Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Forty Prophecies in Forty Days #20 (1/2 way there) Who Caught Jesus’ Criticism?
Mat 23:15 “ Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”
Can I take the time to translate that into today’s language? “Your are going to have problems, and I feel sorry for you, religious teachers, for you travel all over the place trying to make a convert, and when you do, you make him/her twice the child of hell that you are by putting them in total religious bondage.” That in essence is what Jesus was saying to the scribes and Pharisees. He started out in the passage to say that the scribes and Pharisees sat in Moses seat. That meant that they were speaking on behalf of God, but they were in great error.
I would warn that many religious leaders today in evangelical Christianity should take the time to read Matthew chapter 23 often. To answer the question of this post, the answer is that the only people… can I repeat that? ….THE ONLY PEOPLE, that Jesus criticized was religious leaders. Think about that; let that soak in. If you listen to most evangelical Christians today you would think that he was critical of fornicators and drunks. That was not Jesus priority. Why was that? Could it be that He knew that they were already totally alienated from God because of the fall, and that they needed to know that God was indeed a loving Father in heaven that had planned to redeem them from before the foundation of the world.
His concern was for all those who were being mistreated by religious leaders. He was upset with the greedy money changers that were ripping the people off by making them exchange their money for temple money. They traveled many miles to sacrifice and they could only sacrifice what was offered by the money changers, and the money changers charged exorbitant usury to sell the animals.
All I can say is James warned about not being many teachers. He said that those who teach others, and set themselves up as religious leaders have a greater responsibility. He told his disciples that the Gentile leader’s lord over the people, and it should not be so with a disciple/apostle of Christ. There is so much ink in the gospels that religious leaders should be aware of because they would find that much of what they do does not square with the story of redemption at all. Again, to really understand the scripture, one must be very careful that they understand what part of the timeline is involved, and who a message was being spoke to. Most of the gospels were written about events under the Old Covenant before the cross. The fact is that the religious leaders under the old covenant were not to be emulated. Yet today so many religious leaders pattern themselves too closely to the old covenant leaders. Now is the time to re-examine our hermeneutic and see the transition that takes place within the pages of the New Testament. If we allow the Holy Spirit to be the guide we will arrive at very different conclusions.
The answer to the above question is that the only criticism that Jesus leveled was to religious leaders... pray and meditate on that!
Monday, January 26, 2015
1Cor 2:2 “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
Paul told the believers in Corinth that he determined to know nothing except Christ and him crucified. Paul always presented Christ. Paul did not present the church to the people that he evangelized; my how time has changed the message. Most churches today present church to people. They invite them to attend church instead of inviting them to know Christ. They invite them to become members of the church instead of inviting them to a relationship with the living Lord. Oh, they say they do, they speak of relationship but in reality they are more interested in control, and keeping them in a pattern of behavior that mimics those of the other members. You have to ask yourself whatever happened to just presenting Christ?
Somewhere along the line “church” became about trying to control people. To make them believe that they could not properly hear from God without specially called ministers. Spiritual abuse is so prevalent these days, and it is all in the name of control. Still Paul made the statement in the above passage from 1 Corinthians. The first century believers turned the world upside down with the attitude that Christ Jesus was paramount to the message. They taught the pristine gospel of grace. The gospel of grace leads to freedom and love for God that in turn leads to supernatural transformation, but this is not so when people are merely presented church.
The main method for control is the legal constitutional reading of scripture. The control comes from stressing the rules and regulations that are from God. Adherence to the rules and the behavior lulls the person into believing that they are secure with God based upon their actions, behavior and conformity to the norms of the group. This never really works, people instinctively know that they do not measure up to the law of God ever. They never, ever feel right before God, not really.
This seems so foreign to the first century church. The people couldn’t wait to get together, and be with each other as they shared Christ. You can read of the love and closeness everywhere in the pages of the New Testament and yet, in most churches today people cannot wait until they have some alone time. They feel burnout. They stay in the group to escape feelings of guilt and judgment. Many do have a relationship with Jesus but it is distorted by the need for the hierarchy to stay in control. They are not presented the gospel of Christ. They are not presented Christ.
God is sick of church as usual, and He has all but abandoned the building. This new millennium will find those who are awakening to the love of Christ and want to present Christ to others. Presenting Christ, means presenting the pristine gospel; it means presenting the finished work that Jesus performed; it means presenting peace with God through Christ, it means presenting the fact that we are justified by the faith of Christ Jesus. It means that once a believer one is always the righteousness of God in Christ.
Sunday, January 25, 2015
Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
I recently received a blog post from a friend in e-church that was highlighting the point that we are justified by the faith of Christ and not our faith. I explained that I was certain that it is Christ’s faith and not ours and that I had actually written two blog posts myself on this. Now, in this one I want to emphasize that while the newer versions read faith in Christ, they are incorrect.
Further, I want to show why it only makes sense when one sees it as the faith of Christ that justifies. In Hebrews 11 we are told that without faith it is impossible to please the Father and in the gospels we hear announced by a voice from heaven, “this is my son in whom I am well pleased.” We must assume that if it is only possible to please the Father with faith, and if he was well pleased with Jesus, it was Jesus faith that pleased Him… it had to be!
Here is the bottom line, Adam and Eve did not believe God in the garden and their unbelief brought death and sin into the world. The fall was the result of unbelief. Therefore, it only makes sense to have the justifying act be an act of faith. Jesus believed the Father no matter what. Everything that the Father said Jesus believed. That was His perfect obedience. His perfect obedience was the obedience of faith.
