Branching Out

The continuing growth and development of Tree of Life Church

Completeness01: When did the devil fall, and what has it got to do with me

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This month we are looking at our completeness in Christ. To build a complete picture of what Christ has done for us, it is important to realize how limited and how defeated the devil is. There is a teaching that has gone around that Lucifer was the worship leader in heaven for billions of years before the earth was created, then he started a massive war of angels versus demons. This idea leads to many people being scared of the devil. They magnify the devil. As we find out we are complete in Christ – it’s also important to find out that the devil is incomplete!

This study is going to show up some of the lies that we often believe about the devil because we do not check things out with the Bible.

LIE#1: satan was the worship leader in heaven

This is a common idea that satan was the worship leader in heaven before the fall. Ezekiel 28.14 refers to satan as the “anointed cherub who covers”, and the teaching goes that he covered the throne as a worship leader. They cite Eze. 28.13 which says that he has tabrets and pipes in him – picturing him as a walking musical instrument. But the words “tabret” and “pipes” are references to the place holders for precious stones.
Satan didn’t cover the throne – he wasn’t the number 1 guy in heaven! There is no Scripture that even calls him an archangel. JESUS WAS THE NUMBER ONE GUY IN HEAVEN – STILL IS! NO SCRIPTURE TO BACK UP IDEA SATAN WAS THE WORSHIP LEADER IN HEAVEN! This is important because it leads directly to our views on music.

LIE#2: satan has all the best tunes

The truth is he doesn’t have ANY TUNES! The lie goes like this: the devil was a big worship leader guy and therefore knows all about music and the power of music. Therefore, certain beats and melodies are the devil – sometimes we are told if the harmony is greater than the melody, it’s devil music; or if the beat is too dominant, it’s devil music.
When people say “that song’s anointed” “that song’s demonic” = talking about the MUSIC – they are completely saying “I like that” “I don’t like that” … you are allowed personal taste. It’s great we all like different music – but don’t start saying this is holy, this is unholy: reserve that judgement for the words! The lyrics! The lyrics of a song can be about adultery or fornication or glorify sickness or death – then the lyrics are wrong. But the tune is neutral. David wrote Psalm 84 to a Gittite tune – they were a Philistine tribe. He took the tune and wrote godly words to it! That’s a clever idea, and it may surprise you to know that a lot of old hymns were to the tune of old bar songs. So, let’s stop attacking the worship leaders: they don’t have a Lucifer spirit; and stop judging people on their personal taste in music.

LIE#3: There is a big war going on in heaven with angels and demons

This is another image that we have picked up – big war in heaven, God and the devil. When Jesus rose from the dead He stripped the devil of all power and authority. Satan was not always the accuser of the brethren – he fell. Not always God’s enemy! He was created an anointed cherub! Satan was created BY GOD – there is only one CREATOR. Satan and GOD ARE NOT EQUAL IN POWER, they are not even CLOSE!

He is not wise, not powerful, not even orderly. He is bound by fear, strife, envy, confusion. HIS KINGDOM IS FULL OF CHAOS – people in his kingdom kill each other! His time is short (Rev 12.12) Also Satan is NOT THE LORD OF HELL! He didn’t torment Jesus in hell (Jesus suffered in hell – he died sin, but he wasn’t tormented – he’s never been there! He will go there – but never to come out and he’s not going there as the lord, but as the conquered enemy – tormented! Don’t over-exalt the devil; don’t sell God short – and don’t paint a picture of man as a helpless little guy between two superpowers. That’s not right!

LIE#4: satan is not better than you

God loves you! You are not an afterthought – you are the pinnacle of creation! You are precious! So we know from Scripture that satan covered something before his fall (Ezekiel 28.14), but it wasn’t the throne of God – he was not worship leader! Not super intimate with God! WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Because your IDENTITY CAN ONLY EXIST in the light of how you see GOD and how you see satan! If your belief about the devil gives you wrong views of God, you will have a wrong view of yourself.

