Rob and Bonnie Rufus went to Dubai to speak at a "Grace and Glory Conference" at the end of January 2008. He spoke at four sessions and they were really remarkable in that City Church International had lost a dear friend to cancer and in that grieving, he spoke so powerfully and with such faith on healing and expecting the power of God to come!
Part 3 - "He Will Come Upon You" - has been transcribed and is available here.
Part 4 - "Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost" - has also been transcribed and is available here.
Here is Part 1:
"It really is so fantastic to be here and thanks so much Mike and everyone else for inviting us. Just to hear the stories coming in as to how God is increasingly moving among you. This is always exciting to hear from people you are working with or partnering with or sharing a common destiny with. For us to be here today is just wonderful - I think it has been 4 or 5 trips here - but we do feel very much part of the family here and so celebrate your journey with you. Glenda isn't here because she hasn't been behaving for a while so she is house-bound! No - no she is not here for other reasons but today she did a makeover for a Chinese ladyin our church who lives in a very small flat - single lady - so Glenda took my son who is a painter and some other folk from our church and just did the place up and had a great time.
It is fantastic to have Bonnie here with me. We have been married 33 years this April - Glenda and myself - and have Bonnie and two sons. We were so desperate to have a daughter and weren't sure whether to risk it again. You know hwen you are getting to the place where your sons are independent and ready to enjoy life and then we thought we are so desperate for a daughter and just thought; "Let's have a go!". So while Glenda was carrying Bonnie - we didn't have a scan - I went and fasted and prayed and it was a bit late because God was not going to change the sex then! But I spent 3 days fasting and praying in the mountains and in the middle of that time, God said;
"You will have a daughter and she will be a Psalmist and will play the keyboards and there will be a release of the anointing and demons will leave people while she is playing and there will be healings and miracles".
So I didn't tell anyone that except my wife and after Bonnie was born a few weeks later, Dudley Daniel came and dedicated her publicly in our church in South Africa and while doing that he spontaneously began to prophesy;
"This baby will grow up to be a Psalmist and she shall play the keyboards and demons will leave people and signs and wonders shall happen while she is ministering".
She wasn't interested in playing the keyboards right up into her teenage years and I thought; "Well Dudley and me have missed it!". But we had been in Hong Kong 3 and a half years and just before we left Australia she got a desire to play the keyboards and so technically she is not that good!! Of course the tabernacle of David said they had skilled musicians and so there is nothing wrong with being technically good and skilled and we aim for that excellence. But I also think in the Church today we suffer from a syndrome of thinking that miracles and the power of God can take place because of human talent and human skill and human technology and that is a big mistake.
The early church didn't have technology and they didn't have all the sophistication that we have today but they had God. So I think worship needs to come back to the simplicity of being under an anointing where you encounter God and are transformed. You don't have an entertainment experience but you have an encounter with God.
So I really believe that is what God is doing in the earth today is that He is bringing us back to the simplicity of the book of Acts Christianity for He is removing sophistication and doing incredible presentations (and I am not against excellence);
But I am against substituting excellence for signs and wonders and miracles and God encounters.
Last time I came with a series on grace and there is nothing more important than understanding the grace of God. If you don't understand that, you don't understand who Jesus is and what the Gospel is and what the New Covenant is.
Upon that marvellous understanding of grace, God wants to take us into New Covenant glory - into the centre of glory where we effortlessly radiate miracles.
7 million people are living on a geographical pin prick in Hong Kong. We are on the doorstep to 1 billion - 300 million people of which only about 100 million in the underground church are born again. Over 1 billion don't have a clue as to who Jesus is. We are not going to reach them by entertainment and spectacular sophisticated presentations. We are going to have to go back to the simplicity of the book of Acts.
I believe that when Jesus birthed that church the blood and the guts of the Cross was not to birth a comfortable little club or a people entertained by Sunday sophistications but a people that walk with God in such an awesome way that the nations know the God of Israel, Isaac and Jacob is in the midst of His people. Not just because we say He is but because people get out of wheelchairs and walk, the blind see, the deaf hear and lives are transformed.
