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A Given Understanding

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“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” -1 John 5:20

There are several deep and somewhat confusing statements in this obscure verse.  First, John says that Jesus came and gave an understanding, which enables us to “know Him who is true.” John then says that we are “in Him who is true,” “in His Son Jesus Christ,” and that somehow all this connects to “the true God and eternal life.” 

Reading this verse, the first question I have is, what is the “understanding” Jesus came and gave, and how does it enable us to “know Him who is true?”  On the surface, one might say this understanding refers to the things Jesus taught about God.  But there are two main reasons I don’t think that’s quite it.  First, because Jesus didn’t really teach “about” God.  Instead, he taught about the Kingdom of God, demonstrated it with healing and miracles, warned and prophesied against the corrupted religious establishment, and stressed the importance of loving others as oneself (which he said sums up the entire law). The second reason is, the Greek word for “understanding,” which is dianoia, doesn’t refer to mental knowledge.  It is most often translated “mind,” and seems to mean a full and true comprehension and thus a correct perception.    

John says this dianoia Jesus gave enables us to “know Him who is true.”  The word “true” is alethinos, which refers to that which is genuine, the real article without any falsehood or counterfeit.  Thayer’s Greek lexicon defines alethinos as:

  • 1. that which has not only the name and resemblance, but the real nature corresponding to the name, in every respect corresponding to the idea signified by the name, real, true genuine

    a. opposite to what is fictitious, counterfeit, imaginary, simulated or pretended

    b. it contrasts realities with their semblances

    c. opposite to what is imperfect defective, frail, uncertain

  • 2. True, veracious, sincere

So, it seems that John is saying the understanding and perception Jesus gave enables us to know God the Father as He genuinely is, to know His real nature, and not a distorted or incomplete representation.  The idea is, I think, that before Christ, under the Old Covenant, God’s people knew Him primarily through a relationship of laws and symbolic rituals.  Their relationship to God was more like one of master and slave, not Father and son.  The partnership and Spiritual union that the New Testament says is ours in and through Christ was not yet available.  The transition from the Old Covenant of law to the New Covenant of grace and faith through Christ was colossal, and has not yet been realized on a large scale.  Many scriptures speak of this transition.  Here are a few:

  • Galatians 4:4-7 (WEB): “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent out his Son, born to a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of children. And because you are children, God sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” 

  • John 4:19-24 (WEB):  “The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father. You worship that which you don’t know. We worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to be his worshippers. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

  • Romans 7:6 (WEB): “But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that in which we were held; so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter.”

  • Hebrews 8:1-5 (WEB):  “Now in the things which we are saying, the main point is this. We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a servant of the sanctuary, and of the true (alethinos) tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer. For if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, seeing there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things (the physical temples and rituals were only symbols and representations of heavenly, spiritual realities), even as Moses was warned by God when he was about to make the tabernacle, for he said, “See, you shall make everything according to the pattern that was shown to you on the mountain.”

  • Hebrews 9:22-24 (WEB): “According to the law, nearly everything is cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission. It was necessary therefore that the copies of the things in the heavens should be cleansed with these; but the heavenly things themselves (the alethinos, the true) with better sacrifices than these. For Christ hasn’t entered into holy places made with hands, which are representations of the true (alethinos), but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us…”

I believe the mind/perception/understanding Jesus gave is both the demonstration of God’s true nature as a loving Father rather than a callous master, along with the ability to be a “partaker” of this nature, as 2 Peter 1:4 says. I still believe that as far as God is concerned, flesh is dead and gone.  He doesn’t see our flesh or sin at all, because in God’s mind all believers are “in Christ,” meaning they have become adopted as members of the corporate son of God, literally becoming members of Christ’s body and filled with God’s nature, thus becoming one with God.  This too is the understanding Jesus gave, which Paul and others have elaborated on.  I won’t take the space to elaborate on it here, but, for example, scripture says Jesus “condemned sin in the flesh,” that there is no condemnation in Christ, that we have been perfected forever by the one sacrifice of Christ, and that God Himself has placed us into Christ Jesus, as 1 Corinthians 1:30 says.  

