245. What Jesus Did

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

In the last two posts I have quickly outlined what the Bible really says about ‘hell’. That has caused a certain amount of controversy (to put it mildly). But I am not trying to invent a new theology or doctrine, or even ask you to believe what I believe, and this time I am simply going to share my testimony with you.

Renewing my mind

In recent years, God has given me experiences that demonstrate the strength of His love, profoundly challenging my beliefs and what I used to think the Bible was saying. This all happened as part of the removal of the manmade constructs of my mind, and it was not an easy process for me as those mindsets, doctrines and theological frameworks of my thinking were very strong.

For 3 weeks I felt severe pressure around my mind, almost like a physical pain. God was challenging me to reconsider the issue of ‘hell’ but my long-held belief systems discouraged me from doing so. You see, I had even been to the fire. I had had visions of people in anguish in what I called ‘hell’. So I purposely held back, even though frequent love-encounters were making it increasingly difficult to deny what I now believe. That is, until Jesus actually took me back to the fire to see.

Satan’s trophy room

Wisdom’s heights was my entrance.

Does not wisdom call, and understanding lift up her voice? On top of the heights beside the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gates, at the opening to the city, at the entrance of the doors, she cries out (Prov 8:1-3).

Some years ago, I was a given a seal and staff and went through a door on Wisdom’s heights. It was a tunnel of fire which opened into a place of extreme restriction and sadness: satan’s trophy room. There I saw 3 things:

  • The sparkling diamond trophies of the destinies of those living and dead who had not believed the good news
  • Stolen mantles and crowns
  • An area of the heritage of my generational family lines

Now Jesus took me back there. He showed me the heritage area and I looked at the family line of my father’s father.

Jesus said to me, “Do you want to see this restored?”

I asked “How?”

Into the fire

Then He showed me a door I had not seen when I came before. He explained that the door had been there all along, but my framework of beliefs would not allow me to see it. Then He gave me a silver heralding trumpet and we went through the door into the fire. There were thousands of people there from that part of my family line, not talking to one another; isolated individuals who appeared to be in anguish of soul. They were not being tormented; there was no devil there with a pitchfork or anything like that. They were there, on their own, in a place of consuming fire.

So I looked to Jesus, hoping He was going to do something. He just stood there looking right back at me. So eventually I preached the good news to them, though not very well! I felt rather tongue-tied and overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with love, actually, and of course completely unprepared. But at least I told them that they could accept Jesus and come out.

I figured Jesus must have given me the trumpet for a reason, so I blew it. He turned to walk out, and there was no way I was going to stay in there on my own, so I followed Him back through the tunnel of fire. I went through the door back to Wisdom’s heights and this time I saw that the door was like a fiery sword (I knew that a fiery sword guards the way to the Tree of Life).

I looked back and a few hundred people had followed us to the door. As they approached I saw them kneel, I heard them confess Jesus as Lord and they walked out and through the gates into Zion.

Authority

I turned to Jesus. “What have you done to me? I’m in trouble now! How do I explain this?”

Jesus said “Just tell people that you are doing what I did – and I told you to do what I did, and greater things. This is just the beginning”.

I asked Jesus why so few of them had followed us out of the fire. If it was me and someone offered me a way out, I would have been out of there as fast as I could. This is what He told me:

“You can only preach with authority to the degree that the fire has consumed generational things in you. That is why not everyone responded. Keep presenting yourself to the fire of the altar and you will be able to reach more of your generational lines. Embrace the coals to touch areas of your life that have come from your generations; that will give you authority.”

So I present myself as a living sacrifice on the altar in the temple every day.

Back again… and again

Since that first time, I have been back to engage each of my 4 generational family lines and preached the good news to them. When I was in China in 2017 someone gave me a silver heralding trumpet just like the one Jesus had given me. One morning while I was there I woke at 3am and felt a strong desire to engage the altar and ask for the fiery coals to touch a specific area of behaviour, the area of divorce.

As I did, I began to feel intensely loving towards everyone in my generations who had been divorced, not angry or resentful, and I began forgiving them and blessing them. Once I finished I went to the fiery place again. I preached to all my generational lines with boldness, blew the silver trumpet and this time many more responded. They followed me out, came to the door, confessed Jesus as Lord and went through.

Later, on a Sunday morning here at Freedom as I was embracing the fire another area surfaced. I again went back and preached with renewed boldness and once again many more responded. Another time, I wondered what it might be like if I took communion down into the fire. So I went back there and offered communion, the body and blood of Jesus, to those who were in the fire. Yet again, many responded!

More recently I became aware that there were many in that place with fractured souls, what we sometimes call ‘stuck parts’, mostly caused by trauma in their lives. They were double-minded, triple-minded or worse and were unable to make a decision to follow Jesus. So I asked Jesus to come with me and I told them they could come to the Prince of Peace (shalom means ‘wholeness’) and be made whole. Vast numbers of them did so.

My strong desire is to empty that place, but for that to happen I need to embrace the fire myself. I need to be good news and demonstrate that good news in my own life.

I have now had many experiences of going into the place of fire both for personal refining and on rescue missions. The fire of God is for purifying and refining and removing all the dross in people’s lives. They are waiting for someone to come and share the good news with them.

Testimony

One day, before I even mentioned this publicly, a friend I meet with online said he had something to share with me. He had been engaging in heaven when some of his family members came up to him. He was surprised and said “I didn’t know you were believers in Jesus!” And they said, “We weren’t. But we remembered that you said your whole household would be saved, and Jesus came and preached the good news to us, and that’s why we are here.” This really did not fit my friend’s theological box, as he put it. He was encouraged when I then shared my experiences too.

Since then (and especially after this topic cropped up in several of my regular online mentoring groups) I have had conversations with others and I have heard many testimonies of people who have gone into the fire and preached the good news as Jesus did. After I shared this in the Vision Destiny 2017 series I had a number of emails from people thanking me for opening up the discussion as they had been afraid of sharing their experiences because of the reaction they knew it would cause (a reaction I have experienced for myself).

Labels

This view of the fire as purification and a place from which people could be rescued is not some strange new doctrine. This was the position of many of the early Church Fathers and others across the church spectrum through the last 2000 years: Clement of Alexandria, St. Macrina, St Gregory Nyssen, St Isaac of Nineveh (and many other Fathers), and moderns including Fr. Sergei Bulgakov, St. Silouan the Athonite, Fr. Alexandre Turincev, Metropolitans Kallistos Ware and Hilarion Alfeyev.

There are many accusations people throw at you if you start talking like this. You will be called a heretic, and a Universalist (I am neither). I do not believe that all roads lead to God. I am not even a Christian Universalist because I do not believe that it is guaranteed. I believe that Jesus gives people the choice. I like what the article Hell in a hand basket says about hopeful inclusivism: “We cannot presume that all will be saved or that even one will be damned. Rather, we put our hope in the final victory and verdict of Jesus Christ.” But I do not accept any of these labels  – as soon as you accept a label you

  1. immediately narrow your options to the views espoused by those who carry that label.
  2. are assumed by others to believe everything they think that an [insert label here] believes.

Objections and accusations

Some will say “If people are going to be saved anyway, then what is the point of preaching the gospel?” Is that not a rather selfish view? Do we not want people to know and enjoy relationship with God now? Or to find and fulfil their destiny in this life? And I certainly do not want anyone to go into the consuming fire of God’s presence without knowing Him. It is not a pleasant place to be if you don’t know Him. If anything, I find I want to preach the good news more than ever.

They will also say, “Well, if there are no consequences to my behaviour then I might as well just keep on sinning.” If that is true, then they are only behaving as they do out of fear. They are living under the law, not grace (whilst they sadly shake their heads and accuse us of promoting ‘another gospel’). Why on earth would we want to keep on sinning, when sin messes up our relationship with God and everything else in our lives and its wages are death?

Embrace the fire

It is best not to argue with people. We can share our testimony, and just love them whether they agree with us or not. We are not looking to provoke controversy, enter into fruitless disputes or draw people into making accusations. These posts are not intended for those who only want to fight their corner and prove that they are right. They are for those who are open to lay down their own presumptions and assumptions, to engage with God for themselves and allow Him to reveal the truth about His love for them and for all His creation; for those who will embrace that truth and be part of the ‘restoration of all things’ (Acts 3:21).

Jesus told me to release this message and encourage the Joshua Generation to arise and be bold, to come to Him and He will open the gates to reveal the consuming fire and show them the way just as He has shown me. I believe we all have the ability to engage the fiery place and do what Jesus did, to preach the good news to those spheres that we are mandated to engage.

