Friday, July 10, 2009

"Purity - The Power of Sight" by Garris Elkins

(This is part four of a five-part article about the “H.O.P.² E.” acronym taken from the book, “They Told Me Their Stories,” where the environment of faith was described that attracted God's healing power to the Azusa Street revival. This article deals with the fourth letter in the acronym – Purity. )

In the Azusa Street Revival of the early 20th Century, William Seymour, the leader of that great out-pouring, was described as having a child-like faith. He would take steps of faith that only a confident child would take knowing they were fully and completely loved. His sense of innocence, and the innocence of those around him, came because they saw themselves as children of God who had been made pure and holy by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Historians who have studied the events surrounding this and other great moves of God's Spirit realize that purity was a primary ingredient in the environment of the miraculous. These people knew God had made them into a holy and pure people at the moment of their conversion. They lived out this understanding by making pure life-choices that reflected their position before God.

Purity is not a moral code. Purity is the new condition God gave us when we came into relationship with His Son. Colossians tells us that we were transported from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. God picked us up from within the old condition that was impure and placed us into the new condition of purity. When we understand that we are pure in God's eyes we begin to align the decisions we make with that new identity. How we see our condition before God will determine how we respond to God.

The Pharisees lived with an outward moral code of purity yet Jesus described them as white-washed cups on the outside who were filled with corruption on the inside. We can get the external code of religious purity down pat and still miss the deeper understanding of what it means to be pure.

The Old Testament is filled with shadows that were cast by the person of Jesus Christ. His stance in the completeness of eternity cast a shadow into Jewish history that fell upon the implements and places of worship. The Temple image was one of those shadows cast and so were the duties of the priest. To follow the shadows of the Old Covenant will bring us to the Person of Jesus Christ.

In the Old Testament a priest would enter the Holy of Holies once a year to atone for the sins of the nation. Israel held its collective breath waiting for the priest to exit from behind the veil to see if their sacrifice was accepted.

Inside the Holy of Holies, and behind the veil, was the the Ark of the Covenant. This box contained a copy of the Law, Aaron's budded rod and pieces of manna. Each of these items within the Ark revealed God's provision to broken people. The existence of each of these items came because people wanted to live outside of God's will.

On top of the Ark was the Mercy Seat - a flat area where the blood from sacrificed animals was placed to cover the sins of the people. Above the Mercy Seat stood two Cherubim facing each other with outstretched wings. These figures looked down upon the Mercy Seat to signify the anticipating gaze of heaven upon the place of mercy.

In the space between the Cherubim is where God choose to manifest His presence on earth. This space was undefined and uncontrollable, just like the presence of God. God wanted Israel to know that He could not be reduced down to a simplistic and limiting man-made definition and that no human could control or contain Him.

On the Day of Atonement the priest would enter the Holy of Holies and approach the Ark. A rope was tied to his leg just in case He had unconfessed sin in his life. If he dropped dead he would be pulled out and the next priest would enter. It was very serious and life-threatening if you approached the Ark in a wrong way.

As the priest would drop the blood of sacrificed animals onto the Mercy Seat the blood became the atonement for the sins of the people for that year. Once the blood was deposited the priest would exit from behind the veil and declare the nation forgiven and the party would begin.

As God looks at the Church He views us through the lens of the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. He views us under the mercy seat of heaven that is covered by Christ's blood. In the great Doxology of Jude we are told that someday we will be presented without fault and with joy before the Father. The Church, as the Bride of Christ, has already been made pure. Now she gets to live out that purity and make decisions to keep herself pure and reserved for the Lord.

There is great freedom in knowing that we have been made pure. The knowledge of our purity before God releases us to live in a realm of supernatural faith that is only exercised when we understand that all the barriers between God and us have been dismantled. This is where revival has its greatest chance of being birthed. With this knowledge we can act like children in His presence and take risks that only come from knowing we are pure and free, and the Father is accessible.

The writer of Hebrews spoke about what Jesus did when He entered heavens Holy of Holies,

“So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.” (Hebrews 9:11-12)

This once and for all deposit of His blood upon the Mercy Seat of heaven covered us with God's mercy - forever. We have a forever redemption. Because of that deposit we can begin to live out a destiny that we have already been given. Our eternal destiny then invades time through the portal of mercy and begins to redefine us.

Hebrews 9:24 “For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf.”

When Jesus entered heaven's Holy of Holies to deposit His blood upon the Mercy Seat of heaven, He made this deposit above the created realm and above all rule and authority and all human failure. The blood of Christ is in a place that provides a complete covering for all who would come under its power and protection.

Ephesians tells us that the Church is seated with Christ in heaven at the right hand of the Father. Who we are is defined by that position. As we look down from this heavenly position, we are afforded a new vision of who we really are in God's sight.
When we understand the immense scope of the blood covering of Christ we will begin to move in a higher dimension of faith. We can seek God in prayer without the fear of rejection or shame. We can ask for things that the natural and impure mind would mock as presumptuous. In other words, we can be bold.

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.” Hebrews 10:19.

This bold approach to God is not based on our personal strengths and self-confidence, it is based on the blood of Jesus Christ who has paved a way into God's very presence and declared us pure. When this boldness is met by God's supernatural empowerment, we call that intersection revival.

1 comment:

  1. Garris, I know I could probably copy and paste your entries on revival in a Word document, but could you send them to me as an attachment? These are very good words that I would like to use here in Cody. Thanks for spending the time writing these things down and posting them here.