The Tree of Life (part 1): Zoe-Life

#3.1 of Living with Christ as our SOURCE

*** This article is part of a blog series about what it means to live with Christ as our source. You can check out the Introduction to the series here. ***

In section two, “in the beginning,” we observed a few things and asked many questions. Here is a summary of the main points we looked at:

  1. Childlike dependence on God: God made man to be dependent on something other than himself; an external source. And in the beginning man lived by the Word of God alone. He did only as God instructed him. He was living blissfully in pure untainted relationship with God as his all sufficient source for life.
  2. Curiosity killed humanity: But then, he was lured away from being connected to God as his only source by the craftiness of a different source, satan. His curiosity drove him to “listen” to the word of satan and consider what he had to say above what God had said.
  3. Taking Dominion, or Not…: This however, was confusing because God had explicitly instructed man to take dominion over the the creeping things (His enemy). So why didn’t he? Why did he just receive from the serpent instead of exercising God’s authority over him?

The answer: He COULDN’T!

For he did not yet possess the “Life of God.” 

In the beginning, God told man that he can eat from the fruit of any tree in the garden accept from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He also mentions the Tree of Life in the midst (center) of the garden. Even though he never specifically tells them to eat from the Tree of Life, it is assumed because it is in the garden and therefore falls in the category – “any tree in the garden.”

Now, to help us understand what exactly the Tree of Life is and why Genesis specifically mentions it, I will paraphrase an explanation that Watchmen Nee gives in a book he wrote called “The Spiritual Man.” He explains:

Some Bible scholars point out to us that three different words are employed in the Greek to designate “life”: (1) bios (2) psuche, and (3) zoe. They all describe life but convey very different meanings. Bios has reference to the means of life or living. People use this term to refer to “making a living,” or “earning a living.” Our Lord Jesus used this word when He commended the woman who cast into the temple treasury her whole living. Psuche refers to the animated life of man, his natural life or the life of the soul. The Bible employs this term when it describes the human lifeZoe is the highest life (or God’s life), the life of the Spirit. Whenever the Bible speaks of Eternal Life it uses this word.

Our English Bibles do not differentiate between the different types of “life” as does the Greek. And so the Tree of Life is not just the Tree of Normal-Life (or psuche life) as we know it, which is to live and breathe and walk and talk. No, it is the Tree of Zoe-Life. Which is God’s uncreated and eternal life. Or as Watchmen Nee calls it: the highest life.

From this we can gather something truly miraculous: God placed in the center of the Garden a tree that would bare fruit with His very life in it. A tree that would give those who ate of its fruit God’s own uncreated Zoe-Life. Isn’t that completely out of this world!

God wanted to impart His life into man. And so He provided this for him in a means that was accessible to him. In the form of Fruit. Man would essentially live and grow by God’s life in the same way we we live and grow today: by Eating.

Let me tell you, since receiving this revelation, I have been seeing things a whole lot differently. It has really changed the way I look at life, the bible, and my spiritual walk with Christ. And I would like to share it with all of you. So I would like to make available an audio message that brings this revelation to life in an awesome way.

It is one of the first and fundamental lessons Frank Viola teaches every one of the churches he plants or works with. He sees it as one of the most integral elements in being a church that lives by the Indwelling Life of Christ together. It will rock your world and revolutionise the way you understand your purpose and God’s initial and ultimate desire in creating you, as well as give you a few glimpses of how you can begin to live out that eternal purpose practically. It really is going to blow your socks off!

You can listen to it online or download it by clicking on the “download” button and then right clicking and selecting “save link as” on the next page. Also, check out a few comments of people that have listened to it before by scrolling down (they are very encouraging). Go to the message now by clicking here. Enjoy!

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You have just finished reading article number 3.1 of Living with Christ as our SOURCE – The Tree of Life (part 1): Zoe-Life  If you wish to leave a comment, please click on the Comment link below. Also, if you have enjoyed it, please consider sharing it by clicking on the relevant links below the post on the blog. And if you missed last weeks post, click on the link just above the comment box to check it out. Glad to have you aboard!

