This sermon was preached by Rob Rufus on Sunday 20th July 2008 at City Church International in Hong Kong. I am so grateful to a new friend from Australia - Meredith - who has kindly transcribed the whole of Rob's "Attitudes that Attract the Empowering Grace of God" series! I am thrilled to be able to use this monumental series to kick-start the transcribing on this blog again. Enjoy!
"I have a sheer joy of being together with you today in Your Presence, God – in Your Covenant Keeping faithfulness. If You are with us – who can be against us! Nothing can separate us from Your Love! Through us gathered here – Your AMEN is spoken for ALL Your Yeses are Yes and Amen – O God!"
Recap of Word and Spirit Conference (WSC) in South Africa: testimony re Johnny praying a blessing in Cantonese
Something was birthed in South Africa with leaders from different denominations coming together as one.
The teaching of Michael Eaton has moved us into something new. Word and Spirit Conference was a time of breaking through legalistic churches. It is not the revolutionary’s fault but the leaders of 30 years ago who had the political power to change the church but chose not to use it according to God’s leading. They held onto political and leadership positions and oppressed the people of God.
When Jesus came there had been 300-400 years of religious oppression – there was no other option but for Him to be a Revolutionary and break people out of bondages and religious oppression.
Now there is a Grace Revolution taking place on the earth and you can’t make it a sweet tame little renewal. This one is wild, passionate and not for the faint-hearted. It is not for the insecure – it is for those who love Jesus with all their hearts; who love the lost and who love the church and who want to see a new generation come through in a revival culture.
Introduction to the Series - Attitudes that Attract the Empowering Grace of God.
If you have the empowering grace of God operating in your life – you’ve got IT happening for you! God is urging us to not just settle for something that’s god – He wants us to go for the BEST because the good can become the enemy of the best! God’s got far more for the church.
When you are regularly raising the dead and seeing blind eyes open - when this is happening and the whole of Hong Kong is aware that City Church International is a Book of Acts church then HK will see that traditional denominational churches have not been making people aware of the authority and authenticity of the Kingdom of God.
But when a Book of Acts church appears – CCI hopes to be amongst the many because we love God’s church. The Book of Acts church is one where people are healed because our very shadows are healing people and then all 7 million people in HK will know that there is a Kingdom of Heaven that is not an optional extra – it is the ONLY Government of God’s Peace and the Kingdom of God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ – Amen!
So we must not settle for the good when we know there is MORE. When we have all the empowering grace operating in our lives – those things will begin to take place. Right now we have empowering grace and we’re grateful – we’re excited about the healings we’ve witnessed however, we believe there is more – much, much more! Our desire is not for less to be healed but for MORE ... We want to see each member of this church seeing people set free and saved.
We look at that awesome church in Acts 5 – but the key we have to see is in Acts 4:33 With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. Rob Rufus does not know of one church in the world where each single person in the congregation is carrying GREAT GRACE on them! May the blessing of GREAT GRACE be upon you ALL in CCI! (Some of you would be even louder than me and more assertive than I am!!) GREAT GRACE to preach the gospel with liberty and joy!
Exploring the attitudes that attract empowering grace does not mean working or earning or deserving GREAT GRACE! That would be a contradiction in terms – you can never earn or deserve of work for the empowering grace of God!
These attitudes are not something you work on – they are fruit OR the result of you gaining revelation of you gaining acceptance grace. The more you understand you are accepted IN the Beloved: IN Christ Jesus – the more you understand you are made perfect forever ...
Heb 10: 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
Eph 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us accepted us in the Beloved.
God accepts us in the same love, honour and respect as He does Jesus – for we are co-heirs with Christ and an heir of God ... that’s acceptance grace! We are not co-equal with Jesus but we have a co-equal righteousness with Him which makes us a co-heir with Christ Jesus and an heir of God!
When you have more understanding of acceptance grace – that there is NO disapproval from the Father: no possibility of rejection from Father: that the foundation of your acceptance is NOT your fluctuating performance or obedience – bit it is ALWAYS the perfect obedience of Jesus on my behalf: that is where I stand in the Father’s Eyes.
When that acceptance grace builds into your inner life a strong healthy sense of security and an inner sense of safety is it from that place of humility and safety – you can build attitudes that attract the empowering grace: for you to have more victory over circumstances, life’s attacks and difficulties and to operate as a partner with God—doing the works that Jesus did and greater miracles even!