The refining fire of the altar is where the authority to preach will be given. As we embrace the fire with urgent desire, great authority will be released to us. I believe we get to choose when we go to the place of fire. We can go now, or later, but God is a consuming fire and we cannot escape His love. That love is an unquenchable fire, intended to refine and purify us.

Let’s choose to embrace the fire now.

Related articles from Freedom ARC

“Three views of hell: burn forever, annihilation, restoration… How did you come to yours?” – Mike answers George’s question here on YouTube: Supernatural Mentoring Monday 12th March 2018 Washington or scroll down to view the video in full on this page.

Resources on the topic of ‘hell’

These publications and websites raise issues we believe God is drawing to our attention today. The fact that they are listed here should not be taken to imply that we agree with all the doctrinal positions, conclusions or opinions of the authors.

Image attribution: the image used at the head of this post is by 7trumpetsmusicband [CC BY-SA 4.0
(https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

Supernatural Mentoring Monday 12th March 2018 Washington

244. The Hell Delusion

Mike Parsons
and Jeremy Westcott

It is factually inaccurate to claim that Jesus spoke more about hell than about any other single subject. He did not. The whole Bible is completely silent about ‘hell’. For the first five centuries, few Christians held a doctrine of eternal torment either for the wicked or for unbelievers. But over time, pagan myths about the afterlife were repackaged and passed off as Christian.

We looked briefly last time at the four Bible words traditionally translated ‘hell’. In this post we will go into them in more detail. Let’s be prepared for the Spirit to reveal the truth to us and not get stuck in tradition.

Sheol (Hebrew)

Strong’s Concordance says:

Sheol (H7585) she’ôl From H7592; hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat), including its accessories and inmates: – grave, pit, hell.

All good, right up to the last word: ‘hell’ has been added there, only because the compiler has already decided that some scriptures where this word is used are talking about ‘hell’. The true meanings of the word, ‘grave’ or ‘pit’ have no context of punishment at all. Most modern Bible versions now translate this word accurately.

Hades (Greek)

Hades (G86) hadēs From G1 and G1492; properly unseen, that is, “Hades” or the place (state) of departed souls: – grave, hell.

‘Hades’ is used only 11 times in the New Testament, including 4 times by Jesus (and some of those are the same story in different gospels). It does not relate to punishment. It is the Greek equivalent of ‘Sheol’ and has been ascribed the added meaning of ‘hell’ in exactly the same way.

In these Bible verses we will use Young’s Literal Translation, which is not easy to read but uses ‘hades’, the actual word in the original texts, and not the invented word ‘hell’.

  • And you, Capernaum, which unto the heaven was exalted, unto hades you shall be brought down (Matt 11:23, Luke 10:15). “Capernaum, you think you’re so great but soon you’ll be nothing.” There is no context of punishment.
  • And I also say to you, that you are a rock, and upon this rock I will build my assembly [ekklesia], and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). We, the ekklesia, are going to overcome the grave. We do not need to be fearful of death.
  • There are 2 uses of hades in Acts, both quoting a single OT reference to Sheol, that the Messiah’s soul was not left to hades, nor did His flesh see corruption (Acts 2:27, 31).
  • Breaking the power of death: Where, O Death, thy sting? Where, O Hades, thy victory? (1 Cor 15:55).
  • 4 times in Revelation
    • and he who is living, and I did become dead, and, lo, I am living to the ages of the ages. Amen! And I have the keys of the hades and of the death (Rev 1:18). Jesus has the keys of death and the grave – to set people free, not to lock them up!
    • and I saw, and lo, a pale horse, and he who is sitting upon him – his name is Death, and Hades doth follow with him (Rev 6:8). A personification of ‘the grave’, or perhaps the Greek god who, in that mythology, rules over the place of the dead.
    • and the sea did give up those dead in it, and the death and the hades did give up the dead in them, and they were judged, each one according to their works (Rev 20:13). Again, simply ‘the grave’ (and according to this verse, judgment comes after the dead come out of it, not before).
    • and the death and the hades were cast to the lake of the fire – this [is] the second death (Revelation 20:14). Death and the grave are not the end. They are to be put somewhere else, and we will look at this ‘lake of fire’ in a future post.

None of these references relates to torment or punishment. The only use of ‘hades’ which may appear to do so is in Luke 16:23, in the story of the rich man and Lazarus.

  • and in the hades having lifted up his eyes, being in torments, he doth see Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

There are several things to say about this passage:

  • This whole story may not be original to Jesus. Its roots can be traced back to the Hebrew traditional text Gemara Babylonicum, which dates from Israel’s captivity in Babylon.
  • The primary characters in the story are not distinguished from one another by righteousness or wickedness but by wealth and social standing.
  • This whole section in Luke’s gospel is a series of lessons about trusting in riches and failing to help the poor, directed primarily at the religious leaders and their supporters. Jesus’ purpose in (re)telling the story was not to give a literal account of what the afterlife looks like.

We will look at this parable again in more detail later in this series. Meanwhile, there are links to articles on the subject at the foot of this post.

Tartarus (Greek)

Tartarus (G5020) tartaroō From Tartaros̄ (the deepest abyss of Hades); Greek mythology the place where the Titans were incarcerated. To incarcerate in eternal torment: – cast down to hell.

This last sentence in the definition was a total invention of the compiler.

‘Tartarus’ is only mentioned once in the New Testament:
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into Tartarus and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment (2 Peter 2:4).

If they were ‘reserved for judgment’ then they had not yet been judged and it would have been unjust to subject them to punishment. This is not ‘to incarcerate in eternal torment’.

Gehenna (Greek)

Gehenna (G1067) of Hebrew origin ([H1516] and [H2011]); valley of (the son of) Hinnom; gehenna (or Ge-Hinnom), a valley of Jerusalem.

Gehenna is the Greek word for the Valley of Hinnom, a literal geographical feature outside the gates of Jerusalem. It was an evil and dark place, used for a variety of evil acts (including child sacrifice to Molech); literally a place of perpetual fire, a rubbish dump filled with so much trash (including dead bodies during the time of Isaiah) that the fires never went out and worms would never die from lack of food.

Therefore, behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when this place will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-hinnom, but rather the valley of Slaughter (Jeremiah 19:6).

Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70, when dead bodies were literally thrown into Gehenna during the siege by the Roman army. Rather than eternal ‘hell’, Gehenna was a physical place for dead bodies.

Jesus used the word ‘Gehenna’ in 11 instances. In all of them He was talking about kingdom life here and now, not about the afterlife (whether ‘going to heaven’ or ‘going to hell’).

Here are all those references:

  1. Matthew 5:29
  2. Matthew 5:30
  3. Matthew 18:9
  4. Mark 9:43
  5. Mark 9:45
  6. Mark 9:47

#1-6 are all the same concept: Jesus is using the imagery of the most disgusting location in Jerusalem to illustrate how destructive sin is (see also #12).

  1. Matthew 10:28
  2. Luke 12:5

#7 and 8 are the same passage in different gospels: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” Suppose this is referring to God (and there are plenty of other possibilities), it does not say ‘punishes’ or ‘torments’, nor mention ‘eternal’, but only says ‘ is able to destroy’. Perhaps this might be a good proof-text for annihilationists, but not for those who believe in eternal conscious torment in ’hell’.

  1. Matthew 5:22

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery Gehenna”.

So the difference between saying (1) ‘You good-for-nothing’ and (2) ‘You fool’ is enough to make the difference between (1) being sentenced to death by stoning and (2) being tortured for all eternity without hope of reprieve? That seems like an unreasonable escalation in punishment between two offences most of us would struggle to distinguish.

In reality, Jesus is raising the standard of behaviour to include thoughts and emotions, emphasising how powerful our thoughts and words are. He is demonstrating how little it takes to negatively affect us, how just a bit of unresolved anger pollutes our lives and how unforgiveness lands us in a torture chamber of our own making.

  1. Matthew 23:15

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of Gehenna as yourselves”.

The Pharisees were all about perceived righteousness. They obsessively followed every directive of the Law and made a show of their piety. They were self-righteous DIY-ers. Jesus was telling them that their own “righteousness” was like dung. They were proud of being ‘children of Abraham’ but He called them children of the refuse heap and compared them to those who sacrificed to idols.

  1. Matthew 23:33

You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of Gehenna?

