During our Lenten journey, we saw how satan has already deceived the church because of the rebellion of the church. Paul said 2 Thessalonians 2:3 “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” This is why the church sits in desolation.
                This new journey began on Easter Sunday and will continue to Pentecost Sunday. Easter brought to a close what the church was and showed us what the church could become. To see the redeemed filled with joy, the church must repent. Easter Sunday also shows us the power we can have over our enemies, even though presently as we have seen, the church stands powerless. Though we are powerless, there is hope because God has promised there will always be a remnant. On Easter Sunday I talked about “What God Finally Brought About,” which is the fulfillment and continuing fulfillment of His promises. Our Lenten journey has shown us how desperate we should be for God to turn His face back to us. We continue to plead with God,
    Psalm 79:8 “Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.” We saw how satan has infiltrated the church so that church stopped being the church yet most in the church continue with their own ways and continually provoking God to anger, while still thinking they are His blessed church. Jeremiah told the people not to trust in deceptive words and how His house had become a den of robbers. Jeremiah 7:14Therefore, what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears my Name, the temple you trust in, the place I gave to you and your ancestors. 15 I will thrust you from my presence, just as I did all your fellow Israelites, the people of Ephraim. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to arouse my anger. 19 But am I the one they are provoking? declares the Lord. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame? 20“ ‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: My anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place—on man and beast, on the trees of the field and on the crops of your land—and it will burn and not be quenched. 23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. 25 From the time your ancestors left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. 26 But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their ancestors.’ 27 When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you; when you call to them, they will not answer. 28 Therefore say to them, ‘This is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.”
                This described what happened to the church because of their rebellion. Because of the rebellion the gates of hell have prevailed. Because of this rebellion we have leaders in the church speaking from their own minds, prompted by satan. There is extensive deception taking place throughout the church and it continues. Ezekiel 13:1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the Lord! 3 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! 4 Your prophets, Israel, are like jackals among ruins. 5 You have not gone up to the breaches in the wall to repair it for the people of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the Lord. 6 Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. Even though the Lord has not sent them, they say, “The Lord declares,” and expect him to fulfill their words. 7 Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, “The Lord declares,” though I have not spoken? 8 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you, declares the Sovereign Lord. 9 My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord. 10 “‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, 11 therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. 12 When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?” 13 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury. 14 I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the Lord. 15 So I will pour out my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, “The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it, 16 those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
                As we know God allowed the enemy to come against Israel and Judah and they were removed from His presence because of it. Isaiah 54:8 “In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer.” Jesus came and everything was supposed to change. Death was conquered and to those who believe, everlasting life in the presence of God. For those who do not believe, they would be sent into Matthew 25:41 “the eternal fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels.” For some they made their own truth (NO!) as they teach hell does not exist (JW”s and the likes of Rob Bell) yet that goes against the words of Jesus. There are many in the church although that would say that hell exists, but don’t actually believe God would send someone there.
                Because of the church’s disobedience the church is in desolation; powerless and void of the power God’s presence. This enemy is everywhere as the rebellion has already occurred and the church lies in desolation. Even the remnant has gone into captivity again. Last night I listened to a sermon by someone who sounds very intellectual. He used Greek and broke down the sentences with his skill in the grammatical. On the surface he sounded authoritative but if you listened closely, he was leading you astray by his teaching. Yes he believes it with all his heart but his words do not line up with scripture but with the teaching of men. Without going into detail this is a good example of what these teachers do. They skip over the parts that don’t line up with their theology and doctrines and then tell you what to believe about certain passages based on their doctrines. They overlay their ideas with God’s word making it sound like it is all God’s word. Then they put doubt in your mind that you could ever understand God’s word because you don’t know Greek. You think wow what he is saying must be true. They also paint a completely different meaning to the text and in this case, spin it so it doesn’t yet apply to you, but only down the road. Meanwhile what they say will happen in the future has already been happening for generations. As they read the passage they interject their doctrinal viewpoints thus changing the word of God by adding and subtracting. The condition of the church we see now is the result of this rebellion that has affected every church around the globe.
                I say this to get to this point. The last two days we have talked about submitting to our King and Messiah. Jesus said to Martha John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” In our submission, we must believe that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God. That means we will love Him by obeying His commands, which simply means we will adhere to God’s word and not change it. It means we will follow His way not man’s way. That will mean we turn away from man’s way and follow God’s way. By believing, we too will never die but it also means there is power available to all who believe. In Matthew Jesus asked, Matthew 16:13 “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.”
