Author Archives: Guest Author

Beware the Gift by John Yates

Personal Matters

The first thing that came up on ABC news radio this morning (8/6/15) was the decision of Hillsong to cancel their invitation to controversial US pastor Mark Driscoll to speak at their upcoming conference. Until his dismissal last year Driscoll had seen Mars Hill Seattle grow from a lounge room meeting to a 10,000 plus megachurch. Since his leaving the church has effectively dissolved. There are some similarities with the case of Australia’s first televangelist Clark Taylor, whose ministry grew perhaps the largest church in the nation in the 70’s. He was forced to resign because of repeated infidelities. Whilst Taylor has been restored he comes to mind because I have recently been counselling someone whose family was devastated by his ministry. Both Taylor and Driscoll are extraordinarily gifted men of God. My thinking about the influence of giftedness actually began a few days prior to the ABC clip when I encountered several men confused about their relationship with the church because of the powerful influences of gifted leaders on their lives. I can personally remember occasions where I was drawn to men of great gifting, the results were always disastrous. “Beware the Gift” calls us to look through the minister of the gifts to the sole ministry of Christ to the glory of God the Father. Continue reading

Kingdom Business and the People of God

By Dale Fewson

Preface by Michael Fewson:

Since 2007 we have been led to engage in what we have come to understand as ‘Kingdom Business’. It is the vehicle through which we engage the world. It is not an ‘outreach’ – which can be an aside to our everyday living – but the surrender of our most fundamental purpose of life – work – to the obedience of faith for the advancement of the Kingdom. Rather than our work being a means of financing our lives it becomes the means by which we engage the world. Our ‘income’ will be derived from this place but it is an aside to our purpose of living the Kingdom in the midst of a society at odds with God. As our labour is surrendered to God’s will in a practical and real sense then He truly does become the source and supplier of our daily needs.

Dale wanted to address the team at Essence of Coffee (our – Living Way and AHI’s Kingdom Business) to encourage them to pursue Kingdom service as the purpose of our work. He was subsequently asked to share with the church that meets as Living Way. The following article has been adapted for general reading as it was directed to our particular setting but the content is the same.

Foundation

My wife and children are currently in the USA while I am here in Australia. The Lord has directed dad and mum (Michael and Lesley Fewson), along with my family and me to go to South Dakota to establish Kingdom Business as a means of mission to the USA. My visa did not get processed in time and I found myself having to remain in Australia.

During this time of separation, I have had time to examine my life and prayerfully consider the meaning of life: does the sum of all that I am, all that I do and all that I will be have a deeper meaning than ‘42’[1]. As a disciple of Jesus Christ I realised that to ponder life and its meaning would be a futile exercise if it were about the pursuit of self-actualization. As a result, the question that I constantly returned to and prayed about was, “how does the Church – which is the body of Christ; The Kingdom – which is the rule and reign of Christ; and Kingdom Business – which is a Christ-centred vehicle for market-place ministry[2], all fit together?” To be born into God’s Kingdom through Christ is to find purposeful living, therefore to understand the Church, the Kingdom and Kingdom service is to find fulfillment.

My aim for this article is to share with you where I’m at with these things and try to define the church, the kingdom, and our response to the calling of God in our lives and how our different roles/gifts in business play a part in it all.

I want to state here that I am looking from the perspective of our Kingdom Business ‘Essence of Coffee’ and those whose gifts and talents make up the team of ‘ministers’ as we meet and engage the world in the market place. This is specifically applicable to those who have established kingdom Businesses and are seeking to realize the distinction between a Christian in business and a Kingdom Business. But also, through prayerful consideration, these principles are applicable in each person’s sphere of Kingdom service.

I believe that as Kingdom business unfolds and a faithful people remain yielded to the rule and reign of Christ, the manifold wisdom of God will be revealed and God’s people can and will see an unlocking in three separate areas.  These are areas where the enemy seeks to keep us captive but where the Lord comes to set the captives free.  (For an Old Testament example, see Israel coming out of Egypt).

