These notes from Paul Tothill are based a version of his message preached at Gateway Church on 18/8/19. Listen to the message on Apple Podcasts or any other podcast player (available the Wednesday after the sermon).
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I would like to bring both prophetic words and a report this morning. The prophetic word that I sense, involves moving from the shallow waters to the deeper waters of God captured by the story of Jesus with Peter the apostle in Luke chapter 5. I will come to that at the end of my report and some observations. Let me first give something of a report from my time away both with Adam Thompson in South Africa and also in London UK and Cork in Ireland and my perspective of things that are happening in the world from a Kingdom perspective and how they may be helpful to us to see a bigger picture.
First, thank you for sending me and, of course, to all of you for getting on with things whilst I have been away. I can boast to other church leaders that I can go only because we function as a plurality as an eldership or pastoral team, meaning I am the first amongst equals as pastors or elders who together govern the affairs of the church. We do that in something of an imperfect relational perichoresis that Scripture seems to speak to as to how a plurality can function and because we have maturing believers that are being established more and more in Christ. We are better together.
So I get to boast about you and who we are together becoming in Christ as a Spirit people as a testimony of Jesus Christ. In many ways you teach me how to lead, expose my weaknesses and develop my strengths, mature me in how to preach, how to bring forward revelation, move in the anointing, how to lead more effectively in different seasons and as we all do, how to live in forgiveness! In short, this is where I am being fashioned towards maturity in Christ in all things just like you! If we can’t establish it here in a real way we cannot establish things elsewhere as we go to strengthen the churches we have strong relationships with.
So my testimonies become part of our testimony together and help us learn and grow and to come into our future. Let me tell you that what we go through here is common to just about all leaders and churches around the world in the last season. We are unique but not special in that sense. God is doing amazing things in the hearts of believers world-wide. God is preparing hearts to carry a greater glory.
Secondly, we live in the most exciting times from both a Global and Biblical point of view. We really seem to be in the days of Isaiah 60:
Arise, shine, for you light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
We are in the “but” however not quite yet in the “and”. But we are getting there.
ENGAGING IN “SPIRITUAL REALITIES”
Every time I fly into a nation and a city, I ask the Holy Spirit to open my spiritual eyes and discern the spiritual realms that are over a city and a nation, that, in turn, sits over a people. I understand that we are part of a very large Kingdom of heaven-on-earth story that began in the Garden of Eden and will not be completed until Christ returns. The church as a Spirit people living in union with God, empowered by the Holy Spirit are meant to be a community of spiritual legislators for the benefit of each region ( that is what ekklesia means) and a group of “spiritual ruling class” priests and kings carrying God’s spiritual authority and dominion into the world for a very clear purpose. Part of our responsibility is to set people free from the bondage of darkness through their salvation experience, drive back spiritual darkness and establish the government of God’s peace in all its forms in a manifest way through God’s promises towards us. This is the family business we have been called into as sons of God when we came to faith and are saved.
Darkness operates at the level of a nation, a city and a person. History shows this to be a truism as does Scripture.
When we understand this spiritual reality we understand why things on earth are different to things in heaven and why things on earth seem to work against what God is trying to do and establish. There are spiritual battles going on in people’s hearts, regions and nations just as Paul the apostle writes to the churches. There is opposition going on and resistance taking place. That’s why we need to be a committed and persistent co-labouring people in driving out darkness to establish God’s dominion as the government of His peace. That is why Jesus said keep seeking, keep asking and keep knocking. Satan is running interference as much as he can.
Paul tells us this is so in Ephesians 2:1, “And his fullness fills you, even though you were once like corpses, dead in your sins and offenses. It wasn’t that long ago that you lived in the religion, customs and values of this world, obeying the dark ruler of the earthly realm who fills the atmosphere with his authority and works diligently in the hearts of those who disobedient to the truth of God.”
For Paul his apostolic mandate was to liberate nations, regions and people. This was the same work that Jesus commenced and proclaimed when He sat down in the temple and read from Isaiah 61.
Paul’s interest was to continue the work that Jesus had begun and to empower the church to do the same through the commission given to the whole church in Matthew 28:18. That is our primary purpose also.
For Paul’s world view, and this is the Biblical world view we need to understand, since Eden, God’s covenant people have been and remain in a spiritual battle. That is why things are not clean and tidy and neat and comfortable all the time. It is also why promises seem delayed, time lines distorted one way or the other and answers to prayer seem delayed. We only need to read Daniel’s prayer and response to understand that.
