Well, good evening everybody. It's good to see you all gathered. 'Man of God, man of faith', supposedly, but I was just hoping you would all turn up tonight! It's great that you have come. I want you to turn with me in your Bibles to Ephesians, the book of Ephesians, we're not going to read anything just yet - in a moment or two. But let me just share a bit of the background of why I'm bringing these messages to you over the next number of nights. When I was asked to speak at this conference, an expression popped into my head - Acts 5:20 - this is the verse that came to my heart, I believe from the Spirit of God, "Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life".
Now let me give you a bit of context to this verse, this isn't what I'm preaching on, this is just an introduction to this whole series. The context in the Acts of the Apostles is that signs and wonders were being done by the laying on of hands of the apostles - that's miracles - and the Jewish high priest and the sect of the Sadducees were not at all happy. In fact, the context tells us they rose up in indignation - they were furious at supernatural acts of power! Now the reason for that was, it didn't fit into their theology. The Sadducees - in school I had an R.E. teacher called Charlie Gault, he was a rather elderly man, old school - and he drummed into us that the Sadducees were 'sad-you-see' because they didn't believe in spirit (when you died, you died), they didn't believe in resurrection, and they didn't believe in the angelic hosts, angels. So you might say that the Sadducees were Sadducees because they were anti-supernatural. Seeing is believing for many people, but not for them! What they were actually seeing, they were not believing. Isn't that incredible? They were seeing the miraculous with their own eyes, but they would not believe because it denied their theology. It shows you the blinding power of unbelief, doesn't it? These effectively were unbelieving believers.
I want to really establish for us at the beginning of our week, just as you have just sung, faith is the key that opens the door of God's kingdom. You've got to believe. 'These signs', Mark chapter 16 says, 'shall follow those who believe', and I like to think of that as 'These signs shall follow believing believers', believers who choose to believe God, what He says, what He declares in His word. So the Jewish leaders have the apostles arrested, and that was an attempt to contain what God was doing - how ridiculous! Who knows that just because you don't believe in a thing, it doesn't change reality? It's funny to me that the apostles get locked up, and who comes and breaks them out? Anybody know? An angel! So the Sadducees can have all the unbelief they like regarding the angelic and the supernatural dimension, but it doesn't stop God doing His stuff. These angels came and broke them out, and released them, and commissioned them with this verse on the screen: 'Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life'. That's what I want to bring to you in these nights, the words of this life. I want to use the epistle to the Ephesians, just certain highlights in it, not word for word, or verse by verse, but certain excerpts of it to expound to you the life that you're meant to be living as a Christian. What you're meant to be experiencing as a child of God! Are you up for that?
Let's read chapter 1, and we may read a couple of verses of chapter 2, so follow with me. We'll not be doing as long a reading every night, but we really want to read this portion this evening, so follow with me. I'm reading from the New King James Version. Verse 1 of Ephesians 1: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all".
Surely somebody will say 'Amen'? Yes? That's mighty stuff, isn't it? Verse 1 of chapter 2: "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith" - you've been saved through faith - "and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast".
I want to speak to you tonight on this 'New Life' being 'A Life Of Incalculable Blessings'. Do you believe that the Christian life is one blessing after another? Do you? You are out there? I mean these lights are very bright, and I can't really see past the first row, but you're going to have to work with me here tonight - this works two ways, OK? Do you believe this? That's what our reading says, and yet there is, I believe, infecting some sections of the church of Jesus Christ, what we might call 'a false humility'. I'm talking about, perhaps, a spirit or an attitude that glories in lack, want, poverty - you might call it 'a poverty spirit', maybe it even takes pride in poverty. Maybe that has happened down through the years in Christian history, where people have taken vows of poverty etc - I don't know, I'm not going to enter in to the whole origination of it; but certainly in our modern era, in the church, for some people this false humility and poverty spirit has been a knee-jerk reaction to what has been known now so-called as 'the prosperity gospel'. We'll not go into that too much either, save to say that some people seem to be preaching that everybody should be a millionaire, and everybody should walk in perfect health all the days of their life. So some people say: 'Well, that can't be true', and it breeds within them a poverty spirit, or a false humility.
