This is the second in the series "Established in Righteousness" preached by Rob Rufus at City Church International in Hong Kong. The sub-title is:
"How to Increase in the Blessing".
"We are in a series - number 2 - of being established in the gift of righteousness. I want to talk this morning on how to increase in the blessings of God. I really believe God intended for us to live incredibly joyful lives! That doesn't mean He guarantees that in this world we won't have some serious challenges - in fact Jesus promises us that - so you should put it on your fridge as one of the promises! "Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers them out of them all". Jesus said in this world we will suffer tribulation but be of good cheer - I have overcome the world.
(1 John 5:4) says; "This is the victory that overcomes the world - even our faith". So faith is important!
There is an attitude I believe we should have that no matter what the challenges - I can win every time. There is not one battle I need to lose because we have unfair advantages! I am convinced that many, many Christians struggle with living happy because secretly they don't like themselves. Now this is off the point (I want to talk about blessing and how to increase in the blessing) but I feel like God is stirring these things up in my heart this morning! These things come to mind!
Some years ago living in Oz and I had something in my life that I didn't like. I had something in my life and I really began to believe that my intensity and my passion must really look weird to people and so I didn't like that about myself so I took 3 days off and told Glenda I was going to a place outside Adelaide and I was going to pray for 3 days. I didn't tell her what I was going to pray for - she thought I was going to pray for revival but I was actually going to pray that God would deliver me from my intensity and passion. I spent 3 days and 1 day I fasted and went without food and tried to manipulate God to deliver me from me!
Not knowing He had wired me this way - because in His original design and intension - I would fit into the purpose I had to fulfill. Not everyone has to be intense! I repented and cried out; "God take this intensity away! It must be so exhausting for people to put up with as a pastor!". At the end of 3 days I drove back up to Adelaide in the Friday afternoon and went straight to a prayer meeting at Coastlands Church. As I walked in there was a prophet there who didn't know me at this stage. He has since come to "Glory and Grace" - but at that stage he didn't know me well and says;
"Rob - the Lord says to you that He loves you and He doesn't want you to apologise for your intensity".
I am quoting it exactly! So I began to realise - enjoy yourself! Sometimes no one is going to do it for you! Have you ever gone through a time when no-one is celebrating you? Hong Kong is not self-friendly. Hong Kong will make you feel like you should crawl on the ground like a worm in the dirt and you shouldn't say; "I'm on the bottom - but the bottom is on me". That is the spirit that is operating in this place! It will suck your self-image and inner sense of security and your sense of well-being celebrating; "I am special and precious in the Father's eyes" because we have listened to so many lies!
When we perceive someone as important - if they reject us then we assume that is because there is something in us that is perhaps not likeable! A parent, a school teacher, a pastor, a boyfriend or girlfriend - hopefully not a husband or wife! But when someone important to us rejects us - the devil begins to make us believe that there is something about you that is not likeable because if someone important doesn't like you then you are not likeable and how, therefore can you like yourself?
Jesus was the most wonderful and glorious Person that walked the earth and many rejected Him and He stayed completely secure in His Father's love.
Often when people reject you it is because there is some fear on the inside of them and has got very little to do with you.
We listen to the devil's lies too often. I have got something very important to preach but I want to get this out the way because if you don't like yourself then stuff will just go over your head and you get happy for a little while in the worship and then go out and spend 2 or 3 hours out there and you are with yourself again. That's why in Hong Kong people love noise, they will make radios play, noise in their ears when they walk in the country park.
They don't want to think of the realities of who they are because they don't like themselves so they don't want to meet with themselves. Someone who likes themself enjoys absolute silence and hours on their own with God because they enjoy their own company. If you don't have places of silence and peace and rest and celebrating who you are and letting the Father love and Jesus love you and the Holy Spirit put His arms around you and affirm you and endorse you and approve you then your identity is in other people's approval and that makes you vulnerable to compromise your call in God, compromise your commission in God - all to get people to like you.
Jesus couldn't get everyone to like Him because He was on a mission to do what His Father called Him to do. He wouldn't let Peter distract Him when Peter tried to stop Him going to the Cross, He said; "Get behind Me Satan!". He had a mission and if people didn't like Him, He would still stay on focus with it. Many Christians today sell out and compromise because they want people to like them. That is Satan's biggest tool and weapon against you. Every morning the devil accuses the brethren. He has got a list of all your faults. Now often when he points them out he is telling the truth in a way - but he is lying!
Because you can tell the truth in a way that is a lie. He is pointing out your faults - you've got a mess in this area of your life - relational problems in your marriage, financial problems, sick problems, sin problems, character issues and he will point them out every day! If you don't like yourself you will suck all that stuff in and believe the lies. You need to talk back to the devil!
And say; "Mr Devil - you think I've got problems? I recognise I have got a few messes here but let me tell you - you've got serious problems. I will tell you what the Bible promises. Jesus said at the Cross that you are condemned. The Bible promises you are heading for the bottomless pit. Now the Bible promises ME that I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!". Then you will hear the tone in his voice change and he will sulk. I have heard the devil sulk!
And he will say; "Okay yere - but you've got still messes in your life!". You can then say; "Oh thank you so much Mr Devil for reminding me of how good God is because even with these messes in my life God loves me and sees me as righteous ALL the TIME!".
Why does the Bible invite us to come and drink the new wine? Maybe God is just cruel! I don't know - I've never seen people drink and drink and drink and stay sober, morbid, unhappy and critical and grumpy! People drink to get rid of their sorrow! Now the Bible invites us over and over again in many passages to come and drink of the new wine. The reason is because it tastes so good?! It makes you happy?! And not only does it make you forget your problems - trust me this is true whether you believe this or not - not only do you get drunk in the new wine and forget your problems but your problems start going away!
