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Reasons for Optimism (Eschatological Debacle pt. 2)

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Unlike many of my fellow believers here in the USA, I no longer believe in the traditional understanding of a coming tribulation or rapture, and in this post I’d like to show some of the many reasons why my belief about the “end times” has changed and what I now believe.  I certainly understand where those who are looking for a rapture or tribulation are coming from, as I believed that way myself just a few years ago.  My belief, put very basically, is that nearly all of the scriptures which are frequently used to support a future rapture, tribulation, persecution, and destruction of earth are either referring to things that happened in the past, at the end of the Old Covenant “age” which culminated in the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, or are speaking of spiritual things.  I believe that now, we are living a different age, where the Kingdom of God is and will be growing on earth.  Maybe that sounds crazy, but all foreign ideas sound crazy at first, and it’s not as crazy as it might seem – many devout believers, past and present, believe similarly.  I don’t ask or expect you to take my word for it – I intend to give you some substantial meat to chew on.

I fully admit I’m not an expert on the end times, there are still things I don’t understand, and there are probably things I’m still wrong about.  But I remain not only willing, but eager to adjust my understanding according to truth.  In writing this post, I’ve learned by experience that it’s a lot easier to criticize a viewpoint than it is to coherently present your own, but I’m happy I’ve at least made a genuine attempt to do so.  Below, I’ve divided the broad topic of the “end times” into various categories, with reasons given for my optimistic view under each one.  I’ll genuinely try to be brief, but this is a big subject.  I’ll also give resources at the end of this post for further study, as there are many people smarter than me who have spent a lot more time studying and writing about these things.  

I truly thank you for reading, and I welcome questions or (respectful) feedback or criticism in the comments section at the end of this blog or at my e-mail: ryan.clement.2010@gmail.com  

Time Statements:

Many scriptures that people assume refer to future end-times events actually state WHEN they were going to happen, and their occurrence is always clearly in the past!  For instance:

  • Revelation 1:1,3,7. Revelation 1:1 says this: This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things which must happen soon, which he sent and made known by his angel to his servant, John…” 
  • In Revelation 1:3, John wrote: “the time is at hand,” and Revelation 1:7 says that “those who pierced him” will see Jesus’ coming in the clouds!  This wouldn’t make sense if the fulfillment of Revelation’s prophecies was thousands of years later.

    • A common explanation given by those who see Revelation as future is to say: “With God, soon can mean thousands of years; even Peter wrote that to God a day is like a thousand years.” 
      • My Response: Revelation was written TO and FOR people who were alive at the time it was written, nearly 2,000 full years ago.  This is plainly seen in Revelation 1:4, which says John wrote the book of Revelation: “to the seven assemblies (churches) that are in Asia…”  So, if I were to write you a letter about something to happen “soon,” there’s no way you’d think I meant it was going to happen sometime after the year 4015!!!!  You would know the letter was to you, and that the things in the letter would be relevant in your lifetime.  Also, it makes no sense that Jesus, through John, would tell these churches about specific things that were going to happen to them (like being put in prison and oppressed for precisely “ten days” in Rev. 2:10), if they were going to be long dead before they happened.  There’s no good reason to think that Revelation 1:1 doesn’t refer to the entirety of the book, and there are many good reasons to think it does.
      • The New Testament in the Bible consists mostly of letters addressed specifically to various congregations of people, or even specific individuals, in a specific location, all of whom were alive at the time these letters were written.  These letters contain many things that are very obviously meant for that time and place, such as Paul asking to be sent a cloak and parchments (2 Timothy 4:13), and encouraging “Euodia and Synteche” to quit arguing (Philippians 4:2).  Those things are obviously not meant for you and I, thousands of years later.  Likewise, there are other, less obvious things in scripture which were meant for “then and there,” but are mistakenly thought to apply to us today.
      • It’s true that God and His son Jesus Christ are the same yesterday, today, and forever, so the letters which are in the New Testament contain valuable, eternal, unchanging truth about God, His son, and even prophecy.  That doesn’t change the fact that we MUST keep in mind the original audience and timeframe of these letters. We don’t need to be afraid that somehow it’s spiritually dangerous or disrespectful to scripture by doing so.  The opposite is actually true, as the meaning of the scriptures and God’s will will actually become clearer!
  • Matthew 24:34.  This is a verse that absolutely must not be overlooked or explained away.  In this famous chapter, which so many Christians believes refers to future events, Jesus describes a coming persecution, tribulation, and arrival of the Son of Man in the clouds.  After describing these things, he says this: “Most certainly I tell you, this generation will not pass away, until all these things are accomplished.”  “This generation” means the generation he was in and speaking to, therefore what he said wasn’t meant for us.  As I’ll show later, things happened exactly as he said they would.
    • Common Objection“Jesus actually meant “that” generation, as in the generation who would be alive when these things happen.” 
      • My Response: That’s so obvious, it wouldn’t need to be said!  That would be like saying: “the generation alive when these things happen will see these things happen,” which is obviously nonsensical.  Plus, the Greek word for “this” in “this generation” means “THIS,” as in something present, current, right then and there.  Jesus clearly meant that the generation he was in, almost 2,000 years ago, was going to see the fulfillment of ALL the things he had described.  If you take this one, plain statement as a basis, then you have to start looking at some of the other things Jesus said in Matthew 24 in a spiritual or symbolic sense, which I believe is exactly how he meant them.
    • Common Objection #2: Jesus said he didn’t know the day or the hour of these things happening, so how can we?”   
      • My Response: Jesus Christ was not mistaken.  He didn’t know the day or hour, but he knew it would be in that present generation (probably a 40 year period, roughly from 30 AD to 70 AD).  This objection isn’t much more complicated than that.
  • Matthew 10:23.  This is another time-sensitive statement made by Jesus, after describing the persecution of his disciples prior to “the end” (more on what “the end” refers to in a bit).  Jesus said: “But when they persecute you in this city, flee into the next, for most certainly I tell you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man has come.”
    • Common Objection: Some say Jesus’ coming wasn’t referring to the same thing as Matthew 24, that maybe it refers to Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey.  But Jesus was answering a question about the time of “the end.”  Some also have tried to say that “going through the cities of Israel” somehow means “evangelize the world,” or they add to Jesus’ words and say that this statement somehow applies to all believers for all time, who will minister to Israel. But again, the preceding verses make it very clear that Jesus was speaking about “the end,” speaking specifically and only to to his 12 disciples, and he was telling them that he would come before they went through all of Israel.

