ABIDING IN CHRIST
Abiding in Christ - In HIM
Abiding in Christ - Fruit Bearing
Abiding in Christ - walking by Faith
Abiding in Christ - The Rest of God
Abiding in Christ - Overcoming
Abiding in Christ - Release
Abiding in Christ - Soar Like the Eagle
Abiding in Christ - Spiritual Authority
Abiding in Christ - The Exchanged Life
Study One: “In Him” Ephesians 1 – 2
Other than the Bible, the book that has most influenced my Christian Walk is Sit, Walk, Stand by Watchman Nee. It is a study of the Book of Ephesians: Seated in Him (1:3 – 2:6); Walking worthily, in the light (Ch4), walking in love (Ch5); Standing firm (6:14).
Background to the book of Ephesians – ‘the Queen of the Epistles’.
Paul is in prison in Rome, from where he writes (dictates) four letters: Philippians, Colossians, Philemon and this one. Without elaborating let me suggest what happened. Paul dictates to Tychicus a letter to be given to Philemon as Tychicus delivers the converted slave Onesimus back to his master. As Philemon lives in Colossae, a city familiar to Paul, the apostle writes another letter to be read to the church at Colossae after which they must pass it on to other churches in that region of Asia Minor. In turn, they are to also pass on the letter that is coming to them from Laodicea (possibly this letter to the Ephesians?) Paul is so thrilled with the thoughts expressed in Colossians that he decides to write another ‘circular letter’ to all the churches of that region – this letter, called the epistle to the Ephesians but with no internal evidence that it was written to his old church at Ephesus, where he had pastored for over three years. There is a great deal of commonality between Colossians and Ephesians (55 verses verbatim the same!)
In the original Greek, Paul’s excitement at his theme comes through in the long sections where he hardly stops for breath! eg; 1:3-14, 15-23; 2:1-9; 3:1-7 are each one long, meandering sentences!
Now back to our theme: In Him
In Colossians Paul expressed the glorious exaltation of Christ – ‘all the fullness of God dwells in Him’. He continues to expand on this in Ephesians, where the key verse is 1:10 – ‘the summing up of all things in Him’. All God’s purposes find themselves culminating in Him. Let us read Ch 1.
V 3: We are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Him
V4: We are chosen in Him to be adopted as sons
V6: We have grace freely bestowed upon us in Him
V7: We have redemption through His blood in Him
V9: The mystery of God’s will is in Him
V10: All things are ‘summed up’ in Him
V11: We have obtained an inheritance in Him
V13: We have been ‘sealed’ in Him by the Holy Spirit of Promise
[Now Paul, overflowing with what he has been teaching, begins a prayer for his readers, which he interrupts at v19 and restarts in 3:14!]
V20: God has done all that Paul begins to pray for, in Him, when He raised Him from the dead and exalted Him far above all.
Consider how God has exalted Him: Raised from the dead; seated at God’s right hand in heavenly places; far above all other powers; for all eternity; all things in subjection to Him, ‘under His feet’; head over all things.
Chapter 2: starts “and you …. Now Paul presents an amazing truth! We, who were dead in sins, walking in darkness, subject to Satan, by nature children of wrath, God has made us alive with Christ, has raised us up with Him, and seated us in heavenly places in Him!!
This is a completed work – we are now called to live out this reality – to abide in Him.
Study Two: “Fruit Bearing” John 15:1-11
These well-known words were spoken by the Lord on the eve of His crucifixion. He had called His disciples aside to celebrate the Passover at which He was to be the sacrificial lamb. After the supper they went out (14:31) and He presents this teaching. He speaks of their union as being more than a deep friendship gained over three years of being together. Their union is a living thing – even as the vine and its branches.
V1: He declares Himself to be the vine, the root stock through which life flows to the branches. His (our) Father is the husbandman who tends the vine, nurturing it, feeding it, washing and pruning it, as necessary, to yield the best grapes (and wine). Through the new birth we have been raised in Him (Eph 2:6) so must now live out our abiding and be fruitful.
