246. Gnashing Teeth and Goats

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

Recent posts on ‘hell’ have prompted questioning among our readers. That was their purpose – not to stir up controversy for the sake of it but to encourage us all to examine our beliefs about this subject and where those beliefs have come from.

We have looked at the occasions on which the actual word appears in English translations of the Bible, and then in the last post I shared with you the series of encounters with God which led me down this route in the first place. But we promised that before we move on we would also examine the passages where the word itself does not appear, but ‘the Bible clearly says’ that some people go to a place of eternal torture when they die.

Weeping, Gnashing of Teeth and Outer Darkness

“Weeping and gnashing of teeth in the outer darkness! That is obviously a reference to suffering eternal physical torture in hell.”

Is that so?

Look at what happened leading up to Stephen being martyred in Acts 7:54: his accusers (members of the Sanhedrin) became furious and gnashed their teeth at him. Weeping and gnashing of teeth was an expression not of tormented pain and anguish, but of rage.

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them (Matt 21:45). The only reason they did not seize Jesus then and there was because they were afraid of the public outcry.

It was not the general mass of humanity that Jesus was speaking of when He talked about gnashing of teeth and the outer darkness in Matt 8:12, 13:42, 13:50, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30 and Luke 13:28. It was this group of self-righteous individuals who would find themselves outside the covenant they were so sure was their birthright. In that ‘outer darkness’, having failed to heed Jesus’ warnings, they would respond with defiant anger.

Sheep and goats

Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life (Matt 25:46).

To be fair, you can understand why people tell us ‘the Bible clearly says…’. Our English Bibles certainly seem to. But we need to look at the Greek words used by the original writers of the New Testament books.

Firstly, what do we understand by ‘punishment’? Kolasis is the word used here, and it means ‘correction’, not ‘retribution’. Greek had a word for retributive punishment, timoria, which is never used of God in the New Testament. God’s discipline is always restorative.

Secondly, the Greek language had no word for ‘eternal’. They could have invented one if they had wished to: the language was exceptionally well-suited to building new words from component parts. They did not need the word because they did not have the concept. The root of the word used here, aionios, is ‘age’. For Greek speakers, an aion could mean a lifetime, a generation, or a longer period of time – but always of finite length. So not never-ending, not forever and ever, not eternal.

“Ah, but the same word appears in both halves of this sentence, and since ‘eternal life’ is everlasting, then the punishment must be, too.”

That depends on what aspect of the life we focus on when we read ‘eternal’. Surely it is not primarily the length, but the quality. The life being promised is the-God-kind-of-life: and the punishment therefore is the-God-kind-of-punishment: restorative and corrective, not retributive.

There are other reasons to treat this passage with caution, too. The sheep and goats in the parable are nations, not individuals. The criterion for escaping ‘eternal punishment’ is good works, not faith in Jesus. So if you are prepared to assert that whole nations will be sent to heaven or hell – based on their works, not on faith – then you can reasonably use this passage to argue your case for an ‘eternal hell’. So far I have not come across anyone in any theological stream who is prepared to do so.

“The eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels? That’s clear enough.”

The more I consider this phrase, the more I am inclined to Chuck Crisco’s view that it refers to ‘the accuser and his messengers’, which is a perfectly valid translation of the Greek words used. The Law, the religious system and those who fought to preserve it were heading for the fires of the Temple Mount and Gehenna at the end of the Old Covenant age (aion) in the destruction of Jerusalem by the armies of Rome (AD70).

But if that is a step too far for some, let’s consider the purpose of fire. The Greek word is pur, from which we get words like ‘pure’ and ‘purify’. Jesus came baptising with the Holy Spirit and with fire and Paul said that everyone’s work will be tested with fire. I believe we will all go through the fires of purification to restore us to our original design and identity as sons by removing anything that distorts that image. We can engage with that fire now, or wait until we die (I advise option 1). There is a fire which awaits everyone who has not gone through it already but it is for purifying and correcting, not for destroying. It is the consuming fire of God’s passionate love. And my testimony is that even those who did not accept Jesus while alive will still get to choose when they experience that fire after death.

