Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, 7/13/03
"Because the God who said, Out of darkness light shall shine, is the One who shined in our hearts to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (II Cor. 4:6, Recovery New Testament).
Our topic today is light, God's illumination, which supersedes knowledge to the degree that sunlight supersedes a candle. Commenting on the verse above, our dear friend John Gavazzoni recently remarked, "I love that verse since it clearly implies that when God shines the truth into us, it is from within our own darkness." I love it as well, for it always reminds me of the creation event, when "the earth was without form and an empty waste, and darkness was upon the face of the very great deep. The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light; and there was light" (Gen. 1:2-3, Amplified). About the verse, Witness Lee observed, "His (God's) shining in the universe produced the old creation. Now His shining in their (the believers') hearts made them a new creation." This, then, is the essence of the born again experience, God's light shining in our hearts to dispel the darkness and bring clarity to His sons in this present day.
Jesus said to Nicodemus that unless a man is born again, he can neither SEE nor ENTER the kingdom (John 3:3,5). On another occasion, He declared, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20,21, NIV). I have heard different opinions about what "within you" really means. Some say it indicates that the kingdom is within each one of us individually, while others say it is limited to the body of Christ corporately. My spiritual intuition tells me it is BOTH individual AND corporate, and it is NOW, not projected out to some future date as so many in the church world have done. It makes the verse we began with the more powerful, because God is the light of His kingdom, and this light shines forth, out of the darkness that was in each of us before Christ took up residence in our souls and hearts and minds. This light is what Lenny calls, "Clarity." I asked him to try to explain what he has been getting in Spirit on this subject, which has become the cry of our hearts as we walk with our Father through our lives. Bearing in mind that it is impossible to express in words what comes from eternity, here is what he shared:
"Clarity flows from the eternal and is about the eternal. The natural mind is looking for something to fix because it is so in tune with the Christian work ethic, but when you deal with clarity, you are dealing with the eternal, where there is nothing to fix, where there is total peace and rest and joy, which the natural mind is not used to. So while you are enjoying it spiritually, it is sort of devastating in the natural, and of course, you never want to leave that place. You want to continuously stay there all the time, which the Lord does not allow you to do, but each time that He brings you back to that place, it becomes easier and easier for the natural mind to let go and allow the spiritual mind to flow freely. This does not explain it, for the sky is not big enough to write down the whole revelation of it. If the oceans were ink, it would not be sufficient to write it all down because the joy is so great, the peace is so real, and the innocence in that place is like nothing we experience on earth. Everything is unconditional, pure, and righteous." End Quote.
Mystics like Lenny and others have a way of getting to the bottom line spiritually, which is how God created them to be. The rest of us receive from God in other ways, none the less important. This is why the body of Christ has many members, each with a different function or role to play, and Paul urged us to respect each other's gift and calling that we may all be enriched (I Cor. 12:25-27). Instead, what we often see is rivalry or competition which leaves some feeling inadequate. A perfect example of this came in an e-mail we received this week from a man who asked us to pray that he would get "the full baptism" in the Holy Spirit. He did not receive tongues as a gift, and was apparently told that this means he does not have the Spirit. This "false doctrine of men" is extremely divisive to the body of Christ, and has caused untold damage to the souls of men. The Apostle Paul addresses the gifts of the Spirit in relation to edifying the church, and asks, "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way" (I Cor. 12:29-31), about which he is very clear: "the greatest of these is love" (I Cor. 13:13).
God's love for us is the key to clarity, and along with Paul, I pray that the eyes of our understanding may be opened to know the hope of His calling and the "the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all" (Eph. 1:18-23). Given this description of Christ's all sufficient power, can anyone dare say He will fail to save everyone? The immeasurable greatness of the power of God staggers the imagination, and exceeds our capacity to realize that we are members of His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all. Once the Spirit opens our understanding to see the vast expanse of this affirmation of Christ's power, we lose our inferiority complexes and our fear of failing as we begin to see and feel and taste and experience what it means to be a son of the Most High.
A dear brother in Canada e-mailed a response to my statement last week that though a baby is born perfect, he still must wait to mature and grow into what he was destined to be. Kenneth Greatorex wrote, "As I was reading Colossians 2:9-10, "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority" (NAU), I recalled some things I had been reading about DNA. The truth dawned on me that just as ALL of the fulness of Deity dwelt in Christ, even so it now dwells in us. Now, I use the illustration of the baby, and point out that the full potential to grow into adulthood was already in that baby. Sure, it needed food, and such, but maturity was already there in miniature." End Quote.
His comments got my juices flowing as I reexamined what that means for us now. At times, we live like spiritual beggars, when in fact, we have access to all the fulness of God, all the time in Christ. That thought is so big, we can never get it all tucked inside our natural minds. It's a spiritual truth being revealed by the Spirit of God. Occasionally we hear about someone who died in abject poverty, living on cat food and wearing rags, when in fact they had hoarded money in every drawer, cupboard, and bank account. Many Christians suffer from the same sort of spiritual illness. Have you ever been around someone who only thinks negative thoughts, gloom and doom on the landscape, "Oh woe is me!"? Maybe they are clinically depressed (this is a symptom, for sure), or maybe God has yet to shine His light in their darkness with the Good News that Christ lives in them, and because He does, all that God has in Christ lives in them as well.
