PAUL TOTHILL

The Eternal Present

October 28, 2018

These notes from Paul Tothill are a version of his message preached at Gateway Church on 28/10/18. 

 

You can also listen to the message on the Gateway podcast (available on Apple Podcasts or any other device).

The church is God’s “called out” people into the world to be a Spirit people living the eternal future Kingdom life into the present life. As such a Spirit people are to live from an eternal perspective [1] into each moment of every day.

 

However, not many believers give too much thought about what they are doing in the day to day and how it effects both God’s overall plan of redemption for humanity or how they establish eternal rewards in the age that is to come. Not many believers understand the spiritual world they are engaging in even in the mundane of life. To many, we feel insignificant and our little bit does not seem to matter a whole lot. Let me help you change your mind about the God-significance you carry in the economy of Scripture into this world.

 

THE UNSEEN SPIRITUAL WORLD

 

We tend to forget or perhaps do not understand that we live in a spiritual world, not just a natural world, that has unseen spiritual realities, influencing and interacting with every area of life, shaping various systems of thought, social values, economics, religion and family. That is what the Scriptures teach us and the ancients and early apostles understood.

 

From a biblical world view that the Bible story draws out and reveals, the unseen realm is very real, and as real as the seen or temporal world we live in. God’s eternal truths are the reality of those spiritual dimensions that are to be lived out on earth in contrast to the influence of the lesser corrupted gods and their systems and culture.

 

In our humanity, we are complex spiritual beings living in a physical body- as Paul the apostle calls it- flesh and blood- designed to interface with both the seen and unseen spiritual worlds. This is clear from the very faith reality of being “born again”, and being a Spirit empowered people. This is what it means to be a human-being according to Scripture. Take a look at what Jesus said to Nicodemus:

 

You shouldn’t be amazed by my statement “You must be born from above! For the Spirit-wind blows as it chooses. You can hear its sound, but you don’t know where it came from or where it’s going. So it is within the hearts of those who are Spirit-born!

 

In this unseen spiritual realm that the Bible plainly points to, God is spirit, together with spiritual beings called angels [2], a divine council made up of Elohim as Sons of God, Cherubim, Seraphim, living creatures, fiery wheels, flaming swords, fallen or corrupted divine “Sons of God” known to Paul and the apostles as principalities and powers, “Watchers” who are bound in chains because of them leaving their divine estate and producing Nephilim with human women, evil spirits, territorial Princes, authorities, thrones, forces, demons, and spiritual Kingdoms, spiritual realms of Sheol, the Pit, the Abyss, Hades and death, the Lake of fire, not to forget Lucifer or Satan and numerous other titles he goes by, who as Ezekiel 28 describes, is a stunning arch angel covered in gems stones who was in the Garden of Eden who as a false oracle seduced humanity into an agreement that caused humanity to fall and enthrone Satan.

 

These spiritual realities continue, and we need to know, as the early church did, we have an adversary who works against us in liberating people and nations and coming into our destiny to establish Eden on earth. In fact without this understanding the Old Testament and indeed most of the New Testament does not make much sense.

 

We should not think for a moment that God who is spirit is without substance, although this is hard to conceive, and nor should we think that spirit beings are without substance and cannot therefore manifest in a suitable manner in this physical realm. In fact, God has manifested in physical form according to Old Testament scholars well before Jesus became the incarnation of God on earth as Immanuel. In short, there is a whole other world (and worlds) that is not seen by us and that has been forgotten by us that the Bible clearly points to. And Paul’s letters teach us these things are understood by revelation through the Holy Spirit, not by our present intellectual understanding. The Holy Spirit is the one who teaches us spiritual things.

 

From a Scriptural point of view, humanity is located in the spiritual matrix of this reality that is part of a geographical and larger cosmic reality and conflict concerning people and nations. And the early church in particular the apostles well understood these things. In fact, the letters to the church appeal to these spiritual realities, what we now call the supernatural.

 

In his letters to the church Paul deliberately uses language that relates to geographical spiritual powers that influence society and people’s minds- how they think- and their hearts- what they believe. Biblically speaking, that means our day to day lives are located in a bigger story, a cosmic reality of the battle of spiritual Kingdoms being outworked in our very time and God’s continuing goal of establishing Eden over the whole earth through the ordinary but spiritual events of our life.

 

The more we travel into various regions the more attuned we are becoming to these spiritual realities that effect the very lives of people in regions, cities and nations in a way the Bible describes.

