Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 5/4/03
"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16:19, NIV).
We have finally finished the series, "Second Hand Religion" (See End Note), which ran from January 26 to April 27th. In it, we looked at the differences between the ties that bind (Religion) and freedom in Christ (Life in the Spirit). Perhaps as an epilogue to this subject, the Lord has been talking to me recently about binding and loosing. I was very familiar with those verses during my sojourn through the Charismatic movement, for we practiced casting and binding the devil out of everything in sight. I blush to tell you that I once even cast him out of my clothes dryer which had stopped for no good reason. Ever since the Lord caught me up higher than that childishness, I have cringed at the thought of binding and casting. However, what He emphasized this time was, "whatsoever you loose ON EARTH shall be loosed in heaven." This time, the emphasis was definitely on loosing, not binding, and it finally struck me that this is because for generations, men have been bound up every which way by the doctrines and traditions of men. After all, He came to set the captives free (Luke 4:18).
We received an e-mail from a dear friend who wrote, "In the year 2,000, the Lord began to have me pray over folks in a much different manner. He showed me that WE HAVE POWER TO REMIT SINS and that our WORDS ARE SPIRIT AND LIFE and He had me remit SINS OF PERSONS AND.... THEIR ANCESTORS. He showed me that this removes all "holds" of the enemy and then He had me "COMMAND EVERY CELL IN THEIR BODY TO PRODUCE LIFE INSTEAD OF DEATH." (This is exactly what the Lord told Lenny as well, that He should "speak healing into being," since "by His stripes we WERE healed.")
Our friend went on to say that she was reminded of Jesus' statement, "Thy Kingdom Come; Thy will be done," showing her that all prayer must be led by the Spirit of God and in God's will to be effective. All else is works, or as she called it, "a religious ritual, an instrument of witchcraft being used in the spirit of antichrist to attempt to manipulate God." End Quote.
Those are strong words, but God uses whatever means He needs to get our attention, to show us WHO is in control. Most tend to project our inheritance in Christ out to some future time, but in fact, Jesus said that this binding and loosing, whatever it may be, is ON EARTH! That excites me, big time.
The dictionary defines "loose" as 1. "free or released from fastening or attachment," and 2. "free from confinement or restraint; unfettered." I get a mental picture here of a butterfly just out of its chrysalis, fluttering heavenward for the first time, or a wild condor, raised in captivity, which is finally set free to fly unfettered in its natural habitat. It makes my spirit soar to contemplate this freedom we have in Christ, which looses us from our bindings, unhooks us from the restraints which kept us tied down, and allows us to be "raptured," caught up to the throne at the Lord's pleasure, and ours as well.
It is so sad to me that the church world fears freedom, believing that it may be a license to sin. Paul encountered that fear as well, which lead him to ask, "NOW what is our response to be? Shall we sin to our heart's content and see how far we can exploit the grace of God?" (Rom. 6:1, Phillips). He answers the question this way: "What a terrible thought! We, who have died to sin, how could we live in sin a moment longer?" (Vs. 2). He gives the definitive reason why we NO LONGER live in sin: "for a dead man can safely be said to be free from the power of sin" (Vs. 7). These few verses are our "ticket out" of the depressing mental and emotional place where most Christians dwell: SIN and GUILT. Dead men don't sin, and we are dead in Christ (Rom. 6:4, 11; 7:4). End of statement.
The Lord had impressed upon me to send the series we just finished on "Second Hand Religion" to a couple who were very close friends back in the glory days of coming out of Fundamentalism into the Charismatic movement. Truthfully, I had not thought of them in years, because they live in California and we've been in Missouri for 5 years this month, but I practice quick obedience to what I get from the Spirit, and so I began mailing them the lessons each week. That it was an exercise in futility crossed my mind, but mine is not to ask why, only to obey. Finally, yesterday, we got a letter from him which acknowledged our long history together as well as our mutual love of Jesus, but he ended up by saying, "We need to suggest that your resources might be better spent than sending us your journal. While we sincerely love to hear form you and care very much about how you are doing, our "doctrines" in the final analysis, are miles apart. And, because we are both happy (and confident) where we are, the chances of change (if that is your reason for sending the papers), is probably nil." End quote.
I don't know when I have been brushed off so kindly, and it came as no real surprise, but I wondered what I should do next. As I was driving to town, I asked the Lord about it. Should I send him a letter telling him that I was only obeying the Spirit? Should I shine it on? Should I stop sending them? What? I heard, "Whatsoever you loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven." That sent skyrockets shooting around in my spirit, and so, I immediately loosed them from whatever ties may bind them. Having been in a fellowship with them, where he was an Elder, and his wife the first one to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in our group, I know what ties bound them then, but only God knows what binds them today. This was the fellowship that summarily fired our dear friend John Gavazzoni, a Pastor there, for privately confiding to a deacon that he believed God would eventually save everyone. That event was my exodus from among this group, since those who stayed had to actually sign a statement of faith which, among other things, professed a belief in an everlasting hell.
The other tie that binds this man and his wife, as well as countless other Christians is the works mentality. Somehow, Paul's statement that if it is by works, it is no longer grace (Rom. 11:6), has escaped them, and that is because, for His own purposes, God has blinded their eyes and stopped their ears (Rom. 11:8).
