Vision Destiny 2015

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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).

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106. Engaging the Timeline

Mike Parsons
and Jeremy Westcott  

We looked last time at our scroll of destiny, how important it is for us to have revelation of what is written on it, and what are the thoughts of God toward us, so that we can be all He intends us to be. Each of us was created in eternity in the heart and thoughts of God. He knew us. We had a substance in Him. He knew all about us and our destiny. We need to engage where we came from, who and what we were then, so that we can live out of that reality today.

Yesterday, today, tomorrow

‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty’ (Rev 1:8). Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8). That is the timeline. He sees and engages with yesterday, today, and tomorrow – He is not confined by time. He can choose to show us things on that timeline. He can also intervene in it at any point, past, present or future. And all of us have access to that timeline once we start to access the heavenly realms. Here are some statements about the timeline for us to consider. Let’s ask God for revelation about these things, and meditate on them. If we try to process them in our mind, our brain is likely to feel like it is being tied up in knots. Let’s bring our spirit into play here:

  • I can change who I am, and what I am today, from what I see of tomorrow.

This is called prophecy. God shows me something of tomorrow, therefore I shape my today to line up with what God says about me tomorrow. I choose to change, so that I am equipped to deal with tomorrow. That is why the Holy Spirit is there to reveal the things that are to come (John 16:13).

  • I can engage who I was yesterday to influence who I am today, and change tomorrow.

My yesterday includes what God said about me in eternity past, my destiny. If God says I am this, then this is what I want to become. That will change who I am today, and it will change who I am tomorrow.

  • I can engage and change who I was yesterday to change who I am today and who I am tomorrow.

When I forgive and release people for what has been said or done to me in my past, I no longer have to live out of my negative experience. When I confess and repent of sins I have committed myself, I can receive forgiveness and they no longer have to affect who I am today. Jesus is present in my past. He is there to set me free from it, to heal me and restore me from it, so that it changes who I am today, and who I will be tomorrow. Here’s a simpler one:

  • My tomorrow becomes my today, and then my yesterday.

That’s just how time works: everything in my life is on that timeline. If I can learn to engage it properly, to see by revelation what is to come, I will be prepared and equipped to deal with it. If I know what was written about me in eternity past, it will equip me to fulfil that destiny in the future. The more my yesterday is influenced by my tomorrow, the more I will reflect my destiny today. These are just words, but we can all go and do it. We can go and experience this for ourselves.

Testimony

We know the power of testimony: it gives God an opportunity to do it again. Testimony is what has happened to me. So if I change my testimony, I can change my present and my future. My testimony, my experience, my potential future: they all need to work together.

As time moves on, my potential future becomes my experience, which in turn becomes my testimony. If I engage what God has said about my future, I will experience it. Then it will become my testimony, to help me to experience more.

Everything in Hebrew thinking is circular. It goes around, it recycles. My testimony shapes my experience; to fulfil my destiny, not to oppose it. That is why I need my testimony to change. Things which have happened to me in my past which are still my testimony – I need to see those things changed. I need to be healed, set free, my thinking needs to be different. Then I can be free to do the things that God called me to do.

God has already written something for me to fulfil, before I was. I need to find it. That scroll is the written record of the desire of God, agreed with my spirit in eternity for me to fulfil. God is not forcing it on me, my spirit agreed with this destiny before the foundation of the world. It is for me to outwork, so I need to come into agreement with it now. Eternity is my destiny and becomes my experience.

Allowing our past to determine our future?

We have a choice: to line up with God in our spirit, or to keep allowing our soul to lead and so to keep allowing our past to determine our future. Our thinking and our emotions need to be changed and transformed, to bring us into everything that God has destined for us, not all the things that the world has messed us up with.

If we continue to allow the negatives in our past to determine our present, then our future will be the same as our past. It does not have to be that way. We are born into a cosmic battle in which the enemy is always seeking to destroy. We cannot allow anything that is written about us by this world to obscure or steal what God has said will be our future. We have to fight for our destiny.

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77. Characteristics of the Joshua Generation (#1-5)

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott 

We have seen that in our time God is raising up a Joshua generation, who will enter into their inheritance and enable others to do the same. This is what that generation will be like:

1. The Joshua Generation will be victorious warriors, dependent on God’s Spirit for supernatural victory.

Do you remember the story in Exodus, when Moses was standing and needed support for his hands, because as long as his hands were raised, Israel was winning the battle? Even at that point, Joshua was being prepared to succeed Moses, and there was a supernatural dimension to what was happening:

‘Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” Moses built an altar and named it The LORD is My Banner; and he said, “The LORD has sworn; the LORD will have war against Amalek from generation to generation”’ (Ex 17:14-16).