When John wrote that we are “in Him who is true, in His son Jesus Christ,” I believe he meant we are in God AS A RESULT of being in Christ. We in Christ (and Christ in us), Christ in God, thus we in God (see John 14:20).  It’s nothing we did or can do, God did it already.  Not only that, but it seems to me that neither “the true God” nor “eternal life” are found apart from our identity and union with Christ as members of his body, which is a spiritual reality we must “abide” in.  It’s as if God has allowed His nature and being to intertwine with ours in a deep way, through His son.  Now, all this doesn’t mean we as individuals are instantly perfect or that we can’t still act from the flesh.  To say that is to deny the obvious.  What it means is to the extent we have the “dianoia” to recognize we have been adopted as Sons in Christ, and our nature is that of Spirit and love, that we are not under the rule of sin and law, and that we are corporately the body of the son of God – as these truths become the foundation of our hearts and minds, we can manifest the fruit of the Spirit and establish the Kingdom of God on earth.  It is desperately needed, and I believe the season is coming where these things are going to come to pass.  The question is if we will have the courage to lay down our lives in the flesh and the world to manifest the life of the Son of God, our true Life.  Amen.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The “New” Commandment?

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

Do you find it a bit odd that Jesus referred to the command to: “love one-another as I have loved you” as “new?” Didn’t he tell a Pharisee that that the greatest commandment in the law, which in their day had been around for roughly 1,600 years, was to love God and to love one’s neighbor as oneself?  I was a bit confused by this, so I looked closer, and saw that the word “new” in the Greek actually means something closer to “fresh.”  Jesus “new” commandment wasn’t new in the sense that it had never been heard of before, but it was new in the sense of being fresh, timely, invigorated.  I believe Jesus intention was to reintroduce and revitalize something that had been set aside, forgotten, and become stale. This forgotten, stale thing was the beauty, centrality and necessity of love.  It appears that above all else, as he was leaving earth, Jesus wanted his followers to know clearly that IF they would love one-another, then people would recognize that they, like he, were walking as manifested and obedient sons and daughters of God – in other words, his disciples.

As all answers tend to do, this raises more questions.  The first question that comes to mind is why Jesus specifically chose to emphasize love above everything else, like hell or holiness or prayer or witnessing?  Love must be of the utmost importance, especially when you consider that this was essentially Jesus’ final exhortation to his followers.  I believe the answer to this is first and foremost that Jesus emphasized love because he wanted his Father to be known, and love is the love is the true nature/essence of God, a nature which had become obscured and forgotten over the centuries, largely due to the ruthlessness of the law, which is another subject itself.  Not being connected to law, the new covenant enables and encourages authenticity and inward spiritual reality, not outward piety or rigid rules that result in hypocrisy and self-righteousness.  The second reason I believe Jesus emphasized love is because he knew that without it, the church/body of Christ would quickly begin to divide against and attack itself, becoming inept, blind, hypocritical and hardened, which is sadly what has happened, to the great detriment of the expression of the Kingdom of God/Heaven on the earth.  

I’ve said this any number of times, but while most of us would agree that love is vitally important, we really don’t realize or appreciate how radical genuine love is.  Love is just as different from religion’s rules and constraints as it is from hedonism’s pursuits and excesses.  Love doesn’t fit well into categories, as it is not for or against anything, but is simply grounded in the fact that Christ has reconciled all things.  Love steadfastly waits until the reality of this is fully manifested.  Love is pictured very well in the life of Jesus, who was merciful and kind toward those who religion had rejected or wounded, but was very harsh toward the self-righteous, who with hardened hearts laid burdens on others and misconstrued the true nature of God.  The suffering that accompanies love is largely because love is immovable, neither compromising truth, nor coercing or demanding its own way. Love remains patient in the midst of suffering, repaying good for evil and looking past the fearful ignorance of men, which unfortunately remains the foundation of most of what we see in the world today.

