Tag Archives: Holy Spirit power

Poured out at Pentecost and poured out today: the essential fuel for the victorious Christian life.

Feeding the flames

Following the message I preached recently on letting our light shine before men, one of our elders (Graham, if you are from Wildwood) sent me the following, quoting from what I said about discipleship towards the end.

 And it’s not a quick fix: little flames need to be shielded and fed with stuff that burns, or else they are likely to go out.

Last week on holiday we decided to light the fire one evening. The fire had been laid with paper and kindling which lit well, flaring up quickly. But the wood was too spread out and, although it burned, it didn’t become established. After a while my mother in law said, “It’s failed; it’s going out.” But I felt I should gather what remained, blow on it, and wait. I didn’t use another match. Five minutes later the kindling, now gathered, was roaring. I put some large logs on the kindling and shortly a healthy blaze was filling the whole house – and it did not go out.”

I’ve looked at this a few times now, and I think that there is quite a lot of detail that we can draw out of it prophetically:

Jesus has laid a fire in His church, and has struck the match. We are seeing, and will see, flames going up in different places as individuals and church groups catch the fire of the Holy Spirit. These flames will at first sight seem short-lived, just as there have been past “revivals” and “moves of God” that have flared up locally for a season, then faded away.

However the Lord is changing things in His church. He is taking away walls, and He is moving people around. Some of us can expect to be moved as He gathers the kindling that is alight in order to create the blaze that He has planned. We can expect to be put alongside different people in different places, just as that scattered kindling is drawn together and piled up. If we don’t allow ourselves to be “gathered together” like this our flames are at risk of spluttering out.

After the gathering comes the blowing. Among those already on fire there will be a strong sense of the breath of God stirring people to greater faith, greater love, more earnest prayer, more worship, more time in His presence. The cry of “More of You, Lord,” from the Welsh revival, from Toronto, will be heard again. We will learn to wait in faith for God to move. As has happened in the past, some onlookers will reject what they see; others will be drawn to it.

The large logs that go onto the kindling will be those “greater works” that Jesus promised us. A few will go on at first as individuals grow in their faith; then more, as the blaze takes hold. I think this will happen more of less simultaneously in different places as the blaze fills the “whole house” – all of His church – with the glory of God. I think that is when we will see a mighty harvest.

Let Your Light Shine Before Men

(Transcript of sermon Bob preached at Wildwood church 2 august 2020)

To watch the video CLICK HERE. It’s about 15 minutes.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt 5: 14-16)

The Light of the World

John’s gospel begins like this:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

The life of men is the light of Jesus, nothing else.

Darkness is what is outside of God’s light. Jesus talks about “the Outer Darkness” three times – it’s the place where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” because you are regretting forever what you know you could have been enjoying. There aren’t degrees of darkness: you’re either in the light or out in the darkness. Forever.

Jesus is the light that God gave to the world because He loved it so much. God doesn’t want anyone in the outer darkness. He gave us His Son to live a perfect life in the form of a man full of light, full of the Spirit of God, to achieve perfection on behalf of the Human Race and then give His life willingly to pay the price for all of our darkness. God gave light for darkness, life for death. No-one can say He isn’t just.

His life is The light of Men

This isn’t mortal life that comes to an end; this is eternal life. What Jesus had in Him was eternal life, and He wants to give it away. When He was praying to the Father just before his crucifixion, He said this of Himself:

“You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as you have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)

Do you want eternal life? Here it is. You will never find a better free gift.

Romans 1:4 says that Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.“ The light that’s in us is the power of God to everlasting life. And that’s not all: when we put our faith in Jesus we get to know Him and the Father, because the same Holy Spirit that raised him from the dead comes and lives in us. Because He lives in us we get to know God; not just know about Him. It’s a relationship. And what’s more, there’s no divorce; just grace. Do you know Him?

When Jesus talks about John the Baptist, He says “he was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.“ (John 5: 35). The Greek word He uses here is the same as the one for “light” in our opening scripture. Our light is the burning flame of God’s love for you and me, it’s the power of the Holy Spirit in us. Jesus tells us that WE are the light of the world, because we have Christ’s eternal life within us, which is the light of men. Church: are we burning and shining lamps? Are we on fire? Do people rejoice in our light? Do they even see it? Or is it under a basket?

