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Posts tagged ‘2 Corinthians 3’

The Exact Representation of God (Part 2)

By Paige Hunt

The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.”

–  Hebrews 1:3 (NLT)

This week we are continuing our previous discussion on Jesus being the exact representation of God. A true perspective of God, gifted to us through Christ, leads to a complete cleansing of our perspective. This enables us to enjoy the lavish majesty and joy-filled personality of God, colouring in our world with so much amazement and creative inspiration that we can enjoy life to the full as wonderstruck children, exploring endless prophetic realms of encouragement and imaginative whimsy in his love, through the correct representation of God ‘the Father’, given freely to us in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). As the beloved disciple John expressed, the revelation of Jesus Christ provides such abundance that ‘[if every work of Jesus was written down] I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.’ (John 21:25 NLT)

Jesus being the exact representation of God is therefore very important, as it teaches us all about our spiritual freedom in his Presence, especially concerning how to live within his patterns on earth so that we can relish in abundant life.9 God’s desire was for mankind to know (experientially) the truth of himself in Christ, so that we could be made free (John 8:32) – free to enjoy and experience heaven on earth in all things, through Christ (Colossians 3:11). This is why we must allow Jesus as the exact representation of God, to become the lens through which we understand and read our Bibles. A true understanding of God in Christ is designed to transform our Bible reading times, and influence every facet of our existence.

In the revelation that Christ is the exact image of God, reluctance and passivity in Bible study will be swallowed up by the passion and desire to experience and understand, to meditate on and enjoy, the one who is truly the ‘desire of all nations’. (Haggai 2:7). This is why the Bible records Jesus revealing himself to a couple of his disciples throughout all the Scriptures, with the result that the disciples commented amongst themselves, utterly amazed, ‘were not our hearts burning within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?’ (Luke 24:32 NIV)

A true understanding of God, as revealed through Christ, enables Bible study to become productive, life-giving, revelatory, and power-releasing, as we focus on the authentic truths of heaven on earth. In Hosea 4:6, The Lord laments that ‘my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge’ (NIV). As Colossians states, this knowledge of God has been given to everyone through Jesus Christ, in whom are hidden ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). 10Notice that this Scripture clearly says that it is in Christ, the authentic word of God, that God’s knowledge and wisdom is made known to humanity, in styles and patterns that we could perceive and understand. It is not through Scripture that the knowledge of God is primarily made known, but through the living, active revelation of Jesus Christ, and his finished work on our behalf. Jesus makes the imagination of the Godhead known to us. He brings to us the understanding of their tender, personalised mercies, as well as their creative, practical understanding of heaven on earth and what this truly looks like. In John 5:39-40, Jesus expresses this exact concern to the religious leaders of the day:

“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!  Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.” (NLT)

It is so easy for us to look at this Scripture from a distance, as if we could not fall prey to the same pitfalls. Yet today, many people are confused about the authentic nature of God, and read the Old Testament through a veil which prevents them from experiencing God’s life, as they attribute the atrocities committed and the rampant sexism, racism, and abuse, to our good and perfect God. When asked about why Jesus is so different from the image of God revealed in the Old Testament, these people would imply that there is more to God than Jesus, more to life than grace. Almost as if God the Father and Christ were playing ‘good cop, bad cop’. Jesus becomes eclipsed by a distorted image of holiness as the Bible is elevated above Christ, and as Jesus is the exact representation of God, and God’s authentic revelation, this results in a life of confusion and defeat, where the power, life, and personality of God remains a ‘holy mystery’, and we walk around in the dark, grasping at prophetic straws. Let us not be those kind of people who have ‘zeal without knowledge’, as Scripture is clear that Jesus is the full-fat revelation of the Father, who expresses the fullness of the Godhead and leaves no aspect of him a mystery. He is the correct lens through which we can perceive and understand the Bible.