So, I suppose my point is that those who are Christ’s should realize that in his own words, love is absolutely necessary for believers to have toward one-another.  Love is THE fresh commandment Jesus gave to his followers, then and now.  Love is so vital because without it, the body of Christ will remain sick and the Kingdom cannot be expressed on earth.  IF this is so, it is of the utmost importance that we be sure, as John wrote, not to merely SAY we love, or merely BELIEVE in love, but to let the Spirit of Love penetrate us, permeating our perceptions until it is naturally the driving force behind our actions. This might mean reconciling with an enemy, or asking forgiveness when the other side won’t. It might mean getting rid of possessions we are fond of in order to help another who has less. It could mean showing mercy to someone who continually screws up and is extremely frustrating and disappointing. It could mean speaking truth when the consequences will be severe. It can mean joining, leaving, staying, going, and innumerable other things.  Let’s simply let love have it’s way, realizing that it is the way of Christ. I believe that as we do, the Spirit will be with us and new, fresh manifestations of Life will begin to be seen on earth!  I have written many other posts about love, so I would encourage you to look them up using the right sidebar if you are interested.  God bless you.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Leveling Up (Spiritual Sowing Pt. 1)

Sometimes I feel I have written about “flesh vs. spirit” too much, but I want to share what is on my heart, and I still don’t think I understand or have expressed clearly the nature and importance of this issue.  All of us, to some extent, still have “darkness” that needs to be removed in our minds and hearts in order to walk in the Kingdom of God more fully.

I want to look at a passage in Galatians, which I think summarizes the main emphasis Paul taught pretty well:

Galatians 5:13-26 WEB (R):  “For you, brothers, were called for freedom. Only don’t use your freedom for gain to the flesh, but through love be servants to one another (true love creates no “gain” for the self-preserving flesh).  For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you don’t consume one another (“biting and devouring” are the opposite of edification/building up, and are not the way of love).  But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you won’t fulfill the lust of the flesh (such as biting and devouring others, including brothers and sisters). For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, that you may not do the things that you desire (mixture of natures causes impotence and prevents fruit-bearing). But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (only flesh is under law, but in Christ we have “leveled up” to a new way of being, that of Life in the Spirit.  That’s all that matters now). Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God (in listing these “works of the flesh” Paul isn’t merely listing things we “shouldn’t do,” but things we WILL do if led by the flesh.  Practicing these things doesn’t condemn us to “hell,” but they are a sign we are abiding in the flesh, outside of the Kingdom of God.  If you truly love and want to honor the Father and Son, then living contrary to their way/nature is as bad as the typical understanding of “hell”).  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law (the law only applies to flesh –  to expose its weakness and sinfulness.  The spirit exists on a higher plane, above law). Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts (it’s not that we “need to” crucify the flesh.  “In Christ, it’s been done already.”  -That simple statement is the death of religion and law.  If we would/could truly understand and embrace it, then so much time and energy wasted on religion could be saved, along with inexpressible amounts of needless guilt, fear, psychosis, confusion, on and on.  We could then be free to “seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,” rather than propping up the institutions of men and our own image/reputation.  In fact, because the flesh has been “crucified,” we are “obligated” in a sense to walk in the spirit, as Paul says next). If we live by the Spirit, let’s also walk by the Spirit. Let’s not become conceited, provoking one another, and envying one another.”  

There is a lot to this passage.  Notice at the very end, Paul says that if we live by the Spirit we should walk by the spirit, and immediately says we should not “provoke” or “envy” each-other, things he just mentioned as “works of the flesh.”  If/since we have been baptized with Christ into newness of life, as Paul discusses in Romans 6, then we have spiritual Life within, a nature of servanthood, love and forgiveness; a nature which desires Truth and the honor of God.  Not only that, but a nature which despises the hypocrisy of religion, despises the corruption of the powerful and the oppression of the weak, and embraces hardship to walk a contrary path when necessary.  A nature which is in no way self-serving.  

The issue then becomes recognizing that Life and letting it become our driving force, which is much of what Paul meant by “walking by the Spirit.”  Simply “having the spirit” isn’t enough, we must let it reign in our hearts and lives, replacing the darkness and fear that we have clung to.  What good is potential or access if the valued thing is never taken out or expressed?  It’s actually better not to have access to something great than to have access and fail to use it.  Again, condemnation has no place, and isn’t helpful.  The flesh has been condemned already, that’s the point, and is largely why Christ died as he did.  The point is to really embrace that fact.  We can’t live honestly until we get past the “obligations” of religion, which then become our “god,” receiving our devotion.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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For Who’s Sake?