Good works are the Father’s works

Jesus gave us a reason for not hiding our light: it is so that people would “see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” We need to understand that these good works are not our good deeds. Our good deeds don’t glorify the Father: it’s His own works that glorify Him. Jesus spent his entire ministry demonstrating that He was the Son of God because the Father was in Him and doing His works. Jesus said “if you don’t want to believe that God sent me because I say so, believe it because of the works that He’s doing through me!” He says this twice in slightly different ways, once in John 10: 38, and again in John 14:11; so it’s important that we grasp the point: good works are God’s works. They are demonstrations that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

 Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit so that the Father could do His works through Him, and he sent us the Holy Spirit so that the Father can carry on doing His works through us, because He doesn’t have another body on Earth – we’re it. We are the light of the world. The torch has been passed to us.

Paul tells us in Romans 14: 17 that “the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” We cry out to see these things in our communities; we know that they are the fruit of the Holy Spirit and that they only come from God, but we can’t expect our communities to turn to God unless we show them who He is in all His majesty. They can’t pick the fruit unless we plant the tree.

And if you’re still not sure about what I’m saying consider this: Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.“ (Luke 18:19) Good works have to be the Father’s works because nothing is good outside of Him. Acts 10: 38 says:           “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.”

We are His disciples. That should mean that we are cast in His mould, not following from a distance out of instructions in a book. The Bible says that Jesus “revealed His glory” when He did the first of His signs, which was turning water into wine. Romans 8: 18-19 tells us:

“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.”

Among other things, glory means radiant light. Creation is waiting. We can give it water, or we can give it wine. If we want to show the world good works, we need the Holy Spirit and power no less than Jesus did. God is with us too, but we keep hiding Him under a basket.

Two basket cases: fear and pride

So what are the baskets that we can use to stop this life from spreading? What makes us basket cases?

I’ll look at three. Two are old chestnuts and one might be a surprise. The first old chestnut is fear. We are scared to spread the light because of what people might think. We are scared to pray for healing in case God is not listening. We are scared to prophesy in case we get it wrong. If this is you, God says, and hear Him: “I’m with you! Yes, you will mess up sometimes, and end up on your backside. But I’m still with you! And the more you walk, the less you’ll fall.” And if you’re not a Christian and you’re scared of what bits of your life might get burnt, you need to know this: it’s the burning flame or nothing. You can jump into it, preferably now, or you can regret it in the outer darkness for eternity.

The second old chestnut is pride. It’s wonderful to be involved in seeing other people come into the light of God, but the minute I start congratulating myself or seeking praise from others, or seeking to advance my position and status in my church, I may as well just tip a bucket of water onto the flames, because they won’t last. It’s God who must get the glory because He won’t give it to anyone else. This isn’t because he is selfish or egotistical, but because the world needs to know that the only good works are His works. We all need to know the meaning of good.

The third basket case: what we have done to church

So fear and pride are baskets of flesh. They need to go onto the fire, because that is all they are good for. And what is the third basket? It’s church! Not the church of Jesus that He talked about, that the gates of hell won’t prevail against; but the Sunday slot that we’ve invented to suit our Western lifestyle. The apostle Paul does say that we mustn’t stop from meeting together, but the point of meetings is to equip us to take the light out into the darkness. We seem to have turned it on its head, and now we ask people to come into the light in order to go to meetings. But guess what: God has allowed the baskets to be taken away…

The model Jesus gave us is to be living Spirit-filled lives and discipling others to do the same. And it’s not a quick fix: little flames need to be shielded and fed with stuff that burns, or else they are likely to go out. Jesus said that the Father is always working. Not just in our meetings. When the church began, the light of the gospel spread in public places wherever and whenever ordinary people burning with the flame of the Holy Spirit went out into the darkness and set it alight. Whoever we are, now is the time to seek that living light like never before, and take it out with us into the darkness in the name of Jesus, so that the Father can do His good works through us and the world can see how much He loves it.

God’s bonfire

Right now, in the Church of Jesus all around the world, the match has been struck. There was a Cindy Jacobs post a couple of weeks ago saying “Baptisms in New York City! The revival has begun!” However it’s not going to keep burning at our convenience. Isaiah 60: 1-3 says this:

“Arise, shine;
For your light has come!
And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.

For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the LORD will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you

The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.

That is for us, now. God is lighting a bonfire: if you’re not on fire yet let Jesus come: he is holding his match to your heart. And leaders – if we want to get with the programme we don’t waste time handing out sparklers. There was a song in the nineteen eighties to the tune of Chariots of Fire. It never made it into Songs of Fellowship, but it went like this. If you’ve been touched by what I said, say it as a prayer:

“I rise up to worship, I stand to proclaim.

The Lord of all glory, Christ Jesus His name.

Come ride on my life, Lord Jesus Christ, My Lord and my Master;

Come ride on my life, and I will be a chariot of fire.”