The symbol of the vine was very striking to the Jews. Over and over in the OT, Israel is pictured as a vine or vineyard so that the vine became the very symbol of the nation of Israel. But Jesus says He is the “true vine”. It is possible that He was now walking through a vineyard in the full moonlight (Passover) or even past the ornate gates of the temple – a major tourist attraction - which were decorated with a vine. The symbol of the vine is never used in the OT apart from degeneration! (eg: Is 24:7; Jer 2:21; Hos 10:1) How often had God to purge that vine – through ‘natural disasters’ and warfare. Jesus is declaring to the Jews that it is not being Jewish that can save them, but being ‘in Him’ alone.
V2: The vine was the most populous fruit in Palestine. It required much attention if it would bear rich fruit. Careful preparation of the soil was necessary; it was grown on trellises or crept rapidly over the ground supported on low forked sticks; vines were never allowed to fruit until past three years old; each year in December and January it was drastically cut back to conserve its life and energy. The Father washes (katheiro = to wash rather than to purge) every branch that bears fruit. This was to remove bugs, insects, etc., that might spoil the fruit. How does He wash it? – by the washing of His Word. Bible study will keep me from sin or sin will keep me from His Word.
V3: You are already clean (washed) by the Word Jesus has spoken. We were born again by the Word (1 Pet 1:22,23). How can a young man cleanse his ways? – by the Word (Ps 119:9) etc.
V4,5: The life we are to live is His life flowing through us as we abide in Him. Fruit will only come as we abide in Him. See Gal 2:20 and note that the correct translation is as the KJV – “by the faith of the Son of God” operating through me. We must exchange our ‘barrenness’ for His fruitfulness. The life of fruitfulness is our abiding in Him and His abiding in us. Apart from Him we can do nothing. All our works, even though ‘Christian’, are as hay and stubble, fit only to be burned.
V6: Abiding in Christ will produce fruit. There were two kinds of branches, fruit-bearing and non fruit-bearing. The latter were mercilessly cut away so that the rest might produce a rich crop Further, the wood of the vine was of no other use. It was good for nothing! It wasn’t even allowed to be used for the fire for sacrifices. Jesus says His followers are just like that! There are those who learn to abide in Him – they will produce fruit. There are others who are not abiding, so their ‘fruit’ is as a result of their own efforts – worthy only of the fire. Note that it is men who gather them up and cast them in the fire – this is not the fires of Hell burning up a saint who has ‘lost his salvation’! These are those who manifest none of the fruits of the Spirit, their works are seen by all and they are despised even by the world for their hypocrisy. See also here 1 Cor 3:13- 15 – ‘saved – even though by fire.
What is the fruit we are to bear? The vine bears fruit of its nature. We will bear fruit that is consistent with the nature of the vine – Jesus Himself. Such fruit is called the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22,23). Can this be produced by any effort of our own? Of course not! The psalmist declared that ‘the righteous man is like a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth fruit in due season’ (Ps 1:3). “His leaf shall not wither and whatsoever he doeth will prosper”.
V7: Abiding in Christ will produce effective prayer. It will not be self-centred but according to His will as His voice is heard by our spirits and we pray into reality what is upon God’s heart.
V8: Our abiding in Christ glorifies God.
V9: Our abiding in Christ means experiencing His love.
V10: Our abiding in Christ means keeping His commandments.
V11: Our abiding in Christ means experiencing His joy.
Jesus drew the strength of His life from a constant communion with His Father, (John 5:19) so, similarly we can draw our strength only from constantly ‘abiding’ in Him. This is why we have the disciplines of prayer and Bible reading, of fellowship and service – not to earn brownie points but because it keeps us in Him. Eg; Regular prayer should not be a drudge where we feel guilty if we missed it, but it should be recognised as a gift from God to enable us to develop intimacy with Him. Bible reading should not be a chore intruding into our busy day, but a treasure chest in which to find food and treasures for the day.
Not only are we blessed by a growing intimacy with the Divine but He is also blessed by us!! “My Father is glorified in this ...” (v8).