Comment on the South African experience:
In all the meetings with leaders this was the most commonly asked question ...
Q: Rob - tell us how your prayer-life works!
People want to know that what you produce in the public has something to do with your private life. Artificial religion is form a people who are so embarrassed in public ministry because they know they have NO substance in their private prayer life and interaction with God. Such leaders are caught out as fraudulent when they are asked to pray or do something ... listeners can hear that there is no connection between them and God.
A: The Holy Spirit and I have a very simple and uncomplicated relationship: this is how it goes ... He really likes me!
He really, really loves being with me (and me with Him!) – therefore, all I have to do is get up in the morning and invite Holy Spirit to Come! And there is an immediate manifestation of His Presence – therefore I don’t pray to get the Presence – I pray IN the Presence.
Folks! It is very hard talking to Someone Who is not Present! They don’t have to answer you back because they are not present! You can’t hear God unless He comes in manifested Presence! As soon as Holy Spirit manifests His Presence – you have access to the Father in a tangible way – and now you are talking with the Trinity – as a Reality! This is Authentic! You may then move on to do other things in your day – and all day there is an awareness that He really likes me and really wants to be with me!
Q: Do you know why this works?
A: The Holy Spirit knows that I know, that I know the Holy Spirit know that I know, that He know that I know that the Father accepts me the way He accepts Jesus – because He’s placed me INTO Jesus: that’s why Holy Spirit like me and He loves being with me!
When you believe that acceptance grace, that’s when empowering grace comes upon you!
I am concerned about the emphasis in churches on empowering grace to the exclusion of acceptance grace. If you don’t build empowering grace on the foundation of acceptance grace: when you over-emphasise empowering grace to do mighty things and to overcome sin all the time – that emphasis allows the devil to bring the law up and disguise the bondage of the law in the appearance of grace that takes them into self-righteousness and makes them very insecure on the inside.
When they don’t feel safe on the inside they then begin to live in jealous insecurity comparing themselves with others and feeling inferior – rather than knowing God’s acceptance grace. When you believe the gospel of grace – the first thing you understand and should understand and should be made clear to you – is not the empowerment—it should be the acceptance!
When you believe the gospel of grace – that faith in the gospel of grace will produce 3 spontaneous fruit that will come out of your life: when you truly, truly believe – the gospel of grace is acceptance on your life – these 3 fruit immediately and spontaneously grow and develop:
Re obedience: obedience of faith – Holy Spirit tells you to do something – you do it! Either you do it because it is a good thing to do OR you stop doing something that is not a good thing to do. When you have obedience you have grace ... Please note: no-one is obeying perfectly yet! But the fruit is there ...
Q: What is humility?
A: It is not gained through apology and self-deprecation. Humility is the revelation of grace that fills your inner life with security: with such a sense of significance: validated by God’s Love for me ... therefore I am significant, secure and valuable—I don’t have to prove anything! I don’t have to boast or compete with people or be jealous because I feel so significant and safe and secure because I am accepted in the Beloved.
The 3 fruit (i) boldness; (ii) obedience; (iii) humility simply flow out of simply believing the message of grace.
Now for those Christians who are in unbelief (and there are many unbelieving Christians!) The majority of Christians in the church-world today are unbelieving believers. They do not walk around with boldness, obedience and/or humility ... and with empowering grace on them. They walk around with condemnation, insecurities, jealousies, fear and they can’t worship God extravagantly.
The fruit of unbelief is fear, rebellion and pride. When you don’t believe you are accepted in the Beloved – you fear rejection from God and man and so you will try to do everything to get people to like you – even if it includes NOT obeying God!
Thus you will go the way of secular religious humanism; you’ll do what man wants because you are so insecure; you don’t believe the gospel ... you want man to love you so you become a man-pleaser and you are easily manipulated off your destiny!
Jesus did only what He saw His Father do – because He knew His Father loved Him and He was secure in His Father’s Love.
The fruit of not believing the acceptance grace gospel is fear, rebellion and pride.
1 Peter 5:5b-7 ... all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.
Here we have a God with a Mighty Hand: when you humble yourself under that Mighty Hand – He lifts you up ... now when a Mighty Hand lifts you up you will have influence over nations – your home – your marriage ... ! Children will come into order and security – you will have freedom and influence in your jurisdiction ... When God lifts you up – that’s empowering grace!
