Kardiognostes | Only God Knows the Heart

“Even the depths of Death and Destruction are known by the Lord. How much more does He know the human heart?”1)Proverbs 15:11 NLT

We are often deeply aware that we have problems in our relationships but how often do we fail to describe exactly what the source of the problem is. “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.”2)Proverbs 20:5 NIV One of the greatest skills of a counsellor (or a man or woman of understanding) is the ability to probe the deep places of the heart and to draw out the issues that have caused the impasse. Only then can the couple identify the source of the problem and begin to move forward to resolve the impasse.

Why would Solomon describe the purposes of a man’s heart as ‘deep waters?’ Well, the problem with deep waters is that you cannot see down to the bottom. At some point, as a diver goes deeper and deeper into the ocean the light fails to penetrate any further. What lies beneath becomes dark and mysterious. Without the aid of another light source those things that lie at the bottom of the ocean will never come to the light.

Only God fully knows the human heart. From Genesis to Revelation it is clear that apart from divine revelation we are completely cut off from the means of knowing the true condition of our own heart. Jesus is the consummate ‘Man of understanding,’ and He has come specifically to reveal the sinful and broken heart of humanity in order that those who are lost might come to repentance and salvation. Only a man or woman of prophetic understanding can draw out that which is hidden.

In fact, if we were to try to define the exact nature of the ministry of Jesus we could effectively say that He came to unveil people’s hearts and to unveil the heart of God toward broken people. Without this initial unveiling of the fallen condition of our hearts we cannot be saved. Once we have come into the kingdom of God we need to adjust our spiritual eyes to the light like a person who has emerged from years of living in the deep darkness of some subterranean cavern. Learning to live in the light means that we are learning to live in an intimate relationship with God who sees into the depths of our hearts but He loves us even in those times when we He sees us still living in bondage to sin and selfishness.

The Hidden Person of the Heart

As we have already seen, the Apostle Peter spoke about what he called the “hidden person of the heart.”3)1 Peter 3:4 Paul spoke of the ‘inner man’4)Ephesians 3:16 or the ‘inward man,’5)2 Corinthians 4:16 and both of these ideas correspond to Peter’s concept of the hidden person of the heart. This ‘hidden person’ is the true inner person who needs to be distinguished from any false perception we may have generated about ourselves or which we may have projected upon others. It is not a matter of who we wish we were but who we are in reality. This is the person that God sees when He looks into our hearts.

The Greek word used by Peter for ‘hidden’ was ‘kruptos.’ This word means ‘concealed, private or secret.’ Paul used the same Greek word in 1 Corinthians 14:25 when he spoke of the “secrets of the heart.” He also used the word ‘kruptos’ when he said that God “will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.”6)1 Corinthians 4:5 NIV The language of the Scriptures continuously points us to the fact that, unaided by divine revelation, we are incapable of discovering or knowing the true condition of our hearts. We are entirely dependent on God for this knowledge.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Jeremiah stated that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?”7)Jeremiah 17:9 This verse states emphatically that no one, without the assistance of divine revelation, can come to an accurate knowledge of his or her own heart. Immediately following this verse Jeremiah wrote: “I the Lord search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”8)Jeremiah 17:10. When God looks into the heart of the unbeliever this is what He sees.

God searches the heart and He tests the mind. The Hebrew word for ‘mind’ is ‘kelayot’ and it actually means “the kidneys” in ancient Hebrew. Colin Brown, the author of the Dictionary of New Testament Theology tells us that the kelayot are “frequently mentioned in close connection to the heart. They are, in a metaphorical sense, the seat of the deepest spiritual emotions and motives, so secret that men cannot fathom them. Only God is able to search and test them.”9)Colin Brown; Dictionary of New Testament Theology Vol. 2 p.181-2

As we have already seen, it is the Lord’s purpose to “bring to light what is hidden in darkness and [to] expose the motives of men’s hearts.”10)1 Corinthians 4:5 Jesus is claiming that He is the one who searches the deepest motives of the human heart. He is the One who spoke in Jeremiah 17:10. No-one can know the depths of the human heart except God. In Jeremiah 17:9 God searches the heart of the unbeliever but in Revelation 2:23 He searches the heart of the believer.

