The new covenant promised in Jeremiah 31:33-34 declares that God “will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.” Unlike the old covenant of external laws and sacrifices, this is a covenant of the heart and mind. An internal covenant sealed with the indwelling Spirit of God.
The new birth begins with a new heart. This is the act of God through the blood of Jesus. Having been received a new heart we are compelled by Apostle Paul:
Rom 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…NIV
So the heart that is towards God is a result of the new birth whereas the mind that is towards God is what we grow into. The maturing process, which leads to a life of ever increasing glory; that is being to the praise of His glory; is I believe found in the ‘Posture of our Minds’. (See Part I of Posture of the Mind)
The mind of God or an earthly mind
Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you…”
Jesus began to explain to his disciples … that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Jesus … said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!”
What a remarkable turn of events. One moment Peter is being praised by Jesus for his profound insight into the things of God and the next he is being rebuked by Jesus and called a stumbling block who does not ‘have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’
This highlights what I am saying about promoting famous people or famous testimonies. Having a revelation from God is not the same as having a mind towards God. Peter had a profound revelatory experience when he declared Jesus to be the Christ, Son of the living God. At this time Jesus reminds Peter of his ‘new name’ – Simon, son of Jonah – this is who you once were but now in Christ you are to be a new creation with a new name – I tell you that you are Peter.
It seems that Peter fell into the trap of believing that this revelation said something about Peter, rather than realising it was simply God speaking of His Son through Peter. So our hero became – in his own mind – the font of all revelation and wisdom to the point of speaking whatever he thought.
Peter’s posture expresses his mind when he rebuked Jesus. He spoke with the ‘wisdom’ of men. Jesus was the messiah. He could not die because he was going to rule. Therefore Jesus must not talk like that. I am now the ‘man of God’ who has been called and even received a powerful revelation, therefore my reasoning and judgement is right.
This may sound ludicrous in light of what we know but how often have we heard ‘men of God’ speak nonsense in the name of God? Years ago a well known evangelist declared that God said if he did not raise a million dollars God would take him home. Is this ‘the things of God’ or ‘the things of men’?
I recently was sent an email calling for overseers to pray for an apostle who had encountered financial trouble. As a consequence, I believe, of the prevalent teaching that God is going to ‘unlock’ extreme wealth for the Kingdom through apostles, this man had entered into a business arrangement with a coffee shop chain to be the sole distributor of that franchise in their county. I am sure that the promise seemed great and would have been accompanied by biblical/Christianised rhetoric but was it ‘the mind of God’? This venture has failed and the man and his family face financial ruin.
Haven’t we learned anything? Wasn’t this sort of thing prevalent in the 1980s and 90s? I know personally church overseers who went to prison for various get-rich-through-prophetic-business schemes and church members who lost their homes and life savings built on the same promises. Often the justification is that God wants, nay requires, His Holy Church to take the nations and that now, through the abundance of wealth that He will pour into the church through anointed wealthy businessmen, God’s people would finally be the head and not the tail. Naturally there is a minor addendum that they would all get wealthy in the process – for the glory of God though.
The rhetoric is the same, but like Peter, it does not come from the mind of God but the mind of men whose posture is not of faith but of pride and lust. It is more appealing to be a person of wealth or prominence than to hang with Jesus on the cross. Like the Israelites in the dessert, they wished they had a promised land but there posture was towards eating with the Egyptians.
The great lesson for ascension gifts to learn here is that we must have minds that are renewed. If our posture is towards God then we will not feel compelled to ‘succeed’. We will not ‘require great amounts of money’ to fulfil God’s ‘mandate’. We will trust that Jesus’ response to Peter will actually come to pass…
…on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
Peter discovered who Jesus was through Spirit revelation. He then had the privilege of discipleship – Jesus explained how He would accomplish God’s mandate and that Peter would participate with Him in it. This knowledge and the intimate discipleship to be received would empower Peter with the keys of the Kingdom – the message of the cross of Jesus Christ received by the grace of God and empowered through the Spirit who imparts faith to believe – and by these keys you will have authority to bind and loose1. (Just before Jesus ascended he gave those keys to His disciples. In Mat 28:18 He declared that He alone had all authority in heaven and on earth, and they were to go in His name to make disciples.)
Peter, in his exuberance perhaps, tried to apply all of this before he had learned the ‘secret’ of a renewed mind. Fortunately for Peter, he was a disciple first… he was in a place to be corrected by a man who had no fear of losing disciples but a willingness to make disciples. Peter was rebuked and ceased from pursuing the ‘mind of men’ and learned to wait on God.
Matt 17:1-8 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. NIV
Once again we have a great lesson from Peter about what not to do. Here Peter has been taken into an exclusive encounter with God. He has experienced a particular manifestation. Rather than glorifying God for that experience the earthly mind wants to enshrine it.
We are not really told what Peter was thinking but my cynical mind can come up with some thoughts based on what has been seen in recent history. Let’s put this on YouTube for everyone to see – for God’s glory of course. Maybe people will come to our meetings and get saved? Though there may be a ‘few’ curious Christians that will come, so we can take up a few more offerings – to further the gospel naturally.
Hasn’t this been the case concerning ‘revivals’ of late? We hear of people ‘catching the fire’ after a visit to the place where the fire ‘sprang up’ and taking that fire with them. People running here and there looking for a visitation of Jesus and being ‘sold’ an experience.
When Peter said, let’s build three shelters/tabernacles was he trying to humanise God by locating him? When the Samaritan woman spoke to Jesus she queried the location of worship but Jesus told her that worship was not a location but a spiritual position or posture (John 4:20-24).
In Luke 17:20-37 Jesus warns of the last days and what to be aware of. Though you will hear of me in this place or that don’t go running off after them. It is noticeable that Jesus reiterates, ‘the Kingdom of God is within you’.
When Peter began to outline his plans to ‘market’ this manifestation God spoke; this is my Son, it’s with him that I am pleased, stop thinking like earthly men and get the posture of your mind right – this is my Son, listen to him!
Ascension gifts, and especially those who are called apostles, must learn that God cannot be humanised by us. He chose His humanisation as being Jesus Christ. By humanising God I am referring to our need to turn God, His Word and His presence into a packageable commodity that can be easily accepted by earthly minds. Though we justify it with Christian rhetoric it is still earthly mindedness.
To be continued…
- cf Mat 18:18; 28:18 ↩