  1. Profits – We will see business profits remain in the hands of the people of God at a level unseen before.
  2. Time – We will be released and have more time to do greater works of service in cooperation with God’s leading by His Spirit in diverse spheres of influence.
  3. People – We will see more people saved, more people baptized, more people redeemed and freed from the bondages of sin and death.

My key quotes are from scripture, some of my father Michael Fewson’s blog posts and excerpts from his book ‘Will the Real Church Stand Up’ and also part of a book called ‘Set Apart For God’ by John Mulinde, a pastor from Uganda. I recommend this as a must-read for understanding one’s calling in relationship to the body of Christ.  Salvation is being brought into the body of Christ as a repentant and productive vessel for Christ’s life rather than the old life of division and individualism perpetuated.

The Church

Ephesians 5:22-27 & 32(NIV)

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansingher by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

Pascal Michel (pastor at Living Way in Perth) encapsulated the eternal plan of God when he said years ago, “That we would dwell in the trinity, in holy unity, for all eternity”.  At the end of the age, God’s ultimate plan will reach its fulfillment with His family dwelling in unity within the trinity.

For this to occur, man had to be united with God Himself.  The only way for man to be united with God was for God to become “one Flesh” with humanity.  God then worked salvation for mankind by fulfilling the righteous requirements of the law in Christ, delivering him to death for the sins of man and raising Him to life for our justification (Rom 4:25).  He ascended into heaven and sent His Holy Spirit, who from that point on, has been continuously at work calling out from the world those who are being saved.

Within the Church, God is working out His salvation in the lives of his children.

The church is the family of God. It is the environment in which citizens of the Kingdom meet and enjoy the fellowship of the Body of Christ and are given apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip the saints for works of service or to put it another way to participate within the body of Christ.

Christ is the head of the body and we are many members joined together to make up the church, which is the body. The head tells the body where to go and what to do. This is where the Kingdom comes into play.

The Kingdom

The Kingdom is the rule and reign of Jesus on earth. It has come, it is advancing forcefully, is growing dynamically, and determined people from generation to generation are laying hold of it and endeavouring to possess it even as they are possessed by it.

Luke 16:16

16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.

Phil 3:12-14

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

The Gospel specifically is the good news of the Kingdom: The Kingdom has come to all those who will embrace it. The Kingdom speaks of God’s exclusive right to rule and reign over all of creation and of human rebellion to that claim. The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus reveal God’s love of righteousness and justice and underlines God’s supreme right to rule and to be worshipped.  It also reveals God’s desire to be known and our need as His creation to know Him (Jn 17:3).

The work of Jesus Christ, now exalted and seated at the right hand of God the Father, contrasts the rebellion and active opposition that humanity finds itself embroiled in and willing participants of.

The Rebellion

The rebellion, which originated with Satan seeking to exalt himself above the most High, culminated in the fall of mankind.  Since the disobedience of Adam and Eve, who sought to ‘be as gods’, man has continued to pursue self-exaltation (Idolatry), the fullest expression of rebellion against God.

God’s response has been to declare His power and wisdom through the cross and to establish His King over all creation.   God the Father has declared Christ supreme over all things and through Christ declared his enmity towards the rebels, carried out their defeat and now works to put every enemy under Christ’s feet (Col 2:15; Lk 20:43) while redeeming people from every nation to be a holy nation belonging to God.

The culmination of that redemptive work will be experienced when the final enemy has been destroyed – death – at the consummation of His Kingdom (1Cor 15:20-28; Heb 2:8). For us who believe, it will mean the end of suffering, the end of bondage to sinful flesh, the end of mortality (experienced as disease, decay and death), the end of sorrow and tears; it will be eternal bliss experienced as joy, righteous freedom, immortality and peace.

Interestingly, the tactics that a rebel army uses are more of guerrilla warfare covertly waiting, ambushing and taking out the weak points. Rebel armies don’t usually have the power to wage an all out war on their enemy.

1 Pet 5:8-9 (NIV)

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.