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In my last post titled “Good People, Careless Stewards,” I wrote about how we should be eager to change our understanding and walk in a new direction according to Truth (i.e. repent), because although change can be difficult, the Kingdom/Reign/Will of God is more important and valuable than us individually.  All attachment to the ideas or creations of men becomes a snare and a pit, keeping you from the way of Christ and from walking in the Spirit.  I think this is a very important point.  

Recently, I began to read through Romans, and something stood out to me in Paul’s introduction in this amazing, incredibly deep spiritual work.  It reads like this:

Romans 1:1-5 WEB (R):  “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the Good News of God, which he promised before through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we received grace and apostleship, for obedience of faith among all the nations, for his name’s sake…

I underlined “for his name’s sake” because really, this is the same idea I wrote about in my last post, just in different words; namely that the Kingdom of God is about God, not us.  Apparently, Paul wants to make it clear at the very outset that God choosing him as an apostle of the good news, and God’s gift of grace and calling to bring “all the nations” into the “obedience of faith,” are ALL for the sake of the “name” of God the Father and His son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Our individual destinies are secondary, at best.  The good news is the good news of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God.  Selfishness has no place there.  

So, what exactly does it mean that we are to live for the sake of the “name” of Jesus and the Father?  It’s much deeper than what typical Christianity has taught.  In scripture, a “name” refers to one’s character, their nature, their essence – it represents all that someone is, and what they have done.  So, to glorify or magnify or even be a partaker in the “name” of Jesus means we become united with him, that we take on his character and nature and then express it.  In John 12:28, we read even Jesus himself prayed that the name of the Father would be glorified,1 meaning that Jesus desired that through his life, the Father’s nature and character would be seen, known, worshiped, and honored.

So, anything and everything done in the Spirit, however big or small, is for the purpose of manifesting Christ on the earth (we are his body, are we not?) and glorifying the Father, bringing His will to earth.  Again, this is the purpose of every manifestation of the Life of God in us, whether we are chosen as apostles who travel the world with deep revelation and miracle-working power, or if we just live humble lives, showing kindness and compassion to those we encounter.  If done in love, even a simple hug or an encouraging word can be divine and healing.

If you look around at what’s going on in the world, it is tempting and easy to join in the “doom and gloom” crowd.  But there has always been evil in the world, and death.  In fact, in the past, there was often a lot more than there is today.  I really do believe, and not without reason, that people are slowly beginning to wake up from the stupor that has been upon them due to the influence of religion and fear.  My desire is that we don’t leave one religion only to join another or that we don’t simply trade idols.  The issue is this: “is our way of belief and life a manifestation of the Spirit, or of the mind/heart/soul of man?”  Have we REALLY been taught by the Spirit, or are we following a religion or a way of life for reasons we don’t want to admit or examine?  Why are we afraid to change, why do so many of us find it so hard to truly and radically love, even though we know deep down that’s the best way to live?  These are good questions to ask.  

I suppose that’s enough for now.  Until next time, God bless you and thank you for reading.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Good People, Careless Stewards

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“…Just-as each has received a gift, ministering it among yourselves, as good stewards of the various graces of God. If anyone is speaking, speak as oracles of God; if anyone is ministering, minister as from the strength which God is supplying; that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ: to whom is the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.  (1 Peter 4:10-11 MLV)

This is a very radical scripture, with a simple message: we must be careful, as “stewards” of the exceedingly precious grace (divine influence) of God, to not let anything carnal/fleshly/natural mix in with the spiritual, because God is increasingly glorified as flesh is increasingly absent.  It may sound easy to walk like this, and it can be, but it’s also costly.  Many of us must learn to embrace humility, long-suffering, and even a “carrying of the cross.”