So what was Jesus’ point in this story of sheep and goats? ‘Brothers’ was a term used by Jews to refer exclusively to other Jews. Again (as throughout these chapters of Matthew’s gospel) I would suggest that in His love He was setting out a warning to the religious-yet-unbelieving Jews, especially the leaders, who instead of serving ‘the least of these my brothers’ (the believing Jews) would imprison and kill them instead.

Lazarus and the rich man

We touched on this before, and for an in-depth look into this parable we recommend Brad Jersak’s analysis in Hell in a Handbasket.

The context of Luke 16 is all about wealth and true riches. In the verses immediately preceding this parable Luke tells us that the Pharisees were lovers of money. Jesus is not offering a treatise on the afterlife, but a warning about putting your trust in riches and failing to help the poor. Jesus quite literally means that the rich and poor of that age will see a reversal of fortunes in the next.  Losing your soul for temporal gain is the cost of materialism and the results of living a DIY self-righteous life (Matt 16:26).

Abraham’s bosom is not a biblical phrase but a mythological or cultural one found in the Babylonian Talmud. Jesus is using a culturally accepted idea as the background for his story.

Aspects of the story make a crass literalism awkward: how does the rich man communicate with Abraham across the chasm? Does everyone there have a direct line to the patriarch? Does someone being incinerated in a furnace care about thirst? Are these literal flames? And since hades precedes the resurrection of the body, do we have literal tongues with which to feel thirst? Is this also the literal Abraham? Do the millions in his care take turns snuggling with him? Or is his bosom big enough to contain us all at once? How big he must be! And so on into implausibility. Taking the parable seriously means we mustn’t take it so literally. (Brad Jerzak – Why The Lake of Fire, Tormented Lazarus & Gnashing Teeth Can’t Conjure Up Eternal Torture).

Do we think that when we are in heaven we will be able to see our loved ones in ‘hell’, talk to them but offer them no hope, yet be happy with that?

Eternal destruction, away from the presence

… when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (2 Thess 1:7b-9).

If you believe in hell as eternal conscious torment, the word ‘destruction’ does not work for you. If you believe in the annihilation of the wicked, the combination of ‘eternal’ and ‘destruction’ makes no sense. However you look at it, we need to delve deeper.

The words in bold are all poor translations: diké (translated penalty) means justice, judicial hearing, legal decision; the related word ekdikesis (translated retribution) means that which arises out of justice; aionion (eternal) we know means pertaining to the age; olethros (destruction) means the state of being lost, lostness; apo (translated away from and from) does indeed mean from, but in the sense of coming out of or coming from and not separated from. Matthew DiStefano points out that the phrase Eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord (olethron aionion apo prosopou tou Kyriou) in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 mirrors exactly that in Acts 3:19: Times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord (kairoi anapsyxeos apo prosopou tou Kyriou). No one translates that ‘times of refreshing away from the presence of the Lord’.

So Paul was encouraging the Thessalonians that there was a judicial decision about to come from the Presence of the Lord which would have a consequence for those who were persecuting them: it would involve a state of lostness pertaining to the age. Or you can read it as God’s consuming-fire-presence delivering a justice that totally ruins their lostness.

This is not about some future end of the world event or afterlife experience but what Jesus prophesied would occur in that generation (and did occur in AD70) – but even then, God’s justice is always restorative for everyone.

The Lake of Fire

Four verses mention the lake of fire in the Bible, all in Revelation 19 and 20. Revelation is an apocalyptic book, symbolic and cryptic in nature, the only one of its kind in the New Testament but very common in Jewish and Greek literature. Only those ‘in the know’ and immersed in the culture in which it is written will fully understand the symbolism. Symbols can represent multiple concepts. One thing is certain: apocalyptic literature is never intended to be read literally.

We can get clues about some of the symbols because they also appear in the book of Daniel, including the beast being cast into the blazing fire (Dan 7:11). Just as Daniel’s beasts were figurative, representing various nations, so too is the lake of burning sulphur figurative. The book of Revelation is not a prophecy for the far distant future but was an immediate warning to first-century Israel that just as Sodom and Gomorrah fell in fiery destruction, so too the Jewish religious system was in danger of ending in the same manner.

