16. Rest and Father
The entire purpose of our union with Christ is Father walking this earth.
16. Rest and Father
The first knowledge of Father coming into our awareness is rest. The first words we hear, as we awaken, just dimly, to the reality of Father is “Shut up – Hold your peace – Be silent before Me.” The second words we hear, as we do shut our mouths, at least for one second, is, “See the Salvation of God.”
Picture a train, the mile-long ones that cross the prairies. Rest is the face of Father; rest is the face of the locomotive. We ride always in and as the face of Father, in pure and perfect rest that He is all that we are, and that He knows exactly what He is doing.
But the face of that locomotive is, let's say, an inch wide. A mile-long train is 63,360 inches long. After the first inch, there are 63,359 inches to go.
The first part of Father is and always remains for us pure and perfect rest. But in that rest, look out, because there is a whole lot of Father coming through.
The rest we continuously enjoy is Christ our only life, the Always-Face of Father.
In this letter, I want to talk about a whole lot of Father coming through.
To most, the goal of the believer is bliss forever in heaven. Many who teach union with Christ portray it as a way of making our lives here on this earth at least partly a similar bliss before the “real” bliss ahead.
I teach that the entire purpose of our union with Christ is Father walking this earth.
But Father cannot walk this earth except through a Body of faith and faith cannot connect with God unless it connects with Word. Thus the Word of Father walking the earth through us must be spoken out from the pages of the New Testament, and it must be received by eager hearers who believe all that God speaks before it can bring forth it's life – Father Himself actually manifest and revealed.
Somehow the verses of the New Testament must become to us a Word of Father revealed through us.
Now, I want to reiterate this understanding of God's being that I first saw as I wrote “The Form of God” and that became clearer for me as I wrote “The God of Union.” I repeat it over and over, along with the description of God that I first penned in “The Weakness of God,” that of the arising One, the becoming One, because as I repeat these things, I see God ever more clearly.
I love to see God; He is so wondrously glorious, quite different from what Christianity has painted Him.
First, let me bring in a simple piece of basic understanding.
The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. Revelation 21:21
Now, John says clearly that the angel is giving him a view of the church of Jesus Christ. These words do not describe the substance of the heavens; they describe who and what we are as the church, the Bride of Christ.
This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:32
Gold is a metaphor of God. Notice where the gold is – God is beneath our feet. Every step we take is a step taken only in God. God is the arising One, the One who, coming up from beneath of us, carrying us inside Himself, then conforms Himself to us, becoming as we are in all of our weakness.
I heard again recently the injunction that we must “come into submission to the Father.” Those who say that seem never to display any concern over the fact that, even after decades of saying that, they do not and are not.
It is impossible for us to come under Father, for Father is always beneath of us. It is only Father who can catch us up in Himself, carrying us where otherwise we could never ever go. Did you notice the gold on the street Jesus stumbled upon, the way of sorrow, the Father always beneath His every step?
Those who say, “come into submission to the Father,” have never quite connected with the first words God speaks to us, the only words that allow all that Father is to become known to us and through us.
Shut up. – “Rest utterly in My Salvation, seated with Me upon My Father's throne.”
Put on the Lord Jesus Christ is synonymous with our present streets of gold stretching ever before us, not one step ahead that is not entirely in and upon the Father. “Put on,” enduo, means to sink into as into a garment, as into the covers of one's bed. We sink utterly into the aggressive acceptance that Jesus is our life, our righteousness, our flesh, our self, our wisdom, our mind, our all, our everything.
And raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6
Rest is always the first part of “sit.” But be careful, for the moment we sit down upon the throne of heaven, there is a whole lot of Father rushing through.
We can talk much, and many do, about the authority of the believer and about the power of God available to the believer. There are many verses we could pick to talk about these things. The problem is that almost all discussion about these things I have ever heard or read has been in the context of the human doing this or that, or believing this or that, out from something granted to the human by a God who yet remains far away.
If Father coming through is not 99.99% of what we are seeing when we speak of “authority” and “power,” then we ain’t' sitting in the right place.
How does Father come through?
Father is All Here Now and Personal, absolute. You cannot find one point of space in heaven or earth, one particle of substance in heaven or earth, one moment of time in heaven or earth except God is All Here Now Personal inside of it. – Yet this All Here Now Personal Father is unknown.
Father becomes known for the first time through the Man, Christ Jesus. – He that has seen Me has seen the Father. But this same Jesus then says a most extraordinary thing. – It is to your advantage that I go away, John 16:7, followed by, through Paul – Christ lives in your hearts by faith.
