These notes were preached at Glenridge Church, Durban, South Africa on 6/5/18. You can listen to the sermon (part 1) here.
(Want to jump to part 2? Click here)
This morning and tonight I want to speak about living an empowered life through revelation and the renewing of our mind and becoming friends with the Holy Spirit.
This evening will build on this morning. So this morning I will lay a foundation and this evening show you how fundamental it is to our salvation and our walk as believers to develop friendship with the Holy Spirit, as Jesus instructs us.
Understanding the power of revelation
Let me set the scene.
The finished work of the Cross of Christ’s suffering and His resurrection are the centrepiece of all Scripture. For the story of Israel it was a significant moment of hope, that the coming King had now come and brought His Kingdom realm with Him.
In His suffering, fulfilling Psalm 22 in all its detail, Jesus established a new covenant, an eternal covenant, with God the Father. Now those who believe in Jesus and His finished work, and through the forgiveness of sins, are brought back to the heart of the Father.
Brought back to the heart of the Father in the Son, we are brought back to the love and wisdom of God that we were once separated from. As the Book of James says we are to live by a wisdom that comes from above, no longer the wisdom that comes from below - the wisdom of this present world. Not only that, we are restored into a new identity, no longer orphans and outsiders but by the spirit of adoption brought into God’s family as spiritual sons and daughters. We are God’s spiritual family on earth.
As spiritual sons and daughters through faith, we are also called into God’s purposes, to co-labour with Christ and reveal the image of God to the world around us. And in this we have been given the grace promise of the Holy Spirit, who is equally God, just the same as God the Father and God the Son, to empower us in this new life and Godly pursuits.
This life we now have available to us by faith, through God’s grace revealed in the obedience of Jesus, is fundamental to working out our salvation into the world around us. And that is what I want to encourage you in.
Let me explain the fundamental shift Jesus brought.
Jesus clearly established a new order and a new way of doing things. All through the Old Testament, God used the prophets to bring God’s people back to His heart. God demonstrated He was long suffering and patient in His loving pursuit of His covenant people. This rescuing and restoring endeavour reached its announcement in John the Baptiser and his prophetic announcement of the hope of Israel and the coming King. His message was repentance - turn away from self and the world and turn back to God. John’s message fulfilled the law and the prophets. His message was to change their thinking and shift the gaze of their heart from the world around them, to God who was revealed before them.
This morning I want to speak about renewing our mind, and why it is so important to living an empowered life into the world in which we live. We have been used to how the world does things but is that the way God does things?.Can we genuinely live by faith and an empowered life if we continue to do things the world’s way and not God's way? How then do we renew our mind?
What I want to talk about comes out of my own life experiences, where the Holy Spirit has moved either through me or upon me in a way that has brought me new understanding and revelation to my life. This revelation is part of the renewing of the mind that Paul talks about.
Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God's will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.
Paul’s teaching is that you have already received a new life in Christ Jesus. By the work of the Holy Spirit when you believed, your spirit was born again, you became a new creation. Now your thinking needs to match the reality of the new life of Christ that is in you by joining your life with God's life. So we need to carefully renew our mind through the Holy Spirit. One really important task or work of the Holy Spirit is to fulfil the promise of Jesus in John 16 and reveal the words, teaching and reality of the unseen Kingdom realm to our hearts.
Paul calls this the Spirit of revelation and understanding in his prayer to the Ephesians. Literally the Holy Spirit draws back the curtain on things that were hidden from your understanding and brings them forward. This revelation when received in the heart and acted upon by faith causes things to be established as life both in us and through us.
We know faith comes from hearing of the word. Two things need to be made clear. First the hearing is a present hearing to our heart through the Holy Spirit. I listen to the text of Scripture, I don’t just read it. We are taught to read both aloud and silently as a child. Both release a sound. We internally hear the word that we read. The Holy Spirit works to quicken and reveal things to our heart. The second thing is the word is the present word.
The present word (or Rhema word) of God comes forward by the word of the Holy Spirit. It comes forward with God’s ability to perform it or establish it. It therefore comes forward with an anointing, God’s faith and His authority.
We build an empowered life by revelation and understanding and then putting that revelation into action by our faith.
Let’s work through this in a practical way.