The ‘book of life‘ mentioned is a commonly understood concept in the Jewish tradition and refers back to the law where according to the Talmud this book is opened every Jewish new year on Rosh Hashanah.

In Revelation 20:14, we see Death and Hades thrown into the lake of fire. Here the lake of fire may well represent God’s (completed) triumph over evil, sin, the grave and death through the power of the cross. Many of the early church Fathers saw the lake of fire as a spiritual place where everyone in humanity was purged of their unbelief and sins so that they could eventually believe in God. I believe it is fed by the river of fire which flows from God’s throne.

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Rev 20:10).

Forever and ever is a poor translation of to the ages of ages. Brimstone (Greek: theios, closely related to the word for ‘God’) was regarded as having power to heal and purify. Basanizo (translated torment) is ‘testing with a touchstone’ (in other scriptures it is translated as tossed or battered by waves, straining at the oars of a boat, and being in labour while giving birth).

Conclusion

Enough! No matter how many objections we address, how many scriptures we dig into, we know that some will not be persuaded. These posts are really not intended for them but for those who discover that God is already on their case – and even they will probably come up with other verses or passages not included in this brief survey. There are far more comprehensive treatments of the subject elsewhere; we have referenced some of them in the text and below. But ultimately all of us are going to need to go to God, in whatever way we know how, and hear what He has to say to us about the questions we have.

Fire and passion

We can all experience the fire and passion of God’s love today for ourselves. Let’s not hide from it or try to avoid it.

Son, it is time for everyone to embrace the fire
to experience deeper love
and the purification that My consuming fiery love brings.

Son, call on Me to stoke the fires
and increase the intensity of the heat
to reveal hearts, minds and motives. 

So I call for the purification of fire.
I call for the fire of love to penetrate the hardest, darkest areas of our hearts.
I call for the refiner’s fire to burn away the dross of self.
I call for the light to shine, to expose the things hidden because of shame.
I call for love’s overcoming power to reveal and break every chain tethering God’s people to the DIY path.
I call for the passion of God’s heart to be revealed in His wrath directed towards all brokenness and lost identity.

Let the consuming fire of God’s love burn in our hearts and minds to restore us to true sonship.

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

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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.

Recent articles from Freedom ARC
Older related posts

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183. The Judgment Seat of Christ

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

Judgment, coming to the house of God

Transformation is the ongoing process of restoring our lives to original condition and purpose; finding our unique true identity and eternal destiny. It is also preparation for God’s judgment that is coming to the church (1 Peter 4:17).

We are the church, an organic structure of relationships in the kingdom. In judgment, God is going to give His verdict (and the root of that word is ‘saying what is true’). He is going to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to the church: He will affirm and authenticate the true church, but there are aspects of the institution that we call ‘church’ that God is not pleased with, and He is going to make it abundantly clear that He is not pleased. Then people will face a choice: whether to stay with the institution, the religious structure, or whether to go for the relationship. And God is calling us into relationship.

Matching scrolls?

God is going to look at the scroll of our lives and see how it matches up with our scroll of destiny, all the vast thoughts God had about us; all that was written about our lives (Ps 139:16-17). Do our lives match up with how God intended them to be? We need to be ready to face that question and receive that judgment.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Cor 5:10).

We know this is not about sin; it is about whether or not we have done what God asked us to do, and with what motive. Each one of us will give an account of himself to God (Rom 14:11-12). The traditional understanding is that this only happens after we die, but my experience is that you can go to that judgment seat now.

If we build with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, the quality of our work will be tested with fire (see 1 Cor 3:11-13). It is the quality that is tested, not the quantity. The transforming fire of God will consume and burn up all those things that are not of Him, but will purify and affirm those things that are.

The Lamb and the Lion

In my personal experience of this, I was given a sealed scroll and brought to a place where there stood a Lamb. Many of the encounters we have in the heavenly realms are full of symbolism, and as I laid my hands on the head of the Lamb, just as the high priest laid his hands on the head of a sacrificial animal in the Old Testament, I understood that all my sin was laid on Jesus.

