Tag Archives: Unity: we are one body.

Though we are many, we are one body, as we all partake of the one bread. Through our unity the Father is glorified; through our love the world will know that we are disciples of Jesus. We need to prioritise our unity with one another and with the wider body. Those who attack and criticise other Christians in the name of “sound doctrine” are denying the spirit of the very truth they claim to stand on. We all see through a glass darkly, and need to try looking into each other’s “glasses” instead of comparing them, unfavourably, with our own.

The Coming Harvest

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD,
“When the ploughman shall overtake the reaper,
And the treader of grapes him who sows seed;
The mountains shall drip with sweet wine,
And all the hills shall flow with it.” (Amos 9:13)

The New Testament gives us a clear picture of what is meant spiritually by sowing and reaping. The word of God is sown through teaching and preaching, and the harvest is reaped when those hearts where they were sown accept Christ. Much of the ministry of the Church hinges on the activities of sowing and reaping, of teaching and evangelism.

But God is preparing us for another, and greater harvest. Although sowing and reaping will carry on, the work of preparing for the coming harvest will overtake the work of the current one. The apostolic and the prophetic will run ahead of the teacher and the evangelist, ploughing the land and treading the grapes. Ploughing the land and treading the grapes have this in common: they break through the surface layers and break up structures. The plough breaks up the soil; treading breaks down the grapes. I believe the Lord wants to break up our well-trodden paths and move below the skins of our relationships. Even as the devil seeks to use lockdown to keep us apart, the Lord will work in our lives to bring us together and move us towards true Unity of the Spirit.

I believe the Lord would say: “Why is the soil hard? Because you have walked in the same places for so long that the soil is trampled down; the seeds of the Word do not take root and the birds of the air devour them. So I am sending out the ploughman to break up the ground again, so my seeds can take root and grow.

And why is the wine not flowing? Because you hold and treasure your clusters of grapes instead of letting the juice flow from them, and you are content with superficial relationships in which people remain separate and isolated within their own protective skins, instead of truly giving themselves to one another. So I am sending out those who will tread on the traditions, the forms and the routines that you hold onto, and they will break them down so that the life of My Spirit can be released in your worship. And I will move in your relationships and break through those defensive skins that keep you apart; and as I am in the Father and the Father is in me, you, too, will become perfect in one, and the world will see your love and will know that you are my disciples. The world does not want your well-trodden paths, but it will seek out the life that it sees growing when the plough has broken them up. The world does not see your clusters, but it will see your love when the grapes are trodden and the wine is flowing.”

Before the harvest comes the plough, and before the new wine comes the treading. When this time comes many will feel they have nowhere to stand and nothing to hold onto; but the Lord says “Stand on my Word, and hold onto Me. Do not resist the breaking, and receive those who appear to tread on things that you would preserve, because when the work of preparation is done those who sow will again see fruit; ten, twenty and a hundredfold; and those who reap will not have barns big enough for the harvest.”

Ministry Gifts

He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of 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; that we should no longer be children… but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. “(Eph 4: 11-16)

Paul distinguishes three giftings in his letter to the Corinthians:

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit: “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. “(1 Cor 12:4)
The Gifts of the Son: “There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.” (1 Cor 12:5)
The Gifts of the Father: “And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.” (1 Cor 12:6)

Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, often known as the fivefold ministries, are the gifts that Jesus gave to men. They are distinct from the gifts of the Holy Spirt enumerated in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, and distinct from the gifts of the Father, sometimes called the “motivational gifts,” listed in Romans 12 vs 6-8.

The gifts of the Son are unique in that they refer to people rather than the gifts of the Holy Spirit which can be “given to each one for the profit of all;” or to the “level of faith” imparted by the Father to every individual to serve in a particular way. Everyone in the church is given a “level of faith” for a specific area (or areas) of service; everyone in the church can be a channel for the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself through a particular supernatural gift or ”manifestation of the Spirit” (1 Cor 12:7), and certain individuals in the church are ministry gifts given  by Jesus to the church to bring it to maturity.

Jesus will be returning for a grown-up; not a child bride. The yardstick we are given for maturity is the “fullness of Christ” Himself. When He returns “we will be like Him.” (1 John 3:2) We will be “a perfect man,” we will know Jesus intimately, and our Unity will be complete. The cry of the Saviour’s heart narrated in John 17 will be answered, because we will be one as He and the Father are one. The fivefold ministries are given to the Body so that we can attain to this perfect goal.

How? When the church is functioning and the Body growing according to the Ephesians 4 blueprint, the saints are equipped as for “works of ministry.” The word for ministry – diakonia –means ‘obedient service.’ In other words, the body learns to do what the head tells it to do. And if we untangle the convoluted language of verse 16, the picture that we find at the core is that everyone grows when Love and Truth flow from the head (Christ) through all the connected members. The purpose of the fivefold ministries is to enable that flow of love and truth into and through “every part.”