All because of the power of the new wine!
Last week we did Isaiah 53 and 54 and we saw the incredible oath that God swore regarding the New Covenant - that He will never be angry again and never withdraw His love and never withdraw His peace and establish you in righteousness and no weapon formed against you will prosper - every accusing tongue will fail because your heritage is of the Lord and your righteousness is of Me says God!
In Isaiah 55 God invites us as the New Covenant people to come and drink the new wine! He is basically saying in that passage that drinks are on the house!
You know what most Christians do?! Say that it's too early to drink! It's only 11:00! Well God will will say to you from Acts 2 - they had been drinking from who-knows-when but they were drunk at 09:00 because when they came out of the Upper Room and people said; "These people are drunk with new wine!". Peter said; "They are not drunk as you suppose but this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel - in the last days I will pour out My Spirit".
Please don't tell me that the Holy Spirit has been poured out in a place where you have got conservative, cautious, self-concious, introspective, analytical, critical people! DRUNK PEOPLE ARE HAPPY! DRUNK PEOPLE ARE FRIENDLY! DRUNK PEOPLE ARE UNINHIBITED! DRUNK PEOPLE ARE CRAZY! It's not too early - it's too late! It is a SHOCK that we are still sober!
I was drunk at 04:00 this morning - and at 05:00 I was so drunk in the Holy Spirit and then I came to church and sobered up! Because I had to get with Christians - no just joking! Why is it acceptable to sulk and be grumpy in church? Why?! "Well we've got so many problems". Why did you stop drinking?! Have you ever seen a drunk who is aware of their problems? They drank because they had problems and now they can't remember their problems and their happy! The problems don't go away until they sober up and then the problems are stil there. But for you and me - we are meant to stay drunk and happy and joyful in the Holy Spirit!
How do you drink Rob? Well you can't think and drink at the same time! I double-dog dare you today instead of thinking to stay drinking in the Holy Spirit. Do your thinking later! Reason with God according to the revelations you receive today!
So I want to talk about increasing in the blessing. How many want to receive more blessing in their lives? Do you know that there are people who have a problem with Christians getting blessed? It's like; "Ah there they go again - running after the blessing". Who said anything about running after the blessing?! God said that in 2009 the blessing will run after you! The Bible says that blessing will come on you and overtake you! "There's too much blessing - we've got to try and get away!". No it will keep coming and overtaking you! There is a real potential to live like that this year! But Rob - isn't the blessing bad? No the curse is bad!
Let me put it very simply. BLESSING = GOOD. CURSE = BAD!
I believe God wants to bless us so much in 2009 that it will actually embarress some of us! If you ask yourself why you are so embarressed - it is because you are thinking that; "I don't deserve this!".
Then God will show you more and more grace - that it has got nothing to do with us deserving it and everything to do wth us believing that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!
God said to me this week; "Go and study all the famines in the Bible and every famine - those people that had faith in the goodness of God got more and more wealthy during the times of economic downturn than those who did not have a covenant or faith in God". Isaac saved during a famine (Genesis 6) and in that year he had a hundred-fold and multiplied his wealth!
The Hebrew word for "blessing" is the word "favour of God" which actually means "to be envied"!
The Philistines envied Isaac because he got so wealth in a time when others were going down and he was going up in financial abundance. That is because he was the seed of Abraham and Galatians 3:29 says; "If you are in Christ then you are the seed of Abraham and heirs according to the promise". The blessings are meant to come on us and overtake us! We are not called to run after blessings! I have lived with Glenda for 34 years as my wife and she knows that I have never run after blessing or pursued blessing - I pursue Jesus and the reality of the New Covenant.
But in the revelation of who Jesus is and the revelation of who I am in Christ - when you get established greater and greater in the revelation that you are the righteousness of God then the blessings start coming on you and overtaking you!
God says for 2009 that this will make every other year look like POVERTY compared to this year! This is an amazing year and He says I want to bless City Church International people so much that the fear of God will come on the city - the fear of God will come on nations when they hear how God is blessing us! This is scary stuff to say because if I am wrong then it looks like my credibility is going down the line. But I am telling you - I felt God say this and this fear of God is not a "run away and hide" sort of fear. It is a reverential awe and wonder at how awesome is this God - wow! Look at the blessing on that church! We want that! Not one person without a job! Everyone getting promotion - everyone getting double portion! Everyone like themselves! Everyone full of joy - everyone in blessing on their marriages and blessing on their children! Blessing on their finances!
Blessing is the power to succeed - it is the empowerment to succeed!
Go to John 1 and if you haven't got there by now then don't try. Let's look at the revelation of God's Word. I believe that theology brings reformation to a way that we think - good theology positions us to receive a constant sustainable flow of blessing. You can come to a meeting and someone can say exciting things but without any good theology in it - they can preach from the Readers Digest and preach from the latest movies and do it so enthusiastically but without clear biblical theology - there will be no sustained blessing.
When you are sitting in a service and the Word of God is coming - 10, 20, 30 minutes - you are sitting there with something renewing your thinking and positioning you to see an increase of the blessing. It isn't a guru coming and laying his hands on your head and abracadabra - go and be blessed! That is not how it works in the Kingdom! You will get a blessing that is temporary and you will walk out but your thinking will still be stinking thinking.
You need to change the way you think - start liking yourself and start believing you are no longer under that Old Covenant - you have come over into a superior better covenant with a superior mediator Jesus Christ!