I still had the scroll in my hands, and now in front of me stood a huge Lion. I walked into the darkness of His open mouth. It was a journey into the dark, until I came out into a place where there was a pillar of fire; and the fire had eyes which were looking into and piercing my soul.

The Lamb and the Lion of the tribe of Judah is worthy to open the scroll (Rev 5). The seals on the scroll sprung open as I walked into that place and stood physically shaking and quaking in the presence of God. Everything I had done for Him was written on this scroll. Some things I knew immediately that He was really pleased about, because they were done in obedience and in the right heart. Others He was not pleased about, things I had done for the wrong motive, and I faced the fire of God’s presence as it consumed all that wood, hay and stubble,.and the scroll was purified.

Then the scroll was turned over, and on the back showed all that I had missed, the opportunities to serve God and to do His will that I had allowed to pass me by. Once the eyes of fire had burned through it all, it was completely wiped clean, and God gave me an opportunity for a fresh start, to see my scroll of destiny fulfilled in the scroll of my life.

It was a humbling, life-changing, difficult yet highly motivating experience.

That judgment seat is about recompense, about reward in the age to come. Our reward is to be able to serve His purpose, to operate in rulership, but only according to the measure that we have fulfilled our destiny in this time.

All of us can have access to that realm in heaven where our scroll gets dealt with in the fire of God’s presence. Ultimately, if we want real transformation, we will be glad to see the wood, hay and stubble burned up. The fire of judgment is not for punishment, but for transformation, purification and refining, so that our lives will better reflect Him.

Coals from the altar

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa 6:1-3).

It is through us that His glory will fill the earth. The more we surrender to His purpose in our lives, to transformation, the more of His glory we will be able to display and the more that glory will fill the earth.

seraph

And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, Woe is me, for I am ruined! Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is purged” (Isa 6:4-7).

In the fire of His presence there is nothing we can hide, nothing that is not revealed. In the presence of God, we see things for how they really are. This was a real experience for Isaiah. He knew he was ruined, undone. But there is something about patterns of sin and iniquity in our lives, over years and generations, which can be purged with the fire that comes from that altar. Angels are coming today, bringing the coals, looking for those who are willing to be refined and purified.

God wants us to pursue these experiences. He is still asking, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” He is looking for those who will fill the earth with glory. Like Isaiah, let us reply, “Here I am, Send me!”

Such encounters lead us to our destiny. Think of Moses, Joshua, and Saul on the Damascus road. Jesus lived a lifestyle of encountering the Father so that He could do what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19). Daily encounters with the living God in the heavenly Holy of Holies not of this creation will transform our lives, and give us direction day by day.

Identity, destiny and authority

We are being called into our identity and destiny as a Joshua Generation, a people transformed and ready for God’s judgment, authentication and mandated authority; a generation of believers who possess our heavenly and earthly kingdom inheritance and fulfil our eternal destinies; a people prepared to receive and disciple a harvest of supernatural labourers into their kingdom inheritance; a people to fill the earth with God’s glory.

As we come to the end of this series on Transformation, I make these declarations over you:

I call your spirit to attention.
Spirit, listen as a true son.

I call forth your identity as the Joshua Generation.
I call forth your destiny to manifest God’s kingdom
on earth as it is in heaven.
I call forth your destiny to fill the earth with God’s glory.

I call forth your identity, destiny and authority as lords
to administer God’s rule on earth as it is in heaven.
I call forth your identity, destiny and authority as kings
to have charge over God’s heavenly courts.
I call forth your identity, destiny and authority as sons
to stand in God’s presence and be displayed on the earth.

I call forth your identity, destiny and authority as sons of God
to answer the groan of creation
and restore to it to original condition and purpose.
I call forth the Joshua Generation
to rise up and take possession of your inheritance.

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Are you part of the Joshua Generation?

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Equipping a Joshua Generation of supernatural sons of God to live according to the order of Melchizedek

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Vision Destiny 2015

Free download

Mike Parsons’ 3-session teaching series, Vision Destiny 2015, is available for free download from our website.

We believe that these messages contain important prophetic words for the people of God in 2015.