“No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.” – (John 1:18 NLT)

Many people had written ‘in God’s name’ for many centuries previous to this, and yet Jesus came on the scene and revealed this shocking, almost offensive truth, that none of these people ever really revealed God. (He made a holy fool of our religious pride, and we have thanked him ever since!). Jesus made it evident that God is a heart-God, a God of love (1 John 4:8), not a God to be grasped and expressed with intellectual pride, or through a long list of rules, regulations, and demands. At the fall, when man ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, rather than the tree of life, humanity substituted the life of God within their hearts, for a stoic understanding of God within their intellects. 11Ideas of right and wrong replaced an intimate heart-relationship with the Inspired One. Our hearts were created to be flourishing gardens of Spirit-filled inspiration, beauty, and delight, flowing through us and nourishing our entire world. A spontaneous, organic, compassion-flooded way of living, hand in hand with Father God, knowing him as we have been known by him, through authentic relationship resonating from the core of our being. Yet when we severed this intimate communion with God by partaking of the wrong tree, we created him in the image of our own intellectual ideas of what seemed right, and thus he became a cold idol of stoic intellectualism.

This limited ‘human’ understanding of God was the reason why our hearts became as hard as stone. Isaiah 6:9-10 expresses what happened at the fall, and woos us to understand with our hearts, rather than our prejudices, once more. This is why it is so important that Jesus came as the exact representation of God. The correct understanding of Father God through Jesus Christ practically transforms our heart of stone into a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). We were created to be a dynamic expression of God’s heart, flowing as one with His Spirit, as a freestyling poem of creative exploration, divine satisfaction, and glory-filled joy (Ephesians 2:10). This is why, as we began to understand God incorrectly at the fall, the living waters of our existence dried up, and we became as hard and inflexible as stone. When we understood God wrong, we misinterpreted the pattern of our design, as what we believe about God is reflected and revealed in the way we live our lives. So thankfully, Jesus came to show the message back into our hearts, wooing us to see ourselves, and our God correctly again, through the enchanted looking-glass of his Person and his finished work, so that the new wine of his practical wisdom about God could break our old wineskins (Matthew 9:17), enabling us to enter into the abundant life of the Father, as we were always intended to. This is why it is so important that we know, see, and understand Jesus as the ONLY exact representation of the Father. The Bible is not the exact representation of the Father, only the Christ is. 2 Corinthians 3:18 articulates this beautifully:

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (KJV)

As we see and understand within our hearts that Christ is the exact representation of God, glory is released into our lives, and we begin to flow in harmony with our design once more, because in Christ is revealed the authentic blueprint of humanity, and the superior pleasures of union with the Godhead, through his gleaming revelation of Father God. Through Christ, we can see the beauty of God with clarity, and it fills our hearts and transforms our perspective. This is why, when (and only when) people begin to read the Bible through the living, active imagination of Christ in their hearts (Ephesians 1:18), will we truly see the Great Commission fulfilled, and sexism and racism banished from our one, holy, apostolic Church. 12This will happen when we see and understand Jesus as the exact representation of God. We will truly discover ourselves in him then again. Where we have put conditions, regulations, and full stops, God has placed the wisdom of his love, his compassion, and his unconditional acceptance. Listen to these words that Jesus spoke from the Father’s heart:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” – Luke 13:34 (NIV)

Jesus was speaking to a bunch of ungrateful, angry murderers, and yet he revealed that the Father, far from destroying these types of people, actually longed to embrace them. He had compassion on the oppressor as well as the oppressed – this is a truth that blows our paradigms! Jesus revealed that God was never our enemy, we were HIS enemies in our minds (Colossians 1:21). Jesus as the exact representation of God reveals to us a new perspective – the enlightened understanding that God’s truth is saturated in grace and not legalism! (John 1:17).

It is through Jesus that we can finally perceive the Old Testament correctly, through the lens of Jesus, in the rhythms of Holy Spirit, so that we can function in, and engage with, God’s life and freedom. It was never God who committed monstrosities in The Old Testament, it was always the devil, and because people had not perceived God correctly until Jesus came, they did not rightly perceive what was occurring around them. For example, the Father never wipes out cities or brings natural disasters. God is not the author of evil! Rather, he gives his children GOOD gifts, and desires that all come to repentance through his mercy and grace (Matthew 7:11; 2 Peter 3:9; Romans 2:4).