But when God resists/opposes you – it doesn’t matter if you have an army backing you or you have the wealthiest people on your side – if God is opposing you ... you are in trouble!
But if God is lifting you up by His Mighty Hand – it doesn’t matter how many human beings are against you – you are going to succeed in your destiny. You are going to leave footprints in the sand of human history. You are going to change nations – you will have an effect on the way history is going to unfold. You will be the ambassadors of God: ambassadors of the highest Government in the universe—authorised to activate the Power of the Kingdom in the earth and have influence.
But we need to remember that we don’t have the luxury of letting our grumpy moods go where they want to! We don’t have the luxury of having a little tantrum now and then ... instead of ‘deserving a depression’ ‘deserve yourself’ the blessing of grace to refresh you! When you go down the depression track for a few days it takes a whole lot longer to get out!
I know there are some Christians who are so into this warfare stuff! ... Somewhere in all their activities of fighting devils they have lost the Gospel – they’ve lost the gospel of grace; they’ve lost sight of the fact that God is ruling the earth with a Sovereign Authority! They’ve focused on devils etc and yet it was at the Cross that they were disarmed! Jesus disarmed all powers and authorities!
The Christians who worldwide live under this thing of focus on spiritual warfare rather than focus on the completed works of the Cross are those who (i) do not believe the acceptance gospel of Grace; (ii) who do not find their inner security and safety and confidence that produces the three fruit from believing acceptance grace; (iii) who do not find it from acceptance grace but what they will find is fear of rejection; performance pressure to look like you are obedient and holy; rebellion against the Truth of the Word of God and there will come pride in trying to perform and then God resists and opposes you!
When such people feel a spiritual force opposing them and resisting them they think it is the devil! Then they fast and prayer and end up with more pride, self-effort and self-righteousness. AND the devil says This is fantastic! They think I’m resisting them but actually God is resisting them because they’ve not believed in the Gospel of acceptance grace! Now they’ve gone into pride ... and I don’t have to do anything! But I will do what I can to make things worse for them!
I have watched people get into this spiritual warfare stuff and eventually they just look like they’ve been pulled backwards through the exhaust pipe of a car. They are not happy people because they are focusing on the defeated foe.
When you spend hours praying with God you should come out ecstatic with joy because your focus has not been on demons and devils – but on Jesus; the gospel; Holy Spirit; the Beloved.
I used to do that stuff in Adelaide – then he heard God say ‘Son – if you’ll just believe how much I love you; how much you are accepted in My Kindness in Christ Jesus; and just find release to humble yourself before Me – you’ll see empowering grace come on you!
Rob: Father – have I been wrong?
God: Son – I have to oppose the proud: for what you are doing is contrary to My Nature ... I have to oppose self-righteousness.
Rob: Father – do you mean I have proud, arrogant and self-righteousness?
God: Son – I tell you with redemptive kindness – YES!
Rob: God You are so good to me ... I repent of my pride; performance pressure and self-righteousness – I repent!
AT this point these demons seem to go out of existence ... and empowering grace comes upon me and I just walk in the Peace of God – casting ALL my care on Him because He care for me!
The devil wants to lure you into fights everyday – don’t get into them!
Humility is the greatest weapon against demonic oppression: humility = keep reminding yourself of acceptance grace!
The church has truly robbed Christians around the world of dignity through religious systems and we have degraded them by judging them on their performance rather than helping them to understand who they are in Christ and that they are accepted in the Beloved. When they develop that inner security and inner sense of safety that the Mighty Hand of God will lift them up and God will give them the stewardship of empowering grace to do mighty signs, wonders and miracles – then they won’t fall into the trap of pride!
There are many Christians who try to find a formula to ‘get into the Power’: without relationship with God we cannot ‘get into the Power’. When we use formulae to get into the Power we will find we can do a few miracles but then it is over – you can’t sustain it because pride comes in. Because you didn’t access the supernatural empowerment through humility but you accessed it through formulae – you only get temporary anointing for temporary release – but you can’t sustain it.
What I am talking about will bring such inner-security into the People of God SO THAT you can steward mighty empowering grace year after year – decade after decade and not be worn out; not mess up marriages; stay normal and not go weird!
One of the most attractive features of the Bethel Church in Redding is that all the leaders RR has met are normal – they still love hunting and fishing and hiking! They are normal people who don’t get all religious and weird!