So, as the body of Christ we are participating in the advancing Kingdom by continuing firm in our faith through which we are counted righteous by God and through which we participate in the divine nature.  (Rom 1:17; 2 Peter 1:4)

The practical aspects of living this way are outlined in Romans 8 as we are exhorted to remain in Christ led by the Holy Spirit with no condemnation and the promise of living in unity in the trinity with no threat or possibility of separation by external forces.

Our work in Kingdom business

Kingdom business is marketplace ministry through which we engage the world from the perspective of the Kingdom. Basically, every single person who is born-again and a child of God is to be actively engaged in the advancing Kingdom. It is a Spiritual Kingdom but it is experienced physically. This is the mistake many make. They think ‘their’ Christianity is ‘spiritual’ and the other stuff of this life is physical.

James 2:18.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

The reality of the Kingdom is that Jesus Christ is Lord OVER ALL. If we are His then He is Lord over all that we do, all that we engage in. So, your work is Kingdom if you are a Kingdom person. If you are not, then it is a personal – read self-ruling – form of self-sustainment.

Non-kingdom minded people see work as a form of financial self-sustainment rather than the creative purpose of God. In understanding that we are the body of Christ, man was created to be the feet of Christ that participates in the advance of the Kingdom through the gospel (see the armour of God) and the arms that stretch out to Him and receive it while stretching out to the world as fishers of men. The Kingdom is not simply some spiritual concept but a present reality in the lives of humanity, principally in the life of those who bow the knee to Jesus Christ.

This completely changes my approach to work and business. I’m reminded of a music joke that used to entertain me as a guitarist. What are lyrics? The time wasted between guitar solos. We can so easily see our work that way.  It can become the time wasted between times of service to God.

The church, the Kingdom and our role here on earth

The New Testament describes the principles of the Kingdom, the Old is an example of how God would have us live in the world in relation to the Kingdom and its principles. The OT people had no real experiential knowledge of this but God led their actions and their faith is recorded by obedience. We have both the example shown and the word proclaimed and we therefore are beholden to faith and obedience in Christ.

I see this unfolding in our lives. All things function for the sake of the body.  One of our brothers in the faith mentioned to me a few weeks back about how the tribes of Israel lived. I see how the body can be like the tribes of Israel where there are different skill-sets in different tribes but one body.  If we imagine all this animated and infused with the spirit and bringing the life and creativity of God, then we begin to see a people of one spirit, contending like one man for the faith and unafraid of any who oppose us (Phil 1:27) and yet moving with the diversity of the trinity and the manifold wisdom of God.

Jesus came preaching the gospel of the kingdom. When the disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray, Jesus told them that they were to pray that the kingdom of God would come and that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Then he taught them to pray for the body.  This is the likeness of God who speaks of Himself as a community in Gen 1:26.

Gen 1:26 (NIV)

 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

God created us to be part of His kingdom rule, which can only happen when we are part of His body.

I may believe that I am saved, I may worship and sing and do many things, but if my life is not fulfilling the will of God as a vessel to do God’s will then I am not living out God’s purpose for my being on the earth and therefore continuing in the rebellion. The children of God are set apart for God. Being set apart is all about the kingdom of God, about His will being done on earth.

I mentioned before that the church is the family. It is the environment in which citizens of the Kingdom meet and enjoy the fellowship of the Body of Christ and are equipped for works of service. Those works are works of faith done in the service of the King in our everyday work. Ministry is not what happens in a location or an environment called church, it is what happens wherever we are and this is inclusive of the workplace.

When I asked my father Michael what the purpose of Essence of Coffee (our Kingdom business) was, he said the following, which relates to all that are in the business but also directly applies to other businesses;

Essence Of Coffee (EOC) is a vehicle called into existence by Jesus Christ, established to be a Kingdom vehicle as a point of engagement with the world and in this case, our sphere of influence, that is, that we influence our community as ambassadors of Christ through the opportunities afforded by EOC.

But, we must never forget to be wise stewards of the vehicle provided. Just as the Ark was a means of conveying and identifying the presence of God so too EOC is a vehicle given by God – not that EOC in anyway reflects or resembles the Ark of the Covenant. I am only saying that we must cherish any God-given vessel.