 

As Paul says, our wrestle is not against flesh and blood – people, but “principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”- spiritual powers that work against God’s plans to liberate people, cities and nations and restore their inheritances by establishing Eden on earth through Spirit communities or a Spirit people.

 

We should not think for one moment, at least from a Biblical interpretation of our own experiences, that these same powers are not at work here in our own city and our nation and even in our church. Biblically speaking, they are. They tend to operate in a variety of ways that influence all aspects of society and people and how they behave and what they believe. This is why Jesus joins us with His life and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit and God’s present grace to overcome the Prince of this world and destroy His schemes to keep people and nations spiritually imprisoned and in bondage.

 

THE PRACTICAL REALITY

 

It has certainly been our experience that these spiritual powers are real. Whilst in Peru a few years ago, when Tracey and I travelled with Jim Drown (USA) and two leaders from Field of Dreams, to minister into a city known as Arequipa, I was visited by the regional power in a dream that threatened to kill me if I did not leave. Immediately after that very real dream experience the Holy Spirit down-loaded exactly what I was to speak the next day. He literary told me in a dream word for word what to preach. So, I did exactly that. The next night the same thing happened. The regional power came to me in a dream, threatened me, told me to leave, and then the Holy Spirit told me what to preach.

 

This happened also to Jim Drown who also was given dreams how to deal with the powers that opposed us and advising him to get the leaders of Field of Dreams to Emergency because the regional power was going to take them out because of their vulnerability to sickness they developed. It is clear the regional powers that Paul speaks of did not want us there and were quite intimidating. In the end the Holy Spirit and God’s delegated authority and a grace for the region allowed us to achieve what we were meant to achieve in dislodging that power as 150 pastors of the region wept in repentance of what they had allowed spiritually to govern over the city with all kinds of resulting crime and corruption including death during the miner’s strike we were warned about.

 

OUR PURPOSE IS TO ESTABLISH EDEN OVER THE EARTH

 

As believers, our salvation has brought us into something quite extraordinary. Well beyond what many of us have been previously taught or genuinely understand. As a result, we may have missed our real purpose for being fearfully and wonderfully made as King David so wonderfully explains in Psalm 139. When we were knitted together in our mother’s womb, like King David, God had prepared the scrolls or books of Destiny concerning us. That destiny is more than we realise, or give much thought to. We were created not just to love God but also we were designed to live from His presence. To live from His rest empowered now through our life in Jesus who is our rest.

 

Our destinies will always include us being image bearers of God, i.e. being conformed to the likeness of Christ, to carry spiritual authority through our service to God for the benefit of others into the world around us, whether it is our family, local community, work or any other sphere of influence God has given a grace and calling to impact. In fact, we are eternally destined to become part of God’s divine glorified family and immortal, glorified imagers of God, living in God’s presence. [3]

 

We have “come to earth” being knitted together in our mother’s womb according to Psalm 139 with the purpose of establishing God’s eternal purposes on earth and our destinies are linked to that reality.

 

In Christ, God has not only brought us back into a relationship with Him, to enter into His love, given us His divine nature as a person who is spiritually born again, but our spirit has also risen with Christ into a place of spiritual governmental authority seated both in and with Christ to co-labour with God as His vice-regents, as a Kingdom of royal priests and kings under the authority of Jesus as the One true King, on earth everyday of our lives.

 

Where we are seated in authority is breath taking and very important to understand. We are seated in a place of spiritual authority that Jesus takes up as the King of Kings over the divine council as set out in Psalm 82. He returns to the place of glory He once had to rule and reign over all things. The whole cosmos both seen and unseen is subject to His kingship, even while another Kingdom and its spiritual agents seek to illegally control things and subject people and nations to their spiritual corrupted and counterfeit authority.

 

In that sense, we together as God’s Spirit people, His ecclesia, are God’s Spirit empowered earthly assembly, into the world. If you can grasp it, God has both a heavenly or divine council and an earthly assembly or council called the church. Both are subject to Him and His administration revealed by the Holy Spirit and the eternal words of God.

 

Our assignment is to bring forward the Kingdom realm of God, His divine government as His vice-regents into spiritual darkness and set people free from the bondage of sin and the works of Satan and his kingdom of darkness. We are to continue to destroy the works of spirit darkness not embrace them or come under their illegal authority.

 

Hence Jesus told us to seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness in all that we do. This places us in the right order because we are declared righteous, but to live righteously as God’s earthly-divine children on earth from a Kingdom first perspective and reality.

