The Empowered Life: Part 2, the Necessity of Friendship with the Holy Spirit (Glenridge Church)
These notes were preached at Glenridge Church, Durban, South Africa on 6/5/18. You can listen to the sermon (part 2) here.
(Want to go back to part 1? Click here)
Friendship with the Holy Spirit
Let us continue to build on the foundation of what has been said above. Why is revelation knowledge of Jesus so important? Because Jesus told Peter this is the foundation upon which He will build His church. His church is a people as a company and family of born again Spirit filled believers. I want to suggest the foundations of every believer's heart or spirit as the dwelling place of God on earth is in fact the spiritual foundations of the church against which the authority of hell will not prevail. We are to live from a Spirit first reality and revelation into the world. This is a new way of living but is the foundation of what it means to live by faith.
I want to take you now to John 14. John 13-17 was revealed to me many years ago now after my own experience in a Heidi and Rolland Baker meeting in 2007. It literally changed my life. The encounters that I had smashed my intellectual mindset and brought forward both revelation and mystery. The Holy Spirit encountered me in a very deep way where I had four days of radical encounters, visions, experiences and an infilling of the Holy Spirit that not only changed my life, my thinking and understanding, it was the catalyst for Jesus to build up his people as His church in a whole new way. We started to experience the felt presence of God and signs and wonders we could not at first explain or understand. In time, revelation and a measure of understanding came. For me this pattern continues where the Holy Spirit will teach me in just the way I said this morning.
This is not to say I am not a fierce student of the Scriptures. They simply came alive to me in a new way. The Holy Spirit would often take me from experience to the Word to bring forward revelation.
The progression of revelation and mystery in our coming to Jesus and walking with Jesus by the leading of the Holy Spirit is like that. It is like the life of Simon Peter - who he was before the world moving to becoming Peter - who he already was before God. 'Simon-reed' was who he was before mankind, but Jesus prophetically called Simon-Peter into a new name and character as Peter - a person developed on the revelation of Jesus. He would wrestle between being Simon Peter, his old nature and thinking versus his new nature and prophetic future. Ultimately his letters to the church reveal prophetic fulfilment and he wrote of this process of transformation and maturity in his letters to the church. All the writers of the New Testament experienced the journey of who they were before the world to who they were before God into the world. They reveal what Jesus taught and lived.
I have learnt that I must come to Jesus if I am to follow Jesus. I am to walk or halak with him and work with him, learning by revelation how he does it. I am learning God wants to be involved in every intimate detail of my life, not to control me but to empower me.
When we look with new eyes from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit we see what has been hidden in plain sight. Often the lens of the heart, of tradition and man’s wisdom, veils the ability for us to see what is actually revealed in the Scriptures and therefore affects our ideas of how we can live and what is possible by faith.
I have learnt that it is the Holy Spirit as the grace promise and fulfilment of the Covenant of Christ as God himself who will lead us into all eternal truth and wisdom from a heart of love.
John 14 was recently emphasised to me again whilst ministering in Russia after a series of personal experiences at least a year earlier. Sometimes God leaves us in mystery so we will push in to revelation.
My wife Tracey and I have walked a journey of dealing with both revelation and mystery in the loss of her Dad, her Mom, and her brother in that order from cancer within a fifteen month time span. Although death resulted we saw the perezim of the Kingdom break in. We realised there was a spiritual wrestle for those we loved. And each went home to the Father after a deep process of restoration, knowing deeply the love and peace of God.
It was during the time of the wrestle for Tracey’s Dad’s life that God did extraordinary things. Tracey’s Dad had an encounter with Jesus and what must have been Satan that transformed him whilst in a fever-induced state of unconsciousness. The whole family saw the transforming power that encounter produced in him. Then there was a separate experience where we were called in because his body was now giving signs it was in the throws of death and shutting down. We were told all the signs were present that he had only some hours to live.
I had heard the news of Tracey’s Dad's impending death whilst preaching on healing,
and Tracey and other family had left the meeting to be with him and all the family.
As I drove to the hospital I was emotionally confused and not sure what God wanted me to do. The Inner voice of the Holy Spirit spoke to me and instructed me to rebuke the spirit of death. To be frank, my prayers lacked enthusiasm and faith. But as I prayed my prayers become charged with anointing and faith that I knew was from the Holy Spirit. I got quite bold and passionate until I felt something shift in the spirit. I had faith joined to God's faith that I might see something amazing. That sense of knowing the realm of the impossible was at hand.
I asked the Holy Spirit what should I do. How did God want to go about the situation?
