Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 11//23/03
"Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel" (Eph. 6:19, NIV).
Everyone loves a mystery, and murder mysteries are particularly popular with authors and film makers. TV news shows like "48 Hours," "Date Line," and "Prime Time" frequently feature real life "Whodunit" stories, the gorier the better. For that reason, I seldom watch them anymore, though I do enjoy a carefully crafted fictional mystery. Perhaps that's because with fiction, I can tell myself that no one really died. In God's Mystery, however, someone did die a horrible, gory death, with all the drama anyone could imagine. Mel Gibson has produced a movie called "The Passion," about the last 12 hours of Christ's life, which is said to be realistic in every bloody detail. If violence is a big money maker, this film should rake in millions. In God's mystery, the question is not, "Who did it?" But rather, "Why did Jesus have to die such a hideous death to accomplish the purposes of God?"
The prophet Amos said long ago "Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7, RSV). The prophets delivered the word of the Lord because that was their job description, but I have often wondered if they were given clarity about the meaning of the words. For instance, when King Hezekiah of Judah told the prophet Isaiah that the king of Babylon had sent messengers with a letter and a gift to him, a get well present, so to speak (See II Kings 20:1-13), Isaiah delivered this chilling word from God: "The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood, that will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon" (II Kings 20:17-18, NIV). The study note reveals that, "Isaiah's prediction of Babylonian exile at least 115 years before it happened is all the more remarkable because, when he spoke, it appeared that Assyria rather than Babylon was the world power from whom Judah had the most to fear." End Quote.
I can't help but wonder if Isaiah knew how far in the future his words would come to pass, or if like some of the rest of us to whom God has given a revelation, he wondered if he was nuts and made the whole thing up because it didn't happen during his life time? We may never know until we can ask him in person, and perhaps in the grand scheme of things, it isn't important, but I was born asking, "Why?" "When?" "How long?"
When the Lord gave me a firm nudge to read Ephesians, Chapter Three, this week, I was immediately struck by Paul's opening statement: "Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly" (Eph. 3:2-3, NIV). The Apostle is, of course, speaking of the mystery of the Gospel, which was "hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints" (Col. 1:26). Many Old Testament prophets spoke about future events, but another purpose for prophecy is simply revealing God's PRESENT word, as Paul did throughout his ministry. The elect in this hour have the same calling, to share the Father's mysteries to a lost and dying world. The gospel is the only power which can deliver the world from the hell in which it finds itself right now, today, but even on a secular level, everything is a mystery until you get a revelation about it.
Many people get knowledge about a subject by reading books, attending classes, or doing research, but there comes a moment in any pursuit of truth, secular or spiritual, when the light bulb comes on and you see the truth of the matter.
My thanks to Linda Keith and the Lord for sending me an excellent piece by Dan Stone called "Revelation: God's Way of Knowing." His comments are a second witness to what God would have us consider today. He writes, "The Holy Spirit teaches both by revelation and experience. The revelation can be instant and direct, without being transmitted by any formal ''teaching.'' We say, ''Oh, I see.'' The Spirit then uses seen and temporal experiences to work that revelation into us. The revelation gets established in us through personal experience." That has been very true in my life. Revelation from God comes not so we can be smarter or more spiritual than other followers of Christ, but so we can understand what God is doing and often, when we share it with others, they too, will become hungry to drink directly from the well of living water, which He is.
Brother Stone continues, "When God gives you a flash of insight, that's it. ''Oh, I see!'' Everything else, from then on, is just an elaboration on that flash. When you know, you are forever changed in that area. You'd have to make a conscious effort to go back on what the Holy Spirit showed you. That's why it's hard to sin in an area when the Holy Spirit truly shows you something. It's hard to go back on truth. Truth liberates."
The point he is making is the same one spoken of by the Apostle Peter, when he said that any person who has tasted the glory of God and then turns his back on it is like "a dog returning to its vomit," and, a washed sow that "goes back to her wallowing in the mud" (II Pet. 2:22). Those who have received the revelation of God's salvation of all, for instance, can never go back to believing in hell fire and eternal damnation. Reconciliation is who God is and what He does.
Dan Stone concludes his essay by observing, "The work of the Holy Spirit is declaring to us the Father and the Son within us. The Spirit makes no declaration about Himself. He attempts no glorification of Himself. He doesn't point to the fruit or the gifts. The Holy Spirit does not single Himself out because nothing originates with Him. The Spirit is the means by which the life of the Father and the Son comes forth. He wants us to know that we manifest the life of the Father and the Son. That is His Revelation." End Quote.
In other words, what God has to reveal to each of us is Jesus the Christ. The last book of the bible is called Revelation (singular). It IS the revelation of Christ IN US, the hope of glory. Many wannabe prophets are out there writing books and producing movies with their literal interpretations of spiritual symbols. They are making money hand over fist by scaring the spiritually unenlightened, but to call what they do either revelation or prophetic truth is a mockery of what God has offered us by the power of His Holy Spirit.
Jesus said, "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you" (John 16:13,14, RSV). Anyone speaking of spiritual things without the anointing of the Spirit is but a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal (the Apostle Paul), a fool who struts and frets his hour upon the stage, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing (William Shakespeare).