They were going to end up outside the covenant. Some of those listening may actually have had their dead bodies dumped over the city walls into Gehenna during the Roman siege of AD70.

  1. James 3:6

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by Gehenna.

Evil from one body part corrupts the whole body.

Fear and love

Religion uses the fear of an angry God and the fear of hell to keep us in order.

But God calls us to simply love Him, ourselves and each other: no religious rules, nothing complicated about it. He is not angry with us, He is always the same: loving, faithful and full of grace and mercy. He has never changed. He has shown us how to love: He loves us so much that He was prepared to come in the flesh and die for us, even when we saw ourselves as His enemies. If we loved like that, the world would be a different place.

I am not saying

I am not saying you should believe what I believe. I am offering you the opportunity to lay aside common misconceptions of what the Bible says so that you can read what it does say and engage with God for yourself to find out what He is really like.

Note: The quotations in the header image of this post are from published articles sent to us in reaction to our previous post, 243. Not Counting Their Trespasses. Please excuse us for not linking to those articles. If you really want to find them, just google the phrases.

Recent articles from Freedom ARC
Older related posts
Resources on the topic of ‘hell’

These publications and websites raise issues we believe God is drawing to our attention today. The fact that they are listed here should not be taken to imply that we agree with all the doctrinal positions, conclusions or opinions of the authors.

Engaging The Father conference

      • Do you want to go deeper? Deeper into intimacy with God, deeper into God Himself, deeper into the Truth (Jesus), deeper into revelation?
      • Do you want to go higher? Higher into the creative light realms, into the heart and mind of God outside of time and space, to engage with who He created you to be?
      • Then join us from March 8th to 10th, either in person (£65 GBP) or via the livestream (£30 GBP), for Engaging The Father, the first of our Sons Arise! conferences for 2018.
      • For full details and to book, please go to https://freedomarc.org/engagingfather

 

243. Not Counting Their Trespasses

Mike Parsons
and Jeremy Westcott – 

Good News?

As I have chronicled in these posts, God has personally started to walk me through encounters that continually challenge my perception of who He is.  I am on a journey of discovering the true nature of God as love and as a result I find myself questioning and often rejecting the established doctrines and theological positions of the modern-day evangelical church.

God has shown me that I (and the church, and the world) have been badly deceived by ‘do-it-yourself’ religion. Nowhere does this deception show up more clearly than in our approach to evangelism.

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them (2 Cor 5:19).

This is the message of reconciliation at the heart of the gospel we are called to preach. And the word translated ‘world’ is actually the Greek word ‘kosmos‘, which is even wider than we might have thought. Yet when I looked closely at how we have done evangelism, even here at Freedom, I uncovered a fear-based system which originates from a wrong perception of God as angry, vindictive and cruel.

Religion has hijacked the gospel, made ‘escaping hell’ its focus and used the threat of eternal damnation to scare people into the kingdom. “Good news! (But first, the bad news…)”. My own conversion experience was like that. I heard sermons about hell and judgment week after week and decided I needed ‘fire insurance’.

Hell? Not going there…

For most Christians, hell is a given, an unquestioned doctrine. Hell fits their doctrinal system. God is love but He is also just. He must punish sin. Hell is the punishment for sin. Simple.

Or is it?

I knew it would take a while to address this issue properly, and I resisted broaching the question of ‘hell’ for some time, as if it were some kind of ‘no-go’ area, but God would not let me be. It just kept resurfacing, both in my encounters and as I prepared the ‘new versus old’ teaching module in the Engaging God programme. It is a concept that is generally accepted in most (if not all) religions and in wider society, but I knew deep down that something in what I had been taught was not consistent with the Father’s love.

Think again

This is where we come back to the scripture from 2 Corinthians which says that God is not counting their trespasses against anyone:

Namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them (2 Cor 5:19).

The whole cosmos has already been reconciled and no-one’s trespasses are counted against them. So from God’s perspective what need is there for a ‘hell’?

And, despite the limitations of the translations we use which I touched on in the last post, there are plenty of other familiar passages which might prompt us to think again too:

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8).
Who is the us that Christ died for, a select few or everyone?
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all… (2 Cor 5:14).

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Rom 5:10).
God is not angry, even with those who may feel like His enemies.

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross (Col 2:13-14).

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive (1 Cor 15:22).
In each part of this statement, all refers to the same people… all, as Peter confirms:
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God… (1 Peter 3:18).

Angry forever?

Pitying and merciful is the Lord; lenient and full of mercy. Not unto the end shall He be provoked to anger, nor into the eon (age) will He cherish wrath. Not according to our lawless deeds did He deal with us; nor according to our sins did He recompense to us (Psa 103:8-10, Septuagint).

“I shall not punish you into the eon (age), nor shall I be provoked to anger with you perpetually” (Isaiah 57:16)

“I will heal their apostasy (unbelief), I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from them” (Hosea 14:4).

My own experiences of God are characterised by love, grace and mercy, not anger and fear. God does not stay angry forever, so why would He punish people forever? His love is more powerful than all our sin put together. It is far stronger than the lies and deception designed to keep us separated from Him:

“Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, jealousy is as severe as Sheol; its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it” (Song of Solomon 8:6-7).

Rather than meaning torment and punishment, in this passage fire is a depiction of passion and unrelenting love: God’s love is a flame that can never be quenched or extinguished and He is unrelenting in pursuing us for relationship.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love (1 John 4:18).

How can God punish people if He is love? The two are incompatible. He cannot and He does not. God’s justice is always restorative.

Perpetual Conscious Torment

The idea of ‘hell’ as a place of perpetual torment is so prevalent in the world’s religions and cultures that if you mention ‘hell’, most people have a pretty clear image of what you are talking about: it probably includes fire, demons with pitchforks and people in torment. This image has been propagated by literature through the ages and more recently by films and TV shows but it was not the view of the early church.

The writings of the Old Testament and Jewish literature throw up various different views of the afterlife, including annihilation or sleep until judgment, but eternal torment after death was not a Hebrew concept at all. The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible comments, “Nowhere in the Old Testament is the abode of the dead regarded as a place of punishment or torment. The concept of an infernal ‘hell’ developed in Israel only during the Hellenistic [Greek] period” (i.e. beginning in the fourth century B.C.).

There are even some people today who teach that at the resurrection, God will give unbelievers new bodies specifically designed to withstand eternal torture. What kind of a god is that? Is that really the God who was perfectly revealed in Jesus?

But what about…?

By now, you may be thinking of passages of scripture, even of Jesus’ own teaching, which seem to contradict what I am saying. What about the sheep and the goats, or the rich man and Lazarus, or the outer darkness where their worm does not die and their fire is not quenched and there is weeping and gnashing of teeth? I promise we will look closely at each of those passages (and others) in coming posts.

Jesus never warned anyone about ‘hell’, nor did Paul or any of the other New Testament writers, nor did God tell Adam that he and his descendants would go to ‘hell’ as a result of the fall. There is no word for ‘hell’ in the Greek or Hebrew language. It is not a biblical concept at all.

Four separate words have been translated into the single English word ‘hell’ and in reality each word has a different meaning:

  • Sheol (Hebrew) grave or place of dead
  • Hades (Greek) unseen world, grave, underworld
  • Tartarus (Greek) prison for angels
  • Gehenna (Greek) name of a valley outside Jerusalem used as a fiery rubbish dump.
  • In English, the word ‘hell’ comes from Proto-Germanic ‘haljo’, whose root ‘halija’ means ‘a concealed or covered place’.
  • The Norse god Hel is Loki’s daughter, and in that mythology she rules over the evil dead.

Yet our most popular English translations are full of the word – including some you might be surprised at:

The Message=56
King James Version (Authorised Version)=54
New King James=32
New Living Translation=19
New Century Version=15
English Standard Version=14
New International Version=14
Amplified Bible=13
New American Standard=13

On each occasion that the translators have used the word ‘hell’ in these versions, they have only done so because they already believed the passage was about ‘hell’. Instead of translating what was there, they have read back into the text their preconceived notions of what it meant. Other versions do not include the word at all:

LXX (Septuagint)=0
Young’s Literal=0
Concordant Literal=0
Complete Jewish Bible=0
World English Bible=0

Orthodoxy

The religious institution and its supporters will insist that if you question the doctrine of ‘hell’, you are rejecting what has always been agreed upon by the Church. It is not so. Orthodoxy is a myth, and it is high time to rethink this subject.

Because if God is love, if God is good, if God is not angry, if God does not require appeasement or sacrifice, if God does not punish us then what is the purpose of ‘hell’?