Note that Jesus lives in my heart is the first part of the second most important verse in the Bible, filled with all the fullness of God.
We could never believe that this very same Jesus IS entirely, personally, and literally, on the inside of us if we kept seeing Him in a created form, earthly or heavenly, on the outside of us. Thus we find that the knowledge of this All Here Now and Personal God arises out from one place alone – our hearts. There is no other source in the universe of the knowledge of God. –There I will meet with you.
As this invisible God, then, passes from un-known-ness to being known in our hearts, He does so by becoming another Person, Christ Jesus. Then this same Father coming through this other Person in our Hearts, becomes our person, Person inside of person, Father, now, inside of us.
Father inside of us only ever comes into our knowledge through the Lord Jesus Christ residing in our hearts, yet coming through Christ, Father is Father now known in us. Thus Jesus is always the firstborn inside of each individual member of His body. And we are always the second born.
Here is another way to see it. Father, coming through Jesus in our hearts, fashions us as Himself by the same image that is Jesus, the same DNA, merged in all ways with the DNA of our own faith and expression. That is exactly what the most important verse in the Bible, Romans 8:29, says.
I sat last night during our Christmas time of opening presents marveling at the absolute wealth of Father given to me in my children. All four are entirely out from my seed and image; all four are entirely out from my wife's seed and image. Yet all four are entirely their own persons, rich and complex, enjoyable and beautiful.
I see Father in each one and I see that Father is beneath every step each one takes. I have no fear for my children, for Father is utterly underneath of them, carrying them by His own will all the way into life. Because I see Father carrying each one by His will, I have no need to put out my hand to “control” them. Because I will not control them, but impute my absolute trust in Father towards them in every circumstance, they are free to hear the Father speaking to them through me. They are also free of me. Because my children are free of me, I know that Father keeps them and that they walk in the goodness and favor of God.
How does Father come through?
Father comes through as we believe that He is. As we look at ourselves as we appear in all ways right now, as we look at our every circumstance, as we look at whatever difficulty we might find rolling around in us, we see one thing alone, Father coming through. It is Father, as He wishes in the present moment.
Yet here is what we know of Father. As we rest utterly in Him, that it is already He coming through us, reconciling the world to Himself through our every difficulty, sharing with us things of His own heart, in the small things of our present lives, then Father will trust us to be Himself more and more through us.
If we cannot know that our present mundane difficulties ARE Father as He wishes to show Himself right now, then we will never be able to handle the bigger things of Father yet ahead. Look at all the misuse of the name of God in Christian history. Is it no wonder that He requires us to know first that we are Father revealed while all outward appearance seems to say the opposite?
Father has had enough of human gimmicking; pretending cannot know Him. Father requires utter and total trust, the same trust of Jesus as He put one foot ahead of the other, all the way into death, not worrying one moment what outward appearance might look like, even when He was face down in the refuse of the street, a total failure at carrying His own cross.
Why does Father come through?
Father comes through you and me, His body, His temple, to be known by all of His creation as He really is.
When we say, a whole lot of Father coming through, what do we mean?
He that has seen Me has seen the Father. – We know what to expect by Jesus.
We see Father in five specific ways coming through Jesus. In those same ways, He comes through us into His creation, into being seen and known and loved by all, and undoubtedly many more ways besides.
Let me list those ways and then talk about them one at a time. First is the parable of the exuberant father, told by Jesus, misnamed as the parable of the prodigal son. This parable sets the tone for all other expressions of Father. Second is Jesus' ministry of healing, and third is Jesus' ministry of patient teaching. Fourth is Jesus' rising to His feet in Gethsemane, the single most specific and most deeply meaningful of all views of Father granted to us. Finally is Father walking in Jesus the path of the atonement, stumbling under our burden, carrying us in His arms all the way into life.
I talked about the parable of the exuberant father in my letter “Father” in The Two Gospels. Let me bring in again the pertinent lines from Luke 15.
A certain FATHER had two sons. And the younger of them said to his FATHER, ‘FATHER, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So FATHER divided to them his livelihood. – And he arose and came to his FATHER. But when he was still a great way off, his FATHER saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. – The FATHER said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it,and let us eat and be merry. – And FATHER said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad.'
Father appears eight times in this parable. You can see His reckless exuberance. First Father is established as the progenitor of His sons; we come entirely out from Him and from our mother, the church, the faith of the human, the faith of the Son of God. The next two times, Father is established in personal relationship with His sons, they speak to Him and He to them face to face and heart to heart. The fourth time is Father giving the inheritance, all of creation and all of Himself, to His sons, to do with as they wish. Father gives without qualification, without any reservation.