“We do not stand in the world bearing witness of Christ; we stand in Christ and bear witness to the world” A J Gordon
Study Three: “Walking by Faith” Hebrews 11: 6
There is a faith ‘without which it is impossible to please God’. It is wise for me, therefore, to discover what that faith is. It cannot be simply believing for the ‘devils believe and tremble’. It is not presumption for that is a sin. It is not ‘positive thinking’ for that is manipulative. It is not hope for that is a different jewel.
I find three expressions of faith in the Bible:
Ephesians 2:8,9 ‘By grace are ye saved, through faith …. a gift from God’ - saving faith.
Galatians 5:22 ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace .. faith …’ the fruit of faith
1 Cor 12:9 ‘To another faith by the same Spirit …’ the gift of faith.
All these have their source in God – you cannot produce even a “grain of mustardseed” faith by your own effort. The writer to Hebrews shows us several men and women of the OT who exhibited faith. What is most noticeable is who is NOT on the list! Daniel, Caleb, Elisha, 3 Hebrew children (Dan 3), etc, while Rahab the harlot is! Furthermore, she is listed along with Abraham as an example of faith by James (2:25) – justified by her ‘works’ of faith.
Jesus commended six people for their faith:
1. Roman Centurion Matt 8:5-13 Gentile
2. Woman with a blood issue Mark 5:25-34 Unclean
3. Canaanite woman Matt 15:22-28 Gentile
4. Blind Bartimaeus Mark 10:46-52 Unclean
5. Woman in Simon’s house Luke 7:37-50
6. Tenth leper Luke 17:11-19 Gentile, unclean.
When we seek a reason, we see that each one ‘obeyed an inner impulse/ revelation’, acting out their faith. To His disciples Jesus declared that if they had so small a faith as a mustard seed, they could ‘move mountains’. This is the seed that He has planted in one’s heart – if acted upon it will do what it has faith for, not because of our great faith but because of His great power.
To hear Him whisper seed faith into my life I need to abide in Him, close to His heart. My heart needs to be so ‘in tune’ with God that my spirit hears His whisper and obeys instinctively.
I would define faith this way: Faith is the finger of God in the hearts of men and women, moving them to do His will. It is an attribute of the heart and is evidenced in obedience. (Note here: 1 Thess 5:8)
Now read Hebrew 11 and see how this was worked out in all the examples there – including those at the end of the chapter. We could add, “By faith Stephen was stoned to death so that, by his prayer Saul might know the grace of God and become Paul the great apostle.” OR “By faith 5 young men died on the banks of the Curare River so that the Auca Indians might be swept into the kingdom.” OR “By faith the missionaries were driven out of China in the 50s so that God might build a pure church in that land.” OR “By faith I am going through this present valley so that God might … “
To me, abiding in Christ means taking my Father’s hand and holding on tightly wherever He may lead me – sometimes to the ‘sweet shops’ of life; sometimes to the dentists!
I do not know what the future holds but I know who holds the future.
Study Four: The ‘rest’ of God Heb 3:7-4:11
Abiding in Christ means entering into the rest of God. The context of our reading is that Jesus is greater than Moses – whom the Jews considered ‘the greatest’. Moses failed to lead them into the Caanan – their rest. Salvation has many promises – not least, the promise of a rest in this life. This is not for the hereafter, but for now! It is not God’s will for you to come out of Egypt to continue in the wilderness – His desire is to bring you into His promises – the milk and honey of Caanan – this is our ‘calling’ (3:1) We are ‘called out’ to be ‘called in’.
The quote in vv7-11 is from Psalm 95.
In Scripture there are several expressions of ‘rest’: (a)Rest after creation – the 7th day; (b)Caanan – not received because of unbelief; (c)Salvation – ‘come unto Me all ye weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest’; (d)The rest waiting for us now – call it consecration or sanctification; (e)The final rest of Heaven.
Our author uses Caanan as a ‘type’ to teach us that ‘today’ there is a rest for the people of God (4:9).... and to warn us lest we should fail to enter in (4:1). His argument is difficult but it runs like this:
God has established a rest for His people – a ‘place’ where they can come into His presence and rest - an access to God. The Promised Land is a type of that rest.
