Tony Evans - Heaven on Earth
Without him, you cannot, but without you, he will not. When we travel across a bridge, it typically means that two bodies of land have been separated by a challenge. This bridge is designed to take you from where you are to where you are trying to go. The bridge that God has constructed for you to move from the natural to the supernatural is the bridge called faith. Unbelief will keep you stuck where you are. Unbelief, it's so powerful, it'll stop God's work in your life. He says, "I believe. Help my unbelief". He says, "I believe, but I'm shaky. Will you give me what I lack so I can go deep enough to believe"? So even if your faith is weak, you've got a faith helper, so get ready for your miracle as long as you cross the bridge.
Our series is "Believing is Seeing", experiencing the supernatural. It is our intended purpose for you to begin to experience in your life, in your world the supernatural interruption of God, to move you from the natural to the supernatural experience of his reality in your life as a common occurrence and not merely as an occasional thing that may happen or may not happen in your lifetime. Again, I want to distinguish the difference between supernatural and natural. Natural means that it's operating according to the laws of nature. The laws are already known, science studies them, we operate on them. The law of gravity, what goes up must come down, these are the rules by which the world works. And they're natural, men can discover them and use them for living. But when we speak about the supernatural, we're speaking about when God overrides his own laws.
When God steps into a law, a circumstance, a situation, and brings to it or upon it something that comes from outside of it. Our twin word that we would call those things are miracles, things that God does that are outside of the laws that he himself has established. I would like to suggest to you that the supernatural is not as far from you as you may think, but it is predicated on faith. Now, we've explained faith, acting like God is telling the truth, acting like it is so even when it's not so in order that it might be so simply because God said so. And in our story today, we find this principle of believing is seeing being brought to light again. Jesus is on his way to Galilee, and he comes across Phillip. And he tells Phillip, "Phillip, follow me". Phillip says, "Okay".
Phillip has a homeboy named Nathaniel. Nathaniel is there and Phillip says, "Nate, we have found him, the one who the whole Old Testament prophesied about. Jesus of Nazareth, we found him. The whole Bible we've been studying all these years about the coming Messiah, Nate, we have discovered him, he's here". Nathaniel, we'll call him Nate for short, Nate says, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? You're telling me Messiah has come out of Nazareth. We're talking about the son of Joseph, the carpenter's kid, you're saying that's Messiah. Can any good thing come out of there"? Jesus sees him coming and says, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit". In other words, "Nathaniel, I heard what you just said about me. Can any good thing come out of Nazareth"?
Nathaniel said to him, "How do you know me? I never met you. We've never talked before. We've never interact, it's my first time. How do you know? How do you know my background, how do you know what I was talking about that you could claim that I was being honest about it? How do you know me"? Jesus continues, "Before Phillip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you". So, that leaves Nathaniel to conclude in verse 49, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the king of Israel". Strictly based on what Jesus said that he saw, which he couldn't have known without having some supernatural insight and knowledge 'cause he wasn't there when he was under the fig tree, he wasn't there when Phillip asked him to come and see, and yet he knew all this information, he said to him, "You've got to be the Son of God".
What he does here, stay with me, is affirm Jesus's deity, Son of God. In other words, you have the characteristics of divinity. You have the nature of God, you are the Son of God. He declares his deity. He expresses to Jesus, "I believe you are not only the Son of God, you're Messiah, that is, you are the king of Israel", he confesses it. So, stay with me. We have now Nathaniel moving from a big question mark, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth"? and in lickety split he now is confessing, "You are not just an ordinary man, you are God incarnate, you are the Son of God". So, his doubt has now become enough faith to make a public confession about who Jesus is. So, he's moved in a manner of minutes spiritually because of what he heard Jesus say. Now, watch what happens next. Jesus says to him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' I just talked to you, you heard my Word, and I said it to you, do you believe? You will see greater things than these". He's doubting one minute, he's confessing Christ the next minute, and he says, "If you keep this belief thing going, you ain't seen nothing yet. You will see greater things than these".
Many of you come every Sunday and you hear a message. You may agree with the message, you may amen the message. And Jesus said to Nathaniel and I say to you he wants to do more than give you another sermon. He wants to do more than give you another message. He wants to do more, in fact, he wants to give you something you can see. Once God gives you something you can see with your own two eyes, once he lets you see something something, because you've operated in faith, now his reality, his power, his presence, it's a whole new ballgame for you. 'Cause now you're not depending on a sermon, you just became one. So he says, "I got some stuff, Nate, that will blow your mind if I can get your faith to keep moving. Do you believe? You have grown in your faith, but I have a lot more".
And then he comes in verse 51 and he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man". Mmm. I'm going to show you some greater stuff. Now, before I go any further, I want to drop a exegetical note in here because you need to know that the word "you" that he's going to show him, this heaven opening up, is plural. So, he moves from, in the Greek text, it's plural. So, you can be singular or you can refer to a group plural. Well, it's plural. So, he's carrying on a conversation with an individual, but he jumps from Nathaniel and talks to the group. And guess what? You and I are in the group. So, this is not just, what he's getting ready to tell Nathaniel isn't just for Nathaniel. He says, "It's for the rest of y'all too".