Some people say: satan was the worship leader, he fell and missed it! So God needed a new worship leader and therefore God made man to be a replacement worship leader Once again – violates idea of a loving God made you out of love! GOD IS LOVE – didn’t need you, wanted you! You are not a pawn, not created for a job – there are works and there is a work. But you were created for fellowship!

Some people think the devil was lord over earth – that somehow it was his planet. It’s not, it isn’t and it never will be – he is the “god of this world” but that is the structures – not the legal right to the planet. Matthew 28.18 tells us all authority is in JESUS – if Jesus has it all, then there is nothing left for the devil. He has no authority, and you cannot give him the right to attack you.

LIE#5: satan is a wise being

No – he is arrogant, and arrogance and foolishness are entwined! In 1 Tim 3.6-7 it says to not appoint novices as elders as they will end up in the trap of the devil. This does not mean the trap the devil sets, but the trap the devil fell into. The trap he fell into was pride. Pride turned Lucifer into the devil – if you think you are so awesome you can mess with God and start accusing the brethren, you have a pride problem – and you also have a foolishness problem.

The devil is not some super-smart guy: you know the most demonised people (except in the movies – but that’s all lies) don’t get super smart – they cut themselves, they engage in destructive behaviour, they tell lies that everyone know are lies – they get dumb. And on a personal level: you know you didn’t fall for that temptation because you were having a good day and you were just totally out-manoeuvred. You know you were just dumb. The devil wasn’t smart, you were just super-dumb.

The devil’s trap is the TRAP he fell into! The trap of pride, and the trap of reproach: the defamation of others. Where 1 Tim. 3.7 says must have a good report of outsiders: it doesn’t mean the outsiders should be talking good about him, it means that an elder should never be critical of people. So the devil thought he was better than he was, and started defaming others. That is his condemnation and his trap. Not the ones he set, the ones he fell into! THIS PASSAGE IS NOT saying watch out for the big bad devil – it’s saying whenever you get given authority – don’t think you are all that, and really, really, really don’t start thinking others are not all that. That’s how the devil fell!

THIS IS SCRIPTURE NOW, not wild assumptions about musical instruments and so on!
PRIDE is a worldview that is solely centred on SELF. When you move into pride your paradigm is myopic: it’s like wearing a pair of sunglasses that blind you to seeing how important other people are. You can’t see what is going on. You can’t see what is important. You can’t see the worth of other people. The Bible says “Only by pride comes contention” (Proverbs 13.10, KJV).

Any situation of strife means someone is walking in pride. Any situation of strife = one or both walking in pride (if you think it’s just them, that’s a good indicator it’s you!) Stop walking in pride and walk in love = switch strife off!

NOW if the devil is FULL OF PRIDE = he is very blind! And PRIDE IS A DESTRUCTIVE FORCE – it doesn’t build anything! NOT PASSIVE! PRIDE centres around you so anything not centred around you – you have to attack. A pride man’s identity is them and their achievements – threaten that and you rip them apart. Prideful people are insecure people. The devil is insecure! Insecure people can’t bear to be wrong, have to always look perfect. If you question them about anything, they will lash out. Psalm 36.11 says “save me from the foot of pride” – pride always leads to violence!

The full verse of Proverbs 13.10 reads: “Only by pride comes contention, but with the well-advised is wisdom”. There are two kinds of people in the world: the proud and the well-advised. The proud say “I can do it all by myself”, the well-advised say “help me, I can’t do it, I need wisdom”. The proud say “I’ll just skip church this morning, I need some me time anyway”, the well-advised say “I need to hear a message. I need to hear another person preach the Word. I need to get to Living Church and learn and get advise from others. I need to be well-advised”. Those are the people who get wisdom!

YOUR PROBLEM ISN’T THE DEVILS master trap = it’s falling into the devil’s trap by a paradigm that says the world revolves around you, that you don’t need advice, that you don’t need support. Remember you need advice!

LIE#6: satan is closer to God than you

YOU ARE A SON OF GOD – satan is an out of work servant! According to Hebrews 1.14 satan was just a servant! We are royalty – satan is an unemployed butler. We are seated in heavenly places with Christ. We are not even in the victory, but we are in the triumph which is the victory celebration!

