The following is an excerpt from Dr. John’s book, BIBLICAL HEADSHIP: Making Sense Of Submission To Authority. Follow this link to obtain your copy of BIBLICAL HEADSHIP today.
EZEKIEL chapter 47 describes a river that flows from the throne of God. It begins as a small stream, only ankle deep. Within the length of only two miles, it becomes a mighty, torrential flood that is so deep and wide it cannot be crossed. This is a powerful illustration of the power and anointing that flows from God’s throne. When we begin to move in His power, He will allow us a measure of anointing. It is expressed as water up to the ankles, and that is where many of us find ourselves: wading in the shallow end of the river of God’s power.
As the anointing increases, we move into deeper water, deeper anointing, which is greater responsibility. The water rises to our knees, then to our loins. Walking in that river is much more difficult. It requires greater strength and greater effort. Those who move to this level soon find they cannot continue unless the effort becomes less. They need help.
Then the water rises until they can no longer swim. The only solution is to allow the flow of the river to carry them along. That happens when we jump into the full flow of the Holy Ghost in our ministries. Then it becomes effortless. You surrender to the power of the river, to the power and anointing of God, and you realize that He is the one giving you the ability to expand His kingdom. You are empowered by your surrender. The cross life has given you a crowned life, and you enter into your ability to have dominion and walk in the government of God.
That is how God’s rule is being restored to the church. His government is being restored in power as the order of His kingdom is being embraced. For too long we have played with the things of God in the church. We have just scratched the surface of what God can do and is willing to do. As charismatics, we were captivated with the presence and power of the Holy Ghost, but we played with the power at the expense of our surrender. We were children in the things of God when we should have been warriors in the battle against darkness.
We will continue to see people enter the kingdom. As people accept Jesus, are baptized in water and in the Holy Ghost, they too will go through their childhood experiences. But those who are mature, those who have been in the river of God’s power, understand it is not something to be toyed with. It is the transforming reality of God at work, restoring His image and delegating His authority to those who will surrender to His will. If the church is going to experience the full release of God’s power, it will only come in the way it came to Jesus. There must be a complete surrender. Personal agendas have to be set aside, and people will have to commit themselves to living in the will of God.
That will be hard, because it means we must humble ourselves and accept God’s will. We must be willing to decrease so that He can increase. It’s difficult, because we always want to go higher, do more, and have a greater ministry. We can, but not unless we walk in total surrender to His will.
You must accept the cross life and die to self. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (JOHN 12:24 NASB).
That is how the kingdom expands. When you die to self, God raises you up to bear fruit, and the life that is in you multiplies as it is extended to others. Jesus became a life-giving Spirit, and you are called to be a delegate of His power. But partial obedience is not what God is looking for. He is looking for those whose hearts are completely loyal to Him. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 CHRONICLES 16:9 NKJV).
God wants to show Himself strong toward you and your ministry. Actually, He wants to show Himself strong through you in ministry, but your loyalty must be unchallengeable. You must be totally surrendered to Him and His will. Then you will see multiplication. Then you will see the abundant harvest you have been looking for. Unless you sow your life into the will of God, you will not see that fullness of your harvest. Even if it were to come, you would miss it, because you would be looking outside of the will of God.
There is a difference between partial obedience and ultimate obedience. Ultimate obedience goes all the way, and that is what Jesus did. He emptied himself of His own capacity as an equal in the Godhead and took on the role of eternal servanthood. “He humbled Himself and became obedient even unto the death of the cross” (PHILIPPIANS 2:8 KJV). Ultimate obedience! Though He was equal with God, He embraced a role of subjection so that He could restore the government of God. Now the question is this: Who is going to become an extension of God’s rule today? Where is God going to manifest His power?
The greatest manifestations of God’s rule and power will take place where people are most submitted to His will. Wherever His will is being done on earth as it is in heaven, there will be the expansion of God’s kingdom and the multiplication of harvest. Wherever His will is being done, there will be the evidence of shalom—peace, or eirene. Wherever people have sowed their lives into the will of God and died to self, you will see much fruit, that the Father may be glorified.
The apostle Paul, in the closing days of his life, was able to look back and see that he had lived the cross life and was the victor. He could write with all confidence, “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 TIMOTHY 4:6–7 KJV).
