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Inevitable Fire and Solid Hope

deep-water

“For everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.”  Mark 9:49

“…he has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain. Therefore, receiving a Kingdom that can’t be shaken, let us have grace, through which we serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”  -Hebrews 12:26-29

A while back, a friend of mine said something that struck me as profoundly true: the “fire” spoken of many times in the New Testament is nothing other than the presence and being of God.  Let’s always remember, an essential part of who God is and what He does is “consuming fire.  In the end, the fire of God’s presence “shakes,” consumes and permanently ends all that is based on the fearful mind of man apart from the spirit, including all inward and outward selfishness, oppression, wickedness, falsehood, and perversion.  These are the “wood, hay and stubble” that Paul said are destined to burn up in fire.1  It can be no other way.  Wicked men won’t “burn forever” any more than wicked systems or institutions will.  Our God is not a torturing fire, He is a CONSUMING fire.  What can remain after undergoing such intense Fire?  Well, think about this: the only thing that no fire can consume is a fire like itself.

Jesus famously prayed that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven,2 and I think we can agree on two things: 1) This prayer is inevitably going to be fulfilled, and 2). This reality has not fully manifested yet, in time and space.  If it WILL be fullfilled, then all that remains to be seen is when and through whom.  When will the members of Christ’s body lay down the illusion of OUR valuable independent lives to receive and live by the Life of the Spirit?  Or, will the vast majority of us continue to fearfully oppose and resist the Spirit of the very God we claim to worship, while covering our hearts in the armor of fear, ignorance and pride?  Paul said the manifestation of God’s reign on earth  is characterized by “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”3  These qualities are only found when and where men follow Christ, loving one-another as themselves, where leaders are servants, the last are first, and meekness is recognized as strength.  The Kingdom is not merely “moral.”  It is LOVING – a far costlier way.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Romans 11:33-36.  In the ESV translation it says this:

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

All things are from God, through God, and to God.  Isn’t that amazing?  This is a solid hope: both the source and destination of the universe is God, who is love, light, spirit and consuming fire.  The fire must first consume, but love DOES win.  I refer to this as a “solid hope,” because in spite of whatever chaos and pain and lack of clarity we may find ourselves surrounded by, it remains true.  This solid hope is like a beacon in darkness, a northern star to navigate by.  It’s a truth to receive, build upon, and act in accordance with.  What it is NOT is an excuse to continue following the “flesh” down a path of selfishness and fear (even if masked by religion).  If we use divine truth as an excuse for the flesh, we are doubly guilty and awaiting God’s consuming fire to burn us and all we’ve built.  Even worse, living such a way contradicts and dishonors the Father.  

At the top, I quoted Jesus’ words in Mark 9:49, where he said we will ALL be salted with fire.  In context, Jesus was talking about hell and is clearly saying that ALL will undergo the fire of hell itself.  That alone should make us take another look at what we have thought “hell” is.  Everyone, at least at first, has desires, ambitions, motivations, fears, enjoyments, and whatever else, which have been kept away from God, knowing that if they are exposed, they will be consumed.  Well, I have news for us all: they will be exposed and consumed anyway!  If we willingly bring them to the light to be exposed and to the fire to be consumed and refined, we will become children of light and have less to hinder our progress along path of righteousness, and we will not have to be burned by force later.  This is largely what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 11:31, when he wrote: “But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.”  

I am speaking to myself as much as to anyone – keeping in mind the inevitability of Fire, let’s allow it to burn away our chaff and wickedness now.  Again, this isn’t about “sin,” but more about selfishness, fear, and ignorance.  Let’s let go of these and surrender to humility and love, following Paul’s counsel in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: “…do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Finally, think about this: not one single thing we can see with our physical eyes is eternal.  Nothing.  This simply means we should treat the physical world as transient and, in a sense, illusory, valuing and devoting ourselves much more fully to things which we can only see with the eyes of our hearts, things of the Spirit realm which won’t end, such as love, peace, joy, compassion, healing, kindness, faithfulness, self-denial, gentleness, righteousness, patience, faithfulness, truth, etc.  This is how Jesus lived, and all who will follow him as a Son of God will devote themselves to these things as well.  

Thank you for reading. 

  1. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15
  2. Matthew 6:10
  3. Romans 14:17
 
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Posted by on February 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Origin vs. Appearance (Progress is Perfection pt. 1)

flower fire

There is very often a selfish motivation behind our service to God.  This becomes evident when one realizes that any way you cut it, self (aka “flesh”) is the primary concern and aim behind a mentality which consists of fear of punishment or desire for reward.  Because God has no dealings with flesh, having ended it at the cross in Jesus Christ, the gospel of His son negates this “reward and punishment” system completely.  So rather than serving God fearfully or selfishly, or trying to make the flesh better when God has rejected it completely, let’s try to start from the ground up in understanding how to walk in the Spirit and please God.