Spiritual Nature of Scripture:

The Bible is a spiritual book, and the apostles who wrote it were what are sometimes called “mystics” – deeply spiritual men who went into trances, had visions, and at least one who even went to what he called the “third heaven” in an experience that was so profound he wasn’t even sure if he was in his body or not!  It makes sense, then, that the apostles’ writings are often spiritual and symbolic in nature.  Similarly, Jesus’ said his words were “spirit and life” (John 6:63) and that he spoke in parables and hidden meanings (Matthew 13:34). Not everything is as simple or straightforward as we like to think, and there are many things in scripture that remain confusing and mysterious to even the most devoted believers and scholars.

The book of Revelation is the most obviously symbolic book in the Bible, describing many fantastical events and strange beasts. One thing I’ve noticed, which I feel is a mistake, is people seem to “pick and choose” parts of the book to read symbolically, and parts to read literally.  For instance, everyone realizes Revelation’s description of a multi-headed beast and the “harlot” who rides it aren’t literally and physically referring to a sexually immoral woman riding around the earth on a monster.  But, other things which are mentioned in this same book as these clearly symbolic descriptions are taken literally or made to fit a certain interpretation without much basis.

 Antichrist:

I am totally convinced, beyond any doubt, there is absolutely NOT a past or future person known as the “antichrist.”  Are you as surprised as I was to learn that no form of the term “antichrist” is found anywhere in the book of Revelation!?  That alone should make us start to reconsider the popular notion of this figure, who is presumed to play such a large role in the “end times.”

The word “antichrist” is used in the Bible in only four verses: three in 1 John and one in 2 John.  Below I have listed all four of these verses, with some of my own commentary in blue.  I want you to notice that in each case, the word “antichrist” is speaking of something or someone past or present, but never future!!!  Also, any time the word is capitalized, that is simply something the translators did to try to help the passage fit their understanding better.  There was no capitalization in the original text, and some translations today probably don’t have it capitalized still.

