Tony Evans at Moody Founder’s Week – There is no more important place to know Christ than the struggles of life

Dr. Tony Evans begins by recounting that Moody Bible Institute was the first radio station to open it’s doors to his African American ministry. Moody also published Dr. Evans’ first book (he has published 60 books to date).

Dr. Evans: Far too many of us are addressing the wrong problem. We’re addressing the thing that the five senses grasp: What we see, and feel, and touch, and taste, the things that are the obvious. But, Paul says in Ephesians 6 that we are struggling, not against flesh and blood. That our battles, our struggles, our fight, our war is not fundamentally physical- „We do not struggle against flesh and blood, but, against the rulers and powers, against world forces … against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

He says, „Your primary problem is what you do not see”. It does not come form flesh and blood; it comes from an invisible influence in our world and in our lives, creating our struggle and our pain- a wrestling match. He says it emanates from a location he calls- heavenly places. This explanation, or use of verbage by Paul is unique to him. He says, for example, in Ephesians 1:3 „Your blessings are in heavenly places.” He says in chapter 1:20 „Jesus Christ is risen and is seated in a heavenly place.”He says in chapter 2:6 „We are seated with Him in heavenly places.” It says in chapter 3:10 that the angels operate out of heavenly places. He says in chapter 6:12 the demons operate in heavenly places.

One might get the impression ‘heavenly places’ is where all the action is. Heavenly places is a euphemism is for the spiritual realm. What he is saying is that the struggle you are dealing with in the earthly realm is emanating from the spiritual realm. It goes something like this: If all you see is what you see, you do not see all that is to be seen. And, that goes on to say that unless you and I learn to operate from that realm, we will be defeated in this realm. Because (Paul) says, your struggle, the thing causing your day to day angst and anguish does not emanate from the physical realm in which you’re feeling it throb. It emanates from a whole ‘nother sphere called heavenly places. And heavenly places has good stuff- Christ, we seated with Him, our blessing, angels, and bad stuff- he says, the demonic realm. And all that’s taking place in the unseen realm, working itself out in the realm that we see every single day.

Moody’s Founder’s Week Theme this year is „Knowing Christ”. And, there is no more important place to know Christ than the struggles of life. To know Christ in the beautiful music (that we heard tonight) and the great fellowship that we experience is wonderful. But, the reality is many have come here tonight dragging something behind them. And while they will be distracted for an hour or two, they will drag it back out that door, and they’re going to be in anguish and pain. And, the Christ I wanna know is the Christ, who not only gives me a great anticipation for heaven, but, who meets me in history. It is a Christ who has covered my eternity, but, doesn’t skip me in time.

Instructing these Christians in Ephesus, who are living in a pagan society, with a pagan goddess Diana, with a pagan orientation, they have to deal with the reality of a secular world, Paul writes his most comprehensive statement  on spiritual victory in all of the New Testament, because he introduces us to the armor of God. (From the first 12 minutes of a 48 min. message).

At Moody Bible Institute Founder’s Week February 7, 2013-

Armor of God – Truth is God’s view of any subject matter

1. Belt of Truth. Truth is reality in it’s original form, and since God is the originator of all reality- if truth is reality in it’s original form, and origination starts with God, then truth must be whatever God says on any subject you’re discussing.

Why do you need a truth belt? Because the person you’re fighting is a liar. He, not only is a liar, he is the father of lies. So truth must be used in your battle.

  • Truth transcends how you feel. Please do not misunderstand. You do not deny how you feel. If you’re happy, you’re happy. If you’re sad, you’re sad. That’s just how you feel. But, how you feel should never determine what you declare to be true. No matter what you’re battling today, you are to speak what God says about it, not speak merely how you feel about it.  If what you feel about it is not what God says about it, you have invited Satan to control the arena of your battle. You must speak the truth, you must declare what God says it is. (20:00)

armor-of-god-sword-of-spirit2. Breastplate of Righteousness – Righteousness is that standard that is acceptable to God. The reason that other world wants you in unrighteousness, in sin, is because once they have you in an unrighteous state, they can now occupy the environment. Demons are attracted to unrighteousness. The problem with sin is not just sin. The problem with sin is what sin attracts. So, you not only have the problem of the sin itself. If you’ve ever had occasion to have trash laying around your house, for any extra amount of time, you may wind up with some unwanted guests. Some ants, or some roaches, you may wind up with some folk you never formally invited. You just created an atmosphere that made them think they  were invited. So, by virtue of the trash, that is the unrighteousness, they have been allowed to come in, so that now you have a double problem. You have the problem of the trash, and the problem of the demons that have exacerbated the the trash. And, it is unfortunate today that New Testament Christians have lost the theology of demonology, to understand that the reasons why addictions exist is because the person who is addicted is not just addicted to the thing they are addicted to; they are addicted to the thing they are addicted to that has been exacerbated by demonic invitation. And, since demons have been invited to participate, because unrighteousness is a breeding ground for them, to invite themselves. The battle is deep.

