This sermon was preached on Sunday 19th April 2009 at City Church International in Hong Kong.
"We are just going to have a mellow preach this morning and try and not be long. The word of the Lord this morning that He gave me this morning is "Rest". That's it! That is it! So thank you, that was quick eh? There is not much to do when you rest. But Steve was praying that out in the prayer meeting this morning and I was really excited about that because I had written it on my hand. "Rest". It didn't manifest there but I felt the Lord saying that His word this morning to City Church International is "Rest". Rest is two things. Firstly it is a theology - the rest of God. And the rest of God is also a living reality. I don't want to just know the theology of the rest of God - I want to experience the living supernatural reality of the rest of God. I want to enter into the rest of God and God wants CCI to enter in and live in the rest of God! The living supernatural reality of the rest of God. As I speak this morning I just believe that His rest - that supernatural reality - is coming upon us. So receive that right now!
Lord, we just release Your Presence of peace and of rest upon each person right now in the Name of Jesus. We are not looking for a cleverly crafted word. God gave me this word in 5 minutes this morning! We are looking for You and Your Presence and Your peace and Your rest. Those that might be uncomfortable with this kind of a meeting - Holy Spirit we pray that You would just dissolve all their discomfort right now and let them be comfortable in Your Presence with You.
I had a long week this week - working Monday to Friday and very working very hard. The only day I had to prepare for today was yesterday and I felt this pressure that I had to get up Saturday and prepare for Sunday with the goods. I felt God said "No just have a day of rest - watch movies and get couch time". Ryan loves couch time! Just rest and watch movies! God said "Don't worry I will give you a word". That can be scary if you have got to preach the next day. What happens if He doesn't give you a word and you get up looking like an idiot?! Maybe I do care a little bit - but I would rather just communicate what God has and it could be the simpliest word but as long as it comes with His Presence and His impartation then you can say one word - "Rest" - and it can change your life. So Lord keep releasing that rest! The Bible says "Strive to enter into His rest". So it is the only thing we are told to strive for! How cool is that? Strive to enter into His rest. For everyone who enters into His rest ceases from his own work. Ceases from his own work!
God created the planets and the galaxies and the universe in six days and the Bible says He rested on the seventh day. It wasn't because He was tired. It just meant He stopped working on the seventh day. It was finished. The Old Covenant is a six day covenant - a working covenant. The Law is a working covenant. The New Covenant is a seventh day covenant and is rest! A rest covenant! It started when Jesus said "It is finished!". It is FINISHED! We entered into a seventh day Sabbath day covenant! God only showed me that this morning - I have never studied that anywhere! We are in a Sabbath - seventh day - covenant!
That means our work has finished! Grace says "Stop working". And just believe.
Jesus said this is the work that the Father requires - to believe on the One He sent. Not to go and do this or that or to keep the 10 Commandments. Not to try and be holy. Not to try and not sin or win the world for Jesus. He says THIS is the work - to believe on the One He sent. Grace says "Stop working".
God says come and lift false burdens that we are carrying. We have a passion to serve Jesus and live for Him and do stuff - I do! But the enemy can get behind that and say "You are not doing enough. You need to do more". He will start to drive us and we get into false burdens and think we have to be more holy and change more. "God wants me to change more!". God says "Stop trying to change!". God says to CCI this morning; "Stop trying to change!". God doesn't want you to try and change. Stop trying to change yourself! I don't know if I even have a theology of changing! So much emphasis on changing in the body of Christ!
I think the more we see Him and the more we see who we are in Him and the more we see where we are seated in the heavenly realms in Him - the more that realm begins to flow through our lives. We don't need to change! We just need to see Him. Sanctification is not about trying to sin less and less - it is about living from your eternal position in Christ more and more. Sanctification isn't about trying to be holy. I am going to preach about holiness. I am going to preach on being holy. And I am going to re-define what holiness really is because the church has got holiness really wrong! Holiness has got nothing to do with sin at all! The church has made it all about that.
What's the first thing you think about when I say - holiness? Don't sin! That is the 10 Commandments right there. If that is what you are living under then that is the 10 Commandments.
If I sin then I am not holy. If I don't sin - then I am holy. It's rubbish! Sin has got nothing to do with holiness at all.
I am going to leave that there! Otherwise I will end up preaching that whole message! Holiness has got to do with where you are seated. That is what holiness is - where you are seated in Christ! Living holy is simply living from the place where you are seated in Him. That's holy living. I will explain more about that the following week. It will release you completely from trying not to sin. Just see who you are and where you are! Not sinning is the by-product of holiness.