Once humanity fell, there was no chance for them to have obeying faith. That is why sin was so prevalent from Adam forward. Sure, there were those who believed God such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses just to name some, but, interspersed with their occasional faith were many times of unbelief and failure. This was merely an example of the human condition, and we see that the scripture shows that all the individuals through the pages of scripture were part of the human condition. Sure, they were heros of faith but none had perfect faith. Only Jesus had perfect faith and only perfect faith is justifying faith.
Now church, there are some broad implications in this. It should make us radically aware that a lot of our pet doctrine is off the mark. Furthermore, when Jesus cursed the fig tree he told his disciples that it merely took the faith of the size of a grain of mustard.
God is ready to impart this mustard see faith to anyone who will simply put faith in the faith of Christ. We need to stop thinking that things are not progressing because of our behavior. We must realize that sometimes things are delayed because we won’t believe that Christ has done it all. That is so hard to believe. It only seems natural that we must add our works but, to exercise the faith of Christ we must believe the report and let that settle the matter.
This is our challenge going forward and our success and favor depends on one thing… believing Jesus finished it ALL on Calvary.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
John 13:34-35 KJV “ A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (35) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Rom 13:8 KJV “Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Jas 2:8 KJV “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:”
I get a daily prophecy in my inbox from Prophet Russ Walden over at Father’s Heart Ministries. A prophecy from August 2014 was as follows: “The Father says today that I am raising up a people to radically walk in the law of love. The only way to master the law of sowing and reaping is to ascend into the higher law, the law of love. As you ascend into the law of love you become a lord of the harvest. You will sow into a barren land and reap a bountiful harvest. You will sow in a time of famine and bring back a hundred fold return in the same season. You will see in your life the plowman overtake the reaper and the seed sown produce a harvest before it hits the ground.
This isn't fantasy says the Father. It is the no-fail zone of the love that NEVER fails. If love never fails then why would you ever step out of love. The wisdom of the world rejects this fact. This is the LOVE-FACT says the Father. It is not possible to fail when you live your life according to the law of love. So let love's sowing bring love's reaping and mount up with those wings of favor I have overshadowed you with into the new territory I have annexed you into - even the territory that lords over all small minded selfishness and causes you to think with My mind and love with My heart this day!” ABOVE QUOTE FROM FATHERS HEART MINISTRIES PROPHET RUSS WALDEN.
This is why Romans 5:1 is so important. This is why the gospel is so important. The gospel alone is the only thing that will bring REAL LOVE for God into the heart of an individual. This is why it must be rehearsed over and over again. This is why no one can ever outgrow their need for hearing the gospel daily. This is why God has given us imputed righteousness. This is why God has separated our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. Yes, it is to produce in us supernatural love… agape love.
This highlights the importance of Deu 28:1. This is the condition for all of the blessings following in Deu 28. One has to somehow fulfill Deu 28: 1. This is where the gospel comes into play. Jesus did fulfill Deu 28:1-2. If I rest in him alone and not any of my works, I will love him… I can’t help but love him, and when I love him as I rest in all that he accomplished on the cross, all that his blood purchased on my behalf. That alone, and NOTHING ELSE, will make me the recipient of the blessings. That is how the Amos prophecy of the plowman overtaking the reaper will come to pass.
Believe the gospel!
Friday, January 23, 2015
I will take some time out from the doctrinal prophecies to share what I hear the Lord saying about this moment in time. These last days of January 2015 will find the angels working in the heavenly realms creating an atmosphere of favor that will carry through all of 2015. It began with the New Year but it is growing steadily, and will be established in these last 8 days of January.
To partake of this favor you only need exercise your faith. That is, believe that God was indeed in Christ reconciling the world to himself. The same kind of faith that saves you is the very faith that will bring about the favor I speak of. It is a birthright for all of those born of the spirit. To receive it you simply must acknowledge it. It is a part of the redemptive plan that was conceived in the mind of the Father before the foundation of the world. So what is the faith that one must have? It is the faith that clings to, relies on, and has settled confidence in the promises of God. This is the faith of Christ. It is the faith that Christ had that justified us and redeemed us. Jesus had absolute faith in the Father and did not waiver in faith at all. While you may think that this is tough (perhaps impossible) for you, it is supernaturally received by apprehending Christ’s faith. You must like Jacob of old grab on and not let go.
Jacob is a rich source for spiritual metaphors for this period of favor. As you hold on with supernatural faith, you will be able to have the ladder experience, and you will find heaven and earth ascending and descending so that the realms will be made one. We are heavenly dwellers, and in that we bring heaven to earth. That is the operative catalyst for the kingdom. The kingdom is heaven and earth being made one. That is the meaning of thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as in heaven.
Hear this word and believe and you will begin to operate in the supernatural favor that is available. Circumstances that would not previously change will give way to new realities of well-being. We are moving into the New Jerusalem season. I heard the Lord speak the other day in the words of a Carly Simon song about the New Jerusalem… the lyrics I was reminded of were as follows: … "coming to the edge, running on the waters, coming through the fog, my sons and daughters"… We are coming through the fog, out of the fog and into the marvelous light of God’s purpose in creation. The redemption of the creature; yes, we are moving into the season of the manifest sons and daughters of God! More to come….
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Eph 4:11-13 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:”
As I mentioned the other day, this has not truly come to fruition yet and so yes, there are still apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. But, why is it that so many of the modern apostles and prophets seem to favor the Old Covenant over the New Covenant? What I mean by that is that the apostles and prophets of today seem to favor strict adherence to the Law and emphasize God’s wrath and judgment. What has happened to the idea that God poured out his wrath on Jesus on the cross; or, what about the idea that God’s judgment was executed on Jesus?