Does ‘hell’ as we know it even exist?

We will look at this again.

Note: In these posts I can help you clear away some of your false preconceptions and assumptions (if you are willing) but I am not going to attempt to convince you to see things the way I do; if you really want to know where people go after they die, you will need to ask God to show you.

Free resources on the topic of ‘hell’

These publications and websites raise issues we believe God is drawing to our attention today. The fact that they are listed here should not be taken to imply that we agree with all the doctrinal positions, conclusions or opinions of the authors.

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  • Then join us from March 8th to 10th, either in person (£65 GBP) or via the livestream (£30 GBP), for Engaging The Father, the first of our Sons Arise! conferences for 2018.
  • For full details and to book, please go to https://freedomarc.org/engagingfather

239. The Things They Now Believe

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

“Good souls many will one day be horrified at the things they now believe of God” (George Macdonald, 1824-1905).

For me, that day has come. As I have encountered God, He has shown me that more and more of the things I believed about Him were not really true. He has been really considerate and taken me in stages through this process, because it would have been too much for me if He had done it all in one go. Will you let Him do the same for you?

Jesus is the exact representation of the Father, but that is not the picture religion paints at all. A whole host of doctrines widely accepted without question by most believers today do not really line up with a God who looks like Jesus. Since God is love, I am now very suspicious of any image of God that does not look like love.

Penal Substitutionary Atonement

One such doctrine is ‘penal substitutionary atonement’ (PSA): that Jesus died to appease God’s wrath. We will look at God’s wrath, anger, eternal judgment, punishment, eternal conscious torment and hell later in this series of posts, but PSA is the key to all these others. It is a really warped view of God which has Him saying ‘I will kill My Son to show you how good I am’.

Does God’s anger really need to be appeased? Almost all human justice systems come from the DIY tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and are based on retributive justice, making offenders pay for their crimes one way or another. If we are hearing a little more about restorative justice today, it is because people are realising that retributive justice does not work. But God’s justice is and has always been restorative. The fear of punishment is not a good motivator. ‘There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love’ (1 John 4:18). Why would God use fear of punishment to keep us in line?

It was man who came up with a ‘GOD’ who required appeasement (look at any primitive religion). But the truth is that ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire’ (Ps 40:6, quoted in Heb 10:5) and ‘You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering’ (Ps 51:16).

‘Redemptive violence’

“You have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness…” (Matt 23:23).

The Pharisees’ religion was all legalism, missing out truth, justice and mercy altogether, and in the ‘Christian religion’ (itself a contradiction in terms), a belief system of so-called ‘redemptive violence’ will inevitably affect the way we relate to others. We will steward the cosmos from that angry, retributive perspective. That is the ‘GOD’ image we will reflect to a broken world which needs healing, not punishment.

But God is not as we have been led to believe. The corrections of God are always restorative. The judgments of God are pure and bring mercy and life:

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;
Mercy and truth go before Your face.
(Ps 89:14 NKJV).

Mercy and truth always go before Him. His justice is mercy and love, not punishment and retribution. Even painful truth is revealed only for our good and healing.

“God is a God of fierce judgement. I sense God’s burning judgement falling upon many of you today. He has made up His mind and the verdict is unchangeable. His judgement is: ‘You are forgiven, loved and accepted’. So, enjoy your judgement” (Benjamin David, Facebook post).

The cross

Jesus warned his disciples that He was going to the cross. He did not say He would suffer the just punishment for our sins at the hands of His Father but that He would suffer at the hands of men:

Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men” (Luke 9:44).

“From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Matt 16:21).

For He was teaching His disciples and telling them: “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” (Mark 9:31).

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up” (Matt 20:18-19).

Look also at Mark 10:33-34, Luke 18:31-33, Luke 24:6-7, John 18:3-6, John 18:12, John 19:14-18, Acts 2:23, Acts 2:36, and Heb 12:2.

Jesus suffered at the hands of ruthless men, Jews and Gentiles, representing the religious and political systems. They agreed to condemn Him to keep their DIY system in control. Men crucified Jesus, and God used our punishment of Him to bring restoration and reconciliation.

He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through by our transgressions, He was crushed by our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed (Isa 53:3-5).

There is simply nothing in scripture to support the idea that Jesus went to the cross to suffer the fiery wrath of His Father so that we could escape it. ‘We ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted’ but that is not how it really was.

The purpose of the cross was to undo the consequence of Adam’s sin, a loss of identity which produced spiritual death. It was a demonstration not of God’s wrath against humanity, but of His love towards humanity. When Jesus took the sin of the whole world upon his shoulders He was showing us the depths of God’s love.

“Our Father never needed a sacrifice; we did. And we, as one man, with one accord damned His Son, and our Father accepted our ‘faith’ and our ‘will,’ and our ‘decision’ to crucify His Son as the means to establish a real and everlasting relationship with us inside our faithless betrayal. This is salvation. This is adoption. This is redeeming genius and love almost beyond our wildest imaginations” – C. Baxter Kruger.

Atonement, propitiation

In the New Testament the Greek word katallagé (reconciliation) is often misleadingly translated ‘atonement’. ‘To atone’ is to make amends, to make reparation for wrongdoing. However, this old covenant word used to describe how a sacrificial animal covered people’s sin is not a word used in the new covenant. And animal sacrifices were not tortured by the priest, they were just killed.

Hilasmos (‘propitiation’) is another word which has been translated in a way which assumes an angry deity who needs to be appeased. It comes from the verb hilaskomai, meaning ‘to conciliate, be merciful, forgive, show favour’. It does not mean ‘atone’.

“But the church has always believed this!”

It hasn’t. Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA) may be a commonly held view in evangelical circles today but it was not formulated until the 11th century, by Anselm of Canterbury. Personal encounter with God could never lead us to the conclusion he reached through scholasticism, a method of study that emphasises reason, research and constructive criticism.

PSA is a man-made, demonically inspired doctrine of distortion. It only sounds plausible to us because we have been conditioned to accept that God is angry with us.

Forsaken

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Ps 22, quoted by Jesus on the cross in Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34).

This was Jesus’ cry of true identification with us in our brokenness and in our deepest, darkest pain. It was our separation He felt. Most of those who heard Him would know the rest of the psalm, including v24:

For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him for help, He heard.

We have seen before that God the Father never left Jesus the Son. Do we really imagine that the Triune God was somehow pulled apart at the cross? Whose side was the Holy Spirit on? The whole concept is preposterous when you know God for yourself. And yet we happily sing:

“One final breath He gave
As heaven looked away…”
(Forever by Brian Johnson, Kari Jobe, Christa Black Gifford, and Gabriel Wilson).

Heaven did no such thing.

The wages of sin

The cross was God showing the world that He was willing to take on flesh and die – for us and as us – not to pay off an angry God who couldn’t stand the sight of us. Jesus did not save us from God, He saved us from death (the wages of sin). The aim of Jesus’ death was to make personal, healing, life-giving, forgiving contact with us sinners, at the root of our sin and alienation.

A battered reed He will not break off, and a smouldering wick He will not put out, until He leads justice to victory (Matt 10:20, quoting Isa 42:3).

God’s justice does not break people; it heals those who are broken.

“God doesn’t need to punish anyone. “Sin is its own punishment.” … No one gets away with anything. There are terrible consequences for our actions, but God is forever with us, weaving grace into our stories to redeem even the worst situations for our good” (Brad Jerzak, ‘Unfundamentalist Parenting in The Shack – Part 1’).

Meet God

But please, don’t believe anything I say. Not without meeting God for yourself.

How much of what we believe has been handed onto us by someone else? Reading books, hearing sermons, just picking it up from being in a particular stream or community… none of that is a valid substitute. Get your revelation direct from Him, otherwise you are just leaning on someone else’s understanding (when, according to Proverbs 3:5, you ought not to even lean on your own). My understanding has come from my own personal experience, but it is no good to you. You need your own experience.

So meet God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Meet Him face to face and find out what He is really like. Let Him reveal Himself as the Truth. And be prepared to lay aside anything which does not line up with Who He is.

This blog post is adapted from Mike’s teaching in the ‘Engaging God‘ subscription programme. Find out more…

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233. Wider, Deeper, Longer, Higher

Mike Parsons
and Jeremy Westcott

Face to face

From the beginning we were created to have an intimate relationship with God. Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37-38 to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind” and in John 14:6 that the only way we can come to the Father is through Him. Face to face engagement reveals the reality of who God truly is – Love – and exposes the untruths we may have assimilated over the years. Jesus is the ultimate expression of that Love, so if it doesn’t look like Jesus then it probably isn’t Love.

