97. Image-Bearers of the Heavenly

Mike Parsons
and Jeremy Westcott

Purifying, refining fire

For some time now, the church has been at that point in God’s Prophetic Timetable which is characterised by the coming of fire, refining and purifying; the gathering and removing of stumbling blocks from the church and from our lives. It is not an easy time. Those stumbling blocks can be idols, they can be other things – and even people – that are hindering the flow of God’s kingdom. The gathering angels are here, to see if we are willing to open up our hearts and allow them to be removed from our lives. We can co-operate, or not: but it will be less painful if we do.

Raising up of a Joshua Generation

This time is also characterised by the raising up of a Joshua Generation, a people of a different spirit, a generation of people who will inherit the land and bring another generation in with them. Joshua and Caleb brought a whole new generation into a physical, geographical land, and also into a new spiritual land. We have spent some time looking at 40 Characteristics of the Joshua Generation on this blog, and it is important for us to know if we are called to be part of that generation.

That is where we are now. But we know that what God is calling us to do is to move forward. Refining, purifying, coming into the furnace of God’s Presence: that is all preparation for moving on with God.

Refiner’s fire

“And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant .. behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness (Mal 3:1-3).

God wants to prepare us, that we may be the offering of the Lord. A refiner’s fire gets pretty hot: the melting point of gold is around 1064°C (1945°F). As the heat is maintained, the impurities come to the surface and can be scooped off. If you are experiencing this, you will know exactly what we are talking about – when something comes to the surface in your life, you have a choice: you can allow God to remove it, or you can just push it all back under again. The trouble is, until you allow God to remove it, it will just keep on coming back to the surface. And the very worst thing you can do, if you want to fulfil your destiny in God, is get out of the fire.

When gold is really pure, the surface is like a mirror. It gives an absolutely perfect reflection. And God wants us to reflect Him, so that others see Him in us. But during that process we need to know that God is with us in it.

We open our door to Him, He opens His door to us

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev 3:20).

In other words, He is offering us an intimate relationship with Him in which He will reveal Himself to us and we will be close to Him. And a few verses later:

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, He said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”  Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne (Rev 4:1).

As we surrender our lives to God; as we open up our lives to the lordship of Jesus (and submit to the process of refining), He opens up the door into the heavenly realms for us to engage and ‘Come up here’. Some people have been translated physically, I know, but for most of us it will be a spiritual experience, and that is what we have been looking at on this blog in recent posts.

With practice we can learn to turn into that realm of heaven, because it is ‘at hand’ – or as close to us as if we put our hand in front of our face. We step in, and we step out of the heavenly realms. When we step back out, we bring with us what is there and manifest it here. That is what we understand by Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt 6:10). Jesus Himself brought the kingdom, and the will of God, as it is in heaven, to the earth – and He intends his disciples to do the same. If we are to bring heaven to earth, we have to access heaven – and the door is open.

Bear the image of the heavenly

As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly (1 Cor 15:48-49).

Just as we were born in an earthly body, now we have been born again and our spirit is now active and alive to God. So we will now bear the image of the heavenly. We need to be bearing the image of the things that are going on in the heavenlies, and outworking them here on the earth. God is opening up the door for us to engage with the heavenly realms, so that we can both see and reflect what is going on.

Through the church… in the heavenly places

…and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph 3:9-11).

There is so much more to God than we can even imagine. He is infinite and eternal. And there is so much that He is revealing today which has not been revealed before. He is opening the realms of heaven so that His people can see. That manifold, multi-faceted, wisdom of God is to be made known through the church – through us – to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.

That kingdom which is in darkness – it, too, is that close to us. We are not to draw from it, but we are to manifest the manifold wisdom and authority of God to its rulers and authorities in heavenly places. This was always His intention:

This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord (v11).

Adam was to have enjoyed free access to the heavenly realms, but he chose a different path. In Christ, that access is now restored to us.

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83. Characteristics of the Joshua Generation (#26-30)

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott  

Joshua led the children of Israel into their inheritance. If we want to do the same, what kind of people should we be?

26. The Joshua generation will start to be known and get public attention.

Before the revival we experienced here in 2011, virtually no-one outside of North Devon knew we even existed. Suddenly, because of what God began to do here, all kinds of people noticed us, from all over the country, and began to look to build relationship with us.

