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Now I Declare New Things! ©
By Steven Lambert, ThD
Our Father God is a God of new things! When it comes to paradigms and patterns, the fact of the matter is: humans tend to be much more conservative than God. God is the God of new things! He is forever breaking the molds and casting new ones. In the arena of the establishment of His Kingdom on Earth, He is constantly declaring new things before they spring forth. With the abundance of "Word" and quot;Faith" teaching the Church has been instructed with over the last thirty to forty years, one thing we know quite well is that everything God does, He does by first speaking it, declaring it, proclaiming it! Then, the word that He declares shall not return to Him void without accomplishing the purpose for which it was sent. He always performs what He proclaims.
So also, in more recent years with the prophetic renewal, there is an increasing awareness among God's people that it is still the "way" of God that He does nothing on the Earth, whether in the affairs of men or in the establishment of His Kingdom through the operations of the Church, without first revealing it to and proclaiming it through prophets (Amos 3:8). He still reveals His secret counsel to His servants, the prophets. Though such statements make some people bristle, the fact of the matter is that Divine Purposes and Plans remain concealed in the mind of God until they are revealed to and through prophetic people. The prophetic renewal is reestablishing the understanding that the Head of the Church still operates through the Fivefold Ascension Gifts or Ministry Offices as delineated in such passages as Eph. 2:20, 4:7-16, and 1 Cor. 12:28, just to name a few, and that that has always been and remains to be His methodology and modus operandi, which is further corroborated by the irrefutable fact that nowhere in His Word has He made any statements that even remotely approach a rescission of that model. One of those Fivefold Ministry Gifts or Offices is that of prophet. The word prophet literally means to speak on behalf of. Prophets speak on behalf of God. They are God's spokesmen. Speaking through prophets is one of the channels God uses to communicate, to whoever He wants to communicate to, but especially to His People, the Redeemed, the Church.
Rarely in human history has God spoken in an audible voice that people heard. He reserves such a radical measure for the most critical scenarios. We know of at least two times He did speak that way concerning Jesus during His fleshly life and ministry. He also spoke in an audible voice on several occasions in the Old Testament era, a few times heard by large groups of people, others by only a few people, and on only a few other occasions He spoke audibly to certain individuals. In both the New and Old Testaments, he spoke through angels. But since the days of Jesus' fleshly visitation, God rarely speaks through those methods. Rather, the method He uses for audible communication now is through human vessels, which is so very consistent with His master-plan of doing the vast majority of what He does in the world through human cooperativesin the main, individual believers and the collective the Church.
God's New Things in the World
Throughout human history, God has been "declaring new things," and using people as His channels of communication to declare those things. I am not just referring to preaching, teaching, and prophetic proclamations. Nor am I speaking only of spiritual or "religious" matters. In the 15th Century, God proclaimed a whole new paradigm of mass communication to the masses of the world, by revealing to an obscure German printer named Johann Gutenberg, the principles and mechanics behind a newfangled invention known as the Gutenberg Press, the world's first printing press. It certainly was not coincidental that the very first mass-produced book ever printed on Gutenberg's contraption, was the Bible, and to this day all the printing presses in the world have not exhausted the demand for that one Book, so that it remains the most printed and purchased volume in history. Not only does this demonstrate that God truly is "watching over His Word" but also that it was undeniably He who inspired Gutenberg's conception and calculations. Not only was that invention the single-most important element in reclaiming and returning the Word of God and thus the capacity to encounter God unfiltered by religious establishment to the common man, but it was also the most critical element engendering the tidal wave of mass education and the advancement of scientific knowledge that gradually ensued.
Through voracious study of the writings of emerging science now published in the massive numbers of books produced and disseminated as a result of the printing press, a self-educated Italian by the name of Galilei Galileo, in the following century virtually founded and fathered a discipline of science that came to be known as Physics. Through Galileo's antiestablishment scientific discoveries, which so rocked the scientific universe that he was persecuted and imprisoned by the Roman Catholic Church for heresy, God was proclaiming a whole new paradigm of scientific knowledge and understanding concerning the physics and mechanics of God's Creation that were rudimentary to an incalculable succession of scientific advancements and revolutionary discoveries that culminated in the scientifically and technologically advanced world we live in today.
Then, in the following 17th Century, building upon Galileo's now conventional theorems and the contributions of other pioneering intellectuals and scientists, a prodigious English mathematician and scientist named, Sir Isaac Newton, was inspired by God to propound revolutionary theorems of the laws and dynamics of gravity, terrestrial mechanics, calculus, and even color that together led to yet another paradigm shift in the world of science that would eventually evolve into a multitude of subsequent scientific discoveries and inventions through the centuries that make our world what it is today, from mechanical engineering to electronics to relativity to aeronautics to astronautics to avionics to atomics to the whole new universe of information technology, and on and on.
