Our Mission and Identity
This is a thesis that Brett wrote for seminary.
The mission of Zerubbabel is grounded firmly in the universal purpose of God in creating and redeeming the world. In Ephesians 1:3–14, Paul speaks of God’s plan to create a people for His own glory from before the foundation of the world, of the means that God uses to implement that plan, and the ultimate consummation to which He will bring that plan. God’s plan is nothing less than to bring about a new creation in which the Satanic forces of evil are finally overcome and the world is restored to God’s dominion. By Christ’s death and resurrection, this new creation, the new humanity, has already become manifest, and begun to transform the world (2 Co. 5:16–21). Zerubbabel’s mission in particular is to be the Lord’s instrument for the transformation of people’s lives so that the new creation will take root and
manifest itself there. We are called to bring about the transformation of people’s minds (Ro. 12:1), so that they may be delivered from Satan’s lie.
But this type of mission inevitably brings about conflict, since it involves the invasion of the old creation, Satan’s realm, by the new creation. So the mission of Zerubbabel emerges from the acute awareness that believers are presently engaged in a spiritual battle with the forces of evil, which contend for control of their lives at every moment. At every point Satan is attempting to deceive the elect with his own lie of independent self, the belief that we are self–operating selves with the right and ability to run our own lives as we please, instead of humbly accepting our role as vessels of the divine will and nature.
The Lie of Self as God
This illusion of control over our lives and of our self–sufficiency is, we believe, the root of all sin, and constitutes nothing less than the idolatrous pride of an inflated ego. It is the worship of the self as God, assuming for itself rights and privileges which belong only to God. It is the lie that I have the right to live my life as I please with my possessions, my career, my reputation, and my successes and accomplishments, or the other hand, my failures and my inadequacies. The deflated ego with a sense of its own inferiority to others is as idolatrous as an inflated superior one, since it still buys into the illusion that it ought to be self–sufficient and autonomous. We don’t get to have a self of our own, so that we can define for ourselves what kind of selves we intend to be and how we are going to live our lives.
To those entranced by Satan’s lie of the autonomous self, the life I describe sounds like unbearable totalitarian slavery. But what people do not realize is that they are already living their lives in slavery to Satan’s lie. The freedom they think they have is just an illusion. In giving up all pretensions to having my own life, I take up the cross and am crucified with Christ, so that he may live His life through and as me–(Mt. 16:24; Gal. 2:20). In giving up the illusion of control, we discover what we really can control, the critical choice where the battle between Satan and the Spirit of Christ is joined. That choice is whether or not to continue to buy into Satan’s deception that our self is something more than a vessel, that we have lives or selves of our own that serve any other purpose than to fulfill the will of our Creator and bring glory to Him.
Exposing Satan’s Deception
The mission, then, of Zerubbabel is to expose this lie of Satan wherever we find it manifested in the lives of people. Thus our role and mission is a prophetic ministry to the larger body of Christ, which, because of Satanic deception, lies captive in spiritual Babylon. As a sword in the hand of God, we penetrate the inner lines of Satan’s defenses and lay bare his lie in the hearts of people. And so we believe it is our mission to lead the people of God in a great spiritual Exodus out of Satan’s realm, for wherever people believe Satan’s lie, he is granted a foothold in the life of the church (Eph. 4:27), and he is again free to operate in our lives just as in the children of disobedience (Eph. 2:2). Although the Kingdom is not fully here, nevertheless God through us is advancing His rule and destroying the works of the devil in the lives of people (1 Jn. 3:8).
This mission is accomplished in various ways. First of all, we have a bimonthly magazine that we send out to approximately 3000 people across the nation, Canada, and England, with a few subscribers in other parts of the world. Through this magazine we disseminate our beliefs in the form of teaching articles, bible studies, personal testimonies, and book reviews, as well as descriptions of and invitations to our conferences, held throughout the year and across the country and in England. These conferences are the heart of Zerubbabel, where the teaching is put into practice in the lives of people. About 60–100 of us regularly gather to teach and exhort one another, to bare our lives to each other, discussing our thoughts, feelings, and actions in order to expose where Satan may have deceived us, and allowing ourselves to be used as public illustrations of the message. How can we save the world if we cannot even save ourselves? For this reason, we lay down our lives for one another, that Satan’s activity may be exposed and our selves delivered. We do all this that we might ultimately lay down our lives for the broader body of Christ, "filling up in our flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church" (Col. 1:24). This is our priestly intercession for one another and for the people of God as a whole, to present them as a pure virgin to Christ, spotless and undefiled by the serpent’s cunning (2 Co. 11:2–3).
