251. God’s Original Design and Purpose

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

Our minds are constructed from pillars of beliefs and value systems acquired through the experiences of our lives. Those pillars form our worldviews and frame how we interpret the world around us – they are our conscious reality. We see the world through a lens that filters life’s experiences in line with our existing worldview and so perpetuates the status quo. But when we compare them with the Truth, with Jesus, we may well find that those pillars in our minds are lies or false representations of reality.

It is only knowing the Truth by personal experience, and in relationship with God, that will bring us into a new reality in which we can recognise who we are and fulfil our role and position in His kingdom as sons and co-heirs with Jesus.

Pillars removed

I shared with you how God revealed what the pillars were which held up the construct of my mind. Many of them were religious theology or doctrine. Others were from the education system and some from the DIY tree path of self. As you will recall, I asked Him to remove them one at a time; still, when the first one (evangelicalism) was removed, my whole theological belief system began to crumble. Doctrines and theological positions which did not properly reflect God’s love began to be exposed by the light of truth.

I began to see things I never saw before. I am loosely connected to thousands of people on social media, and suddenly I became aware that some of their posts seemed to line up with where God was taking me. It was not that they had only just begun to share those things, but that I had always tuned them out before. I had literally not been able to see them with my previous filters in place. Now I have connected more closely with some of those individuals and we are able to dialogue and share our journey together.

Long held beliefs have been challenged by the experiences of God’s love that encounters with Him brought. My whole relationship with God began to change as more and more of my filters were removed and I started to see everything through the lens of love. God is love. He isn’t anything else. Love always wants the best. So when we see Him do something which does not seem to be love, then our thinking about it must be wrong. Either it is love or it is not God. That will surely begin to defy some of our existing perspectives.

An empty head?

So God was carrying out the deconstruction that I had asked for. I began to wonder, what if I did not have anything there, what would it be like to have an empty head? So I asked “What is going to replace the construct?” This is what He told me:

“Son, let Me form the pathways of the tree of life within the construct of your mind. Let Me reform and connect the ancient paths within your brain so that your consciousness will become unrestricted and your creative potential will not be limited. I must plant new roots within your mind that will be able to flow from the eternal source; let them be entwined as the pathways to truth. As the living word, My relationship with you can now be the first pathway that will become a trunk that supports life.”

So He was promising to develop something in me which was not a construct but something more organic and relational as I engaged with the Source of life Himself. I felt this root system of truth began to form deep in my mind. Something was changing in the way my mind worked so that I would be able to see with a different perspective.

I had already engaged with the tree of life, and some of you may have too.

This picture represents various interconnecting spheres within the tree of life (of course it is not really flat, but multi-dimensional). We will have unique experiences of engaging with it, because the fruit is different for each of us depending on what we need. But I do believe that as you do so it will change the way you perceive and think about everything, right down to the very way your mind functions, just as it has for me.

God’s original design

So why is this deconstruction and renewal so important?

God has given us the power to affect our reality, but that will only be beneficial for us and for others if we are able to affect it from a perspective of truth rather than that of the lies we previously believed. Otherwise we will keep getting more of what we have always got. And that is the problem with thinking – you do not know you are thinking in a particular way, you just do!

“…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).

God is looking to restore everything back to its original blueprint design. As His sons, co-heirs in the kingdom, we have a part to play in that. But if we were to continue to see things the way we have always seen them, there would be no scope for them to change; restoration to God’s original plan and purpose would be impossible with the restrictions and limitations within which we have been operating.

We are not going to fix the problem with the same DIY methods that created it. There has to be a different way. We are not going to build embassies of heaven on earth in the way they built at Babel, using human construction materials and techniques, to make a name for themselves. It will not be for ourselves at all, but for the whole of creation, and we will have the ability to construct organically using quantum reality. Most technology that you see today is a development of something God has made in creation; God wants us to go beyond, and even beyond beyond, to creatively call things into existence which are not there at the moment.

Creation’s groan

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God (Rom 8:19 NASB). Or, as Francois Du Toit puts it in the Mirror Bible: Our lives now represent the one event every creature anticipates with held breath, standing on tip-toe as it were to witness the unveiling of the sons of God. Can you hear the drum-roll?

Creation is still groaning. So we can be sure that what it is witnessing at the present time is not the fullness of our sonship:

All creation knows that the glorious liberty of the sons of God sets the stage for their own release from decay. We sense the universal agony and pain recorded in history until this very moment. We ourselves feel the grief echo of their groaning within us while we are ready to embrace the original blueprint also of our physical stature to the full consequence of sonship. What we already now participate in as first fruits of the spirit will bloom into a full gathering of the harvest. (Rom 8:21-23 MIR).

God loves the whole cosmos but it is waiting for us to mature as sons. He has chosen us, and given us the responsibility. He is not going to do this for us. He is looking for sons who know the truth, the full reality of who our Father is; sons who see Him as He truly is and see ourselves as we truly are, created in His image.

The first stage of the restoration of all things is that we, the sons of God, return to our original design and blueprint. That is why it is so important that the illusions and delusions under which we have been operating are exposed, so that we can be unplugged from this false reality and plugged into the truth. Only the Truth that I know by experience will free me from being tethered to the earth, the physical realm, and from its rule and bondage.

The Truth desires to release us into the glorious freedom of our sonship as co-heirs of His kingdom.

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Intensive – October 30th to November 1st 2018

Sons Arise intensive 3 Expanding Our Reality image with link

Expanding Our Reality: Deconstruction and Restoring Consciousness

Join us in Barnstaple, UK, for our final intensive of 2018 with Mike Parsons.
Limited places available via Eventbrite.
Cost: £159.89 GBP including Eventbrite fee and VAT.
This event will NOT be live streamed, but we expect recordings to be available later.

250. Pillars In My Mind

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

The truth that love reveals

When we behold God face to face it can lead us to experience metanoia (a radical shift of thinking), removing the veils and renewing our minds. In the last post I described how my introduction to the mind of God was like a conversation: communion, fellowship and oneness between God the One as Three and the Three as One.

He told me “Son, you can be one as We are One: your body, soul and spirit at oneness, unified and restored to godlikeness to be the light of love to the world. Let the conversation of love surround you and immerse you and fill you. Let the truth that love reveals define you; let it unveil your true image in Me. Know who you are by reconnecting with who you have always been. In Me, see your true image framed in love’s conversation, revealed in love’s true expression.”