That is what I am going for with all my heart. I signed the bottom line of commitment. I am flying back to speak at the funeral of a dear friend who passed away on Thursday night. I was with him, his wife and Glenda. The best of medical science and the best of our prayers couldn't stop Phil from going home to be with to be with the Lord at an age of 60 - which is far too young. I held the wife's hand and held the wife's hand and held Phil's mortal remains - I was there for several hours with the wife with his body.
I didn't try to raise him from the dead - I didn't hear God say "Try". If He had said; "Go for it" then I would have gone for it but I am not trying to raise the dead unless He says; "Go for it". It is not always the will of God to raise everyone who dies. Jesus raised 3 recorded in the Gospel and two were young. But it is ALWAYS God's will to heal the sick.
Taking his wife's hand, I said; "I am not going to lie to you and say that the Lord took him because He didn't. This body lying here is not the will of God. Medical science did the best they could and I did the best I could. There was no failure from heaven". I said; "Pam live a long life - get sanctified revenge against cancer. Live a long life to pray for people with cancer and see them healed!". She said; "Yes!". I didn't confuse her with platitudes that suggest the Lord had taken her husband. I held her and loved her and wept with her with my wife but told her the truth.
I want you to open to Acts chapter 5 and I hope not to teach too much in this series but more to see a demonstration of the of the Spirit of God. Please do not get put off by my intensity - that is not the Spirit - that is me! That is the way that God wired me. We are seeing some of the most terrible types of cancer being healed. I could tell you stories of when medical science gave up and people were already in a coma hours away from death and standing there suddenly God comes upon us and we pray and they are healed. We could tell you of all the wonderful miracles and healings but I was in England training and equipping on how to see the sick healed. I spent one hour talking about all the people I had prayed for that died.
I am so fed up of Smith Wigglesworth's books and all the miracles he did! I wish someone would have the guts to write about all the failures Smith Wigglesworth had because there were thousands he prayed for that were not healed.
So we read about these great miracle workers in the earth today and only hear about their successes and it can downgrade our hope of us being used of God because we get retrospective on our failures. We know of loved ones who weren't healed and so are tempted to develop theologies that accomodate our failures or lower the promises of God's Word down to our experience rather than trusting God to raise our experiences up to the level of the promises of His Word.
Disappointment and failure is a terrible father to theology. The Word of God is still the Word of God no matter what experiences may add and that is why I so appreciate the reformation that God is bringing into the earth through through Bill Johnson because what he is teaching is not anchored in crusades of large evangelistic platforms but he's been anchored or rooted or grounded in the operation of local churches, ordinary people who live every day lives yet their church sees thousands of people come from around the world that are terminally diseased - no more hope of even getting home they are so sick - but they get healed in that church miraculously through ordinary people.
Very few are prayed for by Bill Johnson himself but in the midst of the congregation. Bill Johnson also talks about the thousands who come hoping to be healed and go home sick and die.
As much as that is bad news the honesty is refreshing for us who are all pursuing the ultimate standard of the New Testament and Jesus Christ; "All are healed". The day is coming when we will recover New Testament apostolic truth and all who come are going to be healed.
It is a true statement that Jesus is perfect theology. "I have come to do My Father's will. I do nothing except what I see My Father does. If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father". Everything that Jesus did was the ultimate perception of the will of God. Everyone who came to Him was healed. Even people that didn't have much faith! Even the father who's son was demon posessed came to Him and said; "Lord if You are able - do something about my son". Jesus said; "If I am able!? All things are possible to them that believe!". The man said; "Lord I believe - help my unbelief". So here is a man who didn't believe much but he still got his miracle because Jesus was there.
The disciples had already being trying to pray for this son and couldn't get him healed and were about to develop a theology that is current and had gripped the church today that is not God's will to heal all people because they tried to get the boy healed and they couldn't. Then Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration and cast the demon out and the boy was healed proving it is always God's will to heal.
A man with leprosy said in Matthew 8:1 - "Lord if You are willing make me whole". He knew that Jesus was able but he wasn't sure that He was willing. Jesus said; "I am willing - be healed". Over and over again it says; "They were ALL healed". Everyone was healed. The only place He could not do miracles was in Mark chapter 5 in His home town. "He could there do no mighty works except a few folk with minor ailments and He marvelled at their unbelief". That did not say; "He WOULD there do no mighty works". It said; "He COULD there do no mighty works". What is the Bible saying? It is saying that He wanted to but He could there do no mighty works. That wasn't just because of their unbelief. They were offended at Him because the last time they had seen Him, He was just a normal carpenter and He had not been baptised in the Holy Spirit. Now He had come back and He was moving in the power of God and they wanted to limit Him to the last place they saw Him.