A reflection of God on earth?

Are we a shadow or reflection of God on earth so He can fully occupy us?

We are responsible for the revelation we have been given:
Are we aligned to that revelation?
Are we acting like forerunners?

“I am going to release the 7 spirits and your assigned councillors in greater measure
to those who will position themselves
and take the responsible seats of government.”

The Lion roars

This year will be the year where the Lion roars,
where Kingship will be revealed
and where enthronements take place,
where authority is released at a higher level.

You are a son of God, called to have dominion;
governmental authority,
in, and through, and around your life.

Judgment is coming

Judgment is coming:
God drawing a line, saying,
“This is me… and this is not”.

Judgment is not a punishment to death
but a decision to call us to choose life.

Impending upheaval

“The very stars are awaiting their repositioning orders, as Sons accept their call to action from their mandated positions of true governmental authority.

“Look to the constellations for the signs of impending upheaval
as the affairs of the nations are administered by the sons of God once more.
The stars will release their light and glory to the sons of God:
the resonance of their light and sound once again restored to divine order.”

You can download this latest 3-session teaching series, Vision Destiny 2015, completely free of charge from our website.

These key teaching sessions release important prophetic words for 2015. Whilst originally delivered in Freedom Church, so that some of the content relates specifically to the local body, much will be of value to the wider ekklesia of God (especially sessions 2 and 3, those titled ‘Vision Destiny 2015’).

Please click here to obtain your free audio mp3s, PDF slideshows (and for session 3 only, streaming video).

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!

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.

179. Sealed Up Until the End of Time

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

Information or revelation?

Through the centuries there has been a battle for truth: we have an enemy who does not want the church even to know about the supernatural, much less experience it! At the Constantinople council in 553 there was a lot of argument about what should and should not be included in the canon of scripture. Many books were removed at that time, and some wanted to throw out even the books of James, Peter, and Jude (all with a lot of the supernatural in them). Centuries later, even Martin Luther was unhappy with Hebrews, James and Peter.

During the dark ages, when people could not read the Bible, a lot of truth was lost. God has been restoring that truth over the last 1000 years, and there is ongoing revelation of truth. Please do not just accept everything I say, do not be satisfied with just information but go and seek God and get revelation for yourself. He often speaks to me through science fiction films, so He can speak to you through anything; just check that it lines up with who God is, His character and nature and the overall tenor of scripture. Examine things to see whether they are true (rather than to prove they are not)!

Now these (Bereans) were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so (Acts 17:11).

Sealed up

Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever (Dan 12:3).

God wants us to have insight. We need to have understanding, which only comes through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. God has spoken to us as a church about being like the sons of Issachar, understanding the times.

But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase (Dan 12:4).

The revelation that Daniel was bringing in that book was to be sealed up, so that the full understanding of it would not be available until the end of time. I believe now is that time, when people are freely travelling back and forth all over the earth, taking this knowledge everywhere. Because of modern technology, and especially the internet, knowledge is available now like never before.

He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time. Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand” (Dan 12:9-10).

We are now in the days where God is refining and purifying so that Jesus can come back for a church without spot or blemish. We are in a time where God is doing things He has never done before.

Normalcy bias

Many people don’t believe that. The technical term is ‘normalcy bias’, defined as ‘a tendency to underestimate coming disaster, its effects and consequences’. Basically it means people are in denial, not wanting to accept that anything will be significantly different from the way it has always been. If something has never happened up to now, we assume it never will, and act accordingly.

But things are going to change drastically. It will be nothing like it is now.

The effects and consequences of what is coming are beyond most people’s understanding. God is now starting to open and unveil the books to show us those things so that we can be ready and prepared. That is what the Prophetic Timetable is about, God saying “Be prepared for what is coming”.

There is going to come a shaking of all the world’s systems. God will be behind it, but the enemy will be involved in the process. It will take place whether we are ready for it or not.

If God says something is going to happen, I want to be ready. Then, when it does, I will be in position to be used in God’s purposes to fulfil what He wants from His church, to raise her up above all the systems of the world, to provide the answers they do not have and so desperately need.