(John 1:16 and 17); "One blessing after another". Isn't that amazing that the law was given but grace CAME? The law was given - that's impersonal - it is a powerless moral structure. It tells you what to do but doesn't help you do it. It judges you, it curses you and makes you concious of sin and makes you hate yourself. That's why religious people hate themselves even more than an atheist does. Even though an atheist believes he is a product of impersonal time - impersonal chance - impersonal matter - all organising itself in an impersonal way that somehow became a personal complexity - thus contradicting the 2nd law of thermodynamics. The atheist believes that he came out of a swamp gas and is the product of a frog but still has more value in that existential insanity than a Christian who does not understand grace but is under law.
The law was given but grace came in a Person. So many are living in the absolute shallows of grace - they have hardly got their little toe wet and they are still too worried that they are being too indulgent. "One blessing after another" - ah no not another one! Yere another one and another one! The active word there is "received". You lay hands on some Christians and they don't know how to receive the anointing! They starting shouting; "Yere! Amen!". Just shut up and receive! You can't transmit and receive at the same time! Receive! That is the operative word. They received blessings - one after another.
We need to develop in 2009 a receptive attitude - an attitude of receptivity to the goodness and blessings of God. Let's get out of this thing - well I've got enough now! My job pays for my rent, food and travel. That is like living in slavery! The land of "just enough"! God is El-Shaddi - the God who is "more than enough"! Blessing after blessing after blessing! God wants to bless us so that the nations will fear Him!
God wants to release millions of dollars into this church so we will invade the nations and so we will bless! Money says to land; "I can buy you!". Money says to buildings; "I can buy you!". Money says to missionaries; "I can pay you". Money says to the poor; "I can feed you". Money says to the wealthy that God is not against money - He is against the love of money. I don't love money - I love Jesus! I tell you people in this hour who are not greedy are going to be entrusted with the stewardship of great wealth because we will not consume it upon ourselves but release finances to feed the poor and help as the economic downturn gets worse - we are just going to get better!
God will bless your job and bless you with FAR MORE than just to pay your rent! We are not going to finance the gospel in these last days just by salary! Salary will not be enough! It's got to be more! You will find money just coming in - all your richest uncles and aunties are going to die!
Having a receptive attitude means to be living with a confident expectation of good coming into your life. Every day I have got to discipline my mind to stop the negativity, the foreboding, the sense of dread, the sense of this could happen or that could happen, or that loved one could die, or this may happen. This could happen to my church or that could happen to me. I have got to live with a spirit of receptivity - a confident expectation of God that I have come into fulness of grace and from that fulness of grace I am receiving one blessing after another!
Well how do we go into the increased blessing? "Well Rob I have got the answer for that - we have to pursue righteousness. We have to pursue being more righteous. And if we can reach a certain level of obedience and holiness and righteousness then God will bless us!". (*City Church begins booing and cat-calling at this point and shouting "No!"*). You are too well taught! Who is your pastor in this place!? His Name is Jesus and the Spirit of God! If you pursue trying to be more righteous - if you pursue righteousness then that is stupid! The way to get more blessing is contrary to this world's system of economics. It is ridiculous!
The way to get more blessed is to do the opposite - you do not pursue righteousness. You simply stop trying and you submit to God's gift of righteousness and get established in that revelation.
If you try and pursue being righteous enough to get the blessing then every time you hear a promise that it is God's will to bless you then your whole thinking will go something like this - alright I had better get right with God to get that blessing. You know how your mind works if you monitor it! I hope you are monitoring it because if you don't monitor your thinking then you are passive and the devil loves you. He can lay all his lies on a passive mind! I tell you - I have been into this revelation of grace for some years now and there are still vulnerable moments when I hear a great promise of God of a blessing and think; "Well I had just better get right with God!" in some area of my life otherwise I am disqualified!
THAT is pursuing your righteousness and not submitting to His gift of righteousness.
The Bible says in Proverbs 10:6; "Blessings crown the head of the righteous!". In many places where you say that people look at their life if there is financial debt or relational problems or sickness issues in their life that are re-occuring - the first thing that someone who is not established in the gift of New Covenant righteousness thinks is - look at all the problems in my life - obviously I am not righteous enough so God can't crown my head with the blessing because He only does that for the righteous and look at the problems in my life so obviously I am not righteous enough!
No, my friend, if you are in Christ then you can't improve on the righteousness you have got because it is absolute, infinite and perfect righteousness - it is the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! The reason those problems are going on is not because you are not righteous enough in Christ - it is because you are still pursuing your righteousness and trying to be right with God by your behaviour and by your good works!
It is a big step to make this move out from the boat of religion and walk on the waters of grace and start seeing blessing after blessing flowing in your life. Go to Romans chapter 9.
I woke up yesterday morning and heard the audible voice of God say to me; "Rob - are you pursuing righteousness or submitting to My gift of righteousness?". I said; "Well Lord I am not pursuing righteousness!". He said; "Son you still are in some areas". I was shocked!
I thought hey - I am the faith and grace preacher! He said;
"No there are still areas in your life and in your thinking where you still think I am not good enough for that or not good enough for this". So I repented! He said; "Now you ask My people at City Church International". So I am going to obey God. City Church International - are you still pursuing righteousness? Or are you submitting to God's gift of righteousness?
(Romans 9:30); "What then shall we say? That the Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have obtained it - a righteousness that is by faith. But Israel who pursued a law of righteousness have not obtained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as it were by works - they stumbled over the stumbling stone". Then chapter 10:3; "Since they did not know that the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own - they did not submit to God's righteousness". Think about this.
