Wednesday, 10 October 2007

"The Grace-Hating Spirit" - Part 1 - CCI, Hong Kong

This was a series that Rob preached in 2004 as an important foundational series for the new church in Hong Kong. Having listened to the first sermon that I have transcribed below, I am utterly convinced it is a foundational series that I wish I had heard in my Christian beginnings! It could have prevented many years of pain. As usual I have taken extreme liberty with the bold key, the underline key and the red key because these are my notes and this is what made my hair stand on end - so forgive me. However here it is!

"(John 1:14) - 'The word became flesh and made His dwelling among us and we have seen His glory, the one and only who came from the Father full of grace;. Say 'full of grace'. 'And truth'. Say 'full of truth'. (v16) - '"From the fullness". Say 'fullness'. 'From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another". Say 'one blessing after another'. (v17) - 'For the law was given through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ'.

So what we are reading here is that Jesus did not bring the Law - Moses did. Jesus came with grace and truth. Grace AND truth - not only truth!

Truth by itself is a very dangerous thing. Fundementalism is very crude and very harsh and has done more damage to the world than probably anything else".

Jesus didn't just come with truth - He came with grace as well. You need both grace and truth. Not just grace - truth and grace becaues the Bible says because of the fullness of His grace, if we learn to receive from the fullness, we receive one blessing after ANOTHER! How many of you live this way? Wouldn't it be great if you lived this way (and it is available) and a blessing comes upon you - you are so amazed and you say, "Wow - thank You Lord!" and as it hits you, then comes another! And another! "Wow!". Here comes another! I have died and gone to heaven! No you are still on earth! Deuteronomy 28 says all those blessings will come upon you and overtake you - this is part of our inheritance not just in heaven but on earth.

I was up in the hills over Hong Kong praying and I felt God say; "My people around the world talk too much about the devil - too much about demons - they are too focused on the supernatural powers of darkness!". Now the Bible does talk about Satan and devils.

They are real and I have had encounters with them. I have cast thousands out of people and had engagements with them but I don't live focused on them!

The Bible doesn't talk that much about them! The Old and New Testament simply say be aware of their strategy but secondly it mainly speaks about the devil in relation to how Jesus defeated him at the Cross. In the Garden of Temptation Jesus won the fight and Satan left after Jesus dealt with him in the arena of combat. Jesus used the Word of God! At the Cross, the Bible says that Jesus made a public spectacle and triumphed over principalities and powers. In the Book of Revelation it says Jesus went to the Devil and took the keys of death and the grave from the devil. Then Jesus rose from the dead and said "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me - now GO Church and make disciples of all nations!".

Here we are talking about everything that happens in our lives and we think that is all to do with the demons and the devil who is called the Accuser of the brethren and he is actually sitting somewhere in deep depression and needing inner healing and counselling saying, "I didn't do half the things those Christians are blaming me for!".

Now the trouble with this devil conciousness is that when things go wrong it is very easy to blame him whereas God is using the world to expose flaws and failures and attitudes in our lives that He wants us to be free from! If we just blame the devil then God can't work sanctification into our lives. The devil is not omni-present! The Bible says in the Book of Judges that he runs to and fro throughout the world. He can't even afford a car! He must walk. He cannot be in Hong Kong and in Adelaide and in Jo'burg or Bangkok at the same time!

He is limited to a locality whereas God is omnipresent! The devil is created whereas God is un-created! God is self-sufficient, self-existant, Alpha and Omega, the awesome living God! The beginning and the end!

The number of fallen angels or demons are a set number. Jesus said when we get to heaven, we won't give or be given in marriage like the angels - He didn't say we'll become angels. Angels can't reproduce. They are spirit beings! We will always be humans with resurrected bodies. But the number of angels and demons is set whereas the earth's population is growing. The earth is exploding with growth so it's getting harder and harder to deploy the demons in the different cities because when there was 1 million people on the earth, there were enough demons to handle it. Now there are 7-8 billion people on the earth and the number is increasing but the demons are not!

Let me tell you Satan is not growing in influence on the earth - since the Cross and subsequent 2, 000 years we are seeing God move! Now we will never have Utopia on the planet. There will always be the crisis and clash of cataclysmic forces on the planet but folks;

We have got to get a victorious mindset about how great our God is and how small the devil is and stop saying if I follow Jesus the devil is going to smash me to pieces! Say if I follow Jesus I will smash the devil to pieces because I have got authority to bind the authority of the devil and loose the authority of the kingdom of heaven!

