261. The Final Judgment

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

To reconcile all things

…and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.  And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach (Col 1:20-22).

Jesus has reconciled only a certain, select group of people, according to what most of us have believed, in order to present us blameless and beyond reproach. We have limited the scope of this reconciliation, thinking it could not possibly include everyone and everything. Inevitably, different groups have had different opinions about who is in and who is out.

Everyone and everything is included. Jesus reconciled all things to Himself. If Jesus did it already, no one needs to do anything more. There is nothing we can do to make ourselves holy and blameless and beyond reproach because He already did it. He died our death, dealt with our separation and brought us back into a restored relationship.

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

God is not counting anyone’s sins against them. That is forgiveness. Psalm 103 tells us that as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. No matter how far you travel trying to find them, you never will.

Vine’s dictionary will tell you that kosmos means ‘the sum-total of human life in the ordered universe, considered apart from, and alienated from, and hostile to God, and of the earthly things which seduce from God.’ Even if you believe that, the kosmos is what ‘God so loved’ in John 3:16 and what ‘God was in Christ reconciling’ in 2 Cor 5:19. It has all been reconciled.

We have this word, that Jesus has reconciled everyone, but what have we done with it? Have we shared with people the good news of what God has done for them, or bad news, that they are not reconciled with, and still separated from, a God who doesn’t even like them?

The final judgment

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is age-enduring life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 6:23).

Jesus died our death and now there is no longer any sin, and therefore no wages due. If no one’s sin is counted against them, based on the power of the cross, then all subsequent judgments must produce life and not death. As Francois Du Toit says in the Mirror Bible translation of 2 Cor 5:19, “the fallen state of mankind was deleted.” There is no double jeopardy in God’s kingdom: you cannot be tried for the same thing twice. No one can be judged again for what Jesus already died for. The cross is the final judgment. There is no future ‘judgment day’: it already happened at the cross and we have all been declared blamelessly innocent.

Sadly, we judge people all the time, based on their behaviour and what we consider to be right or wrong rather than looking at them in love through the eyes of Jesus. We do not necessarily condone everyone’s behaviour, but we need to be careful not to think that it excludes them from God’s love and reconciliation.

Pleased to reveal His Son in me

Paul recounts his encounter (as Saul) on the road to Damascus:

But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles… (Gal 1:15-16).

He does not say that God revealed His Son in the bright light that blinded him, but that “God was pleased to reveal His Son in me”. God had been at work in him all along; Jesus had been in Him all along; now God revealed that to him. God is not separated from people, even from someone like Saul who was implacably opposed to Him. He is at work in all people to reveal Himself as love and light – and through them to others.

For too long the good news has been presented something like this: “There is a big gulf between you on one side and God on the other. The cross bridges the gap and you can walk across that bridge and engage God.” The real good news is that there is no gulf. God is already at work in everybody, and our job is to help them see that (not to tell them that they are dirty, rotten sinners who deserve to suffer eternal conscious torment as their punishment in hell). There is no separation.

The fullness of God was in Christ

Let us not imagine that the incarnation separated Father, Son and Spirit; nor even the crucifixion. Scripture tells us that all the fullness of God’s being dwells bodily in Christ (Col 2:9) and that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor 5:19). On the cross, Jesus felt the agony of fallen humanity when he quoted the opening line of Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But every Jewish person who heard Him knew where the Psalm was going, with David crying triumphantly “He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; and he has not hid his face from him but has heard when he cried to him.” (Ps 22:24).

Resurrection

The restoration of all things is based on the victory of the cross over all things that would hinder our reconciliation and restoration to relationship.

All judgment and justice are based on the victory of the cross over sin, death and the grave; every hindrance or legal obstacle is overcome. Jesus holds the keys of death and of Hades (Rev 1:17) and He is using them to unlock the door, not lock it. That is totally contradictory to some of our belief systems. God has opened access to everyone. The gates of the New Jerusalem are never shut. Everyone is included, no one excluded.

…so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to age-enduring life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 5:21).

The power of the resurrection has defeated death (and it is what enables everything to be restored). The resurrection has overcome death and grace now reigns.

All will be made alive

For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive (1 Cor 15:21-22).

Take note of the ‘all’ in both parts of that last sentence. It seems that no one has much trouble with the first ‘all’ meaning ‘all’. The second ‘all’ is where the trouble begins, because if it is the same ‘all’ then much of our theology bites the dust. So we have made ‘in Christ’ conditional, in a way that we do not with ‘in Adam’: so that only those who are ‘in Christ’ will be made alive. And we have gone on to define what being ‘in Christ’ looks like, according to our various denominations and streams.

Both mentions of ‘all’ are the same ‘all’. Christ was the last Adam and the Adamic race ended with Him. From this side of the cross, no one is descended from Adam any more but from Christ. From that point on, all are ‘in Christ’ (though some do not know it and the ‘gospel’ we have preached has consistently told them that they aren’t). And Paul says that ‘in Christ’ all of us are going to be made alive.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:56).

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death (Rom 8:2).

Those are very familiar scriptures and we read them as if they apply exclusively to ‘us’ (those we consider as being ‘in Christ’). But who is under the law, since the cross? No one, not even the Jewish people who were the ONLY ones under the law in the first place!

Everyone has victory over death and sin through the power of the cross.

