240. Loving Instruction and Correction

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

Love, the very essence of His Being

If we continually engage with God in a relational way we will continually find new things. We certainly cannot contain Him in a box – or even in a book. We need a relationship with Him and then, just as in any relationship, we will gradually (or sometimes in a flash of revelation) get to know what He is really like.

As the Joshua Generation, we are called to engage our inheritance, to cross over into the realms of heaven. In that, whether we are engaging God in the realms of heaven or engaging Him in our own heart, or in the spirit, or outside of time and space in the heart of God Himself, God is revealing His precepts, His character and His nature. When we meet God face to face, it begins to change our view of Him, and for the better. You can take it from me: we honestly have no idea just how good He is!

When I have engaged face to face with Him, what I have found is that God is Love. That is not only His predominant characteristic, but the very essence of His being. That Love poses a challenge to many of the ways we have thought about God because of our religious upbringing or traditions. If we are to live as the sons of God we truly are, if we are to love one another and to love the world as He does, then we need to have an authentic experience and testimony of God as a loving Father. After all, we are His representatives, His ambassadors, and we are to play our part in bringing the whole of creation back into a relationship with Him, to be reconciled to Him. Notice that it is not that He needs to be reconciled to us, the world or creation: He has chosen to maintain relationship with us from eternity past and unambiguously demonstrated that once and for all through the cross.

Father, Son and Spirit

The word ‘God’ has all kinds of different meanings to different people. When I write or speak about ‘God’, what I mean is Father, Son and Spirit; there is a relationship there, eternally expressed between the members of the Trinity, and this is the relationship into which we are now invited. As we experience the true reality of who God is, false doctrines and theologies will be exposed as lies, distortions and misrepresentations when compared with the Truth (the person, Jesus, rather than an impersonal set of beliefs, tenets or ideas).

Jesus is the exact representation of the Father. He said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father”. We may think we ‘know’ this, but right there is a potential bombshell of cognitive dissonance waiting to explode. What do I mean by that? When we read the Old Testament and the New Testament, there is a danger that we see two different ‘Gods’. The New Testament ‘God’ looks like Jesus, whilst the Old Testament ‘God’ is vengeful, vindictive, unpredictable, and downright scary. It should be no surprise if we struggle to hold these two incompatible views of God in our minds at the same time, yet that is exactly what many of us have done ever since we became Christians. We have looked at this through our own filters and through our own preconceived ideas. If we will look through the lens of Jesus we will realise that any dichotomy is not real, it is just a perception.

Not God at all

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow (James 1:17).

“For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6).

Everything that is good in our lives has come from God. Conversely, we can know that everything that is bad has not come from Him. He is, has been, and will always be the same. And His unchangeableness is the reason we are not consumed, and do not have to fear being consumed. It is because He is Love, that perfect Love who drives out all fear. He is good, all the time.

God (who is Father, Son and Spirit) is always smiling at us and is always in a good mood with us; always, even when we mess up. His countenance does not change. He does not get angry with us. Everything He does towards us is for our good, not to harm or punish us. And every time I have used the words ‘we’ and ‘us’ in this paragraph, that does not only include Christians: God so loved ‘the world’ [Greek: kosmos] that He gave… but we will pick up that particular hot potato another time.

The reason we might find it hard to trust God is because the god we have been taught to trust is not God at all. That “GOD” is an imaginary construct of DIY religion, a distant, angry disciplinarian, a two-faced deity with a dark side which is to be feared. That anger, or perhaps you may have heard it called ‘wrath’, could be poured out in extreme punishment on anyone at any time.

That was who Adam and Eve wanted to avoid by hiding in the bushes. But God did not come lashing out at them in anger, roaring “What have you done?” He came seeking them out in love, asking, “Where are you?”. He was saddened by the loss of relationship (and was ready to restore it, if only they were willing).

Discipline, not punishment

Last time we saw that the cross had nothing to do with ‘penal substitution’, nothing to do with God punishing Jesus. But that whole doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement has so perverted our view of God that we often try to avoid His discipline because of fear of punishment (because if He would punish Jesus, for sure He would punish us). Can we really trust a god who would punish his own son so cruelly? It is very difficult to see how anyone could trust in a god like that. The world does not, and votes with its feet.

However, God’s discipline has nothing to do with punishment:

Embrace correction. His instruction confirms your true sonship, just as a father would take natural responsibility for the education of his children. Discipline is not punishment but loving instruction and correction to bring out the best in us (Heb 12:7 Mirror Bible).

