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Why I Don’t Believe in Eternal Hell, pt. 3: The Gospel of the Kingdom

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In two recent posts, I have outlined several reasons I don’t believe in the idea of “eternal conscious torment.”  The two most prominent ones I discussed are: first, because I find “eternal torment” to be starkly contradictory to the teachings and practices of Jesus (who we are told is the exact representation of the Father), and second, because the Bible’s uses of the word “hell” NEVER meant an afterlife destination of torment in the first place – in fact, the Greek word consistently translated “hell” actually means a valley near Jerusalem which many believe was used to burn trash and dead bodies.  In this third post, I’d like to look at the issue from another angle: if there is no eternal hell, then why did Jesus die?  What are we saved from?  What is the gospel?

I doubt you’ll be shocked to learn I do NOT think the gospel of Christ has anything to do with believing in Jesus to avoid hell or gain entrance into heaven when we die, and I don’t  think the scriptures, interpreted properly and looked at fully, support that idea at all.  I believe the “gospel” is all about the establishment of the KINGDOM of God – that is, the heart and way of God, based on love and unity, being recognized and received among the “elect,” then declared and ministered until in the ages to come it spreads over the earth.  That is true “good news” for ALL men, as the angels proclaimed at Jesus’ birth!  

Here is the first use of the word “gospel” in the New Testament: 

  • Matthew 4:23 ESV: “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” 

Do you see that?  In healing diseases and afflictions, in ministering Life and giving hope to the downtrodden, Jesus was embodying the Kingdom.  That is, he was making manifest the heart of God – the love and restorative justice and kindness that are at the core of who God is (and which is the opposite of what the law was).  Prior to this, most people in Israel (which are the ones Jesus was sent to, by the way), were totally immersed in the law of Moses, and were hindered from experiencing God on a deeper level by the “religious leaders” who used the law for their own status and profit.  The law was harsh and unbending, and these religious leaders, often referred to in the Bible as “pharisees” and “lawyers,” were blind and corrupt.  The Good News that Jesus came declaring and ministering had to do with being freed from this law and those who tried to selfishly enforce it, and to begin instead to commune with God in spirit and truth and freedom.  Glory!

It’s also interesting that Jesus and the apostles proclaimed the gospel BEFORE Jesus died on the cross.  How?  Because the gospel isn’t what so many of us were taught in western Christianity!  Here’s one of a few passages that shows this:  

  • Luke 9:1-6 ESV: “And he (Jesus) called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.  And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.  And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.”  And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.”

Just what do you think this “gospel” was that the disciples were preaching while Jesus was still with them?  One thing is for sure: they weren’t preaching anything about Jesus’ death as an atonement for sin enabling us to go to heaven, because scripture records they found out Jesus was going to die on a Roman cross much later, and they were horrified and dismayed by the news!  Peter actually tried to prevent Jesus from going to the cross and was rebuked by Jesus himself, who called him satan (see Matthew 16:21-23)!  No, it seems clear to me that what they were proclaiming was exactly what they had seen and heard Jesus proclaiming: “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”  The miracles and healings were both confirmation and manifestation of the Kingdom itself – proof that God was FOR men, not against them like the law often was.  Repentance has to do with seeing God as Father rather than “Judge” and accepting one’s sonship, letting go of contradictory mindsets and behaviors formed from fear and self-preservation. 

If you read some of the apostles’ messages in the book of Acts, you can see them declaring that through the messiah Jesus Christ, there was no need to go to temples built by human hands to worship God, and there was no need to look to priests to minister to God on one’s behalf (see 1 John 2:27 to see this declared plainly).  There was also no need (and never really had been) for animal sacrifices, because one perfect sacrifice had been made for all.  The gospel was (and is) that rather than reaching out to God through outward observances, God has come to us in His son to show us what He is like.  For the Jews, they were also told that soon the entire law-and-temple system would be taken away, once and for all (which happened when the curtain in the temple ripped from top to bottom and the Romans tore down the temple to the last stone).  

The apostle Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament and whose writings are read all over the world each Sunday, was not among the initial twelve disciples, yet he also understood the Kingdom (again, the heart of God expressed on earth) as the central component of the gospel.  He wrote, among other things: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking (outward observances) but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  I’m not meaning to minimize the cross of Christ.  Paul had a greater view of the cross than any other author of scripture, and wrote about its meaning in tremendous depth and mystical truth in several places, such as Romans 6.  Yet even Paul seems to have understood that the cross was part of the larger purpose of the Kingdom of God. 