Now I want to say categorically, right from the outset in this message tonight, that such an attitude is a counterfeit piety. It's foreign to the word of God. I'm talking about the disposition that squirms at the thought of seeking abundant blessings from God, let alone celebrating His blessings, and revelling in those blessings, and boasting about them. I think maybe it is a fear of the kind of 'Bless me' club that becomes self-centred and self-indulgent. I preached a year or two on Psalm 67, a couple of the verses from it read: 'God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us. That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. Then the earth shall yield her increase; God, our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him'. Do you see what it's saying? First of all: petition 'God bless me, bless us, and if You bless us and bless the earth that it yields a great harvest, then all the planet will know that we belong to You'. I called that message 'Sanctified Selfishness'. Now that's an oxymoron, isn't it? A paradox. You can't really be holy if you're selfish, but you understand what I'm saying here - the disposition of the Psalmist is 'Bless me', but it was with the view that 'If I get blessed, then people around me get blessed, my community gets blessed, my nation'.
Ephesians chapter 1 teaches us that we, as New Testament born-again Christians, are in a favoured space, because we are blessed - verse 3 - with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Who knows what the Greek word for 'all' means? 'All', that's right! It means 'all', every single spiritual blessing is in Christ. If you look down this portion that we read and circle, in fact all through Ephesians, the phrase 'in Christ' - everything that comes to us as Christians is through the Lord Jesus, yes, we know that - but we are abundantly blessed in Him, we've got everything in Him! It's similar to what Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3-4: 'God's divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness' - think about that! Everything that you need to be alive and live a holy life has been given to us already 'through the knowledge of Jesus who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust'.
You cannot be more blessed! Christians out there - and I know there are maybe folk, and you're not sure where you stand, and we'll get to you, don't worry - but you who are Christians here tonight, do you know you can't be more blessed than you are? Why don't you tell your face? It would help me preaching to you tonight! But perhaps I'm being facetious, and you're sitting here tonight and you don't feel blessed? That's not a description of who you are right at this moment in time, or who you think you are, and in fact maybe that old green-eyed monster, jealousy, looks at other Christians that you know - maybe they're even here tonight - and thinking 'Why does God never bless me the way he gets blessed, or she gets blessed? Why does that not happen to me? Why have I not had that experience?'. Well, I want to say to you tonight: your perspective may seem like that is true of your experience, but that is not the truth. Did you get that? It may seem true to you, but it's not the truth. You have a bit of catching up to do, because God's word says you are blessed, if you are in Christ, with all spiritual blessings - period - in heavenly places. Peter says you've got everything that you need in Jesus.
So, who are you going to believe? What you're hearing in your head? What your experience is telling you? What this is saying is: God has given you everything in Jesus, He's given you everything. You can't bankrupt Him. You might be sitting here tonight and thinking: 'Oh, here we go, you know, all this blessing-blessing-blessing stuff. It's just too good to be true - and he's going to call people out at the end and pray for them for healing, and freedom, and blessing, and all sorts of things. It's too good to be true!'. Can I tell you something: if it sounds like it's too good to be true, it's probably God - because God is a good, good Father. He is infinitely good.
So I want you to see first of all tonight the blessings on paper, from verses 3-14, the blessings on paper. Here it is in black and white, hopefully, if you've got a Bible or something electronic that gives you the Bible. What you have in verses 3-14 is called a doxology, that means a hymn, a kind of hymn of praise to God. The interesting thing that doesn't come across in our English translation - although I felt kind of breathless as I was reading it - is that it's all one Greek sentence. Do you know that the New Testament was written in Greek? That's news for some of you: it wasn't written in English, it was written in Greek. This is one long sentence, so basically the apostle Paul, as he opens his mouth - even though his writing, but I imagine that he's probably saying this as he's writing - via his heart comes like a conveyor belt of superlatives describing God's blessing in Christ in heavenly places to us as Christians. It's without taking a breath almost, he's almost winded by worship, describing what we have in Jesus.
The image that came to my mind when I was thinking about this - do you remember when you were a wee fella or a wee girl, and you drew a breath, a really deep, deep breath, and you just went 'Ahhhh'? Did nobody ever do that, no? Just me. And you just kept going until you exhausted the resource of your lungs, and were out of breath by the end of it all. It's as if Paul, as he's praising and worshipping God, is left empty of air - wow! What's he doing? He's describing how blessed you are. Are you getting this?
