Great to have you with us tonight again for the second of our New Life Conference, Great to have you back again. We had a really special night last night, I think, in God's presence - and I certainly felt that, and there was a sense of God moving down here in the front in particular as people were being prayed for, so it's in anticipation that we come tonight to look forward to what God is going to do.
Turn with me to the book of Ephesians please. Last evening we began looking at 'New Life' from the book of Ephesians, and we studied - as Gary has already alluded to - the incalculable blessings that we have in Christ in heavenly places. Tonight we are going to look at the fact that this new life in Christ is 'A Life In A New Humanity'. So I want to begin reading from Ephesians chapter 2 verse 10, just where we left off last night, and we're going to read right through to chapter 3 verse 13 - so that you know where we're going to end, OK.
So, chapter 2 verse 10 through to 3:13: "For we are His", God's, "workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh; who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands; that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles; if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory".
Look at verse 10, please, of chapter 2, where we left off last night. Paul says: 'We are God's workmanship, we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them'. The greek word for 'workmanship' is 'poiema', it literally could be translated 'creation' or 'what is made'. We are what God has made, we are His creation, we might say 'new creation'. We are His 'poiema'. Who knows that God is the great Creator? As such, in nature, He is the Divine Artist. We see in a place like the Kingdom of Mourne the wonderful spectrum and majesty of God's handiwork - yes, it's incredible, isn't it? Breath-taking! He is the One who has made us, created us in Christ Jesus, poiema - but 'poiema' in Greek is what we derive our English word 'poem' from - 'poiema', 'poem'. So God is not only a Creative Artist, but God is the ultimate original Creative Poet, Lyricist. We are His poem.
Now, the context of what Paul is saying here in verse 10 is all to do with the mystery that is the body of Christ, what we would call the church of Jesus. Paul is saying this new body is God's masterpiece, the church. Now, let me press the fast forward button and go right to the end, where we get a glimpse of the complete exhibit of God's body in Christ. We read there, in the book of Revelation, that from every tribe, from every tongue, from every people, and from every nation there will be a collective group that will composite this race of God's handiwork - God's new humanity.
This new life that we're trying to expound these nights is a new life in a new humanity altogether. Just as there are mysteries in the creative universe, in this new creation it is mysterious. Paul says it doesn't make any sense to the religious world or the religious mind of Paul's day - and, for that matter, it still doesn't make any sense to religious people today. Paul says that God revealed to him, and to the apostles and prophets, this mystery. He expounds it in particular in chapter 3, if you look at verses 5 through 6 again: 'which in other ages was not made known', this is something that nobody ever knew in the Old Testament, 'as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets' - what is this mystery? - 'that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of God's promise in Christ through the gospel'. You see, this was not merely mysterious to Jewish people who were hearing this new gospel in Christ, it was utterly unthinkable, it was abhorrent! Utterly offensive! We would say it was anathema for them that non-Jews, Gentile people, could be included in God's community.
I don't think we here in the Western world and in our culture really enter into what it was for Jewish people to have to accept that God was now drawing non-Jews to Himself through Jesus. We really see this exhibited, I think, in the story of the apostle Peter. If you want to turn with me to Acts chapter 10 quickly, we see this, because Peter has a dilemma. We forget that early on in the Acts of the Apostles, the whole church was Jewish, the church of Jesus was a Jewish sect, there were no Gentiles in it, really, worth talking about. It was an arm of Judaism. Here in Acts 10 there is a God-fearer who is an Italian, a Roman centurion, a Gentile. He is a righteous man, he's been praying and fasting to God - he isn't right with God yet, but God has honoured his charitable deeds and his prayers and heard him, and given him a vision to send for Peter. Then Peter is on a housetop at a particular time of day, and he's hungry, and God gives him a vision. He goes into a trance, and he sees a sheet of cloth coming down from heaven with all these ceremonially unclean animals that Jews are not meant to eat according to the laws of Moses. As he's looking at these unclean animals, God says to him: 'Peter, kill and eat'. He says 'No, Lord'. That's not really a statement that you can make: 'No, Lord'. He is either Lord, which means you say 'Yes'; or you say 'No', and then you're really not submitting to His Lordship - but Peter gets a bit muddled up, as we often do ourselves, and he says 'No, Lord, I have never eaten anything that is unclean'. The Lord came back with a staggering statement in verse 15 of Acts 10: 'What God has cleansed you must not call common'.
