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Prayer, Power,
and Proclamation

By Dr Christopher Peppler

Full book available at


Prayer, Power, and Proclamation

© C.L.Peppler All rights reserved. No part of this publication

may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior
permission in writing from the author.

You may not circulate this book in any other binding or cover
and you must impose the same condition on any acquirer.

Published by Chrispy Publications,

348 Beverley Estate, Concourse Crescent,
Lonehill, Sandton, South Africa, 2191

ISBN 978-0-620-43583-3

All scriptural quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are

taken from the New International Version of the Bible.

Table of Contents

Chapter One ..................................................5

Structure of the book...............................................6
The state of the church today..................................7
A narrow path......................................................... ..9
Cautions.................................................... .............11
Jesus our example..................................... .............12
Inverted kingdoms.................................................15
Mindset......................................... .........................20
Fear of the unknown.............................................. .22
Discomfort (dis-ease) with mystery........................23
Misconception of who we are.................................25

Chapter One

S ometimes, people ask me, ‘Why do we see so

few genuine miracles in our day?’ It is not that
God is no longer capable of working miracles, yet
we seem to experience so few of them. There are
plenty of hyped pseudo signs and wonders on
display, but few genuine spiritual manifestations. Is
this your experience?

A similar question which engages me, concerns

why our times of prayer, both private and
corporate, are often such uninspiring events. A
third question I ask myself is, why do we take Jesus
at his word when it comes to things like love for
one another, but not when he speaks of us moving
mountains with words of faith?

It seems to me that the Why do we see so

normal experiences of few genuine-
modern disciples of Jesus
Christ are very different
miracles-in our
from those of the first day?
disciples. Does God not intend the things of today
to be at least as they were in the first century? Am
I foolish to think that the spiritual power of the
church of Acts should be a minimum standard for
the church of today?

Now before going any further, just a little

information on how I have structured this book.

Structure of the book

I have divided the first part of this book into three

sections. This might give the impression that I see
prayer, power, and proclamation as three discrete
subjects. This is not the case. I contend that the
three intertwine as three threads in a golden cord
that binds us to the Holy Spirit in dynamic
partnership. It seems to me that we have
separated these three strands. We pray, and
maybe sometimes we ask the Holy Spirit for power
from on high. We seldom, however, authoritatively
proclaim the release of spiritual power. What would
happen if we learned to weave these three threads
back into one cord? Is it possible that we would
start to experience something of the power of the
early church?

I have designed this book for you to read on its

own, or use in a group setting. I have produced a
DVD series and a leader’s guide to facilitate group
work, and you can obtain the DVDs from
www.chrispy.co.za. I have also included the
Leader’s Guide as Part III of this book to facilitate
group study, even for those who do not have the

I have called the second part of this book ‘Digging

Deeper’, and have designed this for the reader who


wants more. By more, I mean further exegesis and

discussion on key texts and topics. I have keyed
Digging Deeper to the first part of the book with a
circular symbol containing a page number.

The state of the church today

I just cannot believe that God wants us to be

passionless and powerless Christians. If Jesus is the
same Lord today as he was two thousand years
ago, then he just cannot be happy with our largely
Laodicean1 approach to Christian life. What do you
think? Do you regard today’s Christianity as
generally passionless and powerless? If so, do you
include yourself in this diagnosis?

Just to set the record straight, here is what George

Barna’s research2 reveals:

• The typical churched believer will die without

leading a single person to a lifesaving
knowledge of, and relationship with, Jesus
• When asked what constitutes success in life,
few believers define success in spiritual
• When given the opportunity to state how
they want to be known by others, fewer than
one out of ten believers mentioned
descriptions which reflect their relationship
with God.
• Churched Christians give away an average of
about 3% of their income in a typical year,
Jesus criticised the church of Laodicea for its lukewarm attitudes – Revelation 3:15-16
Revolution by George Barna published in 2005

and feel pleased at their ‘sacrificial’

• In a typical week, only one out of every four
believers will allocate some time to serving
other people.
• The likelihood of a married couple who are
born-again churchgoers getting divorced is
the same as couples who are not disciples of
• Eight out of every ten believers do not feel
they have entered into the presence of God,
or experienced a connection with him, during
the Sunday worship service.