God disciplines us to bring us back to the image He created us in. The Greek word translated ‘discipline’ is paidian, which means ‘the training and education of children’ or ‘instruction that trains someone to reach full development (maturity)’. That is what God does with us. But we have a tendency to read into the word all kinds of experiences we may have had in our own childhood and customs and practices we may have adopted in bringing up our own children or observed in others. But God’s discipline is not flawed like ours. If His discipline seems harsh at the time, it is often because we do not like being caught out, or do not like the learning process necessary to get us back on track.

The perception of an angry, punishing, retributive “GOD” is reflected in our society. Western civilisation may be built on a Judeo-Christian ethical foundation, but if the Judeo-Christian understanding of the nature and character of God is flawed, then so too will be the society built on that foundation. The evidence is clear: angry, punishing parenting styles, support for corporal and even capital punishment, wars, jihads and crusades. This kind of institutionalised violence and retaliation has not solved the problems the world faces and it never will. Only love will solve the problem. Only relationship with God will deal with these issues. Our DIY methods only make things worse.

Spare the rod and spoil the child?

Many of us were told (and have believed ourselves) that corporal punishment is clearly taught in scripture. Christians in some countries have fought for the right to smack their children when their governments have sought to bring in laws to forbid the practice. Here is the scripture which is often quoted:

He who withholds his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently

(Prov 13:24).

Does this mean that we should beat our children to discipline them? It does not. When you understand what the rod is, you realise it is not a cane to beat someone with.

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (Ps 23:4)

The shepherd uses his rod to guide, to keep the sheep from stepping off the correct path, not to punish them.

God does not beat us. He corrects us, He puts us back on the right path in a loving way. His discipline is not an angry parent taking out their frustration on their child, as sometimes happens in human society. His discipline is parental love in action and nothing else. Nothing that harms and nothing that maims, shames or blames: only a love that empowers us to fulfil our destiny, a love that strengthens us to know our true identity and to express who we really are.

That is why we can embrace His correction, understanding that it demonstrates how much He loves us and that He cares deeply about us.

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

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39. Demonic Doctrines in the Church

Mike Parsons 

In looking at the prophetic timetable which God showed me, it is clear that a time of persecution is coming. As with everything else, we need to be prepared for it.

Persecution

Where is it going to come from? Well, there are Nephilim spirits which are controlling world systems at the moment, but they are hiding. When the light starts to shine into the darkness, it begins to expose them. It says in Matthew that when Jesus returns, it will be like in the days of Noah. If you want to look into that in more detail, in a previous post we have already considered some of what that might mean. In short, there was open warfare going on upon the earth. If those days are returning, we need to be prepared for open warfare once again.

There is going to be a massive persecution which comes through the religious church. This is because there are so many demonic doctrines operating in the church at large which hinder us and have robbed us of power and authority. When we start to challenge those doctrines, all sorts of religious spirits start to kick off.

If you look at the internet, you will find far too many people from some sections of the church criticising and complaining against other Christians and other moves of God. Come to that, I have had books and leaflets and emails and CDs and DVDs given to me and even posted through my letterbox telling me that everything we see of God moving in supernatural power is actually demonic.

There is a reason why those things are happening. The enemy gets worried when the church begins to rise up, and starts to operate in the power of God and in the authority that God has given us. He tries to get other people (and especially other Christians) to start criticising what is going on, so that it causes disunity and disharmony which disrupts the move of God and makes the church ineffective again.

Where is the fruit?

If you are truly concerned about whether what is going on here (or anywhere else) is a genuine move of God, the answer is to look at the fruit. If it is not of God, it will just fall away. If it is of God, it will produce fruit. Are lives being transformed? Are people being saved and healed? Certainly they are, and there will be more besides.

But the critics I am speaking about will not be satisfied with that. The challenge to God moving supernaturally comes from entrenched doctrines which place the kingdom of God and the authority of that kingdom in another time, or give them to another people. Even just to point that out has a tendency to cause religious spirits to kick off really heavily. Those entrenched doctrines are false doctrines. Was it only in New Testament times that the power of God worked, or will the kingdom only be manifest a thousand years in the future? The only thing you can be sure of is that as far as these people are concerned, it certainly isn’t for us and it certainly isn’t now.

Defeat and rescue?