The early church well understood the bigger Bible story and what it meant for the coming Messiah King to come. The cross of Jesus meant significantly more to them than we understand today. Regrettably, from what I see, the contemporary orthodox and charismatic church has lost sight of the very understanding and bigger Kingdom story that we are involved in and being subject to every day. The Biblical reality is that the unseen world, the spiritual world interacts with and engages with the seen realm every single day. That fallen spiritual world creates world systems including money markets, political, economic, religious and educational institutions and systems and realms of authority and power. But the predicate for each is a fallen world operating through a fallen humanity who have given their lives to the Prince of the Air because of what Paul describes in Ephesians 2:2.
WE LIVE IN A FALLEN WORLD SYSTEM
In short, by and large, we as the contemporary church seem to have forgotten or are unaware that we are living in a fallen dark world that is currently being controlled illegally by the authority of Hallel (praise) or Haylel, or ha nachash (shiny one or fiery serpent) sometimes incorrectly described as Lucifer. There is strong academic opinion that The Accuser in Job is a servant of the Lord, like a special counsel, and not properly to be considered as Hallel or ha nachash, the shiny one or fiery serpent who was in the Garden of Eden. I will leave you to think about that.
Satan as the serpent and shiny one in the Garden of Eden is described variously as the tempter when he invited Jesus to rulership of all the nations on earth and their riches if Jesus would but bow down to him. Jesus revealed the power of God’s present word into every life situation to destroy temptation. However, Hallel, or the serpent offered Jesus rulership of the world. That means that he had it to offer it. He is also known as the Prince of the power of the air. Again this speaks of an exalted position of rulership within the spiritual environment that covers the physical natural world. He is also called the deceiver, and Jesus himself warns that in a particular age that we are now in, the elect will deceived (God’s chosen people) if that were possible, because they run after false teaching and signs of power and do not have an intimate deep relationship with Jesus as the living word of God through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit- God’s grace towards us. Satan as the serpent is also known as the Prince of this World. The word “world” denotes the fallen world. Then he is described as the “god of the this world” by Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians.
In each of these designations the word “prince” or “god” means authority. But his authority although very real is an illegal authority. The authority actually belongs to humanity living in faith relationship with God as His people. That is the very point of the ministry of Jesus and the Cross of His suffering as the triumphant King. Humanity as God’s royal family of sons on earth function as priests and Kings. God gave humanity the realm of the earth as their sphere of influence or estate as trustees operating from the realm of His Kingdom in relationship with Him to establish His dominion authority. Psalm 8:5 tells us:
Yet what honour you have given to men, created only a little lower than Elohim, crowned like kings and queens with glory and magnificence. You have delegated to them mastery over all you have made, making everything subservient to their authority, placing earth itself under the feet of your image bearers. All created order and every living thing of the earth, sky, and sea- the wildest beasts and all the sea creatures- everything is in submission to Adam’s sons.
Therefore, Jesus in his sacrificial death went into sheol and destroyed all the works of the enemy and took back the spiritual authority from Satan ( Haylel) over the whole earth by stripping him bare and gave it the church. That’s you and me as born again, Spirit filled sons of God living in union with Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said the church He was building would be so powerful in His authority the gates of hell, the authority of Hallel’s or Haylel’s (Satans) counterfeit dark Kingdom would not be able to withstand the onslaught her authority and power to drive darkness back and out from people, regions, cities and nations. This was not a defensive posture of Kingdom authority, so as to preserve something. This was offensive dominion authority that Satan’s authority had no match for. The cross was the beginning of the restoration of all nations, and all things under the government of God through people living fully immersed in the Trinity and their obedience to everything Jesus taught now revealed through the word of God and the Holy Spirit. When people hear this Biblical reality something in them seems to awaken. Rightly so. It is their Spirit in union with the Holy Spirit stirring their soul.
However, the church has been both intimidated out of and completely unaware of her spiritual authority and her calling and has subtly but clearly followed after the god of this age, the prince of the air, by the influence of the spirit of this age instead of driving him out personally and regionally as Jesus did. Fear and ignorance has been Satan’s primary tactic- nothing changes.
THE STOCKHOLM SYNDROME
In each city and each region the Lord allowed me to see to some measure what was operating in the spiritual atmosphere. Each region had a dominating power or regional authority that was at work in people’s minds and hearts. This overflowed to its systems. Corruption is everywhere in South Africa. Where there was conflict between the churches, the spiritual atmosphere was darker and was the product of leaders unwittingly giving themselves to various regional spiritual powers.
Not all of us will need to deal with regional or national spiritual authorities, and very few of us will deal directly with Satan. Instead most of us will deal with disembodied spirits known as demons. Sometimes these demons are described as fallen angels but that is not quite correct to my research. These lesser demons function under an hierarchy of command and are all designed to destroy us, ensnare us, deceive us and hold up as long as possible their captivity of people, regions, cities and nations including the promises assigned to the welfare of those people and regions. In short to rob, kill and destroy where ever they can get a chance.