So, based on statistics such as these, and on my

own observations, I would say that most Christians
are far from passionate and spiritually powerful.
Why is this? Could it be that the pressures and
pace of life have something to do with it? Jesus told
the parable of the soils, in which he described how
the thorns of worry and the deceit of wealth
choked the plants.3 Perhaps another reason is that
we just do not believe all that we profess.
Contributing factors seem to be that we tend to
confuse volume and energy for spiritual vitality,
and psychology and emotionalism for evidence of
spiritual impact. What do you think?

Some attribute the current lack of genuine

spiritual manifestations, not to a lack of
passion or belief, but to a cessation of
spiritual ‘gifts’ in our day. I don’t believe that we
can be true to scripture and at the same time hold
this position.

Matthew 13

Perhaps part of the reason is because we have

become confused concerning the nature of prayer,
the stewardship of spiritual power, and the need to
proclaim in word and ministry. In this sense, we
have disconnected prayer from power, and power
from proclamation.

One of my objectives in
We-have-become writing this book is to
confused- explore a way of
concerning the- rejuvenating our spiritual
nature-of-prayer, lives, both individually and
in our churches. In an
attempt to address this, I
of spiritual- bring into dynamic unity
power,-and the the three spiritual
need to proclaim elements of prayer, power,
and proclamation. Passion originates with prayer,
but ignites and explodes as we receive power and
then boldly proclaim God’s will.

We need to speak and act differently, but to do this

we first need to think differently. Underlying our
apparent lack of passion and power is an
inadequate theology. Modern man just loves to
reduce complexity and subtlety to simple formulas
and mental ‘boxes’. We appear to have done just
that with our theology of prayer and ministry.
Either we have attempted to make prayer into
something it is not, or we have separated it from
the other elements of spiritual life and ministry –
power and proclamation. In this book, I seek to
integrate these three elements and to restore them
to a ‘whole’.

A narrow path

I realise that in writing this book I walk a

very narrow path. On the one side lies 172
esoteric mysticism, and on the other side
lies pop quantum physics. Some Christians may
baulk at the prospect of stepping into either of
these domains, yet I believe we must travel the
narrow biblical path that runs between them if we
are to learn to minister as Jesus did. Perhaps we
will put a foot off the path on either side from time
to time, but this should not deter us. Jesus is the
truth and he will lead us down this narrow path. He
said, ‘wide is the gate and broad is the road that
leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
But small is the gate and narrow the road that
leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt 7:13-14)

I am not going to base my reasoning on esoteric

philosophy, nor am I going to use quantum physics
as a foundation for the doctrines I propose. I do,
however, intend to draw supportive evidence and
illustrations from both. My source of authority is
the Word of God, but I need to explain what I
understand as the ‘Word of God’.

The Lord Jesus Christ is THE Word of God. He is the

source of all truth. In himself, and in what he
said and did whilst on Earth, he is the
Word of God. The Bible is the divinely 175
inspired and formed documentary record of The
Word. As an Evangelical Christian, I am
accustomed to viewing the Bible through ‘Jesus
spectacles’. In this way, I see the Bible as the
source of truth, and Jesus’ life and words as lenses
through which I observe and interpret scriptural
truth. I want to add another perspective. You see,
Jesus himself is the object, the source of truth, and

we view him through the lens of scripture. Difficult

as it may be to envisage, both analogies apply. We
cannot understand scripture other than through a
Christocentric lens. However, in order to apprehend
truth we must see beyond the text to the source,
and Jesus is the source. We look through the lens of
scripture to appreciate Jesus, yet we have to put on
a Christ-centred pair of spectacles in order to
comprehend what the scriptures reveal concerning
him. The clearest picture analogy I can think of is
that of a person wearing spectacles and looking
through a magnifying glass at a picture of Jesus.
The spectacles represent a Christ-centred
hermeneutical understanding. The magnifying

glass represents the Scriptures.

Before proceeding any further, I must state some



We are dealing with a mystery. How God can

listen to millions of prayers simultaneously, is a
mystery to us. Why he appears to respond to some
requests and not to others, is a mystery. What
spiritual energy actually is, how we release it, and
in what ways it is connected to prayer, is a
mystery. Although we love to reduce complexity to
simple categories and rules, mysteries cannot be
simplified or reduced. They are, by their very
nature, complex imponderables. The best we can
and should do, is to seek to understand the
underlying principles involved.

Hermeneutics is the science and methodology of interpreting texts, especially the
books of the Bible.

