God wants to build His church as:
– a living Body of Christ
– reflecting His nature
– containing His power
– being a channel of His witness in the world.
The greater has yet to consume the lesser. We have to get a grasp of who we are as leaders in God. We have got to submit our lives to something that is much greater than what normally grasps our attention. See what takes your energy away – small things, demands of people, economics etc. We look into these things and find that we are disabled. We need to bring our lives in line with the vision God has for it and the vision He has for His Body and then we will be enabled to meet the challenge of the other things.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Matthew 1:19,20 –
The Holy Spirit did something in the womb of Mary that fulfilled the will of God for that moment. Mary was willing for something supernatural to take place in her. Out of her came the living body that was to contain the Living Word of God – “in the beginning was the Word and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1). God prepares a body for His revelation through Jesus – “a body you have prepared for me” (Hebrews).
Galatians 4:19 –
Spirit of God is looking for a body, not a physical body, but a spiritual body that will bring forth Christ in its generation. The nation needs a credible body of people who will manifest the reality, nature and power of the Holy Spirit.
This is God’s greatest ambition:
i. Evangelicals – God’s greatest ambition to get people saved but this is just stage one of the process
ii. Charismatics – individual blessing of people – danger from this is that we can have a self-orientated religion, the greatest aim of which is to bring satisfaction or self-awareness to people. Danger of becoming quite worldly, especially in the language used.
God’s greatest aim to build a temple by His Spirit in which God will dwell by His Spirit (Ephesians 2:20-22) – simple yet profound truth.
Just as God found a willing and obedient servant in Mary, He is looking for people in this generation, as in every generation, a willing servant in whom “Christ will be formed”. No longer the physical Jesus – the name ‘Jesus’ is associated with the ministry and the death and the resurrection of the Son of God. “You will call His name Jesus for He will save the people from their sins”. Peter added to this – “this same Jesus whom you crucified, God has made both Lord and Christ.” When we are preaching to people we must always preach the Lordship of Christ. “If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord – you will be saved”.
But there is another emphasis. When Paul speaks of the Lord Jesus he nearly always speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ, or Christ Jesus, ‘The Lord’. This is because the present ministry of the Son of God is an ascended, glorified ministry in His Christ-hood.
Peter – “He has received the promised Holy Spirit, which He is pouring out, which you both now see and hear.” And we are the recipient of that outpouring ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What Paul is aiming for is ‘Christ-likeness’, it is more than character, it is active ministry, it is power, it is the out-pouring of Christ-ministry.
God is looking for a body today that will set aside every other consideration and in whose lives and corporate life together there can be an expression of the life and ministry of Christ Himself.
– That as He is ‘the anointed’ we become ‘the anointed ones’.
– That as He is living in the power of an endless life, we will live in the power of an endless life.
– As He is living in eternal compassion and intercession, that will be the same in us.
That the gifts of the Spirit will be the evidence or sign of something much deeper than just a little ‘ism’.
Part of what Spirit and Word means is not just that I am baptised in the Holy Spirit and I read my Bible, but that we, as a people, are empowered by the Spirit of God and that we are walking in the mind of Christ, the revelation of Christ (1 Corinthians 2) – “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him – but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit”. This is the most important line.
The burden on my heart today is to energise the Body of Christ to reach up to the greater vision. So often we can be dominated by things that are of lesser importance, but the Holy Spirit wants us to catch the reality of the tremendous vision that God has for us who are the Body of Christ. Some people would say, “that is impractical”. But what is impractical is when we go on doing the job and not having the vision!
A spiritual vision sets us free and rises us above the mundane.
When people used to speak to me about this I objected to it because I identified it with Latter Rain teaching and the view that in the very last moment before the Second Coming we would be a totally perfect church, that is not what I am preaching.
I believe that the New Testament urges us to open our heart to be the best that we can be in God. This might be a last generation message but in actual fact we are responsible in our generation to open our hearts and make a determined effort, in the Spirit of God, to be the best that we can be. Sometimes we say that that is not possible, because we don’t want it to be possible, we don’t actually want to cease our divisions; we know that we have pride in our life, yet I believe that the Holy Spirit is really challenging us to open our hearts to the reality that must come if God is to pour out His Spirit in revival in these days.
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
This is not a sentimental romantic notion but the result of seeing the greater rather than the lesser. It is the inheritance of men and women of God to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. To stand up in God, to be delighted in God, to be restored in God and to know who they are in God. There are many times in life (with good reason) when we can feel cast down as though the best has been, but that is not God’s way. God is a God of restoration and redemption. The way He does it is by filling our spiritual eyesight with a vision of Himself and a vision of His best which releases us from the lesser things.