You MUST understand that! Paul didn't go around saying the devil is so terrible because he put me in prison. He said, "I delight in my God - the power of God is strong in me and I am victorious and I can do it and He turns everything together for good and even when I sin, the devil is still not my Lord - Jesus is still my Lord! God is for me! Who can be against me?!". I HATE this devil conciousness!

The Holy Spirit wants us to be God concious. I believe we should be focused on grace and our God and mercy and live under a friendly heaven and a friendly smiling sky and believe this world was created for me to have bounty and beauty and success and abundance because God's fullness of grace wants to bring one blessing after another blessing into my life.

You get what you expect. If you expect condemnation, doom and gloom and devils and demons then that is what you will get.

I want to get out of the presence of those people and say; "For heavens sake - talk about your God and the glory of creation and the place that you have in it!".

(Luke 11). The title of this subject today is: "Do not give in - even for a moment - to the Grace-Hating Spirit".

There is a grace-hating spirit and it is an attitude as well as a demonic spirit. We will look at ways to overcome that. It is going to be a 3/4 part series and;

It is foundational as to how to increase in the anointing in our lives.

It will be extremely relevant and insightful and helpful for everyone of us. We will look at and answer 6 questions time permitting.

1. Why did Jesus Christ Not Give into the Grace-Hating Spirit even for a moment?

When we read the Scriptures you are going to be tempted to feel sorry for the Pharisees and Sadducees and I encourage you - don't be sorry for them. It will look like Jesus is being very harsh and very rude and unfair to them. We need to understand that the Pharisees and Sadducees were the self-appointed religious orthodox leaders - they were religious bigots and the Number 1 hindrance to the multitudes coming into salvation and into grace. Jesus discerned that He must not give into these grace hating people even for a second. You realise they were operating under a grace-hating spirit.

Jesus was not beguiled by the cunningly politically correct exterior of these religious bigots. They could put on such a good show in being hospitable and being nice but Jesus knew how controlling and manipulative they were.

His heart went out to the multitudes that were sick and oppressed and under the weight of religious condemnation that had been loaded on them by these religious leaders whom Jesus called "false gods". So not only did Jesus go around and preach good news and pray for the sick and see great miracles among the multitudes but He also realised that He had to expose these bigots because of who they were, because their grace-hating spirit would want to enslave these people again. He was not being rude to the Pharisees and Sadducees.

On the contrary! They were being rude to Him. They saw Jesus as a threat to their control over the people. So they thought that through flattery and offering hospitality to Him they could disguise their hostility and weave their manipulative control over Him. They arrogantly presumed that they could get Jesus safely into their camp and be controlled. They thought then they could work on Him and sterilise Him and emasculate Him of His spiritual testosterone but they took on far more than they bargained for - for the Son of God is not only called the Lamb of God but He is also called the Lion of the Tribe of Judah!

Lions were never meant or created to live in cages. The great roar from the lungs of Jesus is so full of supernatural power that it shook these religious leaders to the very core of their perverted hearts. Jesus understood that you cannot submit to the to the grace-hating spirit even for a moment and today so many Christians are naive and deceived by the grace-hating spirit.

Many Christians are beguiled by smiling faces and false humility that hides, camoflages and masks an ugly and sinister face that hates freedom and stops the multitudes of desperate people entering into salvation.

(Luke 11:37+). Jesus wouldn't have qualified on a course of how to make friends and influence people because He wasn't PC! (v42) "Unmarked graves". If you know anything about Hebrew culture you will know that is the most insulting thing you can ever say to a Jewish person. He is saying "You guys are so obsessed with exterior performance and religion and you don't deal with the supernatural dimension of internal life.

You are so full of death that when people come under your ministry and touch you - you touch them with death and they never know they are touching graves. You kill their dreams - you kill their vision - you kill their hopes and aspirations. You bring death to everything you are involved with!

