“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
The Love that Lifts Higher, by Randall D. Kittle

On 1–1–11, I had a powerful prophetic dream in which I saw a door open in heaven. I heard a voice declare, “Come up here. Come higher up and higher into the things of God.”

Next, I saw a bride wearing a wedding dress, but she was being held captive in a prison cell. She looked out of the cell through a window that was fortified with four heavy bars. As she laid hold of the bars and looked out the window, her face showed a determined desire to escape from her captivity. Suddenly, the jail bars began to separate, enlarge, and transform into marble pillars. The coloration of the marble gave each of these pillars the appearance of having the number “1” on them, and I heard a voice saying,
“I am showing you things that are of singular importance.” Once the pillars reached their full size (which was quite enormous), I could see that each of them had a phrase inscribed vertically on them. Engraved upon on the first were the words Focus on Christ; written on the second was Keep Unity; inscribed on the third was Become Established; and written on the last was Declare Jesus Christ. Then I heard a voice proclaim, “This is the four-fold test of love, and those who complete this test will even now come into a higher heavenly realm and see things from a heavenly perspective.” As the dream came to an end, the pillars moved together forming an elevator whose shaft led directly to the open, heavenly door.

A Door of Opportunity
The Lord has opened a door in the heavenlies and is inviting us — His beloved — to come up higher, be seated with Him, and gain His perspective. This door God has opened no man can shut, for He has promised us in Ephesians 2:6 that we can be “… seated with Him in the heavenly realms …” Nothing and no one can stop us … nothing except our choosing to live a Christian life that is half-hearted and lukewarm. But if we are willing to live a life that satisfies His four-fold test of love, we will not only be a bride set free from captivity; we will be enabled to move higher up and higher into the things of God and begin to see all things from His heavenly perspective.

Focus on Christ
The first aspect of the four-fold test God has for us was shown by the words written on the first pillar: “Focus on Christ.” It is high time for the Church to make Jesus Christ central in all things — both individually and corporately. The most important thing in the kingdom of God is not church growth, spiritual gifts, the anointing, or any of the myriads of things we so often chase after. It is the King — Jesus Christ!

Jesus needs to be the center of attention in our lives. He needs to be the One in the limelight of our services and be on the center stage of our hearts. As Jesus’ beloved bride, our lives should not just involve Him — they should revolve around Him! At the end of the age all things will be summed up in Jesus. And the Lord is calling the Church (that’s you and me) to start having our lives totally fixed upon Him right now. Let your time revolve around Jesus. Let your finances revolve around Him. It is time for the Church to become fixated, focused, and obsessed with Jesus. We will never be disappointed when He becomes our magnificent obsession.

The Bible clearly displays the central importance of Jesus. In fact, it is only by Jesus that the Gospel exists. After all, the Gospel is simply the Good News about Jesus and what He has done for us. Salvation is not a program, plan, or philosophy — it is a Person! Let’s look at a small portion of what the Bible says about the most central Person of all eternity:

• By Jesus all things were created
Colossians 1:16 –
“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”

In Jesus the Church exists
Ephesians 1:22–23 –
“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

By Jesus is all fruitfulness
John 15:5 –
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

It is about Jesus that the Holy Spirit testifies
John 15:26 –
“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”

• In Jesus is the end of the age
1 Thessalonians 4:16 –
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” We are not just looking for something to happen, but Someone to come.

• By Jesus we attain the resurrection from the dead
John 11:25 – “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” The resurrection is not just something to believe in; it is Someone to believe.

Living a Fixed Life
It always seems strange to me that we can think about our new electronic gadget, a sporting event, a nearly released video game, or an upcoming vacation while we work, drive, eat, etc., yet we don’t seem able to fix our thoughts on Jesus because (after all) we have to work, spend time with the family, take care of the house, etc. If Jesus Christ is going to become the prime and preeminent thing in our lives, we must fix our attention, our thoughts, and our hopes upon Him. This is what the Bible exhorts us to do in Hebrews 3:1, “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest whom we confess.” To have our hearts and thoughts fixed upon Jesus is to be ever in relationship with Him throughout the day. Do you talk to Jesus all through the day — as you are driving, while you are working, at lunch, in the evening, all the time? He should be ever on our minds.

