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Knowledge Beyond Knowledge, Strength Beyond Strength

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Ephesians 314 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

As I was reading this amazing prayer of Paul recently, I noticed the a paradox, in which Paul prays for the Ephesians to “know” the love of Christ which “surpasses knowledge.”  Paul also writes that this knowledge beyond knowledge would enable the Ephesians to be filled with “all the fullness of God,” which is another incredible statement I may look at in another post!  I think paradoxes often represent deep truths, so let’s look a bit closer.

As is evident here, Paul’s desire for the Ephesians was not primarily for “correct behavior,” but inward enlightenment and rich spiritual experience.  I believe Paul was very aware of perhaps the greatest deception of religion; namely that righteousness can be found in the flesh – that is, in proper behaviors and observances.  This emphasis on outward behaviors naturally leads to (among other errors) an emphasis on having a correct set of knowledge and “rules.”  In desiring the Ephesians to know a love which surpasses knowledge, Paul is saying he desires the Ephesians to devalue “mental assent” of facts, and instead to receive and walk in an inward, spiritual revealed knowing.  We can know facts about things, and we can know other things by inward experience and revelation…the latter is the way of the Kingdom of God.

Paul also desired the Ephesians to be “strengthened with might (power) through His Spirit in the inner man…”  This leads to the question: power for what?  For so many of us, our carnal minds and tenacious religious indoctrination lead us to continually see sin and temptation and the devil as our chief enemies.  Therefore, we automatically think any strength God may give will be so that we can resist these things.  However, you’ll notice not once in this passage does Paul mention or even imply any of these.

It seems to me Paul was praying the Ephesians would be strengthened with power through God’s spirit because it takes a divine touch and power, beyond mere human power, to break free (and to stay free) from the ways of the flesh, the most deceptive of which is religiosity!  By the same token, it takes a divine touch and power to grow up in the divine nature, knowing (connecting with in a deep way) a love which surpasses knowledge and living that love out in the midst of darkness.  Let’s not forget, this power has already been provided – we simply must connect with it and let go of the old (repent) to walk in it.  If this is fulfilled, and we see believers begin to walk in spiritual knowledge, empowered to let go of religion and to suffer whatever loss is necessary, and to literally become the “body of Christ” and stones making up the temple of God, then the church and then the world will be so much more amazing and glorious than we can imagine.

What I see beginning is an exposure, weakening, and removal of those things which have masked themselves with spirituality and love, but are founded on selfishness and carnality.  The greatest deception is darkness and selfishness masked with light and good (perhaps with Bible verses).  I include most traditional “churches” in this category, but it’s far bigger than that.  I don’t know how gradual or sudden this weakening and destruction might be, but I see it beginning already.  The foundations and motivations of all things WILL be exposed in God’s time1 (which takes no concern for our natural lifespans), and only what is truly Spiritual will remain.  Right now, that’s not very much of what we see, but it’s there and it’s growing.  As I said last time, since everything that is not Spirit in origin will be consumed anyway, let’s not be afraid to question, to go a different way, to be radically different from the ways of flesh altogether, whether the extreme of religious devotion or hedonistic debauchery.  Love is its own way, and the Spirit goes where It will.  

Suffer now willingly in love, or suffer later by force, but know that in the end, love wins, God is good and we’re all heading there.  Take heart, let go of fearful self-preservation, and jump aboard what is inevitable and what, deep down, we all know is the way of righteousness.  Love, honor, humility, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, healing, truth…  

  1. 1 Corinthians 3:11-13

 

 

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Posted by on February 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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On Certainty, and Rightly-Grounded Assurance in Matters of Religion. By Isaac Penington, c. 1681

On Certainty, and Rightly-Grounded Assurance, in Matters of RELIGION

There is a witness of and from God in every conscience; which, in his light, power, and authority, witnesses for Him, and against that which is contrary to Him.

From this witness proceeds the true and well-grounded religion in the mind towards God: for this witness both testifes and demonstrates that there is a God, and also inclines the mind to desire and seek after the right knowledge and true worship of Him.