God wants us to know the truth of who He is and who we are as His children. It is the tactic of the accuser to get us to think wrongly about God and about ourselves. As long as we see God as having a dark side, we will never trust him completely. There will always be a slight fear that contradicts love.

Quantum physics 1.01

For example, somehow we have come to believe that God cannot look upon sin, and that He has to turn His face away. If it were true that He could not look upon sin, we would not be here! Quantum physics 1.01 tells us that if He were to stop observing us, we would cease to exist.

On the cross, when Jesus quoted the opening words of Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He was drawing people’s attention to the content of the whole psalm and its relevance to the events playing out before them. But He had previously told his disciples:

“Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me” (John 16:32).

We can clearly see that the hour He was referring to was His crucifixion. According to Jesus, the Father never turned His face away from Him. He was right there with Him.

God’s justice

How could we have got this wrong? The answer is, because we have got something even more fundamental wrong too. We think that on the cross Jesus was taking our punishment for us, suffering the wrath of a vengeful God in judgment that should have fallen upon us. We are used to our human justice system which requires retributive justice – payback – but the truth is that God’s justice is always restorative. We will look at this whole subject of the atonement in detail in another post, but for now let’s consider what the cross was about, if not punishment.

The sin

The original Greek word for ‘sin’ used most often in the New Testament is ‘hamartia’. It is a noun (the sin) not a verb (to sin). ‘The sin’ is the sin of Adam, choosing to follow the DIY pathway of the tree of knowledge of good and evil rather than the pathway of the tree of life. From Adam we all inherited spiritual death (which is a lost relationship with God and lost personal identity), so like Adam we are living in something less than God’s original blueprint or design for us, not recognising our true identity as a person made in His image.

So the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23 NASB), but God has a solution ready: for as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22). ‘The sin’ did not need to be punished, as religion would have us believe, but forgiven, corrected, dealt with and removed. We cannot earn God’s forgiveness by doing ‘good’ things (that is the DIY tree again): forgiveness is God’s gift to each of us in Christ.

The word of reconciliation

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:19).

The Greek word for ‘the world’ in that verse is ‘cosmos’: it certainly includes the whole planet, and much more besides. Jesus came to reconcile and restore absolutely everything and everyone in the whole of creation back into relationship with God. That is exactly what He accomplished through his death and resurrection, and now we all share in the victory of the cross and resurrection life. In relationship with God we all have a restored identity, knowing we are accepted, forgiven, blessed, and made righteous.

Since we now have the same ministry of reconciliation that Jesus had, we choose to show love and mercy to others just as He has shown love and mercy to us. What is more, the more we engage with the real God, the wider, deeper, longer and higher we perceive that love and mercy to be.

This blog post is adapted from Mike’s teaching in the ‘Engaging God‘ subscription programme. Find out more…

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232. The Greatest Scandal of the Age

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

New things

“Behold, the former things have come to pass,
Now I declare new things;
Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.”
(Isa 42:9)

Think of everything in your life that has already come to pass… and now God is saying ‘I declare new things’. Everything that is old has gone, everything that may have brought feelings of unworthiness, guilt and shame, and it has all gone because of the power of the cross.

The old things can no longer be of any use to us, if in fact they ever were. God has already decreed and declared for us a new place of relationship. We need to be aware that the old things have gone, so that we can accept the new things that the power of Jesus’ resurrection has opened up for us.

As those who are called to rule and reign as sons of God, we need to know God as our Father, otherwise we will operate as if we were orphans, as if we did not have a relationship with Him. What is more, we are made in God’s image, but if the image we have of Him is distorted then we will act in a distorted way. So if our view of God has Him as angry and vengeful, that is exactly how we will be as sons – and if you look at the world, it is an angry, vengeful place. Much of that has come from the way religion has presented Him: even though people may not ‘believe in God’, that is still the image they have of the God they don’t believe in. So God wants to reveal Himself to us, and to the world, in a completely different way.

Scandal

God spoke to me towards the end of 2016 and said,

“Son, the greatest scandal of the age is about to be exposed. Many will not believe it but the truth of who I am (and therefore who you are as My sons) will be revealed. The lies of religion will be exposed to the pure light of truth. The great I am is about to reveal Himself as the lover of your souls in what will amount to a whole new reality”.

So everything that we have believed about God and the version of reality that religion has presented to the church and the world, God is about to expose as a complete lie. And when it is exposed we will be able to see the truth of who God is and who we are.

The sin

We can engage God face to face, because it was never Him who hid from us, only the other way round. When Adam and Eve fell, and God came to find them in the Garden, He did not say ‘What have you done?’ He said, ‘Where are you?’ They were hiding because they were focussed on what they had done, but He was still looking for relationship. The enemy will always try to keep us focussed on what we have done, but God never is.

Sin is not really about behaviour, it is not about what we have done wrong. The most common word for ‘sin’, used 174 times in the New Testament, is ‘hamartia’. It is a noun, not a verb, ‘the sin’ rather than ‘to sin’, and it is not about our ‘doings’ at all. Religion is mostly concerned with ‘doings’: as if all these bad things we have done mean that God does not really like us, and does not want a relationship with us. But whatever we may have done does not affect how God sees us or how much He loves us. We just think it does.

The DIY tree

Sin brings its own consequences. Young’s literal translation of Romans 6:23 says,

For the wages of the sin [is] death, and the gift of God [is] life age-during in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The sin did not need to be punished but forgiven, corrected, dealt with and removed. This is what Jesus accomplished by his death and resurrection. He did not come to deal with our individual actions, as much as He came to deal with sin as a power, something that was at the very root of our situation. It was the sin of Adam in following the DIY path of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, trying to become like God by his own do-it-yourself efforts. That is what Jesus came to deal with; everything else is just a consequence of that.

Although the serpent said “If you eat of this tree you will become like God”, the truth was that Adam was already created in the likeness and image of God. Adam failed to grasp and hold onto his true identity and likeness from God’s perspective. So whilst God has never changed how He sees us, Adam suddenly saw himself as less than he was. In this spiritual blindness about himself and about God, he lost sight of the fact that he shared and participated in God’s own image and likeness.

That blindness has affected everyone ever since. We try to hide and cover up our nakedness with fig leaves because we have believed a lie about how God sees us. We do not see ourselves the way God really sees us or the way He created us to be. The spiritual death we have inherited is fundamentally a loss of relationship with God and a loss of personal identity.

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive (1 Cor 15:22).

Just as we all inherited that spiritual death and blindness from Adam; just as we all shared in the spiritual-soul-death that it created, so we all share in the victory of the cross and Jesus’ resurrection life.

Love

When we do engage God face to face, we will see what He is really like. God is love. Everything He does is love. Think of that, then compare how religion has depicted Him! Often those non-believers I mentioned earlier seem to be fine with Jesus but they are not so sure about ‘God’. Jesus came to share the truth of who He was and who His Father was. In reality, He is not some sort of schizophrenic, He does not have a split personality. Father, Son and Spirit are in complete unity, and if you have seen Jesus you have seen the Father.

This blog post is adapted from Mike’s teaching in the ‘Engaging God‘ subscription programme. Find out more…

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227. Lost Destiny Restored

 

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

Purpose

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

We can only love God because He first loved us. The Father sent Jesus because He loves us. All He is looking for is for us to respond to that love and come into a relationship with Him. Then we will begin to know that we have been called according to His purpose.

Do we know what that purpose is? Are we seeking for it? Are we just aimlessly wandering around hoping it will materialise for us? Or are we self-absorbed, living only for the present, wrapped up in trivial self-gratification, in material possessions, position or power?

Perhaps it is buried deep within our hearts, beneath layers of disappointment, frustration and regret built up over the years over generations. God wants us to discover it again. He desires us to know the thoughts He has about us (Psalm 139:17 NLT) thoughts of love, acceptance, affirmation, encouragement and blessing. Accomplishing God’s purpose for us brings fulfilment; achieving any other purpose we may substitute for it brings only emptiness.

When we come into this world our spirit is disconnected from God; our spirit is disconnected from our soul; our spirit is disconnected from heaven. We start out as slaves to sin, feeling rejected and disconnected from the sonship God designed us to enjoy.