I see the cross more as a demonstration and result of the gospel, rather than the gospel itself.  Assuming this is true, and the “gospel” is about the Kingdom/rule/way of the Spirit of God being received inwardly and lived out on the earth, the question still remains of why Jesus “had” to suffer and die, and what it is we are “saved” from.  I think I will save those questions for my next post, so I hope you’ll check back.  God bless you!

 

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Posted by on February 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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More on the Kingdom

If we believe that the Biblical phrases “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of Heaven” refer to the same thing (which I think is essentially true), then we can draw some important conclusions.  First, I’ll briefly try to show why I think these phrases are often, if not always, synonymous.

In Matthew 19:23-24, Jesus uses both phrases when speaking of the same thing.  He says:  “‘assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’”  Matthew 4:17 records Jesus’ first words after beginning his ministry as: “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Mark 1:15 records these same words as: “…the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”  These examples show that “Kingdom of Heaven” and “Kingdom of God” often, if not always, refer to the same thing.

Interestingly, the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” is only found in Matthew’s gospel.  Some say this is because Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience, and was respecting the Jews’ tradition of using the name of God as sparingly as possible, using the word “heaven” instead.  The terms God and heaven aren’t as different as they might seem, since the writers of scripture understood “heaven” NOT as a specific place believers go, but as something like: “the higher ways of the divine, based on love and unity,” as opposed to the lower ways of natural man.  In that sense, “heaven” is not a “place” we will go to, but a spiritual life/power/realm which first comes to us and to which we then can begin to conform.

So having established that, (for those who are willing and able to hear it), I want to briefly share and expound on something that came to me while I was half-asleep and still in bed a few days ago.  Maybe it’s unusually profound, maybe not, but I want to get it down and share it.

Luke 17 (NKJV): 20 Now when Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” 

The pharisees, that is the religious leaders and scholars and experts of Jesus’ day, were often perplexed by Jesus.  I think they probably felt toward Jesus both curiosity and interest, and jealousy and resentment.  They would often ask him questions, sometimes to try to get him to make a “mistake” that they could expose.  In this passage, they are asking him when the Kingdom – that is, the reign, of God would come.  They expected that it would come in some sort of a violent overthrow of the existing political powers, and be established as a physical and domineering hierarchy, with Jews at the top.  STill today, most Christians look for Jesus to return and physically kill and overthrow those they view as “wicked.” 

However, what Jesus told them was very different than they expected. He told them to quit focusing on things that can be outwardly observed, because the rule and reign of God won’t arrive that way.  Instead, he taught that the rule and the reign of God -that is, the establishment of his Kingdom – is first and foremost invisible, inward, and spiritual.  What what may be going on in the outward world which we can “observe” is a separate issue (though not a trivial one).  Sadly, in our day and age, few have heeded this truth that Jesus was sharing.  Although the Roman government remained largely brutal, and the religion of the Jews remained corrupt and murderous, Jesus was saying that he walked in the Kingdom of God, and that anyone could do the same, by his Father’s grace, if they were willing. 

The primary thing I want to point out is that if, as Jesus said, the Kingdom of God is something spiritual and inward, then the same is true of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Remember, the two terms are interchangeable.  Despite this, most Christians are quite focused on “going to heaven” when they die…not realizing that Jesus said heaven is an inward kingdom, and that it is here and now that we are to begin to dwell in heaven.  Paul understood this as well, saying that we are “seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesusright now (Ephesians 2:6).

Yes, Jesus, the firstborn from the dead, is the one who made this possible.  Yes, it is in him that sins are forgiven, and in him that we are seated with God in heavenly places – RIGHT NOW.  I believe the sooner we realize this, realizing that heaven is a reign which has come to us, a reign characterized by radical love and mercy and forgiveness and reconciliation, the sooner we will begin to see these ways of heaven invade our lives, families, and world.  If we’re always waiting till later or till we die, we won’t expect or seek to establish and live in the Kingdom NOW.  But we have to!  Let’s bear with one-another, be patient and kind with one-another, until we all come to the unity of the faith and true maturity, that the body of Christ will truly rise and minister Life once again (Ephesians 4:13, Romans 5:17).  I am certain this will not be instant, elegant, or easy.  I am even more certain, however, that love will not fail as it eventually dissolves all things formed in the mind of man, all fear-based understandings and ways, and instead rejoices with the truth and abides in the Father through Christ to the ends of the earth, and even beyond.  Amen.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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The Suffering Servant

Sometimes, I will send a text to myself when I have a thought I don’t want to forget.  The following quote is an expanded version of one such text I sent myself while thinking about the nature of love:

Love is “unfair,”  in favor of the beloved.  Love looks like a suffering servant – it’s the strong bearing with the weak, it’s putting others above oneself, it’s choosing mercy instead of judgment, it’s speaking grace and life in the face of death.  Because love doesn’t “know after the flesh,”1 it cannot and does not react or respond; certainly not with evil.  Love, being founded in the nature of God Himself, CANNOT be changed or overcome.2   Love isn’t painful in and of itself, but until the world is matured and perfected, love must and will take the form of suffering servanthood.  We must know this: if the Kingdom/Reign of God (the expression of the nature and will of the Spirit) is ever to be manifested on earth, it must do so through the body of Christ on earth!  As such, those who are Christ’s cannot repay evil with evil – not even a slight evil with an even slighter evil.  As should be obvious, repaying evil with evil, violence with violence, anger with anger, selfishness with selfishness, insult with insult, etc. simply perpetuates evil.  To end this cycle, someone has to absorb blows and insults, without returning them.  Someone has to walk in a higher plane than reasonings and reactions based on ego and fear; demonstrating the nature of God by showing KINDNESS to those who are undeserving, by speaking truth and life in spite of persecution, by both proclaiming and demonstrating God’s nature and mind.  This, by the way, does not mean pointing out “sin” any time you see it.  Doing that is actually administering DEATH.  It means showing and offering Life.

As I’ve said many times before, I am optimistic for the future.  I am confident that death will be swallowed up by life, light will banish darkness, truth will prevail over lies, Christ will replace Adam, and love will overcome fear.  In fact, I am certain of these things, because I am certain that in Christ, from the foundation of the world, they have already been accomplished!  Time and space place inescapable constraints on flesh and blood, but they have no such constraint on Spirit, where the end is known from the beginning and both past and future are merely parts of one whole.  In the Spirit, death IS swallowed up by life, and love IS the foundation of all things.  Just how and when these things will manifest in time and space, I don’t know. But I am confident they will.  Now, I am very aware that there is much I don’t know!  I am just increasingly confident that Christ has fully prevailed, so therefore NOTHING can stop the manifestation of love and truth and Life!

It bears repeating: true love often involves suffering.  Love suffers because it absorbs the various abuses that stem from fear, ignorance, and unbelief, but never returns them.  Paul wrote that Christ’s body is to “overcome evil with good.”  Love overcomes evil in the same way that light overcomes darkness, and truth overcomes lies.  Love suffers yet overcomes, because it doesn’t change or cease when things are difficult or when opposition is strong.  Jesus, the greatest man to ever live, allowed himself to be abused, beaten to shreds and crucified by prideful religious fanatics and a callous military and political system – in order to save them all!

I’ll end with this: what if the “salvation” Paul wrote of has more to do with aligning ourselves with and then bringing the “Kingdom of God/Heaven” to earth than it does with going to “heaven” when we die!?  What if, as the body of Christ, WE are the only ministers of salvation this world has – a world that still remains in darkness and needs it!  What if love is the necessary foundation, without which any preaching is useless?  What if the way we minister this salvation is no longer primarily by “preaching,” but by sacrificial LOVING, even if that means physical death!  Are we willing, or willing to be willing?  Our Spirit is.

Be blessed my friends, thanks for reading.

 

 

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:16
  2. 1 John 4:7, 1 Corinthians 13:8
 
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Posted by on August 29, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Light and Darkness

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“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints…”  -Ephesians 1:17-18

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…”  -Ephesians 4:17-18

Most of still today relate to God through law, believing that it is primarily our behavior/obedience that determines our relationship with Him, although we don’t have much of an explanation for why He seems so inconsistent in when and who He punishes and seems to reward.  I have elaborated on this issue before, but for this post, suffice it to say I believe we relate to God in this way because we don’t understand the radical change that took place in moving from the Old to the New Covenant – radical enough to change the definition of “obedience.”  In the Old Covenant, obedience was about keeping laws, about doing and not doing the correct things.  In the New Covenant, obedience is about having a renewed mind and walking in the light and Life of the Spirit within us – all of which are impossible when law is in focus, because law fuels self-awareness, fear, and sin.  I’m not making this up by the way, it’s in your Bible!1

At the top, I quoted two passages from the writings of the apostle Paul, who wrote powerfully about the New Covenant.  In Ephesians 1, notice what he says is the key to know the hope of the God’s invitation to us, and to experience the riches of His glorious inheritance: enlightenment of the heart.   Notice also what he says in Ephesians 4 is the one thing that alienates men from the Life of God: darkness of the understanding.  Both, as is obvious, are not outward behaviors, but inward perceptions and ways of seeing.  I believe that if we humble ourselves and genuinely seek the Spirit of God to enlighten the eyes of our hearts, being willing to let go of our precious doctrines and religious ways, it will happen.  Scripture says whoever humbles themself will be given grace and sight.  It is a renewal of the eyes/perception of the heart that constitutes “repentance,” which Jesus and the apostles said is the essential starting point to live within the kingdom (will, rule and reign) of God.  