We need to know the Name of God, Jehovah-Nissi:  the Lord our banner or victory. ‘The Lord is my banner’. There is something here that we need to get hold of in our spirit. We use banners in this dimension of warfare, and that banner of victory is what will enable us to overcome. This battle will be in every generation. This is something which God wants to equip us for, to see Amalek destroyed.

There is a reason God wants it destroyed. The Amalekites were descended from Esau – they personified evil, and were inheritance robbers. They were those who competed for the Promised Land. For us they represent the tares, the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod, who seek to rob us of our inheritance. We need to destroy them; and there is going to be a battle in our generation. We need to know the Name of God, Jehovah-Nissi, because of the level of warfare which is going to come. When the world is falling apart, we have to be able to be overcomers in the midst of everything that is going on around us.

2. The Joshua Generation will have a servant heart.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt 11:28-30).

This is a key scripture to understand about being servant-hearted. It is about not doing things in your own strength but in knowing your identity and being of gentle and humble heart. That’s what Jesus said, “if you take My yoke upon you, learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart”. A servant generation will know true authority and true identity through submitting it all to God.

We need to understand that Joshua had a call, and yet he was Moses’ servant: ‘So Moses arose with Joshua his servant, and Moses went up to the mountain of God’ (Ex 24:13).

3. The Joshua Generation will know the glory of God as a consuming fire.

We are already beginning to experience this in the heavenly realms, but there is so much more of it still to come.
On Mount Sinai, when God gave the commandments to Moses, Joshua also went up with him to the mountain top. Most people don’t read that or realise it, but that is what it says. And what happened there was that ‘the glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. .. And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the mountain top’ (Ex 24:16-17).

God is inviting everyone to come to the mountain top, to come into the fiery smoke, and to meet Him face to face. It is an awesome thing to look into His eyes. Face-to-face encounters with God will characterise the Joshua generation.

4. The Joshua Generation will be hungry and thirsty for the intimacy of God’s Presence.

We will not be satisfied with anything less. We need the intimacy of God’s presence. We need to press into it. We need to be so hungry and thirsty for righteousness, and for the presence of God, that it is going to transform our lives. And God is going to start stirring that hunger, by giving you experiences that make you crave and hunger for more. Don’t be satisfied with just an experience: it needs to become a lifestyle. We need to live in the presence of God in the dual realms of heaven and earth. We need to press in.

‘Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent’ (Ex 33:11).

Joshua stayed in God’s presence even after Moses left, and that will be a characteristic of the Joshua generation. When some people give up, when they have had enough, the Joshua generation will press in for more. You are not going to be satisfied until you have received the fullness of your inheritance.

5. The Joshua Generation will be chosen as forerunners to enter the Promised Land.

Some of you are going to have experiences that go beyond, and you are going to help other people to come into it. When I went on the fast two years ago, and began to enter into heavenly encounters, my desire was to facilitate others coming in. Our intention is always to open the door for others. We are not exclusive. The purpose of being  forerunners is not to keep others out, but to encourage everyone to come in.

Joshua and Caleb were sent out as spies: they saw the promises – and they saw the giants – first hand. But they had a different attitude to the others: they were willing to press in.

…and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land through which we passed as spies is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.” But all the congregation said to stone Joshua and Caleb with stones (Numbers 14:7-10a).

These are just the first 5 of 40 characteristics of this generation which I believe God has shown me. Do you recognise these things in you? Is this a generation of which you are called to be a part?

We will look at some more next time.

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74. God’s Kingdom Fills the Earth

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

Resurrection

We have been looking at the Millennium, or thousand years, and I just want to clear up one more point from that passage in Revelation, and then sum up what we have said.

Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years (Rev 20:4-6).

What is this ‘first resurrection’? Well we know Jesus was resurrected, and His was a physical resurrection. As a result of the fall there was spiritual death and physical death. The consequence of Jesus’ physical resurrection was a spiritual resurrection for us. We have been resurrected spiritually, and that spiritual resurrection deals with the spiritual death.

It is signified in our baptism: …having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead (Col 2:12).