The more we’ve built ministries, emotional attachments, habits, and lives on non-spiritual foundations, the more we stand to lose if and when these foundations are destroyed. I recall reading of a man heavily involved in a certain religion who began to realize that the teachings of his religion were not true – a very difficult thing to see and accept when your belief system has permeated your entire life and world, as his had.  Being very troubled by this, he went to one of his religious leaders and expressed his doubts and the reasons for them.  This leader essentially responded: “I know the church’s teachings aren’t necessarily true, but still, we promote and practice many good things, and think of what you have to lose. Stay in the church anyway!”  This is an example of what can happen if one builds extensively on a “mixed” foundation of flesh and spirit.

As I detach from religion and fear, the clearer I see just how foolish it is to resist new ways and understandings from the Spirit. The last time I checked, the Kingdom of God is so much bigger than us – bigger than our individual approval, individual comfort, or our individual anything!  Isn’t the Kingdom of God about God?  About His will being done on earth as in heaven, about magnifying, honoring and glorifying Him, instead of natural man?  In the passage at the top, Peter actually wrote that we are to minister pure Spirit so that God is glorified.  Isn’t the Kingdom and the way of Christ all about self-sacrifice, servanthood, and elevating others ABOVE yourself?  Wasn’t Jesus’ single new commandment to love each-another as ourselves, just like he loved us?   If so, then our individual selves are not really in the picture at all, and so realizing you have been deceived isn’t something to resist, but to celebrate!  It’s true many have a lot to lose by letting go of their religious ways, but if we are truly desiring, as Jesus did while on earth, that the will of God be done on earth as in heaven, then we will be EAGER to correct whatever has not been lining up with that desire.  Resisting new revelation of the Father’s heart and purposes only makes sense in the light of self-centeredness, which often hides behind religiosity and is empowered by disguised fear.  The religious desires to “do” or “be” are typically not from the Spirit, but from a selfish need to feel important or recognized, or on a fear-based obligation of some sort which the Spirit has no part in.  

One of religion’s subtle dangers is that it actually hinders the expression of divine love, because it’s emphasis on outward behaviors and “correct beliefs” allows one to feel justified without genuine Spiritual encounter or the expression of the Spirit’s love and Life.  Recently, I was talking with a friend about how, over the past several years, as our understanding of spiritual things would change and grow, we would gravitate toward different teachers and ministries.  Each time we thought we had “found it,” only to see later that flesh/Adam/carnal was still mixed in somehow (including in us).  Many of us have moved from church to church or ministry to ministry, but we have not moved from flesh to spirit.  In going from one mixture to another, we have changed expressions, but not substances.  That said, some of these changes may have been positive, with a little less flesh and a little more spirit present each time.  I suppose the main thing is that we remain humble and correctable.  I’m no one’s judge, nor do I condemn anyone – I just grieve at how the body of Christ, of which I am a member, has been deceived and hindered.

It seems that what has happened in many cases is, rather than admitting we’ve missed the boat, we have “moved the goalposts” and accepted the idea that the world and even the church is destined to get worse and worse until we’re “raptured.”  But this is not accurate, for so many reasons.  There is going to be a new earth, which I think is this same earth, only remade after the “fire” of God’s presence, as ministered by His people, has burned up what was founded in man.  We need, and I think are beginning to experience, a revolution within the so-called church.  I do see more and more that hard questions being asked, and if we are willing to accept the answers from the Spirit of God in a place of humility, then great things will happen.  Jesus’ own ministry was actually quite small, and he usually resisted those who tried to expand his following.  What seems good, and even what “gets results,” has NOTHING to do with the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom/Reign of God is nothing more or less than the will of God being known and done.  It’s HIS inward Life being expressed outwardly.  This is ONLY going to come as the body of Christ yields to Christ it’s head.  I can tell you this – when the body of Christ stewards and pours out only pure Spirit on a global scale, it will look far, far, different from Christianity and all the other religions we see today.

Let’s determine to value the expression of God’s Life above even our religions, friends, and families.  Not that we disown those who don’t agree with us, but that walking in agreement with the Spirit takes precedence over agreement with anyone or anything else.  Let’s not put our own ideas or ways into anything, even if this means we go “radio dark” for a while, ceasing all religious activity and waiting upon God.  Did you know that when God revealed Himself to Paul, who was a deeply ingrained scholar of Judaism, he went into obscurity for several years to commune with Him before beginning his ministry?  This isn’t to give a formula for everyone, but for many of us, something similar is probably needed – a “detox” of sorts.  

