Tag Archives: The full gospel

The full gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ preaches the Triune God bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to humanity; disciples of Christ glorifying the Father through accomplishing His works in the name of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit; destroying the works of the devil and bringing people into an everlasting life of relationship with their Creator – beginning on Earth and continuing in Heaven.

The Battle and our part in it

I have been asked: “If the battle in the heavenlies is intensifying, what should our response be on earth?“ The following are a few thoughts on certain aspects of the battle and what the nature of our involvement might be.


The American Eagle

We know, from prophetic words that have been given, that battle forces on both sides are arrayed. They are lined up in both heavenly realms and here on Earth. We can see the battle being fought in various locations, but I’d like to think here about the USA in particular. As an Englishman, I won’t have the same perspective as an American citizen, but I do recognise that the founding fathers established America as a land based on the principles of the word of God; and that the liberty which the USA stands for among the nations is ultimately  not just about personal, political and social freedoms, but it’s about the freedom for which Christ has set us free, which is freedom from the law of sin and death.

At the risk of oversimplification, I see the USA as unique in the extent to which the division between Christian and non-Christian agendas has broadly polarised into a choice between two political parties, one of which represents God’s agenda, and the other which represents the world’s. If the symbolism of the American Eagle ultimately points to freedom from sin, the vote is about whether the eagle keeps flying, or if the enemy shoots it down. Legislation already exists in the USA, passed under the Obama administration, that makes it illegal for churches to preach what the Bible tells us about sexuality and “lifestyle choices,” so this is not empty polemic: the pulpit is already being gagged. Already the eagle is not soaring so freely. The political state of the USA and its spiritual state are closely connected, and they affect us in the UK: it’s important that we don’t think of the USA as miles away over the Atlantic, but that we see that the nation is connected to us in the Spirit, and that we need to uphold in our prayers.

Israel
But the battle of the USA is not just about America: it is part of a bigger picture still. Ultimately, the big picture is always about Israel. Trump’s support for Israel is evident, and he has already caused not a little stir, both among the nations and among the principalities and powers in heavenly places, by moving the US embassy to Jerusalem. The Democrats on the other hand align with Palestine, with all that that implies. The enemies of Israel are gathering. Turkey is flexing its muscles, and is establishing control of Libya from afar, with an eye on its oil, of course. President Erdogan is now flying the flag of the ancient Ottoman empire. Squeezed by sanctions, Iran has dropped its own nuclear program but is forming an alliance with North Korea, which hasn’t, as we know. The inflated egos of power-hungry world leaders unwittingly roll out the red carpet to welcome demonic control, while the eye of Mordor is fixed unblinkingly on Israel.

The USA is Israel’s “Big Brother,” the ally they will turn to for support and resources when conflict escalates, so the enemy will do everything he can to minimise that support as he continues his long-running campaign to eliminate Israel. The party he wants in control in the USA is the party that will distance itself from Israel.  Satan has read the scrolls, and he knows that Jesus will be returning to reign from Jerusalem. He cannot eliminate Jesus, so he is trying to eliminate the nation that He is returning to. By praying for the outcome of the USA election in November we are aligning ourselves with the spiritual forces that are blowing the trumpet to herald the return of Christ.


Draining the Swamp
Many prophetic voices in the USA and elsewhere are in agreement that there is a level of sin in certain political circles that is almost too shocking to name, and that God is going to expose it. Some say that this sin goes to the deepest level of Luciferian involvement, with all the nefarious activities that this entails. Some prophetic voices and secular whistleblowers have started to reveal similar things: names involved in the Epstein and “pizzagate“ scandals are floating to the surface like scum. Clandestine handshakes have been revealed prophetically in recent months, and now deals worth billions of dollars between individuals in the highest political circles and America’s enemies are being exposed. Things that have been seen in the Spirit are starting to happen in the flesh.

