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Posts tagged ‘Understanding the Bible’

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).

How Do I Experience the Manifest Glory?

By Paige Hunt

One of the most glorious aspects of our inheritance in Christ is that we can continuously experience the tangible glory of God, at all times, in spite of our behavior. Many in Christianity are waiting for the next big meeting, or for a personal encounter with ‘Mr. prophet of God’ or ‘apostle so-and-so’ to be knocked off their feet by a ‘new wave of glory’. This is what The Bible names ‘zeal without knowledge’ (Proverbs 19:2). It is misdirected passion! – You don’t have to wait for a special event to experience the manifest glory of Jesus, when it is your constant inheritance. God desires for you, right now, in the ordinariness of life, to live within His manifest glory!

First thing’s first, the glory of God is not some weird, unknowable aspect of God. It is not like God is wearing a trench coat, and when you please him enough he pulls out his strange party trick from his secret inside pocket –taa-daa the glory! No, the glory of God is simple, and it is His desire that you live within that manifest experience, which is the culture of heaven (Luke 17:21). 49The glory is God is this: his goodness. God Himself defines it that way for us in Exodus, when Moses, like many of us, asked: “SHOW ME YOUR GLORY!”. God responds as an encouraging Papa, and says ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass before you” (Exodus 33:19). Don’t let anyone distract you from the simplicity of the Gospel! (2 Corinthians 11:3)

In order to experience the glory all of the time, you don’t have to press in – just trust that Jesus loves you, that He is Papa, and that He left you ‘the glorious riches of His grace’ (Ephesians 3:16). Trust in the love of God. He isn’t keeping an obscure secret from you – He shares everything freely with His children, and His glory is simply His goodness. It is practical, and leads to tangible, outward manifestations of His kindness and provision. It is a Daddy interacting with His children – God is pure love, and His glory is not some abstract code to be deciphered. Like any part of our inheritance, to live in the manifest experience of this, which I shall call ‘a love cuddle’, you simply have to trust the nature of God and our inheritance in Jesus.  47The Bible calls this ‘knowing and believing  the love God has for us’ (1 John 4:16) – believing is simply receiving the good news of what Christ has already done for us, until our minds are filled with the truth that our heart echoes! (Romans 5:17; Philippians 4:8; Romans 12:2). Fill your mind with resources on the grace and goodness of Jesus, in ways that you enjoy, and watch as you see His love showing up in multi-faceted ways in your life. That includes dreams, and all manner of creative miracles – each a creative explosion of His goodness, in ways tailored to suit our unique personalities. Daddy loves to show up and show off in His love for us! (Mark 16:17-18).45

In the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the heavens were torn open like a great piñata, and every spiritual goodie was poured out upon us – the mysteries of heaven were lavished upon us. God held nothing back! – We have a continuously flowing river of God’s life inside of us, that wells up inside of us every time we believe/rest/rely on the all-sufficiency of Jesus’s love and grace. As we enjoy what Jesus has already accomplished for us, we are refreshed and encouraged in this river of God’s life! (John 4:14; Revelation 22:1; Ezekiel 47:5). We exist in this very river of God’s life! Not only this, but the goodness of God’s creative miracles is unparalleled in the entire world. This is why throughout the Bible, we encounter God’s people being able to understand visions and dreams that the world’s magicians cannot. (Genesis 41:15; Daniel 1:20). You are filled to overflowing with the tangible, manifest glory of Jesus. You don’t need to be hungry for the next revelation, when Jesus Christ is the alpha and the omega (Revelation 22:13) – His cross and resurrection is the ever-satisfying feast (Isaiah 55:1; Jeremiah 31:4; Psalm 36:8; Psalm 23). 46Jesus speaks to you a more personalized and satisfying love than anything in this world. His love is the glory. As you begin to understand the scope of His love for you, you realize that in Christ ‘it is a whole new world’ – a superior reality! (2 Corinthians 5:17) . His love is heaven on earth.

In Ephesians 3:18, God’s love is described with the dimensions of a cube (Ephesians 3:18). This highlights a beautiful truth to us, because the dimensions of the ‘holy of holies’ (the holiest place on earth), and the ‘holy city’ in Revelation, are both given the dimensions of a cube. – All of these things are the love of God! As we enjoy the love of Jesus, we are in the holy of holies and the ‘New Jerusalem’, because it is God’s love and goodness which is His glory. We experience heaven on earth as we enjoy God’s love (Revelation 21:2-3).

Limitless Life Devotional

Put Off, Put On

Ephesians 4:22-24

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; and to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

It is so interesting to see how fashion has progressed over time; that the clothes that once seemed to suit, now repulse. This is what Paul picks up on in Ephesians 4; not the progression of fashion, but wearing that which doesn’t fit or suit properly. Paul is speaking about the fundamental beliefs of the mind and heart, comparing them to earthly garments. So, let me ask you; is what you’re wearing comfortable? Does it fit properly? Does it suit?

Part of Paul’s fundamental theology is the believer’s participation in the death and resurrection of Christ. So, let me say outright that these verses are not talking about you ‘dying to self’. The bible repeatedly states that we have already died with Christ (Rom. 6 etc.). You, that is the old you, the spiritually dead you, was eradicated. You have been rebirthed in Christ’s resurrection, you are new, you are holy, YOU are a Saint (look at how often Paul addresses believers as Saints regardless of their behaviour).

As a Saint though it will be far more comfortable for you to wear clothes (the beliefs of the mind and heart) that are in your heavenly wardrobe! As a holy, righteous Child of the Most High God, as regal son or daughter, it will suit you to wear clothes from the royal chambers. So, put off those beliefs that belong to the Adam (rule based thinking, striving, lack, sin-consciousness, fear). And put on those beliefs which correspond to your new identity (grace based thinking, prosperity, the idea that you are effortlessly holy in Christ). As you change the beliefs of your mind and heart, get rid of law, rules and striving, and believe what God has said about you, you will manifest the full stature of God.

Limitless Life Devotional

Enjoying the Old Testament

Romans 1:2-3

‘…the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son…’

Many Christians struggle with the Old Testament, and for many different reasons. For those still trapped in the bondage of legalism the Old Testament often seems like a testament of failure; a weight enslaving them to the fear of religion. And even for some who have experienced the freedom for which we have been set free the Old Testament can still seem hard – whether hard to understand, or hard to line up with the God revealed in Jesus – and so those people are still left struggling. The reasons the Old Testament seems difficult are diverse, but the antidote is the same; Jesus! Seeing the Old Testament as testifying to the glorious Jesus and his finished work is the way to enjoy the Old Testament and to allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in revelation from Genesis to Malachi.

The Old Testament is so much more than esteemed. So many view these ancient texts as either history or fiction; they strive to iron out the creases in morality, they make loopholes to ensure their sense of academia is intact.  However, the Old Testament is more than esteemed. The ancient texts testify of Jesus Christ, and much like a picture book, or a treasure map, the Old Testament points and leads to Jesus. In types, symbols and shadows the Old Testament reveals glorious hints of the gospel. To us new covenant saints they invite us to experience revelation, indeed the very revelation of Jesus Christ!

So, I want to invite you to enjoy the Old Testament. Remember though, it should never be a work. No, you are free and the Holy Spirit can lead you into revelation using anything. The Old Testament though is a great tool, which you can use to explore the finished work of Jesus Christ. How exciting to know that the Old Testament is not a boring work of antiquity, but an exciting gift list, whereby you can see all the glorious blessings that are already freely yours in Christ! So feel free, and enjoy the Old Testament!

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