Rev Dr Edgar Mayer; Living Grace Toowoomba Church;
Message: Galatians 3:1; Date: Sat 29 March 2013 (Jesus Tent of the Supernatural at Easterfest)
For more sermons and other writings check the following homepage: www.livinggracetoowoomba.org
18 years ago – on Father’s Day 18 June 1995 – the glory and presence of God broke through in Pensacola, Florida (in a Sunday morning service at the Brownsville church). Their pastor – John Kilpatrick – had been absolutely desperate for God:
John Kilpatrick shared his testimony in Louisiana (USA) in 2012: Before revival broke out, I was so desperate for God. I can’t tell you how desperate I was. For about one year or two years before it broke out, I was thinking thoughts like: God, I would rather flip hamburgers at McDonald’s than remain in the ministry without seeing what you say that you can do. If I can’t see what your Word says that you can do, I would rather wash cars or flip hamburgers or get a lawn service. I don’t want to see it in heaven but now.
I was at home – on the back porch – and I remember that I went out one morning and went out on my back porch and I said to the Lord that morning – I was dead inside. I had a brand-new church. Everything was beaming and sparkling new. I had a board that loved me and was behind me. I had a wife that had always been behind me and loved me and my children loved me. I had everything going in my favour. I had a television program. I was on since 1986. I was on Sky-angel around the world. I had everything going my way. I had a good name and I was on my back porch and I felt so lonely. I felt so dead and I said Lord: If I cannot feel your presence and if I cannot have a move of God – if I cannot see the reality of what you said that you are (that I preach in your Word) – if I cannot see this happening, I do not want to go to church today.
I had to drag myself up. I had to make myself put my shirt and my pants on and my suit and get ready and preach the Gospel that morning. I felt like a dead man and as soon as I finished preaching, I did not want to talk to anybody. I wanted to get in the car and I wanted to go home and try to figure out what’s going on with me and I went home and it got worse.
I remember that I woke in the wee-hours in the morning and I talked to my wife about the desires of my heart – that I wanted to see a move of God. I preached revival all through the years. I thought that I knew a little about revival. And I talked to my wife, my heart would start to explode and burning and I could not put the fire out. And I woke up 3am in the morning – 4am in the morning – and I threw on a pair of sweat-pants and a t-shirt – would not put on shoes sometimes – and I would drive across town to Brownsville and I let myself inside in the wee-hours of the morning through the breeze way in the back of the church there and I go in and I would not put the light on. I cut the security system off and many times I would hardly make it to the front pew and I would stretch out on the front pew and I would grab – take hold – of the wood on the side of the front pew and I just start bellowing like a cow. It wasn’t English – it wasn’t tongues – it was just bellowing. And I made groans and moans that would scare me in the wee hours of the morning and I would groan out to God: Ohhhhhhhhhhh. I am glad that the Holy Spirit understands moanings and groaning. I did not understand it but it was my spirit crying out and the Holy Spirit said: Go ahead, boy. You are doing good.
I would go there night after night. One time we went to New Orleans and on the trip home from New Orleans I talked how hungry I was for God. My heart just exploded. Coming home from New Orleans, I dropped off my wife at our house – didn’t even park the car – and would drive straight to Brownsville and I lay there for hours on that front pew. And I knew that something was drawing near but I did not know what. I knew that something was getting ready to happen but didn’t know what. Desperation always precedes revival ...
John Kilpatrick was a man after God’s own heart – passionate for him – but listen to what happened. Enjoy the humour but there will be a serious point:
This is how the Senior Pastor John Kilpatrick experienced the breakthrough which in the first three years brought more than 2.5 million people to their church (recorded by God TV in 2011):
I never felt it like that before – the power of God. I hit the floor and could not get up from the floor for more than four hours. I could not lift my head. I could not open my eye-lids. I am six foot three inches and I hit the platform and was lying on the floor. The congregation had never seen that before because I had been a very staunch preacher – conservative, formal. I was ultra-conservative. Some said that I had lost his mind. Yes – my carnal mind. Now I have a spiritual mind.
I hit the floor on Father’s Day. I could hear everything but I could not get up. And I remember when I laid there and I just got through preaching a series on the glory of God and I preached about ten parts on it. I laid there on the floor and the first thought that crossed my mind was: “Oh my God! What is this?” The first thing the Lord said to me was “Happy Father’s Day”. And then he said: “This is what you have just been preaching on. The ten parts – this is that.” I realized that you can preach on something and still not understand it until you experience it.