There are many in this room and you have got people who want to limit you to where you were a year ago, or 6 months ago. Can I be audacious and say that what is going to come on you tonight will activate you in a whole realm of the glory of God and when you go into other contexts, you may not be able to do mighty works there but you will go to other contexts and you will be able to do mighty works over there. There are people who want to pigeon hole you and not want you to change. We are not staying where we are! But we are changing! We are being transformed!
There is only one church that we are free to model on - there is no other option! It is the Church that Jesus birthed when He was raised from the dead! He spent 40 days after His resurrection speaking to His disciples and when He had finished that time He went up to heaven and when the Day of Pentecost came a Church was birthed! When that Church was birthed, it was as close to the original pure idea that Jesus had! When you want to know where the quality of the river of your life is - you do not go down in the lowlands where all the tributaries have come in with pollution. You go up to the origin of the river. I own a lodge up in the Drakensburg Mountains at the source of a river and I do not test the quality of it's original pure nature 50 miles from the origin. I go right up to the source and when you drink that water it is like crystal, pure champagne! It is that clean!
If you want to know what the Church is like, you go right up to the original one before the tributaries of the traditions of men and the toxins of men have flowed in through the centuries and diluted it with the corrupt wisdom of men and preaching the Gospel and human wisdom thereby emptying the course of it's power. If the early Church was true to what it should be then it should have revealed what Jesus was and Jesus healed ALL that came - He healed them as a man with His divinity restrained within His humanity.
Jesus was doing the miracles that He was doing and was not trying to show us what God can do - He was showing us what normal man can do through being rightly related to God.
Jesus lived a NORMAL Christian life! How many know that Jesus was last Adam? First Adam had subduing, dominion authority given to him directly by God. Do you know what evil is? Philosophers can't define evil from. What is evil? Evil is a manifestation of illegitimate authority. All authority is in God - He is absolute authority - He is self-sufficient, self-existance - He has absolute authority! He delegates that authority but there was a worshipping angel in heaven called Lucifer who wanted to be equal with God and exalt Himself to a position of equality with God. Illegitimate authority is a lower authority trying to make itself equal or above a higher authority. When Lucifier did that - He was thrown out of heaven down to the earth and was bent on getting on authority back in heaven.
He knew that there were stages strategically. He had lost all authority in heaven and he now has to buy off delegated authority. So he takes the same deception - which is selfish ambition. James 3 says where there is selfish ambition there is EVERY evil work. So with selfish ambition to be equal with God, he tries to deceive Adam who had delegated authority to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (which is coming under law) and then you will be "equal to God". So he deceives Adam into grasping after illegitimate authority which is a manifestation of evil, the earth is cursed, sickness and disease come in through a manifestation of illegitimate authority which is evil. So Jesus comes as last Adam. How does He come as last Adam? Instead of grasping after authority (even though He had the full nature as God), He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped after but made Himself nothing. Humbled himself. He made Himself opposite to the devil and humbled himself and took on the form of a man and then was obedient even to death on the Cross and therefore God exalted Him to the highest place that at the Name of Jesus every knee must bow.
So how do you get ultimate power and authority? By not grasping after it. The devil grasped after something that was not his to have and was illegitimate authority, deceived Adam into illegitimate authority - evil manifestated in the earth. The last Adam came into the world by the opposite route by not grasping after but by letting it go.
Under the anointing of the Spirit He showed us not what God can do but what man could do - what first Adam was meant to do, what you or I can do - rightly related to God through grace and the gift of righteousness.
So Jesus operated in this earth, He operated in the limitations of last Adam. He did not have all authority in heaven and on earth. How do I know? He gave it all up and made Himself nothing. He was anointed to be last Adam so when He came against the devil - He did not come against the devil as God or as having all authority but as a man with delegated authority to deal with the devil who had stolen Adam's delegated authority. I don't want to bore you with theology but if you will come with me on this, you will see the opening into the greater miracles that God is leading you into. When the devil said to Him, "If you will worship me I will give you all the kingdoms of the earth" - the devil knew that Jesus was God the Son and if he could have got God in the Son to worship him, He could have got right up there equal to God and taken over heaven.