I wants to see generations birthed who can sustain high level of supernatural power without becoming weird!
If you live under the performance pressure of the law you have to do religious things to maintain your performance power. This environment produces an artificial life wherein people burn out. Under the empowering grace of God you wake up in the morning; invite Holy Spirit to Come! and the power to do miracles is there through grace! Holy Spirit likes being with you! He wants to be with you! You are able to go to work every day, raise children and walk in the empowering grace for signs, wonders and miracles.
We do not have to feel God before we DO anything! You do not need to feel God before you do anything! You start in faith – you step out and Power comes!
In South Africa when I started praying for 2000 people – there was very little corporate anointing in that room. There was no Glory Presence – however, I started praying and eventually I was walking down the aisles and 10m in front of him people were falling under the Power of Holy Spirit ... You start out in faith and God just comes!
We are great ones for putting performance pressure on ourselves and others and even giving a star-rating for our performances! All based on pride! >>> pushing people to make things happen instead of making them secure in Christ and allowing 5 star things to happen through Holy Spirit! When this latter happens we’re at the stage of not being aware we’re doing it – we’re not boasting in it—we JDI! (Just did it.) We boast in our weakness and boast in the goodness of God and we move in signs, wonders and miracles.
A 5 star Christian leaps tall buildings with a single jump
is faster than a speeding bullet
is stronger than a locomotive
walks on water
talks with kings.
A 4 star Christian leaps tall building with a running start
is as fast as a speeding bullet
is as strong as a bull elephant
keeps his head above water under stress
talks with governors.
A 3 star Christian can leap short buildings if prodded
can keep up with a slow bullet
is almost as strong as a bull
washes with water
talks with himself.
A 2 star Christian bumps into buildings
shoots the bull
argues with himself.
A 1 star Christian cannot recognise a building
wounds himself when handling a gun
smells like a bull (!!)
passes water in an emergency (!!)
loses arguments with himself.
The 5 star performance-Christian is like a shooting star – coming down tragically ... OR they can learn the attitudes of humility and when God lifts them up they will forget about acceptance grace and go back into the cycle of performance more ... the devil loves to say do more! Do more! Do more!
We are here to stay! Emphasising acceptance grace so that as God raises us up to 5 star Christianity we are not even aware we are doing these things- as we are just so in love with Him.
Apostle Paul had such a revelation of acceptance grace like no other apostle did. On the basis of that foundation of acceptance grace God poured empowering grace out upon him (See p5 session 2).
Not once did Jesus call his Disciples brothers: He called them foolish and ye of little faith ... servants and friends by not brothers until ... after the Cross! Before the Cross they did not have righteousness in Christ Jesus: after the Cross they now share a common righteousness – WITH THE SON OF God! That is profound! The King of Heaven is my Brother; the King of Heaven is your Brother ...
Rom 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family/many brothers.
Heb 2:11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.
Q: Why is he not ashamed to call us brothers?
A: Because we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! He ACCEPTS us as brothers!
Apostle Paul does not put the title APOSTLE before his name: people do not call him Ps Paul: He says: By the grace of God I am Paul called to be an Apostle – Apostle is my function NOT my title ... The legalistic church has become too enamoured with titles in front of minister’s names.
When Jesus calls us brothers ... and Paul addressed fellow-believers as brothers – we do not need titles! Some Bible Colleges even train ministers to keep their distance between themselves and the people: that’s not brothers! (Ladies you can be brothers because we men have to be the Bride of Christ!)
We are bonded together firstly as brothers and with brothers we relax: in a healthy home brothers don’t have titles – they can joke and reals and have fun and friendship and be transparent. Everyone of you who are born again are brothers and you are brother to the King of Heaven! Jesus is NOT ashamed to call you brothers!
Heb 2:11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.
In the 30 years of my ministry – whenever we come to the time to appoint deacons and elders – there is always tragedy that takes place: that is why I have not yet made such appointments in CCI. I have been waiting to kill this demonic hierarchical mentality that is in the church-world. It is rampant across the globe. As soon as people are designated leader there are two extremes that happen in the church ...
(i) people look at them and say now they are superior to me! Now I have to keep my distance ...
(ii) people are disdainful and say who do they think they are? I’m more spiritual than them! I’m not going to listen to them!