It makes one wonder about these apostles and prophets does it not? Now, I am not unequivocally saying that I think they are false apostles and prophets. Perhaps their call is genuine, and God is busy working on their attitudes and beliefs. Maybe, they are so indoctrinated with the strong delusion, or maybe they have been taught the orthodox, evangelical way of understanding. It is undeniable that there is an army of spiritual soldiers being raised up that are seeing the freedom that Christ purchased with His blood on Calvary. Let’s face it, there is definitely a shift going on in the heavenly realms. Things are changing drastically.
Here is a thought that I would like to share. Apostles and prophets are foundational to the faith. Eph 2:20 “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;:” The corner stone is Jesus Christ. He alone is supreme, and the focus of the Father’s redemptive plan.
Hear oh apostles and prophets: If that is your calling then you are foundational to the gospel message. Everything that modern day apostles and prophets do should build the foundation of the gospel of grace! No foundation can anyone lay except that which is laid! Stop being teachers of the Law. Stop being accusers of the brethren. The way to promote faith is to teach faith in the finished work of the cross. That is the object of our faith. It is in the fact that Jesus is a justifier. He justifies sinners. That is His Job! The Pentecostal movement brought some very good things to the body of Christ, tongues, prophecy, the charismatic gifts to name just a few, but it also brought some of the most pernicious stumbling blocks, and self-made personal holiness is the worst of the worst.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
The following is a repost of an article I wrote last summer. I think it is indicative of what I hear the Spirit saying to the churches. It is time to liberate the fortress!
Well, I have lived in Memphis for a year and a half now, and reflecting on my new life here I had an epiphany the other day. I was looking at 2 Corinthians 10:4 and I thought about strongholds and fortresses. If you look in NASB, a version that I particularly like, (no it is not perfect, and believe me once you understand just a little Greek, you will know that there is no such thing as a perfect translation, I digress…) Anyway, I used to wonder about the word fortress that is used in many of the new translations. I always thought that stronghold was better. Not so any longer!
Of course, the Greek word, OCHUROMATON (the last two o’s are omegas and not omicrons) means castle or fort so fortress is certainly more correct than stronghold in a literal sense. But until yesterday I preferred stronghold. Thus the epiphany; I believe for good biblical reasons that the strong man that so many folk speak of is none other than Satan himself and his stronghold/fortress is as the demon of religion. That is the strong man.
I suddenly realized that religion has a stronghold in California, a stronghold in Michigan, a stronghold in New York, but here in the Mid South… smack-dab in the middle of the bible-belt it is indeed a fortress!
Stronghold does not begin to adequately describe the hold that the demon of religion has on the bible-belt. If there was ever a place where wooden legalism, devoid of the Spirit exists, it is here. It saddens me to see that the people of God are so oblivious to it. They seem to get excited about legalism as much as they get excited for the liberating gospel of grace. Where is the discernment?
It is almost as if Isaiah 29:10-13 is descriptive of the state of evangelicalism in the bible-belt. NASB “For the LORD has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep, He has shut your eyes, the prophets; And He has covered your heads, the seers. (11) The entire vision will be to you like the words of a sealed book, which when they give it to the one who is literate, saying, "Please read this," he will say, "I cannot, for it is sealed." (12) Then the book will be given to the one who is illiterate, saying, "Please read this." And he will say, "I cannot read." (13) Then the Lord said, "Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,”
The Lamb has opened the sealed scroll. Jesus showed his immediate followers that the scripture was about redemption. It is the redemptive narrative and it is NOT a legal constitutional document. Not for Christ followers at least. It was a legal constitutional document for national Israel in Old Covenant times. No so today!
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
I have written before about the strong man being the demon of religion. Here are two posts from a while back that I make that claim in. Smack dab in the middle of the bible belt and Wiping out the handwriting of commandments that was against us. Satan, the strong man makes his greatest weapon religion. Paul explains it this way; “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light (2Co 11:14.)” and “Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works (2Co 11:15.)” The *spirit* of anti-Christ was already in the world according to the apostle John 1John 4:3.
What if the man of lawlessness was the Pope and the *papal spirit* as was thought by the Reformers? Let’s look at 2Th 2:3-4 “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (4) Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
If you do some research you will see that John of Gichala fulfilled this in the natural when he took over the temple and killed the High Priest and instated his own High Priest. You can read all about him in Josephus, The Wars of the Jews. However, we are told that in the spiritual realm, the body of Christ became the temple also. This is where the pope and the papal spirit comes into play. The pope claimed that only he could speak for God. Many of the reformers saw the pope as the anti-Christ for this reason. It is only recently that people have begun to look for a world leader to be the man of lawlessness.
Now look at the *papal spirit* that is so prevalent in churches today. The CEO Pastor, that is the covering, the only one really hearing from God, the one with all the vision and instruction is so pervasive. That individual has entered into the temple of God, wanting to be worshipped as the mouthpiece of God. This is nothing more than the demon of religion and the papal spirit rearing its ugly head. I ask you to think about it: how many pastors have you known who want to be worshiped by the people? Yes, we must consider the fact that what has passed for orthodox evangelical Christianity is really the strong delusion of 2Thess 2:11. They did not love the simple truth of the gospel that Jesus had made us all right. They wanted to add to it, and so God has turned the church over to a strong delusion so that it would believe that which is false. Of course it makes perfect sense! It is speaking loudly to your spirit right now… more to come
Monday, January 19, 2015
Rom 5:1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.