There are many vehicles used by Christ as points of engagement and as places of training for righteous engagement.  It is a place where godly young people can interact with the world in a safe and supportive environment. I remember working in the world and the difficulties and temptations not to reflect Christ where I was and the political oughts placed upon me. In worldly employment, we exchange our service for money and are subject to employers’ rules.

The benefits of working in a Kingdom Business are many. It is a place of engaging the world from our own ground. We are free to speak, to act and to live in service to God in the midst of the world. We meet them on our territory. The opportunities to preach Christ through our lives become endless. Recently a customer asked one of our young people out on a date. The young family member had a safe and secure place from which to decline the ‘invitation’ without pressure from others to conform to their standards. They were free to say no because of their commitment to Christ and because of their unwillingness to engage the try before you buy wind of doctrine, which comes from the world. It is also a place of discipleship because they didn’t know how to answer the question in a way that preached Christ. And so they were able, even at work, to seek the advice of Pascal their pastor who was able to help them and equip them for this.

Many members but one body

1 Corinthians 12:20-30 (NIV)

20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 

The local church is an extraordinary group of men and women.  We are committed to Christ and His Kingdom and to each other in covenantal love. No one is considered greater than the other as we serve each other in humility, yet we recognize the unique gifts and callings that God has given to each individually. The older need to teach the younger and make room for each person to fulfill the role that God has gifted them specifically to fill.

In Mark 4, Jesus finished off the parable of the sower with the words “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” The temptation for all believers is to resist the word when it comes.  Youth can suffer from the arrogant pride of strength, a sense of indestructibility and visionary knowledge while the older generations can be rendered unable to hear through a sense of having heard it all before making them have a  lack a hunger to keep hearing God speak.  Let us obediently pursue having ears to hear what the Spirit has to say.

[1] A reference to “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’s ultimate question: what is the meaning of life, the universe and everything in it!”

[2]God has created us to work (Gen 2:15 and to work is a gift from Him (Eccl 5:19; 8:15). At AHI we recognise that work is kingdom service and is sacred. That to be in business is to be in the market place as servants of God’s advancing kingdom. As such, kingdom purposes shape and drive our kingdom businesses. We seek always to be led in business by the Spirit of the Lord (Rom 8:14).

Space: A Vision of Total Discipleship

Written by John Yates

Introduction

In the midst of a conversation dealing with the contemporary discipleship crisis, I sensed forcefully the Spirit saying that every space is holy and created for the making of disciples. This teaching is a call for disciple-making in a global context, for this is where the wisdom of God has confronted Western Christianity with two movements that expose its impotency. The first of these is radical Islam.

The power of Islam is that it offers a unified vision of all of life: religion, politics, culture, economics, family and so on are a seamless whole. An Islamic theocracy sees no need to allow its citizens “space to choose”1; the all embracing requirements of Allah require only submission. Lacking the power of genuine religion (2 Tim 3:5) most Western Christians either pretend that true Islam is a “peaceful religion” or resort to political rhetoric. This is because mainstream affluent Christian culture has succumbed to foundational influences emanating from the other global movement of today, postmodernism.

Postmodernism is a complete socio-cultural phenomenon2 which absolutises the place of the individual. A postmodern worldview3 is deeply suspicious of any ideology or institution that impinges upon their personal right to choose. Others can live how they wish, as long as it does not impinge upon my chosen lifestyle4. In the postmodern view God is reduced to a means to a more comfortable lifestyle.

Without a new and total vision of reality, free from both the constraints of exterior authoritarianism, as in Islam, and rampant individualism, as in postmodernism, the Western church is doomed to continuing powerlessness. This paper is an attempt to outline such a vision.

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Marriage and the Covenant of spirits

Article by John Yates: Preface by Michael Fewson

The following article by John Yates touches on a foundational matter as he speaks of  ‘the Father of spirits’ specifically within the context of marriage. This fits well with what I have been meditating on and speaking about from Heb 13:5-6 “God has said… therefore we can say with confidence…” The precursor to this (Heb 13:4) is the mandate; “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

I pray you are enlightened by this article:

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Resurrection Presence

By John Yates

Introduction

An article headed Joe Dakuitoga well-versed in ways of miracles, underscored by the citation, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13) recently appeared in our national newspaper1.