  • 1 John 2:18: “Little children, these are the end times (!!!), and as you heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen. By this we know that it is the final hour.”  
    • First of all, notice that the “end times” and the “final hour” were both at the time John wrote this, almost 2,000 years ago! 
    • What John is saying is that “the Antichrist” his readers had heard was coming, was already there in the form of “many antichrists.”  So “the Antichrist” is somehow a group of people, not one single person. 
  • 1 John 2:22: “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.” 
    • In verse 18 above, John wrote that his readers had heard of a coming “Antichrist,” but he corrected their understanding and told them that many antichrists had already come.  Here, he tells his readers who the antichrist was: whoever “denies the Father and the Son!”  He never said that antichrist was future, but both here and four verses earlier, he says this antichrist was present already.
  • 1  John 4:3: “and every spirit who doesn’t confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God, and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, of whom you have heard that it comes. Now it is in the world already.” 
    • John again says here, very plainly that the spirit of the antichrist was “in the world already.”  Not a future person.  Notice also, the antichrist is denoted as a “spirit,” meaning it’s not a person, but a mind, an influence, a spirit.
  • 2  John 1:7:  “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who don’t confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the Antichrist.” 
    • He again defines who the antichrist is here, plain as can be.  “The antichrist” refers to a group of people, who were alive around 2,000 years ago when John wrote these letters, who “don’t confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh.”  The idea that this somehow means a future leader is totally a wrong understanding that needs to go away.  Some say John wrote 1 and 2 John (again, the only letters to mention antichrist), to refute a teaching known as “gnosticism” which was gaining steam at that time, which said that Jesus was not a physical person, and that he didn’t rise from the dead.  According to some, it was specifically these gnostic teachings and their followers John referred to as antichrist.

666:

This number is often thought of as associated with the “Antichrist,” who is presumed to be who the 666 beast represents in the book of Revelation.  Here’s the passage which this famous number comes from:

He causes all, the small and the great, the rich and the poor, and the free and the slave, to be given marks on their right hands, or on their foreheads; and that no one would be able to buy or to sell, unless he has that mark, the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. He who has understanding, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is six hundred sixty-six.”  (Revelation 13:16-18 WEB (R))  

Remember, Revelation was written to people in seven churches which existed in John’s day.  John tells these people that with wisdom and understanding, they could calculate who the beast was, thus showing that he was someone alive in their time.  The clues John gives are that this beast is a man, and his number is 666.  What does this mean? I believe, like many do, that this beast was the Roman Caesar Nero, who was in power at the time and persecuted Christians horrifically.  The number 666 isn’t really mysterious or evil.  It’s derived by a fairly common (so I’m told) first-century practice known as “gematria,” in which words are converted into numbers by assigning a certain value to each letter.  For instance, a=1, b=2, c=3., etc., The number of the word “cab” would then be “6” (3+1+2).  Using this method, the name Caesar Nero, when converted to Hebrew, = 666.  (Interestingly, some ancient manuscripts record the number of the beast as “616,” which is the gematria value of Nero’s name in Latin).  The Bible says that when John wrote Revelation, he was living on the island of Patmos, where he had been banished by Rome.  I think it is very possible John knew when the book of Revelation was delivered by his Roman captors to the churches in Asia, it would be examined closely, and if he had mentioned Rome or Nero by name, it would have never been allowed off the island, so he used a simple “code” which would not be understood by those screening the letter.  

Jesus’ Vineyard Parable and Warnings:

Jesus told at least one parable aimed directly at the religious leaders of Israel, describing the judgment and wrath that was coming to them, and why.  It’s found in Luke 20:9-19 and Mark 12:1-12.  I’d encourage you to read it yourself, but to keep this shorter I’ll summarize it: A man built a vineyard, then went away on a journey and leased the vineyard to some tenants to care for it. While away, the owner of the vineyard sent His servants to check on His vineyard’s fruit, but the tenants either beat or killed these servants, giving them no fruit to take back to the master.  Finally, the master sent his own son in hopes the tenants would treat him better.  But the tenants selfishly killed the landowner’s son, hoping to obtain the vineyard for themselves.  Jesus says the landowner, upon his return, will destroy these tenants and give the vineyard to others.

The Bible says Israel’s religious leaders “perceived that he had told this parable against them.”  They realized they were the tenants God gave to care for the land, but who persecuted and killed those who the master sent to see how his land was doing.  And just as Jesus foretold, the system of law, ordinance and temple worship which they represented, used as a means for their selfish desires, and trusted in instead of the God above all, was destroyed along with Jerusalem and its temple in 70 AD.  If you’re interested, I wrote about this parable in more detail a couple of years ago, here and here.  There’s probably some better studies on it elsewhere on the web, as well.