First I want to suggest that the miraculous is a sign of the future Kingdom breaking into the present as Jesus demonstrated and taught is not an end in itself. So many believers determine their life by the miraculous, those external events that demonstrate the power of the Kingdom breaking in.
These events genuinely build faith as I will show you. In fact, Paul sees preaching with demonstration of God’s power as necessary. But even this is to take the hearer or believer towards revelation of Jesus. The greatest work is to bring you into the revelation of Christ and into whose image and likeness we are all being transformed. This is the moral imperative of all Scripture that we all grow in maturity as we are confirmed to the likeness of Christ.
When we carry the heart of God in our new identity, by living from Him, meaning His love and eternal truths through the Holy Spirit, we also carry the purposes of God in and through our life.
On one occasion Jesus was preaching to the crowds on the shore of Lake Galilee. There was a vast multitude of people pushing to get close to Jesus to hear the word of God. Jesus noticed two fishing boats at the waters edge, with fisherman nearby, rinsing their nets. Jesus climbed into the boat belonging to Simon Peter (which means reed and rock) and asked him, “Let me use your boat. Push it off a short distance away from the shore so I can speak to the crowds.”
Jesus sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished, he said to Peter, “Now row out to deep water to cast your nets and you will have a great catch”. “Master,“ Peter replied, “we’ve just come back from fishing all night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you insist, well go out again and let down our nets because of your word.”
When they pulled up their nets, they were shocked to see a huge catch of fish, so much that their nets were ready to burst! They waved to their business partners in the other boat for help. They ended up completely filling both boats with fish until their boats began to sink!
When Simon Peter saw this astonishing miracle, he knelt at Jesus feet and begged him, “Go away from me, Master, for I am a sinful man!” Simon Peter and the other fisherman - including his fishing partners Jacob (James) and John, the sons of Zebedee - were awestruck over the miracle catch of fish.
Jesus answered, ”Do not yield to fear, Simon Peter. From now on you will catch men for salvation!" (Lit. Freedom and eternal life in the knowledge of God)
Let me draw out some observations from this life event in the context of this morning.
- Jesus was teaching the word of God. He was bringing a correct revelation and application to the Tanakh or Scriptures. He of course was their fulfilment. The religious teachers had misconceived and misapplied the Scriptures and created their own rules. This effectively kept the listener out of the Kingdom that they were to bring the people into. Hence the listener had to push past this distorted teaching as a heavy yoke to properly hear the eternal truths that were contained within a proper revelation of the text. He sat down in the boat which signified a place of rest and authority. Jesus did nothing outside of his relationship with His Father and His complete reliance on the Holy Spirit as the Gospels clearly reveal.
- Jesus was speaking to the crowd, which included business people and marketplace people. Revelation is applicable and available in every area of our life including the marketplace. Revelation and words of wisdom and prophecy can direct our business as much as our family and our calling.
- Jesus moved from teaching the word to the prophetic. Notice Jesus statement to Peter was both a word of wisdom and prophecy. Now row out to the deep water and cast your nets. That is the wisdom of God. You will have a great catch is a prophetic promise. Notice the response of Simon Peter.
- Peter was given a choice. He was an experienced fisherman. It was his business. He was with his business partners. They had been skilfully doing what they knew to do in conducting their business enterprise of fishing. He could have chosen to reject the word, remaining in his present understanding based on past life experience. Now however, the prophetic word invites him to follow instructions that are beyond his present experience and understanding.
- Peter receives the word, not of the word itself, because it challenged his present experience, but because of the one who gave it. According to the Gospel of Matthew, 4:18, Jesus had called Peter and his brother Andrew to follow him when they were casting nets. Whether this is part of the same event is not clear. By calling them to follow Him, in rabbinical language, these business men were elevated into a place of great honour. To be a disciple of a rabbi normally involved a rigorous process of knowing the Torah in detail. Jesus is the fulfilment of the Torah. To follow Him means to walk with Him and continue to learn from Him watching how He does it.
- Faith obedience or acceptance of the words of Jesus when followed as a word of wisdom produced the prophetic fulfilment of the word. This brought not only revelation to Peter but others as well. The miraculous led to the revelatory, and Peter realised his life was missing the mark.
- Revelatory understanding was that the goodness of God leads to repentance, the complete changing and renewing of our thinking. Moving from the wisdom from below to the wisdom from above. This in turn allowed Jesus to call Peter into his prophetic vocation to reveal the Kingdom that was at hand and to make the life of Jesus known through the grace gift of salvation.