Joe is the national coach of the Fiji rugby team, he is quoted, “”We believe God is going to give us the strength. We pray to the almighty God that he will give us the spirit and courage to play against Australia.””I said we have a lot of prayers – everyone in Fiji is praying for us.” Big Joe then refers to Philippians 4:13….Its message is one of faith and belief that with God’s help, anything can be achieved at any given time in any given circumstance.”

Fiji is not a Western nation, but why can’t such a God- consciousness be our portion? Is the Lord prejudiced against affluent folk in general and whites in particular? Or is there a message that will grip church and culture like justification by faith did in the sixteenth century, holiness in the time of Wesley, kingdom care for the poor when the Salvation Army was born, or power from on high at the onset of Pentecostalism. God has a particular message for different times and seasons in history that somehow impacts the spirit of the age and ignites a reviving work. This is the focus of the present teaching.

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  1. The Weekend Australian 15- 16 November 17, 2008 p.53 []

Rivers of Love flowing from Above: Blood and Water

By John Yates

My soul is filled with boundless love
Whilst gazing on the precious blood,
I catch the rays of Jesus’ face
Transfixed in me, the Throne of Grace.
Wonders beyond the human mind
Rushing into me, a Life Divine;
I feel the Power of the Holy Dove,
And speak in Tongues of things above. (Smith Wigglesworth)1

Introduction

Wigglesworth’s ecstatic poetry flowed out of an overwhelming spiritual experience in the Sunderland revival (1907), which emphasized the connection between the cross and the Spirit. His testimony illustrates what I believe God is saying today:

“She [Mrs. Boddy] laid her hands on me and then had to go out of the room. The fire fell. It was a wonderful time as I was there with God alone. He bathed me in power. I was conscious of the cleansing of the precious Blood, and I cried out: ‘Clean! Clean! Clean!’ I was filled with the joy of the consciousness of the cleansing. I was given a vision in which I saw the Lord Jesus Christ. I beheld the empty cross, and I saw Him exalted at the right hand of God the Father. I could speak no longer in English but I began to praise Him in other tongues as the Spirit of God gave me utterance.”

In prayer I recently sensed rivers of love flowing through the streets of Perth, these were grounded in the connection between the blood of the cross and the gift of the Spirit. When the church enters into the intimate connection between the cleansing power of the blood of the cross and the outpouring of the Spirit revival occurs. The principal evidence of such a work of God is the adoration of the slain Lamb (Jesus).

A Vision of the End

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Rev 22: 1- 2).

This vision brackets2 “God and the Lamb”, indicating the intimate relationship between the Father and the Son. Since in John’s imagery living water symbolises the Holy Spirit,3 the vision symbolically reveals the Spirit flows out to heal humanity from the union of the Father and the Lamb.4 In Revelation the identity of the Lamb is the one slain (5:6, 12; 13:8), who has shed his blood (7:14; 12:11) to cleanse and redeem from sin (1:5; 5:6). This makes him the object of perpetual adoration (5:12- 13; 7:9- 10; 14:4; 15:3; 19:7).

The connection between the blood of Christ and the Spirit in the experience of a Christian derives from Jesus own experience of death and resurrection. It is Jesus himself who must first come into an experience of cleansing and be led to the living water of the Spirit. The vision of the End is grounded in a vision of the cross.

 A Vision of the Cross

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness-his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth-that you also may believe.”(John 19:28 – 35)

In crying “I thirst”, Jesus is not merely longing for physical water but for the life giving power of the Spirit5 His spiritual desolation is part of the cost of taking the burden of our sin, it is his share in our rejection of God’s super- abundant spiritual supply, “they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters” (Jer 2:13). In sharing in our state of forsaking God, Jesus experiences forsakenness for us6 He feels dry and lifeless for he enters into the endless thirst of the damned7( Jesus laid himself down in “the dust of death” (Ps 22:15).