Paul said he received the mystery of the gospel by revelation. No man taught it to him, but God himself imparted this wonderful plan of the ages. He explained to the Ephesian brethren what this plan entailed: "This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 3: 5-6, NIV). I have read those verses many times, but when the Lord asked me to read it, He turned up the rheostat for me and would have us consider in-depth what it means that the Gentiles are fellow heirs with Israel to the promised inheritance given to Abraham's seed.
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul explained what the inheritance is, "To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27, RSV). He wrote the Ephesians, "This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church" (Eph. 5:32). So which is it? Christ in you, or in the church? It's both. Anyone who is in Christ is in the church, regardless of what rituals he performed or indoctrinations he received.
If you substitute the word "pagan" for Gentile, you get a glimpse of what the Apostle spent his life imparting to the world in which he lived. God loves all men, even the slimy, unbelieving pagans. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit saw to it that Paul's revelation was preserved for the rest of us to feed upon, with His help.
The Jews were a chosen people, special unto the Lord, but God told Abraham that ALL NATIONS would be blessed in his seed, which is Christ (Gal. 3:8, 16). The promise applied to more than one man, one tribe, one nation, or one continent; it was for ALL men, for God was "not willing that any should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance" (II Pet. 3:9). We serve a God, "who desires ALL men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for ALL, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time" (I Tim. 2:4-6, RSV).
This glorious truth, proclaimed by Paul, was, he said, hidden for generations. All during the time when God's dealings were primarily with Israel, the rest of the world was in darkness and despair, "separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Eph. 2:12). This is why the angel's proclamation to the shepherds keeping watch outside Bethlehem is so glorious: "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to ALL the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10,11, RSV). The glad tidings, God's GOOD NEWS was to be for ALL people, not just the Jews!
Matthew proclaimed that Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined" (Matt. 4:12-16; Isaiah 9:2). The Apostle John declared that the whole world lies in wickedness, in the darkness of sin and death (I John. 5:19), which is a pretty bleak statement, until you realize that, "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2). What does that mean exactly?
We had an excellent e-mail this week from a brother who has been given the revelation of God's reconciliation of all men. When his church brethren found out that he believed just what the angels had declared to the shepherds, they stripped him of his office of deacon and forbade him the teaching position he had at the time. One of the men to whom he had shared this glorious gospel, wrote to him, "You know nothing about nothing. You are deceived." How rude, but how sadly typical of church folks who have been led down the garden path of the traditions of men, and faulty bible translations. Yet, when you walk in the gospel truth, it begins to seep deep in the crevices of your soul. It gets into your DNA and changes your whole perspective and all your relationships as well.
My observation over the time we've been involved in this Internet Ministry is that it takes a while for the truth of the gospel to renew your mind, to sharpen your spiritual intuition, and to deliver you from the judgment, fear, criticism, and negativity that characterizes the church world. I hear from kingdom folk who proudly declare that they have "come out from among them," meaning they don't go to church anymore, because, they say, those poor slobs are just so deceived. Here's a news flash. It's easy to get out of church. You just stop going, but it takes the Holy Spirit to get the traditions of men and/or the church out of you.
There's a reason Jesus said, "Judge not." He knew that whatever judgment we hand out, men will hand back to us: "For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get" (Matt. 7:2). It's shameful to hear the judgment and abuse that ET (eternal torment) and UR (ultimate reconciliation) believers heap upon each other. Of such is the world, NOT the kingdom of God. Jesus did NOT say the world would know us by our correct doctrine, so proudly held by legalists everywhere, but by our LOVE for each other (John 13:34; 15:12, 17; I Thes. 4:9; I John 3:11,23). The Apostle John had a lot to say about love. Have you ever noticed this truth? "Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God" (I John 4:7, RSV). He who loves is BORN OF GOD! If you think you have been born again, but still feel judgment and criticism for another, you need to run, not walk back to the Lord and get your hard drive rebuilt and your operating system replaced.
A song we sang in the eighties, "They will know we are Christians by our love," reveals that the mystery of the gospel is LOVE, which is the answer to the question of WHY Christ had to die: "For God so LOVED the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, NOT to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him" (John 3:16,17, RSV). About that, Harry Fox observed, "Christ did not die so that God could forgive us, but rather God's forgiving love of us is what brought on the death of Christ....His death was not the cause of God's forgiveness, but rather its accompaniment."
Prophecy addicts flit like a bee from flower to flower, seeking this new revelation or that one. Some of it is a genuine desire to know God at a deeper level, but some of it stems from the need to get the inside track, to run ahead of the crowd, to sit at the left or right hand of Jesus, as James and John tried to do. He said, if you want to be the greatest in the kingdom, be the servant of all (Mark 9:35).
Father, reveal Yourself in us, that Your love will flow forth in purity and strength to those who have never experienced unconditional love. Bring forth the New Creation in us and through us, and empower us to share the mystery of the gospel with the whole world in LOVE and POWER that transcends words. Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
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This page was uploaded to the web on 11/20/03,
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/28/08.