We read earlier in the book of Hebrews that “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”11)Hebrews 4:13 In Proverbs we read, “Even the depths of Death and Destruction are known by the Lord. How much more does He know the human heart!”12)Proverbs 15:11 NLT David was contemplating the awesome omniscience of God in Psalm 139 when he said,

O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.13)Psalms 139:1-6

While we may find the omniscience of God unfathomable to our finite minds we are faced with the reality that God knows everything about us, every single detail, every thought, every hidden attitude and every hidden motive behind our actions. Jesus said, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.”14)Matthew 10:30 Such knowledge is indeed beyond us but on every page of Scripture we are confronted with the truth of a God who numbers every grain of sand and every star in the sky. In the light of this revelation David exclaimed; “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me!” It is truly breathtaking!

In the book of Acts we find Luke using a specific Greek word that is not used anywhere else in the Bible to describe God’s comprehensive knowledge of the human heart. The first time this word is recorded it was on the lips of the eleven Apostles as they sought to determine a replacement for Judas who had committed suicide. “And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen.”15)Acts 1:24

The word that Luke used to describe this aspect of God’s omniscience was ‘kardiognostes’ which literally means “the knowledge of the heart.” In this context it appears to have been used almost as a divine title so that we could say; God is “the Knower of Hearts.” Peter, who reported the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles, also used the same Greek word: ‘kardiognostes.’ “God, who knows the heart, showed that He accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us.”16)Acts 15:8 NIV

This all-knowing God, who intimately searches our hearts and minds, does not look at people the way we do. Many of us would remember the words of Samuel the prophet on that remarkable day he came to the house of Jesse to anoint David as King over Israel; “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”17)1 Samuel 16:7

God consistently looks beyond outward appearances and looks deep into our hearts. Jesus spoke this discomforting reminder to the Pharisees, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts.”18)Luke 16:15 The outward religion of the Pharisees might have convinced those around them but it didn’t convince the Lord. God could look straight into their hearts and see through the walls of religious pretence.

For Solomon, the penetrating gaze of God into the human heart was one of the fundamental principles of divine revelation. On the day of the dedication of Solomon’s temple he prayed to God saying; “Forgive, and deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart: for you alone know the hearts of men.”19)2 Chronicles 6:30 David said to Solomon just before he died, “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve Him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.”20)1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV The hidden motives behind our thoughts and our actions are extremely important to God. He always perceives what motivates our behaviour even when we cannot.

It would seem that the entire foundation of David and Solomon’s thoughts orbited around this fact of infinite divine omniscience. The book of Proverbs is an encyclopaedia of these kinds of profound insights into God’s knowledge of the human heart. Solomon had been trained by the Holy Spirit to look beyond outward human appearance to the deeper issues of the heart. “All a mans ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.”21)Proverbs 16:2 The more I meditate upon the Scriptures the more this immoveable fact becomes the rock to which my life is anchored: God knows my heart and He searches my deepest motives. And even when He sees me still stuck in my brokenness He unconditionally loves me!

References   [ + ]

1, 12. Proverbs 15:11 NLT
2. Proverbs 20:5 NIV
3. 1 Peter 3:4
4. Ephesians 3:16
5. 2 Corinthians 4:16
6. 1 Corinthians 4:5 NIV
7. Jeremiah 17:9
8. Jeremiah 17:10
9. Colin Brown; Dictionary of New Testament Theology Vol. 2 p.181-2
10. 1 Corinthians 4:5
11. Hebrews 4:13
13. Psalms 139:1-6
14. Matthew 10:30
15. Acts 1:24
16. Acts 15:8 NIV
17. 1 Samuel 16:7
18. Luke 16:15
19. 2 Chronicles 6:30
20. 1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV
21. Proverbs 16:2

The Intimacy Paradigm

“The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God [the Father] and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”1)2 Corinthians 13:14 The Message

In 1990 I attended a Vineyard conference where the theme of intimacy with God was centre stage. My whole framework was profoundly challenged and my life was literally turned upside down. I was confronted with a quality and depth of ministry that was completely foreign to me. The speakers were flowing in the prophetic and words of knowledge were freely flowing through their lives. They were ministering into areas of the heart that hindered authentic intimacy with God and they were offering healing prayer to hundreds of broken lives. People streamed forward at the invitation and many people went through dramatic deliverance.