The religious world is putting pressure on pastors to preach more on holiness and congregations more to try and stop sinning and be more holy and it is putting pressure on churches to live under the 10 Commandments and is totally bogus and it needs to stop in the body of Christ! Stop teaching "holiness" and stop teaching obedience! Stop teaching sinning less and teach more on who we are in Christ and where we are seated - perfect in Christ! 100% righteous in Christ forever more! Seated with Christ on a throne and made holy!
Hebrews 10 says you have been made holy! You can't be anymore holy! You are holy! If you are born again then you are holy. The seventh day covenant! That is a good one! It could be totally heresy but ...! We are in a rest covenant! The work is finished!
Stop trying to complete your holiness and complete your righteousness! Stop trying to complete blessings and approval from the Father! You have got it all! You have got the faith of the Father! Let's just cease from our works!
Ryan if you preach that then it's going to lead to passivity! It will lead to fatalism! Graces says "If you never did another thing for God for the rest of your life then He would still love you and approve of you and be pleased with you!". That is it! That is what Grace says! If you never did another thing for God for the rest of your life then He would still love you, accept you and approve of you!
Because He is not relating to you on your performance - He is relating to you on CHRIST'S performance and you are in Christ and He is pleased with Christ, loves Christ and is happy with Christ. You are in Christ and "accepted in the beloved".
You don't have to do another thing for God to get Him to accept you or to get Him to love you. He loves you completely and utterly and fully! We live with this thing in our mind that if we are not praying enough or winning the lost enough then God is a little bit unpleased with us! That is a LIE from the devil!
If you never read your Bible for the rest of your life and praying another prayer to God for the rest of your life or never tried to win one more person to Christ for the rest of your life then God would still fully love you, accept you and be pleased with you!
But then won't Christians not want to do anything? No! Actually it takes all the "have-tos" off Christians! I don't want to live my life by someone saying "You have to do this". That is the 10 Commandments again! Grace takes all the "have-tos" off us and says we don't have to do another thing! You don't have to live for God or try and stop sinning! It takes all the "have-tos" off and when they get taken off then all the "want-tos" begin to come out!
Grace awakens your spirit to all the goodness that God put in there at the point of salvation and draws those things out!
Because my spirit is being made perfect in Christ - Ephesians 4:23 - says we have been created after the very nature of God. My spirit has got the nature of God in it! So many people preach that we still have got a sinful nature and that is a load of rubbish! My spirit is part of the new creation order and that means nothing from the old got put back into my spirit.
When my body dies and I go to be with the Lord then my spirit will be instantly with the Lord and nothing will change in my spirit! Because it's already part of the new creation order! So nothing has to change in my spirit! Nothing of the old - no evil or sin or unbelief - my spirit is made perfect in Christ!
When you take the "have-tos" off the Christian then all those things in my spirit - the nature and love and passion of God and fire of God is all there! And that wants to come out! Grace awakens those things to come out! It is good! If this is the first time you have heard anyone say anything like this then I don't blame you for being a bit shocked!
We at CCI are a bit used to this but most of the church doesn't preach this stuff and they have been lying to you. It is not because they are evil. Most times they are doing their best with good intentions. A lot of legalism in the church is simply because of bad theology. When you haven't seen your salvation and you haven't seen what God has done in your spirit then you feel like you have to move Christians to action. "Do this!". All these clever manipulation techniques are used to get Christians into action. But they fail! The only thing that should move us is the Spirit of God in the inside of us and that connects with who I am! Grace moves me! Unmerited favour moves me! Not external pressure! God took off external pressure and external restraint and put internal restraint!
Believe it or not a born-again Christian doesn't want to go out and sin! A born again person wants to get rid of sin and struggles with sin and doesn't like sin! The flesh and mind still like sin but your spirit doesn't like sin! Sin is foreign to your spirit! The more we live by our spirit the more we can overcome sin. The more we don't walk into sin! God isn't trying to put external restraint on us when He has already put internal restraints for us to live by that! Maybe someone needed to hear that. The more you preach this stuff, the more those "want tos" rise up and the more people are empowered to be Spirit-led. If you are putting "have-tos" on people then you are not teaching them how to walk by the Spirit but by denominational law and church conformity. You are putting pressure on people to conform.
No one has a right to tell another Christian that you have no right to drink alcohol! Maybe God told you not to drink alcohol! But if you say to another Christian we are not allowed then that is external and if they bow the knee to that then they didn't do it because the Spirit led them to do it but because someone put pressure on them to do that. You can't say to someone you need to pray every morning for one hour. You have to read your Bible! God might have told you to do that but He might not have told your neighbour to do that! You have no right to put that on other people!