You're going to see heaven open up, which means it was closed. And you're going to see angels going up and down from heaven to earth on the Son of Man. This brings us into the doctrine of angels. Angels are God's delivering service, they're the mailmen, the mail persons of God. They're spirit beings, and their job is to deliver whatever God wants to be delivered from heaven to history. Now, Hebrews chapter 1:14 says that every believer has been assigned their own angel. Hebrews 1:14 says that. So, if you are a Christian, you have an angel, at least one, that has been assigned to you. What's the job of an angel? To be your spiritual mailman, mail person because their job is to deliver, when heaven opens up, something heaven wants to do down in history that history can see, 'cause you're going to see it. So, you have a mail person whose job it is to respond to you on earth from heaven. But you only get to see that when heaven opens.
So, if heaven is closed, it's like a holiday, you don't get the mail. Heaven has to be open for you to see what your angel is supposed to deliver to you and take from you back up to 'cause 'cause they're descending and ascending, they're going down and up. Oh, wait a minute, he just shifted language. Nathaniel said, "You are the Son of God". He said, "Because you recognize I'm the Son of God, if you take that belief and move with it, you're going to see the angels come on the Son of Man". Son of God is Jesus's deity. Son of Man is Jesus's humanity. We call it the hypostatic union: two natures in one person unmixed forever. He's God and man. He's God, so he creates. He's man, so he was born. He's God because he can feed 5.000. He's man because he can get hungry. He's man 'cause he can walk on water, man 'cause he'd get thirsty, he's God because he can walk on water. He's man, he can die. He's God, he can raise the dead.
So, you got Son of Man, Son of God in one person. He says, "Because you recognize I'm Son of God, you're going to watch me be Son of Man. Because you recognize I'm from up there, you're going to be seeing me do some stuff down here where human beings live. And the angels will be going up and down the ladder of the Son of Man".
Now, he just told Nathaniel what he was thinking. You see, he's under the fig tree. He's a man with no deceit. And he's going to see angels going up and down. Well, that comes straight out of Genesis chapter 28, when Jacob was running from his brother Esau, terrified he was going to get killed by his brother. He finally comes to a place where he's too tired to go any further, he lays down, puts his head on a rock, and the Bible says Jacob had a dream. And Jacob had a dream, and he saw a ladder going from earth to heaven and heaven to earth, and he saw angels going up and down the ladder. And when he saw the angels going up and down the ladder, God said to him, "I'm going to be with you. I'm going to take care of you. I'm going to provide for you. I'm going to fulfill my covenant with you. And even though your life is messed up right now, heaven has got an answer for the mess you have put yourself in".
So Nathaniel, you're under the fig tree. Jacob is called a man full of guile. You're a man of no guile, deceit means guile. That's 'cause you're up there meditating on how am I going to get connected to heaven. You're going to get connected to heaven the same way the one you were thinking about got connected to heaven, on a ladder. But it won't be a ladder with rungs in it, it'll be a Son of Man ladder. In other words, Jesus Christ is your link to experiencing the supernatural from heaven to earth. Or as the Scripture says, we have one mediator between God and man, and that is the man Christ Jesus. So, it is your operating faith in Christ, not your intellectual faith, not your emotional faith. It will be, as you'll see in a second, your operating faith in Christ where you get to see heaven move.
Okay, so we have a question on the floor. When am I going to see this? When am I going to see this? Now, come on, Jesus. Okay, well first of all, it's contingent upon your belief and your willingness to confess, okay? You must believe enough to act on what he says and to confess identification with him. He confesses Jesus to be the Son of God. So, let me tell you now how to keep heaven closed, be embarrassed to be identified with Christ. Okay, heaven will shut up on you 'cause God is glorifying his Son. So, if you're a secret agent Christian, spiritual CIA representative, and covert operative, don't except heaven to open. Heaven will stay totally closed if you're embarrassed about being a Christian. I'm not talking about believing in God. No, I'm talking about identification with Jesus Christ.
The Bible says in Matthew chapter 10, "If you deny me before men, I will deny you before my Father who is in heaven. So, you're asking for this miracle, but you deny association with me, I will deny you before my Father, heaven will stay closed, and angels will not come down the ladder. They will be on holiday". So, there must be the identification and confession of Christ for you to see it with operating faith 'cause he's already expressed faith, but Jesus raised the question, "Now do you believe? Do you believe enough to operate and follow me"?