LIE #7: satan tried to attack God directly!

Even satan is not that dumb. This brings us back to the original question: when did satan fall? We know his fall was caused by pride. We also know from Genesis 1.31 that when Adam was made everything God had made was good! That means everything – you couldn’t have God saying everything was good if the devil was roaming around. So the fall happened between Genesis 1.31 and Genesis 3. It happened after man was made.

You see pride cannot stand other people getting attention. And when man was made he got a lot of attention. Read Psalm 8.

Psalm 8.4 says “what is man that you are mindful of him?”, v.5 says “you made him a little lower than the angels”. That is a mistranslation – the word is Elohim which means God. Man was made a little lower than God! PRIDE hates people getting that kind of attention, and when the rest of the angels were rejoicing at Adam’s creation, Lucifer was getting jealous. Adam had fellowship with God, a whole realm to be in charge of, a beautiful wife – and worse than that seemed to be God’s favourite. So because Lucifer couldn’t have it all, he decided to destroy it. Ezekiel 28.12 is clear that Lucifer was in Eden. He never fell until he got to Eden – he was a ministering spirit to minister to humanity (Hebrews 1.14). He was Adam’s servant – a butler, a helper, a bodyguard. But he couldn’t hold the number 2 spot because arrogance never can. Satan can never be well-advised, never go to another for help. The well-advised love the number 2 spot as they are always learning, the proud hate it!

Ezekiel 28.17 says his heart was lifted up due to his beauty. He looked at himself and thought “I am covered in jewels, you are naked. I am a beautiful spirit being, you are made from mud.” It also says that his brightness or splendour corrupted his wisdom. He thought “I am so awesome, how can I possibly be a servant?”

Whenever your thoughts are “I am exempt from the rules because I am so amazing” you are about to fall into the same trap as the devil. It comes in different forms “I am too gifted to make teas”, “I am too talented to teach the children”, “I’ve been to Bible School, I don’t usher anymore”. The devil didn’t attack God – he is not the accuser of God, he is the accuser of the brethren. He attacked Adam.

Lucifer could have been the number 1 servant of humanity. Every human in all of history would have thanked Lucifer for keeping Adam safe and keeping the world pure. He would have been the stuff of legend, but he attacked Adam and Eve instead. Next week we will look at how exactly he did that, but let’s end this week’s study on a high note:

Ephesians 4.8 tells us that Jesus took CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE. If captivity has been taken captive then there is no way the devil can take us captive again because captivity has been taken captive. The devil has no way to capture you anymore! He has nothing on you!
The war is over. Jesus once and for all beat satan! And right now it is triumph time. Let’s celebrate the victory with our declaration and let’s say together right now:

I WILL NEVER FEAR THE DEVIL AGAIN

THE WAR IS OVER

I AM AT THE TRIUMPH PARTY

NO MORE FEAR!

The Grace Message of the Bible

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The grace message in the Bible produced strong local churches, with pastor-appointed elders, it produced a stream of healings and miracles and people added to the churches.

It produced people who could and did live in community with one another. It produced people who had a hope, and who were going into all the world making disciples, devoted to the apostle’s teaching and to fellowship. It produced people who feared the Lord and were comforted by the Holy Spirit.
It produced people who repented, believed the good news, were baptized in water and filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues and flowing in the gifts.

It produced people who were added to the church.

If the grace message you are preaching leads to a couple of people having a pint in the pub and calling it church, leads you to leaving every church in town because none of them are good enough for you, separates you from the people you are supposed to be serving, produces no miracles, and doesn’t lead to your being devoted to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, doesn’t lead to you seeing people baptized and speaking in tongues and added to the church… you have to seriously consider whether you are preaching it right and believing it right.

5 Reasons You Can Trust God for Complete Healing

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5. If everyone of the Israelites was healed because of the blood of the Passover lamb (Psalm 105.37) which is a type of Jesus Christ, then how much more do you think every Christian can receive healing freely from Jesus Christ, the true Passover (1 Cor. 5.7)

4. If everyone was healed who looked at the bronze serpent Moses made (Numbers 21) which was a type of Christ (John 3.16-18), then how much more do you think every Christian can receive healing just by looking at Jesus Christ crucified!

