"A Covenant of Grace" - 10 May 2008
"When He split that veil from top to bottom - when on the Cross He said, "It is finished!" - a new covenant began that is drastically different to the old covenant.
"My mission in life is to set believers free from mixing Old Covenant and New Covenant together! It is a joyful assignment!"
It faces much opposition though because believers want to fight for the right to be depressed! They believe suffering is always the will of God - condemnation and accusation is normal. It is not normal under a New Covenant! It is weird! It is strange - foreign - alien! Romans 8:1; "There is now NO condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus!". He didn't say "to those that never sin". What would be the point of that? It says to those that are in Christ Jesus! God wants us to rise up and condemn condemnation, accuse accusation, grab guilt round the throat and get out the religious boat and realise we can float and wear our Father's glory coat!
Open your Bibles to Acts chapter 5. I want to talk on the glory of God. How many of you believe that God has called us to build nothing but New Testament churches? I am not looking for a pragmatic model or shortcuts. I believe the book of Acts is the only type of church that will eventually invade nations successfully. Sometimes it looks like going book of Acts is too slow and there are other methadologies we should adopt because they seem to work.
I believe those that are faithfully seeking to demonstrate a book of Acts church are about to be rewarded with great results.
Let's read what the New Testament church looked like and remember this is the baby church. They had not reached the full measure of the stature of Christ yet. We live at the climax and consummation of the ages. So we are about to see the Church arise in the earth that prophets of centuries ago longed and dreamed for - but we are the people now. What Dave Holden preached this morning - it glowed with faith and what Hank preached about transition and what the prophets have prophesied about already being in this weekend of acceleration - and that faith will accelerate the transition.
We are in a wave of glory already on the planet whether you know it or now and it is not just because of what is happening in Florida. God is already visiting this planet in an unprecidented way and I believe the UK and Europe are going to be leaders in this manifestation of the glory of God in the earth. Some 3rd world nations have written Europe off as Christian nations. They are utterly wrong! Some of the greatest signs and wonders are going to come out of Europe and the UK!
Acts 5 - here is a New Testament church - the way Jesus birthed it before it was polluted by the toxic traditions of men. (v12-16). "Crowds ... crowds .... crowds gathered". Not bringing in their sick to a healing crusade but bringing their sick to a local church - to a normal Sunday meeting and "ALL were healed". There is a precident in the New Testament Church that they had meetings where ALL were healed. Everyone troubled by evil spirits were ALL set free. That is because Jesus had meetings where ALL were healed and ALL were set free.
So they were not polluted by the toxic theologies of unbelief - their teacher was Jesus and then the Holy Spirit. That is a great Bible school.
I know Paul had some that were sick and I know they didn't get everyone healed all the time but why do we quickly focus on that? Why don't we preach this - "ALL were healed" - more boldly? Because we are afraid of hurting people who leave the meeting still sick so we live under the torment of never raising false hope - but we then become prisoners of that fear.
How can I be guilty of raising false hope if I am preaching God's Word? Faith is the substance of things hoped for! And faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God! The more the revelation of God's will comes into our hearts, the more the substance of hope comes into our hearts - but if we are held prisoner to fear, we will keep on qualifying - we cannot reduce the Word of God down to the current experience of the Church!
There needs to be some bold radical men and women in the Church today! I will not be a prisoner of fear! I will not be intimidated by those theologians who are trying to make out we are fringe fanatics - we are not! Jesus was perfect theology and He healed them ALL! He said; "ALL who believe on Me, the works that I do shall you do also and even greater works because I am going to the Father and I will send the Holy Spirit". The first church had a meeting where ALL were healed!
There is a hunger in the church world today more intense than many leaders are aware of - I believe there is a revolution happening on our planet - I believe Europe is at a tipping point - a scientifically, architecturally, politically geared society and so on - yet bored with the transcendance - the absence of the supernatural.
Not only are believers getting desperately hungry to see the mighty works of God but also the unsaved society don't even know what they are hungry for but they are hungry for something! The Bible says that God is shaking all things in the nations - the desire for all things in the nations - the desire for all things is going to come! He is Jesus! They don't even know they are desiring Him and they don't even know it. Europe is full of New Agers - they are a statement to the absence of the supernatural in the church.