Then, Father appears to the wasteful son as the lodestone, the one calling to his heart. However, the very second the son takes the first step back to Father, Father is the one running towards him, having seen His son “a great way off.” The final two episodes of Father are the most indicative of His being and nature. Concerning the son who wasted everything, Father says to His servants, “Let's bring out all of my wealth and throw a party.” To the son who is stingy and mean-hearted, Father says, “Hey, let's make merry and be glad.”
Most of the times I have discussed the second most important verse in the Bible, Ephesians 3:19, I have failed to add the definitional verse 20 flowing out of verse 19.
That you might be filled with all the fullness of God. – Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.
Ephesians 3:20 is the story of our exuberant Father rushing through us to heal and to give life and joy to all.
I have no connection with the “poverty gospel.” Yes, we trust God, even through the loss of everything. But you take the most excessive excess of the “prosperity gospel,” and it cannot measure up to the reality of Father. Father blesses with all abundance in all directions. Abraham was the richest man in the middle east.
All thinking of curse is of the evil one; all thinking of favor and blessing is of Father.
The problem is not having abundance for every good work. The problem is living for self outside of the Lord Jesus Christ – preaching Christ from selfish ambition.
I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13
When Father knows that nothing hinders Him from revealing Himself through us, then look out, because abundance and prosperity in every direction, heavenly things, human heart things, and material blessings, will be flowing through sons who pour themselves out in every way for others, laying down their lives and all their possession for the sake of His body.
We see Father through Jesus' ministry of healing and teaching. Every aspect of that ministry is the revelation of Father, who He is, what He longs to do for people.
It wasn't just Jesus reaching out to heal, but Father. It wasn't just Jesus gathering children into His lap, but Father. It wasn't just Jesus being patient with all, even with the Pharisees, but Father. It wasn't just Jesus who delighted in the form and expression of every individual person, but Father.
You can peruse your own seeing of Father through the gospels, even using The Jesus Secret to make the revelation of Father personal in you; here I want to go on to Gethsemane.
And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” Luke 22:41-46
We know from Matthew's account of this same moment, that Luke is describing Jesus' third time of praying, and that each of the three times lasted about an hour. Thus, we can rightly place these words: And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground, at the mid-point of that last hour. Thus, we count thirty minutes from the moment of the greatest agony for Jesus until these words describing the MOST INCREDIBLE action in all the history of the universe.
He rose up from prayer.
Jesus was a human, and the physical duress of the coming day was most certainly inside His concern, but I doubt that it weighed very heavily. Jesus certainly did not experience that agony because of what might happen to Him over the next few hours. All of His life He had trusted Father absolutely, placing one foot in front of the other. He possessed the boldest heart of all the human race, bolder even than David's. A true warrior is never “unafraid” in the moments leading up to the fight, knowing that pain is ahead, but neither does any great warrior waste his strength over fear of what might happen.
May I suggest that this one-half hour, from agony to rising up from prayer, is the greatest revelation of Father.
Having been through similar experiences on a far lesser scale, I can map out, dimly to be sure, the transition taking place inside of Jesus. I know agony. The recent article on Aspergers that I shared with you has so helped me to understand how it is that the empathy and sensitivity I have always felt, strong and full, so often just too overwhelming, is a gift, not a disability. I suspect now that people who go through life not feeling much of anything concerning other people or even concerning themselves are the ones with a disability, even though they are able to function better than I can in the world.
But, knowing agony, I also know how that agony comes into peace inside of Jesus.
The agony was over the cup, a cup that contains wine to drink. – Wine is the fruit of the earth.
The essence of Paul's gospel is that Jesus did NOT take our place on the cross, but rather, Jesus took you and me into Himself and thus, we died in Him. And when He arose from the dead, we also arose inside of Him.
The contents of the cup IS you and me, including all of our anti-Christ words, deeds, and thoughts.
Haggai asks the question, if that which is unholy touches that which is holy, does that which is holy not then become unholy? If you pour unholiness into holiness, which one swallows up the other? (Hint: The law has a different answer than the gospel.)
Jesus' agony gives us a glimpse of the agony of Father in His empathy, His anger, His sorrow, His cost, in setting all creation free of Himself.
It wasn't just Jesus who drank us into Himself in all of our ungodly wickedness, but Father.