God is trying to take false burdens off us and get us to move by the Spirit and not by the pressure of man. God doesn't want us living and moving by the pressure of man but by the Spirit and by His voice. We enter into that rest! Can you feel yourself right now entering into that rest? Some say I am not happy - I have still got that problem and that can become our focus. God says get our focus off that and stop trying to change this or that. God says I am not even putting pressure on you to try and change that!
All I want is for you to see Me! That is all God wants!
Maybe someone else put that pressure on you! Just see God! Just see how good He is! How awesome and loving God is! See how happy He is with you! God takes absolute delight in loving you! That was such a revelation to me! I think Dad preached that a few weeks ago. We all hear that God loves us! Some think God has to love us because He saved us! Actually God has delight in loving us. It brings God pleasure to love us and He enjoys doing it. Have you heard that in your spirit? God delights in loving us! God is happy with us!
Lots of people say that Christians should live with a sense that God is not happy with them and if they have that sense then it will move them to try and live to get God to be happy! That is manipulation - it is demonic and witchcraft! "We have got to have more sin conciousness because then people will feel like they are sinners and will be moved to get rid of sin!". That is WRONG! So many people preach that!
If all you hear about is repentance and what you have got to repent of then your entire focus is on how short you have fallen from God and how useless and how unhappy God must be with you. That is awful. We should be focused on how perfect we are in Him and how right we are with Him. How perfect He is! And how we are in Him and how much He loves us and how much He is blessed by us! God is smashing some mind-sets here this morning. Some things we need to let go of. If we don't get grace references points in our life then we come in here and hear grace preached and think "Yes this is awesome - I love it" and go out and then people carefully put "What about this scripture?" into our minds and then we get knocked around and end up back in a place where we are not reigning in life and feeliing the pleasure of heaven on us. Once we get certain things established in our hearts then it will be like reference points that we will not be moved on. People can throw any clever slants on Scripture they like but we will always live in a place where we know that God is happy with us, likes us, and we are 100% righteous!
Some of these reference points are; teaching about the gift of righteousness. You have to understand it! You have to understand total forgiveness and understand propitiation. God has already poured out all wrath and punishment on Jesus fully. That means He will never ever judge or punish us! People say you are sick because you did this sin or that sin. No that is rubbish! God will never EVER punish you again because He fully punished Jesus! The gift of righteousness - you are 100% righteous in Christ! Hebrews 10; "perfect FOREVER" by one sacrifice! That means righteous! Perfectly righteous! He doesn't just "see" you righteous but knows all your sin is behind that. No - He has MADE us righteous. We need to see ourselves 100% righteous because that is how God sees you all the time. That is a reference point. Get it established even when we sin and mess up! That must get established and you won't be moved!
People will say "Ah you did that sin, you are not righteous, you have got to go and repent and confess and get right with God". It's rubbish! Strive to enter into His rest! Nothing else!
It will lead to being Spirit-led and it will lead to supernatural initiatives from God!
How many programmes does the church run - this programme and that programme!? It is so that Christians are doing something and not wasting their time! "You need to be a good steward of your time". God says - no enter into my rest! And I will give you supernatural initiatives! You are not being a good steward of your time if you are doing things that you don't even have faith for. When all the "have tos" are off and you are walking by the Spirit - then He can come even in a dream! God gave me an assignment in a dream! It changed my life! It was in a vision! He can drop a business idea! A guy at Bill Johnson's church wasn't doing much with his life and the only thing he could do was archery. One night God woke him up and gave him a new design for a bow. He invented this bow and has one of the highest selling companies of bows! That is incredible! God will wake you up and give you something! Rest! Go to sleep and let God wake you up!
I have never done so much for God since I have been in Hong Kong and learnt about rest and grace. I feel I have done so much for God since being here! I just waited for God to give me supernatural initiatives and He does! And you just follow!
Some of you look like you need some rest! We have been flat out lately! It is appropriate God speaks to us about rest at this time! Let's go into our future in rest! It doesn't mean passivity or fatalism but doing exploits for God! It is doing HIS exploits for God! Those are the big and powerful ones! God is speaking this morning! He is speaking! There is leadership and God speaks through them. Sometimes you can hear Him through your leaders but ultimately you want to hear Him for yourself! When Kylie and I came to Hong Kong big leaders were saying "No" - but we came and we are glad we came! God speaks through them and we are not undermining that. Dad preached last week and the first place of authority is the voice of God. Second is the Word and third is man.