Don't judge them! A spiritual son of mine - Fini de Gersigny in Australia - went to a New Age festival last week and put up their own booth and advertised predicting the future, prophesying, healing. They had so many miracles there that if I told you some of them, you might be tempted to think I am exaggerating. They found it so easy to do signs and wonders there - much easier than in most churches! Most churches have a "Nazareth" syndrome - only minor miracles allowed there and NO mighty works because they are offended and full of unbelief! In the New Age world they are open to supernatural things.
They had a New Age lady come into their booth. On the Thursday a woman came bandaged up with a shard of glass in her foot that the doctors who operated on couldn't remove because it was too close to a nerve. After prayer, the girl praying for her noticed a large piece of glass on the carpet next to her. She said; "Is this your glass?!". The lady had seen it on X-rays and said it was. When they opened up the bandage there was no lump where the glass had been - no scar and of course no pain. She danced around! No scar! I like miracles in church but I am much more excited when they go out there among the lost!
One lady in our church teaches at a private school - it's not a Christian school - to little Chinese children. Their first language is Cantonese not English. She started talking to them about the Holy Spirit - never been at church and don't know anything about church. I don't know if it was even legal for her to talk about the Holy Spirit. We've got to take some risks! Don't ask permission in Hong Kong - just do it, that's the best way because they are so legalistic in Hong Kong they will say "No". So the children said to her; "Who is the Holy Spirit?". She said; "I will tell you what - I will invite Him to come in here and then you can meet Him" - because we teach every person in our church about the anointing and how you can have your words clothed the anointing.
Not to speak words from your brain but from your spirit - and I trained them how to release the anointing! All our members - expats and Chinese can all release the anointing! So she said; "Holy Spirit - come!". These children suddenly said; "Ooh I have got electricity in my hands!". Some of them started laughing. They hadn't been told that you don't laugh at church - they hadn't been to church! Others started weeping and demons lifted off. Demons lifted off and the glory of God came into the classroom! I live for that stuff!
If the church doesn't wake up then God is going to move on the unsaved and raise up new churches of unsaved people! If you can't get miracles in church then be encouraged - go out there and do them out there! The unsaved and new agers don't live under an Old Covenant mentality. They are open to grace - it's the Church who is bound up with law. There is such a hunger!
I was so shocked a few days ago - we have a website for our church - City Church International - we have about 35, 000 downloads off our website of our messages around the world. Last month we put up the downloads of a Glory and Grace conference we did. In April we had 348, 481 downloads - in April alone! Many from Europe and the Middle East! What is that? Is that a commentary on my preaching? No! That is a commentary on the hunger in people's hearts for glory and grace!
You cannot have an unfading glory on your life unless we fully understand the New Covenant - guilt and glory don't go together! It is grace and glory!
There are only 2 types of glory in the earth right now. There is a fading glory that happens to people who live under grace and law. They mix the two together. The very need for revivals is tragic to me. Glory doesn't leave when the Church goes into sin. I have been married for 33 years in ministry and haven't committed adultery so please understand I am NOT encouraging sin.
The glory of God does not lift off the Church because of sin - because revivals start when there is a lot of sin!
What is "falling from grace"? In th emodern church they say it is falling into sin. But when sin abounds, grace does much more abound! When your sin and grace meet in the boxing ring - grace wins every time! Falling from grace is not falling into sin (Galatians 5:4) tells us what falling from grace is. It says that you that are trying to be righteous as from the law have alientated yourself from Christ and have made Christ of no value so you have fallen from grace. (2 Corinthians 3). I believe what we saw in Acts 5 - that the New Testament all were healed, I believe century after century there should have been an ever-increasing glory.