In Luke 11:47-52 (WEB), Jesus basically says the same thing as in this parable, plainly saying that it was the generation he was living in that was going to experience God’s wrath, saying to the religious leaders of Israel: Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.  So you testify and consent to the works of your fathers. For they killed them, and you build their tombs.  Therefore also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles; and some of them they will kill and persecute,  that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zachariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary.’ Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you took away the key of knowledge. You didn’t enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in, you hindered.”

Matthew 24:

Matthew 24 (along with Mark 13 and Luke 21, which all give an account of the same speech of Jesus), which I briefly mentioned earlier, contains what is probably the most famous “end times” speech of Jesus in the Bible.  It’s often referenced by people when earthquakes or wars or famines happen, to support their belief that the rapture and return of Jesus are imminent.  However, to understand what Jesus meant in this chapter, we MUST understand where he was coming from and the question he was answering!!!  These things are plainly seen in the first 3 verses: 

“Jesus went out from the temple, and was going on his way. His disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all of these things, don’t you? Most certainly I tell you, there will not be left here one stone on another, that will not be thrown down.” As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?”  (Mat 24:1-3 WEB (R))  So, Jesus’ entire discourse in Matthew 24 is in reference first of all to the destruction of the temple, which also somehow was connected with the signs of his coming, and of the “end of the age.”  It is the destruction of the temple and the end of the Old Covenant, Jewish “age” that Jesus was talking about in the entirety of Matthew 24.  

This chapter is particularly confusing for a futurist viewpoint, because it contains things that were plainly meant only for people who heard Jesus and lived in his time, but it also mentions things that seem not to have happened yet and are therefore future. For instance, in verses 16-20, Jesus says that those who are in Judea should flee to the nearby mountains, that no one on their housetop (houses in that time and place were built with flat roofs for sitting and storage) should even take the time to gather their belongings, and tells them to pray their fleeing doesn’t happen in winter or while pregnant.  This isn’t meant for 2015 America!  Luke 21 gives Luke’s account of this same speech of Jesus.  He mentions that Jerusalem being surrounded by armies is the sign to Jesus’ listeners to flee.  History apparently records that only those who listened to Jesus and fled Judea survived the destruction of Jerusalem.  Also worth mentioning from Luke 21 is verses 34-35, in which Jesus says: So be careful, or your hearts will be loaded down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day will come on you suddenly. For it will come like a snare on all those who dwell on the surface of all the earth.”  The word “earth” there is the Greek word “ge,” which can and in other places does also mean a specific place or a certain land, rather than the entire globe.  

Other things in Matthew 24 seem to be so incredible that they surely haven’t happened yet, like Jesus appearing in the clouds, the “powers of the heavens being shaken,” etc.  I believe these statements are metaphors for spiritual things.  The “powers of the heavens being shaken” doesn’t even make sense if you try to make it literal.  Maybe that refers to the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus taking dominion over the law of Sin and Death (Romans 8:2), which was so powerful that even the veil in the temple was torn!?  I must also reiterate the importance of Matthew 24:34, in which Jesus says “this generation will not pass away, until all these things are accomplished.”  “This generation” meant the generation Jesus was in and speaking to.  It’s a crucial point.

The End of the Age:

Another difficulty that arises regarding understanding Matthew 24 and similar passages is that we don’t believe the “end of the age” has happened, because we think that means basically the same thing as the end of the world.  However, the word “age” doesn’t mean world, it means a period of time, an era.  The age that was ending, which Jesus said was going to go out with tribulation, wrath, gnashing of teeth, and destruction, was the age of the Levitical priesthood, animal sacrifices, temple worship, and all the other components of the old covenant system of Judaism. This system had to end, as the new covenant began.  I believe this happened in the generation Jesus said it would, and how Jesus said it would, in the years leading up to and culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in 70 AD.

The apostles also knew they were living at the end of an age, as verses like these show:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:11: “Now all these things happened to them by way of example, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come.”
  • Hebrews 9:26: “But now once at the end of the ages, he has been revealed to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
  • 1 Peter 4:7: “But the end of all things is near. Therefore be of sound mind, self-controlled, and sober in prayer.”

 New Covenant Changes:

In some ways, the nature of the “new covenant” that began with Jesus is probably the most important reason of all to not look for an imminent tribulation or wrath on the earth.  Though the nature of the New Covenant is one of the most important things for a believer to understand, I think very few understand just how radically different is is from the Old Covenant of law and wrath.  I feel I’m just beginning to grasp the significance of this change myself.   As many of you know, the Bible is divided into two sections, called the Old Testament, which describes God’s dealings with His people under the Old Covenant, and the New Testament, which describes God’s dealings with His people under the New Covenant. 