One time the Father said “Come, walk with Me”, and we were walking in His garden. We were in a place of total rest, the most beautiful, living, vibrant place I had ever seen, felt, smelled or engaged with. Then it changed before my eyes into something completely different in colour, form and fragrance. And then it totally changed again. He said “Look through My eyes” and for just a moment I glimpsed all the infinite possibilities which exist all at once and I felt His pleasure and enjoyment in it all.

It was like a mind-expanding trip to prepare me for what was to come.

Free from limitations

Again, the Father said “Come, walk with Me.”

This time everything was dimly lit and it took time for my eyes to adjust. There were light pathways crossing and connecting but it was as if the power was down. He explained that we were walking in my own mind! We came to a gulf, and beyond it I could see doors that I somehow knew were closed but not locked. The Father said He would bridge the gulf for me, just this once. I saw a path extend across to one of the doors and knew the possibility of new pathways developing in my mind. I felt and sensed the potential possibilities of the eternal reality of who I was always intended to be as a son. Capacities that have been locked and hidden can now begin to reconnect. God wants us to be free from the limitations imposed by following Adam’s DIY tree.path.

We walked across the light bridge He had made for me. I knew it was up to me to open the door, so I reached out with my mind. I embraced the possibility of opening that door to discover new dimensions of reality. The door opened and I just gazed with amazement at ‘now’; seeing beyond time and space, I could envision all the possible creative choices I could make at that moment.

“Which one do I choose?”

That was my first thought. It was a fear-based response, the fear of getting it wrong. Because I was walking with the Father as a son, heart to heart, I immediately felt that fear just melt away. I saw a golden thread intersecting my time streams, fixed at both ends but flexible and movable by my choices, and I realised that as a son and heir all my possible creative choices were good and acceptable and would all lead to positive outcomes.

Pop the qwiff

I saw beyond the boundaries and limitations of my consciousness disconnected from true reality. I saw that I could choose a possibility, that I could (in quantum language) “pop the qwiff” and collapse the possibility into a reality.

I came out of this encounter and immediately I was faced with an opportunity to apply what I had just learned. I looked at my watch: it was 7.45am and I was due to meet Jeremy in my office at 8am. I saw the reality of being there on time and I chose to realise it and felt at peace. So I went upstairs and got ready to go out. When I came down and looked at the kitchen clock it was 7.55 but my watch (a Citizen Eco-Drive which never stops) still showed 7.45am.

I decided to test this reality. So I went out into the garden to water the plants in my greenhouse and feed the fish. After all that, my watch was still at 7.45am. Just as I was about to leave, my wife Deb reminded me that she needed the car that morning. I was going to have to walk. It is not that far, it takes about 10-15 minutes, so I set off. It was still 7.45 by my watch. Halfway there I noticed it had started to move again and I got to the office at 7.55am.

Pillars in my mind

“Son, walk with Me”.

We walked again within the recesses of my mind. “Son, look at the dysfunction of the broken paths. Look at the mindsets that are like obstructions blocking the pathways. Look at the rigid networks conforming and framing the pathways within your mind. Now see fluidity and beauty of the pathways that can be formed by your renewed mind linked to Mine.”

I saw the comparison. I saw the simplicity of the truth of the ‘now’ possibilities and compared it to the complex construct built from the interpretations of truth and reality that come from religion and culture.

“Son, let Me renew your mind to a new level, open up your mind to Me. Let the truth remove the cages constructed by following the pathways of the knowledge of good and evil.”

I saw a framework, a construction with pillars holding it up and a grid or series of connecting cross members as if bolted onto the pillars. He started to shine a spotlight onto these pillars:

“Son, these are the pillars upon which your paradigms are built.” He focused the light of truth on each of the pillars in turn:

  • Evangelicalism
  • Sola Scriptura
  • Greek thought
  • Hebrew thought
  • Augustinianism
  • Protestantism
  • Scientific rationalism
  • Cultural relativism
  • Humanism

It was not lost on me that there were 9 of them. There are 9 fire stones, stones of revelation which Lucifer the light-bearer was intended to reflect. Those 9 stones became counterfeited and perverted as 9 veils that frame our minds. Each veil filters the light of God and distorts the image of God and His image in us. Each veil controls how our mind interprets the data we receive.

The covering cherub’s role was to absorb and reflect the light released from the throne of God. He was responsible to release frequencies that would carry the image of God, revealing our sonship; but instead he chose the DIY path and led mankind down it too.

The veils are mindsets established from beliefs that someone has taught us; revelation from old theological truth meant for a previous day, the resting place of words that frame our belief systems. There is a new revelation of truth for our day to discover.

Deconstruction

“Do you want Me to deconstruct your mind?”

I did not answer right away but pondered for a while. Several days, in fact – I even had to google what some of those pillars were! Eventually I said “Yes, Lord, deconstruct the frameworks of my mind. Strip away the presumptions and the assumptions of my thinking. I want to think like a son.”

“Son, I can continue dismantling this from the outside or I can remove the foundations of the dogma, the pillars and supports of the constructs so that they collapse. This may be traumatic and disorientating for a short while but will be the most effective and quickest way to free your mind and consciousness from its constraints and restrictions.”

“Father, please remove the dogmatic foundations of my beliefs and restore the true foundations formed from eternal truth. Pull the pillars out!”

“But please do it one at a time!” I added quickly.

Mindquake

As the pillars were ripped from my mind the constructs began to become unstable. It felt as if my mind was wobbling – like I was having a mindquake. The truth began to challenge my established and entrenched beliefs and my mind was being set free. I started to see things I was not able to see before and realised how many assumptions and presumptions I had been living according to.

“The limitations are being removed and the realities are being expanded. Son, you are created and crafted with the creative nature of I AM as a son of God. Your true potential is limitless but is controlled by the boundaries that exist within your consciousness. Rest in the deconstruction at the end of the 7th day to embrace the new beginnings of the 8th day reality.

“Son, I am the master of all reality. Everything is contained within Me. I AM, therefore everything is contained within the infinite potential possibilities of My mind. You have access to My mind so your mind can be conformed and freed from its limitations.”

Beyond

These things are beyond what we can imagine with our present knowledge and ways of thinking. By faith you too can open up your mind for Jesus to walk in it, to reveal the veils and constructs operating in you, and invite Him to remove the pillars. You may share some of the pillars my thinking was built on; you may not. Like me, you may want to say ‘Please do it one at a time’.

