Jun 17, '10 1:21 PM
By Regner Capener
In case you aren’t aware of it (and I suspect most of you are), the Lord is trying to get us delivered from our religious boxes, our preconceived notions of how He operates, and what He would like to do through us.
In previous Coffee Breaks, I’ve shared with you some of my experiences of being transported in the realm of the Spirit out of this time-space “continuum” and into eternity on numerous occasions and seen many things in God – many of which I haven’t been free to share. Last Friday night I heard Mahesh Chavda share a personal experience that just lit my fire! Mahesh was speaking at an Abiding Glory Conference in Knoxville. (His name may not necessarily be a household word for some of you, but he and his wife, Bonnie, have a regular television program on TBN.)
Talk about an out-of-the-box experience! He had been asked to pray for a man who was experiencing extreme liver failure and was at death’s door. As he began to pray, the Lord transported him into what appeared to be a bubble. He looked around and saw the Lord there in the bubble with him. All of a sudden, almost like a scene out of the movie, “Fantastic Voyage,” the bubble shrank and Mahesh found himself walking about inside this man’s liver – with the Lord!
It takes no great imagination for you to understand his shock and amazement at what he was seeing, but as he and the Lord walked about the liver, healing was taking place. Just as suddenly as they entered, they transported out and he was back in the room as his normal self. In that same instant, the man whom he had prayed for was instantly whole. The liver problems were gone and the man was released from the hospital in perfect health.
That may sound like One Step Beyond, or maybe The Twilight Zone to some of you, but, Hey! It’s about time we stopped restricting how God operates and trying to box Him in according to our preconceived notions! Call me weird or anything you like, but I immediately asked the Lord to allow me to begin having those kinds of experiences.
I didn’t realize how quickly the Lord was going to answer my request. Sunday morning, Steven Shelley was sharing about an issue that has cropped up with our friend and brother in the Lord, Neville Johnson. It was the first we’d heard that Neville had been admitted to the hospital (he lives in Australia) and the doctors discovered numerous very invasive tumors throughout his body. They quickly put him on the operating table to remove as many as they could find.
Although the doctors were hopeful that they had caught them soon enough and felt like the operation was successful, it left Neville in fairly weakened condition and unable to keep several speaking engagements. (We are expecting to see him next month in Red Deer, Alberta at a gathering.)
Because Neville’s ministry and teaching have impacted virtually every single person who is part of our River Worship Center family, we took time to lift him before the Lord yesterday. While we were praying, I suddenly found myself walking around inside Neville’s body looking at tumors that had been missed and watching the Lord heal him. I saw the scars from the operation disappear as the Lord restored him.
OK! OK! Don’t look at me in that tone of voice! I haven’t lost it… um… maybe I have lost my mind, but that’s a good thing. I look forward to losing my mind completely in favor of having the mind of Christ. (See Philippians 2:5.) Nevertheless, I expect to hear that Neville has been completely healed and restored, and I’m being bold enough to share this with you even before I receive a report from him.
Now, if you dare and you don’t think it’ll be a waste of time (considering what I’ve just shared), let’s resume with our discussion on the Keys of the Kingdom.
FORGIVENESS: THE FUNDAMENTAL KEY
Let’s begin with a Scripture we’ve already used a couple of times during this study series:
Mark 11:22-26: 22And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have (echo: possess, retain, hold onto, keep) [the] faith in God. 23For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto (epo: command, call, declare, decree) this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt (diakrino: oppose, hesitate, discriminate, waver) in his heart, but shall believe (pisteuo: have faith in, to entrust fully) that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have (esomai: will be) whatsoever he saith. 24Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, (proseuchomai: request or require in the covenant) believe (pisteuo) that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 25And when ye stand praying, forgive (aphiemi: remit, dissolve, cause to cease to exist), if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses (paraptoma: side slip, lapse in judgment, error—intentional or unintentional, sin). 26But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Jesus is making it abundantly clear that we can move mountains, perform stupendous miracles, demonstrate unlimited faith — as long as we forgive all those who have sinned against us, committed offenses toward us or wronged us in any way — no matter how great or how slight.
You see the connection, don’t you? Unlimited power and resources from the Kingdom are available to us so long as there is no unforgiveness of any kind residing in our hearts and minds. Remember our first discussion on the Keys of the Kingdom, and where that discussion began?
Access to the Keys begins with a revelation of Jesus Christ. With that revelation first in place, Jesus then says to the disciples, “And I will give you the authority and power to lock and unlock Heaven so what whatever you bind, restrict or stop on earth shall be, having been already bound, restricted or stopped in Heaven.
“And whatever you break up, loose, dissolve or put off on earth shall be, having already been broken up, loosed, dissolved or put off in Heaven.”
Again, the key phrase here is, “I WILL GIVE you the authority and power. It hadn’t yet been given because the Holy Spirit had not yet been released. As a foretaste — a sample — of what was to come with that release of the Spirit, John records the following when Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to His disciples.
REMISSION AND RETENTION
John 20:21-23: 21Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
Get it? The very first exercise of the power of God for those who receive the Holy Spirit is to remit sin — to eradicate it in a person’s life such that it never existed.
The second exercise of the power of God is to “krateo” someone’s sins. There are several ways in which we can apply this: Most of our English translations translate “krateo” to “retain.” However, this word comes from it root, “kratos,” which means: to rule over, to seize by force, to use strength to take hold of. Let me take a momentary side-trip in the Greek to give you an example of this word in a sense you are more familiar with.
