If you were to randomly ask 100 people “do you want to live a life of purpose and fulfillment?” I believe the high majority (90+) would answer “yes”. 7 Realms of Stewardship
Every follower of Christ wants their life to count, by honouring God and fulfilling his plans for their life. The question is what is Gods will for my life and how do I fulfill it?
These past few weeks I have had some down time to spend listening to the Lord, through which I heard him speak to me about “stewardship”. Stewardship in the sense of living a life, that one-day will bear the words “well done my good and faithful servant”.
Here are the seven realms of stewardship the Lord downloaded to me. Seven areas in which every person right now can grow in, and intentionally position themselves for increase and promotion.
1. Stewarding Time:
Time is the one commodity that every person has an equal share of. Time does not discriminate concerning race, age, demographic, wealth, colour, etc. We are either time poor or time rich, depending on your perspective.
Ephesians 5:15-16 “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil”.
Wisdom is a key for stewarding time and the bible tells us in James 1:5 “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
The word "redeem" means, “to compensate for the faults, or to gain or regain possession”. Is it possible that as we steward time with wisdom, that there manifests an enabling to regain time that has been lost or foolishly spent, therefore creating “time miracles”? YES, I believe so.
The God who lives outside of time can supernaturally give us more, removing the connotation “bound by time”. 2 Peter 3:8 “But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day”.
2. Stewarding Gifts, Talents & Ideas:
Each one of us has been given at least one thing in which we can do, and give attention to. The problem most often is that we get so side tracked doing a little bit of everything that we end up doing nothing about anything.
Proverbs 18:16 “A person's gift opens doors for him and brings him before the great”.
The reality or outworking of this truth is that the very gift/gifting’s that the Lord has given to us, all have the potential to bring us before kings, leaders, people of influence, and the like.
A suggestion I have to help you identify the gifts and talents on your life is what I call “define and refine”. Intentionally and strategically defining, amongst what can often be a gamut of ideas and interests, and then refining what you have just defined.
Also pay attention to what excites and drives you, and also to what you dislike and cannot stand…as you may be called to create and release the opposite.
1 Peter 4:10-11 “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen”.
3. Stewarding Wealth & Resource:
I once heard a podcast on wealth, it divided money into two areas: “seed” and “bread”. The crux of the message was that every dollar you have is ether seed or bread, and that it doesn’t prosper you in anyway if you eat your seed or sow your bread.
It’s wise to ask the Lord what percentage of my wealth is to be given and/or invested (sown into good soil) and what percentage is for daily living (bread).
As we are wise, integrous and spirit lead regarding our wealth and resource, this will intimately position us for increase as God is able and confident to entrust us with more.
Luke 16:10 "If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities”.
Proverbs 27:23 “Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds”.
4. Stewarding our Salvation:
Luke 9:23 “Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me”.
Philippians 2:12 “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling…”
Each one of us, from the age of understanding has been given the responsibility to work out his or her own salvation. The night before Jesus was to be crucified, he prayed to the father asking if this cup of suffering could be taken away, yet he then he said, “not my will, but yours be done”. I believe that when Jesus said this, he was referring to the cross, therefore for us to take up our cross daily is to simply say, “not my will, but yours be done”. I don’t believe God ever intended his will for our lives to be illusive; meaning that you don’t’ need to spend your lifetime searching for it. The foundation of fulfilling his will for your life is found in denying it.
John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent”.
Eternal life is not living forever, it’s actually a relationship; living forever is a by-product of this relationship.
5. Stewarding the Kingdom:
Mat 16:13-20 “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah”.
When we receive a revelation of who He is, He gives us a revelation of who we are.
Right now as a born again believer, we have entered the kingdom (this is where we now live form and have our being, as Jesus outlines to Nicodemus in John 3)…we are no longer waiting to physically die to get there.
Romans 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…”.
Ephesians 2:6 “For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus”.
As we see in Ephesians 2:6, we now see from a heavenly perspective, we have forfeited our “world-view” and replaced it with a kingdom one. And in Romans 14:17, Paul tells us that the kingdom is not a matter of corruptible things, but of “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”. Meaning our very emotions and nature have now transitioned from a natural experience into a spiritual dimension.