And some of the other things which have happened since – not least Ian Clayton coming here, and then mentioning us wherever he went – have made us known in countries all over the world. This blog gets hits from the UK and Europe, but also from Africa, America, Australia, Russia and the Far East. Hundreds worldwide have joined our Engaging God programme, and thousands subscribe to the YouTube channel.

Who would have expected that? It certainly was not of our own devising. God has a reason for it. He wants us to help other people come into the revelation we have received, and He wants us to equip and enable them to enter into their own inheritance.

So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land (Joshua 6:27).

Now, ultimately none of this is really about our fame – it is about God’s fame. We are here to make God known in all the earth. But we will have public recognition along the way, and that will bring public battles. Those battles will happen because what we are bringing will cause a reaction both in the spiritual realm and in this one.

All sorts of criticism and all sorts of accusations will be made because of what we are doing. A lot of people do not understand, yet. They will say we are doing things by New Age or occult power. They said that about Jesus, too, and we need to be ready for it. We need to be confident in our identity and in the revelation God has given us. We will be in the public eye, one way or another. So we have to make sure there is absolutely no pride in what we do. We need to be humble. It is about what God is doing, not about what we are doing. It is all about Him, but he uses us. Therefore we must rule our house, and deal with anything of sin or iniquity in us, deal with any stumbling blocks in our own lives.

If we have a need for affirmation or recognition from men, we are going to have to deal with that, because it is affirmation from God that we really need. And if we do receive affirmation and recognition from people, let us receive it with thanks, but then go and trade with it on the trading floors of heaven. Go and cast your crowns before Him.

27. The Joshua generation will take a radical stand against sin.

Sin is going to get exposed. It is already happening, always has. But the whole angelic realm are going to become active in exposing sin.

“Rise up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, for thus the LORD, the God of Israel, has said, “There are things under the ban in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you have removed the things under the ban from your midst.”’ … It shall be that the one who is taken with the things under the ban shall be burned with fire, he and all that belongs to him, because he has transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has committed a disgraceful thing in Israel” (Joshua 7:13, 15).

We cannot have things in our midst which stop us standing in victory against the enemy. We need to see those things removed. That is part of the function of those gathering angels, who are removing stumbling blocks from among us. Purification, refining: the heat of God’s furnace is being turned up, in order to bring all the impurities in the gold to the surface. Then, when they are skimmed off, the surface of gold is an absolute mirror which is reflecting the glory of God. That is what our lives are there to do: to reflect the glory of God – to reflect what is in heaven – on earth.

We are coming into a time when the story of Ananias and Sapphira is going to become very important to understand. They lied to the Holy Spirit and dropped down dead. When we start to enter into these things which God is revealing, suddenly the levels of responsibility go up. And with more responsibility, certainly there is more authority and power – but the level of purity and holiness required to operate in that dimension also is greatly increased.

I am responsible to enter into the fire of God myself. And I am putting it out there for you too, but it is up to you what you do with it. I have discharged my responsibility, you must decide how you will respond. Are you going to enter the fire? Either way, the consequences are yours.

28 The Joshua generation will be careful to always seek counsel from God before making decisions.

It is dangerous for us to do things here on earth (going to and fro) without first having been in heaven. We must not do it.

So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD. Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them (Joshua 9:14-15).

They made a covenant with a people who tricked them, who pretended not to be inhabitants of the land, but to have come from a long way off. And Joshua did not lift up his eyes into the heavens to see. This covenant with the Gibeonites was a problem for Israel for generations to come. They made a covenant with the enemy, because they did not seek God first.

We must not make decisions based on what looks right. Looks can be deceiving. We cannot trust our natural eyes: we need to see in the realms of the spirit if we are to make right decisions. Getting our strategy direct from heaven is the only course that will keep us safe.

29. The Joshua generation will put the enemy under their feet.

The enemy here is not people. We do not put people under our feet. We do not tread all over people. We do not tread people down. We honour and respect people. We bring people from captivity into freedom. That means we do cast out demons, we do demolish strongholds, we deal with a spiritual reality which is beyond what we see in the natural. We need to see the giants defeated, and the dragons, and all the other principalities and powers and rulers in those dark realms. So we have to put the enemy under our feet.