My life was transformed by that single conference. I had undergone a profound paradigm shift. I had embraced what I now call the ‘intimacy paradigm.’ But it is one thing to embrace something conceptually. I had turned a corner theologically and conceptually which set in motion a journey of moving from the head to the heart in order to become established in this new paradigm. Living exclusively from my head was no longer an option. I had been upgraded to a new level of reality and I could never be the same again. But living in the intimacy paradigm of an authentic heart journey with God has been the greatest challenge of my life as a believer. The Vineyard movement in the 1980’s and 1990’s were renowned for their pioneer work in new frontiers of intimate worship. Their CD series, ‘Touching the Father’s Heart’ helped me to go much deeper in my heart journey of devotion.

The centrepiece in this battle to lay hold of the revelatory knowledge of the heart of God is the pursuit of intimacy with God. If we are content to merely know God from a distance, to know about Him instead of knowing Him personally, experientially and intimately then that is all we will ever attain. I once heard a preacher facetiously say, “Blessed are those who expect nothing; they shall not be disappointed!” God has called us to such a depth of intimacy in relationship with Him that it massively transcends our intellectual comprehension. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”2)1 Corinthians 2:9

Paul taught that this intimate knowledge of the heart of God completely transcends our intellectual faculties. Theological knowledge is merely an invitation into the deep waters of spiritual intimacy. Those who have come into relationship with God through the new birth are now privileged “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”3)Ephesians 3:19 This includes all theological knowledge.

And of course, God in His brilliance has already made a way for us. Through the new birth He places us in Christ, planting us right in the fiery centre of that most intimate of all relationships: the relationship between the Father and His Beloved Son. This new intimacy is a gift. It is not something we earn! John said, “Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God.” 4)1 John 4:15 The Message

Intimacy with God is intended to be the defining characteristic of the Christian. The essence of true spiritual intimacy is a oneness that is characterised by a deep supernatural love. Every Christian is intended to carry the aroma of divine intimacy so that their very presence invites others into their own experience of intimacy with God. Paul said, “Pray for the insight and ability to bring others into that intimacy.”5)1 Corinthians 14:13 The Message

We read in the Psalms a brief phrase that powerfully captures this call to radical intimacy with God: “Deep calls unto deep.”6)Psalms 42:7 The inner depths of God’s heart cries out for intimate fellowship with the deepest places in the hearts of His children. We were designed and fashioned for intimate relationship, not only with God but also with other human beings. God is the very author of intimacy and He has created us in such a way that we will never be satisfied unless we experience this gift of deep spiritual intimacy. Gordon and Gail MacDonald, in the opening paragraph of their book, Heart Connections, discuss the nature of this intimacy.

If food is fuel for the stomach, intimacy is fuel for the soul. Without the one there is physical starvation, without the other there can be spiritual starvation. Intimacy implies a deep and lasting connection between persons. Age, intellect, class, gender, and all other such classifications are all irrelevant when it comes to experiencing this intense rapport. Yet some of the most intelligent and powerful people in our lives appear to know almost nothing about intimacy.7)Heart Connections, Gordon and Gail MacDonald

As appealing as the concept may be it has proven as elusive to humanity as the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. For try as we will to reach this place where two hearts meet and stay connected, the promise somehow continues to elude us. As a pastor, the number one complaint I hear from people is the sense of not being able to connect with God in their hearts. The Apostle John came to the conclusion that the same factors that destroy intimacy with one another were the very same things that hinder intimacy with God. “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”8)1 John 4:20

Intimacy is all about relationships, whether that relationship is with God, our spouse, our children, our parents or our friends. Whenever we come face to face with a roadblock in growing closer to another person we will inevitably find that this very same issue will hinder us in drawing nearer to God. Our human relationships actually become a mirror which reflects the depth (or lack of depth) of our intimacy with God. Intimacy has to look like something! John said, “Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.”9)1 John 2:6 The Message

The moment we purpose in our hearts to seek to cultivate intimacy with God we must begin to deal with the deeper issues of the heart because intimacy is all about the connection of two hearts. Just as a married couple must work at cultivating intimacy in their marriage, so we must work at developing a closer walk with God. But if a Christian never sets their heart to pursue intimacy with God they will never come to understand just how many roadblocks there are in our hearts to growing in intimacy.