He describes it in this way: the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That's what you've got. First of all he says: 'we are planned by the Father', verse 4 says we are selected by the Father. Now we're not going to deal with the 'how' of that tonight, that's a whole other conference, but we're going to deal with at least the 'when'. It says 'Before the foundations of the world God had His eye on you'. Now I can't explain that, OK, and I don't believe anybody truly can - but I believe it. Before the mountains were formed, and the seas, and everything that is, God had His eye on you. That gives me goosebumps! The Father planned this - to bless your life - He selected you. Why? Look at it, verse 4: 'So that we would be holy and without fault' - now, that's big (anybody that knows me), to think that I could be without fault. I imagine there are a few people know you too! That's why God selected us, and planned to bless us, so that we could be sinless eventually.
Not only did He select us, it says that He adopted us - verses 5 and 6, if you look at that: 'He predestined us to adoption in Jesus Christ'. Do you know what adoption is? Well, you become part of the family, isn't that right? But what that means in a New Testament sense is that we enter into the inheritance of God, that now we are part of the family, we are no longer strangers but we are in God's will, His inheritance. That means that everything that comes to Jesus, everything that Jesus gets for being God's Son, I get! Is that not incredible?
Before a child was adopted, if they were a slave in the home, they had to call the head of the home, the father, 'Pater'. But whenever they were adopted into the family, they got to call the father 'Abba' - which means 'Daddy'. That's the nearness we now have with God. We're no longer standing outside looking at God as awesome and transcendent, beyond us - and He is - but we are brought into His very bosom as sons and daughters, so that we can cry 'Abba, Father', 'Daddy God'. This is the adoption that the Father has planned. Wait till I tell you: there is no need for a poverty mindset when that is your experience of Christianity, because that means you've got the credit card - yes? Do you ever give your kids credit cards? Don't do it! I don't, but God gives us His credit card - do you understand? Deposited in our account is the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. You're chosen, that's adoption, isn't it? You're chosen - I mean, when you have kids naturally, you get what you get, isn't that right? Whatever they look like, intelligence level, sporting ability, all the rest, you get what you get - but when you adopt, you choose. You're wanted, but it's even better than that: a child that is adopted will never ever, no matter how much they are loved, even if they are loved more than the biological siblings, they will never ever have the DNA of their parents. But when you're adopted by God, what did Peter say? You get to become a partaker of the divine nature - you get God's DNA! Wow! This is good, isn't it? And the Father planned it - what a blessing! Do you feel blessed?
The Father planned it, but it was purchased by the Son. Verse 7 says we are redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, the priceless cost of our salvation when Jesus died on the cross. We are forgiven for God's glory. Verse 10 says that someday, through the cross of Jesus, God is going to bring together everything in Jesus Christ - that's amazing to me, I'm going to talk a wee bit more about that tomorrow night. But isn't that incredible? All the division that there is in society, but one day God is going to bring it all together in Jesus. Purchased by the Son - all these blessings come because Someone died, Jesus died for you and me. It's planned by the Father, purchased by the Son, and it's preserved by the Spirit - it's threefold, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Having heard the Gospel, verse 13 says, and you have believed the Gospel, I hope, you're sealed with the Spirit of promise; and verse 14 says that's your guarantee - wow! What a blessing to have the guarantee that you're right with God, that your sins are forgiven, that you've got peace with Him through the blood of Christ, that you know Him as your Father now, when you die you'll go to be with Him in heaven - what a blessing! Do you have that?
I didn't write the Bible, alright? Verse 14 says it's a guarantee of inheritance, that's what it says - you argue with God if you have a problem with that, but that's what it says, it's in the bag. Not because of anything you have done, but because of what Jesus did. Then chapter 2 elaborates on that, it talks about what we once were. Verse 1 says we were dead in sins, that means we were cut off from God, we didn't know Him. Verse 2 says we were influenced by Satan, he was pulling our strings like a puppet. Verse 3 says we were controlled by lust, that's not just the sexual lust, but all sorts of covetousness and ungodly desires and drives. Verse 3 also says we were under God's wrath, we had chosen to be enemies of God - so we were under His judgement. Verse 11 says we were pagans without God. Verse 12 says we were separated from Christ, verse 12 also 'without hope in this present world' - what a bleak picture!