When I got up off the floor, I was never the same. God had touched me ... I was lying on the floor for more than four hours and I could hear the Spirit come in. However, I could not get up and not even open my eye-lid but I really wanted to see what was happening with the congregation. There was nothing scary about the experience but I wanted to see. When I first hit the floor, it was as if everybody that ever loved me in my life was standing around me. I could not see them but they seemed all standing around me. I could feel the presence of love. I never felt such love and such security. I had been having some stress and it was locked up in my shoulder and the shoulder hurt constantly. On the floor, I felt fluid leaking out of my shoulder (was not actual fluid) and other things in my shoulder and God healed my shoulder so that I had never again any pain in it.
There is something about the presence of God. It is the difference between you carrying water and the water carrying you. When I got up off the floor, both of my sons came over and said: “Dad, are you all right.” I asked them to help me to my chair. After more than four hours on the floor, his bones were aching. Sitting on my chair, I was like a wet noodle. He asked them to put his hand under his chain and prop up his arm on the chair and then I used my fingers to open the eye-lid of one eye. I wanted to see what God was doing.
I saw people – like a battle-field (about 1600 people). When I was first lying on the floor, I could hear the Spirit of God moving in different parts of the building as people (hundreds at a time) became vocal in response (laughing, groaning). The time by then was about 3pm. Finally, the 350 children of the children’s church marched into the sanctuary. Immediately, hundreds of children’s voices went “Jesus, Jesus”. I had hot tears running down my face. I said: “Lord, even if I grow old to 500 years, I will never forget this sound.”
The first sight of revival I saw was a little girl – below the age of five. She was bare-footed and her mother had been lying on the floor (4pm by now) under the power of the Spirit. The mother was now sitting up. The girl was between her legs. The mother held her around the waist and asked: “Baby, are you all right?” The little girl never moved her eyes from the ceiling. Her face was red with tears. She said: “Mommy, don’t you see them.” “See what?” “The angels in the ceiling holding hands.”
There was a time when I would have been sceptical with that but after God putting me on the floor and making me lift my eye-lid with my fingers, I was different. I asked: “God, what is in this house?” I did not know that it would last five years and go into the nations. I did not know that revival would come again later in Alabama. The only thing I knew was that when we started church on Father’s Day 1995 the church was one way and by the end of the day it was another way.
I got up the floor. I was sweaty. My clothes were a mess. I had been rolling around on a dirty floor. I said to my youngest: “Tell Mama: Let’s go.” He came back: “Mum’s not going.” “What do you mean?” “Well, we have been waiting for God all of these years. Now he’s here, she’s not going in case he’s no longer here by tonight.”
I went ahead and left and be cleaned up for church at night. Nobody else had left but I did. Isn’t that religion? I got home and it was about 4.30pm. The church would start again at 6pm. I got home, took my clothes off, took my socks off, stretched out on my bed for a few minutes. After a while I dozed off and slept for about 20 minutes. I sent my son ahead to go back to church. I would be fine on my own. Big mistake. So after my son left, I tried to get out of my bed but I struggled to do so and I could not get my feet up to put on my socks. I tried many different ways but only managed after some time (10 minutes) with great difficulty.
I drove to church and usually there are people milling around and ushers. This time there is no one there. Nothing was stirring – not even a mouse. They are still in the church. I pull up and there are no ushers to greet me. I got out of my car and when I slammed the door, my knees immediately gave way (under the power of God) and I went right down the asphalt in my suit. Doesn’t God have a sense of humour? When the glory of God comes, it does not just come on people. It comes on places. It came on the whole campus. Everyone is in the building but I get it in the parking lot. Now the pastor of the church is crawling on all fours in the parking lot. I crawled to the door, got up on my knees and pushed down the handle. I crawled up the steps and crawled back around the sanctuary – not a creature stirring – but as soon as I get into the sanctuary, I heard a roar – an uninterrupted roar – of praise which had been going for hours evidently. I crawled up the steps by the side of the sanctuary and no one even noticed me because after this day everyone was crawling, crying, whatever.
I crawl up the stairs, sit down in my seat and I am gone again. I did not know what God was about to do. That night we had one of the most awesome services. The visiting evangelist Stephen Hill chose to stay for another night and every night we came back, the power kept increasing. One of the things that I learned is that when the presence and power of God first touches you, you feel like if he gives me more it will kill me but after a while – once you get your sea-legs and learn to stand up under his presence – you realize it was only a drop. It was not even a spoonful. The glory has to come in increments because otherwise you cannot stand it. (John in Revelation needed to be strengthened by an angel.)