The tragedy is that many Christians are content to know all about God without ever experiencing the gentle touch of His warm embrace that comes when we seek to gain a firsthand, experiential knowledge of His heart. But once we embark upon this journey there is no going back. This is the ‘intimacy paradigm’ and it is an essential ingredient in developing a biblical understanding of the heart. For far too many Christians this intimate relational paradigm is totally foreign. We are strangers to the experiential knowledge of God and we have somehow become acclimatized to this sub-standard level of Christian experience.

In order to embrace the intimacy paradigm we must learn to cultivate the intuitive dimension of the heart. We may very well have a cognitive understanding of the concepts of intimacy and love but the reality of these concepts are embodied in the experience of love. The art of Christian love and intimacy is better ‘caught than taught.’ There is always a valid place for intellectual analysis in the Christian life but the experience of intimacy transcends rational analysis. It is an experience! As I mentioned in the first chapter, my own personal journey has been one of a slow and gradual deliverance from an ‘unfeeling heart.’ My capacity to feel and to express my feelings has been deeply compromised because I came from a highly unfeeling family but it was not their fault. They were the product of unfeeling parents where emotions were something to be avoided. Many people have grown up in a family where feelings were never expressed and this can exercise a crippling effect upon the heart. It creates a deep wound because love was never expressed and love simply cannot grow in an unfeeling heart.

Our ‘heart’ is that part of us which is able to experience the intimate touch of our loving Heavenly Father, whereas our minds are capable only of intellectual analysis.

If God seeks to draw us into intimacy with Himself He will not appeal to the intellect but to the heart. In fact, intellectual analysis has the capacity to kill all intimacy! Many Christians are so locked into ‘analysis mode’ that they are unable to experience any kind of intimacy with God. I often feel as though my own spiritual journey has largely been characterised by an attempt to escape the vice-like grip of cold-heartedness where so often I find myself continually stuck in my head. And I know that many other Christians can testify to the same struggle.If our rational and intellectual faculties stand in the way of entering into an intimate relationship with the Lord then ‘analysis’ must be recognised as a stronghold of the mind that is capable of hindering our spiritual growth.

Knowing God intimately and knowing His heart toward us is the very essence of the Christian life. Intimacy with God is the foundation of every aspect of the Christian life. Without this intimate knowledge of God’s heart we cannot enter into the fullness of our calling to participate with Christ in revealing the Father. This is the ultimate purpose of the intimacy paradigm and God is actively seeking to promote this paradigm shift among His people. Paul asserted that it is our high calling in God to pursue this intimate knowledge of the heart of God.

I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him… that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection… Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.10)Philippians 3:8-14 NIV

References   [ + ]

1. 2 Corinthians 13:14 The Message
2. 1 Corinthians 2:9
3. Ephesians 3:19
4. 1 John 4:15 The Message
5. 1 Corinthians 14:13 The Message
6. Psalms 42:7
7. Heart Connections, Gordon and Gail MacDonald
8. 1 John 4:20
9. 1 John 2:6 The Message
10. Philippians 3:8-14 NIV

Covert Operatives

We are seeking to raise up a style of ministry in the New Age marketplace that is both wise and gentle. In the marketplace ministry we have often found that “less is more!” Our tendency is to want to tell people everything we know but we have found that when we don’t come on too strong it leaves a sense of mystery that will hopefully draw something out of those who have just experienced God, stirring them to probe a little deeper.