Because of our sinful natures, we constantly

attempt to control our environment, others,
and even God. We are tempted to use spiritual
power as a means to our own ends. This is sin, and
we need to recognise it as such, particularly before
embarking on a spiritual journey of discovery such
as this.

Our latent desire to reduce and to control

inevitably leads us to devise rules and laws.
The three keys to power, the seven steps to
answered prayer, the ABC of intercession, and so
on. However, the multidimensional spiritual world
just does not yield to our simplistic two-
dimensional models, laws, and rules. Most of us are
very uncomfortable with complexity, but the
spiritual dimension is complex. If we intend
interacting with it, then we had better learn to
embrace complexity.

The name-it-and-claim-it brigade has

muddied the waters of prayer and
proclamation. Most conservative Christians are
scared to drink from this well in case it poisons
them (or they get drunk!). Yet, muddy water is still
water. Instead of walking away and dying of thirst,
we need to filter the water of its contaminants so
we can imbibe and be refreshed.

Jesus our example


I believe that we should always look first to Jesus

for insight into the mysteries of the Kingdom of
God. Luke 9:28-43 records an event in Jesus’ life
which gives us the genesis of some sort of
understanding of how prayer, power, and

proclamation work together. The passage reads as


About eight days after Jesus said this, he took

Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a
mountain to pray. As he was praying, the
appearance of his face changed, and his clothes
became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men,
Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendour,
talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure,
which he was about to bring to fulfilment at
Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very
sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they
saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him,
‘Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up
three shelters — one for you, one for Moses and
one for Elijah' (He did not know what he was

While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and

enveloped them, and they were afraid as they
entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud,
saying, ‘This is my Son,
whom I have chosen; listen None of the
to him.’ When the voice accounts of
had spoken, they found Jesus casting
that Jesus was alone. The out demons or
disciples kept this to
healing, record
themselves, and told no
one at that time what they him praying for
had seen. The next day, the afflicted
when they came down from person. He
the mountain, a large simply
crowd met him. A man in instructed,
the crowd called out, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at
my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him

and he suddenly screams; it throws him into

convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It
scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. I
begged your disciples to drive it out, but they
could not.’ ‘O unbelieving and perverse
generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay
with you and put up with you? Bring your son
here.’ Even while the boy was coming, the demon
threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus
rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave
him back to his father. And they were all amazed
at the greatness of God.

Jesus went up a mountain to pray. As he was

praying, he had a spiritual encounter and received
an anointing which caused him to radiate light.
When he came down the mountain, he delivered a
young boy of a demon and healed him with words
of authority. Prayer – Power – Proclamation.

Jesus prayed. He communicated with his Father,

who responded by speaking from the glory cloud.
As he was praying, his face “shone like the sun”
(Matthew 17:2). The Matthew and Mark accounts
both use the word metamorphoo, transfigured, to
describe this phenomenon. 2 Corinthians 3:18 uses
the same words, where it says, “And we, who with
unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being
transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing
glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the
Spirit.” The reference to the unveiled face is to
Moses when he came down from the mountain
after having met with God. The connections
between this event, the transfiguration, and our
experience of the Holy Spirit are reasonably clear.

After his empowering encounter on the mountain,

Jesus came down and healed a boy whom his
disciples had been unable to help. None of the
accounts of Jesus casting out demons or healing
record him praying for the afflicted person. He
simply instructed, proclaimed, and declared. Jesus
prayed in preparation for ministry. He received
power from on high in response to his prayers. He
went from the place of prayer and power, and
proclaimed release, deliverance, healing, and life.
So should it be with us!

Before I get into the actual subjects of prayer,

power and proclamation I need to deal with five
interrelated underlying issues which subvert and
undermine our efforts to minister as Jesus did.
They are, lack of awareness that we live in an
inverted kingdom, our thoroughly materialistic
mindsets, fear of change, dis-ease with mystery,
and a misconception of who we are.

Inverted kingdoms
It is hard to run when you It’s hard to run
are walking on your hands! when you are
What a strange thing to say. walking on your
What I mean by this is that
it is very difficult to move fast in a world that is up-
side-down. This would be very much like walking
on our hands in a normal world. It would be even
harder if we could use our legs but we had to run
on the ceiling. Yet, actually, we are living in a world
that is up-side-down. From a spiritual perspective,
it is completely inverted; it is up-side-down, and in-
side-out, and back-to-front!