As by-locational new creations, seated in the place of all authority (with Christ – not beside or below him) let us live a life worthy of the call. Stewarding well our inheritance, and the keys of the kingdom that have been handed to us, let us see as He sees and do as He does.
Luke 12:48 “…to whom much is given, much is required”.
6. Stewarding Opportunity & Breakthrough:
Every blessing, reward and victory is an opportunity for God to do it again.
Rev 19:10 “…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”.
Everything that He is, has done and is doing, becomes a declaration for it to manifest again. One problem is, is that we only often walk out to the degree, of the level of revelation we have received.
1 Samuel 17:36 “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God”.
In this passage of scripture we see David, who is just sheppard boy at the time, come to king Saul and release testimonies of past victories as a prophetic word of what he will now do to Goliath, who is currently insulting and challenging the nation of Israel.
Mark 5:25-29 “ A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition”.
Mark 6:56 “And wherever he went--into villages, towns or countryside--they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed”.
Here we read in the above two chapters of Mark, how one ladies breakthrough (healing), became such a powerful testimony, that people in other towns then began to do the same as her (ultimately stewarding and releasing through belief a prophetic word that God would do it again).
Psalms 37:23 “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives”.
7. Stewarding Relationships:
Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others”.
I love the fact that I get to help create opportunity and platforms for others, it’s something that I actually want to be remembered for. What if the above scripture is talking just as much about people’s personal interests like gifting’s and talents, as much as it is about daily concerns like helping someone with their children, doing the groceries, etc. You then end up being part of a community where everyone else is looking out for you and your destiny, just as you are looking out for them and their destines (an exponential increase of opportunity that you could not establish on your own).
I pray and hope this article has blessed you.
Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans”.
New Nature Church
On Australia Day whilst driving through the country I heard the following words in my spirit and sensed a quickening that this is a word for the Church to intentionally steward: “Celebrate Diversity & Embrace Expression”.
I want to make it clear (please don’t hear what I’m not saying), celebrating diversity is not and I say again “is not” universalism, compromise or interfaith. What it is, is the cross pollination of the body (whose foundation “chief corner stone” is Christ and Christ alone). It is a championing, a giving and a receiving, of the many facets of the bride, it is an understanding of each other’s strengths, an inclusiveness...like a diamond that has been perfectly cut (with its multiple sides, each one reflecting the light in its own unique way). We are moving from the revelation of each joint supplying locally (our own direct fellowships), to each joint supplying regionally (city and nation wide). A preferring of one another and a preserving of the "unity of the spirit" beyond what has been comfortable and at times exclusive.
I also felt the Lord say that He is raising up brand new ministries, new expressions of the kingdom that the earth has not yet seen. Right now, new ministries are being birthed that are unique, necessary & with their own individuality (covered in the Father's finger prints), but with this came a warning. A warning (because of past success) to resist the temptation of trying to look like something, someone or another ministry that already exists. I heard Him say, "you can copy and cookie cut their style, their methods and their charisma, but you cannot re-manufacture their anointing".
He is desiring that you give yourself permission to embrace your own expression (point of difference) that He has mantled & anointed you with, allowing Him to fan into flame that which will break glass ceilings, pioneer a movement and be a forerunner for future generations.
Be encouraged and excited...you are you (created in His image & likeness).
I understand that every year many prophetic words are released at this time…and so they should, as we each have the ability to hear from the Lord and prophesy. Below are 5 things that I believe the Lord is saying right now to His bride…be blessed.
Prophetically speaking there is a grace this year resting on the following:
- The Church will look more like family in 2018, then it has for decades. There will be a greater value on preferring one another (familiarity will breed honour and no longer contempt). Meeting daily (to pray, break bread, worship, etc.) will be normal, and our love for each other will become a primary tool of evangelism.
- The Church will come into a greater maturity, believing the truth that it’s possible to come to the full stature of Christ. Childish things will be put away, and an establishing of a ‘teachable heart’ and a ‘laid down life’ will take place rapidly. Many ‘Acts 6 Stephens’ will rise up…those who even though they may be commissioned to wait tables, will be known for their grace, power, authority, humility and revelation.