So here's this Jew looking at all this unclean fare, the menu that we are not allowed, prohibited and forbidden - yet what he is seeing with his eyes, and what he's hearing with his ears (and remember, he's hearing the voice of God), are contradicting. Now, just in case you don't know, that means there's something wrong with you - there is something wrong with you. Someone once said to me: 'If you put God in a box, guess what? God is not in the box, you're in the box!'. You can't put God in a box. So, if something you're seeing with your eyes does not agree with the conviction you have, and something that God is clearly saying, you've got to change. 'Do not call unclean anything that I have cleansed', the Lord says. So he goes down to Cornelius' house - remember that Jews weren't even to set foot in the house, the living quarters of a Gentile - he goes down, raps his door, goes in. To cut a very long story short without reading this chapter, he preaches to them, and in verse 34 if you look at it, he preaches: 'In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him'.
God is not partial. Isn't that interesting? Peter had this revealed to him through revelation, because it was counterintuitive to his Jewishness - it didn't come naturally, this. Peter starts preaching the cross of Jesus: 'For God so loved the Jews?' - no - 'God so loved the world'. He preaches the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that He's alive to save the world. Then in verse 44 something very interesting happens: they believe the message that Peter is preaching, and the Holy Spirit falls upon them. Verse 44: 'While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered...'. What's going on here? I mean, it would be wonderful to be in a scenario like this, wouldn't it? It would be great if it happened tonight - please, God. I'm preaching the word, the Holy Spirit falls - but imagine, what would it be like to be in the middle of all that, and thinking: 'Oh, what's happening? Oh, this isn't right! Oh, this is not what I learned. Oh, hold on a wee minute, what would the rabbi say?'. That's what's going on with Peter, he's not enjoying this great baptism of the Holy Spirit, he is totally conflated within himself. He is in a dilemma, he is experiencing doctrinal disorientation - have you ever had that? Because what he's seeing, and what he's believing are not agreeing - but he's big enough to say in verse 47: 'Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?', and they were baptised in the name of the Lord.
Now, there is a whole lot of ironing out of creases having to go on here in Judaism at this point in time, and in the early church; because they're having to deal - and many of the chapters in the Acts of the Apostles are all about councils in the church in Jerusalem and how they negotiate this dilemma, this problem. It's a problem! 'Unclean people are getting right with God! What do we do about this?'. God has to reveal a lot of stuff to them, and change, shift things inside of them. But I want you to see tonight, chapter 11, this is reported back in Jerusalem, and the litmus test of whether or not the apostles in Jerusalem are going to tick the box of what was going on here in Cornelius' house and say it was of God - what was the litmus test? It certainly wasn't 'Are they Jews?', because they weren't Jews. It wasn't, 'Do they keep the cleanliness laws, or the rituals, or the feasts, or the festivals?', that that wasn't even considered because it was utter impossibility. The litmus test is found here in verses 17 and 18 of chapter 11, look at it: 'If therefore God gave them the same gift', that's the Holy Spirit, 'as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God? When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, 'Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life''.
This is a new humanity. This is something different than Judaism, and the division between Jew and Gentile, clean and unclean. As Paul put it in the book of Galatians: 'There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus'. Now that doesn't mean there aren't any distinctions between men and women and all that, that's not what it's teaching - it's teaching us that God is not partial when He's pouring out His Spirit. You heard Gary quote from Joel 2, recited on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, that God pours out His Spirit on all flesh - all flesh. Wow!
He is our peace - look at chapter 2 of Ephesians again please, verses 14 through 18: 'He Himself is our peace, who has made both one', the Jew and the Gentile, 'and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity', the tension that there is, and division, 'that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances', those things that disqualify us from coming to God, 'so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity', and the tension, 'And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near'. I love this verse: 'For through Him we both', or we could say 'we all have access by one Spirit to the Father'. Wow! Does that excite you? He is our peace!
This life is a life in a new humanity. The Christian is of a new kind, a new breed, a new race altogether. Listen to Romans 8:29 and 30 in The Message - you might be able to see it on the screen: 'God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son' - isn't that wonderful? 'The Son stands first in the line of humanity He restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him. After God made that decision of what His children should be like, He followed it up by calling people by name. After He called them by name, He set them on a solid basis with Himself. And then, after getting them established, He stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what He had begun'. Isn't that incredible? Listen to that statement again: 'He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son'. His Son stands first in the line, we might say, of a new humanity that He has restored.