Is that really possible? Let me give you an earthly example that shows us that this is attainable. When I first dated my wife, I didn’t find it difficult to think about her every moment of the day. It happened naturally. I never forget to call her or meet her after class because I was so captivated by her. That is what we need, to be so enamored with Jesus that He is in our thoughts at all times and we cannot get Him off our minds.

Unfortunately, the Church is too often like Martha in Luke 10:41,
“… worried and upset about many things.” But Jesus would say the same thing to us today as He told Martha, “… only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). What did Mary choose? She chose to ignore all the pressing needs of the busyness around her and sit at Jesus’ feet listening to Him. In this, she demonstrated her uneclipsable love for Him. We, too, must be willing to let go of every other “thing” that takes up our time and distracts our attention, and make Jesus the “one thing” we hold on to.

Focusing our lives on Jesus Christ and making Him first and foremost in all things is a true test of our love for Him. This is keeping the first great commandment.
“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37–38). We must choose to love Jesus above everything else. He wants us to examine everything in our lives and then answer the same question He asked Peter in John 21:15 “… do you love Me more than these?” Do you love Him more than the pleasures and conveniences of the life you live?

Keep Unity
The second pillar in this prophetic dream had “Keep Unity” written on it. The kingdom of God is to be a united kingdom — united under one King, Jesus Christ. One of the most often used phrases to describe the early Church in the book of Acts is “one accord.” This phrase can be found in Acts 1:14, 2:1, 2:46, 4:24, 5:12 to name a few. What was the result of being postured before God in “one accord” according to these verses? Twice everyone was filled with the Holy Spirit, one time many signs and wonders were being performed, on another occasion the lost were being saved and the Church was growing quickly.

This shouldn’t surprise us, for Psalm 133 promises us that when we
“dwell together in unity” that “… the Lord bestows His blessing …” Unity is far more important for the Church than we realize. Whenever Israel went out following the Lord’s command “as one man,” no army on earth could stand against them.

The Outworking of Love
Unfortunately, while we would all agree to this in principle, we often fall far short of this in practice. Perhaps we fail because we do not understand the critical importance of unity to God and what it represents. Unity is the outworking of God’s love from our lives. “And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:14). When we love one another despite our difficulties and differences, this promotes unity and is evidence that God’s love is operating in our lives. Let me encourage you to read through the following Bible verses and allow the truth of God to renew your mind about the fundamental importance of loving one another.

John 15:17 –
“These things I command you, that you love one another.”

Romans 12:10 –
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

Ephesians 4:1–3 –
“Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

1 Thessalonians 4:9–10 –
“Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. … Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.”

1 Peter 1:22 –
“… love one another fervently with a pure heart.”

1 Peter 3:8 –
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.”

1 Peter 4:8 –
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’”

1 John 3:14 –
“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.”

1 John 3:23 –
“And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.”

1 John 4:21 –
“And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”

Unity is so important because Jesus commanded us to love one another. Keeping unity is really just fulfilling what the Lord commanded us: to love the household of God — our fellow believers. Jesus told us this in John 13:34–35,
“A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” Three times in this new command Jesus told us to “love one another.” Any command the Lord gives us is important, but when He repeats something three times it is obviously very important to Him. Since this is so vitally important to the Lord, it should be of fundamental importance to us as well.

Become Established
The third aspect of God’s test of our love is that we are to “Become Established.” As I prayed about what being “established” might mean, the Lord led me to 2 Thessalonians 2:16–17, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.” Being established in our faith involves action on our part. It is the working out of our salvation in what we know, think, and do.

For a believer to become established, it primarily involves knowing the elementary teachings of the kingdom, learning how to live them out, and then obediently doing them. All of these are aspects of Jesus having lordship in our lives, and that helps us understand why the Lord required discipleship for the Church in the great commission. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19–20). The great commission is not about gathering followers to Christ, but making disciples of Christ. This clearly involves training them in obedience to the basics of the faith.