So, the draw or motivation for righteousness of the heart is to make sure that we do not exacerbate the problem of sin with the unwanted guest- the demons, with whom we area actually wrestling.

3. Shoes of Peace. There is nothing that will confirm that you are in the place you ought to be, and doing what you ought to do than the practical confirming of the peace of God. But, look: Peace is number 3. Because you’ll never have peace, if you don’t have truth. And you’ll never have peace if you aren’t right with the Lord. But, if you have truth and you are right it gets confirmed with peace. Why peace, and why your feet? Because that’s what you’re moving with, and go in the direction you’re going. God confirms truth and righteousness with peace.

But, what is peace? It is not just calm, because people can have calm in any number of circumstances. The Bible refers to peace that surpasses understanding because I don’t understand why I have it in what I’m dealing with. The way God confirms that you’re right where you’re supposed to be, even though you struggle in life is He gives you calm in the midst of a storm. There is peace in the will of God, even if it’s raining. God confirms where you are based on truth and righteousness and confirmed peace.

4. Take up the shield of faith. This is a misunderstood word: Faith. How do you know that you have it? Is it a feeling called faith, and what happens if I don’t feel faith-ish? What is this thing called faith? Faith is acting like God is telling truth. Faith is acting like it is so, even when it’s not so, in order that it might be so, simply because God said so. You measure faith by the movement of your feet. If your feet are not moving, you don’t have faith, no matter how faith-ish you feel. Faith is the action of the feet, that activates the provision of God. People sit in their pews week after week, and say ‘I have faith’. But, their feet haven’t moved. If your feet haven’t moved, you don’t have faith. That’s why it’s called ‘walking by faith’… keep moving.

Paul says, „Take up the shield of faith, which is able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the evil one. Take up the shield of faith… what are these fiery darts? The Greek word for dart is arrow. But, he doesn’t just say arrow, he says fiery arrow. That is arrows whose tips have been set aflame. A fiery arrow is designed to create distraction, as the Indians shot arrows at wagons knowing that the cowboys could not fight fire and fight Indians at the same time. Your enemy wants to distract you from the truth of God, the righteousness of God, and the peace of God. And if he can distract you from acting on what God says, and keep you acting on what everybody else says, and even what you say to yourself, it will distract you from the provision of God. One of the main reasons we live in defeat is we don’t have faith, even when we feel full of faith is because we’re not moving on what God says. We’re just discussing it, debating it, philosiphy-ing about it. But, until there is movement, faith has not been exercised.  It is the movement that demonstrates faith.

5. Helmet of salvation. He’s talking to believers here, so he’s talking about the helmet of justification. These folks are already saved. He’s called them saints already. He’s talking about God’s ability to deliver. The word salvation means ‘to be delivered’. Justification delivers you from hell. He’s talking to people who’ve already been justified, that need to be delivered on earth. And if you’re struggling, you need to be saved, that is delivered through or around your situation, whatever it might be. The helmet covers your head, your brain. Whatever you do is because your head tells your body to do it. Paul says you must think differently.

Every time you take communion, the Bible says that you are to remember the new covenant. The New Covenant is that relationship or covering that comes to every new believer who belongs to Jesus Christ. A covenant is like an umbrella, it covers. If you have an umbrella, but it’s closed, you’re not doing what the umbrella’s been designed to do. A covenant is a covering. Then Jesus says, „I want you to proclaim My death, until I come.” The question is proclaim it to who, about what? Who am I proclaiming His death to, by taking the wafer, and taking the juice and proclaiming His death? It is to the devil. Every time you take communion, you are declaring to the spiritual world, „I am under the covenant covering of Jesus Christ, and you don’t own me anymore.” That’s why communion is the most powerful action of the church. It is more powerful than singing, it’s more powerful than preaching, because it’s your direct access to Christ, to tell hell  that it no longer has authority in your life. Jesus wants you to understand that what you have gotten yourself into with this helmet (of salvation) of what it means to be delivered.It comes from Him.

6. Finally, take the sword of the Spirit of God. The only offensive weapon, a sword. And it’s the only offensive weapon because it’s the only thing the Spirit uses. The Spirit doesn’t use what you think. He doesn’t use just stuff; He uses His word. The Greek word for word is the word rhema. You have the word ‘graphe’, and that is the Book- the Bible is the graphs- it is the record. You have the ‘logos’, the logos is the content of the record. It’s what the record says, and what the record means. Then you have the ‘rhema’. The rhema is the utterance. It is the declaring, It’s what Jesus did in the wilderness. Satan says, „You’re hungry, you need to eat.” Jesus says, „Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” He takes the Old Testament word and He speaks it to the devil. Jesus used the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. The greek word for sword is dagger, the short kind for an up close battle. So when the devil is all up in your face, you use the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Now, there’s 6 pieces of armor, but your theme is knowing Jesus.