 

Part of our Genesis Commission that is re-established in Christ is both to gather and set free, being a Spirit empowered people or community who know how to bind and loosen through our prayers and decrees, and to go into our spheres of influence with the presence and love of God exercising spiritual delegated authority over spiritual chaos and darkness.  

 

In this sense the Psalms tell us that angels are at work with us in every assignment of love and faith we step into through our obedience with a desire to reveal the glory of God on earth in every situation of our life. God’s words in our prayers, our declarations, our petitions, and our worship and the announcement of God’s eternal decrees and judgements become powerful to continue to destroy the works of Satan as we live from the finished work of Jesus.

 

Worship yielded to the Spirit of God always positions us to carry God’s words in our mouths as genuine break through and to break open the spiritual landscape of people’s hearts, minds and geographical regions.

 

Therefore, we are a gathering and a going people so that God’s presence and Eden revealed in a Spirit people is established strategically and over all the nations. Each local Spirit-people or community creates a tent peg that God stretches His spiritual government over in the spirit realm

 

 

THE GRACE TO GO INTO REGIONS AND NATIONS

 

In this, people have been given various graces upon their life, and they are to operate into various communities, regions and nations through divine relationships and the leading of the Holy Spirit. In this sense Gateway is a hub of sending people who have a revealed grace for this work into the divinely appointed places where God has given them a grace and a sphere of authority established through divine relationships. This is part of our calling together as a church according to Scripture.

 

From a personal perspective, we are constantly developing our spiritual senses, our ability to carry our anointing and spiritual authority in new and developed ways learning to live from an eternal perspective in all that we do. Let me sum up what I have been saying and put this another way through the perspective of the writer of Hebrews.

 

One of the most enduring and powerful statements of Scripture that brings this reality into view is found in Hebrews Chapter 2:5

 

For God will not place the coming world of which we speak under the government of angels. But the Scriptures affirm:

 

What is man that you would even think about him or care about Adam’s race. You made him lower than the angels for a little while. You placed your glory and honour upon his head as a crown. And you have given him dominion over the works of your hands. For you have placed everything under his authority.

 

This means that God left nothing outside of the control of his Son, even if presently we have yet to see it accomplished. But we see Jesus, who as a man, lived for a short time lower than the angels and has now been crowned with glorious honour because of what he suffered in his death. For it was by God’s grace that he experienced death’s bitterness on behalf of everyone.

 

JESUS BRINGS MANY SONS TO GLORY

 

For now, he towers above all creation, for all things exist through him and for him. And that God made him, pioneer of our salvation, perfect through his sufferings, for this is how he brings many sons and daughters to share in his glory. Jesus the Holy One, makes us holy. And as sons and daughters, we now belong to his same Father, so he is not ashamed or embarrassed to introduce us as his brothers and sisters! For he has said,

 

“I will reveal who you really are to my brothers and sisters, and I will glory you with praises in the midst of the congregation.” And, “My confidence rests in God!” And again, he says, “Here I am, one with the children Yahweh has given me”

 

Since all his children have flesh and blood, so Jesus became human to fully identify with us. He did this, so that he could experience death and annihilate the effects of the intimidating accuser who holds against us the power of death. By embracing death Jesus sets free those who live their entire lives in bondage, to the tormenting dread of death. For it is clear that he didn’t do this for the angels but for all the sons and daughters of Abraham. This is why he had to be a Man and take hold of humanity in every way. He made us his brothers and sisters and became our merciful and faithful King Priest before God; as the One who removed our sins to make us one with him. He suffered and endured every test of temptation so that he can help us every time we pass through the ordeals of life.

 

Jesus introduces us to the divine Sons of God, the elohim in the midst of His divine assembly or council. We are more than we ever realised! How we steward this responsibility and spiritual reality has eternal consequences. Predestination means we have free will to choose our eternal destiny.

 

STEWARDSHIP AND ETERNAL REWARDS

 

We are presently God’s divine yet human family on earth. Like other beings created by God we have free will and are capable of imperfection and working against God or with God. Only God is perfect. Even angels have free will and are capable of rebellion against God. In fact, Scripture points to rebellions in heaven not just one rebellion, and rebellions on earth, not just one against God. But the Holy Spirit leads us into righteousness, which is right relationship with God and right living as sons of God before humanity.

 

Despite this present potential to err or be holy we are God’s divine family earthly council that is under the headship of Christ himself as King- who is the King not just of both the heavenly and earthly assemblies but King over all things. The administration of Christ’s Kingship is found in the administration of the Holy Spirit. Every leader of the church must understand this.