3. If God turned the captivity of Job (Job 42.10-17) and healed his body (therefore calling sickness captivity, and healing freedom) even though he had no covenant or basis for that healing, then how much more do you think God turns our captivity today when we have the New Covenant that promises freedom from captivity, and Jesus who set captives free.

2. If David sacrificed a lamb and offered a fellowship offering to the Lord and it stopped a plague completely forever (2 Samuel 24:10-25) and that lamb was just a type and picture of Christ, then how much more do you think God will stop every single plague completely forever in our life due to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1.29) and restores us to fellowship with God?

1. If in the Old, inferior covenant God said “I will take sickness away from the midst of thee” (Exodus 23.25) then how much more do you think that the new, better, superior New Covenant in the blood of Jesus, not the blood of bull’s and goat’s, will take all sickness from the midst of Christians today.

If you want to hear some messages on healing that will inspire your faith, why not visit: http://www.treeoflifewatford.com/14-26.html

10 Reasons to Go To Church This Sunday (and every Sunday!)

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10.  Because in church you are equipped to do the works of ministry!  God wants you doing works of ministry – preaching the gospel, teaching the kingdom and healing the sick; and church is where He wants to teach and train you how to do that.

9. Because the church is a body and a body needs all its parts to relate to one another.

8. Because you need to set an example to your family that they need to develop a habit of regularly going to church.  We have had in-laws and outlaws and all sorts visit, and they would say “don’t go to church this Sunday, let the children spend time with us”.  We have never done that because we have trained and set an example to our children that church is vital to their Christian discipleship.

7. Because you need a storehouse to give to financially and invest in.

6. Because there is nothing like worshipping God with the people of God!

5. Because all those people you are witnessing to and winning to the Lord need somewhere to feed them and love them and nurture them.

4. Because you need a place where you can be consistent and stable.  Conferences are an awesome buzz, special services can do some good, Bible Colleges can get you a jump start in the Christian faith and life, but you will never have a consistent life of victory without being plugged into a church

3. Because God uses people to sharpen you like iron sharpens iron.  As you encounter people in the church – people with different views, different backgrounds, different experiences to yourself it sharpens you and makes you a more effective person.

2. Because if you get sick, fall out with your wife, lose your job, go through tough times – the TV evangelist won’t turn up at your house at 2am and pray with you and minister life to you.  Elders and the pastors will.

1, Because Jesus Christ said “I will build my church” and if you ever want to spend your life building with Jesus and not your own kingdom and own empire, you have to be involved in church. That’s not meeting a couple of guys down the pub and calling it church, it’s where there there is a genuine pastor, called of God, appointing elders and equipping the saints.  That’s church.  And Jesus is building it – so let’s get with His programme rather than trying to write our own.

God Wants You to Overflow with Prosperity!

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http://www.kcm.org/real-help/article/eight-steps-destination-prosperity-overflow

Difficult Verses: John 14.28 and John 10.30

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Today, I am going to look at a couple of verses which at face value seem to contradict each other.  As we unravel the contradiction we are going to find out one of the most powerful truths about the nature of God, and about how we relate to each other in community and society.

You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14.28)  

 

I and the Father are one. (John 10.30)

 

You can see that at first glance that these verses are contradictory – is Jesus the Word who was God and is God become flesh, fully equal to God, the second person of the Trinity or is He inferior to the Father?  The Jehovah’s Witnesses rely on John 14.28 to defend their belief that Jesus is merely a god, and not God – because, according to them, if the Father is greater than Him He cannot be as great as the Father.

The reason these verses seem initially confusing is because we fail to see that there are two ways of determining the worth of a person.  The first is called ontological and the second is called teleological.  You have ontological worth and teleological worth.  So does everyone and everything.  Ontological worth is the intrinsic worth of a person or item: a gold ring has ontological value because it is made of gold, money has very little ontological worth because it is made of paper.  Ontological worth is based on the skill of the manufacturer and the value of the materials used.  As a human being you are designed by God and He made you by breathing His Spirit inside you.  That means ontologically you have amazing, awesome value.  