What are these basics we need to learn and practice? The Bible tells us in Hebrews 6:1–2:
“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” These verses show us that the “elementary teachings” are “… the foundation of repentancefaith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” This is what God considers the “elementary school” of growing up in the kingdom. Yet, I still find believers that many churches consider “mature” who have not been baptized, seldom minister to others in prayer, and have no longing expectation of Christ’s return. God is calling us to the place where we not only understand and embrace these principles, but also are walking them out in a life that displays these essential Christian practices.

This third test of love is about lordship — will we obey the Lord and follow His commands. In John 14 Jesus told His disciples,
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. … He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me” (verses 15 & 21). We must learn the fundamental principles of the kingdom of God from His Word … and then we must do them.

Preparation for Ministry
One reason it is important to the Lord that we become established in the faith is because every believer is called to be a minister of the Lord full time. We need to have the basic understanding of the kingdom of God so rooted in our lives and its principles so strongly operating in us that they are instinctive and unshakable even during the harshest enemy onslaught. Only those who are solidly grounded will be able to serve the Lord faithfully in these tumultuous times as the end of the age unfolds.

Why is this so important today? A while back the Lord spoke to me,
“The Church is looking for a Moses. I am looking for Amoses.” God is not seeking for the next “superstar” minister. While many in the Church want to have one anointed leader who does it all: hearing from God, teaching the Word, praying for the sick, visiting shut-ins, etc., God wants us all to be His priests (see 1 Peter 2:9). He wants all of us to minister while He remains the Lodestar of our faith. You may not think you are qualified, but let’s look at Amos’ life. In Amos 7:14–15 the prophet tells us of his calling: “I was no prophet, nor was I a son of a prophet, but I was a sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore fruit. Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel.’” Amos did not minister because of his parentage or professional training. It was God’s providence — God chose him and used him, and He wants to do the same with you and me.

There are many “unreachable people” who would quickly flee from any “professional minister” who can be touched by the everyday saint who has been established in the faith and is willing to be used. Many of our neighbors, fellow workers, or classmates would never share their struggles and questions with a “paid minister.” Yet, they would gladly discuss these things with a neighbor, co-worker, or the person cutting their hair. God is looking for Amoses who are strategically located around unbelievers whom He can take and use for His purposes — God’s secret agents … His royal priesthood.

Declare Jesus Christ
The last aspect of God’s four-fold test for us was to “Declare Christ.” If we are truly in love with the Lord above all things, we must not only focus our heart upon Him, love one another, and become established in the faith — we must tell the world of our wonderful Savior.

The Gospel is something our culture desperately
needs to hear. Unfortunately, the true message of the kingdom of God isn’t something most of our pluralistic society wants to hear. For example, Jesus clearly declared that He was the way, the truth, and the life in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Notice Jesus’ didn’t say He was a way or a truth. He said “the”the one and only way, the embodiment of all truth. To make certain He was understood, Jesus went on to say that no one could come to God except by Him. This is the wonderful truth of the kingdom of God, but it is far too exclusive for a society that elevates tolerance and has come to deny any absolute truth. Our pluralistic society is willing to let everyone believe whatever they would like; smilingly saying, “Many roads lead to heaven.” But if we were to share Acts 4:12, that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved,” the reaction of many would be one of indignation and persecution. For others, however, it would be the message of hope and life they desperately need to hear.

We dare not shrink back from the message, for
“… how can they believe without hearing about Him?” (Romans 10:14). Like Paul, we need to tell them the full, unadulterated gospel so we can say as he did, “… I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Are we sold out enough to Jesus Christ to declare Him to this dying world for who He really is — the one and only Savior? Or, will we, like Peter, deny Him?

This fourth aspect of God’s test of love is really just keeping the second Great Commandment,
“And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:39). If we truly loved our neighbors, friends, and family as this verse instructs us, we could not help but share the wonderful message of God’s great salvation. We don’t seem to realize it, but we have been given the cure to the only killer of mankind. The number one cause of death is not heart disease, cancer, or stroke. It is sin! Sin not only is the reason physical death entered into this world. It is the cause of spiritual death. If you and I truly love the lost, we will share with them the cure we have been so freely given — the good news of God’s redemption.