Even when we were dead in our transgressions, [God] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:5). We have been made alive with Christ: a spiritual resurrection.

That is the ‘first resurrection’. It deals with the spiritual death, so we can be born again, and come back into life; the second resurrection (when everybody gets resurrected) deals with physical death, which also came as a result of the fall.

And here is an interesting passage. It is only a couple of sentences in the Gospel narrative, but it must have caused quite a stir:

The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. (Matt 27:52)

So at that time there was an actual physical resurrection of all those Old Testament saints who came back to life.And don’t imagine that they then died again – what happened was that Jesus led them into heaven, and that is where they are now. They ‘came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years’.

The rule of Christ is now

Let’s wrap this up. We are a kingdom of priests, and the millennial rule is now. In heaven, and on earth – because we can live in both places, as we have begun to understand. We bring heaven to earth through our lives and the kingdom of God is manifested on the earth through us.

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD (1 Peter 2:9).

… And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Rev 1:5-6).

The reign of Christ began at His ascension, and continues until all things are subdued under his feet. The return of Christ and the bodily resurrection of all men will occur after (or post-) the millennium: that is to say it will happen after the period in which we now live, the period in which Jesus rules in heaven and on earth through His people.

This is really what we need to have faith in. We need to be expecting these things to take place, and expecting ourselves to be part of the process of bringing them about. “But indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD” (Num 14:21). That is what we want – and how will the earth be filled? Through us.

For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea (Hab 2:14). People will know about the glory. It will not just be a few people going around glowing a bit. God’s glory will be clearly demonstrated for all to see.

Remember how in Daniel 2:35 the Stone [Jesus] that struck the statue [the kingdoms of the world] became a great mountain [God’s kingdom] and filled the whole earth. The earth will be filled with glory, and that will happen before Jesus will return:

…That He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time (Act 3:20-21)

mount-everest-276995_640Now it will come about that
In the last days
The mountain of the house of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.
(Isa 2:2).

These are the last days (and have been ever since Jesus first came). God’s kingdom is already established as the chief kingdom, because we know that Jesus is above all rule.  His kingdom is already above every other kingdom. The nations have been streaming to it throughout church history, and we want to see that prophecy completely and finally fulfilled.

I believe we are called to be a Joshua generation. The Joshua generation will raise up and prepare the following (and final) generation to receive their full inheritance and to usher in the end time harvest, ready for Jesus’ return.

We are fast approaching the end of this series on God’s Prophetic Timetable. It is based around the series I taught in Freedom Church during the spring and summer of 2011, and lays the groundwork for some of our more recent teaching both on this blog and elsewhere. The audio of those original sessions is available on our Apostolic Resources website. As we have noted elsewhere, some of the views we held at the time have been challenged by God in the intervening period but these blog posts (particularly #64-67) have been updated to reflect those changes (the audio recordings, of course, have not).

In the closing posts of this series I want to look at 40 characteristics that mark out that Joshua generation, because many of us will be part of it.

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72. Bound For A Thousand Years

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott 

We saw last time how important it is that our faith is in victory, in overcoming, in seeing God’s kingdom fill the earth.

A theology of victory

Kingdom and Covenant theology is a theology of victory. More and more people are starting to realise this because of the nature of what God is saying prophetically in these days. If you are someone who believes Jesus is going to come and rescue us, you are going to struggle to reconcile what God is saying with that belief. How does it fit? It doesn’t: Jesus is not going to come and rescue us: we are going to be victorious.

In succeeding periods of church history, people tended to hold different views on the book of Revelation. I want briefly to make it clear how we see things.

Firstly, Revelation is a  historical book which deals with God’s covenant judgment on Israel and Jerusalem.

Also, Revelation illustrates the triumph of the church through history, overcoming all persecution.

Soon… the time is near… quickly

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place (Rev 1:1).

I’m sorry, 2000 years later is not ‘soon’. Now I know that for God, everything can be now. Bur this was not written for God, it was written for people to read and be encouraged and comforted in the midst of the persecution they were facing. It would have been very poor comfort to say that judgment was coming soon, if in fact it was going to take centuries. The book of Revelation was written before AD 70 to servants of God who were alive at the time. It was written about events which would soon take place. And what soon took place was the destruction of Jerusalem. John repeats it, so there can be no mistake: ‘the time is near’.

‘Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near’ (Rev 1:3).