Teleological worth is the worth an item or person has based on what they could do.  Money has very little ontological value, but has a high teleological value because it can be used to buy a whole host of things.  Depending on the situation, teleological value can change.  On a desert island, money has very little teleological value, but water would have a much higher teleological value.

Now when it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity.  we need to realize that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the three persons of the Godhead are ontologically equal in value.  The Father is worth the same as the Son is worth the same as the Spirit.  That makes sense of the Scriptures that say that Jesus is God, that the Father and Son are one.  That is why we worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  They are all equal in value – the value of the perfect, holy God.  

However, when it comes to teleological value, the Son made a free choice to become human and dwell among us.  By becoming human, He made the decision to submit His will to the will of the Father.  That’s why Jesus said “I can only do what I see the Father doing”.  Jesus took the teleological role of the submitted human to ensure the mission of the Trinity could be completed and humanity redeemed.

So on an ontological, intrinsic level Jesus is worth the same as the Father – they are equal in holiness, glory, weight and awesomeness.  They are one.  But on a teleological, functional level they are different: the Father is greater than the Son.

Not only is that helping you understand the differing Scriptures, it helps you form healthy relationships.  For example, I set my son’s bedtime, he doesn’t set mine.  But on an ontological level, he is as precious as I am.  Functionally however, I pay the bills, I am the dad, and I am the boss.  On that level, I am greater than him.  But as I function as the father, I must never forget that that does not make me intrinsically more valuable.

Whenever you are in a position of authority over someone – employer, dad, husband, pastor, policeman – realize that your authority is only teleological.  You are not better than that person, you are in a position of authority to love and to serve and to lead someone who is of equal worth to you.  

Whenever someone is in a position of authority over you, realize that they are not better than you, they are of the same ontological worth as you.  When you realize that and are secure in that it’s easy to say “My Father is greater than I”.  It’s easy to submit to your husband, it’s easy to honour and obey your parents, it’s easy to obey and submit to your pastors.  People who find saying someone is greater than them teleologically generally don’t know what they are worth – they can claim to know they are righteous but their inability to humble themselves proves they don’t.  When, like Jesus, you know you are the son of God and have intrinsic worth, you don’t need to prove it by jumping off a temple, insisting your whole church goes the way you want, and that your mum and dad start valuing you around here by letting you do x, y and z.

 

 

The Breastplate of Righteousness

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Now, in terms of identity – and this is the year of identity – the bottom line is this: you must identify yourself as a righteous person.  If you are born again, you are righteous and you have to see yourself as righteous.  If you believe in Christ and His complete work, then right now you are approved by God, you are right with God, you are accepted by God.  You have free access to God’s favour, God treats you as if you are perfect, He answers your prayers like you have never messed up, He loves you like you never strayed, and He favours you like you always get it right.  There is no waiting for righteousness, there is no working for righteousness – you are right now righteous! 

Romans 3.21 says that a righteousness without the law has now been revealed – this is the great thing that Christ did on the cross – He made you righteous without you having to behave righteous.  You didn’t get it right, but you are right.  That’s good news!  But for some reason Christians struggle to accept this.  We often struggle in the same way as the Galatian church.

Read Galatians 3.1-5.  In Galatians, Paul is telling the church in Galatia that he painted a picture of Christ crucified for them.  He showed them that Christ died on the cross for their sins and all they had to do was believe and receive salvation.  But religion got in the way, and religion tried to add to the simple truth of believing in what Christ has done and added all sorts of works to it.

In Numbers 21.4-9, the people are being attacked by poisonous snakes because of their constant grumbling and complaining.  People are dying horribly due to snake bites, and they come to Moses and ask him to pray.  When Moses prays, God tells him to make a brass snake and put it on a stick.  Anyone who looked at the serpent on the stick was healed and the poison was neutralized, anyone who looked in a different direction died.  Now if you were in that situation, and you knew friends who looked at the serpent and lived and friends who didn’t and died you would go and look at the serpent Moses made.  It’s a no-brainer!  Now, if someone was obstructing your view of the serpent, knowing it would save your life, you would absolutely get them out of the way.