But what he didn't realise was that Jesus did not say to the devil; "You have no right to offer Me the kingdoms of this earth - that isn't yours!". Jesus never questioned or contended that point. He knew that first Adam had been delegated dominion and legitimate authority over the whole earth and first Adam had given it to Satan who had now become the god of this earth. So last Adam who was God - yet did not grasp after equality with God - came down to earth and made Himself nothing, restrained in humanity operating with delegated authority only as last Adam - but He never gave into the devil's temptation. When He went to the Cross (Colossians 2 says) He cancelled the written code against us. The written code is the 10 Commandments - the ministry of death. He cancelled that at the Cross - taking it away - and disarmed the powers and authorities. He triumphed over them - making a spectacle of them at the Cross. And while Jesus was doing that He cancelled first Adam's authority.
He cancelled the authority the devil had and so when He was raised up from the dead and He said in Matthew 28, "ALL authority in heaven and on earth has now been given unto Me - you go and disciple nations" - when He said that, He was not saying that as God because you cannot give authority to God. That is a blasphemous idea. No one can give authority to He who has ultimate authority. A mere man in the earth said; "All authority in heaven and on earth has now been given to Me". A man on earth - Jesus had been given and inherited it in heaven. How did He do that? He gave it up. He had authority! But He made Himself nothing and then man re-inherited all authority in heaven and on earth! And then gave us that re-inherited that authority not just His pre-Cross authority but a level He did not operate in before the Cross. He said; "I am going to the Father and when I go I will send the Holy Spirit and anyone who believes in Me - will do the miracles I have been doing and even greater works will he do". How can he do the greater works? Because He re-inherited divine authority as a man and delegated that authority that the devil grasped after. Jesus went the opposite way and reinherited that authority so He is equal with the Father and Romans 8:16 speaks of being joint heirs and heirs of God.
Now the inheritance of the church is to walk in authority that He has given and do greater works that Jesus did because an authority has been given to us and much of the Church has settled for healing a few people with flu, with busy agendas and eating food - passing it through their body, paying the mortgage and hoping to have a comfortable life but we have an inheritance and an obligation - we are called to do the works that Jesus did and never give up because we have failures and set-backs!
God does not need my strength! He has got enough! He needs my weakness to perfect His strength in partnership with me.
In 2006 I went to Brighton to speak to 4, 500 leaders and they wanted me to speak on the miraculous and the morning I got up to fly to the UK from Hong Kong I was feverish and sick. Normally I am a healthy person. I could hardly walk I was so sick. By the time I was on the plane I knew I was into something serious. I had picked up some virus in Hong Kong and within the first day in Brighton, UK I knew I had something that could kill me. My bed was wet and I couldn't sleep. I was frightened of falling asleep that I wouldn't wake up alive. If I was an elderly person or a young person I would have died. Now I am going to speak to 4, 500 people on moving in the power of God! I don't take painkillers and don't like taking them but I was begging my wife to give them to me as fast as they could come!
I am just pathetic and disorientated. I can't cancel! They have paid NFI. I go in and think I will try and act - but that is hypocrisy. I got up and said; "The reason I am shaking is not the anointing - it is not because I have just given up heroin - it is because I have never been so sick in my life". So I come forward and lay my hands on you and I will give you what I have got! But you know just being honest about my state of weakness opened the hearts of those British people and I spoke from a place of weakness and confusion and trembling - and the power of God fell. Demons came out literally. Yes sophisticated British people do have demons! They came out with shrieks! The leadership of NFI were on the floor under the power of God. Terry Virgo himself was on the floor shaking under the power of God. I am just standing there thinking "God I am finished - I am so tired, I want to go to bed but I've got another session and I can hardly stand!".