In John’s account, “blood and water” flow out of Jesus pierced side together, and the apostle relates his seeing this event to “bearing witness” and “true testimony” that others “may believe” (19:35). Clearly, the combination of “blood and water” had a powerful impact on his conscience. This is because in John’s Gospel Jesus is glorified through the cross8 When the dying Christ utters his last words, “It is finished” (19:30), this signified for John as an eye – witness Jesus’ translation to glory. In the symbolic world of the Gospel of John the outflow of blood and water prophetically conveys forgiveness and life in the Spirit from the Lamb (John 1:29) who is enthroned on the cross9 John’s witness to the death of Jesus has the same essential meaning and witness value as the final vision of the water from the throne in Revelation. The blood of the Lamb (cleansing) and the Spirit of God (power) are poured out with equal grace and freedom.

The resurrection seals the effectiveness of the cross. Jesus was “made alive in the Spirit” (1 Pet 3:18). The Father poured out the life giving streams of the Spirit to raise his Son out of the state of death. Jesus’ hope was not put to shame, because God’s love was poured into his heart through the Holy Spirit who was given to him.10

The Power of Pure Testimony: what the Blood means to us

The blood of Christ is a major theme in the New Testament. The atoning power of the blood of Jesus to reconcile sinners to God is expressed by all the major terms for salvation.11 The profusion of references to the blood of Jesus indicates its dynamic importance in the salvation experience of early believers. They were amazed that the death of Jesus transformed an outpouring of wrath12 into an outpouring of the Spirit. Having been through “hell’s flames” on the cross and passed through “heaven’s gates” in the resurrection, Jesus can bear full witness to what his cleansing blood has saved us from and what he has brought us to.

“What the cross cleanses, the Spirit fills.” (Roy Hession). Calvary must precede Pentecost, cleansing must precede infilling.13 Where the blood is seen in its cleansing – forgiving power, the Spirit is thankfully received as the Spirit of grace.14

Something must happen deep inside for the human heart to allow itself to be infilled by God. The human conscience can be described as the moral faculty of the heart, it witnesses to us, like an inner judge, of what is good for us and evil to us. In our corrupted state the conscience typically accuses God and defends itself.15 When the Word of the cross16 regenerates the human heart it reveals that the power of God’s Spirit is given to bless and not destroy. Crucified love is revealed as absolutely trustworthy and God in Christ as worthy of all our love in return. In seeing the blood of Christ as cleansing and not accusing, the conscience now welcomes God as a friend, the gate of the heart is opened17 and the love of the Spirit pours in. From the perspective of the experience of the convert, “the blood cleanses the water”,18 in the light of the cross the omnipotent Spirit is no longer seen as our Judge.

Purified Ministry

There is no shortage of gifts in the church today;19 the river of God is always flowing (even as a trickle). Where however the church’s total ministry of the Word20 lacks the power to penetrate the human condition, bringing about radical repentance, healings and deliverances, it must be that the river of God has become polluted by idols.21 We are not experiencing the outpouring of the “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal”22 because the church has not “kept itself from idols” (1 John 5:21). Idols such as money, success, status, reputation, self- interest, ambition, man- pleasing have diluted and muddied the presence of the Spirit23 because the conscience is not clean.

Even though ministry in the Word may be conducted in the Spirit, the conscience needs first to be transformed by this truth “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Heb 9:14). Only the joint testimony of the two witnesses, blood and Spirit, has the authority of God to persuade our conscience that ALL is forgiven. Until this happens “dead works” abound among the children of God.24

For the spiritual life of the church on earth to faithfully image the life of heaven the testimony of our heart and conscience must conform to the testimony of scripture that the blood of Jesus has purified the throne room of God in heaven25 allowing us unfettered access26 to the place from which the Spirit flows. The cleansed human conscience is the holy place where heaven and earth meet, when the conscience accepts the testimony of the Lamb’s blood that God’s holy judgement has been satisfied the heart is necessarily open to the Spirit’s power.