Then we see what God did. Verse 4, He loved us. I love that verse, verse 4, look at it: 'But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us' - isn't that incredible? He loved us, He liberated us, He set us free, and He has lifted us into heavenly places, verse 6, we are seated with Jesus Christ. What we once were, then what God did, why God did it - verse 7 says He did it that He might display in us trophies of grace through the eons of eternity. That's what verse 7 says, do you know what that means? Throughout all of eternity - which is hard to describe of course - He's just going to be unravelling the wonders and mysteries of His love and grace toward us, and He's going to be setting us up on a cosmic trophy cabinet to say: 'Look at what I'm able to do with sinners!'. Wow!
How did He do it? Through special favour, verse 8: 'By grace you are saved'. It's not by what you do, it's by what He has done. Do you not know that? Please understand tonight, you cannot work for being right with God, you can't get there on your own steam. Grace is God's favour, a free gift that is given to you by God's hand, and you receive it through faith - verses 8 and 9. By grace you are saved through faith, God gives it freely because Jesus died, you receive it freely through faith because of the blood of Jesus, verse 13.
Now I know that's a lot to take in, but here: we've got incalculable blessings in Jesus! I'm only starting! But listen: it's one thing to have the blessings on paper - and some of you know all this stuff I'm talking about tonight - it's another thing to have them in your possession. I want to ask you tonight: are you living in the will, or are you living with the wealth? Which? If somebody dies, and they are rich, and they leave you in their will - and you get a piece of paper saying you're in it, you're an inheritor, you're so chuffed and enamoured. But what good is a bit of paper? I say it reverently: what good is the word of God if you're not possessing your possessions? If you're not living in the wealth? If you're not cashing in, by faith, at God's bank in heaven from what has been deposited in your account?
So I want to talk to you in the time that remains about the blessings that need to be unwrapped and experienced. This is the way Paul describes it - all this is on paper, and he's exasperated describing it - but he now gets on his knees to pray for these Ephesian Christians, this is my prayer for you folk: that they would experience a renaissance, an enlightenment; that their eyes would be opened to see the blessings that they have, and to unwrap them and enjoy them. Are your eyes open, tonight, to everything that you have in Jesus, to the incalculable blessings that you have in Christ?
My mind goes to the prodigal son, you know that story in Luke chapter 15? We always focus on the prodigal, because we usually call it 'The Prodigal Son', when it's actually a parable about two sons - and it's really not about two sons at all, it's really about the father, just to confuse you a little bit more. It's all about the father, it's about the father's heart, and the young son actually understood something about the father's heart that the older son didn't. This is how I know: when he went to the far country, he took the father's inheritance - which was saying 'I wish you were dead, so that I can get my hands on your money' - he went to the far country, spent it all on drunkenness and prostitutes and wild living. When he hit rock bottom and despaired of his very life, he remembered that there was bread in his father's house and to spare. He knew something of his father's heart, to believe that he could journey home and he would get some kind of place. He thought it might be just as a servant or a slave, but he knew he could go home. Do you agree?
But the old fellow, the elder brother, at the latter part of the parable - we don't tend to focus on him - he was in father's house, he never left home, yet he had never seen into father's heart. In fact, he remarks, when there is a party being thrown because his younger brother has come home - he heard the singing and dancing, and he asked what was going on. When he heard that there was a celebration and his father had killed the fatted calf for his brother, he was angry. That's what it says! He was angry and he would not go in, and his protest was: 'I have served you these many years, and you have never killed the fatted calf for me. I've never broken any of your commandments, and you never had a party for me'.
What's going on here? He didn't understand what he had, and his father had to say to him: 'Everything I had was yours. Everything I had was yours'. In other words, 'You could have enjoyed any of this, any time, but you've never seen into my heart. You're living like a slave when you should be living like a son. You're behaving towards me like a master, rather than a father'. Mark Batterson, whose books I would highly recommend, said: 'We don't see the world as it is, we see the world as we are' - that's profound. How do you see the world? It will be according to how you see yourself. The elder brother saw himself as a servant of his master, rather than a son of his father. He needed his eyes opened. Isn't that interesting? Here's this religious guy, a Pharisee - that's who Jesus is punching at, it's the Pharisees, and boy does it get home to them, they're appalled! But it was the young fella that was a drunkard and a whore-monger, it was he who understood the heart of Abba Father.