All through that time the power of God just got more and more and more. Healings! They invited us back last year in 2007 and gave us more sessions. I can't make myself sick - that worked last time - but half way through the conference I got pleurisy! I didn't know what it was - I thought I had cracked a rib because I was running into the crowds and people were falling all over the place and people were being healed and falling on me and I thought I had cracked a rib! I was preaching and there was pain! I don't believe I should get sick but I did! God hates sickness as much as He hates sin because He dealt with both at the same place. I love what Bill Johnson says. Everyone says; "What about Job?". Bill says; "What ABOUT Job?! I am not a disciple of Job! I am a disciple of Jesus - He healed everyone!". Jesus was perfect theology! Job was the question - Jesus was the answer! Job pointed you to the answer - Jesus! The Old Testament was written to point you to questions that would prepare for the Answer that came! The Pharisees were so deceived by bad theology that they thought the questions were the answer!
The Old Testament was meant to prepare us for the answer - Jesus Christ! It NEVER says; "God will use your sickness to sanctify you". He healed them all except in the stuck-up, bigoted home town of Nazareth. People that were so over-familiar with you and wanted to keep you where you were some time ago. He healed them all! If you believe anything that is contrary to the manifestation of the theology of Who Jesus is then you have reason to suspect your theology. If you believe in Job more - then you have something wrong with your theology. Did Jesus had said to one person; "My Father doesn't want to heal you or you have too much sin in your life then you can't be healed"?. In Matthew He was preaching to thousands! And it says; "And they were ALL healed". Don't tell me they were all perfect saints out there! There could have been so many naughty boys out there!
If Jesus was here today and so many thousands of people had HIV or further advanced AIDS - He wouldn't say; "Your sin got you into this". Jesus would heal them ALL.
Let's go back to the source - the origin. I am back there in Brighton last year. The best miracles I have seen is not the origin! It is restoration - a journey back.
Part of this process is that the devil wants you and I to get overwhelmed by disappointments so that we make theologies that accomodate our disappointments rather than saying; "The will of God is to heal them ALL" and we must never be satisfied until they are ALL healed.
Before we go any further this week, I just want to say that there is a bottom line. God is hammering out a contract to all of us. God gave me my contract in 1981. When He came in a visitation He showed me what churches are about - there are no other options - and He asked me to sign a blank contract! How many of you would sign a contract where the other party said to you; "I want you to sign on the bottom line of an empty page!". And then after you sign all the details will be filled in. You wouldn't sign it! But that's what God asked you to sign. He asked me to sign it in 1981. He said;
"Son in terms of signs, wonders and Christianity that is sold out to seeing the miraculous - the book of Acts - I am asking you to sign an empty page and I will fill in the details after you've signed. Are you willing to do that?". I said; "Yes Lord".
For 18 months we saw dozens and dozens of miracles and incurable diseases healed every week. We grew from 120 people to 600 in about 14 to 15 months. More than 50% of our growth was with new people being saved and added for the first time. I love it when a church grows mainly through the unsaved getting saved. That means you are in the power of God! Every week we saw wheelchair cases get out and walk, blind eyes opened, deaf ears opened. That was happening on a regular basis - every disease, not one was left out apart from AIDS. I didn't know about AIDS then. I signed the bottom line.
Then God said; "I am going to lift this heavy anointing off you for a season so you can develop character to handle and steward this kind of power and then I will bring it back on you". Then by 1985 the miraculous had gone down a bit and there had been great discouragement because when you pray for a marathon runner or for a woman who is healthy and they die and strangers invite you in because they have heard about the miracles in your church and you pray for them and they die and then you have to face the stranger's husband or wife and try and pastor them through the grief and pain while you lead a church.
I got to the point where I said to Fini de Gersigny; "Fini I am not praying for the sick anymore. I am giving up this miracle ministry. I just want to preach the Bible like a Bible teacher and disseminate Bible information. Academic information and keep it safe. Then at the end I will close my Bible and say service over". I said; "Look most pastors are doing that. There is so little pain in that". Fini just put his head on my neck and began to weep and his tears ran down my neck and didn't say a thing. Then he said; "Please don't stop praying for the sick Rob". God spoke to my heart. I was so discouraged. In 1985 God sent Bill Hamon - an outstanding prophet of accuracy and he didn't know me at all. He called me out of the crowd and gave Glenda and me a prophecy. Right at the end he said;
"And son - your love has come up into the heavens and the heavens have felt your love for Me. You have signed the bottom line of the contract".