To describe these covenants in a nutshell really can’t do them justice, but for the sake of space I’ll try.  The Old Covenant was made between God and Israel, and it basically was: “follow these laws and ordinances, or face curses and punishment.”  (By the way, punishment is the very essence of the law.  Law never rewards good behavior, it only monitors and punishes bad behavior).  Paul understood and wrote extensively about the transition and difference between the old and new covenants, and understood that the Old Covenant was one of wrath.  In Romans 4:15 he said: “the law worketh (produces) wrath, for where there is no law, neither is there disobedience.” 

The New Covenant, which is described in the Bible as a “better” covenant, isn’t based on the keeping of laws or ordinances, but is based on a promise God made to Abraham, which was fulfilled and settled in and by Jesus Christ.1  The New Covenant basically is: “deny yourself, receive Christ’s life as yours, and walk according to the leading of the spirit.”  Because the New Covenant isn’t based on behavior or performance but on a promise God made and fulfilled Himself, this covenant produces only blessings and life.  Because the New Covenant isn’t associated with law, it carries with it no wrath.2  The new covenant “law” is in one place called “the law of the spirit of life,” which is in Christ Jesus.  It isn’t on us to keep any law – Christ kept it already and we are in him.  

Conclusion:

Once again, I admit I could still be wrong, and there are things I still don’t understand.  However, as one who has believed both ways and genuinely tries to be impartial, a mostly “fulfilled” version of end-times events makes much, much more theological, scriptural, and historical sense than a mostly “futurist” view. I could have given even more reasons I believe what I do, along with many more supporting scriptures, but I’ll leave further study to others in the references below.  There are some things I believe haven’t happened yet, such as prophecies about the fully manifested Kingdom of God on Earth (Revelation 21 and 22, for example) and the sons of God being manifested on earth (Romans 8).  While I think these things arrived in Christ in the form of a seed or potential, I don’t believe the church has yet walked in them as she one day will.

When I explained some of these things to a close friend who has been raised in a “futurist” church and viewpoint, their first question was “so what are we living in now?” In other words, if the “end” isn’t imminent and many of the verses about the end are referring to past events, then what is our current situation and what is coming in the future?  I believe that we’re in what could be called the “Kingdom age,” and what’s coming is the growth and expansion of God’s government and Kingdom (His will and character being conformed to and shown) on earth, until the earth is subdued and Jesus returns.  It may take a long time, and there will continue to be disasters and evil before it is fully manifested, but one day the “darkness” and confusion are going to be removed from the people of God, believers all over the world will walk like Jesus did when he was on earth, and by the power of God the earth will be healed, restored, and brought into subjection to life instead of pain and death!  Be encouraged and be optimistic, because there are good reasons to believe the future of both heaven and earth is glorious, not terrible. 

References:

  1. Hebrews 7:22, 8:6, 2 Corinthians 3:9
  2. I know that’s a radical statement, and it’s taken me time to see it myself.  But it’s true. The losing of our own life and the denying of our selfish nature to follow the nature of Christ can be painful and hard, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s no wrath from God in the New Covenant.  God is satisfied in Christ, He’s not concerned with what the world is up to.  He wants His sons and daughters to begin to walk in their inheritance and bring life and light and dominion to the earth again, as Adam did before he fell, and as Jesus did when he was on earth.  Jesus didn’t condemn or doom the world, and because he was an exact representation of God’s heart, we can know God isn’t doing so either.  The one thing Jesus opposed was religion and those who promoted it.  Religion is the most spiritually dangerous thing there is, because it convinces men it is a bearer of light (truth, revelation from God’s heart), but is actually darkness (a creation of the mind and heart of natural man). Religion is so dangerous because it defiles with good, instead of with bad (both are from the wrong Tree – the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil).  As Jesus said in Luke 11:44: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like hidden graves, and the men who walk over them don’t know it.”  To walk over a grave made you “defiled” according to the law, and  you would have to leave the city and go through a purification ritual.  What Jesus meant is that the scribes and Pharisees, those who perpetuated the religious system among God’s people, made these people defiled without them even realizing it, just like a hidden grave would do to someone who walked over it unaware.  That’s what religion does then, today, and forever – it spiritually “defiles” people with good, so they don’t even realize it.
 