You become what you eat and drink.
Look at your body. Your body is made up entirely right now of the very things you ate, drank, and breathed into yourself over the last seven years. You are what you eat, literally and physically.
Jesus took the whole universe into death, but especially Adam and all of His pretending children.
Between agony and rising to His feet, through those thirty minutes, the agony lessened, bit by bit, as Jesus worked His mind towards His decision. Having alighted upon His decision, He did not act immediately upon it, but allowed it to settle, allowed that decision to spread all through His heart and soul.
As Jesus rose to His feet, His decision was full and final.
“I drink Your cup.”
All evil actions, all hurt and abuse, all lying and hypocrisy, all perversion and filthiness take place only inside of Father, for they can exist nowhere else. There is nowhere else. Yet the God in whom all things exist is not known.
Thus the first true and complete revelation of Father to the universe, Father becoming seen and known, was the demonstration to us of how Father deals with all things not-God. It is the Father's cup. It is the Father who chooses to drink all of His own cup entirely into Himself, swallowing up into Himself all that is not-God. Then Father, through Christ “becomes” all of that as death only, as cessation, and then an empty tomb.
But we know what was in Jesus' heart in the very act of rising to His feet.
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
The word “despised” in this context means that Jesus held no thought concerning any outward pain or humiliation through which He was passing. He did not “care.”
And the JOY set before Him, you and me, were not “future” for Him. Rather, this word in Hebrews 12:2 is balanced by the other word in Hebrews 10.
Here am I, I and the children whom You have given Me.
You see, as Jesus drank you and me, in all of our iniquity and offensiveness, into Himself, our agony became His Joy. Life swallows up death. Holiness swallows up unholiness. Agony becomes Joy.
The agony was all the rebellion of the universe; the Joy is the new heavens and the new earth flowing out of our bellies.
You become what you eat and drink.
If Jesus drank you and me into Himself, then, in that moment, by the action of rising to His feet in Gethsemane, Jesus became you and me, Jesus became ALL that we are.
In exactly the same manner, as we drink Jesus into ourselves, imputing Him in all that He is, to ourselves, entirely and completely, draping Him upon ourselves, spirit, soul/self, and body/flesh, by faith, that is, against all contradiction, all speaking against, then we, also, become what we eat.
We become the Lord Jesus Christ, members together of Him. We become, we are, Father revealed.
I have found that, when BIG things are happening all around, scary and momentous things, it is best to breathe deep, quiet your heart, and rest utterly inside of Jesus inside of Father.
And so we must do, because, look out, Father is coming through.
The fifth great picture of Father revealed is Jesus' walking the path of the atonement. Here we see Father in travail, turning Himself into the Mercy Seat, our hearts, the place where He can show us Himself out from within us.
My series on The Covenant explores the elements of that path and the formation of the Mercy Seat of God. My next letter is called “One Body,” and, of truth, part of what I want to do in it is again express, as best I can, the highest and deepest revelation of Father walking this earth through us.
The Mercy Seat – for the sake of His body.
Hope does not disappoint. Romans 5:5
J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit is my favorite book in all world literature. Although I did not care for everything Peter Jackson inserted into his first two episodes of The Hobbit, particularly the ridiculous and time-consuming portrayals of dwarves leaping and doing other impossible things, nothing was a problem. Many of the things that were added were wonderful and very fitting to Tolkien. My two favorite scenes were the dwarves gathered inside of Bilbo's house at the beginning and then the riddle episode with Bilbo and Gollum. Both were done to perfection. I loved the development of the story through the first two episodes and all the hints and foreshadowing that would be fulfilled in the third and final episode.
I drove to the movie theater to watch the third episode of The Hobbit with a sense of excitement greater than I have known since I was a child. My sisters can tell you how excited I could get then – too excited.
That sense of excitement was matched fully with the utter, ruinous disappointment in which I drove away from a sorry, sad experience. No artist has ever taken the promise of achievement into ruin and failure the way Jackson took the final chapter of The Hobbit. The only scene that was great was the death of Smaug, the dragon. Every other story line developed so well in the first two episodes fizzed out in disconnect and meaninglessness.
As I spent the rest of the evening in the grip of deep disappointment, I heard these words resounding in my heart. – Hope does not disappoint. And Father showed me that He gave me that experience of deeply disappointed hope as a contrast to the telling of the real story for which we really hope.
We hope for what we do not see . . . Romans 8:25
We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure. 1 John 3:2-3
God has told us a story, a story that is NOT yet finished. Indeed the final episode of God's story has begun, and we are it.