Legacy

Destiny should lead to legacy, something left behind to bless the next generation. Not many have a Christian heritage – if you do, it is something to cherish and be thankful for. But every person who ever lived had a destiny, a purpose for their lives which God intended them to fulfil. We may feel like we have missed out on ours but God is able to restore everything stolen from us, including not only our own destiny but also that of our generational line.

Each individual’s destiny is a vital part of the overall plan and purpose of God. His plan has not changed since He called Adam and Eve to bring heaven to earth, to manifest the rule of God in this realm and populate the earth with people who would live in relationship with Him. God’s intention has always been to bring blessing to every family that would ever live.

Despite Adam’s fall, that destiny was passed on from Adam down through the generations to Noah, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to Joseph; to Moses, Joshua, Gideon, David and Solomon; to Jesus, to the apostles, to the church (ekklesia), that is, to us. But so many have missed out along the way.

We saw last time that a whole string of Bible characters failed to enter fully into their destiny. Every instance of that is a result of some kind of sin, rebellion or iniquity, either in the individuals concerned or in their generations. Your spirit can recognise a generational root: if you feel stirred by any of the examples we look at, and you do not recognise it in your own life, ask God to reveal to you if there is anything in your generational line that is holding back your destiny from you. There is a place you can go to get destinies restored that have been lost to past generations.

Adam and Eve, Esau

Adam and Eve lost their destiny by eating from the wrong tree and hiding from God. Skipping forward several generations, Esau despised his birthright (Gen 25:27-34), despised the spiritual dimension of his life. He was a ‘macho man’, over-impressed with his own soul, power and ability. That attitude cost him.

Jacob

Scripture often speaks of ‘Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’, and Jacob is a really sad case. If you can get three generations to fulfil the purpose of God it establishes something significant, so the enemy’s attack on that third generation is all the more intense. Jacob missed out on God’s best for his life, and spoilt what God had planned for his future generations.

Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and live there…” (Gen 35:1). At Bethel, Jacob had met God in a dream and seen angels ascending and descending. He himself called it ‘the house of God, the gateway of heaven’ (Gen 28:17). Who wouldn’t want to live somewhere like that? But it was not a suitable place for Jacob’s livestock, so he moved on.

Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and she suffered severe labour… So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)… Then Israel journeyed on… It came about while Israel was dwelling in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine, and Israel heard of it (Gen 35:16, 19, 21, 22).

Would Rachel have died at Bethel? Would Reuben have got involved with Bilhah? Reading on, Jacob suffered continual family issues he would not have faced had he stayed where God told him to. These included the rape of his daughter, Dinah, and culminated in his eventual migration to Egypt, where his family went into slavery for generations. That is not the kind of legacy you want to leave.

Jacob teaches us that our destiny can be linked to a specific location: we can lose our destiny by moving away from where God tells us to stay, or by staying somewhere (perhaps through misplaced loyalty to people, organisations or churches) when God has told us to leave. Let’s be sure we are where God wants us to be. He told Abraham to go, and told Jacob to stay.

Moses

Moses’ destiny was to free Israel from Egypt, but he tried to do it his own way. He killed an Egyptian and hid in the desert for forty years. God called him back to his destiny, but he still failed to complete it. Moses was angry at the persistent devaluing of his office and authority by a people with a spirit and mentality of slavery. Although he had the blessing and favour of God, and moved in God’s power and authority, he still wanted the favour of the people. So he struck the rock, disobeyed God, and forfeited his right to enter the Promised Land.

This is a dangerous temptation: to use the anointing to do the work of the kingdom, but to do so in order to legitimise ourselves or our ministry, to seek the favour of men. Moses lost his destiny because of his insecurity: Jesus faced the same temptation but refused to use God’s power to legitimise himself in the eyes of men.

Judah

The nation of Judah lost the Promised Land by abusing it, by not giving it its sabbath rest every seven years. They failed to trust in God’s provision, and went into exile in Babylon as a result. If we do not take proper care of our destiny, we can lose it. The condition of our spirit, soul and body is important: sleeping, eating, resting; getting the times and seasons in sync. If we don’t care for ourselves, it is a form of abuse and can cost us our destiny.

Jewish nation

The religious leaders of Jesus’ time rejected their king and forfeited their destiny. They generated enormous income through corruption, and saw that His talk of a house of prayer for the nations and the coming of the kingdom was a threat to both their religious money-making scams and their position of authority with the people. If we make decisions based on financial security or protecting our position rather than on faith in God, we risk being drawn away from our destiny.

Joshua

Don’t trade your destiny away. If we don’t fulfil our destiny, God can pass it on to someone else. Where Moses stepped down, Joshua stepped up. God is raising up a Joshua generation so He can release lost destinies, mantles and legacies upon them.

Restoring lost destiny

What happens to lost destinies?

One Sunday morning, during the worship, I had a vision in heaven. I was engulfed in flames for about twenty minutes. In that place I was given a large staff with a golden headpiece. Now, if I don’t know what something is for, I know where to go:

Does not wisdom call…?
On top of the heights beside the way,
Where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
Beside the gates, at the opening to the city,
At the entrance of the doors, she cries out
(Prov 8:1-3).

This is a real place in the heavenly realms we can all go to engage with Wisdom. That is where I went that Sunday. I was taken to a room with four doors: the second one opened and I walked into a place of flames, just as I had experienced earlier. I saw a huge door guarded by a balrog-like creature, and I just knew what the staff I had been given was for: I slammed it into the ground, the door opened and I went into Satan’s trophy room.

This is such a sad place! Lost destinies, anointings and mantles are displayed as trophies there, like a hunter might display on his wall the heads of animals he has killed. Family inheritances, the legacies that belong to you, they are trophies there. I began to get really indignant, and something in my spirit started to stir me to say ‘I want these back!’

And I knew this was why God had given me that staff. He had given me a mandate to recover and restore those family destinies and legacies. You see, my father passed nothing spiritual onto me, and yet his great-grandfather was a great man of God. That is the enemy’s desire, to rob us of what we should have had.

How we can get back things that were lost generations ago? They are stored up there, and God wants to release them and restore them to us. The very memory of our family inheritance may have been lost or stolen but it is still stored and recorded. The iniquity of the fathers may be visited on the children to the third and fourth generation, but we can remove all the enemy’s legal rights and recover our family’s destinies and legacies. We can stop the cycle of robbery, and get back what has been taken from us, so that we can pass on a legacy to the next generation.

Are we willing to do what it takes for that to happen? Let’s make a start today.

Removing Satan’s legal rights

By faith, we are going to step into the Court of Accusation in heaven, and if God shows you something while we do this, then you can deal with it in your own spirit.

Father I thank you that you love me
And that your kingdom is based on righteousness and justice.
By faith I step into the heavenly court of accusation.
I stand on my own behalf and on behalf of my generational line.
I face my accusers and I accept and agree that I and my ancestors
Have wrongly traded away my destiny Inheritance.

I accept that I and they
Have followed the pathway of the knowledge of good and evil.
I accept that I and they
Have been influenced and motivated
By earthly, natural and demonic wisdom.

I stand here representing myself and my forefathers, identifying with them.
I repent of and renounce all false trading for myself and my forefathers
I receive the judgment of God and His declaration
That I am justified and made righteous through my advocate, Jesus.

I release the judgment of God against my adversaries and accusers.
I receive a mandate to have my destiny and legacy restored.
I receive the authority to access Satan’s trophy room
And take back what has been robbed from me.

I step back into this realm with the authority to fulfil my destiny.
I choose to be identified as your son
with the capacity for the fullness of my legacy to be restored to me.

Related resources from Freedom ARC

Mike revisits the place of fire in this this Supernatural Mentoring video, and takes back something of even more value than lost destinies…

Other resources from Freedom ARC
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223. Frequencies of Heaven – Redemptive Gifts (7)

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

Each of the redemptive gifts resonates with a colour and has a particular affinity with one of the seven spirits of God. He is opening up the realms of heaven for us to engage with those seven spirits who are there to tutor us and train us into sonship. [Please click the image to view it as a full-size PDF.]

Prophet – Red – Spirit of the Lord
Servant – Orange – Spirit of Wisdom
Teacher – Yellow – Spirit of Understanding
Exhorter – Green – Spirit of Counsel
Giver – Blue – Spirit of Might
Ruler – Indigo – Spirit of Knowledge
Mercy – Violet – Spirit of the Fear of the Lord

Harmony of the senses

As our spirits become aware of the colours, frequencies and fragrances of heaven we can begin to apply them to affect things here on earth. There is an amazing harmony of all the senses in heaven that brings everything together into a oneness, enabling our whole being to engage with the realm of heaven as we begin to resonate with it. The song of our human DNA can be transformed so that it comes into agreement with the song of God’s original purpose for us, our spiritual identity. In the very essence of our being there is something contending for us to come into our eternal alignment with who we are as spiritual beings of light, as sons of God on the earth.