The law, which empowered sin, is fulfilled and gone.  It was put away, nailed to the cross and ended in Christ.  Therefore, sin, as we usually think of it, doesn’t exist.1  As I’ve said many times, the issue now isn’t to avoid bad behavior, but to receive an enlightened heart and understanding so that we may knowingly and willingly participate in the things of God.  This is even more important when you realize that only what is Spiritual in origin will stand the purification of fire and the shaking which ALL people and things will undergo.  I’m writing more about this right now.  Again, this doesn’t mean we become better at stopping bad things and doing good things.  This means we become new creations according to a new identity and Life, which are part of the nature/Spirit of God Himself that dwells within us.  We walk in a different realm, with a whole new perception of things, so to speak.

The way of Christ is this: to abide in light/reality and overwhelm darkness/imagination, to walk in the spirit and deny the flesh, to receive grace and abandon self-righteousness, to see by faith and blind the eyes of flesh, to love and not to resist/demand/expect, to taste of death so that others might taste of Life.  As I’ve said before, it’s a much, much higher way than simply avoiding bad behaviors.  It’s actually MORE demanding and radical, but also much more life-giving!

I hope you’ll check back soon.   Bless you all.

 

 

  1. Colossians 2:11-15 ESV: “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, (12) having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (All this already happened.  Your circumcision in Spirit, your burial and resurrection.  In Christ it’s all done, and you are in Christ).  (13) And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, (14) by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (15) He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

    1. Along these lines, you can see also Romans chapters 5-7.  Specifically you could look at 5:13, 5:20, 6:14, 7:5-8, along with 1 Corinthians 15:56.  Hebrews also says we were perfected forever (in God’s sight) by the one, single sacrifice of Christ, and that God remembers our sins and lawless deeds NO MORE.  This is the solid foundation for us to walk without consciousness of sin.  This is also in part because no law = no sin.  Sin as in the old covenant sense of “don’t do this or that.”  Just as sin was taken away, our “obedience” is different too now.  Obedience in the Greek language means “conformity.”  How can you conform/obey rules if there aren’t any?  In the New Covenant, obedience/conformity isn’t about adhering to a set of rules, but to one’s identity as a son of God, full of love and light, one who is enlivened by the Spirit and not the fear-based flesh. It’s all too easy to follow rules with a wicked heart.  The pharisees did it in Jesus’ day and many religious people still do the same today.  God has no desire for that.  He looks for those who walk as sons in love and in the light and power of His spirit, without worrying about their behavior at all.  

 
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Posted by on February 3, 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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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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Life and Death

tamme-lauri_tamm_suvel-oak-tree

You can’t focus on life and death at the same time. This applies to the upcoming election, the state of the world as a whole, or your individual life. If you’re focusing on what is wrong, bad, twisted, shameful, etc. (what I’m calling “death”), you cannot simultaneously focus on LIFE.

Am I saying pretend everything is great and things couldn’t be better? Not at all. Am I saying don’t vote? No. I’m saying get your focus on a higher realm, the Kingdom of God. I’m saying don’t be occupied with what is going on in the realm of “death,” that is, the realm that is not connected and aligning with the Spirit of God – whether politics, wars, your job, your natural family, or your own personal faults.

None of the above things can or do have ANY influence on the spiritual realm. What is of God cannot be changed, cannot be thwarted, cannot be affected by death. Darkness can NEVER dim light. It’s the other way around – light casts out darkness, instantly and effortlessly. Many of the things above remain in darkness, it’s true. That’s the only way they can remain the way they are. But why focus on darkness? And even worse, why try to get rid of darkness with more darkness (your own ideas, your own beliefs, your own efforts)?

This might sound “academic” or “detached,” but I don’t mean it that way at all. The Spirit of God is actually leading me to be more directly involved with people and situations in my surroundings. But I know enough to not do so from a place of frustration, trying to deal with things hastily and sloppily, as my “soul” tends to do. I want to approach everything and everyone from a place of hope and of love, based on the finished work of Christ and the Reign of God which has been established and is growing.

“You can curse the darkness or light a candle” is a bit cliche, but it’s true. The thing is, the only “light” we can truly offer is the Spirit within us, the spirit of love and joy and peace and righteousness. Approach EVERYTHING from there.

I pray we all have our mind and awareness in the reign (kingdom) of heaven more and more, until we are only aware of light even as we walk through a world that still contains darkness.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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