Have you ever noticed the obsession that there is with life on Mars these days? The millions, if not billions of pounds and dollars that are spent every year looking for life in outer space - and there is new life right here! Now, the church has produced some rare specimens over the years - and that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a new, renewed, redesigned humankind who can establish a new society. They are no longer following after in the normal race of Adam, but they are a new breed. God has established, if you like, the plumbline of what this humanity will be like in Jesus, and we follow Him. A new community which transcends the social and cultural divides of Adam's race. Paul calls it, in the reading that we gave tonight, one new man - the church.
I don't know whether you already know this or not, but this is what the world longs for. Has the penny dropped? This is what our kind has been striving for throughout its whole history and existence. Unity. World peace. Who can remember the World Cup 2011? Do you remember the theme song for it? 'The World in Union', Charlie Skarbek wrote it, and the words go like this:
'There's a dream, I feel
So rare, so real.
All the world in union,
The world as one.
One mind, one heart,
Every creed, every colour,
Once joined, never apart.
It's the world in union,
The world as one,
As we climb to reach our destiny
A new age has begun.
We face high mountains,
Must cross rough seas,
We must take our place in history
And live with dignity'.
Some of you can remember 2011, but some of you can remember John Lennon in 1971 when he said:
'Imagine all the people living life in peace,
You may say I'm a dreamer,
But I'm not the only one.
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one'.
This doesn't have to remain a daydream of lyricists, I'll tell you why: this is the vision of God. This is the new humanity. It's actually what society has tried to duplicate, but it can't do it. The irony is, the church - that's you, if you're a Christian - the church is the answer; not just has it, it is the answer! But so often the church has become the problem! This revolutionary manifesto is the very DNA of the church: to bring divided people together. However, our nature has been kind of mutated by other factors: politics, power, fear, man-made teachings, traditions, institutionalism, sectarianism, denominationalism. So we really end up looking more like the bride of Frankenstein, than the bride of Christ - isn't that true? Rather than being a thermostat affecting the climate, she has become a thermometer reflecting, displaying the climate around.
Let me ask you a question: how has the church in Ireland reflected the spirit of the age, rather than regulated it and affected it? I'm sure you don't have to think too far. When have we followed the crowd, rather than taken the lead? Where have we failed in our role as intercessors - that is, go-betweens, as priests to bless, a kingdom of priests to bless the people of our land and bring them closer to God? This is God's new man, this is what God has dreamt up, what God has designed as we saw last night - this is why He has given us so many blessings, this is why Jesus shed His blood and rose again, and put His resurrection power within us: so that we might live this dream that He has. God wants His church to step onto the field and engage in a way that no other segment of society can.
We read it tonight, the NIV translates chapter 3 of Ephesians verse 10: 'His intent', God's plan, 'was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms'. So the church would be God's demonstration of His life, of His hope, of His love and power; so that all the heavenly realms looking down, those fallen beings, and even the kings and the rulers and the potentates of society, would look on aghast at God's wisdom that is demonstrated through His people. Wow, it's jaw-dropping! Is that what has been happening? Or have people's jaws been dropping for other reasons as they look at the church?
We are meant to be stepping into the forum that God has placed us in in society, to show people how life is done, to show people what society should look like. We are meant to be colonies of heaven. We are meant to be the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God one day will rule completely over the whole earth as the waters cover the sea, but we are meant to be foreshadowing that, forerunners of it now in spirit and in truth.
Let me digress for a moment or two. I was talking about the Day of Prayer that we're going to have on the 8th of September, God willing. Some of us who are organising this event have been chatting about the situation in our land, and the desperation, the pressure that is coming upon us from all sorts of areas in society. We were talking about the political arena, and how the Assembly hasn't met for I don't know how many days - 500 and something odd days - and how there are not even any talks about talks. You remember there used to be talks about talks? Now there are not even talks about talks about talks! There's just no talking at all! But we were asking the question: why is that? It is a bit odd that nothing is happening, zero! Some of us were considering: why is this? Is God trying to say something? We started to realise, and I am in full agreement with this now, I'm utterly convinced that we are where we are in this stalemate in Northern Ireland because the politicians can't do it. That's not to disparage them in any way, we are meant to pray for them and honour them - but I believe that this window of opportunity has been created. That's the way we need to see it, not moan, and grumble, and gripe about it; but actually realise that perhaps God is waiting for the church to take up her mandate that He has given her, to step into that place, into our identity, and take our responsibility to do what we are meant to do!