In other words they only have authority because we don’t recognise our authority over them and the power of God’s Spirit and word to drive them out. Every act of our willing obedience to God’s word is God’s weapon for us to have power over the enemy and destroy him or drive him out of our life and the lives of others. Praise is a weapon like obedience. Forgiveness is a weapon, your generosity is a weapon, your love towards one another is a weapon. Everything Jesus practiced was designed to displace darkness and drive it out.
Now when the flood took place as God’s judgment way back in Genesis 6, the Nephelim (hybrid human/angelic beings) became disembodied spirits that we now call demons. The fallen elohim are higher dark powers in Satan’s counterfeit kingdom hierarchy. These disembodied spirits or demons are who most of us are dealing with on a daily basis. They are known as spirits of the earth because they were born on the earth. And these spirits afflict, oppress, destroy, attack, do battle, and work destruction on the earth, and cause trouble; they take no food but nevertheless hunger and thirst and cause offences. It is clearly stated in 1 Enoch, not a canon of scripture but a pseudo-apocryphal book, these spirits shall rise up against the children of men and against women because they have proceeded from them.
The Lord revealed to me that the church in the western world has been suffering from the Stockholm syndrome. This relates to the infamous bank robbers who took people hostage in Stockholm. During captivity the hostages came to form a relationship with their captors so they could survive and further, as the Helsinki syndrome reveals identifies with the captor to the point that they started to feel sympathy and affection for them and to even act against the authorities who tried to rescue them. They became comfortable and over a short time captivity became their new normal!
We are so used to the normality of the spiritual and natural world around us we think this world, although getting worse by some standards, is normal and for most of the church we have become complacent and complicit in it. We are used to it. Like Israel in Judges 13 when God sent them a deliverer in Samson to free them from the authority and bondage of the Philistines ( their time of discipline was over) they preferred to keep peace with the Philistines who were over them that they would be comfortable in their bondage! Samson as an anointed deliverer was causing a commotion in what he was doing. He was disrupting the status quo. He was picking a few fights. He was certainly rocking the boat for the Israelites. All part of God’s plan to set them free! However the Israelites agreed to seize Samson and bind his hands so that he would not continue to come against the authority of the Philistines. Ultimately it was the deceptive love whims and faux embarrassment and dishonour of a deceptive Delilah that handed Samson over to the Philistines.
What this leads to is that as a bigger Gospel story, a Kingdom story was revealed. In South Africa when we spoke on key topics of how the prophetic realm and the Kingdom realms of God manifest together we experienced a thick glory in the meetings and significant deliverance, both physical and spiritual. In both Durban and Johannesburg before the meetings commenced, both Adam and I were confronted by tormenting spirits that were under the command of the dominant spirit in each region. I have not encountered such spiritual harassment other than in Peru, when Tracey and I were ministering with Jim Drown when the regional powers came to me at night in a dream and threatened to kill me if I did not leave the region. But God had forewarned me and spoke to me how spiritual authority and metrons or spheres of influence work. Because I had submitted my authority to Jim Drown’s authority who had authority in the region because of his history calling and assignment, I was safe. The Holy Spirit showed me exactly what to preach in the very same encounter.
This happened two nights in a row and then confirmed by Jim’s own dreams. The regional powers where showing us their weakness and the Holy Spirit was showing us how to exercise dominion authority over those powers through the power of God’s word.
Once again the regional powers through their intimidation showed us what their weakness and regional strategy was. In Durban it was the spirit of Jezebel and in Johannesburg it was the spirit of religion and poverty. These are dominant spiritual forces that work against God’s plans and purposes and destinies that He has written for people, regions and nations. In short once these things were exposed, and we moved by the Spirit to bring forward God’s words as His authority and part of His Kingdom realm we saw things start to change and the physical manifestations of God’s power. There are continuing testimonies emerging from that time.
I had the privilege of speaking on God’s governmental realm and how angels form an important part of the establishing and administering of God’s word and promises. As I spoke on Jesus the Lord of Hosts a weighty glory realm emerged and a new experience took place where it seemed as though someone was leaning their forearm on my shoulders and intense heat would manifest as I ministered. This meant to me that there was some kind of angelic presence that was associated with what we were led to speak about. I am still inquiring of the Lord and working that one out.
