Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Invading the Impossible Part 14 - Condemning Condemnation!!

As I mentioned in my post; "When You Believe" on "Life on Wings", I was in a bit of a dilemma as to exactly how to type up this sermon. I wasn't going to type up the testimonies that Rob reads out for almost 40 minutes of the sermon. But God spoke powerfully to me through the song I posted and felt strongly that although I am not seeing great signs and wonders and miracles in my life at the moment, it is important to keep faith fired up by hearing and sharing these testimonies. Let me repeat Rob's definition of "Testimony" from "Invading the Impossible - Part 12";

"Testimony" comes from the word; "To do it again". When you share a testimony of what God has done in a miracle in your life - that testimony is a sharing of a prophecy and it carries with it a power to duplicate what you are testifying happened to you".

So here it is!

"I have a sensing in my spirit that for some of you it has been a tough week and you are licking a few wounds today. Not all of you but some of you are licking wounds - some disappointments this week. Some frustrations. How do you know this Rob? Well I have been praying and waiting on God and I want you to know that it is okay to sit here today with some wounds and relax and God is here to love you and heal you and restore you and comfort you. I want you to feel no pressure. You just sit there and listen as I share some testimonies and you let the love of God come to you and just heal you up alright? You will leave this place restored and whole and ready to face life again - alright?

We all have those times - we all have days, weeks or seasons where we go through times where we wonder; "Am I really saved?" - "Am I really a Christian?". That is fine. I've never had one of those days of course! No disappointments! Life has been easy for me! Those are good to have those days - it is good to have those times and God can touch your marriage and restore romance and love to your marriage where there has been a bit of frustration. Anyway some of you will think that someone has told me about your week and you are right. Someone did and His Name is Jesus!

The Bible says that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy so I want to share some testimonies today and then teach a little bit. I want to share some testimonies because you remember that testimonies carry the power to duplicate what they are talking about and so want to read some of these testimonies to you. Last night in our home we had a wonderful time and we had a number of people in this church testifying of some amazing miracles of healing in their bodies that happened here last weekend.

So I want to talk about some of the feedback we have had from around the world in the last week and I think one or two are from the week before. So all of these are current - these are all within the last week and some the week before.

1. So this is from someone by the name of Guy Lacy and he says;

"Hi Rob and Glenda I wanted to get in touch with you to encourage you and City Church International for the impact you have had both within my life and the life of our church plant in Montreal, Canada". Then he talks about how they planted in January this year in Montreal. He says; "This however is not why I am contacting you because I feel like for the first time our church - Victory Heights International - has come to the place of preaching and believing the gospel. I don't say that speaks of the past but only that it speaks of the future. There has always been a mixture of law and grace if not full law in any of the messages I have heard.

That is until I began to listen to your messages on grace in early 2007 and now on the righteousness of God in 2008. I must admit it has taken some time for me to make the turn but now I am turned on baby!!!!".

How many of you found it took you a while to accept this message? If you will tell me the truth it is because it sounded too good to be true. It is because you were dealing with centuries of contradictory information with the mixing and confusing of Old and New Covenants together.

"I can now saw confidently from the Scripture that I am the righteousness of God! Not only can I say it but those in our flock are believing it and confessing it. I can't tell you all the wonderful testimonies that have come from this. Last night we prayed for a couple and the Holy Spirit fell on the room as we confessed and agreed with the Holy Spirit that we are the righteousness of God. We agreed with the Holy Spirit! We are convinced - John 16:1 - Wow!". You remember that I taught out of John 16. "A joy broke out in the room that had us praising God like never before. The Spirit descended so thick on the room that all of us were laid out under the power of God laughing hysterically. I didn't know that it could be this good Rob!".

These are Canadians guys! Someone says; "You couldn't pay me enough money to act that way!". Well when the Holy Spirit falls on you - you will do it for free!

"Opposition to this message has already begun and we expected that even from those close to us. But we are convinced and every Scripture we read convinces us that this revelation now makes sense. I am a slave to righteousness (Romans 6) and there is nothing I can do about it! This is a message that will impact not only Montreal but the nations. This is a message that will set the captives free. This is the message Paul preached and glory be to God!!!!!!!! We prayed for you and Glenda last night and a prophetic word or two came out so here they are;

A. My wife Rachel saw huge container ships in the port of Hong Kong and they were exporting grace all over the world!

B. I felt that Hong Kong was the modern day Rome and that God was once again going to spread the good news through the world at an accelerated rate as it was in the early church. You are exactly where God would have you and it is very strategic for His plans. I hope this encourages you to fight the good fight of faith Rob and Glenda. Perhaps one day we will meet face to face.

Until then much love, Guy and Rachel, Montreal, Canada".

2. You guys are clapping!! Even without me asking! This came in last week from Frank in the UK;

"Hi Rob it's me again! Just want to say; 'Go for it brother!!!!'. Yes the revival is here in Watford Rob. Yes we are under attack - yes the controlling spirit is lashing out but yes - yes - yes many people are being set free. Yes the cloud of the glory is thick and His Spirit is moving. Wooo yay Father - let Your fire fall! Just listened to last week's message. (Rember on; "A Flood of the Glory is Coming!") - Rob just a small taste of what is happening. Our wonderful dear lady and close friend Renee was miraculously healed from her scoliosis on Friday night!!!!! Her leg grew before our eyes as the Holy Spirit moved during our worship time. Rob, Jesus said He is going to bring all things into alignment - what an amazing miracle of how He aligned her body as an example.

Praise You Jesus! Yes it's not about numbers Rob - it is about impact. We are taking the Book of Acts to the streets - His cloud of glory has visibly fallen over us. Just listened to your message; "There is a Flood of Glory Coming" - 10 minutes into your message the glory fell into our home like a thick mist and gold dust fell all over the house even onto my Catholic mother-in-law! Keep it up Rob! We are right behind you!!!!!! We so look forward to seeing you in the UK soon - please send our love to Steve and Gina. Much love Frank and Lara".

Isn't that wonderful!?

3. This is a dear friend of ours - well he has become a great friend. He's a young man - well he's in his early 30's and he leads a church down at Port Edward. He came to the "Glory and Grace Conference" here in Hong Kong and I didn't meet him there but he came. Then he went to the Sydney "Glory and Grace" just a few weeks ago and he got up at Sydney "Glory and Grace" and testified that before he came to "Glory and Grace" and said that the church he was pastoring was pretty dry, absent of the supernatural, little Presence of God and he said it was primarily his fault because he was dry and he was legalistic and preaching the law.

He said he came to "Glory and Grace" - got delivered - the fire of God fell on him and he got delivered and went back and immediately they started having signs and wonders and miracles and his people started to coming to church unsummoned and just volunteering and turning up in the meeting because they were so hungry to experience the Presence of God. The first morning he got back from "Glory and Grace" in Hong Kong, the worship team were practicing and the glory of God fell on them and they fell to the ground. They were talking so long in the glory that members started arriving in the car park - they began to fall on their knees in the car park and then some of them crawled into church and they had hours of meetings and the glory of God on the south coast and it is going up the north coast of Natal.

Something has been affected from Hong Kong!

I met him in Sydney and took him out for lunch and he says;

"Hi friends - thanks so much for all your continued input into our lives and we appreciate your love and support more than you will ever know. Thanks for all the meals, and lifts, and coffees and all - I wanted to boast about how magnificent our God is. This happened after the Sydney Glory and Grace Conference. I was invited to minister at a conference in Port Alfred and it was a conference by the Church of the Nations - about 500 people were there. I did four sessions - two each day. There were churches represented there today and different visitors with Methodists etc. I went to share grace and minister God's Presence with the hope of signs and wonders and miracles. He did not disappoint.

The first night God's Presence came powerfully - many were touched in meaningful ways and lots of falling, rolling, laughing, crying and shaking. God's Presence was tangible and the weight of His glory rested on us. There were also a few healings that night. Almost everyone had sparkles of gold dust. The church enjoyed that as they had not seen it before. The next night was even more amazing. The worship was heavenly and went on for ages. I preached a while on two components that sustain revival. That is - continually hungering and longing for and honouring His Presence and staying in the New Covenant. As I preached, I sensed many strongholds being shattered and truth coming home powerfully. That is what preaching under the anointing does.

Then we had a time of healing where testimonies from the night before of people who were healed and I then asked people to stand up who had the same sickness and explained that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. I asked them to raise their hands and expect them to be healed. I prayed for about 30 seconds commanding healing and rebuking sickness and the power of God filled the building. I then told people to examine themselves. 23 people were instantly healed! Praise God - it was that easy! We can actually do this! It is possible! Please tell all your folk that it can be done! Jesus wants it! It is not a time for super-heroes but for an army of believers who will carry the power of the Lion! Sorry I am getting carried away here - (because I preached on the Lion in Sydney "Glory and Grace") - just so exciting and I did not honestly know if we could see this in our ministry. I hope for it but now we see it! It is amazing!".

Then he gives a whole load of testimonies of the actual healings.

4. Here is Sean.

"Yesterday night I was fellowshipping with Jesus and reading His precious love letter and worshipping Him. Then I had this deep desire to preach the Gospel. It was ten minutes past ten at night. I jumped into my car and drove down-town filled with boldness and started preaching the Word. Later there was a crowd of ten to twelve people. After the preaching, the Bible tells us that signs and wonders follow the Word - being a doer of the Word I laid my hands on a crippled beggar. The power of God hit him and he was instantly healed! Jumping, singing and praising to his Saviour. His friends saw what happened and came up to me and said; "I also believe Jesus can heal me". I laid my hands on him - God is faithful and healed him of severe leg problems. Before we prayed he couldn't lift up his leg higher than 1 cm off the ground. After we prayed him and his friend ran around jumped and testified to the goodness of God!".

I dream of these things! And we have not affected the church - while I was living in South Africa and while I was living in Australia - like we have here. It is happening from Hong Kong! When I was living in Australia God said; "Move to Hong Kong" and I said; "Why?!". He said; "Just do it and when you go there you will touch the nations from Hong Kong". Amen? So we are a band of brothers and sisters who sort of look like a church and are touching the world.

He says; "A shop owner of a fish and chip shop saw everything that happened. He also knew the two beggars and usually hands them out free soup and bread and stood amazed at what happened. The Word was preached and healings were performed just as it was in the Book of Acts. All praise to Jesus! Please follow with me as I want to make a valid point now".