Now this prophet had no idea that I had gone through that with God in 1981. We have to contend - we haven't arrived - until we have gone back to the pure origin. We have got to cut off the tributaries of the traditions of men that have filled the church with toxic ideas that deceive us into unbelief and into accomodating the doctrines of demons. When I held my friends hand in Hong Kong this week, I said;
"God I am going to keep contending till everyone gets healed and they die at least at 75 if not beyond". I don't want to have to bury children and men's wives or husbands. More than that Lord - I want to see what the early church had so the atmosphere in regions and towns are filled with the fear of God and the awe and wonder of God so that people right across Dubai 24 hours a day, seven days a week know a manifest substance of God's awesome Presence hanging over the region and in the high rise buildings and suburbs until people can't handle it anymore and cry out to this invisible God to be saved!".
That is the only hope for Dubai! You won't do it door to door knocking. You won't do it one on one. You won't do 1 billion 300 million Chinese one on one. I think people just need to be ready to sign the bottom line. At the moment we are not seeing all healed, ideas are being presented that God uses sickness to sanctify us - all of these ideas - but also our view of God! There is not enough fear of God in the church! I don't think there's enough awe of God. I love what Bill Johnson said; "We talk about the price we pay". And I am sure for some of you living in Dubai, it is a big price. I know for my son and daughter-in-law living in Hong Kong, it is a big price! They are there by the call of God! They wouldn't be there! You don't choose to live in Hong Kong just because you like it I promise you. If you are this coloured skin, it is not nice. Only 2% expats - most of the Chinese can't speak English. The culture is so different - so very different. It's so very crowded. I wouldn't be in Hong Kong a day if it wasn't the call of God!
I miss Durban daily. I miss Adelaide daily! We have expats that come through and want to milk Hong Kong for all it's worth but don't consider themselves ambassadors of the highest government of the universe called on assignment to invade the impossible and live for the King and for eternity. They think children, future, retirement but the culture of the Kingdom says; "The King has assigned you - has appointed you and you go to any nation, anywhere He says - not on the basis of expediency or what will this mean for my retirement or my children's education - because you see God has got the best for your marriage! In His will! His will isn't always convinient and what suits us best.
2008 is going to be owned by people who no longer give their loyalties to the systems and organisations of men - secular OR religious! But they seek first the Kingdom. They no longer need the approval of man or to be motivated by money issues or security issues. They looked into the face of a God that they fear and say; "He will never let me down - He will always provide for me and for my children - but the issue is the will of God".
That is the issue! I believe God has allowed wealth to be in Dubai and to places like Hong Kong to entice unsuspecting ex-pats in! Then they get seized and are told; "Right you are on assignment and you cannot leave until I tell you to go". Because He will eventually tell us to go! But I am prepared to die and be buried in Hong Kong if He doesn't tell me to go. That is what everyone of you should have about this place. People want to raise the dead and see the same things Jesus did (which we are authorised to do) but they don't have the fear of God. If you do not have the fear of God - then God will not come to a place where the fear of God is not there. Please understand that the fear of God is not being negative. "Ooh God is going to kill me because I sin". He has already killed Jesus for your sin. But He will kill you for self-righteousness.
He killed Ananias for self-righteousness! You say; "No they lied to the Holy Spirit". No - they did not die for lying to the Holy Spirit. That was the manifestation of their self-righteousness. Self-righteousness was the self-promotion - they sold land because they saw Barnabus sell his land and Barnabus got so applauded that they thought; "Wow if we do that then we could look popular too!". Trying to get the approval of man. Man's approval - not God's. They sold the land and thought they would have lots of approval but they kept back some and lied about the amount they got. Self-promotion and self-righteous. They died. And Peter said; "Ananias why has Satan put it in your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?". I am amazed at Peter - because you know Peter almost got killed the same way? He nearly died for the same thing! It is lucky it happened before the Cross and before all authority and the power of God was now operating.
Peter appointed himself as Jesus life-coach. He thought Jesus needed advice because Jesus was making stupid decisions. Peter - the foul mouthed fisherman and impulsive maniac is going to be Jesus's manager?! Jesus! You can't go to Jerusalem or they will kill You! What does Jesus say? "Get behind Me - Satan". Satan!? Jesus then said something very frightening to the modern Church. He said; "Your mind is more concerned about the things of man rather than the things of God".
