Prevent Defense or Pressing the Gates of Hell

keep moving forwardI played the position of linebacker in college football.  I loved defense.  Our particular team had a reputation for playing an aggressive attack style of defense.  We were not waiting to see what the offense was going to do and then react. We attacked with the idea of disrupting the offense.

I used to hate it if we ever got to the point late in the game where the coach said, “Let’s go with prevent defense.”  For those of you who don’t know what prevent defense is, it is a scheme implemented, usually late in the game, designed to preserve the lead and run out the clock.  It wasn’t very aggressive.  In prevent defensive schemes you play softer up front, fall back a little deeper, and simply try to prevent big plays.  It was a fall back and play it safe mentality.   Just run out the clock and we would win.

The big problem with prevent defense was that the only thing it usually prevented was the defense being aggressive in attacking the offense. It was usually easier for the other team to move the ball in shorter gains.  It is a little demoralizing for the defense, especially if they played aggressively.  Aggressive defenses were used to attacking and disrupting the offense, not simply defending the score.

Christians and churches can subtly fall into prevent defensive, personally and corporately.  When Jesus announced He was going to build His church He added the important feature that should mark it.  The gates of hell shouldn’t stop her.

Mat 16:18 NASB  “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

Near ancient city gates there were places in the walls where the city conducted business, held court, and deliberated on public matters.  Jesus was saying that the church He builds would push forward towards enemy controlled territory and their gates wouldn’t be able to keep them out.   Jesus was referring to a promise God gave to Abraham’s seed (which we are in Jesus Gal 3:29) that they would possess their enemies gates.  Gen 22:17 NASB  indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.

The best defense is a good offense

Churches and Christians are called to go forward, not just hold the fort!  There is a
quote that has been used in the military as well as sporting circles, “the best defense is a good offense.”  It means that if you are aggressively attacking your opponents, they will be so busy fighting off your attack that they will not be able to attack you.

We should be seeking ways to see the Kingdom of God advance.  The creation mandate in the garden was “be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth.”  The church continues to move in that mandate.  Eph 1:22-23 MSG  He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church.  (23)  The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.  We aren’t hiding from the enemies’ gates as they attack us.  We are to go forward into  enemy held territory, pushing through the gates that try to keep us out.

Even the way Jesus taught us to pray had forward movement in it.  It was more about scoring points than running the clock out as comfortable as we can.  Mat 6:10  ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.  

Offensive, not defensive prayers

selfish prayersIf you listen to the prayers at most Christian gatherings there is little forward movement or taking ground in them.   The majority of prayers at Christian gatherings would lead one visiting to believe that God’s whole reason for existence is to make sure life is easy, free of trouble or discomfort, and full of personal healthy and success.

Here is how it usually goes, “do we have any prayer request tonight?”  “My wrist is swollen; pray that my move goes smooth; please pray-I pulled my hamstring and may not be able to play soccer Sunday (during church services of course); pray that Susie’s haircut and highlights to come out perfectly, as only God can do them; pray that Jenny loses these last five pounds so she can fit into her bikini before leaving on vacation; pray that my team wins the championship; pray for my cousin to find her little dog who ran away.”  God does care about the little details of our life but come on, there is not much “possessing the gates of the enemy” in those prayers!

There is nothing wrong with praying for needs.   The Bible says to cast all your troubles upon the Lord (Ps. 55:22, 1 Pet. 5:7), but what about advancement?  What about His kingdom going forward?  What about us possessing the enemies gates in people’s lives?  How about, “destroying the works of the devil” in the lives of people?  1Jn 3:8…Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devilYou don’t win wars against the devil by being in prevent defense.

I guarantee that if our prayers have no forward movement in them then our lives will have little forward movement in them.  Instead of just praying and hoping that so and so doesn’t backslide how about scoring some spiritual points?  When facing opposition and persecution this is the type of prayer they prayed in the early church (Acts 4:21-37) when they prayed for God’s word to spread accompanied with signs and wonders. How about scoring on the enemy?  We are not here to run out the clock, we are here to advance the Kingdom of God and see the gates of the enemy cave in to the advance of God’s people.