This is a very valid point here - a very valid point.

"This is not the first healing on the street that I did in Jesus Name and it will certainly not be the last. But on a couple of occasions I prayed for people in a church set up and nothing happened. I mean NOTHING happened! Once I prayed for a blind lady in a prayer meeting and nothing happened. The same happened at a church camp this year where I prayed for a man who can't walk - and guess what? Nothing happened apart from some screaming, demon-rebuking Christians trying to save the day. On the streets on the other hand big, big healings and miracles and the power of God moving radically! My question is why? Why big healings on the street and why no healings or limited healings in the church? Answer: people in the street have not been intoxicated with legalistic doctrines. I believe in the Church people are caught up in the "I did not pray and fast enough syndrome". People in the Church try to work for their healing even though they won't say it. Whereby sinners know they have no foot to stand on and only receive it as a gift. One works and the other just receives it as a gift. I felt that God was telling me last night that His glory will be poured out in the streets as in the early Church.

The world will see the power of God and not just the church between four walls. Power and glory will be seen in the streets. Glory cannot be contained - glory overflows. Glory overflows into the deepest and darkest corners around the world and glory will take us deeper into the heart of God and glory will give us such a desire and inner drive to do things that Jesus did. Jesus said; "Greater things will we do because He is going to the Father". Rob I will see you in July at the conference in Cape Town and thank you so much for preaching the truth. Sean".

Now I want to say as I share that testimony that some of you may feel condemned because I have never prayed for people in the street or had the courage to go out and preach the Word of God in the street. I want to say this to you - and I am sure Sean will agree - this ministry is all about taking the "Have-To's" off God's people! You "have to" go on the street, you "have to" pray and you "have to" go to church!

"We want to take ALL the "Have-To's" off God's people so that all the spontaneous "Want-To's" rise up!".

If you are born again then you have a new nature in Christ that loves God, that loves people and that loves the Word of God and when you strangle that new nature with laws and rules and "Have-To's" then you kill faith and with condemnation cripple believers. When you tell them that you don't have to do a thing - relax! Chill! Enjoy God! Love God! Then you end up doing things that you never planned to do! Some of you may never preach the Gospel in the street! Let me just say this; enjoy God's acceptance and God's love! Get free of the "Have-To's" and comparing yourself with others and as you walk in the love of God and get filled with God and with the glory of God, then you will find yourself doing a whole load of things that you never thought you would do!

You will do them in a different way to Sean and you will do them in a different forum and a different context and you will find that God leads you into faith actions and you will begin projects and initiatives that will be quite amazing. Then you will wonder; "Is this really me?!". I didn't learn to preach from a pulpit. I preached for my first year in the streets and lead many people to Christ in the streets.

I haven't preached in the streets for years now and I may end up doing that again. I may end up praying for cripples in the streets and many of you may end up doing that! Even though you sit here saying; "I don't know if I could" - well you can't! But when you get full of God and forget about "Having To" and relax then you may end up doing stuff!

5. Here is a guy called Bradley - I know him and he is a dear man from the church in Dubai and he is a pastor in that church. That church is partnering with us and walking with us and gave us about 2 months ago about 70, 000 Hong Kong dollars for our ministry into China which is amazing! Someone while Josh Mills was here gave Glenda a cheque for 78, 000 dollars for our international ministry. Money is coming in! I am believing for our tithes and offerings to keep going up - not because you have to but because you want to! I am believing for this whole building to be filled quite quickly! I am believing for our tithes and offerings to go up to such a place that we can do stuff! I am believing for 50 million Hong Kong dollars to come in just this year! I want to buy buildings cash and buy several buildings. I want to buy studios and care for the orphans and do education! Are you hearing what I am saying here?! I am believing for 50 million!

The reality is to do things costs money! I wish the world would say; "Rob when you get on a plane you are a pastor and you don't have to pay for air tickets". I wish when I went to a resturant they would say, "You are a pastor and you don't have to pay". They charge us! And I have preached grace to the whole eldership of this Dubai church and preached a whole week there to the congregation and that church is going through the roof. They are seeing dozens of people saved every week. They are a showcase of what the grace message is about! All the elders came to the "Glory and Grace" time and I refer to them often and say to people around the world; "If you have a problem with the grace message - go and look at the Dubai church and come and look at City Church International and you say you are afraid that the people will stop tithing because we preach grace - most of the people in this church tithe! But not under law - under Abraham and under grace because they are partners with God and in liberty!

Our people love Jesus and come to church when sick and when they are tired and have had a terrible week - our people are committed in this church! That's what our people are like! Why? Because of grace! He says this;

"Hi Rob I hope this letter finds you and your family well. By listening to you over the web I believe it does. It is very exciting to hear what God is doing in City Church - more of the people getting revelation of this amazing message and being set free. We too here in Dubai are seeing increasing glory on us as a church. Not only in our set weekly meetings but there are many testimonies coming from the marketplace, homes, coffee shops etc. Our meetings are becoming more disruptive as the Holy Spirit is taking over His Church - one thing we know as leaders is that we do not want to try and administrate what God is doing. Rather we are asking Him to lead us as we lead His people.

The desire in my heart for more of His glory has so increased that I have been ruined for life!". He says he can hardly work now and has a very responsible job! He is an engineer! He says the amazing thing is that He is coming more and more but; "I am never satisfied as there can never be an end to His glory. It is impossible to go back".

He then says a whole load of other stuff and says; "Thanks again for the obedience you have in preaching the truth of this amazing gospel - never stop but let the fire burn more and more and become more wild! God bless you, your family and City Church. Love Bradley".

6. Here's a man from Brisbane, Australia - Chris - and he says;

"Hi Rob and Glenda - it was such a blessing to be at the conference - "Glory and Grace Sydney". Thanks so much for all you sowed into people's lives. I have lived with a sense that God was an austere Father". I want some of you to really listen to this. This man was a pastor for many years. He is no longer in full time ministry but is a member of the church in Brisbane. This is a guy who is a pastor! "I have lived with a sense that God was an austere Father". That means a harsh Father. "But at the conference I had an experience that as I looked into the Father's eyes, I was like a new-born baby in the palms of His hands. Gazing into His eyes I sensed that what He was imparting to me was all the love He could pour into me. His eyes say things like; "You are My child and I love you ... You are My child and I will always be here for you ... You are My child and you are safe in My hands ... You are my child and I provided everything you will ever need".

"I now walk in a sense of His approval which draws me to spend every moment I can with Him. I want to encourage you - keep preaching the message of grace. It is what makes people fall in love with God. Then keep loving Him forever. God is not looking for slaves but children who want to walk with Him and love Him. Love in Christ, Chris and Moira".

You say - are there any more? Are you going to teach? Yes a 10 minute teach at the end of some of these testimonies. Some people don't know what to say to 10 minutes! There was a giggle of unbelief!

7. This is from a pastor of an AoG church in Australia who I had the privilidge of meeting while in Sydney at the conference and his name is Andrew McGraw. He says;

"Hey Rob, thanks for the awesome preaching and teaching in Sydney. I felt an amazing sense of God's Presence as we returned on Sunday back to church, God moved in a powerful way. Words of knowledge flowed - a hunger for God was there and many people responded again to the grace message. It is bringing hope to many people who are caught in a web of accusation and condemnation. Praise God for freedom I say. I would love to stay connected with you in some way. We would love to have you come to Melbourne some time to minister. Is that something you are open to?".

And I want to reply over the web - of course! My reply is yes!

"Once again thank you - I have no doubt you and your church are called to be forerunners in this wonderful message of grace and I just want to encourage you to keep proclaiming this message as the reach of your work is touching lives that you may only discover in eternity. Stay the distance. Endure the misunderstanding for the fruit of your work will be millions of changed lives. Andrew McGraw".

8. There are many more but let me give you one more! This is a testimony from Tony in New Zealand. He was at the Glory and Grace Conference and he says;

"Thank you Jubilee International Church". That is Fini and Isi's church. "To dear Fini and Isi, Rob and Glenda and all my friends at the Glory and Grace Conference. When I got home last Monday it felt like I had been away for 40 days although it has only been 9 days. On the Sunday before the conference I went to Jubilee Church as I arrived in Sydney. The praise and worship was so free. We hardly used the songs but sang in the Spirit and prophetic songs and harmony. We entered into another realm. People started laughing and rolling on the ground under the power of the glory of God. We were there on Sunday night service from 6pm to 9:30pm - no one wanted to go home! In fact who wants to go home when God pitches up in His manifest glory?! In the Bible when God pitched up in greater glory, people couldn't stand - they fell! Shook etc. How can the human body handle the immortal glory of our Almighty God when He just reveals a tiny bit of Himself?

In the morning when Fini preached on the voice of God as Fini quoted the Scripture when Jesus appeared to His disciples in the Upper Room, He said; "Greeting!". God spoke to my spirit to show me that He cares about me. I couldn't stop crying. And just as well, I was the first person that Fini prayed for that day. The conference started on Wednesday to Saturday and we had so much of God during this time that no one wanted to and couldn't go home! Under the glory people were falling under the power and majesty of God praying for one another and laughing and shaking just under the manifest Presence of God. Services start at 9:30am and one time we were so much under the glory that we didn't go home until 3:30pm! Then night services started from about 7pm till about 10pm - glory, glory, glory!".

I am just reading what he is saying!

"We were so close to God at times that I swear that angels were there even though I never saw them. On Thursday morning in the second session it was a time of impartation when we waited on God and some of the leaders prayed for us. Then all of a sudden I smelt this perfume but I thought it was a lady in front of me. But it doesn't make any sense - why would she go and put some perfume on between the services?".

I don't know but it does happen! He is a man and doesn't understand!

"Then I smelt the perfume very strongly! It was coming from the aisles and then Fini said through the microphone that some people had smelt wine and perfume and fragrance. Then I realised it was God. I smelt other fragrances as well for about 15 to 20 minutes all around the auditorium. Other signs and wonders were that this lady got a platinum filling (which is Millie here) in her tooth. Someone had a word of knowledge for a filling in her left tooth and she discovered it had been filled with platinum. One guy I was having coffee with suddenly discovered he had a gold tooth - completely gold - and it was a silver filling before. The most important highlight of this conference was the teaching on the grace of God. The teaching about the free gift of righteousness - that once again just like Martin Luther had to stand against legalism in his day and bring about the doctrine of justification by faith that we are saved by grace from first to last - so the same thing is happening again.