But if you are to move on into the fullness of sonship, they are going to have to go.

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248. Multicoloured, Multifaceted Reality

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

We have looked at the mind in various ways within previous teaching. The Transformation series dealt with ‘trauma to transformation’. In Gateways, we considered the subconscious mind, the heart and the negative effects of our memories. The gateway of imagination was about activating the eyes of our heart to see the spiritual realms and in the gateway of reason we began detoxing our minds from the poisonous lies of destructive thinking.

These are all important processes in maturing as sons. But now we will be asking God to actually rewire our brain and the construction of our minds and our consciousness. Adam had abilities we have now lost. As sons of God, we should expect our mental abilities to be far superior to those we currently enjoy. It is our framework of beliefs which creates that limitation.

Savant syndrome is a condition in which a person with a developmental difference demonstrates abilities far in excess of what would be considered normal, often at the cost of healthy emotional development. The savant’s mind is wired differently. God wants to restore a whole range of abilities to his sons but in the wholeness and oneness of spirit, soul and body.

Religious tradition

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom 12:2).

These two processes, not conforming and being transformed, must run in parallel if our minds are to be renewed. We need to let go of the old DIY ways to embrace the new reality of our sonship with a new mind.

Live consistent with who you really are, inspired by the loving kindness of God. Do not allow current religious tradition to mould you into its pattern of reasoning. Like an inspired artist, give attention to the detail of God’s desire to find expression in you. Become acquainted with perfection. To accommodate yourself to the delight and good pleasure of him will transform your thoughts afresh from within (Rom 12:1-2 Mirror Bible)

Renewing our minds will enable us to know God and therefore know our true selves so that we can live in a new level of reality. So far we know only a tiny fraction of what there is to know. Patterns of belief have formed in us because of what we have been taught: religious tradition can be a big problem for Christians, even for those of us who thought we had escaped the bounds of religion decades ago!

When we align ourselves in relationship and engage personally with God’s good pleasure in us, He will transform our thoughts from within and give us a whole new way of thinking – about Him, about ourselves, about everything.

The mind of Christ

For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16).

This is not ‘might have’ or ‘will one day have’. We have the mind of Christ. Christ is the anointed one and the anointing is the divine enabling power of God. It is not a brain transplant: we do not have the actual mind of Jesus but we can have the restored, equipped mind of a son of God.

Jesus demonstrated an amazing range of unexpected abilities including telepathy, transmutation, pre- and post- cognition, telekinesis, becoming invisible, quantum tunnelling and creating reality.

Since we have the same empowerment that He had, we can do the same kind things He did. In fact, He told us we could do greater!

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father (John 14:12).

We have the mind of Christ to enable us to do things like that. Do we believe it?

When we really believe something, we will act on it. What we believe, whether truth or lies, will actually influence our behaviour. God does not want our intellectual assent but rather a belief that transforms the way we live. Lies will never enable us to be who God created us to be; only the Truth we know by personal experience (Jesus) will enable us to be free to be the real us.

So does what we claim to believe match up with what our actions indicate we really believe? If we find ourselves living in opposition with our supposed beliefs, let’s be willing to ask what the real truth is. Let’s be proactive and engage the Truth and let the Truth expand our reality to transform our lives. Let’s be willing to ask the questions that will bring a truth that we can live by.

Wired up

Even if we do believe that we can do greater things than Jesus, do we know how? Is our mind wired up correctly and connected to those abilities?

There is a popular myth that we only use 10% of our brains. That is not true, we actually use most of our brains but we only understand how 10% of the brain functions. We do not know how neurons from different areas of the brain collaborate to form consciousness or why some areas of the brain appear disconnected and some abilities are not yet (re)activated. I am sure that God does not want them to remain dormant in us, but He desires that we come into the fullness of our sonship.

Neural pathways are like superhighways of nerve cells that transmit messages. As messages travel over the superhighway many times, the pathway becomes more and more defined so that habits and beliefs form. Most of our pathways are formed by repetition, but trauma can cause a pathway to form instantly, as we saw before.

Deconstruction and Renewing

God spoke to me: “Allow your mind and your consciousness to be expanded beyond all that you presently know and have experienced. Experience the reality of all that is, all that will be and most importantly all that can be within My heart. Son, let your monochrome existence become filled with my multicoloured, multifaceted reality.”

It is always exciting when God says something like that, but I know by now that usually these things do not come without cost (and probably some unforeseen consequences as well). Expansion means being stretched, it causes tension. It is much more comfortable only to look at things the way we have always looked at them, only to see what we have always seen, and therefore only experience what we have always experienced. When God asks us to look at what can be, at things we have never seen, that creates the possibility that we will experience things we have never experienced before.

The way my mind was constructed made it impossible for me to experience that reality. It was not something that could change gradually and imperceptibly; something dramatic was called for. And so for me the whole of 2017 was a year of deconstruction and renewing. I experienced what I can only describe as a head explosion. I will share more about that in future posts.

God shows no favouritism, and everything He offered me He will offer you. Are you prepared to submit to whatever God needs to do in you? If not exactly prepared, are you at least willing? If so, tell Him and cooperate with what He says and does to make it a reality for you.

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246. Gnashing Teeth and Goats

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

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

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

Weeping, Gnashing of Teeth and Outer Darkness

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

Is that so?

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

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

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

Sheep and goats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lazarus and the rich man

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

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

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

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

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

Eternal destruction, away from the presence

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

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

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

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

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

The Lake of Fire

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Fire and passion

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

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

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

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

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

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

These publications and websites raise issues we believe God is drawing to our attention today. The fact that they are listed here should not be taken to imply that we agree with all the doctrinal positions, conclusions or opinions of the authors.

*Freedom Apostolic Ministries receives a small commission for sales of the book through this link.

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239. The Things They Now Believe

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

“Good souls many will one day be horrified at the things they now believe of God” (George Macdonald, 1824-1905).

For me, that day has come. As I have encountered God, He has shown me that more and more of the things I believed about Him were not really true. He has been really considerate and taken me in stages through this process, because it would have been too much for me if He had done it all in one go. Will you let Him do the same for you?

Jesus is the exact representation of the Father, but that is not the picture religion paints at all. A whole host of doctrines widely accepted without question by most believers today do not really line up with a God who looks like Jesus. Since God is love, I am now very suspicious of any image of God that does not look like love.