Through the centuries other great minds emerged into strategically prominent roles to ultimately bring into existence things that did not exist before in every field imaginable, from medicine to transportation to manufacturing to education to telecommunications to computers. The world we live in today was fashioned and formed by a myriad of scientists, inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs extraordinaire whose God-inspired genius, labors, and involvements brought into existence new things, thinking, models, and paradigms, with names such as Pasteur, Einstein, Edison, Wright, Ford, Flagler, Getty, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Sinclair, Salk, and Von Braun among those topping the list. Each of these brilliant and God-gifted individuals were extraordinarily used of God to make monumental discoveries and advancements in their field of endeavor that produced paradigmatic changes to the systems and structure of our world. In all these epoch cases, God was through the new paradigms produced "declaring new things." As much as secular humanists want to attribute all the credit to the genius of Man alone, the fact of the matter is, that as the old Hymn says, "This is My Father's World." None of these massive wholesale changes could have possibly occurred except that these mere mortal men were inspired by the Omnipotent and Omniscient Creator and Source of All knowledge (science), understanding, and wisdom. All of these "new things" happened because God was declaring and proclaiming them through humans who were but the chosen vessels of conveyance for His Purposes and Plans for His Mankind Creation.
God's New Things in Our Theology
One of the ways that academic theology does not serve us well in our quest to really "know" the God we profess to serve is that it is far too codified and rigid. As has been often observed, we tend to put God into our little box of definitions of who He is. There are two chief problems with that: one, the box is always way too small because of the puny perspective our finite minds conjure of who God is, and, two, God detests being crammed into our little boxes of limited thinking. The Israelites repeatedly provoked God to anger during their forty years of wandering in the desert by their incessant desire to turn back and return to the bondage of Egypt, by tempting Him, and because they "limited" Him (Ps. 78:40ff). They limited Him not only by their unbelief, but also by their belief, because even their beliefs about God did not even come close to encompassing who He really is and the extent of His Omnipotence, which in application to them meant what He really was capable of doing for them. But, before we become arrogantly censorial and condescending toward "the church in the wilderness," we need to recognize that we, as individual believers and the collective church, do precisely the same thing today! Our inferior knowledge and puny perspective of who He isthe little box of our concept of Himseverely limits Him in our lives. And, there comes a point at which that provokes Him to anger. Not only that, but our lack of knowledge, or insufficient knowledge of Godwho He is, His Word, Will, and Waysbrings both severe handicap and harm into our lives. Indeed, we are told in no uncertain terms that lack of knowledge will destroy us: "My People are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hos. 4:6).
Real and genuine theology is far more than just acquiring information about God; it is coming face to face with Him as Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the Apostle Paul, and others did. It is a divine confrontation! And when that begins to happen in your life, as it did with all those saints of old, if you will pardon the crassness, it will most literally "scare the hell out of you!" How we need more of the consuming fire of His Presence in our lives! Yet, how little of it we can stand! Have you ever really experienced His presence? If you have, you know that like those saints of old, you can only fall down in His presence as a dead man, lying prostrate before Him, cowering in fear, and begging Him to depart, because of the overwhelming waves of unworthiness and unholiness that flood your entire being like a tidal wave.
Knowing the God of New Things
Our greatest need is to know Him! Know who He really is, rather than how our puny perception of Him makes us see Him. The Apostle "whom Jesus loved," and who laid His head upon the breast of Jesus at the Last Supper, and who was at His feet when He took His last breath on the Cross, John, reveals this to us about knowing, God:
Beloved, now we are children (sons, KJV) of God; and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 Jn. 3:2,3; NASB)
He is saying that even though we are already sons of God, having been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, been made a new creature in Christ Jesus, and already received that down payment the Apostle Paul spoke about of our inheritance in Christ, so that we have a semblance of being sons of God now, yet it has not yet been fully revealed to us what we are GOING to be when we come into our full inheritance, when the last trump of God sounds, "and we shall be changed," changed by virtue of this old body of sin, death, and corruption being removed from us, when "the perishable puts on the imperishable," and "this mortal puts on immortality," which shall all transpire at that moment of all moments when Jesus returns to claim the Church as His Eternal Bride, THEN, in that moment, "WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM!" But the absolutely mind-blowing thing is that John says that we shall be like Him in that moment, not merely because the sin nature and its byproducts of spiritual death and corruption have been removed, but "because we shall SEE HIM JUST AS HE IS!" In that moment, when all the crud of sin has been removed from us, we will finally then SEE HIM, not as we THOUGHT He was, not how we perceived Him to be, but AS HE REALLY IS! For in that moment our sin-affected perception of who God is will then be removed, and our spiritual myopia will be forever cured, our spiritual cataracts forever removed, and the result shall be that we shall see Him as He really is and has always been! Glory to God!