- Age-old man made traditions in the Church that bare ‘little to no fruit’ will be challenged and torn down. They will be replaced with strategy and intentionality, that will exponentially advance the kingdom.
- A defining and a refining will come to individuals, families, ministries and churches. You will begin to define and understand your call/destiny, and in doing so a refining will come to that which has been defined. This will breath purpose, fulfilment and accuracy into many lives.
- There will be a redeeming of the time/s. What was stolen, self-sabotaged, wasted and unintentionally misused will be restored by the kindness of the Father. This in turn will overwhelm hearts, committing people to a life of obedience which will cause the Lords’ favour to rain on them.
Take this word, weigh it up……if it bears a witness in your spirit, appropriate the word (believing that it would become flesh – ‘a tangible touchable reality’), and then share it.
This is a prophetic word that I have not been able to escape, the Lord has continued to confirm this word with multiple uncanny and unusual ways (even again this morning, as I awoke to the Lord saying "I want you to release this word to the body with the purpose to give strength and encouragement").
In "1 Kings 18:16-45" we read of the story of Elijah and how he challenged the 450 prophets of Baal to a showdown of power and demonstration. As we know there was no answer from Baal, though the God of Elijah answered with fire falling on the alter that Elijah had rebuilt (consuming the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the soil, and even the water that lay in the trench. The water which Elijah had ordered three times to be poured over the alter). Then in verse 45 of 1 Kings 18, we read that the three year drought is broken with a heavy rain.
As the Lord began to speak to me about Elijah, I was reminded about how "Gabriel" the angel of the Lord (in Luke 1) came to Zechariah and spoke to him concerning the birth of his son John, and how he will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah, preparing the people for the first coming of Jesus.
So heres' the word:
Just as Elijah baptised the alter of the Lord with water and the fire fell, John (who carried the spirit and power of Elijah) came baptising in water with the message of Mat 3:11 "...one is coming who is greater than I am...He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire".
Though this time the fire in not falling on an alter made by human hands (it’s a new covenant fire), it's a spiritual fire falling on you and I (living stones). 1 Pet 2:5 "You also are like living stones, so let yourselves be used to build a spiritual temple—to be holy priests who offer spiritual sacrifices to God".
I heard the Lord say He is raising up an Elijah generation, a company of forerunners who live in the spirit and don't bow to the enemies intimidation, a generation of no compromise who disrupt the status-quo, a generation full of faith and without fear who are bold in the demonstration of the Lord, a generation who like John will be a prophetic voice declaring the second coming of Jesus (which is already here).
As the fire falls the drought will break:
The Lord is desiring right now to baptise his bride with the Holy Spirit and with fire, setting a blaze sons and daughters. As we position our hearts and spirits for a fresh baptism of fire, there will come a proceeding rain that will bring life to any drought. As the fire falls on you and I, so comes an outpouring over regions, cities, ministries, families, churches, nations, etc. We will begin to speak into circumstance and situation, releasing a refreshing as we ourselves have been refreshed. You are the drought breakers....this is the reason you are set a light!
Bendigo - Australia
Be blessed and encouraged by this word the Lord has given me, and allow it to become a fresh reality in your life……This is what the Lord has been revealing to me over past 7 days.
Last week whilst in a prayer meeting at a friends house, the Lord showed me an open vision of a great rock being struck with a rod, and then immediately following the rock being struck, was a great flow of water that proceeded from the rock. As I began to release this word in the prayer meeting amongst my friends, I instantly felt the tangible glory of God on it.
Straight away I was reminded of Moses striking the rock with his staff in the wilderness, and water flowing out of the rock for the children of Israel to drink and be refreshed. Then in my spirit I heard the words “The rock has been struck” and I knew that this was a prophetic word that is to be released over the baron, dry, hopeless and impossible situations and circumstances (like that of the Israelites in the desert). And that the Lord was releasing a torrent of water to heal, refresh, bring breakthrough and shift the impossible.
Some days later I was woken at 3am and the Lord began to continue to download more of this word and cause me to search the scriptures for more pieces of this picture.