In the beginning… (part 3): Taking Dominion, or Not…

#2.3 of Living with Christ as our Source

*** This article is part of a blog series about what it means to live with Christ as our source. You can check out the Introduction to the series by clicking here. ***

Over the last two weeks we have looked briefly at the events leading up to humanity choosing to live from a source other than God. We saw that in the beginning man did not know the difference between right and wrong, only the difference between what God had “said” and “not said.” It was a simple childlike lifestyle that flowed directly from God Himself. We also saw that man has been built not as a self-sustaining being, but rather as a “conduit”, built to live (not independently) but in dependence on an external source. Effectively, Man was designed to live by God’s divine life and so express His nature and character (bear His Image), while at the same time, represent His authority and rule (take dominion).

Now, to understand the significance of this, there is some additional information needed that is not completely plain in the Genesis text. And it has to do with Man’s purpose as expressed in Genesis 1. I will borrow the explanation of this from Milt Rodriguez, an extra-local worker (church planter) that I respect very much. He wrote a blog post called Some thoughts on the Purpose, in which he clearly emphasises a very important part of man’s purpose on the earth.

Dominion

The second part of the Purpose was for man to have dominion over the earth.  This has to do with God’s enemy, satan.  The reason we know this is that the scripture specifically mentions “the creeping things” at the end of verse 26.  And we see in chapter 3 that the enemy comes to Eve as a serpent.  So, man is to have authority (dominion) over all the earth and especially the creeping things.

So we can say that God created man for two reasons; to express and represent.  The image speaks of His expression.  The dominion speaks of His representation.  God wanted man to express His nature and character.  And He also wanted man to represent His authority on the earth, especially over the creeping things (God’s enemy).

In the light of this, can you see the significance of the Woman’s actions? At a time when she is supposed to be “taking authority” over the serpent (a creeping thing), she is having a conversation with it. And not just a conversation, but actually asking it questions and considering what it has to say. That does not seem like “taking Dominion” to me. [We see Jesus treating demons (creeping things) a lot differently. In fact, he never even gave them a chance to speak…(Luke 4:35)]

In this we come to a paradox. Why did the Woman act so unwisely and immaturely in a moment when she should have taken authority? Why did she not take dominion over the creeping thing, God’s enemy, the very thing she had been made to do?

Well, over the last while I have been doing some research on this topic. And I have found some awesome material explaining the whole situation.

  1. The one, is a spoken message by Frank Viola, an extra-local worker (church planter) I have come to love and respect very much over the last year (also a co-worker of Milt Rodriquez).  I will be making it available for download soon…
  2. And the other is a book called The Tree of Life, which is a collection of spoken messages given by a man called Witness Lee (a co-worker of Watchmen Nee). I will be doing an in-depth review on this book in the near future. So be sure to keep an eye out for it.

Taking dominion is something that God designed man to do. But not with his own human authority, but with God’s divine authority. To rule with God’s power over all the creatures of the earth and so represent God as Ruler, King, and Sovereign over everything.

We see this with ambassadors. A South African ambassador living in America carries with him the authority of the South African government and constitution. He has the authority to sign on South Africa’s behalf in all matters of state relating to her. He himself does not have that authority, but he has been chosen as a “vessel” to carry that authority. The authority itself resides in South Africa in the constitutional court and government office, not with him. He is just a “conduit” of that authority in another land.

And it is the same with divine authority, as can be seen in Genesis. Man has no natural authority of his own, hence the ease with which the serpent tricked the Woman. Man must get his “power” and “authority” from somewhere other than himself. And there are only two sources. God, expressed as the Tree of Life, and satan, expressed as the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

From the one comes divine authority that empowers man to take dominion and be an ambassador for God. From the other comes satanic authority that empowers man to “do his own thing” (sin), and be an ambassador for satan (doing ones own thing and yielding to ones own will – the very thing satan was the first to do).

It would be good for us to consider from where we source our authority to think, act, and live every day. Because that will ultimately determine whom we are being an ambassador for and if we are taking dominion, or not…

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You have just finished reading article number 2.3 Living with Christ as our SOURCEIn the beginning… (part 3): Taking Dominion, or Not…  If you wish to leave a comment, please click on the Comment link below. Also, if you have enjoyed it, please consider sharing it by clicking on the relevant links below the post on the blog. And if you missed last weeks post, click on the link just above the comment box below to check it out. Glad to have you aboard!