There is a rebellious, jealous lack of acceptance grace.
There are people operating as elders in CCI already and they’re not seen as superior to anyone else – because we’re brothers! Because I stand up here and speak – it is not because I am superior: it’s just what God has called RR to do. God hasn’t called all of us to be a mouth (thank God!): He’s called us to do all different things.
An aside on leadership ...
Q: What’s my ministry = the WRONG question!
Q: Where should I serve? That’s what ministry is ... serving. It does not take long to see who has a servant attitude!
All roles in the church are that of servant – i.e. to love the flock and to make sure everyone is growing in freedom in Christ. A shepherd is not someone who is a boss. Initiative has been crushed by hierarchical regimentation in church and culture: it has produced a bureaucracy and high level control-management that has dwarfed, diminished and robbed the people of God of initiative, creativity and of growing and developing in the ministry.
I will always encourage you to pray and seek Holy Spirit’s guidance: He will talk and counsel you – but he will not say Yes do that or NO don’t do that – he wants you to learn how to walk with God: he wants you to be liberated to walk with God.
That’s what liberators are: liberating leaders who liberate the people of God – they don’t manage the people of God. One day at CCI we will appoint leaders and he hopes no one will be shocked! All I am looking for is people who regularly turn up on time and who are a basic good example – people who give you a model of life to follow. I need people whom U know where they are at ... not people who engage in highs and lows – because such people can’t lead. I need consistency of behaviour.
When you have the idea of brothers and inner-security and safety – there can be no jealousy, no comparison ... whether you are appointed or not appointed – Father loves you fully! I want to build CCI into and lead CCI as a church like I have never led before. In every other church I done my best to break the hierarchy and insecurity and jealousy ... AND WE DID NOT SUCCEED. I pray we will succeed this time!
Some Christians, when they are not appointed cry out Why not me? And they leave the church AND that proves why they shouldn’t have been a leader! Leaders have to take enormous abuse and rejection and they can’t react back like some people do – they must stay stale, loving, gracious and consistent ... year after year after year ... Leaders must always be part of the answer: never part of the problem.
I want to get onto the attitudes ... you whom I love ... the kinds of attitudes that come out of acceptance grace that will produce in us humility, boldness and an obedience to God that will attract the empowering grace of God.
I want to lift my heart to You and I want never to drift from acceptance grace; I don’t look for empowering grace – I believe if I live in the revelation of acceptance grace – God’s empowering grace will come looking for you! If you live with the attitude Paul had toward his fellow believers and it doesn’t matter how much empowering grace he is walking in as an Apostle – Paul sees his fellow believers as brothers ... beloved ... I long for you ... (This is the strongest Gk word to express human emotion ...)
I long for you – with all the affections of Christ – my joy; my crown ... when that atmosphere begins to permeate the church world – we will see such empowering grace.
We want to live as 5 star Christians: we want to demonstrate the Power of our Lord Jesus Christ in signs, wonders and miracles but that’s not what we want to focus on ...we don’t want it as a badge of merit that grades our spirituality: we don’t want to fall into that deception ... Our hearts want to grow in revelation, understanding and richness of the gospel of grace – of acceptance, of true humility, true inner security – having nothing to prove; not comparing ourselves with others; no jealousy, no gossiping, no devouring one another ... We want to be those kinds of people who walk in a humility that attracts Your Mighty Hand, O God! To lift us up – in due time that we may see Your Manifest Power – as 5 star Christians.
Release any attitude of negativity towards any Christian in the world – wherever, whoever ... we repent and seek a pure heart: we want to love everyone (when you love everyone that doesn’t mean you have to trust everyone – particularly if you have been betrayed ... you don’t have to trust them until they have earned your trust!) ... but you can love them – because you are already loved perfectly by our Father; you can forgive them – because you are already forgiven perfectly by our Father; you can accept them – because you are already accepted perfectly in Christ by our Father.
Father – we’ll make every effort to keep the bonds of peace: we preach a strong gospel message here and we thank you for every brother and sister IN Christ in this city and the world ... we want it be a blessing as far as we can go with your people around the world. We want no attitudes of arrogance or pride or superiority or self-righteousness. We choose to be humble ourselves – we’d rather humble ourselves than be humiliated. O Father! I’ve been humiliated and I know that humbling oneself is a lot better! We choose to humble ourselves because of Your Grace ... in Jesus’ Name.