This is what He continued to show me:
In the book of Numbers chapter 20, we read that Moses was instructed by God to speak to the rock….but as we know instead of speaking to the rock, Moses struck it twice and then water gushed out (Moses disobeying the Lords command and ultimately forfeiting his entry into the promised land). This left me a little perplexed and I felt that it didn’t quite confirm the word the Lord had given me…..but I decided to research a little further.
In Exodus 17 (a book that precedes Numbers), Moses is instructed by God to strike the rock at Horeb, and water will come out of it for the people to drink. After I read this I was reminded of when Christ was stuck on His side, by a Roman soldier with a spear, and out of Him flowed blood mixed with water (John 19:34 One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out.). This was Jesus (the rock) being struck for us. Moses was to not strike the rock in the book of Numbers; he was to speak to it. Jesus does not have to be crucified again; we appropriate what has already taken place by declaring it out (after all He was slain before the foundations of the earth were laid…He was appropriating through the crucifixion what had already taken place in His heart).
Let’s go deeper…In John 4, Jesus comes across a woman at the well, whom he then asks for a drink and then later proceeds to tell her that it should be her, asking him for a drink (as he has living water that would cause her to never thirst again). Then later on in John 7:38 we read, “Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, 'Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.” Right now there is living water flowing form the throne of God because, the rock (which is Christ) has been struck for us, and all we need to do is lay a hold of it by faith.
It was after this revelation that I was lead to this scripture: 1 Cor 10:1-4
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
Christ was the rock and the spiritual drink, way back then for the Israelites in the wilderness, and He is exactly the same for us now.
Right now in the spirit I see breakthrough waters being released over lives and situations, and even in what seems to be an impossible circumstance, a river of life is bursting forth in the unseen realm (the tipping point in the spirit is manifesting in the natural). What we are unable do in our own strength; He is now doing for us, (the possible where it seems impossible). Waters carrying hope and increased faith are being released and a refreshing and invigoration is taking place in you and in others. Waters of zeal and righteousness, waters that wash away the stain and hold of the world.
I declare that the rock has been struck over you, your finances, dreams, relationships, ministries, children, sicknesses, disappointments, destinies and situations. That what the Holy Spirit conceived in you, He is birthing through you. That right now there is a breaking of the waters for dreams and destinies to be fulfilled. As the finished work of the cross is received and appropriated, I see it unlocking and causing a break out of things that have been withheld: inheritances, resources, provisions and dreams. The rock has been struck, may the waters continue to flow constantly over all that you are, and what you will do, amen.
I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
and the parched ground into springs.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
Recently there has been much talk about revival, especially through social media….some for it and some not (mostly being through misconceptions of the word "revival" or from bad "revival" experiences). Here’s the deal, revival is not an event, a meeting or a hyped up word to reflect an emotional encounter, and it is certainly not a brand/movement that one person/ministry has ownership of over another. Revival is the renewal of our hearts turning towards our first love, individually coming fully alive to who and who’s we are……and this has many facets, expressions and comes in many forms. Yes, I can see how the word revival to some, and in some cases can and has been a dirty word, but the truth is, it’s simply a word we use to describe what we believe the Father is doing in us, others and the regions. Revival is never intended to be a means to an end within itself (if that makes sense), but the catalyst for reformation and transformation.
One thing I have learned on this journey of faith, is that there are many streams, but only one river. What I mean by this, is that no one movement, church or ministry has the whole package (though at times we like to think we do). We all have strengths and emphasises, and believe it or not, we also have blind spots. As Bill Johnson would say “Jesus is perfect theology”…..not the church/ministry we attend or affiliate.
We accept that the world is made up of many different cultures, races and expressions….but we tend to pigeonhole the kingdom to a certain style and interpretation that we often think is the only right way. What if we recognised our differences as a "positive" and began to embrace our differing strengths, championing and honouring one another, even when our “pet theologies” don’t see eye to eye (obviously there are core foundations that must align i.e. Christ is the son of God, who died, rose again and only through him is salvation obtained, etc.).