Elevation … if We Lay Hold
There is one more thing we need to glean from this prophetic dream. The transformation of the captured bride didn’t take place until she laid hold of the window bars that become the pillars. Only after she determinedly grabbed hold of the bars did they begin to transform — setting her free and eventually forming the elevator shaft that would allow her to get to the open door in the heavens. God’s invitation to see things from His heavenly perspective is for those who will choose to lay hold of His love and let it take hold of them. God is offering elevation for those who will apprehend all four aspects of this four-fold test of love. The door of invitation has been thrown wide open. We can go higher up and higher into the heavenly realm if we will pass His four-fold test by allowing the love the Lord has placed within our hearts to work itself out; causing us to focus our lives on Christ, keep in unity with other believers, become established in the fundamental principles of the faith, and declare to this lost world the glorious truth of Jesus’ mercy and grace.

While the requirement of God’s four-fold test of love seems lofty and unattainable, our good God has provided more than enough to make us sufficient for the task. It would be impossible for us to pass this test if God had not first loved us so deeply, richly, and completely. After all,
“We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). The finished work of the Cross was such an infinite, eternal labor of love that its application to our lives imparts a rich deposit of God’s love — far more than most of us understand. Our difficulty is not that we do not have enough love. It is that we have not yet realized the vast extent of the love God has placed within our hearts.

God’s Baptism of Love
While I was writing this article, something happened in the physical realm that I believe can help us understand this spiritual reality. A massive blizzard moved through the Midwest dumping record snowfalls on Northern Illinois where I live. All night it was snowing with the wind strongly blowing it around. When I got up the next morning, everything was covered with a thick blanket of snow. It was not a dusting or merely a covering. It enveloped everything.

This is how it was when you became a Christian. God didn’t just forgive your sins, give you a kiss on the forehead, and send you on your merry way. He opened the windows of heaven and poured His eternal, extravagant love over your life — forgiving your sins and making you a new creation. Do you remember how you felt right after you surrendered your heart to the Lord and received His great gift of salvation? Didn’t you feel so loved by God and in love with Him? At salvation, the infinite, inexhaustible love of God is poured over us and into us. We can love God and others in a way that is so much beyond what the world can love because each of us has been filled with a boundless measure of God’s love.

When the Lord calls you to express His love by fulfilling His four-fold test, He is merely calling you to live out the abundant love He has deposited in your heart. When He asks you to love Him and others, He is only asking you to exercise a tiny fraction of the love He has placed within you. It is as if a billionaire put $100,000,000 in your bank account and all he is requiring you to do is regularly write small checks back to him, his children, and those who are orphans.

What we need is the prayer from Ephesians 3:17–19 to work in our hearts,
“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” We need a spiritual revelation of the vast extent of the love God has lavished upon us. This prayer asks that we will be given the power to know the unknowable, to begin to see the unseeable. Our minds cannot attain this. Only God can give us the revelation knowledge we need to know the unfathomable depths of the love He has poured into every born-again believer.

Please pray with me:
Lord, Your mercy and grace working in our lives have done for us and in us more than we can think or even imagine. We know that what You have done eclipses the understanding of our minds. Since Your desire is that we will grasp the greatness of Your love, we ask You to bring revelation knowledge to our spirits. Reveal to us the vast richness of Your eternal love that You have deposited in our hearts. Help us to see with our spiritual eyes the love You have given us — a love without measure. Help us to take this love and begin to live it out by apprehending all four aspects of Your four-fold test of love. We want to love You first and foremost. We want to love one another and dwell in unity. We want to become established by learning Your commands and being obedient to them. And we want to love the lost so passionately that we share Your love with them no matter how opened or closed they might seem. Stir up our hearts to apprehend all four of these pillars of love, so we can go higher up and higher into the things of God and begin to see things from Your heavenly perspective. Amen.

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