Penal Substitutionary Atonement

One such doctrine is ‘penal substitutionary atonement’ (PSA): that Jesus died to appease God’s wrath. We will look at God’s wrath, anger, eternal judgment, punishment, eternal conscious torment and hell later in this series of posts, but PSA is the key to all these others. It is a really warped view of God which has Him saying ‘I will kill My Son to show you how good I am’.

Does God’s anger really need to be appeased? Almost all human justice systems come from the DIY tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and are based on retributive justice, making offenders pay for their crimes one way or another. If we are hearing a little more about restorative justice today, it is because people are realising that retributive justice does not work. But God’s justice is and has always been restorative. The fear of punishment is not a good motivator. ‘There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love’ (1 John 4:18). Why would God use fear of punishment to keep us in line?

It was man who came up with a ‘GOD’ who required appeasement (look at any primitive religion). But the truth is that ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire’ (Ps 40:6, quoted in Heb 10:5) and ‘You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering’ (Ps 51:16).

‘Redemptive violence’

“You have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness…” (Matt 23:23).

The Pharisees’ religion was all legalism, missing out truth, justice and mercy altogether, and in the ‘Christian religion’ (itself a contradiction in terms), a belief system of so-called ‘redemptive violence’ will inevitably affect the way we relate to others. We will steward the cosmos from that angry, retributive perspective. That is the ‘GOD’ image we will reflect to a broken world which needs healing, not punishment.

But God is not as we have been led to believe. The corrections of God are always restorative. The judgments of God are pure and bring mercy and life:

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;
Mercy and truth go before Your face.
(Ps 89:14 NKJV).

Mercy and truth always go before Him. His justice is mercy and love, not punishment and retribution. Even painful truth is revealed only for our good and healing.

“God is a God of fierce judgement. I sense God’s burning judgement falling upon many of you today. He has made up His mind and the verdict is unchangeable. His judgement is: ‘You are forgiven, loved and accepted’. So, enjoy your judgement” (Benjamin David, Facebook post).

The cross

Jesus warned his disciples that He was going to the cross. He did not say He would suffer the just punishment for our sins at the hands of His Father but that He would suffer at the hands of men:

Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men” (Luke 9:44).

“From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Matt 16:21).

For He was teaching His disciples and telling them: “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” (Mark 9:31).

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up” (Matt 20:18-19).

Look also at Mark 10:33-34, Luke 18:31-33, Luke 24:6-7, John 18:3-6, John 18:12, John 19:14-18, Acts 2:23, Acts 2:36, and Heb 12:2.

Jesus suffered at the hands of ruthless men, Jews and Gentiles, representing the religious and political systems. They agreed to condemn Him to keep their DIY system in control. Men crucified Jesus, and God used our punishment of Him to bring restoration and reconciliation.

He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through by our transgressions, He was crushed by our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed (Isa 53:3-5).

There is simply nothing in scripture to support the idea that Jesus went to the cross to suffer the fiery wrath of His Father so that we could escape it. ‘We ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted’ but that is not how it really was.

The purpose of the cross was to undo the consequence of Adam’s sin, a loss of identity which produced spiritual death. It was a demonstration not of God’s wrath against humanity, but of His love towards humanity. When Jesus took the sin of the whole world upon his shoulders He was showing us the depths of God’s love.

“Our Father never needed a sacrifice; we did. And we, as one man, with one accord damned His Son, and our Father accepted our ‘faith’ and our ‘will,’ and our ‘decision’ to crucify His Son as the means to establish a real and everlasting relationship with us inside our faithless betrayal. This is salvation. This is adoption. This is redeeming genius and love almost beyond our wildest imaginations” – C. Baxter Kruger.

Atonement, propitiation

In the New Testament the Greek word katallagé (reconciliation) is often misleadingly translated ‘atonement’. ‘To atone’ is to make amends, to make reparation for wrongdoing. However, this old covenant word used to describe how a sacrificial animal covered people’s sin is not a word used in the new covenant. And animal sacrifices were not tortured by the priest, they were just killed.

Hilasmos (‘propitiation’) is another word which has been translated in a way which assumes an angry deity who needs to be appeased. It comes from the verb hilaskomai, meaning ‘to conciliate, be merciful, forgive, show favour’. It does not mean ‘atone’.

“But the church has always believed this!”

It hasn’t. Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA) may be a commonly held view in evangelical circles today but it was not formulated until the 11th century, by Anselm of Canterbury. Personal encounter with God could never lead us to the conclusion he reached through scholasticism, a method of study that emphasises reason, research and constructive criticism.

PSA is a man-made, demonically inspired doctrine of distortion. It only sounds plausible to us because we have been conditioned to accept that God is angry with us.

Forsaken

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Ps 22, quoted by Jesus on the cross in Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34).

This was Jesus’ cry of true identification with us in our brokenness and in our deepest, darkest pain. It was our separation He felt. Most of those who heard Him would know the rest of the psalm, including v24:

For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him for help, He heard.

We have seen before that God the Father never left Jesus the Son. Do we really imagine that the Triune God was somehow pulled apart at the cross? Whose side was the Holy Spirit on? The whole concept is preposterous when you know God for yourself. And yet we happily sing:

“One final breath He gave
As heaven looked away…”
(Forever by Brian Johnson, Kari Jobe, Christa Black Gifford, and Gabriel Wilson).

Heaven did no such thing.

The wages of sin

The cross was God showing the world that He was willing to take on flesh and die – for us and as us – not to pay off an angry God who couldn’t stand the sight of us. Jesus did not save us from God, He saved us from death (the wages of sin). The aim of Jesus’ death was to make personal, healing, life-giving, forgiving contact with us sinners, at the root of our sin and alienation.

A battered reed He will not break off, and a smouldering wick He will not put out, until He leads justice to victory (Matt 10:20, quoting Isa 42:3).

God’s justice does not break people; it heals those who are broken.

“God doesn’t need to punish anyone. “Sin is its own punishment.” … No one gets away with anything. There are terrible consequences for our actions, but God is forever with us, weaving grace into our stories to redeem even the worst situations for our good” (Brad Jerzak, ‘Unfundamentalist Parenting in The Shack – Part 1’).

Meet God

But please, don’t believe anything I say. Not without meeting God for yourself.