In the beginning… (part 2): Curiosity killed humanity!

#2.2 of Living with Christ as our Source

*** This article is part of a blog series about what it means to live with Christ as our source. You can check out the Introduction to the series by clicking here. ***

Last week, we saw that in the beginning, Adam and his Wife only knew to live from what God taught and instructed. They were like children depending wholeheartedly on their Father. They did not claim to know “right” from “wrong”, but only knew what God had “said” versus what God had “not said.” In this we see a glimpse of what it means to live from Christ as our Source. It is a shift from trying to live from a place of human understanding to a place where we live by the Word of God. Something that both Adam and his wife were doing quite successfully, until the Woman got into a conversation with the serpent.

As naive as children are, so also was the Woman. Her first mistake was to converse with the serpent. We see this many times in stories of children being upducted. The predators begin “talking” to them and in so doing, lure them away with all kinds of lies. Hence the very famous instruction to all children: “Don’t talk to strangers!” The Woman unfortunately had not gotten this memo, and ended up getting into a seemingly “harmless” converstaion that would ultimately doom the world forever.

Her first mistake and essentially the one that lead to her sin and their fall was “listening” to a different source. Conversing and discussing the ways of life and rules for living with someone other than her creator. She knew what the Lord had said, we see that in the passage in Genesis 3, but she chose to “entertain” the musings and thoughts of someone else other than God. In that moment, she let go of her union with God to “discover” what this serpent might know.

We see this in stories of adultery. Initially, it does not start out as adultery, or even desire, but simply as “curiosity“. The man for example refrains from holding onto the union in His heart with His wife, and kind of, “lets go” of the side railing to put his toes into the water to see what it feels like. To “test” it. He says to himself, “I just want to see what it feels like. It can’t hurt. I’m not doing anything wrong. Besides, I can handle it. I’m not going to stray too far from the edge.” And then we all know what happens. Curiosity turns into a game, and the game turns into desire, and desire turns into… , well you know the story. And soon the man is fully submerged in the waters of adultery, that are flowing harder and stronger down river to his doom.

And it was exactly the same for the Woman. She was “curious.” And her curiosity lead her down a path that we have never fully recovered from.

Now there is nothing wrong with curiosity, in its right place. Just like a child comes running to her dad with something weird in her hand saying “daddy, daddy what is this?”, so too the Woman could have done the same. She could have firstly involved her husband, and then they could have both gone to God and told him what the serpent had said asking “Lord, Lord, what is this that the serpent has said? Is it true?”

But she didn’t. And after she had eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, so did Adam. Without question. He just naively listened to the same nonsense the serpent had told his wife. In that moment, He let go of God as His source, and chose to receive information for life from the serpent via his wife. He too was “curious” of this power that He could have by eating of this tree. And it ended up in tragedy for us all.

And in this my dear brothers and sisters we see a fundamental lesson of living with Christ as our Source. We need to be completely united to Him and Him ALONE. There is no place to be connected to Him and to something else. That something else, will ultimately pull us down and away from God.  We must not even entertain looking at or engaging with anything else other than Christ. Even if that something resembles Christ in some way. If it is not Christ, it is satan. Simple. Just like there were only two sources back then, there are still only two sources today. Christ, accessed by dying to self, and satan, accessed by building up the self.

Lord Jesus Christ. I ask that you will show us what it means to be connected to you completely. What it means to live with you as our only source. Show us the counterfeits in our lives and give us the courage to disconnect from them so that we can be fully reconnected to you and you alone. We want to live out our purpose in spirit and in complete truth.

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You have just finished reading article number 2.2 of Living with Christ as our SOURCEIn the beginning… (part 2): Curiosity killed humanity!  If you wish to leave a comment, please click on the Comment link below. Also, if you have enjoyed it, please consider sharing it by clicking on the relevant links below the post on the blog. And if you missed last weeks post, click on the link just above the comment box to check it out. Glad to have you aboard!