Again, let’s not go by appearances or canned reasonings, let’s not just parrot what we are familiar with, but let’s allow the spirit be the spirit.  Maybe His ideas and ways are different from ours.  In that way, and only in that way, can Jesus Christ truly be glorified and the Reign (Kingdom) of God truly begin to materialize on earth.  Amen!

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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The Fire of God’s Mercy

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(1 Corinthians 3:15 MLV):  “If the work of anyone will be burned, he will forfeit that work; but he himself will be saved; but so as through fire.”

~~~

For years now, I’ve wanted to look a closer look at hell and the afterlife, but haven’t felt led to do so.  I try only to write things which are fresh and meaningful, which I feel the Spirit is speaking to me about at the time.  I also try to write primarily of things I’m certain I’ve been shown and avoid much speculation.  That said, I admit I do not know everything about what happens after death, or how things are all going to play out.  All I intend to do here is share one “clue” I recently noticed which is related to “the afterlife.”  I’m sure it is not the whole picture.  I’m also working on a second post which delves a bit deeper, which I hope to publish in the next couple weeks.  I’ll allow and wait for the Spirit to fill in the blanks, to me or others, as He sees fit.  

What I want to look at here is the concept of “destruction;” a term the Bible uses to describe the fate of wickedness or evil.  When trying to get a feel for what the Bible has to say about a subject, I have found it helpful to take the clearest statements first, and use those to help interpret the more vague or confusing things.  With that in mind, as I’ve read the New Testament, the clearest thing I see about the fate of evil men and wickedness is this: they will be destroyed.  Numerous scriptures speak emphatically (though differently) of this destruction.     

While the idea of destruction seems simple enough, it’s actually not.  First of all, the English word “destroy” or some variant of it is used in English translations of the Bible, such as the KJV, to translate around 5 different Greek words, all which have different meanings.  Not only that, but the same Greek word may be translated “destroy” in one place, and something very different in another.  This is why looking at the Greek words is often very helpful to get a better understanding of what the Biblical writers intended.

The most common Greek word translated “destroy” is apollumi.  While “destroy” is a decent translation, apollumi can also mean “to remove,” “to lose,” “to render useless,” and things like that.

Here is one scripture which uses this word, which is often used to support the claim that Jesus taught about and warned of an eternal torment in hell: 

Matthew 10:28 MLV: And do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy (apollumi) both soul and body in hell.”

You’ll notice Jesus didn’t say “eternally torture,” but destroy; a very different idea!  However, even if you think Jesus was referring to eternal torment in this statement, consider these scriptures as well:

  • Matthew 10:5-6 MLV:  “Jesus sent forth these twelve apostles and commanded them, saying, Do not go into any road of the Gentiles and do not enter into any city of the Samaritans; but go rather to the lost (apollumi) sheep of the house of Israel.”

  • Matthew 16:24-25 MLV“Then Jesus said to his disciples, If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and lift up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life, will lose (apollumi) it and whoever loses (apollumi) his life because of me, will find it.” 

  • 2 John 1:7-8 MLV:  “Because many misleaders have entered into the world, those who are not confessing Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the misleader and the antichrist. Look to yourselves, that you should not destroy (apollumi) the things which we have worked in you, but that we may receive a full reward.

  • 1 Corinthians 8:10-11 MLVFor if anyone sees you, (you who has knowledge), reclining at a table in an idol’s sanctuary, will not his conscience, being weak, be built up to eat idolatrous-offerings? And the weak brother will perish (apollumi) on account of your knowledge, but Christ died because of him.

So, this word apollumi, which continues to be taught as describing an eternal torture in a lake of fire, is also used to record Jesus’ description of Israel in his day, as well to describe the “losing” of their life his followers MUST experience in order to find true Life!  Not only that, but the apostle John used it to warn his readers that by following deceptive ways they could “destroy” the things the Spirit had worked in them, and the apostle Paul used it to describe what can happen to a weaker brother when one with a more mature knowledge of the gospel does something to violate his conscience.  