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Important Key To Moving in God’s Power: Drinking The Spirit From Jesus

We can only imagine what people might have thought or said.  “What is all the commotion?  Who is that yelling?  What is He saying?  Is anybody thirsty?”  It was the last day of the feast.  Everything had been leading up to this event.

John 7:37-38 Drink God's River From Jesus

John 7:37-38 Drink God’s River From Jesus

On the last day of the Feast of Booths in which the people were commemorating their journey in the wilderness, the High Priest would go down to the Pool of Siloam (which means “sent” like Jesus was the “Sent One” from God)  and fill a flask with water which he brought back to the temple.  He would circle the altar seven times (seven is the number for completeness) then pour the water on the Southwest corner of the altar.  He was making a prophetic declaration about something God promised He was going to do.  He promised that He was going to pour the river of His Spirit into the earth which will bring life to dry and wilderness places.   Isaiah had predicted it.   Isa 43:19-20  “Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.  20  “The beasts of the field will glorify Me, The jackals and the ostriches, Because I have given waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My chosen people.

Ezekiel saw this in detail.  God’s Spirit was coming as a river and everywhere that river went it brought life and healing.  It began flowing from the altar, out through the temple, then gained force as it flowed into the earth.

Ezekiel 47:1-12  And the water was flowing down from under, from the right side of the house, from south of the altar.  (2)  He brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate by way of the gate that faces east. And behold, water was trickling from the south side.  (3)  When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles.  (4)  Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins.  (5)  Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded…behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other…  (9)  “It will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live.

Now Jesus was raising his voice and talking about drinking from Him.  He promised that as they did the river of God’s Spirit would flow from their “innermost being.”  John 7:37-39  Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  (38)  “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”  (39)  But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

As people heard Jesus declaring with a loud voice some probably understood the point He was making.   He was announcing that the river God promised through Isaiah,  Ezekiel, and others was going to come into the earth through a people who would drink It from Him.  It coincides with what John the Baptist was announcing, we drink from Jesus and He fills us to overflowing with God’s river (Mat 3:11, Luk 3:16 “It is He that will fill you with God’s Holy Spirit.”)

The river begins to flow into the earth

Jesus began to do it on the day of Pentecost when the disciples were in the upper Pentecostroom in prayer (drinking from Jesus).  Suddenly the Spirit was poured out on them.  Jesus filled them and the river began to flow in and through them.  It flowed out of the upper room into the streets of Jerusalem. It kept flowing and eventually flowed into all the earth as His people continued to drink from Him and move in mission.

God delights in releasing and filling the earth with Himself (His river) “through the church.”  Eph 1:23 MSG…The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which He fills everything with his presence.  Ephesians 3:10-11  so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church.

God wants His river, that the world desperately needs, to flow through His church.  The only way it will happen is if we consistently come to Jesus and drink.  Prayer, praise, worship, as well as praying and singing in the Spirit are the primary ways we “come to Him and drink.”  We must drink from Jesus, not just for ourselves but for a world who desperately needs God’s river.

Every time we come before Jesus let’s be conscious that we are drinking God’s river from Him.  Lets continue and be filled by Him to the point the Spirit will flow through us into a dry and barren land.  This is an important key to releasing God’s supernatural power.  May His river flow through us to bring healing, deliverance, recovery of sight to the blind, release to prisoners and captives, and the favorable year of the Lord (Isaiah 61) to a world who desperately needs Him.

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Charismatic Theology Without Holy Spirit Reality

Power and Holy spirit1Th 1:5  for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction;

Act 1:8  but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses…

Ephesians 1:18-20  I pray that the eyes of your heart (understanding) may be enlightened (have light so that you can see…(19)  and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.

Rom 8:11  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Living in the supernatural life and power of God is simply about flowing with Holy Spirit.  This is the type of life God has created us for.   Jesus Himself said it is part of the experience accompanying Holy Spirit’s coming,  “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”  We must realize that anytime we have a subtle attitude within us that we don’t really need the active power of Holy Spirit in what we do is a grave mistake.  The things of God are done by the power of Holy Spirit, not by human might or power Zechariah 4:6.