Here in a nutshell is the catalyst for true and real spiritual transformation. Grace via the gospel of Christ Jesus is the source of the peace. Peace with God means the removal of all fear of God, and removal of all fear of God removes all fear of punishment. Being made right in God’s sight by faith is the love that casts out all fear (1John 4:18.)
So then, peace with God produces love for God. Once all fear is gone, and one is resting in the goodness and grace of God, amazing love for God is the result. Grace is the offer that one cannot refuse. The gospel message is really truly good news. Look at this passage from 2 Corinthians 5. It is a very concise statement of the gospel. 2Co 5:19-21 NLT “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. (20) So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, "Come back to God!" (21) For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” Peace with God comes from being reconciled. This leads to a deep profound love for God.
Basking in the peace of God brings about the ability to reflect on what pleases God without fearing God. This is the source of real spiritual transformation… transformation that results in genuine loving obedience. This is almost nonexistent in today’s evangelical environment. The reason is simple. Current evangelical doctrine focuses on self-induced obedience. It focuses on self-reformation. This is impossible to do because of the nature of our flesh. It drives us to the depths of fear and discouragement because of our failures. People who are involved in reformation secretly are miserable and devastated. The reason is that self-reformation of necessity involves legal obedience and self-righteousness. Ultimately the saint involved in this always ends up unable to really rest in Jesus and have true peace with God.
That is why peace with God is so very, very important. Peace with God eases the mind. It produces joy and love… joy with, or in spite of our circumstances... and also love for God. It actually produces the fruit of the Spirit. Peace with God produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. How you ask? The answer is simple… it casts out all fear.
Isn’t it interesting that having faith in God’s unlimited grace does just the opposite of what most evangelicals fear. So often I hear folks say that if you teach grace people will feel confident in sinning. Isn’t that the most absurd idea you have ever heard? Actually, God’s unlimited grace produces peace with God that leads to spiritual transformation.
Sunday, January 18, 2015
Mat 28:18-20 “Then Jesus came near and said to them, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (19) Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
It is important to observe a time line when examining scripture. It is also important to understand who the intended readers were. Let me present a gospel timeline. The gospels have a specific timeline that really makes a lot of difference in understanding what is written. The timeline can be best illustrated here by events. First you have the forerunner, John the Baptist, the last Old Covenant Prophet who’s mission was strictly to Jews under the Old Covenant. Then you have the ministry of Jesus, Prophet, Priest and King who is the Messiah of the Jews which they were expecting at that time in history according to the prophecy of scripture. All of Jesus mission on earth up until the cross event was to the Jews under the Old Covenant. Next, you have the cross event, the death burial and resurrection of Jesus, which instated the New Covenant (Matt 26:28.) Finally, in the gospels you have the risen Lord with instructions for the new covenant era, after the end of the age of the mosaic covenant. Whenever you see the end of the age in the New Testament you can rest assured that the end of the Mosaic age was meant. The end of the Mosaic age would also be the beginning of the Messianic age.
The above passage of scripture from Matthew 28 was given, spoken by Jesus after the cross event in a time when the New Covenant was instated. Prior to this, there was an authority of Moses known as *Moses Seat.* Jesus said prior to the cross event, as he was still in the Old Covenant aspect of His ministry, that the “scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses Seat so observe and do all that they say” (Matt 23:1.) During the Old Covenant, Moses was the authority. What that really meant was the Torah or Pentateuch which was written by Moses was the authority.
However, in the above passage from Matthew 28 we have Jesus stating that all AUTHORITY has been given to Him by virtue of His resurrection. There was a new power structure; authority had changed hands. Jesus authority is legitimate authority from on high. By contrast, now that He had risen and was about to be seated on the right hand of the Father in heavenly places the Pharisees had become an illegitimate authority.
ProphetRuss Walden, over at Father’s Heart Ministries has a daily email ministry called “The Father Says Today.” He has written several prophecies where he mentions illegitimate authority. What I believe he is referring to is authority that stems from the leaven of the Pharisees and the *strong delusion.* It is the illegitimate authority that the Reformation came against. It is the power of the Pope to speak for God. When people use illegitimate authority to control others it is the “Pope Spirit.* It is interesting that so many pastors and leaders today act as though they are little Popes, sovereign over their congregations. This is illegitimate authority in its most pernicious form.
As the church faces the fork in the road, this illegitimate authority will be done away with over time. The government of the kingdom of God comes from gifts… gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers that have legitimate authority to represent God. They will not be OVERLORDS. They will be servant leaders! … More to come
Saturday, January 17, 2015
We are 1/4 of the way there!
Eph 4:4-6 “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; (5) One Lord, one faith, one baptism, (6) One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
We have a two thousand year history of the church, and when has this passage ever been fulfilled? If you do an internet search, you find that there are as many as thirty thousand denominations today, and the number is growing. Many of these will not fellowship with others, will not believe that others are even saved. There is very little unity of the Spirit, and it is not in the bond of peace. But Paul speaks of unity in Ephesians chapter four. He says that the five-fold ministry was given as a gift for and I quote; Eph 4:12-13 “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” Let’s face facts; this has NEVER happened YET!
