266. A Happy Eschatology

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

The restoration of all things is not a one-off event but a continual process that God does with us, in us and through us as His sons. I believe that as co-heirs we are involved in, and carry responsibility for, the restoration of all things; in particular for the restoration of creation.

What I thought I knew

How the Bible frames our understanding of the future will greatly influence what we believe about our sonship and what is possible in restoration. Our expectations of the future will also determine what we believe about the part we can play in it.

If we believe that God is going to destroy the heavens and the earth with fire, as many do, that will inevitably affect how we see our responsibility to steward the planet and its resources. If we believe in a defeatist, rapture ‘rescue of the church’ into heaven, then there will be little point in looking for the kingdom to fill the earth in victory.

We often have confirmation bias: we already know what the Bible says, so when we read it, it just confirms what we already know. More study will not fix this. Only face-to-face encounters with God Himself can get us free from that biased view. Some of my encounters with God have been traumatic: for about 5 years it seemed like every time I thought I knew something, I would have an encounter with God which totally challenged what I thought I knew.

Religion continues to misrepresent God; but He is looking to undo the damage that religion has done to our perception of Him so that we will see Him as He really is, as Jesus revealed Him to be. Only the lens of love will enable us to see the true nature of God and how that underlies the restoration of all things. God desires restoration, and all His desires are birthed in love. Love causes restoration.

Happy endings?

When we use love as our plumb line it is easier to decide which doctrinal truths and theological positions are aligned with God being love and which are the man-made deceptions of a religious mindset. If we are to participate fully in the restoration of all things and the expansion of God’s kingdom as sons, we will want to embrace an eschatology which allows for creation being set free from corruption within that restoration: this is variously called a happy, realised, fulfilled or covenant eschatology.

Many of the positions people take are paradoxical or even contradictory, but they all use the Bible to prove that they are right. So did I! Now I have to own up and say ‘Sorry, I got it wrong’. Revelation is progressive, and I was only going on the revelation that I had (and of course, others are only going on the revelation they have too). God does not mind that along our journey we may have believed a whole variety of delusions, illusions, lies and deceptions. Still, He wants us to know Him; and in knowing Him He wants us to have the revelation of unveiled truth, so that truth can set us free.

Three streams

In conversation with God, He told me that there are three streams coming together. At present, there are a handful of people who flow with two of those streams, and even fewer who embrace all three. For now, each is mostly blind to the direction that the others are coming from but they will merge in the flow of the restoration of all things.

  • The Christian Universalists are travelling towards both a realised eschatology and an open heaven mystical flow.
  • The mystics are travelling towards a realised eschatology and universal restoration.
  • The realised eschatologists are travelling towards the mystical and the restoration of all things position.

Most eschatological systems have far from happy endings, involving expectations of fearful judgment, doom, gloom, destruction and failure for mankind and the rest of creation. In ‘happy eschatology’, prophecies of doom and gloom, judgment and destruction are seen as already fulfilled, leading to a restorative period in which all things can be restored. The future is positive and filled with possibilities of increase and blessing.

No fear for the future

When looking to our Bibles to see what the future holds, there are a number of factors we need to bear in mind:

  • all the events of the New Testament were future to the Old Testament writers
  • everything Jesus prophesied was future to those He was speaking to at the time, but
  • what was future to Old Testament writers, to Jesus’ first century listeners and to New Testament writers may not be future to us today – it may have already occurred.

There is no fear for the future based on Biblical prophecy when the prophesied events are already in the past for us. All biblical references to the end, the last days, the end times, the last hour and soon to take place refer not to the destruction of the world, but to the end of the old covenant age. This was the ‘end’ that Jesus prophesied would occur in the generation to which He was speaking.

To us, in the 21st century:

  • The prophesied end is past, not future.
  • The end of the old heavens and earth (i.e. the old covenant system of laws, temple and sacrifice) is past, not future.
  • The new heavens and the new earth (the new covenant) is present, not future.
  • The great tribulation is past, not future (this does not mean that there will never be any tribulation again throughout history, merely that any tribulation experienced will not be a fulfilment of this specific Bible prophecy).
  • The end of the age is past, not future.
  • Judgment and resurrection are past, not future.
  • The lake of fire is past, not future.

Revelation and Daniel

Most of the difficulties people encounter today with the book of Revelation and Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy come from trying to make them fit current (or future) events.

In reality, Revelation is John’s first-hand account of a heavenly encounter. He was shown the events Jesus spoke about, recorded in Luke 21 and Matthew 24, which happened in that generation just as He said they would.

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, my emphasis).

Revelation is full of such time references which should clue us in to the immediacy of the time frame:

  • tachus means quickly, all at once, with all speed, without delay.
  • engys means “at hand, near”
  • mello means “about to, on the point or verge of”

Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy also happened in that generation (including the 70th week). Daniel connected the eschatological time of the “end” with events such as the desolation of the temple, the resurrection, the tribulation, the coming of the Son of Man and the arrival of the kingdom. All those events would take place when the city and temple were destroyed or “when the power of the holy people would be completely shattered”; “all these things” (not just some of them) would be fulfilled together (see the consummation scenes in Dan. 12:1-7; Dan. 7:13-14, 18, 27; 9:24-27).

The period of restoration of all things

  • As in the days of Noah’ happened in that generation
  • Believers fled from Jerusalem to the mountains in that generation
  • The judgment and resurrection happened in that generation
  • The kingdom was established in that generation

“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matt 24:34).

That generation ended in 70 AD with the destruction of the temple and the very end of the old covenant. The period of the restoration of all things began in that generation… and continues in the new covenant age in which we live.