You are like unmarked graves people don't even realise they are touching! That is heavy going! Why don't we like it when He says it? Because we are afraid that we will lose people who will be offended! But if people are so sitting on the fence that they are in risk of being offended then they will already criticise everything you've got and those complaints will surface soon anyway! (v26) - "You load people down with burdens they can't carry". The religious leaders didn't thank Jesus for His honesty and say they would repent and be His friends from now on.

What happened was that their cover was blown and they realised that the Son of God had seen right through their political correctdness and now the true nature of their feelings began to come out. "Pharisees and teachers began to oppose Him fiercely and besiege Him with questions waiting to catch Him". Who were they opposing?

The One who was full of grace! It was a grace-hating, grace-opposing spirit behind these men.

Notice it also says "fiercely". This grace-hating spirit is not against grace in some half-hearted way but it is FIERCELY opposed to it! It says that they besieged Him - that sounds like a fully committed assault on a castle. It says they asked Him questions to undermine Him and catch Him. The grace-hating spirit wants to catch you and enslave you. Why isn't one blessing after another flowing into every Christian's life? Because when it does happen people who aren't receiving such blessing get envious and angry of them not realising that the blessing is available to every Christian!

2. What is the Goal of the Grace-Hating Spirit?

We must ask ourselves - why does the grace-hating spirit attack your mind on a daily basis and make you feel condemned? To make you feel like you are in cheap grace so that you should be harder on yourself?

The grace-hating spirit will tell you that if you preach a harder and stricter message then there won't be any sin in your church. But I have been to churches like that full of rules and regulations and yet they are ALWAYS full of sin!

Imagine no grace-hating spirit in the world and that every believer could receive one blessing after another and triumph over sin because grace teaches us to say no to sin. The grace of God would cause signs and wonders to happen in our lives and we would stand on the streets and radiate miracles effortlessly - signs and wonders would follow us. We wouldn't chase after miracles - but signs would run after us and everywhere we go we would see these miracles follow every Christian for; "these signs would follow those that believe.

THAT is the will of God for the Church - that these things should be! If we are honest - look at the millions who claim to be Christians today. Do they live that kind of life? No - sadly not. Most religious people have a very bad name among the unsaved and most live a very frustrated life and are very unfilled and become harsh and critical and judgemental and self-centred. Why? Because from the moment that they were saved a grace-hating spirit came and opposed them fiercly and besieged them daily - that is what a siege is - and asked them questions and undermined the integrity of God's Word and enslaved them.

Once grace is eroded out of our lives, everything is affected. "If I can heard truth in grace then I can change - I can be transformed!". Are signs and wonders following everyone in this meeting? Are you leading many people to Christ because when they see there's such blessing on your life, they will say "Take me to your Leader" - yes I will take you to Jesus!

Some of you have been under such manipulative, condemnatory preaching that any time you hear anything challenging, you automatically think the preacher is trying to condemn me or that God is trying to condemn me. Nothing could be further from the truth. God is TOTALLY for you!

My whole obsession is to work myself into redundancy so you don't need me. So endowed are you in grace that you yourselves will raise up disciples of your own and you will baptise believers. The spirit of grace-haters kept me out of the kingdom for 22 years. I was very cynical about Christianity - very cynical.

Not from an intellectual, scientific point of view - because with integrity as I investigated the evidence - the evidence was awesomely amply demonstrated that Jesus Christ was Who He claimed to be. Jesus could not have been a good Man. He was either a total liar, a totally decieved lunatic or He was the Son of God. Because a good Man doesn't say "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life - no one can come to the Father but by Me". If it is not true then He is a liar and if it is not true then He may be a lunatic but not a good Man. He's either the Son of God or a liar or a lunatic.

I had ample evidence that Jesus Christ was the Son of God but I still didn't come to faith because I looked at the Christians and I did not want to become one of them. I was enjoying life and looked at them:

No passion! No integrity! No faithfulness! No loyalty! No consistency! No supernatural! No miracles! No power of God!

I am not talking about weakness. I am talking about the aggregate level of their lives not being very appealing.

I would look at Jesus Christ and say "I want to get to know YOU!". Then I would look at the Christians and become cynical again.

Mahatma Gandi was a lawyer and went to a church in South Africa and was kicked out by that church because he was Indian. Imagine if that church had been a grace-embracing church, a church that saw the excellency of God's grace and was a church filled with the perfume of heaven's grace, a church that believed in the liberating power of grace that worked in their lives and gave out of pure generosity. Imagine that! Mahatma Gandi would have heard the true Gospel for the first time and it would have come with power, conviction and signs and wonders and the Presence of God. But he was kicked out becaues of a grace-hating spirit that is in the church.