Because of their unbelief the Children of Israel were barred from God’s rest (3:18)
Moses did not bring them into their rest (3:11); neither did Joshua! (4:8).
At the time of David (hundreds of years later), the rest still remained, for the people of God had failed to obtain their inheritance, so David repeated the invitation – Psalm 95:7-11 – but there is no evidence that the Jews ever responded to that invitation.
There remaineth therefore, a rest for the people of God – it is still waiting! This rest waits for us!
Therefore beware lest you also miss it!
What are the characteristics of those who enter in?
Confidence, faith and trust 4:6
Ceased from their own works 4:10
Made a conscious effort 4:11
By knowledge and obedience to the Word of God 4:2 & 12
What are the blessings?
Feasting on milk and honey; soaring like the eagle; possessing the promises.
What is a ‘rest’?
It is a place of ceasing from your own works to rest in the works of God (Romans 7 to Romans 8)
It is being ‘yoked together’ with Him so that the burden is light
It is rising on wings like eagles – soaring effortlessly on the winds of the Spirit
It is conquering giants with Caleb; bringing walls down with Joshua
It is walking in the fullness of the Spirit.
Isn’t it time we left the wilderness, that is so many believer’s experience, and enter into all that God has for us?
This is called by many different names: The Baptism of the Spirit; the ‘second blessing’; full sanctification; a second work of grace; indwelling of the Spirit, etc., but the name is unimportant. It is important however, that we enter into such a rest. The ‘tongues’ issue and various other controversial doctrines have caused us to be robbed of the riches of our (earthly) inheritance in Christ!
Let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of us may come short of it Heb 4:1
Study Five: The Overcomers 1 John 2:12-14
From our last study we see that Abiding in Christ is entering into our rest – a place where walls fall at God’s command and giants are slain.
John gives us a simple measuring rod to gauge our Christian maturity: he has but three levels -
“Little children” are those whose sins have been forgiven and who can call God their Father. 1 John 2: 12, 13
“Fathers” are those who have come to know God in the full revelation of Himself – intimacy and abiding. 1 John 2: 13,14
“Young men” are those who are strong - they have overcome the evil one by the Word abiding in them. 1 John 2: 13,14
So ‘abiding in Christ’ means an overcoming life.
We are in a ‘spiritual warfare’ every day. Paul writes concerning the enemy that he was not ignorant concerning his tactics (2 Cor 2:11) but are we? What are some of the tactics of Satan?
(a)He goes around as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8
Note: a roaring lion cannot catch his prey – he has been disarmed (claw & tooth) on the cross (Col 2:15). However, he can affect our emotions – fear, guilt, embarrassment, feelings of inferiority, etc.
(b)He fires his arrows (lies) into our minds (Eph 6:16) but these are easy to avoid if we are truly ‘seated in heavenly places in Christ’ – our fortress. We quench them with the truth of the Word.
(c)He has trained ‘monkeys’ that jump on our shoulders – offenses, which ‘will surely come’ (Luke 17:1). Offenses will cause us to lose our fruit (Matt 13:20), our confidence (Matt 26:8,14), our testimony (Matt 26:31,69), our communion (John 6:61,66) and the supernatural works of God (Matt 13:57,58).
(d)He has targeted people to carry soul wounds all their life, which will hinder them from soaring like the eagle or running the race or fighting the good fight. Such wounds can never be healed by twelve step programs but only by the Word of God abiding in us. Jesus did not die on a cross to give us a crutch; He died to set us free.
Does this cause you fear? Remember that Jesus expects you to overcome because ‘greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world’ – 1 John 4:4.
Remember also that the crowns are only given to the overcomers – those who will reign with Him. See all the letters to the 7 churches in Rev 2 and 3 for other overcomers’ ‘rewards’.
By abiding in Christ we are able to overcome because He is the overcomer on our behalf.
When one is abiding in Christ, there is intimacy with the Lord enabling us to rest in His strength, to overcome by His victory. We exchange our weakness for His strength, our sickness for His health, our sinfulness for His righteousness. It is a dying to self and a living in Him.