God is calling grace reformers to arise again! There is so much legalism in the Church and people think that they can earn their salvation and God's blessing by their own works. Glorious signs and wonders will follow the preaching of the gospel of grace. It is only through understanding and living in grace that we will tap into the greater glory. Legalism, control of man, religious spirits, spirit of witchcraft - control and manipulation, is not the gospel!

When the Bible says "Rejoice" what do you think that means? Does it mean to smile? No it means to rejoice by the Spirit of God - laughing, shouting, happiness, dancing with all your might. God is God and He can do whatever He likes in the heavens above and on the earth below. He is the Creator. It is just as easy for God to create for someone a whole new liver rather than heal his sick liver. We didn't come for a particular group or denomination - we came for Jesus. To seek His face alone! No other agenda! There was such unity among us. We just sought after His face - His glory by His righteousness - His grace.

We could draw as close to God as we liked!

I wasn't seeking after the signs. But the Bible clearly declares that God is a miracle-working God and He confirms His Word with various miracles and signs by His Spirit". Then he says here that he is listening to MP3s on the grace of God almost every day.

Let me just give you this prophecy that Joshua Mills gave to us. When did we pick Joshua up? On Sunday afternoon we picked him up from Hollywood at Disneyworld here in Hong Kong of course and we got there about half an hour early. So we pulled alongside of the road outside the hotel and Glenda and I were agonising over some of the opposition that has come from a particular part of the world that we have cancelled going there. There are so many problems that we don't want leaders panicking about the grace message. We love the Body of Christ and we are not going to go in until this period is over and things calm down. We have thousands of people wanting to come to our conference but we still closed it down because it is not about us just getting our way - but it is about the church and the right timing.

So we are going to another city and we are going to hold the conference in another city - so many will fly from the other city to that city. I say that with no judgement over people panicking. I am not an enemy of those opposing us - I love them. I am their friend. I want to see their churches prosper! I don't want to cause division in the Body of Christ unnecessarily. There comes a point where God says you must go anyway because the door is open so do it. You will not always be popular because Jesus wasn't and neither was Paul the apostle. I was reading Acts 21 last night where Paul - this great apostle of grace and a Jewish apostle - that had been shipwrecked and imprisoned and lied about and betrayed because of this message of grace! That was what was being fought about - this message of grace. He was attacked by devils because of this message of grace. The thorn in the flesh - the messanger from Satan - was sent to buffet him.

Right at the end of his life in Acts 21 he goes down to Jerusalem and he meets with James and the other Jewish apostles and the elders of the church there. What is amazing to me is that the apostles in Jerusalem have already drifted from the grace of God and are mixing grace with law again. That happens so easily to the church! They say to Paul; "Paul! We have many Jewish converts here in Jerusalem and if they find out that you are here then it will cause a lot of trouble because they have heard that you are going all around the world and seeing Gentiles and Jews converted to Christ and you are telling Jewish converts that they are not under the law and they don't have to circumcise their children and the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem are mad with you!".

Now I want to say to those Jewish apostles - you are at fault my friends because you have mis-taught your Jewish converts in Jerusalem! The Bible clearly teaches that Christ is the end of the law, we are redeemed from the curse of the law and Christ cancelled the written code that stood opposed to us at the Cross!

And all the "Have-Tos" and all the "Must-Tos" were cancelled and we are birthed into grace. So they say to Paul; "If they find out that you are here there will be trouble so Paul will go shave your head and submit to Jewish rituals". So Paul - blow me down - submits to that! Big mistake! He goes through a purification of Old Covenant and while he is in the temple obeying these Jewish apostles who have come under the deception of going back to law and Old Covenant - while he is submitting to these apostles (which he shouldn't have done) - the Jewish zealots see Paul and rush at him and try to kill him. "Here's the man that is teaching people that they don't have to keep the law and are not under the law!". They start beating him up and try to kill him and the unsaved Romans have to come in and rescue Paul and he is put in prison and goes to Rome.

Friends I want to tell you - anyone that says if you are a Jew and come to Christ but still must stay under law then need to go read Acts 21. It is clear that Paul was teaching Jewish converts that you are no longer under law but are in grace. But he suffered for that message!

If I teach law and legalism and holiness like some people do then I would be popular with the control freaks. But you know who we are popular with? Not the control freaks but with people who are tired of being controlled and being under condemnation and are just loving being under this message! Our website jumped to 36, 000 downloads last month and it will go through the roof friends!

So it is sad to hear these things. So we are sitting in the motor car just before picking up Joshua and we are sitting there agonising saying; "What are we going to do with all this criticism?". It is only coming from a few leaders but what are we going to do with it? Because we have been accused of some ridiculous things! What we are supposed to have taught - and we don't by the way! People who criticise are not listening to the series and are just hearing what other people say! The Bible process says you go to the person you have had a problem with and you don't talk to other people. If you have a problem with me then you don't talk to other people. You don't talk to everyone else about it! And if I am in sin and I tell you; "Don't tell me that - I am the pastor! You are in rebellion" then you go get another person and both of you come to me and you are both witnesses of my stubbornness and my arrogance and then you go and tell the whole church.

"Watch out for that guy - he is a cult leader - he is a controller". You never talk to someone else about the problem you have with someone - you only go to the person you have a problem with! Privately and in the hope that they will say; "I am so sorry I have been treating you like that - you know I am wrong and I repent and ask you to forgive me". Then you don't tell another person! Amen? Someone says; "Well I haven't always done that". Well live free - and don't do that in the future!

So we are sitting in the car agonising saying "What can we do? What shall we do?" and we didn't tell Joshua Mills about the criticism and he comes in and as you know, in the middle of the meeting he started prophesying over us. I was blessed by what he said but I didn't actually get everything because I was getting more blessed by your support as you were shouting and clapping because you knew what was going on!

So I was getting so blessed that I had to get it typed out to know what he said. But he says here;

"God says you have been on display and others have been watching. You have been on display for others to look and people to criticise, for people to accuse and for people to point fingers but God says in the middle of the fire there is a manifestation of the glory that is coming forth in your life that wasn't there before the fire and what the enemy has meant for harm - I am taking that thing and turning that thing around and I am causing the greatest gold to come forth.
I am causing the greatest glory you have ever known to begin to manifest in your life for surely you shall begin stepping out of the fire (Rob: "Whoopeee!") and you shall begin manifesting the glory of My Presence in a greater way than ever before and those that were watching while you were on display who said you will never make it - for surely you are a failure, surely it is not of God - God says surely they shall see and it shall not only be a sign and a wonder but it shall be a testimony - the testimony of Jesus Christ, the hope of glory inside of you.

I see you stepping out of the fire and I see you walking into a new place - a new season of blessing. It is opening for you even right now and in that place there is a divine acceleration and a divine increase - supernatural favour, abundance and blessing being poured out upon you. I see miracles beginning to flow where there were no miracles before. I almost see like garden flowers beginning to spring forth where it doesn't seem like they could be any flowers. Didn't seem like there could be any harvest in areas where people have looked and said; "Surely there can not be a harvest" - God says, "I am going to GIVE you the harvest".

Not only shall you see it, but you are going to reap it! You are going to reap it for many see the harvest but do not receive it but God says you shall see it and you shall have it".

Can you say amen!? Thank You Lord Jesus! Now I literally just want to speak for a few minutes.

We live under a friendly happy sky! We live under a Father who's face towards us is one of great favour!

You are very safe in the Father's favour! Men cannot disappoint you because they never appointed you! They can't "Dis-appoint" you because they never "appointed" you! God appointed me to this message before time began! He chose me to bring a recovery of the Gospel of grace and for the Church to be restored to living only in the freedom of the New Covenant.

I do believe we should read the Old Covenant and know the types and shadows that are in the Old Covenant - for Christ is hidden in the Old Covenant in shadow and revealed in substance in the New Covenant! But we don't live under the Old Covenant law at all!

God appointed me for that! So no man can "dis-appoint" me.

No man can fire me because no man hired me! God called me - not as my Boss to salary me but as my Father to do the family business!

No apostle - no man appointed me! God appointed you and me and that's why when people hear this message they stand up against controllers and say "No I am not submitting to that anymore!". My refusing to submit is not rebellion - I am submitting to God! We submit to one another out of reverence for Christ!

But friends, you can NEVER submit to a controller!

It is dangerous! Glenda and I were sitting watching a TV documentary on cults last night - it was on our multi-choice TV channels. It was just shocking as to what cult leaders have got away with. But you know there are some church situations in our modern world that are not as extreme as that but there are signs and traces of some of that bully-boy control! God is saying "Let My people go that they may worship Me and know it is unto Me they are called!". My Father gave me a coat of many colours - I don't care if my brothers are jealous of that! I am going to wear it friends because my Father gave it to me! It's got lots of colours and I am going to wear it because my Father gave it to me. It may make them mad but they didn't give it to me - my Father gave it to me and they can't disappoint me because they never appointed me!

God appointed me! God appointed you! My Father is your Father! Do you understand that your Father is my Father? When you talk to the Father you are talking to my Father! When I talk to the Father I am talking to your Father! Now I see Him in you - I see Jesus in you! You have got to know your identity. Your identity - you are a son or daughter of God. You are a new creation, the light of the world, the salt of the earth, the people of God, the ambassadors of God's government, His children, His glorious riches and His inheritance - you belong to Him!

I want to talk just a few minutes about why you should condemn condemnation and accuse accusation and grab guilt by the throat and get out of the religious boat and float and wear your Father's glory coat!!

I got that yesterday because I was writing a foreword to a wonderful book on grace written by a man called Dion Stevens and is being published soon from Cape Town. That was part of the foreword there! But I want you to open to Romans 8 and this is what I want to say to you - that is very helpful. The New Testament is God's love letter to you and is perfumed with His Presence. The Bible says in 2nd Timothy 3:16 that all Scripture is God-breathed and God-inspired and useful. It says we must "rightly divide the Word of God lest we be ashamed". So this is a principle I teach over and over again in this church and around the world. There are passages in Scripture that are so clear they don't need interpretation and don't need you to try and work out what they say and are so clear that you are secure in Christ. Then you have got other passages that are a little bit obscure and not so easy to understand. Watch out for people that major on those obscure passages and that are not always easy to understand. You come at them with the clear passages that everyone knows that it is saying but they want to go to the obscure passages.