We only tell people what they need to know in order to prime them for a God encounter. We proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven and then we proceed to lay hands on people in order to bring them into an intense experience of the love and power of Christ. If they have a God encounter, as so many of the people who we minister to do, we take it a step further and tell them who it was who just healed or touched them; the love and power of Christ.

We only tell people what they need to know in order to prime them for a God encounter. We proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven and then we proceed to lay hands on people in order to bring them into an intense experience of the love and power of Christ. If they have a God encounter, as so many of the people who we minister to do, we take it a step further and tell them who it was who just healed or touched them; the love and power of Christ.

Jesus told parables in order to tantalize His disciples to search the matter out. In listening to the words of a parable we intuitively sense there are deeper spiritual truths embedded in the symbols and metaphors in the story and it draws something out of us and entices us to dig a little deeper. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.”1)Proverbs 25:2

Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.”2)Matthew 13:44 The Kingdom of Heaven is sufficiently evident but sufficiently hidden. God always enshrouds His revelation in mystery so that people enter into the joy of seeking and finding. How many evangelistic encounters have been ruined through over-kill? We have to know how to spoon feed people and entice them to explore the mystery just as God does with us.

We underestimate the potency of what we carry within. Let the encounter speak louder than words and then let your words be few. Sow a seed that will still allow an element of profound mystery that will entice people to explore in the same way a parable draws us into a spiritual odyssey. This is the power of the covert operation. It is definitely a road less travelled.

We are dispensers of the glory realm of Heaven and one drop of supernatural peace goes a long way with someone who is accustomed to torment! One drop of love goes a long way with someone who lives perpetually in isolation and rejection! The healing power of Christ is a rare commodity indeed in the world. One drop of healing power arrests the attention of someone who has suffered continual pain!

There is a lot we could tell someone in our first encounter. Instead we spoon feed them spiritual truth. We light a candle in their life rather than pulling out the 4000 watt quartz halogen headlights and shining it in their eyes. Jesus dialled the light down low so He didn’t overwhelm people with the light. Peter, James and John had to be gradually prepared for the Mount of Transfiguration experience and as it was it almost completely fried their circuits! Knowing how to sow seeds in people’s lives is a skill that Jesus wants to impart to everyone who does any kind of evangelism. It is those who display wisdom, tact and reserve who win souls to Christ. These are skills that are desperately needed in ministering in the marketplace.

Jesus is seeking to raise up prophetically gifted men and women who are filled with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation who display great skill and wisdom in the way they minister. So much of the church’s evangelistic endeavours are laced with impetuous immaturity. It’s like some Christians go out and read directly from the script that the enemy has written for them. And often so counterproductive! I think I know exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.”3)Luke 16:8

Someone who is ‘shrewd’ possesses intelligence, skill and insight. A shrewd poker player doesn’t show everyone his hand. They hold some things in reserve. Jesus said that, “the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.”4)Luke 16:8 Sometimes people in the world display greater shrewdness in the way they conduct their affairs than the people of God who are supposed to be filled with the Spirit of wisdom. Jesus has called us to be “as wise as serpents.” He wants us to be more adept than people in the business world who are known for their skill in conducting their business affairs.

Gentle as doves

Not only did Jesus tell His disciples to be “as wise as serpents,” He also told them to be “as gentle as doves.”5)Matthew 10:16 Gentleness is a powerful key that helps to unlock the hearts of genuine New age seekers. Christians with a heart for evangelism desperately need some seasoned life-coaches to come alongside them and like Aquila and Priscilla with the unseasoned Apollos, “they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” 6)Acts 18:26 In the words of Paul, he said, “And now I will show you a more excellent way.” 7)1 Corinthians 12:31

Of course, Paul was speaking of the way of love. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”8)1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV Love is gentle and kind. It isn’t forceful and abrasive and it never overpowers someone. Love is sensitive and courteous and doesn’t come on too strong. God wants us to be known by our compassion, our gentleness and our love.