In this passage, the kings represent those rulers in the heavenly realms:

When they brought these kings out to Joshua, Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came near and put their feet on their necks. Joshua then said to them, “Do not fear or be dismayed! Be strong and courageous, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies with whom you fight” (Joshua 10:24-25).

Through the power and victory of the cross, Jesus made a public spectacle of all the demonic realms, and they are no longer in authority. We have authority over them. We may not yet have taken proper hold of that authority, but we are beginning to do so.

We have to rule over them, and put the rulers in those realms under our feet.

30. The Joshua generation will operate in great signs and wonders.

Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,  “O sun, stand still at Gibeon, And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar?  (Joshua 10:12-13a).

A supernatural event: time stood still. It gave them opportunity to defeat their enemy.

(The book of Jashar mentioned here, by the way, was excluded from the canon of scripture by the Nicene Council, operating under the authority of the Emperor Constantine. He did not want any of this stuff to be known, because he did not want ordinary believers to know they could rule. He wanted to rule, through the pastors in the church whom he paid; and that gave rise to the institutional structure that we still have to see dismantled today. Get the CD, as Ian Clayton says – he did a whole session on that. They tried and failed to get 1 and 2 Peter thrown out too, and the book of Jude (which says some very interesting things you don’t find elsewhere in scripture). Those books talk about entering these realms, about operating in authority and power in the heavenlies. But there are a whole lot of books that used to be regarded as scripture which did not make it into our canon because the enemy did not want them there).

And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. There was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel (Joshua 10:13b-14).

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82. Characteristics of the Joshua Generation (#21-25)

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott 

The veil is open: in the spirit we can walk through that veil which is Jesus’ flesh, into the heavenly realms. So we can live there. There is a whole dimension here that we need to enter into. The Promised Land is not just about here on earth, it is about bringing heaven to earth. As we saw last time, if we are to be truly effective we have to learn to rule in the heavens and then bring that authority to bear in this realm. Today we will return to looking into the characteristics of the Joshua Generation again, but as we do, I want to encourage you to look at them from that perspective.

Another Joshua

First, though, let me mention another Joshua for a moment, to help us grasp all this. This is a much later Joshua, who was the High Priest, being called to enter the heavenly realms.

‘And the angel of the LORD admonished Joshua, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘If you will walk in My ways and if you will perform My laws, then you will also govern My house and also have charge of My courts, and I will grant you free access among these who are standing here’”’(Zech 3:6).

‘If you will walk in My ways and if you will perform My laws’: those are the things we do here, in this realm. We can read Psalm 119:1-40 to understand more about His ways: His ordinances, His character, His nature. It establishes precedent when we fulfil the ways of God. Then it talks about performing His laws: if we follow the principles of the kingdom, here in the earthly realms, we will see manifestation of the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

‘Then you will also govern my house’: ruling the house is something to be done in the heavenly realms. The house of God is a dimension of the realms of heaven. And we are also a house, a dwelling place, for God.

‘You will also have charge of my courts’: the courts of heaven are where God administers justice, and the jurisdiction of God’s kingdom, manifested in the heavens, can be outworked here on earth.

‘And I will grant you free access among these who are standing here’: standing before the throne, in heaven. The High Priest had access to come into the very presence of God. If we are able to govern the house, and take charge of the courts, we will have access to stand in the presence of God. In His personal presence, not just His Presence. It is the difference between smoke and fire. Smoke tells you there is a fire. The Presence of God that we experience here in worship is like the smoke. But beyond that there is his Person, which is the fire. This passage in Zechariah is describing protocols which we must go through in order to be able to stand in the fire.

Let’s get back now to our original Joshua:

21 The Joshua generation will encourage people to hear the word of God directly.

Joshua 3:9 Then Joshua said to the sons of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God.”

It is important for us as individuals to come and hear the words of God for ourselves, and to train up others to do so for themselves too. We need to come before the throne, to come into the courts, to rule the house. My intention in doing so myself, and teaching it to you, is that I bring you into it.

Entering into the realms of heaven is for all of us. Separate to that, I have a role which is to bring signs and wonders and miracles and healing. I am going to pursue that for myself. But you, too, need to find out what is written on your scroll, and pursue that for yourselves. We each need to fulfil the scroll of our destiny (which we can find in the heavenly realms), read it, eat it, get it inside us, into our heart, and start outworking it.