Last week we read from Isaiah 54:14 - that God said I will establish you in righteousness and you will have nothing to fear - terror will not come near you, tyranny won't come near you - anyone that attacks you will surrender to you and no weapon formed against you can prevail - you will be established in righteousness! Now you know He was not talking about your being established in our righteousness but established in Isaiah 53 - the death of Jesus on the Cross in His righteousness. Israel tried to establish themselves in their righteousness by keeping the law. (v4); Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes!
Now go back to (v33) because we didn't read that. "As it is written; '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". What is the Spirit of God talking about there? What is this stumbling stone? He is Jesus! This stumbling stone is Jesus!
There are religious people zealous and pursuing their own self-righteousness and trying to be good enough to get the blessing and position themselves to be right with God so God can bless them and they are so busy doing this that they are stumbling over the revelation of grace and are constantly falling but it says here - those who trust in the Lord will never be put to shame!
What is this issue of shame? In religious communities if someone had to get up and say; "I am the righteousness of God" - the religious community would make them feel shamed. The religious community would say; "Blasphemy!" and tear their clothes! Blasphemy?! How DARE you say that?! That is the stone the religious world stumbles over and so when people feel that pressure, they say; "Oh no - you are right - I am not the righteousness of God". And they stumble over that stone and go after trying to improve themselves and become better in order to get the blessing.
Paul the apostle was the Pharisee of Pharisees, he was driven to get righteousness by law but he encountered Jesus Christ in a supernatural way and from that day he was established in the revelation of righteousness so from that day he could say; "I am trusting in the Lord - I am not ashamed to say in front of all my Jewish countrymen - I was a Rabbi of Rabbis, a Pharisee of Pharisees, everything that Israel would want in a man - born of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, circumcised on the eighth day - according to legalistic righteousness - I am faultless'. He says; "I count all of that dung and all rubbish that I may be found in Him not having a righteousness of my own that is by the law but a righteousness that is by faith in Jesus Christ that I may know Him" (Romans 1:16).
If you are struggling to rest and submit to God's gift of righteousness - if the struggle comes on your mind now and again - "How can God bless me when I know I've got something wrong in my life?" - just think of Paul and the transition he had to make from Pharisee of Pharisees - king of all kings regarding legalism - what happened to him that he could come to the place where he could say; "I am not ashamed" of this gospel! That is a radical transition that gives everyone hope in this place. (Romans 1:16-17); "Salvation" means "soterio" and that doesn't mean going to heaven. It includes that but it really means; "peace, protection, prosperity".
What do we live by faith in? We live by faith in the fact that we are the righteousness of God - that this is a righteousness that is from God revealed - not from man or revealed by the keeping of the law. It is a righteousness from God revealed in the Gospel and people who believe this righteousness - that they are the righteousness of God and don't stumble over the stumbling stone but believe they are the righteousness of God and are not ashamed to say that boldly and confidently - to them, the power of protection, peace and prosperity comes to those people that don't stumble!
Notice he says it is "by faith from first to last". This isn't just justifying righteousness. This is the righteousness that you come into the Kingdom in and it is the first thing you believe and it is the last thing you believe at the end of your life - you never go back to saying; "I will add another kind of righteousness to the righteousness I have found revealed in the Gospel". I don't pursue any other righteousness because that is the stumbling block! I am not going to be put to shame!
Now the religious world may shame me and attack me and attack the grace message and even lie about you and even if you make a mistake they will love it and pounce upon your mistakes and say; "THAT is because of the grace message!". But even though you may be accused of things and maybe you do things wrong that the religious world tries to make you ashamed of - if you trust in this gift of righteousness - in the eyes of God you will never be put to shame by your Father.
Every time you get sin going on in churches that peace, grace and law abide - they mix grace and law, Old and New together - there is lots of sin going on in those churches but every time someone sins and it is exposed, they say; "It's not our fault - we also preach law - we balance grace with law". Legalistic churches - sometimes people are sinning a lot more than in grace churches but when they sin the preacher doesn't get the blame because he preached law to them! He told them not to! But in grace churches when they sin? "Ah it is the grace message". I want to say to the legalistic churches; "Have a look in your back yard!".
I know churches where grace was preached for a long time and people got established to a degree in grace and the level of sin was pretty low. Then other preachers came in and began to preach; "Do better, try harder, hasn't Jesus done enough for you?!". And they manipulate people with what Jesus did at the Cross. "You owe Him something now". No - you DID owe Him something and then He cancelled everything at the Cross!
Now you don't have to have a whole load of "have-tos" but a whole load of "want-tos"! I want to love Him! I want to serve Him! I want to pray! I want to give! I want to be generous! Because - I just want to!
These guys come in and preach "have-tos" and if you want the blessing then try harder and I see adultery come into those churches and see unmarried couples begin to sleep together and I want to go back and slap those leaders and say; "Go back to preaching what Paul preached - stop trying to put law on the people to stop them sinning!". I guarantee if you have got two glass houses in the street and the first one has got no signs up on the outside and little boys come outside and will not even notice the first glass house. But the second - big signs say "Do not throw stones! Do NOT throw stones at the glass house!". Everything in me - the law stirs up sin! Go to Romans chapter 3. I love the law of God. The law of God is wonderful but I love it for what it was written for. The law was never written to give you the blessing!
Obeying the law was NEVER in God's mind! God never gave the law to make you holy - never! It was written to make you feel like hell! It was written to make you feel like a worm in the dust! It was written to silence all our arrogance to God and all our self-righteousness. It was written to make you concious of sin and once you realise that you are so ugly in your arrogant religious self-righteousness then you repent of pursuing a righteousness of your own and submit!
