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“This is what is written:  The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His Name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

It is one thing to preach repentance and forgiveness, but it is another thing to be able to prove to the repentant that they are forgiven and that it is in His Name.  Anyone can preach, that is just words and talk, but not everyone can do and provide the proof that their message is genuine.

She [Mary Magdalene] went and told those who had been with Him [Jesus] and who were mourning and weeping.  When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen Him, they did not believe it.  Mary preached Christ alive… Christ risen… and the apostles did not believe her, but her message was vindicated when Jesus appeared to them as they were eating and said, “Peace be with you,” and after He showed them His wounds, they were overjoyed… yet in Matthew 28.17 on another occasion, it is recorded:  When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.

If those 40 days after the resurrection were filled with episodes of unbelief and doubt, then how much more you and I will encounter unbelief and doubt with our message… and if even amongst those who saw Him in those 40 days some still doubted, then how much more now amongst the believers and disciples.  If there is anything we must do to honour the Holy Spirit, it is to ensure no elect doubts or disbelieves that which the Holy Spirit will tell them, especially concerning things that Jesus said (to the eleven) that were… “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.  But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.”

Again be reminded that after He had shown them His hands and side that first evening after the resurrection in that locked room where they were hiding and eating, Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  In the same way as He said to the cripple, “Son, your sins are forgiven,” and healed him to show those who were sneering at Him that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on Earth… so He gave that same authority to His disciples, and He gave them the Holy Spirit to give them the power to likewise heal those who are forgiven to testify to the truth of the entirety of all His words.

So when Jesus said in John 14.12 about those who believe in Him and have faith in Him being able to do the things He has been doing and even greater things than these… He was not talking about miracles, healings, signs and wonders only… but now in the context of forgiveness, He was also saying as He forgave, so could all who have received the Holy Spirit and they would have power through the Holy Spirit to likewise prove that they too have the authority to forgive sins on Earth because they are the brothers and sisters of the Son of Man.

Thus, the healing of the sick, the raising of cripples and blind men seeing are not only to confirm the message of salvation in His Name… but more importantly, that there is forgiveness in His Name so that the salvation is truly a manifestation of God’s grace.

So then a ministry of signs, wonders and miracles is not about building the church or a ministry, but a tool for the confirmation that Jesus has truly shared even His authority with His brothers and sisters so that they too can forgive sins in the Name the Father has given… and confirm that deputised authority with power that heals the sick at the laying on of hands.  The degree of the transfer of authority is measured by the ability He has given those who believe and have faith to do what He has been doing and even the greater things.

John 14.12 then is the definition of the extent of the transfer of authority that belongs to the Son of Man to those who are His brothers and sisters… they are authorised and empowered to do even more than what He has done.

What did Jesus do again?  He finished the work of establishing the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins so that in His Name repentance and forgiveness are preached and confirmed with signs, wonders and miracles.  That is what is written with His blood and established in His flesh… His broken flesh.

However, there is one thing Jesus did not do… He never did not forgive.  Never did He say, “Your sins are not forgiven you,” although He warned all who has ears to hear which sin is unforgivable – blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which is speaking against the Holy Spirit.  Now in John 20.23, He tells the disciples, “…if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  Yet earlier He had taught clearly, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”  Now He tells them post resurrection, “…if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  Is this a contradiction?  Of course not.

Luke 6.37 was taught to disciples after He had first taught them in Matthew 5.  Luke 6.37 was a later deeper lesson on “Love your enemies” than Matthew 5.44, and with that deeper lesson came the lesson on forgiveness.  If you study the timing… Matthew 5.44 was taught before the incident of the forgiven cripple who was raised in Matthew 9 and Luke 5… and Luke 6.27’s lesson on “Love your enemies” was taught after that event.