  1. Jesus says, „I am the truth, the way, and the life.”
  2. Jesus says, „I am your righteousness.”
  3. Jesus says, „My peace I leave with you.”
  4. Jesus says, „I am the author, and the finisher of your faith.”
  5. Jesus says, „I am the captain of your salvation.”
  6. Jesus says, „I am the living word.”

So, you see, all you need to do is put on Jesus. And, when you put on Jesus, you have on the armor. The armor does not mean you will not have battles, this context is a struggle. It means that the enemy won’t have the last word.

Tony Evans – The churches of Jesus Christ are too involved in the kingdoms of this world.

Tony Evans:

  • ” I would suggest to you, that much of the church of Jesus Christ has lost its legitimacy, because it’s become too involved with the kingdoms of this world”. 
  • I’d like to suggest today that there’s an absence of authority in the church of Jesus Christ”.

Dr. Tony Evans, Senior Pastor, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Dallas, TX, explains how the churches of Jesus Christ are too involved in the kingdoms of this world. Uploaded on Jan 25, 2012 by dallasseminary The message begins at the 7:15 minute mark.

Dr. Tony Evans compares christians to the referees on the field of a football team, whom he describes as the third team on the field. The first team being the home team, the second being the visiting team and the third being the referees who follow the rules of their commissioner.

Evans: God has a third team in history. A team of men and women, whose job it is to reflect down here the instructions given up there. They have been placed in history, by the commissioner, the Lord Jesus Christ, based on a book that they’ve been handed, to execute in time the values of eternity, to manifest in history the thought patterns of heaven.

The moment that this team starts listening to the conflicting voices around them, whether those voices are racial, or whether those voices are political, or whether those voices are even religious, but, they are conflicting with those instructions and this book and the commissioner, they lose their legitimacy. I suggest to you, that much of the church of Jesus Christ has lost its legitimacy, because it’s become too involved with the kingdoms of this world. That they have lost the stripes on their shirt because they have donned the jerseys of another order. That they are so in tune to what the crowd thinks, that it’s so influencing them in their decision, that they diminish or disregard the Book (Bible), and wonder why they are not getting any support from the commissioner (Jesus).

Jesus called a meeting. It was the only meeting that was scheduled in the 40 day increment between his resurrection and his ascension. Three groups attend the meeting. According to Matthew 28:16, it says the 11 disciples were there. 1 Corinthians 15 says that more than 500 brethren showed up. In order for 500 brethren to be in the same place, at the same time, it had to be a scheduled event. This was the only scheduled event, at the mountain that Jesus designated. So, 500 gathered there to get the departing words from their Savior.

There’s a third group that attends this meeting, because v. 20 says, „and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age”. Well, the age had not yet ended. So why don’t we mosy on up to the meeting since it is applicable to the age we live in. It says, they worshipped Him, but some were doubtful. But, the good news is that even the doubters were there. There are two kinds of doubters: Those that show up and those that don’t. The doubters, even with their question marks, even with their insecurities showed up to the worship service. After the worship, Jesus begins to speak and He hits them with a bombshell: All authority has been given unto Me, in heaven and on earth”. Translation: I’m in charge now. I am not only calling the shots in heaven, but, I am also calling the shots in history.

Unfortunately, so many christians have divided, illegitimately the two, when in Christ, you have the unique coming together of the two- heaven and earth. Some are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. Others are so earthly minded that they are of  no heavenly good. But Jesus says, „I rule both realms and I’m in charge now”.

The greek word that He chooses to use for ‘authority’ is instructive. Rather than using ‘dunamis’, which is expressive of raw power, the greek word that He chooses the word ‘Exousia’ which is more expressive of authority. It’s emphasis is authority in legitimate hands. What Jesus Christ says today is: All authority is given to Me. I am the basis of divine authority to be manifested in history.

I’d like to suggest today that there’s an absence of authority in the church of Jesus Christ. And while we recognize hat there are misuses and extremes, in certain areas related to authority, that we’re not just here to pray and sing songs and have good feelings about the Lord. We’re here to suck down heaven so that it can be manifested in history, as Jesus taught His disciples to pray: Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth. As it is already operating in heaven. And Jesus says the authoritative transfer comes through Him. The question on the floor is: How do we piggy back on that authority? How do I get the right and the authority to overcome the powers of this age? For they are many, they are legion and they are great, the powers that would seek to destroy me, my family my children. The power that would seek to destroy our culture, our churches, our communities. And yes, even our nation. Where do we get our authority? (min 19:00)

Jesus instructs us to make disciples. This is not an option, this is a command. And the way you achieve that is you go, going, baptizing, and teaching. I would like to suggest that we have plenty of christians, but very few disciples. Plenty of people who go to church on Sunday, but, join their favorite team on monday. Plenty of people who will call Jesus Lord, without letting Him be Lord, (nor) the final decision maker, through the book He’s handed every official.