You stop stumbling over the rock and submit with all my imperfections!"I thank You that I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!".
And when you do that, the peace of God comes, the power, fullness of grace - one blessing after another! You start hearing God's voice a lot easier! (Romans 10:4) - Christ is the end of the law. Once you realise the law is useless and can't save you - it is powerless! Paul says in Romans 7; "the law taking advantage of your sin deceived you even further". The written code stood opposed to you and God cancelled it at the Cross in Christ Jesus on behalf of the believer. Once you come to Christ that is it. No more law for you! No more measuring up. Jesus measured up for you and you are complete in Christ! You are the righteousness of God in Christ!
(Romans 3:19); "Whatever the law says - it says to those under the law". Thank God I am not under the law in Christ! This is what it says to those under the law (although it won't say it to you!); "So that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God". That's why no one will get to heaven by their own righteousness. (v20) - Therefore noone will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law we become concious of sin. But now a righteousness from God APART FROM THE LAW has been made known to which the law and the prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
Go to Romans 5:17; "If by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive (there's the active word again - active expectation of good) God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness".
That is so important! "Gift!". The gift of righteousness reigns in life through the one Man Christ Jesus. Now this is the problem here and this is how the devil is arguing this with false theology.
This is a gift of righteousness. The Greek tense is the present continuous tense. So God sees you CONTINUALLY as righteous!
Rob - what happens if I sin? Well shock of all shocks! Like I said last week - if the main purpose of Jesus dying on the Cross was to stop Christians sinning, then I reverently say this - He failed. Because I don't know one Christian on the planet who doesn't sin. But if the main reason why Jesus died on the Cross was so that our sin will never be imputed to us - so that our sinning will never be charged against us - "there is now therefore NO condemnation to those in Christ Jesus" - if the main reason He died was so my sin and sinning will never seperate me from God again then He was an utter success.
Jesus died on the Cross to lift condemnation completely off His people and when condemnation is lifted completely off His people then you are empowered to have greater authority against sin.
Some of the most obedient people on the planet today - the most holy, humble, pleasures to be with are people who are honest and transparent about their weaknesses and their short-comings and their failures and they are trusting in the grace of God and loving God and they know how many times they fail or make a mistake - yet they know they are still the righteousness of God!
Some say; "No you have got the robe of righteousness on and if you sin there are stains on that robe". What a disgusting blasphemy. How do you think that the righteousness of God can be stained by your sin?! No - Jesus was stained with your sin on the Cross once and for all time to make you perfect forever and no stain can stick to the righteousness you have!
Now if you are self-righteous then your sin adds all kinds of stains but you don't have any righteousness you have because it is a righteousness that is perfect because that's the one revealed in the Gospel. People say; "Oh yes we know it's a gift and you get a gift - Jesus come into my life". That's justification. But any sin you do after that you are no longer righteous and you have to confess your sin and repent and then you get your righteousness back. Well that's the problem isn't it - you get your righteousness back!
Well that's the problem - you will get your righteousness back! No - Romans 8 says no condemnation and nothing can seperate us! Nothing! Not your sinning! Your sinning seperated Jesus! "My God, My God - why have you forsaken Me?". So you will never be forsaken! If you confessing every sin was keeping your righteousness and open fellowship with God then you are in big trouble because you don't even know all the time when you sin. Because you have the religious sins of some cultures. God talks about being critical self-promoting, gossip.
Anything that is not of faith is sin!
So if being cut off from God happens because you haven't confessed your sin then every Christian on the planet is already cut off from God! Then they say; "Ah well we're cut off from God but we will go to heaven when we die hopefully". Oh pleaseeeee! This is a gift - it is not the reward of your obedience. It is a gift of Jesus' obedience on your behalf. Go to (v19);
"For just as through the disobedience of the one many, many were made siners so also through the obedience of the one man - the many (are imputed) or made righteous".
This is a fascinating thing that people say; "Yes you are righteous when you first get saved and then after that you have got to maintain your righteousness". We need to go back to the great preachers of 100 years ago - Charles Haddon Spurgeon and all who preached Colossians 2 that says; "And Christ forgave all your sins - at the Cross cancelling the written sins - at the Cross cancelling code".
When did Christ forgive all your sins? Before you had committed ONE! When Colossians 2 says past tense; "At the Cross, He forgave ALL your sins". Under the Old Covenant and under the Law you only get forgiveness when you confessed! In Christ - when did He forgive your sins? At the Cross you know what modern evangelicals believe? He only forgave your sins from the day you got born again to the day you got saved. Then after you got saved if sinned again then your righteousness is no longer as shining as it was before. WHERE do they get that theology?! If He can forgive all your sins from the day you were born to the day you got saved but can't forgive your sins after you got saved - then I would rather get saved the second before I die!!
He forgave ALL your sins at that glorious Cross! Gone! Blotted out! Finished! The sin issue is not even an issue anymore! The Father is not relating to you on that - you are the righteousness of God! This righteousness is NOT a reward of your obedience! It is a gift from God! That we submit to! We do not pursue it - we submit to it and we say; "I agree God! I am righteous in your sight forever!".
It is through the obedience of the one Man. Now it says through the disobedience of the one man, many (that is everyone) were made sinners. In other words Adam's disobedience brought condemnation and made you a sinner. You are not going to hell because of your sin - you are going to hell because of Adam's sin. People say; "That's not fair - if I want to go to hell, I want to go for my sin! Why should I go to hell for Adam's sin?".