This too is part of the choice facing the church today as it stands poised in a fork in the road. Facing a fork in the road is a powerful metaphor. We have seen an explosion of prophets and apostles in the last ten years. It seems that almost everyone is a self-proclaimed, prophet, apostle, evangelist. Of course, since the reformation there has been a plethora of self-proclaimed pastors and teachers. I want us to challenge our business as usual doctrines. How many modern day apostles are mostly interested in the title, their name on a card, usurping the Bishop system, and taking an authority that is difficult to question. How many have adopted the same old doctrine, structure and governing that has been in place for the last two thousand years?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you are not an apostle. I am asking; how did that call come to you? Did the Lord God burn it in your spirit so that it is a driving factor in your life? Did you doubt it time after time only to have the Lord reinforce it in your mind? Did people over time, who do not know you, speak a word of reinforcement? It is really an important time to examine the source of the call and pray over it. I have already shown that according to Acts 14:3, the reason for powerful miracles and signs was to establish the truthfulness of the gospel of grace. Is grace your focus? Is it your driving factor? Is the gospel of grace the driving force in your life? Does Father allow you to see people with his compassion? Do you have the drive for an Isaiah 61:1-3 ministry? Do you see Jesus as the total focus of your being? All of these are very important questions to ponder and pray over. God wants to fulfill Ephesians 4:12-13. He wants to establish the pristine gospel of grace that turned the world upside-down. More to come!!!!
Friday, January 16, 2015
Luke 24:45 “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,”
This is one of the most important considerations as the church faces this fork in the road. I really believe that the Spirit of God is actively wooing many new covenant prophets. It is imperative that we listen. The question to ask is, can one properly hear, and believe if they are clinging to the old paradigm, especially when it comes to scripture understanding? This is precisely why Jesus and His first century followers changed the paradigm back then. The problem that we face is that the early church fathers of the second through fourth centuries ignored Jesus paradigm, and returned to the Pharisees paradigm. The early church fathers greatly influenced church dogma and doctrine and it has moved forward through the centuries and still affects us today. Didn’t Jesus warn about the leaven of the Pharisees? Didn’t He say that the leaven was the doctrine/teaching of the Pharisees and could it be possible that the last two thousand years of evangelical orthodox doctrine was in fact the *strong delusion* of 2Thess 2:11?
Of course I am referring to the legal constitutional view of scripture which was the Pharisees old covenant model. It is important to see that Pharisees did not understand the scripture. Jesus had to open the understanding of His followers to understand the scriptures in the above passage from Luke’s gospel. Look at the fifth chapter of Revelation. It was the Lion of the tribe of Judah that was able to unseal the scroll (understand the scripture.) There is a direct correlation between Luke 24:45 and Revelation 5:9. He alone was the only one worthy to open the book and He alone was able to open the understanding to understand the scripture. Look at Isaiah: Isa 29:11-13 “And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: (12) And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. (13) Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:” It was prophesied in Isaiah that the scribes and Pharisees would not understand the scripture at all.
And yet, we adopt the method of the scribes and Pharisees to understand the scripture. It is little wonder that we are in such a state as we face today. We MUST adopt the redemptive view of scripture. We must use it as the story of redemption and not a legal constitutional document. It saddens me when I hear apostles and prophets claim to be so sure of what they are saying when they are in reality adopting a legal constitutional view of scripture.
Isn’t it obvious that we would be able to accept the prophecies that are currently given if we have had our paradigm shifted to view the scripture as Jesus did and as he taught his first century followers to do… More to come tomorrow!
Thursday, January 15, 2015
When you look at the teaching of evangelicals, fundamentalists, Pentecostals and charismatics today you will find this phenomenon. You will find people that emphasize law, holiness and obedience, and those who emphasize grace, love and forgiveness. These groups are constantly at war against each other and often doubt the salvation of the other group. The former group, those who emphasize law always have a legal constitutional view of scripture. If one takes a hard line on the legal constitutional aspect of scripture it is impossible to come to any other conclusion. You end up with a schizophrenic view of salvation. Yes, we are saved by grace and not law obedience but we prove our salvation by law obedience and if there is no *law-obedience* then salvation is questionable at the very least. John Calvin stated it this way; “faith alone saves, but faith that saves is never alone.” This means that there will always be obvious law obedience with all who have been saved… Not necessarily and this is the source of the problem.
The legal constitutional view of scripture ultimately leads to fear of not measuring up. Come on now, look in that mirror tomorrow morning and say it isn’t so
This is why Jesus taught the redemptive view of scripture. He
knew that grace (believe it or not) leads to obedience from the heart. Grace
changes the heart. Peace with God, (Rom 5:1) develops a supernatural love for
God because of His love, mercy and grace. The supernatural love is what enables
one to be obedient. One develops what Paul calls the obedience of faith (Rom
16:26 & 1:5)
Paul said it this way in his letter to Titus: Tit 2:11-12 “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” The legal constitutional view of scripture robs the effectiveness of transforming grace. This is probably the single most prohibitive factor in a broad acceptance of the paradigm shift that is ever increasing in the ranks of day to day Christians.
Believe me when I say that the New Covenant way of viewing scripture is solely redemptive. This can be proven. In fact, I have proven it over and again over the three hundred posts of this blog. Here is the crux of today’s prophetic word. We must shift the paradigm to a redemptive view of scripture. It will not diminish in any way the inspiration of scripture. It will however bolster faith in the gospel and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. When one puts the legal constitutional view of scripture to the test it does not really stand up and that is why there are so many liberal Christians that deny the resurrection and the deity of Jesus Christ. More to come on this topic tomorrow!