The first question you will be taught in theology class and in exegesis of the Scripture (which is how to read the Scripture) - the first thing you must ask when you open up the Bible is; "Who is this book written to?". The Bible was not written into a historical vacuum. There was a reason this book was written and there were people it was written to! Amen? So whenever Paul writes his letters he always says; "To the saints in Ephesus", "to the saints in Phillipi" - so you know he is talking to those who are in Christ.

All his letters will encourage you on the message of grace and that you are in last Adam secure forever!

When you get to the Book of James - and you must understand that James is inspired by God and I love the book of James - but James starts off by saying; "To the 12 tribes". So it isn't to the saints but to the 12 tribes. You think; "Who are the 12 tribes?". Not to the saints! There may be some difficult passages there but don't get confused or worried about it because he is talking to a mixture - sometimes to Christians and sometimes to Jews. So he is talking about; "Beat your hearts oh you sinners!" in James 4 - he is talking to self-righteous people under the law and you need to discern and rightly divide!

If you read 2nd John and 3rd John - you will see that John the apostle says the lady to whom he writes and to whom he is writing to. In 1st John he doesn't tell us who he is writing to! So you must be careful who he is writing to. He doesn't say to the saints. Many people believe (and I agree) that in 1st John - he is writing to a mixed audience of Gnostics and Christians under the influence of Gnostics.

Gnostics were the New Agers of 2000 years ago. They didn't believe that there was any sin in the world - that whatever you do it isn't sin. So John is writing to the Gnostics and Christians influenced by them (not the Gospel of John but 1st John) - to a mixed audience. So I personally believe where he says in 1 John 1:8 where he says; "If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just" - I personally believe he is talking to people that need to get saved. Later on he talks to Christians that are under the influence of Gnostics.

I have got to say that - because I want to encourage you to read your Bibles and always ask; "Who is this letter being written to?". Because this book should be something you read with joy!".

And not read something that will confuse you! You know what I am saying? When it gets to Hebrews chapter 10 we love the first half because it says; "By one sacrifice He has made perfect forever all those being made holy". So we are perfect forever in the righteousness of God! He says there is no more sacrifice for sins left. Now you don't need anymore sacrifice because the final sacrifice was made and you are righteous and perfect forever! Then he writes on and says; "If after receiving the knowledge of the truth then you continually deliberately sin, there is no sacrifice left but just the wrath of God". So you think; "Well I've sinned a few times since I got saved and it was deliberate too!". All sin is deliberate friends! I committed adultery and didn't know it happened!?! All sin is deliberate.

But what is the context? Who is he writing to? He is writing to Hebrews - Jews that have been converted to Christ and some haven't been converted to Christ and he didn't say "You have been saved" - he said; "You received the knowledge of truth". Receiving the knowledge of truth is a whole lot difference from receiving salvation. The whole book of Hebrews is writing to Jews to explain to them the Old Covenant is inferior and Jesus is superior - the New Covenant is superior with better promises and we are perfect by one sacrifice! Now you know the truth but you haven't come to Christ and continue to deliberately sin. He tells us what that sin is! They are trampling the blood of Jesus under foot! What are they doing? Putting their faith in the law - putting their faith in Old Covenant sacrifices and not in Jesus. Paul says that there is no sacrifice after Jesus so whatever you are doing - if you keep rejecting salvation in Christ and keep relying on the law and temple sacrifices and animals and goats and sheep then you will go and face God one day without any salvation because Jesus is the only and last sacrifice for salvation.

He is talking about their deliberate sinning is rejecting Jesus and relying on the Old Covenant and on the law and on temple sacrifices system. Read the book in context! That's all! You see the church has been programmed for years with condemnation so that when they read the wonderful letters of Paul to the saints they get so excited and then read other books and they are not sure who they are written to and then go; "Oh this is contradicting the good stuff and what is it?! Good or bad?!". So you have Christians who are spiritual schizophrenics and enjoy grace but avoid those parts of the Bible that seem to contradict.

No! Read those parts confidently! They do not contradict but confirm how powerful this grace message is! And warn people don't go to the Law and don't rely on Old Covenant sacrifices because that is trampling the blood underfoot.

We do not trample the blood under foot! We are delivered! God is not counting our sins against us - we are perfect forever! We don't need another sacrifice - Jesus is enough! We are the righteousness of God and we are out of first Adam and are in last Adam! The only reason that legalism has been able to stay in the church is because of wrong Bible exegesis and taking obscure passages and majoring on them instead of reading them and getting our theology from the letters written to the saints - I am a saint! I am in Christ! Those are the letters that I build this message of grace on! Amen?

Let's look at Romans 8:1; "There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus". Now we are going to go to verse 31. I want to show you something that is very important. Your heavenly Father is not condemning you - He is not accusing you. I want to prove to you that He is doing the absolute opposite to condemning you!

He is not condemning you or accusing you but has actually taken a posture of responsibility to protect you and defend you against accusation and against condemnation.

Revelation 12 says the devil is the accuser of the Christian. The devil! Your Father is not accusing you and not condemning you but defending your innocence - not through your performance but your innocence through the blood of Jesus and the righteousness of God and Jesus performance on your behalf. Now I promise you if the Father is defending your innocence and if the Father is not accusing you or condemning you - Jesus is doing the same and the Holy Spirit is doing the same. If the Father is defending you and not accusing you then the Holy Spirit will not point fingers at your fault or convict you of any sin except the sin of unbelief in Jesus.

He will convict you and convince you that Jesus has gone to the Father and what is Jesus doing at the Father's right hand? Interceding and mediating for you that you are the righteousness of God and the Holy Spirit is convincing you that the devil who accuses you is judged and condemned! You can't have a Father who is defending your innocence and a Spirit who is pointing out your failures and making you feel guilty. You can't have a Father who's doing that and Jesus is condemning you. Father, Son and Holy Spirit act in unity to defend your innocence and there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!

Let's read this (v31) - "What then shall we say in response to this? If God is for us - who can be against us?". Let me read that again! "If God is FOR US who can be against us?!". You can have people come against you but they can't succeed! Because God is for us and then who can be against us? "He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also along with Him graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies! Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus who died more than that, who was raised to life is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us - who shall seperate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written we face death all day long". That is one of the joys of being an apostle. "As sheep to be slaughtered - no in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life neither angels nor demons, neither the present, nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else".

That sums it up friends! "Neither anything else in all creation will be able to seperate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord". Everything else refers to even your sin! Under the Old Covenant your sin definately would seperate you from God.

But under the New Covenant - better covenant, better promises, superior Mediator so NOTHING in all of creation can seperate you from the love of God! Anytime you feel seperated from God's love that is not authentic, legitimate or integrity - it is a lie from the devil and you have not guarded your own heart but allowed condemnation to come into your heart because of ignorance about the New Covenant.

So when you are feeling condemned, you think "That must be because I deserve to be condemned!".

No - you did deserve to be condemned, but Jesus was condemned in your place and you are given His righteousness so you are the righteousness of God and there is now NO condemnation to those in Christ because the Father is defending your innocence and so is Jesus and so is the Holy Spirit! That is why you MUST condemn condemnation and actively accuse accusation and you MUST take guilt by the throat and you MUST get out of the religious boat and float and you MUST wear your Father's glory coat!

You must! For the sake of millions of Christians who are confused about this clear and simple reality of the New Covenant! You must walk in joy and live free from condemnation! You MUST!

"I am going to close with this and I am going to make a statement now (and when you get this and you will, you will understand the basis of my entire ministry). This is what my entire ministry is based on and this is what the entire "Glory and Grace Conferences" are based on and why there is such power encounters in those conferences and this is what this entire church is based on - the statement I am going to make. The success of this church is based on this and the influence we have on so many nations is based on this statement:

"To the degree that you get rid of condemnation over your life, to that degree the glory Presence of God will manifest over your life. Much condemnation? Little glory Presence on your life, your home and your family. Little condemnation over your life? Much manifest glory of God over your life! No condemnation over your life? FULL manifestation of the fullness of glory over your life!".

We will not do the works Jesus did and the greater works which He promised a generation would do until we deal with this issue of condemnation! The more you get rid of condemnation, the thicker and more beautiful the glory coat of the Father comes over your life. The more you carry people will see Jesus in your life and will feel Him in your touch and feel Him in your words. There are churches that say; "Yes but we had a glory meeting and the Presence of God came". Yes I know but weeks go by and very little is left. What they call the Glory Presence is a very low anointing and they have only Presence very occasionaly because they have a mixture of law and grace so when they get the grace part right and get a bit of the glory and then they go back under law and see the glory fade.

2 Corinthians 3 - Paul says the ministry of death or the 10 Commandments written on tablets of stone brought condemnation - a ministry of death and a fading glory. But the gift of righteousness in the New Covenant brings an unfading glory. To the degree you get rid of condemnation in your life, to that degree you will walk in the glory of God. Any time of the day and I will pick this up next week and show you what condemnation is. It is not sinning and feeling bad - you shouldn't even feel bad when you sin - you should say; "Father I am sorry - that is not consistent with my nature but I thank You it is dealt with at the Cross". There are a lot of other ways the devil attacks us with condemnation. It isn't just in the area of sin but in the area of disappointing people, fitting into their plans for your life.

You think religious condemnation - but there is a whole lot of other condemnation that will diminish the glory in your life.

I want a priesthood of all believers so that EVERY believer in this church is UTTERLY free from condemnation so the full glory is on everyone of you so when we come together there is a glory explosion! A glory explosion!

The unbelievers don't mind glory explosions - they just think "Normal -normal church!". I will close now but Bill Johnson said in Sydney something. If there wasn't such persecution on this grace message then I would take the credit for it! But I am glad that Bill Johnson has to take the flack for this because when he said this in Sydney I almost fell off my chair. I thought that is what I have been saying for the last 3 and a half years! He is leading a reformation in the earth today of signs and wonders in the local church. He said;

"You cannot lose through your bad works what you did not gain through any good works".

All we have is the righteousness of God and Bill Johnson knows they have had a revival of signs and wonders for years and years now and he knows you cannot have that if there is any kind of condemnation over the people of God. That dear brother said; "It is easy to get sinners miraculously healed but it is difficult to pray for sick Christians to get healed". Because Christians are beaten by religious legalism and feelings of unworthiness and that I haven't done enough to earn this. Amen? Healings should take place easiest in the Church actually! Also easier there. But this should be really easy here because we are the people of grace!