You see, we need our eyes opened, we need our eyes opened to the blessings that we have in Jesus Christ - that's what this week is about. You need your eyes open, I need my eyes further opened to the new life that we have in Jesus. This is not a recent problem, this was a problem in the New Testament, it was a problem in the Old Testament. Do you remember Elisha's servant who was terrified because the Syrian army had garrisoned around the prophet because he was able to tell what was going on in the King's bedchamber and what he was plotting about and whispering to his wife about? So he hated him so much that he sent an army to exterminate him, and the young servant is terrified. Elisha prays to God and he says: 'Open his eyes that he may see', and the Lord opened his eyes and he saw the chariots of Israel and the horsemen of God, the angelic hosts, all around about. We need our eyes opened to see as God sees! We don't see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.
So, who are we? This is not just about seeing with the eye, whether it's physical or spiritual, this is also about perception. Do you remember Jacob, and he lies down for a sleep, and he puts his head on a rock as a pillow? He falls asleep, and as far as he's concerned he's in a wilderness, he's in no place. Do you ever feel like that? All of a sudden he has a vision, a dream, a revelation from God, and there is a ladder going from heaven down to earth, and the angels of God are ascending and descending on it - and he has an epiphany, an awakening, a revelation, an enlightenment experience. What does he say? 'Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it'. Do you see what's happening here? When did this cease to be a desert? When did this cease to be no place and all of a sudden became 'Bethel', the house of God, the gateway to heaven? That's what he says, 'This is nothing else but the gateway to heaven, this is holy ground'. It wasn't a few seconds ago, Jacob, what has happened? His eyes have been opened, 'I was not aware of it'.
I have seen this over the years, people who have perception and awareness of spiritual things, and people who don't. Two people can be sitting in the same meeting, sitting beside each other - and God can be doing stuff, and one is sitting there absolutely overwhelmed by God's presence, and the other is like a telegraph pole in a fridge. What is it? It's perception, it's awareness. You know, we're having pretty good weather, aren't we? It's unusual walking down the main street in Newcastle with your shorts and T-shirt on, isn't it? It's wonderful! But we all know what it's like to walk down a main street with our rain mac on, don't we, and our hood up? You know, you could walk past your brother, your sister, your mother, your father in that condition and not perceive them - yes? Theoretically you could actually bump into them, brush against them, and not even know it was them. There are people here tonight, and you maybe have not sensed the presence of God around you this evening the way others have, or you come to conferences or meetings like this and it seems to evade you, and you feel 'I don't get the blessing, I'm not like the rest of those people who are just overwhelmed by this whole thing'.
You need your eyes opened, your spiritual eyes opened - surely that's what a lot of the miracles of Jesus were about? You know the miracles of healing the blind men, it was about literal healing, don't misunderstand me, it was about the fact that Jesus can heal blindness - but it was also a spiritual lesson fulfilling Isaiah 61, that He would come to give recovery of sight to the blind. So what am I saying? This is what I'm saying: we don't need to be asking God to come, God came in Jesus, and at Pentecost God came in the Holy Spirit - and I believe that from that moment the Holy Spirit has been continually been poured out, and will be poured out upon all flesh. But we don't need to pray God down, God is here. We believe in the omnipresence of God, God is everywhere - I tell you what we do need: we need Him to manifest His presence, yes, His power and His glory, but we need to start becoming aware, we need a perception of God's presence. Equally so, we don't need to any longer, in a sense, beg God for His blessings - 'Please bless me, please bless me, please bless me' - we don't need to do that, He has blessed us! If you're in Jesus Christ, He has blessed you incalculably; what we need to do is see our blessings - and this is what Paul is praying for, that the eyes of our understanding would be enlightened, that we would be given a spirit of wisdom, verse 17, and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus to see our blessings in the spirit and to possess them by faith.