But after about 200 years the church started going into the Dark Ages not because of an increase of sin but because of a Galatians 3 problem - coming back under law and leaving grace. Once you lose grace - and by grace I mean this - no mixture with the Old Covenant at all. It is anything that that demands a believer matches up to earn the blessing - that brings a loss of the supernatural and a fading glory. When God met a heathen Iraqui called Abraham in Genesis 12 - Abraham had done no obedience to God. He was a total heathen with no understanding of the Kingdom of God (the law was to arrive 430 years later) to a disobedient, unsaved Iraqui - El-Shaddi the living God appears without a Bible manuscript.
This is going to happen in the Muslim world and it is happening! God is going to appear to people!
He did to Abraham and He said; "I am going to bless you and make your name great and I will make you into a great nation and I will bless those that bless you and I will make you a blessing". Abraham said; "I believe that!". He hadn't been to church. God said; "I will credit that faith as righteousness". But God didn't promise him righteousness - He promised him blessing!
When a man believes that God wants to bless you without your works - that is declared as New Testament right standing with God! Consider Abraham!
Those in Christ are the seed of Abraham! It was not increase of sin that took this New Covenant glory away from the church - it was mixing Old Covenant with New Covenant. Mixing Ishmael with Isaac. God chose Europe to bring a restoration of a revelation of grace. He chose a German and it was the revelation of justification by faith that we owe all the other truths that have been restored. If you lose understanding of the New Covenant, we become instituationalised - embrace wrong government - this is not about law and grace but about WHO controls the church.
Performance pressure on believers brings them under the control of man. The revelation of grace brings the Church under the control of the mighty Spirit of God.
What I am about to say - you are free to disagree with. I get worried about people praying for open heaven. Classic Old Covenant mentality! I believe in tithing strongly but not under Malachi 3. I do not believe that tithing opens the windows of heaven. That is blasphemy on the Cross. Abraham tithed under grace. Not to open the windows of heaven - he lived under an open heaven. He became rich - he had victory over His enemies - He was a friend of God and even lied about his wife and came out richer and the Bible says; "Consider Abraham!".
For years the church has been flattering the power of sin and minimising the power of grace.
The Old Covenant was to emphasise the power of sin - the Old Covenant was to strip us of all self-confidence in ourselves. I get extremely worried for the Body of Christ when I hear people say we have to live upto higher standards in the New Covenant than we did under the Old Covenant.
Now I believe in living a holy life. But as soon as you focus God's people on trying to live upto something higher, you are no longer preaching the New Covenant - you are preaching the Old Covenant. When Jesus Christ said; "It was said you shall not commit adultery but I say if you even look at something with desire you have committed adultery". People say; "See He was preaching the highest standard of the New Covenant". He was preaching the New Covenant! He was preaching the true spirituality of the law of Moses. If you believe that is the highest standard. He was preaching the New Covenant - to be honest and consisten with that belief - you must pluck your eye out, cut your hand off next time you sin with it!
He taught that too! He was preaching to the bigoted, arrogant Pharisees. You think you can be ready for the New Covenant by your law keeping? The standard of the law is so high that you have no hope but to turn to grace! You need the New Covenant! You had no miracles for 300 years between covenants. The God of miracles doesn't work through your law-keeping anymore. You have got to wait for an angel to come and stir the waters to get healed. There is a reason why this message sounds so radical to some people.
It is because we have had centuries of mixing Old Covenant and New Covenant. It is a confusing cocktail that cripples the Church with condemnation and throws a sack of hopelessness over God's people and suffocates faith.
The ordinary believer cannot even imagine inviting the Holy Spirit into a classroom and He turns up. The Gospel is not preaching right living. For centuries the Church has been preaching right living as the Gospel. All that has produced is a lot of money for psychiatrists. I know a lot of psychatrists who work in the secular world and their biggest problem is Christians with obsessive compulsive disorders because condemnation is the root of fear, worry and anger. We have many Christians with dysfunctional patters in their lives because they lack inner security and confidence before God.