In the beginning… (part 1): Childlike dependence on God

#2.1 of Living with Christ as our Source

*** This article is part of a blog series about what it means to live with Christ as our source. You can check out the Introduction to the series by clicking here. ***

It would only be appropriate to start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). 😉

Man and Woman have been created and placed in the garden together. God has created the heavens and the earth, the fish of the sea, the creatures of the land, and the birds of the sky. He has also created plants and vegetation on the earth designed to produce fruit for food. Additionally, he has placed two very special and unique trees in the garden. The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God has told them that they can eat the fruit of any tree in the garden accept the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

This first account of God and man is very significant. It was the beginning. The first time we see a glimpse of untainted relationship between God and man. And there are definite characteristics to it. God is the creator and man is the created. God is the one giving man everything he needs for life, and man is the one learning what that means. He is like a little child in many ways. Looking to a Father for his every move. Needing His Father to show him how to brush his teeth, eat his food, and wipe his….mouth. He really is completely dependent. And that is exactly what we see in the initial relationship between God and man.

But then, sadly, everything changes. Man decides to live from a different source. Man decides to depend on someone else….

I have heard it many times said that in the beginning, man went his own way and that is what caused the fall. In some ways that is true. But it is not the whole picture. Man is like a child. He does not actually know how to “do his own thing” so to speak. He has been designed to live from a source. This is represented in all of life. Children need parents. The body needs food. The mind needs education. All external things giving us what we need to live and grow.  If you think carefully about your life and all the aspects of it, you will realise that nothing in fact comes from yourself. Everything is taken in from the outside, processed, and then released. Nothing actually originates from within you. Everything comes from an outside source. (More on this in future posts)

And in the beginning, we see two distinct sources. God, and Satan. Man is given instructions from God. Instructions by which to live and grow. He is told what to eat, and what not to eat. He is told what to do with his time and what his relationship should be with his wife. He is given everything he needs for life from God, his all sufficient source. But then, something new is introduced into the story… A new and different source. Let us take a look at it together:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said,‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”  But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Genesis 3: 1-7

Now, if you look at this closely, you will see that the Woman’s initial mistake was not eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. That only came later. In fact, it was deciding to listen to a different source: the serpent. Up until that point, both Adam and his Wife had relied completely on God for their “knowledge” of what to do and what not to do. In fact, you can see it in the Woman’s answer: “but God said,…” She does not claim to know what is right and wrong, she is simply telling the serpent what God had told them concerning what they were and were not allowed to do. In this you can see a complete reliance on what God had spoken. Not a knowledge of right and wrong, but a simple lifestyle that flowed from a relationship with God. His instructions, his ways, his words motivating their every move. Not their own thoughts, or their own ways, or their own understanding. Simply, God’s!

And in this we see a glimpse of what pure, untainted relationship was like with God. It was humble, almost childlike in nature. Only knowing what God says and needing nothing more. Living effectively and blissfully by listening to Him and doing only as He instructs. Essentially, living by the Word of God.

But then, something went terribly wrong…

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You have just finished reading article number 2.1 of Living with Christ as our SOURCEIn the beginning… (part 1): Childlike dependence on God  If you wish to leave a comment, please click on the Comment link below. Also, if you have enjoyed it, please consider sharing it by clicking on the relevant links below the post on the blog. And if you missed last weeks post, click on the link just above the comment box to check it out. Glad to have you aboard!

Living with Christ as our SOURCE – Introduction

#1 of Living with Christ as our Source

Living with Christ as our SOURCE

What does that actually mean?

It sounds really good and right, but what does it mean for you and me?

These and a few others, are questions I have started asking myself over the last while. It is something I have written on briefly in my recent testimony as the Lord began revealing this reality to me. However, I believe that much more could be said about it.

This post is somewhat of an introduction to a series on this topic. As we go along, I will look at scripture, do a few book reviews,  share links to other resources on the net, and hopefully also do a few out-of-the-box creative posts to spice things up and make it interesting. I hope to create something of a conversation that will lead us further into a life of living with Christ as our SOURCE.

