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

Heaven to Earth: A Blueprint for Apostolic Ministry.

“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
2. Hebrews 3:1
3. 1 Corinthians 2;14
4. Romans 5:17 NIV
5. 1 Corinthians 15:46-49
6. Romans 8:29
7. John 3:13
8. Philippians 3:20
9. Ephesians 2:6 NIV
10. 2 Corinthians 5:14-16
11. Romans 6:11
12. Galatians 2:20