But first, we need to step into our true identity in the new man, and some of us haven't done that. Some of us have other identities. For some, our identity is Protestant; for others, it's Catholic - and that almost comes above the name of Christ, Christian. I'm not saying you can't designate whatever way you like, that's your business. Maybe it's other distinctions, denominational ones - but I want to say to you tonight: whatever you believe, or whatever the name is above the building that you enter on a Sunday or any other day of the week, the new identity, the new man transcends all of that. It is above and beyond it all! Can I give you my heart tonight: I believe the church in Ireland needs to actually reverse to a pre-Protestant, a pre-Catholic, apostolic age - because we are never going to sort out our differences! We actually need to get back to Christ.
That's what Paul said here in verse 20, if you look at chapter 2 verse 20: 'having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone' - there it is. The only way to build is found again in the next verse: 'in whom the whole building', that's the church, not bricks and mortar; that's not the church, but you, as living stones, the whole building is fitted together, it 'grows into a holy temple in the Lord'. You see, this is what God wants us to be: the foundation is the apostles, and Jesus the Cornerstone, and this house - and the reason why it's being built is verse 22: 'in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit'. God wants to come and possess His people!
Oh, and I'm sure this will not go down too well, but I'm past caring. Instead of Protestants saying to Catholics 'You must become one of us'; and Catholics saying to Protestants 'No, you've got to come under our umbrella' - why not just lay it all down and become what God gave genesis to originally in the new man, because that was God's vision. In fact, this was Jesus' prayer in John 17:22-23: 'That they may be one, Father, just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me'. What that means is, Jesus is saying: 'When the world sees true Christian unity in spirit and in truth, they will know that God sent Me', Jesus says, 'They will know, Father, that You sent Me into the world'.
I've heard people for years say: 'Oh, well, you know, this is the invisible, the spiritual union of the celestial church'. Really? Well, how do people see that, and then know that Jesus was sent by God? Can you tell me? This has to be something that they can see. Jesus is saying: 'Just as We are one, they need to see unity among My people so they believe that God actually sent Me to this world'. It's not invisible, people need to see it, people need to know it. But I'm asking you tonight - and this has got to be honest, this has got to be real: if you want revival and renewal in Ireland, and it's not just lip service, we need to start asking the question 'What do people see when they see the church in Ireland?'. What do they see when they look at us?
I heard a guy recently relate a story on how he had gone off as a young man to a country to do mission work. He took a taxi, and he was really excited - I think it was a Muslim country - and he was really excited to witness to this taxi driver. He had loads of leaflets, and he was all pumped up. He started an ordinary conversation with him, and the guy said, driving the taxi: 'Where are you from?'. 'Oh', he says, 'I'm from Northern Ireland'. 'Oh, that's where all the Christians kill each other!'. Now, we know that's not an accurate statement, OK? But is that what people see?
How about, the world sees a new thing here? Would you like that? Would you like our country to be known for something different? I know there's a lot of pain, there's a lot of trauma - I know, believe you me. You can't just flick a switch and make that right. There are many people afraid: 'Oh, false ecumenism, we don't want anything to do with that, or some one world church of deception'. Listen, I believe there is a false unity, I do, but I also believe there is a true unity - where is the true? So many people are so obsessed with warning against the false, that they can't tell you where the true is!
Recently I was reminded about Martin Luther King Jr. Whatever you think of his politics or some of his actions or beliefs, he was charged for being an extremist. This is what he replied: 'Was not Jesus an extremist for love: 'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you', He said, 'Do good to them that hate you, pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you'. Was not Amos an extremist for justice: 'Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream'. Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: 'I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus'. Was not Martin Luther an extremist: 'Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God'. And John Bunyan: 'I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience'. And Abraham Lincoln: 'This nation cannot survive half slave and half free'. The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love?'. Then he delivered a powerful call to the church which rings as true today as it did 40-odd years ago. He says: 'There was a time when the church was very powerful - in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century'.
On August 28th 1963, King stood before the Lincoln Memorial and gave his most memorable speech: 'I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character'. He had a great dream, didn't he? Whether you agree with the ecumenical movement or not, its dream is a sincere one: they want to unite a divided humanity. You mightn't agree with John Lennon, 'Imagine there's no heaven' in one of his verses, but he had a great dream of uniting a hating world. The tragedy is, nobody seems to know how to do it. But the greater tragedy is: we do, and we aren't.