I felt the inner voice say “just let my presence flow from you and fill the room”. Immediately Scriptures flooded my mind and Jesus declaring streams of living water will flow from your belly. So I visualised the presence of God flowing from me. As I walked to the room I again felt the inner voice of the Holy Spirit instruct me. I was told to enter the room then to kiss my father in law on the forehead and tell him I loved him.
So I walked into a room filled with family and Tracey and her sister and husband praying. Her Dad was not moving and appeared in a deep sleep. I visualised the presence of God leaving me and I rested as if I sat down in my spirit. As I said this morning Jesus often taught from a place of sitting down, a picture of being enthroned in power and rest. So I pictured my self sitting down into God’s rest. I walked over to Tracey’s Dad who was motionless. I said I loved him and kissed him on the forehead just as I was told to do by the inner voice of the Holy Spirit.
Within ten seconds his eyes started to flutter, he then opened his eyes and looked out the window and then around the room. He looked towards Tracey and declared in a loud voice, “I’m back, let’s have communion.” This powerful miracle caused some to exclaim and some to cuss. We could not deny what happened and even the doctors conceded the reality of what had happened. Yet he was not healed but he was alive. Ultimately he went home to be with the Lord on his own terms. This remained a point of prayer and mystery to us.
I knew that sometimes God does not do a lesser thing we are praying for, so He reveal a greater thing, just as Jesus did with Lazarus. Had Jesus responded to Mary and Martha to pray for Lazarus for healing then the greater work and revelation would not have been made known. And sometimes like Lazarus, the miracle becomes a prophetic act or metaphor to point to a new revelation we are invited into. But I lived in mystery until I was in Russia some 14 or so months later.
The Holy Spirt spoke to me in Russia to tell me there was a key to the promise of John 14 and the incident with Tracey’s Dad was in fact a demonstration as a prophetic metaphor of what the Holy Spirit is now bringing the church back to and into.
John 14 very much picks up the emphasis of this morning’s message of renewing your mind from a place of coming to Jesus, walking with Jesus and working with Jesus learning how he does it. How do we do it now that Jesus is gone? We do so in person of the Holy Spirit who now dwells within us. The One who filled and empowered Jesus is the One who fills us and empowers us. He is the One who shows us both the Father and the Son and brings forward the mysteries of the Kingdom as revelation knowledge and God’s wisdom into our life.
Don’t worry or surrender to your fear. For you believed in God now trust and believe in me also. In my Father’s house has many dwelling places. I would tell you plainly because I go to prepare a place for you to rest.
The language here is unmistakable. Many translate the idea of dwelling places as mansions. Our heavenly mansions when we die. But the wording has a dual meaning in the context in which Jesus is speaking. We are God’s dwelling place of earth. The spirit of born again believers sometimes referred to as the heart of believers is the place where heaven meets earth by the indwelling person of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus explained, “I am the Way, I am the Truth, and I am the Life. No one comes next to the Father except through union with me. To know me is to know my Father too. And from now on you will realise that you have seen him and experienced him. Philip spoke up, “Lord show us the Father and that will be all we need!” Jesus replied, “Philip you have been with me all this time and you still don’t know who I am? How could you ask me to show you the Father, for anyone who has looked at me has seen the Father. Don’t you believe that the Father is living in me and that I am living in the Father?
Even my words are not my own but come from my Father, for He lives in me and performs his miracles of power through me. Believe that I live as one with my Father and that my Father lives as one with me - or at least believe because of the mighty miracles I have done.
This reinforces how revelation and faith is built up.
1. First by living as one with Jesus and the Father in the person of the Holy Spirit. We actually cannot live empowered as God intended outside of this relational union and experience.
2. Second, as we live as one with Jesus and the Father in the Holy Spirit we have entered into God’s rest and restored to a place of innocence - childlikeness - that has a big heart and eyes for the Father, and a Christ focus, instead of a self focus. This is the reality of Genesis 2. Paul says to the Colossians we are restored to innocence.
3. Thirdly, this connection creates a dwelling place that is prepared on earth as it is in heaven, and allows the Spirit of God to flow towards us as revelation and God’s power to flow through us.
4. Lastly we receive God’s faith and we live from His faith to our faith. We believe into Christ the same way Jesus believed in the Father. This is the context in which Jesus makes an oath promise concerning anyone who believes into Him.
The oath promise of God doing the same mighty miracles Jesus was doing and even greater through those who believe! That whosoever that live from this faith reality will move in greater revelation and power. Again the miracles are the evidence of the Kingdom at hand breaking into the chaos and disorder of the world, revealing God’s order. But they point us back to the revelation of Jesus. They become the testimony as a witness to Jesus. Power was to be given so we would be witnesses of the Cross and the future Kingdom that was at hand. The miracles provide a witness that produce faith and new revelation of Jesus.