Ephesians 6:12: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
This phrase “rulers of the darkness of this world” should be better rendered, “world rulers of darkness,” and is translated from the Greek word, kosmokrator, which is a conjunction of “kosmos” (the world [as an orderly and decorated version of what otherwise exists universally]) and “krateo” (to rule over).
The Message Translation of John 20:23 expresses this rather uniquely.
John 20:22-23 (Message Translation: Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” He said. “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”
The concept of “retaining sins,” therefore, is to take control of them in one’s life. I don’t want to take this concept farther than what the Word allows us, but we see an example of this where Paul is writing to the Corinthians concerning a man who has been found to be in an ongoing incestuous relationship (porneia) from which he will not depart.
THE PURPOSE OF RETENTION
I Corinthians 5:3-5: 3For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Are you seeing this? Paul is “retaining” this man’s sins because of his persistence and refusal to repent. He has exercised authority over those sins so that the man is given over to Satan “for the destruction of the flesh” so that this man’s spirit and soul may be saved.
What is God’s intention here? Salvation! Here’s a man who is an active member of the Ekklesia in Corinth. Corinth — as a city — was as corrupt and sinful as any city could get. The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah filled Corinth. In this Ekklesia, we have a man who, though he has accepted Jesus Christ as His Savior, still has the contamination of his soul and his flesh with the sins of sexual perversion.
Since God’s purpose is the redemption of His “purchased possession” (see Ephesians 1:14) if a person has genuinely made a commitment to walk with Jesus Christ, but doesn’t — for whatever reason — shake the sins of the flesh, it then becomes the responsibility of believers (who are intimately acquainted with the person in bondage) to “retain,” take possession and rule over their sins in such a way as to ensure their final salvation.
There is one other application to the concept of “retaining” and that relates to the individual who refuses to accept the repentance of another brother or sister who seeks reconciliation. The person who refuses reconciliation and rejects the repentance of another brother or sister becomes guilty themselves of unforgiveness. They “retain” that sin, holding onto it, and as a result do not receive forgiveness from the Lord.
Jesus made it perfectly clear that “if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in Heaven forgive your trespasses.”
If we are not forgiven, then we have no redemption because we have effectively rejected Jesus’ death on the Cross and nullified for ourselves His ultimate sacrifice. Forgiveness — Remission and Erasure — of sin is, therefore, of critical importance to God’s plan, and He has made it of paramount importance for us as believers. As a matter of fact, we are commanded to provide forgiveness for brothers and sisters we see falling into sin.
A NEW DIMENSION TO FORGIVENESS
Consider, therefore, what John writes in his first general letter to the Body of Christ. Look at the context of this command.
I John 5:13-17: 13These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 14And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 16If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. 17All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.
How many times have you heard verses 14 and 15 quoted to substantiate and validate our requests — in faith, of course — to the Lord? OK, how many times have you considered the will (thelema: desire, pleasure, inclination) of Jesus?
Peter tells us the following:
II Peter 3:9: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing (boulomai: to be disposed towards, desiring, leaning towards, intending) that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
It is probably fair to say that many believers — large percentages — are far more focused on what they get out of their relationship with Jesus Christ than what He gets. When they read these scriptures, their first thought is “OK, Good! I’ll just claim this for myself. After all I’m praying according to the will of God.”
That’s fine, and there is a valid truth there, but look again at the context. “If we ask anything according to His heart’s desire, He hears us. If we know that He hears us, then we know that we have the petition that we ask.”
All good so far.
But here’s the kicker! It is within the framework of asking according to His will that He gives this command:
“If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and He shall give him life for them that sin not unto death.”
This is not a suggestion: this is a command! This is a specifically commanded use of the Keys of the Kingdom. This is the authority to overcome the power of the Enemy and set people free!
THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM ARE GIVEN US TO FREE GOD'S PEOPLE
The Keys of the Kingdom are given to us to ensure that the body of Christ grows up into Him. When we see a brother or sister fail in some way or another, and that failure is not a deliberate act of rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ, we are instructed — no, COMMANDED — to ask Father (within the framework of His covenant with us) to forgive them.
Here’s the best part! They are forgiven! The sin is remitted, erased, wiped out of existence. They are set free of the penalty and consequences of that sin. They can continue to receive revelation by the Holy Spirit.
Natural, unregenerate human reaction rebels against this. Why should they get away with that? Why should I forgive them? They deserve the consequences!
You’ve all heard it said that the “church” is the only army that kills its wounded. That’s not the way it is supposed to be. Here’s how Paul put it when writing to the Galatians:
Galatians 6:1-2: 1Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual (pneumatikos: non-carnal, operating in the dimension of the spirit, supernatural) restore such an one in a spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Let’s not forget. The Keys of the Kingdom are given to those whom the Lord can trust. This is not about us: this is about Jesus receiving His inheritance in His people! Religion makes people judgmental. We judge one another — whether consciously or unconsciously — and frequently make wrong assessments of one another based on our own personal faults and failings.
The Keys of the Kingdom are given to those who first have the revelation of Jesus Christ, His calling in us, His inheritance in us, and what are the riches of the Glory of His inheritance. Next, the Keys are given so that Jesus Christ can have a body — a family of believers — who are a praise to Him in the earth.
Our life, our walk, the way we behave towards one another are all designed to show the world something so spectacular that they can and will say, Praise God!
In our next Coffee Break we’ll continue this look at true forgiveness – remission – and how both we AND the Lord benefit by our obedience to this command.
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