Ephesians 5:22-33 –
The Body of Christ
We misunderstand what the New Testament means by ‘the body’. We often use the term ‘body’ when we mean a ‘collection of people’, and we have dislocated it from the New Testament sense. We take Ephesians 5 as being about husbands and wives first and the analogy as being about the church but reading it as Paul says it, it is the other way around. “This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church. The two will become one flesh.” This puts a completely different complexion on what is meant by one body.
“We are members of His body” – not a club or fellowship. “The thing which is conceived in you, Mary, is of the Holy Spirit. You have become a body in which Jesus is seeded and you will bring forth Jesus in your generation.”
“Now I am under the birth pangs of labour”, says Paul, “until Christ is (seeded) formed in you.”
Who, in our generation, is going to become pregnant with Christ?
In 1 Corinthians 12 when Paul speaks about the members of the body, it is the very physicality that contains the spiritual thing. God is looking for a body today that will become pregnant with Christ and in our generation produce Christ and all that Christ is to be manifested. Not in a physical sense, but spiritually, so that everything Christ is – His life, His anointing, His power, His character, His gifting can be released in the power of His Spirit in our generation. That is Spirit and Word. The first word that Jesus said publicly was “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me”.
Just as a physical Man appeared anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Word of God for His generation, so today, that Man who is in heaven as the Christ can express Himself still in a contemporary world where truth is absent, where life is absent, where hope is absent, so that He can be embodied again in our generation in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Example: testimony of the life of Father Ian Pettit.
God is looking for a body of people who will be connected by spiritual tissue, who will say I am willing to die to myself, to die to the negative things, to the trivialities and I am willing to let God’s glory effuse itself through my being. I am willing to bring Christ forth in the Spirit in my generation. (The revelation of the glory of God)
The only thing that is strong enough to lift us up in a new way of being is when God reveals Himself in power and we catch the glory of that in our life. When God speaks this into our hearts it brings a liberty that enables us to run free in God.
The Excellence of the Glory of God
2 Corinthians 3 –
When we see the reality of what God wants to do there is something of excellence that we want to pertain to, it pulls us up.
Peter Taylor Forsyth – “A gospel that gets deep enough has all the breadth in the world that it needs.”
God says to us that he wants to conceive something in us, beyond our being ‘born again’. There is a progressive nature to this. Christ’s purpose in us as the Body, especially as leadership, is to bring for the reality of Christ in our generation.
Francis Frangipane – talks about the virgin giving birth. Our idea of virginity is someone who has not had sexual relations, but in fact we have all been corrupted by the world, whether it is physical or not. How can we become virgins again? The other idea of the Virgin is one who is set apart, who is chosen, where someone says, “you are mine”. If we stop there for a moment and let the Lord grip our heart with that sense of drawing then I believe that it will lead to the redemption of the other. There needs to be a willingness in spirit that we belong to the Lord. This is the real thing that the world needs.
1. Are we willing for something incredible to happen in us?
2. Mary was willing to accept the consequences of God’s choice of her – ‘you are highly favoured’. Are we willing to carry the implications of God’s choice of us?
3. Mary was willing to deny her own desires, so that God’s processes could be fulfilled in her. In a practical sense, Mary and Joseph denied themselves, they had no sexual intercourse until God’s promise of Jesus was brought to fulfilment.
If God wants to do a finished work in me, it will take a commitment and a single-mindedness, because so many other things cram in. We have got to let God’s processes be fulfilled in our lives. We need perseverance and determination of spirit. Be single-minded in letting it work.
Not one of us, not one fellowship is the total Body of Christ. The mystery is that we will probably never see the whole Body of Christ. That is why we need the revelation of the Body of Christ so that we can be faithful to that where we are. In a global sense Christ can be produced and we will not become a dead part of the Body, neither our life, our ministry or our fellowship.
4. Mary was willing to accept what God promised instead of what the circumstances said. Despite the conditions of the birth of Jesus (in a stable) and the early years (flight into Egypt), it was said, “He will be the Son of the Most High”.
This sort of belief is very difficult if you go to a little tin tabernacle somewhere and struggle through a meeting … But in actual fact some of the greatest saints have lived through those circumstances not because that is how God wants those circumstances to be, but because, in their hearts, they lived with a vision that was greater than the circumstances.
You will never produce anything greater unless you live in it. A person who lives with a greater vision in their heart and allows that vision to control them will not be suppressed by the circumstances. They will change the circumstances. They will become fruitful in the circumstances and things will happen. Until we live with a vision we will never change anything.