“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” – John 10:10 (AMP)

Jesus reveals that any, and all, sickness, destruction, death, and dis-ease does not come from our beautiful God, but from the enemy. He also reveals that God is a God of life and not judgement. This is why Jesus clearly stated ‘the Father judges no one’ (John 5:22 NIV), and ‘I pass judgement on no one’ (John 8:15 NIV). This is how we can know that the Father’s discipline is not punitive, but restorative – it lovingly works with us, and is for us and not against us. This is why hell is not a place for men but for the devil and his angels, i.e. for death, destruction, and chaos! 13These things were designed to be swallowed up by the life and goodness of the Father! (Matthew 25:41). Jesus reveals that God is SO good, in fact, that the disciples declared that the only logical conclusion about God they could come to, after spending time with Jesus, was:

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5 NIV)

God’s goodness is real, practical, wonderful, and God-sized! We had got our language and image of God so wrong, which was why Jesus came to us and revealed to us what God is truly like. This is why he came to give us the authority we lost through wrong beliefs, through allowing the enemy to take our authority. Jesus comes to give back to us every piece of heaven, every aspect of his blessing that we had lost. He came to conform us to the design of heaven, our original blueprint, so that we could live in heaven’s beauty, bliss, and tranquillity. This is the heart of the Father:

‘Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.’ (Matthew 10:8 NIV)

Jesus not only refused to present God as a ‘judge’ or one who condemns or hurts others, he actively, humbly went about REDEEMING people from these evil works! Acts 10:38 records Jesus healing ALL who were under the devil’s power.

… how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”  (Acts 10:38 NIV)

God is not in the business of disaster, punishment, or catastrophe. He lovingly binds our wounds. As Isaiah 42:3 comments, Jesus was a God of gentleness and compassion: ‘A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out’ (NIV). And just in case you missed it, Jesus does not do anything that is not in accordance with the Father, because he is in perfect oneness with him (John 5:19). Jesus came to truly make God the Holy Father again, as he revealed what holiness really is – perfect wholeness and harmony with the beauty of heaven (Matthew 6:9). This is why Jesus is the pioneer of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). His beauty inspires faith within us, as he reveals that the holiness of God is irresistibly beautiful and undeniably attractive. It gives us confidence to come before God’s throne of grace and freely receive the riches of heaven on earth (Hebrews 4:16).

The Exact Representation of God (Part One)

By Josh Hunt

Sometimes I’m shocked at how people view God! I mean, he’s so good, and it’s so sad when people don’t see that! I know that not everyone has embraced grace, but even when talking to a legalistic believer, I still get surprised by the adjectives, phrases, and metaphors they use to describe our God! I used to be legalistic, and a long time ago, I used to believe some of the things they say. But, after tasting his goodness the bitter taste of penal substitution or the nasty aftertaste of God-being-a-cosmic-judge just aren’t tolerable (of course the people are! It’s just the concepts that cause harm that are intolerable!). man-742766_1280 It’s sad to hear these misconceptions of God because they not only misrepresent our Daddy, but they also keep people in bondage!

God is pure light! Brilliance – Love! And when people misrepresent him – detailing him as angry, as the cause of pain, or as the reason for depression – it puts people off from embracing the One who is wooing them into wholeness! James 1:17 says:

‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.’ (KJV).

How wonderful is this picture! This is our Papa – ‘the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness’! There is nothing in God that is not predictable to pure LOVE! God is LOVE! (See 1 Jn 4:8).

It’s important that we present God as he is! It’s important that people see him as he is! Because when we see God as he is, when we know him, we have confidence to enjoy our union with him and see heaven made manifest on the earth. A lot of believers see themselves as God-servants, and God as a foreign King trying to invade this land. The truth, though, is so much better. We are one with the King! Sons and Daughters at his royal table! We get to rule and reign on this earth now (Rom 5:17). wedding-72180_1280

Until we see God right we won’t see ourselves right; until we see God as the caring, loving Papa he is, we won’t see the glorious Jesus living in us! 2 Corinthians 3 details how the veil of the law never led to manifest glory. However, under grace we can see Jesus purely as he is, and manifest outwardly the same glory Jesus has, the glory we carry around in our spirits!