I think one of the hardest things for many believers to see and accept is what Jesus meant when he said in John 3:6: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  Understanding this foundational truth will tend to WRECK a religious person’s whole world, which may be why it’s rarely given a thorough examination by those who earn their living preaching and teaching (and thus rarely thought about by believers who follow these people).  As Upton Sinclair once said: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”  

To me, the essence of this statement by Jesus is that the origin of something determines its permanent state – either flesh (the mind and heart of natural man), or the spirit (the mind and heart of God).  Men tend to wrongly label as “spiritual” things which appeal to sight or reason – things which seem good and sensible and efficient and useful.  However, all of these things may actually originate in the heart and mind of man, and according to Jesus, will always be flesh and thus of zero spiritual value, being dead and worthless to God.  Jesus said in John 6:63: “It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing.”  Similarly, something which may appear strange or bad or inefficient or useless may actually be born of the spirit of God and thereby full of life and glory.

Think about it – hasn’t God always worked in ways contrary to men?  Does it really seem logical or “good” to save the world by sending your son as a baby, who will grow into a man, live a life of obscurity, suffering and persecution, and then be humiliated, tortured and murdered?  Does that really seem to be the best way to cultivate the salvation of mankind?!  I don’t think any sane person would come up with or condone such a plan.  Those who look at things according to the flesh still see this plan of God as utter foolishness. What’s amazing is God set up such a foolish plan on purpose. 

In 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, Paul wrote this: 

“For the word of the cross is folly (foolishness) to those who are perishing (those in the flesh), but to us who are being saved (those in the spirit) it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (The wisdom and ways of God/spirit are opposed and seem foolish to the wisdom and ways of man/flesh). For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, (God designed it so that the wisdom of men would not be able to discern spiritual truth!) it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles (a message which the natural man/flesh can not accept), but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 

Again, what Paul is saying is God DESIGNED it so that the fleshly mind will never perceive wisdom or truth in the foolish message of “Christ crucified.”  Why?  Because even in simply believing, God will not have any flesh to take part.

If you or I want to start walking the way of Christ, one good place to start is to begin thinking in terms of origin (flesh or spirit, Adam or Christ) instead of appearance (good or bad, useful or useless, efficient or inefficient).  Doing so isn’t always easy, and I’m certainly not saying I have mastered this myself.  Yet I want to walk in the spirit, I want  to help establish the reign of God instead of the reign of man (which includes religions like Christianity).  Don’t you?  However, do we really think this won’t require any drastic changes, diligent seeking, or hardship?  Have we somehow thought that our particular religious upbringing or group, unlike the thousands of others, is the correct one?  Do we really think we are immune to deception still?  WRONG!  We have to repent, over and over.  These things will be a process, and not always an easy one.

Now, I’m not saying we should be constantly examining every little thing we or others do or say, fearful about whether it’s pleasing to God or not.  Like I said earlier, the mentality of “reward and punishment” is entirely fleshly anyway, and plenty of fleshly things are fine and even necessary right now.  What I’m saying is simply that we need to be mindful that no matter appearances or feelings, only what is born (originates from) the spirit (divine nature of God, His essence) will remain and have worth.  The rest, including the vast majority of the religious thinking and activity and that encompass the world today, is the “wood, hay and stubble” that is being and will be burned up1 by the fire that IS God!2 

Hard as this may be to accept, the most dangerous things are those things which are born of flesh but claim and appear to be spirit.  This is primarily the majority of religious teaching and practice all over the world.  It is these often pleasant or inspiring things which deceive ignorant3 souls into wasting their energy on things that will be burned up.  This is what Jesus was referring to when he said in Matthew 6:23: If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!  What he meant is if what you know as “light” (spiritual truth/understanding) is actually darkness (things born of flesh/man), you’re actually in a deeper, more powerful state of darkness.  These souls who cling to things born of flesh, I believe, will be saved, but “so as through fire.”4  That’s not a light thing.  And the souls who know better but continue to label flesh as spirit and influence others to do the same…well I don’t want to be there, that’s for sure.  