Since from the heart “flow the springs of life” (Prov 4:23), ministry that issues from a blood cleansed conscience is a pure stream of love. Flowing out to those around it, this love, ablaze with the love of the slain Lamb, is experienced by others as trustworthy and in this way penetrates into the very depths of the human condition bringing repentance, conversion, healing, deliverance.

Conclusion

“We have, as never before, adored the Lamb that was slain.” (Alexander Boddy, leader of the Sunderland revival)

Every now and then in the history of the church the full force of the redeeming work of the cross breaks into human life in the power of the Spirit. At this point men and women offer themselves up in sacrificial love to God – to the point of death – in the same manner as Jesus offered himself up to us. At this point, the point of the cross, spiritual rivers flow in the desert;27 rivers of love flow in the streets of a city even as the river of life flows through the middle of the street of the heavenly city of God. These are not two rivers but one, the power of the eternal river of God surges among the society of man – even in this time of fallenness, such is the miracle of grace. Nothing less than such an event is worthy of the slain Lamb. This is what it is all about. It is for this manifestation of the blood and water that we must pray.

  1. Wigglesworth (1859 – 1957) was an English Pentecostal pioneer who became famous through his revival meetings that included many healings and prophecies. []
  2. Note that it does not say “thrones” (plural) of God and the Lamb. []
  3. “Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit.” (John 7:37- 39) []
  4. This relates to a very contentious issue in church history that has long divided the Western from Eastern (Orthodox) churches. It is the clearest biblical evidence that the Father and the Son equally give the Spirit. []
  5. “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Ps 63:1). []
  6. “”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34). This is the exact opposite of the supreme Spirit inspired cry of Sonship, “Abba, Father!” (Mark 14:36; Rom 8:15 – 16) []
  7. The thirst of the rich man in Hades could never be satisfied (Luke 16:24) []
  8. “Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” []
  9. The inscription on the cross, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” (Matt 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:19) makes a similar point – Jesus reigns in death. []
  10. This is what makes possible our hope and reception of love in the Spirit (Rom 5:6). []
  11. Forgiveness (Matt 26:28; Eph 1:7; Heb 9:22); justification (Rom 5:9); propitiation (Rom 3:25); cleansing (1 John 1:7); peace (Col 1:20; Heb 13:20); ransom (1 Pet 1:18- 19). []
  12. 28 verses use wrath “poured out” in the English Standard Version. []
  13. Commenting on the outpouring of the Spirit upon the Gentiles, Peter explains, “And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:8- 9). A similar sequence is found in the logic of Romans 5:5 – 9, 1. Christ died for us 2. His blood justifies us 3. Therefore, God pours out the Holy Spirit. []
  14. Whilst referring to a different context, these ideas appear together in Hebrews 12:29, “How much worse punishment will be deserved by the one who…profaned the blood of the covenant…and outraged the Spirit of grace.” []
  15. Hence the description of the heart and sin as “deceitful” e.g. Jer 17:9; Heb 3:13. []
  16. 1 Cor 1:18 []
  17. Compare “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). []
  18. Commentators are divided over the meaning of 1 John 5:6- 9. “This is he who came by water and blood-Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.” One interpretation is that “came by water and blood” refers to a continuous spiritual coming (symbolized by water) into the life of the believer because of the death of Jesus (blood). The Spirit is the one who bears witness to this reality; hence John’s own testimony in this passage. []
  19. “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Rom 11:29) []
  20. In the very broadest sense, not simply pulpit preaching. []
  21. For example, “All the officers of the priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. And they polluted the house of the Lord that he had made holy in Jerusalem.” (2 Chron 36:14), “write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols” (Acts 15:20). See also Psalm 106:38; Jeremiah 16:18. []
  22. This signifies its ability to purify from the defilement of sin i.e. guilt and shame. []
  23. What older writers would call a “mixture” of flesh and Spirit. []
  24. This was a core part of the message of David Wilkerson in his visit to Perth in October 2005. []
  25. “he entered once for all into the holy places… by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” (Heb 9:12). []
  26. “we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus….22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience” (Heb 10:19,22). []
  27. “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isa 43:19) []