God deliberately designed the Old Covenant to be a weak and useless covenant. Hebrews 7 says that is God's opinion of the Old Covenant - weak and useless! You mix that into the New Covenant and they cancel each other out! There is a composite unity - the Law is a composite unity. If you keep most of the law but break a part of it - you are guilty of breaking all the law because it is a composite unity (James 2:10 and Galatians 3:10) says that! If you want to lie and live under any part of the law then you are guilty of being an adulterer, a thief, a paedophile, and guilty as the terrorists that threw the planes into the 9/11 buildings. You are guilty of all the law!
BUT grace is a composite unity too! Faith in Jesus - Hebrews 10:14 by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever all those who are being made holy (v15). "And the Holy Spirit testifies to this as well!".
If your sin could stop the favour of God on your life then your sin is more powerful than God's New Covenant.
When you preach this, people get nervous because they think we are going to release a lot of sinning in the church. I've got bad news for people who think that. People who preach labels have got a whole lot of sinning in their churches. I am amazed at churches where there are leaders falling into immorality and I know of members in their church living in sin who are fighting this grace message! What is this?! You are defending yuorselves like you are all so holy and the NFI movement that lives in grace - you are all licentious!
No you are not! The Gospel is not right living - it's right believing. When you believe right you will also begin to live right. But if you aspire to live right without believing the wonder of this Gospel you will come under law and you will see the glory of God begin to fade.
Let me say this; there are only two glories in the earth.
1. A fading Old Covenant glory that comes and goes. Moses under the law says; "Show me Your glory" and God says; "I will show you My hind parts". Under the Old Covenant glory you just see God walking away from you all the time.
2. Or a New Covenant glory which is unfading. They are the only 2 glories.
The glory of the Old Covenant is this - God looks at you only through the law. He looks at you through the perfect exatitudes - the scrutiny of the law. When He sees you through the law, the supernatural glory has to fade. The glory of the New Covenant - God only and every second of the day and night looks at you only through grace. So the glory never has to fade away! The new Covenant is designed to make you very bold and confident in God's Presence.
The Old Covenant is designed to condemn you and curse you and strip you of all confidence - never mix the two.
Under the Old Covenant if a leper touched you, you were unclean. Under the New Covenant if you touched a leper - they were healed.
The church is still mixing the two - it is so confusing! They will take a few verses out of the beginning of Hebrews 6 and the last half of Hebrews 10 and frighten everyone with those Scriptures! For me those Scriptures give me the greatest assurance of eternal security - if you read them in the context of the whole book.
I long to see God's people rediscover the New Testament as a love letter from heaven!
There is one verse in the book of Jude that warns of abusing grace; "Some have come among you to turn the grace of God into license for immorality". Christians worry they are one of those! The rest of the book tells us who these people are! They walk around at the love feast with adultery in their eyes - they openly display adultery and try and convert everyone else to it too. I haven't met one believer in 30 years like that!
There are whole books of the Bible warning of the terrible dangers of coming under law - but people focus on the one verse. The way the devil fights a doctrine will give you an insight into where he knows the power lies. I believe in fasting and often pray hours a day but I promise you that is not where the power for miracles comes from. Most of the people in our churches don't have hours a day to pray. They don't have days to fast! Jesus fasted once and I know there was a specific reason for that for 40 days. I think He represented us as last Adam very well there. I don't think you and I need fast 40 days! Unless the Lord tells you to.
I know churches that have prayed for years for the Lord to open the heavens. When Jesus Christ came out of the waters of baptism, the heavens were opened! Why!? What was John's baptisms? A baptism of repentance for sin. Why would Jesus have to repent for sin? He never sinned but said "to fulfill all righteousness" - I believe He repented on yours and my behalf.
When He came out of the water and the heavens were opened and He spoke about living under an open heaven - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived under an open heaven, those in Christ live under a constant open heaven. It's not trying to stop the principalities and powers over Europe to get the heavens open. The heavens were kept open when Colossians 5:14 says that Jesus Christ cancelled the written code and took away the rules and regulations that stood opposed to us. Cancelling the written code - God wrote the written code with His finger on Mount Sinai - it is called in 2 Corinthians 3; "The ministry of death". That is what the law means - to kill you, to take away the supernatural, fading glory. God wrote it with His own finger and only God has the right to cancel it and on behalf of those in Christ He cancelled it!