Something new

Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? (Isa 43:19).

The implication of that question is that we might well not be aware of it. We always have to be looking out for the new thing God is doing – He rarely stays still for long. We must be prepared for change. When we sing ‘Strip everything away’, we must be prepared for Him to do just that. When we pray Psalm 139:23-24, we should expect God to show us what is in our lives so that he can change it.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb 4:12).

This is not primarily talking about the Bible, but about Jesus, the living Word of God (who created and holds everything together by the word of His power). He is living, active, and sharp; piercing, dividing and judging so that we can be restored to wholeness (nothing missing and nothing broken) and come back to God’s original intent and purposes.

Let’s cooperate, by presenting ourselves to Him. Let’s give Him permission, opening up our hearts to let Him in. Let’s allow God to do what He wants to do. Let’s pursue Him with everything we have. Let’s desire with all the desire of our heart that we will become one with Him (1Cor 6:17). That is the level of intimacy He wants.

He will remove every obstacle, every stumbling block and every chain even right down to stripping out all the impurities in our DNA so that we can be changed into the image of Jesus. So let’s be willing, open our hearts and let him transform us so that we can be ready for what is to come.

Strip everything away
‘Til all I have is You
Undo the veils
So all I see is You

I will pursue You
I will pursue Your presence…

(‘Pursuit’ – Daniel Bashta)

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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!

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!*

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175. Patterns of Iniquity

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

God is preparing us for what is surely coming. He is removing stumbling blocks from us so that we are ready when judgment comes to the house of God. His judgment is simply this: He will say ‘This is of Me, and this is not’.

Be transformed

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 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, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom 12:1-2)

We are born again, and the Spirit of God is in us, but we still have free will. We can choose between the broad pathway of the knowledge of good and evil, leading to death, and the narrow door which leads to the pathway to the tree of life, bringing life, peace and joy.

If we do not deal with the sinful nature and iniquity that is in us, we are like a bowling ball biased to do wrong. The pattern is a vicious circle: iniquity is the motive, which leads to sin (the desire) and transgression (the result), going around and around.

But we can walk according to the Spirit. Transgression can be forgiven and cleansed through the blood of Jesus. The sinful nature died at the cross: we appropriate that truth through baptism in Christ and we apply His victory every day by reckoning ourselves dead to sin and alive to Him. We deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.

We deal with iniquity by legal separation from it. We apply fire, and communion, using the DNA of God. Once we remove iniquitous patterns from our lives, God can be in the centre so that His presence rules in our spirit. That effectively removes one pathway as an option entirely, so that we only have one choice. We will be led by the Spirit, not struggling as we have struggled up to now.

Forgiving iniquity

And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon  the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:7).

There is hope: iniquity can be forgiven and dealt with.

Family curses

But if I do not repent and instead set up patterns of sin in my life, they can be passed on to future generations. And some of us may be struggling today because of patterns set up in our life by previous generations. Idolatry in the family line is a common access point.

I asked God to show me what went on in my past generations which caused me to be the way I was. One weekend, He took all the restraints off my life, and all kinds of thoughts, of every imaginable sin, just overwhelmed me. Because I have a strong spirit, usually I was able to keep all this under control, but He showed me what I was really like on the inside. I cried out to Him, and He put back the restraint.

The accuser’s hand was exposed. I saw and dealt with things in my family history which had caused me to experience difficulties in my own life. We may not actually be committing any of the sins we see in the iniquitous patterns of our ancestors but if our spirit needs to constantly overrule, then we are wasting energy we could use to accomplish great things which are part of our eternal destiny.

Any kind of chronic, recurring problem in our family line may be the result of a curse. But curses are associated with our old identity. If we know our true eternal identity those curses can no longer operate in us. Let’s ensure they have no power over us by fully embracing our new identity in Christ.

Guilt and shame

Transgression involves guilt. The sinful nature involves condemnation (and with it a sense of separation from God). Sin leaves a reproach. We feel blame, disgrace, discredit, shame, humiliation, scorn, and disapproval. This works against God’s favour operating on our behalf: we do not think we are worthy of God’s blessing. God wants us to know that He has dealt with the reproach of our past sin, whether in our own life or in our family line.

avon

The Hebrew word avon (iniquity) has 3 letters. These represent an eye, a hook, and fish multiplying, giving the sense ‘whatever the eye hooks into multiplies’.