And those who keep to this witness, and wait upon God therein, are taught by it the true spiritual worship; the true and pure fear of the Most High; the faith which he gives to his saints; the love which is chaste and unfeigned; the hope which purifes the mind, and anchors it on the eternal rock; the meekness, patience, gentleness, humility, etc., which is not of man’s nature, but rather the gift of God, and the nature of the heavenly Giver.

And then, as for the exercises of religion, such as praying to the Father of spirits, hearing the heavenly voice, reading in the Spirit, and with the renewed understanding, singing and making melody in the heart (and also with the voice) to the Lord, as His life is felt, and the spiritual blessings and treasure received; all of these, and whatever else is judged necessary for the soul, are taught by this witness of God in the conscience, as the soul grows up in the light, Spirit, nature, and holy power thereof.

But now, when the Lord reaches to His witness in men, and is teaching their hearts by it, then the enemy, the other spirit, whose seat is in the other part, makes a noise there, to overbear the voice of God’s true witness. This enemy causes men to take up religion in another part, which is shallow, and reaches not to the depth and weight of truth, which is in the witness of God.

Thus the enemy stirs up reasonings, imaginations, and consultations about God and his worship; wherein he raises up the vain, shallow mind, which creates and brings forth something pleasing and suitable to the earthly understanding. The mind is then involved therein, and the heart also engaged in some such practices that may quiet and satisfy that part in men. For the religious ways that men take up in their reasonings and understandings, these satisfy their reasonings and understandings. And so they walk in their own light, and warm themselves by the fre of their own kindling. But none of this answers the witness of God in them.

Now from this part in man arises all the uncertainty, and doubts, and dissatisfaction about religion. And hence arise the opinions, and judgments, and reasonings, in the minds of men. Indeed, the best of men’s religion here is but an opinion or judgment, which the breath of God’s Spirit will shake and dissolve everywhere, sooner or later. All fesh is grass; and all the beauty of men’s knowledge, religion, and worship here, will wither like grass. All the buildings and churches that are raised here (however beautiful) are but Babylon, built by man’s understanding, by man’s knowledge, by man’s comprehension, by man’s wisdom, by man’s skill, and indeed in man’s will and time, and their standing, beauty, strength, and glory, is but from man, and in man’s day, and will fade away like a flower.

But the true certainty is the Day of God, from the light of his Spirit shining into man’s spirit, from God’s inward reaching to the heart by his power, and testifying his truth there. And against this all the powers of darkness cannot prevail. No, nor against that man that is kept in this. For it is the rock (the only rock) upon which the whole church is built, and which cannot fail to preserve every member of the church which is built upon it.

You then, who desire to come to certainty in religion, observe the way which is made manifest from God, which is this: mind the witness of God in thy heart, and come to, and build upon, the light thereof. Dwell not in reasonings; take not up your religion in reasonings of the mind; but pass through them, pass beyond them, into a light of a higher nature. Wait to know the birth which is from God, and the light which he gives to that birth. What is the birth? Is not the birth of and from the second Adam? And what is the heavenly birth’s light? Is it not the light of the second Adam? Is it not in nature and kind above the light of the frst Adam? Where is the seat of reasonings? Is it not the earthly mind, the fallen mind? Here lies man’s strength; here is man’s wisdom; here is man’s life. But the wisdom of Christ, the light of Christ, the life of Christ, the power of Christ, is a cross to man’s strength, wisdom, and life. The light of Christ discovers in it the enmity against God, crucifes it, slays it, brings it to nothing. And he that will become wise unto God, must become a fool unto all this, a child, a babe, entering the kingdom without this. He must remain there naked as to man’s life and light, and never more put it on.