I want to be like that at the end of my life. I want to be able to say with all confidence, “I’m ready now to be offered up. I’ve fought a good fight and kept the faith. I’ve done what the Lord has required me to do.” The power of that overwhelms me: to believe I will finish my life and be able to say I’ve given ultimate obedience and fulfilled God’s purpose for my existence.
Think about all the mighty saints who are now with the Lord, and think about how they came to their moment of departure—in ultimate surrender, ultimate obedience. We can know before we die that we have done what the Lord required. But we can only know that if we’ve done it. Partial obedience won’t align you with the saints of HEBREWS 11 — Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. There are many more: Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. All the works of faith done through all the ages of time bring us to the present and the faith of men today.
What an enormous list must have been written across the history of the world. One day we will join the witnesses who have preceded us, and someone in the next generation or two can rejoice in what God has done.
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (HEBREWS 12:1–2 KJV)
God is a loving Father. We all know He blesses us in amazing ways, often letting us do the very things we want. But sometimes God chooses to ask you to do what you would not choose for yourself, or to go where you would not naturally go. At first, the task may seem too difficult, or too mundane, or too complex, or too far away from family and friends. Rest assured, God is not punishing you with such a challenge. He is setting you up for success, even when you don’t realize it. But you have to choose whether you will obey or not—ultimate obedience or partial obedience. You can choose a different path and continue to be a Christian. God will not toss you aside if you miss it, but it may take you a long time to hear God speak again.
Before God changed his name to Abraham, the man Abram chose to do things his own way and fathered an Ishmael. God had promised him a son in his old age. Because of his age and that of Sarai, his wife, Abram took things into his own hands to accomplish what God had promised, and God grew silent. God had been a close companion to Abram since He called him in Ur of the Chaldeans. But after the birth of Ishmael, God did not speak to Abram for more than thirteen years. Read between the chapters.
“And Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.” (GENESIS 16:16 NASB)
“Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram.” (GENESIS 17:1 NASB)
Abram was seventy-five years old when God called him out of Haran, where his father Terah had died (see GENESIS 11:31–12:4). When you have been meeting with God and following His direction for more than eleven years, you become familiar with His voice. When you have abandoned your past and your father’s house at the command of the Lord, you know obedience. But if you choose to go your own way, even after such intimacy with the Lord, His voice will go silent. If you hide your candle under a bushel basket and cover up your light, don’t be surprised when you find it difficult to hear the voice of the Lord.
Refuse to cruise through life being satisfied with being blessed. Blessings are tremendous, but being a blessing is more so. Hearing God’s voice is a moving experience, but obeying His voice requires your effort. Being used of God to extend His rule on the earth is much more important than you receiving your next blessing. Believe me when I say that being a blessing is the bigger blessing.
“Jesus . . . for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame” (HEBREWS 12:2 KJV). One day that hit me like a ton of bricks. God can give you something you despise. There will be times when the cross you have to bear will be the thing God chooses for you. You may utterly hate the idea of it, but you have to take ownership of it. That’s what it means to despise something: to hate it. But you need to know what that thing you despise is. It’s a cross experience, a “dying to self” choice God is working in your life.
God has just chosen something for you that you would not have chosen for yourself. If you embrace it, God will work something in you greater than you can imagine. This is the school of obedience. You are either being prepared for a greater ministry or you are being used to accomplish something no one else can do. It’s training for reigning. And you need to consider the consequences before you opt out of God’s direction.
It is easy to rationalize and excuse yourself out of the will of God. It’s easy to think, “If this was really God’s will, I’d have joy in the choice.” You have never hated something and had joy over it at the same time. The joy is set before you after you endure the despised cross.
You must wade into the river of God’s will until you can no longer continue in your own strength. That’s when the Holy Ghost will take over and you can move with the flow. The flow may take you to places of discomfort or difficulty. It may even take you to places you despise. But the cross life and the flow of the river are one and the same. Ultimate obedience to the voice of God is the key to fulfilling God’s purpose and realizing the joy He has set before you.
What you just read is an excerpt from Dr. John’s book, BIBLICAL HEADSHIP: Making Sense Of Submission To Authority. Follow this link to obtain your copy of BIBLICAL HEADSHIP today.