And if Jesus is not your Lord and Master, he died on the cross for you so that you could receive his spirit, and enter life, to know Him and the Father right now. Say those last two lines again, to Him, from your heart. He will show you what to do.

The Coming Rain

I don’t spend time online looking for what people are saying, so all I pick up in the “wind of the prophetic” is what comes directly to me through people I know. Another prophesy I have now seen twice is the “cloud the size of a man’s hand, coming out of the sea” that Elijah originally saw on Mount Carmel, when he had destroyed Baal worship and ended the drought brought about by Israel’s idolatry. (Read the story in 1 Kings 18).

A couple of years ago the Lord showed Andrew Baker of MakeWay Ministries a “small cloud coming out of the sea,” just as in the Elijah story, and spoke to him about an outpouring that was on its way. Just recently Chuck Pierce had a similar word; but this time the message was not just that the rain is on its way, but that we should run towards it. Referring to the door in Heaven that was standing open (Rev. 4:1), Chuck says (paraphrased by Jake Dominy, who sent it to me): “When you see the door open, run and look again. Run and look. You will see a cloud forming the size of a man’s hand. Run towards it. Run, run, because I am releasing my rain. It is going to get faster; in fact it will overtake you. The door is open. This is a new thing that I am accelerating.”

Prophetically, rain is associated with the pouring out of God’s Spirit, and specifically revival. A couple of years ago, God was saying it’s on its way; now He says it is close enough for us to “run towards it.” At the same time we are hearing a lot in the Spirit about “shaking” (“Once more I will shake the Heavens and the Earth” – Haggai 2:6 and Hebrews 12:26) and “standing firm.” So what do we believe?

I think the answer is that they are both true. The writer to the Hebrews says that this shaking “indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.” I watched a film the other night called “Hurricane Heist.” There was a lot of shaking, a lot of stuff being removed; and also there was a lot of rain. God has not said He would send gentle showers; He has said He will send rain. I think a storm is coming, bringing heavy rain with it. The rain is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to bring revival to the world and blessing for His people. The shaking that has started to demolish strongholds will continue, and God is saying to His people, “Hold on to me, stand firm, put down roots in My word and My Spirit.” People whose security in the world has been swept away by the storm will be turning to those who are standing firm, and seeking the One that we are holding onto.

I think the storm may be close. We need to be sure that our security is in “the things which cannot be shaken,” and we need to ask the Lord to send that rain cloud and be watching for that door to open in Heaven, so that when it comes we can run out into the storm, holding fast to Jesus, and get ourselves soaking wet.

“I have set the LORD always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.” (Psalm 16: 8-9)

A Beginner’s Guide to prophesy

By Jacob Dominy

What do you see ?

You may see a canal, you might see a lovely day by a canal, you feel beautiful countryside. You might see a dirty canal surrounded by lovely landscape. Whilst all these are true, the answer I would give is that we see  a poor but amazing reflection of the of the sky and landscape in the canal. As Jesus said the disciples: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” What we “see” in prophesy is a reflection of what the Father is doing, and even then it’s a poor one, because as Paul says in 1Cor 13:12 “We see through a glass, darkly,” or as another translation puts it “What we see is just a poor reflection in a mirror.”

This is a very important principle that one must understand when stepping out into prophecy, whether you have been called to be a prophet, have a gift of prophecy or are just finding out more about this gift. 

Jesus asked his disciples a similar question in Mark 8 27 –29

“Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

Simon Peter had the revelation and the prophetic insight to see that Jesus is the Messiah.  This passage points out that we are to look beyond the natural and more towards what the natural is pointing us to, so that we can understand what the Lord is wanting to show us in the spiritual realm.  This brings us back to my original question: What do you see?  The reason I gave the answer I did can be found in 1 Corinthians 13 v 8 –10, where the apostle Paul aptly writes:

“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.”

We prophesy in part: what we see is like a poor reflection in a mirror.

This must remain a core value to hold to when we prophesy. In fact the whole of 1 Corinthians 13 is key. Prophesy should never be “look at me!” The whole of this passage is about what love is, and prophecy is a love-gift from the Holy Spirit to the church to build, encourage, warn and guide. If we were then to try and do this from the wrong motives we would not be acting out of love but out of pride or ambition, trying to gain position or get noticed. This return will actually damage and destroy the church.  WE MUST ALWAYS PROPHESY OUT OF LOVE FOR THE BODY OF CHRIST.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Cor 13:2)

We can all prophesy, but not all called to be prophets.

There are many gifts to the church, and most of these we can all seek after. In 1 Corinthians 14:1 Paul specifically encourages us to “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” However not all of us are called to be prophets, just as we are all called to evangelize but not all of us are called to be evangelists.