Personally I’m not particularly into banner waving and shofars, but I can see the beauty in it when they are released by someone who loves this expression of worship unto the Father, so how dare I speak against it, be cynical or pass judgement. Whilst I’m talking about myself, I will let you know a little secret….. I don’t align to a particular brand of Christianity i.e. “Pentecostal”, “Charismatic”, “Evangelical”, “Conservative”, etc. to me these are manmade names to describe the camps we sit in, they build invisible walls between the body and stereotype us (you don’t have to agree with me on this…..or take offence). At the end of the day, if I was asked to describe my “Christian alignment” I would simply say “I’m a son of the king, a citizen of heaven and an ambassador of Christ (with an apostolic call to equip and build the saints)”, I want the whole kingdom, and to embrace every expression and facet it carries (including sound doctrine).
I also know that my outward enthusiasm can at times cause offence to those who do not express themselves in this same way. But I also know my “spiritual ADHD” encourages others and releases a culture of freedom and expectation (to which the Father receives great pleasure from). Which expression is right?...both are (it’s a heart matter). I love the corporate gatherings and the intimate 2-3, both energise me (as He is in our midst in both settings). If you’re ok with someone going crazy and being full of passion at a sporting event, but not ok with it when we gather as the Church, and you want to label this as hype ,than that’s not ok. Personally I don’t have a favourite sports team, TV show or hobby, my life is Christ’s, he’s my interest and my outlet for passion (though there is nothing wrong with having a hobby or pursuing a dream in these areas…..it may just be the destiny He has for you to make him famous). I would rather be a wild horse that needs some bridling (not too much….need to keep that raw edge), than a dead horse that needs flogging.
I’ve waffled on long enough now…….I’ll finish with this:
“let’s be intentional about preserving the unity of the spirit, embrace our diversities, reserve judgement, champion/prefer one other (even in disagreement), cover each other’s backs (the only part of the amour not mentioned in proptecting), and allow the strengths of others to shield our blind spots”.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
PS. This article is not in reaction to anything or aimed at anyone in particular……but rather something that has been brewing in my heart.
Last night as we met for worship @ The BURN (https://www.facebook.com/thethursdayburn/) a powerful time of engagement with the spiritual realm opened up…..I can only describe it like this: that there was a river of joy flowing through the building, whirlwinds of His presence and portals of glory where breaking out (I understand if this terminology is foreign or strange…..but my words fall short of what He was doing as we met with together), the spirit realm is more real than the air we breathe.
This morning the Lord began to show me some of the spiritual activity over our city of Bendigo. There are demons, powers and principalities strategically assigned to different regions to steal, kill and destroy (poverty, sickness, depression, abuse, addictions, etc.).
I was also shown that there is two specific principalities assigned against the Church here, how they work and what their purpose is:
1.spirit of religion….ultimately to keep the Church powerless (having a form of godliness but denying its power).
-programs & entertainment.
-keeping the Church stooped in traditions.
-causes Churches to have a “we are the ones who are right, we have better/correct theology”….keeps the saints divided.
2.spirit of apathy….subdue the Church so it becomes a monument not a movement.
-once a week on a Sunday is enough….I’m too tired/too busy/does it really matter.
-more into the things of the world than the things of God (this spirit will partner with the spirit of rebellion).
-how close can I flirt to the line of “just enough” to stay saved.
The good news is that these demons, powers and principalities have already been defeated through the finished works of the cross….they only have legal right/authority because we choose to agree with their lies. Jesus has been given all authority and he has given that authority to us..….so that means if he has it all than someone has none (not hard to guess who that is). Right now we are seated with Christ at the right hand of the Father (the place of authority) in the heavenly realms.
The counter strategy He showed me for the Church to be the powerful victorious bride that Christ is coming back for…..were these 3 simple things we all know to be true:
-Prayer (releasing prophecy, decrees and exercising our authority).
-Worship (bringing heaven to earth, shifting atmospheres, activating angels).
-Unity (loving God and one another).
Let’s continue to run with perseverance and allow God to build His Church whilst we extend His kingdom.
Growing up in church my whole life (the past 35 years), baptism just became a part of the furniture, something you did, almost like a coming of age. But for someone looking in at Christianity from the outside, it could easily appear as a strange ritual or some weird rite of passage. It’s not until you stop and begin to ask questions like “why?” that you begin to wonder if the way it’s always been done is the right, most biblical way. For me it was always a given……you decide to become a Christian and then you wait for the next round of baptisms or baptism service to do the deed, publicly declaring your decision to follow Christ.