Religion has certainly done a job on the minds of men and women everywhere. I have heard Christians quote this verse: "Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves" (Phil. 2:3), as justification for putting themselves down constantly. Self denigration isn't the absence of pride, but the essence of it, for it denies Christ's ability to save, justify, sanctify and purify. Trash talking yourself implies that your life is just too tough for God to handle. That's pride on the hoof, my friends.
And yet, I recognize and have spoken of it for several weeks now that our physical lives often do not reflect this abundance in God. Do we believe what we see with our natural eyes, or what we hear from the Spirit of God? To believe what we see with our natural eyes is like looking at an embarrassing snap shot. You know the kind I mean, the ones depicting a bad hair day, a frowning face day, or a flabby body day. There it is, a horrible Kodak moment in Technicolor, for everyone to see. I don't know about you, but I quickly deposit those little mistakes in the round file. They don't represent who I really am, or what I really look like, so why dwell on the negative? Thus it is with our lives when we are having a crisis, feeling angry, blue, confused or otherwise flummoxed emotionally. These occasions, no matter how long they last, are but a moment in time, a mere blip on God's radar screen, a nano second in eternity. These troubling events in our lives don't really amount to a "hill of beans" as they say around these parts. Yet, we all know people, who like Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration, wanted to build three tabernacles to commemorate the occasion. No wonder the voice of God thundered on that mountain, "THIS is my beloved Son. Hear ye Him!"
As great as Moses and Elijah were to the Jewish people, and as much as they did to serve the living God, they too, and all their efforts, were merely a blip on God's radar screen. They lived and died and were whisked off to glory, as this incident clearly shows, but it is Christ to whom we are to listen, not them. That rather effectively wipes out the law and the prophets all in one fell swoop. God is saying to us, "Don't build a tabernacle around your failures or your successes so you can go in and worship them. Move on into the Glory which was with me from the foundation of the world."
A friend in California once told me about her wretched ex-husband, how he abused her, and how dreadful the marriage was. After several minutes of listening to this litany of woe, I finally asked her, "How long have you been divorced from this jerk?" She replied, "12 years." My face must have been a study, because from the way she had been talking about him, I assumed she had just barely escaped with her life last week! She had built a tabernacle around the horrific events of her marriage and clearly, visited there often. She has now toddled off to Glory, but at her funeral, as I listened to all her friends and the priest who officiated at the mass, speak of her good deeds, her codependent efforts to rescue anyone and everyone, I realized that God in His mercy and grace had taken her home for it was the only way she could ever get rest.
God is immutable, steadfast, and determined to work out His perfect will in our lives. "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified" (Rom. 8:29-30, RSV). Dear ones, we were called before the foundation of the world, not because of works we have done, but because HE wanted to call us (Eph. 1:4, II Tim. 1:9-10). Since we had nothing whatsoever to do with His calling us, why do Christians persist in thinking there is something we can do to be justified in His sight or to present ourselves faultless before His Throne? You know the answer as well as I do, but I believe the time is here when God is beginning to turn up the wattage of His light in our lives. He is beginning to reveal Himself to us, here a little, there a little. In the process of unveiling Himself in our flesh, He applies heat and pressure as needed, not to hurt us, but to keep us focused.
We received an e-mail from a brother this week, who shared some thoughts written by a friend of his. The woman obviously is a mystic, and so I ask you cognitives to set aside your analytical minds for a moment and go with the flow of her thoughts, which captivated me.
"Only this morning I was lying in my bed and the thought was there: "WHAT IF there were really and truly no struggle?" WHAT IF there really and truly were only Peace? I don't mean the kind of Peace that 'overcomes' the turmoils, but the kind of Peace that knows nothing of the turmoils. WHAT IF??? What if I walk a whole day in that Peace knowing NO RESISTANCE to Peace? Nothing but Peace. I don't mean, 'Do I have peace in the midst of the tribulation?' I mean WHAT IF there is ONLY PEACE, LOVE, JOY, TRUST, GLORY AND BEAUTY AND NO TURMOIL? Not only, 'No turmoil,' but WHAT IF I don't even know there is such a thing as turmoil?
"I know some may be laughing at me and even shaking a finger telling me that I have to have the contrast, but I will tell you that for a few brief moments this morning, I imagined no hell for real. Maybe I stepped into the city where there is no need for the sun for Christ is the Light and there is no darkness at all." End Quote
Some may sneer and ask, "What has she been smoking?" But I would say to them, "Don't knock what you have not experienced, YET," for scripture declares that one day all of us will experience exactly this, and not just for a moment, for eternity. Lenny has always enjoyed moments like this. He has begun to refer to them as "Clarity," because at those moments, he enters eternity. He hates to come out of it, for when he does, the relentless pain in his body assails him, but for the time he is there, he is pain free.
We do live in a world of contrasts, but God invites us to join Him in His throne where no harm can befall us, where sin cannot molest, near to the heart of God. God's light has shown in our hearts "to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Father, let Your light so shine in our hearts that all fear and darkness will flee away and only You remain. We thank You for brooding over the face of our deep, and we ask You to turn up the power so that the whole earth can see the City set on a hill, the Light of the world, flowing through us out into the darkness. Make us instruments of Your peace, mercy, kindness, grace, and unconditional love wherever You send us. Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 7/12/03
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/27/08.