 

According to Psalm 82 God revealed in Jesus is King over the heavenly divine council and He is King over the earthly council, his legislative assembly, the church. Some of the Divine Council rebelled and have sinned. See Psalm 82 and Genesis 6. They will not be redeemed. They are the class of powers Paul refers to that have spiritual authority over nations and regions. Because Jesus became a man, humanity will become divine and members of the same family. He became as we are so we may become as He is.

 

Jesus is not just stepping into our earthly congregation when we praise and worship Him. He most certainly does that week in and week out. Again, we miss this. We long for the manifestation of His presence. Faith sees Him and knows Him ahead of any manifestation and acknowledges His presence so that it may manifest.

 

The Bible is clear that where two or more people are gathered in His name He is spiritually present. Indeed, through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit God is present with you every day. You are in Him and He is in you. When we gather together in His name there is an exponential multiplying effect. This is beyond God’s omnipresence. Our coming together creates a greater spiritual footprint than us being alone and we have increased spiritual strength to set dark powers to flight and keep each other free in Christ.

 

And if He is present, the Holy Spirit is present, then so are the host of angels. We simply are not used to discerning their presence because we have not trained our spiritual senses to do so or have not been given the present grace to discern spirits. But the Holy Spirit will activate our spiritual senses in this regard if we are willing to proceed first by faith. Remember faith is now, and it is the substance of things unseen. Faith sees and believes in the substance of the unseen before it becomes seen.

 

What is stunning, according to the Hebrew text, is the believers are introduced as His brothers and sisters as divine image bearers before the heavenly congregation- the divine council of God. This matters because we will rule and reign with Jesus as King of the Cosmos, even ruling over angels. It might be a good idea to prepare now for that future reality.

 

What we live on earth right now matters more than we can ever realise or even care to contemplate. We are so busy being in the world, we have forgotten who God has called us to be into the world with a life that matters as those who will at the end of the age, live in the reality of what we were rewarded with by Christ in the new heaven and the new earth. Revelation 21 clearly tells us the first heaven will pass away, and the sea will no longer exist. Revelation 22 tells us that Eden will be restored.

 

Rarely do we think our day to day actions, prayers, giving, serving and loving others from a heart of love for God makes that much difference, because we do not yet see all that is being accomplished by these expressions of love and faith we are called to give life to. We think we are just in the mundane of life. Nor do we recognise the spiritual battle we are in each day to keep Jesus, not ourselves, the focus of our heart and the eternal realities before us. Satan has various spiritual powers, called familiar spirits, that know your weak spots, your vulnerabilities and your issues of pride and tries to influence you to live from those things, the exact opposite to how the Holy Spirit leads us and empowers us in all eternal truth.

 

Because of a lack of teaching on these things some believers even whole churches have forsaken their calling and their destinies. (Predestination does not work to replace our free-will! It’s an invitation the Holy Spirit empowers us in and God is constantly moving us towards.) Like Esau they have given away their “birth right” for a pot of stew- the desire to feed the immediate and fleshly not highly valuing what they have been given by way of God’s grace they are to co-labour with and build upon with an eternal perspective. Some have chosen to build a Ziggurat, a false Eden, to gather and stay to create the greatness of their own name just like the Tower of Babel. Staying when we should be going for the sake of building our thing does not please God one bit. In fact, it is called sin or rebellion towards God’s commission and our vocation as a Spirit people. In many ways, the modern western church looks more like ancient Corinthian church than we are willing to recognize or admit.

 

Every day we have the opportunity though our salvation and God’s grace to co-labour with Christ and with God’s grace create our eternal future in the Kingdom that is to come. Yes, we are all saved, but Paul makes clear to the Corinthian church how we build on and from God’s salvation, his grace, is very important. This means we are not just living for the moment or the present. Every moment we are living for the future and from the eternal into the present. That changes everything.

 

This eternal view and understanding is to be brought into our present reality by faith. We start to live differently when we understand who we really are and why God has chosen us from before the foundation of the earth to bring forward His Heavenly Kingdom on earth. Our lives fit into a far bigger story that we do not always consider in our day to day activities of faith.

 

 

[1] An eternal perspective is also an eternal future Kingdom of Heaven or Eden perspective. Many of the parables of Jesus concerning the Kingdom and stewardship relates to this as does Paul teaching on thinking about “things above”.

 

[2] Angels are messengers and it describes not their being but their function.

 

[3] See Michael Heiser, Supernatural

 

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