There are many forms of prophecy. Jesus says “my sheep hear my voice,” and in essence prophecy is simply hearing messages from God for other people. Some can hear from the Holy Spirit better in the quiet place; others hear from the Lord through creativity, others when out in the countryside. Likewise prophecy can be  encouragement in the form of a picture from the Lord, discernment on how to handle situations  with wisdom, or it can take many other forms. Prophesy should never contradict the Bible, and should always be in keeping with the guidelines given in 1 Cor 14: 3, “He who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.”

But does this mean that we should only continue listening to the Holy Spirit in the way that we are used to and are good at? I honestly do not believe this. God is a God of endless variety, so I think that we should learn to hear from the Lord in many, many other ways. This not only keeps us more open to what the Spirit is saying, but also will bring us a more immersive experience, a deeper understanding of the Lord, and greater joy in our hearts.

In John 10:10 Jesus says “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” Part of having life and having it to the full is to be able to communicate (listen and talk: it is a two-way thing) and enjoy walking with the Lord in all that we do.

 A Spirit of Praise

Another principle that I have come to realize on reflection is that the Holy Spirit tends to use us more when we have a spirit of praise. This can be as simple as thanking God for who He is. Just a starter is to say something like “Thank you Jesus for Loving me” a couple of times  a day, and see where that leads. If you don’t feel that way inclined, Isaiah 61:3 says that God will give “a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness,” so you can ask Him for it.

This brings us back the start: what can you see? We should aim to only do what we see the Lord doing. After all, if Jesus Himself had to see what Our Father was doing, how much more should we be earnestly seeking to see what the Father God is doing.

Saying that, if you thought you have heard from the Lord the most important thing is to act on it and step out. Give your word from the Lord and do not to be afraid, or think “What if I get it wrong?” We all have to start somewhere. When you do step out make sure that you do it under the covering of the leadership. In the current circumstances share via email, text or on the phone; or once your church meets again as a body bring it to the person overseeing the meeting.

Two Trees in the Garden

God put two trees in the garden of Eden: the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life.

Jesus spent His ministry demonstrating and preaching on the Kingdom of God, and He founded His Church to begin the work of establishing it on Earth, under His authority and by the power of His Spirit. Where there is Kingdom rule, the law of sin and death is nailed to the cross; healing overcomes sickness; the truth of God’s word directs our lives, and love prevails in our relationships.

Our first glimpse of the Kingdom of God is right back in the Garden of Eden, where two trees grow. One is the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. God didn’t put it there for Adam and Eve to be caught out; He put it there because its existence is central to the Garden where He wants us to walk with Him. Knowledge of good and evil was always designed to be part of our relationship with God: It grows in the garden of His presence, and it is His to give. Adam’s sin was to eat of it and make it his own. Because Man has eaten of that fruit, he has taken ownership of it, saying “The difference between right and wrong is now mine to decide.” Cast out of God’s presence, Man still takes knowledge of good and evil with him, but now he makes up his own mind about where the lines are drawn.

On the other tree grows the fruit of life. Figuratively, this is the tree of the Spirit: John 6:63 tells us “It’s the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.” We don’t read about any fruit on the Tree of Life in Genesis, but we do read about it in Galatians 5 22-23, where Paul lists the different attributes of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. All of this abounds in the kingdom of God, which Romans 14: 17 tells us is “Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” This fruit grows on the Tree of Life, not on the Tree of knowledge. God’s fruit only grows on God’s tree. Anything that passes as the fruit of the Spirit but is grown from the flesh is counterfeit and profits nothing.

As Jesus longs to builds His church, the Father longs to restore His garden in the lives of the generation of the second Adam, so He can walk with us again there. For our part, we long to see the beauty and the fruit of the Kingdom of God in our communities. But what I felt the Lord showed me, and the reason I’m writing this post, is this: so often we preach the gospel of salvation and tell people about the Tree of Life, but what we give them is our version of the Tree of Knowledge. Without the Tree of Life, they can’t pick its fruit, and all they are left with is a sense that they are coming under the judgement of our knowledge of good and evil. This is why, I believe, so many people say that they feel judged by Christians: not that we are intentionally judging them, but we are only showing them one tree in the garden, and it’s the tree that tells them that they are wrong.

If we want people to know the fruit of the Tree of Life we need to make sure it is growing in our churches, and we need to make sure that it is planted securely in their own lives so that they can pick from it themselves. Otherwise all we are doing is giving them information. Worse than that, what we are telling them about is something that they cannot have.

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.