The revelation is being released to the body of Christ today that colour, sound and fragrance are related and that certain frequencies can bring healing, that essential oils can bring healing. The New Age has received this revelation, whereas the church has generally rejected it; some in that community are using sound and light and frequency with some positive effects. But because they are generally operating in the power of the soul rather than in connection with the Source of life through the spirit, it can leave a tainted stain on the soul of those involved. When mature sons of God apply those same techniques, He uses them to touch us, bringing righteousness, justice, holiness, peace and joy into our lives, because it is bringing us back into alignment with who we really are. We need to embrace this, not reject it just because a particular group of people accept it and are using it in the only way they know how, apart from God.

Frequencies

Quantum physics 1.01: we would not exist unless something observed us (and there are various suggestions about who does the observing, but I think we can agree Who that is). This earthly realm is connected to the spiritual realm and the sound of God’s voice which brought it all into being is still vibrating throughout the whole of creation.

Our eyes and ears can only recognise a very tiny portion of the frequencies that exist all around us, but we know from experience that frequencies outside that range can affect us. If you are exposed to ultra-violet light, you will get sunburn. If you were exposed to gamma radiation, you might not exactly go green and turn into the Incredible Hulk, but it could change you at a genetic level. That is absolute scientific fact. What about all the other frequencies which will also affect us, change us and transform us if we are exposed to them? Our spirits can respond to frequencies that our physical eyes and ears cannot: we call it the voice of God.

When our musicians start playing, they are not just making sound. There is a connection with light and frequency and fragrance that God wants us to experience and come into. Our musicians here at Freedom have retuned to A=432Hz (elsewhere others have chosen A=444Hz) and the difference from the standard tuning of A=440Hz, though unnoticeable to the natural ear for most of us, can be picked up in our spirit. We immediately saw a whole shift in our level of spiritual engagement, in fact the band noticed the difference even on the first practice night with the new tuning.

We need to resonate with God. When He comes and starts to manifest His presence, we are supposed to come into agreement with Him. The Bible calls it unity, the power of agreement. We come together with Him, and it goes deeper than just the mind or the emotions, it goes right down to a genetic level, so that we are conformed to the image of Jesus.

Heavenly places

This may frazzle our natural understanding, but it all begins to make sense when we realise that God wants to reveal Himself to us, and that He wants our spirit to engage with Him spirit to spirit. In fact He is releasing revelation to enable us to engage with Him in every way, spirit, soul and body, so that we can be transformed and come into agreement with our destiny, with our true identity, with who He created us to be.

As we begin to do so, we will find we can be seated in the heavenly places, not just in theory but in reality. We can go to the heavenly courts and see righteousness and justice administered on earth as it is in heaven. It was always God’s intention that we would have access, in our spirit, to the realms of heaven, and manifest heaven on the earth. Those manifestations can come in various ways: justice bringing a change to circumstances, healing, deliverance, wholeness. There are sounds and frequencies that can bring healing and deliverance, setting people free from the bondages that hold them captive, and bringing them back into alignment with God’s purpose for their lives.

The brain

Arthur Burk, whose work on redemptive gifts has informed much of this series, has found that the 7 redemptive gifts relate to 7 particular areas of the brain:

Note: the colours on this image do NOT correspond to the colours associated with the redemptive gifts.

Prophet: Frontal Lobe
Servant: Parietal Lobe
Teacher: Temporal Lobe
Exhorter: Occipital Lobe
Giver: Cerebellum
Ruler: Brain Stem
Mercy: Basal Ganglia

He also carried out scientific studies using EEG and EAV machines on how the brain responds when spiritual events occur, including angelic and demonic activity. He literally watched (and recorded) as spiritual healing took place. He says:

“Try this experiment. Have someone call each portion of your spirit to the front and ask that portion if it is willing to go to the area of the brain that matches its design.

Ask it to visit both the right and the left hemisphere if that is appropriate (the first five areas)…

In the work we have done in the lab, we can identify with electronic equipment where there is an unclean presence in the brain (demon, AHS or stronghold) and the human spirit confirms the presence of defilement by being unwilling to go there” (Arthur Burk).

There is much more information about this in his Brain Renewal Blog.

More sevens

There are more relationships of sevens to the redemptive gifts, including warfare strategies (insight, platform, planning, initiating, mobilizing, completing, fulfilment), and basic instincts (contemplative, kingdom, student, experiential, aesthetic, activist, relational). You can pursue this whole topic on Arthur Burk’s YouTube channel and on his Sapphire Leadership Group website.

Jesus demonstrated all the gifts

All the redemptive gifts were present in Jesus’ life and ministry.

He showed us the heart of the prophet, He did not mince His words. He was the servant who washed His disciples’ feet. He was the one who taught from His life and unpacked His teachings with His disciples. He was the one who gave words of encouragement… “I will send a comforter in My place”. He showed us the greatest act of giving in laying down His life. He led by His example. He had mercy to heal the sick and deliver captives.

And we are being conformed to His image, transformed by the renewing of our minds. As we allow Him to change us, as maturity in the faith comes, we become conversant with all the redemptive gifts and appreciative of the way different people express them, because that is how Jesus was. Diversity is essential in the body of Christ, and particularly so now that we are beginning to glimpse the relational, organic nature of what church (ekklesia) is intended to be.

Conclusion

So let’s identify, honour, value and appreciate our own primary and secondary gifts. We can use the surveys (understanding that they are indicators, with flaws and limitations). We can look at the lists of characteristics and see which best describe us (and ask those who know us well what they see in us, too). We can look at what motivates our heart, what gifting matches our natural tendencies, and what the enemy has sought to deny us. Where do we come alive? Conversely (as an indication of what our gift is not), what kinds of things leave us feeling drained? Most important, what does our heavenly Father have to say about us? We can ask Him!

And equally, let’s identify, honour, value and appreciate the gifting of others so that we can operate together more effectively as God intends:

He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love (Eph 4:16 NLT).

Related resources from Freedom ARC
The 3 different Redemptive Gifts Surveys
Recommended resources from Arthur Burk

Are you part of the Joshua Generation?

We developed this just for you:

Engaging God on the Heavenly Pathways of Relationship and Responsibility
Equipping a Joshua Generation of supernatural sons of God to live according to the order of Melchizedek

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To find out more about the Engaging God programme, click here…

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217. Redemptive Gifts (1)

Mike Parsons

In this series on ‘destiny’ we have looked at ‘who I am’, and it is time now to move on to our redemptive gifts or ‘how I am made’. After that we will go on to ‘what I am made for’.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28).

If we want things to work together for good (and not just our own good but for the good of everything and everybody), then we really need to know that we are called and that we have a purpose.

Do you know His purpose for your life?

Have you accepted His call?

His purpose and His call will work together to enable us to see our lives outworked for the glory of God and bring transformation to this earthly realm. If we know His purpose for our lives and know what He has called us to, both in this realm and in heaven, that will enable us to be a gateway of heaven on earth.

Transformed or conformed?

‘A redemptive gift is the grace of God woven into who we are; that when we are made right with God we become able to honour Him with how He has made us to be’.

Sadly there may have been other threads ‘woven into us’ which have affected us negatively.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is… (Rom 12:2).

God’s will is for an open heaven over us, for us to engage with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in intimacy, and for that we need to be transformed (not conformed). The world wants to conform us to a particular pattern and rob us of what God intends us to have and experience.

The world may have masked, damaged or perverted our identity, our gift and our destiny, because of our own experience and that of our generations. If we don’t know who we really are we will forever be asking ‘where do I fit?’ and ‘where do I belong?’

God desires to transform us to outwork who we really are, in His service. In that way we will be able to fulfil our part in restoring the whole of creation.

Redemptive gifts

Redemptive gifts are different from the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 (healing, words of knowledge, wisdom, distinguishing of spirits, tongues etc.), and from the offices appointed for the church in 1 Corinthians 14 (apostle, prophet, teacher, miracle worker etc.), and from the ministry gifts of Ephesians 4 (apostle, prophet, teacher, evangelist, shepherd).

Redemptive gifts are found in Romans 12.