A Call to Arms
In our understanding, the church is not institutional but organic in nature. We have come together, unified not by institutional structure, tradition, or any other sort of fleshly bond, but by a common spiritual vision derived from the Word of God. Unity on any other basis is not the unity of the Spirit that Paul describes (Eph. 4:3). Without the common vision of God’s redemptive plan for the cosmos, to reconcile and bring all things under the headship of Christ (Eph. 1:10), we would not be Christ’s body, the means by which he reestablishes His rule in the world. We would only be a mere community according to the flesh, having the merely temporal value of meeting our social needs. Rather, united by common purpose and spiritual vision, we are a
mighty army, the hosts of God, marshaled to defeat the ancient serpent, the primeval dragon, Leviathan, and are called to establish the new creation in the very midst of the old (Is. 27:1; Rev. 12; 2 Co. 5:17). We are an earthly expression of the Church Militant, before whom the forces of darkness tremble and against which Satan pours out his wrath, knowing that we have begun to undermine his authority over his earthly realm by the proclamation of the truth. Although we are small in number, having little strength like the church in Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7–13), the Lord has opened a door for us that no one can shut (3:8), for we are the prophetic vanguard of the church, calling her to return in faithfulness to the Lord of the covenant, and calling the world to repentance, like the two witnesses or lampstands in Rev. 11. And like the two witnesses, we lay down our lives in testifying to the truth and in resisting the devil (11:7; 12:11 ). Through the Spirit, we prosecute God’s covenant lawsuit against his people, calling the churches to repent, just as Jesus called the seven churches of Rev. 2–3 to repent of their compromising idolatry of spiritual Babylon. So even today, the broader body of Christ we see in thrall to Babylon, corrupted by her false doctrine and evil practices, like five of those original seven churches. But even as Christ did not disown the churches, but tenderly called them back to Himself, so we do not reject the larger body of Christ, but long to see its deliverance from captivity,.
In fact, our call is nothing less than an exhortation for the church to return to her great heritage, to the truths which originally inspired her, to the gospel which has the power to save her from eternal destruction. I do not discount the value of the tradition of the church, as if we were the first group since the apostolic period to grasp God’s truth in its fullness. Instead we receive the truth from whatever source it may be found, as long as it is consistent with the vision that inspires us from the Holy Scriptures. We are the heirs of all that is good in the church, all movements of the Spirit from the apostolic period until now. I do not wish our fellowship to fall prey to the pride we decry in individuals. As Paul exhorted the Gentiles not to boast over fallen Israel, we do not support the root, the root supports us (Ro. 11:1724). We exist only because the Spirit has been moving in the broader church over the centuries. I myself went to Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary to drink deeply of the traditions that have made the church the great and glorious instrument of God that it is. Here I have learned much about the proper methods of interpreting Scripture and engaging in theology. Here I have learned how the Spirit has moved in the history of the church from its conception. and how our movement is just one in a long series of moves by the Spirit, and certainly not the only one today. I do believe, though, that the Lord is preparing his church for another great Reformation, and just as many reform movements in the medieval church prepared the way for Luther, I pray that we may play a similar role in the modern church, even if we are not the creative spark like Luther that set the Christian world on fire.
The Price of Discipleship
The process of creating a group that is able to be God’s instrument for the reformation of the church and the transformation of the world involves a great deal of conflict, but this conflict is essential to the nature of the group. It shows that people are involved passionately in the vision of the group, and care deeply about its implementation. Some have left the group when the radical nature of the message required changes in their lifestyle and sacrifices that they did not want to make, particularly when people hold on to secrets they do not want divulged for fear of losing the image they have of themselves or their reputation. Most often, it seems, people leave because of the exercise of high standards of discipline in the group and the manner in which it is carried out. We deal with sin honestly and openly, not to embarrass people, but to do anything we can to free a person from Satanic bondage. Often our conferences are the front lines of the spiritual battle. Knowing the power of Satan to deceive and gain power over the believer, we submit ourselves to the bright light of the scrutiny of the saints. They may call us to give up something we hold dear and count it dung, because it rivals Christ in our hearts. All earthly things, even relationships are ultimately expendable, if they keep us enslaved to Satan’s lie and divided from Christ in our hearts. Unfortunately, people refuse to come into the light, or hate it when their sin is exposed, mainly because at some level they love the darkness rather than the light, and do not wish to come into the light lest their deeds be exposed (Jn 3:20). But we do not only use confrontation, but gentle encouragement as well. Confrontation the Bible says exhortation–is used when attempts to gently convince the person have failed. And those who struggle with shame and inferiority are usually treated with great tenderness The exercise of strong discipline is necessary for us to fulfill the great vision that God has laid before us, for our enemy is powerful and deceptive. but the truth of God exposes his works and destroys them in our midst.
Thus our vision is to see the transformation of the church through a radical call to forsake Satan’s lie that we get to have a life of our own. It is nothing less than a call to die to our life in this world, and to rise to a life of Christ living His life through us. We glorify God by allowing His fiery passion to fill us and possess us, so we may deliver God’s people from bondage to Satan, whether that bondage takes the form of addictions, or any other sin, or the form of trauma from which people do not know how to recover. By transforming the minds of people through the Spirit, we can participate in God’s new creation and win the battle against the evil one.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 10 No 1
- Romans Six to Eight, Part Three
- Editor’s Note
- Autumn England Conference
- Our Mission and Identity
- Moments with Meryl
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- A Look at a Book
- Questions & Answers
- The Working of Soul and Spirit–Temptation and Sin
- The Nuts and Bolts of Living
- My Story
- To Think About
- Powerless Over Alcohol and Life: Step 12
- The Mailbox
- The Real Thing
- Words to Live By