The Apostle Paul capsulized the all-consuming quest and goal of his new life in Christ as, "that I might KNOW Him and the power of His resurrection!" Indeed, apprehending God should be the all-consuming quest and goal of every Christian's life. Apprehending, or "knowing," God is galaxies beyond merely comprehending Him by acquiring and assimilating abstract information and facts about Him, and reading about other people's experiences with Him. Apprehending God is a personal encounter with the Creator. It is to personally know Himexperientially, relationally. It is, indeed, a Divine Confrontation!
The Kingdom of God is replete with paradoxes. Give to get, sow to reap, die to live, lose to gain, all of these concepts on the surface seem contradictory, but in God's Kingdom the seeming paradox produces the desired provision. Such is the case as well regarding the dreaded "C" word, the mere mention of which causes angst, anxiety, and apprehension to course through the veins of many people, and triggers tangible tremors of trepidation, repulsion, and resistance, through most congregations of professed "believers." Most people recoil from and are repulsed by the very concept of change. Yet change is what the Kingdom of God is all about. Ever since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, change has been required for remedy. Human nature detests change; Divine nature relishes it. While God emphatically declares His own personal unchangeableness with regard to His Nature, "I, the Lord, do not change!" (Mal. 3:6) nevertheless, the Kingdom of God is all about changebringing forth into existence "new" (cf., definitions in box on Page 1) things, renewal, restoration, or returning things to their original, pristine state.
In both passages quoted at the outset, God speaks about "new" things. In the first, He says, "I declare new things." And, in the second, He proclaims, "I will do something new." We can see from these and many other portions of Scripture that God specializes in new things! Declaring new things is a recurring action of God's. Moreover, whenever God says, "I will" as He does in the second passage, we can safely deduce that whatever it is that He says He will do is indeed His will, since He never does anything contrary to His will. Doing new things is God's will. The question is then: why are change and new things so contrary to our will, as humans, generally speaking?
God speaks of new things repeatedly in His Wordnew wine, new moons, new growth, new things, new strength, new song, new name, new heart, new spirit, new covenant, new tongues, new garment, new commandment, new creature, new self, new man, new and living way, new heavens and new earth, New Jerusalemjust to name the most salient. He not only talks about new things, but also, as alluded to previously, about re-newing things, meaning He takes old, obsolete, outdated, outmoded, passé things and somehow transforms them into new. This tells me that new things are God Things!
God's New Things and People
God specializes in declaring and doing new things! And, yet so many people specialize in old things or the status quo! God has an affinity for the new, and humans, by and large, have an aversion against it. In American culture especially, we venerate, if not idolatrize, the status quo. We like things to be as we have always known them to be in our lifetime. We dread and are threatened by the least prospect or semblance of change. We all but canonize the person who lived at the same house, woke up every morning at the same time, drank his morning cup of the same brand of coffee from the same coffee cup, made in the same pot, drove the same route to work and back to the same job, and ate the same few varieties of meals, on the same plates using the same silverwarefor forty years! (Then, the irony of it all is that to that person who in his own world insisted on making time stand still, we pay tribute with the gift of a gold watch, as if he even has a need for a watch, since for him time already "is no more!") Salt of the earth, grounded, good people, we call them. And, God help the preacher who dares to stand up before the congregation of the dying faithful and even suggest that something in the church needs to change or that it needs a transfusion with new blood.
We have almost a national obsession with preserving the memories of those and that which has passed, contemporaneous with such a barbaric contempt for the new that has yet to live that millions are unceremoniously murdered and their remains strewn about refuse landfills like discarded chicken parts and flushed through the sewers like human waste. We construct elaborate monuments to immortalize the dead. We spend billions of dollars on museums and such things as presidential libraries, Smithsonian Institutes, Halls of Fame of various genres to preserve memorabilia and memories of departed people and artifacts of passé cultures. Treasured "antiques" and venerated "historic" structures are valued many times higher than their modern counterparts. A plethora of books and magazines filling our national libraries and booksellers' shelves are devoted exclusively to reminiscing nostalgically and longingly of days gone by, eras past. All this underscores our collective proclivity of living in the past.
God declares that He will shake everything that can be shaken, as of created things, in order that only those things that cannot be shaken shall remain, yet, people shake in terror at the mere thought of those things that can be shaken being removed and the treasured status quo changing!