Give the Lord a shout and a clap just for the heaven of it!

Monday, 28 April 2008

First Video Clip, Glory Encounters...

Hong Kong Trip Part 2

Well, I think I left off on the afternoon of Sunday...before the evening meeting with Joshua Mills...

Sunday night started out with woship, being led by Bonnie Rufus and a whole bunch of other worshippers from CCI. We sang many simple songs about the glory of God, including "The Glory Realm" by Ruth Heflin. It was very very good. I know, that's not very descriptive! The worship time was both powerful and intimate, and the presence of God was obvious. Now my memory is getting fuzzy, uh-oh!

I believe Joshua got up and took over at the piano once we were really getting lost in worship, he was singing songs (I think probably both songs he's written as well as prophetic/spontaneous songs) but at that point I was not completely aware of anyone else. I was deeply engaged with Jesus, having many heavenly imaginations run through my mind, I say heavenly because they seemed to be of me in heaven with Jesus. Sometimes words that Josh was singing would kind of float in and influence the direction of my thoughts. It was probably one of the more intimate experiences with God I've had in a corporate setting.

He also called out several words about people being healed of specific things, a couple of them we heard testimony of later that week at the prayer meeting. Then he spent some time teaching us about the glory realm. This was not preaching, but more a gentle but authoritative sharing of truth,wisdom, and God's word by the Spirit. More than anything, I would say it was extremely faith building, something of an impartation. He shared several amazing personal testimonies as well, including some of teleporting, but I'm not going to re-tell them here, you should listen yourself-- you won't be bored! He also took an offering of sorts and really blessed the church with the money, refusing to allow CCI to give any of it to him.

We then went home with Ryan and Kylie and stayed up too late talking again! We spent the morning hanging out with their family (somewhere along the line Aaron got his first taste of Veggiemite, which he wasn't exactly impressed with). I don't think there's any way to adequately describe how much we enjoyed getting to know Ryan and Kylie and their girls. Then Ryan dropped us off near a bank so we could exchange our money and wander around for a couple of hours. While in the bank, we saw Glenda and so we started chatting outside the bank. After a couple of minutes, Rob turned up and joined in.

We then started walking together to the point where we were going to part ways, and ended up standing in the street talking for probably 45 minutes. Finally, we left to look at a temple, and were taking pictures inside when Rob came in a couple of minutes later and asked if we'd like to eat lunch with him and Glenda. We graciously declined in favor of shopping-HAHAHA, I don't think so! We were of course thrilled and quite surprised! So we got to eat lunch with them, talking the ears off for another hour or two. This was definately one of the highlights of the whole trip for us, we got to share most of our testimony and thank them in person for making the message of grace available to so many people. And we talked about you too Dan! And shared some of Keith and Lydia's testimony as well, and probably some of you other people, you know who you are! All good things we said, don't worry.

All our friends want to know what Rob and Glenda are really like in person, so I guess I should give my impressions. I've given my impression of Glenda in the last post...so about Rob, he was less intense normally than when preaching hehe, which I think is for the best. They were very easy to talk with and very normal people, I think exactly what we would expect from listening to all the messages online. In other words, it would seem they are real people and don't bother faking it for church and ministry. I'm not sure of their impressions of us, but they seemed to like us well enough!

I don't think I mentioned this yet, but before we left, God kept telling me over and over 'they're going to love you' , meaning both me in particular and Aaron as well. That may sound strange, but in light of the fear of man problem I talked about, it was just God's kindness to me making sure I would thoroughly enjoy our time in Hong Kong and not be hindered from receiving all that God had for me there. Also, he kept showing me this glimpse of Rob laughing heartily at something I said, which I got to see in real life! I think I wrote on my own blog before leaving that I hoped they could handle me over there, it would seem that they can, and that makes me happy.

Anyway, Ryan had to hunt us down since we sort of forgot to meet him when we were supposed to...but he was very gracious about it.

Also, click HERE to see some pictures I put up on Facebook. Also, I'll put up a couple of video clips as soon as I can figure it out!

Next post, I'll continue with the evening meeting on Monday night with Joshua Mills and Kaye Beyer...

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Glory Encounters Conference 2008 Photos!!

While Julie is typing up Part 2 of their wonderful testimony of their time in Hong Kong, I decided to be rather cheeky and ask Ryan Rufus for permission to share a number of the photos that he took during the conference. He graciously said that I could! Photos give a wonderful insight into conferences and I pray will add to the testimony that Julie is so wonderfully sharing and I am so incredibly grateful to Ryan for allowing me to post these.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Back From Hong Kong, My First Post!

I guess we've held everyone in suspense long enough. Dan, you've been so patient! Well, my husband Aaron and I just got back a few days ago from visiting City Church International in Hong Kong, and we're slowly recovering from the 12 hour time difference and an extremely long trip in a relatively short space of time. I've already written about the miraculous provision of God that got us there on Voice of Grace, my personal blog, if you're curious.

Our trip began on the morning of April 17th, when we set out by car with our 3 children to drive south for about 14 hours. We met up with Aaron's parents in New Jersey and spent the night in a hotel there (on them) and set out from there without children for JFK airport in New York City. Everything went quite smoothly once we finally found a suitable place to park our car and we were flying out by late afternoon on a 16 hour flight over the icy north. We arrived on the following evening and after finally getting through customs/immigration and hunting down our luggage we headed out to be welcomed by Ryan Rufus, who had been waiting patiently. We all recognized each other right away, which was good haha, and then he drove us to their apartment where we stayed up talking with him and Kylie for a couple hours before getting some sleep.

We were at home right away, and fell in love with the Ryan and Kylie and their 3 beautiful daughters. It was such a great time being with people who have such a similar understanding of grace, and I guess it makes sense since we've been listening to MP3's from the website for more than a year and a half. We really felt like they were long lost friends, they were so easy to be with. They also have an amazing testimony of how God brought them out of legalistic religious control into the freedom of the Gospel of Grace! And I think Aaron appreciated Ryan's late night sugar stash as well...

In the morning we piled into the car with Kylie and the girls to head to church. It was so weird to walk into the room where they meet and start being introduced to people with familiar names and voices, having heard them pray, or give prophetic words, or sing, or testify at some point over the time we've been listening! I can honestly say we were just as excited to meet these people as anyone else, part of the reason we decided not to try for the Grace and Glory conference in Sydney. We were there for the prayer time before the service, and Glenda came over to welcome us just as prayer was starting.

I was not prepared for how beautiful she is in person! She's certainly pretty in pictures I've seen but in real life there is a dynamic godly beauty that I have always been taught to strive for in certain past legalistic contexts, but didn't actually exist there. I guess I've mostly seen weak counterfeits of this kind of beauty, the kind that leave you feeling condemned and ashamed of how far you are from the 'standard', so it was refreshing to meet a real woman, ha!, real women (yes, there are more of these lovely ladies in the church, they are not an exclusive elite set of superwomen!) living in the grace of God and glowing with the unfading glory of the New Covenant. It's funny what seemingly small things make big impressions on me!

During the prayer time, there were 2 prophetic words about canaries (I believe one is on the MP3 for that Sunday), which I only mention because we'd been telling Kylie the story of how my sister rescued a canary from the streets of Toronto a couple of years ago and still has him. It was a little amusing that canaries came up in the prayer time!

Rob came over and met us before things got started as well. To me, one of the most surprising things about the whole experience was my complete lack of fear or nervousness. Normally I would be shaky and sweaty at the thought of meeting so many new people, especially people I admire so much. In the past growing up in the church I always put men/women in leadership up on pedestals in some strange way, so I was encouraged that maybe finally I'm growing up, learning that there really really is no hierarchy in the church!

This really is a great answer to something I've been praying about for a long time, the fear of man I lived under for my whole life could be debilitating at times (a speech in school would have me crying for hours before or after, and I actually missed up to 40 school days a year during high school as I would make myself sick with worrying that my teachers hated me). Though God has been setting me free a little at a time over the past years, this message of grace has brought a freedom I didn't even know was possible. Strangely, I think this is one of the more significant things I'm walking away with from this whole experience. We even got up in front of the church to give a brief testimony of sorts, and I actually spoke a couple sentences as well, seriously, you can listen, my voice wasn't shaking, that's a miracle! But there's more!

(I like to call this "Rob Dylan")

Rob preached an amazing and intense prophetic message (There's a Flood of Glory Coming, transcribed by Dan a couple of posts ago)complete with performance of a Bob Dylan song. We were sitting in the front row and it was almost too much for me at times, and I'm a pretty intense person myself. What I mean by too much is that I couldn't really take it all in at once, we still have to go back and listen to it again. So glad Dan transcribed it because I don't think I would even know where to begin with note taking! It was just so good to be there, though a bit like a dream, everything happened so fast. We got to meet a lot of great people afterward as well before heading back to Ryan and Kylie's.

TO BE CONTINUED....i promise

Friday, 18 April 2008

Self-Righteousness versus the Gift of Righteousness

This key sermon was preached on Sunday 9th December 2007.

I took the opportunity to begin transcribing it while City Church International are enjoying the ministry of Joshua Mills at the "Glory Encounters Conference". It's one of those essential "foundational" sermons that adds to the teaching and revelation of grace that Rob is so gifted at bringing and it must be added to the Archives of sermons!

"It has been a long and tiresome year and we have overcome many challenges but I am standing and looking back with a sense of holy, righteous gloating. Can you have sanctified gloating in the Spirit? I am gloating because God showed me that everything the enemy had planned for this year has failed! A New Year Resolution should be; "Lord what do You want me to do this year?". Don't make promises to God! That's a stupid thing to do - a spirit of stupidity. Your New Year Resolution should be; "Father what do You want me to do with my life next year? What is Your will for this year? Where do You want me to be?". And so forth. God showed me some of the plans of the enemy for 2007 for us as a church and they were horrific plans. I want to tell you that right at the centre of the plan was the complete and utter elimination of the existence of this church. And after a year we sit here healthy, wealthy and wise! We sit here with the anticipation of 2008 being so awesome because this year was the warm-up. In 2008 we are going to walk into the realms of the glory a lot more!