Before explaining what I mean by this, let me share

with you a personal account. As a young man, I did
a spell in the navy. After basic training, my
commanding officer sent me on a course on radar
and communications. After that, he assigned me to
one of the fleet’s frigates. My task was to operate
either the aerial or the surface plot in the ship’s
control room. The aerial plot was a large circular
Perspex grid, which stood perpendicularly between
the ship’s skipper and me. I had a pair of
earphones through which I could hear the voice of
the radar operator calling out the location and
speed of incoming hostile aircraft. My job was to
plot these on the grid. I had to show each position
as a dot joined by arrows. Next to each dot, I had
to write a coded identifier for the aircraft, as well
as its speed. I had to write this so that the skipper,
standing on the other side of the Perspex grid,
could read what I had written. I therefore had to
write from right to left. When I operated the
surface plot, things were even more complicated.
The surface plot was a large white enamel table. In
the centre was a symbol representing our ship. My
task was to listen to the sightings reported to me
by the radar operator, and to plot these on the
table. These radar contacts represented other
ships in the area. I had to plot each ship, and next
to it write its code, its friend or foe identifier, and
its surface speed. The skipper stood on the
opposite side of the table. For him to be able to
read what I was writing I had to write, not only
from right to left, but also upside-down! It took a
lot of time and practice before my brain was able
to make the adjustments and enable me to write
accurately and rapidly.

Many years ago, some psychologists conducted an

experiment with a group of volunteers. They gave
them each a special pair of spectacles which
turned everything they saw upside-down. The poor
guinea pigs had to wear these spectacles all the
time. In a sense, the spectacles turned them on
their heads. I can imagine the confusion,
frustration, and physical discomfort they must
We are born with have experienced. After
inversion contact many days, something
wonderful occurred.
lenses. We do not
Their brains made the
know we have adjustment and simply
them, and we have turned the visual inputs
no idea that the 180º. Suddenly their
world we see is worlds were the right
actually upside- way up again. Of course,
you can guess what happened next. The
researchers took away their spectacles, and the
world once again turned upside-down!

It occurred to me that, in a sense, we are born with

spiritual inversion contact lenses. We don’t know
we have them, and we have no idea that the world
we see is actually upside-down. Because we are
born with these lenses, we feel at ease and we
operate reasonably well. Then, later in life, we start
to realise that things are not as they should be. We
become aware of a spiritual world, parallel to and
interwoven with the material world. We observe
that this spiritual realm seems to operate entirely
differently to the world
Problems occur into which we were
when we still live born. Our discomfort
as if the world is becomes intense when
the right way up; the Holy Spirit
as though it were regenerates us and we
the same as the
Kingdom of God

are born again. As we read the Bible and learn to

listen to the Holy Spirit, we become painfully
conscious of the differences between the Kingdom
of God and the kingdom of this world. The values,
principles, and priorities of these two kingdoms are
inverted in relation to each other. For instance, in
the Kingdom of God, victory is through surrender
not conquest. In the material realm, we live and
then we die; in the spiritual realm, we die in order
that we may live. In the world, we focus on getting,
but in the Kingdom of God, we focus on giving.
Jesus teaches us to love our enemies instead of
hating them. It is all so much in contrast to the way
the material world operates.

Enlightenment5, in this sense, is the experience of

taking off those spiritual contact lenses and
perceiving the world as it really is. Spiritual
transformation, again in this sense, is the process
of adjusting to the new reality, and learning to live
differently. At first, it is disturbing and
disorientating, but after a time we are able to make
the adjustment. Our reality flip-flops, and we
become conscious that we are walking the right
way up in a world that is upside-down. Jesus said,
“My Kingdom is not of this world…” (John 18:36).
He also said that “the Kingdom of God does not
come with your careful observation, nor will
people say, ‘Here it is’, or ‘There it is’, because the
Kingdom of God is within (among) you.” (Luke

The problem occurs when we still live as if the

world is the right way up; as though it were the
same as the Kingdom of God. We try to apply
physical laws to spiritual realities – and we fall off
I use the word enlightenment as per its dictionary definition and not in the sense
applied to it by Eastern religions.

the ceiling! We attempt to apply business

principles to church life, and we end up with a
church that looks, feels, and is … just like a
business, not a church.

So, the first thing we need to do as we start the

journey into P3 is to realise that the principles of
the Kingdom of God are very different to the
principles of the kingdoms of this world. We also
need to acknowledge that our thinking needs to
change radically, if we are to operate successfully
in the realm of the spirit

What is up in the material realm (MR) is actually down in the

spiritual realm (SR).