22 The Joshua generation will be honoured and respected by the next generation.

There is going to be a culture of honour. Jesus said, “if you receive a prophet in the name of a prophet, you will receive a prophet’s reward” (Matt 10:41). We have to receive people in their gift and calling in order to receive the reward in our own lives. We want to honour one another and receive one another, because every single one of us have gifts and calls, and we must look to help one another fulfil those and work them out.

On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they revered him, just as they had revered Moses all the days of his life (Joshua 4:14).

23 The Joshua generation will free the next generation from the reproach and effects of the past generations, into new revelation of past activities.

‘Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day. While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho’ (Joshua 5:8-10).

There are things we have done, and things that we have within God’s kingdom and within the church, in which we have operated up to the level of revelation we previously had. But now everything is moving up to a higher level.

Here they celebrated the Passover and re-instituted circumcision, which they did not do in the wilderness. They came to consecrate themselves to God; the reproach of the past was wiped away, the stumbling-blocks were removed, the purifying and refining was taking place. When we come into new revelation, even in the things that we have done already we will begin to appreciate new levels of meaning as God opens them up to us in their fullness.

24 The Joshua generation will operate with the angelic realm.

This is something which causes Christians a lot of needless problems and argument. ‘Why do we need angels when we have the Holy Spirit?’ – you know the kind of thing. Angels and the Holy Spirit are completely different. Angels have a completely different purpose and function. And in fact all angels have their own particular functions.

For example, one night when Ian Clayton was here, he dropped frankincense on the floor and the aroma of it filled the room. It took me into the realms of heaven and I saw a canopy, and big angels being released from the throne. They had huge wings, and razor-sharp feathers which I could tell they were going to use as weapons. I knew instinctively who they were: they were the hunter angels. They go out to bring in a harvest. Their weapons are about cutting blindness off people’s eyes, which would prevent them from seeing and responding to the truth. And God is releasing them right now. They are different from the gathering angels, and the watcher angels, and other angels that we see. You notice, we even describe them by their function.

Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” The captain of the LORD’S host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so (Joshua 5:13-15).

When you read that he ‘lifted up his eyes’, it means he was looking into the heavens, and seeing into another realm, another dimension. As you read the scriptures again, you will see examples of this in other places too, such as when Abraham ‘lifted up his eyes and looked’ and saw the three men standing opposite his tent (Gen 18:2). And in this passage, the captain of the host goes on to give Joshua strategy that will help him be victorious and successful. When we praise God, that high praise releases some of these angels. Read Psalm 149 and you will see more about that, how we execute judgments that are written, how we execute vengeance upon the enemy.

We are not fighting against flesh and blood. Earthly strategy just won’t cut it.

25 The Joshua generation will hear God’s strategy for warfare.

The LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead” (Joshua 6:2-5).

When God said, “See”, how could Joshua see that? It hadn’t happened yet. The answer is that God was showing him in the realms of heaven what would happen. It is just like when Jesus said He did the things He saw the Father doing (John 5:19). In what realm did He see the Father doing them? The Holy Spirit will disclose things which are to come, before they actually happen, because we see – and can step into – a different realm.

Again, when this passage talks about a city with its king and its warriors, we can understand that solely in the natural realm. But above and beyond that, in the realms of the heavens, there are also mountains, and rulers and kings. We need to deal with them in that realm in order to deal with their counterparts in this realm. As I wrote last time, that is why we may historically have struggled to overcome in this realm – it is because we cannot do so effectively without dealing with the heavenly realm first.

Like Jesus, we also need to see what the Father is doing, in order to bring it to earth. If that is how Jesus operated (and He told us it was), then surely that is how we must operate too. Jesus lived constantly in two realms, in relationship with the Father.

The strategy God gave for taking Jericho was very clear, and very detailed. And the strategy that Joshua received in the heavenly realms, he had to carry out in this earthly realm. We need to be able to do that, every day, all the time.

That is what it means to be living in dual realms, to see what the Father is doing, to be constantly connected.

And that is what it takes to bring heaven to earth.

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75. Lessons From The Moses Generation

Mike Parsons – 

Preparing the next generation

In closing this series on the Prophetic Timetable, I am going to be talking about three generations. There is the Moses generation, and you don’t want to be part of that, as we will see. There is the Joshua generation, which I am going to focus on over the next few posts. And finally there is another generation, the Jesus generation, who will see Jesus return.

