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”
“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”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
These blog posts are adapted from Mike’s teaching in the ‘Engaging God‘ subscription programme:
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Related articles from Freedom ARC
- Fasten your seatbelts!
- 39. Demonic Doctrines in the Church
- 40. Challenging the Sacred Cows
- 45. Please Do Not Stone Me…
Related articles by others
- My Journey Into Atheism – Christa Black Gifford (author of the song ‘One Thing Remains’). Don’t be put off by the title!
- How The Shack Movie Unveils Toxic Representations Of God – Brad Jersak