Donald Trump came to power promising to “drain the Washington swamp.“ Many people say that this isn’t happening because the imbalances in American society haven’t changed and the revolving door into the White House of collusion and kickbacks doesn’t seem to have slowed down. But I think people are looking at the wrong swamp. I think Trump was speaking prophetically without knowing it: through his administration, upheld by the prayers of the saints, God will drain a far deeper and darker swamp than many people know exists. It is for the exposing of that level of corruption that we must be praying. And if God is exposing corruption and sin, we have to be squeaky-clean ourselves, ensuring that we keep short accounts with God and one another so that “the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.”

What’s our part in this?
I felt the Lord gave me two specific verses when I was asking Him about how to pray. They were Isaiah 30:31-32:

For through the voice of the LORD
Assyria will be beaten down,
As He strikes with the rod.
And in every place where the staff of punishment passes,
Which the LORD lays on him,
It will be with tambourines and harps;
And in battles of brandishing He will fight with it.

There are five things here.

  1. The voice of the Lord. God’s voice is heard through His prophets. As His word goes out in power the enemy forces will be weakened. I see this happening in the heavenly realms, but on earth as well as the deeds of darkness are exposed by words of truth.
  2. The “Staff of punishment” will fall on prominent individuals as they are brought to justice. The word translated as “staff” is the same as used for the rod of Moses: it is the rod of authority.
  3. Praise. God’s move is accompanied by “tambourines and harps”. Psalm 149: 6-7 comes to mind: “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.”

    The word of God – the two-edged sword- goes out, God executes judgement, and we praise the glory of His name. This is a part that we play, and it is essential to the battle.
  4. Battles of Brandishing. Central to our victory is of course the Cross. The word “brandishing” is the same as the word used for “wave offerings.” It is a word associated with sacrifice. Part of our warfare is to declare and “brandish” the supremacy of the sacrifice of Jesus over anything that might be sacrificed to the “gods” of the enemy. The forms of things and the battlefields may change, but the spiritual realities are still the same: we have the Ark of the Covenant, and just as in the days of Jehoshaphat we are still the tribe of Judah leading the battle and singing “God is good, and His mercy endures forever.”
  5. The Assyrians. According to the revelations given to Pastor Dana Coverstone, the most violent persecution of the church is going to come from within the wider church family; from “lukewarm” churchgoers who accept lifestyle compromises and therefore reject the full gospel of Christ. Their Christianity is mixed with humanism and is not centred firmly on the teachings of Scripture, and fulfills 2 Tim 3 vs 1-5: “in the last days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”

With this scripture in mind, we turn now to the story of Ezra, where we find these verses: “When the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the descendants of the captivity were building the temple of the LORD God of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel and the heads of the fathers’ houses, and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you do; and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.” (Ezra 4:1-2)

The foundation of the new temple had been laid, just as our foundation has been laid in Christ. Those who resisted building were already inhabiting the land, and claimed to worship God, but their worship of him was just one element of their pagan mix. They had a form of godliness, but denied its power. Long before Paul and Timothy, the leaders of the people turned away from them:

But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the fathers’ houses of Israel said to them, “You may do nothing with us to build a house for our God; but we alone will build to the LORD God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.” (Verse 3)

The chapter continues the account of how “the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah,” and we know the eventual outcome. What is especially interesting for us in these days is that the people already dwelling in the land who resisted the building of the Temple came originally from Assyria, and it was “the King of Assyria” who took them there.

Parallels with the West
I think the parallels with the church in the West, and particularly in the USA, are striking. The temple of worship “in Spirit and in Truth”, including the truth that Scripture declares about marriage, sexuality and related “lifestyle choices,” has fallen into ruin. God has commissioned and sent His servants to set about the rebuilding programme, but it is resisted, and will be even more so, by “the people of the land:” those who claim to share the same faith but who reject biblical, evangelical Christianity as narrow-minded and extreme, and whose hearts are in reality far from God. I believe that these are today’s “Assyrians.” But they will be vanquished, and the Temple will be rebuilt.