God has told us a story that we will be just like Jesus in being and in action right here on this earth right now in this age, that the very life of Jesus will be revealed, unveiled, apocalypsed, in our dying flesh. And God has filled that story with endless episodes of meaningful foreshadowing spanning 6000 years of human history.
No one has ever built up the climax of the story in the way God has done.
Here is the climax of God's story: And We Also!
Jackson somehow managed to divorce the climax of his story from ALL the carefully nuanced story development by both Tolkien and himself. And by savagely divorcing that climax from all that had gone before, Jackson created a climax filled with ridiculousness and void of meaning.
I can tell you this. When God says that the climax of His story will NOT disappoint, He is using a literary device called a litotes, that is, an understatement. Paul did not use a litotes, but spoke literally, when he told us what comes out of being filled full with all of Father: exceedingly abundantly above all we could ever ask or even imagine according to the power(Father) that works in us.
We are right now in the grip of the climax of God's story.
The climax that has been convoluted up by Nicene Christianity, contrary to what God actually says, would be to me an unmitigated disappointment, a billion times more awful than Jackson's. Of truth, it would forever break my heart – that Jesus and John and Paul did not tell us the truth.
We are excited with an excitement that just increases and increases, the excitement known only by children trusting in awestruck wonder, as we see the Father through us walking this earth in just the same way as Jesus Sent.
Our excitement is the very face of Father.
When God says to me, “My hope does not disappoint,” here is what I hear.
But first, let me explain exactly why I was so deeply disappointed by Jackson's disaster.
Episode after episode throughout the first two movies was so finely and carefully crafted. Not just the ones I mentioned, but also the gathering of the white council, the heart of Gandalf, the togetherness of the dwarves, the touching and promising development of romance between a female elf and a male dwarf, the transformation of Bilbo, even the scenes of dwarves in battle when they were more realistic and less ridiculous, and so many other things of story woven in by both Tolkien and Jackson, were all pointing to the climax, loaded with promise. Knowing that the climax was terrible, yet knowing that the promise of all things that had come before was awesome, I simply trusted against trust that Jackson would crown his career with total amazement. I did not really know how he would pull it off, but I never imagined that he would turn his back on his own story.
If Jackson had tried to match the climax with the story without succeeding fully, it would have been no problem. But he did not try. Rather, he rejected the entire story to create a meaningless caricature of a climax.
The climax of the story as told by Nicene Christianity is the same meaningless caricature divorced from all the story God has told until now, as if God will also turn His back on His own story in the climax.
So, when God says to me, “My hope does not disappoint,” here is what I hear.
I do not see being just like Jesus, the first One of our kind, as being “like” Jesus' own personality as He walked this earth nor as being just like His particular ministry.
I see being just like Jesus entirely in terms of relationship with the Father as Father revealed, as God incarnate, Father walking this earth, entirely in us and through us, our own personality and by that particular portion of the ministry of Christ appointed by our Father as He designed each one of us unique and special, yet in all fullness with all glory, just as He walked in Jesus.
This is my hope according to what God says, and my hope will NOT be disappointed.
Every episode of God's story, every scene, from the blood of Abel, to the cry of Job, “I shall see God in my flesh upon this earth,” to the faithfulness of Abraham each step up the mountain with his son, to the humility of Moses, to the soul-singing of David, to the weeping of Jeremiah, to the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the tenacity and grip of Paul, to the vision of John, to the death of the martyrs, to the faith of Patrick, to the passion of Madame Guyon, to the commitment of John Wesley, to the travail of Minnie Spencer, to the patient wisdom of Watchman Nee, to the fervor of Sam Fife and Norman Grubb, every episode, every line will reverberate in total fulfillment all through God's climax.
But most importantly, every single Word in the Covenant we signed with God and God with us WILL BE fulfilled in our lives in all that it could possibly mean right here on this earth right now in this age in our dying bodies before the resurrection and all incorruptibility.
I don't know how God will pull it off, but I do know this.
The final act of Father's story will not disappoint.
The pure in heart see God.
Those who cannot see Father walking this earth inside the Lord Jesus Christ walking this earth inside His body, the selfsame body that rose from the dead and ascended into the heavens, now our present flesh, flesh of His flesh, demonstrate only one thing, the dishonesty of their own hearts.
We see Father in all things, but most importantly, filling us with all that He is and flowing out through us in every step we take in every circumstance we feel, reconciling the world to Himself, setting all creation free.
We are Father revealed.