“This then, is how you should pray: “Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
In this historically significant time of reformation, God is restoring to the church an apostolic paradigm of ministry that is built upon the concept of heaven invading earth. Part of this apostolic reformation includes the full restoration of a ‘heaven to earth’ model of kingdom ministry. Jesus clearly taught that His church should be contending through prayer for heaven to invade earth in every sphere of human existence. He taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 1). This is especially true for every aspect of ministry to the heart.
It is evident that not all Christians embrace the radicalism of the heaven to earth model of ministry. For various reasons, whether it is a lack of biblical revelation, blindness induced by relentless satanic attack or the descent into a gloomy and pessimistic acceptance of personal defeat in relation to issues of the heart, many Christians are not living out of the perspective that Jesus outlined when He taught His disciples to pray. The notion that ‘with God all things are possible’ challenges every negative and pessimistic mindset with the truth that Jesus has come to set everything right that is wrong from the perspective of heaven.
If we are serious about embracing the ‘heaven to earth’ model of ministry we must allow it to impact every sphere of Christian ministry. The heaven to earth model has profound implications for every sphere of ministry that touches upon the human heart.
There are some extremely revolutionary threads of revelation emerging in the midst of this current apostolic reformation. Bill Johnson, one of the most influential leaders of this present reformation, is well known for a simple but profound saying. He always seeks to emphasise that “Jesus Christ is perfect theology!” Of course Jesus is the standard of all true biblical theology because He is the Word of God who became flesh and blood! If a particular theology or model of ministry doesn’t perfectly resemble Jesus then it is a sub-standard reality that fails to reflect the full radicalism of Jesus in what He has come to establish upon the earth. Everything we believe and practice as followers of Christ needs to be subjected to the rigorous scrutiny of Jesus’ perfect heavenly ministry. We study the Word of God but we need to be equally aware that the Word of God studies us and it evaluates whether we are building with wood, hay and stubble or with gold, silver and precious stones.
Jesus said, “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” 1)John 20:21 NLT The Amplified Bible says, “Just as the Father has sent Me forth, so I am sending you.” The Greek word for ‘sent’ is ‘apostello’ and it means to be sent on a mission with a specific mandate. The Father sent Jesus on a specific mission with a specific ministry mandate and that was to invade the earth with the full reality of heaven and to bring the kingdom of heaven down to earth in its fullness. That is why Jesus is called “The Apostle!” 2)Hebrews 3:1 He is the archetype of all true ‘apostolic’ ministry.
In exactly the same manner that Jesus was sent forth by the Father with an apostolic mandate, so now, Jesus sends us forth with exactly the same heavenly mandate.
There is a heavenly blueprint of pure kingdom ministry that comes exclusively from above and the powers of darkness have fought for centuries to obscure or diminish the radicalism of this apostolic model of kingdom ministry. Only now, in the early part of the 21st century are we beginning to see the dawn of a new era of ministry that restores the ‘heaven to earth’ paradigm.
All thoughtful followers of Jesus who are concerned with issues of biblical fidelity should pause to meditate upon the profound implications of this paradigm shift by allowing the heaven to earth model to scrutinise the presuppositions and the praxis of contemporary ministry. The reformation is not yet complete! New light is continually breaking in upon the church as the various threads of revelation are interwoven into a comprehensive vision of heaven invading earth. The big apostolic paradigm is made up of multiple threads of revelation that create a tapestry. The missing pieces of the big picture leave us with a deficient vision of what it means for God’s kingdom to come on earth just as it is in heaven. God wants the fullness of His will to be done in your heart and mine just as it is in heaven!
The most critical issue is; how does God see us in Christ? From heaven’s perspective every born again believer in Jesus is an entirely new creation. A supernatural creative act has occurred in their human spirit and the old has quite literally passed away. This new creation miracle is the only foundation that Christ can proceed to build upon. The new birth is the first decisive strike of heaven invading earth.
The goal of all ministry to the heart, whether secular or Christian, is to affect change on the inside of a person so that the person suffering from significant problems of living can begin to move forward in their personal lives and enter into freedom.
Paul, the champion of New Testament new creation theology emphasised that all new creations in Christ are now heavenly beings. Paul contrasted new creations with ‘the natural man,’ 3)1 Corinthians 2;14, suggesting a super-natural dimension to the life of the believer. Born again believers are an entirely new order of human being and are no longer defined by ‘natural’ attributes. In Romans, Paul said there were now two kinds of humans; those who are in Adam and those who are in Christ and these two men are the spiritual heads of two races of humans. “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” 4)Romans 5:17 NIV In 1 Corinthians Paul develops this idea further by using the language of ‘heavenly’ versus ‘earthly.’
“So it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.” 5)1 Corinthians 15:46-49
Paul said that those who are ‘in Christ’ are now heavenly men and women. He described all New Testament believers as “those who are heavenly!” Jesus is the “firstborn among many brethren.” 6)Romans 8:29 If Jesus is described as the ‘heavenly Man” then we are also fully fledged ‘heavenly’ men and women! Jesus spoke of Himself as dwelling in heaven even while He was upon the earth. “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” 7)John 3:13
If Jesus is the firstborn amongst many brethren then we can safely say that if anyone is in Christ he or she is also simultaneously ‘in heaven’ even though they are physically located on earth. We are bi-locational beings because we are now in two places at the same time. Paul said, “For our citizenship is in heaven!” 8)Philippians 3:20 According to Paul, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” 9)Ephesians 2:6 NIV
All of this has significant implications for the nature of ministry to those who have become new creations in Christ. Paul said explicitly that “We judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh.” 10)2 Corinthians 5:14-16 We are not to know our fellow Christians according to their old selfish, sinful nature. We are to know them as brand new creations and to prophetically speak to the treasure inside each and every believer.
It is amazing how, through lack of biblical revelation, we continue to relate to one another in Christ as though nothing significant has changed on the inside. We are under obligation to reckon ourselves and others in Christ as being dead to sin and gloriously alive to God. 11)Romans 6:11 Any model or philosophy of ministry that is not founded firmly on the revelation of the new creation is an unbiblical model. God is not interested in the changed life: He is all about the exchanged life where we die so that Christ lives in us in all His radiant glory. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me!” 12)Galatians 2:20
All who are called to minister are also called to treat their brothers and sisters in Christ as heavenly beings. How do we minister to heavenly men and heavenly women? Well, that all depends on how much someone has had their minds renewed by heaven’s perspective. The apostolic paradigm of ministry places infinitely greater emphasis upon unveiling who we are in Christ than in speaking to the garbage and the brokenness in the lives of those who are being supernaturally transformed into the image of Christ.
The first thing Jesus does in ministering to those who come to Him for salvation is to re-create them on the inside and give them a brand new nature and a brand new core identity. This is the first step in kingdom ministry. “Heaven came down and glory filled my soul, when at the first my Saviour made me whole. My sins were washed away and my night turned into day, when heaven came down and glory filled my soul!” While we spend the rest of our lives becoming who we already are in Christ, all spiritual transformation in our heart flows out of the glorious new birth. This is axiomatic to all authentic New Testament ministry.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||John 20:21 NLT|
|3.||↑||1 Corinthians 2;14|
|4.||↑||Romans 5:17 NIV|
|5.||↑||1 Corinthians 15:46-49|
|9.||↑||Ephesians 2:6 NIV|
|10.||↑||2 Corinthians 5:14-16|