Why is that? Two words, insecurity and idolatry! We make huge investments in the status quo. We are vested in what has been, what has already transpired, rather than in what will be and what is becoming. Without even realizing it, our security, our hope, our faith, all become wrapped up in the status quoour own world we have worked so hard to create. It gets to the place, though few ever see it, where we are trusting in that status quo, the world we have been the creator of, rather than God, the true Creator! It takes little thought to see that that is the very essence of idolatry. Only the deity we are exulting is not some wooden object representing some strange, mythological false god, but rather ourselves as the creator of the world we have fashioned and which we are venerating. So, the form of our idolatry is self-deification.
And, then along comes God, and says, "Behold, I will do a new thing!" Talk about shock and awe! Such a concept just does not compute or comport with our thinking and our ways. "A new thing?!" Wait a minute! Doesn't that mean change? Change?! "New?!" Instinctively, subliminally, we know the inference of the word "new" is that what has been is now old, outdated, outmoded, worn-out, obsolete, and passé. How can that possibly be? And, even more pressing, "Then, what now?!"
The Required Response to God's New Things
Notice that word "Behold" in God's declaration, "Behold, I will do a new thing!" It means: Attention! look at this, see this, give your attention to this, consider this. The first requirement in understanding something for the first time is to look at it, give your attention to it, focus on it, examine it, consider it! God wants us to behold the new thing that He is doing. It is critical that we do what God tells us to do! The problem is that whenever God is doing something new in the Church realm, the vast majority of believers, leaders included, do not look at it, give their attention to it, examine it, consider it, but rather their first reaction is to reject it! If it's new, that is, something that departs from or is different from how things have been, then it cannot possibly be from God, is the subliminal attitude of most Christians. The root cause of this kind of reaction to new things, it seems to me, has a lot to do with the completely unscriptural yet nonetheless prevalent notion about God and His Kingdom that they are somehow static, fixed, and inanimate. But, as I am trying to demonstrate in this series of articles, nothing could be further from the truth. Moreover, one of the parts in the series will be an entire article dedicated to the matter of institutional resistance to change and the new things God does, in which I will enumerate the reasons behind it and how they can be remedied that the Lord has shown me.
A trait of religiosity is inanimateness, i.e., deadness. One dictionary defines inanimateness as anything that does not have qualities associated with active, living organisms; not animate or energetic, dead, dull, nonliving things, and refers the reader to the synonyms for the word "dead." An accompanying characteristic of religion is inertia, which is defined as: resistance or disinclination to motion, action, or change. Any church that is governed or even being affected by the spirit of religion is always all of those thingsfull of spiritual death instead of the abundant life Jesus came to give us and proclivity to inertia. Such churches eventually and inevitably become completely severed, disconnected, disenfranchised from the very God and His Kingdom they claim to worship, and gradually slip into the spiritual grave of worshipping the church of God vis-à-vis the God of the Church. They become more dedicated, devoted, and obsessed with preserving the accoutrements of their institution than knowing, worshipping, and walking with God Himself, and being committed to the fulfillment of His Kingdom Purposes and Plans. Most ecclesiastical institutions don't even know what the Kingdom Purposes and Plans are, much less committed to their fulfillment. The last words of a dying church are, "We've never done it this way before!"
Many church leaders, scholars, and theologians think that in being resistant to change and reticent to embrace "new things" that emerge, they are being faithful "defenders of the faith," or "gatekeepers," or "guardians of the flock." And, certainly there is a proper place for that role by church leaders. But, it is also our role to be so close to God that we know Him and His Ways intimately. If we do, there is no way the fact that God is the God of new things and constant change could possibly elude us. Someone once quipped, "constant change is here to stay." That is certainly applicable to the Kingdom of God. If we know God and the modus operandi of His Kingdom intimately, we know unequivocally that He is never static in His dealings with us individually or collectively, and that the Rivers of Living Water of the Holy Spirit are never stagnant but ever-flowing. God is always moving, and moving in ways that are different than the ways He moved in the past"new" ways, new spiritual dimensionsthat is part of the continuum of personal sanctification as well as corporate purification and performance.
One of the attributes of an anointed leader in God's Kingdom, who stays tuned into the Spirit and "keeps an ear to the ground," so to speak, is that He knows when the Spirit is stirring the waters and change is imminent. He knows when the time has come to institute the changes God is requiring, and he possesses the fortitude and faith to boldly implement them according to God's plan and timetable.
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© SLM, Inc. All rights reserved. Posted: 03/12/04 04:12 PM.