The word disciple in greek is a particularly interesting word. It was used in Greek culture. Plato had developed a series of thinking, thought that separated the spirit world from the physical world- the spirit world good, the physical world evil. He created this dichotomy in nature. You and I ,today call it secular and sacred. He greatly influenced a follower of his, a disciple named Aristotle. Aristotle took the thinking of Plato and organzied it, and arranged it into a systematic way of thinking. We know it as Aristotelian logic. And he built academies. These academies were schools to train young men and young women in the thinking of Plato, through the organization of Aristotle, so that when they entered the culture, they would reflect the world view that had been taught through this system of thought. So this school pumped out these young men and women.

So powerful and authoritative, and successful was this Greek thought, that when Rome defeated Greece and became the world power, they could not control the culture. They had the military machine, but Greece was still controlling the thinking. Because, infiltrated in this conquered land was a group of men and women who were functioning in a foreign land with the thinking of the home land.

That’s what a disciple is. It is a person who has conformed to a way of thinking and functioning based on the home land, even though they’re operating in a foreign land. You and I were not made to live in water. Fish live in water. That’s not our habitat. But when scuba divers have to go down, they’re in foreign territory. So what they do is they put a tank on their back. Inside the tank is oxygen. Because they know, to function in a foreign land, they need the resources of their mother land. In order to function down there, they need air from up here; so that they can be who they are down there, living, depending on what they receive form up here. They do not try to live like the fish.

You and I were created to sit alongside Jesus Christ, in heavenly places, getting His authoritative view on everything, executing it in history as disciples. We might define discipleship simply as this: That process by which men are conformed to the image of Christ. It is Christ owning more of me this year, than He owned of me last year. It is moving me from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity, where I consistently make my calls on the field of life, based on instructions from above, through the book that has been handed me, in spite of the reactions I’m going to get form the environment in which those decisions have to be made.

The absence of discipleship has led to the absence of authority because Jesus Christ only transfers His authority to disciples, not to just christians. It is the absence of discipleship that has led to spiritual defeat. No matter how many sermons you preach, and classes you take, if there is not conformity to the image of Christ, through the process of discipleship, there is detachment from the authority of Jesus Christ. And if there is no authority, there is no spiritual victory.

What Jesus Christ is looking for, is a group of officials, who allow His thinking, His attitude, His perspective, His world view to run off on them. So no matter where you go in life, they get a recording of Jesus Christ. Because you look so much like the master. But, if the only time you look like the master is in church on Sunday, and when He can’t run off you, and His world view dominate you, then you don’t get His authority. And, without His authority, there is not answered prayer, there is not given spiritual victory, in spite of the fact that you’re on your way to heaven. Because spiritual authroity is nly transferred to disciples. (30:00)

In John 2 it says many believed on Him, but then it makes an interesting statement: But He would not commit Himself to them., because He knew what was in them. God has children He’s not committed to. Yes, He’s committed theologically, He’s committed positionally. But, I’m talking about pragmatically. He gives the execution of authority only to those associated with Him.

Go… that means don’t stay. It means that you are to march as My representatives. Don’t stay in church. „This worship service is over”, Jesus said.

He says, „Baptize them.” What does that mean. That means reclassify them. To be baptized means to be reclassified, it doesn’t mean to (just) get wet. It’s your initiation as a public representative. In other words, if you’re a secret agent christian, you have no authority. God is calling people to go public. And, if you are not a visible, verbal, follower of Christ, you can pray all you want. There’s no authority. There must be a public proclamation. There must be a public declaration.

He says, „Teach them”. What? Teach them how to live, it’s about execution, not information. And if there’s no execution, there’s no authority.

And then, Jesus closes with these words, „and Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age”. In Greek Jesus cites His name twice.  It’s „I, even I”. Why does He cite His name twice? He distinguishes Himself from the other two members of the trinity that were mentioned in the verses before (this verse). In other words, (Jesus says) „I have a unique relationship to disciples”. It is not, „I am with you in the hospital, I am with you if you’re sick… He’s talking about disciple making. And He says: When you are becoming and are replicating Me, the second member of the trinity (Jesus) carries a unique relationship with you. „I will be with you in a unique way”. What way? „I will be with you in the execution of spiritual authority”. When you and I express that kind of authority, and the world sees authority in operation, we’ve called graphic attention to who Jesus is.

Spiritual Life Conference (Spring 2012):

The Kingdoms of This World

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