Danger of Charismatic Theology without Charismatic Experience

One of the challenges to those of a Charismatic background is that over the years they get comfortable with the level of the moving of the Spirit they have, or don’t have.  They can become Charismatic in their theology but not in practice.  Any of us can believe in the moving of the Spirit while actually experiencing very little of Him flowing in our lives and churches.

I was really challenged once by a preacher who said, “you really have about as much of the Holy Spirit moving through your life as you desire.”  At first I was a little offended, but what he said had a lot of truth in it.  Almost everything about the Kingdom moving in us is connected to hunger and desire Matthew 5.   Jesus said a very similar thing about the moving of the Spirit as He relating it to thirst.

Joh 7:37-39  Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  38  “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water (CEV  Have faith in me, and you will have life-giving water flowing from deep inside you.”  39  But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive…

The Spirit Wants to Move, Not be a Silent Partner

The Spirit in the life of the believer should have a connection to observable movement.  I heard it said when I was a young Christian that “the Holy Spirit is a silent partner.”  It sounded reasonable at the time and the point being made was that the Spirit will let us exercise our free will.  Yet reflecting on it later I realized how the whole  “silent partner” thing can be a big problem.  While He does allow us to exercise our will He desires anything but to be a silent partner.

There is a principle of Biblical interpretation called the “Law of first mention.”  It simply means that if you are going to explore and understand a subject that is repeated throughout the Bible you need to look at the first time it is mentioned.  All subsequent mentions are to be interpreted in light of the first mention.  This is greatly truth when it comes to Holy Spirit.  Consider the first mention of Him.   Gen 1:2  The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving (Heb.”to move, brood, flutter over”) over the surface of the waters.

The first mention of the Spirit showed Him moving/hovering over the surface of the waters to make something observable happen.  Holy Spirit is never mentioned as a stagnant part of the Godhead who isn’t doing much.  Consider the metaphorical symbols describing Holy Spirit.  He is compared to a dove (Matthew 3:16), water (John 4:14; 7:38-39), wind (John 3:8; Acts 2:2), rain (Joel 2:2), oil (Psalms 89:20), and fire (Luke 3:16; Isaiah 4:4; Acts 2:3).  All these metaphors tell us something about the nature of Holy Spirit.   They all center around something moving, changing, and creating.   Jesus describes this to Nichodemus when He explained how the Spirit births life (John 3).  He tells him that the Spirit works in the same way as wind.  We can’t see the wind but we definitely see it’s effects, “so is everyone born of the Spirit” (Jn 3:8).

Is it We or He Who Moves?

There is an ago old question when it comes to moving with the power of the Spirit.  Is it God who moves, or do we have a part to play in it?  Scripture indicates it is both, not either/or.  We work because God works.

Php 2:12-13…work out your salvation with fear and trembling 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. 

Stir up the giftWe have a part to play in stirring up and releasing the supernatural activity of Spirit.  2 Timothy 1:6  For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. The word kindle afresh (Greek anazopureo) means to “re-enkindle or fan into flame.”  (NIV, ESV, NLT translations use fan into flame, The Message: keep that ablaze!).

The picture here is that of a fire which had once burned brightly but had died down from lack of attention or fresh fuel. The intensity and usefulness of the fire had been lost. The encouragement was to rekindle it, fan it into flames, or stir it up to get the flames going again.

Paul goes on to say in verse 7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a Spirit of power, love and of self-discipline.”  Paul is talking about the supernatural power of the Spirit, not Timothy’s natural abilities.  We should never be content to have the fire and wind of the Spirit die down in our lives!

How do we “kindly afresh/stir up” the gift of God connected to Holy Spirit?   We do it through spiritual activity such as prayer, praise, and worship, as well as things such as speaking, singing and praying in Holy Spirit (which includes tongues, the prayer language of the Spirit) 1 Corinthians 14:13-15, Jude 1:20, Acts 2:4 etc.  We are always to live in a way through Jesus, that what we believe progressively becomes a reality in our lives. 

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