So here’s a thought: maybe, just maybe, men have read into and taught certain scriptures about “hell” based on their preconceived ideas, their fears, and their own mind, rather than seeking truth impartially, and ultimately by waiting for revelation from the Spirit himself.  Doubt it?  Well, don’t you think that’s exactly what many other Christian denominations have done?  Jehovah’s Witnesses?  Seventh Day Adventists?  Catholics?  Baptists?  Pentecostals?  On and on and on?  No one has all the truth, and no one is immune to deception.  

So what DOES apollumi refer to?  It’s meaning seems fairly broad, but it appears to primarily refer to loss and lack

With that in mind, let’s look at the above verses again.  In Jesus day, the house of Israel was apollumi – they lacked the understanding and apprehension of the fullness of the covenant of promise God had made with Abraham.  Those who would follow Jesus were (and are) to apollumi their own life – their ignorant, fearful, and selfish ways and thoughts, in order to begin to walk in the life of the Spirit.  Those who are mislead by false teachers and teachings can apollumi, or lose/harm, the things the Spirit had begun to work in them.  Those who violate the conscience of a weaker brother can cause that brother to be apollumi – to stumble and lose progress on the path of Truth and Light. 

I believe apollumi is the general idea given in scripture for what awaits ALL wickedness – not just “unbelievers,” but wickedness in general, including what remains of perversion and carnality in myself and other believers.  It seems to me that the more we have clung to inward and outward ways which are not based on the Spirit of love and truth, the more apollumi we will have to undergo to truly live in the Kingdom of God.  For some, once apollumi has taken place, there will be little left, maybe even nothing left in some cases.   Am I talking about “purgatory?”  I don’t know.  Maybe something like that, although certainly not exactly as taught by the Catholic church. 

Here’s some food for thought: In Matthew 13, when Jesus speaks of the word of God falling into good soil and producing a crop of either 30, 60, or 100-fold, perhaps these various measures are dependent on the amount of apollumi the heart has undergone.  In 1 Corinthians 15, when Paul speaks of differences of glory within the resurrection, perhaps those with greater glory have undergone the greater apollumi during their time on earth.  Maybe, the “lake of fire” mentioned in the highly symbolic book of Revelation isn’t a physical lake at all, but is a metaphorical “fire” which facilitates apollumi upon those who have resisted it.  Maybe some who had become entirely wicked are fully destroyed, I don’t know.  I’m not trying to explain everything, but hopefully give some food for thought and a new way of seeing.  We so want “justice” for wickedness, and “punishment” for sin, but it seems we want it more in others than in ourselves!  I believe apollumi is always difficult and painful to some extent, but it seems likely to me to be much more so when one has resisted it.  

I believe God is merciful and good, just as Jesus was.  I do not believe He has arranged things where anyone will experience eternal torture, no matter who they are, even if they have not believed the right things.  I also do not think Jesus’ death was insufficient to atone for ALL sin.  I do, however, believe that wickedness MUST and WILL be burned away – apollumi is unavoidable for us all.  However, it is to be embraced, not resisted, because it isn’t God’s wrath, but His mercy!  From what I see, apollumi isn’t simply punishment to get “justice” nor is it as simple as death or “destruction.”  It is nothing more or less than the way to Life!  Life is permanent, death is not.

By the way, I believe apollumi may well result in one becoming LESS religious, not more.  It will result in the realization of union with God, seeing men according to the spirit and not the flesh, becoming more others-focused and servant-hearted, more compassionate, more wise and bold and loving and peaceful.  If you want this, then you must apollumi your old understandings or ways.  What is of God will survive the fire, and what isn’t will simply burn away.  Amen!

Mark 9:47-49 MLV: “And if your eye offends you, cast it out. It is good for you to enter into the kingdom of God one-eyed, rather than having two eyes, and to be cast into the hell of fire,  where a maggot of them is not dying and the fire is not quenched.  For everyone will be salted with fire and every sacrifice will be salted with salt.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

The Judgment of Eternal Life

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(John 5:19-22 NKJV): “Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.  For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.  For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son…”

(John 12:31-32 NKJV): “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.  And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