Well God set it up as unfair because you are not going to heaven because of your righteousness or because of your obedience. You are going to heaven and you are righteous through a gift through the obedience of the one Man. Before you were in Christ and when you are in Adam and his disobedience - you are made a sinner and you were condemned by Adam's disobedience. Did you sin all the time? No! Everyone of us before we were Christians did good things. We fed the poor and gave to the hungry. Rock stars get philanthropic and give money and help and do good things. I did good things before I was a Christian!
My good things that I did were righteous acts but I could not "righteous" away my sinhood because I was in first Adam! Now they say that you are in the obedience of the last Adam - Jesus - and you have HIS gift of righteousness. You are meant to be able to "sin away" this righteousness but you can't "righteous" away your sin-hood in first Adam!?! That is blasphemy and what they are saying is that first Adam's disobedience is far more powerful than last Adam's obedience.
Now we are righteous and we have got to perform righteously? Well that means you have got to add to God's righteousness and how will you be established in righteousness if you don't know where God's righteousness ends and your performance of righteousness begins? On what are you established?
The Gospel is not about you changing. The Gospel is about how GOD changed the way He relates to you from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant.
When I say "Old Covenant" I mean the law covenant of Moses - I don't mean Abraham. As I keep saying and people are saying around the world now - the Gospel is not about right living. My dad was an atheist most of his life and he lived a better moral life than most Christians. But he was on his way to hell - till I led him to Christ! The Gospel is not about right living. Buddhists live good lives as do Muslims. Atheists lead good lives and so do religious people and Hinduis! The Gospel is about right believing.
"For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed to all who believe - it is by faith from first to last".
Right believing will progressively lead to right living.
I think some people have come into our meetings and heard what we are saying now and say; "Is this a bunch of immoral people and are they all committing adultery all over the place?". I have been married for 34 years and Glenda and I have never committed adultery and never want to. I am too frightened of Glenda and will never do that! I want to live a life of integrity and authenticity - I want to obey God and lay my life down and die for Him if I need to. But no guilt! Just freedom and joy and getting drunk at 04:00 on a Sunday morning! When I do make mistakes I just thank God that I am the righteousness of God!
Go to Galatians. Obviously we are repeating and reinforcing things. I want to teach on how to hear God still and teach on the high priestly garments of Jesus and on the Benjamin generation - a prophetic word on that! But God said to start the year off by going back and reinforcing and establishing the foundations. If I have found God saying; "What are you pursuing Rob?" then I realise I hear a promise and think "okay I have got to do a bit to qualify mysefl a bit more" - then I know that some of you think that way. It is more than just hearing; "I am the righteousness of God" - it is being established in it that when the devil comes and says; "Now that sin you did there - that's it - God has had enough, no more blessing" - you will be so established that you will find that the funniest thing you have ever heard!
You will fall on your back and scream with laughter that the devil thinks you can "sin away" the obedience of Jesus - that means I couldn't "righteous" away my sinhood when I was in 1st Adam! Ha ha! You think I can sin away Jesus' righteousness?! Ha ha! Devil - what a joke! I AM the righteousness of God - no weapon can prevail against me! From the fullness of His grace I am receiving one blessing after another - hang around devil! Wait and you will see! Hang around here long enough and you will see the blessing!
I remember when we first got saved and we were university students at Rhodes and came into Christ and saw something of grace and we were living - every day I had to trust God for money. I knew this God was good. I would run up the forest - any excuse I could get. Before I was saved I was in the pub all day and then I got saved and any gap I had I am up into the bush to meet with the God I loved!
At the end of the day you can't just learn from hearing a preacher - you have got to meet with this God.
I would go meet with this God I loved and I got to know Him in the forests. That's where faith comes! I remember telling a cynic that every day I live by faith and have to believe God for money. Every day to live as a student! My wife had a baby and I had no income! While I was telling him the story this Afrikaan came up to me that we hardly knew at all at this time and he said; "Here this is for you - the Lord told me to give you this". Then he walked off. The cynic is looking at me and I just told him how God keeps providing and his eyes were coming out on stalks!
I opened the packet and money came pouring out! I felt like saying; "I told you so!". Our faith has grown since those days - one blessing after another! From the fullness of His grace.
You have got to like yourself and have this attitude that God likes me and He wants to bless me! I want to say to you - God loves you! He loves you! God doesn't want to bless you just so you are a greater minister! God wants to bless me because He loves me! Just because of the heaven of it - He loves me! He sees you as righteous!
Let's go to 2 Scriptures - what are you relying on and depending on for the blessing? I want to tell you with authority and with full persuasion that the vast majority of people in Christ in the earth do not have clarity on this and still have ambiguity and confusion and are still not established. They kind of think they are righteous in Christ but they kind of think they are disqualified for the blessing and have to try and keep the law a little better. In City Church International we are not going to have that mix of stinking thinking! We are going to stick with the Scriptures!
We will cover some of the certain verses - the "difficult verses" such as James 5; "Confess your sins to one another". But Rob - you just said that you didn't have to confess! We will cover that. We will cover all of those difficult Scriptures and you will get so excited! You will believe even stronger! You can't depend on even mix a little bit. You can't depend on your righteousness and His a bit. You can't pursue your righteousness to be qualified for the blessing and submit to His righteousness! It is one or the other! That's why some Christians are only blessing partially - they partially believe grace and partially believe law!
When you move over from law to grace fully - you will come into the fullness of the blessing of God.
(Galatians 3:10); "All who rely on observing a law are under a curse for it is written; cursed is everyone who doesn't continue to do everything written in the book of the Law".