…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity [literally, from before the times of the ages] but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim 1:9-10).

Death is abolished. It no longer has power over anyone. This was already decided ‘from before the times of the ages’ but has been ‘brought to light’ by the gospel.

More to come

God is not holding anything related to sin against the world and is restoring all things, first to original condition and then to His original intention. God is looking for all things to grow and mature from their original condition to fulfil their potential, His original intention. Original condition is just the start: there is more to come!

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Background for header meme by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.
The text, “Blamelessly innocent” is a reference to the Mirror Bible translation of Ephesians 1:3-4 by Francois Du Toit:
Let’s celebrate God! He lavished every blessing heaven has upon us in Christ! He associated us in Christ before the fall of the world! Jesus is God’s mind made up about us! He always knew in his love that he would present us again face-to-face before him in blameless innocence. God found us in Christ before he lost us in Adam!

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258. The Glory of the Children of God

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

In considering the restoration of all things, we need first of all to focus on having our own relationship with God fully restored. Restoration is personal. It is about restoring our spirit, soul and body to God’s original intention, desired condition and full functionality.

It is about our spirit’s eternal identity being restored. It is about having everything within the soul – mind, emotions, will, conscience, imagination, reason and choice – restored to innocence; all brokenness, fragmentation, separation, isolation, and rejection done away with and healed. It is about having our body restored to health and wholeness, right down to DNA level. It is about recovering our ‘supernatural’ abilities (which we only regard as supernatural because we have mostly lost the ability to manifest them naturally). In all this we will see our eternal destiny restored, together with all its identity, purpose, position and authority.

The glory

“…that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom 8:21).

God wants us to reconnect to what ‘the glory’ really means and to re-engage with it so that creation will be set free. If we do not come into that glory, then creation cannot be set free. The glory is really the weight of the essence or nature of something; in this case, the weight of the essence of our sonship. Adam was clothed with glory and we will be transfigured to that state again. Jesus was transfigured to show us what that would look like.

Jesus reveals that we pre-existed in God; he defines us. He justified us and also glorified us. He redeemed our innocence and restored the glory we lost in Adam. All these things point to one conclusion, God is for us! Who can prevail against us? (Rom 8:30-31 Mirror).

That is what Jesus has done, but are we living in that reality? Are we experiencing the fullness of the glory we should have as God’s children or is that glory veiled by the way we live our lives? If we have limiting beliefs which inform our vision and choices, if we see ourselves as less than God sees us, then we will not be radiating that glory. The more we engage with metanoiaand see ourselves as God sees us, the more we will shine with that glory. Once we begin to experience that, we will also be able to function in the knowledge of our authority as overcomers.

You made him (man) a little lower than God and crowned him (or clothed him) with glory and honour (Psalm 8:5).

God made man to be that way.  The original Hebrew word translated crowned means to encircle, to surround. In other words, Adam and Eve were surrounded by glory and honour. They shone with the glory of who God created them to be and creation honoured them for their position as sons.

God gave them a wonderful environment to rule, in which He would truly be their provision and protection within that intimate relationship. Because they had been clothed with glory they did not need any further clothing, as we do today; because they were living in an atmosphere of perfect relationship they did not need to gain knowledge or figure things out for themselves. They did not need to rely on their own understanding because they could draw on God’s understanding. Everything came through their relationship with God.

Man’s fall was a fall from a position of glory. The gospel is the good news that the Father sent Jesus to restore our glory and so begin creation’s restoration.  Jesus proved God’s love for all His creation (‘God so loved the world’ is not restricted to just people!) by choosing to die – for us, as us and in our place – to reconcile our relationship and to restore it to what it was in the Garden of Eden and beyond that, to what it would have become. Just as we respond when we look at God’s glory, so creation will respond when it sees ours.

The ministry of reconciliation

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world (cosmos) to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:18-20).

God was in Christ when He reconciled the world (the Greek word is kosmos), not forsaking Him, separated from Him or turning His face away, as we have been taught. Paul says that God has already reconciled mankind, not counting their trespasses against them. That much is a done deal. God has reconciled Himself to us, but only we can choose to be reconciled to Him. If anything or anyone is still separated from Him, it is not of His doing.

We are to serve creation by exercising that ministry of reconciliation, so that everything gets restored. We will carry the ‘word of reconciliation’ in the very foundation of our being and it will transform our entire being from the inside out. That is how we can be ambassadors, representing God’s kingdom and authority among the whole created order.

From glory to glory

…but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit (2 Cor 3:16-18).

The original purpose and intention of God for each of us, what He created us to be and do, that is what we will see reflected. That is an image which will change and transform us as we submit to the process. It does not happen in an instant: we have to keep looking. If it happened in an instant, we would start looking somewhere else and become conformed to the image of that ‘somewhere else’ instead. The ongoing process is integral to our continuing relationship with and representation of God.

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness”, is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Cor 4:6).

When anyone turns to God, a veil is lifted from their hearts; light comes and they are enabled to behold the glory of God in the very face of Jesus Christ.  In believers who continue to look into that glory a transformation takes place, by which we are continually changed into the same image (God’s original intent), from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord.

Note:
1. Metanoia is the Greek word normally translated as repentance in our English Bibles. The original word has nothing to do with feeling regret or saying sorry, but is about turning around and thinking differently so that we are of the same mind as God about something.

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