Iniquity is an inner bent that leads to a pattern of repetitive sin, and unrepented sin can leave a spiritual weakness towards that sin in the family line.

Our fathers sinned, and are no more; It is we who have borne their iniquities (Lam 5:7).

Our own life

However, we cannot blame everything on past generations. In identifying patterns we must start in our own life and only then go back. We are quite capable of setting up our own iniquitous patterns which can affect future generations unless we deal with them right now.

But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death (James 1:14-15).

Iniquity of successive generations empowers sin to become transgression, and repeated behaviours become generational patterns. That can happen through role modelling (for example if we see our father behave in a certain way) or from genetic corruption.

In this way, iniquity leads to a generational deviation from God’s destined pathway for us. He has a destiny for us, and this is not it. We need to be transformed: to leave behind the way we have been shaped by our past and our family line; to be changed into the image of our eternal destiny, the image of the glory of God, the image of Jesus.

The enemy will always seek to rob, kill and destroy, and he will take advantage of any opportunity to do so. But our inheritance in God is life, abundance and blessing.

Remedy

There is one remedy for transgression, sin and iniquity: the blood of Jesus.

How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?(Heb 9:14).

We apply the power of Christ’s death on the cross to our own lives. Then His death becomes life for us. Confession deals with transgression (1 John 1:9); coming daily as a living sacrifice deals with the sin nature; and applying the blood through communion deals with genetic iniquity. Iniquity is generational, but when we break bread, we can apply the blood of Jesus to that whole genetic path.

Glory

The presence of God’s glory will expose all this. We sing ‘Show me Your glory’, but like Isaiah, as we experience the light of the fiery presence we are undone and we feel ruined:

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple… Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is purged” (Isa 6:1, 5-7).

Cleansing comes as we engage in the temple of God with the fiery altar and the seraphim.

Out of His Kingdom

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather out of his Kingdom all things that cause stumbling, and those who do iniquity (Matt 13:41).

Notice that Jesus does not say  ‘out of the world’, but ‘out of his Kingdom’. Angels are being released to remove from us those things that cause us to stumble or that cause iniquity.

Let’s make sure we are ready:

  • Repent of our individual sins (to ‘repent’ has nothing to do with being sorry, or making amends; it means turn around and get back on the right path)
  • Identify family iniquity
  • Forgive our forefathers
  • Renounce the patterns of iniquity
  • Use the courts of heaven
  • Apply kingdom justice – get a divorce from each iniquitous pattern of behaviour.
  • Apply the blood of Jesus in communion

Our future is much better than our past, if we will allow God to purify and refine us.

Let’s pray

Here is an example of a prayer we can pray in order to separate ourselves from what is in our past and live free from it all, so that we can have in our lives the abundant overflow of God’s life and provision and blessing.

Father I thank you that you love me and Your kingdom is based on righteousness and justice
By faith I step into the court of accusation.
I face my accusers and I accept and agree that I have iniquity operating within me
I accept that I have followed the pathway of the knowledge of good and evil
I accept that I 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 iniquitous patterns for myself and my forefathers

I receive the judgment of God and become justified and made righteous through my advocate, Jesus
I release the judgment of God towards my adversaries and accusers

I ask you to release the Seraphim to bring the fiery coals from the altar and apply them to my life
Purge me from sin and remove all family curses and iniquity from me
I receive a mandate to be separated from all iniquitous repetitive sinful patterns of behaviour
I step back into this realm with the authority to identify, reject and overcome all iniquitous behaviour 

I choose to be identified as Your son, walking in the light, following heavenly wisdom on the earth
I choose to manifest heaven on earth through my life as a child of God

I would encourage you to apply this to each area God shows you, to each iniquitous pattern. Be specific and deal with it, so that you can be set free and filled with the power, the presence and the wisdom of God.

Related articles by Freedom ARC
Other resources from Freedom ARC

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!

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.