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God has designed us to live by a source. To draw strength and energy from something other than ourselves. Initially, He did this so that we could live by His life. So that we could draw our life from Him and so display His image and person. But not too long after we made our début on this planet, we chose to go down our own path, and in so doing, gave up living with God as our source for something else. And we have been doing it ever since!

In a society filled with all sorts of things to do, be, and consume, we truly are are surrounded by a myriad of “source-like” possibilities. How do we choose Christ a-midst all these other “gods?” How do we connect to a source that in many ways, we have never really lived by?

Many of us know the theory. “Abide in Christ!” “Have no other God but Me.” “I am the way the truth and the life.” But do we truly practice it? Can we truly say that we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God?

Ultimately, this is what we were made for. We were designed to live with God as our Source. And always and forever we will desire it. Always and forever, our beings will not be satisfied with anything less.

I don’t know about you, but I desire this. I desire to live the life that I was designed to live. To be the the person that I was made to be. I want to live in truth. And I am not satisfied with just understanding it mentally. I want to know it with all of who I am. I want to practice it and live in a revelation of it. I want Christ. His Life. His Love. His very Person.

May this be a journey of life. One that does not just give information, but actually inspires revelation.  May the God of Glory answer our prayers and lead us into all truth as we read and share and encourage one another. I pray that this journey will yield much fruit in all our lives. That it will help disconnect us from things, and connect us to Christ. So that we may be the people we were made to be. And live with eternity beating in our chests. With the God of Glory filling our beings with His life and light.

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You have just finished reading Living with Christ as our SOURCE – Introduction.  If you wish to leave a comment, please click on the Comment link below. Also, if you have enjoyed it, please consider sharing it by clicking on the relevant links below the post on the blog.

God’s Zeal for Us – The End

*** This article is part of a blog series by a Guest Author: Nic Thackwray. It is a journey into understanding better God’s Zeal for His House. You can check out the Introduction to the series here. ***

“And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:17-22

In John 2:19, while Jesus is clearing the temple, the Jews angrily question where His authority comes from to do such a thing and He effectively replies, “because I AM God’s temple!” The exact words are “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up… he was speaking about the temple of his body.” Jesus likens His own body to the physical temple. In fact, by His words, He revealed that in His mind He saw it as one and the same thing: the house of God. God dwelt in the temple and God dwelt in Him; they were collectively and individually the house of God. That is how we must think as believers – we are collectively (together) and individually (seperately) the house of God.

Being born again by the Spirit we are joined to Christ, we become “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5) and are placed by God Himself onto the cornerstone of Christ, and together with our brothers and sisters, “the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:21). God, the Great Architect, is building a house for Himself. He has chosen to use broken and rebellious people, you and I, whom he paid for with the broken body of His Son to wash us and make us a worthy fabric.

God is zealous for us, His house! Jesus is clearing out our lives! He is wielding a whip, driving out idolatry and half-heartedness, turning over the tables of legalism, unashamedly pouring out on the floor our love of money, driving out the fear of man and the love of self. He is shouting over us, “My Father’s house shall be called a house of prayer!” God is zealous for you! He is zealous for true, God-glorifying, face-to-face prayer in your life.

How would you feel if you came home one day to find someone living in your home and they had dumped all your belongings in the street. Thinking about it that way doesn’t make Jesus’ reaction seem so excessive any more. That’s the way God feels about you. You are His. He bought you. He dwells in you. He is not going to tolerate anything else in His home. You are His dwelling place for all eternity. And you are holy to Him, wholly His.

John Piper says: “Missions exist because worship doesn’t”. The reason we preach the gospel, is to create God glorifying prayer, to restore true worship of God, to bring man back into God’s presence, friendship with Him. There will be no mission in heaven…only prayer. The mission is not to get people to heaven or to get people saved, the mission is to get people worshipping. Because it is about God, not people. But we as His people get to be inhabited by God, and there is nothing more joyous, more satisfying, there is nothing else worth comparing. And He wants to inhabit us today!

Thank you for reading this series. My prayer for you is that you would fully discover your purpose as the temple of God, as a worshipper, as an intimate friend of God, inviting others into this awesome relationship with God by demonstrating His love in your world.