What comes next is key. This equipping that brings the bride of Christ to maturity is enabled by what Paul calls the “effective working by which every part does its share.” The language  means more in the original Greek than the English translation suggests. The word “Energeia” – ‘effective working’ – is only used in the New Testament  for superhuman power. The body of Christ grows to maturity when, enabled by the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, each member relates to the others through the operation of supernatural connections. Placing this in the context of the gifts of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, this means that we have to apply “a measure of faith” – going beyond our natural abilities or inclinations, and reaching into the Father’s inexhaustible supply – to whatever works of service we are motivated to carry out; and it means that we expect and rely on the gifts of the Holy Spirit to touch the spirits of our brothers and sisters in ways that are impossible in the flesh. The gifts of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all work together as the church grows into the “perfect man.”

In his book “Into Action,” Reinhard Bonnke saysChristianity was never intended to be anything else but an outpouring of the spirit. It is a reviving, quickening, renewing energy. Revival is not an extraordinary work beyond normal Christianity. Christianity is revival.” Reinhart Bonnke has raised the dead, seen thousands of people healed, and led millions to Christ, so he has some credibility. The church cannot grow to maturity without the power of the Holy Spirit impacting every member and enabling each one to respond to the Head by reaching out supernaturally to others. Jesus has put five ministries in place in order to bring this about, so unless leadership is in the hands of all five the growth will be unbalanced and incomplete.

Revival isn’t just about a lot of people getting saved and healed; it’s about the Church growing up.

Fault Lines

For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.” (1 Cor 10:17)

I think that in these days we all have to be particularly vigilant about division. Because the Lord is taking the church in a new direction there will be many new projects and new initiatives, so just as the enemy tried to use Sanballat when Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, he will do all that he can  today to frustrate and destroy the work.

If we put some very familiar scriptures together, we know unless God build the house, the labourers labour in vain; that where two of you agree … it shall be done for them; and the unity commands the blessing. If we, the builders, are in unity as we set out on a new work for the Kingdom, God is with us, the work is blessed, and He is building the house – or to couch it in NT language, Jesus is building His church. But this of course is the last thing that the devil wants, so he will do all that he can to stop it from happening.

One of his key weapons is to bring division. I felt the Lord gave me the word “Fault lines.” The word was this: “Beware of fault lines in your relationships. A fault lines become a fissure, a fissure become an earthquake, and the earthquake brings destruction.”

The Lord went on to show me that as soon as we start talking and thinking about “fault,” whether we are denying fault or imputing it, we start to draw a “fault line” on the ground. Each person then stands on their own side of the line and the division widens: the line becomes a fissure and the fissure becomes an earthquake, and the building work is stopped.

So as we open ourselves to His leading in initiating new works for the Kingdom of God we need to be diligent in ensuring that any potential areas of division are brought into the light and resolved. I believe this is a word for now, because it is always on the enemy’s agenda to sow division, and particularly, it would seem, in this season. But “we are not unaware of his plans.” Next time the enemy tries to tell you to draw a fault line on the ground – and that may even be right now – remember that God says this:

If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday. (Isaiah 58: 9-10, my italics.)

Two Wheels: Word and Spirit

Two Wheels

Many people are aware of the prophesy attributed to Smith Wigglesworth, from 1947:

“During the next few decades there will be two distinct moves of the Holy Spirit across the church in Great Britain. The first move will affect every church that is open to receive it, and will be characterised by a restoration of the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
“The second move of the Holy Spirit will result in people leaving historic churches and planting new churches.“In the duration of each of these moves, the people who are involved will say, ‘This is a great revival.’ But the Lord says, ‘No, neither is this the great revival but both are steps towards it.’
“When the new church phase is on the wane, there will be evidence in the churches of something that has not been seen before: a coming together of those with an emphasis on the word and those with an emphasis on the Spirit. When the word and the Spirit come together, there will be the biggest move of the Holy Spirit that the nation, and indeed, the world has ever seen. It will mark the beginning of a revival that will eclipse anything that has been witnessed within these shores, even the Wesleyan and Welsh revivals of former years. The outpouring of God’s Spirit will flow over from the United Kingdom to mainland Europe, and from there, will begin a missionary move to the ends of the earth.”

The two wheels are the Word and the Spirit. The word and the Spirit together are what carry us forward. We cannot make progress if we just rely on the scriptures that we read  or hear preached, and we cannot make progress if we just rely on supernatural intervention from Heaven to change our lives. Jesus said His words are Spirit and Life, and if the life of the Holy spirit is going to impact us through the word we have to have a genuine expectation of a supernatural encounter with God as we read it or hear it. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. Psalm 119: 130 says “The entrance of Your words gives light,” but that light does not come to us through our human understanding, but through the operation of the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit, the Word is only half the bicycle. And unless we “receive with meekness the implanted word (James 1:21), the Spirit has nothing to activate in us and any supernatural experience we may have will just be a spinning wheel going nowhere.

Hebrews 2: 1-4 says this:
“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?”

The writer to the Hebrews heard the gospel – “so great a salvation” – from “those who had heard” Jesus. This may have been one (or some) of the eleven, or any of the other disciples gathered with them in the upper room at Pentecost. But whoever it was that preached to the writer to the Hebrews, the word that was preached was confirmed by God “bearing witness with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will.” They had the whole bicycle: the word and the Spirit.