I have a dream, that the church will not be defined by Protestant or Catholic or any other denominational label, but only by Christ Jesus the Lord. I have a dream that we will rise above our petty differences and allegiances and agree on the centrality of Christ crucified, risen, exalted, and faith in Him alone as our only hope of salvation. I have a dream of a church purged and purified of all defilements, compromise, idolatry and paganism. A dream of a pure, spotless, chaste Bride ready for her Bridegroom's return. I have a dream of a church not besmirched by the political spirit of the world, a church free to love all mankind, a church that is salt and light in the earth. I have a dream of a church that moves in Kingdom power and authority, doing miracles, signs and wonders to the glory of God alone. I have a dream of a church which does not build an empire for its own name, but extends the Kingdom of God and His Christ. I have a dream of a church who cares not about reputation, or personal acclaim, but performs for the approval of an audience of One: Jesus Christ. I have a dream of a church known for its love as well as its truth. A church who loves not their lives unto death, but lays down their lives for others. I have a dream of such a church in Ireland, and that such a church in Ireland will become again a land of true saints; known for its faith rather than fear, light rather than darkness, love rather than hatred, forgiveness rather than war. That's my dream - and though it's my dream, I believe it's God's dream, because God had a dream.
Look at chapter 1 and verse 10 as we bring things to a close, chapter 1 and verse 10: 'that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times'- in God's time, in other words, 'He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; in Him'. That's God's dream, and we are meant to be living it! Are you living the dream of a new humanity? Listen: if the church in our land could get hold of this, things would change overnight! I'm serious!
Let me share this with you before I finish: last Saturday I was preparing for these meetings, and I have been for some time, and all my life - I'm not going to give you the whole story, but I have lived for to see God move, and really longed to see renewal and revival and awakening in our land. The Lord said to me - and this wasn't easy, by the way, alright? He said to me: 'Do you want to be the person to bring revival to Ireland? There is only one man who will bring revival to Ireland, and that's God's new man - Ephesians 4:15-16 - the reconciled body of Christ, where the wall of separation comes down'. Whoa - boy, did that hit me! Do you want to be the man to bring revival to Ireland? There's only one man, God's new man, where the wall of separation has come down, and there is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, Protestant or Catholic, Unionist, Nationalist, Republican, Loyalist - but all one in Christ. Then He said something else to me: 'So your job is not to be God's man' - oh? Right. 'Or to look for God's man; your job is to strive to bring reconciliation to God's man, the body of Christ' - and then God's dream will be a reality, and people will see that God sent Jesus into the world.
Let's pray. Now I know there are people here tonight with all sorts of situations and scenarios. There might be people here who aren't Christians, and I'm going to come to that in a moment. There may be people who need healing, need prayer, need help - and there's going to be a prayer team here for some time afterwards, and you can avail of that help. But I want to address Christians here tonight first of all, because the great conviction of my heart, and of many people who are organising these meetings each night is that many who profess to know Jesus are not living the fullness of the blessing of the Gospel of Jesus. The incalculable blessings we talked about last night, we're not experiencing them. It's just lip service, it's a superficial thing, we're not really filled with the power of God in the way that we ought to be. I have a book back there I wrote on 'Barriers to Blessing'. I can't give you that all now standing here, but there are often obstacles that are preventing us breaking through into this fullness. One of the greatest strongholds in this land of ours is sectarianism and the political spirit. I'm not saying you can't believe what you believe, I'm not saying that, I'm saying that it's our attitude to others who are different - but it's not just our attitude, some people have been elbow deep, and even up to their neck in violence, unrest, bloodshed, whilst maintaining a so-called Christian profession. I don't care what you think of me tonight, but I want to say to you: it stinks in God's nostrils. We need to repent as a church, we do. He's so full of grace and love and mercy, but we need to repent. We need to repent of how we have taken His name and sullied it, and how we have associated the Gospel with particular political persuasions - that is just downright sinful, and God is not happy! He is merciful, long-suffering, but He needs us to say: 'That was wrong' - and we need to do it differently, we need to step into our new identity. We need to repent, we need to not just love our neighbour - guess what? Jesus said it 2000 years ago: 'Love your enemy, love your enemy'.
So I'm going to call upon Christians tonight in this place, people who feel that you are born-again and you know Jesus, and you're pretty sure about that - but you know, and I know, I have had plenty of it in me, a sectarian spirit; you know that there is something there that's not right, and it's a blockage to you breaking through. Now I want heads to bow and eyes to close this evening. I don't care whether you're a Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, Dissenter, or none of the above - it's the attitude in your heart towards others that are different than you. All roads don't lead to God, everybody isn't the same in the sense of what they believe, we know all that, that's not what we're talking about - we're talking about our hearts toward others. Do you, tonight, need to repent - nothing about ramifications, you work that out with God, it's not for me to tell you what to do - but you may need to do a cleaning up job after this, a few loose ends that need to be seen to, that's OK. But are you prepared, under God's presence tonight, under the word of God, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, to stand to your feet and say: 'There has been something wrong in this area, and I can't be part of this new move of God until I step into the true identity of this one man without any labels other than Jesus Christ and Him alone'? Who's going to stand? Stand now.