In London the spirit of intellectualism and religious traditions have significantly disempowered the gospel. In Cork the ancient Celtic and Druid spirits and the spirit of religion were very evident. The church throughout has to a large extent been disempowered by the spirit of fear instead of being empowered by the Holy Spirit and faith. Fear is a faith killer. Without faith it is impossible to manifest the promises of God and the authority and Kingdom realm into this natural world. So Satan’s key strategy is to intimidate and create fear so we will shrink back in doubt and unbelief and try to fix things at a soulish level and rely on fallen systems instead of the promises of God, God’s present word as the Spirit of prophesy and the administration of the Holy Spirit. By contrast to the flesh the Spirit reveals God’s words towards us and brings us into God’s faith to carry God’s word into faith action and willing obedience. We understand that his words and his ways are higher and superior to the fallen systems around us and our old thinking. See Isaiah 55:
But against all of this the Holy Spirit was moving in people’s hearts with a faith hunger and desire to step into new levels of faith. The hunger was amazing which is the clear evidence that God is moving in the hearts of believers to press into the deeper things of God- to gain revelation, wisdom and understanding to not only come into their prophetic destiny but seeing themselves as part of a bigger picture and effective and empowered Christianity to drive out darkness and live free in Christ and to release others into that same freedom and authority for their lives.
The other thing that I am seeing everywhere is Satan will also move to undermine God’s authority and Godly authority in the church. Postmodernism and the spirit of this world has greatly affected understanding of Godly authority and its practice. It has tried to effectively neuter God’s leaders from exercising their Godly authority to lead the people under the authority of Jesus empowered by the Holy Spirit to the detriment of the whole church.
I see so many church leaders fearful of exercising Godly authority. I even hear leaders tell people not to follow them. That is not correct and does not accord with the word of God. The key for any leader is to be yielded to the Holy Spirit and know that in all our weakness God’s grace is made perfect. God uses our calling to bring us to maturity. God uses imperfect people. He gives them a gift of leadership and a calling. Part of that maturity is learning how to lead in our weakness, and our vulnerability, living yielded to God’s grace who is the Holy Spirit working in us and through us. When we are all yielded to the Holy Spirit God’s authority makes sense and we relationally give ourselves to that authority. It is the flesh- the self-life that opposes Godly authority whichever way we look at it. The Scriptures are clear on that.
Governmental authority is the first ground of attack for Satan. Strike the shepherd and scatter the sheep. And Satan will use anyone and any means to do so. That is why Paul tells us to pray for our leaders not just in the church but also in the world. They are the tip of the arrow into the spiritual realm. Satan understands how authority works and his goal is to usurp it and undermine it all he can.
Satan will always seek to undermine and deny God’s authority in your life, whether relationally, so that we lose the fear of the Lord in reverent awe of who He is; the authority of the word as God’s words speaking to us that carries authority in the spiritual and natural realms; and those who he has appointed over us to serve us towards maturity.
The Lord told me some time ago that when we are not willing to submit to authority that God has placed in our life for our own benefit, protection and increase- which Satan will always influence us to oppose- we limit the boundaries of our inheritance. Will leaders, like all of us, make mistakes from time to time? Of course. This is why our mutual submission towards one another must be in reverence of Christ. Jesus submitted himself completely to God’s authority but refused to submit any part of his life or being to the illegal authority of Satan and the corrupt spirit of this world or the spirit of religion or the traditions of man that nullified the power of God.
Leaders must find a new confidence in their submission to the Holy Spirit and willing obedience to the word of God and his calling on their life to allow the word of God to test them and develop their character just as God did for Joseph. See Psalm 105.
Satan himself refused to be under authority of God and wanted to be in authority. His own authority. Sounds familiar. I have seen so many people ship-wreck their faith or delay their release on this issue alone. This is what the fallen world wants as well. Just read what Isaiah prophesied concerning Hallel or Satan in Isaiah 14:12- He wanted to set his throne (meaning his authority) above the Sons of God who sit in the assembly or God’s divine council. Not only that above God’s throne as head of the whole cosmos. He was not just grabbing for a promotion of authority but operating outside what he was designed to carry in God’s order. He was, according to Ezekiel 28, a covering Cherub. His estate was to be around the throne of God as the leader of God’s praise- hence his name, but he became a false oracle in the Garden. He left his calling and his destiny. He became the original spiritual orphan. He is a self-proclaimed self-promoted prince by pride, deception, manipulation and control. This is the spirit that underpins the spirit of this world and our fallen flesh. Whenever we engage in these types of heart attitudes we are moving in pride, and not being led by the Spirit.