Why get baptised?
Let’s jump straight into it and tackle the big question from the get-go. When we first become a Christian (confess with our mouth and believe in our heart that Christ is Lord and we make Him such), it is our own spirit that receives new birth (and so we become born again). I personally don’t believe that you need to be water baptised to receive eternal salvation, but I do believe it is a key ingredient for the Christian life to walk in kingdom victory, breakthrough and empowerment (so why wouldn’t you want it). In John 3:1-21, Nicodemus a teacher of the religious law decides to search out Jesus and ask him a few questions in all sincerity. Jesus responds to his misinterpretation about being born again, teaching him that it is a spiritual birth that takes place, and proceeds with these words: Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again." (John 3:3 NIV). And: "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit". (John 3:5). Salvation is directly linked to our spirit, I believe baptism has a profound impact on the realm of our soul (mind, will and emotions), and the baptism of the spirit on all three dimensions of our being (spirit, soul and body). Often the Old Testament is a foreshadow of the New Testament, in which we now live. That what happened physically under the old covenant, now happens spiritually under the new. For example, let’s begin by looking at the last plague to hit Egypt. We see the first born being murdered by the angel of death, unless there was the blood of a lamb sprinkled across the mantle and frame of your door way (a picture of Christ’s blood, the lamb that was slain, providing for us an escape from everlasting torment). Later we then see the Israelites confronted by the Red Sea (after Pharaoh had let them go). Moses (their leader) is commanded by God to raise his staff into the air, as he does the sea parts and they cross though on dry land (a picture of water baptism). Note that the whole Egyptian army is then drowned (as they gave chase), in the same sea that the Israelites pass through safely. And who were are Egyptian army? The very thing that enslaved and kept the Israelites captive. So it is when we are baptized, the demonic powers of hell that have kept us captive and enslaved, are broken off of our lives and spiritually drowned, severing the hold they once had over us. One other thing to mention is that when the Israelites finally came into the promised land (after 40 years), they had one more river to cross, the Jordan. This is symbolic of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. So you can see, the pattern laid out in the Old Testament: salvation, water baptism and the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Water baptism not only brings freedom to your soul from the demonic, but also prepares you to expect and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Remember when Jesus was baptized…the heavens parted and the Spirit, descended on Him like a dove and remained. Don’t make the mistake, baptism is not just symbolic or metaphoric, there is actual transference and a literal transition that takes place.
Where can I get baptised?
Simple answer, anywhere where there is water. In Acts 8:26-40 we read the story of Philip baptising the Ethiopian eunuch, verse 36: “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptised?” There is almost an unbiblical unsaid rule that we must always be baptised in the building of the church we attend. There’s nothing wrong with being baptised at the church you attend, just as there is nothing wrong with being baptised in a body of water in the middle of no-where. The myth I want to bust is that: “It must be done in a church in front of the congregation, as it’s a public declaration”. Your life is a public declaration of your service to Christ, not an event. You get baptised for you, and not for any one else. Side note: it is commonly believed that through the obedience of Philip concerning the Ethiopian, that this is how the gospel reached Ethiopia.
When can I get baptised?
As soon as you believe and are saved.
Acts 2:38. Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:41. Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day--about 3,000 in all.
Acts 16:33. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptised.
If your waiting for a baptism class first, here it is: Jesus got water baptized and he commands you to do the same. The traditional view often held is that we are told to wait for the baptism service to come around, which is ok, if it’s on the same day you get saved, but what if it’s not? Then you must wait however long until the next one, and if for some reason you miss it, then you must wait again.
Who can baptise me?
Throughout scripture, specially the book of Acts & Corinthians, we see the Apostles baptizing the new converts, but in Matthew 28:16-20 we see Jesus giving the great commission to his disciples (before they officially held any other new testament church title). Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
So in short….if you consider yourself a disciple of Jesus then you can baptise others and you yourself be baptised by another disciple. One thing I would add, is that the disciple should clearly understand baptism and be prepared and mature enough in Christ to be ready for demonic deliverance and the infilling of the Holy Spirit (both which can often take place during baptism).
Col 2:12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptised. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. (In baptism we identify and partake in the Lord's death and resurrection and in doing so we have union with Christ - becoming one with him).