Father, I thank You tonight for those who have stood. I ask, Lord Jesus, by the power of Your precious blood, and by the authority in the Kingdom, that You will bind the spirits of sectarianism, hatred, and bigotry, the partisan spirits, the religious spirits, the legalistic spirits - You will bind them even in this company tonight - that are preventing people from moving out, and stepping into their true identity and nature in You. I bless those people that have stood to their feet.
Now, you repent of what you need to repent, and you talk to God and step into your new identity. The Lord forgives you, if you truly repent and confess.
Lord, I pray that You will just fill them new life, with hope, with peace, with the fullness of Yourself - that You will give them the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, self-control. May they be ministers of reconciliation, ministers of the cross in their situation, in their family, and in their land.
I'm going to give you one more opportunity, because I'll let you into a wee secret: I don't think all of you are sorted on this. I'm just letting you in on that, all you folk that are sitting down. I don't think you've all got this sorted, so I'm giving you one more opportunity to be a man, to be a woman of God and stand to your feet - not for show, don't be looking, just do this for God. Not for me, I don't want you to do it for me to make me feel better, do it for God, do it for Ireland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, wherever. You do it, do it even for these islands, but say: 'I'll be done with everything that does not submit to the name of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone'. God bless. Is there anybody else? You just pray and deal with the Lord as you're standing to your feet. God bless you.
Lord, I pray that You will just unleash Your grace and Your power. Holy Spirit, I thank You that You're brooding over this gathering.
I know that there is a spiritual battle going on here, I'm just asking the intercessors who are seated around this place to enter in with me in prayer.
Lord, I pray that You will pull down the strongholds that have exalted themselves against the knowledge of God in this nation for too long. I pray, Lord, that You will break down the altars of the falsehoods and the vanities that have risen across this island, that have blinded the minds of people, hardened their hearts to truth and righteousness, grace, peace, and love. Lord, I pray that You will lift the name of Jesus high in this tent, and over Newcastle, and over this land. May the name of Jesus be lifted high, a banner that flies across this land that all men might see the truth and know He is the way to heaven. Lord, I thank You for Catholic people in this gathering tonight, I thank You for Protestant people here. I thank You for everybody, because You're not partial to anyone. I thank You for them all, and I bless them all, and I pray that all of them - wherever they're starting tonight - will find their way completely to You, and know the fullness of the blessing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
You folk can sit down, and just stay in the attitude of prayer. Is there anybody here tonight, and you don't have the assurance that you know Jesus Christ as your Saviour? What I mean by that is: you've been brought up 'a Christian', in inverted commas, going to church, and in the Christian faith per se, but you don't have that true knowledge that God has taken away all your sins, that Jesus died for you - if you had been the only person alive, He would have done it for you on your own - and that you're on your way to heaven. That's not your possession right now, you're not sure; but you want to be sure, you want to give your life over to Jesus - would you raise your hand just where you're seated? Just where you're seated, raise your hand so that I can see, and I will lead you in a prayer. Is there anyone? Just where you're sitting, don't be afraid. Jesus wasn't afraid to die for you, He wasn't afraid to die for you - don't be afraid. Is there anyone? Just raise your hand where you are. God bless you. Is there anybody else? People have responded in prayer right now, and you just pray with me from your heart - you don't need to say it audibly, just from your heart, you pray this with me: 'God, I thank You that Jesus died for me. I confess that I have sinned, broken Your laws; but I turn from that now, I'm willing to leave that life if You give me the power, and turn to You for mercy and forgiveness. I thank You that You died for me, Lord Jesus, I ask You to save me, come into my life and make me Your child. I ask You to fill me with the Holy Spirit, that I may live a life that is pleasing to You. In Jesus' name, Amen'.
If you prayed that prayer, even if you didn't put your hand up, if you prayed that prayer tell someone. We've got literature for you, we can help you. People came to the front last night, they didn't stand up or show a hand, but they trusted Jesus here - so there is still time.
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 second recording in his New Life series, titled "A Life In A New Humanity" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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