I believe that there is something special about to happen in the new season that we are in; and it is what will bring this about. The Lord is leading His church off the main road of the familiar and up the mountain track of “the new thing” that He is doing. Across all the denominations and all the different church traditions – pentecostal/charismatic; evangelical; liturgical – there will be those that follow, and those that don’t. And they will all have one thing in common: a heart’s desire to follow Jesus. And the pentecostal will walk with the evangelical; the evangelical will walk with the liturgical; the liturgical with the charismatic. For each one, this unity will be a new thing. And the wheels of the Word and the Spirit will turn, and the harvest will be gathered in.

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the LORD’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths”
(Micah 4: 1-2).

Next: pedal power.

The Rose

I was looking at this image of a rose this morning.

It struck me that we all love the beauty and (when they’re scented) fragrance of the rose, and the many images of the rose in art and literature – the poem by Robbie Burns, “My love is like a red, red, rose” comes to mind immediately – express well the fact that roses symbolise much of what our flesh longs for. But I was drawn to the “dead head” behind the bloom, where the petals have fallen and the seed head, the fruit, is beginning to form. When I looked at it I thought that in its own way it is as beautiful as the flower, full of all sorts of little details of life in transition that the Creator has put in place.

And I felt the Lord say something like this, not just to me but to many of us:

“You seek the beauty of the bloom, but like the grass it is transient and soon fades and falls. Consider what I am doing in the seedhead that is being formed, for this is the part of your life that I am looking at. You may feel at times like the flower that is over. You may feel that everything is in transition. But it is in the seedhead that is forming, and that the eyes of the world pass by, where my life is hidden. You don’t need the appreciation that the world gives to the beauty of the flower: you need to remember that it is the seeds of my life and of my word that I have put into you that are of lasting value.”

Jake also had a word about roses, which he sent me this afternoon. This does emphasise  the fragrance and beauty of the bloom rather than its transience. He had been looking at a climbing rose in his garden. It may even be this one, as it’s his picture. He writes:

“What I felt the Lord say was that not only do we need to be grafted into the vine of the rose, but we also need to be shaped and tied back in order that we can bear the fruit that we are called to bear, without breaking or being burdened with it. The tying down or tying back I feel is being linked into the Body of Christ, and having close fellowship with other believers, and in this way becoming one beautiful rose bearing much fruit and becoming a showpiece of His glory.  The Lord says: ‘The wind that will carry your aroma is my Holy Spirit, and the bees that pollinate my body are those who share my word: both believers and non believers who visit the church and talk about my body in a positive light.’ ”

I (Bob) think it is important that we catch what God is saying about being “tied into” fellowship with others. When winds blow and storms rise, blooms that are leaning out on their own are in danger of being broken off.

The Prophetic Voice

When we hear prophetic words from different sources that both say the same thing, we can be sure that the Holy Spirit is speaking to the church. It may be the local church, or it may be the wider church, but what is important is that the Commander of the Lord’s army is giving out battle instructions, so when He speaks we need to pay attention.

Jake Dominy at Wildwood and Andrew Baker in Cornwall have both had the same word recently, which is this: “I am releasing the voice of my prophets into the church.” God doesn’t do anything without “first revealing it to His servants, the prophets,” (Amos 3:7); and as it appears that He has got a lot planned for the coming season, the prophets are going to be busy.

What does this mean? I think there are three things. The first is this. I think churches that up till now have paid little or no attention to the prophetic ministry, or have kept it under close pastoral control, are going to find that the Word of God will to come to them “like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces,” (Jer 23:29) unless they change their unyielding attitude. I don’t know how this might come about, but I feel it is a word that the Lord has given me.  This may be a prayer pointer for those intercessors who are praying for their local churches: it is better to bend than to break.

Number two: God is raising up new prophetic voices and prophetic channels. Some reach thousands; some reach only a handful of people, but all are of equal value in His sight and each assignment is unique. If you feel drawn to the prophetic, maybe God is stirring something in you. Don’t resist the Holy Spirit. There are two resources on this site that can help you if you are starting out: Jakes’s “Beginner’s Guide to Prophesy,” which he has written recently as he has moved forward on his own journey, and some notes I put together which you will find at the under the ”School of Prophesy” heading. I encourage you to read them both.

Finally, we will see more directive and detailed words coming into the church as God clears and refines the vision of those who are already operating in a prophetic gifting. Church leaders who we don’t normally associate with bringing prophetic words are going to grow more confident in this area as the Holy Spirit increases a prophetic anointing on their ministry. Churches that are already open to the gifts or the Holy Spirit are going to need to make some adjustments in how they operate their services – whether they are still digital, or meeting in person again –  in order to make room for this increase in prophetic input.

This is a new season, God is doing new things, there is a battle raging, and the Lord is shaking the heavens and the earth. While everything must be weighed and tested, and the church certainly must not run to the prophets as if they were fortune tellers, this is nevertheless an important time to heed the prophetic voice.