The point of this article is not to deliberately discredit any particular forms or methods, but to simply challenge the attitude of waiting, what is often a prolonged period of time between salvation and water baptism (it’s sadly not unusual for many Christians to be saved many months and in some cases years before they are water baptised). I once heard a ministry, whom I hold in high regard, to the effect say: “we noticed a greater retention rate in people following Christ once we started baptising them early on in their Christian walk”…..the proof was in the pudding. If what I have written is biblically sound, then why wait!
Recently driving home whilst vaguely listening to Christian radio, my ears pricked up as a well known ministry began to share. The lady teaching on this popular radio program, spoke of how she would often feel guilty after getting angry at her children for miss behaving, but then remembering that she has a sinful nature and so is able you use this as an excuse to justify her reaction (I'm pretty sure she said she also asks God and her children for forgiveness after the fact). The problem with this teaching is that it distorts our identity and confirms the saying we have only come to know to well throughout our church circles:...."I'm just a sinner, saved by grace". (By the way, I do have much respect for the ministry on the radio that day, they have brought some awesome truths in the past).
But what if I told you that what she said on that particular day was not true.....that you are no longer a sinner, and that it is possible and accessible to never sin again.
Lets start with Nicodemus. In John 3:1-21, Nicodemus a teacher of the religious law decides to search out Jesus and ask him a few questions in all sincerity. Jesus responds to his misinterpretation about being born again, teaching him that it is a spiritual birth that takes place, and proceeds with these words: Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again." (John 3:3 NIV). And: "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:5).
My point is this: When we are born again (spiritual birth), a heavenly realm reality called the kingdom of God suddenly becomes available and accessible, our eyes are opened up to this ever present spiritual dimension. Romans 14:17 tells us: that the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Meaning this: the kingdom of God is not of this natural world, not something perishable or made by human hands, but that it is three specific things, in something in particular (the Holy Spirit). This tells me that righteousness, peace and joy are not something I can have/achieve on my own, but that they are a spiritual dimension I enter in to.
Lets focus on righteousness, as this deals directly with the topic of: sinless nature? For the record, righteousness is not a sliding scale, you cannot be 67% or even 98% righteous, you are either righteous or you are not (this will be confirmed further on).
"You were born into sin, but born again into righteousness".
-Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Ps 51:5 NIV).
-Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Eh 2:3 NASB).
-Don't lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. (Col 3:9-10 NLT).
-Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God--truly righteous and holy. (Eh 3:21-24 NLT).
These scriptures clearly show how our default setting has changed since being born again. We used to be prone to sin, but now we are prone to righteousness.
When Jesus came to earth, lived as a man and then died for us, it was more than one-dimensional, let me show you just a few reasons why he came.
-He came to show us what humanity looks like in right relationship with the Father.
-He became love, to show us how to love.
-He fulfilled the law, because we never could (I'll touch more on this shortly).
-He didn’t just come to forgive us of our sin, but to completely free us from sin.
In regards to the final point above, if Jesus only came to forgive us of sin, then we become trapped on this merry-go-round: sin / repent / be forgiven / sin / repent / be forgiven and so on. No, he came so sin could have no hold on us whatsoever. Think about someone who is addicted to cigarettes, to the extent that they smoke a pack a day, and when they are not smoking they are thinking about smoking or at least when their next break is so they can have a puff. That person is controlled by this addiction, it has a strong hold over there life, they are trapped in a cycle. Now imagine that that person has literally died and is laying there on the floor, next moment someone walks over to them and sits down a pack of their favourite smokes beside them. What power does this temptation now have over them? NONE!, they are dead, and so it is with sin. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11 NIV).
“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! (Gal 2:19-21).
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here. (2 Cor 5:14-17 NIV).
Now back to the law, in the old testament there were 613 laws (a whole lot of do's and dont's). Their is no way anyone could fulfil these laws and become righteous, it's totally impossible to achieve on our own. Paul even writes in Romans 7, that when he reads the law (what to do and what not to do) it actually arouses sin and awakens sinful desires (though the law in itself is not bad). When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death. But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit. God’s Law Reveals Our Sin. Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power. (Romans 7:5-8 NLT).