Again, at the end of the book, Jesus says:

“And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book… Yes, I am coming quickly” (Rev 22:7, 20). And Jesus came quickly: within a few years of this being written, He came in judgment upon Jerusalem and it was destroyed.

Bound for a thousand years

While we are considering Revelation, I also just want to look at the only scriptures in the Bible which actually mention a thousand-year reign.

dragon-253540_640Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time (Rev 20:1-3).

So here we see that for a thousand years Satan is bound and not able to deceive, and then is released. It continues:

Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years’ (Rev 20:4-6).

When we read ‘the beast and his image’ we immediately think it must be future. But if you think about the beast and his image in terms of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, you will read this in a different light. It has already happened. And this is not a bodily resurrection – the scripture specifically says it was the souls of people which came alive. So this has happened before a bodily resurrection, not after. If Jesus had already returned, there would already have been a bodily resurrection, and that is not the case.

‘Priests of God… will reign with Him for a thousand years’: we know the language about being a royal priesthood belongs to us. So this is talking about us, and it is talking about something which happens on the earth.

We have already seen that Satan was bound (Rev 20:2). When is or was that? Look at Matt 12:28-29: ‘But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house’. All deliverance that we see today is on the basis that the strong man is already bound. Otherwise we would not be able to cast demons out.

If Satan were not bound, we would not be able to do what we are doing right now. If he were deceiving the nations, no-one would be getting saved. Remember the Great Commission: Jesus sent his followers out into the whole world to disciple the nations. It is possible for us to do that because Satan is bound and not able to deceive them. His power is limited.

In John 12:31 Jesus said Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (my emphasis). And in Luke 10:17-18, ‘The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning”’. It already happened.

Jesus first bound Satan in the wilderness, when He did what Adam had failed to do in overcoming temptation. Then He went further, in releasing authority on His disciples to go out and minister because of that. The fact that the disciples were ministering in kingdom power showed that Satan had no authority any longer. But then Jesus went on to actually conquer death: the wilderness had dealt with spiritual death, the cross dealt with physical death.

‘When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him’ (Col 2:15).

And if Satan is bound now, then the thousand years, the Millennium, must also be now. That is what the scripture says: he is bound, and remains bound for a thousand years. So we are living in the time right now when God’s kingdom is active on earth, because Satan is bound. It is not an exact, literal 1000 years.

Satan will be loosed. That will be just before the end. I believe there will then be an increase in Satan’s power, because we are going to have to overcome him. Warfare will be much more open, but God’s church will be raised up in light, as the mountain of the house of the Lord.

And that church will be victorious.

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70. Millennium? What Millennium? (Part 2)

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

Last time, we saw how important it is to know what we are expecting when Jesus returns. In light of that, we began looking at the Millennium, the thousand-year reign of Christ on the earth (or not). In this post I want to give you a little more understanding of the three main views people hold on this, and next time we can go on to look at what the church has believed over the centuries.

Premillennialism

Jesus will return to set up a literal 1000-year kingdom on earth, in Jerusalem – and re-establish the whole Old Covenant sacrificial system. My immediate question is: why? Why would He want to set up sacrifices again when He is the sacrifice? Once and for all, it says (1 Pet 3:18, Heb 9:28). So to me that now seems like a really strange way of thinking – but I used to think that way, because that is what I was taught. I didn’t even know there was any other way. Every book I ever read said that was the way. Until God started to speak to me about the kingdom, and how the kingdom needed to come; until I began to look for it myself; and that is what really changed things for me.

Premillennialists teach that there will be a series of key events that occur before the millennial rule of Christ on earth. These events include the secret rapture of the church and a seven-year time of tribulation. They hold various opinions about when the rapture will occur, and these can be summed up as pre-tribulation, post-tribulation, or mid-tribulation. Whereas we have seen that the Great Tribulation has already occurred, and that Jesus said there would never be another one like it. We have also seen that the rapture was not at all what we thought it was. newspaper-412441_640One of the problems with the premillenialist position is that there is a tendency to interpret things not in light of what the Bible says, but in light of history, current events, and the news on TV and in the papers. They contend that they hold to a literal interpretation of prophecy and scripture, whereas in fact they are very selective in what they believe literally, and actually have a very symbolic interpretation of what they see as things to come.

For them, the kingdom is future, and a literal 1000 years on earth with Christ. The book of Revelation is seen as also mostly future.

Amillennialism

Amillennialism is the belief that there is no literal millennium.