Finally, we need to commit to speaking and acting

differently, and then diligently practicing until the
1800 shift occurs. I have written this book in an
attempt to help us all to come down off our

spiritual ceilings and walk tall through the Kingdom

of God.


Another way of understanding these inverted inner

and outer worlds is in terms of mindset. A mindset
is a habitual or characteristic mental attitude which
determines how we interpret and respond to
situations. We start to form our mindsets when we
are born, or perhaps in the months just preceding
our birth, and we lock them in at around twenty
years of age. Using the previous analogy, we build
our mindsets by observing a world inverted by our
inbuilt contact lenses. We should not be surprised,
then, to find that our ‘natural’ mindsets are
intensely materialistic. We build them from what
we already know and have experienced. For most
people this is almost entirely materialistic rather
than spiritual. Once we have built this citadel of the
mind, it is very hard to breach it. Our reality is
secure behind its walls, and we will summarily
reject anything which does not fit through its
carefully crafted gates. In other words, we become
relatively immune to new ideas and experiences.

There is a story, In order to break

open the fortress of
apocryphal, which
wonderfully our materialistic
illustrates the mindsets we need to
defensive power of ask big questions
a mindset. and to seek
Apparently, when the conquistadores arrived on
the coast of Central America, the Incas could not
see their ships. These local people had never seen

a sailing ship before, they had no language to

describe a sailing ship, and they were not
expecting sailing ships. So they just didn’t ‘see’
them. The conquistadores appeared to march out
of the sea like the demigods of Inca legends. The
local high priest was the most educated of them
all, and he sensed that all was not as it seemed to
be. He noticed that there were strange currents
and wavelets just off shore, which had not been
there before. He pondered this and spent
considerable time looking out to sea and trying to
find the 132
reason for these phenomena. Then one
day he suddenly saw the ships which were causing
these abnormal motions in the water. He explained
what he saw to his fellow Incas, and pointed out to
them the exact places where the ships were. After
a while, they too were able to see the ships. The
sailing vessels were there all the time, but the Inca
mindset had effectively eliminated them from
perceived reality!

We need to ask big questions in order to break

open the fortress of our materialistic mindsets, and
we need to seek persistently for answers until
enlightenment occurs. Questions are like battering
rams at the walls of our mindsets. If we keep
pounding with them, then eventually the wall
crumbles at that spot, and we are able to take in
new ideas and experience a new reality. Jesus said,
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will
find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
(Matthew 7:7)

Another way into

Fear is a powerful
the walled city of
our mind is inhibitor to
through the gates. enlightenment. We
usually fear what we
do not understand
and therefore cannot

We can stand at the gate, so to speak, and then

ask God to send in a cart full of revelation. In
practical terms, this ‘standing at the gate’ consists
of being ‘open’ to divine revelation. As Christians,
we achieve this by studying and meditating on the
scriptures, by praying, and by exposing ourselves
to the biblically described ‘gifts of the Spirit’.
However, openness to divine revelation usually
includes persistent questioning. As we read the
Bible, we ask the Lord, ‘Have I understood this
correctly? Is this what you meant Lord Jesus?
Would I see this differently through your eyes?’ As
we ask these questions, and as we expect to
receive answers, then Paul’s prayer is realised: “I
keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the glorious Father, may give you a spirit of
wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him
better.” (Ephesians 1:17)

So, not only do we need to change our orientation,

but we also need to assault our fortified mindsets
by repeatedly asking questions. This is a little scary
for many people. For others, this requires more
mental energy than they are prepared to expend.
However, if we are going to progress, then we need
to make the effort and ask brave questions.

In this book, I ask some big questions and,

although I suggest some answers, it is up to you to
find the explanations that will change your

Fear of the unknown

Fear is a powerful inhibitor to enlightenment. We

usually fear what we do not understand and

therefore cannot control. We have carefully

constructed a fortress-like mindset specifically to
protect ourselves from the unknown and the
uncontrollable. It is fearful to even contemplate
thinking differently, let alone experiencing a
different reality. So, how do we overcome this fear?
We overcome it by focusing on Jesus.

