One of the greatest dangers for grace Christians is the danger of natural Christianity.
The leaders of the grace movement across the world are some of the greatest Bible teachers who have ever lived, and we have never had access to so much good teaching. Some days I can listen to hours of teaching and be fed so well. No generation of Christians has access to the amount of teaching we do, and it is awesome.
But it is also dangerous. And I want all of you, especially the elders and pastors reading this, to know there is a real danger. I have fallen into the trap, and so has Tree of Life as a whole from time to time. You see when your leaders are teachers, you emphasise the Word of God. And we have to, there is a reason that the first four words of our church’s cultural maxims are “Full of the Word”, through the Word of God we learn how to have a personal walk with God, we learn about the importance and power of the Word, and the integrity of God as He keeps every promise in the Word.
The Word is vital, and it is great the teachers we have, but some of us have listened to the words of the teachers, and got great teaching, not great life! That leaves us with a form of doctrine, and not the power of God. It’s not the teachers’ fault – they are doing what God has called them to do, but it is us – we are not plugging into serving, and local church, and discipleship – we just plug into teaching, as if great doctrine makes great Christians. It’s part of it, but only part.
The foundation of the Word is vital, and I want to lay that foundation in every heart in the Tree. I want every Christian that comes into my sphere of influence to be solid and founded on the Word of God. I do not agree with, do not want, and will not flow with anything that is not in the Word of God. I am nothing but grateful to God for the foundation that has kept me right on track, even to today.
But I am not a teacher of the Word, though I often operate in that realm. I am first and foremost a pastor of a local church, though my secondary role is the apostolic founder of a network of churches. Within that function as a pastor, I have to be supernatural and flow with the Spirit. The foundation of the Word has to be a springboard into the supernatural flow of the Spirit.
You have to learn about the dimension of the supernatural. You don’t have an option, in fact if you take all the supernatural out of the Bible you end up with a very small book indeed.
Right now there is a divide in the charismatic church – those who build the foundation of the Word and those who flow in the Spirit. The problem is you need to do both – you need to dig down on the foundation of the Word and see that the Word is supernatural and let the supernatural power of the Word lead you to flow with the Spirit.
It amazes me still that there are people who are committed Christians who do not believe in miracles – it’s like I don’t know what Bible they are reading! Do not let anyone take you away from the power of the Spirit.
The greatest thing that will keep you from flowing in the Spirit is not demons, it’s not witchcraft, it’s not the devil. It’s being so planned, so natural, so used to doing things without the flow of God that it doesn’t matter:
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2.14)
This is the Word of God and it is true: the natural man cannot flow with the Spirit because the flow of the Spirit looks stupid to him. To be natural means to think like a normal human being. It means to limit yourself to what you can see and feel. It means to be logical, normal, analytical. That attitude is absolutely something that cuts us off from the flow of the Spirit. You need to realize this.
Speaking in tongues is not logical, it’s not normal, it’s not analytical. As long as you think like a normal human, you will never speak in tongues. You will never prophesy, you will never pull someone from a wheelchair.
It’s only a small small step from logical and analytical to judgemental! In the natural mind you cannot flow with the Spirit!
You have to learn how to flow with the Spirit of God. You have to learn to see with your spiritual eyes, hear with your spiritual ears, and feel with your heart. The supernatural is not normally dramatic or spectacular. It’s subtle, you hear it, you see it on the inside, and you step out in faith.
To do this, you have to be able to reject natural thinking, and the data from your natural eyes or ears.
Many years ago I was asked to preach in a church I knew well. I got the train there, and started to walk to the church. But I just had the inclination to walk the other way, so I followed the inclination. It wasn’t a deep sense, just a slight feeling, but I have learned to listen to that. So I started walking away from the church. My natural mind was saying “no, go to the church, be on time, be reliable” – it was using logic to determine my path, but I was following the Spirit’s path. I had to ignore my mind to follow the Spirit.
After walking so far, that I could not make it to the church on time, I saw a car showroom. I felt led of the Spirit to go in – again, no flashing lights or burning fires – just a sense. I could have easily ignored it. I went in and I saw an old friend of mine, who I used to go to church with. They asked me what I was doing and I told them about everything that had happened to that point. They said they weren’t walking with God any more, but would be happy to drive me to church so I made my meeting. They drove me, came to the meeting and rededicated their life to God.
I could have listened to my mind. I would have got to church and taught a great message. But there is another path, a higher path, for you to walk down. It can easily be ignored. Samuel thought the voice of God was Eli. I could have thought it was just pizza. But I am glad I flowed with the Spirit that day.
You have to learn how to flow with the Spirit. Next week we will do some teaching on this in the realm of healing. Get ready!