It teaches that there is no future millennial earthly rule of Christ. Amillennialists tend to have an allegorical interpretation and non-literal approach to prophecy. For them, the events mentioned in the book of Revelation reveal that the situation in the world will continue to worsen before Christ returns. Christ will one day return to rescue the church. He will not be coming to establish a millennial rule on earth but to usher in the age to come. This view can often seem very pessimistic, because it does not see prophecy being literally fulfilled on earth, so all the promises of God are just spiritualised, and do not actually relate to our present reality.

For them, the kingdom is present now – but only in heaven. The book of Revelation is being played out presently in the church age, and the events it portrays happen in every age, throughout history.

Postmillennialism

Jesus returns after His people rule spiritually on earth. The 1000 years is not a literal figure, it simply represents a long period of time.

Postmillennial theology teaches that the Church will be triumphant as a result of the gospel impacting the world. After this, Christ will return, and believers will then enter the eternal state, or the age to come. When the church has finished its task, to see God’s kingdom come and fill the earth, then Jesus will return and we will enter the age to come.

In this view, the kingdom is present and will expand to fill the earth before Christ’s return. The prophetic promises of God are expected to have all been fulfilled by then.

The book of Revelation is mostly historical – talking about the destruction of Jerusalem – but continues to be applicable to the church triumphing over persecution, and overcoming, throughout history.

This view seems to me to be in line with what Jesus taught. As we have seen, He said He was coming on the Last Day, the day of resurrection and judgment – and our guiding principle must be to interpret everything through what Jesus said.

[Editor’s note: if you are looking for a fuller discussion of pre-, a- and post-millenialism, there is probably none better than Martin Scott’s series of podcasts and accompanying notes which you can find here (though we don’t see totally eye-to-eye with him on everything). And if you are planning a long journey or otherwise have a couple of hours to spare, you might be interested to download, listen to or watch this roundtable discussion between leading American exponents of each of these views, hosted by John Piper’s Desiring God Ministries.]

63. Grafted Back In

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Grafted in

tree-357583_640I mentioned a couple of posts back that Romans 11 tells us what it will be like when the ‘times of the Gentiles’ (Luke 21:24) have been fulfilled. It speaks of an olive tree which represents God’s covenant and that Abrahamic covenant people. Israel was cut off, and Gentiles were grafted in – to that same olive tree – and then Israel will be grafted back in. But they will only be grafted back into that olive tree the same way the rest of us are: by faith in Christ.

Being part of the covenant people is not automatic for all Jews. It never was. It never will be. Scripture is absolutely clear about that:

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants’ (Rom 9:6-8).

The covenant promise for the people of God to fill the earth has not failed. It has been fulfilled. Just being naturally descended from Israel did not make anyone an inheritor of the promises. You always had to come through the promise made to Abraham. We are all God’s children through faith, like Abraham. You have to have faith to be classed as sons of Abraham.

Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham (Gal 3:7).

All one in Christ

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise (Gal 3:28-29).

That is the New Covenant. We are all one in Christ. There is no separation or division of anything anymore: we are one in Christ. We are heirs according to the promise. We are the fulfilment of that promise. Everyone can come into that promise: Jew or Gentile. We come by faith in Christ; to be the people of God; to see the kingdom of God fill the earth. We are going to be part of that filling the earth. ‘But indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD’ (Num 14:21).

Daniel says, “I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints…” (the horn is a symbol of authority again) “…and overpowering them…” (Dan 7:21).This is not going to happen at the end. We are not going to be overpowered by anything or anyone.

We are going to win: look at the end of the book, it is we who overcome; we are more than conquerors. And so Daniel goes on:

“Until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favour of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom” (Dan 7:22).

The judgment on Jerusalem and the Old Covenant system was when the saints took full possession of the kingdom. And Jesus is going to stay in heaven until we get the job done (Acts 3:21), fulfilling all the promises of God and outworking it.

Chief of the mountains

Look at this scripture; it is the same promise as we have seen before in Isaiah 2, this time in Micah:

And it will come about in the last days that the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains.  It will be raised above the hills, and the peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD…” (Micah 4:1-2).

They will come because we have the answers. When the world’s systems fail, the church will rise up in authority and power. We will have the answers that bring salvation, healing, protection, provision, deliverance and blessing. We will operate the kingdom of God. As we seek first the kingdom of God, everything else will be added to us. That is our inheritance as God’s people: to fulfil the promises made to Adam, Noah and Abraham.