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
What is the purpose of scripture? This is an area in which the church needs a drastic paradigm shift. As we face the fork in the road that is here today, understanding the proper use of scripture is paramount to walking boldly forth in the plan God has for our day and time. The big shift that so many prophecy and speak of will demand that we change the way we view scripture. How you ask? We must learn to view it exactly as Jesus did and exactly as he taught his first century followers. One of the things that the early church fathers did that has proved to be destructive to the redemptive plan of God is to ignore Jesus teaching on scripture, and instead adopt the Scribes and Pharisees teaching.
What did Jesus teach about the purpose and use of scripture? He taught a completely redemptive view of scripture. He said that its sole purpose was to point to Him as Messiah and provide eternal life. John 5:39-40: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (40) And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Jesus stated clearly that the sole purpose of scripture was to point to him and the redemption that He was bringing humanity. You can also see this in other places in the gospels. Luke 24:27 & 43-45 are important in showing that Jesus taught his followers a different way of looking at scripture. Luke 24:45 explains that he opened their understanding so that they could understand the scriptures. This shows you that the Pharisees DID NOT understand them! It is also obvious that the Pharisees did not understand the scripture because so few of them came to Jesus for life (John 5:40.)
This will take more than one day to establish but it is necessary that the church be confronted with how badly they use the scripture, and how they twist it against what Jesus taught. Paul says the Law was good as long as it was used lawfully (1 Tim 1:8.) Unfortunately, much of modern evangelical doctrine uses the Law unlawfully!
How did the Pharisees, under the Old Covenant view scripture? The answer is they viewed it as a legal constitutional document. Does that sound familiar? Does that ring a bell for you? The bulk of modern, evangelicals, fundamentalists, Pentecostals and charismatics, you name them, look at the scripture as a legal constitutional document. Viewing it that way is the source of many of the problems that we face today. Jesus taught that it was the story of redemption. He taught that it was a love story about a God that loved the world so much that he had redeemed it before he ever created it. Yes my friend, that is precisely what Ephesians chapter one teaches. God had purposed Jesus and redemption before the foundation of the world which means that redemption was His first purpose in creation. God created the world to redeem it. Isn’t that something? These prophecies will show over time that Jesus also redefined the word of God from the Old Testament to the gospel. There is so much to say about this, but I assure you that it is true, and easily seen with a slight paradigm shift. I am purposefully making these entries short (therefore, easy to read) so I implore you to follow this forty day prophecy all the way through till the end.
I will tie together the redemptive purpose over the next few posts and will show that “the gospel” is the Word of God for the New Covenant era. Let me leave you with this though for now. In Revelation, we are told that the testimony of Jesus (the gospel) is the Spirit of Prophesy (Rev 19:10.) Please stay tuned and share… this is going somewhere that will help you with the next phase and the shift that is ordained by God. More to come tomorrow!
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
What does Deuteronomy 28 have to do with the New Covenant, non-Jewish believer if anything? We hear and read all the time about being blessed in the city and in the field. We hear and read about being the head and not the tail; above and not beneath. We sing about it, confess it in daily confessions, and hear teachings and sermons about it. What one must honestly see is that the blessings are predicated upon covenant faithfulness and were given as promises to national Israel under the old covenant. Don’t become discouraged and stop reading. This prophetic word has a very happy ending, but first we must be real and we must deal faithfully with the text. So then Deu 28:1-14 explain the benefits and blessings for covenant obedience and faithfulness and Deu 28:15-45 (almost twice as many verses) explain the consequences and curses of covenant disobedience and unfaithfulness. Don’t look funny; it is in the book that way! Also, do not lose heart and stop reading. This is not the end of this matter.
I want the full effects of the blessings, how about you? I want the blessings, and not the curses how about you? I want to be included in the promises how about you? Of course you have no doubt answered yes to all of the above. I would also.
So let’s stop a minute and look at the old and new covenants. My first prophetic word of the day is STOP being old covenant prophets! I can assure you that it will get you nowhere. Yes some have the audacity to claim in new covenant congregations that the way to get the blessings is by obedience to the law. Here is the great problem that the church (remember my definition; the true believers in Christ across all denominations and groups) face. Too many people are trying to be Old Covenant prophets, apostles and pastors in the New Covenant. Too many are operating in an Old Covenant way.
Prophetic word two: You cannot get New Covenant blessings with Old Covenant methods!!!
So then, how do these blessings operate in the New Covenant setting? The answer is simple and is the content of the gospel. It is IN Christ Jesus and no other way. Furthermore, it is by faith. (without faith it is impossible to please the Father.) Jesus is the Seed of Abraham, Jesus was covenant faithful. Jesus fulfilled all the requirements. Jesus alone receives the blessings. In Jesus the promises of God are not yes and no as seen in Deu 28. In Jesus the promises are yes and amen! In Jesus there are no curses.
Look at this passage. It could not be made more plain and understandable: Gal 3:11-16 “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. (12) And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. (13) Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: (14) That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (15) Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. (16) Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.”
Christ has redeemed us from the curses of the law. Deu 28:15-45 does not apply! we must believe this by faith! According to Paul, we believers are the Seed of Abraham in Christ Jesus…. Gal 3:29 “And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” This ALONE is the way that we are benefactors of the promises of Deu 28. … More tomorrow!
Monday, January 12, 2015
Day five and there is more to say about the accuser of the brethren. It is important to remember that the church (the true believers not any one church denomination or group) is truly at a fork in the road. There are choices to be made and in some cases they will be hard choices to make. This passage about the accuser of the brethren sheds some insight into these possible choices. If you look at biblical history you see roughly three two thousand year periods, and we are just now entering a fourth. It is the fourth period that the paradigm shift is occurring. It is a shift specifically for this fourth period.