But imagine the influence he might have had as a born-again man! Yes people say that he championed deliverance from British rule for India. Well thank God for that but if you don't liberate people's spirits - you haven't liberated them! But to this day over 500 million Indians live under the oppression of an apartheid as worse as South Africa. It's called the caste system. You have 500 million Indians denied soical privilidges and positions because they are the untouchables and Mahatma Gandi patronised that. The Hinduis are so angry at the moment with the government that they are converting to Buddhism and investigating whether in the eyes of the Indian government that will set them free as untouchables. If they are not Hinduis anymore they are hoping they may get equal rights from the goverment.

South Africa oppressed 20 million black people but India right NOW is oppressing 500 million people. Mahatma Gandi - if he had heard the Gospel - could have made some change.


3. Why Has the Grace-Hating Spirit Got Away with SO Much and For SO Long?

I did meet some wonderful Christians full of grace and power some years ago and Glenda and I got radically saved out of Hinduism. This issue of why the grace-hating spirit has become so prolific in the Church world exercised me and I called out to God about it and believed that God helped me identify some things. This is what I believe is one of the primary faults;

The ministry function of apostles and prophets is primarily to protect the Church from the grace-hating spirit. Now pastors, teachers and evangelists have a phenomenal grace of anointing on their lives and that is very necessary but Ephesians 2 says that the Church is built on the foundation of apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone.

Jesus is alive today - the Church isn't built on a dead Jesus! But neither is the Church built on dead apostles and dead prophets of past years solely!

The current Church today is built of living stones and if the stones are living then they can't be built on what dead apostles and dead prophets did 2, 000 years ago. Yes the Word of God is foundational in our lives. But the Church must be built on apostles and prophets who lay the foundation with Christ in their local church! On that foundation pastors and teachers build.

If you don't have apostles and prophets laying the foundation of the Church, the church will not have proper foundations and it will not be laid properly - therefore crumbling and eventually coming down.

You don't go downtown Hong Kong and put up a skyscaper anywhere you want! It will fall down and be dangerous and people will get hurt.

You must get proper architects and engineers becaues it is dangerous to build things incorrectly but the Church today has rejected apostles and prophets and is running around slapping spiritual skyscrapers which are crumbling and people are getting hurt and disillusioned with church and in the middle of that you have pastor/teachers saying; "No I don't want apostles/prophets - just let me hear the latest en-vogue pragmatic method to make the church go and will make me look good".

Paul is saying; "No! There had better be apostolic/prophetic truth at every stage in the Church otherwise it will all come down".

Pastor/teachers and evangelists do not have the grace anointing to protect the church from a grace-hating spirit - they just don't seem to see it! Whereas apostles and prophets sniff it out. They can smell the grace-hating spirit and have an aggression towards it that may frighten people but they WILL deal with the grace-hating spirit!

In the first 400 years of Christianity, apostles and prophets were fathers and friends, servants to the church, helping elders and helping evangelists not lording it over them as a higher ranking official. Apostles are not heads of the larger churches - pastors head big and small churches!

Apostles are those that go into new ground and break into new territory - they don't stay in one place for 25 years and build a mega-church. Peter didn't, Barnabus didn't and Titus didn't. The post-Ascension apostles - what happened to them?! The Church rejected them and went into the Dark Ages.

Foundations are great but not very glamourous. We are not building a church for short term here. We are planting a church that will plant it's own churches and reach hundreds of thousands of people across Asia! In the Dark Ages the ministry of apostles and prophets were totally rejected, lost and hidden and the church went into darkness. When that happens secular society also goes into darkness. When the Church comes into restoration, a restoration comes on secular society with technological break through. In the Dark Ages the church came almost entirely under a grace hating spirit.

All kinds of rituals entered the church that violate the Word of God, contradict the Word of God and are against the Word of God and many of those practices are still in the Church - even though the Reformation happened 500 years ago under Martin Luther and we have had 500 years of God restoring and reviving the Church to it's former glory of the Book of Acts and on and on to the climax of the ages when Jesus comes again.