Through Jesus, we are that people. That is why it is so critical that we preach the gospel, so that everyone can come and be part of that people, through faith in Christ.

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62. Now You Are The People Of God

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

We are continuing to look at Matthew 24, and seeking to let the Bible interpret itself rather than seeing it through our own filters, or imposing a particular set of doctrines upon it. If you are new to this blog you might want to skip back a few posts to see where we have come from.

In the sky

Today we have reached Matt 24:30, “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory”.

Again, this is not talking about the end of the world: this is about Jesus coming in authority judgement. It is about the destruction of Jerusalem. The end of the Old Covenant system had come because the New Covenant had been established.

All this language is very symbolic, and ‘in the sky’ is really a poor translation. It does not mean that a sign will appear in the sky. What it is saying is: the sign that the kingdom has come is that the Son of Man is in heaven.

Jesus said later said to the Pharisees and to the High Priest, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matt 26:64).

So He told those who were alive at that time that they would see it.

This is the prophetic fulfilment of what Daniel saw: Jesus coming at His ascension, His blood being presented on the mercy seat in heaven and receiving the kingdom from the Father.

I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14).

Mark 16:19 tells us, “So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God”. Do you see how this is all the same language? It is talking about the end of the Old Covenant system, and the beginning of the New. We have to prepare for kingdom dominion.

angel-4928_640Messengers

And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other  (Matt 24:31).

The Greek word ‘angellos’ means ‘messenger’, and the trumpet is symbolic of the proclamation of the gospel: ‘Behold, I send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ (Matt 11:10). ‘Gather’ is the word ‘synagogue’: it speaks of what church was to do, being gathered as part of God’s people.

Misunderstanding arises if we take statements in isolation rather than allowing the Word to interpret itself.

The people of God are revealed. We are now the true nation, city and temple. The same language continues to be used of us because we are the continuation of the people of God. Some say the church has replaced Israel; but actually the church is the continuation of Israel (the covenant people). We are the same. Jews and Gentiles are now one in Christ; but we do all have to come together in Christ.

One people of God

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven (Heb 12:22-23).

The same language is being used here of the New Covenant people as was being used of the Old Covenant people. That’s because it is the same people being described. Abraham himself was ‘looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God… But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them’ (Heb 11:10, 16). We have a city prepared for us, the New Jerusalem of which we are part. We are living stones being built into that city and into that temple.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10).

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58. Preached To All The Nations

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

We have seen how, in the passages leading up to Matthew chapter 24, Jesus was talking about covenant. Specifically, He was warning of the judgments of the Old Covenant which would come upon that generation of unbelieving Israel.

Birth pangs

"Kluft-photo-Carrizo-Plain-Nov-2007-Img 0327" by Ikluft - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kluft-photo-Carrizo-Plain-Nov-2007-Img_0327.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Kluft-photo-Carrizo-Plain-Nov-2007-Img_0327.jpg
San Andreas Fault [“Kluft-photo-Carrizo-Plain-Nov-2007-Img 0327” by Ikluft – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons]
We are taking this verse by verse now, so let’s go on to Matt 24 vv4-8: ‘And Jesus answered and said to them, See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

‘See to it that no-one misleads you’: in this whole passage, Jesus was talking to the church, to those who would be living in Jerusalem and in Israel at the time. They were being warned, so that when they recognised what was happening they could escape out of the city. ‘The end’ is not the end of the world; it is the end of Jerusalem and that Old Covenant system. And when Jesus talks about ‘birth pangs’, what is it that is being born? It is the new; it is the birthing of the church – the new ekklesia of God – in persecution, trouble and pain. The difficulty and pain in the birth of the new was caused by the fact that the old was still around to persecute it.

Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name (Matt 24:9). That is exactly what the Jews did in all the cities where the gospel was preached. They stirred up trouble against the church, against Paul and others, wherever they went.

Verses 10-13: At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

There was persecution. Believers did fall away. There were false prophets. Many were misled. Lawlessness increased. People’s love grew cold. All these things took place in that period between AD 30 and AD 70. “But the one who endures to the end…”, that is, who endures until the destruction of that old system, “… will be saved”.