Rev 12:12 “Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”
The phrase, “rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them” has some interesting implications. Who should be heaven dwellers? Yes, you are right it is believers. Paul tells us we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. We are the heaven dwellers. All those who put faith and trust in Jesus are potentially heaven dwellers.
On the other hand, those who are earth bound, focusing on the natural environment are targets for Satan and his minions. When one is continually caught up in the day to day affairs around him or her; caught up in the politics and struggles of life in the natural world; caught up in seeking answers for themselves; caught up in being in control at all times, they then are targets for the Devil.
This is what Paul was speaking of in Colossians three: Col 3:1-3 “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (2) Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (3) For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
We are positionally raised and are in heavenly places with Christ. We must then continue, by faith to see ourselves as heavenly beings. How is Satan going to get at your life if it is hidden in God? The answer is that he cannot, but you must be dwelling in heavenly places in your mind. You must be ever aware of your status with the Father, ever trusting in the goodness of the Father and the provision He has made for you in Christ Jesus. Herein lies the importance of positive prophecy from New Covenant prophets. They will encourage you to trust in the real spiritual situation you are in, and rise above being an earth dweller.
We must guard our ears and our hearts from the negative speech of so many. Negative speech is a part of the accuser of the brethren’s modus operandi. Encouraging one another is a very important part of our corporate relationship with our brothers and sisters and if we are not getting that then we need to move on to a place where it is available.
A large part of the choice that the church faces is the decision about which voices to listen to and entertain and which to cut off. Remember 1Cor 14:3. You need to surround yourself with 1 Cor 14:3 prophets! More to come tomorrow….
Sunday, January 11, 2015
Here is the fourth prophecy of this series. The church (the true believers in Jesus in all churches) are at a fork in the road. Down one path is business as usual. The other path will restore the mission and vision of God from before the foundation of the world. It will restore the pristine gospel. It will radically affect the culture just as it did in the first century when it was written that these men have turned the world upside down. The fork in the road offers choice and one of the choices will shake the foundation of the world. It will bring to pass the words of a prophet in a dream that my wife had some years ago… He simply said, “the world as you know it will never be the same.”
Rev 12:10-12 “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. (11) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (12) Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”
The accuser of the brethren (brothers and sisters) who accuses them day and night before the Father is cast down. You can read that he came to Job and also to Joshua the High Priest in Zechariah 3. What are his accusations? They always have something to do with telling us that we are not right with God. We don’t pray enough, we don’t really worship enough, we don’t act right. You will hear statements like this… you aren’t really serving God… you’re not really a man or woman of God. They are designed to drive a wedge between us and our relationship with Father. They are meant to discourage and tear down. Satan can do this to us with our thoughts, but he can also use other well-meaning people to make these accusations. When they use scripture to back them up they add a level of authority that seems hard to overcome. Remember however that Satan can quote scripture with the best of them. He can use our brothers and sisters in authority to his purpose and can disguise himself as an angel of light.
I learned an interesting fact in an advanced prophetic course that I took from Prophet Russell Walden over at Father’s Heart Ministries. He taught me, correctly, that the New Covenant Prophet should encourage. He said this on the authority of 1 Cor 14:3… I like the way it reads in the NLT 1Co 14:3 “But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them.”
So that begs this question… why do so many modern day new covenant prophets sound like the accuser of the brethren? Why do so many Sunday morning sermons work as accusations? Why is there so little encouraging, comforting and strengthening? These are interesting questions indeed!
A big part of moving into a *world shaking stance* is to begin to question the path that we have taken so long. There indeed needs to be a complete paradigm shift… I don’t want to be insulting, but in case you do not know what paradigm means let me provide the definition: “a pattern of thinking and acting.” We need to shift our paradigm when it comes to the things of God. He is providing us a shift and we must embrace it…. more to come tomorrow!
Saturday, January 10, 2015
As I continue on with my assignment from the Lord, here is the third prophecy. I should say that what I originally heard was present forty prophetic messages that will help enable my apostles and prophets to move into my shift. All are prophesying a great movement of my Spirit on the earth and these are some of the nuts and bolts, some of the frames and cross members of my structure. They are necessary in my total plan of redemption for the world.
Acts 14:3 “Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”
Somehow, over the years, the church (remember the definition) have lost a true understanding of the reason for signs and wonders. The Father says, "I did signs, wonders and marvelous feats in the first century to establish the gospel of grace." Now we live in a time where so many have made grace a dirty word. Personal holiness is held above grace making grace of no effect. If those who are representing me are basically denying my grace in all they teach and do is it any wonder that we do not see more signs and wonders?
Further, I hate to have to tell you but many of the so called signs and wonders today are in reality “lying” signs and wonders. God WILL NOT put his stamp of approval on this mixture of Old Covenant and New Covenant no matter how sincere we may be. Now understand this, there is a lot of New Covenant in the Old Testament and there is a lot of Old Covenant in the New Testament so I am not referring the divisions of the bible. They are mostly arbitrary anyway. I am speaking of rightly dividing the word of truth. What is the word of truth you ask?
Let us let Paul define it for us: Eph 1:13 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” Oh I see, the word of truth according to Paul is the gospel of your salvation. When we rightly divide the word of truth, correctly handle the word of truth we are rightly dividing and correctly handling the gospel. That is drastically missing from the doctrinal landscape these days. Is it any wonder that we do not see broad examples of glorious signs and wonders?
