What i am calling for, what I believe God is inviting us into, is simply what has been achieved for us by Christ at the cross. More, not something over and above the cross, not an optional extra or a reward for good behavior, but the ongoing reception of the benefits of the cross.
…The “more” is merely an appropriation by us through the application of the Spirit of what was achieved by Christ at Calvary. We have everything in Christ. There is no more to be given, but there is more to be taken.
(Simon Ponsonby, More: How You Can Have More of the Spirit When You Already Have Everything in Christ, p. 26, 61)
Since encountering Curry Blake’s teachings on healing, I’ve been reflecting upon the tension between what Bill Johnson and Co. emphasizes regarding ministering healing and what Curry Blake emphasizes. I explored this difference in my post Two Ways To Minister where I contrasted 1) “Praying for more of God (experiencing more of Him, His touch, His anointing, His leading) in order to be more effective to do His Kingdom work” with 2) “Knowing what you already have in Christ by faith (His anointing, His presence, etc.) and thus going out to do the work of the Kingdom”. My conclusion in that post was that both approaches to ministry aren’t mutually exclusive but that the 2nd approach should be the foundation for ministering healing.
In this series, I want to be a bit more nuanced and explain how the above two approaches to ministering healing can be seen as complementary, rather than mutually exclusive, and at the same tackle the issue of the place of “more” in the New Covenant.
The importance of understanding the New Covenant
I’m a huge believer in the importance of viewing things from a New Covenant perspective. Certainly, there has been a change in the way things are from the Old to the New Covenant and the Bible clearly states that this change extends to the kind of people we are now (as compared to those in the Old Covenant) and what we have now (as compared to what saints living in the Old Covenant had). The New Covenant is called “new” for a reason – because something new has happened! Some things have changed.
While Joseph Prince is a New Covenant preacher par excellence and I’ve learned tons from him, I first encountered the importance of understanding the New Covenant through what people call Biblical Theology (or Redemptive-Historical Hermeneutics). As I mentioned a bit here, Biblical Theology has taught me the importance of understanding each passage of Scripture in the context of where it is in the progressive history of salvation. Wikipedia defines Biblical Theology as studying
the Bible from the perspective of understanding the progressive history of God revealing Himself to humanity following the Fall and throughout the Old Testament and New Testament.
The key here is understanding “progressive history”. Any doctrine or practice we see that may be relevant and essential to people thousands of years before Jesus’ first coming may not be applicable to us today. In fact, even some things that occurred during Jesus’ ministry and shortly after he resurrected (but before the Baptism in the Holy Spirit came for the believers) may not even be applicable to us as Christians living post-Pentecost. All this is because history is progressing and God relates to people differently at different stages of His salvation story. We all know that we no longer kill bulls and goats for forgiveness of sins because Jesus has come and sacrificed Himself on the cross. But do we also realize that other practices in the Old Covenant are no longer applicable and relevant to us Christians in the New Covenant?
It’s thus important to understand what’s “new” in the New Covenant and not to blindly assume that Old Covenant models of doctrines and practices apply to us believers in the New Covenant just because they are in the Bible. What we may see as godly practices of saints in the Old Covenant may not be something God wants us to imitate in the New Covenant simply because things have changed!
The New Covenant in relation to ministering healing
One thing Curry Blake emphasizes a lot in relation to ministering healing is the New Covenant. As New Covenant believers (as opposed to Old Covenant saints), we are new creations who have everything already in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17, 2 Pet. 1:4, 1 Cor. 6:17, Col. 2:10, Eph. 1:3, Eph. 2:6, 1 John 2:27, etc.) so our focus should be on understanding this new identity and going out to heal the sick. We shouldn’t spend time waiting on God for “more” as if we don’t already have everything already in Christ. Rather, the truth is that we have everything in Christ and lack nothing and therefore we don’t have to wait on God but God is waiting on us to move. We shouldn’t be praying for revival – we should go out and create revival because we are revival. We don’t need to pray for breakthroughs or “pray through” to get something because Jesus has already provided the breakthrough on the cross.
The Old Covenant mindset, which a lot of charismatic teachings and practices are based on, is all about not having enough, about needing something more, about getting something. It is focused a lot on getting from God because we don’t already have – be it forgiveness of sins, His presence, His anointing or power or whatever. On the other hand, the New Covenant mindset is about understanding we have everything in Christ and going out with that confidence to do the works of the kingdom.
