To be of any use to the Kingdom, our minds must be transformed to be like the mind of God. We find a clue to what that word means in the transfiguration of Jesus when He talked with Moses and Elijah. The reality of Heaven radiated through Jesus, and He shone with incredible brilliance. His body revealed the reality of another world. The word transformed in that passage is the same word we find in Romans 12:2. The renewed mind, then, reflects the reality of another world in the same way Jesus shone with Heaven’s brilliance. It’s not just that our thoughts are different, but that our way of thinking is transformed because we think from a different reality—from Heaven toward Earth!
That is the transformed perspective. The renewed mind enables His co-laborers to prove the will of God. We prove the will of God when put on display the reality of Heaven. The unrenewed mind, on the other hand, brings about a completely different manifestation:
“Hear, O Earth! Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people—the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not heeded My words nor My law, but rejected it.” (Jeremiah 6:19)
I understand that there is often hesitancy when we talk about the mind as a tool of God. At times in Church history the intellectual aspect of the mind has been so exalted that it has wiped out a real lifestyle of faith. Men of sincere faith have been lured into a mindset of skepticism and doubt. Theology has been exalted at the expense of belief. Academic assessment has replaced firsthand, supernatural experience. There is good reason not to let the mind dictate how we will believe. But Christians often react to error and create another error in the process. Pentecostals have often downplayed the mind’s importance, implying that it has no value at all.
Many Christians instinctively distrust the mind, thinking it is irredeemably corrupt and humanistic. They point to Harvard and Yale and other universities that were originally founded on Christian principles, but which today promulgate deceptions and lies. However, the mind is actually a powerful instrument of the Spirit of God. He made it to be the gatekeeper of Kingdom activity on Earth. The great tragedy when a mind goes astray is that God’s freedom to establish His will on Earth is limited.
The mind is not to be tossed out; it is to be used for its original purpose. If the mind weren’t vitally important to our walk with Christ and our commission, Paul wouldn’t have urged us to “be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” In fact, only a renewed mind can consistently bring Kingdom reality to Earth. Yet many of us live with unrenewed minds, which are of little use to God.
An unrenewed mind is like a discordant key on a piano. Once you discover that key, you don’t use it anymore because it detracts from the music. You skip over it and work around it. In the same way, people who are out of sync with the mind of Christ seldom get used, no matter how available they are, because their thoughts conflict with the mind of Christ. They are self-appointed in their mission and are not in submission to the primary mission. As a result, they are working entirely outside God’s intended commission.
However, when we come into agreement with the primary mission, our minds become powerful tools in God’s hands. This explains why there is such an intense war being waged for your mind and your mental agreement. Every thought and action in your life speaks of allegiance to God or to satan. Both are empowered by your agreement.
Renewing your mind means learning to recognize what comes from Hell, and what comes from Heaven, and agreeing with Heaven. That is the only way you will complete your divine assignment. God designed your mind to be one of the most supernaturally powerful tools in the universe, but it needs to be sanctified and yielded to the Holy Spirit so you can carry out His designs, creative ideas, and plans in your everyday life.
Repentance Made Practical
Renewing the mind begins with repentance. That is the gateway to return to our original assignment on Earth. Jesus said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” To many Christians, repent refers to having an altar call where people come forward and weep at the altar and get right with God. That is a legitimate expression of repentance, but it’s not what the word repentance means. “Re” means to go back. “Pent” is like the penthouse, the top floor of a building. Repent, then, means to go back to God’s perspective on reality. And in that perspective there is a renewal, a reformation that affects our intellect, our emotions, and every part of our lives. Without repentance we remain locked into carnal ways of thinking.
When the Bible speaks of carnality, it doesn’t necessarily mean obvious, disgusting sin. Most Christians have no appetite for sin; they don’t want to get drunk or sleep around, but because they live without the demonstrated power of the Gospel, many have lost their sense of purpose and gone back to sin. Having a renewed mind is often not an issue of whether or not someone is going to Heaven, but of how much of Heaven he or she wants in his or her life right now. (Photo via Unsplash)
Jesus urged us to do an about-face in our approach to reality because His Kingdom is at hand. He brought His world with Him, and it’s within our reach. He wants you to see reality from God’s perspective, to learn to live from His world toward the visible world. But if you don’t change the way you think, you’ll never be able to apprehend the Kingdom power that is available.