God is releasing a generation to prepare others. This word really got to me when I was on the fast a few years ago: I saw in the spirit a whole generation passing away and a whole new generation being raised up, and I knew God was saying something significant.

Moses’ generation an example

It is important for us to understand what the Moses generation is all about:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.  Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (1 Cor 10:1-11).

Although God showed them all the promise, and the Promised Land, they actually refused to go in and wanted to carry on operating in the place they had become accustomed to, and in the strength of their own understanding. ‘Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction’, so that is an indication that this is really important. We don’t want to miss what God is doing, and we need to be aware of things which could cause us to miss it. We are experiencing a time when the fire of God’s Presence is here to refine and cleanse us, to prepare us for what is to come.

An opportunity to choose

We don’t want to operate in idolatry. We know that idolatry is about putting other things before God. Our idols are stumbling blocks in our hearts, and God is gathering those up and removing them from us. God is giving our generation an opportunity to choose.

There are some obvious parallels in this story:

Coming out of Egypt’s bondage – Salvation
Crossing the Red Sea – Baptism in water
The pillar of cloud and fire – Baptism in the Holy Spirit
The wilderness – Testing, preparation, transformation
Crossing the Jordan – Embracing destiny
Promised Land – Kingdom inheritance (but that involves giant-killing)

God has called us to be giant-killers. Our Promised Land is not just physical. It is true that there is a physical aspect to it: ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth just as in heaven’, just as Adam and Eve were given the mandate to bring God’s kingdom onto earth and to subdue and overcome and rule. But there is also a dimension that God is bringing His people into which goes beyond the physical here on earth, and into the realms of heaven. So the ‘Promised Land’ for us is not just a matter of embracing all the good things which are ours on earth, but of being seated in heavenly places with Christ and bringing that authority to bear in the atmosphere of the earth. We have thrones of authority as a church – and other churches and other people of God have thrones of authority. But most people have no understanding of these whatsoever: they have never been there, have never sat upon them. Going to the courts of heaven, obtaining judgments there that will affect what goes on in the atmosphere of the earth and in this physical realm, all these things we are going to really have to get hold of and embrace, because it is all part of our inheritance, part of our ‘Promised Land’.

Failed to inherit

Let’s see what happened when the children of Israel were brought to the borders of the land:

Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Num 13:30-33).

Now this is what caused them to fail to inherit, when they were given the choice. Joshua and Caleb brought a positive report; the others saw the obstacles, including the giants, and the Nephilim (and we understand a little of what the Nephilim were all about); they saw them and they backed off. They were not prepared to go in, fight the fight and take possession of the land. And as a result, that whole generation missed out on what God wanted them to do.

Nevertheless, in spite of that generation saying ‘no’ to Him, God’s response was: “but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD” (Num 14:21). He would raise up another generation, because He was going to have His way.

And that is still the case today. God’s will is going to be done one way or another: our choice is whether we want to be part of it or not.

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68. As He Is, So Are We

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott –

When Jesus comes back, He is coming for His bride, the church. So this scripture is talking about us:

That He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless (Eph 5:27).

And since each of us are part of that bride, we have to be ready. That is why we are experiencing a season of purification and refining in our lives. For some of us, we may well have been here before. But we have a sense that God is doing something at a deeper level this time. God is removing stumbling blocks, He is removing all the idols we have in our lives. We are praying Psalm 139, ‘Search me O God, and know my heart’. And it is so that He can make us into that holy church that Jesus can inhabit in fullness, releasing His power onto the earth.

Confidence

Now, what does it take to be ready? There are some scriptures in the first letter of John that I want to look at:

By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world (1 John 4:17).

So we can have confidence, because ‘as He is, so also are we in this world’. As Jesus is: not as He was, but as He is now. He is enthroned in heaven: and we are outworking that kingdom, that enthronement, here on the earth. Our confidence comes from knowing that He is on the throne. His position as King is what gives us the confidence to outwork that kingdom, here in our lives, on earth.

‘Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming’ (1 John 2:28).