We kept going night after night and the nations started coming. Salvations begin to take place. I just never dreamed that something like that would happen in my ministry. When God is ready to move he is not going to move on your terms. He’s going to move on his terms. All kinds of people begin to come. I saw the sinners come. I saw healing take place. I remember one night – whenever the heat of the Lord would come in – it would feel like the sun would come out on a cloudy day – feel heat on your ears and neck – we would know that the Lord was here to heal. People would get up from wheel-chairs. Services would go all night long.
One night I was up on the platform – it was holy chaos – and I heard this woman and she screamed at the top of her voice and I thought: “This better be good.” As I was walking towards her, she was staring at her husband. I looked just in time to see that her husband – Vietnam-vet – who had half his hand blown off had hand being stitched back – with meat filling in – until the hand was fully restored. If we only knew what God can do. What a might God we serve.
This is a great testimony but why did the pastor go home – at the very time when God was answering his prayers (met his heart’s desire) – when neither his wife would go with him nor anyone else in the congregation? Look at this closely and you discover the greatest blockage to being a Christian and – to some extent – this is in all of us. The pastor – John Kilpatrick – thought that he had to be respectable, staunch and formal. He thought that he could not lie on the floor for four hours in his suit and then – with messy clothes and sweaty – lead another service at night. For him – this was neither proper nor did it measure up to the standards of a faithful preacher of God’s Word.
Was he right? I probably expect God wanting us to be respectful in our clothing – (proper standards are good) – but not on the day when he himself makes the pastor lie on the floor for four hours. When this happens, you follow him. You join in with what he is doing rather than insisting that you tick all the boxes of what you think a good Christian should do.
Was John Kilpatrick going home because he was less committed to God than the rest of his congregation? No – he was the one bellowing in the church in the wee hours of the morning for almost two years. He went home because he felt committed to uphold good standards for God – not against God. Yet, his attempt to tick all of the boxes of good Christian behaviour came with a risk. He was home when God was in the church. He risked missing out on a visitation from God because his attention was on proper conduct – not on God.
Are you like this? Many religious people around Jesus were exactly like John Kilpatrick (and most of us).
Mark 3:1-6: Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shrivelled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shrivelled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
There was nothing wrong with keeping the Sabbath holy and respecting God’s holy commandment which he himself had given but not at the expense of opposing him – not at the expense of missing the healing love of Jesus. God instituted the Sabbath law and any other law and he can do whatever he pleases. Our eyes are on him – not the law.
Matthew 14:35-15:9: And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honour your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honour their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’
This is a rather blatant illustration of what people are like who love rules and regulations to the extent that they do not want Jesus – not even when the sick get healed by simply touching his clothes.
What about you? Do we have this problem? Would you miss the joy of God because your sense of reverence does not allow you to laugh in church? Would you miss out on God loving you in your prayer time because you cannot be still when he draws near – (when he wants to talk to you) – but must say your set prayers? [Other examples: Deliverance may come before all the steps of preparation and prayers.] Would you miss out on God because – one day – he comes with salvation and healing – drawing shouts of praise from the congregation (for hours) – so much is happening – but we do not get to the preaching of his Word and you get offended? [Cf. Rejecting converts because they have been asked to “make a choice” and judging this as “decision theology” and thinking that this is relying on human power rather than God’s grace / insisting on proper procedures in deliverance ministry (e.g.: binding and muting demons) which causes a problem when deliverance occurs rapidly in another way (e.g.: preaching) / rejecting converts who do not say the “sinners’ prayer” but simply cry out the name of Jesus / etc.]
[What is so attractive about this kind of attitude? Ordering your life by a code of conduct – even godly laws – gives you a measure of control, limits your commitment (e.g.: tithing is less a commitment than loving God with all of your heart), gives you a sense of measurable achievement, avoids the need for prayer and guidance, always offers loopholes and may give you a sense of pride by comparing yourself with those that do less.]
Our eyes are on God – not on good standards – not even on his own laws (which are holy). In the Bible, we read about a church congregation which was on fire for God – new converts – but they also became concerned about not meeting all of the requirements of a Christian. In their case, some visitors from another church suggested that they also had to be circumcised – (removing the foreskin of males at the age of eight days) – which (by the way) had been commanded by God and was a sign of belonging to him. [God himself was even attempting to kill Moses for not circumcising his son. See Exodus 4:24-26.] There was a growing sense among these believers that you would not be a complete Christian until this had happened – until you had obeyed this requirement. [There was also the issue of observing special holy days and months and seasons and years (Galatians 4:10).]
They also became a little afraid – unsure of themselves. It’s like people telling you: “You have faith but this is not quite enough to have everything. You must get re-baptized – must give more money – must pray for Jerusalem – must know more doctrines – must pray in tongues – must have times of fasting.” [See below and add this Bible reference to the others – Romans 8:13-16: For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.]