God has His best things for the few who dare to stand the test; God has His second choice for those who will not have the best. Anon
Study Six: Release (the true meaning of forgiveness)
There are three verses I want to present to you:
Matt 16:19: “I give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven; whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven; whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven.”
The key is given for loosing and binding. Is it only given to Peter (as the Catholic Church has taught for so long)?
Matt 18:18: “Truly I say unto you, whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven; whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven.”
Note that here the promise is given to all the disciples, ie; they all have been given the “key”.
Note also the context of this whole chapter: It starts with a warning not to offend (hurt) a little one. It would be better to pluck out our eye or cut off our foot! Then follows the parable of the straying sheep. Note it is a sheep that the shepherd goes after, not a goat! This is a believer who has been hurt/offended/ wounded by the actions of another. A good shepherd will go after such a one seeking to reconcile him and restore him to the fold. If a brother sins against you, you are encouraged to go to him with the purpose of reconciliation, not judgment. Then follows our key verse. Peter thinks he understands so asks, “How many times must one forgive?” – suggesting 7 times. Jesus then tells the parable of a king who forgives his servant a vast sum only for the servant to abuse his position in regard to his own slave. The entire context of the chapter is not to cause offense/wounds, etc., and to be quick in seeking reconciliation and restoration for a wounded/wronged one.
John 20:23: - the first commission the Lord gave His disciples! “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are kept.” Can you forgive sins? Yes – but only those committed against yourself. And then you can only ‘move them aside’ (‘remit’ – KJV) to open the kingdom of heaven for the one who sinned against you, wounding you. This is exactly the same verse as we found in Matt 16 & 18!
The soul can be wounded just as the body can. Some wounds heal naturally but others can leave permanent scars. When I sin against you, I may well cause a wound on your soul that will hinder you in your walk with the Lord, your ‘flying like the eagle’, ‘fighting the good fight’, ‘running the race’, etc. Such a wound is well known to Satan for, after all, he is the main protagonist. However, you have the key to set me free and yourself free in the process.
I cannot ask you to ‘forgive me’ as that is often so hard to do. However, if you are to be free from the wound, the Lord invites you to release me (the key that opens the Kingdom of Heaven). My sin against you is also a sin against the Lord, shutting out heaven for me. “If I confess my sin He is faithful and just to forgive me”... but if I do not .... heaven is closed to me – unless you open it for me! The best example is Stephen being stoned (sinned against) by Saul. His prayer was not for God to stop Saul (or to slay him), nor for ‘grace to bear this pain’ but “Father, do not lay this sin to Saul’s charge.”! By this he opened a door in Heaven for Saul, through which Stephen’s God spoke a few days later, and Saul became Paul the great apostle. I wonder if he would have become such if Stephen had not ‘released’ him?
Note again, the results of such releasing found in Matt 18:19,20. If two of you agree on Earth (reconciled by release) it shall be done for you. Further, the Lord Himself will be present to celebrate with you! This is party time!
Wounds are Satan’s weapon to rob us of our potency. Release enables one to be free of this tactic and to know the abiding life where we exchange our wounds for His health, our weaknesses for His strength, our defeats for His victories.
The overcomer does not give Satan victory in any part of his life, whether it is by his roaring lion affecting our emotions, his fiery arrows of lies affecting our understanding, his trained monkeys of offense robbing us of our fruit, confidence, testimony, communion and supernatural works, or his wounds hindering our spiritual potency. This is the abiding life.
Study Seven: Soaring as Eagles Isaiah 40: 31
They that wait upon the Lord .... There is a major misunderstanding as to the meaning of this verb, ‘wait’. Strong’s Concordance says that ‘qavah’ means ‘to bind together by twisting’ such as strings are to form a rope. They who ‘wait’ upon the Lord are those whose lives are so entwined with His that His strength permeates their being. They are abiding in Him.
Have you ever watched an eagle soar? It does so with no effort as it is lifted up on the winds. So the man or woman who is ‘bound together’ with the Lord rises on the winds of the Spirit – by no effort of his/her own! How does this come about?