On the mount of transfiguration, the three disciples

were afraid when Moses and Elijah appeared, they
were very scared when the glory cloud rolled in,
and they were terrified when God the Father spoke.
They fell, face down, onto the ground, but Jesus
went to them, touched them, and told them to get
up and not to be afraid. When they looked up, they
saw only Jesus. The things which had made them
so afraid were all gone, and only Jesus remained.
The antidote to our fear of the unknown is the
realisation that Jesus is a reliable guide. He is
entirely trustworthy, and he knows exactly what
lies ahead in the cloud of unknowing. If we put our
faith in him, then we have no reason to fear. He
says to us, as he said to the synagogue ruler so
long ago, “don’t be afraid; just believe” (Mark

This book is thoroughly Christ-centred and,

because of this, some of the proposals I make are
very different to much traditional thinking. When
you encounter these proposals, simply ask, “what
did Jesus say and do concerning this?”

Discomfort (dis-ease) with mystery


Inverted kingdoms, mindset, and fear are all

interrelated, as is the fourth impediment to
spiritual progress, the discomfort with mystery. We
love a mystery story, so long as in the end we are
told that the butler was the one ‘who done it’. We
get very frustrated when the TV set goes on the
blink just before the villain’s identity is revealed.
We love formulas and rules. Most of us are
uncomfortable with ambiguity. Look at the titles of
the books which sell best in the spirituality/self-
help/psychology section of the local bookstore.
They carry titles such as ‘Seven steps to
prosperity’, ‘Three keys to abundant health’, and
so on. We seem to be happiest when someone else
has given us a formula for living or understanding.
‘Pastor, how much should I give to the church?’ If
the dear man says ‘ten percent’, then we are
happy because either we can disagree and rebel,
or we can feel righteous by putting a tithe of our
earnings into the offering bag. We are happy to
paint by numbers, so to speak, but unhappy to
paint on a blank sheet.

Perhaps the solution to our Mystery is a

discomfort with the unknown fundamental
is to acknowledge that part of spiritual
mystery is a fundamental reality.
part of spiritual reality. God’s
thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah
55:9), and that is just the way it should be. The
New Testament contains references to several
‘mysteries’, and Jesus constantly spoke in parables
and then used the mystery, saying, “he who has
ears to hear let him hear”. God will reveal some
things to us, but not all things. So, we must
reconcile ourselves to walking, as Peter and

company did, in the glory cloud of mystery. What

an exciting prospect this is!

Failure to acknowledge that we live in an inverted

kingdom, a materialistic mindset, fear of the
unknown, and dis-ease with mystery are
impediments to living and ministering with passion
and power. One other underlying cause is, I
believe, the single most significant reason for our
spiritual anaemia – we do not realise who we really

Misconception of who we are

The account of the transfiguration describes Jesus

setting off for Mount Hermon from a place called
Paneas. In his day, people also called this little
village Caesarea Philippi, but today we call it
Banias. The waters from the melted snow on Mount
Hermon come to the surface in Paneas. Many
pagan cults and religions regarded this source of
the Jordan River as a sacred site. They called it
Paneas, because worshippers of the pagan god Pan
had built a temple there. When Jesus visited this
village, it must have been the location for several
shrines and temples. It was here that he asked his
disciples, ”Who do people say I am?” Then he
asked them who they thought he was and Peter
answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living
God”. (Matthew 16:16-17) I wonder how Peter
would have responded if Jesus had asked him,
“and who do you say that you are, Peter?” Perhaps
we need to ask ourselves this question.

When I was a teenager, Peter Sellers starred in a

comedy called ‘The Party’. He played the part of a

bumbling, accident-prone Indian, complete with

sandals and turban. After doing something
particularly outrageous, a woman indignantly
asked him, “Who do you think you are?” He looked
at her pityingly and responded, “Madam, in India
we don’t ‘think’ who we are, we ‘know’ who we
are.” Do you know who you are? It seems to me
that many Christians suffer from a deep
misconception of who they really are. On the one
hand there are those who think they are ‘little
gods’, but fortunately they are in the minority. The
majority of Christians believe themselves to be
servants of God, if not slaves of the Almighty. What
about you - who do you think you are? Perhaps a
little pop quiz will help you discover what you really
Many Christians This is a most ‘unfair’
suffer from a deep quiz. Don’t you hate it
misconception of who when, in a TV court
they really are. drama, the attorney says
to the unhappy witness, “Just answer yes or no,
please”. Most often there just isn’t a satisfactory
yes/no answer. Life is complex. However, despite
this I am going to ask you to make black or white
responses to the quiz – no shades of grey. You see,
I want to give you the opportunity to wrestle with
one of life’s most important questions ‘Do I
perceive of myself as a son6 or a slave of God?’ So,
please tick either the White (w) response or the
I use the word ‘son’ to denote all children of God. I do this
because it makes a nice contrast to the word ‘slave’ or
‘servant’ and because texts such as Ephesians 1:5, Hebrews
12:5-8 and Galatians 3:26-4:7 use the word ‘son’ to describe
the family relationship between God and his children.
Obviously, the context is not gender specific and could
equally refer to ‘daughters’. If you are a woman then please
read ‘daughter’ for ‘son’.