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Posted by on October 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation

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“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ*, the Father of the glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the recognition of him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, for your knowing what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints and what the exceeding greatness of His power to us who are believing, according to the working of the power of His might…”  -The Apostle Paul, Ephesians 1:17-19, YLT

Just about everyone would agree Paul probably had a pretty good idea of what was needed and helpful for those following Christ, so looking at the things he prayed for others can be very helpful.  Paul’s primary desire for the Ephesians seems to be that they would have understanding.  Maybe the need for understanding seems simple or obvious, but we MUST recognize that this isn’t “understanding” like we think of it in our natural lives, which has to do with a mental grasp of something.  The understanding Paul refers to is spiritual; it is obtained and functions very differently than natural understanding used in one’s natural life.   

By his own words, the understanding he prayed for has two components: a God-given “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the recognition of Him” and involvesthe eyes of your understanding being enlightened.”  It’s common and easy to assume we know what these things truly are or that we possess them, but assumptions are so dangerous.  We will never truly know God, in an intimate and real way, unless He grants to us a “spirit of wisdom and revelation” and unless the “eyes” of our understanding are “enlightened.”  So what does that mean?

“Revelation” is basically an uncovering or an exposure; it’s seeing the essence of something, without filter or distortion.  “Wisdom” is more of a spiritual concept and is harder to define, but I would define it here as “an impartation of the mind of God.”  I think Paul is basically saying this: “I pray God would grant you, by His spirit’s working within you, a connection and agreement with the mind of God and an unclouded, undistorted vision of spiritual reality, that you can truly know and experience union with the Father, that your understanding would be based on spiritual light…”  And he goes on from there.  The reason he prayed this is because there is a great tendency in man toward  understanding spiritual concepts with the non-spiritual, carnal mind.  The carnal mind can be religious and good, but it cannot receive spiritual revelation, rejects “enlightenment,” refuses to subject itself to God, and is both fearful of and opposed to the true knowledge of God.  This is why Paul prayed the Ephesians would spiritually possess wisdom and revelation, and have enlightened eyes of understanding.  Enlightened = spiritually perceptive, as opposed to naturally perceptive.

I hope that makes more sense.  I pray these same things for myself and all fellow believers, because without sight, understanding, wisdom, and revelation, we are like a blind man trying to navigate an unfamiliar journey alone and without help.  At that point, there are really only two options: stay put but pretend you can see and are making progress, or admit you are blind and helpless, and cry out for mercy and grace to remedy your pitiful situation.  I hope more and more are rejecting the pretense of claiming to see while blind, and coming to see their destitution.  It’s at that point that desperation sets in and things can change.   

Father, may those of us who name the name of Christ recognize and admit our blindness and destitution, seeing that all our good works and good will haven’t truly connected us with You or furthered Your kingdom, but only our imagination of it.  In desperation and longing, may we cry out to You, to grant us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You, an enlightened understanding, eyes to see and ears to hear.  We want to be able to see and hear You according to Your way, so we can cooperate with You in establishing Your kingdom, for Your glory.  Amen.

 

 

*Jesus had a God?  Interesting…  

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Restoring Sonship – White Garments

Genesis 2: 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. This is much deeper than what’s on the surface.  The two things we learn about Adam and Eve here are that they were “naked” and “not ashamed.” Prior to their eyes being opened by eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the nakedness of Adam and Eve seems to essentially mean “bare” or “without clutter.”  The word “ashamed” can mean “confounded, hindered, obstructed.”  Thus, I believe the deeper meaning is this: in their original state, Adam and Eve were without any self-awareness (which clutters one’s heart with guilt, shame, fear, etc), and were not hindered in their communion with God. I have heard it put this way: Adam and Eve were “full of wisdom and without any confusion.” I truly believe this is the deeper meaning here.

Genesis 3: 6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 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 coverings.  21…Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them-Adam and Eve were “naked” before they ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, yet notice they are “naked” immediately after they eat. A drastic change took place upon eating, and it’s important to know the word “naked” is slightly different before and after they did so.  After they ate, the word “naked” seems to refer primarily to a state of being, essentially meaning “destitute.” Eating from the TOK caused their eyes to open (natural/carnal/selfish perception to begin), and only then did Adam and Eve see themselves as naked (spiritually destitute).    They then made their own loin-coverings to try to cover up their destitute state, but God gives them a covering of “skin,” a symbol of their “nakedness” – their destitution.  This seems tragic, and it is, but thankfully it doesn’t end there…

Adam and Eve were “unashamed” before their eyes were opened by eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It makes sense when you think about it. Once they ate, a self-focused, carnal, natural perception of everything took root in their heart, bringing guilt, fear, shame and causing them to hide from God. The work of Jesus was and is largely about undoing and reversing what happened in the garden of Eden; restoring man’s spiritual perception, fellowship with God, authority, and providing a new garment for men to wear instead of the “skin” (nakedness, spiritual destitution) that God clothed Adam and Eve in, which all men since Adam are born clothed in. With the new garment of Christ, one can again commune with God, with an awareness free of guilt, shame, condemnation, and fear!