What is Satanic thinking? Being more concerned about the things of man rather than the things of God. Humanity without Christ at the centre is demonic by nature and will think more about the things of man than the things of God.
The fear of man dominates.
The fear of man builds churches to cater to man's preferences and man's prejudices but the fear of God caters to God's preferences and God's desires! A church that fears God and does not cater to us but caters for Him - God will come and fill that church with His manifest Presence and then we will see the original and the pure!
We saw that great fear seized the whole Church and many outside the Church. We will not get a revival when a few committed core have a shallow fear of God that loosely holds it. Great fear must take hold of the whole church and many outside. This is the Church Jesus died for! Let's read verse 11 to verse 16:
"Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people and all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's colonnade. No one else dared join them". I wonder why?! People were dying in the services and God was killing them! Could you get a seeker sensitive service out of the early Church? "No one else dared join them even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result people brought the sick into the street and laid them on beds and mattresses so at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered from the towns around Jerusalem and those tormented by evil spirits and ALL". And ALL. And ALL. And ALL. And ALL. "And ALL of them were healed".
That is the original church! That is theology! Jesus healed them all! The Church He birthed healed them ALL! We have not got revival until we have got four characteristics.
1. There is great fear - a great reverence for God. A great awareness - a concious awareness of His awesome Presence and power.
2. No one joins the Church like a club or at their convinience when it is close by. It's close - got good entertainment and good for my kids. Good comfort. Well I like certain things - like the colour of the carpet. No! People don't join the church like that but on the basis of conviction. They weren't a small little pathetic group - a remnant elitist. It says more and more men and women were added to their number and great crowds joined them and ALL were healed.
I am giving my life in Hong Kong and wherever God wants me with this dream to see a church like this.
Anything else is subnormal and abnormal and I promise you when the normal arrives, much of the Church will call it subnormal and abnormal. There is such a fear of the Presence of God in the Church today but not the right fear. It is a negative, unholy fear. "If God turns up I am getting out of here". But really they don't call Him God - they call Him the devil. Today if you grieve the Spirit - and Ananias and Sapphira grieved the Spirit by being self-righteous and they got killed.
Today you can grieve the Spirit but you won't die - you are safe. He has been grieved right out of the building. He's gone! He's lifted long ago! So people grieve Him all over the Church criticising, ignoring Him. He's gone long ago. If He was here there would be great fear and no one would be joining the Church like it was some fancy club but the great crowds would gather to that Church and all would be healed. Today God has been absent from His Church for so long that if He does turn up in Hong Kong and does turn up in Hong Kong (and He does turn up in our church) then demons come out.
You know what people say? They say; "Oh the devil is here. Let's go!". No the devil has been in Church for years and years in Hong Kong. God came and the devil left! The devil is leaving and they are mistaking God's Presence for him! The devil has been coming every Sunday but now God turned up and the devil left and they are saying "It's still the devil!". Shaking!? God stop that laughter - we don't want it! Can you imagine how devilish that is?! It's the devil! That's the devil - stop that - it's devilish! Someone's laughing in my sermon - they are mocking me!
It says in Psalm 2 that God sits on His throne and laughs. He laughs at the idea that enemies will advance against Him and defeat the Church. God has been allowing the Church to go through years and years of refinement. He is exposing the unbelief and the toxins and the traditions of men - people just doing what they want based on convinience and 'what is in it for me'. He is letting people do that but He is bringing through a Church and 2008 is going to be owned by those who have eternity in their hearts.
The safest place to live is in the fear of God and the most dangerous place to live is in the fear of man.
What will my parents think of me if I obey God and maybe downgrade my income to stay in the will of God? What will my wife/my children think? The devil pushes the buttons of people close to you to get you out of the will of God. 2008 will be owned by those who say "I do nothing except my Father's will". Jesus was in the house and Mary said; "Get Him out" and He said; "Who is My Mother?". You are My mother, My brothers. People want signs and wonders on a level with this church but they don't want the characteristics of the Kingdom of God. I promise you we will not have signs and wonders on the level of this church with casual Christianity. One of the clearest prophecies that we have had in City Church International was when God said that two roads faced us. We could become a large charismatic church or we can take the other road and become a book of Acts church and He said you will see signs and wonders and miracles like you can never imagine right now - but with much persecution and disapproval from man but with many people being saved!