We need to go out as wise as serpents, as gentle as doves, filled with a deep compassion for broken people, free of all religious judgmentalism. This is ultimately not some new style that is a departure from traditional evangelism. It is a return to a style that has been eclipsed by religious fundamentalism where the truth is in the hands of men and women who do not know the heart of the Father. Paul said, “Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.”9)Philippians 4:5 Can I take this opportunity to give a plug for gentleness? Again, to quote Paul, “Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?”10)1 Corinthians 4:21

Paul was a passionate evangelist but he had a huge revelation of gentleness. He listed it as one of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:23. He also said, “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.”11)1 Thessalonians 2:7 He was the Apostle of the gentle heart. Paul exhorted us to “be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.”12)Titus 3:2 Angry evangelists do not spare the rod but evangelists compelled by the love of Christ come in a spirit of love and gentleness.

View Phil Mason Resources

References   [ + ]

1. Proverbs 25:2
2. Matthew 13:44
3, 4. Luke 16:8
5. Matthew 10:16
6. Acts 18:26
7. 1 Corinthians 12:31
8. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
9. Philippians 4:5
10. 1 Corinthians 4:21
11. 1 Thessalonians 2:7
12. Titus 3:2

The Glory of Christ’s Kingdom

Every single disciple of Christ has been called to receive the fullness of Jesus’ kingdom ministry and to be trained in kingdom ministry. The pathway to successful kingdom ministry that transforms people’s lives is to first receive Jesus’ ministry into our own hearts. Then we become qualified and equipped to minister to others. Jesus said, “Freely receive; freely give!” It is in the receiving that we are equipped to give.

For those of us who are passionate about ministering to others, the ministry of Jesus defines the very nature of what we call ‘ministry.’ This glorious ministry of Christ is, in its essence, a ministry that is directed to the depths of the human heart, with the goal of transforming every human heart into full conformity to the heart of Christ. As the archetypal prophetic minister, Jesus came into the world to reveal the true heart of God to humanity and to also unveil the broken and sinful hearts of fallen men and women. Without at least an entry-level revelation of the fallen condition of the heart we cannot be saved. God reveals the presence of sin so that we choose repentance. But even once we are saved, Jesus continues to minister to our hearts as He unveils the free gift of the new nature within us and as He systematically strips away every trace of our old sinful nature through the power of the cross.

Jesus’ ultimate purpose was to initiate a profound reconciliation between the heart of God and the hearts of those who have been alienated from His heart through the fall. The ultimate goal of this reconciliation is to fully reveal the heart of Christ in all those whom He has redeemed. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”1)Romans 8:29 Whatever we may think of when we think of the concept of prophetic ministry, at its core it is the nature of the prophetic to reveal the heart. As Simeon prophesied to Mary concerning Jesus: “This child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.”2)Luke 2:34,35 NIV

Much has been written in recent years on the recovery of true prophetic ministry. When it comes to the nature of the prophetic I think it needs to be clearly established that Jesus is the supreme pattern of all prophetic ministry. His ministry defines for all Christians in every age the very nature of true prophetic ministry. The truth is that there is really only one ministry and that is the ministry of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ; and His ministry is specifically focused upon the human heart, upon your heart and mine. Above all things, I want my ministry to so closely resemble the ministry of Jesus that people will feel as though Jesus Himself has ministered to them through me. But my feeble desire to manifest His ministry is comprehensively eclipsed by the unbridled passion of Jesus to manifest His glorious, heavenly ministry through His church.

The Holy Spirit relentlessly seeks to bring a deeper unveiling of the ministry of Jesus to a church that has experimented widely with all kinds of self-styled ministries. This experimentation with humanly conceived models of Christian ministry is in itself an admission that the church has been, to a certain measure, blinded to the unveiling of the glorious ministry of Jesus. Jesus’ supernatural model of ministry is from ‘above,’ but there are many expressions of ministry within the church that are purely naturalistic and earthly. His ministry is so incredibly awesome that it causes all earthly concepts and expressions of Christian ministry to appear utterly bankrupt.