Jesus said that “unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3). What does that mean? Well, Jesus was not saying that we would have visions of Heaven, though I know that happens. He was speaking more practically. He was saying that when our minds are renewed, we will see the Kingdom displayed and proven as He did in His earthly ministry. That’s what it means to “see” the Kingdom of Heaven. Our souls long to see such things. We have inside of us an unrelenting hunger to watch the Kingdom break into this realm—and not just to watch but to participate, to become the connecting point and gateway for God’s power.
I walked into church one recent Sunday morning, greeting people before the meeting, and in the back I met a homeless gentleman who’d come as a guest of someone else. He had a cast on his arm and was treating it with great care. So I said, “Hey, what happened to your arm?”
He said, “I fell off a 20-foot bridge and shattered my wrist.”
“How about if we pray for that?” I asked.
“Okay,” he replied.
We prayed and I told him, “Now move it around.”
He moved it and his jaw dropped. He looked in complete astonishment at the lady who brought him because he had been completely healed in a moment of time. His wrist was fine. When the invitation came for people to give their lives to Christ later in the service, he was the first to come forward. Once again we see that “His kindness leads us to repentance.”
That is a simple, everyday example of proving that the Kingdom works on Earth. It is not mind over matter, or something spooky and weird. It is going back to God’s perspective of reality and living as if we really believe it. His purpose—His reality—is to raise up a delegated group of people who work with Him to destroy the works of the devil, who demonstrate and prove the will of God here on Earth as it is in Heaven. That is the core of the Great Commission, and it is your privilege and mine to co-labor with Him in it.
Most Christians have repented enough to be forgiven, but not enough to see the Kingdom. They go part of the way, then stop. Did you know that meeting Jesus was only the first step in your Christian walk? Conversion puts you at the entrance of an entirely new way of living, but there is a lifetime of experiences beyond the entrance that many folks don’t experience. They never enter into their full purpose. They spend their lives rejoicing just on the other side of the river shore, but never move in to take the cities and inhabit the promised land.
It’s not enough to barely make it across the river into the promised land; we must go all the way and fight for the territory God has promised to His Church. Life is so much fun when we experience the miraculous and partner with the supernatural! It’s an honor and privilege and responsibility that too many of us have feared and ignored.
The idea of Kingdom power and spiritual conflict unsettles some people, but without power, the Gospel is not good news. Jesus never made the Gospel simply a doctrinal exercise. That’s why Paul was so concerned about properly presenting the Gospel that he changed his way of doing ministry between one assignment and the next. You recall he was in Athens, preaching the Gospel at Mars Hill where philosophers gathered to talk. They loved to exchange ideas and debate intellectual ideas of the day, but their talks were mostly meaningless and void of power or truth. Paul came into their midst and gave a brilliant message that is honored to this day by Bible schools around the world for its conciseness. Then he gave an opportunity for people to come and to meet Jesus—and only a small handful of people got saved.
What a disappointment! This was, after all, the apostle Paul, who stirred up entire cities with the message and power of God, who was tossed in jail for disturbing the peace. Later, in Ephesus, the city was absolutely turned upside down by his teaching and the demonstration of God’s power. All the occult practitioners brought their piles of books and burned them spontaneously. There was massive repentance. Paul had also been to the third Heaven, the realm of God, had seen things unutterable and impossible to describe. But when he went before this group of intellectuals and presented the Gospel in a superbly intellectual way, there were very few converts. In fact, Acts 18:1 says, “After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth.”
If Paul was like any other preacher I know, he had his share of blue Mondays where he rehearsed and re-evaluated the Sunday service a thousand times over, trying to figure out what he could have done better. As Paul was coming to Corinth, I believe he was evaluating his message, which was brilliant but had produced few converts. Looking ahead, he knew he would be preaching the Gospel in Corinth. At this point, he actually described what he was thinking:
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
Some read this and conclude that Paul had a speech impediment or difficulty talking or lacked confidence before the crowds. I would suggest that it’s none of those things. I think he was saying, “I ran an experiment with you. I decided not to tell you everything I knew because I wanted to make sure this time to leave room for the power of God. I didn’t want you to put your faith in another man’s gift. I didn’t want you to be wowed by my words.” Rather, as he said in verse 5, people’s faith “should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (Photo via Unsplash)
(I’m not saying that we shouldn’t strive to teach well, or share in fullness the things that God has shown us. It’s just that we shouldn’t do any of these things at the expense of making room for God to show up and say “Amen” to His own word through the signs and wonders that follow.)