Read John 3.14.  Jesus is saying that He is the real serpent on the stick.  That what Moses did was just a picture of Jesus.  You see on the cross (the stick) Jesus became sin with our sin (2 Cor. 5.21) and became the serpent on a stick.  All we have to do is look at Jesus and realize that He became sin with our sin and that we are the righteousness of God in Him, and all the poison of sin in our life is neutralized by God as we gaze at Him.  It’s that simple.  Becoming a Christian is that simple, and living the Christian life is that simple.

The problem is that many people try to add to the Christian life.  Like the false teachers in Galatia who tried to tell people that to be filled with the Spirit and move in the gifts of the Spirit you had to meet a certain standard of holiness.  Jesus warns us against people who add to the simple gospel as well in Matthew 7.

Read Matthew 7.13-14.  There is a narrow road and a broad road.  I have heard people say the narrow road is when you are really living for God and really doing the things of God, and the broad road is when you go off and live for yourself – in other words, if you don’t live right all the time, you fall off the path and end up in hell.  That’s not what Jesus is saying: He is saying that there is only one place to look if you want the poison neutralized and that’s Jesus.  Just Jesus is your salvation, your healing, your victory and joy.  Just look to Him!  Now – if you add to just Jesus then you make the path broader because you are adding stuff to it – normally rules about how we dress, how we give, how we love, how we are.

Read Matthew 7.15.  After telling us about the narrow path, Jesus tells us to beware of false prophets.  There are always people who are trying to get you to add things to the work of Christ – add your effort and give you laws to obey.   Just like in Galatia, so it is today.  Jesus calls these people false prophets.  People who tell you that you have to obey certain rules to be right with God or have favour with God are false prophets, no matter if they are on Christian TV or seem lovely!  They come in sheep’s clothing – they go to church and look like you, and praise God like you, then they tell you that we haven’t got the full message and you need to add a bit of this or that – rules that take you away from looking to the complete work of Christ.

Read Matthew 7.16-20.  It’s all about fruit!  All false teaching has the following thing in common: they separate the tree from the fruit.  Let’s explain: an apple tree just produces apples – that’s natural for the apple tree.  Pear trees make pears and cherry trees make cherries.  According to Isaiah 61.3, you are a tree of righteousness.  You naturally produce righteousness as a Christian. 

A tree just produces fruit – you cannot sellotape fruit to a piece of wood and call it an apple tree.  Yet that is what we often do with people forcing them to do certain things to be a Christian.  Just get them planted in the Word and they will eventually produce fruit naturally.  Just keep feeding a Christian their identity in Christ and they will eventually bear fruit.

Most of our problems as Christians, and most of our sin is caused by not knowing who we are: not grasping that Christ has made us righteous once and for all.  All gossip is a lack of understanding righteousness – you run down others because you are not confident in who you are.   But you feed on your righteous identity, you study and meditate on the Scriptures you start to become confident in yourself and don’t need to snuff out someone else’s candle to believe that yours is burning bright.  Christians who don’t know their righteousness will never have healthy relationships because everything becomes a game to see who has kept the law the most.   Get off that path – it doesn’t work, and start to rest in your Christ-righteousness.

Read Matthew 7.21.  Jesus said that you will enter heaven by doing His will.  There are two ways we can do His will.  Either keep the law perfectly (and I think we have established that is not going to work) or believe the gospel!  When you believe the gospel you are made righteous (Romans 5.1) and you are right with God.  Lots of people say Jesus is Lord but they have never believed that He sent His Son to make them righteous.  You have to believe that it’s about Jesus and His work. 

Read Matthew 7.22-23.  Never think you are going to heaven because you have worked a miracle or done a good work.  You are going to heaven because Jesus Christ became sin with your sin so you could be the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5.21).  Not only that you can receive healing, receive prosperity, receive joy, receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit not because of your works but because of the work of Christ on the cross.  That’s good news!

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