Let me suggest a parable based on an account in 1 Kings 4:1-7 – the widow and her pot of oil.
She had lost all hope; everything was dark to her with no light at the end of the tunnel. She was heavy burdened with the thought of losing her sons to the creditors. The prophet seems disinterested in her plight, simply asking her what she has in her home. “Only a small pot of oil” she replies. She is then given a ‘ministry’ by which she will minister not only to herself and two sons, but also to all her neighbours. This ministry seems foolhardy – filling all the vessels she can find from one small pot of oil! However, she trusts the prophet and experiences the anointing of God – His intervention in her work.
Five steps to soaring:
1.What is your vision? You must have the right vision of God, yourself and the world. “Two men in a prison cell looking through the bars; one only saw the darkness but the other saw the stars!” God is still in control of His world and He is faithful to complete in you what He has purposed – if you let Him.
2.What is your burden? Is it the Lord’s burden for you (which will always be ‘light’ – Matt 11:29) or is it a burden others have put on you (Matt 23:4)? Only you can tell me. Certainly we are to ‘carry one another’s burdens’ (Gal 2:5) but are also told to ‘carry our own burden’ (Gal 6:5).
3.What is your spiritual gift? This is given to you to enable you to function in your burden. The Holy Spirit gives these to each one of us, for the common good (1 Cor 12:7) just as He wills (v11). This is for other mature believers to declare as they see it in you. Why should the Lord place His burden upon you and not give the gift appropriate to carry that burden? A young boy was seen struggling up a hill with another crippled lad upon his back. A passer-by remarked, “My! You have a heavy burden there” to which the boy replied, “He’s no burden! He’s my brother!”
4.What is your ministry? Does it meet your burden and your gifting? This is where the ‘parable’ so often breaks down. It is the responsibility of church leaders to release people into God’s ministry for them. Why should God put His anointing on ministries He has not called us to and designed us for? If you are encouraged or coerced into a ministry that you are not ‘equipped’ (by the Holy Spirit) to do, you will find it onerous and draining. This is why so many Christian ‘workers’ burn out!
5.Anointing – soaring like the eagle. This is why His burden is light. He is carrying it while being yoked with you. I cannot wear your yoke – it is custom made for you. You will be just as active, just as motivated, spending just as much time as the worker functioning outside his God-designed ministry, but you will not grow weary, you will not faint, you will run and gain strength. You will mount up on wings as the eagle!
This is ‘abiding in Christ’.
Study Eight: Spiritual Authority
Reading: Matt 7:29; Matt 21:23-27; Luke 9:1-6; 2 Cor 10:8
We must distinguish between authority that is designated and authority that is divine. One may hold designated authority such as the pastor of a church, designated by the denomination leaders, the church board, etc. Such authority might be a just authority but it extends only as far as the boundaries of that church. Members of the church may be given different levels of authority with accompanying accountability. If you are a member of that church you have recognised the pastor’s designated authority and placed yourself under it, with responsibility to ‘pray for all in authority over you’ (1 Tim 2:2)(Heb 13:17). Authority always is accompanied by her triplet sisters, responsibility and accountability. This was recognised by the Roman Centurion in Matt 8: 5-13. He was ‘under authority’ so he could ‘exercise authority’. He recognised that Jesus’ authority was because He also was under (God’s) authority. The members of the Sanhedrin, the priests and the scribes, all had designated authority. It was from this position that they questioned the authority of Jesus. Jesus had an authority that was not from man – it was from God – divine authority. In Mark 1:27 He was declared as teaching and defeating demons with authority. Note that Jesus never told the Pharisees where He got His authority from! We shall see that Paul also did not need to boast of his authority, letting his authority speak for itself (2 Cor 10:8). One doesn’t need to ‘enforce’ his authority by ‘boasting’ of it – it should become manifest in its exercise. Can I also know and exercise divine authority? Yes! I must if I am to be an effective witness for Christ. It is the ‘power’ for which the disciples were told to ‘tarry in Jerusalem’ (Acts 1:8).