Jesus made it clear it was not him doing the miracles but the Father doing them through Him. And these miracles were to create faith. But the higher manifestation was revelation that we may known Him and reveal Him. Jesus did not say we would be known for the miraculous but expressing God’s love towards one another! These signs of power create a testimony of Jesus that is the Spirit of prophecy!
Paul said if we do all kinds of supernatural or spiritual things but don’t have love we are a clanging gong. The gifts of the Spirit including the miraculous and the prophetic are for others and are to reveal Jesus in the same way Jesus revealed the Father and the future Kingdom that was at hand. .
To sure up how this works we need to carefully read John 14:15
Loving me empowers you to obey my commands. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Saviour (or one just like me) the Holy Spirit of truth who will be your friend just like me - and he will never leave you. The world won’t receive him because they can’t see him or know him. But you will know him intimately, because he will make his home in you and he will live inside of you. I promise that I will never leave you helpless or abandon you as orphans - I will come back to you! So when that day comes you will know that I am living in the Father and that you are one with me for I will be living in you.
Jesus replied, loving me empowers you to obey my word. And my Father will love you so deeply that we will come to you and make you our dwelling place. But those who don’t love me will not obey my words. The Father did not send me to speak my own revelation but the words of my Father.
I am telling you this why I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Spirit of Holiness, the One like me who sets you free, he will teach you all things in my name. And he will inspire you to remember every word that I’ve told you. I leave the gift of peace with you- my peace. Not the fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts - instead be courageous!
Then Jesus uses the prophetic metaphor of Israel as the vine, and that Jesus is the true vine. Apart from Him (meaning the life union we have just been speaking about) we can do nothing, we cannot live our true potential, we cannot live empowered, and we cannot fulfil our assignment into the world. Trying to be a pioneer without this life union is a recipe for religious failure.
Everything we live by faith we are to live empowered by the Holy Spirit from God’s rest and the embrace of God’s unconditional love towards us.
Of course John 16 further establishes and reinforces this very reality and the crescendo is that we may be one even as He is one with the Father.
Let me give you a final demonstration to give you a visual to take home. It is difficult sometimes to effectively use our imagination to understand these realities.
For many they acknowledge the person work and function of the Holy Spirit but they do not receive Him in the same way as they receive Jesus or God the Father. In Matthew 11 I spoke about the pattern of walking with Jesus. The imagery is always a mature oxen yoked to a younger oxen. It is the word and Spirit working together that yoke us to Christ. Just as Jesus is always the dominant guiding partner so also is the Holy Spirit. He is the head and creates an environment of the heart for us to receive Him and to follow him as we are guided into all God's truth.
Also what yokes us with Jesus and the Holy Spirit is the covenant Jesus established with the Father. That covenant is revealed in the words of Jesus and received by faith. We are also yoked to Jesus by His teaching that the Holy Spirit reveals to our hearts. As we obey the present word of Jesus we keep in step with the Holy Spirit.
What we need to understand is the Holy Spirit is just like Jesus. We can grieve him and quench his inspiration or fire in our hearts.
But we are not just to function together, we are to relate together even as Jesus demonstrates and speaks about. So Jesus says friendship with the Holy Spirit is as vital and real to the apostles as their friendship with Jesus as a human being. When we are friends, as in this case, we are neither speaking of equality of person nor familiarity. We are speaking how Jesus defined the term. From a place of mutual honour and value in God’s love He draws us to His heart to reveal the hidden mysteries of the Kingdom. The very things Jesus understood and lived. Those things are revealed in friendship, a shared closeness of the heart. And friendship is also an expression of the meaning of halak or to walk with.
Our walk with Jesus and the Holy Spirit is a little like a three legged race. Jesus covenants and binds himself to us in love. He places us in the Father’s embrace and determines our steps and direction as we learn to walk with Him. Then he is right with us in every situation and all that we are called to give expression to and live. We learn how to carry our authority, our relationships, our anointing and his power flowing through us from this kind of reality. It is much more than that, but that imagery helps us understand something of what it is like to develop friendship and walk empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Therefore it is never God who moves away from us, the movement away from God is on our part, often through wrong thinking and issues of the heart that cause us to focus more on ourself than our focus and trust in the One who we are walking with. The One who now dwells in us. The One who wants us to carry the government of his peace into every life situation into the world.
Friends it is time we came back to God’s rest that the forgiveness of sins according to the Scriptures provides for us and start walking in friendship with the Holy Spirit just like Jesus did. In this way we will carry the heart of God into all we do. We will live as powerful over-comers into this world in increasing measure.
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