There is a relationship here: we abide in Him and He in us. It is an intimate relationship. And when He appears, as long as we are remaining in that relationship of intimacy, hearing and obeying His voice daily, doing the things we see the Father doing, then of course we will greet Him with confidence. It would be terrible to flinch away from Him when He comes in glory, not to be able to look at Him because we are ashamed of the way we have been living. If we stay close to Him now, we can have confidence when He comes.

Like Him

‘Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure’ (1 John 3:2-3).

So when Jesus actually appears, we will be like Him. We will be transformed. We will have a new resurrection body, and be transformed into an eternal being. In His resurrection body Jesus was able to appear to His disciples, walk through walls, eat a fish supper. We will be just like that: ‘we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.’ But because we have this hope, we also need to purify ourselves, just as He is pure. So we do have some work to do.

Baggage

When we see Him, we do not want to be carrying all the baggage that we might presently be going around with. We have an opportunity, right now, to be purified. We can allow Jesus to refine us, to prepare us to meet Him. All that holds us back and weighs us down, we have an opportunity to get it sorted out ahead of time.

I want to be properly prepared to meet Him face to face. I have my life here and now to work on that. And how do I make myself ready? I just surrender to Him. I allow Him to do whatever he wants to do in me. It is not something I have to somehow try to rack my brains and get all figured out. I just have to give Him my life on a daily basis. I need to present myself as a living sacrifice. I need to reckon myself dead to sin and alive to Him. I need to be crucified with Christ so that I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. My flesh no longer determines what I do.

Anointed One

‘Christ’ is not Jesus’ surname, remember. Whenever the word ‘Christ’ is used in scripture it refers to the anointing he carries. When it says ‘Jesus’, it is referring to the person of Jesus; when it says ‘the Lord Jesus Christ’, it is giving Him His full title and emphasising His lordship. So each time we read about Jesus in scripture, the name(s) used to describe Him emphasise what aspect we particularly need to understand about Him.

So it is Christ, the Anointed One and His anointing, who lives in me. I have been crucified – past tense – but I need to outwork that in a daily relationship, by presenting myself as a living sacrifice before God. I have written about how we do that in an earlier post. This may be stating the obvious, but the thing about a living sacrifice is that it is actually alive. I present myself on a daily basis, so that my life can be used for His kingdom purposes, so that I can be pure as He is pure.

That is how He would like me to be; how He would like all of us to be. How we need to be, because He is coming.

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65. Left Behind?

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott – 

Important note: as with the previous post, our view of this has moved on some since this was first written.

There is nothing in what Jesus says in Matthew 24 that we would now see as referring to the ‘last day’.

Below is the original post, largely as first published. Most of our comments about the ‘rapture’ still stand, but we would no longer apply Matthew 24:40-41 to the ‘last day’ at all, but (as with everything else in this chapter) to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.

As we have seen, the Last Day is just that – the last day, and there are no more days after it. It is also the day of resurrection, and the day of judgment.

“He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12:48).

We could be the generation which sees that last day. That is why removing stumbling blocks and being purified by fire is so important for us right now: we need to be ready, we need to be prepared to face judgment.

Holy and blameless

This is how Paul describes the church as she will be at that time: …that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless (Eph 5:27).

Holy and blameless? He has some work to do, then. That is what this purifying is for. We must heed the warnings. He will suddenly come to His temple, purifying and refining like fullers soap. We can fall on the Rock and be broken, or if we choose to remain stubborn and rebellious, the Rock can fall on us and we will be crushed (Matt 21:44).

Jesus wants to come back to a church which demonstrates the kingdom in fullness, a church which does what Adam and Eve would have done if they had not sinned: a church which subdues and overcomes (Gen 1:28).

Coming with the clouds

How is He going to come on that last day?

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11).

Jesus levitated before their eyes, in a cloud of glory (we are not talking about a fluffy white cloud here). That cloud is the same cloud He will return with: a cloud of witnesses. Nowhere does it say He will set foot again on the earth. In fact, as we shall see another time, there will be no earth for Him to set foot upon. We will not need to be gazing intently into the sky in order to see His coming. His coming will be visible, sudden, glorious and noisy. There is no ‘secret rapture’ here.

The rapture of the saints

‘There’s a talking donkey in Shrek, and a talking donkey in the Bible (Num 22:28), so that makes Shrek more biblical than Left Behind‘ (Benjamin L. Corey).