Black (b) response to each statement. Do not tick

both responses to any question, and don’t skip
questions. Nobody is going to see the results – this
matter is just between you and God. The big thing
here is to respond honestly; not what you know the
‘right’ response should be, but what the true
response is. Please don’t get sidetracked with a
theological debate about the validity of the

1. I regard God primarily as my Lord and Master (w)

OR primarily as my heavenly Father (b).

2. I hold God responsible for most things that happen in

my life (w)
OR I am responsible for most things in my life (b)

3. In church life I am motivated by fear of consequences

OR by love for God and his people (b)

4. I am performance driven in terms of my Christian life

OR I am relationship drawn (b)

5. I have an arm’s-length relationship with Jesus (w)

OR I have an intimate relationship with him (b)

6. My spiritual life is oriented towards getting (w)

OR towards giving (b)

7. In church life, I tend to do the minimum (w)

OR I invest the maximum (b)

8. I believe that God needs me to do things for him (w)

OR that he loves me to be who I am (b)

9. God predetermines human destiny (w)

OR he gives discretion to his children (b)

(w) = (b) =
out of 9 out of 9

The White (w) responses indicate a ‘slave’

mentality while the Black (b) responses indicate a
‘son’ mentality. If you have more White responses
than Black ones, then I suggest that you probably
regard yourself predominantly as a servant, or
even a slave, rather than a son. So, do you see
yourself as a son or as a slave?

Here is the truth. For anyone born again of the

Spirit of God, in the name of Jesus, then Sonship
defines who we are and servanthood defines what
we do. There is a distinct priority order here: who
we are determines what we do. More accurately,
who we perceive ourselves to be determines what
we are prepared to do.

John 13:3-5 records Sonship defines who

that “Jesus knew that we are and
the Father had put all servanthood defines
things under his power,
and that he had come from what
God we
and do.
was returning
to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his
outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his
waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and
began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with
the towel that was wrapped around him.” Because
Jesus knew who he was, the son of God, he was
prepared to serve his disciples in the most menial
way. So what are you – son or slave? Consider the
following texts:

Ephesians 1:5 “he predestined us to be adopted as

his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with
his pleasure and will.” Instead of arguing
about God’s predetermination of all things,
perhaps we should simply note that God has
predestined us to be HIS SONS AND DAUGHTERS!

1 John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has

lavished on us, that we should be called children of
God! And that is what we are!” What a powerful
and decisive statement.

Galatians 3:26-4:7 “You are all sons of God through

faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were
baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with
Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor
free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ
Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are
Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the
promise. What I am saying is that as long as the
heir is a child, he is no different from a slave,
although he owns the whole estate. He is subject
to guardians and trustees until the time set by his
father. So also, when we were children, we were in
slavery under the basic principles of the world. But
when the time had fully come, God sent his Son,
born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those
under law, that we might receive the full rights of
sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of
his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out,
"Abba, Father”. So you are no longer a slave, but a
son; and since you are a son, God has made you
also an heir.” Note the final verse “so you are no
longer a slave, but a son.”

The distinction between a

“Who do you say son and a slave mentality
that you are?” “I is profound. A slave is not
am a son of the an heir, but a son is. A
The real underlying
living God!”
reason we are A slave defines
generally so who he is in
passionless and terms of what
powerless is that he does. A son
we have failed to determines
realise that we are what he does

slave does not own, but is owned. A son has a

vested interest in the family affairs, but a slave
does not. A slave is obliged to obey his master
under penalty of punishment, but a son obeys his
father because he loves him. Slaves jockey for
position and status, but sons know who they are,
and that status cannot compare to their privileged
position. Slaves focus on getting, because they
have so little; sons focus on giving, because they
have so much. Slaves have only masters, but sons
have a father. Sons are responsible and
accountable. Sons are motivated by love, not by
fear. Sons measure themselves by the quality of
their relationships, not by their performance.
Slaves do the minimum required, while sons invest
the maximum, for their field of endeavour is their
inheritance. A slave defines who he is in terms of
what he does. A son determines what he does
because of who he is.