What we desperately need in this hour is a Holy Spirit inspired revelation of the heavenly ministry of Jesus Christ and the courage to lay down all ideas and concepts of ministry that do not conform to His glorious ministry. Jesus is seeking to manifest His magnificent kingdom ministry through His church, which is His body on the earth. Jesus is completely focused upon heaven invading earth and there is no greater target for His mission than your heart and mine. What does it look like for heaven to invade our hearts and for the supernatural power and love of God to flood our interior life?

The Fullness of Kingdom Ministry

Jesus not only seeks to express this supernatural ministry through His church, He wants to manifest the fullness of His ministry through the church. He is not satisfied when we only receive or participate in a fraction of His ministry because a fraction of His ministry will only accomplish a fraction of His purposes. Throughout church history the followers of Christ have, for various reasons experienced significant difficulties embracing certain aspects of the ministry of Jesus. Whether people have had problems with the ministry of casting out demons, or prophetic ministry or physical healing or the healing of broken hearts, the results have been the same: significant aspects of the person and work of Christ have been neglected with the end result that Jesus has not been revealed in His fullness through the church.

The Apostle John said, “From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.”3)John 1:16 NIV God’s intention is to manifest the fullness of the grace-based ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ to His church in order that the church may grow up into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. It takes the fullness of Christ revealed to us to release the fullness of Christ in us and through us. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ.” 4)Colossians 2:9,10 NIV

I am thoroughly gripped by this concept of the fullness of Christ. Paul refused to let go of the vision of the New Testament people of God coming “to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”5)Ephesians 4:13 He worked tirelessly toward the fulfilment of this vision. But for the church to corporately lay hold of the fullness of Christ it necessitates a massive transformation in the hearts of God’s people.

It is the nature of the prophetic to unveil the fullness of Christ. I am convinced, after years of reflection on this matter, that the fullness of Christ is manifested through the fullness of His supernatural kingdom ministry to His bride. But to the extent that we have historically lost the full apprehension of His ministry, to that same extent we have forfeited our right to grow up into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Nowhere has this tragic loss of the fullness of Christ been more evident than in the church’s historical rejection of the prophetic ministry of Christ as He seeks to heal and transform the depths of the redeemed human heart.

‘Evangelicalism’ is the term we use to describe that stream of Christianity that believes in the divine inspiration and authority of the Word of God. But ironically, Evangelicalism has historically stumbled when it comes to embracing certain aspects of the supernatural. Because the evangelical stream of the church has had significant problems embracing supernatural ministry their theological or philosophical prejudice against the supernatural has inadvertently obfuscated the very nature of the fullness of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus’ ministry it 100% supernatural!

The Holy Spirit deeply desires to restore the revelation of the supernatural ministry of Christ to the church so that the church can receive the fullness of His transformational ministry. Jesus came to radically transform the human heart, not only from the power of sin but also from what Jesus called a ‘broken heart.’ This is a significant part of His ministry. Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor, He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, and to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”6)Luke 4:18

Jesus came with a specific assignment from the Father to heal our hearts! There is an awakening taking place amongst true believers that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. This awakening is slowly leading to the experience of deep level healing in those broken places in our hearts that have hindered us from growing in the true depths of intimacy with the Father that the Scriptures promise us. According to Jesus the fallen human heart is not only bound by sin, it is also deeply wounded and broken. When we come to Christ, God’s intention is that all of us embark upon a journey of deep spiritual freedom, not only from sin but also from the effects of living in a sinful world where people have been deeply wounded by other people who have been bound by sin.

Jesus revealed that He came into the world not only to cleanse our hearts from sin but also to heal and make whole those aspects of our inner lives that have been shattered and wounded through living in the midst of a sinful world. The Evangelical church has excelled historically in calling humanity to repentance from sin and in declaring the power of the blood of Jesus to cleanse our hearts from all sin. But they have been significantly neglectful of the ministry of healing the brokenhearted. It is reminiscent of what the Lord said to the apostate shepherds of Israel; “The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost.”7)Ezekiel 34:4

Almost without exception most evangelicals throughout the centuries since the Reformation have proposed a one dimensional solution to a two dimensional problem of the human heart. More often than not, the glorious prophetic ministry of healing broken hearts, exemplified in the historical ministry of Jesus has been completely missing from the church’s ministry répertoire.