Yes, we stand at a fork in the road. Yes, the Spirit of God wants to move powerfully in this season. Yes, God has called you to a specific place and time with a specific purpose. Understand that you must also present his program. It was one that was set in place before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1. According to Paul, God’s first purpose in creation was redemption and that was before he created anything else. It is time to embrace the gospel of God. It is time to encourage the saints. It is time to stop doing the work of the accuser of the brethren. It is time to stop being discouraging. It is time to focus on the gospel in a way like never before!
It is time to focus on the New Covenant and the New Jerusalem. I will have a lot more to say on this…. more tomorrow!
Friday, January 9, 2015
I hear the Lord telling me to write forty prophecies over the next forty days and share them with whoever will read them. If these strike a chord in your spirit please share them. Here is day two of this assignment.
Mark 1:14-15 “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, (15) And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
The season ahead demands that we know the content of the gospel; what is it? If you ask the question among the church (remember again my definition from yesterday, the universal body of true believers) you will find that there is little agreement on what the gospel is. Jesus mission statement is found in Isaiah 61:1-2a according to Luke’s gospel. It is the following: Luke 4:17-19 “And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, (18) The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, (19) To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
This gospel mission is not primarily natural, rather it is spiritual. It is a mission to eternal spirits. It is a path of reconciliation to God, and please remember, that all who have been born from on high have become ambassadors of reconciliation. We are now in a season that demands our recognition of Jesus mission, and in turn our mission of reconciliation. We must invite the world through our love and peace to be reconciled to God. This does not happen in weekly services but as we live out our lives with true faith in peace with God through the reconciliation brought about by Christ Jesus.
So what does it mean to repent? Not what most people think, that is for sure. Repentance is a change of mind and attitude. It is NOT a change of behavior necessarily. The change of mind can change our behavior, but it is first and foremost a change of mind. When we repent and believe we accept by faith what God is saying. This is the real catalyst of true change. We must believe against all contrary evidence, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself not counting sin against them. Further that he made Jesus the one who did not even know sin to be made sin for us that in turn we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
There you have it. This is the necessary ingredient for going forward in this season. Our success depends on it. Overcoming the enemy depends on it. Remaining close to God at all times depends on it. We must believe that we are made the righteousness of God. We must recognize the accuser of the brethren even when he is standing in a pulpit with a robe and title. We must accept by faith our position before God on behalf of Christ.
All victories, all successes, all blessings depend on our believing the gospel. It is not our way of walking and talking, it is not our level of apparent obedience to the law or God or man, it is our trust in the blood of the lamb. This is for all of us no matter how much we already trust in the Lord... It is the source of victory in the season ahead. I am excited to see what God is revealing… more to follow tomorrow!
Thursday, January 8, 2015
I hear the Lord telling me to write forty prophecies over the next forty days and share them with whoever will read them. If these strike a chord in your spirit please share them
Romans 6:17-18 “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. (18) Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
The Church has arrived at a fork in the road. When I use the term church, I do not mean any one denomination. I am not referring to charismatics, Pentecostals, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists or any non-denominational church for that matter. When I use the word church, it is the universal church, small c catholic, it is the body of Christ and is composed of all those who have put faith and trust in the blood of the cross of Christ, the blood of the New Covenant. So then, it is all believers who have arrived at the fork in the road. There is a choice to be made. In many cases it will not be an easy choice.
It may require some homework. It may require some study. It may require that we slay some sacred cows. It may require that we rethink and open up our hearts and minds to the prompting of the Spirit. The last fifteen years has been a time when the Holy Spirit is speaking out to the church (remember my definition.) In the beginning many could not believe what they were hearing the Spirit say. Many times we have rebuked the Holy Spirit thinking to ourselves that this cannot possibly be God. Believe me when I speak prophetically. It was indeed God!
Many of the things that we have been taught and have held so tightly and so dearly are just plain wrong. Therefore, also know that many of the things which we have taught are wrong. I believe that we will have to allow a complete paradigm shift to take place in order to embrace the truth of the kingdom of God. I can assure you that the kingdom age is upon us and it may not mean exactly what you think it does.
So what did Paul mean when he had someone write “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” What does it mean to obey from the heart and what exactly is the heart by Paul’s definition? It is definitely not the blood pump. No, when Paul speaks of the heart he is speaking of the inner man that has been spiritually reborn. So then, obeying from the heart is obeying from the inner man.
It is NOT following a set of rules and regulations. It is NOT speaking uniformly with a vernacular that is common to the group. It is NOT observing statutes and traditions. It is believing beyond all doubt that Jesus Christ has in deed done away with sin… vs 18. It is not that you cannot commit sinful acts that has made you free from sin. Oh, we want so desperately to believe that is so but is just is not. No matter how many things you forsake, you cannot really truly fulfill the first and greatest commandment until you acknowledge that because of Jesus and his work, you are free from sin. Sin cannot affect you… not because you cannot commit sin, but, because Jesus has done away with the penalty of sin. Sin cannot have dominion because of your position. Friend, you have to really believe this before you can have a revived inner man.
This is the foundation of your peace with God (Rom 5:1.) This is the source of heart obedience. So, here is the first thing that you must change your mind about; from here forward, you must believe that you are the righteousness of God and allow that to bring peace to your heart and mind. You cannot continue in fear. The day for operating in fear is gone never to return. (More tomorrow!)
Rom 8:6 "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace," A very misunderstood passag...
Romans 12:2; "Do not be conformed to this present age" Important to the understanding of TransformationRom 12:2 CSB "Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the go...
Matthew 20:20-28 NASB "Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him. (21...
Revelation 21:2-3 HCSB "I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for ...