During the Dark Ages a spiritual apartheid came into the Church with a clergy/laity divide and it was TOTALLY unbiblical. We have had men dressing up as priests which completely contradicting the Word of God and was not there in the Book of Acts. From the time that Adam fell, God made every man a priest. Before the Law every man was a priest! What is a priest?

A priest is someone who offers sacrifices to God and ministers to people. A priest is someone who approached God directly.

Adam made sacrifices as did Noah, Abel, Enoch, Jacob and Job. Right up to the land of Israel! God told them all to be priests but Israel rebelled and so God had to go to plan B and raise up the Levitical priesthood - the grief of God! He wanted a nation of priests but they rebelled. Jesus came and died and the veil split from top to bottom - "It is finished!" and at that moment Hebrews says that the Old Covenant was redundant. "It is finished!".

Now everyone can access the Presence of God and everyone doesn't need a priestly mediator to go into God's Presence! Peter writes; "You are a holy nation, a royal priesthood". ALL Christians are priests! Different functions but a priest is someone who can give thank offerings to God and minister to God and from God minister to man.

Everyone is a priest! But in the Dark Ages the clergy/laity divide came back - that is a grace-hating spirit. When Jesus was arrested in the Garden Judas had to come and identify Him with a kiss. Why? Because Jesus didn't have the priestly garments on - He had the namebrands of the day! He looked like the people!

If you know the Word of God and continue to dress in priestly garments you are co-operating with a grace-hating spirit if you encourage the clergy/laity divide for you are saying; "If you want to know God you have got to come through me - I am the mediator - I am the priest and you are not".

Such people are cursing the people and contradicting the power of the Cross. The number one problem in marriages and families in the Church today is what I am talking about - that if you think you are not worthy to approach God directly and need a priest to put you in touch with God then you will not be a priest in your home. Such people will not be priests over their wives - men will no longer call the blessing down on their homes and will no longer receive the blessing of God - the anointing for their homes and their businesses.

They will rely on the priest who is paid for by the tithe to pray for them. They will rely on the priest who is paid for by the tithe to bless them and make sure that their home is in order. But when you realise that I can come to God - I can receive grace - you will begin to see marriages getting blessed, wives and husbands as priests together over their families, children. Priests in their marriages! They are priests living with God and with access to God!

We could liberate 1 billion Christians and the power of heaven would come down on the Church and what happened 2000 years ago when the veil was split and the glory came out - we would see that again! Revival would break out across the planet!

This grace-hating spirit HATES what I am saying to you because it is holding back the blessings of God on the Church today.

(Galatians 2). 500 years ago God restored justification by faith under Martin Luther on and on to the last century and the Pentecostal/Charismatic outpouring and the fullness of the Spirit. In the 80's He restored the prophetic and in the 90's the apostolic. Ministries are now bringing liberty as they rise up and freedom. God said;

"Liberate My people from slavery because I want them to worship Me!".

We are dealing with supernatural powers but don't get devil concious! Be awesome God-concious! The Church is in slavery. Ask Christians today - do you feel the Presence of God coming on you every day? Are signs following you? Is one blessing after another coming on you?? The grace-hating spirit will spread rumours about you if it can't stop you. If you will take your stand against the grace-hating spirit and decide you will let the grace of God love you into wholeness and completeness, you will ultimately triumph a victorious Christian.

When you have sinned badly you are in the most vulnerable position to come under the grace-hating spirit. When you fall and make a mistake decide to stay under the grace of God - you will then see an increase of signs and wonders following you and people will be saved through your intimate love with Jesus.

(Galatians 2:4). An apostolic attitude to the grace-hating spirit: "Spy on our freedom and find sinister strategies to make us slaves". What a noble portfolio of religious bigots! "They think their Master is the Most High but their Master is Satan". (v5) - "We did not give into them even for a MOMENT!".

Power is not flowing in the earth today because too many believers are giving in to the grace-hating spirit for more than a moment.

Release an anointing so people are aware!

4. How do we detect the operating of a grace-hating spirit?

Become so familiar with the reality of God's grace that you easily recognise the counterfeit. We don't have time to complete our 6 questions but be aware ... the grace hating spirit will FIERCLY oppose you and BESIEGE you!

~ End of Transcript ~

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