                When we believe this, there is great power available as Paul said in Ephesians 1:18 “the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” If what the church is offering today is the glorious inheritance something has gone terribly wrong. By believing what God’s word actually says, our belief gives us the same power that Jesus had. He did not tell us to do as he did without giving us His Spirit to make it possible. Without His Spirit it is impossible, which is why most of the church can’t even imagine that kind of power being available. We are told when they crossed the Jordon into the Promised Land that no one would stand against them and everywhere they set their foot would be theirs. Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil and we were to continue in that work.  We are Acts 26:18 “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” We were to be clothed with power so that our enemies would be defeated. King Asa prayed, 2 Chronicles 14:11 “Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.  Such a great number of Cushites fell that they could not recover; they were crushed before the Lord and his forces. The men of Judah carried off a large amount of plunder.” King Jehoshaphat said 2 Chronicles 20:12 “Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” The answer came “15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
                The gates of hell were not supposed to prevail against us. They were to be kept shut but instead they were opened wide and the enemy has poured out of them. As Ezekiel said “You have not gone up to the breaches in the wall to repair it for the people of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the Lord.” Lamentations 2:14 “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading.” Ezekiel 33:2 “When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4 then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. 5 Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.”
                Because the church went their own way by turning their backs on God’s word and following other gospels, the enemy has prevailed against us. The only way back is to repent and turn from our wicked ways. Can you imagine how different life would be if we did not turn away and follow other gods / gospels; but we did to the astonishment of Paul who said, Galatians 1:6 “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— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” The church would have continued in the power and authority God gave us, the work of satan destroyed and salvation everywhere we went. As we went into the land, people would be healed and demons cast out by the power of God touching lives. This is why we must be clothed with power. The battle is God’s not ours. He goes at the head of the church and destroys His enemies. This is why Jesus is the head and not man.  Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” This is where we are now heading. What Jesus was saying to Peter wasn’t that he was going to be the first pope, which would lead eventually to thousands of differing views / other gospels but that based on his confession that Jesus was the Messiah; there would be power over our enemies. Jesus said “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
                David himself was given this power when he was anointed. 1 Samuel 16:13 “So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.” 1 Samuel 2:1 “David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. 2 He said: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; 3 my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior— from violent people you save me. 4 “I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies. 5 The waves of death swirled about me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. 6 The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. 7 “In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears. 8 The earth trembled and quaked, the foundations of the heavens shook; they trembled because he was angry.”
                Hell was never supposed to overcome the church but it did. We were given the keys of power to defeat our enemies but instead our enemies defeated us because we disobeyed and turned away from God’s word to follow our own. As we talked about this past Sunday, God will bring about his plan and purposes. James 5:11 “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” The remnant as promised to David will rise up in power once again and do as Jesus did. The gates of hell will cease prevailing and the church will once again go to the ends of the earth.1 Samuel 2:8 “For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s; on them he has set the world. 9 He will guard the feet of his faithful servants, but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness. “It is not by strength that one prevails; 10 those who oppose the Lord will be broken. The Most High will thunder from heaven; the Lord will judge the ends of the earth. “He will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.” Revelation 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign for ever and ever.” “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Messiah.” We were supposed to be saved from the power of satan and then go into all the world and do the same.
                satan has great power and you cannot defeat him on your own. Revelation 12:9 “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him but woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” Just as he deceived Adam and Eve in the garden, he has continued to deceive people by getting them to doubt the word of God. When Jesus came, he then gave us power and authority to defeat satan. Jesus was crucified and died but then He defeated death and rose again. Death no longer had a hold on us. 1 Corinthians 15:55 “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
               Jesus changed everything. What he said to Peter was supposed to continue. Peter later said, Acts 2:38 “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call. 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” There is great hope for those who repent and turn from their wicked ways (the church as we know it). What God wanted to do in the first place, he has promised to do again if we seek Him and follow His word. This is what was supposed to happen. John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. 23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. “ God wants to dwell in us but we must obey.  1 Corinthians 3:16 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” Ephesians 2:9 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Revelation 21:3 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” satan was no longer supposed to have power but because we disobeyed, the gates of hell prevailed against us.
                This journey to Pentecost is a journey we have been on for a long time, but God has promised if we seek Him we would find Him. That day will come suddenly upon us if we wait for Him. Isaiah 48:3 “I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.” 2 Chronicles 30:9 “If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” So our hope is in the Lord and we will once again do as Jesus did, so that once again Matthew 16:19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.” This is the kingdom we were given and the power that goes with it. Luke 9:1 “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”