1. Commanded Presence and Power
I want to share with you some things I have been seeing in the Spirit in the last few days (Acts 2:17; Rev 1:10). The exciting thing about these insights is that they have about them a presence of Jesus that I can only recall sensing twice before. The first time was when I commanded someone to receive the power of God in a church meeting in Argentina, the second time when I commanded, in the name of Jesus, power to strike some drunken aboriginal men in a demonized outdoor setting in Alice Springs. On both occasions the people simply collapsed under the divine presence. This is the sort of authority that is about to be released in Perth.
Let me establish that this “commanded presence” is biblical. In the recorded New Testament accounts of the healings and deliverances performed by Jesus and the apostles, they characteristically command transformation in a person’s life situation. For example, Christ commands the paralytic man, “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” (Mark 2:11), he exercises dominion over nature, “he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm.” (Luke 8:24). Peter commands the cripple, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6); Paul does the same to a man disabled from birth, “[Paul]said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking.” (Acts 14:10).
The point I am making here is that Jesus and the apostles do not intercede for situations, but forcefully state the will of God. They do not ask in prayer for God to act, but proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God with power and watch its manifestation. (Not that intercession for illness etc. is inappropriate e.g. Matt 6:10; James 5:13- 18.)
The explanation for this “commanded presence” is found in the words Jesus spoke to Peter about how he would build the church, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt 16:19). Literally, the text reads, “shall have been bound” “shall have been loosed”. The apostles are to speak out decisions that have already been made in heaven. This means that if their discernment in the Spirit is accurate, the transforming power of God will infallibly be released for the situation into which they are speaking. This is exactly what we see in the narrative of the power events of the New Testament, first in Jesus’ own life (John 5:19) and then in the apostolic mission.
2. What the Lord is Revealing
For some months now the Lord has been opening my eyes to see the “treasure in earthen vessels”; that is the beauty and grace of Christ in the lives of his children. This has been most striking in the case of my marriage, but has been extending more and more widely – to his gifts in other believers, to the distinctive graces that are in each of the races that are sovereignly part of the church in Perth: indigenous spiritual sensitivity, white Australian pioneering spirit, Chinese business wisdom, African prayer passion and so on.
We can perhaps better grasp what this revealed beauty means in terms of the background behind Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:6 – 7, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”. In the ancient world, wealthy people would sometimes put on display their jewels and precious metal ornaments in cheap clay pots. The contrast between the common container and the precious objects would make the latter appear even more resplendent. We are the “jars of clay” and the indwelling Christ, “the hope of glory” (Col 1:27), is the treasure.
What is new, what Jesus began to show me yesterday, is that at this point of time, just as he commanded light to shine at the beginning of the universe (Gen 1:2; 2 Cor 4:6), so he is now commanding his uncreated light to shine through the precious stones and to illuminate the finery within his people (Matt 5:16; Eph 5:8; 1 Thess 5:5). As this light shines through our hearts, as through a set of multi-coloured prisms made up of diamond, turquoise, ruby, emerald, sapphire etc. (cf. Rev 21:11, 22) the result will be the many hued spectral glory of God. This is the cloud of the shekinah glory of God (Ex 16:10; Matt 24:30; Acts 1:9 etc.).
In New Testament Terms this is the fulfilment of Paul’s apostolic vision for the nations, “To …preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”(Eph 3:8- 10). The word translated in English “manifold” or “rich variety”, is a very rare term that is related to Joseph’s “coat of many colours” (Gen 37:3, Greek O.T.). By his sovereign command “let there be light”, Jesus is about to reveal the breadth of his glory amongst us, with power.
Suddenly, I believe, we will see a release of all the gifts and graces we read of in the New Testament, have heard of in past revivals, and are occurring among the nations of the developing world – unparalleled wisdom, miracles, healings, deliverances from demonic oppression, household salvations, massive provision to the poor and so on.
Why now someone might ask. Only now is Christ beginning to assemble from across this city and state men and women who “worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—” (Phil 3:3). These are those who stand with Paul in stating, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal 6:14).
3. The Danger and the Stumbling
This has not happened before in Perth because much of the church has been, and still is, obsessed with what the apostle prohibits, “So let no one boast in men” (1 Cor 3:21). Jesus is tired of people looking at the vessels of clay and not seeing the fullness of his glory which the lost world so desperately needs. Surely, the age of the super- pastor, spiritual entrepreneur and charismatic personality is coming to an end. The time is fast advancing when men and women will say, “Only Jesus could have done this! Glory to God alone!” The danger of stumbling in the future is the same factor that has kept us from a deep spiritual awakening for so long – that we will put our trust in human beings and not in God alone (Ps 20:7).
This word, which is so hopeful and motivating, therefore concludes with a warning, if we see men and women moving in the might, power and presence of God, and we attribute to them, in any degree, what is the glory of Christ, the light that shines so brightly will begin to dim, and perhaps the last state will be worse than the first.
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” (2 Cor 4:6 – 7).