‘But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.’ (2 Cor. 3:18, KJV)

This is the portion of the child of God – to live victoriously in the practical, multi-faceted favour of Jesus, which is his manifold wisdom (Ephesians 3:10).  This wisdom reveals that we were made in the image of the Godhead and share in the resurrection life of the Christ; thus, this wisdom is God’s detailed, practical care and adoration of us. It is our recipe for success; for activating and engaging with heaven on earth in the here and now.

Jesus reveals the truth that God is a good Father, and through this truth the glory inherent within us begins to shine and radiate from us, touching everything in our lives and transforming it with the beauty and harmony of heaven! We were hand-crafted after the image and likeness of Christ’s very own brilliance and glory. To walk in the power of this reality, we have to accurately see the one in whose image we are made, and we do this by meditating upon and gazing at the radiant glory emanating from the Gospel message, articulated through Jesus:

‘[Jesus] Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:’ (Heb. 1:3, KJV).

This verse is so rich in gospel truth! Jesus is the ‘image’ of God, or in other words: God looks like Jesus. Jesus came to save us, to recue us from the dominion of darkness (see Col. 1:13), superman-149156_1280and it’s important to keep in focus that, in rescuing us from darkness, Jesus practically unveils to us that God is perfect majesty, whose ways are splendour, and whose heart is filled with the grandeur of goodness and magnificence. Jesus colours in the heart of God for us with passion and eloquence, so that we can see that God is truly good, and that God is truly Love supreme, in very human terms.

One of the things Jesus came to save us from were false images we held of God, the misconceived ideas, the religious connotations. Jesus came to show people the truth about our loving Papa, indeed the truth about himself, the truth about the Spirit; Jesus came to show us that the Trinity is good, and that ‘God’ looks like the gloriously good Jesus who came to save us! photo-camera-219958_1280

Now, when Jesus came, his primary audience, at least in terms of public speaking, were the Jews, who held a distorted image of ‘God’ and subsequently kept others in bondage. The Pharisees found it hard to believe that Jesus was the messiah and that God was doing what Jesus claimed he was doing. This was mainly because the Pharisees were standing on the shoulders of those who had a distorted image of God, who stood on the shoulders of others who had a distorted image of God, who stood on the shoulders of those who experienced God, but never saw his fullness, namely the Old Testament saints. John makes it clear in John 1:18 that no one has ever ‘seen’ God except Jesus who resides ‘in the bosom of the Father’. Here’s the full verse:

‘No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.’ (Jn. 1:18, KJV).

Jesus came to declare, through his words, stories, and actions who God really is; Jesus came to save us and thus reveal to us the God who would rather die than be without us, who would rather suffer than forfeit our fellowship!

Some people think that theology doesn’t matter, that what we believe about the nature of God, or about the atonement, or about eschatology doesn’t have proper value; to some as long as one is ‘serving’, or ‘worshipping’, or ‘loving’ then all is good. But it does matter. What we believe about God, and what we teach he is like to others, truly matters. There are two main problems with the above ‘some people’ point I just made; 1) is that God wants us, not our service; we are called to be Children, not slaves. And, 2) What we believe about God; about his nature, his actions, his will, his motives, directly correlates to how much we trust him – knowing God is good enables us to ‘settle down’ with him and to enjoy his love without the ‘what if’ fears of religion! This then results in us demonstrating the power and glory of heaven! Oh, and also (this is still number 2) what we teach about God matters because people need to hear the message that lines up with what the Holy Spirit is saying in his wooing of the heart; people need to hear about the true God, then they will embrace the Kingdom with joy!

Jesus thought it pretty important to show us the nature of the glorious Trinity. If you are unsure of how good God is then ask the Holy Spirit to show you Jesus. Simply ask the beautiful Spirit to show you the exact representation of God…

 

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