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy , according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who rules,  with diligence; he who shows mercy , with cheerfulness (Rom 12:6-8).

There are seven different gifts, and these are given to ‘each of us’, which leaves nobody out. We are to line up with what God has given, rather than what the world has attempted to impose on us. Each of us is to exercise the gift(s) He has given us; and as we do we are to be that gift to the rest of the body.

The seven gifts are: prophet, servant, teacher, exhorter, giver, ruler and mercy.

Paul writes that faith is intrinsic to being a prophet and that a servant will actually serve (you cannot be a servant in theory). The same with teacher and exhorter – it is only in teaching or exhorting that they express themselves. The next three are interesting. ‘With liberality’ describes how a giver gives. ‘With diligence’ describes how a ruler rules. Finally, mercy operates ‘with cheerfulness’, indicating that the mercy gift may perhaps struggle to be cheerful. We will look at each gift in more detail in coming posts.

Why ‘redemptive’ gifts?

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be redeemed from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God (Rom 8:19-21).

Everything God created, both in the spiritual realm and in the physical realm, is waiting for God’s sons to be revealed, and to bring back to creation what is missing. So ‘creation itself will also be redeemed’, and we are called to be part of God’s plan to do that. That plan includes the gifts God has given us, and when we discover who we are then we can discover how we fit in to God’s overall purpose. The way we are wired and designed enables each of us to fulfil our destiny and engage in the process of restoring creation.

Redemptive gifts are dealt to each person in differing measures of faith.
God gives people as the different gifts.
God gives these gifts as necessary to fulfil his redemptive will on earth.
Each of us is a gift, differing according to the grace given to us by God.

Each person is and has a primary gift, but will have others as well, and the mix and degree of the various gifts in each of us is a unique combination.

Received at conception

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

Redemptive gifts are received at conception, rather than salvation. We are born with them and they will influence the course of our lives, regardless of whether we become Christians or not (though they will be more effectively expressed if we do). Psychologists term these differences in people ‘basic temperaments’ or ‘personality types’.

We are designed on (and with) purpose.

Redemptive gifts tend to shape our personality. They also affect the way in which we may receive or express one or more of the spiritual gifts, offices or ministries.

So my redemptive gift is how I am intrinsically made to function, ideally with spirit and soul in harmony. But because of separation from God, my soul or heart personality traits developed independently of my spirit. I need to discover the gift, then purify and refine the heart to define and polish it, so that it begins to shine.

There are some common behavioural characteristics which can help us identify our redemptive gifts (primary and secondary). Compassion, for example, may come more easily to servants and mercies than prophets and rulers. However, we must not use our gift as an excuse for not growing in love! We are all called to walk out the fruit of the Spirit, whether it comes naturally or not.

Arthur Burk has done a great deal of research into redemptive gifts. Here are some of the characteristics he has identified and how he correlates them with other sevens in the Bible (click here or on either image to view or download them both in one PDF file):

slide-1-hd
slide-2-hdGod is your Father and designer, and He desires to call forth your identity as His child. He desires to reveal your redemptive identity. He wants you to know who you are and how you are designed. You are called to be a world-changer.

As you exercise your own gifting you are free of the need to compare yourself (favourably or unfavourably) with anyone else. You can be comfortable in your own skin, not having to try to be like other people.

You are you.

You are unique;
Everyone else is also unique.

You are messed up in some way;
Everyone is messed up in some way.

You are a mixture;
Everyone is a mixture.

Every one of us is in a process of being refined, purified and transformed so that we can be ‘us’ as designed by God.

We must learn to respect and honour the differences and uniqueness in each other. As members of the body we will not all see things the same way, but when we put it all together we (as a body) will see things as Jesus does.

Next time we will begin to look at each of the gifts in more detail.

Related articles from Freedom ARC
Other resources from Freedom ARC
Further resources from others

Are you part of the Joshua Generation?

We developed this just for you:

Engaging God on the Heavenly Pathways of Relationship and Responsibility
Equipping a Joshua Generation of supernatural sons of God to live according to the order of Melchizedek

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209. The Right to Become Children of God

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

God the Father sent Jesus to ‘redeem those who were in bondage to sin’, to buy us back from slavery. He set us free, but it does not stop there – we are then adopted into His royal family, and become His heirs. In that family relationship we find acceptance, affection, affirmation, approval – and unlimited access to our Father, to Jesus, and to the Holy Spirit.

The right to become children of God

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12)

Everyone reading this has the right to become a child of God if they believe and accept Jesus. That is astonishing! Everything we have done in our past can be overcome because of Jesus’ death on the cross.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God (1 John 3:1)

We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him (1 John 4:16).

That word ‘know’ means ‘experience’. If God is love, and God is in us, then love is in us, and we can experience it for ourselves. In fact we can live in it, every moment of every day.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children (Rom 8:14).

Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God (Gal 4:7).

An inheritance for you

You have become a son of a Father who has an inheritance for you. Not only that, but He has released that inheritance to you so that you can experience the fullness of that relationship. That relationship of intimacy in sonship is something He has always wanted and planned for each of us:

He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will (Eph 1:5).

Slaves and orphans struggle with the fear of trusting, and therefore live a life of independence. If we cannot trust anyone else, we will feel we are on their own. God does not want us to feel alone. If, because of that fear, we fail to fully grasp that we are sons, then there is no way we will act like sons either.

We may find it hard to trust because of past experience. We have all been hurt, all been damaged, all been let down by people. We may be afraid of being hurt, rejected, or disappointed.  We may suffer from fear of failure, or fear of losing control.

But losing control is the very thing we need to do. We need to surrender control to God, and trust Him to have our best interests at heart. We have to stop being independent, and learn to trust Him as our Father. When we do, we embrace everything He has for us, because he will cause our destiny to be outworked in our lives.

A loving, affectionate Father

You see, salvation does not make us slaves (servile followers of a tyrannical God). That is what religion presents, and it is the lie the devil uses to lead astray so many people who would otherwise escape his clutches and turn to God. No, this great salvation makes us sons (grateful children of a loving, affectionate Father). That is the difference between religion and relationship. Religion will always put us into bondage (the word ‘religion’ even comes from a Latin word meaning ‘bound up’), but relationship will bring us freedom.

To be liberated from slavery is wonderful. But then to be adopted as a son and made a co-heir of the Father’s entire estate is absolutely astounding! If we were to fully understand what it is to have access to the wealth of our Father (and I’m really not talking about money), it would totally transform our lives. Because of our adoption, the nature of our whole relationship with God has radically changed. We are set free from that religious perception of God as a hard taskmaster just looking for every opportunity to punish us, a God we have to somehow try to appease by doing our good works (only to find that nothing we can do is ever quite good enough).

There is no punishment in store for us as His children, just love and acceptance, forgiveness, grace and mercy.

Reserved in heaven for you

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).

I hope we all understand by now that ‘reserved in heaven for you’ does not mean that you have to wait until you die to go and enjoy it. Jesus has opened up heaven for us and we are seated there with Him: everything there is for us to discover, and we can walk in that inheritance as sons right now. And God is looking to reveal more and more of what it means to be saved, what it means to be part of His family, what it means to have a relationship with Him.

In the past I have ministered to people who had been adopted, and naturally they can struggle. In spite of much love from the adoptive parents, they can still have a sense of not belonging, of not fitting in (and especially if they come from a different country, race or colour). But when we are adopted by God it is like we have found our eternal home, as if we have come back to how things should always have been. Because that is the reality of it.

Steal and kill and destroy

But (and it is a big ‘but’)…

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy… (John 10:10a AMP).

The enemy, the father of lies, wants to remind us of our past and our history in order to rob us of our present and our future. He wants to rob us of our adoptive inheritance and destroy our relationship with God. Yet Jesus said,

I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows) (John 10:10b AMP).

Who are we going to listen to? If we are smart, we will listen to Jesus and embrace the fullness of what the Father has destined and provided for us.

Related articles from Freedom ARC
Other resources from Freedom ARC

Are you part of the Joshua Generation?

We developed this just for you:

Engaging God on the Heavenly Pathways of Relationship and Responsibility
Equipping a Joshua Generation of supernatural sons of God to live according to the order of Melchizedek

Get started today!*

To find out more about the Engaging God programme, click here…

*Technology permitting: automated process on receipt of payment and completion of online registration form. Terms and conditions apply.

Support Freedom ARC

If our free or paid resources are a blessing to you, please consider making a donation to sow into and support this ministry. Thank you!