(Pause…)

Here is a good place to see how Jesus made disciples and taught them.  He first taught them on the new command “Love your enemies” in Matthew 5, that is, those disciples who had entered the Kingdom of Heaven because they recognised they were poor in spirit.  Then He did a practical lesson for them in Matthew 9 and Luke 5… which prepared them for the teaching on forgiveness of sins and love of enemies, which He then put together later in Luke 6 for those disciples who were poor (not in spirit, but just poor)… and for whom is the Kingdom of God.

Thus when the Holy Spirit disciples you and teaches you to disciple, you will likewise teach on a subject that later… after a practical demonstration, brings the subject matter to a deeper level for those disciples who have endeavoured to enter the deeper levels.  Remember always… amongst believers and disciples there are varying degrees of maturity.  You may all belong to the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God like students of a college, but like a college, different students are at different levels of development and maturity.  One of the greatest challenges is to feed or teach according to each person’s maturity, and in the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God you have the disadvantage that age is no measure or reassurance of maturity… and neither does longevity of church attendance.

However, with practice you will learn that ignorance and disinterest from another disciple are not opposition, but lack of maturity to comprehend the subject matter, and even outright opposition are mere tantrums by those who are still infantile despite their claims of maturity.  Usually the more vocal and violent the opposition, the more immature and infantile that believer or disciple… like little children on a school ground calling each other names and punching each other up.  He who is the utmost of maturity Himself never struck or opposed anyone with a voice raised like a child in tantrum.  Compare that to the Sanhedrin who were shouting and yelling abuse at Him.  His silence and gentleness in the face of opposition is also a measure of His maturity as the Son of God.  God did not send a juvenile or teenage Son to us… but a Man fully matured and wise beyond His years.  There is nothing infantile, immature, juvenile or inexperienced about Jesus.  So likewise, for anyone who desires to grow to the fullness of His Stature, that growth is measured in maturity of thinking, speech and action… a person who is privy to much thought, few words and singular decisive actions.  Compare the number of Jesus’ words in the New Testament to a man’s words in a commentary, even here.  Compare the singularity of His actions with the multiplicity of men’s actions.  To feed 5000, He gave thanks and 5 loaves and 2 fish were sufficient.  To feed their 5000, the apostles appointed the seven to distribute the money they collected and set up a whole hierarchy. 

So then, learn to choose your disciples and recognise that it is difficult for everyone to understand everything at once… but as Jesus said… later they will.  So take no offence from those who themselves are believers and disciples, but do not have the maturity to yet comprehend what you comprehend.  Forgive them, and if you have sown the truth of the Lord in them, that teaching will one day bear fruit and they will comprehend… to God’s glory, and when all things are brought to an end, you will be reconciled.

So back to the subject at hand… (end pause)

So just as Jesus taught “Love your enemies” in Matthew 5, demonstrated His authority to forgive sins by healing the cripple in Matthew 9 and Luke 5, and then taught a much deeper version of “Love your enemies” in Luke 6 and took that love of enemies to not judging and not condemning but forgiving… so now in John 20.23, He takes the teaching of forgiveness to an even more mature level after He had shown them He is who He claimed to be all along by His resurrection.  Now in John 20.23… to those who know that He is risen and alive, He gives not only the authority to forgive sins like He did… but the authority not to forgive sins.

Now understanding that the maturity of a disciple is measured not by his age or longevity of service or ability to espouse doctrines and theologies, but rather, measured by the degree of empowerment by the Holy Spirit to do what Jesus has been doing, is another innovation for the Galilean congregations.  So that in these congregations, the places of authority are not held by those who are just more aged… but not only aged… but powerful in the power of the Holy Spirit.  For the power of the Holy Spirit is far more dangerous than all the libraries of the world.  Indeed, it has the ability to destroy every word in every library except the words of Jesus and of God.  As such, the Spirit of Wisdom knows to withhold His power from the use of those who are immature, just as a wise father does not give a sharp sword to a five year old.  He may allow a person to preach and preach greatly, just as a loving father would allow a ten year old to speak at length… but as for the power to do what Jesus has been doing… no, that is wisely withheld.  That does not mean the Holy Spirit does not work with believers and confirm their messages with signs and wonders as it is written in Mark 16.20… Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed His word by the signs that accompanied it.  As the Lord said in Luke 16.11, “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” so in the same way, if you cannot be trusted with worldly powers, who can trust you with true power?  If you cannot be trusted with worldly authority, who can trust you with true authority?