How much of what we believe has been handed onto us by someone else? Reading books, hearing sermons, just picking it up from being in a particular stream or community… none of that is a valid substitute. Get your revelation direct from Him, otherwise you are just leaning on someone else’s understanding (when, according to Proverbs 3:5, you ought not to even lean on your own). My understanding has come from my own personal experience, but it is no good to you. You need your own experience.

So meet God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Meet Him face to face and find out what He is really like. Let Him reveal Himself as the Truth. And be prepared to lay aside anything which does not line up with Who He is.

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

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SONS ARISE!

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The Father is calling forth men and women to be revealed as His mature sons on the Earth.

Sign up today for Sons Arise! – a series of conferences and intensives with Mike Parsons to be held at the Freedom Centre, Barnstaple, UK. Read more…

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Sons Arise! – Conferences and Intensives 2018

The Father is calling forth men and women to be revealed as His mature sons on the Earth.

Sign up today for Sons Arise! – a series of conferences and intensives with Mike Parsons to be held at the Freedom Centre, Barnstaple, UK.

At these events we will be engaging heaven together and seeking to receive all He has for us – revelation, transformation and empowering – and to step into the fullness of our identity, inheritance and authority as sons of the King so that we can fulfil our eternal destiny.

In addition to 3 conferences we are also planning to host 3 events we have called ‘intensives’ – these will be limited to around 20 participants and will not be teaching-intensive but very much encounter-intensive.

Sessions at all events will include teaching and activations led by Mike Parsons and others from the ekklesia at Freedom.

Read more…

235. New Order Ekklesia

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

The blueprint that has come from heaven

But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved (Matt 9:16-17).

In Jesus’ time and culture the old wineskins were not just thrown away but were renewed, restored and reconditioned to make them suitable to hold the new wine. They had invested a lot into those wineskins. God has invested a lot into the wineskin of church (ekklesia), and He is not just throwing it out.

I hear a lot of people talking about a new wineskin which is not the ekklesia. I do not accept that. The ekklesia is still what Jesus is building; He has not changed His mind. It is still the blueprint that has come from heaven. By all means let’s throw out the old concept of what has become known as ‘church’, with any negative connotations and past experience of hurt and oppressive controlling authority. But since the manifold wisdom of God is to be displayed to the usurping powers and authorities through the ekklesia (Eph 3:10), we need to recognise that without it we are not likely to see the kingdom fill the earth.

…you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 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 (1 Pet 2:5).

All of us have a responsibility to be who God has called us to be, both individually and corporately.

Characteristics of a new order ekklesia

So a new order ekklesia will comprise people gathered together around a heavenly blueprint. It will function as a heavenly royal priesthood bringing agreement between heaven and earth. It will be built on a foundation of servant leaders, a heavenly foundation of the agreement of heaven’s oracles and a form and style of government which is a reflection of heaven on earth.

It will demonstrate a heavenly pattern of government – bench of 3, bench of 7 and bench of 12. It will not be a copy of any other ekklesia but will be established from its own individual heavenly mandate and blueprint: this variety will demonstrate the manifold nature of God’s wisdom (Eph 3:10 again). The image at the head of this post incorporates a diagram of our blueprint here at Freedom, but please don’t be drawn into trying to reproduce it where you are. Each ekklesia needs its own.

Its shape will be flexible, continuously determined by the living stones who grow and mature as they outwork their destinies within it, and by living stones added and taken away. Its objective is to bring agreement between heaven and earth, to contribute to the restoration of all things to God’s original intent and purpose.

Flexibility

Locally, we have been transitioning into such a new order ekklesia over a number of years. We are forerunners, and even if we are not a perfect example, at least we are evidence that it is possible. Over the years we have produced several different, updated diagrams representing our blueprint, of which the one given here is just the latest, 2017 version. Does that mean that the blueprint has changed? I do not think so, rather it is that God has revealed (and that we have become aware of) different aspects of it over time. When I look back to our beginnings in 1994 and the revelation of Isaiah 61, a foundational scripture for us, my understanding of that now is totally different to what I understood then. The text is still the same, but God has progressively deepened and expanded the revelation of it which we have been able to receive; my perception of it has changed and so, I am sure, has everyone else’s in the ekklesia. Therefore we are not now doing exactly the same things we were doing in 1994, but we are still outworking that same scripture as we now interpret and express it.

We did have a saying, back in those early days: ‘constant change is here to stay’. Little did we know how true (or how important) that was! The structure of our ekklesia is flexible, and it is the people who are part of it who determine what it will look like at any given moment. For example, our seven mountains: who was it who got the blueprints for what those seven mountains were? It was not me; it was not the bench of three; we just had the revelation that we had seven mountains. It was the people who heard the call of God to those mountains, and they continue to determine what those mountains look like. And that flexibility is essential to the continuing growth and development of the mountains, because we will find seven sub-mountains of each, again with different people determining what those are called and what they look like, finding their place as living stones and outworking their destiny in it.

So although we have an overall blueprint which says ‘we are an ekklesia and we will be part of a city of refuge, an embassy of heaven’, the actual form it takes will be totally determined by those who are called to embrace it. And in ten years’ time, when new people have come along, embraced the vision and received revelation themselves, certainly they will see and express something new, and the shape of Freedom Church will look different then to what it is now.

God always requires a new wineskin for new wine, but it is a constantly refurbished one, not something that did not exist before. God will carry on progressively releasing new wine of revelation, and the wineskin of the ekklesia has to remain flexible and be continually renewed if it is to receive it. We must never become rigid and set in our ways.

So whatever we are doing now, I can guarantee that down the line we will be doing something different, because we will have received fresh revelation from God for that season. That is why the concept of being like the sons of Issachar is important: understanding that God operates according to times and seasons, and in each season we need to know what God is calling us to do and to receive the necessary provision from Him to accomplish it.

Angelic engagement

An ekklesia of gathered people will live under an open heaven with angelic engagement. Jacob saw angels ascending and descending at a place he called ‘Bethel’, saying it was a house of God and a gateway of heaven. Individually and corporately we are all ‘Bethels’ into the earth.

Each of us is always a representative or ambassador of the ekklesia 24/7, not only when we are meeting physically in the same location. We do not ‘go to church’, we are church. Our whole lives are an expression of being a house of God, an ekklesia. But when we do come together, that is multiplied exponentially. We need to understand what it is to be built together as living stones, joined in love to fulfil God’s purpose.