Revelation 3: 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments…                  

18 I counsel you to buy from Me…white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed…

Revelation 16  NKJV:15 “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”

Galatians 3:27: For you are all sons of God (similar to Adam before the fall), through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. The garment of Christ restores and IS our sonship.

Romans 13:14: But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. -“Putting on Christ” leads to or is a form of “making no provision for the flesh.” They are connected.

Colossians 3:9-10 “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old man with its practices and have put on the new man, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” –God Himself is the creator of the “new man.” In a sense, Adam is the father of the corrupt, blind “old man.”   The cross of Christ put to death the old man, and this is progressively being made real in our experience as the reality of this is revealed within us.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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“Revelation is like breaking chains.” This is something the spirit of God spoke to me a while back.  I’d like to share a few things about this, firstly about “revelation”. 

I’ve probably said this before, but it’s important: “revelation” in scripture literally means “to uncover, to reveal, to make manifest.”  I believe revelation is the only way Truth comes to mankind.  Genuine Truth is spiritual, and can’t be “obtained” or “earned.”  It’s a gift, bestowed.  Jesus said Peter’s famous declaration of Christ as the messiah and God’s son was Truth, revealed to Him by God the Father.1  God uncovered something, and Peter saw it. Jesus himself lived this way.2 

The “agent” or force empowering revelation is referred to as “light.” All through the New Testament, light is emphasized (click here).  In the physical realm, light enables one to see the reality of his or her surroundings, making it possible to go where you want and avoid obstacles and dangers. It’s the same idea in the spiritual realm – light enables spiritual reality to be seen and related to correctly.  The NT states this as well.3 

As I’ve been writing about, I think one of THE biggest spiritual pitfalls is an attitude in which one claims the ability to see, but is without the revelation of light. This is the essence of pride, and is FAR more dangerous spiritually than what many tend to focus on, like watching bad movies or going to a casino or losing your temper. Anyone can read the Bible or listen to teachings and come up with ideas about God’s heart or will, but without spiritual light, every idea and doctrine of the most devout and brightest men is nothing but darkness. 

Here’s an illustration of the state mainstream Christianity is in today: if you were to put ten people in a pitch dark room, they would soon form ten different ideas about what the room contains and looks like, but none would be accurate. If you flipped the lights on for a few seconds and then turned them back off, there would initially be a great increase in true perception and agreement about the room, but if enough time went by in darkness, different opinions would form once again and reality would fade. 

From concern only I say that I see a lot of errors and problems within Christianity.  I believe Christianity has been given glimpses of light in places, but has not continued to rely on light for its spiritual progress and beliefs.  If it had, it would not be so divided.  The few who do truly rely on and follow the light have been marginalized by or ostracized from mainstream Christianity (there are several reasons for this, not the least of which is these people expose its blindness and pride). Things that truly have been revealed and seen in the light are often made into a “golden calf” of sorts – people camp around them, dancing and worshiping day after day, instead of continuing to follow the light. Others wrongly assume that because they or someone else have seen something in the light, everything else is illuminated as well.

As a result of these presumptuous errors, division and blindness have prevailed in the visible church, leaving only the spiritually-blind human mind as a means of perception and relation to God.  However, God is a living, spiritual being, and you absolutely cannot know Him by the mind – by reasoning about spiritual things, theology, or whatever else.  God MUST be known in spirit, in the light, by revelation and communion. 

I am working on a parable of sorts that I wrote illustrating these things, specifically focusing on revelation being like breaking chains.  I may post it sometime.  : )  Thanks for reading.

 

  1. Matthew 16:17: “And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon [a]Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
  2. John 5:19: “Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.”
  3. Ephesians 5:13: “But all things become visible when they are [a]exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.”
 
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Posted by on June 3, 2014 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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Christ Revealed as Life (Second Coming)

Today, for the first time, I connected these two verses from Colossians 3:

3For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”

For most of my life, I’ve thought verse 4 was talking about Jesus’ “second coming” to earth. But it’s not. Look at the preceding verse for context. It’s talking about Jesus being revealed (recognized, apprehended) WITHIN us, AS our life.