Finally, I believe what 2 Peter 3:10 (and 1 Corinthians 3 below) discusses is actually beginning now: But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”  This is actually a very telling passage, which I wrote more about here.  It’s referring to spiritual things, not physical.  The “elements” aren’t things like carbon or iron, and the “works” in the earth aren’t physical structures.  This is literally saying that the “day of the Lord” is a day of purification by fire (i.e. the presence of God), and will ultimately consume and destroy EVERYTHING that is founded on flesh instead of spirit.  That might include some physical things, but more than anything this day will destroy man-originated doctrines, ideas, religions, power structures, etc.  And if someone’s whole inward life is founded on flesh, all that will be burned up too!  Read the link above for more evidence of this.  It’s actually quite plain if you have ears to hear and eyes to see.

God bless you guys.  The spirit once told me, clearly and out of the blue: progress is perfection.”  One thing essential to (or even the same as) progress is purification.  By it’s very definition, purification is a process of removal; identifying and getting rid of things which aren’t desirable, so that only the desirable (spirit) remains.  That sounds a lot like 2 Peter saying that in the day of the Lord “the elements will be dissolved with fervent heat.”  It’s going to burn, bad, if you have chosen to hold to things of flesh/Adam, instead of humbling yourself, repenting, and letting them go.  Read the link above!  God bless you.

  1. 1 Corinthians 3:12-13 WEB (R)):  “But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or stubble; each man’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself will test what sort of work each man’s work is.” 

  2. Hebrews 12:25: “For our God is a consuming fire.” 

  3. 1 Corinthians 12:1: “Now concerning spiritual things, brothers, I don’t want you to be ignorant.”  Ephesians 4:17-18: “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts;

  4. 1 Corinthians  3:15 WEB (R)):  “If any man’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, but as through fire.”

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Elementary

five-elements-379106_640

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore since all these things will be destroyed like this, what kind of people ought you to be in holy living and godliness, looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, which will cause the burning heavens to be dissolved, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?”1

A friend of mine on Facebook (hey Rob!) recently posted some comments on the verses above, which stirred up some things in me. He noted that this passage is speaking primarily, if not exclusively, of the destruction of everything that has its origin or foundation in the blind nature and mind which mankind inherited from Adam.  THAT is what the arrival of the day of the Lord/day of God will destroy, and if you keep reading, I think you’ll see that to believe such isn’t as farfetched as it may sound.

First, let’s look at this statement: “the elements will be dissolved/melt with fervent heat…” If read in a physical sense, this is saying that the materials and minerals of the earth will reach such a high temperature that they will melt and dissolve, likely killing anyone unfortunate enough to be around while the earth melts beneath them.  No doubt thousands of sermons have been preached with that very understanding. But that’s a surface-level, physical understanding. Let’s look deeper, where the good stuff is.

The Greek word translated “elements” here is stoicheion. Would it surprise you to learn that in the other 5 places stoicheion is found in the Bible, it’s clearly NOT referring to anything physical? Stoicheion actually means the fundamental components or most basic parts of a system or way of operation. It is the basic “elements” of Adam’s fallen way of perception and operation that will be destroyed by “fervent heat” and thereby help usher in the Kingdom of God on earth. I believe the fervent heat is actually God’s presence, like Hebrews states: “Therefore, receiving a Kingdom that can’t be shaken, let us have grace, through which we serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”2 Our God isn’t just a fire, but specifically a consuming fire, which melts and dissolves whatever isn’t refined and pure (that is, whatever remains of Adam’s corrupt, fallen nature and way).

Here are the other 5 uses of stoicheion in the New Testament:

  • “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements (stoicheion) of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Galatians 4:3-5 KJV)
  • “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles (stoicheion) of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years!” (Galatians 4:9-10 ESV) -One of the fundamental “elements” of Adam’s fallen world is to relate to God through fear and law. This is one of the “elements” that is being melted and dissolved by the arrival of the day of the Lord.
  • “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles (stoicheion) of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food…” (Hebrews 5:12 ESV)
  • “Be careful that you don’t let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements (stoicheion) of the world, and not after Christ.” (Colossians 2:8 WEB (R))   -It’s really plain here what stoicheion refers to: the “vain” mind and way of natural man, who inherited Adam’s spiritual death and continue to live there.
  • “If you died with Christ from the elements (stoicheion) of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to ordinances, ‘Don’t handle, nor taste, nor touch…’” (Colossians 2:20-21 WEB (R))

Much more could be said, and much more remains hidden, at least to me. But I think and hope this short look will challenge your way of thinking and help bring you into line with things as God knows them to be. Once the spirit of God reveals the spiritual nature of the scriptures and of God’s present and future plan for mankind, the real journey begins. Don’t be afraid to change your way of understanding when new light is revealed – that’s what repentance is, and it’s essential. I love you all in Christ; God bless you.
1. 2 Peter 3:10-12 WEB (R)
2. Hebrews 12:28-29 WEB (R)

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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