Jesus, thank You for your zeal for me. Your zeal to restore prayer in me consumed Your life on the cross. Come into my life. Drive out all in me that is taking your place. Make this house a house of prayer where You may dwell and receive glory and love for all eternity. And make me zealous for Your house.

God’s Zeal for His House – Our Purpose

*** This article is part of a blog series by a Guest AuthorNic Thackwray. It is a journey into understanding better God’s Zeal for His House. You can check out the Introduction to the series here. ***

The Garden of Eden: paradise, inhabited by God and man. God with man and woman…the way it is meant to be; friendship with God acted out every day of every week of every year for all eternity, worshiping and knowing our Father intimately and completely.

And they heard the sound
of the LORD God
walking in the garden
in the cool of the day.
Genesis 3:8a

What does the absolute presence of God sound like? Adam would not have stopped at hearing His presence. When God would walk in the Garden, Adam would first hear Him, then he would see. He would see God. He would see His face. Then he would smell His fragrance, he would feel God embrace him, he would feel the physical glory of God fill his body with energy and life and love and Adam’s heart would overflow with worship and adoration – and the heart of God would delight in Adam.

Prayer is not a means to an end. It is the end. Or rather it is our end, our greatest purpose. If we only pray in order to ask God to do something, or pray to fulfill our spiritual duty, or even pray because we believe it is good and God wants us to do it, then we are missing the point. It is prayer that God created us for. Not the prayer that we think of in our imperfect minds, not the prayer that most of us experience today, but unadulterated face-to-face prayer. And if Moses, who was under an inferior covenant experienced face-to-face prayer with God, then surely, surely it is accessible to us now through our perfect Sacrifice, through Jesus!

I am starting to see prayer as the very purpose of my existence, as the restored communion with God that was once enjoyed in the Garden, as any and every type of intentional communication both to and from the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. God is restoring what was lost in the fall: the garden, except now we will live with God in a house, and we are the house. Next week I will look at what being God’s house means for us.

Father, restore me to my original purpose, to intimate communion with You, to a life lived in Your presence, worshiping You and loving You, forever.

God’s Zeal for His House – Jesus’ Passion (Part II)

*** This article is part of a blog series by a Guest AuthorNic Thackwray. It is a journey into understanding better God’s Zeal for His House. You can check out the Introduction to the series here. ***

So this was God’s plan: a house of prayer for us (i.e. the untold joy of being God’s friends), a crucifix for Jesus. If I were Jesus, I would object at this point. But Jesus did not. Although out of His fear for God’s anger at our sin He pleaded for another way at the last moment (when the reality of the Father’s abandonment and fury began to set in), He did not delay in doing the Father’s will. It was His zeal for what He saw in the Father’s heart that would lead Him on. He saw in the Father’s heart a house of prayer, all the nations of the entire earth glorifying God, and it was this vision that consumed Him.

“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade”. His disciples remembered that it was written, Zeal for your house will consume me. And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.” (John 2:13-17, Italics added)

In Mark 11:17, in an different account of this same incident, it records Jesus saying (more likely shouting) while He passionately clears His Father’s temple , “Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations?’ But you have made it a den of robbers.” This is a direct quote from Isaiah 56, the passage that we started with a few weeks ago. Jesus got the Father’s mission. In fact He burned with passion and zeal for it.

Mark records in the passage: “And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him”. Jesus clearing the temple was the last straw. It was prophesied of Jesus that His zeal for His Father’s house would consume Him (Psalm 69:9*) and in a few days, the chief priests and scribes, driven by their jealousy, were crying out, “Crucify him!” And as Jesus hung on the cross, His body broken and His blood pouring out, the prophecy was fulfilled: Jesus was physically and spiritually consumed by His zeal for His Father’s house. Yes, the chief priests and scribes handed him over to Pilate because of their jealousy, but they did not take His life from Him…He gave it freely…to be our Door into the Father’s house.

Jesus, we want our lives to be consumed with zeal for You, for Your people, for Your plans! Thank You for Your zeal. May it be in our hearts.

*For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.