In terms of the presence ha Nachash or Satan was moving in and out the throne of God. In this sense he is ranked highly. He had a contextual authority with respect to the throne of God. As to authority beyond that, however he is below the Elohim, the sons of God in the divine council; below the Arch-angels and very much below Jesus, whose Spirit and divine nature, by the way, inhabits you. Strictly speaking he is not an arch angel at all. Is he powerful. Yes. You need to understand that. Do you carry authority over him? Submitted and yielded to the Christ-life and the authority and power of the Holy Spirit and walking in willing obedience- yes, according to the sphere of influence God has given you. Will he flee from you if you turn to God- Yes, the Book of James tells us that. Our safest most powerful place against the works of the enemy is relationally fully yielded to the authority of God’s word and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Paul tells us that in Ephesians 6. In other words living fully immersed relationally through willing obedience to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. That is the predicate of fulfilling our commission in Matthew 28:18.
The spirit of this age and the spirit of the world will try to seduce you, tempt you or influence you or deceive you in to being your own authority or redesign God’s systems of authority, to get you to be self-appointed and unaccountable, unteachable and unreachable and independent in your life. In a postmodern world no one likes authority any more, if they ever have since the Garden of Eden. Australians never have! It is the evidence of a fallen world system and administrations of the spirit of this age.
I say all that to say this. In London God gave me a word for Gateway in this season. Ironically that word was brought last week by Ana. Let me read it to you from the Passion.
So wake up you living gateways! Lift up your heads, you ageless doors of destiny! Welcome the King of Glory, for he is about to come through you. You ask “Who is this Glory-King?” The Lord armed and ready for battle, the Mighty One, invincible in every way!”
What are we asleep in that we need to awake? The bigger story and the awareness of how the spiritual realities of the Kingdom realm and God’s dominion work into this world. This has been exactly what the Lord has been showing a few people including Kevin Zadai, who has punctuated the timing of this word. God is looking for a Spirit people who know who they are, what they are called to by way of God’s assignment to bring forward His Kingdom realm on earth as it is in heaven and who are willing to drive out darkness at every opportunity. We must come out of the thinking of the Stockholm syndrome and see where our affections and confidence really lie.
God is about to come through you. We are designed to carry God’s glory into the world. To do so we must become not only available to God by presenting ourselves completely to Him in willing yielded-hearts to the indwelling Holy Spirit and the new life within us but also obedient to every present word He is speaking to us so that we may reach others.
Many of us know Jesus as the Lamb. Few know Him as Jesus the Lion. But the church has completely lost sight of Jesus as the Lord of Hosts who rides on the clouds picking fights against the enemy for us to win.
Over the next few weeks I want to unpack some teaching around these things so that we will be equipped, empowered by the Holy Spirit and full of faith. That we will understand the fight we are in and how we can live as more than conquerors in Christ Jesus into this dark world so that Kings will come to our rising.
A PROPHESY OF INCREASE
What I have already mentioned is but a taste of what we need to gain revelation and understanding in. However this is a word I feel is for us today and into the months ahead. Hopefully you will see how it all fits together.
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. He noticed two fishing boats at the water’s edge with the fishermen nearby, rinsing their nets. Jesus climbed into the boat belonging to Simon Peter 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, we’ll 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 and the other fishermen- including his fishing partners, Jacob and John, the sons of Zebedee- were awestruck over the miracle catch of fish. Jesus answered, “Do not yield to your fear, Simon Peter. From now on you will catch men for salvation.”
I will unpack this word next week in other layers, but I want to suggest somethings to us today to close off and encourage you so that I comply with the spirit of prophecy as Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 14.
First, we have a choice. Are we going to be the crowd continually watching the event, or are we going to be those who press in past the crowd so we may hear Jesus clearly.
Second, are we willing to use our sphere of influence, in Peter’s case his boat which was his livelihood to become a platform so that Jesus can speak from our sphere to those around us?
Third, are we willing to put our sphere of influence and life into the deeper water even though we have been doing this faith journey all the while without too much of what we hoped for? Fishing all night without a result.
Fourthly, are we willing to get past what we have always done without success although what we know and have practiced for a long time to turn to hear God’s present word in our life?
Fifthly, are we willing and obedient to God’s present word even when it makes no sense to what we have been doing and practicing even the things we are skilled in.
If the answer is yes, are you are committed to that course, then the increase you have long desired will be available to you. For some of you it is a harvest of souls. God is releasing a spirit of evangelism where we have not been successful before. There is a sense of a new anointing that we have not operated in before. This is to be prophetic evangelism that is at the sound of His voice and the leading of the Holy Spirit. For some at another level, this means finance and increase in business. Peter was with his business partners. And at the sound of God’s present word, something he had been unsuccessful in all of a sudden in obedience to the present word became successful.
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