If you regard yourself as a slave in God’s

household, then this will influence your behaviour
in church. You will tend to want others to tell you
what to do. When you do it, you will most likely do
just enough to avoid a negative reaction from your
pastor. You will want others to acknowledge and
thank you. In all probability, you will expect God to
do things on your behalf. If he does, then you will
praise and applaud him. If he doesn’t, then you will
most likely sulk or actively rebel. To you the
commandments in the Bible are laws designed to
prescribe your life and limit your freedom. Please
understand I am not trying to be unkind here; I just
want to give you the opportunity of evaluating how
you see yourself. This is such an important issue!

A son uses his resources of time, talents, and

treasures in a fundamentally different way to that
of a slave. A son invests in his father’s kingdom
and household. A son takes pleasure in giving his
time and money to the things which are important
to his father. A son initiates and takes
responsibility. A son meets needs where he sees
them without anyone commanding him to do so. A
son desires the wellbeing of the household.

“Who do you say that you The natural

are?” “I am a son of the response to a
Most High God!” This is a
foundationally important
realisation of who
matter. I believe that the we are is one of
real underlying reason we passion and
are generally so passionless and powerless is that
we have failed to realise that we are children of the
living God. Our understanding reflects in the way
we pray, in the way we handle spiritual power, and
in the way we step out with bold authority.

God’s great overriding plan for us is that we come

to know Jesus, grow to be like him, and help others
do likewise. To grow to be like the Son of God is to
develop the character and ministry of a child of
God’s great God. To help others to
know Jesus, and to
overriding plan for
become like him, is not
us is that we come to an exercise in religious
know Jesus, grow to conversion, it is
be like him, and help discipling in sonship!
others do likewise
Oh, what a price the Father has paid so that we
might be sons and not slaves! Sin separates us
from the Father; salvation reunites us with him. The
price of that salvation was the earthly life and

death of God the Son himself! Oh, what grace,

mercy, and longsuffering the Father extends to us
in order that we can develop into his mature
children! Oh, what a cost the world pays when we
live in apathetic disregard for our responsibilities as
sons and daughters of the Most High!

As children of God, how then should we use our

resources of time, talent, and treasures? Surely, we
should use them to;
• Build up the household of God – the church.
• Extend the Kingdom of God in our spheres of
• Give to others for the glory of God.
• Impact the world with his will and purpose.
• Subdue the rebellious spirit world with his

Isn’t it difficult to be apathetic about things like

this? Surely, the natural response to a realisation of
who we are is one of passion and power?

Consider some of the implications of sonship:

The privilege of prayer, both personal and

corporate: As children of the Most High God, we
have the privilege of boldly approaching his throne
of grace. Hebrews 4:16 has, “Let us then approach
the throne of grace with confidence, so that we
may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our
time of need.” Because we are his children we can
approach God, and we can ask him for mercy and
grace. What a privilege! We also have the right and
responsibility to gather with other children of God
to intercede for our communities and our nation.
This too is a great privilege.

The prerogative of revelation: We, as God’s

sons and daughters, have the privilege of receiving
revelation from on high. God has entrusted the
Bible to us to mediate his truth to the world. He
has gifted the church with preachers, teachers, and
prophetic voices. He speaks to us because we are
his children.

The potential for empowerment: The promise

of the Holy Spirit is for us, the children of God. He
is prepared to fill us with power from on high. He is
willing to empower us so that we can glorify him,
and powerfully extend his kingdom.

The response of service: Sons serve! It is

because we are children of God that we serve. We
serve because the love of God is in us, and
because his compassion courses like spiritual blood
through us. We serve because this pleases our
Father. We serve because it is our duty and joy to
give – freely we have received, and so freely we

The catalysts of revival: The churches of the

world are full of children of God who just do not
know it. They regard themselves as slaves or, at
best, as distant cousins. Revival comes when those
who know who they really are proclaim freedom,
power, light, and love to those who do not.

Isn’t it difficult to remain unmoved by such a

mandate? How can we be anything but powerfully
passionate when we realise who we are?

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