Now observe (you that have understanding and true sense) the difference between the religion which God hath taught us, and led us into, and the religions of all men upon the earth besides. Our religion stands wholly out of that which all their religion stands in. Their religion stands in the comprehension, in a belief of a literal relation or description. Our religion stands in a principle which transforms the mind, wherein the Spirit of life appears to, and witnesses in the conscience concerning the things of the kingdom. We hear the voice, and see the express image of the Invisible One, and thus know things, not from an outward relation, but from their inward nature, virtue, and power. Yes, here (we must profess) we so know things, that we are fully satisfed about them, and could not doubt concerning them, though there never had been a word or letter written of them. Although it is indeed a great comfort, and sweet  refreshment to us, to read in Scripture the outward testimony of what we feel and enjoy inwardly. And in this our whole religion consists; namely, in the silence and death of the fesh, and in the quickening and fowing life of the Spirit. For he who is of the new birth, of the new creation, of the second Adam (the Lord from heaven), is as really alive to God, and as really lives to him in his Spirit, as ever he was really dead in trespasses and sins in the time of his alienation and estrangement from God.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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God’s Greatest Enemy? Not What You May Think…

“…And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

 “For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace: because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be…” (Romans 8:7-8)

These two passages are companions, speaking of the same thing. In Genesis, you have the serpent and his “seed” (descendants, offspring) at enmity with the woman and her seed.  Thousands of years later, Paul, who knew the Old Testament thoroughly, wrote of the fleshly mind being at enmity with God and the spiritual mind.

As I’ve discussed at some length recently, the mind of the flesh (also called the carnal mind or the natural mind), which Paul warns against, came into being in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and partake of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  You can immediately see it’s effects; in an instant they go from walking with God intimately and innocently to hiding from Him and covering themselves.  The mind of the flesh has been the prevailing and “default” mindset of all mankind since that time, leading to all kinds of wickedness, blindness, and religious foolishness. 

The serpent’s “seed,” meaning his descendants and offspring, are those who are filled with and led by the “mind of the flesh,” which again, is essentially just the natural, human mind.  In fact, I truly believe the “antichrist” is a corporate body composed of religious people who are ruled by the carnal mind, just as the body of Christ are those filled with the mind and life of Christ.  “Antichrist” refers to being opposed to Christ by a deceptive counterfeit anointing, not necessarily that which is blatantly or obviously opposed to Christ. Many think of the serpent as “evil,” but the scripture doesn’t say that.  It simply says he was crafty, cunning, and subtle. In fact, his temptation was to become aware of evil as well as good! In the same way, the mind of the flesh isn’t “evil” as we often think of it.  “Fleshly” or “carnal” simply refers to that which is 100% natural; to things that are human or earthly in origin, being non-spiritual and temporal. Physical things such as money, food, appliances, etc are fleshly, along with everything intangible that has it’s origin  in the heart and mind of man, not God. This would include all of man’s thoughts, ideas, motives, and desires.

So we see that much of what Christianity values and advocates is thoroughly fleshly. Three or four times in the first four verses of 1 Corinthians 3 alone, Paul referred to the Corinthian believers in Jesus as fleshly.  This is the very same Paul who wrote that the fleshly mind is enmity with God and the spirit!  The truth is, although the fleshly mind can be very religious, occupied with good, and believe in Jesus, it is and cannot be other than the enemy of God. God’s ways are not at all like our ways, nor His thoughts like our thoughts. As He sees, from a spiritual point of view, the fleshly, human mind is blind, rebellious, stubborn, and ignorant. It’s opinionated, devoid of wisdom, proud, and confident. It’s everything the spiritual mind isn’t. The fleshly mind is the primary, if not the only, enemy of God.  Even Satan has to answer to God as a tool He uses, but the fleshly mind is not so.  It was forbidden in the garden, brought death when inherited, has permeated all of mankind, and only in Christ can we be freed from it. The death that we are told we must experience in order to abide in Christ is, at least in part, the cessation of the fleshly mind as our means of perception and relation to God.

The “seed” or descendant of the woman is Christ and his body. In the garden, God referred to this seed as a “he;” an individual man who was to come. In God’s time, Jesus Christ came! and indeed bruised the head of the serpent. No longer did the serpents seed, the fleshly mind, have legitimate authority over mankind. But, the serpent’s seed wasn’t immediately or entirely eliminated, because God has in mind an entire group of people filled with the very life and spirit of Christ, constituting a corporate, worldwide body of Christ, who will inherit the Kingdom of God.  Paul said Christ is to be the firstborn among many brethren, that we are all members of his body, that we are to be filled with the life and spirit of Christ himself. 4  These are those called to be part of the true ekklesia, or church.  Christ’s body doesn’t consist of those who are called Christians or intellectually believe in him, but simply those who are filled with the spirit and life of Jesus Christ and being conformed to his image, regardless of title or creed.  May becoming spiritual and following Christ be our focus and goal, nothing else.