This is a rich picture of how the goodness of God, the promises of God, the Spirit of wisdom and prophecy and revelation all work together. What Jesus walked in was for the whole church in all spheres of society. This event was in the context of the marketplace, the crowd and business. Our calling is into the world, but we cannot live in this calling without entering into God’s rest. When we enter God’s rest, the Spirit of revelation and God’s wisdom flows towards us in the Holy Spirit. Our focus is Jesus. His life, His teaching and His promises. He is the wisdom of God revealed. Hence the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Let me take you to another promise of God towards the church that is grounded in learning how to live as one with God in our heart. Living as one with God as Jesus did requires us to first completely lay down our old life and it’s pattern of thinking and to renew our mind, as Paul tells us.
When Jesus was taking the future church fathers out of the old religious system and the administration of the law to a new life in Him and living by the administration of the Holy Spirit as the fulfilment of the law and prophets, He taught very clearly on this topic. We cannot embrace the new life in Christ with an old mindset. We must renew our mind constantly as the Holy Spirit works within us to reveal the mind of Christ to us. We see that relationship with Jesus is fundamental to revelation and transformation.
Matthew 11: 25-26
Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer, Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-all’s, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes Father that’s the way you like to work.
Jesus resumed talking to the people but now tenderly. The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation coming out of Father Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, not the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself. I am ready to go over it line by line with anyone who is willing to listen.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me, and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn how to live freely and lightly.
The clearest instruction from Jesus to all who believe in Him is that the heavy burden of the Mosaic religious system and man’s traditions and wisdom placed upon that system has now been removed. The Cross ends the old order and establishes a new one, as I started out with earlier. It is through the forgiveness of sins we are brought back into a place of rest in the sense of Genesis Chapter 2.
The life we live now is in Christ, relationally with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit so that we may also become the living expression and revelation of God’s living word, who now with the Father and the Son dwells within us. We are the dwelling place of God in earth.This is fundamental to the restoration of David’s fallen Tabernacle that Jesus through the Cross and the grace gift of the Holy Spirit is building.
Jesus clearly sets out a mandate for how we are to come into greater revelation and live empowered by God in this world.
First we are to not just follow Him, but come to Him. By coming to Him, we let His new life become our life. We come to Him in friendship. This does not mean equality. It means by consecrating our self to Him, causing our heart and affections to be open to Him, and a desire to let the revelation secrets of the Kingdom become part of us.
It is a place of understanding that God is restoring us to innocence and child like trust in God. Coming to Him, as I will show you, is the same as loving Him.
Second we are to walk with Him. To walk with Jesus means we must learn how to walk with the Holy Spirit. The word walk again implies relationship, in the sense that Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden. To halak. To know experientially and deeply, in the same way Jesus said he knew the Father.
Third we are to work with Him. Not for Him but with Him as a co-labourer, in fulfilling our commission of taking the truth about Jesus and the forgiveness of sins demonstrated in the life we live and who we give expression to. What we carry in our hearts will determine how we use our hands.
Fourthly, we are to learn from Jesus and see how He does it. While Jesus is demonstrated in the Gospels and the New Testament, ultimately all of Scripture points to Jesus. Jesus is perfect theology. All Scripture needs to be interpreted through Jesus and the finished work of the Cross and the forgiveness of sins, according to Scripture as Paul understood it and Jesus intended it. So we see as we enter Gods rest, come to Him, walk with Him, and work with Him, He through the Holy Spirit teaches us, reveals new truths to us and empowers us.
So we can see that the renewing of our mind is not just sitting down and reading more Scripture. Renewing our mind involves the work of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth working in us as we follow Jesus' pattern for life, in every area of life and sphere of influence God has placed us in.
The renewing of our mind reveals the love of God for each other, of the un-surpassing value God has ascribed to all humanity and the purposes of God we have been restored into. God will use both miracles - the Kingdom breaking in as revelation towards faith and the testimonies of those moves of power that we may come to Jesus in a deeper way, as well as the prophetic and revelatory present words revealed by the Holy Spirit. All these are designed to take us out of the thinking of the world and into the thinking of God, that Christ may be established in us and through us into the world and every sphere of influence God has given us to live an empowered life.
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