They were good people – like Pastor John Kilpatrick who went home to clean himself up – but their thinking and behaviour put them into the firing line of some harsh words from their leader – the apostle Paul. In fact – (arguably) – harsher words of criticism are not found anywhere in the Bible. For Paul, everything – salvation – the understanding of what makes a Christian (and when you are not a Christian) – everything was at stake. This is what he wrote to them:
Galatians 1:6-9: I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
Galatians 3:1: You senseless Galatians! Who has put a hex on you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.
These Christians only wanted to be obedient to God – circumcise their babies and do the right thing – but Paul called them cursed and senseless for doing so. Why? Was this not going overboard? And how did he stand up to them? What did he mean when he said: “Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified” (Galatians 3:1)?
Do you understand these words? Now we are coming to the heart of the Christian faith: “Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified” (Galatians 3:1)? Jesus died for us on a cross. The Son of God, who had come from heaven and humbled himself by becoming a man – for us, he offered himself as a sacrifice for our sin. The Saviour was crucified – for us – for you – because he loved you and his sacrifice is what makes you righteous – living in a right (forgiven, holy) relationship with God – not any obedience to any law. [He also rose again to new life on the third day confirming the saving value of his death.]
This is what was at stake and what is always at stake among religious people: When are you okay before God? Do you accept Jesus but also rely on good behaviour to make you acceptable before God or is it Jesus alone? This is basic but radical and goes against the grain of our instincts which keep telling us that anything of value must be earned.
You might say that Paul was overreacting because the Galatians put their faith in Jesus and only added one more reasonable requirement but Paul argued that “a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough” (Galatians 5:9). If salvation is no longer by faith alone in Jesus’ sacrifice alone, then the focus will shift on what is required from us (which sets us up for failure and fear) and there is nothing stopping us to add more “reasonable” requirements/laws which further diminish the value of Jesus Christ who “was clearly portrayed as crucified”.
Listen to more words from the apostle Paul in the Bible:
Galatians 2:21: ... if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!
If you could make yourself acceptable before God by obeying all holy requirements, then Christ died for nothing. You would not have needed his sacrifice but he came and he died for you. So be careful about having your eyes on laws and not Jesus. [See the apostle Paul’s biographical journey of persecuting Christians but experiencing a radical conversion once he had met the crucified Saviour and learning that he was alive now. The Jew who had been jealous for righteousness through the law became jealous for righteousness through faith.]
Galatians 3:10-13: For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”
There is more and this is important to understand the big picture of living the life of a Christian:
Galatians 3:2-5: I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Galatians 3:14: Jesus redeemed us ... so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
As you put your faith in Jesus – as you resist looking at standards and regulation but trust Jesus alone for your salvation – he gives you the Holy Spirit who then lives in you. This is his promise and when the Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell within you, there is freedom and joy in your life – the true Christian life – because he guides you, inspires you, empowers you, assures you of the Father’s (God’s) love, gives you wisdom so that you do not go home when God pours out his glory in a worship service but do what he tells you to do in absolute freedom.
I give you some more Bible verses – again from the apostle Paul:
Galatians 5: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
2 Corinthians 3:6: He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. / 2 Corinthians 3:17: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. / Hebrews 8:8-12 [Through the Spirit the following prophecy had come into fulfilment]: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.
This is worth fighting for – freedom in the Christian life – through the Holy Spirit – who renews and empowers our minds and hearts with the wisdom and love of God. Pastor John Kilpatrick went home from church on the 18th of June 1995 but no one else did. The others stayed inside worshipping God for more than 10 hours and even then did not want to go home. Did anyone force them to stay? Did anyone say: “A good Christian must remain in church!” No. There was freedom – joy – excitement. The Spirit of God had come upon them with increased power and they wanted to do what God had planned for them. When you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit comes upon you; then you want to worship – you want to be holy – you want to tell others the Good News sof Jesus Christ – you want to be like him who loves you. This is Good News!
Do you want to be free? Do you want the glory of God come into your life through the Holy Spirit? Then, stop looking at yourself and whether you meet any given standards. Look at Jesus. Before you – I clearly portray Jesus Christ as having been crucified – he died for you – so that you enter into this new life of salvation through faith in what he has done for you – not law observance.
You may not be in a good place right now. You may be lukewarm about God – backslidden and ashamed of some things that you have done. You may be brand-new to any talk about God and have not adjusted your life-style to anything Christian. It does not matter. Today is a good day to become free. God loves you. Jesus died for you. Put your faith in him. Trust him and he will forgive your sins – save you to eternal life with him – and you will receive the Holy Spirit – for freedom, joy and peace. Amen.