This must take place, BECAUSE of the idea Paul wrote immediately before this, in verse 3. We have died. These are spiritual realities and won’t fully make sense to the rational mind. It’s just a spiritual fact. In God’s eyes, Jesus, as the firstborn, was and is the ancestor all of His spiritual children. When Jesus died, we all died with him. This is stated over and over in scripture; ignoring it doesn’t change it, it just keeps us from fully partaking of it.

Jesus is referred to by Paul as the “last Adam” and the “second man.” He succeeded where Adam failed. We were born physically with the self-consumed nature our ancestor Adam inherited. In Christ, we are born-again by the spirit, with the nature of God Himself. As we see this fact (Christ being revealed as our life), we will also bear that nature and be in a position of glory. This is progressive, and I think it is to happen individually, but even more importantly it is to occur in the corporate body of Christ, worldwide. But the foundation has already been laid, the work has already been done by Jesus Christ.  Don’t look for Jesus to come in the sky – look for him to be revealed within you.

http://www.marketstreetfellowship.com/553/knowing-him-in-his-death-pt-1/

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Fatal Flaw

“If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”1

 “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”2

 In both of these verses, Jesus is speaking of the Jewish religious leaders, scholars, and teachers, and to those who followed them. What he said is extremely relevant to examine, because what was true of them has become true of the church today.  

 Jesus proved he was from God in many ways, not the least by performing life-restoring miracles and teaching with genuine authority.3  Sadly, while personally witnessing these things, the religious Jews were oblivious to what was happening (the ending of their season) and were only concerned with the threat to their elevated status which Jesus posed.  He frequently warned and lamented the state of the Jewish religious leaders, and told his disciples that they and those following them were blind and going to end up in a “pit,” separated and excluded from the path of walking and communing with God.  It’s very sobering.

 Though the Jews had many flaws, I think one in particular was fatal: they claimed to see. Their claim was founded on their lineage from Abraham, their status as God’s chosen people, and most of all in their knowledge of the law of Moses and their diligence in keeping it. Ultimately, their trust was in themselves, contrary to Jesus’ way of total self-denial.  In reality – things from God’s perspective – they were blind, hypocritical, and opposed to what God was doing through His son, right under their noses.   

Let’s look at the broader context of the first verse I posted above: “And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see; and that those who see may become blind.” Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things, and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”4

As always, Jesus is referring to spiritual things and is concerned with the heart.  Jesus said he actually came to this world for “judgment.”  This is not talking about condemnation or punishment; the Greek word for “judgment” means to make a distinction.  Naturally speaking, the distinction (judgment) between blindness and sight is determined by the ability to receive and process “light,” which is a common metaphor in the New Testament basically meaning revealed truth from the spirit realm.  Therefore, those with “sight” are able to discern divinely revealed truth and understand it, and those who are “blind” cannot, often following the reasoning of their own human mind and becoming confident in their own righteousness.

Put simply, those who are without sight are those who in their heart know and admit their need for light, while those who claim to see are those who in their heart believe they have no need.  Jesus said if the Pharisees acknowledged their need for light, they would have had no sin.  Amazingly, Romans 3:25-26 states that God passed over the sins committed prior to Christ, in order to demonstrate his righteousness and justice in the season of the new covenant in Christ.  If they had only admitted their need for light (their blindness), the Pharisees would have discerned the new thing God was doing in Christ (been able to see) and had their sin removed by Jesus’ ransom payment.  Sadly, their contentment in their own righteousness and understanding of the law barred them from Jesus’ atonement, thus sin remained on their account.  Jesus knew that by his coming to this world, the self-righteous and confident would be nullified and blinded, and the humble and desperate would be given grace and enlightened.

 It’s essential we depend on God, who is spirit, for our sight, which is largely what the process of repentance is about.  This doesn’t come from reading the Bible, which is evident if you look around Christianity.  Ask God to grant sight to you.  Righteousness is ONLY that which conforms to God, so humble yourself.  You’ll begin to see that presumption and blindness are rampant among even devout and zealous believers.  But if the church will humble herself and begin to diligently seek for God and for truth in the spirit realm, I believe a revolution will take place.  Many are saying that such a revolution is coming soon and has already started.  Get ready.

  

  • 1. John 9:41

  • 2. Matthew 15:14

  • 3. Matthew 11:20-23, Mark 6:2, Acts 2:22

  • 4. John 9:39-41

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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