God’s Zeal for His House – Jesus’ Passion

*** This article is part of a blog series by a Guest AuthorNic Thackwray. It is a journey into understanding better God’s Zeal for His House. You can check out the Introduction to the series here. ***

For Jesus, establishing God’s house of prayer took drinking the cup of the wrath and fury of His Father against all our sin.

…when Christ came into the world, he said,
Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me…
Then I said, Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.
Hebrews 10:5,7

What was this will (desire) of God that Jesus had come to do? God’s will was for Jesus to take on flesh (and vulnerability) and then to freely and fully offer His flesh to be tortured and put to death in order to bring us into God’s company (presence), to restore friendship, to establish prayer.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, hours before Jesus would completely fulfill this desire of God for His life, He prayed: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” The idea of facing God’s fury against our sin head-on was a contemplation beyond belief for Jesus. But for the Father it must have been equally so: to knowingly pour on Jesus, His all-loving and perfectly innocent Son and the chief delight of His heart, the full extent of His anger and fury against all our pride, our lusts, our hatred of God! “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him…when his soul makes an offering for sin.” (Isaiah 53:10).

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence
to enter the holy places
by the blood of Jesus,
by the new and living way
that he opened for us through the curtain,
that is, through his flesh,
and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
let us draw near with a true heart
in full assurance of faith…
Hebrews 10:19-22

Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father as our very own High Priest, our Advocate, representing our best interests before the Father, bringing us to the Father’s attention and constantly reminding the Father that our sin is paid for and our adoption is secured. When we enter in to commune with the Father, we use Jesus’ access to His Father as our own access. In other words, to the extent that Jesus has access to His Father, is the extent to which we have access to the Father…He is now our Father! This is how the writer to the Hebrews can tell us to draw near with “confidence”; we are able to approach our Father with full assurance that we will not only be accepted but welcomed and embraced. But we have to use this access!

Let us not be fooled by the lie that the Father looks at our performance or our sins when we come to Him. He looks at Jesus on our behalf! Let us enter in and not hold back! He is waiting!

Jesus, thank You for making a way for me. Thank You for taking the full wrath of God against my sin so that I could draw near! Lord Jesus, make me zealous to draw near. Make me zealous for Your presence.

God’s Zeal for His House – The Holy Spirit’s Work (Part II)

*** This article is part of a blog series by a Guest AuthorNic Thackwray. It is a journey into understanding better God’s Zeal for His House. You can check out the Introduction to the series here. ***

Two weeks ago I tried to answer the question “What is successful prayer?” or “What is the goal of prayer?” My conclusion was that the goal of prayer is to glorify (make much of) God through seeking and then experiencing an encounter with Him, thereby finding our delight in Him. In other words, our focus and desire and delight in prayer is God and this glorifies Him most. John Piper puts it like this, “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.” (This then extends to others coming to encounter God through our prayer by us interceding for them or demonstrating Christ’s likeness and His kingdom to them.)

So where does the Holy Spirit fit in here? After Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He went on immediately to teach about perseverance in prayer and then gave an awesome promise: “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13) I don’t think it is coincidence that Jesus mentioned receiving the Holy Spirit from the Father right after He taught about prayer. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense: the goal of prayer is encounter with and delight in God and the Holy Spirit is God. Therefore being filled with the Holy Spirit fulfills the ultimate goal of prayer: encountering God…to His glory.

With a promise like this, Jesus leaves no doubt that if we ask the Father for His Spirit, He will gladly give us His Spirit! And I don’t think that this is a once off filling with the Spirit. I believe it is an ongoing lifestyle of being filled over and over again. The analogy that Jesus uses of a child asking His Father for food reflects the fact that the Spirit is  our spiritual food, our sustenance and nourishment. It is water to our thirsty souls: “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive.” (John7:37-39) The Spirit in our hearts is described as rivers of life-giving water! Not one river…RIVERS! The idea is of a constant, never-ending source of life: the Holy Spirit filling the believer.

Prayer IS being filled with God!

Holy Spirit, fill us now! Fill us anew! Fill us and then fill us again! We will always seek You! May You be glorified as we delight in You above all, as we find our satisfaction, our life, our nourishment in You, Holy Spirit.