 
3). Genesis 2:17 
4). Romans 8:29, Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 12:27, 2 Corinthians 4:11, Colossians 3:3-4, Romans 8:9-11, 1 Corinthians 6:17.
 
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Posted by on December 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Covering of Fig Leaves, Pt. 1

*Credit to Dan Gochnour for some of the revelation here and challenging further study.

I’m coming to see that Jesus referenced the Old Testament more times and fulfilled more prophecies and types than most realize.  Sometimes he did so very subtly, such as in Mark 11: 12 On the next day, when they had left Bethany, he became hungry. 13 Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if perhaps he would find anything on it; and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And his disciples were listening.”

Ask yourself, why was this incident recorded? Was it just to show that Jesus was upset with a tree for failing to satisfy his appetite?  No, Jesus did this for the same reason he did everything – because the Spirit of God prompted him to.  Jesus was using natural things to illustrate a deeper spiritual reality, as he often did.  The truth is, everything Jesus said and did related to the spiritual realm at it’s core.

Some say the first time something is mentioned in scripture, a precedent is set for that particular idea which applies for the rest of scripture. I don’t know about that, but it’s interesting. The first reference of fig leaves in scripture is in Genesis 3, immediately after Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil:  (Genesis 3):  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings…

To understand what the fig leaf covering represents, you first have to see why Adam and Eve made these coverings to begin with.  Genesis mentions two trees specifically – the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which God forbade them to eat from, and the Tree of Life.  The Bible says the first thing that happened when they ate the fruit of the forbidden tree is their “eyes” openedThis is hugeThese obviously aren’t physical eyes, they are the “eyes” of the human soul.  Their opening is the source of man’s religious fixation.  The Bible calls soulish perception “carnality” or “fleshly.”  God sees all that is human, temporal, and non-spiritual, both of the physical (actions) and immaterial (beliefs, motives) realms, as fleshly and utterly worthless.

Genesis 2:9 says both the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life were “pleasing to the sight and good for food.” But, Genesis 3:6 adds one extra element to the tree of knowledge as Adam’s wife saw it; it was “desirable to make one wise.” Is wisdom bad? Were Adam and Eve foolish before eating from this forbidden tree?  No, of course not.  This wisdom which the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil imparts is human, soulish wisdom, which is based on reasoning, knowledge, cunning, and skill, and it makes one aware of self.  Eating from this tree will thus always hinder communion with God and entrance into His spiritual Kingdom (which Jesus said is within us), because when the soul’s eyes open, the spirit’s eyes shut.  Adam and Eve got more than they bargained for, essentially trading away spiritual innocence and life to get self-awareness and human reasoning, knowledge, cunning, and skill. If you think about it, Christianity has largely done the same since very shortly after Pentecost.

After they ate, we immediately see a tremendous difference in the relationship between God and Adam and Eve. When the eyes of their soul opened, they suffered the “death” that God had said would come – the death of their spirit, of their innocence.  God didn’t change, Adam and Eve’s perception changed.  This is so evident by their actions – right away, they covered themselves, hid, and were fearful.  For the first time, they became highly aware of self (“knew that they were naked”) and fearful.  Self-awareness is the foundation of human fear.  It caused Adam and Eve to perceive God as a fearful master to hide from and dress up self for, rather than a loving and trustworthy Father whose love and acceptance frees one from fear, shame, and pretense.

Here’s the progression of events in the garden:  ate fruit –> eyes were opened –> saw their nakedness –> became afraid –> made covering of fig leaves –> hid from God.  Here’s essentially what this means: dishonored God –> took on carnal perception –> became self-aware –> became fearful –> created myriad of ways to make themselves presentable to God (this is what “leaves” represent) –> abandoned and lost true fellowship with Him.  This mirrors the overall history of God’s people, to the present day. 

In part 2, probably coming in a few days, I want to look closer and more specifically at Jesus’ encounter with the fig tree.  I believe it references the events in the garden and contains a prophecy which is being fulfilled right now.  God bless you!

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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