Shadow

An ekklesia both individually and corporately is a shadow of what is established in heaven. You have to have something with a light shining on it to produce a shadow on the far side of it. So we must be in heaven in order to cast a shadow on the earth. If we do not live in heaven there can be no shadow on the earth.

I used to go into heaven, try to produce a shadow on the earth, and then come back out of heaven and occupy that shadow. The trouble was that the shadow no longer existed because I was not in heaven any more. That is why we have to learn to live in dual realms of heaven and earth at the same time; things on the earth will change dramatically when we do.

Embassy of heaven

Here, we are developing into a resource for the local community as we expand our work and influence through Freedom Community Alliance. I believe that eventually every ekklesia will be a city of refuge, an embassy of heaven, either in itself or as part of something larger in its city, area or region. That will be a full reflection of heaven’s government, with the mountain of the house of the Lord raised up above all the other mountains as we are an expression of God’s household, God’s kingdom, God’s authority on the earth. All the nations will run to it.

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

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234. Revolution of Love

Mike Parsons
and Jeremy Westcott

Turning the law on its head

Whenever God does something new, it challenges what already exists, because we are so familiar with the old ways of thinking and doing things.

When Jesus came defying all the religious norms, He was rejected by the religious people and institutions of His time. He brought a radical new perspective, completely reinterpreting Old Testament scripture and revealing the truth behind it. He said things like “the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath”, turning the external law on its head, making it into something that was to be used for people rather than to control or restrict them. Religion is all about keeping people restricted and under control, so this was never going to go down well with the religious elite. They quickly decided to do away with Him because they realised that the future of the whole religious system they depended on was under threat.

In the Sermon on the Mount, again and again He said “You have heard that it was said… but I say to you…”, shifting the focus from external religious observance to what really goes on in our hearts. True, He did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, He came to fulfil them – but in a totally unexpected way, in the context of relationship – love – rather than in legalism and religious duty. For religious people, brought up to keep every little rule and regulation, to be told that the most important thing was to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength cut to the heart of everything they had ever known.

His new values and new ideals of the kingdom challenged all those external legalistic perspectives. This was a revolution of love, where the King came to serve and not be served, demonstrating an entirely new model of leadership and authority which had nothing to do with hierarchy and control.

Jesus gave the Pharisees, Sadducees and Teachers of the Law every opportunity to lay their preconceived notions aside and follow Him, yet most of them could not get past being offended and threatened by His demolition of the foundations of their world. Ultimately, those religious structures were swept away in AD70, and those who were determined to defend them met with a violent end at the hands of the Roman army. It cost them their lives, whilst those who had embraced the new and become disciples heeded Jesus’ warning and left the city.

New wineskins for new wine

But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved (Matt 9:16-17).

The old order was coming to an end. There was to be something new, something different from the old religious ritual of bringing sacrifices into the Temple. This issue of new wineskins for new wine is one we have touched on before and need to be continually aware of because in the religious mindset there is a deep-seated tendency to revert to the old wineskin.

The Old Covenant wineskin was one temple, in one city, in one nation; one king, one earthly priesthood from one tribe (Levites) and one High Priest from one family (Aaron’s).

Such a mediatorial system prevents people accessing God for themselves: only the priests could enter the tabernacle and only the High Priest could go into the Holy of Holies, and that only once a year. It encourages a ‘top-down’ model of leadership which is the exact opposite of Jesus’ own servant-hearted example. This is still operating today wherever we see division into clergy and laity, and in a more subtle form where family members inherit religious positions from generation to generation. If people are artificially restricted, it will hinder them from fulfilling their destiny.

David’s tabernacle

One person in the Old Testament caught a glimpse of the new, and as a forerunner he adopted it ahead of time, at least for a while. In David’s tabernacle there was open access to the arc of the covenant and the Presence of God in worship, and when you read what they did in those days it is an amazing thing when you consider what the Law prescribed. I have never really understood how they could go back to putting God in a box – perhaps it is proof of the strength of that religious mindset again – but the fact is, they soon reverted to the cycle of sacrifice and ritual in a brand new temple.

Heavenly royal priests

In the new covenant, we are all heavenly royal priests. Every individual one of us is a new wineskin, a house of God and a gateway of heaven. We operate from heaven, and we are the nation, city and temple. God is in us and we are in Him. In the old covenant the Holy Spirit came upon prophets, priests and kings but now He dwells within us. We all have access as priests of the heavenly order of Melchizedek, not of an earthly Aaronic order: when the old covenant was made obsolete all the former priestly functions and roles came to an end with it.

Each of us has a destiny, an earthly and a heavenly outworking of God’s kingdom and His government. Every one of us is a reflection of the four faces of God, the kingly, prophetic, priestly and apostolic, expressed and outworked in the proportions appropriate to fulfilling that destiny.

A heavenly blueprint

We are a new wineskin in a corporate sense too. Individuals can come together around a heavenly blueprint as living stones, being built up together on a foundation that reflects heaven’s government: foundational servant leadership which releases people into their destiny rather than imposing mediatorial coverings, restricting access to God and to the realms of heaven.

…having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the capstone (Eph 2:20).

Ekklesia

“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church [ekklesia]; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” (Matt 16:18-19).

I increasingly use the Greek word ‘ekklesia’ because the English word ‘church’ carries so much baggage in our thinking. The structures and institutions of what is known as ‘church’ are mainly man-made constructions based on old wineskins. They tend to look like the old covenant rather than the new. And this is not just a side-swipe at established denominations and streams – even in independent churches like Freedom we have done the same in the past: none of us knew any better.

Today Jesus is building His ekklesia with living stones of all shapes and sizes. Therefore all local ekklesias will be different, depending on the living stones built into it using the blueprint God gives. We cannot produce a formula or a template which we just duplicate. In the next post we will look at the characteristics of a new order ekklesia, but for now let’s just agree on this: anything which does not have a foundation which is a reflection of what is in heaven is an old wineskin.

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

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231. Meet the Real God

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

New for old

God is always doing new things.

Please understand that, as we said before, He is always the same, faithful and full of lovingkindness, and He has never changed. But when we engage Him intimately, He reveals Himself in continually new, surprising and sometimes even shocking ways.

“Behold, the former things have come to pass,
Now I declare new things;
Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you”
(Isa 42:9).

“Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it,
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert”
(Isa 43:18-19).

God is revealing new things in our day, yet often we try to cling on to what is old, comfortable and familiar, just like the children of Israel did in the wilderness. Old forms of church wineskin, church government, ministry, prayer, evangelism, doctrine and theology are all being challenged by new, fresh revelation of truth.

Have you ever stopped to question how much of what we believe is because we have always believed it, based on what someone else has taught us, or from a religious construct, doctrine or theology? How much is derived from or influenced by our particular culture and society? And finally, how much is actually from revelation, coming out of our direct personal experience of relationship with God Himself? In short, how much are we ‘leaning to our own understanding’?

The Joshua Generation are forerunners of the new. We are finding a new level of experiential relationship with God, a new level of communication with Him, new ability to hear and see what He reveals. We are finding out what it means to have the mind of Christ!

God is calling us to let go of the old and embrace the new: new mindsets and new paradigms, new worldviews. We must not be surprised if we encounter great resistance to change, and not only from the quarters we might expect it. Certainly some people in the old established churches will oppose what God is doing, but the greater resistance will likely come from more recent moves of God which have settled into maintenance mode.

Deeply ingrained

Even within ourselves, we may struggle to overcome the comfortable inertia of wanting to keep things the way they are. We experienced some of this within the church here: for a while the old pastoral form of church government steadfastly opposed and resisted the new heavenly apostolic order. We discovered just how deeply some of these things are ingrained into our thinking and practice. But eventually we made an individual and corporate decision to step into the new.

“… The dynamic of our strategy is revealed in God’s ability to disengage mindsets and perceptions that have held people captive in pseudo fortresses for centuries! Every lofty idea and argument positioned against the knowledge of God is cast down and exposed to be a mere invention of our own imagination” (2 Cor 10:5-6 Mirror Bible).

God has begun challenging the very pillars of our minds. We find ourselves in a time of transition, of uncertainty and change, in which we cannot be sure of anything we thought we knew. He has even told us,

“You have been invited to know the real Me, so that you can be forerunners of the glory presence”.

If He is inviting us to get to know the real God, what God did we think we knew? Is it possible that we have been seeing and presenting a false image of Him all this time? If so, we have only been introducing new believers to the same false image we have been worshipping. And if the world has rejected that image of God (and often, it has), then what might happen when we present the true nature of God, when we ‘show and tell’ what He is really like?

Jenn Johnson // ‘In Over My Head’ via Pinterest

We need to meet Him and experience Him for ourselves. Then what we are offering people will not be some theoretical, theological perspective and doctrine, but a real relationship with a living God. And that is what the world needs; like us it needs to meet the real God, not the image that has been painted of Him up to now.

Seen Me, seen the Father

Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.

“Jesus is the crescendo of God’s conversation; he gives context and content to the authentic thought. Everything that God had in mind for mankind is voiced in him. Jesus is God’s language. He is the radiant and flawless expression of the person and intent of God. He mirrors God’s character and exhibits his every attribute in human form. He is the voice of God announcing our redeemed innocence. This voice is the dynamic that sustains the entire cosmos. He is the force of the universe upholding everything that exists as the executive authority of God, enthroned in the boundless measure of his majesty” (Heb 1:3 Mirror Bible).

He declared, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father”. As Mirror Bible translator Francois Du Toit says, “the best translation would always be the incarnation”. So Jesus has to be the lens through which we both see and project what God is really like.

Transformation

As ‘forerunners of the glory presence’, we must get to know that presence by our own experience. The glory is the glory of the true God, not some dim, fractured, distorted image of Him. The principle is that we will be transformed into what we behold: if we see God as angry and vengeful, looking for every opportunity to pounce on us and strike us down when we get out of line, then we will display the same traits ourselves. So even as we look to unmask what Brad Jersak calls ‘the toxic representations of God’ so prevalent in the traditional church (and therefore in secular western society), we have to be careful to operate in love towards those we enter into discussion with. We can only do this if we are beholding the real God. The leaven of the Pharisees and Herod is still working its way through the lump: religious and political spirits love dispute. By seeing and revealing the truth and operating in love we can help people to engage God themselves rather than feeling they have to engage in argument.

When Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land, there was first of all a time of consecration. Alongside new experiences, new thinking and new levels and patterns of authority, we must display new levels of openness, honesty, sincerity, honour, respect and commitment.

Sacred cows

The old, the comfortable and the familiar have to be left behind when God brings us into a new day. If we are to receive all that God has for us we will need to let go of those old familiar ways because they will no longer be effective. Two and a half tribes elected to forego their inheritance in the Promised Land. We are not to be tethered to the past: old ways must not become idols we will not abandon.

So what are your pet doctrines, ideologies, methods and other sacred cows? Are you willing to meet God as He really is and ask Him to expose, remove and replace them?

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

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211. The Father’s Hug

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott

Behold I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite their land with a curse (Malachi 4:5-6).

There is a curse, in the world, and the curse is fatherlessness: for some, not even knowing that they have a father. For others, that the father they do know does not match up to the fullness of God’s intention. God wants us to know Him as a real Father and wants us to feel loved and accepted as His real children. He is releasing His Spirit to turn the world back to Him, in an outpouring that embraces who we are as God’s children and releases that out to the world in an experiential and practical way, so that everyone can experience His love.

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Abide in My love (John 15:9).

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35).

This is Jesus’ call to us to live in His love, and it has to be practical. It has to work: as God loves us then we love each other.

My testimony

I want to share briefly from my testimony, from my journey in which I have come to know something deeper about the heart of God.

With my natural dad, I didn’t know love, affection, affirmation, approval, encouragement: really no fathering at all. Even while he was there physically, emotionally he wasn’t; and then he physically left too, leaving a big hole on the inside of me. Not knowing what a father should be, I just thought that was what fathers were like, because I didn’t know any better.

So when I became a Christian I didn’t have a relationship with God as Father. I knew Jesus, because Jesus died on the cross for me. And I know He was supposed to be my Lord. So I knew Him as Lord, but ‘Father’? – it didn’t even compute. It wasn’t that I struggled with it. I didn’t even know that God could be my Father: it was such an alien concept to me. When I was baptised in the Spirit it was like liquid love poured into me. It was an amazing experience. Yet although I felt called to something because I felt love, I still didn’t know where it was from.