In this post, I would like to look closer at the idea of “judgment,” which is one of several concepts men have understood and taught from a place of shallowness, fear and self-focus rather than from the peace and wisdom of the Spirit.  We have to understand that in the Greek language, the word “judgment” means “to separate, to choose, to decide, to make a distinction.”  Today, we tend to associate judgment with condemnation and punishment, but while God’s judgment can include these things, it’s still different than what we typically think.  In John 5:19-22, when Jesus says the Father has committed all judgment to the son, he wasn’t saying the Father was commissioning His son to condemn or punish the world.  In fact, Jesus said he came to do the exact opposite! (John 3:17).  Look again – Jesus said that he only does what he sees his Father do.  He then says the Father “raises the dead and gives life to them” and that the son does the same, because the Father has “committed all judgment to the son.”  The Father’s judgment, the way He makes a distinction among people, which He has administered through His son, is to “raise the dead and give life to them.”  That is what happened at the cross.  Now, this raising from death to life is isn’t primarily a physical one, but a spiritual.  Generally speaking, death = the mind and life of natural man/Adam, and life = the mind and life of the Spirit of God.  

Here are a couple examples:

  • 1 John 3:14 ASV: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not abideth in death.”

  • Romans 5:17 ASV: “For if, by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; much more shall they that receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, even Jesus Christ.”

  • Romans 8:6 ASV: “For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace…”

In the passage from John 12 at the top, Jesus knows he is about to go to the cross.  He says that in his crucifixion and resurrection, the “judgment of this world” would be made, the “ruler of this world” cast out, and “all peoples drawn” to himself.  So, the judgment of the world took place at the cross, 2,000 years ago.  Then and there, God rendered His judgment of life toward mankind, going both forward and backward in time.  God’s judges the world by ending death and pouring out His Life through His son.  Now, it’s true that not all will receive or walk in this new Life while in these mortal bodies, and I’m not even sure all are able to.  But those things are another subject.

I think it’s also important we understand that this eternal life which God has judged upon us is not primarily eternal in the sense of “never-ending,” but eternal in the sense of quality and nature.  John 17:3 (MLV) records Jesus saying this: “And this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you did send.”  Eternal life is knowing the Father and the Son – not in a mental sense, but in the sense of receiving and participating in their life and union.  Remember in John 4, where Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well?  As they sat by the well together, Jesus said this to her: “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”1  This eternal life is to be springing up from within, right now, and is found in a current knowing of the Father and Son.  These and other scriptures make it clear that whatever this eternal life is, it’s for now, not just the future.  

Finally, let’s briefly think about what is meant by “life.”  I think, at its core, life is about having consciousness and the ability to use energy.  Jesus famously said that to gain this eternal life, we must lose OUR life.2  I believe he meant this: “in order to partake of and abide in the life of God, we have to be willing to let go of the death we have called life – all the beliefs and pursuits that have their foundation in fear, selfishness, and ignorance.  (This speaks more about letting go of our previous religious beliefs and practices than anything else!)  Really, this isn’t that controversial.  It only makes sense that light and darkness, love and selfishness, spirit and religion cannot co-exist.  As we embrace this eternal life and allow it room to spring forth from within us, we will find ourselves freely wanting to love and serve others, difficult as it may be.  We will begin to let go of what hinders the expression of this eternal Life within us – not out of guilt or obligation or fear, but freely, because our very nature wants to.  Our walk with God won’t be about “seeing results” so much as it will be about being faithful and walking in the Spirit.  And although this new Life is often difficult, it’s also full of glory, hope, and beauty.  We also have the promise that as the Reign of God comes to earth, pain and crying and tears will pass away, forever.  I think this is a long way off in human years, but the only way it’s coming is through the sons and daughters of God walking in the Spirit.  Not just in “miracles” but in wisdom, insight, love, and truth.

I’ve often thought that if I’m going to suffer, it better be for something worthwhile, and to me, nothing is more worthwhile than helping establish the reign of God on earth, partaking of and ministering His grace, truth, reconciliation and love to the world.  I still feel I’m just getting started and I still have days I feel far from these things…maybe I’ll always feel that way, but I intend to keep going!  God bless you.

 

  1. John 4:13-14 NKJV

  2. Mark 8:35

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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