Now, three days later so, this story is continuing, there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there, and both Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding. So, when they went to the wedding. When the wine ran out, verse 3, the mother of Jesus says there, "They have no wine. We don't have enough juice. Wine has run out". In other words, "Jesus, what you going to do about it? You were invited to the wedding. Wink, wink, I know who you are". Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come. You want me to solve your problem apart from my purpose? And woman, you're my mother, I love you, but I don't operate apart from the will of God".
So, watch this. When God does the supernatural, he does it in accordance to his will based on his timeline. "My hour", that's time, "has not yet come". So, when you are expecting 'cause you're operating in faith and confessing him... if you're not doing those things, two things, you can't expect the supernatural. But if you're doing those two things, you have to understand he operates according to his will and based on his timeline. It's got to agree with his hour and it's got to be consistent with his purposes, okay? "My hour has not come". So, mother backs off. Mother says to the servants, "Whatever he says to you, do it". Now, when she backs off and gives Jesus the freedom to do it his way and not demand that he does it her way, Jesus says, it says in verse 6, "There were six stone water pots. Each one could hold 20 to 30 gallons each. And he said to them, 'Fill the water pots with water so they are filled up to the brim".
Now, before you get to that verse, it sounded like Jesus was going to do nothing 'cause he says, "Woman, why are you asking me to do that? My hour not yet come". So, it sounds like he's telling her, "Forget it, I ain't trying to do that". When she backs off and he says to the folks, "Okay, now here's what I want you to do", and I'll tell you why in a moment as we close. He says, "'I want you to fill these water pots up with water.' So, the servants went and they filled these gallons, 20 to 30 gallon pots, 6 of them, they fill it up with water. When they fill it up with water, he said to them, 'Draw some out now and take it to the head waiter.' So, they took it to him. When the head waiter tasted the water which had become wine", watch this now, "and did not know where it came from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew, the head waiter called the bridegroom and said to him, 'Every man serves the good wine first. And when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.' This beginning of the signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee manifested his glory, and the disciples believed in him".
Whoa. Let me tell you about something when God does his supernatural thing. Whatever that is, 'cause you confessed and you operate in faith, even though things may look empty right now, the pots were empty, even though it looks like there's nothing there, even though it looks like there's no hope, even though it's empty, whatever he says to you, even in your emptiness, do. I don't feel like it. I'm tired. I'm worn out. I'm depleted. I'm empty. In spite of the emptiness... in the Bible, wine was a symbol of joy. Whenever wine is used, it was a joyful occasion typically. He says, "Fill it up to the brim 'cause even though it's empty, when I get finished doing my thing, oh, there's going to be all the joy you can handle up in here". Even though it's empty, not only that, but he goes on to say he saved the best for last.
It may not be the best right now, but you haven't come to the last 'cause sometimes God waits till the last second to pull off what he wants to do. Sometimes, he waits till there's no other option to pull off what he wants to do. Sometimes, he waits till you don't think you can make it any further to pull off what he wants to do. Why would you take your time when my pot is empty, Jesus? It says, "Because the disciples believed in him". But wait a minute, they had already believed in him. How do you say they're believing in me now when they've already believed in me before? Well, when you see the supernatural enter into the natural, that's a whole 'nother level of belief. You may believe in him in church, but when he breaks through for you, oh, that's another level of belief. You're going to believe like you never believed before. Your confidence will be great because you will see his glory.
Now you know why he did not let his mother's request go through upfront. He did not let his mother's request go through upfront because this miracle wasn't for the crowd, it was for the disciples. He wasn't ready. It says the bridegroom didn't know how it happened. The head master didn't know how it happened because God wasn't trying to do it for everybody else, he was trying to do it for his followers.
Now, why was he trying to do it for his followers? Because when his followers got the message about the glory of Jesus Christ, he would have no problem having representatives out there in the public. Because now his reps are going to tell what Jesus was able to do. One of the reasons can't get his church folk to be his representative is they have not yet seen his glory. But if you ever see his glory, you won't be able to keep your mouth shut. If you ever see his glory, you won't be able to keep it to yourself. If you ever seen his glory, you won't be able to hold it in because you will have seen what God can do when he breaks through supernaturally and turns your water into wine.
History was never installed to operate separate from eternity. Earth was never created to operate independently of heaven. Time was never made to be distinct from eternity. You see, the way God created our life and our world was to be dynamically and directly connected to him. The moment that cord is cut and earth seeks to run on its own independently of God, then it's going to fly off the handle in every aspect of our lives, and we'll fly off the handle with it. God wants to be dynamically involved if your life is going to be ordered, if it's going to make sense, if our world is going to operate like it was created to operate.
But the further we push eternity away, the further we keep heaven from invading earth, the further we negate the Lord's prayer, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, the moment we begin to function with that mindset, no matter what our words are, then don't expect anything other than chaos, confusion, discombobulation. We've got to reconnect. We've got to go back to the outlet and plug earth back into heaven, our lives back into God and his Word so that we can see what the electricity looks like when it flows from up there down here, empowering us to be what we were created to be down here because we're pulling from the life up there.