So there is a battle in the Heavenlies, and it’s played out on Earth. It is God who wields the sword, and God who destroys. We play our part by accompanying the battle with our praise and by interceding for church leaders, that they remain true to the gospel and resist the discouragement and the schemes of “the people of the land.” We need to pray for the prophets who are the mouthpiece of “The voice of the Lord.” We need to pray for Attorney-General William Barr, who plays a key part in the battle as the one who holds that “staff of punishment” referred to above, and who has the actual power to bring indictments against individuals. We participate in the “battles of brandishing” by proclaiming the great sacrifice of the Cross and the name of Jesus, that is “above every other name that is named.” If you pray in tongues use the gift as much as we can, and if you find a “warfare” tongue comes to you, keep praying that way until the Holy Spirit takes that particular anointing off you. You will know. This probably won’t be in Church meetings (see 1 Cor 14 guidelines) but when you are on your own. I believe that this is part of the “brandishing” as well.

And more than ever in these times, we keep our hearts pure and soft and our hands clean. We seek our God in repentance for the sin in our own lives, in our churches and in our nations. We seek the Unity of the Spirit above every doctrinal difference. The trumpet is sounding. Let’s arise.

The three torches

(A prophetic dream given to Jake Dominy)

Jake writes: “Last  night the Lord gave me a dream of giant flaming torches, like  the ones at the Olympics, but far, far bigger. They were shining out light to all around them. But then three winds came, suction winds that were stretching the flames out backwards until the three flaming torches were completely sucked out. What I then saw was one torch flaming at the back, that had been lit from the other three flaming torches, although it was nowhere near as bright and did not give much light at all.

I felt the Lord say the three torches are the following:

1) The  gospel  of Christ
2) The power of the Holy Spirit. 
3) Christian morality.

The three suction winds that sucked them out were the media, education and politics. The process wasn’t sudden: the light was being sucked out slowly, gradually becoming less and less; and the one torch they lit was a new belief system in this country and maybe world wide. I believe the Lord took me into the spiritual realm to show me a demonic strategy that will take place if we continue to stand back .

If we feel that we can’t pray for our nation effectively, we can pray for  believers to have influence in these areas; and we can pray  that those who are not necessarily in influential positions will not bow to the pressure of the lies and myths that are being taught, and will be prepared to pay the price for being different.”


A Note from Bob

This vision of the three torches chimes strongly with what was shown recently to Dana Coverstone (as I have already recorded in a School of Prophesy post), who saw that vicious persecution will come upon church leaders who preach the undiluted and uncompromising word of God, particularly in relation to moral laxity and sinful lifestyles. (You can see the video here.)

God is telling us yet again to stand firm in the truth of the full gospel as it has been delivered to us in the Word of God. We must endure in the face of persecution and not give in to the temptation of believing – or preaching – a diluted, fluffy “gospel” that does not demand the commitments of true discipleship: holiness, faith, and a Spirit-led life of love.

It is significant that the dim light was lit by all three torches. It is what remains when the exclusivity of the message of Christ becomes the inclusive tolerance of a “multi-faith” message; when the power of the Holy Spirit is substituted with human spiritual endeavours such as yoga, mindfulness, and meditation; and when Christian teaching on sexual morality caves in to pressure from liberal alignments.

God, of course, is not surprised: it is prophesied in 2 Tim 3 :5, where the apostle Paul call is “A form of godliness, without the power.” He is warning us today to beware of its insiduous reach.

The Faith of Ezra

“I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him. So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.” (Ezra 8: 22-23)

Ezra and a remnant of the Israelites had been released from captivity by Ataxerxes, the King of Persia, to go and worship the Lord in the temple that had been rebuilt during the reign of Darius. Before they set out on their perilous journey, Ezra had gathered them at the river to fast and pray. However they weren’t going empty-handed: in the care of the priests and Levites was “six hundred and fifty talents of silver, silver articles weighing one hundred talents, one hundred talents of gold, twenty gold basins worth a thousand drachmas, and two vessels of fine polished bronze, precious as gold.” One talent weighed roughly 50kg; about the weight of one adult. So along with the men, women and children were another 100 people in solid gold, and 750 more people in solid silver, plus the other precious objects, presumably transported by donkey or ox-cart, all on a journey of around 2000 kilometres.

