The Inner Life, Revival and The Kingdom
Many agree that Jesus’ over-arching message was the kingdom. John the Baptist preached that the kingdom was coming and then Jesus came and it was ‘at hand’. Jesus was a walking demonstration of the love and power of God made manifest on the earth. Jesus brought heaven to earth. The enemy’s kingdom was completely outgunned. Sin fled in the face of forgiveness! Sickness yielded under the power of healing! And demonic oppression was evicted as Jesus proclaimed freedom! A new kingdom was on the earth! The fact that this governmental mandate has been passed onto the church has been a hot topic among the Christian circles that I am a part of.
Today, I gathered with a group of men and women with hearts earnestly desiring the manifestation of His kingdom in Trinidad & Tobago. We shared a meal and shared our hearts with a humility and intimacy that I have rarely encountered. No titles. No agendas. And God turned up. As we prayed and shared, the presence of God was amongst us and things shifted in the atmosphere undoubtedly far beyond our awareness or comprehension.
My friend, Dave, shared about the governmental reality that the church of Acts came into. He illustrated the journey that started as a church powerless in the face of the enemy’s attack on the apostle James. James was imprisoned and killed. Then Peter was imprisoned, and the church woke up. As they prayed for Peter in the prison, an angel turned up and supernaturally broke him out of prison. Then this governmental authority became so real in the church that when Paul and Silas were imprisoned, they started a revival in the prison complete with supernatural miracles and mass conversions. That’s a picture of a church walking in progressive governmental authority.
So, as I said, this is a hot topic in many circles. For many, this revelation is communicated by an understanding that the word translated church in the scripture – “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18 ESV) – is the Greek word ekklesia which refers to a gathering of the citizens of a nation for the purpose of governance. But as another brother in the meeting today focused on the verses that precede this one, some things that I had been struggling to articulate properly before suddenly became as clear as day!
So let me share what is on my heart by unwrapping these verses. Here is the full text (Matthew 16:13-18 ESV emphasis mine):
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
So Jesus says that this governmental force that will wreak havoc on the kingdom of darkness will be built upon a rock. The question is: what is the rock? Let’s start at verse 13. Jesus asks His disciples who other people say that He is… and they give some answers but what Jesus really wants to know is this: do His disciples really know Him? Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Right answer Peter! But let’s look at this more closely. This is not mere intellectual knowledge. You see most Christians think that because they believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, they can walk in kingdom authority. That is a fallacy! And that fallacy is a big obstacle because many believers are busy spreading this revelation of ekklesia and kingdom governance in the very erroneous assumption that the information is sufficient for governmental function. I don’t believe it is.
You see the real rock that Peter identified with was not the objective fact that Jesus was the Christ. It was the subjective experienced reality of who Christ was to Peter that was birthed out of real physical intimacy with Jesus. Peter had experienced the Messiah first-hand. The Messiah who walked on water, empowered him to do the same, rescued him when he started to sink and calmed the winds and waves! It was after this encounter that those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-33 ESV). In fact, this reality of Christ’s deity and power was so tangible in Peter that Christ identified him as the rock. The quality of Peter’s knowing changed him on a fundamental level. This type of knowledge only comes through experience not education.
Jesus will only give the keys to bind and loose to those who know Him like Peter did. While Jesus is not physically with us now, His Spirit is in us and it is only through a deliberate pursuit of intimacy with the Christ in us that we can walk the path to any form of true kingdom authority on this earth. Those who are on this path understand that the inner life of intimacy and communion is our highest priority. We must cultivate and grow this communion to become the rock like Peter did. The reality of Jesus with us here and now must be an increasingly experienced reality. Those along this path often use words like worship, encounter, contemplation, meditation, tarrying, lingering, and retreat to describe practices that enable this pursuit.
This is why the current revival that God is doing across the earth (most recently in Asbury) is so important and exciting. Revival is the word we use to describe when God moves from intellectual theory to experienced reality in a corporate way. It is actually the necessary start of ekklesia. Many do not make this connection. Many discount revival in favour of more teaching and organizing. If we meet in homes, if we teach everyone that they are a citizen, if we take the 7 mountains, if we do more evangelization, if we do more missions, if we do more community service, if we (insert whatever educating/organizing effort)… then we will see the church take its place as a ruling change agent in society. We all long for this and these are all good things that the church should do but they are not the first step or even the most important step. In fact, without intimacy with God any education/organization effort is doomed to failure no matter how great it is, even if it accomplishes great things in the natural. You see, education and organization can take us very far (exhibit A: the tower of Babel) but it cannot give us real authority and therefore it cannot defeat the kingdom of darkness. The kingdom of this world will only bow when the King becomes incarnate in His body.
When God begins to encounter us on a corporate level, He is opening a window of opportunity for us as a body to step into a Peter reality. That is why I am going after revival. This is why I think it is important to celebrate and connect with anywhere that God is breaking into this world. It may just look like people laughing or crying or worshipping but it is much more than that! It is God bringing the reality of the kingdom in us first before we can bring it to the world. You have to worship in the boat with Jesus before you can worship in the prison. You have to be blinded by the light and knocked to the ground and hear Jesus speak to you before you can invade the darkness with light and knock the enemy off his feet. You must become the rock shaped without human hands before it can grow and take over the world. As a corporate body, we must encounter God in unity in the upper room before we can turn the world upside down.
Attention to our individual inner life with God brings corporate revival in the church and revival in the church brings kingdom come on earth.