MATURING IN INTERCESSION
BY: JOHN R. GAVVZZONI
Published by Greater Emmanuel International, as the first in a series of monthly articles by John Gavazzoni. October, 2000
We very easily become locked into concepts that hinder us from experiencing the fullest measure of various dimensions of our union with Christ and the authority and power (the authority and power of love) which our Lord, according to His will, shares with us in that union. There are words, phrases, expressions that often, according to our presuppositions, both help and hinder us in our desire to be co-workers together with God. At different levels of spiritual maturation a word that describes an aspect of Christian living will take on nuances of meaning which we never before associated with it. Such a word is intercession or intercessor. After we have received a little instruction in the faith and are somewhat familiar with our bibles and have heard or read of the experience of others who, for us, personify in their living, the meaning of that word, it may conjure up for us a picture of Jesus agonizing in prayer for those who had believed and would believe in Him that the Father would bring their faith to a victorious conclusion. Or for those of us who have been inspired by the biographies of the heroes of faith who have gone before us, our minds eye might immediately see David Brainard kneeling in the snow pouring out his soul as He implores God to save his beloved Indians. Our mind might flash back to our own times of passionate pleading before the throne of grace on behalf of a loved one who is threatened with destruction of one kind or another. Am I about to cast any shadow of doubt concerning the validity of such spiritual experiences? I assure you not. But I do hope to be used of the Lord to open the door just a crack to help you see that there is more to this thing of being an instrument to get heavens resources to a needy world than we may have realized.
I was struck by the fact that while a new understanding of this was growing in my heart, a dear friend of mine experienced personally the sort of travail that I alluded to above while being introduced to another level of intercessory agency. And I had been experiencing God’s refusal to let me pray for others as I was accustomed to. My friend had the awful and wonderful experience of communing with great agony in the passion of God’s heart for a group of people in terrible straits, yet along with that he also experienced becoming an answer to his own prayers in very mystical fashion.
Before going any further, let me establish what I hope to share with you, on solid ground. Many years ago the Lord impressed upon me that Christ is Truth and that all truth comes into clear focus in His life, death, burial and resurrection unto glory. That teaching from the Spirit Himself has served me well and I never expect to outgrow it, though I fully expect to grow in the understanding and appreciation of that wisdom. In sync with that I want my readers to be reminded that “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures.“ (James 1: 17, 18 NAS) Here we see that God’s graciousness to us is a matter of His initiation; it comes from above in the exercise of His will. The new covenant, in its entirety, is a unilateral agreement of purpose and will within the Godhead without any input from any other source. Father, Son and Holy Spirit were counseled by nothing other than the divine will (“who works all things after the counsel of His own will,” Eph. 1:11b).
They waited for no intercessor to pray that the Father should send the Son to take away the sins of the world. (Jn. 1:29b) They needed no contribution of desire and purpose to complete Their own. Heaven acts and earth responds. God wills and in due time man obeys. God woos and man swoons. And when God initiates action toward men, He mediates it Himself. No one but God can bridge the gap between uncreated life and created life. In order to connect with man who is the zenith of His creation, and through man with all of His creation, so that the whole earth will be filled with His glory, God must incarnate Himself, with the result that in Himself, heaven and earth are joined and become a new creation. “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).“ (Rom. 10:7, 8)
Please open up, dear saint, to grasp this truth, that intercession is true to this gospel principle. It starts in heaven. It brings heaven to earth and transforms earth by heaven’s glory and it waits for no man. When it is time to get the show on the road, God steps in-between and gets heaven to earth in Himself. Remember that we are speaking of the new covenant now, so don’t bother writing to me protesting with old covenant declarations concerning intercession. Also the Greek word which appears most often and is translated as intercession carries also the idea of “deal with” (Strong’s #1793). Let us take the high ground here and not struggle to make progress by means that are inadequate to the task.