So in the early days of the church… the Holy Spirit worked with them and confirmed His words… but it was only a few of the apostles who could do the real miracles like Jesus did… like cause a lame man to walk and raise the dead.

So then… for those who are poor enough in spirit to be chosen for discipleship and who practise “Love your enemies” as taught in Matthew 5 and practise those words of Jesus, the determined practice and learning that must give rise to some degree of maturity will bring them to the place of Matthew 9 where their signs and wonders are specifically to confirm that they too have the authority to forgive sins… as their Brother, the Son of Man, does.

To pray to God for the forgiveness of sins of enemies and to forgive your enemies of their sins against you is Matthew 5, but to forgive the sins of a person who has not sinned against you but against God is Matthew 9 and Luke 5, and unless the power is there to back up the authority, there is no real authority.  Now as you continue to grow and continue to practise the forgiveness of sins with repentance, some of you will mature to the place where whatever sins you forgive are forgiven, and the power to heal will be there to confirm that you have reached sufficient maturity to be entrusted with the power of the Holy Spirit for you to use as you will and as you wish, for your abidance in the Lord and the abidance of His word in you means that John 15.7 is witnessed to be the truth by you already.

The maturity will help you tolerate, no, love… as love is… those who oppose you because of their love for Jesus and the church, and it will help you recognise and even comfort you that their many words but absolute lack of miraculous power, are signs of their immaturity.  They may resort to all forms of worldly power, but then like a little brother who is throwing a tantrum will kick the shin of a much older brother, so your maturity will permit you to continue to love them, protect them, provide for them and even discipline them at the right time.

For as an elect, you are brought to the place of knowing… which eliminates the unbelief and the doubt.  The eleven may have had three years with the Lord… but they were still immature in the affairs of the Kingdom of God just as we are.  The difference is we are of the generation that has witnessed the 1900 years of poverty, slander, persecution, powerlessness and impropriety suffered by our kingdom, and we have the advantage of hindsight, which they did not have… as well as foresight… for like them, we have the testimony of Jesus, which is the Spirit of Prophecy.  With them we share the same hope and foresight… but through them and thanks to them, we have the hindsight, so the onus is on us, not them, to lay hold of the kingdom… being sure to give them the first crop of the glory, for they have borne the heat of the day and we are but workers at the eleventh hour, cleaning up in the cool of the day.

What they did not believe, we must believe and dare to go and see what they did not see.  What they doubted, we must show absolute faith and hope against all hope so that we will know as they knew and walk this Earth as one and ones who did believe the message that morning, who did not doubt what they were seeing and hearing in the presence of the Lord, and who knows because like them, we have put our hands into the wounds of the body of Christ… so that because of us, it can be said… they did believe and go, and saw and heard without any doubt, for by the glory of God that makes us one through their message, so indeed we are one.  And by that oneness, the world’s ignorance of the last 1900 years will be wiped out once and for all, and it will know that the Father sent Jesus and He loves the disciples as He loves Jesus, His only beloved, well pleasing Son… as it stands in amazement, bewilderment and fear at His glorious appearance with all His saints and the angels of God upon the clouds.

And then… by and by… not too long, some of you will truly come to the place where you will do the greater things because Jesus is at the right hand of His Father, seated on the throne of God, and the Spirit of Sonship has matured you to the point that whatever sins you do not forgive, they will not be forgiven, and the power to confirm that authority will be at your disposal.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

Amen Holy Spirit

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