Ezra was a priest and a scribe. He knew the word of God. And not only did he know the Word, but he believed it without compromise, trusting God and not the armies of men for protection for all those people in his care, and all the wealth that they were carrying on this long and perilous journey. He believed what he declared, and walked in it. But also he didn’t walk in presumption, but under his leadership they prayed earnestly, they humbled themselves, and they fasted; and “the gracious hand of God was upon them” to deliver them safely to Jerusalem.

For us, as we journey on the road towards Jerusalem – the New One – how much of the word of God do we believe and walk in? At the time of writing we live in a climate of virus-induced fear, exaggerated by the negative words of headline-hunting media, reinforced by the sinister image of the face mask that robs the wearer of his or her smile, and by the deprivation of warm human contact through social distancing measures. As believers we are certain that God is at work through all this, because Romans 8: 28 tells us that “all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” However the fact remains that the virus and its ravages are the work of “the enemy on the road.” Yes, we have to comply with the law and its anti-virus measures, because the Bible tells us that as well. But do we give into the enemy of fear when we put the mask over our smile or imprison ourselves in our “social bubbles,” or do we believe that “God is my protection” and “No plague shall come near my dwelling?”

Our response to the enemy of fear in the context of coronavirus is just one aspect of many ways in which we can be selective in our faith. For example, the Bible is clear in both the old and new testaments that God detests same-sex relationships (For example. Leviticus 18:22, and 20:13; Romans : 24-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10.) Do we ignore that part of the word because it’s uncomfortable and hard to swallow, like a chewy bit of gristle that we leave on the side of the plate? There are no details given, but it isn’t hard to guess what some of the “detestable practices” of the surrounding pagan nations were that the Israelites, and many of their kings, found so attractive and which led to their downfall. A liberal gospel is not the gospel of Salvation. The narrow gate is like the restrictors found now at the top of airport and underground escalators: we can’t take all our baggage through, no matter how much we might want it with us.

Healing, deliverance, the critical importance of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, God’s promises of provision in times of hardship – how often is this food left on the side of the plate? Demons are another bit of gristle. They are a very real part of the unseen realm, but it is so easy leave them to carry on their activities instead of learning how to deal with them effectively.  And what does the Word tell us about division, backbiting and criticism, for example – what we might call the sins of the tongue rather than the sins of the flesh. Do we leave that as well? Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He gave Himself totally for our salvation. He is also the Living Word, and He is alive in us. If we want all that He has to give us, we need all of Him, not just the tasty bits, and we need to give ourselves totally to Him. We need the faith of Ezra in every aspect of our lives.

Endure Persecution for the sake of the truth

“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2Tim 2: 2-4)

In SOP today we turned our attention to the recent prophetic dreams given to Pastor Dana Coverstone

Christians have had much to say about the dreams he has received concerning imminent civil unrest in the USA. However when God speaks propheticallty it is always redemptive, and many believers feel that the Holy spirit is warning the nation of what will occur if they do not repent and pray, not what will happen irrespective of what they do. Just as Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah and God relented of His judgement, so the USA has an opportunity to receive blessing from the Lord instead of disaster. Patricia King, Chuck Pierce and Barbara Yoda share their thoughts on this topic here:

Dana Coverstone has had a further dream in which he was shown the persecution that is coming on the church. He says that he “doesn’t have a time-frame for this.” There are some that would say it is already beginning. The essence of this message is that vicious persecution will come upon church leaders who preach the undiluted and uncompromising word of God, particularly in relation to moral laxity and sinful lifestyles. This will come essentially not from within the wider church, but from those withing the church family who have been drawn away into liberal values and compromised doctrine. In other words, those who “will not endure sound doctrine,” and who “exchanged the truth of God for the lie.” (Romans 1: 25) You can see the video here:

The message ends with a strong exhortation to “Brace yourself; endure to the end.”

After watching the video, we felt led to pray for the following.

For the USA: Joel 2: 12-18

For Dana Coverstone: Strength and protection, for him personally and for his family

For pastors and elders: that they would preach the undiluted Word of God
Strength,
Uprightness,
Wisdom,
Discernment,
faithfulness,
A fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit.