Allow me to explain. Our experience or the experiences of other, as rich as they may be do not represent the norm of what is ours in Christ. God has been patiently and surely restoring the Church of Jesus Christ to His norm and we must be regularly jolted out of thinking that our present understanding and experience is sufficient to move from our present level to where God would finally have us. In the matter of intercession we have had as our frame of reference the foregone conclusion that above all, nothing is more important to the kingdom’s presencing on earth than going to the throne to beseech the Majesty on High to dispense grace and power for those in need whom we stand there to represent. But the high ground of understanding from which we must and shall soon proceed sees us not going to the throne of grace but proceeding from it. Our Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, did pray with sweat like great drops of blood but that was before His exaltation and glorification. He has ascended and now sits resplendent in the glory of His Father above all the heavens (Eph. 4:10). There has been a change, an alteration, an intrinsic reformulation in the administration of God.
He no longer prays as He did in Gethsemane, though the essence of prayer is always present in His relationship with the Father, in that the Father is eternally the source of everything that comes to us in the Son. Thus, the Son always draws from the Father, but in His glory, the Son has received the full transmission of authority and power and now He, in every sense, and by every definition, operates from the throne, rather than merely approaching the throne. But what of us? How does this apply to us? Have not we been raised up and made to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6)? Are we not as He is in this world? (I Jn. 4:17). Are we not penetrating this world from the throne by the Spirit of Christ? Take note that Jesus held back from making the fullest claim to authority until His resurrection and then when He was to depart from His disciples so as to be their source from the realm of glorified humanity, He then said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. ‘Go therefore…'”. (Matt. 28:18, 19) He is saying “Go therefore, go from the throne on high and make disciples of all nations because I, by my Spirit, am always going from the throne to men and you are going with Me in Spirit from the throne to all nations though your feet be still on the earth.” (my paraphrase)
Even those of us whom the Lord has dragged to follow on to know Him, must be reminded that the many injunctions in the New Testament to, in all things by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, bring our requests to God, were given in the context of the earnest of the Spirit. But now we are in the transition to all the fullness of God and everything will be altered and we must not cling tightly to our former way of cooperating with God. While some will cling longer at that level for a time, God will bless them and their prayers, but He will be revealing to others just where they really are and where they’re coming from and those will be dispatched from the throne as answers to the penultimate intercession of their brethren. Are you being called higher? Up to where God has seated you in Christ and from where He wants you to operate, not with pleadings but unreserved authority in heaven and earth?
In closing I want to share with you a special moment that the Lord granted to me as I heard His voice in scripture. He stored it away in my heart for future reference and for a time of greater understanding. I think it presents in Old Testament type and shadow something of what I have attempted to share.
Moses was standing on the shore of the Red Sea. God had chosen and used him to lead His people out of bondage. Miracle after miracle had brought them to this place of crossing but, now Pharaoh, with His heart once again hardened by the Lord, decides that he wants his slaves back again and he pursues the escaping Israelites with renewed fury. At the sight of this the hearts of the children of Israel freeze with fear and they begin to grumble and complain that Moses had simply led them out there to be slaughtered. At this point Moses seems to have one of his finest moments as he cries out to them, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”
Pause with me here while we savor this high point in Moses’ leadership under God. What faith, what courage, what nobility of spirit. As we pause here it would be completely understandable if we were to expect that there would issue forth from the Lord a word of commendation to Moses for being the man of the hour. But, let’s read on. Can it be that instead of an acclamation from the Lord saying, in some way, “That’s my boy, right on!” Instead, what we hear borders on stern rebuke. The Lord says to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. And as for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.“ (Ex. 14:1-16) Notice that Moses had not apparently spoken a prayer to God. Literally he had spoken to the Israelites to prepare to see God in action but God called it “crying unto Me.” You see at the heart of Moses’ declaration was a cry for God to act, and the Lord says to him, “Why are you crying unto Me?” God says, in effect, “Act as Me. Act from the throne.” Notice also that He didn’t tell Moses that if he lifted up his staff and stretched forth his hand that He, God would take over at that point and divide the waters. He tells Moses, Vs 16, “You lift up your rod, you stretch forth your hand, you divide the waters.”
Only the Spirit of God can take what has been shared and make it spirit and life. But I am confident that many who read this have been given ears to hear and have needed a confirmation of these things they have begun to see themselves. I am sure that those who have seen that the power emanates from the throne, not toward it, share my excitement. For as we enter the flow of power, God will course through us, flooding out to a lost and dying world in this decisive hour.
MATURING IN INTERCESSION [John R. Gavazzoni] October 2000 1