"Christ fulfilled the law for us, because we never could".
-Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Mat 5:17 NIV).
-Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4 NIV).
Are we getting the picture?.......we are righteous now and have been since the time of our conversion, its just that we are now learning to appropriate what has always been. I understand, how do you live something out you didn't know existed?....I was there myself.
This is where is gets even more awesome.....check out what John writes here:
Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is. (1 John 3:6 NLT). Did you get that?.....how incredible, John actually tells us that he who lives (abides) in Him will not sin.
Here's another another one to rock you:
No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. (1 John 3:9 NIV). We were never created to/for sin, sin became our default setting through the fall of Adam, but was nullified through the cross of Christ. So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (1 Cor 15:45 NIV).
But the good news doesn't stop there......just as we weren't created to/for sin, the same goes for condemnation. I hear you asking/saying: "well what if I sin & I still sin" or "my born again experience doesn't match up to this revelation". Let's see what the bible has to say:
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2 NIV).
It's better news, ok so you sin....but note what John writes "if" we sin and not "when" we sin, that we have an advocate that goes to the father on our behalf (Jesus paid the price). This is not a licence to sin either, grace doesn't give you permission, it elevates you to a place where sin is not even on your radar.
There are two main disagreements (which i'll bust in a moment) I receive when I teach this revelation, they are:
-"Experience shows us we still sin, therefore we are still sinners and all this is doing is promoting false hope".
First of all we are called to live by faith and not by what we see, and secondly the word of God is to be our level, not our experience...we need to stop bringing the word down to our level of experience and start bringing our life up to level of His word.
-"All this teaching will do is make people prideful, and have them think of themselves to be better than others".
First of all Paul confronts the church in Corinth by telling them to stop acting like mere humans, and secondly if you believe you have a sinless nature and are walking in pride, than you are contradicting the very thing you believe.
So how do I walk this sinless life out?......here's the key:
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor 3:18 NIV). Look to Jesus, stay focussed on him, yield/rest/abide in him.
Here's an analogy: Most days when I ride my bicycle to work, I attempt to see how long I can ride continuously on the white line on the side of the road. Lets imagine that that white line is the law (the do's and don'ts.....what make you righteous), and to keep the law you must stay on that line. Either side of the line is sin and death, and as soon as you detour from the line, that's where you end up (in sin and death). How do you stay on the line?....by looking at it? (you would think so), but just like when Paul writes regarding the law, the more I look at it, the more I deviate from it. So the trick to riding the white line is to set your eyes on a single point in front and ride towards it. When you take your focus off of the line, and put in onto an object in front, you can ride that line as long as it is straight. It's the same to fulfilling the law, you focus on Jesus and he propels you forward with his all empowering grace.
To close...in Acts 28, Paul tells the story of being shipwrecked on the island of Malta (from what he gather this is the first time he has ever been there). Paul writes how the natives of the island start a fire to help warm everyone who has washed ashore. As Paul is nearing the fire a serpent driven out by the heat latches itself onto his arm. Next we read the natives pointing at Paul, and calling him a murderer saying "he escaped the sea, but justice will not permit him to live". During this accusation Paul shakes the snake back off into the fire, as the natives are now waiting for him to drop dead. After a while of waiting the natives change their mind, and now call Paul a god (little g). Paul is unharmed and eventually taken to the chief of the island, where miracles begin to break out. Here's my point: who was Paul before he was Paul? (Saul) and who was Saul? (a murderer), the enemy wants to bring your past (your life as a sinner) to your present so he can have influence over your future. In that moment Paul could have crumbled to the accusation of the enemy, but he stood in his new identity and instead of the enemy reminding Paul of his past, Paul chose to remind the enemy of his future (snake thrown back into the fire....devil thrown into the lake of fire for eternity). A wise friend of mine (Ps Joel Shaw), once said "just because the devil is talking to you, doesn't mean in your in a bad place".......Jesus endured 40 days of this in the wilderness. By Paul standing in his identity, the islanders now labeled him a god. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. (1 John 4:17 ESB).
So it's settled....you are a new creation (a new species not seen on the earth before the cross) with a sinless nature, who's identity is founded in the righteousness of God.
Blessings Jason Harrison.