Related posts by FreedomARC

This post is based in part on Mike’s introduction to ‘Happy Eschatology’ from our intensive ‘The Restoration of All Things held in June 2019.
A lively discussion session followed!

You can get Mike’s full talk, the discussion session and 23 other videos from the event for £80 GBP (typically less than $100 USD) at freedomarc.org/roat

Stream or download audio and video of our intensive, The Restoration of All Things.

Nancy Coen, Justin Paul Abraham, Lindy Strong and Mike Parsons were live online from 4th – 8th June 2019 direct from the Freedom Centre, Barnstaple, UK. Experience the 5 days and 25 sessions at your own pace and go back over them as often as you like.

The cost is £80 GBP (equivalent to around $100 USD or less) for all the videos, audios and pdfs.

Find out more…

265. Love’s Good News

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

If we are to fulfil our sonship mandate and bring restoration to the earth, we need to mature as sons and take our places enthroned in the heavenly realms. As we mature, we will grow in confidence in our relationship with Father, Son and Spirit so that we come to know each of them intimately and spontaneously recognise their voices and their shared heart. This will be key as we explore and journey beyond our present knowledge and experience.

A journey of discovery

And there is so much more for us to discover. We are walking with God on a relational journey to discover Him and ourselves, and He will guide us through our experiential encounters with Him. The more I have engaged Him, the more He has exploded out of the box that I was unknowingly trying to put Him in. There are many things He has shown me that I do not yet fully understand cognitively but I park them and move on, trusting that the revelation will be uncovered when the time is right. There have been many things that I was convinced were true that I now realise were merely someone else’s opinions masquerading as objective truth.

We do not need to fear being deceived as long as we are not blindly following man’s DIY doctrines but are checking everything out with God ourselves. Please do not believe something just because I say it, or someone else says it. All of us have the Spirit of Truth Himself in us and with us as our guide. We have Jesus the way, truth and life in us and with us to disciple us. We have our loving Father in us and with us to father us into our sonship. If there is a plumb line we measure and test everything against, then that plumb line is not the Bible (as many of us were taught) but Agape Love, the very nature of God.

The Bible narrative

This does not mean that we reject the Bible. Far from it! It is just that we need to go beyond the limitations of sola scriptura. We need the Truth, the living Word of God, Jesus, as our only mediator.

“We came up with the idea of inerrancy because we needed another mediator between God and man other than Jesus.” – T.F. Torrance.

The Bible’s narrative covers God, Creation, Man, the Fall, redemption and restoration. Various writers contribute to the story, using their own perspectives of their encounters with God and with other people. The love story of God’s relationship with mankind is its overarching theme, the big-picture metanarrative which unites all the micronarratives of smaller themes and individual stories. We are all involved, woven into the story like a big tapestry.

Our own micronarratives derive from those things we believe about ourselves and the world, influenced by the metanarratives we adopt. Everything we believe about ourselves is framed by the bigger picture, paradigm or worldview. The gospel reframes all history in a light that directly affects our own stories.

Choices

No one really has free will. We are all influenced by something. What we do all have is choice. Religion of all types is a type of metanarrative that frames people’s lives from the particular viewpoint that they have been exposed to. If we have been around Christians for any length of time, that applies to us, too.

So what is it that influences our choices and frames our lives? A set of values, ideals or principles revealed in a book (that may be called the Bible, Torah, Koran or Veda etc.) or a personal, experiential, love relationship with God? God desires all of us to have a face to face relationship with Him.

Religion hates that idea. It fears subjective, experiential relationship and seeks to impose external checks and balances upon us. Without an objective reference point, it expects that we will fall into skewed DIY behaviour and selfish, man-centred micronarratives. Religion thrives on law and on the identity derived from a set of shared behaviours which line up with that law.

But there is nothing to fear when a love relationship with God gives us a healthy understanding of our true identity.

Just like our Dad

It is our responsibility to discover who we really are, and who God made us to be. We will find our identity, position and authority by beholding God in the mirror of a face to face relationship that fully reveals our sonship. We are called to be restored into that image and to participate in the restoration of all things. Creation is waiting to be set free from its bondage to decay into the freedom of our glory as sons.

“Jesus is God’s mind made up about us” (Francois du Toit, Ephesians 1:4 Mirror Bible). If our thinking does not line up with His, then our thinking needs to be renewed. This is what metanoia (repentance) really means.

When we know our true identity we will express God’s love through our lives in ministering to others. To be a follower of Jesus is to be part of the story by being the good news, not just in our behaviour, in our outward actions, but also in how our story reveals our value and worth as a son of God; in how it reveals just how much we are loved.

Then, much of our story will be that of our restoration from brokenness. The truth of love’s good news will be embedded into the fabric of our being; we will sum up our love stories, not in a superficial “Jesus loves me” kind of way, but in a way that emphasises accepting and embracing our brokenness and fragmentation, retelling our story of receiving ever greater levels of healing and peace in a way that releases hope to others.

God does not expect us to be perfect (and so condemn us to the bondage of continual, repeated failure because we feel obligated to an external standard of perfection). He wants us to mature through an internal desire to be sons who are just like our loving Dad.

Recent posts by FreedomARC

Header image background by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Restoration of All Things

Stream or download audio and video of our recent intensive, The Restoration of All Things.

Nancy Coen, Justin Paul Abraham, Lindy Strong and Mike Parsons were live online from 4th – 8th June 2019 direct from the Freedom Centre, Barnstaple, UK. Experience the 5 days and 25 sessions at your own pace and go back over them as often as you like.

The cost is £80 GBP (equivalent to around $100 USD) for all the videos, audios and pdfs.

Find out more…