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. 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). Notice 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. Ideas 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. This 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! These 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).