So, are the blessings unwrapped for you? I find that many Christians are living on what we might call 'a cerebral level'. Now I'm not anti-intellectual, don't misunderstand me, and I'm not advocating brainless Christianity. The Bible teaches us that we are to love the Lord our God with all our mind, isn't that correct? But we've also got to be aware that, no matter how intelligent we are, no matter how intellectually adept, the Bible is clear that the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Some things cannot be perceived with the five senses, some things cannot be deduced through reasoning. The things of the Kingdom of God can only be conceived by the revelation of the Spirit. You see, the Holy Spirit gives us a kind of extrasensory perception - you can call it a 'sixth sense' if you like - but it's beyond the human mind. That's what you need.
All of you, whether you're a Christian or not, need the spirit of wisdom and revelation to open your inner eyes and your inner senses to who God is, what God has, and what God has done and wants to do in your life. So, what's your eyesight like? Mark Batterson, again, puts it like this, he says 'When babies make their grand entrance into the world their visual resolution is one fortieth of what is of a normal adult. They lack the depth perception, and their visual range is only about thirteen inches. The world is low definition, two-dimensional, and only thirteen inches in diameter. Slowly the world begins to take on width, breadth and depth. By four months a baby can perceive stereoscopic depth. By six months visual acuity has improved fivefold. Their black-and-white world has burst into a kaleidoscope of colours, and they have volitional control of their eye movements. By his or her first birthday, the child sees the world almost as well as an adult'.
How well can you see in the spiritual dimension? Do you know what Jesus said to Nicodemus - who was a very, very religious Pharisee? 'Except a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God'. If you are not born again tonight, you can be as religious as you want but you'll not see spiritually - because the natural man can never get there. You can study all you like, and you can pop around all the religions and philosophies and beliefs - you know there are Christians, fundamental, evangelical, conservative Christians, and they are very similar to those types of people because they're trying to get to know God through their skullcap rather than through their spirit.
But those who are born-again sometimes stay in infant shortsightedness. Are you here tonight, and maybe you have been a Christian for decades, several decades, and you don't have the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus? You're living, if you like, in low definition vision rather than in the ultrahigh definition of the spirit. Have you ever walked into one of those TV shops, ultra high-definition TVs - have you ever seen one of those things? Have you ever seen one of those televisions? The last one I ever saw, it's the bang up-to-date one, is it 4k or something like that - it was more real than reality! Have you ever noticed that? It's even better than reality! But I want to tell you tonight that, if you can get your spiritual cataracts removed, and if you will allow the Holy Spirit to put on His three-dimensional - yes, and we will see on another night, four-dimensional - glasses on you, you will see a kaleidoscope of colour that you have never dreamed of. You will experience an explosion of the love of God that will blow your mind.
The Lord wants you to internally experience His explosive love and His power. Look at verse 20, as we bring this to a close tonight. He wants to give us this spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, verse 19: that we may know 'what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power', listen to this, 'which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places'. Wow! The power that raised Christ from the dead, God says, is in you. Do you believe that? Do you? Yes? Yes! Do you really believe that? Yes! Come on! Do you really believe it? If we really believed - and remember now, Jesus didn't get resuscitated, and He didn't just get resurrected in the sense that Lazarus did, or the widow of Nain's son, or Jairus' daughter; He was raised to die no more, He was raised to a new race, to be the Firstborn of a new kind who would never die - do you understand? Never ever die again, eternal life, resurrection life - and that power that raised Christ from the dead, God says, is alive in you. If that is alive in you, I want to tell you: Ireland would be a different place, Northern Ireland would be a different place - do you not think? I think, perhaps, we don't possess our possessions. I'm not saying it's not true, it's on paper, we've seen that; but for some of us here tonight it hasn't been unwrapped. You're not experiencing the atomic explosive power of the resurrection of Jesus in your life. You're not experiencing the incalculable blessings that are yours in Jesus Christ.
Do you want to? Do you want to know more than what is on paper? Do you want to experience an enlightenment? Do you want to experience an internal takeover of resurrection power? Will you respond to the Lord tonight? As Paul prayed for you, will you pray for yourself, and will you say: 'Lord, open my eyes, open my heart, open my spiritual senses that I may go deeper in Your love, and deeper in Your power; that I might know this new life that Jesus died to purchase for me'.