Glenda and I have had 10 international ministry trips this year and it is not just going into churches and speaking for a Sunday morning but going in for 5 or 6 days and taking 16 meetings - 2 to 3 hours each meeting. Seeing leaders between meetings for dinners and breakfasts. We have been finding that pretty tough but we are finding this church is beginning to stand up more mature like you are the A-Team. We don't have an eldership team, the deacons and pew-warmers. There is no B-team! This is the priesthood of all believers! 3 and a half years of investing the grace message into people and being a God-centred church, a people-empowering church, a purpose-driven church - that is beginning to kick in and take effect you know. I am so grateful to God for this year and it has been an awesome year!

With all that trouble, we put on the "Grace and Glory Conference" and lives were changed all over the world. Every week we are getting reports that lives are being changed! On our website, we have had a report that downloads have gone up to 30, 000 and drop to 20, 000 when I preach too much. But goes way over that when Glenda preaches! But in this year alone and the God Channel which I preached on - we have literally preached over the website and Christian television - we have touched the lives of multiples of millions of people. And that is not just one or two people but we are the A-Team. If any person doesn't play their role then that limits the influence and our far-reaching effects that we can have. No matter how small you think your role is, you will be shocked if your role was taken out how it would affect every single one of us in ways that we wouldn't even be aware of but we would be minimised because your role was not there.

I am meeting with some folk after the service - Glenda and I and we are so keen about keeping impetus through the Christmas and New Year period. We don't want to slow down.

Momentum is more precious than diamonds and gold and momentum costs blood and guts to produce and if you lose it, it costs more than blood and guts to get lost momentum in action again.

Keep in faith and keep in prayer over this Christmas and New Year period - pray for this church. Pray for Glenda and me on holiday. When you go on holiday, the devil doesn't want you resting so everything breaks down and goes wrong. Pray for us to have a great holiday as I will for you! I believe we will see more people saved and more people added to this church! When we get back we will have more baptisms in this church. I love the moving of the Spirit and I love the gold dust!

A lady went back to Vietnam and was all frustrated with something and gold dust fell over her! We have people experiencing encounters with God with gold dust and so on - but it that does not translate into people being saved then what is it about? The church is being self-indulgent. I believe in 2008 we are going to see a lot of people saved!

People talk about how grateful they are that the downloads of messages are free. It costs us money as a church to run our website. International ministries around the world charge for their messages. You get one free podcast but all the other ministry you have to pay. We would be well within our rights to charge at minimum 30 Hong Kong dollars per download. 30 dollars a download - 30, 000 a month and we are looking at a million Hong Kong dollars a month! That could be coming into this church!

But I have this conviction - let's get this message out to as many people as we can and especially to people who can't afford it because it will lift their lives up.

That is the heart of this church - we want to be a blessing! We need resources in this church - we want to reach out to orphans. I need billions of dollars! I have got a vision that demands billions of dollars! To reach the homeless, the poor, the AIDS, the hospices and orphans and so forth! To plant churches and to resource leaders. I would love to resource one or two more leaders financially on salary in this church so Glenda and I can travel more into the nations and the home base can be looked after and I feel sometimes we neglect you a bit. We don't want to but we get back with jet lag and are pretty tired. We neglect spending time with leaders we want to bring through. God is raising up leaders and is raising up a team and I would love to see two or three full time leaders here helping us so the church can grow and not be neglected without travel. We feel we can't turn all invites internationally down. It is God! He is opening these doors!

Next year we are going to be holding a "Glory and Grace Conference" in Australia and speaking to 1, 000 key leaders in Europe that will affect many nations across Europe so we can impact nations! We can't turn that down but we can't neglect here either. That is abusive of you. So we would like to see another pastor come through. And I am being direct. We do need more money to bring in another pastor full time.

We are very grateful for the income of this church - as you know we don't preach tithing as a law. I reject that you tithe under law. You tithe as Abraham tithed because the heavens are open already. Tithing doesn't open the heavens - Abraham had an open heaven and 430 years before the law but he did tithe. Tithing is investing into God and helping the local church be guaranteed of the resource to do eternal work and do the fruits - that's all it is. If you believe tithing is of the law, then I beg you - don't tithe. Because you will be wasting your time. People who tithe under law are wasting their time. I don't need your tithes. I don't want anyone's tithe if you believe in tithing under the law. But if you believe in tithing 430 years before the law like Abraham and Isaac and Jacob did and the heavens were open not because they tithed but because they were under a covenant of grace, then we need your tithe and we need your offerings!

Open your Bibles please to Romans chapter 1. Grace brings incredible release to the captives! I decided this morning that I was going to teach on the manifest glory of God but I am going to go back and teach on something key - the righteousness of God. It was on teaching on righteousness that this lady with a suicide problem and sexual abuse and depression got set free. I am going to show you why. I want to bring some clarity today.

Father we pray for the spirit of revelation to come so that we will not just hear this message with our heads but light will be illuminated in our hearts and we will see things we have never seen before and have such a transformation that will cause us to have such rest and peace and confidence before You Father that we could walk in Your manifest Presence on a daily basis of open heaven over our lives. We pray that all gloom and doom and condemnation will evaporate and be dealt with and we will be equipped today Father to supernaturally live in Your freedom - in Jesus Name. Amen.

How many of you know that it says in Galatians 5:1 that it is for FREEDOM that Christ has set you free? It didn't say set you free to be an evangelist. It is for freedom! The objective of the Gospel is not to make you an evangelist or an apostle or a successful businessman or anything else - it is for FREEDOM! Freedom is the end in itself. Freedom is the end of the gospel. Freedom from gloom, oppression, condemnation and guilt - that is the goal of the gospel! The goal of the law and the Old Testament will rob you of confidence, strip you of all self-righteousness, crush you, curse you, condemn you and send you to hell and make you concious of sin every day. That is the purpose of the law. Because God wanted the law to show you that self-righteousness will never get you to heaven and would never produce miracles. But righteousness that comes as a gift is what God wants to show in the gospel.

How many believe that man fell in the Garden and was born again from spiritual life to spiritual death? What was his fall? What was his great sin? He ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Mankind was cut off God and all the generations up to Christ were cut off from God and Adam's death and disobedience was visited on the human race - everyone was born. The law didn't make you a sinner. Sinning was a condition you were born in from first Adam.

It is not your sin that essentially would send you to hell - it was first Adam's. And it is not your righteousness that will get you to heaven - it is Christ, the last Adam's righteousness!

So the human race is either in first Adam or in last Adam. How did first Adam cause the human race to fall into spiritual death and be cut off from God? By eating a fruit of evil? No - when Adam ate from the tree of good and evil, he didn't extract all the goodness out and ate only the evil. Goodness is as much part of the fall as evil is! The answer to man's return to a confident face to face relationship with God can't be trying to be God and avoiding evil. Because good was as much part of the fall as evil was! Much of the church today is preaching from the wrong truth. Religion and the major religions at that preach from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You see that preaching produces self-righteousness which condemns men to be cut off from God. That is why most Christians don't see miracles, don't see signs and wonders, don't feel the Presence of God and don't walk in His Presence because they are coming from the wrong tree.

There is a tree we must preach from - it is called the Tree of Life and it is the Cross. On that Cross, Christ destroyed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and He cancelled the written code with it's rules and regulations opposed to us and disarmed the powers.

The Book of Romans is not a book about good and evil - it is not a book about a comparison between righteous behaviour and unrighteous behaviour.

The Church world is fixated and obsessed with morality. Jesus did not come to make immoral people moral. He came to make dead people live.

I am not against good morals but I am against the fixation and the obsession with just preaching right living. The Gospel is not right living - it is right believing. If you believe wrong then you will end up living with an outward appearance of righteousness but with condemnation and misery and you will be self-righteous and judgemental. The downside of self-righteousness is gloom and guilt. If you measure your performance as your basis for approaching God and you measure your own righteousness that is self-righteousness. So when you are doing things well (in your opinion) you look down your nose at everyone that is doing it less and feel superior. But when you are doing less in your own standards of self-righteousness you feel guilt and condemnation.

You need to say this tenderly to people living in guilt - the problem is you are self-righteous.

It will shock them because they only think self-righteous people are those who parade around. So you will never understand the book of Romans - and this is not some private revelation - the book of Romans is not a comparison between righteous and unrighteous living. If you think that you will never understand this book - it will be confusion to you! You will hate this book and you will be condemned by this book! This book does not speak from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

This book is singularly, uniquely and entirely about the comparison between the gift of God's righteousness to you and self-righteousness.

The gift of God's righteousness to you (as theologians call it) is "imputed". That is imparted - it is not important, it imported - it is imparted! Imparted would mean it comes into you as a power that would make you live righteously all the time. It doesn't do that. The imputed righteousness that is a gift gives you perfect right standing before the Father irrespective of your failures, your shortcomings and your sins. That's what imputed righteousness is. You seem as perfectly righteous every second of every minute of every day of every week of every year for the rest of your life! That is what Hebrews 10 says! Hebrews 10:14;

"By one sacrifice He made perfect forever all those that are being made holy".

We are being made holy and we are becoming more like Jesus! How many of you are aware that some of you are not at all like Jesus?!

The Church is so obsessed with moral behaviour and changing people's external behaviour - and that is a focus on good and evil and produces an alienation from God - instead of focusing on the gift of righteousness that says you are perfect forever so that when you are being made holy and you make mistakes, God doesn't cut you off while you are in the process of being made holy because He doesn't relate to you on the basis of your holiness - He relates to you on the basis of the gift of righteousness which is righteous forever!

If I could take a pill that made me instantly like Jesus how many of you would take a pill and from that moment you talk like Jesus, walk like Jesus, be holy like Jesus, resist sin like Jesus - how many of you would take that pill?! I would - I would take it today! There is no such pill! That's why you have to have the Gospel - the good news! If you can't have a pill to make you like Jesus, then you need the Gospel to save you from going insane with guilt. If you live to be 120 years of age then you at 120 would still need to change in some area of your life to be like Jesus. So let's get off this trip; "I have got to change - I have got to change". When I didn't understand this message years ago when I was in Coastlands and Victory Faith Centre all I began to realise was that when I preached grace (and I would only preach it for about 2 or 3 weeks and then I would have to balance it with the law because I felt guilty because I thought it was too extreme and people would go out and sin and do wrong which some do) I felt happier in myself and I also noticed that I found it easier to love people!