First be assured that the Lord does give authority to His servants. In Mark 13:34 we read that the master gave authority to rule to his faithful servants. He gave them authority in Luke 9:1 to ‘cast out demons’, etc. He gave them (and all of us) authority to ‘remit sins’ and open the door to the kingdom of heaven (Matt 16:19; 18:18 and John 20:23). He sent them out to ‘teach all nations’ under His power and in the fullness of His Spirit (Matt 28:18). Their authority was only to do what the Master commanded ‘in spiritual realms’. Their authority was not in their talents, gifts, titles, etc., but in their anointing! It was in the operations of the Holy Spirit through them. O that men would operate in His anointing today – they would then ‘teach/preach/pray/serve as one having authority’, - to whom even the demons are subject!
Let us consider one example – that of authority in prayer. How can we know anointing in our prayer life? We are all called to pray but we should recognise the different kinds of calling to prayer. Beth Alves (Intercessors International) lists the following: Issues, list, soul, personal, financial, mercy, crisis, warfare, worship, government, people groups and Israel, prophetic intercessors. Instead of trying to be all-in-all or living up to another’s expectations in prayer, we would be better focussing in on the Lord and learning to pray with authority into the areas He has designated for us. After all, the purpose of prayer is intimacy with God - knowing what it is to abide in Christ. When we come to pray corporately, there will be anointing when all focus in and bring their own unique ‘gifting’ in prayer to bear upon the item on which they are focussed.
When a man or woman is ministering with authority, they will not need to force it upon their subjects – their authority will be evident in their anointing. Further, one cannot exercise authority unless they are under authority. If a man or woman takes upon themself a ministry God has NOT called them to, they are like the shepherds who climb into the sheepfold by another way than the gate, Jesus (John 10:1). They may try to exercise authority but they are ‘thieves and robbers’. This is the root cause of sectarianism and the rise of controlling cults. Beware of anyone who tries to exercise authority over you when there is no evidence of spiritual anointing. If there is such evidence, receive such a one as God’s minister, but only in that area where there is anointing/authority. “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward ....” (Matt 10:41). We are in a society today where everyone wants to be independent and are suspicious of others’ gifting, even when such gifting comes from the Lord. Abiding in Christ is essential if we would know His power in ministry and His anointing upon that ministry and His authority resting on that ministry. After all, power, anointing and authority ALL come from Him.
The river of God is full of water; but not one drop of it flows from earthly springs. Spurgeon
Study Nine: The Exchanged Life
Galatians 2:20 “I live yet not I but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
What a wonderful truth is this – that Christ now lives in me!
1 Corinthians 1:30: “ .... He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption”. All of these are in the ‘bank vaults’ of Heaven waiting for us to draw upon them.
When I became a Christian, He exchanged His garment of righteousness for my rags of sinfulness. He took upon Himself our sin and clothed us in His righteousness. Not only that, but He has offered us other exchanges!
He offers us His wisdom for our foolishness. Luke 21:15: - when you know not what to say - see Stephen in Acts 6:10. James 1:5: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally ..” Col 3:16: “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.”
He offers us sanctification for our ‘woundedness’.
1 Thess 5:23: “May the God of peace sanctify you wholly ..”
Justification was a sanctifying of our spirits (past – deliverance from the penalty of sin); Glorification will be a sanctifying of our bodies (future – deliverance from the presence of sin); Sanctification is a present work of the Holy Spirit on our souls (present – deliverance from the power of sin).
He offers us redemption for our slavery.
John 8:32: “He shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
John 8:36: “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”
Gal 3:13: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law ..”
Gal 4:5: “to redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
In the Atonement there are other riches He has offered in exchange for our petty coinage.
He will exchange His rest for my struggles
Matt 11:28: “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
He will exchange His strength for my weaknesses
2 Cor 12:9: “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
He will exchange His joy for my sorrows
John 16:20 “Ye shall be sorrowful but your sorrow shall be turned to joy.”
He will exchange His victory for my defeats
1 John 5:4: “This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.”
He will exchange His health for my sicknesses.
Matt 8:17: “He took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses.”
He wants us to experience all these as we abide in Him.