The whole idea of a secret rapture of the saints is just not there in the word of God.

At all.

The word ‘rapture’, by the way, is just from a Greek word meaning ‘caught up’. But a whole demonic doctrine has been built up around this concept, and has infiltrated the church like leaven – and you can easily tell it is demonic because it robs the church of power and effectiveness. It teaches a secret taking away of the church to be with Jesus and then everyone else being taken to judgment at some time later. The actual length of time between the two may vary, depending on the eschatology. But it means the church is expecting rescue, not victory.

What does scripture say?

Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left (Matt 24:40-41).

But who is taken first, and who is left? This is a trick question, so watch out!
Let’s allow the Bible to interpret itself:

Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’  But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’ (Matt 13:24-30). 

…and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age (Matt 13:39-40)

So what Jesus taught was that the first people to be gathered up and taken at the end of the age would be the tares. It would be sudden, it would happen in the midst of normal life…

And you would want to be ‘left behind’.

All scripture quotations are taken from the NASB.

64. The End Of The Age

Mike Parsons
with Jeremy Westcott  

Important note: our view of this has moved on some since this post was first written.

We would now say that the disciples’ questions were really about just one event and that the ‘end of the age’ Jesus is speaking of is the end of the Old Covenant age and the ‘age to come’ is the New Covenant age. This means that Jesus is not changing the subject from Matt 24:34 onwards.

‘Like the days of Noah’ is a description of the times leading up to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. However, there is still an application of this for us, as the enemy continues to seek to destroy the seed even today.

There is nothing in what Jesus says about the ‘last day’ in Matthew 24 (or in John 6:40) that we would now see as referring to the last day of history. The ‘last day’ is the end of the Old Covenant age.

Below is the original post, as first published.

We have seen that in Matthew 24, the disciples asked Jesus about three specific things:

Mount_of_Olives_(before_1899)
Mount of Olives (before 1899). Public domain.

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matt 24:3).

In recent posts we have looked at how Jesus answered the first two of these. From verse 34 onwards He is talking about the end of the age.

And the first thing to say is that no-one knows when that will be. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah” (Matt 24:36-37).

So if you come across any books, blogs or articles telling you when it is going to be, don’t even bother with them. There is nothing and no-one that can tell you. And Jesus says that not even the Son knows. Now of course Jesus knows, but as the Word of God He has not revealed it anywhere, not the exact day and the hour.

We are not supposed to know the specific time, and there is a reason for that.

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming… For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will” (Matt 24:42, 44).

Every single believer, from that time on, needs to live as if it is the last day. It could happen today. Then we will be ready. Jesus told the story of the wise and foolish virgins to illustrate that point; the parable of the talents, too. He wanted to warn us not to be found to have wasted our talents when the Master comes. We need to be prepared; we need to live in readiness not in complacency.

What we are permitted to know is what the times will be like when that day comes. It will be like the days of Noah, and we have already seen how that involved Nephilim, widespread evil, and pollution of the human DNA. Those times will come again, and the church must face them with authority and power.

“Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29).

Jesus said there would be a day of resurrection and judgment for everyone. When? On what He called ‘the last day’.

“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40).

Now there is something fundamental we need to understand about the last day: it is the last day. There are no days after it. So when Jesus comes and raises people from the dead, that is the end. There are not 7 years afterwards, not 3½ years, and not 1000 years. The clue is in the name: it is the last day.

Time itself stops.

And this also emphasises why Jesus will remain in heaven until every prophecy has been fulfilled, and does not come to fulfil them. There is no time for anything to be fulfilled after the last day.

‘…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).

I know that is not what is taught: the fulfilment of prophetic promises is routinely put off to a different age, or a different people. The truth is that the church has access to all the promises in order to see to it that the kingdom fills the earth. The alternative is the eschatology of defeat and failure we have looked at before, which only robs us of our position of power.

Here is another scripture which talks about the end in similar terms:

‘For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death’ (1 Cor 15:22-26).

The end is the end. At that point Jesus hands over the kingdom to God the Father. No more kingdom, no 1000 year rule, just the end. This scripture expressly tells us there is no more rule, authority or power after the end. They are all abolished. Jesus reigns until then, and He reigns through us.

Death too is abolished when Jesus comes, and everyone goes on to eternity, with or without Jesus.