Notice that Paul didn’t write, “I wanted your faith to be in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” He used the phrase “that your faith…[would be] in the power of God.” Today there is a difference between preaching in Jesus’ name and preaching with power. In Paul’s day there was seldom a difference. Power was part and parcel of the Gospel, as it should be for us in our everyday lives.
Many of us have preached in the name of Jesus without any demonstration of power. That kind of powerless, ineffective preaching must stop. We can’t afford to give the theory without the reality anymore. In fact, if Paul were on Earth today he would warn against many of us because of how we rob the Gospel of power. In 1 Corinthians 4:19-20, Paul warned new Christians against teachers who didn’t demonstrate the power of God with their teaching. He was making a vital distinction; fathers move in power. Those who have only concepts and ideas are not presenting the full message of the Gospel.
The Gospel was presented in its wholeness, of course, in the life of Jesus who taught with power. Whenever He taught on the Kingdom, He would heal people. It wasn’t one or the other; it was both. He told His disciples, “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons…” (Matt. 10:7-8). He showed us that proving the will of God means not only declaring the Kingdom is at hand, but demonstrating its effects.
A woman came to our church recently who had been in an accident and had five surgeries in just under five years. One of her arms was almost three inches shorter than the other, and she had no feeling in it from the elbow up. The doctor told her the damage was so extensive that the arm would dangle there the rest of her life. At the encouragement of her children, she came up for prayer. A woman laid hands on her, and the arm was healed and restored in a moment of time. Why? Because there are no arms like that in Heaven. That infirmity had to leave because the Kingdom came upon her.
She reached out to pick up her two-year-old girl, and the girl said, “No, Mommy, broken arm.” “It’s okay, honey,” the woman said. She picked her up, and there was a huge smile plastered on the girl’s face—because for the first time in her life, her mommy was able to pick her up. That’s the normal Christian life.
In the New Testament, the very word for salvation means healing, deliverance, and forgiveness of sin. The Kingdom brings the complete solution to the whole man, and we have access to that reality even now, just as Jesus did throughout His life.
Many Believers think miracles and power are for extra special anointed people of God. Many get hung up on the idea that Jesus did miracles as God, not man. In reality, as I said in my previous book and I continue to remind people, Jesus had no ability to heal the sick. He couldn’t cast out devils, and He had no ability to raise the dead. He said of Himself in John 5:19, “[T]he Son can do nothing of Himself.” He had set aside His divinity. He did miracles as man in right relationship with God because He was setting forth a model for us, something for us to follow. If He did miracles as God, we would all be extremely impressed, but we would have no compulsion to emulate Him. But when we see that God has commissioned us to do what Jesus did—and more—then we realize that He put self-imposed restrictions on Himself to show us we could do it, too.
Jesus so emptied Himself that He was incapable of doing what was required of Him by the Father—without the Father’s help. That is the nature of our call—it requires more than we are capable of. When we stick to doing only the stuff we can do, we are not involved in the call.
Jesus lived in constant confrontation and conflict with the world around Him, because Kingdom logic goes against carnal logic. This is a good time to ask yourself, are you living in conflict with this world? Are you bringing the reality of Heaven, not just the doctrine of Heaven, to your neighbors or co-workers? How is your life contradicting the way life works for most people in your city? How are you ushering in Kingdom reality wherever you go?
A renewed mind sees the way God sees. It receives His impressions and becomes a creative force to release His expression of dominion on planet Earth. A renewed mind destroys the works of the devil so that earthly reality matches heavenly reality. It proves the will of God not just in word but in deed. It heals the sick, frees those enslaved to sin, brings joy where there was sadness, strength where there was weakness, explosive creativity and world-changing ideas and inventions where there was lack of invention. It causes the Kingdom of God to be expressed “on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
That’s normal Christian living.
Article used by permission: Destiny Image
Bill Johnson, Senior Leader
Bethel Church, Redding, California
Bill and Beni Johnson are the senior leaders of Bethel Church in Redding, California. Bill is a fifth-generation pastor with a rich heritage in the Holy Spirit. The present move of God has brought Bill into a deeper understanding of the phrase “on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Bill and the Bethel Church family have taken on this theme for life and ministry, where healing and miracles are normal. Bill is co-founder of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM). Beni is a pastor, author and speaker. She has a call to joyful intercession that’s an integral part of Bethel Church. Together, Bill and Beni serve a growing number of churches partnered for revival. Their three children and spouses are all involved in full-time ministry.