If you are thinking that praying one hour extra a day will give you the blessing then you have MISSED it! If you want to pray for an hour then pray for an hour - I love praying for hours!
(v11); "Clearly no one is justified by God through the law because the righteous will live by faith. The law is not based on faith - on the contrary the man who does these things will live by them. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written; 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a true' - He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit".
Now it doesn't make any snese to say that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law - to say that if I break the law and fail the law then God won't curse me if I keep the law 100%!
If Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law that means even when we fail at times and fall short of the law there is NO CURSE coming our way because Christ has redeemed us from law's curse by satisfying the integrity of the High Court of Justice in heaven - He was cursed in our place with the curse of the law that we deserve - He was cursed so that the blessing given to Abraham could come to the Gentiles by the promise of the Spirit through faith!
It is so clear! There is no ambiguity - except the religious world blurs it on purpose to keep control over the people of God with guilt manipulation.
What are we depending on? Your behaviour? Or are you depending on your faith in Jesus behaviour?! If you are depending on your behaviour then you are pursuing a righteousness and establishing a righteousness of your own - which will bring the curse on you. The curse of the law - but if you are in faith that you have a faith righteousness that's not based on your fluctuating performance but your faith in the performance of Jesus Christ who performed perfect obedience for you then you will be secure.
I don't have to have perfect faith in first Adam - I was born into this world into the lineage of first man and I was born into his disobedience.
No matter how many good things I did - all my good things were like filthy rags - I could not "righteous" away my sinhood in first Adam! But to come out of first Adam took faith and I have to believe that there is a righteousness I cannot sin away ever - it is from first to last - a righteousness from God that is not a reward for my obedience - it is a GIFT for my faith!
(v5); "Does God give you His Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law or because you believe what you heard?". Paul told them that he clearly preached the Cross and revelation of righteousness. (v6); "Consider Abraham - he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness ... those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham - the man of faith". (Romans 4:3); "What does the Scripture say? ... faith is credited as righteousness" = right standing with God. How do we increase the blessing in our lives? (v8); "Blessed is the man who's sin the Lord will never count against him!". He is not counting your sins! There is no sense of heaven going; "I saw that! I saw you!". No all He sees is the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!
(Deuteronomy 28) - this is a famous Scripture of blessings and curses that is often read out in churches but not explained clearly enough. The context is that God is going to announce to Israel the blessings and the curses. I will not read all the curses to you - they are too depressing. The curses are poverty - you can NEVER say that poverty is a blessing! I highly respect Francis of Assisi and his poverty oath but he was walking in the lights that he had. He was an awesome man of God but in Deuteronomy 28 poverty is a sign of the curse. There is a great controversy about what is called the "prosperity message".
I am not preaching it - I am preaching the Gospel which INCLUDES prosperity because God made Abraham very rich! The controversy with the prosperity message is that in some cases it was preached wrong because they did not understand law and grace. So the inference in the prosperity message is that if your life is right - do good and get good. Do bad and get bad. Which is the law! The prosperity message will sound like this - if your life is right and you are praying enough and giving enough and going to church enough and reading your Bible enough and living righteously enough then the Lord will bless you! Well what does that say? To those that aren't blessed and who do have poverty and are poor and are suffering? Well it must be because you are so sinful! No.
Many of the people who preached the prosperity message went into debt and borrowed so much money they were living in false prosperity. Many of them have disappeared off the face of the earth. You would drive to church in a big car because I am prospering! What are you trying to say to people? This car is a sign of my right doing and that produces arrogance and pride and shame and pain in the people who are in places where they are disenfranchised and don't have access to banks and loans and opportunities. We preach that this message will help people in India, Africa - anywhere in the world where they will stop putting the law on people and saying; "Your good acts and living obediently enough will get you prosperity and your good health and your blessing is a sign of you praying enough and being holy enough and giving enough and jumping through all the right steps and hoops".
No! There is just one step. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ that you are the righteousness of God from the fullness of His grace, we have received one blessing after another! You can tell that to poor people in Africa and if they stay in this message and hold on and get through all the stuff that we have got through and evey spirit that has tried to hinder this message and stop us believing this and making us feel afraid if we believe this - that this is a false gospel and we must be deceived! No - the one that has the law in it - Paul says if anyone preaches a Gospel with alw in, may he be doubly condemned! This is the Good News! This is the New Covenant! This is Jesus!
The other one is the false one and I would rather be criticised by man than doubly condemned by God for preaching a gospel that has the law in it!
When we see someone in poverty, we don't say; "That is your sinful life - you sowed and now you have reaped!". That is an Old Covenant teaching and when you read sowing and reaping, you had better read it in it's context and make sure you are not transferring Old Covenant sowing and Old Covenant reaping into New Covenant.
Everything from the Old Covenant must go through the Cross! If it passes cleanly through the Cross the apostles make very little comment on it but if it doesn't pass cleanly through the Cross then the Jewish apostles make commentary on it and re-interpret Old Covenant truths into higher revelation New Covenant truths.
Like I said on Thursday night Old Covenant was a "snip on the tip" - it didn't pass cleanly through the Cross so Paul says; "Our hearts are circumcised" - the re-birth! He uses the words; "the circumcision of the heart" - that old nature has been cut out and the new creation nature of Christ is put in.
Sowing and reaping - I am not getting what I sow! I am getting what the Father sowed in Jesus on my behalf.