That is (v14). In (v15) he says; "Having disarmed the principalities and powers He triumphed over them at the Cross!". To preach any kind of law to God's people is to re-arm a disarmed enemy. The heavens are open over Europe! The only thing closed is heads. Renewed minds to this New Covenant revelation brings you into an unfading glory. (2 Corinthians 3:4). That letter he is talking about is the Old Covenant - I will prove it in (v7). Why has the glory lasted in the church down through the centuries? Because the devil does a Galatians 3 and brings the Church back under law.
Let me close; I want to read this in my notes. I want to do a quick comparison.
1. The Law demands perfect righteousness from you -grace provides God's perfect righteousness for you.
2. Law says; "Do-do-do" but Grace says; "It's done - it's done".
3. Under Law God says; "I will by no means remember your sins". Under grace God says; "I will by no means remember your sins".
4. The gospel is not a revelation of what's wrong with you - the gospel is a revelation of how right you are in Jesus Christ.
5. At the Cross Jesus identified with you at your worst - so that in Christ, you can be identified with Him at His best.
6. There is no height into the glory that you cannot go into because there was no depth into your depravity that Jesus refused to descend into.
7. The reason why grace brings such relief and peace is because it takes the focus OFF our unworthiness and puts the focus ON His worthiness and the glirous fact that we are in Him.
Rob what has this got to do with signs, wonders and miracles? EVERYTHING. This afternoon I heard God speak audibly into my heart very clearly and tell me what He was going to do here. At the prayer meeting just before the meeting Hank prophesied EXACTLY what God told me in my hotel room and I believe the Lord will do it in a few minutes. People are going to get hit by the glory of God in a lovely way. People are going to be healed now just where you are sitting - mantles are going to come off - boldness to move in signs and wonders - even while you are still preaching, people will get healed!
Greater revelation will come to you of the New Covenant. I have only covered surface here. In 1984 in South Africa Terry Virgo came to my home city where I grew up and he preached on grace. My life was utterly changed from that day.
God said to me; "Your assignment from now on is to bring My people into the freedom of New Testament life". No more condemnation, no more accusation, no more guilt, no more accusation, no more guilt, no more sin conciousness but righteousness conciousness! I am not ashamed of the gospel!
For it is the dunamis of God unto soterio - healing, miracles, provision, prosperity. For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed - is revealed - is revealed not by head knowledge! When it is revealed you will never read the New Testament the same again! Not a righteousness from the law - or from man but a righteousness from God. First to the Jew then to the Gentile - that is by faith - that is by faith - that is by faith - from first to last for the righteousness will live by faith! Even when you have messed up and done something wrong that is the time more than ever to get up and say; "Father I thank You that I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!".
That is where the power of salvation is. Right believing leads to right living. Every church should be full of the unfading glory - the realm of the glory is effortless signs and wonders and miracles. You work hard in the anointing but when you get into the glory it is effortless. The anointing is empowering man to do ministry but the glory is God turning up - the glory realm is the realm of the supernatural - it's the realm of healing.
People are being healed of arthritis right now, of a deaf ear right now. It is the realm of prosperity, its the realm of a life of fruitfulness, of His riches, shared generously!
God does not meet your needs according to your needs but His riches in glory in Christ Jesus!
The realm of the glory is multitudes being saved. I am not interested in revival that does not reach the lost. I am so tired of people wanting the anointing just for themselves. I live on the doorstep of 1 billion, 3 million Chinese people of which only 100 million are saved - that is so small. Only the glory of God! "I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh in the last days - I will cover the earth with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" - the realm of the glory is face to face worship with the living God.
The glory realm will change the way we worship - we will sing less and less songs about ourselves and sing intimate face to face songs with the living God in the glory, It is the realm of liberty, joy, confidence, peace. It is the realm of awe and wonder, of seeing into the invisible, the realm of rest, realm of revelation, of having His wonderful voice, of heaven, eternal realm in the earth, of timelessness, of His absolute undiluted goodness.
Outside of the glory none of these things can happen. In the glory these things happen easily.