I wasn't so judgemental about their behaviour - I just looked at them with more tenderness and grace and patience and kindness and goodness. I became a better husband! If you are living from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil then all you want to do is change yourself and change everyone else around you and it is disgusting. It is self-righteous. I felt better as I preached grace - even if my performance in holiness hadn't improved, even though it was the way it was I just felt a lot happier! Then sooner or later I would hear someone preach about how you have got to give more, do more, be more, pray more, stop sinning and then God will like you better! He will like you if you just do more. Like an idiot (because I respected some of these people) I would try and I would try to be more holy and try to do more good and try to avoid evil. You know what I noticed? Within days I was unhappy and miserable and didn't really love people. But boy was I en-route to be holy and to sort out my life!

God spoke to me one day and said; "Isn't it amazing - every time you try to get more holy, you become more unloving". One of the things by which we recognise Christians is that we love one another. Have you noticed that self-righteous people on a quest to improve themselves and be more holy are very unloving?!

There is a friend of mine who preaches grace in the most beautiful way. You have never heard me say his name before. He preached on how you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus irrespective of your performance and if you have a self-righteousness then it depends on your performance but if you are in Jesus Christ then you are given all of Jesus' righteousness permamently as a free gift all your life. He preached this and he said; "Your obedience and your disobedience does not affect this righteousness because it has got nothing to do with you - you didn't perform it, it is not your own righteousness - it was given to you as a gift". He said; "So that means if we take it to it's logical conclusion you are always righteous in God's eyes and perfect forever - no matter what". People are scared to preach this because they think people will go out and sin. If it is the truth - I am going to preach it whatever people do with it! I am going to preach it!

When you preach grace you will find out that when someone is a gracious person who preaches grace Christians feel the safety to share their secret life with you. In the Church there are huge problems going on and everyone is acting all holy because we are all having self-righteousness being forced on the Church to behave like they are not! That's why Church is such a strain for some people because it is hard to act like something you are not. This guy came to my friend and said;

"Look I have been in this Church for many years and it is a charismatic, spirit-filled church and I have a problem with prostitutes. Every week I go and pay $100 and I sleep with prostitutes and I have been doing it for years - I am so trapped in this thing. Are you saying because I am in Christ that while I am doing the act of illegitimate sexual behaviour with prostitutes that I am the righteousness of God and afterwards I am still the righteousness of God?".

It is amazing how hypocritical we are in the church. Pride - conceitedness - gossip - well no you are still righteous if you do that. So my friend said;

"Actually sir, yes you are still the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus".

This guy very unwisely (he wasn't wise with the message) got up at his church and said; "I want to testify pastor!". This friend of mine was the visiting speaker by the way. "I was with prostitutes last night and I believe I am still the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!". This friend of mine said the pastor looked at him and if looks could kill - he would have killed him! He got my friend afterwards and had a go at him. My friend said; "Well you have been preaching law here and preaching if people sin then God withdraws from them. That is Old Covenant teaching and not the New Covenant. You threaten them with hell as a Christian if they sin. You threaten them with the anger of God if they sin. You have taken Scripture out of context from the New Testament and preached Old Covenant. Did it stop or help this man? It didn't".

Even fear of judgement will not stop these deep-seated patterns going on in people's lives.

Months later my friend went back to the city where he lived and this guy rang him. "Hi, hi I just rang to see how you are doing?". My friend said; "Well fine thanks - how are you doing?!". He said; "I am still going to prostitutes!". My friend thought; "Oh no - I am going to have to get a different job!". He went on;

"No - no it's not like that anymore! I will still go to them regularly and take my $100 and give it to them. As soon as I give it to them, they start to undress and I say; 'Don't undress'. What happened was that as I began to realise that I was sinning with these prostitutes yet God still saw me as righteous, I began to realise how valuable and precious I am to the Father and He really is My Father. I am not on prohibition or "if" - but I am His Son because I have the DNA of the re-birth and the Father is not my Judge or my Enemy but my Father and He still sees me as a son and the righteousness of God! When I began to see that I saw how valuable I am for the first time and then I began to see that these women who haven't come to Christ - there is a message that they are perfectly righteous forever! Then I began to see how God loves them and their esteem".

He said; "From that day on I saw that I am the righteousness of God despite the fact that I was even doing it with prostitutes for weeks and weeks after heard the message - I got delivered from my sexual addiction and I gave them the $100 paid for the hour and said; 'You don't need to take your clothes off, I will not have any kind of sex with you, for you or anything afterwards. I want to tell you that I as a one who came to many of you and paid you $100 not to have sex with you but to pay for the privilidge of telling you what Jesus did in my life and how He sees you as the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus".

The Church is going to have to wake up and is going to see world-wide that there is a gospel revelation that God is recovering the New Covenant again and He wants to remove the confusing cocktail of Old Covenant and New Covenant mixed together.

The law is so radical! It is utter judgement! It demands perfect righteousness of your judgement. New Covenant is radical - it provides God's perfect righteousness for you. You cannot mix 2 radical messages together. But the Church has somehow succeeded in bringing them together and confusing believers world-wide. "Rob can you dare tell someone who's life as a Christian that you are the righteousness of God every second of every moment of every day?!". Yes! Because it is the only empowerment!

When you are free FROM the guilt of what you do - you get power OVER what you do.

But your guilt is a useless motivator and psychologists have preached against religion because they rightly realise that religion is the cause of guilt and psychologists will say that guilt is the major problem of mental instability and they can trace most mental instability back to guilt. The Church has got the audacity to stand up and say; "We are the answer to mental problems!". No - we are the cause of it!

Because we preach from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - where good was as much part of the fall as evil was. Preaching good against evil produces self-righteousness. The Book of Romans is not a comparison of righteous behaviour and unrighteous behaviour. But a comparison between the gift of righteousness and self-righteousness. Many of us don't understand a thing of what I have just said to you.

They quote Romans 1:16; "I am not ashamed of the gospel" but what they are saying is they are not ashamed is totally different to the context in which Paul is saying. For them; "I am not ashamed of the gospel" means I will stand at traffic lights and cars have to stop because it is a red light and open my Bible and preach in through their windows that they are going to hell and I will preach that they can be saved.

That's what they call being unashamed. It drives people to ram Bible down people's throats and force things on people out of their self-righteousness.

I am all for preaching the Gospel in streets. I preached Gospel in streets! I played my guitar and preached to those who would listen. I am all for preaching the Gospel to anyone who would listen either 1-1 or thousands. But that's not what Paul was referring to when he said; "I am not ashamed of the Gospel". You have got to look at the context! Paul was living in a culture and a context of a society dominated by Judaistic thinking. Now please don't get me wrong - I live Jewish people and I love Israel. I don't want to have to qualify that again. It was dominated by Judaic thinking. In Judaic thinking for anyone to say; "I am righteous apart from works - apart from holiness - apart from personal obedience - I am perfectly righteous apart from works" - for anyone to say that would have been frowned upon, would have been stoning, would have been hatred and religious disapproval to such an extreme!

But Paul the champion of the law - Paul, the legalist of legalists - got a revelation of the gospel! Not from Jerusalem or even the apostles there but in an Arabian desert where the gospel was revealed to Paul. When Paul saw that there is a righteousness apart from works and he realised that the society he lived in was dominated by anger and disapproval to claim that you are righteous apart from works, he could still say; "I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation" and (v17) - he tells us why it is the power. "For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed by faith that is from first to last". Now the word "revealed" is very important and we are going to read it in a moment.

If this isn't revealed to you by the Spirit then you are not living in the reality of it yet but one day the light will come on and you will see revealed righteousness. When that happens to you, you will eat your Bible, kick chairs and go mad with joy for condemnation is over from that day!

This is a righteousness revealed from God. This is righteousness FROM God. It isn't a righteousness from the keeping of the law. It is not a righteousness from man's efforts. It's not man's best efforts. It is a righteousness from God. It is a righteousness from God revealed in the Gospel that is by faith - not works - by faith from first to last!

Now in the church world today you have got people that think they are so generous and say; "Oh I believe in grace - praise God". We say "by grace"! Yes when we get saved, God wipes the slate and all our sins are cleansed away and we are righteous but everytime I sin, I am becoming less righteous and now I am becoming more and more unrighteous. Then I have got to repent and confess and clean my slate and do a whole lot of good things and then the slate will be clean again and then it is only clean while I am maintaining it clean by my good works and my efforts". That is NOT the Gospel - that is heresy! That is demonic - that is Old Covenant. It has NOTHING to do with man - it is simply by faith from first to last. I don't just get saved by faith and am now righteous for a little while. It is a righteousness that is by faith from first all the way through eternity to last!

In other words when I stand after 10, 000 years in heaven I am as righteous on that day as I am now!

Let me quickly say this; when we go to multi-congregations and Cantonese congregations and ex-pat, mixed congregations, Filipino congregations and then meet together thousands of us in one big congregation once every three months - some of you sitting here today are going to be the preachers in those congregations and I hope you take notes! The DNA of those congregations is going to be this DNA!

"What does the gift of righteousness mean? Let's quickly define what it means (and I am going to say some things here that are going to thrill you). It means "right standing with God!". The gift of righteousness gives you permament, unconditional, irreversible, from first to last right standing with God. Now what does that right standing with God mean? It means that there is nothing between you and the Father. It means the Father is looking at you as if you were perfectly righteous all the time. He is not just looking at you; "Just as if you had never sinned" (as great as that would be) but He is looking at you "JUST AS IF YOU HAD ALWAYS OBEYED!".

Christ's obedience has made the many righteous. His obedience has been credited to you in fulness forever.

So He is looking at you and you are saying; "Well I went with a prostitute last night - am I still the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus?". If this gospel is true - yes.

If you are not ashamed of this gospel then you are going to have to tell people that who are in Christ. That is the issue - are they in Christ!? Oh we are ashamed! We can say; "We are saved by grace up to a point" but we won't go the whole way because we are ashamed. Many of the church - many preachers today - are ashamed to preach this gospel as Paul preached. We live in a modern age of fundamentalists who are self-righteous. I love Christian TV and I am not a judgemental person but more and more if I was not a Christian and heard the way some Christians preach I would hate the Church. It is SO self-righteous. It is SO disgustingly self-righteous. I love people like Joyce Meyer - she preaches grace.