The Father’s hug

My first real encounter of the love of God as Father was in a time of worship. It was like God came and put His arms around me and hugged me. I knew that was the Father’s hug. I just felt it in my spirit. Now that really challenged me: how could that be a father? And I suddenly started to realise more about fatherhood. I had a revelation of the truth that God was not like my earthly father. Now you might think that’s really simple but actually you don’t know it, until you know it.

And I had a revelation of that. God started to work that in me, but I needed ministry, I needed help,  because I could not break through into this whole area. So I had some ministry sessions, and God gave me a picture. It was a picture of a photograph, a real photograph that was in our kitchen when I was growing up. It was a photograph of me sat on my dad’s knee. It just hit me like a ton of bricks that this was a posed picture, a sham that never actually happened in reality. And it really, really got to me emotionally. In fact my whole relationship with my earthly father was a total sham.

Forgive and Release

Emotionally it was a really hard thing to do, and I had to really choose to do it as an act of will, but it caused me to choose to forgive him and release him from not being a real dad to me.

It was hard, because I didn’t want to do it: it suddenly hit me that he didn’t deserve it, that he had screwed me over for years – that’s literally how I felt. It really hit me hard. I didn’t let those emotions out right then, but I chose to forgive and release him, and God enabled me to go and see him and give him a hug. He did not know what to do, he stood there frozen as I gave him a hug and told him I loved him. He didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t have a problem with that because I knew the reason was that he’d never been loved by his own father. But when I chose to forgive him, it opened up a whole different relationship with God for me.

Now that was back in the early 1990’s. Then, just before we moved here in 1994, we had a series of meetings in the Castle Centre in the town called More for ’94. One evening I had come up and I was doing some teaching as a prelude to setting up the church. We had a time of worship and all the emotion I hadn’t been able to let out from this whole thing with my dad all of a sudden just spilled out like a torrent. I wailed and I wailed and I wailed on the floor, and all the emotions flooded out. I realised it had all been stored up inside me, and at the end of it I was glad it was gone. That was a powerful experience.

Encounter

Then about a year or so later, I had what I now know was my first encounter in heaven. Again, it was in a time of worship, and this one long note on the saxophone just took me into heaven. God took me on his knee, just like in that sham photograph with my earthly father, but this time gave me a real experience of what it was to be bounced on a father’s knee and played with. It restored something deeper again of the relationship I had missed with my father. God is a great God and wants to restore us.

A father-wound

But in spite of all this, years later when I was on a 40-day fast, going into heaven and seeing God and meeting with Him for 2 weeks, it was Jesus and the Holy Spirit I was meeting with, not the Father. Then Jesus came to me and said: “You need to meet with the Father”. I knew in my own heart I needed to meet with the Father, and yet I couldn’t. Then Jesus showed me a big scar that went right over my heart. I was looking down at this wound and He said, “you have a father-wound.”

And I started to argue: “I’ve forgiven my father. I’ve done everything I can.” He said again, “You have a father-wound.” He spoke to me in that encounter and told me He loved me over and over and over again. And each time He said loved me and I received it, that wound began to disappear bit by bit until it was completely gone. It took about 45 minutes in earthly time (I don’t know how long it took in heavenly time) but it just went on and on, because He just would not relent until that wound was gone. And it went.

Back to zero

Since then my whole intimacy with my heavenly Father has been restored. I hang out with Him in His garden, He hangs out with me in the garden of my own heart. Now that was just the wounds being healed. You see, I might have been minus 60 on a woundedness scale, and some people are a lot worse than that, if they have experienced real abuse from their earthly fathers and others. But although all my wounds were healed, that just brought me back to zero on the scale. I didn’t want to be zero. Zero is better than being minus 60, but I wanted to be on the plus side!

Intimacy

I still needed to be fathered. What was it to be fathered? I did not know because I had never been fathered. So then I had to learn, how does God father me? I had an encounter with Him one morning and I was talking to Him, but I felt something was missing: I didn’t feel intimate. And He spoke to me and asked me “Why do you feel that?”

I struggled to explain, “Because I don’t feel it felt intimate”. He said “Well, what is intimacy?” Now I was looking for the kind of experiences that other people had described. I was looking for intimacy to have all the ‘warm and fuzzies’, and to feel lovely (and actually, sometimes you do get that, which is great).

But God said “When is it you really feel alive? When do you really feel close to me?” So I thought about it. “When You are talking to me and You’re sharing Your heart with me and when You are revealing the Word to me”. He said “That’s me fathering you.” It totally freaked me out to think that I didn’t have to have a relationship like anybody else’s or experience what other people said intimacy was. I could just be me.

And for me, with my redemptive gift, God’s love language to me is sharing with me and just having quality time with Him, quality time in which we just get to hang out together. It doesn’t matter if I feel all warm and fuzzy. Sometimes I just spend an hour with Him and come out of that time with pages of notes, because He has talked to me about stuff. I know He loves me. That is for me what has brought me into a place of freedom. We all need to find the love languages of our Father: how does God love you? What is (or would be) intimacy with Him to you?

Lavished on us

Do you feel like you don’t belong? Do you feel you don’t fit anywhere? Do you still feel like an orphan? Do you feel that no one loves you? Do you still feel rejected? If you do feel any of those things (and others), God wants you to feel His love and acceptance today.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us... (1 John 3:1 NIV)

He wants to lavish His love on you today, so that you will know you’re His child. ‘Lavish’: He wants His love to just overflow, so that it almost seems wasteful, He’s giving us so much love. Another version says:

See what an incredible quality of love the Father has given, shown us, bestowed on us, that we should be given, and named and called and counted the children of God (1 John 3:1 AMP).

prodigal

We are called children of God, and that is who we really are. God’s desire for us is intimacy with Him. The story of the prodigal son is a story of reconciliation back to the Father, and He wants us to experience that reconciliation and restoration of relationship today; not as a slave, or a servant, but as a son, with the full rights of sonship.

I believe that just like the father in that story, God wants to meet you with a hug. If you need a hug from the Father today, come to Him. If maybe you have never embraced the Father in a personal way, take that step today. He wants to hug you, and tell you how much He loves you, as His child. And allow the Holy Spirit to fill you, to shed that love abroad in your heart, so that you feel accepted, valued and appreciated; so that you feel loved.

Related articles from Freedom ARC
Other resources from Freedom ARC
SoundTrack (also from 1994)

We are the Fatherless – Brian Doerksen

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