For the Church: that the Holy spirit would blow away the fog that obscures the pillars of sound doctrine, so that the truth of the full, uncompromised gospel is plain for all to see.

That God will open the eyes of believers to the intensity of the spiritual battle that even now is upon us, and give discernment so that the strategies and the agents of the enemy become clearly visible.

We felt strongly that these dreams are a call to pray; not a call to be fearful.

Brace Yourself! Dana Coverstone’s Prophetic Dreams

Between December last year and now an American pastor called Dana Coverstone has received three prophetic dreams concerning the state of the USA. What he saw in the Spirit in graphic detail in December was what we watched in the news between March and June: Covid and the current civil unrest around black lives matter.

Google and YouTube are now awash with comments about his dreams, which Pastor Coverstone described in a YouTube video towards the end of June. I have had a couple of thoughts myself: here there they are.

In 1983 a man of God called Tom Zimmer, who was a war veteran living in Italy who spent all his time in prayer and worship, interceding especially for the nations, received a prophecy which specified the man called Donald J Trump would lead America back to God. He shared this with an American friend of his, who said that he must be wrong: Donald Trump was a New York playboy, and hardly the man that God would choose to lead America back to Him. However Tom Zimmer was convinced he had heard the Lord. Tom lived in the town of Loreto, where everybody knew him as a holy man, like Simeon and Anna who spent their time in the temple at the time of the birth of Jesus.

Fast forward to 2020 and Dana Coverstone. He is not a well-known pastor leading a big church; his calling is to go into churches who have lost their moral compass and turn them back to the Lord. He is not a known prophet, and in fact repeatedly says “I am not a prophet.” Responses to these dreams vary from scepticism to full belief, but whatever people think about the things he says, his integrity as a man of God appears to be in no doubt.

The first of his dreams accurately prophesied events in America between March and June. The second dream which he received at the end of June, I think it was the 24th, looks forward to the period between September and November, the time of the US presidential election.

He saw America in meltdown, with Washington burning and troops on the streets. It was full-scale Civil War. You need to see the videos yourself: just google “Dana Coverstone Prophetic Dreams.” I won’t get into details here, but they are a warning from the Lord to the church of America to “Brace Yourself!” We might say, “What’s that got to do with me in the UK?” I can’t answer that, other than to say I expect that the ripples will be felt around the world if the predictions come true. Pastor Coverstone says: “Believers, STOP MESSING AROUND if you’re not living for the Lord as you ought to be!” I think we can all hear this, whatever the context.

What we don’t necessarily realise in our peaceful United Kingdom is that the polarisation between the Republicans and Democrats in the USA is practically on a civil war footing already. The fuse is already burning,and it’s helped along by the partisan reporting of the two main TV news channels: Fox (Democrat) and CNN (Republican). There is a battle raging in Heaven over the whole world between the forces of light and the forces of darkness, and I believe that much of it is being played out on the streets of the United States, as the fight for the soul of the nation rages. What pastor Coverstone saw, was, I believe, the time when the burning fuse reached the dynamite at the time of the presidential elections in November.

We don’t know, of course, how the last stages of this battle will be played out; but if we believe that God spoke to Tom Zimmer, as I do, we can trust that the final outcome of this “civil war” will be a re-elected Donald Trump leading America back to God. As you read this, please don’t think that I believe that God endorses Donald Trump’s politics. This is not about politics at all, but about the eternal destiny of millions of people, and about the part that a spiritually restored USA will play on the world stage in the events leading up to the return of Christ. Whatever his failings, and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, it would appear that Trump has a part to play.

A detail that I find particularly interesting, and prophetic, and which as far as I know hasn’t been picked up by anyone else, is this: the 1983 prophecy was about Donald Trump restoring the moral and spiritual compass of a country that has turned away from God’s ways. The Dana Coverstone prophecies were given to a man whose ministry to the church is to do exactly the same thing. I take this unlikely connection as a sign that these things are in fact going to happen.

See also the post “The battle and our part in it” – Click here or follow the link below.

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 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.