This kind of thinking has bred an eschatology (that is, an understanding of the end times) of defeat and rescue, that Jesus is going to come and rescue a weak, pitiful, defeated church. That is just a complete lie. If you read the Bible, how could you possibly believe that is going to happen? But it has been taught, and for years and years the church has fallen for it. This is one of the biggest areas that stirs up controversy. As soon as you begin to question people’s eschatology, it causes stink.

Lots of prophetic people around the world are facing a problem in these days, and some of them are quite well known people. Their problem is that what God is showing them prophetically just doesn’t match up with their own eschatological beliefs. One or two of them have been brave enough to stand up and say so, but have quickly lowered their heads below the parapet again because of the hail of abuse and criticism they received for doing so, especially in the USA and Canada. They end up trying to fit what God is saying into an eschatology that doesn’t work.

Jesus is coming back for a victorious church. This is not triumphalism, it is the plain truth of scripture. The kingdom of God is going to be raised up, and we will look some more at this next time.

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19. Stepping Up

Mike Parsons  

Step up

In our days, the prophetic books are being opened. Fresh revelation is being released: revelation of the Spirit, revelation of heaven, revelation of the days ahead. And God wants His people to get plugged into the Holy Spirit and to be aware of what is going on in our own lives, in the world around us, and in heavenly places, so that we can cooperate with what He is doing.

Where more is given

As each period comes along, it is going to require more of us. God is going to require more of us.  Each period brings more revelation, both of what is going on on earth and of what is going on in heaven. And God says that where more is given, more is required.

He wants us to step up to a new level of holiness, a new level of being set apart for Him, a new level of righteousness. He is coming to refine and purify us so that we are able to live on that new level, and we have to submit to Him in that, because He is looking to prepare us for what is coming. On each level there will be more demonstration of kingdom power and authority. God wants to take today’s church back, not just to the early church (or New Testament) levels of kingdom authority, but back to the Garden, where He conferred the mandate on Adam and Eve to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. That task and that mandate are now ours.

This diagram is a representation of what God showed me:

Periods of God's Prophetic Timetable

On each level there will be stronger and more powerful demons and fallen angels for us to defeat and dethrone. But we will be able to defeat and dethrone them. We will be able to take new ground on earth, in areas we haven’t yet ventured into. There is territory to occupy and a strategy to outwork. We have the power to overcome: we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

Step up

God is looking for us to be a habitation of His Presence, and we need to be prepared to step up. He is calling us to be a people who will bring the kingdom of God from heaven to earth. That call starts with a call to intimacy because only in knowing Him intimately can we be prepared to move up to the next level. Intimacy is absolutely key to moving forward in this.

In the Kingdom Explosion meetings in 2011 when Mike Bryant was here, God showed him that there were three phases of what He was intending to do, and that the first of those phases was fire. The purpose of the fire was first of all to thaw us out! God wants us softened up. He wants to draw us, His sons, His children, to draw us to Him in a close, intimate relationship, and to stir up our passion and our desire for Him. Jesus is to be our first priority, our first love. His kingdom is what we seek, and what we seek first. And we will need constantly to surrender to Him, in order to encounter Him at ever deeper levels.

Encounter

This is about love. It is about our identity as sons of God. It is about a new level of knowing Him. The Old Testament word for know is “yadah” which means “personal encounter.” There is a difference between the Hebrew and the Greek ways of thinking. The western world has been fashioned and formed by a Greek mindset. We cannot go deeply into that here, but we do need to understand that the Hebrew concept of ‘knowing’ has nothing to do with the intellect. You cannot say you know God unless you have actually experienced Him. People with a Hebrew mindset won’t even listen to you if you are not speaking from experience. Moses had that kind of an encounter with God at the burning bush. That was an experience in which what he saw and heard opened up his destiny for him. We need a personal encounter with God in the same kind of way to open up our destiny for us. As we come to truly know Jesus, His Presence in us will be obvious, and His light will be increasingly shining from within us and growing in intensity.

The New Testament word for know is “ginosko”, and this is the word used for a man knowing his wife and bearing a child. That is pretty intimate isn’t it? This is not sexual, of course, but it is the spiritual equivalent. It is a relationship in which nothing is held back, on either side. We hold nothing back from Him; He holds nothing back from us.

He wants us to know Him in two places: on earth (in our own spirit), and also in heaven. Psalm 23 is a powerful psalm which talks about the intimate relationship God desires to have with us, and that is where we will be going in the next post.

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