Now Galatians 5:6 says "Don't be deceived ... whatever a man sows to the flesh, he will from the flesh reap destruction". Read the context! Don't read the NIV - read most of the other translations when you read Galatians. It says "flesh" not "sinful nature". The context is clear - what is "flesh"? It is not just "sinful nature" - the flesh is my human effort - my sweat - my trying to keep the law - my trying to earn. He said; "You have given up on the Spirit and gone back to human effort. You are trying now in human effort to be good enough and you aren't believing what Abraham believed and believing you are righteous. Now you are trying to get righteous and you pursuing righteousness instead of submitting to what you got as a gift".
That is the flesh! He said; "I am warning you - if you keep sowing to that human effort - that law-keeping stuff, you will reap from it destruction! But if you sow to the Spirit - which is the revelation of righteousness in Christ - from the Spirit you will reap eternal life!". Eternal life is not living forever! People will live eternally in hell as well. Eternal life is a quality of life - the life of God lived now in the flesh in this body!
Your house didn't burn down because you sowed something bad 3 years ago! When Jesus died on the Cross, He caused a total crop failure of every negative seed I have sowed and every bad thing I have done since getting saved! I am not waiting for a bad harvest to catch up with me!
People are looking over their shoulders thinking, "I didn't forgive enough or do enough - I was bitter - I did wrong there!". That is still Old Covenant thinking! Under the Old Covenant you only get forgiveness as you forgive others! That is Old Covenant! The New Covenant (Colossians 3:13) says; "Forgive one another just as Christ HAS forgiven you!". He has TOTALLY forgiven you past, present and future and it is not conditional on you forgiving others - it has already taken place at the Cross!
You can't mess it up! You have got full forgiveness! And because I know that even if I don't forgive them I am still already forgiven past, present and future then that empowers me to WANT to forgive them. People fear; "If I don't forgive them then God will not forgive me and He will hand me over to the tormentors". That is Jesus preaching before the Cross and before the New Covenant! That is a terrible motive! I forgive so easily because I have been totally forgiven by the Father and nothing bad I am sowing out there can get me to reap bad stuff today.
You may as well go and join a Buddist church if you are going to do the sowing and reaping thing - that is totally Old Covenant! (2 Corinthians 8); You have got to re-think traditions of men.
Now let's read Deuteronomy 28 - ready for a revelation? If the majority of Christians were believing the truth they would be drunk in the joy of God and would be blessed and would be walking in confidence and would be so happy and would love themselves and forgive everyone and wouldn't hold grudges or be analytical or self-concious! The traditions of men have been nullifying the power of God's Word and some bulldozers in Hong Kong has to start announcing the good enwsin Jesus Christ and break through all these strongholds and wrong ways of thinking. There are seminars that you can go to that will turn you into a inward looking maniac! Analysing everything that has been causing the problems in your life!
There is only one thing causing the problems in your life and that is unbelief that you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!
The devil has got people running back into their mothers womb and running down this formula and that and taking you there and into your past. Your house burnt down because you didn't tithe! If I was a psychiatrist then I would do a thesis on Christians!
The religious traditions of men is the worst cause for mental health problems!
Here is God about to give the law - curse and blessing. Israel were slaves in Egypt and were under bondage. The Bible says in Exodusthat God remembered His covenant with Abraham. What is the covenant with Abraham? Grace and faith and no law! There was no law under Abraham! When Israel was in Egypt there was no Moses hearing the law at Mount Sinai. No law between Adam and Moses! Just a covenant of grace with Abraham! So He stirs up Moses to go to His people (Exodus 3:13) and say; "I am speaking on behalf of Abraham (covenant of God) and He will bring you out of Egypt with signs and wonders and miracles, and open up the Red Sea". They murmered and complained and sinned yet God turned the bitter waters sweet with the wood - the symbol of the Cross. They complained of not enough food and He brought down manna from heaven. And He never judged them! Why? They were under Abraham and under grace. They are sinning and yet God sees them as righteous in Abraham and in grace and in that covenant.
They do wrong and wrong and wrong and eventually Galatians 3 says that because of the sin of UNBELIEF - they did not believe in the grace of God! - God said "I will give you the law so the transgressions will increase".
So God brought the law to them and He gives them the opportunity to receive the law and the people should have got up as one and said; "We repent oh God! We don't want the law! We don't want to be blessed according to us keeping the law! We want what Abraham got! Abraham got blessed through faith in your goodness and we want that!". They didn't. They said to God; "Everything you tell us to do - we will do". Moses was still getting the law on Mount Sinai when they were already worshipping a golden calf.
Once the law came, curse after curse after curse came to Israel. From the time of Moses till the time of Christ redeeming Jew and Gentile from the curse; "ALL who will believe". (Deuteronomy 28:2); "You wanted the law? Not grace? Right you got it!". (v1); Can you see a problem in that? The Lord said "IF you obey these laws and commands THEN I will fully bless you". It is not about how much you try or how good your intentions are. It is to FULLY obey. That is 100% and there is no room to drop! (Galatians 3:10); "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse". (Deuteronomy 28:15); "IF ... all these curses will come and overtake you". We have read today that there is good news!
ONE fully obeyed on our behalf. One fully did it as last Adam on our behalf. One FULLY redeemed us from the curse of the law that the blessing given to Abraham can come tous. That means that NONE of the curses in Deuteronomy 28 belong to us - not even one. Christians should not be living under any curse of poverty, sickness, disease or broken relationships. Many Christians are living under the curse as people not in Christ because they are trying to pursue righteousness rather than submitting to the gift. None of the curses belong to us but ALL the blessings belong to us because in Christ we have FULLY obeyed the law! God wanted to relate to His people on grace and faith - not on our performance but HIS!
Now the day that any church moves into this level of blesssing then the world will know about it. And why not us!?! 2009 is the year - we are positioned for it!