For many years I have been tracking on a specific spiritual journey. It has been a theological and experiential journey that has been shaped and moulded by years of practical ministry experience to broken human lives. I am the pastor of a local church that cares for broken people. Along this journey I have stumbled upon a depth of revelation into certain aspects of the ministry of Jesus that desperately needs to be recovered by the wider church. In my personal quest to fully recover the “lost ministry of Jesus to the human heart” God has gradually imparted a deepening understanding into certain dimensions of ministry that have been completely overlooked by many historical and contemporary streams within the church.

The recovery of the theology and practice of the ministry of healing the brokenhearted is a story that has to be told.

References   [ + ]

1. Romans 8:29
2. Luke 2:34,35 NIV
3. John 1:16 NIV
4. Colossians 2:9,10 NIV
5. Ephesians 4:13
6. Luke 4:18
7. Ezekiel 34:4

Apostolic Mission | The Sending of Sons

The orphan to son paradigm is the definitive apostolic paradigm of the heart. This is the paradigm that Jesus, the Beloved Son brought from heaven to earth. “God so loved the world that He sent His Son!” The Father sent forth His Son because only a Son can reveal the Father. Everything about sonship prophetically declares the reality of fatherhood and everything about fatherhood prophetically declares the reality of sonship. Jesus said to the orphanage of humanity; “I will come to you!” His mission was to come to the orphans to miraculously absorb them through the new birth into the same dimension of divine union with the Father that He Himself has eternally enjoyed.

The apostolic mission of Jesus is not complete until the love with which the Father loved Him is experientially established within the hearts of the adopted sons and daughters. Salvation is not the goal, it is merely the gateway of access into the love of the Father. Once this love has been experientially restored to the human heart He can then say to us, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”1)John 20:21 The apostolic paradigm is all about ‘sending.’ An apostle is a ‘sent one.’ Jesus told a parable about the wicked vinedressers who had commandeered the vineyard; a metaphor for the nation of Israel.

A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty- handed. Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty- handed. And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him. ’But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.”2)Luke 20:9-16

The Father speaks over humanity in their lost and broken state and says, “I will send My Beloved Son!” God has now spoken through His Son. “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.” 3)Hebrews 1:1-3 NIV The Apostle John said, “To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become the sons of God; children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” 4)John 1:12,13

Both Paul and John were sent forth by the Father. They became apostolic fathers because they had fully embraced the apostolic paradigm of the heart. Both of these glory-filled sons made this paradigm the core of their preaching ministry in order to raise up a generation of beloved sons and daughters who would enter into the fullness of the joy of the life of the beloved. They understood that it was the glory of the Father to send forth a company of beloved sons and daughters into the world, whose sonship would prophesy of the love of the Father, just as Jesus’ Sonship revealed the glory of His Father. “We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” 5)John 1:14 NIV

Paul focused upon the glory of our adoption and John focused upon living in the love of the Father. “Behold what manner of love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.”6)1 John 3:1 There is nothing more prophetic on the face of the earth than orphans becoming beloved sons and daughters. This is the heartbeat of apostolic/prophetic ministry. Jesus, the ultimate prophet, prophesied of the glory and love of the Father. The deepest essence of His prophetic ministry was to reveal the love of His Father and to bring adopted sons and daughters into the rich experience of the Father’s love. Whenever ‘prophetic ministry’ is dislocated from the revelation of sonship it becomes a bastardized message. The writer of Hebrews described Christians who reject the loving discipline of the Father as “bastards and not sons.”7)Hebrews 12:8 KJV

God is again seeking to restore the fullness of true prophetic and apostolic ministry where He speaks through His beloved sons and daughters to this orphan generation. God speaks through His sons. The essence of human brokenness is defined in the word ‘orphan;’ but the essence of human wholeness is defines in the word ‘son.’

View Phil Mason Resources

References   [ + ]

1. John 20:21
2. Luke 20:9-16
3. Hebrews 1:1-3 NIV
4. John 1:12,13
5. John 1:14 NIV
6. 1 John 3:1
7. Hebrews 12:8 KJV