The above understanding of the New Covenant in relation to ministering healing that Curry teaches is what has transformed and challenged many believers. It’s been transformational because a lot of us were still operating under an Old Covenant mindset and thinking as Old Covenant people. Encountering Curry’s teachings forced us to come face on with the truth that as New Covenant believers we actually do have everything already in Christ (anointing and authority to heal the sick, the presence of God always with us, identity of being a son of God, etc.). And understanding all this has given us the confidence and faith to go out and lay hands on everybody we can!
The above is all good. These New Covenant truths have transformed my life and caused me to step out. Yet throughout all this, I’ve been reflecting: is there a place for more? Surely, while we all have Christ in us, we don’t minister much like Christ at all! There seems to be something lacking as we certainly don’t see results like Christ! As Simon Ponsonby quoted Vaughan Roberts in his book mentioned above:
In Christ we have everything, but manifestly we aren’t living in light of all we’ve received in Christ. (p. 26)
Biblical support for “more” in the New Covenant
So I’ve been thinking about the biblical support for “more” in the New Covenant the past few months – especially in the light of encountering different healing ministries (some of which still preach about “more”) as mentioned in the beginning of this post. Admittedly, some ministries preach “more” from an Old Covenant mindset that shouldn’t be applicable to New Covenant Christians. Others may speak of “more” in such a way that I’m not sure what to think of it (biblical or not?, Old Covenant or New Covenant?, etc. – more about this kind of “more” in future posts!) So I thought of doing a bit of my own study on the “more” in the New Covenant. Below are some points based on Paul’s letters to the Ephesians, Colossians and Corinthians.
1) While Colossians 2:10 says we “have been given fullness in Christ”, Paul in Colossians 1:9-11 prays for more knowledge, wisdom, understanding and power:
…we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding… being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might…
2) Similarly, while Ephesians 1:23 says that the Church is the “fullness”of Christ, Paul in Ephesians 1:17-19 prays for wisdom, revelation and knowledge (of many things!):
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit (or a spirit) of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength,
3) In Ephesians 3:16-19, Paul prays for strengthening of the inner being and a greater knowledge/experience of God’s love – so that “you might be filled with all the fullness of God”:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
So obviously, while the Church is the fullness of Christ (Eph. 1:23) and we have been given fullness in Christ (Col. 2:10), there’s still a need and prayer to “be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19, KJV) or to
be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]! (Eph. 3:19, Amplified).
Hmmm…kinda sounds like a cry for “More of you, God!” doesn’t seem so out of place after all!
4) The next verse (Eph. 3:20) mentions a truth commonly declared to encourage us that God can do impossible and amazing things (“…who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”). It is interesting to note that this truth seems to hinge on how much His power is at work within us – “according to his power that is at work within us”. Perhaps that’s why Paul prays in Ephesians 1:9 that we may know “his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Could it be that we do need more knowledge (and experience) of His power in order to see more of His amazing acts?
5) Beyond his prayers above, Paul exhorts us in 1 Corinthians 12:31 and 14:1 to desire spiritual gifts. While we’ve been “blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Eph. 1:3), we are still told to desire spiritual gifts!
6) And in Ephesians 5:18, we are told to be filled with the Spirit – which implies not a one time filling, but a continuous filling of the Spirit. As Simon Ponsonby writes,
…the fact that in Acts we see the same people filled with the Spirit successively and manifestly (Acts 2:1-4; 4:8, 31; 13:9), and the fact that we see Paul’s prayers in Ephesians 1 and 3 and Colossians 1 for the Christians to know a deeper, richer, fuller experience by the Spirit, all rather takes the steam out of those who point to having “got it all”… Paul makes it abundantly clear: There is abundantly more! (p. 169)
Therefore, while there are passages that speak of having everything already in Christ, there is clearly a place to ask for “more”: more knowledge, power, wisdom, understanding, revelation, strengthening of the inner man, experience of God’s love, fullness of God, filling of the Spirit (or a deepening experience of God’s Spirit) and spiritual gifts. How do we reconcile all this? I’m not totally sure but I intend to give it a try in this series of posts.
I have to admit that some parts of the prayers of Paul above are quite difficult to understand and interpret. You can go to many commentaries and they’ll probably interpret various phrases differently. Nevertheless, while I may not fully understand what the above passages that speak of “more” mean, nor fully understand how one can be perfect and have everything in Christ yet still need to ask for “more”, I’ve been praying through those passages for myself. Those are not Old Covenant passages that we can easily dismiss, but are New Covenant prayers and exhortations that apply to New Covenant Christians.