A world leader went to a country church. He had just returned from an overseas trip in which he had made a survey of the church’s system – its network of hospitals and schools. Perceiving that there is more to the Kingdom than buildings and officials a member of the congregation asked the leader when he intended to talk about Jesus. His question did not go down well. Nevertheless it uncovered the presumption that ‘a system,’ - particularly an extensive one - implies the favour of God. But quantity does not guarantee quality, just as religion does not impart life. It reminded me of being in one such gathering myself. I perceived that the world leader was not a spiritual man. But he was a politician, skilled in the management of perceptions and the propaganda of the church. The political spirit is the sister of the religious spirit. Together with the ‘Jesus plus spirit’ they make up the unholy trinity.
Size does not mean health. A cancerous tumour can take up a lot of space in the body but it is not life-giving and sucks out our life. Yet having a ‘ministry’ or being associated with a religious system of impressive size, can be mistakenly seen as a sign of our Lord’s favour and approval. In similar vein is the thinking of oneself or another as an apostle because one has been able to work up a large congregation. One writer was unwise enough to opine that apostles were anyone with a church of over three hundred! Apostleship is less about churching and more about glorifying Jesus, revealing our Father and the glory of each person as sons and daughter of God. In revealing Jesus’ glory we step into our own glory. That kind of teaching is apostolic!
Jim’s church was planning a venture in 2015 and someone noticed that an unexpected person had joined the team. ‘We need to receive who the Lord gives us,’ opined Elder Joe. But there had been no leading of God at all. God did not ‘give’ this person. They just arrived. She joined for no other reason than she decided to join.
The fact that we are doing something that is accompanied by moderate success is not of itself a sign that we are in the Spirit and being an expression of Jesus’ heart and mind. Not when we are participating in old covenant culture and as a result somewhat cut-off from the Spirit and the presence of God. Cut-off not in reality but in our minds, because we have doctrinally embraced a mindset in which we and our Father are remain separated and not one.
Hearing what God is doing right now is premised on hearing and obeying what He did at the cross and followed up with at Pentecost.
The spirit of wisdom and revelation is not associated in any great degree with a culture of law and old covenant. Neither is spiritual discernment. The least discerning people belong to old covenant cultures of separation and un-life. Law and religion separate us from God. As part of the reign of the knowledge of good and evil we remain in Adamic separation when Jesus calls us to live in Messianic union with Himself.
One of the signs of new covenant living is sharp discernment. One with Father, we can discern the division between motions of the flesh and the Spirit. We become skilled in separating false words from simply human ideas. We can separate the Kingdom from mere Christian ‘busy-work.’
Religion is premised on separation and our work to undo this and enter the presence of God. Thanks to the reality that is Christ we are already in His presence and He in us.
In an old covenant milieu, those with the ability to deliver words of knowledge can assume that they have spiritual discernment because they have prophetic gifts. But not many do. Their perceptions in the Spirit are dulled by their separationist mindset. In any case, discernment and prophecy are separate gifts, not always found in the same person and found less when we have chosen to embrace the old covenant instead of the new. The truth is that in Jesus God has made us one with Himself. If the reality is Christ, this is our reality. Just agree and step into it!