Righteousness as a gift means you have perfect standing before the Father - all the time. No matter how much you have prayed or haven't prayed. No matter how much sin you have done or haven't done - no matter how holy you are or how unholy you are at that moment. I have got to say that because if you could take a pill to be like Jesus but the fact is we have all tried to be as holy as we can and the more holy we try to get the more unholy we become.

So we may as well just settle this - there is a Gospel that has made us perfect forever and there is a process of being made holy but while we are growing in sanctification and holiness God is not relating to us on the basis of our unholiness but is relating to us on the basis of righteousness.

Let me make this point - Jesus was so desirous that we would have this one to one fellowship and right standing with the Father that before He went to the Cross He prayed a prayer and Jesus ALWAYS gets His prayer answered! He said in John 17:20-23; "Father" (talking about the Church - He is talking about us those who would believe through the message are those disciples and future generations - us included!) "Father, I pray that they may be one with US even as WE are ONE Father". He says it three or four times in the next three verses in different ways that we the Christian would be one with the Father as Jesus and the Father are ONE. Now that is His desire and then He goes to the Cross and He becomes all our sin so that we may become all His righteousness as a gift so that we may become one with the Father because He is one with the Father!

Right standing - nothing seperating us! Does the Father have any problems with the Son? Is there any conflict between the Father and the Son? Does the Father point out the Son's faults?

No you are in Christ and through what happened at the Cross you are ONE with the Father! So actually friends - every second of every moment of every day you are as close to the Father as Jesus is.

I know I cannot convince all of you with this. "Ooh I haven't heard this before". Well then my darling - you haven't heard the Gospel. You have just not heard the Gospel. You were sold a bed of lies. But it is not too late to get free. You may not have the manifest glory Presence on your life every day all day. I don't - I would love to but I don't! It probably would kill me because my mortal body couldn't handle it. That is why we will need an immortal body but what I do feel all day, every moment of every day - every second is open heaven - fellowship closeness with the Father - no condemnation - even when I do wrong and I don't want to do wrong - I don't feel condemnation!

Feeling that freedom of security of in Christ has made me a lot more loving and I can say sorry a lot more quicker to people I do wrong to but if you are self-righteous then "sorry" admits that you are wrong. You don't want to be wrong because "sorry" admits that you are self-righteous. When I gave up trying to be more moral and more holy and more ethical and better and pray better and be better, I just started relaxing on the inside. It still doesn't work in the traffic with slow drivers!

Go to Romans 1 quickly. Let's read this. I wanted to give you much more. Let's read these marvellous words here;

(v16); "I am not ashamed of the Gospel". Are you ashamed of this Gospel? "Because it is the power of God unto salvation of everyone who believes first for the Jew and then for the Gentile". (v17); "For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last - just as it is written, the righteous will live by faith".

A few more Scriptures and then we will close. Go to Romans chapter 9. I used to try to be so desperate to become more righteous, not realising I was becoming self-righteous. I lived uptight all the time but I was more angry with those who didn't change fast enough but the ones I was most angry with were those who didn't change and didn't care about not changing and were happy! Isn't it amazing that when a man goes out and squanders his father's wealth and goes out and spends it with prostitutes and whores and then comes home and the Father runs out and welcomes him and people think the Bible is trying to show something about the Father but He's not - He is trying to show something about the older brother.

It is the older brother who says; "All these years I have been labouring for you". What is that? The ugly boot of self-righteousness. The Father turns to the older brother and says with amazement; "Everything I have is yours!". You thought you could earn it!? You are my son - it's automatically yours! Irrespective of your behaviour - it BELONGS to you! What is Jesus trying to do!? Under the New Covenant the standards are higher under the New - God help those people! Because in that case everyone in this room has committed adultery!

That is insane to preach that to the Bride of Christ. Jesus was not preaching the New Covenant Law - He was letting them know that this is what God revealed to Moses and let Me show you the real spirituality of the Law. You people that are so self-righteous that you think you are keeping the law because you have never got into bed with someone! Let me tell you the spirituality of the Law and how it will scrutinise you and rob you of any ounce of self-righteousness. It is so perfect! Even if you don't murder someone physically but hate them in your heart then you are guilty as if you had actually murdered them! What is the Law doing? Not to give you a standard to live up to - that is evil self-righteousness! The Law comes to tell you - give up! Give up pursuing self-righteousness! Stop it! Have fun! Enjoy Jesus! Enjoy one another! Enjoy life! Be happy!

Some will not change even when you preach this even for months. But hope returns! Otherwise you are living in misery. Be careful what you listen to. Sift preaching through the Word of God. The problem with most legalistic preaching is that it does not read the New Covenant in context and what it does read, it reads through the lense of Old Covenant thinking. I am not ashamed of this Gospel.

I was not pursuing righteousness! I was pursuing drugs and rock and roll. God encountered me and saved me and has kept me for 30 years in love with Him. I believe the fundementals of the Bible but the fundementalist culture is no fun and it's mainly mental. I watched them trying to pursue their own righteousness and they are not happy! Others - righteousness is dumped on them as a gift and don't realise how happy they are!

The ones who are pursuing don't get it and the ones who aren't pursuing it - get it!

It isn't fair! Thank God it isn't fair because it was fair I would be on my way to hell! Romans chapter 9 and let's read from verse 30;

"What then shall we say? That the Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have obtained it?". He didn't understand it and wanted to put them under the law to understand better. "A righteousness that is by faith - Israel who pursued a law of righteousness has not obtained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone". What is that? Every week millions of people around the Church world are stumbling! It can't be that good! Jesus is the stumbling stone! True Christianity is a stumbling stone to self-righteousness! The Church world is riddled with self-righteousness dressing itself up as if we were New Covenant people and it is a mixture of Old and New. God says in Galatians 4; "Kick out Haggai and Ishmael". Not people - the mentality.

Look at (v33); "See I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame". If you trust in this Gospel of grace and the gift of righteousness then you will never be put to shame, therefore you should never be ashamed of this Gospel - as great as it is, don't stumble over how great it is. There are dear people in this church who have stumbled as I have preached this. It is a stumbling. For the Chinese evangelicals in Hong Kong. Up to a point we believe in grace - but not this far Rob! I want to open the gates and let the light of glory to come into Hong Kong.

This is the Gospel that Paul preached. It's not so good to be true - it's so good it is true!

Two more Scriptures. 10:1; "Brothers my hearts desire and pray for the Israelites is that they may be saved for I can testify for them that they are zealous for God". Self-righteous people can be very zealous - don't be impressed by that. They zealous for God but their zeal is not based on knowledge. (v3); "Since they did not come to know the righteousness that comes from God and saught to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness". What is seeking to establish a righteousness of your own? That is self-righteousness. (v4); "Christ is the end of the Law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes". I believe! (11:6); "And if by grace then it is no longer by works and if it were, then grace would no longer be grace".

Romans 4:4; "Now when a man works his wages are not credited to him as a gift but as an obligation. However to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works. Blessed are they whose trangressions are forgiven - whose sins are covered - blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him!".

How long is never?! Your sin will never be counted against you because you are as close to the Father as Jesus is to the Father because you are given Christ's righteousness to stand before the Father as your status. Romans 3:19; "Now we know that whatever the law says - it says to those who are under the law so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God".

What is the purpose of the law? To shut everyone's mouths! If you read the symptoms of self-righteousness from (v10-19) then you will see the ugly fruit of self-righteousness. Violence, judgementalism and misery. They think they are righteous because they have got the law. He comes to (v19) and says the purpose of the law is to hold everyone accountable and to shut every mouth. The law is meant to show you how high the standards of God is - your self-righteousness is like filthy rags so give it up! Give up the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and find the gift of righteousness. It is not based on righteous behaviour or unrighteous behaviour but a gift!

There is so much confusion that the law is not doing it's job that the law is being preached as the thing that can make you righteous. It is meant to be preached in a way that will silence every self-righteous mouth. The reason it isn't because people are confused. (v20); "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law, therefore we become concious of sin".

How do you become concious of sin? Through the law. How many of you are concious of sin? If you put up your hands then that shows you still have a law mentality. The law is still operating in you and you haven't seen this clearly enough. If you are concious of your sin then you still have a legalistic mentality.

"There is now therefore NO condemnation". If Christ is the end of the law and the law is what makes you concious of sin then in your own mind you have not come to the end of the law in Christ yet. Because you are still concious of sin. But if I am not concious of sin then I could be an axe murderer.

No you won't - you will be concious of grace, of the love of God, of desiring to walk with God and when you fail and sin it won't cripple you with condemnation but you will move on without a conciousness of sin because you are not into good or evil but LIFE and wanting to walk with God.

Conciousness of sin means being condemned by sin. You know when you have sinned. That isn't conciousness. (v21); "But now a righteousness from God apart from law has been made known to which the law and the prophets testify - this righteousness from God comes through faith in God to those who believe - there is no difference". This is what is making churches break out in revival! We are still too conservative!

There is nothing in worship that is to cater to your temperament. Worship is to cater to God's temperament and His Bible invites His people to do this and the reason why they don't do this is that they are still self-concious and legalistic, condemnation control. When this message gets into your heart ... the level of your worship is determined by the level of your revelation of grace. If you feel condemned, then how can you worship a God you feel is condemning you? When you know there is NO condemnation, NO seperation from the love of God then you will worship!

(v21); "But a righteousness from God apart from law has been made known to which the law and the prophets testify".

What do they testify to? A righteousness that is from God that is apart from the law! So the law under the New Covenant is testifying to the fact that you now have a righteousness that is apart from itself - the law! Under the Old Covenant the law was your judge! Under the New Covenant the law has stepped into a whole new category in the court of God's justice! The law under the New Covenant - once you come into Christ - the law is no longer your judge! It is now a good report, witness and testifier that you have obtained a permament perfect righteousness without the law's help!
The law is God's perfect integrity! Under the law, the perfection of the holiness of God's law testifies against every devil of condemnation! Glenda Rufus, Heather - the law says in the courts of God says;

"I the law testify that this person has received a righteousness that I never gave them! But I as the perfect standards of God declare that they have a righteousness apart from me that is the perfect standard of God's righteousness and they have it forever! I witness! I testify!".

The law is no longer your judge - but is now your witness in the high court of glory testifying that you are the righteousness of God. But if you are not in Christ then the law judges you and silences your mouth and holds you accountable and makes you concious of sin. The law now is making you concious that you are righteous by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Good news?! Good news!