I awoke several times in the night after hearing the Lord's voice, with the request to loose them on earth on my mind and heart. Since God is the one who blinded them, it is He alone who can loose them and everyone else who is in bondage to law and works, twin hallmarks of religion. I love Paul's affirmation to Timothy: "For he has saved us from all that is evil and called us to a life of holiness, not because of any of our achievements but for his own purpose. Before time began he planned to give us in Christ Jesus the grace to achieve purpose" (II Tim. 1:9, Phillips). The Philips translation enhances the meaning and leaves no doubt that we were chosen before the foundation of the world, and given our calling at that time. To me, this is the antidote for the malady so visible in many Christians, i.e., anxiety, worry and guilt about their walk. Since God is the one who called us, He is the one who is the author and FINISHER of our faith (Heb. 12:2), the One who "will keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing" (Jude 24).
Those who were born on "the good side" of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, have a difficult time accepting that God does NOT NEED their works. Please know that I am not saying we should not work in the kingdom. I am saying rather, that our work is that which we see the Father doing and our words are what we hear the Father saying (John 5:19; 8:28). All else is what Isaiah called "filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6), and Paul referred to as "dung" (Phil. 3:8). I had a conversation with Harry Fox about this, and he commented that all who work their fingers to the bone for God are the elder brother type, and like him, they go away angry and resentful at the thought that their brother, the prodigal son, who whored, gambled and drank away his inheritance, gets a warm welcome from the Father, feasting on a fatted calf, with a robe and ring and a crown. It is intolerable to that mentality to think that someone who not only has not worked, but who has frittered it all away will get the same reward as he.
In Jesus' story of the Prodigal Son, the elder brother complained, "'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' "'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found'" (Luke 15:29-32). This son's hardness of heart is reflected in those who believe they will be raptured out of here, while the Lord wreaks His vengeance and wrath on the sinners left behind. I heard one Televangelist say that the faithful would be feasting on fried chicken and potatoes mashed with real cream (he is a pudgy little guy), while the unsaved are mowed down on earth like so many ants. He assured his TV audience that they wouldn't gain any weight on the Lord's repast. How sick is that?
The elder brother never gets it that the inheritance belongs to the father, to give or withhold as He sees fit. The vineyard owner told the ones complaining because the eleventh hour workers got the same pay they did, "'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'" (Matt. 20:13-15). Jesus concluded, "So the last will be first, and the first will be last" (Vs. 16), but He didn't say they would be cheerful about it.
The hue and cry and rejection Carlton Pearson has experienced for expressing his "Gospel of inclusion," meaning that God will ultimately save everyone, reflects the current attitude and belief among traditional Christians. They don't like it one little bit and are NOT afraid to say so. I'm sure Brother Pearson has learned the truth of Jesus admonition: "Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" (Matt. 10:17-20, NIV).
The antidote for Religion is Life in the Spirit, His life gifted to us, breathed upon us when we were born again, and flowing forth from us to enrich and provide water for a thirsty world. When Jesus appeared to the Disciples after His resurrection, He said to them, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven" (John 20:21-23, NIV). When the Lord first began talking to me about being loosed from our bonds on earth, I saw the connection between freedom and forgiveness. Only God has the power to forgive sins, so this is not the meaning of the statement, "if you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." What it means is a great psychological truth. If you bear unforgiveness in your heart toward someone, YOU BOTH are bound up, tied up in emotional knots, in the prison of hate and bitterness, and you will in no wise get out of that bondage, until you forgive the one who injured you.
What I saw by the Spirit, is that when someone has injured you, your forgiveness of them sets YOU FREE, and looses them from the burden of guilt they carry, on an unconscious level. When you have asked someone you injured for forgiveness, but still the relationship is marred, loose them on earth. Let them go. See them caught up to the throne. In that way, both of you are free as God heals the hurt.
Only by the power of the indwelling Spirit is this possible, which is why Jesus breathed on them the Holy Spirit, for He knew what lay ahead in their lives and ours as well. Here are Witness Lee's comments on John 20:22:
"Hence, the Lord's breathing of the Holy Spirit into the disciples was the fulfillment of His promise of the Holy Spirit as Comforter... Here the Spirit as breath was breathed as life into the disciples for their life. By breathing the Spirit into the disciples, the Lord imparted Himself into them as life and everything...
"As falling into the ground to die and growing out of the ground transforms the grain of wheat into another form, one that is new and living, so the death and resurrection of the Lord transfigured Him from the flesh into the Spirit. As the last Adam in the flesh, through the process of death and resurrection, He became a life-giving Spirit (I Cor. 15:45). As He is the embodiment of the Father, so the Spirit is the realization, the reality, of Him. It is as the Spirit that He was breathed into the disciples. It is as the Spirit that He is received into His believers and flows out of them as rivers of living water (John 7:38-39). It is as the Spirit that He can live in the disciples and enable them to live by and with Him (John 14:19)." End quote.
Once more, when He opens our eyes to see this truth, we acknowledge that there is nothing else but God, no one else with whom we have to do. He is the originator and the fulfiller of all things in our lives. Oh, the wonder of it, that He who was complete within Himself, needing nothing, created out from Himself all things, that He might fellowship with us, live in us, and be our Father, our Mother and our elder Brother. Each of us in Christ is a microcosm of the God family, a living picture of His will and purpose on earth. I believe this is true individually, even as Paul says it is corporately.
Father, show us the immeasurable greatness of Your power in us who believe. Reveal Your love which is in all things, through all things, and above all things, and flow in that love outward from us to the waiting creation. Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
"Second Hand Religion"
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uplifted to the web on 5/3/03
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister
and last edited on 10/27/08.