dimension that our spirits walk in. If I go out into my garden I walk on grass. If my spirit enters the Heavenlies I walk in faith.  It is where Truth is defined by the Word of God and not by the word of science, and where Life is defined not by the ageing and wearing out of the body, but by its resurrection. In this dimension, we see the rule of Heaven established on Earth:

“Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
And princes will rule with justice.
A man will be as a hiding place from the wind,
And a cover from the tempest,
As rivers of water in a dry place,
As the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
The eyes of those who see will not be dim,
And the ears of those who hear will listen.
Also the heart of the rash will understand knowledge,
And the tongue of the stammerers will be ready to speak plainly.

(Isaiah 32: 1-4)

We see the King of righteousness Himself

The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
His delight is in the fear of the LORD,
And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,
And faithfulness the belt of His waist.
(Isaiah 11: 2-5)

And in this dimension of faith, as “the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” (Romans 8:19), we see the redeemed, sin-free world that creation is earnestly expecting:

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea.
  (Isaiah 11: 6-9)

I make no apology for quoting these scriptures at length, as I believe they are among the most beautiful verses in the entire Bible. They describe the society and the landscape of the Mountain of God where our bike ride is taking us. And this place is real: its substance is faith. If we can allow our spirits to walk there we will find that our own judgements won’t be “by the sight of our eyes or by the hearing of our ears” either, but they will come to us by the spirit of the King of the Mountain who dwells within us.

Free of the curse of sin, beyond the reach of the devil, and untrammelled by the limitations of the world and the flesh, the substance of faith determines the abundance of God’s supply, whether this is of provision, healing, spiritual gifts or any other blessing. Ephesians 1:3 says “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Every spiritual blessing has already been given to us in heavenly places. They are a reality. Their substance is faith. When we read about them in the Word of God we are reading the Maker’s handbook on all the resources that we have in our personal cupboards of His provision in Heavenly Places.

Jesus tells us “ whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.(Mark 11:24) Our English word “receive” has a fairly passive connotation: there is a sense of holding out one’s hands for something to be placed into them. The Greek word, lambanō, that is used here, is far more active. Here are the primary definitions. They are all involve actively taking hold of rather than passively receiving:

  1. to take with the hand, lay hold of, any person or thing in order to use it
    1. to take up a thing to be carried
    1. to take upon one’s self
  2. to take in order to carry away
    1. without the notion of violence, i,e to remove, take away
  3. to take what is one’s own, to take to one’s self, to make one’s own
    1. to claim, procure, for one’s self

Jesus is telling us to take hold of those things that we ask for, believing that they already exist – which they do, made of the substance of faith. He is telling us to reach into our heavenly “provisions cupboard” and take hold of that spiritual blessing which the Father has provided. I remember a healing meeting with Ian Andrews in the late 1980s. If I remember correctly, he said that God had showed him a warehouse full of all the body parts that exist, and when he prayed for healing he just reached into the warehouse and took hold of a new part to replace the one that was malfunctioning. He believed he received, and he had what he prayed for. On Earth as it is in Heaven: what was made of the substance of faith in the heavenly realms became flesh and blood on Earth.

Of course, that is easier to write than to do. If you’re anything like me, most of us blunder around and get hold of something occasionally; but as John Wimber discovered the more we blunder the more chance we have of actually taking hold of what God has provided. I’m sure Ian Andrews did  a lot of blundering, and probably still does some! And of course we are always in a battle: God may have provided; we might be reaching out into the right place, but the devil is standing in front of the cupboard. Sometimes we have to fight for what we’re reaching for, and keep praying until we know in the Spirit that the battle is won.  Proverbs 23: 12 says “Apply your heart to instruction, And your ears to words of knowledge.”  The word of knowledge is really helpful in enabling us to take hold of the substance of faith, so if you are praying for people ask the Holy Spirit for that gift – and take hold of it! I have seen a small number of miraculous healings when I have prayed for people, including a broken toe being instantly mended and a deaf ear being opened; and they have always followed a word of knowledge.

This is one of my pet topics, and I could keep writing – but you might not keep reading. The frame of faith touches every part of the bike – the wheels, the handlebars, the brakes, the saddle, the pedals. If we can understand that faith is a substance and that we do not have to ask God for what He has already given but learn to take hold of it instead of just holding out our hands; and if we can really believe in our hearts that the Word of God is all true and is describing a dimension that our spirits have access to, then I believe we will progress further and faster in our discipleship as we walk – or cycle – after the spirit and not after the flesh.

Bob Hext Sept 2020