Let's pray. We're going to take a few moments. I want to first of all give an appeal to Christians here tonight - I know this is tricky, because some of you maybe are known to folk around you, forget all about that. Maybe you've been on the road as a Christian a long time, but you know that this is not what you are experiencing. I'll never forget a big fundamentalist Christian man who heard me preach on the prodigal son, and he didn't really like what I was preaching - the night before he fell out with me because of something I said, which is quite normal, but the next night he came up to me with the tears tripping him and he said: 'David, I disagree with what you teach, and what you said last night I had a real problem with, but I know I don't know God the way you're talking about tonight'. Maybe that's you. Maybe you're not the big hard fellow or lady, but however long or short the road has been for you in your Christian experience, you know you don't know God like Paul is talking about here. You want the eyes of your heart to be opened, you want to experience this in an overwhelming way. We are going to talk more about this right throughout the week, but this is the new life that Jesus died and rose again to purchase for you. I'm talking to Christians tonight.
Now, let's bow our heads and close our eyes, but is there any person and you're a Christian here this evening, and you want to say: 'I want this, I want this'. Would you be prepared, where you are, to stand to your feet right now? Would you be prepared? Just where you are. People are standing, why not join them if you truly want to know this? Thank You, Lord. I'll just leave it a moment or two. Is there anyone else, Christians now. I don't know whether you can get out to the rest of the meetings, but I'd encourage you to do that to find out more. But where you're at tonight, now, why not just say what Paul said: 'Lord, open my heart, open the eyes of my heart, open my spiritual senses, give me the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, that I will know what He died to purchase for me - and I will not just know it, but I will experience it, I will live in it and walk in it, and I will sense that risen power within me, that victory and triumph'. Just receive, just believe that this is for you, receive. You might need to confess legalism, you might need to confess trying to do things through your head, or through the sweat of your brow and good works, rather than by grace through faith. You just talk to the Lord yourself. But just where you're at right now, you deal with God, deal with Him - just believe and be honest. He is your Abba Father, He has adopted you. There is no fear, you're accepted, there is perfect love that casts out all fear. Will you come into this life? Will you come into this love? Come on! Step in in faith! Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and overwhelm you. Certainly confess your sin, repent of anything you need to, but drink deep at the wells of the Spirit tonight. Drink deep. You can sit down when you want to.
Is there anybody here and you would class yourself as a backslider? Now maybe some of those people that stood are in that category - but you've wandered away from the Lord, and you're like that prodigal we talked about, but you've heard something of Father's heart tonight and you want to come home. Is there anybody, a backslider, would you stand to your feet just where you are? Any backsliders? Just where you are, while heads are bowed and eyes are closed - I just want to give that opportunity.
Now, is there anybody and you have never become a true born-again Christian, you've never had that guarantee that we were talking about tonight that you will inherit in Jesus, and that you're right with God, and you're secure, and you're safe? You're here tonight, and you want that - just where you are right now, would you stand to your feet and say: 'I want to become a Christian. I may have been religious, I may have done things that I thought would bring me to God, but I realise this is not what I have. Jesus died to purchase this for me, and I've been trying to work my way' - or whatever your issues are, I don't know, but you say tonight: 'I want this that is offered, and I want to receive it by faith, and I want to believe God. I'm going to get this forgiveness, I'm going to take God at His word'. Would you stand where you are? Would you stand just where you are? I'll leave it a moment or two, there are people standing. God knows your heart. Would you stand to your feet if that's you? That might be a step too far for some of you, that's OK, we can talk about that in a moment. But listen: Jesus hanged on a cross for you, He took your sin for you. I tend not to make things too easy for people these days, because then you get easy Christians, easy-going Christians. Jesus hanged naked on a cross, and bore the wrath and shame of judgement outpoured upon Him for our sins - can we not stand and own Him as our Saviour, and say 'I'm not ashamed to own Him'? Is there anyone?
If you're here tonight and you have any need - guess what? We are blessed with, how many spiritual blessings in Jesus? All! Come and get prayer. If there are issues of healing, inner healing, freedom, struggles you're going through, suffering, whatever it might be - come, and there is grace from God here to help you in Christ.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at the New Life Conference 2018 in Newcastle, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the first recording in his New Life series, titled "A Life Of Incalculable Blessings" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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