To all the nations

Now comes a verse which has caused a great deal of misunderstanding because, like much of this chapter, it has been taken completely out of its first century context. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matt 24:14). Now you are going to tell me that the gospel could not have been preached in the whole world by AD 70, because most of it hadn’t even been discovered yet. My answer to that (and you will know this phrase very well by now) is: let the Bible interpret itself. Let‘s look at some scriptures and see whether this prophecy was fulfilled before the destruction of Jerusalem.

Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven (Acts 2:5). So already, the day the Holy Spirit came to the church at Pentecost, the gospel was preached to people from every nation – and you could quite legitimately say that the end could have come at any time from then on. But God, because He is gracious, left a generation for people to repent. And many priests, and many Pharisees and Sadducees, did indeed repent and become believers.

And there are more scriptures to consider. Look at these:

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; “THEIR VOICE HAS GONE OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH, AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD.” (Rom 10:1-18).

… the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world… (Col 1:5-6) and, the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven (v23).

The Bible says that the gospel was preached all over the world, to all the nations, at that time. That prophecy was fulfilled before AD 70. We are not still waiting for it to happen.

I hope you are catching this. We have been wrongly taught for so long that it can be a stretch for us to lay aside other people’s opinions and actually see what the scriptures say. And next time we will be doing more of the same.

49. Jesus, the Centre of all History

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

Jesus is the centre of all history

Take eschatology, the study of the last things: it is all about Jesus. It is not about us, it is not about the church, it is not about the world – it is about Jesus. He comes to sum everything up. He holds everything together. All the Old Covenant looks forward to Jesus. All the New Covenant looks back to Him. So every time we look at a scripture, we must interpret it through Jesus’ message and His Person. You cannot take it in isolation.

Some people say, ‘Paul said this in the epistles, and it contradicted Jesus’. No. it did not. It can never contradict Jesus. What Jesus said, what Jesus did, that is it. And we need to understand that, and interpret everything in that light.

All history was consummated in Jesus and it will be consummated in Him. Therefore, for as many as are the promises of God, they all find their ‘yes’ in Him  (2 Cor 1:20). Every single promise you can find in the Bible finds its answer in Christ. Every single one is fulfilled in Jesus. That is a really important principle to get hold of.

I want to give you some scriptures now which are foundational, and which will help us as we go on to look at some more complicated and difficult questions – in particular when we look at Matthew 24, which is Jesus’ teaching about what was to come.

That He may send Jesus

… and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time (Acts 3:20-21).

So everything that has been prophesied through the mouth of a prophet, including everything we have written down as prophecy in the Bible, it will all come about before Jesus leaves heaven. Until everything is restored into the order God intended, until all the prophecies are fulfilled, Jesus will remain in heaven. And only when it is will He come back.

He cannot come until all that has been done. He is not going to come, and then do it after He has come. He is going to do it before he comes. He is going to fulfil and restore all things before He comes.

“He must be received into heaven”. Now, what does that mean? So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19). When He was received into heaven, He was enthroned: He sat on the throne. When you sit on a throne, it means you are ruling, you are reigning from that place of ultimate authority and power. That is where Jesus is. And He will remain in that place until He has restored all things.

Reigning

For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet… (1 Cor 15:25-27). Jesus will return to abolish death. Death is the last enemy.

Here is another scripture which talks about all things being in subjection:

…which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church” (Eph 1:20-22).

So that is where Jesus is, right now, in this age. He is reigning in authority and power. If Jesus is the Head, and we are His body on the earth, then His feet are our feet. And if all things are in subjection under His feet, then they are under our feet too. God gave Him as Head over all things to the church. I don’t have the space to go into every detail of this here, but you can follow it through in the psalms, look at what it means to be a footstool, begin to get familiar with this prophetic language and see what it is saying.

Through the church

We read in Ephesians 3:10 …that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church…’  I love that word ‘manifold’, because it means multi-coloured and multi-faceted, all expressing who God is; all expressing the wonderful wisdom of God. Being made known through… us, through the church. Being made known to whom? It continues: … to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which God carried out in Christ Jesus. So His eternal purpose was to manifest, to demonstrate, His wisdom. And He accomplished that in Christ and through the church.

Are you starting to grasp how all this hangs together? Is it starting to challenge some of the underlying assumptions you have been making?

It gets harder! Next time, as I said, we will begin to look at Matthew 24. That is a scripture which has been completely misinterpreted and misunderstood by the church, probably more so than any other chapter in the whole Bible. That is because it has been interpreted by Greek (western) logic and by people trying to make it fit with events they see happening around us today. As we shall see, that is a mistake.

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