It was too sober to make a quick decision like that. We went home and thought about it for six months. The temptation to be a large charismatic church with smoke machines and entertainment - the crowds would come because the church wasn't dangerous! You don't die for being self-righteous and lying to the Holy Spirit. He isn't there! But the entertainment is there with 25 minutes of a sermon and 20 minutes of praise and worship! Churches all over the world are limiting themselves to an hour and a half and I wish I could do that! But I have this blooming problem! It's this book! I just don't see that! These services went on for over 3 hours because Ananias died at the beginning of the meeting. At some point his wife came in - but 3 hours later - when they had already buried her husband!
Noone dared join them - but crowds gathered. Everyone in this room - I promise you under the oath of God, you will leave your body and give an account for the kind of church you wanted to see in the earth. Every time a Christian grieves the Spirit and walks out of the room offended because it's not going the way they wanted - they don't know what they are doing. Think about this! The power was so awesome in this Church that a small thing in our minds caused God to kill people. Why? Is this a God of hate? A mad God?
No - this is the most loving gracious God you can imagine! He loved the world so much that He wanted a Church that would carry the glory and mighty power and signs and wonders that would shake the Roman empire and millions could get saved! He was not going to sell this Church into mediocrity or powerlessness because of the self-promotion of one or two people.
Ananias and Sapphira are in heaven - I promise you. They will be having classes on the fear of God! But don't you long for a Church like this!? You wouldn't need therapy in a church like this! If we want to see clouds of glory hovering over our cities then it will take more than a pastor and a few elders and deacons. It is everybody! Every priest must carry the ark of the Covenant. Every six steps they were told to stop. Six is the number of man. No more is Churcb built around the conviniences of man. Put it down and worship. Not on a cart - traditions or church programmes. No - carry it and eventually the glory got back to Zion. When it got back David did something that violated the whole of Old Testament law. He saw the New Covenant and pulled the New Covenant dispensation into the Old period. That is why the Bible says that God is raising up David's fallen tent in the last days.
It's not about church structure friends - it is about grace and law. If we want the full manifestation of God's glory so that all get healed then this is the way - it's insantity to want the result without the right process. I pray that we will start seeing the glory of God come into our churches so that self-promotion and self-righteous arrogance will be taken home early. And then the glory of God will touch Dubai and touch China and touch Hong Kong. It doesn't matter if He kills a few if they are going to heaven anyway! We want a Church moving in the power and glory and Presence of God.
This is an apostolic foundation for the fire to fall on. When we come in tomorrow night - we come with joy. Everyone is safe if we walk in saying; "I am the righteousness of God - not grasping through the law - but through a free gift by grace". When you believe grace there is no more room for getting offended! Make yourself nothing - be like Jesus. He has reinherited God's authority to operate in man. You and I are equal heirs in Christ - currently! Jesus re-inherited that authority as man on our behalf.
If Jesus Christ is saying He has ALL authority in heaven and on earth then someone has got ZERO authority and he is the devil. He was disarmed at the Cross. Where does his authority come from? He has to borrow it off those who have got delegated authority by getting us to begin to exercise illegitimate authority by begin to grasp after positions, hierarchy and promotion. Or he brings us into fear and anxiety and make agreement with darkness and then he borrows the authority we have been given and he uses it to bring division in the Church and selfish ambition - every evil work.
The more the power of God increases, there will always be people who get divisive about it. Don't give up because of a few! I prophesy in 2008 will be the year God starts killing people and taking them home early in churches that are going after His power. Evil must be toppled. My eschatology is rapidly changing - it isn't a defeated church that is going to be raptured out. I honestly believe the Church is going to topple evil - a Church walking in the authority of God will find solutions to Sudan, the sex trade of children around the world will stop. Evil is a manifestation of illegitimate authority. Poverty can be stopped by this authority! Science will catch up and find solutions to disease. We will find ways to get everyone healed of every disease - we have it right now!
God has given His Spirit without measure, so any measurements we are operating in are set by us.
We are here to topple evil. Let's stand together. We are just going to worship Him for a bit. I don't say this lightly - the Holy Spirit is going to come on people right now as we worship.